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#403: The Delusionist

October 12, 2009

Notes from the Manager

Related Strips: #379: While You Were Gone II: The Wrath of Keith; #390: Daydream Believer; #393: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

I just want to repeat a couple bits of news since Friday morning:

1) Winners of the second batch of five Multiplex: Chapter 1 print comics have been notified via the Kickstarter Project's Message Center.

Time for pledge incentive number THREE!

For every $500 we get added to the total between now and October 19th, one lucky backer will get their pretty face drawn Multiplex-style for their Twitter / Facebook / whatever avatar. You'll get AI files and JPGs, so you can do whatever you need with them.

I'm starting the count from $4500, meaning if we get to $5000 before I post the strip for Monday, October 19th, there will be one winner. If we get to $5500 by then, there will be TWO; $6000 gets three winners; and so on.

(While it's not part of the prize, once I've drawn you, there's a pretty good bet you will appear in the print comic at some point as an extra, too.)

2) I've added a new Kickstarter Backers-only strip — from the upcoming second Chapter eBook (and of course the print collection, as well). It's the first of a three-part story called "Hostile Makeover," set after #42 in the archives, and explaining — at long last — Becky's new haircut and glasses.

The previous backers-only strip — a "guest strip" by Kurt — is temporarily up as the TopWebComics vote incentive (until I post a new incentive), to give those of you who have not yet pledged a taste of what you're missing out on. I will not be posting all of the backers-only strips as vote incentives, so if you want to read more Multiplex, pledge today — even just one little dollar will let you read the backers-only posts. But, of course, the $5 level will give you the Chapter eBooks. ;) And then, why not just reserve your copy of the print book now by pledging at the $30 level, since you know you're going to want it, anyway?

Oh, and a couple of new ones:

3) I made a guest appearance in Friday's Theater Hopper, kicking off a new storyline that is ripped straight outta real life. I'm always thrilled to see myself pop up online. I mean, shit, I'm not even in my own comic, unlike Tom's or Joe's.

I was not actually that angry. Mildly disappointed that I'd made it almost a week without knowing ____ __ _ ______ _____. (Don't actually try to decipher what those underlines mean, because they don't.)

4) Because my tongue is stitchless and deemed 100% healthy, there will be a Triple Feature tonight! We will be talking about Zombieland! And maybe some other shit!

5) PLEASE take this ONE-QUESTION SURVEY about the Multiplex: Book 1 print collection. I need help gauging the level of interest in the print book in order to help decide the size of the print run.

UPDATE (10/13): I've noticed in responses to the survey that a VERY small number of people have misgivings about the planned $25 cover price, and I feel compelled to respond.

I'm not DC Comics. I'm not printing up 10,000 copies here. Oversized, 188-page, full-color squarebound books are not cheap, and the fewer books you get, the more they cost per book.

These are the hard numbers: I need to sell the book at 60–70% OFF to distributors. With a $20 cover price, 60% off is $8. With a $25 cover price, that's $10.

With a 750 copy print run, I can't get them printed anywhere for less than $9 — to say nothing of shipping, store costs, PayPal Merchant accounts, SSL certificates, paying my assistant to ship everything, and so on.

For 1000 copies, they'll run me about $8 each just to print them. Selling them to a distributor for $8 is still not viable at this point.

For 1500 copies, I can probably get them for about $6–7, in which case selling to distributors for $8 becomes viable.

If I get 1000 YES responses, shit yeah, the print run will be 1500 and the book can cost $20. But I'm trying to be realistic here. Is Multiplex: Book 1 going to sell 1500 copies in the first year — or two years, even? I doubt it. I only get like 7500 readers per day, guys. Comics with three times my readership don't sell through 1000 books in a year.

I know, you guys aren't retailers or comic book distributors. But I have to set a cover price keeping those sales in mind. Yes, it also means I'll make a healthy profit off each Multiplex Store sale in a 1000 copy run, even after all my other Multiplex-related expenses. But… um… I'm not making these to break even, you know? I'd really like to be able to do comics full-time. Maybe do Multiplex 3 or 5 times a week? Maybe get the second collection out before another four years goes by? This one book won't let me do all of that, no matter how quickly it sells through, but it should get me closer, not farther away from that goal.

So, they're $25. I can and undoubtedly will offer them for less than cover price (at least sometimes), but it's simply not good business to offer a book for sale to retailers and then undercut them at my own store by a significant margin. Retailers need a reason to order the books themselves, and with 1000 copies or more, I can't rely on just Multiplex Store sales alone to push those out the door.

Lest anybody think I'm going to make a profit off of the Kickstarter project directly, the $7500 goal from Kickstarter would get me about $5400 (after Amazon payments' fees and income taxes — because yes, I gotta pay taxes on it). Minus costs to print and ship all of the non-book pledge rewards and minus my living expenses (because helping me finish the book is part of the project) — I'm very likely still going to be paying for half of the print run out of pocket.

Every penny of the Kickstarter funds will be accounted for in future Kickstarter updates.


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The Multiplex: The Revenge (Book Three) Kickstarter is GO!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Short version: The Book Three Kickstarter project is live. Please support it! I love you.

Long version: Much of this is also on the Kickstarter project page, but I wanted to mention a few other things here that aren’t necessarily relevant to people who aren’t already familiar with Multiplex. Apologies about the long-windedness, but I want to be as transparent as possible in these projects.

So today’s good news is that because I’m almost finished with grad school (December! Hopefully!), I finally have the time to make a third Multiplex print collection. For the rest of the summer and into the winter and spring, I can work on Book Three — if we can raise the funds to cover the printing costs, of course, and to supplant the freelance work I’ll need to forego to work on the book.

The bad news is, printing costs have skyrocketed in the last two years. The quotes I’m getting are uniformly much higher than they were for Book Two (which had identical specs), which not only raises the printing costs, but the taxes and fees associated with the whole project. And so, the funding goal is significantly higher than the last project: $24,000.

If we can reach the funding goal, I’ll be able to work on Multiplex and the print book full time for the rest of the summer, pause for the fall semester, and then jump back in again after I complete my MFA in December. (The Kickstarter project page has a detailed tentative budget and timeline.)

Hopefully, I can count on you to help make Book Three happen!

And, ideally, we’ll even surpass the goal, which would let me move straight into working on the new material for Book Four. I’d really like to put the remaining books out once a year — or even faster, after the webcomic ends. For those of you already lamenting the imminent end of the comic strip (in a couple of years), the print books are not just a great keepsake — but the bonus comics mean they’re also more Multiplex.

Book Three can only happen if we hit the funding goal by July 31st at 9pm Central, so please don’t wait. Remember, you are only charged if and when we reach the funding goal by the deadline!

“Tell me more about this ‘Book Three’…”

Multiplex: The Revenge, as Book Three is officially titled, will collect #217–338 (March 2008 to March 2009), which includes Jason and Angie’s brief relationship, the Multiplex 10’s ultimate battle against Flickhead Video, Gretchen getting her due, and much more. It will have the same high production standards as the award-winning Multiplex: There and Back Again (Book Two) collection.

The book will be 208 pages long (just like Book Two) but have about 35 pages of new material spread out across its five chapters, with two slightly longer arcs set on opening nights of The Dark Knight and Watchmen. (Some of this material has already been shared with Patreon backers!) That’s like four months of new stuff!

These new strips will also answer one of the most common questions I get at conventions: “Whatever happened to Brian?” Brian and his accomplice will appear in new strips throughout the book, building on their appearances in the original strips, and culminating in the Watchmen arc that closes off this volume.

This plot line just kind of unceremoniously slipped between the cracks of too many other storylines  back in 2009, and I eventually realized that it made more sense to revisit it in a print book rather than try to pick it up again after too much time had passed.

(Not the final cover)

(Not  final art)

“When will it come out?”

I’m hoping to have Multiplex: The Revenge printed and in your soft, supple hands in September 2016. There is a more detailed timeline on the Kickstarter project page if you want to know more. (Full disclosure: I’m likely to be moving out of Minnesota next summer, and I’ve set this date to accommodate that. If I don’t end up moving, I will be able to move up the timeline by a few months.)

“What kind of rewards are there?”

Rewards include sketches, the Multiplex Chapter eBooks, movie parody mini-posters, cameo appearances in the book or the online strip, and much much more. You can see the complete list on the project page, but one of the coolest ones (in my opinion) is the set of three 11″x17″ movie parody mini-posters, though, which includes The Breakfast Club and Serenity (previously seen on the backer-exclusive T-shirts from the first two Kickstarter projects) as well as a new design based on suggestions from the Kickstarter backers! Brokeback Multiplex? Multiplex Strikes Back? You decide!

(Not final art — obviously, with the last one

(Not final art — I mean, obviously, with the last one)

But I don’t have Book One or Two!

Book One is nearly sold out, but there is a (very!) limited number available at some reward levels, and I have a second printing of the book as a stretch goal. Book Two is available in some of the reward packages, as well.

Many of the reward levels also include the Chapter eBooks of Books One and Two, as well.

I plan to use BackerKit to allow backers to upgrade their rewards packages even after the funding period ends and for “add-ons” — but those orders don’t contribute toward the funding goal, and they won’t open up until after the project has been successfully funded (if it is funded).

What if I already own too many things, maaan?

Now, if you’re not interested in having the printed book, you can also read all the new stuff by pledging to receive the eBook collections (which, personally, I love reading on my tablet in ultra-high resolution) or back the Patreon project instead — although that doesn’t contribute toward the funding goal.

Other ways to support the strip and the book project

The Patreon is an ongoing subscription for the ongoing production of the comic strip. It currently raises roughly $600 a month after fees and such, so while those funds are ostensibly for the comic strip, it still lowers the amount of money I need to work on the book (that is, to pay my rent and bills so that I can work on the book instead of freelance work). I’d rather work on Multiplex than do most of that freelance stuff. You’d rather read Multiplex. Win/win, right?

All funds raised by the Kickstarter will be used  for the production of the print collections and the various Kickstarter rewards (including “hiring” myself for the time to create and fulfill everything). If you want to support the comic but aren’t super keen on the monthly patronage thing (which I totally understand), supporting the Kickstarter project is a great way to make a one-time contribution.

Patreon patrons will have access to all the bonus comics for Book Three that Kickstarter backers do through the Patreon Activity Stream, so unless they want to get the printed book — or just want to chip in a little extra money to make sure the book series continues, there’s no reason to contribute to both.

If you’re allergic to Kickstarter, BackerKit will also facilitate pre-orders for non-backers — but again, those orders don’t contribute toward the funding goal. For Patreon patrons: I don’t yet know whether BackerKit supports coupon codes (all Patreon patrons at the $3 level and up get Multiplex Store discounts), but I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

Finally, if money is tight, you can still help by telling your friends about the books and the Kickstarter project! It all helps me, and that means more Multiplex for you.

Did I mention again that Multiplex is ten years old this month?

Well, it is!

Thank you for your continued support!

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