Friday, 4 March 2016

John Funk Update 3/4/16

Got a fax from John about 10 pm last night.  Welcome back, John!

I think one of the "systems" things we need to work on -- and I hope Eric B. (who has volunteered to help us with the "systems" side of Kickstarter) is reading this -- is the surveys situation.  I think we've gotten into a "feedback loop" where people are slow getting their surveys in because they figure "Well, they aren't going to actually DO anything for a while, so plenty of time".  Which leads to, "Well, can't really do anything until all of the surveys are in, so plenty of time".

The one time that CEREBUS got seriously off-schedule -- about two years into The Gerhard Years -- was a similar thing.  Gerhard slowed down doing the backgrounds and I went, "Well, I'm still four or five pages ahead. I can afford to kick back a bit."  The more I slowed down the more Gerhard slowed down and pretty soon we were off-schedule.  Lesson learned:  try to pick up a few days leeway a month.  Don't measure progress by where Gerhard is.  Run your own race.

I'd appreciate comments from Kickstarter veterans as to what the protocol(s) should be.  Whatever we do we're looking for the "Goldilocks" spot between not wanting to BUG anyone unduly, but making it apparent that we don't want the minority of people getting in the way of the majority of people.

Is that a safe assumption, that the...vast?...majority of people would really like it if we could shorten the window considerably?  I'm aware that a lot of Kickstarters never deliver anything and that delivery windows measured in months, if not years, are not unheard of.  (look! a dangling participle for Jeff S.! Happy Early Birthday, Jeff!)  Most of the posted comments tend to be, "Really, I'm fine waiting."  But I never know if that's honestly the way people think or if you're all just bucking to, Honorary Canadians, eh?

The core problem is the numbering.  If you don't get your survey in -- especially if you order Bonus Prints -- there's a danger of not getting a numbered print.

I want to avoid penalizing people so, what would be the response (do you think) if we set a cut-off for the surveys of (you call it: two weeks? three weeks?) and if you don't get yours in by then, we can't guarantee your number BUT we can offer an alternative like "You'll get (x#) of Bonus Prints personalized to you"?  And then the inventory would reflect that. This is the number of FIRST RELEASE prints that were signed and numbered.  This was the number of FIRST RELEASE prints that were personalized.

My printing isn't GREAT, but it's as plausible as my cheque-writing these days.  You can figure out what it says without a translator.

What I'm looking for is a "systems" date for John that's carved-in-stone.  So, on that date he "goes forward" no matter how many surveys have come in without thinking that he's putting a DING in our customer service cred.


Jim Sheridan said...

Dangling preposition, not participle?

Eddie said...

I'll set the ball rolling and say ...2 weeks? I don't know what most Kickstarters set as an appropriate time frame. Anyone think 3 weeks is better?

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, the survey email got to me back on 12/6/15, and I got to it probably a week or so later. (I was actually surprised that the survey went out as quickly after the campaign as it did.) So other than the 3 people who didn't respond yet, I think it's safe to go forward 3 months later....

But in general, for future campaigns, 2-3 weeks sounds reasonable, with a last email to the laggards, say, 3 days before that final cut off, and then go from there.

Not that he needs more work, but maybe Funk can see based on this campaign -- how many people responded within a couple days, a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, and then beyond that. If 95% respond within 2 weeks, make that the window.

mike r said...

In this day and age where everyone wants everything NOW and social media creates happenings instantaneously, but complain when something that is scheduled to ship/arrive at a specific date it seems to me that it's ludicrous that some backers haven't completed the questionnaire.

Did I get this right or am I missing something?

2 weeks is more than enough time .

al roney said...

2 weeks is plenty of time...

Maybe with three notices to go along with it. First, then a Second "Reminder" and then a Final Notice.

While we await shipment of CAN4, how about e-mailing those collected letters files out to people who paid for that reward?

Gives us something to do/read while we're waiting for the goods.

KevinR said...

A couple weeks should be fine. But, I'd suggest that a couple things be done to make that smoother:
1) On the campaign page (maybe even the FAQ) put a notice that the survey will be out shortly after the campaign and that there will be a short cut-off date so as to not impede the project.
2) Again with the survey make it clear that there is a drop-dead date after which numbers will be assigned and counts finalized.
3) After the deadline, non-responders lose their numbers and run the risk of not getting numbered prints. (And they definitely shouldn't get personalized prints, because that might encourage people to be late.)

Bill Ritter said...

IMO: Milestone dates should be defined within the kickstarter.

