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Online Cartoonist Finds Financial Success Offline 268

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-lot-of-comic dept.
destinyland writes "The first collection of Perry Bible Fellowship comics has racked up pre-sales of $300,000 due to its huge online following. Within seven weeks the volume required a third printing. Ironically, the 25-year-old cartoonist speculates people would rather read his arty comics in a book than on a computer screen, and warns that 'There's something wonderful, and soon-to-be mythic, about the printed page...' He also explains the strange anti-censorship crusade in high school that earned him an FBI record!"
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Online Cartoonist Finds Financial Success Offline

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:43PM (#21938120)
    My father, who isn't even a geek was describing one of the comics to me. If I recall correctly, it was on display in Maxim magazine.

    on another note, here is a fun task: read all the PBF comics: he has hidden references and messages across the whole series.
    • I've read all the strips a couple of times. Many jokes are subtle, but I'm not sure what you mean about hidden messages across the whole series. Please enlighten us.
      • it's a trap (Score:3, Funny)

        by Racemaniac (1099281)
        he's probably just trying to trick everybody in going over all the comics searching for hidden messages (and it's working -_-)
    • by arodland (127775)
      Heh... do you remember which one it was that "made it"? Was it "weeaboo"?
    • They also appear in the G2 section of the Guardian newspaper in the UK. Somewhat ironically, considering his anti-censorship record, the version the Guardian runs is often censored.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:45PM (#21938134) Homepage Journal

    There's something wonderful, and soon-to-be mythic, about the printed page


    Which is perfect for the bible, because it's a myth.
    • by kinabrew (1053930)
      I think the parent may think "Perry Bible Fellowship" actually has something to do with the Bible.

      It's not so much off-topic as ignorant as to what is the topic.
    • THE site for in-depth tech discussion (and silly debates about whether the bible is real)
  • The Diamond Age (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:48PM (#21938154)
    'There's something wonderful, and soon-to-be mythic, about the printed page...' If you've read The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, it's all laid out in there. Nano technology makes nearly everything possible, and at the same time makes nearly everything ubiquitous and therefore worthless. The only true things of value are those labor intensive things made by hand. You can already see the trend developing in our current world, despite being decades, possibly centuries away from the technology written about in the book. The retro trends of listening to record albums and tube amps. Analog is unique. Digital is common, unexceptional, vulgar. Film and real fiber prints will become prized possessions. The same future lies ahead for bound paper books.
    • Re:The Diamond Age (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dirtside (91468) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:02AM (#21938570) Journal

      The retro trends of listening to record albums and tube amps.
      Er, I don't think more than a tiny, tiny fraction of people engage in those activities. That's not really an indicator that people as a whole are finding more value in analog than digital.

      Film and real fiber prints will become prized possessions.
      If that's the case, it'll only be because of their rarity, and only because for some reason there are people who will pay a lot for a rare item even if it has no functional or useful (or even particular aesthetic) value.

      Nostalgia's all warm and fuzzy, sure, but eventually people who can't help clinging to the past get old and die, and the rest of us can move on.
      • Re:The Diamond Age (Score:5, Insightful)

        by joto (134244) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:45AM (#21939242)

        While I agree with your argument (it's far from everybody who prefers vinyl to CDs or film to digital cameras), I must disagree with the proposition that it's only for nostalgic reasons. Film cameras are still objectively "better" than digital cameras, when you consider contrast and colour-balance and all that. And tube amps certainly have their uses, e.g. if you want the "warm analog" sound (which you can then easily record on to a CD). [By the way: It's not that the "warm analog" sound is a more accurate sound reproduction, it's only there when you abuse the electronics, but it's certainly more pleasant than the failure mode of digital electronics.]

        The old saying "they don't make stuff like this today" is often true. Progress means the price goes down, and the product is thus available for more consumers, but still good enough for most. Some people however, are willing to pay extra, either in money or convenience, in order to get the "best", which often are what they made in the old days.

