A Very Busy Weekend Indeed

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As if we didn’t have enough to do, what with worrying about our ongoing Kickstarter for Girl Genius Volume 13 (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/girlgenius/girl-genius-volume-13-agatha-heterodyne-and-the-sl), we have a convention weekend.

Most pros, when they attend a convention, pretty much just chat on panels, sign things and sit around at the hotel bar, staring pointedly at the empty glass in their hand. I envy them. But this is not the lot of those who toil for Studio Foglio. When we attend a convention, we do all those aforementioned things, to be sure, but we also run a dealer’s table. On the down side, we have to lug a lot of heavy boxes around and be on our feet for much of the weekend and be sharp enough to make correct change. On the up side, we get to meet a lot of our fans face-to-face, and at the end of the day, we have the cash to buy our own drinks (Not that we’re insulted when someone else buys– we’re proud, but not insane).

Well, this weekend we are doubling down in the most literal sense of the word, as we are running a dealer’s table at not one, but two conventions in the same town on the same weekend. (Okay, yes, Seattle and Seatac are technically not in fact the same town. But they are both conventions we can commute to, so that counts.)

The first convention is our local snazzy anime con; Sakura Con (http://www.sakuracon.org/). In the last couple of years, we’ve been asked to be guests at a number of anime conventions, even though we are not anime, manga, or even from Japan. But we are also not traditional American superhero comics either, and apparently that makes all the difference. Now the Professaressa has collected enough shojo romance manga that the house has started to settle, so she will be appearing at the Seattle Convention Center, at Booth # 432. Phil plans to be there Friday afternoon.

The Professor will be working it old school at Norwescon (http://www.norwescon.org/), our local science fiction convention. Norwescon is a refreshing exception to the general trend amongst science fiction conventions these days. Due to the proliferation of genre entertainment and the acceptance of faux nerd culture, many science fiction related conventions have expanded and thrived at the expense of the core science fiction constituency. Thus in many places, general science fiction conventions that used to count their attendees in the thousands have seen their numbers dwindle down to hundreds at best. Norwescon, however, has bucked that trend. Possibly because Seattle has a very healthy book reading culture. Therefore, if you want to attend a great science fiction convention because you like the possibilities of the medium, but don’t want to sink into a specialized venue devoted to one particular movie, TV show or anthropomorphic, vampire romance series, them check out Norwescon. Kaja plans to be there on Thursday evening. Plus, in a move that dealers everywhere can appreciate, you don’t actually need a Norwescon membership to get into the Dealer’s Room. YAY!

Hope to see you there– Wherever there may be.

A Mighty Nice Start! The Plan Continues!

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Fully funded within 20 hours! Now if I could just keep up that pay rate for the rest of the year…(https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/girlgenius/girl-genius-volume-13-agatha-heterodyne-and-the-sl)

Obviously the first thing we have to say is muchas gracias! Books for everybody! Our next thought is; Oh crap! Now we have to start implementing Stretch Goals! This is a very mixed bag. On the one hand, Stretch Goals are fun and exciting (Oh hey! Howzabout we put a sound chip in every book so that when you open it, you get a clap of thunder?) But you must be aware of how much these things cost. The annals of Kickstarter are littered with “sucessful” campaigns that found that they now had enough money to build every backer a cybernetic ham– and then realized– while at the post office with a truckload of wrapped hams buzzing and blinking ominously behind them– that they had not raised enough money to be able to ship them out. Oops..

This is one of the things we have our business manager- Carol Monahan for. Whenever she is not off doing whatever it is she does that keeps her “happy” and “fulfilled as a person” with her “family”, she is cheerfully sitting in our office crunching numbers, which is why I can say, “No cybernetic hams for you.” At least, not unless we raise quite a bit more. This is certainly possible, and we will no doubt be forced into devising increasingly unlikely and convoluted goals to justify continuing to ask for money. This is frustrating, as we don’t particularly want to have to come up with increasingly outrageous add-ons, we just want to sell a lot of books. I mean, theoretically, we could run a Kickstarter campaign for just 24 hours, Get funded, and then just be obligated to print a thousand books. Ho ho what screaming we would hear. We do not want to do this. You do not want us to do this.

Thus we must work with the current system, which means that if people continue to sign on, it’ll be ham for everybody. this is a burden we are willing to accept.

This Is The Way We Do Things Now.

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Woo hoo! Excitements abounds! Today at noon (Pacific Standard Time) Studio Foglio flipped the Big Red Switch and we have launched our latest Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/girlgenius/girl-genius-volume-13-agatha-heterodyne-and-the-sl). This one is for Girl Genius Volume 13- Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City. Now, as some people might remember, we had a very successful Kickstarter last year. successful enough that you might be excused asking “So what for do you need more money? Did you blow it all on coke?” (On this point, you can rest assured. No one who does coke stays as fat as we are.) No, we calculated how much it would cost to get all of our books back into print, make tchotchkes like pins and patches and travel stickers, and hire us a business manager, and that is where the money went.