Ex: Kickstarter ends on May 1. Within the campaign:
--Survey to be sent out to all backers 2 weeks following the end of kickstarter (May 14).
--Backers have 2 weeks from May 14 to respond (May 28). Backers who do not respond in this timeframe shall remain eligible for the material content, but may not receive signed/numbered editions.

Alternatively, if you know you have 84 backers getting a signed something or other (and all 84 have payments processed), print/sign/number all 84 and store the non-response. Under this arrangement, maybe include a "backers not responding within the deadline shall remain eligible for their reward but shall pay an additional $25 servicing fee to complete the processing".

It really comes down to the advance planning/coordination, and communication prior to the kickstarter commencing.

And, most importantly, consistent communication to all backers throughout the end of campaign to fulfillment.

Jeff Seiler said...

Gee! T'anks, Dave! When are you gonna sic [sic] me on another book?

I agree with the comments above, generally. Although, shouldn't the survey be a template by now and (please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not very computer-savvy), can't John have created a "repeat offender" database by now that would cover most backers, so that he could get the survey out much faster than two weeks with just a few computer keyboard clicks, with only the newbies having to be entered by hand, so to speak? (How's that for a run-on sentence, Dave S. ?)

And, yes, non-responders need to be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail. Hangin's too good for 'em.

Travis Pelkie said...

I think most of the survey was pretty automated, Jeff, but even us (we?) regulars might have a different address, or changed around what we could afford to get each time (each bonus print has to be listed separately), or gotten different neat stuff each time...

Considering how complicated it all is, Funkmeister seems to have worked out the kinks of the survey, at least from a respondent's perspective. I have no idea what it looks like on his end.

Considering that US Thanksgiving fell between the end of CAN4 and when the surveys went out, that's fairly impressive turnaround. Especially after how long 3 took...

Karen Smith said...

I've only been able to afford backing two projects at Kickstater. One failed to reach the goal, and the second has been seriously delayed. My belief is to keep everything as simple as possible for the backer - and as stated above, communication is (always) the key.

I've looked at your Kickstarter promotions and my only concern has been how complicated the bonuses (gifties)are for the backers - chronic add-ons, surveys, penalties, etc.

In my personal opinion, and as usual I'm probably the oddster, I am FAR more interested in seeing the goal made, the work produced, and really don't care about the bonus gifts. If I didn't have complete joy in seeing the project come to fruition, even with a seriously long delay, I wouldn't have backed it in the first place.

In summation - keep the work worth backing, and keep in touch with the backers on a personal basis (via Kickstater e-mail), and often. I feel that the creator is more important than the gifts. I just need to figure out how to sell this notion. Consumers (re: backers) are becoming too greedy and impatient.

Dave Sim said...

al roney - EVERYONE should have gotten COLLECTED LETTERS 3 the day they pledged for it. That was a conscious decision on my part:

STRUCTURALLY that meant someone could pledge for it, receive it and then withdraw their pledge and John called my attention to that "flaw" but I explained my reasoning: I don't think enough people would do that to undercut the value of getting SOMETHING immediately and by way of apology for having to wait six months for the portfolio itself.

Did anyone reading this a) pledge for COLLECTED LETTERS 3 and b) get it already?

As I say, everyone was supposed to.

This is another thing I'd like to see Eric B improve if he can from our end. There SHOULD be an automated response built in for ANY order for a digital pledge. John shouldn't have to do anything. You pledge for it, you get it. If you DO withdraw your pledge -- i.e. don't pay for it -- then your name gets flagged and you can only get a digital pledge AFTER the campaign ends from then on.

The idea is to automate responses. There is WAY too much "hands-on" stuff that John needs to do. We want to start whittling down that list as much as possible.

Surveys in in two weeks is a good start for CAN5.

Bill Ritter said...

Dave: I did not get the collected letters. I also did not get the poster (which, as it was also digital I'm presuming similar potential for a quick send).

Karen Smith makes a great point...I'll kind of rephrase it...the core kickstarter isn't the add-ons, it's the primary concept. The add-ons should not (1) diminish ability to deliver the primary goal, and (2) bring distraction to potential backers ("so, what am I backing here...???"). I love the adds-ons, I think they bring tremendous additional value...but they should not impede delivery of the main thing.

Dave Sim said...

KevinR: "Losing their numbers" is exactly the sort of thing we don't want to get into for a few reasons: 1) eliminating a number from John's system has a nightmare "knock on" effect. And you can't just click on UNDO a week later 2) If you lose your number, the likelihood of your becoming a seriously disgruntled EX-CUSTOMER goes up exponentially. We REALLY don't want that 3) the further along we go the more important MY NUMBER becomes for collectors and the more severe a blow it is to lose it.