        However, other things are better explained through fashion. People don't by vinyl because it's better. People buy vinyl for the same reason your grandfather always used a tie. It's the fashion.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by c6gunner (950153)

          Film cameras are still objectively "better" than digital cameras, when you consider contrast and colour-balance and all that.

          Hardly. Modern SLR's are every bit as capable as any old film camera, and they're a thousand times more convenient, versatile, and forgiving. I can go out, snap 500 pictures, come back home, throw them on to the computer in RAW format, throw out the pics I don't want, adjust the colour balance on the ones I like without any quality loss, and have a dozen excellent quality snaps, a

          • Hardly. Modern SLR's are every bit as capable as any old film camera, and they're a thousand times more convenient, versatile, and forgiving
            Presumably you meant digital SLRs here. Anyway, this is only true at the high-end and is not true in a performance-per-dollar sense yet. You can get a really nice (film) SLR for a lot less than the price of an equivalent-quality digital camera. The costs look a lot closer when you factor in the price of film and developing, of course.

          • The reason for tube amps is because their characteristics are part of the instrument - the "instrument" isn't just the guitar, it's the guitar plus amp. You can simulate analogue distortion to whatever degree you can be bothered, but it's like putting guitar samples into a keyboard and claiming that's the natural replacement for the guitar.
        • Film cameras are still objectively "better" than digital cameras, when you consider contrast and colour-balance and all that.

          Yes, but what's the point of using an objective measure in an area where subjective measurement is so important?

          For a typical point 'n' shoot casual photographer, a consumer-grade digital camera will probably be "good enough" in quality.

          A professional photographer working for a news organization might find that the better quality of film is cancelled out by the convenience of being ab
      • by remmelt (837671)
        >> The retro trends of listening to record albums and tube amps.

        > Er, I don't think more than a tiny, tiny fraction of people engage in those activities.

        I'm sure you are aware that pretty much any recorded electric guitar is played through a tube amp?
      • by bannerman (60282)
        The industry standard rock amp is still the Ampeg SVT (all tube) head. Over 60% of the bass players on the forums that I troll prefer that amp to any other. The bulk of the remaining 40% use a tube preamp with a solid state power amp. You really can't emulate tubes. They just feel that good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Atario (673917)
      I know you! You're David Cross's character in this sketch [youtube.com]!
    • Nano technology makes nearly everything possible, and at the same time makes nearly everything ubiquitous and therefore worthless. The only true things of value are those labour intensive things made by hand.

      I have not read the book but I fail to see the logic in that. If it makes nearly everything possible then surely it can create everything which is made by hand as well in such a manner that it is hard/impossible to distinguish between the two. In such a world I would have thought that new ideas are t
      • It's what Philip K. Dick described as 'historicity.' The object itself is only part of the value, the associations that go along with the object are a much larger part for most humans. Most people own at least one thing which has 'sentimental value;' a value that comes from their associations with the object rather than the object's creation cost. Handmade items are the same. The fact that a machine could make items of similar (or better) quality is irrelevant to most people. The final product itself o
  • Some comics work just fine on a screen. They might be made for the screen, or be print comics that happen to have the layout and lines and style that remain readable on a screen.

    I read PBF online, but will probably buy multiple copies of the book to use as gifts.

    Some comix I don't think cut it on screen. Some of Chris Ware's head-thumpers like the "Acme Novelty Company" really belong on a printed page.

  • Newspaper comics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mboverload (657893) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:59PM (#21938226) Journal
    Is it just me or are the comics in newspapers COMPLETELY devoid of any humor? I haven't smiled at a comic in years. It's like the newspapers demand trash and get it.

    I love PBF and other online comics. They can do or say anything they like without censorship. PBF wouldn't be the same if it couldn't use explicit material.
    • This isn't to say that PBF relies on solely adult material. Far from it.

      However, some of his best stuff is for adults. Too bad the website crashed so I can't show you an example.

