See You in the Funny Webpages with Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder (Episode 68)

Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder created the movie Stripped about the past, present, and future of comic strips and their creators. Dave is the creator and cartoonist of two webcomics titles, Sheldon and Drive, and the co-author of How To Make Webcomics. He is one of a small but growing group of webcomics artists who are self-sufficient. Fred is a veteran cinemographer, nominated for Best Cinematography at Sundance for his work on Four Sheets to the Wind. He has been shooting commercials for much of his career.

Together, they matched Fred's filmmaking skills with Dave's personal knowledge of the field and his contacts to create the first feature-length documentary on the topic, funded in part through two Kickstarter campaigns. They don't pull punches about the difficulties of being a comic-strip artist, but they show all the joy and love that goes into the work along with many potential bright lights already illuminating parts of the field and shining on the horizon.

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Show Notes

You can watch a short preview of Stripped on YouTube.

Bill Watterson created the poster for the movie! He's interviewed by audio (as we discuss).

We mentioned Topataco, a company that helps fulfill webcomics' artists books and other material. I spoke to Topatoco's Holly Rowland a year ago.

Fair use is an incredibly fraught topic because there's no simple and inexpensive way to determine in advance whether a creator's use of copyrighted stuff would be covered by the legal principles! I wrote about Stripped and its second Kickstarter for clearance-rights funds for the Economist.

We also talked about errors and omission (E&O) insurance that movie theatres require in order to let your film be shown in their venues. The Documentary Film Program at Stanford University provides advice about fair use to filmmakers as well as helping them obtain insurance plus find pro bono or reduced-rate legal assistance.

David Malki and his chums took Machine of Death to the top rank among books sold at Amazon.com as part of a concerted effort among their fans. They beat out Glenn Beck, who was not happy about it at all. I talked to David about this, his comic strip, and the second book in the Machine series last August.

VHX is the DRM-free streaming/download service that helped Indie Game: The Movie deliver to its backers and later buyers, and did and is doing the same for Stripped. The makers of Indie Game were among my first guests, and I checked in with them last December to talk about the aftermath of the film's release and the production of their deluxe edition.

However, if you're a regular iTunes user, you can help boost Stripped to No. 1 in the iTunes movie or documentary rankings by pre-ordering a copy by April 1!

Episode 36: Machine of Breadth with David Malki

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David Malki's biography would take five minutes to read out. You may know him best as the perpetrator of the cartoon Wondermark, but he's also a filmmaker, a movie trailer editor, an author, an entrepreneur, and the Supreme Commander of Publicity & Promotions at TopatoCo, a firm that handles merchandise primarily for webcomics. He's available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. We talk about making films, making cartoons, and making books, and having a great time at all of it.

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 Show notes

David Lynch's peculiar cartoon strip, The Angriest Dog in the World. Penny Arcade is one of the most popular Web comics. Zach Weinersmith's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal dates back to that era (we talked in Episode 15), as does Diesel Sweeties by Rich Stevens.

I received a copy of Chris Ware's Building Stories from my wife for Christmas, but his work makes me realize the keenness of life too fiercely. Or something. Dinosaur Comics is produced by David's friend Ryan North. It has the same drawing every day; the dialog is all that changes. Jeff and Holly Rowland run TopatoCo. Holly was my guest on Episode #21, in which we talked about Make That Thing! New England Web Comics Weekend took place in 2009 and again in 2010 and was hosted by TopatoCo.

Machine of Death was inspired by this episode of Dinosaur Comics. Futurama had a "death clock" in an episode in 1999, but David points out the death-predition thing is as old as the Greeks. David Pogue tried an experiment in removing DRM from an ebook in 2009; sold a lot more books. But he didn't like the outcome.

Machine of Death spawned a game funded on Kickstarter and a second collection of stories just out called This Is How You Die.

You can find David at GenCon in Indianapolis this weekend (August 15–18), and at PAX in Seattle August 30–September 2.

Photo by Joshin Yamada.