Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dr T-shirt returns

I've given up complaining about how hard it is to design tshirts and how there are no ideas left. I've realised that at 32, despite a keen eye on the scene at all times, I've outgrown the innocent impulse that forged my early, still-popular designs of 5, 6 years ago. I'm just grateful that I came up with them at all. They have put new school coats on my (non-existent) kids for the greater part of the decade.

That is not to say that I don't still have ideas. In a controlled experiment last night I sat down for an hour and had some ideas. I've marked the good ones with green spots, the awful ones with orange spots, and the truly hideous ones with red. I actively invite your input as I take you through them page by page!



A man doesn't look quite right with a tote bag. But top left is something that could change all that. I have also acknowleged that Tiny Stephen Harper with his spatula has something about him. The rest of the page should be burned.



Things progress fast. "Whitey Sale" must surely have its followers, those in the know. "1-800 How's My Beard" made me laugh but I am no gauge of these things. "Jelly TIme" is far beyond the pale.



"What? Me? Pompous?" may be the single greatest image I have ever drawn: get behind this one. The little camel has "gin" and "tonic" written on his humps. I like the tiny Spanish Inquisition but they will require some time in the design lab.



Out of strength and ready to rest, the lower common denominator is taken outside and shot. I liked cats, but not dogs (too demented?)

102 comments:

David Streever said...

It's come down to this, then, John.

I always promised myself I'd let you know when you'd gone too far, and this is it: you're definitely cracked.

(In a good way, I promise.)

I think your "Elvis Destroying Things" is the best concept ever, though, & much better than the Pompous one.

Your tote, the PM, & Spanish Inquisition are strong showings from a veteran of the Industry.

Whitey Sale confuses me.

Thanks

andi said...

I like the nosferatu one. It's all whimsical.

Josher said...

I liked cats, but not dogs (too demented?)

Not demented enough.

Roman said...

8-bit Elvis is an idea worth pursuing, intellectual property lawsuits be damned...

ToppsNYK said...

I like the "I'm not at home, burgle my house" perhaps a little masked rouge on the side of the box, a broken window on the other for spice?

Julia said...

I *like* 1-800-How's-My-Beard. Also, the pompous one and Nosferatu.

I've always really liked your t-shirts. I can understand how you'd be sick of doing them, though...but look at it this way, there's worse things you could be doing to make money? Like selling your body in an alleyway. Or being a telesales model, peddling horrendous clothes no-one would ever buy in a proper shop.

Of course, if you'd rather be doing those two things than designing t-shirts, you might be in trouble!

x

Dustin said...

I wouldn't count out the heel clapping fellow and beatnik from page 1.

Mark G. said...

Here's another vote for the both the heel tapper and 'I Like Jazz'.

Glenn said...

Canadian Prime Minister jokes? Is someone channelling Kate Beaton? (Sidebar: Kate Beaton is a long-lost cousin I found through SGR.)

John A said...

Julia: it's not that i don't like doing it (I enjoy the process of design a great deal) but a lot of what I come up with isn't super-saleable. It's like running a record label and trying to have hit singles. A really big hit might keep you going for a year, but you could lose a lot of money making singles that aren't hits - and you can start to worry that you've lost your touch!

allenellisdewitt said...

my two favourite:

1800 hows my beard (there is not enough pro-beard material!!!)

Next Pope, right here.


Thank you for your awesomeness.

Tom said...

As long as "urchins" is associated with the heel-click fellow (and thus he is Fagin) then he is seriously deserving of consideration, red splodge or no.

Nick said...

I agree with you totally about the "Pompous" image, John; it is a magnificent idea for a t-shirt, and upon its offering for sale, I shall buy it forthwith. I expect that the shirt will be made of the finest imported silk hand-woven by blind Tibetan Sufi monks?

Morgan said...

Nosferatu. Just enough whimsy to be cheeky (OK, I'm an American I have no idea if cheeky is the right term). I think it's funny that he doesn't want to share his toffees....how does he eat toffees with fangs?! I like it.

mimo said...

How's my beard? Really?

SaraLaKali said...

I like the idea of the whimsical Nosferatu. Perhaps it just needs a little tweaking. Surely toffees would stick to his fangs, making it difficult for him to bite necks and such. Also sticky sweets open the risk of fang decay. :(

Then again, as a victim of the current economic crisis, I can't afford to buy clever t-shirts right now, so perhaps I'm not your target demographic.

Dr. Hastings said...

I think "1 800 Hows My Beard" is your strongest potential seller if you give it some polish.

I consider myself "in the know" with "whitey sale", and I really don't think it would sell.

"What Me Pompous" is my favorite.

And "Nosferatu" is a good one too!

Jim said...

I love the Nosferatu, but I think you were a little hard on Jelly Time.

I also really liked the Pope wannabe, who I think would be great combined with the Spanish Inquisition.

As always, I will buy any library-themed shirts for my wife's dear friend.

Thanks for soliciting input!

Bad Andy said...

Being colour blind, I care none for your grading scheme. However Action Badger made me laugh, as did 8-Bit Elvis.
Just have pity on your poor sterling customers...

Ryan said...

as it turns out i loved everything with red dots and hated everything with green dots...

rob said...

jelly time made me laugh up a storm,and i think everyone i came into contact with would do the same.
that's an epidemic, my friend.

odd parity said...

The shopping design is absolutely brilliant, I'd buy one for sure.

I also really like the Nosferato/toffee sketch, but I'm not sure it's something I'd wear. It would make a great desktop background though :-)

mandy said...

i love camels and gin and tonic so you know where my vote is going.

i also like the clicky heeled guy

Fletcher said...

I like the little dancing skeleton on the last page - but it seems he is bereft of any dot at all! Perhaps a row of little dancing skeletons would work - maybe holding hands in a line. You could call it the "danse macabre".

K. Signal Eingang said...

Would almost certainly wind up buying a "cat person" shirt for my sister. "Gin & Tonic Camel" needs work but seems right up my alley (if I may suggest a companion piece - Tequila Llama?). The one I liked best, oddly enough was "Bloody Hellfire".

miowbuzzsmugg said...

[IMG]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y205/zoetrope/catperson.jpg[/IMG]

whoopah

WFHIT? said...

I fail to understand why action badger is marked with a red dot. I would wear that until it chafed my skin clean off.

miowbuzzsmugg said...

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y205/zoetrope/catperson.jpg

aww,i'll try that again.

ThePizzaPizzaMan said...

My favorites are "I'm only shopping..." and Nosferatu. Though I do like the Spanish Inquisition and pompous ones as well.

Sai said...

Isn't "I'm not at home, DON'T BURGLE MY HOUSE" funnier? I think so.

Eliyahu said...

Nosferatu is a gem. I really like "stop this Kerfuffle"! I would buy several of the "I'm only shopping" totes to do my manly groceries. "Whitey Sale" is awesome, but too obscure; I suggest you just make one for yourself Mr. Allison and be the coolest guy ever.

As a citizen of Portland, Oregon, hipster beard capitol of the world, I feel that "1 800 how's my beard" is one year too late. People are growing tired of the beard, and the backlash has begun.

Action Badger FTW!

John A said...

Sai: no.

Dr. Fun said...

Urchins is great! That, and I think that I may be the only person that really enjoys "stop this kerfuffle!" Also I enjoy jelly time? Maybe I'm losing credibility quickly...Spanish Inquisition is great, and I really enjoy both the cat person and dog person shirts, but I don't think I would buy either. Urchins and Spanish Inquisition are supreme though.

Tony said...

"Nosferatu" and "shopping" are the funniest, to me.

"How's my beard" -- you market that to the right people (the beard obsessed; there are a lot of them) and you'll sell a bunch.

Glenatron said...

There is at least one person for whom I would be compelled to purchase an Action Badger T-Shirt. The image is less awesome than the concept on that shirt.

I suspect that others may feel compelled to purchase "What? Me? Pompous?" T-shirt for me, so I guess that balances out.

Megan Rose said...

I like the Nosferatu one. It's adorable, and he totally WOULDN'T share his toffees.

MattBlackLamb said...

I'm into Jazz is great, I like the shopping one too. 1-800 how's my beard is a fantastic idea, I like that one a lot and Nosferatu is pure genius.

Chris W said...

I would buy the "I'm not at home..." T-shirt for sure. Love the G&T camel as well.

Leah said...

I vote for the tiny Stephen Harper. He is evil, and Jan. 6's strip made me die laughing.

Mizufae said...

Jelly Time is still making me laugh. Something about the action lines.
I would buy G&T camel for my gin-swilling lush of a roomie, especially if it was on green.
That's the word.

Karl said...

Another vote for urchins!

mordicai said...

toffee nosferatu!

Emma said...

Cats and Nosferatu... and probably also the Spanish Inquisition! Whimsy!

Allaghan said...

Sir the urchins shirt would be hilarious, if it was a whole troupe of urchins with maybe some jaggedy london skyline in the background. Also maybe a dancing ONE-LEGGED urchin would add to the comedic factor?

Gene Ha said...

I love a lot of the ones you don't like. I think some of the text is wonky, but I like the graphics.

Urchins is good, but I don't think it needs a label. Just make him creepy and mysterious.

Steven Harper is good, but giving him an apron without any apparent cooking (i.e. poutine) just emasculates him. You could just have him looking evil in his suit, no apron or spatula, and put him in front of a graphic maple leaf. Voila, c'est Harper!

I like the "What? Me? Pompous?" image, but I don't think it needs a caption. It's mysterious.

I think the Spanish Inq would look great in your hands. I'd make them march "forward" (right) instead of left. Shorten the caption, get rid of "Don't worry". And maybe give one a prop like a flail or a pillow.

Nosferatu is my fave, but he shouldn't have to speak for himself. It should be a caption.

The skeleton is brilliant on his own.

gabbiana said...

Oooh, ooh, definitely the pompous one. Because I am pompous, but at least I admit it.

freeboprich said...

"Shopping" (I wish I had this walking along Oxford Street yesterday!)

"Jazz" (because I am)

"Beard" (prompting me to regrow my own of course)

"Pompous"

I would quickly run out of earnings...

Rich

lovelibeam said...

Sir Heel Clicker and "I'm Into Jazz" are obvious choices for me. Your red dots perplex and sadden me. I will now question my own humanity often.

BenPanced said...

I know of many a men who will happily purchase "1-800-How's-My-Beard", myself happily included. We are all happily bearded, and my happily bearded friends will appreciate the humor. Happily.

Mitzi said...

I don't buy webcomics T-shirts, so don't consider me market research. (Can't wear T-shirts at work, get too many free T-shirts for home.)

But I love Nosferatu. It's so precious, the way he's clutching his toffees!

J M Hoffman said...

As a fellow webmaster and owner of scary go round shirts, I would like to make some suggestions:

First of all, It's about time we saw a Freedom Eagle shirt. We Americans love to acknowledge our nation's founder and the one at whose knees we were taught our gung-ho qualities.

Second, might we get some sort of Tackleford promotional shirt authorized by the former Mayor Mayor? Maybe something like "I visited Tackleford and all I got was this lousy tee shirt" ... "And run over by a skellington driving a taxi"

Also, 8BIT did this once and I love it, printing an entire comic panel on a shirt. Maybe folks could vote on their favorite comics and the top 3 could be made available.

Finally, and for the love of god, put your URL on the shirts! It's madness having to explain The Saddest Wookie, instead of just directing people to the conveniently attached address.

Grace said...

Oh Stephen. When will you ever learn? It is not the Canadian way.

Tom A said...

John,

I feel that it is at times like these (looking at a scribbled page of your ideas) that I am afforded a rare peak into your psyche. I find it both delightfully exhilarating and terrifying. Like riding a roller coaster towards a lake of fire, full of pirhanas (on fire).

Lauren O said...

I can't believe you red-lighted both Urchins AND Next Pope Right Here. It's like you are a hulking man who does not know his own strength and thinks it is unimpressive to lift a car above your head, except the webcomics equivalent of that.

(I've just spent my entire Internet T-shirt fund on Christmas gifts, though, so my opinion should count for less.)

Dennis said...

"What? Me? Pompous?" is my favorite by far. It is magnificent.

Nicholas said...

Dear Mr. Allison,

"Whitey Sale" is beautiful. I am in the know.

And of course "What? Me? Pompous?" is fantastic, though I want to read it like it were MAD Magazine ("What, me pompous?")

Jenny said...

Beatnicks, please!
Hold your applause.
Sideways leaning drummer
Is sideswiped by the dot!



*snap snap snap snap*

Yes, I like jazz.

Also, as soon as I read the Nosferatu caption, I imagined the sound he must make while chewing his toffee. I wonder what it would be like to sit next to Nosferatu on a public bus while he's eating toffee and trying to hide it from everyone inside his jacket. Yes, I like the Nosferatu idea

I would get the "Exploding" shopping bag for friends who work in pyrotechnics.

Matt H said...

Call me crazy, I don't really like funny shirts. Too much attention and people trying to read it. Callous though it may be, some sort of large print of our dear Amy, is something i think would be popular- and actually pertinent to your work. Or as someone else suggested, a print of an entire comic...Seems like the trend among web comics is to make merch totally irrelevant to the comic itself, which is kind of weird. That said, the "pompous" one is pretty suave.

Jenessa said...

If you made the nosferatu shirt, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

APlusGoodJob said...

I must say that I have always liked the shirt that says "fate baked me a tasty cake!" Not coincidentally, I need to replace that shirt right about now. The old one has been discolored and worn due to excessive wearing.

kelvingreen said...

I vote for "Pompous", "Shopping" and "Nosferatu" and would buy all three!

... said...

I'm all for Nosferatu, the Pope, and the Spanish Inquisition. I'd buy all three. I'd buy them as presents for all the Catholics I'm fond of. I'd wear them to family luncheons.

(If it helps, I own and wear the Man-o-war, Tupping Liberty, It's Okay To Be You, Vampire is Biting Danger, and Guilt-o-matic t-shirts. If these have been particularly popular items, you might want to listen to me. If not, I'll buy more shirts from you anyways.)

John A said...

Matt H: unfortunately, no one buys any of the things that you have suggested. They have all been tried, repeatedly, and resoundingly fail.

Shoehorning ideas from the comic onto shirts becomes counter productive and actually damages the comic as you try to reverse engineer these things. I could name a couple of comics that made themselves utterly unreadable that way.

Citizen Meh said...

I would buy the Stephen Harper one like a shot.

Citizen Meh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christian said...

All I want is one other person, illustrated or otherwise, to share my giddy desire for urchins. I will buy this shirt for my sister.

Kelly Anne said...

I love the shopping/exploding. Genius. Am largely ambivalent about the rest, except for the word "kerfluffle." That's a winner. Happy New Year!

The Benj said...

Badger
Jazz
Pompous

As long as they're not on black, I'd buy all 3 of 'em.

Love 'Whitey Sale' (God bless Bubs) but I don't think I'd buy it.

K said...

Speaking as an owner of four of your fine T-shirts, I like the kerfuffle and Nosferatu best. And Isometric Elvis. I know who I'd buy that for.

Can I express a mild preference for the ideas that don't require the observer to identify tiny S. Harper or whatever "Whitey Sale" means? Not that I don't know, of course, it just makes them easier to explain to one's mum. (Well, actually I don't know what Whitey Sale means. But I'll find out somehow.)

Tom said...

Cat person, yes.

Paul said...

Whitey Sale - I would def buy, but might be too niche to generate you much business? But then I guess better to have a shirt that a minority really love (and therefore buy) than one that the majority merely like (and don't get round to ordering).

Cat Person - I think this would go gangbusters for you

Camel - I think a well executed camel (so to speak) could be a great success

rob said...

I'm all about the Cat Person and the Pompous, but I'm feeling a little sad for the camel. I'd be proud to sport a 'ship of the desert' top!

lou said...

How could you red dot I'm Into Jazz? Love it!

Michael said...

Jazz and Nosferatu are the ones

tobiwan said...

Record bag record bag. In an awesome 90s stylee..

MJ Hibbett said...

Pompous, Cat Person, Next Pope - that's my BIOGRAPHY in three t-shirts! I have put any future clothes purchases on hold until I can get one - OR MORE - of these. Credit Crunch be darned!

Charles said...

I really dig What? Me? Pompous? I would buy that t-shirt the day I saw it online. I also like the concept of gin & tonic camel.

James said...

Still waiting on a Dr. Music shirt (or whatever the record player faced one was...)

Tom said...

I'm all for the Kerfuffle one, because I like saying Kerfuffle.

John A said...

Dr Music will definitely launch soon.

Lizzie said...

I'M INTO JAZZ is awesome!!

tava said...

I love the Nosferatu! It's randomness makes it funny. I'd buy it.

Also, I think Jelly Time deserves a green dot.

Verny said...

Green Dots for Ship of the Desert and Future Pope! Classy... er... Classic

Valerie said...

I don't know why, but the Nosferatu one made me snarf my coffee. I would wear that shirt with pride!

Ben said...

Dude, why no dot for the skeleton? Now THAT is deserving of being on a t-shirt.

Jake said...

Well i must say alot of those designs tickled my funny bone!

The male Tote bag is quality, i cant think of anything better to have if i am out shopping!

I am a big fan of of Victorian Urchin like things with top hats and the like but maybe its missing something, it should certainly not be burned!!

The pompous one is truly an inspired piece of work! It has a lion with a crown and with that you cannot go wrong! I would most certainly buy it.

:D
Jake

Paul said...

Turns out that someone else has done a Whitey Sale T, but, err, not very well...

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190267571264

stereo-tzu said...

Nosferatu = amazing, I'd buy it in a second!

melissa said...

what, me, pompoms?

Pete said...

Hey Bro, it'll come as no suprise that my favourites are all marked with red spots. New pope, desert ship, action badger, urchins (You know I'm a big fan of a spontaneous heel click!), and jazz are all awesome. I love pompous too. As it's my birthday coming up, I think you should financially ruin yourself by producing all of these!!!

theBigSmoke said...

Having just made a hefty purchase from SGR Heavy Industries Inc, and having made a new years resolution to STOP BUYING T-SHIRTS, it speaks volumes that I pledge right this moment to buy that harper shirt the moment it is available. Cash money.

Well, colourful Canadian cash money. Soothing blues and purples. Hopefully not any orange. The bank account is hurting.

fingle said...

¡Inquisitors! ¡Sí!

And judging by popular demand, you may want to rethink old N. and his candy! I think that fact that he has a speech bubble puts it over the top, but I may be crazy.

Cheers!
- Patrick

LaRissa said...

nosferatu ftw!!!!!!

i showed my fiancee and he burst out laughing so hard! i totally need 5!

crouchjump said...

I thought 'Cat Person' was 'Eat Person,' at first. It made sense with the image.

Try it out for a minute. It'll grow on you.

Scott said...

"Burgle my house" is quite possibly the best idea i've ever seen. I do not think it deserves that red dot.

laner said...

don't stop the kerfuffle....i wants it.

spasticfreakshow said...

i strongly agree with jm hoffman's tackleford shirt and including the url ideas...

and i *love* tiny spanish inquisition (would definitely buy it on bella)

Nosferatu, jelly time and Burgle My House are also hilarious and awesome...but per usual, i would prefer long sleeved t's - i already own enough webcomic-based t's which do not fit because they are american apparel (three, including the most recent sheriff pony design - BUMMER! it is so cute) and i cannot buy more stuff that i will never ever wear. bella short sleeved would be ok, but i really do think that, in winter time, people want sleeves. if we could place special orders for these, i think you would see how well sleeves sell!

spasticfreakshow said...

oh...and...you've still got it, baby!

Laura said...

I would support action badger. In fact it looks like a T-shirt my fiance and I would argue over who gets to have it. Just like we did with applecat (I won! ha!).

I also like cat person and pompous a lot.

Tom said...

I must say that I am also a big fan of "I Like Jazz", Nosferatu, and Steve Harper (in that order of preference).

I must say that I have long dreamed of a t-shirt with Raffles, true gentleman thief that he is, riding his pushbike whilst Shelley sat on the handlebars, Butch Cassidy style. Maybe that's just me though.

FacePalm said...

Oh god, tiny S-Harp makes me shiver with delight. Please please please!!!

John A said...

YOUR VOTES HAVE BEEN COUNTED, THE CARNIVAL IS CLOSED!