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Eric: Beach Blanket Blank Label Baby.

We knew something like this was coming -- there was a leak about the name last week, and there had been speculation before that about the Ex-Keenspot Six all leaving at the same time. But today, there's confirmation.

For the record, Kristofer Straub, Brad Guigar, David Willis, Paul Southworth, Steve Troop and Paul Taylor have formed a comics collective called Blank Label Comics. From the look of things, they're going to share some infrastructure, some philosophy, some business elements, and some promotional activities between their strips.

A lot of people are talking about their move to become a new Keenspot or Modern Tales, in the wake of both the leak from last week and the announcement. Truly, though, their association seems to be closer in design and spirit to Dumbella or Dayfree Press. They're not forming a small syndicate in the Keen or MT molds, they're forming an independent press, keeping their own autonomy, but sharing some of the burdens. This is a wise thing.

Will they be successful? Hey, who knows. I know one thing, though -- their site has ten strips. I read six of them on a daily basis. I'm going to give the new and revived strips a try, too, but my point is -- sixty percent of their site is good enough that it's part of my daily trawl right now. That bodes really well, in my book.

I've gotten several e-mails about the Kurtz statement, by the by. Asking my opinion. I... think....

...no, I don't think I have my mind wrapped around it yet. But I like the Skull licking the blank label drawing. And the top banner ad can't help but help the guys out as they get started. And that's good, right? Right.


I think maybe it's best not to get sidetracked into the Keen/Kurtz thing on this one. Blank Label, at this stage, is interesting enough that the drama shouldn't enter into it. Especially because it honestly doesn't matter what sites these strips were hosted on last week. This is the internet. Five minutes ago is beyond us.

I'll talk about Keenspot stuff in the next Snark. It's been an interesting couple of weeks for them.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at May 23, 2005 6:59 PM


Comment from: Phalanx posted at May 23, 2005 7:36 PM

It's be an interesting experiment, but the thing I like about BLC is that it shook things up. IMHO, Keenspot's been stuck in something of a rut for the past couple of years, but with things moving so quickly now, I think they've realised it and are working on changing things.

That can only be a good thing for all of us.

Oh... And in other news, Keenspace gets renamed as Toonspace. Since it was first heard of in a Websnark comment, I thought it would be suitable to mention it in another ;)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at May 23, 2005 7:39 PM


The driving cat? The cat who can drive a car?

(I'm sorry. It's literally the first thing that entered my head.)

Comment from: Wednesday posted at May 23, 2005 7:45 PM

He drives around all over the town.

Comment from: Greg Dean posted at May 23, 2005 7:56 PM

Yes. Toonspace. Because it's oh-so-original. *eye roll*

If you're going to rebrand something - at least go for the gusto. Change maybe FIVE letters. SIX even.

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at May 23, 2005 7:58 PM


Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at May 23, 2005 8:19 PM

Folks can say what they want about the Crosby/Kurtz love affair -- I think they're both amazing businessmen in their own spheres.

Crosby, because he can find something nice to say about ANYBODY, and the force of his optimism alone is enough to prop up the entire webcomics industry.

Kurtz, because he has successfully identified and exploited several revenue streams -- both conventional and unconventional -- for his intellectual properties.

The Blank Label guys did well to get Kurtz' business advice. They've soaked up plenty of Chris' optimism while at Keenspot, and now they've (I hope!) got something profitable to dump all that energy into.


Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at May 23, 2005 8:35 PM

I read four of the authors already, and people have been leaning on me to start on the fifth (Paul Southworth, your agents are lazy - get them cracking). Best of luck to them all, as it's a vicious world out there.

... as is obvious if you ever read the latest PvP vs. Keenspot (or, perhaps more appropriately, Kurtz vs. Crosby) shots. In Scott's latest post, I do see him genuinely wanting Blank Label to succeed because it would be a good thing overall for webcomics and the six creators. However, you'd have to be blind to not see the shot at Keen there too.

Maybe I'm just a babe in the woods, but why has all this happened? Did Kurtz' dad turn down Terri Crosby for a date, way back in the day? Did Chris Crosby kick Kirby? I never could make sense of this. And considering two friends of mine and I have debated making a webcomic (mostly as a hobby, and likely to go on KeenSpace/Toonspace/the Pit of Despair if it does happen), I'd like to know what minefield I could potentially wander into.

Comment from: scrubbo posted at May 23, 2005 8:43 PM

Hah! I just knew they were going to make a collective! :) Good job on that! The front end looks great, and you seem to have things on a roll! LOOK OUT FOR BLANK LABEL! THEY WILL DEVOUR YOUR CHILDREN'S SOULS!

All of those guys are cool as ice and very talented, so I hope the move does good things for them!

Comment from: arscott posted at May 23, 2005 9:02 PM

here's my question:

The PR blurbs suggest that half the reason they're doing this is so they can take advantage of eachother's webcomic-running skills. I wonder what each Blankety Blank is bringing to the table.

Comment from: suz posted at May 23, 2005 9:25 PM

I am giddy at the thought of all of this.

There is no other way to describe it.

Comment from: Black Dove posted at May 23, 2005 9:38 PM

Well, I may be showing my philistine stripes; but presently none of the Blank Label Comics are in my own daily pool; although Checkerboard Nightmare gets an occasional look...

That said; many of these are comics I hear spoken of on a regular basis by my friends who keep lists longer than 10-15 comics for daily consumption.

I think it is a solid pool of talent; and a business model that can work well.

