Monday, 29 February 2016

John Funk Update Mon Feb 29 2016

A lot of the problem is that different people have different attitudes towards timely delivery.  "Glen" is obviously in one category and everyone (?) else in another.

I've got a faxed list of weekly penalties from John. I'm not sure that they're severe enough to improve his performance.  The COLLECTED LETTERS, as a digital file should have gone out to everyone who ordered it.  That was one way of trying to work around John's (to me, unconscionable) procrastination.  It's a digital file.  Just hit "send" and everyone goes home happy.  At least they're getting SOMETHING that they ordered.

For the record, I turn everything around pretty much within 12 hours of John delivering it.  And then have to sit and wait for months for him to do something with it.

And I'm aware that I will always be The Bad Guy no matter what happens.  Crazy Dave Sim.

I'm now at the point -- the same as happened with CA3 -- where I don't have enough money to pay John, so I'll have to, as I did last time, borrow against the life insurance surplus to do so -- whenever he gets around to doing anything.  At least the way the penalties are structured if he doesn't do anything until, say, June, the bill will be substantially lower than it is.  I would far prefer a NORMAL level of reliability.  NORMAL even for the "slacker age" of 2016.  

By the time you're doing the same project for the fourth time, if you are still looking at four months for something that should be done in a few weeks (at most), then you have either a productivity problem or a structurally unsound business model.

It's time to figure out which one it is and do something about it.

$31,000 is impressive until you start figuring out how much of that money goes to FedEx and the Post Office and...John.

20 comments:

eric fennessey said...

Dave, and then Dave and Gerhard, spent 26 years living by the principal of deliver on time or suffer the consequences; I recall Dave's advice to budding comic boom creators frequently talking about the need to not only be good but to be regular. I completely understand Dave's rising frustration with what should, at this point, be the "handle-turning" side of delivering CAN4.

Tony Dunlop said...

The other issue here is, how much sense do the Archive Kickstarters even make, if the point is to raise money for the phone book upgrades, but all of the money actually has to be spent producing and shipping the portfolios?

al roney said...

I mentioned this before, but as someone who has worked on a number of projects with others, it's never a good thing to rely on just one other person for completion of said project.

You have to have a backup, and another backup and so on...

...while John was previously quick to respond to my e-mails and comments on the kickstarter page in previous CAN campaigns, my last one (or two) of a couple of months back received no response. That sent up a red flag.

I hope John can get it done, because he did a fantastic job in the prior campaigns. Really, from packaging to responding to issues and so on - perfection.

Jeff Seiler said...

Okay, yes, Tony, I've wondered about that, too. How does Dave get these (incredible) things out and make money off of the deal?

Also: On the three previous occasions when I have received my two Cerebus Archive Portfolios, I have let them sit there on the floor, subsequent to my bringing them inside.

I look at them, looming there, and try to remember just how it was that I last vanquished them.

They are so well packaged that it takes scissors and a knife just to make a dent.

You know that there's a jewel inside this nut, a sweet treat, but it takes forever (kinda like how long it takes between paying for it and receiving it).

But, then, you pull back that last big piece of cardboard and there it is...wrapped in plastic (sorry, David and Craig), and in pristine condition. I mean 100% perfect, or (and this should be emphasized) your money back, guaranteed.

I agree with Dave that it should take a few weeks, not six months, to git 'r done.

But, I am blissfully single and have more time than I know with what to do. Dave is also (presumably) blissfully single, but has so many plates spinning that, when it comes to guys not getting it done, the patience wears thin, as we've seen.

The Funkmeister is, to my knowledge, married, and may have kids.

Family comes first. That's a given.

But, if you set a date, something I always knew better than to do, then you have to honor it.

Think ahead. Can you do it by then? If not, then be honest with your investors.

Because, that's what we are.

If, for argument's sake, IBM (a blue, blue-chip stock) says that its quarterly dividend to its stockholders will be $15 per share, to be paid by the end of March, but the stockholders receive just $10 per share, on April 10th, how long do you think those stockholders will wait before divesting themselves of IBM and moving those funds over to AT&T or little Jerri Dawn's college fund?

John, step up your game. Dave? Little Jerri Dawn's college fund could use a boost...

Jeff Seiler said...

Eric, don't forget that there was a handful of times when Dave and Ger missed their publication dates by, if memory serves, a month or two.

I remember going once a week to my local comic book store (I think it was Titan Comics, in Dallas, but it may also have been Comics Empire, in Tulsa) and asking, "Ya got the latest Cerebus?"

"Nope," says Jeremy or (oh, man, am I gonna catch hell for this), the other (really, really great) guy whose name doesn't come to mind just now because I am old and it is late.

Regardless, there were times, not many, when Dave and Ger, Aardvark-Vanaheim, Inc., didn't meet their established obligations.

So, what did they do about it? In at least one peiod of time, they made the comic book (not the reprints) bi-weekly.

To catch up.

So, perhaps we could give the Funkmeister a (limited) chance to catch up.

Jeff Seiler said...

Er, that was supposed to be

period

Sorry.

eric fennessey said...

Jeff,

You are right about the occasional delays in Cerebus. I think I was trying to say that for someone who laid an emphasis on punctuality, like Dave did, it must be galling to be delayed through something he can't action himself.

I'm pretty firmly in the happy to wait crowd as I know the end result be as nice as the previous ones, but won't be unhappy if Dave goes down a different route for the next one.

Sometimes patience brings rewards, after all Stray Bullets and Strangehaven both came back after 'minor' hiatuses, but where's the next issue of Berlin!

Dave Sim said...

Howdy, folks. I try to subscribe to "The Buck Stops Here", but there really are so many occasions where I'm thrust into the situation of "covering" for someone.

I'm not sure how much Glen's complaint WAS, per se, a complaint as it was a (typical) incident of someone wanting to change the subject from the petition and why Dave Sim doesn't go to conventions and WHAT THAT means to "Dave Sim Incompetent Fraud Artist". i.e. You've ripped me off so you aren't entitled to be critical of ANYTHING.

I've given Sandeep John's list of suggested financial penalties and he'll scan it and post it soon.

What I've been TRYING to experiment with is How many CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarters a year are viable? We've been averaging two a year. Presumably, if we could do three a year, that would mean that we could keep the scanning and restoration process moving forward across the board. IF, however, that means that we lose a substantial number of pledge partners -- people who can't afford three Kickstarters a year -- then we have to back off of that in a hurry.

We're also coming off of our Worst. Year. Ever. In terms of expenses. $25K U.S. for Sean alone, a big chunk of that for a book we won't be recovering money on for years to come. Relocating all the books from the warehouse, An off-shore printing job that cost $7K more than projected and for which we are being paid in instalments by Diamond.

Sandeep's Project is nearing the launch point and I'm hoping that will help the SCANNING situation. This week's update is basically a rundown of the SCANNING situation.

Dave Sim said...

The 6,000-page graphic novel, PER SE, is the biggest scanning hurdle, but it's only part of it.

As an example, I had to tell Sean recently that I can't afford to pay $50 U.S. an hour to restore V17 material. Mostly because I couldn't present that to Diamond as a problem. "Here's CEREBUS MISCELLANY, how many of these do you want?" If they take 3,000 and sell 50, that will end the possibility of them taking future print runs. The THEORY we're operating on with CHURCH & STATE is that having volume one back in print will generate sales on volume two. Right now that isn't happening. LARIV is not a joke. CEREBUS is the ANTI-VIRAL. Which means instead of getting Diamond to order 3,000 copies of READS, I'm REALLY leaning on "Whatever you're comfortable with" and I'll eat however many more I have to print to make it work.

If CHURCH & STATE II was SELLING, then the argument would have been made: bring a missing book back into print and sales will follow!

Instead the argument is: the stores are only going to stock CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY no matter whether all the books are in print or not.

Which is the same argument against V17. A great "jumping on point"? Theoretically, but only if the stores see it that way. And the stores don't see it that way.

eric fennessey said...

Dave,

Realistically, as a regular pledger, I'm happy to commit to four campaigns a year, at about $144 CAD less UK Postage a pop. Get the logistics going and I'll be there.

Regards,
Eric

Bill Ritter said...

Dave, echoing Eric...

Realistically, as a regular pledger, I'm happy to commit to four campaigns a year, at $100 and up to $200 US per. Really depends on the add-ons. Get the logistics going and I'll be there.

It's not Cerebus, but I'd love to get my hands on prints (or series of mini-books) of your other art (e.g. IDW Covers). I was never into the buying variant covers...but, maybe something along lines of an add-on "Dave Sim Covers IDW - volume 1 (Dave's first 5 covers)" as a collected print/collection. And then a volume 2 in next campaign, etc.

iestyn said...

Dave

I think you hit the nail on the head in a previous comment (sorry if it was someone else, not got time to go and look) with the 'new and improved versions', I suspect that people won't want to buy the 'old and crummy versions'.

I also think that it's a shame that it was listed as a re-order item, rather than a NEW item. NEW items get better play/ attention in all media.

People want to push the new thing, the better thing, the thing that fits into the 'golden age of reprints'.

There definitely needs to be some kind of campaign or promotion that's less 'viral' and more traditional banging drums and getting the word out.

I'm not a business man and have no answer to how that works without kind being a wind bag convinced of his own importance. I do know that social media doesn't frequently improve sales from all of the 'shock horror, social media doesn't drive sales' articles I've read from cartoonist, writers and publishers.

I hope for a good outcome for you.

One last thought - I know in the UK the Arts Council provide grants for publishing - and I've read the Drawn & Quarterly have used grant from the Canadian government to help fund there publishing slate, so maybe that might be an avenue to explore as well.

All the best

iestyn

Bill Ritter said...

Dave, volume 17 or something else.

Let's set aside the elephant in the discussion of anti-viral. Not saying it's right or wrong, but I do believe that impedes ANY promotion discussion. It's the uber-trump for ideation.

6,000 pages. 16 volumes. It's a lot. Month-to-month, it doesn't seem so daunting...but put 'em all on a shelf. Wow. And for a store...figure they need 2 copies of some, 1 of each. That's a lot of real estate for an independent series that gets very little store-centric promotion from the publisher.

That's a different problem.

I know you have examined this in prior efforts, in different formats...but it's a decade or more later, different times, different means to an end.

Volume 0.
Or Cerebus Kickstart.
Or Cerebus Primer Volume.

Would the Volume 17 material work as a Volume 0 that would serve to collect this other material, possibly include some bridge material, maybe new stuff by other artists...really, something that would complete the collection but also prepare readers for the 16 volume journey to follow? (wow...heckuva long sentence there, Ritter).

The goal would be to allow readers same "climbing the Everest" roadmap as the poster conveys with the scanning effort.

Again, just throwing an idea out to the wolves. Be gentle with me.

:)

Glen said...

Actually my comment concerning the missed Kickstarter shipping date wasn't my attempt to deflect further discussion on the petition nor did I say (or believe) Dave is a fraud artist.

Where do these thoughts come from?

I stated in a previous thread that if you set a goal to ship your Kickstarter rewards at a certain date the people who contributed the money should expect to receive it by then. I believe that's fair. But I also understand the need to be flexible. Shit happens. April 2016 is the next shipping date. Let's hope for the best.

However if the missed shipping dates aren't important to many of you why are we talking about inflicting financial penalties on John Funk now?

al roney said...

It may be time to look at a more efficient and less overhead-intensive business model.

A quick infusion of cash (and this has been suggested before and mentioned by Dave too) is to make some of those "special" prints (ie. phone book covers) available as a Hi-rez files that we can have printed (in any size we like) ourselves.

After restoration (if necessary) and scanning, there is little overhead and near-zero delay in getting the product out to buyers.

I can think of 5 - 10 (or more) covers, special prints, etc. that I'm sure folks would be more than happy to pay 5 - 10 or more bucks to have.

Bring it...please.

Ray Cornwall said...

A few thoughts I have:

1. I have noticed that getting Kickstarter digital rewards is a pain in the butt across all backed projects. I'm trying to declutter in my life, so I'm willing to back more projects that have digital rewards.

Until Dave said that the file was available on AMOC, I didn't realize. I don't get email notifications from Kickstarter, so I missed it. I can get notifications to my mobile device, but getting an email at ray@raycornwall.com of a notification just doesn't seem possible in their interface. So I have a hard time placing this on Funk's head. (I'm a geek. If I'm missing this, then it's likely others are too.)

2. Would adding more digital rewards to CAN# projects grant enough extra revenue that they'd be worth the effort? I just don't have the room for the archives in my life (again, decluttering), but I would love to see the archives, and would happily pay $20-30 for a hi-rez digital copy of the images and a text file or e-book or PDF of the commentary. And I'd pay for back projects, too.

3. Does it make sense to offer consumer-direct sales of the books after a few months? You'd know this better than I would. I know during Cerebus's heyday, you were happier to push all this to the stores, but in a connected world with a digital storefront, does it make as much sense? Also, could you do something like offering the books through Amazon by shipping them some inventory and letting them handle sales? If you've already researched this, ignore this.

4. Thanks. Thanks for this and the essays on Patron, even if I'm like wow Oh my diety when I read them. That time period was always the most fascinating period I've ever seen in comics.

CerebusTV said...

As Dave once faxed me, there is a half-life to these relationships. Looks like John has gotten himself into a Funk and started to move on. Dave opined he never knows why, but he doesn't worry too much about it, because someone else willing to help out always appears just in time. Kismet.

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, if Cerebus TV is correct about the Funkmeister, I only hope that Sir John will pass on the arcane alchemical packaging secrets which he possesses...

Travis Pelkie said...

I suspect the reason C&SII isn't selling is, like iestyn said, people won't want the "old and crummy" versions, particularly if they expect the new and shiny ones are coming. When you remaster and re-release volumes 1, 2 and 3 in order, it doesn't seem that illogical to assume that volume 4 is coming next, so why would I buy a copy of the old one if the new one is just around the corner?

On that note, it's unlikely that this is financially feasible, but would pulping the remaining older copies of C&SII and putting out that remastered volume next be something that might be done? I suspect it'd be too big a loss for an uncertain gain, but I don't know what the sales numbers have been for the new volumes. If it's the typical "#2 is half of #1, and #3 is half of #2", then no, it wouldn't make sense, I'm sure. But if the new book sales stayed steady, maybe it's something to consider? (Or hell, instead of pulping them, take them back from Diamond, print the remastered version, and add the old C&SII to the Free Cerebus giveaway. Storage would undoubtedly be a bitch, though.)

Again, I doubt this would be something feasible, but I know that I'm unlikely to purchase one of the copies of C&SII currently around -- I have the single issues, so I can (re)read it, but I'm basically waiting at this point for the new version, which I will buy, as I have with the first 3 new volumes.

To echo Bill Ritter, perhaps thinking of "v17" as "volume zero" would help -- Marvel just tagged several of their series that put out 4 or 5 issues before or during Secret Wars as volume 0. It'd probably help as well if there was new material (somehow), but that's another issue.

Boy, these ideas would be great if they could be turned into money, huh?!

Anonymous said...

I actually did buy a copy of the "old" Church & State II this week (had one years ago, but gave it to a friend and just kept the individual issues). What a difference from the restored Volume I! In the original phonebook, the tower is just black -- no "demon 'eads and skuwws" visible. The improvement is so stark that I wouldn't wonder that someone who read and enjoyed Volume I would go, "Ehhh ... I'll wait for the restored version." Great work by Sean and Dr. Mara to show us most skillful work by Dave 'n' Ger. I look forward to seeing Volume II when and if it is eventually republished.

-- Damian