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Eric: I don't suppose anyone at Fox is interested in a modern fairy tale with jazz undertones? Anyone? Anyone? Damn.


(From You Damn Kid!)

Okay , it's official. I'm surprised. And we now officially have a frontrunner for "biggest story of the year in Webcomics," and -- with all apologies to Owen Dunne -- I never expected it to be You Damn Kid.

For those who don't know, Dunne's comic strip -- which has been running since 1999, and is a perennial favorite of the people who recommend comics to me -- has been optioned for development by 20th Century Fox Television.

What does that mean?

Well, first off, it means a pretty decent payday for Dunne and for Keenspot. I don't know how decent a payday, but I do know a thing or two about how much development companies pay for short story rights, and it could easily be six figures. In the writing world, significant optioning is the long green, and this is about as significant an optioning as we could imagine.

(It's also possible that they didn't get six figures. Or even five. We literally have no idea, and that's not going to change. But let me dream for a minute, okay?)

Secondly, it means it's possible that a Keenspot comic might -- might -- end up on Fox. That's network. And that's huge.

We know Fox is very interested in animation right now. We know that Fox felt burned by Cartoon Network/Adult Swim successfully marketing Family Guy when they let it languish, and we know that they've started a lot heavier interest in animation. We also know that Adult Swim gets demographic numbers that makes the people at The Late Show With David Letterman weep.

At the same time, 20th Century Fox Television doesn't equal Fox. They could just as easily develop You Damn Kid and try to sell it directly to Adult Swim. Or, for that matter, to G4 (which has been pushing for late night Adultswimish humor to try and get some of that sweet demographic). Or to whoever might want to buy.

Or, the development might stall out. Or a pilot might get made and might not sell. Or a lot of things. A lot more shows get optioned than made.

Now, if You Damn Kid gets made and put on the air in network, that's monumental. That's life changing. If it's a hit, then suddenly a whole lot of webcomics could get serious interest in them -- our corner of the media suddenly becomes a place for inexpensive mining for potential hit shows. But even if You Damn Kid never gets made, this is huge news for Keenspot.

You see, according to the information we have (and Dunne has confirmed it), it's Keenspot that negotiated the option. So... for a couple of years now we've know that Keenspot's been shopping strips around. And there's been some laughter about the subject.

Only now, they've done it. And it's a truism that your second sale is a lot easier than your first. Suddenly, Keenspot has credibility in the development cycle. Certainly, if You Damn Kid goes somewhere, it's going to be easier for the Crosbys to successfully option other Keenspot strips.

Suddenly, being on the 'Spot has a potential for, as stated, long green. And, while a hit cartoon based on a webcomic will be good for webcomics in general (I can see G4 suddenly hungry for Penny Arcade, or Adult Swim really wanting PvP or Something Positive, just to throw a few common names out), it's going to be a bonanza for Keenspot and for strips on Keenspot.

The next year is going to be very, very interesting.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 20, 2005 12:33 PM


Comment from: Tangent posted at September 20, 2005 1:01 PM

Holy saints alive...

Heh. Leave it to you to notice something I passed by...

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at September 20, 2005 1:04 PM

Wow. Just...Wow.

You know, I always knew webcomics were big. That's just the sort of thing you realize after you've been a part of the scene for a while. But it's only when something like this happens that one actually realizes just how big they are.

Also, it scares me to think of some webcomics as TV shows.

Comment from: lucastds posted at September 20, 2005 1:07 PM

wow. that is interesting.

keenspot's logo ain't green for nothin'.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 20, 2005 1:12 PM

Dunne's comic strip -- which has been running since 1999, and is a perennial favorite of the people who recommend comics to me[...]

I should explain that a bit, actually. I've had a lot of people say I would enjoy You Damn Kid, and I like what I've seen of it before, but it's one of those that's been sitting on the list of comics I need to Archivetrawl. So it's not one that I'm familiar with to the point that I would have an opinion.

It sounded like I didn't like it, above, which isn't true. Not, with this optioning, that Dunne particularly cares what I think of him. ;)

Comment from: sun tzu posted at September 20, 2005 1:42 PM

Holy freakamolly.
I've believed for years that webcomics have a HUGE potential, and only needed some visibility (which is why I reccommended them to plenty of acquaintances). This...This could be the dawn of a new era for them.

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 20, 2005 2:14 PM

First off, a congrats to YDK!

Second off, on the whole, "this could mean more webcomics get optioned, YEAH!" thread, I'm MUCH more cynical about whether that is a good thing or not.

As has already been established, my first real exposure to fringe culture (and webcomics are a form of fringe culture) was underground music, and so I see things in terms of the things that I learned from underground music. And one of the first things you learn, is never trust anyone in a suit.

While I would love to see people throw money at Something Positive or Penny Arcade, cartoon versions, even on basic cable, would probably be horrible. Both strips take full advantage of the freedom that the web gives them, freedom that would not exist in animated form.

Now, SP and PA are extreme examples, and I realize that Eric was just reaching for obvious examples to make his point. Something like PvP could work, if handled right, but that would be a really big if.

The point that I am trying to make is that the concept needs to be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism, lest creators find themselves robbed of their creations in one form or another.

I'm all for reconigtion of the web comics culture by the mainstream, but it needs to be on web comics terms, or else the whole thing risks being marginalized when it is turned into yet another commodity.

Comment from: Zaq posted at September 20, 2005 3:06 PM

I'll be honest. I've never liked You Damn Kid. I'm a big fan of "The humor is in the situation, not the punchline" in other forms (8 Bit Theatre and Diesel Sweeties leap to mind, and to a lesser extent, Bob the Angry Flower... and I suppose it's related to shows like Family Guy, but that's debatable), but YDK never resonated with me. Maybe I'm too young to appreciate it from the proper perspective, or maybe not. Couldn't tell you. However, if it's well done, I can see a lot of potential in YDK in animated cartoon form, and I'll definitely take a look at it. (For the record, A Christmas Story is possibly my favorite movie ever.)

As for other strips going into cartoon form, generally speaking, I don't think the charm of a lot of strips could be captured in any other form (the thought of an animated Ozy And Millie churns my stomach). PVP maybe I could see, but other than that, I think that within the strips that I enjoy, forcing them into animated (what's more, TV cartoon) format would alter them too much for comfort. Maybe I'll be proven wrong... if the creators retain enough control over them to keep their own brand of humor shining beyond the format, I'll gladly eat my words and be happy for the outcome. As it stands, though? Very few strips that I read and enjoy would, in my mind, make the transition to TV very well. Soap on a Rope maybe. PVP probably. Queen of Wands, only if they got a REALLY good design team together. And I still say Dominic Deegan could make a watchable anime (a high compliment coming from me, as I'm so picky about anime that I've genuinely liked a grand total of maybe two to date)...

This is definitely a major event, though. From here, things will get very interesting.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at September 20, 2005 3:21 PM

I've never read You Damn Kid (though I've definitely heard of it), but I'd have to be some sort of idiot to not, at the very least, be intrigued by this bit of news. After all, if done right, this could potentially alter both the webcomics community and how the public percieves webcomics (if the general public even has a perception of webcomics, that is).

As has been mentioned, though, I can't think of very many webcomics that I personally read that would work well in the animated format. If we're speculating on that sort of thing, though, one comic I'd absolutely love to see animated is Girly. I think I've mentioned it before, but the strip has so much sheer kinetic energy that it quite literally feels like an animated series that somehow has been condensed and put into webcomic form. It'll probably never be animated, but man what a rush THAT show would be.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 20, 2005 3:29 PM

Actually, I see Fox either airing this on the main network or FX. They're constantly throwing shows out there because they have a very high churn rate. Though I'd have greater hopes for it on Adult Swim, their schedule is already packed with shows getting solid ratings - I don't see where they'd shoehorn in something else.

