Neil Gaiman sat down with the Open Rights Group to give his thoughts on the internet, copyright, and piracy.
It’s great to hear Gaiman’s perspective, especially the notion that those who obtain his works for free weren’t going to buy them in the first place so there’s no real loss of sale. It’s advertising to a new audience.
What does this mean for webcomics? Well, you can’t really pirate my stuff since I give it away for free always. And I haven’t seen an increase in my book sales because, well, I have no books to sell. But my shirts sales have gone up exponentially compared to any previous attempt I’ve ever made at selling things online thanks to giving away my comic for free. Hopefully, we’ll see if this trend continues later this year when I plan to put together my first ¥P collection.
In order for the free content model to work, you need eyes on the product. That’s why you’ll find that most webcomicers are secretly (sometimes not so secretly) obsessed with their traffic numbers. Traffic equals eyes on your product equals more potential customers equals more potential sales. I have no real basis for this number, but let’s suppose you generate one sale per 100 free viewings. Now for someone like Neil Gaiman who’s probably attracting bajillions of free viewings per product, that’s a shit ton of sales. It takes a while for a webcomic to reach that kind of traffic so it may be a good long while before the traffic to sales number is worth any significant monetary value.
It’s great to hear Gaiman validate the free content model, something that webcomicers have been kicking around for ages. It is not an easy model to deal with and it certainly doesn’t lead to rapid wealth development. I also suspect that we webcomicers tend to more into it than we get out of it.
It works for now, but it certainly doesn’t work as well as it does for Neil. Hopefully some one who has proper business sense can figure out something more proper. And then tell me!
A few years ago, there was this Batgirl art meme that circulated around pretty much every artist who had an online presence. Except for me. Cause I’m lame. So I decided to make up for lost time and do a Batgirl.
Bats are kinda brownish, not blue and grey, so I decided to give my version of Babs a brown theme. Oh, my version of Batgirl is Barbara Gordon. I also never liked her hair poking out of the mask. That’s the first thing any good thug would grab so no flowing hair for my Babs. Also, giant boobs kinda get in the way of kicking ass so I made sure she put on a comfy sports bra. Not entirely sure why she’s saluting, but I wanted a kind of action pose.
Every once in a while, someone will ask me how to draw more betterer. I tell them to just fucking do it, but I’ve been told that that’s not always productive. So I thought I’d further clarify what it takes to draw more betterer with a fun list. Here are 7 sure fire ways to draw more betterer:
Draw every single day. Every. Single. Day. And don’t make any excuses. If you honestly want to get better at drawing, you must, MUST, draw every single day.
If you have time to watch TV, you have time to draw. If you have time to sit on the toilet and take a shit, you have time to draw. If you have time to sit on the train to go to work, you have time to draw. If you have time to eat a sandwich with your non-dominant hand, you have time to fucking well draw. Draw draw draw draw mother fucking draw! Make the time. There are so many little moments in your day that you can fill with art. Find them. Fill them. Draw.
Draw Things You Hate to Draw
The things you hate to draw are the things that you need to work on. You hate them because they look like shit. Force yourself to make your art enemies your friends.
Draw From Real Life
If you are gifted with a photographic visual memory, perhaps you may ignore this step. For the rest of us, reference from real life is key to learning anatomy, proportion, lighting, and how objects interact with each other in a given space. Google, Bing, Flickr, and the like offer great tools for looking up images online. But honestly, the best references are from really real life. Sure, it’s probably difficult to get a reference for a 57 Chevy motor unless you live near a classic car garage. But there is infinite reference material around you. If you’re drawing buildings, nothing beats walking around a city to get the feel for how those sky scrapers reach out to the clouds. If you’re drawing people, nothing beats seeing how clothes move over muscles while walking. Take the time to observe the world around you, how objects and people move through it, interact with it. Train your eye to see the little details that we often ignore. Putting them into your work will breath a new life into your pieces.
