For Wired, I profiled Portland artist Ben Dewey, creator of the brilliant Tragedy Series. It was a fun piece to write—I’ve long admired the combination of cuteness and pathos in Ben’s work, and it was great to get a chance to sit down and talk to him about it. Poor triceratops
For Slate, I wrote about Ryan North’s Kickstarter for To Be or Not to Be, a Choose Your Own Adventure version of Hamlet:
Late last year, Web cartoonist Ryan North launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund To Be or Not to Be, an illustrated “chooseable-path adventure”—pardon the copyright dodge—version ofHamlet. Thanks to media attention and a viral spread that attracted an audience beyond fans of North’s popular Dinosaur Comics, it became the most funded publishing project in Kickstarter history, surpassing its initial $20,000 goal by more than half a million dollars. (It has since been beaten, barely, by a Planet Money campaign to fund a T-shirt picturing a squirrel drinking a martini.)
North’s campaign was very close to perfect, one that should serve as inspiration to anyone who wants to crowdfund a creative project: The concept was innovative; the reward tiers were thoughtfully designed; North communicated clearly and enthusiastically with backers at every step of the process; and the project not only delivered what was promised but improved upon the initial concept. As the book arrives in backers’ mailboxes this month, it’s worth asking: Is it a good book? Is it $580,905 good?
Provocative! I know! Read the whole thing on Slate!
Over at Wired.com, I’ve got a piece up about Make That Thing, a new branch of web retailer TopatoCo that helps artists handle the organization and reward fulfillment of their Kickstarter campaigns. For the article, I spoke with webcomics creator Aaron Diaz, whose campaign to produce a print volume of his popular series Dresden Codak is an early test run for Make That Thing:
Aaron Diaz’s Kickstarter is doing pretty damn well. The artist and webcomic creator asked for a modest $30,000 to fund a print version of his popular webcomic Dresden Codak, and less than a week later, he’s pushing $250,000. But unlike most people who successfully fund projects on Kickstarter, Diaz won’t be fulfilling his obligations to backers – a daunting task involving third-party printers, pallets of books, and staggering shipping costs — on his own.
Read the whole thing at Wired.
I wrote a piece for The Magazine about fancy ice. High-end bartenders have a lot in common with mad scientists, and creating perfect, crystal-clear ice is an ongoing preoccupation. (For bartenders. Mad scientists aren’t so worried about it.)
There are only a few times I think about ice.
I think about ice when I’m hosting a party and I have to run to the corner store to buy a bag of it. Invariably, the cubes have clumped together into a giant mass, and I have to stomp on the bag to break it up. Artisanal foot-ice, I call it.
I think about ice vis-à-vis the grandmotherly implications of plopping a few cubes in a glass of rosé when it’s hot outside.
I think about ice when I start to worry about how Jon Snow is really doing.
I imagine you’re like me, an ice dabbler at best, but ice obsession is an established phenomenon in the cocktail world. It’s a preoccupation that reaches both into booze’s past and into its experimental, sci-fi future.
“How Hash Oil Is Blowing Up Across the U.S. — Literally”
For a non-stoner, I’ve been writing an awful lot about medical marijuana and hash oil lately. Here’s my most recent story, for Wired:
Last week, FEMA posted a rather unexpected alert in its emergency services bulletin titled “Hash Oil Explosions Increasing Across US.” Alongside more quotidian warnings of cyber terrorism and industrial vapor clouds, it described an uptick in explosions at apartments and hotel rooms involving “a process using butane to extract and concentrate compounds from marijuana,” destructive incidents that FEMA warned could even be mistaken for pipe bomb or meth lab explosions.
Wait, marijuana-based explosions? When did cannabis products start sounding like something out of Breaking Bad?
ON THURSDAY, MARCH 7, Comics Underground is teaming up with Dark Horse Comics for a Very Special Episode of our comics reading series.
In honor of Will Eisner Week, Dark Horse Editor Diana Schutz hand-picked a lineup of some of the best comics creators in the country to share stories from Will Eisner’s Last Day in Vietnam.
Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Michael Avon Oeming, Dylan Meconis, and Kelly Sue DeConnick will be reading, and Erik Nebel will be accompanying a wordless story on violin. Basically, it’s a lineup that shouldn’t be allowed to get on an airplane together, because if that plane crashed, so would like 80 percent of the comics industry.
Here’s a bit more info on the participants. LIKE YOU NEED MORE INFO, C’MON.
• MATT FRACTION, architect of the Marvel Universe, writer of The Invincible Iron Man, and creator of the beloved high-concept spy comic Casanova.
• BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, yet another architect of the Marvel Universe, writer of Ultimate Spider Man and creator of the beloved superhero noir comic Alias.
• MICHAEL AVON OEMING, a creator and artist on numerous projects including the Eisner-winning series Powers.
• DYLAN MECONIS, creator of the brainy historical graphic novel Family Man and the vampire-themed spoof Bite Me.
• KELLY SUE DECONNICK, writer of a number of Marvel Comics titles, including the well-received Osborn miniseries and Avengers Assemble.
• ERIK NEBEL, creator of War and Peace: The Comic, which is just what it says it is.
It all goes down at 8 pm on Thursday, March 7, at the Jack London (529 SW 4th, Portland, Oregon). Admission’s $3-5. Yes, it’s going to be as good as it sounds. See you there.