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Bartholomew is the writer monkey. All hail the writer monkey.

Phoenix Down #40 – Flashback

Phoenix Down #40 – Flashback published on 2 Comments on Phoenix Down #40 – Flashback

Yep. They’re all vertical now. I’m working on a fix that will make this look nicer on desktop computers, but I’m gearing up to make our comics something more easily read on phones and tablets. I also think this format gives Zach and me a lot more room to show the kinds of scenes we want to show — this has always been an issue with the horizontal strips.

The upshot is that we’re cutting Ramen Empire back down to once a week. Our Patreon goal of “$100 a week and we’ll update twice a week” was fool-hardy to begin with, and now that our subscriptions have dipped back under the $100 marker, we’re going to rethink our goals and rewards for this comic on that platform.

For long time readers, this means you’re getting more of this specific comic overall, at a bit of a faster pace, but once a week instead of twice. The strip today would have been three or four horizontal strips, with strange forced jokes at awkward points. If this feels disappointing, I apologize.

For our new readers who came because of Thieves Can’t, that comic is definitely going to continue updating. We’re currently writing our first big story for it, tentatively titled Thieves Can’t Kill Goblins. We’re going to try to sell the concept to a few big comic publishers first, and use the Thieves Can’t space to give supplementary (but stand-alone) content if we manage to get a contract with someone. The most likely future for Thieves Can’t, though, is that it will continue being a web comic.


Thieves Can’t #5

Thieves Can’t #5 published on 6 Comments on Thieves Can’t #5

First off, sorry for the delay. We had unexpected technical problems in the form of a dying Surface Pro. We’re replacing it with a newer art tablet as soon as possible, but it’s definitely slowing down comic progress.

Second off — this is it. The last page. Let us know what you thought. We’ve already had enough good feedback and a big enough spike in readership that we know, for a fact, that we’ll be continuing Thieves Can’t — we’re tentatively titling book one “Thieves Can’t Kill Goblins.” But we’re also look at ways to make this comic sustainable. This means we’re going to be actively seeking out publishers for it in a way we haven’t done with Ramen Empire, but barring that, we’ll be self-publishing it in a way that generates income. Patreon is definitely helpful, so if you’re interested in having your character drawn, or seeing a behind-the-scenes blog about this comic, or if you just think it’s worth a little bit of money every month, chip in. It helps us keep making comics.

But we’re also going to be selling shirts and tabletop figurines, too — potentially custom ones for Patrons — so stay tuned.

In the meantime, please, let us know what you think of the new comic, what you liked, what you hated, and where you hope it goes (or doesn’t.)


Quick Ormond Sketch

Quick Ormond Sketch published on No Comments on Quick Ormond Sketch

Hop over to the Patreon blog for a closer look. We’re also going to be posting some character sheets and redesigns of the Thieves Can’t cast in the secret blog over the next few days, so if you’re looking for some meta-data on this particular comic, that’ll be a good place to start.

Click me to see the big version!

Thieves Can’t – Page 4

Thieves Can’t – Page 4 published on 6 Comments on Thieves Can’t – Page 4

All aboard! The end of the Zero Session is coming up, along with a bit of opinion gathering.

Want to keep Thieves Can’t around? Help us make it! $35 will get us to draw your tabletop RPG character and convert that character into art suitable for


This comic is actually something like 5 or 6 individual images, so apologies if it looks wonky in RSS feeds.


Thieves Can’t #3

Thieves Can’t #3 published on 1 Comment on Thieves Can’t #3

Zach and I had to rewrite this comic in a hurry. The short of it is that we made a dark joke that was probably funny, but also … not the direction we want Thieves Can’t to go in. Also, it didn’t really have the tabletop meta elements that we think are carrying this concept. If you’re curious about what we threw away, it’s over in the secret blog on patreon.

In the meantime, I am DMing at 4 and the apartment is covered in pumpkin puree and dirty dishes. Have a great day and look for two more Thieves Can’t comics next week, when we’ll finish our concept run and collect some thoughts from the community.

Patreon & Comic Announcement

Patreon & Comic Announcement published on 4 Comments on Patreon & Comic Announcement

This comic exploded in a way I never predicted. I figured it would be marginally popular with a new audience and let us expand our readership for Ramen Empire slightly. Instead, a conservative estimate of 7,000 new readers have read the last two comics and have demanded more on three different platforms, while at the same time Tapastic made Thieves Can’t a staff pick.
Wow. And the best part is that this all happened on my birthday. I can’t think of a better end-cap to my 30th. A huge thank-you to all our new readers for making today and last several days awesome. It’s exactly what I needed toward the end of an incredibly dismal year.


guild-tinkererThieves Can’t is getting its own dedicated patreon. That platform has never been a huge success for Ramen Empire, largely because we’ve been at a constant loss about what kind of rewards to offer on it. For that reason, if you are currently supporting Ramen Empire, and you’d rather have a Thieves Can’t reward instead, just drop me a comment, tweet, or Facebook Message, and I’ll make sure you have access to that content as well.

We know exactly what kinds of rewards we want to offer Thieves Can’t readers. We’re just not necessarily sure what they’re worth. So if you’re reading this, sound off with an opinion even if you’re not planning to support Thieves Can’t on Patreon. We want to know if you think the costs meet the rewards. Keep in mind that these support levels have “keep Thieves Can’t updating” built into them, meaning that, in spirit, you’re paying us to make Thieves Can’t, but deciding how much you pay and getting extra stuff along with it at certain markers. It’s a niggling distinction, but it rhetorically poises us to always prioritize the free comic. The goal, then, is to produce rewards that do not interfere with the creation of the comic, but that are genuinely of interest to the community without being a wholly separate product.

With that in mind, here’s what we’re planning:

For $3, we’re offering a creators’ blog, which will update with spoilers, discarded and evolved art that won’t see the light of day anywhere else, comic sneak-peeks, and our thought processes on the creation of Thieves Can’t. This reward is live right now.

noviceFor $5, we want to offer useful DM tools. Useful charts, like lists of everything an NPC hedgemage is selling and for how much, hand-picked names that jibe with 5e races while also providing professions, alignments, goals, secret goals, and personalities for NPCs — basically, materials that address the really time-consuming parts of being an “at-ready” DM. We’d also sneak fun homebrew into this category, like feat variant ideas and magical items.

For $20, we want to offer world maps, town maps, dungeon maps, adventure modules, and small expansion packs. The first among these would be a pair of drag-and-drop dungeons designed around vampire encounters that I’ve made. They’re meant to be printed out on a black-and-white office printers (…for reasons that absolutely have nothing to do with my dubious access to the a certain math department…), but are playable, if not pretty. Future content would definitely get a facelift. We’d also offer things like modules for adding airships to 5e.

At the $35 bracket, Zach will draw your tabletop RPG character in the Thieves Can’t style. Additionally, you’d gain access to custom art assets suitable for use on platforms like (These assets may also be suitable for printing on good  stock and using in meatspace, but we’d need to test it out.) This means that illustrations of your characters would come with usable tokens, and you’d have access to monsters and NPCs that we make — the first of which are going to be used to draw attention to the rewards themselves on Patreon.

And last but not least, how much would you guys see as reasonable for 3D-printed figurines? We don’t have the costs nailed down yet, and so haven’t got a price in mind, but we’ve got access to a 3D printer and Zach is itching to get back into 3D art.

So what do you guys think? Sound off in the comments.

Ramen Empire

Ramen Empire is going to evolve. Part of what we’ve learned over the past two comics is that vertical pages are not only better for most new devices, but they’re less time consuming to make. I had hoped that this week would represent a good deal of down-time in which I could edit the remainder of Phoenix Down, but the surge of new readers has left me scrambling to capitalize on the prospect that, for the first time, making comics could be my job in addition to being my obsession.

The buzz I’ve got over Thieves Can’t isn’t killing my enthusiasm for Ramen Empire. Quite the contrary. The former is informing the latter. The series is going to get a spiritual reboot, in which I approach writing it from a new, liberated-from-horizontal-spaces attitude. In a lot of ways, Thieves Can’t is Zach and I learning a to tell stories in 2016 instead of 2002.

Since you can now get Ramen Empire in PDF form for free (Thought, you know, we won’t stick our nose up at money), I’m not sure if I am going to separate Thieves Can’t out of the stories section of Ramen Empire or not. With the existence of those PDFs, there’s simply a better way to read this comic, and this becomes, I think, a more elegant solution to having two webcomics than paying for two websites, or designing a new lander. But I’m interested in your thoughts on this. Is having Ramen Empire and Thieves Can’t in the same stream jarring? Would you like the Ramen Empire site as much if it had a lander ala Penny Arcade, where you clicked the comic you were interested in to proceed? Or do you prefer the latest comic in whichever stream being at the top of the home page?

Give us your thoughts!


Thieves Can’t

Thieves Can’t published on 7 Comments on Thieves Can’t

We’re branching out in quite a few ways — one with comics besides Ramen Empire, and another with vertical comics. The website is going to get some tweaks as we adjust for being able to handle vertical images, so brace yourselves!

Definitely interested in thoughts — and apologies if things look wonky as we figure this first one out!

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