      Epic:
      "The Man with No Penis"
    • The last funny newspaper comic stopped printing years ago. It's a wasteland now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jamstar7 (694492)
        Yeah, I miss Bloom County, too.
    • by fmobus (831767) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:07AM (#21938272)
      Moreover, PBF's author is a extremely capable, in terms of drawings. He has a good domain on a number of techniques and styles. Most online comics, on the other hand, create a single style and stick to it forever, increasing their quality in a more progressive manner.
    • by pluther (647209)
      There are still comics in newspapers?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by HandsOnFire (1059486)

        There are still newspapers?

        • There are still newspapers?

          Yep, and I still subscribe to one. I just wish I could pay half-price for a trimmed down local-only version with comics and the crossword.

    • by OzRoy (602691)
      There hasn't been a decent newspaper comic since The Farside.

      I think PBF has a similar random dark humor.

      • There hasn't been a decent newspaper comic since The Farside.
        Not a Calvin and Hobbes fan?
        • by TempeTerra (83076)
          I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Calvin and Hobbes finished in 1995.

          (Although according to Wikipedia The Far Side finished earlier the same year, for all you nitpickers out there)
    • Re:Newspaper comics (Score:5, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:45AM (#21938490) Homepage Journal

      Is it just me or are the comics in newspapers COMPLETELY devoid of any humor?

      It's just you. Well, OK, they're pretty awful as a whole but there are still some decent ones:

      • Pickles: Who knew crotchety old men could be funny?
      • Heart of the City: Ditto 7 year old girls and their geeky friends.
      • Non Sequitur: If Gary Larson chose to tell a story instead of a one-liner.
      • Doonesbury: No, really. Not everyday, but most of the time.
      • Zits: Almost always at least mildly amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.
      • Baby Blues: For parents only, I think - a perfect reflection the middle class married with kids lifestyle.
      • Peanuts: Yeah, I said it. Now that they're running Chuck's old stuff before he forgot that adults buy the newspaper.

      Still not funny:

      • Cathy: Irving, think Ike Turner. You know what to do.
      • Gasoline Alley: Does anyone like this?
      • by Reziac (43301) *
        Gasoline Alley, Mary Worth, Rick O'Shay, etc. aren't =supposed= to be *funny*. They're essentially soap operas in graphics format.

        • Gasoline Alley, Mary Worth, Rick O'Shay, etc. aren't =supposed= to be *funny*.

          I recognize the difference between "unfunny" and "dramatic". Note that I didn't list Gil Thorp or Rex Morgan, MD or anything else like that. I think you're wrong about Gasoline Alley, though. Although it is basically a long-running serial, it tries to be funny quite often. For Better Or For Worse is in the same category except that its humor succeeds more often than not.

      • Re:Newspaper comics (Score:5, Informative)

        by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:53AM (#21938908) Journal
        I'd personally add Pearls Before Swine [comics.com] and FoxTrot [foxtrot.com] to that list of good newspaper comics. Of course, I actually read those comics almost entirely online. ;)
        • This might be heresy, but I though Foxtrot was funnier as a daily. It's like Amend is trying to cram a week's worth of humor into a single strip. I still like it better than most other comics, but I think he's jumped the shark.

      • Gasoline Alley isn't supposed to be funny, it's a drama, a soap opera. (Which used to appear in numbers almost equal to the funny strips. They are all but gone nowadays.)
    • by martinX (672498) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:04AM (#21938576)
      >>Is it just me or are the comics in newspapers COMPLETELY devoid of any humor?

      NO WAY. Take Garfield. There was this one time that Garfield tried to get a lasagna, and Jon tried to stop him, and then ODIE got involved. I'm crying here just remembering it. Man it was funny.
      • by jamesh (87723)

        NO WAY. Take Garfield. There was this one time that Garfield tried to get a lasagna, and Jon tried to stop him, and then ODIE got involved. I'm crying here just remembering it. Man it was funny.

        Oh yeah! I remember that one. Good times had by all. Reminds me of the one where Charlie Brown says 'Good Grief!'.
      • Re:Newspaper comics (Score:5, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:25AM (#21939468) Homepage
        Although it's really easy [xkcd.com] to make fun of Garfield, there have been a few interesting cases of Jim Davis breaking from the main storyline.

        For instance, this [snopes.com] story arc from 1989 is moderately disturbing, especially when you consider that it's is Garfield comic....

        And while we're on the subject of Garfield: removing Garfield's thought bubbles removed [truthandbeautybombs.com] can be quite humorous (and occasionally depressing), while randomized sets [dougshaw.com] of 3 frames from the comic are about as funny and as coherent as the real thing.

        And finally, although it's not garfield, The Family Circus can be easily made funny with a different set of captions [theotherfamily.com].
        • Ouch. I really wish you put the NSFW flag on The Other Family.

          To be honest, the few captions I did see weren't all that funny, and certainly not as funny as the old "Dysfunctional Family Circus" of the '90s. IIRC, the DFC was just one guy moderating submissions from everyone who cared to submit a caption. I think Andy Ihnatko was a big contributor to it back then.

          And the DFC was wildly NSFW. It eventually added its own cast of unsavory characters to the strip, like the unseen (Thank God!) Uncle Roy.

          Sad

          • I remember being first exposed to Dysfunctional Family Circuis in paper form in 1995. A manager had the comics, loosely printed, not in book form or anything. Not sure if it was connected to the official DFC website though.
            • I made quite a few captions for the original DFC. I was known as 'spun' there, too. Many of them even made it into the 'green' category. I was there when DFC closed down. Bill Keene himself called the guy who ran the site and basically said, "The cartoon is about me and my family, and you guys are putting us into the most disgusting and degrading situations. What if my kids read this site? Please, would you stop?" So we all felt kinda bad, and we stopped, but that doesn't make DFC any less funny. You can st
      • There was once a time where Garfield could be amusing. Sadly, that time passed a long time ago.
    • by Have Blue (616)
      When a newspaper receives a complaint about an aspect of a comic, that aspect tends to be diminished. You can find someone to complain about just about anything. Most newspaper comics have been running for decades. Do the math.
    • Is it just me or are the comics in newspapers COMPLETELY devoid of any humor?

      They mostly suck (and ALL online comics that I've seen suck), but one notable exception is Brewster Rockit -- Space Guy! [comicspage.com], which is often hilarious. Another that is very funny is In The Bleachers [yahoo.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bazman (4849)
      Why is everyone referring to PBF as an 'online' comic? I first read it as a printed version in the UK Guardian newspaper.

      Comics in The Guardian are always high quality. There's currently Steve Bell's 'If' strip and Doonesbury, plus PBF, and in the past they've re-run Krazy Kat.

      Unlike US newspapers, UK papers don't generally have an eight page comic section to fill - perhaps that is the reason for the perceived decrease in quality.

    • by kalirion (728907)
      How about Dilbert? It regularly gets a smile (and sometimes a laugh) out of me.
  • Mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:00AM (#21938236)
    Here's a mirror [framemytv.com].
  • Retarded. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:14AM (#21938318) Homepage Journal
    Now go read a real comic like this [wikipedia.org] one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ty421 (1087701)
      Of course, N.G. has said that Bill Watterson is a bit of an inspiration for him [thescope.ca], so I suppose this is just a natural progression of "real" comics. On the other hand, Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic to have widespread newspaper publication, although I will accept evidence to the contrary.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nuroticat (558672)
      Sinfest [sinfest.net] is also quite worthy. It's a spiritual (lol) successor of strips like Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County. I've enjoyed Sinfest more than any other web or newspaper comic for years.
  • Support the artist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YodaYid (1049908) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:14AM (#21938320) Homepage
    I bought the book simply to support Nicholas Gurewitch - there was not much in there that I didn't already see before. But since his site doesn't have advertising, I was happy to support him directly (it's comparable to Radiohead's "pay what you like" model in that sense).

