Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On tshirts

The difference between a tshirt selling and not selling is whether it makes a statement about the wearer. It doesn't matter how good the drawing on it is, or how clever the words you put on it, that won't make it sell. 

Over the years, I and many of my fellow creators have complained that we design something, readers are vocally enthusiastic about it, then no-one buys it. I can think of a dozen times where I laboured over a design and no one wanted it, and as many where 15 minutes work proved wildly popular - because the idea was fine, because it said something that the wearer wanted to say about themselves. There is a huge difference between an image someone likes and an image that fosters the desire to wear it. 

Below is a good example of something that makes people laugh but that I don't think says anything about the wearer that they could explain to anyone who asked. 

The rules are different for prints, posters and any other designed curio. They're not plastered onto a human body. After I got a button machine, I found that the easiest way to tell if wording worked on a tshirt was to try it on badges at shows. The stakes were low and experimentation was cheap.

Printed tshirts went way beyond saturation point a few years ago; they used to represent the greater part of my income and they certainly don't now. I've used all my easy ideas, so while I can design garments far more nicely than I could in 2003, I (personally) have nothing left to say that I, or someone else, hasn't said. But I try occasionally, because when it works, it feels great. And I've done some fun collaborations where I didn't have to marry my drawings up to some universal notion.

In conclusion: when lizard fights wizard, no one wins. Let that be a lesson to you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I recently ran out of copies of Ghosts, a standalone book I put out in 2007. I ordered a lot of them and for that reason, I don't think it's worth printing more. But I've done an eBook edition for people who want this short yarn and put a new cover on it. To say it took me 30 minutes, I was pretty pleased with it! I've spent twenty times as long getting covers wrong in the past.

The original cover is the first finished work I did in Manga Studio, before I even had the Cintiq. God it was hard work getting anything to look right that day, but I really liked it at the time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Short stories

I wanted to write briefly about why I break up the long Bad Machinery stories with shorter stories now. I'm sure there are Bad Machinery fans who want the stories to run on straight away, one after another (how times change!) and fair enough. But these six month yarns are epic, tiring and laborious undertakings and I need space in between to experiment with other characters and settings, different artistic techniques, and situations that aren't about youngsters.

Giant Days was an interesting experiment that people enjoyed, but the set-up involved so many central characters that you almost couldn't write a satisfying short story. It begged for continuity, and after that first story I didn't have a lot else I could say without using material that would eventually be useful for Bad Machinery. So I put those characters away.

Murder She Writes and THAT are ways for me try things that can feed back into the main comic, while trying to write things that don't rely on continuity. Scary Go Round was 7 years of experimentation, but I can't just derail stories any more while I wedge myself up a chimney or down a rabbit hole. I know most people don't mind these interruptions, but if you do find them an obstruction to the main event, please see it this way - from my point of view, without them, there is no main event.

A bit of a dry old post but there you are.