I'm torn about The Family Guy in regards to this - it's because of that show, I strongly suspect, that Fox is willing to take a chance on YDK!. But I still can't stand the show (nor do I find American Dad any better). Everyone tells me it's better than watching a recent episode of The Simpsons, but you can say the same about Star Trek: Enterprise.

As for other webcomics that could make the jump... Kevin & Kell could, I think. PvP feels like it would work. And in the right hands, Sluggy Freelance could be the greatest Adult Swim cartoon ever. Beyond that, though, I don't know what could work.

Comment from: Will "Scifantasy" Frank posted at September 20, 2005 3:31 PM

Wow. Just, wow.

While we're talking wishes, I'd love to see Schlock Mercenary be made into a TV show.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 20, 2005 3:48 PM

If AstroBase Go! ever tired of doing The Venture Bros., they could do a truly astounding job with Sluggy Freelance.

Comment from: Freak posted at September 20, 2005 3:48 PM

If you want some sort of scale, according to the Kalat book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets was optioned for $10,000 in 1991. I have no idea if that value is typical, or unusually high or low, but it's a data point.

Comment from: jjacques posted at September 20, 2005 3:58 PM

So does this mean that UPN is going to start optioning Keenspace/ComicGenesis strips?

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 20, 2005 4:17 PM

Very few strips that I read and enjoy would, in my mind, make the transition to TV very well... Queen of Wands, only if they got a REALLY good design team together.

See, I don't think that QoW would work at all. If you look at the cartoons on TV right now, it is all comedy based stuff. The only shows where there is any charecter development are anime, and even then it is secondary and likely to be edited out. An animated QoW series would likely never be allowed to talk about Shannon's kid, Kestrel and Felix's relationship, the currently be rerun Becky series, not to mention the ending Kestrel/Angela developments. In short, everything that made QoW the great strip it was, the balance of funny and serious, would have to be cut out.

This all said, I do feel the need to point out that I'm not a fan of the idea that web comics will be taken seriously if they succeed in market X. I don't think that the fact that PvP is a comic book helps web comics in the long run. It is my opinion that if web comics are to get the respect they deserve (realizing that neither comic books or comic strips or even animated shows have ever gotten that respect) they need to do it as web comics, and not as anything else.

In otherwords, in my view, Penny Arcade being able to do things like Child's Play or their con with out existing anywhere outside the web (which will soon change with the coming book collection) does more for web comics then even this announcement about YDK.

Comment from: arscott posted at September 20, 2005 4:42 PM

I think it'd be a big mistake to assume than any webcomic adaptation must me a cartoon. Strips like QoW and S*P in particular would be more suited to live action.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at September 20, 2005 4:56 PM

The point that I am trying to make is that the concept needs to be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism, lest creators find themselves robbed of their creations in one form or another.

One of my brother's favorite stories is of the author of the novel which created Rambo, or Rocky, I forget which; who when selling the movie rights had to stop and think about whether to permit the studio to make sequels. He decided yes, and got boffo royalties, and I suspect still does.

I love my Arthur, King of Time and Space. I took years and several stages to develop it, without realizing what I was working toward. I've committed, to myself and my readership, to drawing it till 2029 unless I die first. But I'm 45 and still working a near entry-level job. If I were offered six figures for all rights, I think I'd take it and draw something else till I died.

Naturally there'll be a lot of webcomic creators who wouldn't feel that way, including most or all the ones mentioned in this snark and these comments. Of course, neither did they start out purposefully to temporarily steward well-loved characters with hundreds of years behind them and hundreds to go ... who, being public domain, could by all means be revived for a new project at will ... okay now I'm rambling.

