DARK MUSINGS #53 – Yahoo will castrate Tumblr
by Andrew Zar 5/20/13
There are precious few honest Internet companies who see their users as people – adults who can choose what they want to do (as long as it is legal, of course). The trend is to not do that, but instead establish a new set of morality and rules for user under some context of making the Internet “safe.” This is why, for example, FaceBook bans art by Picasso, Rembrant and Dali – and payment gateway Square bans any purchases of legal firearms or ammo - and deviantART bans logos from companies they don’t approve of. Other companies with a hard on to dominate and control users are Apple and Google.
Why? The reason boils down to a core fact: the people in control of Internet content are the advertisers. Not the users. Advertising is the game now – people are the commodity. Even though the people have the money (AND all of the valuable content to begin with), the advertisers have found a way to take the controlling position. They dominate companies trying to approach topics with free speech. And, what is most mind-blowing, is that the people agree – they will be nice little controlled Internet sheep and also pay for that privilege.
So the, very, very few Internet companies with the balls to have true ethics – to not bow to the advertisers – remains a very small set. Of the most known, I would say Twitter and Tumblr are the two largest. Each has millions of users, each promotes a hardcore free-speech mantra, and each has been very successful.
BUT, today the rumors have become true: Yahoo will purchase Tumblr. This, unfortunately, means Tumblr will succumb to the advertising gavel and thousands of adults using Tumblr will (eventually) be banned. It is 100% inevitable.
Why? Because the ONLY reason Yahoo purchased Tumblr is to “monetize” it. And to monetize means to advertise. And, advertisers will not welcome any “adult” content on Tumblr – this is how it has gone with every single other Internet company who bases their model on advertising dollars. So a great purge will occur. No idea when, but it’s coming.
Yahoo will not have the fortitude to put ethics above money – they will cave – and Tumblr will cave. It is inevitable.
And there will be many people who do not see it coming. But study the motivations – if you understand the motivation, you will understand (and anticipate) the action. (Take a read of Freakecomics – a great case study about motivations and behavior). Yahoo has zero intention of being labled an “adult” brand – there is no upside for them in supporting free speech. It is better to let the fringe (those of us who like to actually act like adults, not cattle) just move on and to monetize the masses.
So, to all my colleagues who use Tumblr for free expression – best start building your own blog. I would guess than when the ban comes, they will also purge and delete all of your content – years of it – in an instant and without notice. Just as FaceBook and deviantART has done in the past.
Till next time,
Above art is from DarkBrain.com’s series Mirror/Mirror by Dani Calero, Lya and Celestin. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #52 – A Bold New Series: Envoy 82
by Andrew Zar 5/11/13
Next week, on 5/15/13, we launch our new sci-fi series Envoy 82. It is a bold new artistic direction for DarkBrain with Nic Giacondino doing pencils, inks and colors. The style is unlike anything DarkBrain has done before, a real treat. The style is magical and I can’t wait for people to enjoy it.
The first issue is free, to let our current fans – and new fans – get a solid feel for what the series will bring. The series is seven issues and a self-contained storyline. The story I’m very proud of. It started with my usual plotline brainstorm – one that grabs me and forces itself to be finished when I really didn’t have time or even space in our schedule. I’ve learned to just let that happen. Other series started this way too including Pissy Pussy and SORTAN-VALTA.
After working with the plotlines a bit, I decided it deserved to be written… even if I didn’t produce it. So I got Crystal Storm on the case and she took the plotlines and made it a story. Not all that unexpected, but after the script was done I (reluctantly?) decided I had to re-work the DarkBrain production schedule to make room… (Why do I keep doing that to myself? I dunno.)
Then the search for an artist was about as brief as possible – I already had Nic working on The Witches Three. His style was such a natural fit for Envoy, it had to be done. The Witches Three was pushed in the schedule to make room, and here we have it – our new series.
So take a peek at our intro video and get ready for Wednesday’s launch!
Till next time,
Above is the cover for Envoy 82 #1 by Nic Giacondino. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #51 – The Dawning of Doom
by Andrew Zar 5/1/13
Today is a milestone day – we have finished the God Play story! Started in 2009, this story was the most complicated and difficult of all our stories to get done.
God Play came to be from my fascination with Oxford professor Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument” in philosophy (http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html). In an overly-simplified nutshell, this argument proposes that there is a high likelihood that our very reality is but a simulation. I just love how the argument can be used to provide a scientific basis for God.
Exploring the concept, I developed my vision of the future state of the world, about a thousand years from now. I theorized that our technology advances would take a hit after massive flooding and world destruction due to global warming and our lack of ability to manage it, but then build back up enough at that time to satisfy the simulation argument.
So I created Dr. Alexandra Torrence, the scientist who creates the world simulator and discover that she (or, more accurately, another universe’s version of her who created the actual simulation we live in) is God herself.
I was also inspired by a short story by qntm called “I don’t know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility.” (http://qntm.org/responsibility) This story showcases the inherent power of people running a simulator from an ethical point of view.
My challenge was to think of how to solve some significant logic problems (like the people in the story could just fast forward it a billion years before turning it off) with the setup and also to provide a cyclical relationship – where the people in the simulation can influence their *own* simulation. That is the key to my story… which I called “parity.”
Still, the philosophical foundation for the story is just a tool – the story is actually about Alex’s journey. So the reveal of the cyclical aspects of Alex being God herself was just a step in the story, not the end.
And today, that story is now fully told. I hope our fans have enjoyed it as much as we did making it! I’ll close with this appropriate quote from the Die Krupp’s song The Dawning of Doom:
can’t escape it
hide away from it
there’s no light
at the end of the night
God Play homepage: http://www.darkbrain.com/dbe/GodPlay.aspx
Till next time,
Above is the cover for God Play #8 by Jermiah Rogers, Michael Brewer and Lya. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #50 – DarkBrain V7
by Andrew Zar 4/18/13
Today we unleashed the seventh version of DarkBrain.com. You will see some very substantial changes and if you have been following DarkBrain for a while, you will see some evolution in our site design and branding.
The overall color scheme was brightened up to a more fun set of greens, the background showcases some of our art, and the fonts were updated to be nicer on the eyes. At the top of every page we now have our logo and new tagline (if you remember years ago, we used to be “Web Comics with Balls” – but now we have evolved to be a digital comic shop, so the tagline needed updating).
The old strategy of a row of series icons at the top has been moved into some handy new dropdowns at the top allowing you to quickly get to the newly released comics or to jump to any series we have – but without cluttering the screen all the time. Also, our “internal ads” were removed completely to again clean up the interface.
The home page was revamped – it used to have tiles for every comic series and was just a huge page of information. Now it is streamlined and showcases a large image of several comic series in a slideshow. Also, Pissy Pussy is giving a brief tour guide to the site. Also, as new comics are released, the home page will change to showcase new series highlights and be more dynamic and interesting.
Some tweaks were made to the members page for our existing members so they can login/logout and get their comics from that page without having to browse around the site.
So here we are with V7 ! Hope you like it.
Till next time,
Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Sunday is the last day you can get all these books for only $45! http://www.darkbrain.com/dbe/Members.aspx
Here it is - the end of our membership program! I hope everyone has had a chance to grab it to save big. It closes on Monday!
This is another step for DarkBrain. And it is a step away from “access over ownership.” For those following this blog to see industry trends, the basic concept is that selling access (memberships, subscriptions) is the model that is growing in many areas (Netflix for movies, various music services).
I believe access is the winner in the long term - and I hope that industry leaders such as DC and Marvel will eventually adopt an annual subscription for their catalog of digital books.
But the catch is that the size of the userbase has to be very large to make it work. Lacking enough numbers, nothing beats individual comic sales. And as the catalog mushrooms, subscriptions drop in value-per-user - making the target number even higher to sustain work.
Still, there is a strong interim strategy that digital comics are already doing: “bundles.” This involves taking a set of digital comics and selling them at a reduced price as part of a bundle.
DarkBrain has already started to work on bundles - which we call “collected editions.” The Butcher and Pissy Pussy have collected editions already and more will be following for most of our titles.
This change in how we sell will allow for some new advertising efforts and also new partners to sell our comics. So stay tuned!
Till next time,
DARK MUSINGS #48 – Diverse Body Types in Comics?
by Andrew Zar 3/5/13
One challenge with DarkBrain is to discuss specific topics such as body types and remember the context – that DarkBrain produces over a dozen series of comics. I would hope the sheer volume of work adds to a sense of diversity of topics, ideas, characters and art.
However, I have recognized some criticism that my work caters to a specific, “mainstream” view of comic book women: huge chests and thin waists. Of course, nobody seems to care that our men have six-pack abs and huge penises, which always leaves me scratching my head.
Although backed by story reasons (Holly in Church of One was built by God to be overtly sexually seductive to Sal who God gave a sex addiction to… and Brenna in Mirror/Mirror was designed off of real life Tabitha Stevens… who has a massive chest that isn’t my fault), I have felt that diversity of body types was something to work into our books a bit more.
But there is a deeper “problem” here – coming from my (unfounded?) worry that comic art depicting women with specific features would trigger a “child porn” feeling (like some manga does). Although I work with many distasteful topics designed to challenge readers, child porn is a topic I am not interested in working with in any circumstance, period.
Although I do believe that a drawing of something is fundamentally not the same thing as that something itself – this is a topic of just no interest at all. And utilizing the mainstream conventions seems to easily avoid the problem. I often wonder if that is one of the drivers of that convention in the first place.
Anyway, I am hoping people check out our work as a whole and see this new work in Envoy 82 and the upcoming Mirror/Mirror and Church of Two stories. I’m happy with characters being done as appropriate for the storyline, and I hope you are too! I believe the artists chosen have found a way to convey the character’s beauty in a variety of body types.
Till next time,
Images are from our upcoming titles Church of Two (Dani Calero) and Envoy 82 (Nic Giacondino). Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #47 – Unexpected results of change
by Andrew Zar 2/28/13
Late tonight, Locked Out #17 rolls out and it is the very last book in the entire series. I hope people enjoy the finish a fraction as much as I enjoyed making it.
Locked Out was our first hit and earned itself a full run, instead of just being a filler title as it was intended to be. Once it hit, I was able to step back and completely integrate it into the overall story… because it is one of several titles telling one story “CORTEX.”
So, although Locked Out is officially over, it became part of the CORTEX storyline – which includes Columbia’s Underbelly, God Play, Locked Out and The Vat. As such, you can expect to see more of the characters in Locked Out in DarkBrain’s future as we will continue to work on the CORTEX story.
Locked Out was also one of the “transition” series for us – it started out as R-rated, then edged into R+ territory and then finally drifted into X-rated as the company direction became solid XXX focus. Although not the best marketing strategy, what is nice is that it was just natural evolution, not a dramatic shift.
On other titles where the gradual shift was not an option, I ended up telling a second story, XXX-rated, to round out the books (Underbelly and God Play). That effort was painful (operationally and financially), but I think the results are good. Also, as a storyteller, I do love having the opportunity to provide context and background and the secondary stories ended up nearly as fun to write as the original storyline.
And, embracing that opportunity, characters developed in the secondary stories will now be part of the longer storylines in important ways. Jezebel in God Play Companion and also Roger in Underbelly Clemency both return later for important, character-driven sequences.
Sometimes change can produce unexpected results and those new characters and opportunities were a fun consequence of the change in content rating.
Till next time,
Image is from tomorrow’s final issue of Locked Out! Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Be sure you are following darkbrainpromo - check out this massive announcement about DarkBrain!
MEMBERSHIP: LAST CHANCE!
Don’t miss grabbing a DarkBrain membership - which includes access to
DarkBrain’s entire library as well as a full year of new titles. But
grab it before March 31, 2013, as the membership option will no
longer be available as all comics move to a per-issue sales system on
April 1! The membership offers an incredible savings (over 60% off!)
over buying individual issues and guarantees you access to the full
Mirror/Mirror and Envoy 82 storylines which will complete before
April 1, 2014.
IN OTHER NEWS!
Since our launch in 2010, DarkBrain has explored a wide variety
stories in various genres. This has afforded us the opportunity to
truly capture the tastes of our readers while at the same time
developing numerous complex storylines. Beginning in June of 2013,
visitors to DarkBrain will be excited to know we are focusing on
DarkBrain’s Ascension Line of 4 comics with interconnected storylines
and characters: Mirror/Mirror, Church of Two, The Witches Three and
Rashida’s Ascension. We will begin with the long-awaited continuation
of fan-favorite Mirror/Mirror. Mirror/Mirror’s second story
(“REBIRTH”) will be told in its entirety in monthly installments.
Then the Ascension storyline will continue in Church of Two and the
other Ascension comics with each title participating in telling of
one larger story.
DB QUARTERLY & ENVOY 82
The DarkBrain series Locked Out and God Play are just now completing
their runs, but fans will also be happy to know our other comics will
continue to their completion including our popular DB Quarterly
(which is slated for 12 issues) and also our new sci-fi series Envoy
DARK MUSINGS #46 – Anti-Free Speech Assault on Twitter
by Andrew Zar 1/30/13
I’ve always been proud of Twitter and Tumblr – they promote free speech – while other Internet titans (Google, Apple, FaceBook) actually aggressively suppress free speech. It is a surprisingly hard road to follow to be truly supportive of free speech and free expression, but it is the right road.
