#14: My latest comic & Patreon wannabes

A link to my latest comic, thoughts on every platform turning into Patreon, and 3 reading recommendations.

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A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

I forgot where I got this but I am so feeling it this week. I haven’t made a lot of progress on my myth story outline re-write. There’s something wrong with the story that I can’t quite place (that’s usually the case with anything that seems like ‘writer’s block’).

On the plus, I FINALLY finished the 5 page dry run of the graphic memoir, which you can read here. There’s plenty of insight on what thought process and learning with the comic (stuff that might be good for my DIY patreon, now that I think about it).

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What I’m thinking

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Do you listen to the Comiclab podcast? It’s free on Patreon – commenting is for paid patrons but the podcast itself is free to listen to (apparently patrons get a 2nd episode per week, I don’t know what I’m missing). It’s hosted by Brad Guigar (comicker, the webcomics.com guy) and Dave Kellett (comicker, made the must-see comic documentary Stripped) – two experienced creators and entrepreneurs. They’re fun to listen to and I always learn something from each episode.

This episode spends a lot of time talking about Patreon (which I’m making a DIY version of on my site)(and that’s taking forever because after spending the whole day working on other people’s websites, I don’t really want to work on my own.)

It seems that all of the major social networks are trying to or has added Patreon-like functionality – which I’ll define as the ability to provide exclusive content in exchange for a monthly subscription fee.

Facebook has had this for awhile (though it’s oddly hard to find info on it). I recall them offering the ability for group admins to charge monthly for a group. It never took off because 1) Facebook is evil and will screw people over any chance they get and 2) Facebook kept 30% of the revenue (Patreon keeps 5-12%).

(Instagram giving the option for Creator accounts is a tip that they’re going to offer subscriptions too.)

YouTube offers Channel Memberships, which lets creators set up to 5 membership levels with monthly fees between $1-$100. Each level gets different perks, yada yada. YouTube keeps 30%.

Last month Twitter announced Super Follows, which lets followers subscribe for extra content. There are precious little details, just some screenshots of how it would work. I’m going to guess they’ll want 30%.

(If you’re wondering why they keep picking 30%: it’s the fee Apple charges for sales on its App Store. The idea is that they built the platform and provide the marketplace, so they can charge a decent chunk. Fb et al are ignoring the fact that Apple does a lot more than provide a website to sell stuff.)

That’s just the big social networks. Along with Patreon, there are many, many options for creators to monetize exclusive content (too many to list).

Brad & Dave brought up a good point: has anyone launched both a successful Patreon and a successful Ko-Fi/Buy Me A Coffee? Where they have to manage two sets of subscribers, copy & paste content to two platforms, etc?

Hinduism had multitasking down ages ago.

Probably not.

You probably know that I have strong feelings about digital sharecropping (ie building on property you don’t own). But doing that and spreading yourself thin amongst multiple platforms is a bad, bad choice. I have seen artists who offer a Patreon AND a Ko-Fi AND a Buy Me A Coffee.

There’s no way that’s going to work.

I get it, that you want to reach people where they are. But spreading yourself thin like that will not work. We only have so much time & energy and half-assing it on multiple platforms will lead to half-assed results.

I agree with Brad & Dave that you should pick one platform – one that makes the most sense for you. Patreon is an excellent option, because their fees are reasonable. But if you’re a well known on Youtube, where everyone finds & engages with you, then Channel Memberships might be the way to go (if you can stomach losing 30% to Youtube).

If you’re interested in this topic, drop a comment and go listen to the podcast episode (linked above). They have good recommendations on setting up Patreon tiers and pricing in that episode as well (I’m going to adjust me membership levels based on their recs).

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What I’m Reading

Invisible Ink

Invisible ink by Brian McDonald

I mentioned Brian McDonald’s podcast last week, and I finished reading his book Invisible Ink this week. It’s a great book on storytelling (comics, prose, tv, movies, et al) that focuses on the less obvious aspects to good storytelling (ie the invisible ink).

It’s a little hard to describe – the simplest way to look at it is that the storyteller needs to know why they’re writing the story, what’s the point (theme), why every character exists (ie what purpose they serve in the story), why scenes need to happen. If you understand this, you can create a better story (no comment from me on how easy the writing is O.o).

This is not a paint by numbers sort of book, and I’m not sure that I would have gotten a lot out of it if I’d read it, say, 5 years ago. If you’ve struggled with writing stories, you’ll get more out of this than a total noob. It’s a pretty quick read too, he’s got a straight forward, engaging style of writing.

Fire Power

Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee

Watching Invincible got me thinking about Robert Kirkman again. And I realized that I had missed Fire Power, which came out last year. Thankfully the first two volumes are available on Hoopla so I was easily able to scratch this itch.

Fire Power is about Owen Johnson, whose quest to learn about his birth parents leads to him learning kung fu from various masters. He finally arrives at a monastery on (where else) a Himalayan mountain, with the final master whose discipline includes the long lost are of throwing fireballs.

Do you really need any more info? If you’re like me, you were intrigued at the learning kung fu from various masters bit.

Frankly, there isn’t enough kung fu in the world – either in real life (I respect MMA but there are no Himalayan MMA monasteries) or in art (The Matrix wouldn’t be shit without kung fu). If you’re anything like Po, do yourself a favor and read Fire Power.

Also, a shout-out to the artist Chris Samnee, who is one of my current obsessions as I work on improving my inking in order to avoid coloring.

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Is there a better comic origin story in existence? I think not.

Karate Prom

Karate Prom by Kyle Starks

I gushed about Kyle Starks in my first newsletter, and after finishing Fire Power I decided to re-read Karate Prom. It’s a funny one-shot about a karate kid who falls in love with another karate kid but then gets attacked at their prom by her vengeful ex and his cronies.

Karate Prom started as a Twitter challenge of sorts last year. With a nascent pandemic and Free Comic Book Day canceled, he decided to make a free comic based on a provided title.

He wrote & drew Karate Prom in 9 days, and it literally & figuratively kicked ass – ending up on a bunch of best comics of 2020 lists. It’s a fun comic that would make a kick-ass cartoon (pun totally intended).

Go buy it now, it’s well worth $3. And while you’re there, be sure to buy Old Head too.

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That’s all folks!

What creative stuff have you been up to?

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