Comment from: Abby L. posted at September 20, 2005 5:00 PM

I don't know. I think that YDK is perfect for a situational animated TV show, but I'm not sure that other webcomics would work for it. For instance, Penny Arcade? I just can't see that working at all. Maybe as a series of shorts or a weekly "commenting on video games" series of some kind, but not an actual animated series. They have little enough plot to sustain two or three panels most of the time, how would they sustain 15 minutes of cartoon?

I do think that this is a fascinating step forward, and I hope that it doesn't just fall into development hell.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at September 20, 2005 6:37 PM

I saw the newsbox earlier today. Wow. Congratulations, Dunne!

A PA animated series pilot exists, the PA guys have verified this, and according to Tycho they just didn't want to do it. Like Abby said, for many comics it just doens't work at all, and Tycho elaborated on that with his usual eloquence (I can't find the newspost right now).

It's the same way with video games; no matter how much you love e.g Half-Life, a story which centres almost exclusively on one character will have to be seriously modified (read: butchered) to become a TV series/movie. I don't want to see a Zelda movie. And that's for games which actually have a plot; we all know how Super Mario Brothers turned out.

For comics, it's mostly a matter of how well the comic lends itself to time extension. Sluggy Freelance would make a fine candidate for an animated series, with its long chapters, diverse characters and humour pit stops. The episodic form of Beaver and Steve, even if it's (usually) a gag-a-day strip, is also workable. But no matter how much I love Scary Go Round or Questionable Content, 20 minutes of that kind of dialogue will fuck your average TV viewer's head (and mine, probably).

You Damn Kid? I have no idea how this will work. It's obviously not a straightforward conversion, and Dunne (and Fox) will have to figure that out, if he hasn't already (that depends on whether he was dreaming of jumping to TV; some do, some don't). But there are good characters and a great point of view for a comedy, so I'm keeping my hopes up.

But hey, who cares! Dunne and the Crosbies are now officially GAY SELLOUTZ.

Comment from: thok posted at September 20, 2005 7:14 PM

You Damn Kid? seems like should work as a TV show, especially if it has Malcolm in the Middle as a lead in for protection (both are similar premises and would seem to pair up well together; King of the Hill might be a decent pairing also, if it's still on the air).

It's the same way with video games; no matter how much you love e.g Half-Life, a story which centres almost exclusively on one character will have to be seriously modified (read: butchered) to become a TV series/movie. I don't want to see a Zelda movie. And that's for games which actually have a plot; we all know how Super Mario Brothers turned out.

The main issue is poor writers doing a horrible job, right? I mean Mortal Kombat's plot is "Tournament for the fate of the Earth", and it's had a reasonably good movie and a decent TV show made out of it. (Although to be fair, the sequel to Mortal Kombat is one of my contenders for worst movie of all time).

Comment from: Aerin posted at September 20, 2005 7:19 PM

It always amazes me that, no matter how much time I spend reading comics, there are always more that don't cross my radar. I'd never even heard of You Damn Kid until this snark.

That said, I have sort of mixed feelings about this news. I like webcomics as comics. I don't know if they'd translate terribly well to another medium, and I think they might lose something of their identity. If done well with a great deal of care, it might work. Maybe.

As far as other comics, I think a few completed comics might translate well on film. I think Queen of Wands could be a fantastic live-action feature in the hands of a competent director. It's Walky and Fans also have great potential.

I want to see webcomics reach a larger audience, but I want them to remain primarily webcomics. Otherwise, I think we're losing a large part of ourselves.

Comment from: Jeff Smith posted at September 20, 2005 7:21 PM

That's... that's very cool. I've felt like this could happen, should happen to some webcomic for a long time. But I'm still surprised.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 20, 2005 8:21 PM

(1) Funny side-effect: I wonder how high this comic's numbers jump while all the people like me who went, "huh?" dutifully go check it out?

(2) Even funnier side-effect: Damn whoever started talking about any of these guys live action--now I can't stop trying to cast myself in every strip I can think of (damn my body--too round for Dora, too skinny for Faye!). It never occurred to me to bemoan the fact that Davan's best friends are Asian :).

(3) