The Threshold

Still Open

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

I know, it’s been a while, and not very much has seemed to happen in that time.

Not here, at any rate.

That’s not because I’ve given up on OpenDoor Comics, but the fact of the matter is that what I had hoped would happen so far, well, hasn’t.

What had I hoped? Mostly that people would find their way here through my (admittedly minimal) efforts to publicize the site and its mission, and that they would begin utilizing the platform to share their comics, traffic would build up, some revenue would start flowing in, and I could use that revenue to start pursuing active development and marketing, and begin the slow process of bringing the vision to life.

Yeah, not so much.

But that’s okay! As I said, my efforts – for a variety of reasons – to promote the site and mission have been minimal, but it’s not because I don’t believe in them, or have given up on the vision.

For one thing, I’ve always intended to take it slow, choosing to be cautious – perhaps even cowardly – and not diving in without testing the waters.

Well, the waters have been tested, and the results indicate that I need to do a lot more work before I can consider diving in. But make no mistake: I intend to dive in.

And, it turns out, sometime in the near future, I may very well be pushed.

But that’s all a consideration for another day, and I mention all of this merely to point out that I have not abandoned OpenDoor Comics or the vision behind it. The site is still here, the Door is still Open.

And that, I think, is an important point, because while not much of anything has happened here, out there, in the real world, on the other side of the Door, a lot has happened.

There is an effort underway to close doors, to put up barriers, to separate and weed out diversity, to turn away from inclusion and focus on exclusion.

As we need to keep reminding ourselves, This Is NOT Normal, and though it may seem self-serving to say, this movement, this abnormal shift, makes the vision and mission of OpenDoor Comics more vitally important than ever.

There are voices that need to be heard, stories that need to be told, and images that need to be seen.

Those voices, those stories, those images – they are welcome here.

YOU are welcome here.

As long as I have the means to hold it, the Door will always be Open.

…And You Can Do It All At OpenDoor Comics!

Just popping in to share this comic from Owlturd Comix.

View post on imgur.com

 

That whole working with an artist/writer thing?  That’s part of what OpenDoor Comics is all about!  Doing it yourself?  Do it here! Terrible at everything?  Post your stuff here anyway!

Key takeaways:

I like Owlturd Comix

You should sign up to be a Collaborator and/or create your own site for posting comics at OpenDoor Comics!

Don’t Just Wish

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

Sorry for the “radio silence” lately, but there have been a few things going on in the world outside the OpenDoor that have been stealing my time and attention.  None of which I’ll get into here, because it’s all boring and it doesn’t really matter (in this context).

Regardless, I’m checking in once again and reporting that, honestly, I have nothing much to report.  Most of my activities here have been limited to updating plug-ins and deleting spam.  So much spam.

So much…

BUT!  While I’m a bit disappointed, I’m not dissuaded or discouraged, and I continue to press on.

Which is kind of the point of this post.

One of the most frequent comments I hear and see in reference to OpenDoor Comics is some variation of, “I wish I could draw.”

Honestly, I wish that, too, both in regards to my own meager talents and to the self-reported meager/entirely lacking talents of the people who say that.  Because if I could draw (or, rather, draw better and more consistently than I do), I would happily devote myself to my childhood dream of being a professional comic artist, and if you – the “you” making the wish – could draw, you might be posting comics here and helping me pursue my adulthood dream of being a professional comic publisher.

But, as they say, if wishes were horses…

“Horseshit,” I say, in response to your wish.

So you can’t draw?  So what?  Why is that stopping you?

One of the tenets of OpenDoor Comics is that nothing should be a barrier to expression.  Not prejudice, not technology, and not even talent.

I think it’s increasingly clear that I have no idea how to design, build, operate, and market an open and inclusive publishing platform for comics, and yet I’m doing it anyway.  Am I doing it well?  Oh, hell no.  I mean, clearly.  But I’m still trying.*

And most days you can find me putting pen to (digital) paper and taking yet another shot at honing what talent I have in the hopes of someday achieving that childhood dream even as I pursue – about as successfully – my adulthood dream.

You can’t draw?  Oh well; do it anyway.

Test the waters and submit a Napkin.  Or just jump in and create a site and post anything you can.  I mean, why not?  Maybe you’ll get better with practice.  Maybe you won’t.  It’s still worth a shot.

On the other hand, if you’re absolutely convinced that you can’t even produce a convincing stick figure, keep in mind that there are a lot of other ways you can help OpenDoor Comics fulfill its mission, and help a (former) little boy achieve his grown-up dream.  Sign up to be a Collaborator, and find someone who can help bring your ideas to life.  Maybe you have a talent for creating tools or templates that could be sold in the Supply Closet.  Have app and/or web development skills?  Maybe you can contribute to that part of the success of OpenDoor Comics. **

The point is, I’m willing to bet you can do something other than just wishing that you could draw.  I know that some of you may think it smacks of false modesty, but I honestly do know that feeling and share that wish.

But I’m doing something other than wishing.  Why not join me?

*Yes, Yoda.  I know.

**Seriously, if you have those skills, let’s talk.

Quick Link Post

Popping in just to share a link to this post at The Mary Sue.

I love comics. I love reading them, writing them and also writing about them; comics are a big part of my life. What I don’t love is the industry that currently surrounds comics. Quite a few people are fighting to change it, and all respect to them.

Word.

Read the whole thing; a lot of it gets to the heart of why I felt the need to launch OpenDoor Comics in the first place.

 

Improvements (And Room For More)

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

While we wait for Creators to start signing up and posting comics – You are, like me, waiting for that, right? – I continue to tinker with some of the settings and features of the site in an attempt to improve the overall experience.

The latest improvement:

Enabling (and creating) Groups, which allow registered members of the site – whether they’re Creators, Collaborators, or just fans – to socialize and share information.

It’s really taking the next step in capitalizing on the social networking features enabled by the plug-in I installed for customizing the sign-up form.

To capitalize further, I created a Group called Artist Alley, which is a Group for all registered Creators to interact with each other and their adoring public, and one called Collaborators, which allows those who are interested in becoming Creators and looking for their partners-in-comics to let the world know their names and what they have to offer.

Of course, these are all very basic, and are just laying the groundwork for what is to come for OpenDoor Comics.  Even the current overall look of OpenDoor Comics, and any new sites created here, is very basic.  It is, with some minor customization, the most basic, default WordPress theme available.

But that goes back to my original ideas about Supply and Demand.  I just want to have something out there for people to begin using so that we have something to build on.  After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but once we start using the wheel, we can begin looking into ways to improve it.

Let’s take the Collaborator-matching as an example.  Right now, there are two basic paths:

  • Sign up, list your skills and interests, and check the box indicating that you’re looking to collaborate and be contacted by other registered users.  Others will be able to see that information in your profile – particularly if you join the Collaborators group – and anyone interested in working with you can then contact you.
  • Let me know that you’re interested in collaborating (via e-mail) and what your skills and interests are, and I will look through the index of potential matches and do the matchmaking legwork behind the scenes.

Neither path is particularly innovative or complex, but they do provide a starting point.  What kind of improvements will the future bring?

I can see incorporating more cogent questions into the basic Collaborator profile, or maybe some kind of personality assessment.  Or maybe setting up some Google Hangouts, or even real-life meet-ups.

But maybe not!  Maybe no one fill find that useful.  The point is, with that service, as with every other aspect of OpenDoor Comics, there’s plenty of room to improve.  It’s something that I recognize and am working on, and I hope that you recognize it as well, and view it not as obstacle, but an interesting challenge and an opportunity, because much of what we’ll see in terms of improvements to the site depends on you.

In particular, having the resources (money, mostly, which will lead to more available time) to devote to improving existing features and developing new features, and being able to entice some skilled and talented people to join the OpenDoor Comics team and help with that development, depends on people like you visiting the site (and configuring your ad-blockers to allow the minimal, non-intrusive ads to display…pretty please?), donating to the site (see the button over to the left), selling and buying items in the Supply Closet, buying items from the OpenDoor Comics Shop, and signing up and creating your own comics.

And, of course, just generally being willing to provide support and spreading the word and having faith that, in time, OpenDoor Comics will be in a position to achieve its Vision and Mission, and do its best to live up to its Values.

OpenDoor Comics Added A New Site. What Happened Next Will SHOCK You!

…or maybe it won’t, because what happened next was that a bunch of spammers left comments because that’s what they do.

BUT!  If spammers are paying attention to the site, maybe they know something you don’t.  Do you want those lousy spammers to keep one-upping you?  Of course you don’t!

So who are you to say no?  Someone who’s no better than a common spambot?  Check out Napkin Comics!

Napkin Comics

What the heck are Napkin Comics, you ask?  Unsurprisingly, they’re comics.  On napkins.

Or on whiteboards, or chalkboards, or the backs of place mats, or on whatever medium happens to be handy when the urge to doodle a quick comic strikes.

Once you’ve created your Napkin Masterpiece, why not share it with the world?

Snap a picture, fire it off in an e-mail to comics@opendoor-comics.com and indicate how/if you would like to be identified,  Once your Napkin Masterpiece has been posted, you’ll get a link to the post that you can share on your Twitterbooks and Snapfaces.

Eventually, of course, the process will be simplified and automated through one of those apps that kids are always talking about (Note:  If you’re an app developer interested in developing such an app, drop me a line.), but for right now, we’re sticking with a slightly lower-tech process.

In any case, like Liz Phair says, “Sometimes all you need is a napkin.”

As a reminder, if you’re interested in contributing something a little more complex than napkin-based art, you can always register with ODC and create your own comic site.*

*Once again, the spammers are way ahead of you in that regard.  Man, they’re just leaving you in the dust, aren’t they?  But one day, hopefully very soon, you’ll show them.  You’ll show them all!  Bwahahahahahaahaha!  *Cough*  Sorry about that.

The Door is Open! Again! Still! Open-er!

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

After a great deal of searching and some trial-and-error – which will no doubt continue – I’ve managed to enable an automated registration process, allowing Creators to sign up and create their own site all at once.

The solution – a plugin called BuddyPress – allows for the creation of a sort of internal social network, which also enables Collaborators to offer their services directly (if they so choose).

The one major con to the solution is that the Name field is now required, and I can’t change that or the visibility of that field, so anyone will be able to see it.  However, it is still the case that pseudonyms are acceptable.

As mentioned, there will continue to be some trial-and-error, and I’m looking into ways to integrate the registration process with existing social media accounts to simplify the process even further.

The plugin also allows for the creation of a rudimentary site directory, which is available in the navigation menu.  Future development will provide better organization and categorization, though, of course, I still have work out what the categories will be.  For that part, I will be looking to the Creators and the readers to help develop them, and that’s actually a topic for a future post…

The registration form also has a field for members to offer their services as comment moderators.  The moderation rules are something that will also have to be developed, and, again, that will involve input from the community.

Additionally, with my current advertising network (and my limited WordPress skills – which are, fortunately, growing), I will have to manually add the advertising code to new sites.  The good news is that the ads will be relatively unobtrusive, and will not interfere too much with the layout of pages or the readers’ enjoyment of comics.  Eventually, I hope to have a more robust advertising solution, and automate the process of (still unobtrusively) inserting ads into new sites.

If you’re not comfortable with using the form, you can still e-mail me at comics@opendoor-comics.com, and I will be happy to set up your site for you.

I’m Sorry

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

Deciding that it was past time that someone start posting some comics on a platform intended to host, you know, comics, I took it upon myself to create a comic and post it.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because it’s not very good, and because that’s not what OpenDoor Comics is about; I didn’t create this site for me to post my own comics.  Well, I didn’t create it just for that.  I did plan to start posting some of my own content someday – ideally with the assistance of a collaborator – and when that day came it would be something better than what I just posted.

But if I were only interested in posting my own content, I wouldn’t have put as much effort in building this platform, or at least clearing the space and laying the foundation for a platform, as I have.  I had a long-running blog, after all, and could have just as easily posted comics there.

I’m also sorry because I clearly haven’t done enough to entice talented creators to want to sign up and begin posting their comics here, and that means that the few people who stop by every once in a while aren’t seeing the great comics that they could be seeing.

But, despite the low quality of the cheesy joke comic, I’m also not sorry, because the reason I decided to post something of my own was to test the process of creating a new site, setting it up, and posting to it.  In those terms, my lousy comic was a success, as the process was relatively quick and painless.

In the future, that process will get simplified and automated, once I throw some resources into developing site features based on user feedback, but it’s good to know that, in the meantime, if someone does sign up, I can get them up-an-running pretty quickly.

And I’m also not sorry, because I’m viewing it as a bit of gauntlet-throwing.  I posted a crappy comic.  I’m willing to bet that you can do something better.  In fact, I almost guarantee it.

This Space For…

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

…well, not for rent, but I’m not sure that saying “This Space For Free” would make much sense.  Not without some additional context, at any rate.  So here I am, providing some additional context.

What do I mean by “This Space For Free,” you ask?  Exactly that.  This space right here?  Free.

Less flippantly, I’ve been doing a lot of yammering here, which, it is my site, and this is my dedicated “Stan’s Soapbox” corner of it, so that’s only to be expected, I should think.  BUT!  As I mentioned in the Media Kit, this site, and the idea behind it, are not about me.

Another thing I mentioned in the Media Kit is that I’m interested in providing this space to guest posters who have something to say on the topic of comics, diversity, and inclusion.  Comics pros, comics fans – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you have something to say, I’m willing to give you my “soapbox” to stand on.

And that’s the point of this post, and the message behind “This Space For Free.”

I’m looking forward to some occasions on which the face up in the corner is not mine – assuming you want to have your picture appear, of course – and the content of the post isn’t from me.

So if you or someone you know is interested in utilizing this free space, drop me a line at comics@opendoor-comics.com.