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.
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.
Thieves 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.
For $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 roll20.net. (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 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!
First thing’s first — Chapter Three is done, and is available as a PDF over on Patreon, free of charge. Share it with your friends and stuff!
Second thing’s second — we’re taking a small, five-comic break from Ramen Empire to showcase a new D&D-themed comic we’re making, at the end of which we’re hoping to collect a few opinions about. It’ll be a nice break for Zach and me, and it’ll give us a chance to edit chapter four before we start posting it.
It’s been a long, strange trip through chapter three and I’m both proud and confused with what we’ve made so far, which I suspect is the inevitable result of creating content slightly behind a never-ending publication schedule. We’d love your thoughts overall! I find myself liking certain parts better than others, but don’t want to corrupt anyone’s impression of the arc.
Civilization VI has been released, and it calls to me like a siren song, but as a perpetually broke artist / writer duo, Zach and I are resisting its malicious summons through the sheer power of poverty. It’s a dubious blessing, since neither of us have been consumed in the maw of Civ, while on the downside, neither of us have been consumed in the maw of Civ. That said, the Civ V: Vox Populi mod is an incredible gaming experience if 4x history psuedosimulators are your bag. It’s a far more complete and satisfying Civ experience, in my opinion, than Brave New World, and has a professional-tier development team behind it. It addresses most of Civ V’s critical weaknesses — particularly in the AI department — and feels like a professional product, not a mod. I’ve played a LOT of Vox Populi, though, and am itching to find some extra spare change to pick up Civ VI. Alas, shelter and food come first.
We started a new D&D campaign, and I’m trying a different approach to DMing. I’m proud of the campaign packet I wrote, but I intended it to be published at the DM store, and even though I’m only about 1/4th of the way through it, I can already see that the 40+ pages I wrote are completely useless for quick reference. I’d been organizing events and locations together, and all of that write-up is absolutely unusable garbage. Eloquent garbage, though, if I do say so myself. I’ll be re-creating that document after we finish playing through the packet, but I’ve got a good idea of how to make it useful. It’s a mixture of a social campaign and a dungeon crawl, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with folk (and, you know, having a for-money product to sell in the DM Guild.)
In other news, I finished lettering Honeypot, and it’s going to print. I’ll update this with a link once I’ve got one. The Wonderfunders are an interesting group to work with, and this’ll be my first time lettering a real, honest-to-god comic book instead of online strips. It was a good experience. I want to do it again, soon, but I’m also in the camp of “my labor needs to turn into money so I can eat” and I don’t anticipate making a lot off of Honeypot. The sales are divided between the publisher, writer, pencil artist, ink artist, colorist, editor, and (sitting off the end) the letterer, and while I don’t regret the experience in the slightest, community comic creation is very clearly not a get-rich-quick scheme.
I noticed that despite an angry comment or two directed our way for having endorsed Clinton (here and on Facebook), our readership has actually gone up, and I do appreciate whichever of our gentle, honest, good and true readers are responsible for this. I’m absolutely not capable of remaining unpolitical. At the same time, I’ve got thick skin, so if anyone is down to rumble (in a civil fashion) in the comments section, bring it on. ^_^
All right. That’s it for the blog dump. See you guys in a few days!
We were unanimously pro-Sanders during the primaries because, as our readers may have gathered, we value diversity and individual freedoms very, very highly, and saw the senator’s platform as a fast track toward these values.
Donald Trump is the antithesis of personal freedoms and diversity, from his xenophobic comments about Mexicans, gays, and Muslims to his threats to imprison Clinton, “punish” women who have abortions, and limit the freedom of the press.
We have educated criticisms of Secretary Clinton. Despite these, we do know that she will protect the rights of women, of blacks, Arabs, Latinos, gays; that she will not violate the freedom of the press, and that she is not on the puppet strings of a foreign ruler.
We also know that, unlike during Sanders’ primary, this entire season has been about mudslinging and proxy mudslinging, so much that the truth has been hidden with very easy to believe lies, most of them about Clinton.
We want a leader who will speak frankly to the issues and ignore the dark side of American politics — the hate and xenophobia of the alt right, and the christian supremacy of the traditional right. Hillary Clinton is that option, despite our misgivings and other concerns.
Our choices are between a banana republic dictator with no idea what he’s doing — a parody of every drunk uncle who has raged about what he would do with with his power if he were king for a day and who loathes intellectuals — and a woman who has a firm grasp of her US policies, a plan founded in realistic goals, an understanding of and sympathy for the left-leaning cultural social sensibilities toward personal freedom, and a respect for the complexities of governance.
Furthermore, we know that Clinton and Sanders have basic respect for each other, and will be able to work with one another — Sanders is still a senator, one left quite powerful and influential after primaries.
And finally, the weight of Senator Sanders’ endorsement is significant with us.
This is our official and unfettered endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, 2016.
If you’ve been supporting us on Patreon, you absolutely rock. As a thank-you, patrons at all levels have access to the Flowers in the Pyramid short story. It’s eclectic, but hey, we’re a writer and an artist duo, so sometimes we make off-message things that need a home. Hopefully, that home will be in your headmeat.
Flowers in the Pyramid is a story in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft that excises everything I don’t like about his style and themes. Enjoy!
I suspect that “Comics about LGBT indie film makers” might be a larger niche than is immediately evident. Sean Martin has been making Doc & Raider since 2009, and it’s been a constant spark of pleasantness in the periphery of my understanding of comics and how they work. Check it out; the guy busts his behind on his work, and the end product is worth your time.
Zach has been working on a pet project in a similar visual vein for a while. He’s got 3D models of, I believe, Scott and Cid fleshed out as a proof of concept, but it’s one of those projects we’re never quite brave enough to push forward on. So Kudos to Sean, for going where we’ve been unable.
Want to read ahead? We’ve got the script for Chapter Two posted in our Patreon. This is part of the $5 perk, which will soon also include part of my big surprise announcement.
Read ahead here. These scripts are subject to change, so you might be reading spoilers, and you might be reading something we change half-way through. In any case, I hope it’s interesting.
Also, here, have a peek at the last two comics in their various production stages.
It’s impossible to do what we do here when we’re weeping alongside the rest of the rational nation, so we’re putting up splash art for chapter two and continuing with the story next week.
Instead of reading comics this week, find your loved ones and hug them. Call them. Go to them. Exist with them and create memories and moments of happiness.
Write to your congressmen and representatives about their role in this awful, awful tragedy.
Live deeply. We’ll see you in a week.
Proud of how this one came out.