Adults in this “free country” of America – designed on the principle of tolerance - should not be told what they can read, see, like or dislike – that is the point of being both free and being an adult.
But free speech requires that we act like adults, something we are less and less able to do it seems. On one hand, as a culture, we embrace censorship and some of the most valuable companies in the world have made their fortune by making the Internet “safe” for adults as part of their core business plan (Apple and FaceBook). Yet we also see brave souls willing to defend freedom of speech in the face of tremendous pressure (the ACLU is defending the KKK in a lawsuit… I mean, go figure).
In relation to Internet companies, let’s get back to Twitter. Its goal and mission is to support free speech and it has done an excellent job of it. In spite of not following the heavy censorship foundation that most other Internet companies do, Twitter became a household name and… guess what… the world didn’t end after all. In fact, users around the world have used Twitter to express themselves much to the chagrin of their own governments. On Twitter, users can choose to follow, or not to follow, what they want – exactly as it should be.
So, now Twitter unleashes a video service Vine – and immediately Twitter has to backpedal on their support of free speech. Because Americans are so very deeply offended to the core over nudity, even Twitter has resorted to hiding adult content from adults. Of course, they don’t have to worry about pictures of real beheadings, torture, mass murder, child killings, eating people, or whatever – because obviously that’s not as offensive as a nipple.
But what really bothers me is how the press reports this. The press was so “pro free speech” when fighting SOPA, but none of the articles about “porn” get a single word of defense of free speech – not one. It is just part of the American culture that “clearly” porn is wrong while the most depraved violence is accepted and encouraged.
I’m saddened to see Twitter start to bend and break, but I suppose it is inevitable. Having balls in the Internet world and really supporting free speech isn’t easy. Ironically, our country was founded on a principle that we can’t really practice. In some ways, it is a terrible joke and a shameful legacy we have created. People need to learn to grow up – if you don’t like something, just don’t pay attention and move on. Getting all righteous and enforcing your will on others is *exactly* the wrong thing to do.
Till next time,
Art above is Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, and is the cover to our uncensored comic God Play #7 where we explore if God were scientifically proven and she turned out to be just one of us…
DARK MUSINGS #45 – Changes for DarkBrain 2013
by Andrew Zar 1/17/13
Every year, in January, I initiate a process of review and adjustment for DarkBrain as a studio. Sometimes these changes can be very substantial and a bit intimidating. Sometimes they involve incredible amounts of labor or strategy changes or site migrations or more.
At the core of all changes is the fundamental goal of DarkBrain, and probably many independent comic producers: keep publishing! I love to produce uncensored comics and want to keep producing them for as long as possible. So this mantra is what the changes are all about, every year.
One change this year was what to do with Pissy Pussy’s Sunday strips. . The strip is expensive to run… but is a key part of our site in that it provides nice levity in a site with much darkness, and that levity is extremely popular. All 4 issues of DB Quarterly featuring a Pissy Pussy story are in the Top 10 on DriveThruComics. To keep producing Pissy Pussy Sundays, we are going to move the downloads to be paid content. It’s a big change, but we have faced changes of that sort before. We hope Pissy fans come with us as we move down this new path. Rest assured Year One of the Pissy strips will continue to be free both on the DarkBrain site and DriveThruComics.
Another change this year is a title that will only be available for purchase directly from darkbrain.com to make it an “exclusive.” This title was one of our first and most acclaimed ones and it is exciting to bring it back for round 2. DarkBrain fans will be treated to a wild ride and have it come in monthly installments starting this summer.
A new key strategy is to bundle comics into “collected editions” and add making of material. The collected editions offer members an easy way to maintain their library and get our content in an organized way – and enjoy our extensive “Making Of” sections to learn more about how a title came to be. The collected editions will also be available for individual purchase, adding another option for all readers to grab something they are particularly interested in.
The DarkBrain website is going to get a revamp with series getting a trailer at the top done in video format. Our new series Envoy 82 and Mirror/Mirror will be the first to get awesome trailers.
Well, many more changes of note including a new social media plan, our newsletter revamping, and more… so stay tuned!
Till next time,
Image is from an upcoming Pissy Pussy strip with art by Tejlor. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved