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1 Jamie: Well, Adam, we've been renewed for another season.
2 Adam: "All good things must come to an end." Busted!
3 Jamie: I was thinking we should get a build team to help us out a bit. Do some of the more dangerous myths for us.
4 Adam: Where's the fun in that?!
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"We're back, baby!"
Welcome to the revived Irregular Webcomic!: actual comics edition!
Historically, patronage was essentially financial support given by the aristocracy to artists to enable them to pursue the occupation of creating works of art, while having enough money to avoid destitution. Because the artists were working on their artworks, they didn't have the time necessary for paying jobs. The rewards reaped by the aristocrats, and society in general, included many of the wonderful artistic legacies of history: paintings, sculptures, symphonies, operas, and so on. Without patronage, our world today would be a much poorer place, with our art museums containing a mere fraction of the works they do.
In modern times, patronage has largely disappeared, replaced by a model in which artists must struggle to sell their works after creating them. The closest modern equivalent is when a buyer commissions an artist to produce a work - this is essentially a contract where the buyer agrees to pay a price for an artwork which has not yet been created, and which may have to fulfil certain requirements stipulated by the buyer. (For example, someone might commission a painting of a particular person or scene, of a specific size, to fit in a specified display area.) Commissions, however, don't give the artist as much freedom as patronage, and you need to be an already established artist to successfully attract commissions.
Patreon adopts a variant of the modern Internet-enabled micropayment crowdfunding model. You can have quite a modest artistic portfolio and attract a few interested followers on the net, then build that following into a small income stream.
So why did I decide to join Patreon? Well, I've been making comics and posting them freely since 2002. In the 13 years since, I've never posted any ads or solicited donations. I never felt the need, because I have a good job and made the comics in my leisure time. I had a vague dream of converting my creative activities into a paying job, but couldn't really see a path towards that transition. Patreon follows a model which I'm more comfortable with: People who like my work enough can pledge some support, and perhaps if enough people get involved then it will build up enough to allow me to convert some of my working time from my current job to what would be more-or-less a creative job supported by patronage.
The big goal in the long-term is to achieve enough support to quit my day job one (or more) days a week, and devote those days to creating more material. I have ideas for more comics, books, videos, photo projects, and other creative things than I have time for. If I get this Patreon cooking, I may just manage to convert it into the time I need. My promise to you is that if I get sufficient support, I will make more of the sorts of things that I hope you will enjoy.
When I set up my Patreon page, I had to come up with some goals and rewards. Rewards are things that individuals get for pledging a certain amount of money per month. At the moment I don't have a lot of reward tiers, and I'd like to think of some more. If any of you have suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them!
Goals are things that a certain accumulated level of funding enable. My first goal was US$10 a month, which pays for the art supplies I use up drawing my Star Trek comic, Planet of Hats. Art supplies are not cheap! Remember that fact for all the other webcomics you like. If the creators are drawing them, they're probably spending $10-$50 a month just on paper and pens, depending how many strips they make a week. Perhaps sling a dollar or two their way as well.
The next goal was to cover the cost of my website hosting and domain registration, which comes to US$35 a month. I've been paying this out of my own pocket for 13 years. It's nice to have that expense covered now.
Then the next two goals were reward goals for everyone: when reached I would restart Irregular Webcomic! with brand new comic strips once, then twice per week. Well, the response has been amazing, and I am still a little bit stunned by the support shown from what is clearly a loyal group of readers. We have blown through those two goals, and the result is that, from today, IWC is officially restarting, with two new strips per week.
New strips will be published on Sunday and Thursday. On the other days of the week, you will get reruns with new commentary. You'll notice one of these strips replaces the long-form annotations which I have been doing on Sundays. Honestly, I was starting to run out of ideas for those, and doing that and two new strips per week would have been a bit much for me. So there won't necessarily be a long annotation every week, but I will occasionally pop one in, as I did years ago, when a particular comic inspires one.
Three and a half years after Irregular Webcomic! "ended" and transitioned into a new phase, I am refreshed and eager to explore new storylines with familiar old characters again. I'm excited by this new phase in the ongoing evolution of my creative work, and I hope you are too.
Let's get going!
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