Friday, 25 April 2014

Weekly Update #28: Kickstarter Pre-ordering

LIMITED EDITION SETS OF 10 SIGNED PRINTS
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DAVE SIM:
Howdy, everyone! Dave Sim here!

We're taking a break this week from the TECHNICAL side of CEREBUS restoration and preservation because, frankly, the financial situation is getting pretty dicey (to say the least).  It's still do-able, but what I've had to face -- and what I now put to you in the spirit of the Open Governance I've been committed to here since I started these weekly updates six months ago -- is that we need what I describe as Sustainable Preservation.

And Sustainable Preservation needs to take into account a distinct possibility:  The CEREBUS Context itself is getting smaller all the time.  We don't know.  Yes, there are a record number of page views here and Tim tells me that the core audience is larger than it's been at any time in the history of the site. So that's good.  That's VERY good.

But, at this point, with CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY still out of print (and no sign of that changing anytime soon if the process is done properly: we still have a ways to go, no matter which way it shakes out) there is a need to generate some revenue.  Quite a lot of revenue.  Lebonfon is willing to come down on the printing bill of the unbound copies that proved unworkable.  That's VERY good. But the bill between the two books is $20,000.  Whatever they come down BY, it's still going to be a lot of money -- just to get us to the point where we're back to a clean slate.

Yes, "we", paleface.  :)

I WAS the creator and co-creator of CEREBUS but that was ten years ago.  Now my job description relative to CEREBUS is far more On-Site Custodian.

And YOU are -- potentially, anyway -- Supporting Custodians.

WE got CEREBUS this far, against ALL odds.  Whether we get CEREBUS any further "downfield", well, that's really up to YOU, the Supporting Custodians.  

So that's where CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, essentially SIGNED AND NUMBERED ARTISTS EDITIONS of CEREBUS pages -- full size colour copies -- from the Cerebus Archive -- comes in.  Every three months a new campaign On Kickstarter for 30 days.  This one starting May 2nd.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE features the 10 earliest pages in the Cerebus Archive.

The Kickstarter Pledge Partners from 2012 have already been notified last week and are now ready to place orders reserving numbers.  There WERE 1,140 of them.  How many there are NOW, we have no idea. That's the concept behind Sustainable Preservation. To find out.  To be able to say next week when the actual campaign goes "live":  here's how many reservations we got a) from the Kickstarter campaign and b) from A Moment of Cerebus.

Basically, this is what we're down to.  Or UP to! Here are the hard numbers.  And 30 days after that we say, here's what we got from Kickstarter itself.

We're going to set what we consider a REALLY low target for the Kickstarter campaign:  $800.  Each folio is $79 so that means we need to sell 10.  If that's as small as we get -- hopefully not as small as we ARE, but as small as we GET -- well, better that we ALL know that and move forward from there, right? -- with 10 people representing the total CEREBUS audience with the ability to help finance the restoration and preservation, not only of the 6,000 page Archive, the Off-White House, the 3,800 pages in off-site storage, the foot high stack of newspaper tearsheets (back when it was OKAY to write about Dave Sim in the newspaper) that really need to be in sheet protectors.  Extensive foundation work on the left rear of the house.  Scott, next door, completely renovated his place and turned it into a triplex and when he dug down to see what condition the foundation was in There. Was. No. Foundation.

This place used to be called Sand Hills Creek for a reason.  His whole place was built on sand.  We don't KNOW that the Off-White House is, but odds are...

It's a very solid house, 130 years old.  But, you know, the ODDS are...

I've consulted with Leon Bensason, Kitchener's Heritage Planner about what can be done about restoring the house and he's going to put me in touch with groups who do that.  Weird "70s" touches like the owner who replaced the kitchen (now library) ceiling with plastic panels and tube lighting.  I mean, someone will know how to get rid of that and what should replace it.

Those kinds of things will be (God willing) covered by my insurance policy after I'm dead.  Aardvark-Vanaheim is the sole beneficiary (so anyone who's been nice to me because they're hoping to inherit something, well, no need to be nice to be anymore  :) ).  It would be nice to do some of those things while I'm still alive, but...well, how viable IS that?

I mean, just, while you're sitting there: think about it.  How many people do you see supporting this?  50? 100? 400?

