Help me collect twelve years of webcomics into a complete ebook form while still keeping the files free to all.
One Last Goal! If we hit $50,000, I'm going to make a mini comic chock full of original art by some incredible webcomics all-stars. See update #19.
Hot dang! We hit $35,000, so I'm adding monthly DRM-free collections of my daily strips for a year and driving 3,000 miles to hand-deliver Pac-Man arcade game to Wil Wheaton. Crazy? See update #9.
Did you see the design of the Red Robot thumb drive that the physical copies of the ebook will be shipping on? See update #4.
Update: Due to exceeding the base goal, I'm adding an extra DRM-free book release and publishing the thumb drive copies of the book on custom Red Robot-shaped USB drives. See update #3.
Puny Fleshling! Identify yourself!
My name is Richard Stevens III AKA "rstevens" and I've been drawing my pixelated webcomic Diesel Sweeties since early 2000. I'm about to hit 3,000 comics and would like your help compiling them into a humongous annotated ebook which I can release in a way that respects you, the reader.
Based on recent experiments, I think DS is overdue for this kind of collection. My recent experiment re-releasing my first book as a free ebook led to over 140,000 downloads in the past month. My experiment at collecting a month's worth of comics in magazine format for the iPad racked up over 10,000 downloads in three days. I have no idea how many times the raw, unedited PDFs I provide of older comics have been downloaded. (It's been a while!)
The time is right to do this, but I think it's also important to do it right as both an artist and as a citizen of the inter webs.
So, what's the plan?
When I hit my minimum goal, I will: Get all 3,000 comics into a comprehensive ebook form and release it free and without DRM in both iBooks and PDF format. I'm budgeting for minor art edits, lettering clean-up, book design and the time to index everything so you can search for characters and dialogue. I'm also budgeting to pick up an Android tablet to make sure this is not too Apple-centric.
(By "minor edits" I do not mean that Han will shoot first. I'll just clean them up, not ruin your internet childhood.)
If I exceed that goal, I will add more elaborate features to the book, including: Remastered and separated storylines, commentary, theme and character reading modes, pixel art guides and commentary. I believe that with a few months to concentrate, I could wind up with about 4,000-6,000 pages of material. There are at least a dozen different "books within books" that I could pull out of this archive and make readable in a more sequential format. I'd also need to add the original titles to the art files of about 1,000 strips.
I feel that there are loads of different ways to read Diesel Sweeties and that much of the continuity is in my head or just below the surface of the gag comics. I'd really enjoy the opportunity to sift through over a decade of me life and give you back a whole new way of reading these strips.
On format and copyright:
The reason I'm asking you to support the production of this collection is that it's going to be an enormous task and I need to take time away from other work to do a good job. It's also very important to me that this ebook collection be done in the spirit of the original work: Free to read, free of geographical restriction and accessible to as many people as possible.
Those of you who support this project will have free download as well as physical thumb drive options available. You'll also be ensuring I can afford to make a really thorough ebook and both sell it and offer it as a free download.
I hope you'll also store this collection and share it with your friends. Remix it for devices that don't exist, buy a decommissioned missile silo and Apocalypse-proof it, print it out and ask me to sign a twenty-pound stack of paper when you see me at a convention. Once you get a copy, it's yours. The only copy protection I need is the fact that tomorrow's comic doesn't exist yet and my brain's the only place that bakes that cookie. I only ask that you respect the Creative Commons license and do not use them commercially without permission.
Thanks for reading!
Aw, I don't hate you. That's why I'm also releasing everything in PDF format which will look great on your home computer as well as be printable.
Why not? That's the beauty of the format. I can publish what would be a six inch thick book without killing any trees. If for some reason the ebook formats can't support this large of a file, I'll break it up into a few.
I'll start by editing the raw art files and creating plain text and spreadsheets of the metadata. Most likely, I'll then create two master files in parallel: One in iBooks Author and another in Adobe Indesign. I love laying out books.
I've wanted to make real ebooks for tablets forEVER. I pinned my hope on phones and Kindles but the screen sizes or lack of color always made for a bad presentation. Pixel art really needs color to shine. I feel that the combination of a good color screen and .ibooks file format finally make this a viable pursuit and a way to potentially share comics with tens of millions of people.
In a lot of ways, this feels like the early days of comics on the web. The audience was big, but it was still largely made up of tech-friendly people and comics enthusiasts. We early adopters can shape the culture and I think we should bring over the attitudes that make webcomics such a good scene.
I like apps, but this is a book. I don't think they are functionally equivalent. Here's why:
Part of the appeal to an ebook is that you can "officially" store the file yourself or share it with a friend and they can easily load it on their reader. You can't install an app without running it through Apple's store without jailbreaking your phone, which is not for everyone. (Yes, I know this is not always the case with Android devices, but iPads are currently the majority platform.)
There are also compatibility issues. The odds of an application no longer running correctly are greater than that of there not being any option to load a specific kind of media file on future hardware. Also, it's easier for me to build this myself and create nearly identical PDF files. (This applies just as much to Android as iOS or any other operating system.)
Absolutely nothing. However, I'd like this work, which has lived freely on the web for over a decade, to stay freely downloadable and shareable. I will probably sell the books elsewhere later, but feel that paid versions should be optional upgrades much like how readers currently support me by buying merchandise.
EPUB files as they currently exist are best suited to free-flowing text documents. That doesn't really work for a comic book with specific page breaks and visual layouts. The upcoming EPUB 3 standard sounds like it will support "hard" pagination. If it does, I'll try to support it.
Also, Diesel Sweeties is released under a noncommercial Creative Commons license, so if you want my comics in a file format that I don't provide, please feel free to convert it. I'd love to see what you can come up with.
Those PDFs are simple unedited bundles of comics sorted by number. What I'm planning to do with this project is spend a little time with every single comic checking for typos, fixing coloring, indexing the content by hand and doing minor edits. Those PDFs are raw material, this book is intended to be a final release. If I were a little more pretentious, I'd call it a director's cut.
We should know about those rumored devices before this project is over. I will make sure that the Sweeties look crisp and blocky, no matter the resolution.
American supermarket bacon. I feel as if not suffering would count as selling out.
Sorry, but that would be morally wrong because Kickstarter has a limit of $10,000 per contribution,