Posts Tagged Takin’ care of business

Regret Printing Services

The long national nightmare is over — Thinkulus is finally here in my possession. I say “nightmare” because I went with a Chinese book printer that has printer reps here in San Diego, and the whole process was massively stressful. (I’m not going to broadcast anyone’s names — I don’t want to give them any extra publicity, even if it’s negative. Contact me if you’re curious.) Here’s the bullet list:

• I was led to believe that having my books printed in China would be quite a bit less expensive than having them printed in Hong Kong (or stateside, of course). It wasn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure it cost more than what the HK printer I used for Hodabeast and Doc Splatter Ominous Omnibus would have charged, based on a quote from 2011.

• When I tried to upload the book to their FTP site, I discovered it was offline/unresponsive. (I used 8 different browsers, incl. Fetch, on three different Macs, each with a different OS. Nothing worked. I called the printing rep and they didn’t get back to me until the next day.)

• The gave me a production schedule, which ended up butchered and amended so many times by them that my calendar looks like a prop from “Homeland.”

• When I received the initial PDF proof, there was a notice that I needed to state “PRINTED IN CHINA” on the indicia. It was right there, on the indicia, all along. This should have been a warning sign that the printers in China didn’t exactly sweat the details.

• My printing rep assured me I could get a carton of Thinkulus (40 ct.) flown over to me from China if desired, which would arrive weeks before the scheduled delivery of the rest of the books. This was comforting, knowing how messed up the printing schedule had become and that I could have books in hand for Comic-Con, guaranteed. I was told a 4o lb. box of books would cost far less than $100, likely around $60-$70. It ended up costing $105-$130, depending on 2-3 day or 4-5 day service. That’s a pretty rookie mistake coming from a printing rep who should know this stuff inside and out. (She said the heaviest carton the printers will load is 40 lbs., so her price estimate shouldn’t fluctuate by double).

• I expected high-resolution proofs but got low-resolution instead (I had specifically requested hi-rez, even to the point of documenting the phone call with my printing rep and immediately following up that call with an email to her associate. Later, my printing rep told me that “never happened.”)

• The dummy book they sent used the wrong paper weight (120 gsm instead of 100 gsm). This was the second mistake they made on the paper weight; I had to correct it on the contract a couple weeks previous.

• The proofs that finally arrived — weeks after they were initially scheduled to arrive — and they were trimmed to the wrong size. I signed off on those proofs, with the stipulation that the book is trimmed to the specs I ordered.

• They sent another set of proofs against my wishes, which was a huge inconvenience for Darlene and I as we were planning a vacation. We had to wait around for FedEx instead of prepping for the trip. And I had to give approval — a second time — that day in order to “stay on schedule.”

• I had to remind them time after time of certain concerns, as if they never read or absorbed the content of my emails. This includes book trim sizes and paper weight (mentioned above). I also had to inform them what days I’d be out of town, which would have fallen into a “dead zones” on the original schedule (when no action was needed by me). But since the schedule got jacked up time and time again, these days ended up encroaching on our time, which was a hassle and stressful.

• For my hassles and peace of mind I requested a box of Thinkulus to be flown over to San Diego on their nickel (their track record didn’t instill me with confidence that my books would arrive before Comic-Con), but conveniently the palette was already on the ship. An interesting convenience, considering they needed my final payment that very same day… leaving me to wonder what they would have done if I were a day late getting payment to them.

• I brought up all of the above concerns several times with the printing rep and she was unrepentant, arrogant or just flat-out dismissive. Customer service clearly is not their strong suit.

I need to mention that NONE of the scheduling problems, delays, errors in proofs or other aforementioned problems were generated by me.

The whole experience wasn’t a total nightmare. The books looks gorgeous, are all packed securely and (so far) damage-free, and were delivered right to my door more-or-less on the due date (I say “more-or-less” because the bill of lading said delivery would be July 8 but the final schedule said July 10. The books arrived on July 10.)

I’ve printed three other Cool Jerk volumes, one Doc Splatter volume and two “floppy” color comic books. Two were printed by Ho-Wai in Hong Kong, two were by R.R. Donnelley stateside and two were by ComixPress (based in New England, now defunct). I can literally count any printing problems and hassles among those six books on one hand — combined.

I’ll be the first to admit that Thinkulus was hardly a big job for them; J.K. Rowling I’m not. But I’m still a customer and a small print run is not excuse for jacking me around, whether that was their mindset or not.

They really went the extra nanometer for me, and now that it’s all said and done, they will not get any positive recommendations or referrals from me or Darlene.