Here's what I think is a good way of looking at it:  Here in 2014, we are as far away from CEREBUS No. 1 coming out in 1977 as CEREBUS No. 1 coming out was from, you know, The Battle of Britain.  1940.  We're halfway between CEREBUS No.1 coming out and the MIDDLE of the 21st century.  Yes, our brand new century.

Anyone who bought CEREBUS No.1 in 1977 off the comic store stand is now in their 50s.  Unless they were younger than 13, which is pretty unlikely.

It's LATER than all of us think.

See, in my experience the core CEREBUS fans are a really devoted group:  the people who regularly read this site and have stay focussed on CEREBUS for the ten years since it ended. That's pretty amazing.  That's REALLY amazing.  If there's 400 people willing to commit to $79 every three months, once we deduct all the expenses from the campaign, that should pay off a chunk of the printing bill if not the entire bill.  One or two campaigns and: Clean slate.  But, if there are only 25, well, at that point I have to say, "Look, I appreciate the fans I've got, I really do, but this just isn't viable.  I need to borrow against my life insurance, pay Lebonfon and say, Well, okay, almost made it to 40 years of CEREBUS" and just go ahead with THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, advertising, selling the glamourpuss artwork.  Things like that. And let everything get done after I'm dead.

At worst, start selling pages to cover basic expenses.  Which I hate to do.  You can't preserve an Archive and sell it at the same time, using the money from selling it to preserve it.

Can we talk Mama Loshen, here?

I think one of the problems is that when you're a DEVOTED fan, you imagine that everyone who really thinks highly of CEREBUS is, you know, securely plugged in the same as you are.  And I don't think that's the case.  I don't know if sf fans still use the term GAFIATED (Getting Away From It All), but I think that's more common than exceptional.  Even the most DEVOTED CEREBUS fan is going to get away from it from time to time.  You have other interests.  It's the INTERNET!  EVERYTHING is on there! Like as not, the mental model I have is:  MOST CEREBUS fans wouldn't find out about CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (how can I put this?) tanking for months if not years.  What?  WHAT happened?  SERIOUSLY?!!

So, what I'm hoping is, after I give you -- you the AMOC audience -- your subject line for your e-mail

Well, hey, let me do that right now, hey?

SUBJECT: AMOC -- ANY e-mail with that in the subject line which comes in to cerebusarchive [at] geps [dot] ca after 12:01 am ET Saturday morning (26 April) will reserve your number in one of three ways:
  • LOWEST NUMBER HOLD This means that you have obtained a specific number that you will retain in all future Kickstarter campaigns.
  • SPECIFIC NUMBER HOLD This means that you have a specific number -- a lucky number -- that you want and you want it from now on.  Even to the point where if we only sell 125 and your lucky number is 211, I will number yours #211 out of 125.  Sincerely.  I'll even make a note that I promised you could have that number no matter what so no one can doubt it's authentic.
  • LOWEST NUMBER STAND-BY This means that you want the lowest number that you can get.  If someone, for example, reserves a number but doesn't pay for it, it becomes available and everyone on the STAND-BY list moves up one in the "line"

What I'm hoping is that you can, you know, give me the benefit of the doubt.  Humour me.

How?

I'm glad you asked that question, Ma'am.  Trust me, I've never met the nice lady before:

Contact anyone you know that you think of as a solid CEREBUS fan who can afford to buy a signed and numbered CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.

"Hi, [name] I'm pretty sure you knew about this but, uh, Cerebus is going down for the third time. Drowning. Or as close as possible to it.  Here's a link to Dave's posting on it. All hands on deck, eh?"

And ask them to pass it on to any Cerebus fans they can think of.

Yeah, just this side of spam or even over the edge (depending on the person).

Here's something else that might (or might not) make your head spin.

This is the first CEREBUS project that no one alive today will live to see completed.

WHAT!!?

Seriously!  There are 3,800 pages in the Cerebus Archive.  10 pages per quarter.  40 pages a year.  Give or take, that's 100 years.  At the Kickstarter site I gave the example of Drexel (Hi, Drexel! Happy birthday again!) who just turned 11.  HE won't live to see CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 380.  If he has kids, his kid will probably be -- what -- 80?  His grandchildren will be -- what? -- 60?

Here's another one:  very few of those 380 "issues" will be signed and numbered.

They'll be made available through Diamond as unsigned versions, at the same $79 price.  Sustainable Preservation.  We can fill any sized order from Diamond.  If we don't get enough orders for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE THE UNSIGNED UNNUMBERED EDITION, then we'll offer NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO when NUMBER TWO comes out.  If we don't get enough orders there, we'll solicit for NUMBER ONE, NUMBER TWO, NUMBER THREE.  Eventually we'll get a large enough order to fill out a minimum purchase order and then we fill any orders that come in from then on.  1, 2, 4.  It's sustainable.  We'll weather the storm.  How small can "they" make us?  Can they completely destroy us?  Simply put: can they get us below the 10 signed and numbered copies minimum I've set for keeping going?

No idea.  We'll definitely see where we're STARTING from by the first week in June, anyway.

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE
Dave Sim with Lebonfon's Alain Roberge reviewing original Cerebus art (April 2014)

But, aside from there being unsigned copies ALWAYS available, I'M not going to live to see CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE-EIGHTY.  As I said on the Kickstarter site:  if I live to be 88 -- which is quite long, actually -- I'll be gone around CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE TWENTY.  Only the first 120 will be signed and numbered.  And if we are, you know, Being Made Small, somewhere in there will be the RAREST CEREBUS ARCHIVE SIGNED AND NUMBERED folio.  #3 out of 10.  Or #3 out of 15.  Even funnier, #222 out of 10.  "To Troy: I said you could have #222 in perpetuity and Byyyyy GUM I meant it. *gum* *gum* *gum*"

And (as I also said at the Kickstarter site) you know what I would do if I were you?  Whenever I kick it. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER EIGHTY-SEVEN, say.  As soon as you hear I kicked it:  Get those suckers up on eBay, TOOT SWEET!  I mean, if, you know, you don't plan on leaving them to your son or your grandson or granddaughter or whatever.  Auction those suckers!  

Seriously!  Cut and paste this right now.  Save it.  Anybody gives you flack:  "Hey, Dave himself said! Here look!"  I mean, they -- whoever they are -- will be doing hardcovers right away, as soon as CEREBUS is in the public domain, before my extremities are even completely cooled off, before my fingernails are even as long as Elton John's.

"We know Dave said he didn't want hardcovers done, but, we think Dave would approve of THESE hardcovers."

No.  He. Wouldn't.

But, when you're six feet under...you know, you'd be AMAZED what people will decide you changed your mind about.  Cerebus the Movie!!!!  DAVE WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS!

Auction them!  Have a happy, happy payday on me, as thanks for Being There when the Cerebus Archive needed you most.

In terms of the actual prints:  unlike a portfolio, I'll be autographing each of the prints.  So the folder they're in will be signed and numbered and so will each print.  If you have a favourite, you're guaranteed it will have an autograph on it.

When I sat down to write the commentary -- yes, there's about 2,000 words of commentary minimum attached to each CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER -- frankly, it was painful.  Painful?  Yes, painful.  The work is almost forty years old.  Picture what it would be like for someone to give you an essay you wrote in the first year of high school and asked you to write an essay ABOUT it.  "Uhhhh.  This is...really...bad. This is barely literate. I'm embarrassed.  What do you want me to say?  Can I go now?"

But, it was actually viable, particularly in light of what I'm doing with THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  "Is that pen?  Or brush?  What's the concept behind it?  What does Raymond think he's doing?"  Mostly guesswork.  Interesting guesswork, but you aren't getting definitive answers.  With CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE you are.  This is what I was using.  This is WHY I was using it.  Here's the parts that I'm really embarrassed about and why I'm embarrassed about them.  So, (God willing I don't kick it after CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO!) what you will be getting is a diary of my development as an artist.  10 pages at a time, so I can be as thorough-going as possible.  "I've never talked to anyone about this!"  Things that I -- I can't say remember -- except in terms of looking at the results.  "Okay, here's where the page fell apart."  A page I saved from #21 because I did Three. Really. Good. Panels!  That's one page in a row with three really good panels!   WHY it's a good page.

In order to avoid having only the earliest pages well documented before my extremities start, you know, to stiffen and corrode (hopefully them resisting doing that until I'm actually dead), I'm going to go book by book.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is the ten earliest pages.  NUMBER TWO is the ten earliest HIGH SOCIETY pages.  NUMBER THREE is the ten earliest CHURCH & STATE I pages.  I don't know if Gerhard would be interested in doing his own commentaries or what he would want to get paid for them, but I'll certainly make the offer.

