Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Collected Adventures of Old Time-Traveling Brian

It took longer than I hoped and more work than I expected, but at last I'm happy to offer a special, limited-edition collection of the Adventures of Old Time-Traveling Brian, the dopey webcomic I began posting to my blog last summer. That's the cover above.

This 20-page zine includes the six comics posted here, a seventh comic I made exclusively for the zine, plus some new art (I'm very proud of the title page!) and surprise bonus features. Its price is $5.95 for deliveries in the United States and $7.95 elsewhere (including postage) via the handy PayPal button below. If you can't or don't use PayPal, e-mail me privately and we'll work something out.

[LATER UPDATE: Sorry, the PayPal button's gone because the zine is all sold out! My thanks to everyone!]

Frankly, although I encourage you to use PayPal for both our convenience, putting that button there terrifies me. I've never tried it before. People who have employed the button reassure me it works fine and won't zap your money into outer space or drain my bank account to the Ukraine. Fingers crossed....

When I say "limited edition" I mean it. There are exactly 50 of these zines in existence. I'm keeping five for me and my family, leaving 45 that I've signed and numbered (in pencil, almost as if they were actual works of art!). There'll never be any more.

Zines are deliberately home-spun, rough-hewn, do-it-yourself publications, with varying levels of sophistication. I guess the prototypical zine consists of a stack of photocopied (or in the old days mimeographed) pages folded in half and stapled together. I tried to class mine up a bit. First, instead of standard 20# 8.5 x 11-inch printer paper, I used a very heavy (32#) legal-sized paper, making the completed dimensions 7 x 8.5 inches (~18 x 21.5 cm). I originally wanted to do the cover in a beefy watercolor paper with terrific texture; after an initial test printing went well I bought two big pads of the stuff, only to find that it didn't want to go through my printer anymore. Instead, I printed the cover on two-ply plate Bristol board, exactly the same paper I draw all my comics on, which seemed very appropriate. It looks sharp.

Anybody want two big pads of watercolor paper?

My zine-making Bible was a blog post by cartoonist Jim Rugg cryptically titled "How to Make a Zine." Jim did something I hadn't seriously considered until I read his post, which was printing the entire job on his home inkjet printer. I assumed that would be prohibitively expensive, but when I estimated the costs and took advantage of inexpensive off-brand ink like Jim did, it became pretty attractive. Best of all, doing my own printing let me use my own paper (which I also got at a close-out price) and maintain total quality control.

Which is not to say they're perfect. A few pages are crooked, a few spines stapled off-center. About 20 copies have extra holes where I had to pull out their staples, swap out pages and restaple them, because that's how many I made before I noticed I'd numbered a page incorrectly. I encourage you to regard such imperfections as "charm."

Zine-making in progress on my kitchen table. Papercutter, interior pages and cover, long-arm stapler. Elmer's glue on the seat back at right, above a few completed zines on the seat below. At lower right is a green 35-pound jug of kitty litter atop a drawing board that I used as a flattening press. And at the left is a roll of Christmas paper because as soon as I move my garbage out of the way this is also where we wrap gifts. It's a good table.

I realize the price I'm asking isn't cheap for a zine but trust me--I ain't getting rich. Because I used such high-quality paper, these suckers are heavy and will cost a lot just to mail. There's a special thing in the book I had to buy 50 of (which helped me settle on the size of my print run). My wastage was unexpectedly high--not your problem, I realize, but the number of pages I recycled for poor print quality or stupid errors like incorrect numbering was large. If I sell every zine, I'll just about cover the cost of materials. My labor is free--my gift to you.

If it's not clear yet, I don't know what I'm doing. But this entire project has been a joy. If you'll permit me (just try to stop me), I'll close by quoting from a little essay I wrote to close the zine:

"In contrast to making a graphic novel, which can take years with little feedback or reward, I could write, draw, and post a new Adventure to the Web in a day. I think of these as 'good honest comics': funny words and pictures, no gatekeepers, no deep strategy or goal. They're sincere. Offering them as a zine is a natural extension of that aesthetic.

"Producing these silly little stories stretched new creative muscles and made me a better cartoonist, and I appreciate your indulence. It was fun."

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: I've now mailed off all the orders I received (except for a few I'll be delivering in person--you know who you are), and they should fight their way through the holiday mail in a few days. If you think you ordered one and it hasn't arrived in a week or so (longer outside the U.S.), let me know. The response has been terrific. Still got a few left. Thanks again!


shrinking indigo said...


Ordered. :-)

Mike Lynch said...

Just ordered one! Looking forward to this my friend!

ronnie said...

Paypal button worked just fine. Can't wait to get my paws on it!

Brian said...

Hi Brian,

Delurking to say hello and that I ordered a copy! Looking forward to reading this and eagerly awaiting the next project...

Best wishes to you and your family!

Brian Jacob

Brian Fies said...

Thanks! Yours are all in the mail as of an hour ago. Mike, your "Raconteur" was definitely an inspiration, or at least a comfort. Brian, it's great to hear from you once in a while, all my best to you and your family.

Hope you like the zine.

Milinda said...

Looking forward to seeing your new magic.

PayPal is your friend. :-)

Brian Fies said...

The new magic is a lot like the old magic except its joints make loud popping sounds when it bends its knees.

Mary Varley said...

I love that I could read the whole thing, including foreword, afterword, copyright notice, etc. while I waited for my Keurig cup of coffee to brew. I looked at the 3-D art a few days ago when I opened the envelope, so I didn't need extra time to read!
I can do this in a Board Book for you.;-D

Anonymous said...

It's Fantastic!
Really something to be proud of... And I love the fact that you have included a special pocket on the back page. ; )
Nurse Sis

shrinking indigo said...

Brian! Mine arrived in today's mail.

It's WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for sharing your deep breath with us.