What we discovered however, is that using Kickstarter is the perfect way to do two things; One- Raise the money we need to pay our printer in advance. It is a sad fact that even though we have been using this printer for over ten years, they still insist on getting paid in advance. One would think that we have an established track record, but they claim that publishing is a tricky business in a tricky spot, and that established publishers go out of business at the drop of a hat, and their industry is full of stories of reputable firms sneaking out of town leaving large, unpaid bills and a warehouse full of unsold copies of the first volume of the latest failed vampire romance octology. This is hard to argue with, considering our beloved publisher of the Girl Genius prose novels -Night Shade Books- suddenly sank last year.

The second reason is that this has proven to be the best way to make sure that we actually print enough books to fill the demand of our readers, especially of the limited edition hardcover, which does tend to fly out the door once we start offering them to the general public. The last time, we had to short our distributor, Diamond Comics almost 200 copies (which, frankly, almost killed me). So don’t let this happen to you! If you even imagine you want a hardcover, get it now! The halls of the internet’s used book sites are filled with the plaintive cries of people trying to acquire copies of the earlier hardcover editions (and their screams when they find out what they’re going for [Yes, it’s a good investment. Just sayin’].)

Once again we are doing a ’shorter’ Kickstarter campaign. A little over three weeks, because if it runs for too long, we will go out of our minds, and because we want to get the cash in hand as soon as possible. This is because our printer, as untrusting and rapacious as they are, are completely booked up for the summer, because we want books in time for the summer shows, which would be a good thing, as it’s always embarrassing when we have to show up with The Same Old Books. People thrive on novelty, and if we don’t have anything new, they say hurtful things and throw rocks at us. This is why we always strive to have something to sell to those benighted, technophobic souls who rely on the vicissitudes of chance to get their book. Unlike you.

Those Who Forget The Past…

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Always have some good reading to catch up on. As long as we’re talking about history, let me recommend a nifty little documentary called ‘Stripped’. It’s an overview about newspaper comics, and where strip-type comics are going. It has interviews with any number of old newspaper comic strip artists, as well as a number of the new creators who are dragging the art form into the future. The creators are trying to get everyone to buy it on April 1 (today!) from iTunes, in the hope that a strong showing will help them get a distribution deal. This would be a fine thing indeed, and you should go and do so now (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/stripped/id816065098?ls=1). Seriously, if you are of a historical bent, this film captures that all–too–rare instance where an old institution is fundamentally changing, as well as the people who grew up in it. It’s a fascinating look at otherwise intelligent people who simply cannot understand how the world is changing around them, and the people who are replacing them. This thing will play in sociological classes for the next hundred years.

This last weekend was Emerald City Comicon, where a good time was had by all. Thanks to the Booth Staff (who rather insisted), I actually managed to get out from behind the table and see a bit of the show. Picked up the latest books by Jeph Jacques (http://questionablecontent.net/), Ryan Smith (http://www.accurseddragon.com/) and David Willis (http://www.dumbingofage.com/). Thus my productivity will be crippled while I sit around and read comics, but I console myself that it’s business research, and all such purchases are tax deductible.

In two weeks we are double–dipping at a pair of local conventions. Studio Foglio will have a booth at both Norwescon, our local science fiction convention (http://www.norwescon.org/), and at SakuraCon, our local humongous anime con (http://www.sakuracon.org/). They are both in Seattle on the same weekend, which is annoying as hell, and we can only be thankful that Emerald City is no longer on the same weekend as well. Actually it’s not that surprising. I can pretty much guarantee that no matter where you are reading these words there is a genre convention of some stripe within a hundred miles of you gearing up for the Easter weekend. It’s not that aficionados of science fiction, fantasy and comics are particularly irreverent (that’s just a side effect) but a large party with hundreds of like–minded people does give you an acceptable public venue for burning off the effects of eating a third of your weight in chocolate rabbits.

Later this week, we’ll be shooting the video for our next Kickstarter, which will be a more focused event (thank Christ) for the next Girl Genius collection; Volume 13- Agatha Heterodyne & the Sleeping City. A busy week indeed. Don’t worry, we’ll mention it several hundred times in the next month.

Occasionally, one gets a bit overwhelmed by it all, and it’s hard to stay positive. I have found a site that helps quite a bit. It’s called Heal Yourself, Skeletor. On this site, the main villain of the old He–Man TV show comes to grip with the endless disappointments that he experiences on his journey to conquer the world. It is well worth checking on every day. (http://skeletorislove.tumblr.com/)

The New Girl Genius Game is Here!

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It’s finally here! The first Girl Genius video game from Gizmocracy! You play Krosp, who must defend the city of Mechanicsburg against an army of clockwork rats. You ride around in your little walker clank and pick up blocks and avoid giant steam hammers, and there are mouse-shaped dirigibles that drop anvils on you. OR TRY TO. MUHAHAHA.

The music is  amazing. Also, Phil voiced the Castle! The Castle “cheers” you on as you play. I think you can shut it up if you want to, though. Although I don’t really get tired of listening to Phil, you might. Here’s a screen shot: Rats 3x2 Pogos It’s looking great right now, but what I think is really exciting is that it’s quite a living game. We have a lot of plans for future updates will be a lot of fun! The Game is available for iOS and Android devices at the App Store, Google Play and Amazon. Go get it!