Denver’s so nice I went there twice


Despite a scorching case of “too big for its britches,” Denver Comic Con’s second convention was an unbridled success. I understand attendee population ballooned from 18,000 last year to 48,000 this year. Several thousand would-be walk-up convention-goers were turned away at the door once the hall hit capacity (among them our friend Monica, with whom we lucked out and had consolation dinner and beers on Sunday evening). I’m hoping that things get ironed out next year.

Team Cool Jerk was situated in Artists Valley again and we did brisk business. We sold out of some on-hand inventory: Cool Jerk Vol. 1: Hodabeast, the 2011 24-Hr. Comic, Pieces of Flair button packs and the remaining second printing of The Girl with the Donut Tattoo. A hearty thanks to everyone who came by the table, whether to chat about comics or buy some books and things. Hometowns of people who signed onto my emailer hail from Illinois, Georgia, California, Washington, Oklahoma and nearly every sizable town/city in Colorado. And probably every other person was in cosplay or wearing geek couture.

Click here and here to get Darlene’s take on the show.

And now, on to the photo gallery!


The DCC mascot, actual size!


Luke Cage, Stargirl and Jareth the Goblin King from “Labyrinth,” all tilted for your convenience!


Kids, if you’re gonna cosplay in Denver… go big or go home. Here’s She-Hulk, who towered over me at about 6′ 4″.


Fifth Element family. It takes a whole lot of self-confidence for a dude to pull this off.


First Falcon I’ve seen at a comic convention. The wings worked, too!


Most obscure character cosplayed at Denver Comic Con would have to be Aleta from the Guardians of the Galaxy. I nearly walked past her but stopped in mid-step and said, “Aleta?” (as if this was someone I hadn’t seen in 10 years). I was the only person up to that point who ID’d her properly.


Enemies Dr. Doom and Invisible Woman apparently put aside their differences to enjoy the ‘con.


Saturday’s highlight— a visit by our dear friend Monica Mendoza, who was one of the thousands turned away after the ‘con hit capacity.


Line to visit George Pérez. See if you can find Isabelle Laursen crossplaying as Firestorm the Nuclear Woman!


Darlene and George Pérez. George learned two things about us that weekend: I likely got into comics because of his covers of Fantastic Four #197 and Avengers #174 (the first two comics I ever bought), and Darlene got into comics largely because of his run on The New Teen Titans in the early 1980s. And our common appreciation of George Pérez was discovered early in our relationship. DAWWWW!!


Cool Jerk returns to Denver Comic Con

That’s right, Mountain-Timers! Team Cool Jerk will be in Artists Valley at the second-annual Denver Comic Con, Friday-Sunday (May 31-June 2). I did the show last year and I really enjoyed it. The enthusiasm of the attendees and my fellow exhibitors proved to everyone — especially the organizers of the convention — that Denver embraces comics and pop culture with a passion. I think one of every two attendees last year came in costume (or at least sported apparel adorned with comics, cartoon, fantasy or sci-fi regalia).


The Comic Con is still held in the Colorado Convention Center, but they moved it from Hall A to Hall F. Maybe next year or in 2015 they’ll open it up to both halls!

Like last year, I’ll have all Cool Jerk and Doc Splatter books for sale, along with buttons, stickers and Cool Jerk Canvas Panels. Darlene will be on hand to sign copies of our collaborative comic, The Girl with the Donut Tattoo. I’ll also have a blue-line copy of Thinkulus to whet your appetite (and take advance orders)! Since we’re flying to this convention, we’ll only able to pack along a modest amount of books. Last year I had sell-outs by show’s end, so here’s a PRO TIP: Buy early!

If you happen to live within a two-state radius of Denver, please come to the ’con and show Colorado that you support comics culture and their creators (especially independent, self-publishing wackjobs like myself)! We’d love to meet you and sell you some comics and stuff.


Thinkulus is coming…

Apparently enough of you guys like Hodabeast, Chickadoowa and Bimboozled enough to merit Cool Jerk Vol. 4: Thinkulus… because it’s at the printers and it’ll be here in about six weeks. Let me tell you a little bit about it!


• It’s a handsome tome, in the same format and architecture as previous volumes. It contains more than 210 comics, a whopping 10 percent of which are brand-new for the book! THAT’S JUST CRAZYPANTS!! And like previous book-only strips, they’re not available online so don’t bother looking! On second thought, knock yourself out!

• Foreword is by the ever-charming and delightful Jane Wiedlin.


• I held a Facebook contest to decide which route to take for the cover illustration: The Lynch Mob or Dangerman vs Pokéyman. The votes were tallied and not only did you vote for Dangerman vs Pokéyman BUT I randomly selected one winning voter to adorn my cover with a blurb. Congratulations, Jamie Lim! I don’t think a comic-con has gone by without her visiting the Cool Jerk table; hoping this year is no different!

Side note: I occasionally hold contests and/or encourage readers to participate in Cool Jerk hi-jinks. The Facebook contest was open only to people who gave that page a LIKE. So if you haven’t already, please give that page a LIKE so you can participate in future crowdsourcing interactions!

Thinkulus is 144 pages of comics, sketches, cutting-room floor rarities and other worthwhile stuff. People just love the director’s commentary and anal-retentive index, so we’ve got those, too!

Thinkulus retails for the low, low price of $12, and will be available at San Diego Comic-Con International (its debut) and at the Cool Jerk store and Amazon.com thereafter.


Thumbpocalypse update

It’s time for a long-overdue thumb update. To catch you up to speed (or for first-time readers), here’s a brief recap: I fractured my drawing thumb in mid-November and had surgery on November 27. My hand migrated from cast to cast for about a month, after which I started two months of physical therapy.

My top priority is getting my thumb back to normal. If you’ve ever had a sprain, strain, fracture or other debilitating injury, you know that physical therapy is vital to the recovery process. But even after two months of semi-weekly and weekly sessions, I’m still at about 90% of full mobility. I’m told by my surgeon (Dr. Bryan Leek) and my physical therapist (Angela Witucki) that this will likely take a year before all the excess internal scar tissue is reabsorbed, collagen returns (I think) and the tendons (or ligaments — I always confuse them) stretch back to previous limits.

Note the asymmetry


So for now, I have new limitations on my right hand — I can’t open my grip as far as my left hand and I can’t ball up a fist quite as tight as my left hand (see above). The biggest limitation is the tendon (ligament?) at my thumb’s first knuckle, the one just past the thumbnail. That’s been tightened to the point where it takes A LOT of warming up to get a decent bend out of it. This makes it somewhat difficult to write, draw and use an ink brush the way I used to, especially inking smooth arcs or writing the letter U (which ends up looking like a V).

But that’s all inside stuff. From the outside, my right hand looks pretty normal. There’s an inch-long scar that runs alongside a slightly swollen knuckle, both of which should fade over time.

Is there a doctor in the house? (Yes— that's our dog, The Doctor)


I’ve been putting up new strips on an irregular basis. Once the cartooning gears of industry are grinding at full strength, you’ll see Cool Jerk back to a weekly schedule. Thanks for hanging in there!


Cool Jerk and San Diego Comic-Con 2012

This year marks Cool Jerk’s 10th year of tabling at San Diego Comic-Con International, and my 30th in-a-row within these doors! Let me tell you what’s in store at the Cool Jerk table:


First and foremost, this year’s new comic is The Girl with the Donut Tattoo, which I co-created with Darlene. It’s her first comic (she wrote it) and we’re unveiling it at SDCCI. It’s $5 a la carte, or FREE with a $40 purchase at the Cool Jerk table! Read more about it here! We have only 100 copies available, so it’s first-come, first-served!

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Speaking of, I have less than 15 copies of Cool Jerk OMG Color! Vol. 1 from last year, which is $4 a pop or FREE if you buy Hodabeast (Vol. 1) and Chickadoowa (Vol. 2).

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Available now!

Remember last fall when I did my second 24-Hour Comic? Well, now you can get one. It’s a reasonably priced $2!

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Another item that’s perfect for your house, office or motor home mobile meth lab is the Cool Jerk Canvas Panel. I’ve added a few NEW panel choices to the series I started in 2010, and I’m sure you’ll want to buy 8-9 at a time! $15 each.


ALSO, I have a premium item for SDCCI— the Longform Canvas Panel! This is really limited to what you see here, in both black and white variations. They run $50 apiece. NOTE: Want your favorite strip on a canvas? Worry not— I will also take orders at the show!

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And what would Cool Jerk be without high-quality cotton body armor? Available in a myriad of sizes for both guys and gals are THREE shirts: the 20th Anniversary CJ shirt, which has probably your favorite character on it (above), the JERKea shirt, a sure-fire crowd-pleaser (above), and the tried-and-true Body Shots variety (go here to see that one). The JERKea shirt is $20, the other ones are $15.

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I also have all the other items you could ever possibly want, incl. ALL my books, Sharpie original art breakdowns, stickers, buttons and the like. We’re in the same spot we’ve always been, right by the communal baths. Here’s a little map I whipped up while you were flossing.

Click it to JUMP IN THERE!

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Hope to see you there!


Denver Comic Con 2012 photo recap!

Denver held its first comic convention last weekend, and I’m so glad I went!


I set up camp in Artist Alley at an 8′ table (two feet longer than a typical comic-con table). Knowing this before-hand gave me time to get myself a brand-new Cool Jerk table throw. I sold out of some inventory and met hundreds of enthusiastic comics fans and professionals. And my voice didn’t even give out! The only bummer about the show was that Darlene had to stay in San Diego. But I was able to keep her — and whoever was following my Twitter feed — in the loop.

Thanks to everyone who came by the table, got a crash course in Cool Jerk and Doc Splatter and bought some of my books, buttons, canvas panels and other stuff!

And now, on with the show!


Three favorite Avengers — Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man and Captain America!


Another Avenger, Thor, and a female Asgardian warrior.


Speaking of gods and goddesses, wouldja believe there were two Snowbird cosplayers??


If I just say “SPOOOOON!” will that be enough of a caption? (It’s the cast from The Tick)


By the winds of Watoomb, it’s Doctor Strange!


EXTERMINATE! Doctor Who (the 11th Doctor) and a Dalek.


Let me display my geek cred by identifying Troia (left) and the Cassie Sandsmark version of Wonder Girl.


Here’s Giane Morris as Jubilee, complete with snapping bubble gum action! Excellent costume!


A popular theme in Denver was the “crossplay,” evidenced by these versions of Thor and Loki…


…and this version of The Creeper…


…and probably the best and most original costume of the whole weekend, I give you Firestorm, The Nuclear (Wo)Man (and Wonder Girl)!


Sorry, Blue Bear — You need an attendee badge just like everyone else!


Rocky Mountain HI HOW’S IT GOING?

A map for your convenience
Next weekend — Friday, June 15 through Sunday, June 17 — I’ll be at the Mile High City’s inaugural Denver Comic Con. I’m really excited for this show. I don’t know why. Is it because this is Denver’s first comic convention? Is it the anticipation of preaching the gospel of Cool Jerk to hundreds of comics aficionados who otherwise may never attend San Diego Comic-Con? Is it the big blue bear?

I know FOR A FACT that Cool Jerk is read by folks in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, the Dakotas and Nebraska.* If you happen to live within an 800-mile radius of Denver, please come to the ‘con and show Colorado that you support comics culture and their creators (especially independent, self-publishing wackjobs like myself)! I’d love to meet you and get some ‘Jerk into your hands. Er… sell you some books and stuff.

*But not Kansas. Go figure.


Multi-media Marvel!


I don’t know why or how, but the stars must’ve been in alignment — the last couple of weeks were a crazy convergence of Cool Jerk media saturation.

• I was interviewed for a KPBS feature on San Diego webcomic creators (the other interviewee was Little Vampires’ Rebecca Hicks), conducted by Beth Accomando and camera work/production by Katie Euphrat. This originally aired on Friday, April 27, and was subsequently broadcast on KPBS radio and posted online. Beth and Katie were terrific and I’m really happy with the end result!

ALSO: if you jump to my Facebook page, you can see a time-lapse clip of me drawing Puppy and Armpit (requires Flash).

• A few days later, I showed up on a San Diego 6 (The CW network) San Diego Living morning segment spotlighting Southern California Comics and their big plans for Free Comic Book Day, May 5. Jamie Newbold (SCC’s owner) and I go way back, and I was happy to participate by holding a signing at his shop on FCBD. Thanks, Jamie!

• I can also be heard on an Austin, TX-based podcast, conducted by Timothy Danger of Old Man and Bitter Girl Productions. We met at the Staple! show a couple months ago. Tune in and listen to me say “um” a quarter-million times!


WonderCon ’12 recap!

Aw, you didn’t think I’d let WonderCon go by without a requisite photo recap, did you? FOR SHAME!


Let’s start with Megan Rae as Daenerys Targaryen — chowing on a horse heart — from HBO’s Game of Thrones. A week ago, I wouldn’t have had any idea who this was (Darlene and I binged on all 10 episodes over three days). And what’s funny is Megan did the exact same thing at the same time! I swear we weren’t in collusion! You might recognize Megan — she was a Dalek at SDCCI ‘09.


Here’s Megara (from Disney’s Hercules) and Aang the Last Airbender. First time I’ve ever seen a Megara cosplayer… and about the 400th Airbender.


Here are some pals (L to R) — Michelle Mauk, who was tabling a few spots down from me. Deb Aoki, who was on assignment for About.com. You can also see Patrick Scullin of Super Siblings, standing next to the Cool Jerk table.


More pals — the never-not-hyperactive Little Vampires creator Rebecca Hicks and one-man, ogre-smiting army Daniel Davis of Steam Crow fame.


The movie version of the Avengers walked by.


Here’s the charming and delightful Sarah Straub and her husband Beau.


Dawww! What’s a comic-con without a little Star Wars crossplay action?


Mrowr! Male version of Cheetah, yes?


And probably my favorite cosplayer of the show — Darkwing Duck. Reasons? A) C’mon. DARKWING DUCK! B) She was totally into it. C) Her little gun smoked (OK it was probably water vapor). D) It was refreshing to not see a beloved kid-friendly character all slutted out. I’m looking at you, Booba Fett!


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