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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just when I think I can't get worse.


Marvel is actually paying me to think of the most fucked-up shit I can create. Granted, A ton of stuff got censored out of my most recent issue, but I still can't believe that I'm getting away with shit that's about as obnoxious as my indie stuff. And it's for Disney. What's great is, Dave Lapham usually writes something sick and un-PC, which I then try to top when creating the imagery. So far I've learned that Marvel will allow close-ups of turds, penises and asses, but will censor religious imagery and certain sexual positions. Seriously, they told me it wasn't the fucking that got me in trouble, it was the position. Of course I'm allowed to depict as much violence as I want.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black Cap Lives!


My man Smoke sent me this pic a while back and I'm so super-busy I forgot to post it. How awesome is this picture! That's my character from Marvel's "Truth" series. Bob Morales wrote the story, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America and the costume design. Yet I call it "My" character. Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Thanks, Smoke!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Whatever Happened To Kylebaker.com?


My dear friend Heidi MacDonald recently posted a piece at Comicsbeat.com wondering why my site Kylebaker.com disappeared. I sent her an e-mail response, and realized my answer might be interesting to other fans interested in the behind-the-scenes cartooning biz stuff. So here goes;

I launched Kylebaker.com in 1999 for one reason only; Everyone I knew said I’d better grab ownership of the name before someone else did. So I bought ownership of the name for 10 years, with no idea what I was going to do with it.

In 1999, the internet was so slow that posting graphics was impractical. As a graphics professional, this rendered the internet somewhat useless to me. It took minutes to download and view still images, and any kind of animation took even longer. Sound files had to be either compressed or looped to reduce size. My first animated videos took longer to load than to watch, and had only minimal movement. Basically there was no good reason for anyone to visit the site or watch the cartoons. But I owned the name! Nobody was going to get that name from me!

As bandwidth eventually improved I became able to use the site as an illustration portfolio. Potential clients and art directors could browse minuscule reproductions of my magazine and advertising illustrations which were necessarily blurred by early jpeg compression. If they were sufficiently intrigued by this effort, they would contact me and request that I bring in a REAL portfolio with hard copies to their office. I got few jobs that way, maybe one or two per year over the next four years.

By around 2005, technology had progressed to a point which enabled me to create a pretty entertaining website
, full of webcomics, Flash animation, a mailing list, and an online e-commerce store.

In 2010, my ownership of the name expired. When it came time to renew my ownership of the domain name, I took a look at the site and realized that in the last three years it had become totally obsolete. I hadn’t updated it in over a year, and most of the site had become links to external sites.

My online store had been replaced by links to Amazon, Ebay, and Paypal, all of which were better trafficked, and had better search engine rankings. Also, Amazon relieves me of the burden of shipping and marketing while paying me a small royalty for relatively little work.

Kylebaker.com’s animation section had outlived its usefulness when Youtube and Itunes podcasting enabled me to reach a much larger audience which has also grown with the advent of Veoh, Revver, Vimeo and others. All of these sites get great traffic and have amazing search engine optimization, embedding links, widgets, social networking and even offer you the option of accepting paid advertising in many cases.

Kylebaker.com’s Illustration portfolio section had been replaced by a Blogger blog. In the old days, when I updated a page on Kylebaker.com, I’d have to go through every page of the site and update all the links so that the site would run properly. While programs like Golive and Dreamweaver have made that process slightly less painful, I’d still have headaches when I either upgraded the software or changed programs. Over the years, I’ve gone through Netscape, Pagemaker, Pagemill, Golive and Dreamweaver. Every time I upgraded, I’d have to redo every link on every page one by one. And the site had dozens of pages by 2007. Blogger, on the other hand automatically updates all the links when I add a new page. When I post a new illustration, the tag puts it in the right sections (magazine illo, caricature, comic art, etc.), and updates every ink on the hundreds of pages.

Kylebaker.com’s home page and news section (which were often the same content) were replaced by widgets for the official Kyle Baker News blog, which is constantly updated with book releases, convention appearances, links to reviews, etc. Again, all of the blogger advantages apply, making it superior to my old site.

Last but not least was the kylebaker.com mailing list. Rendered obsolete by Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. I was even going to launch a message board a few years back, and realized there was no reason. Folks can either communicate through a social network or even post a comment on my blogs.Follow KyleJBaker on Twitter

And all of these sites are free! I’m not paying for design, programming or maintenance. I’ve got more free e-mail accounts than I know what to do with, and even have a mac blog and FTP site I don’t use. It's been ten years! Shit changes!

So the only reason to keep Kylebaker.com going was for the name. That’s like maintaining real estate on an eroding cliff. Why bother?

Also, as my business has grown in the last ten years, I’ve learned that naming my business after myself was more of a liability than an asset. First of all, it was killing me in the search engines. Ideally, your domain name should contain the name of the product your selling, like CollegeHumor.com. Especially if your site is, like mine, primarily graphics with very little text for search engines to read. If you’re searching for cartoons, jokes, animation, or comic books, the name Kylebaker.com doesn’t pop up. If you search for one of my titles, like Special Forces or Why I Hate Saturn, you will most likely be directed to a retailer’s site. The only way to find Kylebaker.com is by searching for Kyle Baker, which means that you are already aware of me, which means that you don’t need to be directed to a marketing tool known as kylebaker.com. By contrast, my blogs tend to show up in web searches because the tagged posts are specific to the topic you’re interested in. If you’re looking for a cartoon about a specific subject, or celebrity, or even if you’re looking for a New York based comic artist, you may very well be directed to a blog post of mine.

Last but not least, I found that naming my website and business after myself was a hindrance in pursuing partnerships such as distributors and licensees. More than once I’d hear, “We don’t deal with self-publishers.” It didn’t matter that I was moving thousands of units, and that some properties such as “Nat Turner” had been very profitable when I was handling the marketing. Moving my cartoon properties to publishers such as Image Comics and Harry Abrams actually increased the properties’ value in the eyes of potential business partners. In retrospect, I should have named my company something besides Kyle Baker.

Which brings us to today. I’m currently an executive at a new entertainment company I co-founded, tentatively named after one of our planned properties. Over the next few months we’re releasing an animated comedy series and an online adventure game. There will be websites for the company, game, and comedy. I assume the sites will bear the names of the properties, not the personnel. We’re market-testing the names, among other elements of the enterprise.

I’ve moved a lot of the Kylebaker.com content to Qualityjollity.com, because I registered that name a few years ago and it hasn’t expired. I’m currently developing a new website which combines a lot of my cartoon characters and storylines with a virtual world/gaming/social network/e-commerce environment. I will absolutely NOT name it after myself. I might name it after a character, or the world the characters live in. Or I might name it something descriptive that indicates what users can experience when they visit.

Also, next week I’ll be offering a nifty new download which may even render this blog obsolete.

I love now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

WHERE BROOKLYN AT! WHERE BROOKLYN AT!


KING CON BROOKLYN 2010 -- PANEL / EVENT SCHEDULE

***THURSDAY, November 4***

7pm DEATH OF PRINT MEDIA: How does the implosion of print media impact artists and NY artists in particular? Is there a viable game plan? How is the plight of artists different from that of journalists or photographers? Panelists: Sarah Jaffe, Brian Heater, Stuart Moore, Chip East and Norman Oder. Moderated by Chris Irving (NOTE: additional tix necessary for this panel-- http://bit.ly/bXqgWr



9pm ATLANTIC YARDS, COMICS, & THE CHANGING FACE OF BROOKLYN: What would Batman be if his Gotham was all Gristedes and Forever 21...(Bed Bath and Batman??) How is the Seepage of Suburban Sprawl affecting the artists who create here? Panelists Stuart Moore, Norman Oder, Simon Fraser and more (NOTE: additional tix necessary for this panel-- http://bit.ly/diUBBE)



***FRIDAY, November 5***



7pm to Midnite = KING CON KICKOFF PARTY / Live Comix Reading with Dean Haspiel, Paul Pope, Jeff Newelt aka JahFurry, Jen Ferguson, Seth Kushner, Joan Hilty & Joe Infurnari. DJ Pulphope (Paul Pope), DJ CrossHatch (Brian Heater) + live performances by Americans UK (www.americans-uk.com) & Charles Soules Band

INVITE: http://on.fb.me/KingConParty $3 at the door.



***SATURDAY, November 6 - KING CON IS ON!***



12:30pm: Collaboration Counselling: "You put your writing on my art!" "You put your art on my writing!" Comics creators discuss the Reeses-like process of collaboration, the joys and the difficulties of melding words & pictures into a readable whole. Featuring Vito Delsante, Dean Haspiel, Rachel Freire, David Gallaher, Simon Fraser, and Reilly Brown.



1:00pm: Understanding Israel, a spotlight on SARAH GLIDDEN: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch talks to the creator of the autobiographical graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less



2:30pm: Graphic NYC presents KYLE BAKER: the consummate cartoonist discusses his career and his works including his current Deadpool MAX, Plastic Man, The Bakers, Nat Turner and more with Chris Irving.



3:30pm: BORED TO DEATH: Jonathan Ames, creator of the hit HBO series, and artist Dean Haspiel will discuss the show with moderator Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, Heeb) The character "Ray" played by Zach Galifianakis is loosely-based on Dean who also draws all the comic art for the show, including the Emmy-winning title-sequence. **Special sneak preview screening of clips from the Comic-Con themed episode that were shot at the Brooklyn Lyceum in May.**



4:30pm: The Daily Cross Hatch Presents: The Cross Hatch Podcast Live featuring a streamed conversation with host Brian Heater, Julia Wertz, Robert Sikoryak and Lisa Hanawalt



5:30pm: THE FUNNY PAGES: COMEDY IN COMICS, moderated by Comic Book Club's Alex Zalben, featuring Lisa Hanawalt, Bob Fingerman, Michael Kuperman, Neil Swaab and Emily White



6:30pm: CAROUSEL: The Original Live Comix Reading featuring R. Sikoryak, Emily Flake, Michael Kuperman, and more



***SUNDAY, November 7***



11:30am: HOW TO DRAW COMIC CHARACTERS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES! cartoonist RICK PARKER (Harry Potty, Pekar Project) will lead a live drawing workshop + Papercutz Publishing do a live SMURFS reading with Matt Murray of their latest Smurfs comics, complete with face painting and Smurfy giveaways!!



12:30pm: Kids’ Stuff: Making Comics for All Ages featuring Nick Abadzis, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Colleen AF Venable



1:30pm: COMICS PUBLISHING: Where we are now, and where we are headed. Moderated by Calvin Reid (PublishersWeekly ComicsWeek). Panelists: Bob Kahan (editor in chief, DC Comics), Jim Salicrup (Papercutz)



2:30pm: Spotlight on CHRIS CLAREMONT: the legendary X-Men writer, interviewed live by Fred Van Lente (writer: Action Philosophers, Incredible Hercules)



3:30pm: DR. SKETCHY'S ANTI-ART SCHOOL KING CON EDITION (bring your own drawing supplies): Dr. Sketchy's is what happens when Cabaret meets Art School. Artists draw glamorous underground performers and compete for prizes. In our KingCon special edition, pinup artist Paige Pumphrey poses as a MiniComics Showgirl, with Syd Bernstein hosting.



4:30pm: ZUDA: What Happened? a retrospective look at the three-year life of DC Comics' webcomics initiative with Zuda Comics creators Kevin Colden, Bobby Timony, and more tbd.



5:30pm: PULP FUTUREPAST: the past, present and future of pulp comics with Adam L Garcia, Ed Catto, Mark Halegua, Derrick Fergusen, Chris Kalb.



6:30pm: HIPS, LIPS, & PENCIL TIPS: The Sexual Female as Feminist Focal Point a conversation with female artists Paige Pumphrey, Laura Lee Gullidge, Jennifer Hayden; moderated by writer Rachel Kramer Bussel.



***SKETCHBOOK COMPETITION: You could win the Drawbridge Sketchbook, filled with drawings by Dean Haspiel, Tim Hamilton, Simon Fraser, Reilly Brown, Nick Abadzis, Robin Ha, GB Tran, Joan Reilly, and Nathan Schreiber. The winning sketchbook must:1. Have at least FIVE different artists work2. Have one sketch made at King Con 2010!The winner will be selected from a jury and announced on Sunday November 7th!details:http://natsch.blogspot.com/2010/10/king-con-drawbridge-sketchbook.html