Draw More Biggerer
Don’t hide your sketches in a little corner in the pages of your sketch book. Your sketch book is the place to work out all of your art problems. Get them out in the open. Fill that page with large swaths of hands or feet or hair or whatever bedevils you. Use the space to work those problems out. Never, ever, eeeeeever hide from your art problems!
Warm Up Before You Start A Finished Piece
So you’re tired of practicing. It’s time to sit down, grab your art weapon of choice, and create the best piece you’ve done to date.
Fuck. Yes. Do it.
But before you get too far, spend a few minutes with some warm up sketches. It’s the same concept behind warming up before you run an entire marathon. If you haven’t been drawing all day, your art muscles need some warming up. You can start off with some basic exercises like drawing circles or you can do something a little more pertinent to your piece by whipping off a few thumbnail sketches of the final piece you’re about to do.
You will end up erasing and starting over anyway. But if you spend some warm up time throwing out these loose sketches, you may find you will end up erasing and starting over less.
Break Free From the Vacuum
I once got into a rather stupid philosophical argument with an art professor over the notion that art cannot be created in a vacuum. As a snot-nosed contrarian art student, I contended that art can indeed be created in a vacuum, that you didn’t need to pay attention to the world around you, and that if you created something that was exactly like something else, that was totally fine. I have since learned that I was totally full of shit and possibly trying to impress a girl who completely ignored me.
It’s a good idea to see what’s out there. Not only can it help you avoid copying someone else’s idea, you can gain inspiration for something new. New is sort of a relative terms since at this point, nothing is really new. But you can come come up with an original spin on something that’s been done before and you can’t know that unless you break out of your vacuum and see what’s out there.
Learn From the Best
This is the best time in history to be an artist because your art idols are mere keystrokes away. Chances are, your favorite artists have portfolios and blogs online. Many of them are more than willing to share their techniques, their advice, and their secrets (here’s the secret, there ARE NO SECRETS) with everyone else. Some of them will even respond personally to your questions.
To conclude, just fucking do it. If you really want to draw more betterer, don’t waste time with excuses or questions or hesitations or any lame shit that isn’t drawing. Pick up that pencil and get to work.
Katsuchans has responded to our populist outrage with a further clarification of their fan art policy. Here are the new official rules as stated on the site as of Monday:
Katsucon’s policy now and forever is to have zero tolerance towards copyright violations as part of any of our convention functions. This includes the Artist Alley, Anime Music Videos, Cos-Play, and other convention programming. If a valid copyright holder finds, in any venue of the convention, a perceived violation of their intellectual property and thus makes a complaint to our staff, we will act on that complaint and request that the offensive materials be removed from public display.
This next part is VERY important: Katsucon is not an enforcement arm of any individual media company or copyright holder. We are a group of unpaid volunteers who have neither the capacity nor the inclination to police innocent attendees or search for suspected violations. We are also uninterested in any hypothetical copyright violations reported to us by unrelated third parties with a grudge.
This sounds a lot like YouTube’s policy. So if you have a stack of Kamen Rider fanarts at your table, unless Toei or whoever licenses Kamen Rider in the U.S. (which is no one, really. The Dragon Knight folks get Ryuki, but I think that’s about it) says anything, Katsuchans will not kick you out. If someone other than Toei or whoever licenses Kamen Rider in the U.S. (still waiting for someone), Katsuchan will not kick you out. If Toei or whoever licenses Kamen Rider in the U.S. (please tell me how much it is so I can draw official Kamen Rider mangas) complains, that’s when Katsuchans will take action.
This puts the responsibility of finding copyright violations squarely on the licensing companies since most of the original creators are in Japan and probably won’t be flying over to visit us at Katsuchan. Seems fairly reasonable to me.
I feel like there’s more I should be writing seeing as how the last time I visited the dreaded fan art policy I ranted off a bajillion reasons why it sucks. But this new policy answers all of my concerns. I hope this one sticks. And I hope they work it out next year much sooner so we don’t have all this last minute confusion.
If you catch me in the wild you get a piece of candy. Maybe. If you'd like to see me at a Con, please let them know about me. If you'd like to book me for an appearance, shoot me an email and I'll get back to you. Currently listing dates for 2013.