Holy Comics! work log

edited April 2011 in Work Logs
This will serve as a work log for all of my projects under the Holy Comics! imprint.

The last "easter egg" page for Fetus Christ went online today: a pin-up of the JAQrabbit as the Easter Bunny, dropping an egg and Fetus Christ coming out of it.  And in another move fraught with symbolism, I archived all the files and deleted the "fetus" folder from my Dropbox storage, which I use for the things I'm actively working on.  Fetus is fully behind me now.

Although I'm sure it's not the ideal format for publishing it, I'm moving ahead with my plan to serialize Captain Miracle the same way: a page per week, every Friday evening.  The cover is already up at CaptainMiracle.com and each of the 29 pages of the story will go up at weekly intervals.  The pacing of the story is really better suited to a traditional single-floppy page-turner, but that just isn't happening.  I was unsuccessful getting publishers interested in it five years ago, and I'm just not up to the effort (and additional up-front cost) of trying to deal with Diamond myself just to distribute a single one-shot.  (I have nothing else in the works that they'd be interested in touching.)  I could post the whole thing online at once, but I'm hoping that having it "in progress" for several months will provide more opportunities for people to notice it and talk about it.  If not... well, it'll all be online when that's done.  A wise man once said to me, "Even if you can't do it right, at least do it."  So I'm doing it.

The line art is totally finished (except for one page that's gone missing, which I'm hoping the artist still has on file somewhere... otherwise I can rewrite the dialog to get around it if I have to), and the coloring/effects/lettering are essentially done, just with some alterations I want to do here and there, mostly at the end.  So I should have no trouble whatsoever keeping to schedule.


  • Fetus Christ was so much fun that I'm going to check out Captain Miracle.

    "I'm just not up to the effort (and additional up-front cost) of trying
    to deal with Diamond myself just to distribute a single one-shot."

    That's what the webcomics model's for. :) Yousa doing it right, young man.

    "I could post the whole thing online at once, but I'm hoping that having
    it "in progress" for several months will provide more opportunities for
    people to notice it and talk about it."

    Totally seconded. Serializing it spreads out the attention over the 29 weeks you have planned. How did it work out for Fetus Christ?
  • edited April 2011
    To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I don't have any delusions that my writing or my art is outstanding enough to bring people flocking to it, but I expected that the subject was outrageous enough that that might get people's attention. I got some spikes here and there, which I could track back to being mentioned on a link blog or tweat somewhere, but it didn't go "viral" like I hoped.

    By far the best traffic I had was in January/February, roughly a month when I was advertising on Sinfest, Facebook, and The Beat, and I was getting typically 50-150 visitors a day. My best week was at the end of January when – between ads, blogs, twitter and regulars – I got 1175 visitors that week. I couldn't afford ad space on the main page on Sinfest, so I bought the slot on the archives page, and that was the source of the majority of those referrals. That makes sense, because Sinfest's readers are people who enjoy an irreverent comic on the web, which is what FC is. Facebook did OK, but not nearly the same bang for the buck. (Figuring out what demographics and interests to target there is a challenge.) The Beat didn't generate very much traffic for me.

    Even tho traffic dropped off hard after the month of ads, they had a lasting effect. For the few weeks before, I was getting 25-50 visitors/week; after it was a fairly steady 150-175/week (not counting a few weeks with noticeable-but-brief blog traffic. Some of the added traffic might have been the result of several blog/twitter mentions during the same period, but I think it's a safe bet that those mentions happened because of the ads, so I'd still give the ads credit for them.

    I was hoping for a stronger response to the comments feature on the site. I expected to get flames, but didn't get much reaction at all. (There was a troll who knew me from the Bleeding Aneurysm Cool message board, who quickly got tiresome by just insulting me, so I axed most of his messages, but that was the extent of the drama.) I guess if you start with a small number of readers, then factor in the small percentage who would be inclined to say something, you end up with very few comments.

    I expect the traffic to fade away now that the site is no longer updating.  It'll be difficult to judge whether the weekly updates helped generate links/tweets because there were so few even while the story was ongoing.  But I'm trying it with Miracle nonetheless.
  • edited April 2011
    Captain Miracle formally started online last night.  The would-be cover went up a week ago, but his week I uploaded page 1, an intro splash page that mostly just hypes the story, featuring the same scene as the cover but this time showing the monster... which doesn't actually appear in the story itself. :)

    Traffic is off to a good start, with 100 visitors between 5pm and midnight.  Most of which can be attributed to comment-spam I posted to stories on the Faux News and Huff-Po web sites about Superman renouncing his US citizenship.  It seems to have resulted in a little bit of additional traffic on Fetus Christ, from people who followed that link in my comments under the page.
  • You might also want to upload the complete Fetus Christ on Myebook.com (or, if there is, another such service). I did that with MoF after I completed Season 1, splitting it into two parts of about 25 pages each. Each of them gets about 800 hits a week.

    I just did a check of my MoF Season 2 numbers, and I notice that they are very similar to your FC numbers. On days when I posted a new strip, I got between 50 and 210 visitors. In-between updates, it was still 20 - 50 visitors. Unlike you, I didn't spend money on ads. I just mentioned the updates on my social networking places (Farcebook, Twitter, MySpace, and so on). Since I stopped updating, I still get an average of 20 visitors a day. Unfortunately, I can't tell which page(s) -- Season 2 is 39 pages, so a single visitor reading the entire set might register as 40 hits.

    I mention this mostly to provide you with alternate numbers by which you can gauge the effectiveness of your ads. It seems they were, all in all, fairly ineffective, if I got similar numbers without buying ads.
  • edited May 2011
    Can't compare that, Jens - there's no saying how much Jason would have got out of it without the ads, or you if you had advertised.

    Me, I get most of my International traffic from PW ads, but I'm cutting down on that because it's getting too expensive. (Sinfest has been good to me, too, btw, although my comic isn't blasphemous at all. Unless you believe that God wants kids to behave. I guess Sinfest's readers just are that nice.) Once the next Conny adventure starts, I'm going to experiment with other sites to advertise on.

    Most German traffic comes from one webcomics directory (but we don't have that many, so I don't think a listing in an International directory can compare, and while I do get hits from The Belfry, Piperka and Top Webcomics, it isn't that much) and posting my updates in three out of maybe five major comics forums. (Again, more concentrated scene, so this works much better than International forums would.) Got quite a bit from Facebook, too, but I think that's mostly the German site again.
  • Actually I think I can tell how much traffic I'd have gotten without the ads, because I didn't run them until about a month after it started.  They changed my traffic from "my friends" to "my friends plus 125 other people".  I wasn't going to get that through social networking tools because I don't know that many people... or more to the point, they don't know me.
  • I pimped it on Twitter, but have no idea how many people actually followed the link. I should have used bit.ly to get statistics but I was posting the full URL since I figured that would appeal to those that follow that account. A couple of people did say they loved it though, and found it disturbingly funny.
    Hopefully Captain Miracle will be a draw for them too :)
  • edited May 2011
    Jimmie commented about Osama's death screwing up his plans to use him in Bomb Queen.  Fortunately for me, the Islamic bogeyman who appears about halfway thru Captain Miracle is not based too directly on any one real-world figure.  I called him "Sodom al-Mohammed", which hints at Saddam Hussein (with an extra layer of blasphemy on top), and Ozzy drew him with a vague resemblance to Osama bin Laden when you look at him from the right angle.  But he's written as a generic Muslim warlord, so the demise of both of those real-world villains since the story was written (yes, that long ago) shouldn't make it seem dated. 

    Even so, it'll be interesting to see the reaction to that scene when it comes out in a few months, if only because of some parallels in it to what happened in Pakistan yesterday.  There's also the fact that... well, to lay my authorial-intent cards on the table here: In writing this story, I deliberate fucked around with the question of who is the hero and who is the villain.  At the beginning Miracle is not the hero he wants to be and believes he is, and the early villains are really the good guys.  (Hopefully the writing is ham-fisted enough to get that across.) But around the middle - when Miracle goes after al-Mohammed - those roles start to blur.  This guy really is a villain...but not without some justification for his actions. It's a morally ambiguous scene, and I don't think I could have done that with it if I'd given the warlord character a more identifiable identity.
  • Well, further disproof of the Field Of Dreams Fallacy can be found in the traffic for Captain Miracle.  Despite a little bit of guerilla promotion, I'm currently getting only a few hits/day on the site.  Fetus Christ is still getting more hits than that.  I'm holding back on trying more promotion until there's more of the story online (so far just the cover, a splash page, and two story pages), so anyone checking it out will get some "value" for their visit.
  • I got an introductory offer to buy $100 of Google Ads, which expires if I don't claim it by the end of the month, so I figured I might as well use it on Captain Miracle.  After all, a little targeted advertizing seemed to help Fetus Christ, and let's face it: Miracle needs either that or a miracle to get readers.  Following the coaching of Google's site, the ad reads:
    • Christian Comics
    • Superhero of God Almighty fights
    • pagans, atheists, terrorists, more!
    • CaptainMiracle.com
    The keywords I chose were generic fundie bait: "christian comics", "christian superhero", and the like.  Since Captain Miracle is more subtle than Fetus Christ (how could it not be?), I figure that playing it straight might be more effective than labeling it "parody of christian superhero".
  • edited June 2011
    Traffic's coming in from the free Google Ads.  Too early to draw any conclusions about it.

    However a couple firsts in the past few days:
    • The first posted comment.  I haven't been doing as much "director's commentary" on the pages for this one as for Fetus Christ, so it may be my own fault that I haven't been getting much reader comment.  The bad news is that he was most amused by my commentary (debating whether a whale is a fish or not), not the comic itself.  But it's a very positive comment; I'll take it.
    • The first pingback.  I got pinged by a passing mention in someone's blog.  Their comment was that they were going to keep an eye on Captain Miracle to try to figure out if where I was coming from with it.  That's what I want at this point in the game: curiosity.  I'm kind of taking the approach that Stephen Colbert does: writing the commentary with a fundie nut "voice", but not trying too hard to convince people that I really believe it, because I want people in on the joke.
  • edited June 2011
    One note about Google Ads: Be careful to configure the spending limits properly and/or keep a close eye on them.  My campaign was going well enough in terms of clicks that it just churned thru my free $100 and cost me $50+ that I really didn't want to spend.

    I got linked by someone on reddit.com a few days ago, which was both the best and worst of publicity: lots of free traffic, and very short-lived (i.e. it's already stopped).  But it did result in the comment (in the short discussion on reddit) "This is the GREATEST COMIC EVER!!!!" which is a somewhat gratifying. :)
  • edited June 2011
    Just when I think I've already tipped my hand too far, I receive an e-mail which begins "I have been following your Captain Miracle comic with great interest, and it pleases me to see that there are still some people willing to preach the faith in an age when atheism is considered part of being popular."  :)
  • I've said it before, but you need to go so "Area 51/Roswell" that they believe it's real, when you know it's fake :)
    Go overboard with the parody that it will become real. "The bigger the lie, the easier people will believe it"
  • Well, what's already written is written, and what's already illustrated (which is the whole story at this point) is written in stone, so there's no changing direction.  All I can do is to play it coy (or stay silent) in the director's commentary (and I don't want to stay silent).
  • edited August 2011
    The pages continue to go up each week for Captain Miracle. I've had just one guy who's either a complete nutter* or taking the piss* comment on my commentary, which got a little tedious, so I've cut back on my commentary... which is probably a mistake.

    I got some of my heaviest traffic over the last few days by shoehorning a gratuitous link to the site into a discussion on WhiteChapel about Miracleman.

    In case you can't tell I'm a bit... dispirited about the lack of attention for the story. I know from my experience with Fetus Christ that I have to advertise it, but venues that are both affordable and effective are not so obvious. Google Ads sucked... not so much in failing to deliver traffic, but it terms of sucking money out of my account really fast.

    A new reader of Fetus Christ (who found it from my signature on Bleeding Cool's forum (which is becoming the fantard troll farm that Newsarama's forum once served as, but still has some interesting people to reply to)) posted some comments on that site that showed he really got it (e.g. noticing that I'd sneaked a coat hanger into the alternate-universe equivalent of the crucifix). That was nice.

    *He's English, so I use English expressions.
  • I just cranked through the last several pages of Captain Miracle and preloaded them into WordPress, so they can post themselves for the remainder of the story without my intervention. Traffic's dismal, and I don't have the time/enthusiasm/money right now to promote it. Maybe after it's done serializing.
  • edited January 2013
    Rather than clutter the "Ask a Pro" thread, here's a more complete reply to Jon's suggestion for my "Jesus" would-be-maxi-series.

    The story I was referring to is a kind of magnum opus that I conceived in younger and more naïve days.  ("If Alan Moore can do a 12-issue maxi-series....")  It's essentially a blasphemous – but subversively reverent – updated version of the Gospels.  Instead of being born in Galilee 2000 years ago, Jesus is born in modern America.  For example: his mother is a teenage Madonna fan (she's "like a virgin"), his stepfather is her wood-shop teacher, and he's named Jesús.  I've distilled the four gospel narratives into a single story (issue #1 the nativity, #2 calling of the disciples, etc).  All of the popular miracles are reinterpreted (e.g. water into liquor), all of the unpopular sermons are recapped (e.g. turn the other cheek), and you probably know how the story ends.  That ending really has to unfold according to the same plot as in the original for the project to work as intended, and it takes at least a couple issues, so there's no "nuclear option" or "escape hatch" possible if I had to end it suddenly.

    I'm not worried so much about sales in the form of a 12-issue mini being enough to keep it going (I'm not sure that's really a viable format anymore) as I am about the time commitment to do the project as originally planned (~250 pages).  That'd probably take me 5 years to draw myself, and the money to pay someone else to do it doesn't exist.  Realistically (and maybe not even that) I'll have to do an abridged version of it.  That means "killing my darlings" and skipping a whole lot of the second act.  The nativity (first act) is essential.  The crucifixion and resurrection (third act) are too.  A few key events that everybody knows from the ministry period (second act) have to be represented.  But everything else is negotiable. Dammit.
  • Just to derail your conversation, since you dragged this worklog up. I just read Captain Miracle. Pretty fun stuff. I'll admit the "fundie perspective" commentaries at the end were getting a little heavy-handed for me, but once they stopped I missed them. :) 

  • Glad you liked it.  Not as effective as I hoped it would be, but I had fun doing it.
    I should go back and finish the commentaries on the last several pages... thanks for the reminder.
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