Which leads me to an important point for those of you who didn't participate in the first Kickstarter campaign.  ALL of the money will be accounted for.  Here's what came in, here is what -- specifically -- we are calling expenses and the exact amounts.  Here's what Lebonfon got paid.  Here is what we still owe them.  Funkmaster John (who is hosting this one along with Funkmistress Karen) are getting paid this much.  The agreement is 10% of the revenues after all expenses have been deducted.

So it would be a matter of Gerhard saying, This is what I need to get paid to do commentaries.  Or, I'm not interested in doing commentaries.  I won't be taking any money personally.  Some of it might go for company expenses, but I'll specify what it's for, but I'm pretty sure that I can keep everything glued together with chewing gum and spit for the next two years by various means without (and this is key to me) jeopardizing the ultimate preservation of the house and the Archive which means rock-bottom spending.

SOME cartoonists can retire, but I'm not one of  them.  I'm one of those guys who will die in harness for the simple reason that nothing -- nothing -- in my life compares with the satisfaction of doing a really good page.  Working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for the last year on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND exclusively, I'm getting better.  And I never say that.  So there's no real need for me to take money.  $1,000 a month and I'm good.  And $200 of that is automatic withdrawal for charities.  We're about halfway to that already at Patreon.com and that's only been around for a couple of months.

There are some open questions about the Kickstarter campaign.  We were going to add postage costs but Kickstarter doesn't let you do that. You're expected to make it part of your pledge price.  So we might create different pledge packages for "The U.K. and Europe" and "Australia, New Zealand and Asia".  But, hopefully, it will be a simple math problem once we have the Kickstarter Partners pledge reservations and the AMOC (that's you guys) reservations.  We'll have a week to crunch the numbers and -- if you see the $79 come down -- that will be why.

For you folks in the good old U.S. of A (USA! USA! USA!) we are restricted to charging in our domestic currency.  So, you'll be paying $79 Canadian.  The exchange rate has been hovering around 90 cents for the last few weeks so unless something goes wonky (God forbid) with the economy of the U.S. (USA! USA! USA!) or Canada between now and the beginning of June, Americans should be paying around $72 U.S.  That's going to go up or down depending on when you get your credit card bill and what day and time they did the conversion.  It will say on your statement:  $79 Canadian and what that translates to on your bill.  If there are any substantial deviations in the exchange rate through the 30 days, I'll throw a warning flag onto the Kickstarter site,

So's you at least have some, you know, warning, that you're about to get "credit-card hosed" eh?

Like a, USA! "credit card soaker" eh?

Okay, beauty.

The start time -- 12:01 am ET tomorrow morning will be synchronized with...UTC?  I'm pretty sure that's what Funkmaster John said.  It sure LOOKS like UTC but my handwriting isn't the best these days.

Okay, now I've got to hike me out to Waterloo and get the mail.  Ted Adams tells me IDW sent the PREVIEWS ad for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL for my approval and the deadline for changes is...Monday, I think?

No rest for the highly caffeinated.

Thanks for letting me bend your cybernetic ear.

Here we go, eh?

Dave

SPREAD THE WORD! PLEASE RETWEET:

RESERVE YOUR SET OF PRINTS:
Email 'cerebusarchive [at] geps [dot] ca' right now to reserve your print number. Specify whether you want:
 - the lowest number available and 'hold' for all future campaigns;
 - the lowest number available and be put on 'standby' for an earlier number as they become available; or
 - reserve a specific number (if available) and 'hold' for all future campaigns.
Remember to confirm your reservation with a Kickstarter pledge after 2 May to guarantee receiving your prints!
Full details at the Cerebus Archive Kickstarter FAQs.

ONLINE REACTION:
  - Bleeding Cool
  - The Comics Reporter (Twitter)
  - The Comics Reporter (Blog)
  - TCJ.com (Sales & Spending Opportunities)

12 comments:

Tony Dunlop said...

OK, a request for (I guess) Tim (rumors of whose retirement from this blog have turned out to be, thankfully, greatly exaggerated):

I've never used Kickstarter. I barely know what Kickstarter is. Will there be a prominent link, here at AMOC, to get there on May 2?

PS I don't care if Dave wants it or not - if I'm around when he snuffs it, I'm snapping up the hardcovers before the ink dries. I've been waiting years already.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Tony,
Yep, full Kickstarter details will posted here just as soon as I get them (you know as much as I do at this point).
But just to clarify - the Kickstarter campaign site will only go live from 2 May. Before then you need to register your interest BY EMAIL to reserve your numbered edition (see Dave's instructions above).
Tim

Michael Lucas said...

I'm reminded of a John Varley story about a mission to Mars. When the travelers awoke from their long sleep they found that, about three months before they had arrived, technology had jumped forward so quickly that others made the trip in a couple of days and were orbiting Mars waiting for them.

Moral of course is: Predicting the future is like looking in a dark basement at midnight for a black cat that isn't there (apologies to RAH). Courage!

Dominick Grace said...

Actually, I was one of the original Kickstarter funders, and I did NOT receive a notification of this last week.... Dave might want to double-check on that.

Michael Grabowski said...

I love the idea of this project but can't afford to support it. Best of success to Dave in getting this off the ground. However many archive volumes are created, I hope the goal of getting the first two volumes and eventually all 16 properly printed at high quality is met within a few years and that by the time Alex Raymond is finished up (God willing) we'll also see a signed & numbered gold logo edition of HS.

Greg said...

Though I understand, I think it's a real pity that Dave is unwilling to part with anymore of his original Cerebus art. Based on the sales from Heritage last year, it seems pretty clear that sacrificing a few pages from the archive could make up faaaaaar more money than this endeavor is likely to. For a decent page or two from Jaka's Story, I'd probably be inclined to pay as much as he's likely to get from this first round of funding in total, and it would take a lot less effort on his part. That being said, I do respect the decision and I hope that this generates a tremendous amount of success.

Anonymous said...

Depending on how next month shakes out, I may be able to support this. Hopefully.

Tony- Ditto on the hardcovers.

-Wes Smith

Travis Pelkie said...

OOH --

Something that should probably be emphasized a bit more BOLDLY --

That Dave's not going from page 1 to page 6000 and change straight through

but going 1-10 Cerebus, 1-10 High Society, 1-10 Church and State (v1, or complete?), etc.

Because I'm guessing I'm not the only one reading this going "jeez, just the early stuff? Do I wanna pay for that?"

But if we'll start seeing Jaka's Story pages by ... end of next year, I guess? Or Guys pages by...end of ... math hard... 2017? I think? Then I would think more people might be interested.

Wonder how the text pages will show up?

eric fennessey said...

So, I save one night's beer money a week AND replace it with some lovely Cerebus material: Dave's bid to make me healthier continues apace: I salute the man!

jonbly said...

Here's my two cents (more like twenty-eight cents) on your situation, Dave:

KSCA isn't going to be sustainable in terms of cash generation, though it may be helpful in the short term. Interest will fall off after the first cycle clears Chuch & State, and may not revive fully on the second cycle. There's only so much wall space in a house, and after that it rapidly goes from "these are lovely!" to "where the heck am I going to put all these?".

The Strange Death of Alex Raymond isn't a commercially viable project. Most of your loyal audience has bought a version of most of it already, and that's not a big group to start with. The subject isn't going to pull in any new readers.

In my opinion, if you want to make some money, your best bets are the following:
1) New Cerebus (or supporting cast) stories, set in some quiet bit of continuity, that can stand alone as comic mini-series,
2) Re-draw the Cerebus phonebook (now that you know how to draw),
3) Hardback luxury editions of the whole phonebook series (if you can find the right cost/price balance, and assuming that you've got the first two books back in action),
4) Something original that relies on what made Cerebus great - the writing, rather than the art. Clever, funny, with interesting characters. Good art is the cherry on top for comics, not the ice-cream.

Spending money on getting the first two phonebooks back into print is critical. (Personally, I'm appalled that the printers seem to be claiming that the final product wouldn't be consistent with the proofs - what the hell is the point of a proof, then?)

Spending money / time / worry on indefinite preservation of the Cerebus Archive / Off-White House ... just doesn't make any sense to me. It's a crazy ego project that will evaporate as soon as you're dead. Your legacy is what's sustainably in print, not a pile of papers in storage.

David Birdsong said...

Wow jonbly, I'm sure Dave will follow your advice to the letter. I can't wait to see the redrawn CEREBUS phonebook. Boy, oh boy, what a great plan.

Next up he can get Gerhard to redo HIGH SOCIETY with him and even have a go at fixing the early issues of CHURCH & STATE.

This is going to be so awesome I may plotz.

Ghostprint Gallery said...

^ Ha