I think that small, mutually supportive teams of producers have a bright future in webcomics; as a whole seperate beast from businesses with staff that is not at all connected to production... it breeds a whole differant outlook.

Anyway, best stumble to an ending before this becomes lengthy.

-Black Dove

Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at May 23, 2005 9:56 PM

I wonder what each Blankety Blank is bringing to the table.

Hmmm... there's room here for fiction...






KRIS STRAUB: Blank LEFTOVERS (his "Starshift Crisis: Sci-Fi without all the Schlock" teaser... no elemental powers for HIM, no sirree Bob!)

Comment from: Tangent posted at May 23, 2005 10:17 PM

I still think Kurtz owes Joey Manley an apology for calling him an ass. If one of us did that, he'd (Kurtz, that is) be all over us in a second.

*sniff* This was my newsstory... oh well. I swear, when did I start becoming a reporter, anyway?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents reviewer


Comment from: joeymanley posted at May 23, 2005 10:33 PM

FWIW, Scott and I are friends, and I read "Manley, you ass" to sound like two buds hanging out on the patio taking friendly potshots at each other, rather than a Real Emotional Feud. Scott and I have corresponded since then, and it turns out my reading was correct (or, if it wasn't at first, it is now).

Scott & I are good.

FWIW, a "leak" is when somebody with private info, entrusted to him/her by an insider, betrays that trust. There was no "leak" in this case, since I had no info from insiders, and there was no trust for me to betray.

I have apologized to the collective (well, I asked Scott to forward my apologies to them -- since I can count none of them, except for Scott, as an acquaintance) -- I didn't mean to steal their thunder. I just thought it was cool & scandalous when that press release came up six days early in an innocent Technorati search for "Modern Tales" (grin). I guess the old "online reporter" persona came up to the forefront, thrilled to have a scoop.



Comment from: djcoffman posted at May 23, 2005 10:33 PM

But! But! Joey Manley IS an ass! Albeit a FINE ONE!


Actually he's a Sith lord.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at May 23, 2005 11:04 PM

I say hot shit. Hot shit indeed. This is a great move for each of them.

Oh and you bet your ass I love the slogan, "Spottless." HA HA... Scathing.

Comment from: Scott Kurtz posted at May 24, 2005 12:05 AM

Joey is right. It was a fun "you ass." not a real "you ass." He had no idea he was supposed to keep quiet about something he found.

And in Joey's defense he didn't post it to his blog or something.

I forgot the smiley, Joey. Sorry. I meant it. But you know that.

Comment from: R. L. Peterson posted at May 24, 2005 1:35 AM

Man, I was laughing my ass off when I found out about this. I'm really glad that the creators of these comics have come together, I think it's great. However, it seems like these last two weeks have been a PR nightmare for Keen. Not only do they lose 6 creators, but they form their own fedaration with the phrase "spotless" on the title as a quick blow to 'em. Now KeenSpace has been renamed ToonSpace, which apparently is a name that has already been used.

With the right mindset, this whole thing is downright hilarious!

Comment from: Sam Logan posted at May 24, 2005 3:46 AM

Well, it's always nice to see a bunch of talented people working together. I was a little thrown by all the comments about "pioneering" and "expert business advice," though. I mean, isn't Blank Label just adopting the exact same model used by Dumbrella, Dayfree, and the dozens of other webcomic groups? Should I just be chalking up the revolutionary language to PR fluff? They're an incredibly talented bunch of guys, but they're not exactly reinventing the wheel, here.

Comment from: John Allison posted at May 24, 2005 4:02 AM

SHHH, SAM, SHHH!! The newspaper just arrived, the headline: "Webcartoonists form loose collective; Korean stem cell scientists upstaged by own lack of ambition, vow dropdown list, Queen of Wands cameo".

Man, Toonspace, they're raping my childhood man. I grew up with a Space that was Keen. I had all the posters on my wall - Kit and Caboodle, Keenparody, Da Roolz. In my little notebook I'd list down all the comics that had started that day before I went to bed.

Now this. I just can't take it, anymore. MEH.

Comment from: Sam Logan posted at May 24, 2005 4:19 AM

Calm down, John. These days, there's ALWAYS someone "raping" your childhood. You can't walk around the corner without a childhood getting raped. I know my childhood was raped at least seven times while I watched television last night. That will teach me for believing in things!

Comment from: Crashlander posted at May 24, 2005 9:03 AM

I'm pretty sure I'm ambivalent about this whole thing, but I definitely wish the creators the best of luck with it. It's a nice little group.


Comment from: Alun Clewe posted at May 24, 2005 1:52 PM

In a strip I had on KeenSpace (under a different pseudonym), I once had a character say something about "Keenspace" being "a name that sounds like it came from a bunch of surfers who played Spelljammer". (Which doesn't really make sense, actually, since "keen" isn't really a surfer word..."a bunch of fifties sitcom kids who played Spelljammer" would have worked better. In any case, it's admittedly a fairly obscure reference, but this line wasn't the punchline of the strip, and in fact another character immediately asked "What's Spelljammer"?)

I'm planning on rebooting that comic in the relatively near future, actually, and reusing the jokes of some of the old strips (but redrawing them)...but I guess I can't reuse that particular joke now. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want to even if I could.

(I'm not saying what that old comic is, because I used a different pseudonym for a reason; I don't want it generally known I was doing it. It might seem that this post may be counterproductive to that goal, but since maybe all of three people read that strip if I'm lucky, I don't think my anonymity (or pseudonymity) has been placed in serious danger.)

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