    I do wish there were more "special features" in the book, but there are some interesting bits at the end where he includes comics that he has since taken out of the PBF canon, explaining why he made those decisions (for example, he eschews pop references in his comics, so those sort of comics are part of the "Lost Strips" series in the back of the book). Also, he has some of his extra-tasteless ones :-)

    I like to think of PBF as the opposite of Penny Arcade, which is almost always topical, picking apart the latest headlines for laughs (not a bad thing, just different). PBF's humor will still be funny in fifty years, when people will have no clue what Penny Arcade (or South Park, or Family Guy for that matter) are talking about. It has that timeless element to it that makes me a fan.

    And before I forget, congratulations to Nicholas Gurewitch on his success! It is well deserved.
    • it's comparable to Radiohead's "pay what you like" model in that sense

      br? Yeah and thank god I didn't have to pay for that tripe. I keep hoping they'll get their magic back but everything after OK computer has been utter rot. I cant beleive they dissappeared up their own collective ass quite so far as they did.
  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:50AM (#21938526) Homepage
    Well that's one advantage printed comics have over online ones: immune to Slashdotting.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      You mean print comics never sell out? That's either amazing technology or simply shitty comics.
  • PBF is one of a very few good web comics (though I generally read it in a weekly dead tree) but the king is http://www.achewood.com/ [achewood.com]. Pure genius.
  • The first collection of Perry Bible Fellowship comics has racked up pre-sales of $300,000
    Which are all now having to go to pay for the bandwidth fees due to the recent slashdotting of the site.
  • WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cherokee158 (701472) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:02AM (#21940296)
    Am I the only one who finds this strip badly drawn and entirely unfunny? I promised myself that when I hit forty, I wouldn't lose touch, but I am beginning to feel a bit old: I appear to be the only person not carrying a bible who thinks the endless torrent(no pun intended) of graphic violence, profanity and scatalogical humor pouring from the web to be more boorish than humorous. Am I alone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BeanThere (28381)
      No; there is a clear cultural trend towards nihilism. It may be a(n over) reaction to a prior overly sanitised and politically correct era brought on in part by the Comics Code. The same undercurrents are present in most major media - movies, music, art etc. This 'race to the bottom' has been pretty much taken to its extremes now, so I look forward to the pendulum (hopefully) swinging the other way again soon. But given the way cynicism, boorishness and not caring are 'in', that people can't seem to tell th
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      I promised myself that when I hit forty, I wouldn't lose touch

      Everyone makes that promise and everyone breaks it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fantastic Lad (198284)
        Everyone makes that promise and everyone breaks it.

        Not only did I not make that promise, but I didn't do it because I'd lost touch and knew it back when I was in my late twenties. Heck, I have a strong suspicion that I wasn't even in touch during high school. Had no idea what was in with regard to fashion, music, popular kids, etc. And somehow all through it and to this day I have managed to maintain deep and friendly ties with representatives of every age group, gender, and social class imaginable. I t
  • Personal Favorites (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Symbolis (1157151) <symbolis.gmail@com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @07:19AM (#21940614)

    PBF has been a favorite of mine for a while, now. Here's some others(wiki pages. Paper comic sites(read: syndicate sites) suck more often than not):

    Zits [wikipedia.org]
    Get Fuzzy
    Pearls Before Swine [wikipedia.org]
    Lio [wikipedia.org]

    Online comics:

    Schlock Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com]
    Something Positive [somethingpositive.net]
    Erfworld [giantitp.com]
    Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com]
    Irregular Webcomic! [irregularwebcomic.net]
    There's a few others, but that's most of them.

  • because his site navigation sucks! I love the guy's talent, but he doesn't have an easy way of navigating previous/next on his site. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to scroll down and try to remember what was the name of the last one that I read in order to move on to the next.

    Someday I might set it up to read it off my blog, but otherwise I'm not interested. It's one thing to have a quirky web site, it's another thing to violate easy usability guidelines. There are too many other good web comics out there

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.

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