Bill Ritter's "store the non-response" seems more tailored to what we're trying to do. YOUR portfolio and YOUR number EXIST, we just haven't SENT them to you because you didn't get your survey in.

The personality type that doesn't send in a survey three months later, I think, gets somewhat used to slow service anyway. And as long as their portfolio EXISTS and they DO get it eventually, that's all they're likely to Care about.

Karen Smith - re: your SECOND phone message. I tried calling your number about 6 pm yesterday and it just rang and rang. I'll try again later tonight. Best to Michael ZOO-ley (pronunciation duly noted after thirty years of mispronunciation).

Dave Sim said...

Bill Ritter: I agree. The add-ons shouldn't impede the primary Kickstarter thing. Unfortunately, they have to (?) because the shipping costs are amortized across the portfolio and the bonus prints. I'm questioning "have to" because I'm not sure that's true. I keep thinking that what's needed as a "routing" system that breaks the orders into categories and PORTFOLIO ONLY would be one category. Those would be dealt with separately -- and first -- because there are no Bonus Prints to slow it down.

But as I say, that's a "routing" problem: how the Kickstarter information is "crunched". A simple order SHOULD go out sooner than a complicated order. Theoretically.

Kickstarter is really not set up for "crunching" information. It's set up for a mass information "dump" that needs to be "crunched". That's what we're trying to fix.

Okay, I'm out of here. Sabbath tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I pledged for the Collected Letters 3, without the portfolio, and received it via email the day before the Kickstarter ended. Is it possible that it was sent to those who pledged for the Letters by themselves, and not as an add on to the portfolio?
-Benjamin Hobbs

Karen Smith Zulli said...

@Bill - Thank You for the help in translation. Zed usually helps me out in public/live re-speak, and I do need it from time to time ;) Going back to college a few years ago has helped, though I'm far from succinct quite yet. #havingapepsiandworkingonit.

And Dave, aww, you are Very kind. A prayer will do as I understand how busy you are. We don't have a cell phone, answering machine, or caller ID. Last evening we were on our way back from the hospital in St. Cloud. Thank you for thinking of us!

Eddie said...

I hope everything is okay with you and Michael, Karen. I came upon Michael's work by way of Dave and his publishing of PUMA BLUES back in the day as a kid, and his work is one of the most impressive and amazing styles the medium has ever seen. It definitely had an impact on me growing up, that's for sure!

My best to you both. Hang in there!

Karen Smith Zulli said...

Thank you, Eddie :) Hanging in there is a big part of life since Michael suffered through Cancer treatment, and then my parents (who live out of state) decided that I am their one and only caregiver choice. It has cost me a few paying job offers in other states, though I have no regrets. Thank you as well for the kind comments on Puma Blues. It never would have happened without Dave Sim, and that is a very positive fact. I hope that it will one day become a film, or television series

Cheers a

Jeff Seiler said...

WTF? What just happened to this comments page?

Something fell.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Jeff; looks like something fell onto the "Enter" key. I'm seeing a huge white space, as if Karen hit "Enter" a couple of hundred times before signing off with "Cheers a". Weird.

-- Damian

Bill Ritter said...

Karen Smith Zulli:
re: @Bill - Thank You for the help in translation. Zed usually helps me out in public/live re-speak, and I do need it from time to time ;) Going back to college a few years ago has helped, though I'm far from succinct quite yet. #havingapepsiandworkingonit.

Oh golly, I was not translating...rather, I was exploiting your very clear and well articulated post into something supporting mine own agenda! :)

Travis Pelkie said...

Ah. I think Benjamin Hobbs got it. The people who pledged ONLY for CL3 got it right away. Those of us who added it on to a portfolio are still waiting (I assume, since I added it on [or intended to, anyway...did I screw it up?!] and I still haven't gotten it).

It's the "danger" of having a complicated bonus item availability, but I think the add ons certainly help me to decide to go ahead and get as much as I can afford (or...ahem...more...).

And here I thought I was wrong about how to pronounce "Zulli" when I heard Dave saying it on an update a while ago, and it seems that I was correct! (Shouldn't that have been pronunciation "Zulli" noted, Dave? heh heh)

Travis Pelkie said...

I reread the comments and I see that Dave sort got at the issue as well, because his comments about "routing" are something that I noticed with the different campaigns. I think the pledge levels (the stuff at the right of the page, last time I looked at kickstarter) would just have to be changed, with more and different levels and pricing offered. There'd be a level for portfolio only, another for portfolio plus bonus prints, portfolio plus digital reward A, portfolio plus digital reward B, etc. However, this would create so many confusing pledge levels that I think it would possibly be detrimental to the campaign. With fewer options but more info to fill out with the survey, I think certain people would be more willing to pledge more. If they have to wade through a lot of options, it makes people say screw this.

The main issue with the current campaign is that once Funkmeister got our survey results, he should have sent out the digital rewards right away. As far as I know, he didn't, although apparently they went out to those who got only digital rewards.

Glen said...

I pledged for the Collected Letters Volume 3 as well as some other bonus prints during the Kickstarter campaign.

I indicated the Collected Letters on the survey I filled out in December 2015.

I have yet to receive the PDF in my inbox.

Eric Berry said...

Based on our last communication, I was told to wrap up the digital download software for Sandeep first, then I can hop on the software for John and the Kickstarter. I apologize for not putting more mind-share into this. When I spoke with John, I let him know that it was very unlikely that I could get it out for this CAN and would have it ready for the following CAN. If this is still important to have for this CAN, we can discuss it and I am more than happy to do what I can.

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime Dave or John. I'm happy and willing to help, and have been writing software for the digital download stuff in the meantime.

Eric B

Jeff Seiler said...

Eric, I know you're new onboard, but I think that anyone who is working on the project, who is getting products out to the buyers who previously paid for them (several months ago) should be (or should attempt to be) "putting more mind-share into this" very quickly. If you can't, that is understandable, in the sense of "start-up time", but apologizing for not putting more "mind-share" into this doesn't bode well.

I'm sure Dave Sim would not have signed on with you if he didn't think you could get the job done (whatever it is; I'm a bit fuzzy on it, not being particularly computer-savvy), but, personally, I think that when you're asked to do a job and (most importantly, you agree to do it for money; if indeed, you did; I don't know), you should get right to it. I think you are doing that, but the term "mind-share" leaves at least one investor and very long-term "mind-sharer" a bit off-kilter (if I am understanding "mind-share" correctly; which, I'm probably not.)

Having said that, I must, in all good conscience, admit that I have a less-than-zero idea of what it takes to do an effective job of software downloading and design. I once tried it and failed, miserably.

But, I do know what it takes to proofread a 500-page graphic novel. Skill, and about (give or take, mostly give) 30 hours. And, I "mind-shared" with Dave about it most of the way.

I'm not trying or intending to be rude or mean with you here, nor am I seeking to get excommunicated by Tim but, when I, as a person who paid a lot of money several months ago to get a package which I would very much like to receive, hear that, essentially, the new guy can't be ready in time to help to effect the expeditious delivery of the package which I would very much like to receive, then I can only say: "Good luck on helping out, and I can't wait to see how very much (as I expect it will be) you help out on the next one."

Eric (and, Tim, please take note), I mean you less than zero ill will. I look forward to hearing about your contributions to this ongoing project. I'm guessing that would be CAN5.

I just (so, sue me) have a problem with the term "mind-share".

However, thinking back to my comment a few days ago about what it's like to work with and for Dave...

I can see how the "mind-share" can get a little bit confusing.

Thank you, Eric, for coming aboard. Coming from a very old reader (supporter; fan), I hope you will take my welcome well.

Jeff Seiler said...

AND, let me say, in the interest of complete and fully transparent disclosure, I took way too long (months) in spending 30-some hours on proofreading Reads. Which, to my knowledge, is the next volume to be reprinted in remastered form. It is my understanding that, in no small part due to me, Dave had to inform Diamond that the reprinting would be delayed.






Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Travis Pelkie said...

Well, Eric said that he was told to do the stuff for Sandeep first (which I presume is converting stuff to digital? I'm as fuzzy on what Eric's doing as Jeff is), so I don't think we can fault the new guy for following directions.

I think that Eric is setting up software to automate the stuff from the Kickstarter surveys and extract our info to automate and expediate (ok, that's not a recognized word -- expedite, are you happy, squiggly red line?!) our shipments. Eric may have assumed, or been told, that Funkmeister already has the info extracted for this one (or should, anyway) and to focus on the stuff for Sandeep first (which I believe is for pressing fundraising, since the Kickstarter fundraising has already been burned through, if I understood some of Dave's more recent updates).

Anyway, don't scare off the new guy yet, Jeff! We all want the CAN4 stuff, and we already know it's been delayed. I trust that the new guy will help as much as he can as quickly as he can, but give him a chance to get up to speed first.

I'd mock you more about the Reads proofreading, but given Diamond's numerous ...issues... of the last few years, delaying something getting to them just means it's a few more months before they start FSU with it (if you get the drift of my use of initials there). I'm pretty sure they never listed the remastered C&S 1 on the "new comics" list they put out each week, which, even if it was considered a STAR book, it's a new printing (and a SIGNIFICANT one at that!) and should have been listed as such. Unless they make you pay more to get it listed in the regular list....

Jeff Seiler said...


Travis, good post, if, at the end just a bit over-the-top on-point, making me actually have to think...

No, I think that Eric will probably have to have, and succeed at (one hopes) a very steep learning curve. And, not being in on the "Inside Baseball" curve, I would just guess that Eric was signed on by Sandeep, with Dave's subsequent approval.

So far, he (Eric) seems to be a very good and involved direction-follower!

I assume he is excellent at what he does (whatever that is), or Sandeep wouldn't have chosen him.

As to whether he will expediate our...


Mr. Squiggly Red Pen Here!!! (After, you know, wiggling ecstatically all over the place!)

Drop your keyboards, NOW, ALL of you, and go down to Staples or OfficeMax and buy an effing (Magnifier) dictionary!

While you're at it, by a Roget's Thesaurus and Bartlett's Quotations, along with a bunch of legal pads, so that you can write letters to Dave, or Sandeep, or Eric, or Sean, or Mara, or (most especially, to me or Dave) about the latest works.

I mean, that's how I did it for 10 or 15 years. On the legal pads, I mean.


I'm old.

Nevertheless, I look forward to Eric's contribution to the ongoing project.

You rock, Dude!

Nah, mock me all you want, T. I'm just waiting for my next assignment. I just hold off on the proofreading until I'm told what to do next. I think my next assignment will be "all of them". At my pace, because my pace tends to be slightly faster than the publishing pace.

I think I may have pissed off Dave when I wrote the other day about the three whiteboards...

Anyways, there's 13 volumes to go, and I've got all the time in the world for proofreading.

He said, laughing in the face of God.

Let me rephrase that:

"I've got all the time in the world, inshallah."


Jeff Seiler said...

Make that "buy a Roget's Thesaurus".


Tony Dunlop said...

re: the large gap of blank space in one of the posts: I'm guessing there was a cat involved. I speak from experience.

Eric Berry said...


I do not take any offense. I understand your frustrations and want to clarify some stuff.

First, I am not being paid to develop these tools. I am strictly a volunteer and life-long fan of Cerebus. I started collecting around 1992.

Second, my ability to help on the current Kickstarter was very limited because of time. I have recently changed jobs and had a huge ramp-up time with my work. I also am managing a couple of contracts on the side that have taken a higher priority. I have let John know of this and he was very understanding. I told him that I would not be able to have a solution in place for CAN4 and would be able to help on CAN5. Here's an email I got from John:


Hi Eric!

I hope 2016 is treating you well. I’m hard at work with the CAN4 print preparation.

It’s a good time to start planning ahead for CAN5. I’m anticipating a launch of around mid-March. Therefore I wanted to ask you if you are still able to work on the CAN5 app and have it ready to launch by then?

It would be great if you can. However, don’t feel like you’re locked into it if your work and family (and other) commitments don’t allow for it.

If you need a few days to think about it, please do that. But may I ask that by early next week you let me know? That gives me some time to find someone else who could assist with it.


John Funk


Because of this email, I didn't even consider doing more to help on CAN4. This doesn't mean that I'm not still willing to help on it, but I thought John had CAN4 under control and didn't need or expect my help.

Third, I recently faxed Dave (a couple of weeks ago). I said "I will be developing John Funk's tool for him this month and early next month so we can have this ready to launch by CAN5". Dave replied:


Hi Eric:

The priority right now would be helping Sandeep with how the digital order fulfillment at GoFundMe is going to work. He's just about ready to go on his end. If you can work out an automated digital file fulfillment mechanism, that SHOULD give us a steady income to pay for the MASSIVE amount of scanning that still needs to be done.


THIRD is the indie comic exchange (long shot)

Thanks for volunteering to help with these. I'm not dead yet.




I am nearly done with the digital download website and am waiting for a thumb drive from Sandeep with all the original artwork.

Guys, I'm giving you my best. I'm not getting paid. I don't take offense from what was said, but I do want to make sure you understand what to expect from me. After my communications with John, I didn't plan on doing anything re: CAN4 and as mentioned, I am a good instructions follower (see Dave's fax).

If you have any questions, my email is