–Kaja

p.s. …and don’t forget the iOS Girl Genius paper doll app, which was also made by Gizmocracy, and is due for another update soon. (As soon as we can get Phil to draw those three Jägers he promised us.)

Edit: fixed two broken links. Sorry about that!

Watched Cosmos # 3…

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It just keeps getting better and better, and the Experiments are actually looking forward to seeing it each week. I hear that Creationists are demanding “equal time” because the show is doing so well. This is Schadenfreude at its best, and fills a small dark part off my heart with happiness.

Everyone around here is running around getting ready for Emerald City Comic Con (http://www.emeraldcitycomicon.com/), with is the first of the Big Three genre conventions we’ll be doing in Seattle in the next month or so. We will of course have a Booth there (# 704 ), and we’ll even be performing the Girl Genius Radio Plays, so a good time is guaranteed for all. The biggest chore was making sure that Girl Genius was pre-loaded onto The Internets, so that we can crash and crash hard Sunday night with nary a care in the world.

Actually everything around here is in preparation for something or other. We are getting our ducks in a row for our next Kickstarter campaign. The last one was a great success, so now it’s time to start printing new books. The plan is to have them in print in time for the summer shows. It’s also that time of year when I have to start planting my tomatoes, and since we tore up the entire backyard last winter, I have an entire plot of land to mess about on. I’m not planning on putting in a truck garden, but I could easily see myself aiming for self-sustainability. Did you know you can get hydroponics racks you can put into your garage? With that, and raising cats for their meat, eggs, and pelts, we could be “off the grid” by this time next year.

I’ve Got Almost 26,000 Minutes To Go…

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So I wouldn’t call this “last minute”, per se. I am, of course referring to getting our nominations in for the 2014 Hugo Awards. For those of you who do not know, the Hugo Awards (AKA The Science Fiction Achievement Awards) are handed out by the World Science Fiction Convention. Unlike many other prestigious awards, the Hugos are nominated and voted on by the rank and file members of the convention. Furthermore this isn’t some trade organization or masonic cabal. Anybody can join. All it takes is money. Even if you don’t go to the convention (which is in London, England this year), there is an excellent reason to join, especially if you like science fiction (which is rather the whole point, actually). You see, for the last several years, the convention assembles all the finalists that have been nominated for the Hugos, and then they e-mail all the novels and short stories and articles and graphic novels and whatnot out to the membership, so that they can make an informed vote. Thus, you get several hundred dollars worth of reading material, all of it considered the best work produced in the previous year. This is a crazy good deal, even if you never set foot in the convention itself.

If you are like me, you’re already a member, but you haven’t quite gotten around to sending the nominations in yet (furthermore, if you are like me, you will vote for Girl Genius Volume 13; Agatha Heterodyne & the Siege of Mechanicsburg by Phil & Kaja Foglio and Cheyenne Wright. Published by Airship Entertainment (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php) in the Graphic Story category). Fear not! You have until March 31, and you late joiners can fill the form out online (which is also where you can join) (http://www.loncon3.org/).

Now if you peruse the web you will find any number of sites that will recommend novels and short stories, movies and TV shows. There are, however damn few that will recommend stuff for the Graphic Story category. This is something I can fix.

Now all of the graphic stories I’m reccommending are webcomics (and per the rules, all finished up their story arc in 2013). Partly because a cobbler looks at shoes, but mostly because I think that web cartoonists are producing some of the most interesting work out there. Here they are, in no particular order;

A Redtail’s Dream by Minna Sundberg ( http://www.minnasundberg.fi/comic/page00.php) A refreshingly different fantasy story about godlike animals, alternate levels of reality and a talking dog. Plus the art is astounding.

Spacetrawler by Christopher Baldwin  (http://spacetrawler.com/2010/01/01/spacetrawler-4/) A sprawling, hard S.F space opera comedy. If you liked Buck Godot, you’ll love this.

The Case of the Forked Road by John Allison  (http://scarygoround.com/?date=20130615) John’s a Brit, so I hesitate to give him the home field advantage here, but this is one of the best screw-ball time travel stories I’ve read in quite awhile.

The Tomorrow Girl: Dresden Codak Volume 1  by Aaron Diaz  (http://dresdencodak.com/) Aaron’s quirky mad scientist girl comic makes us insanely jealous at times. You should find out why.

And finally, this is your last chance to leap upon the insanely successful Pairs Kickstarter being run by James Ernest of Cheapass Games (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheapassgames/pairs-a-new-classic-pub-game). It’s a fun game in of itself, and people who follow Girl Genius will find it of interest because one of the decks will be built around The Muses, the mysterious, enigmatically annoying clank girls who were built to guide and instruct the Storm King.  There are nine of them, and while we were certainly planning on putting them into the Girl Genius story eventually, we hadn’t been planning on having to design all of them this soon. Thus, as is common in art, our pain results in your pleasure. I hope you appreciate it.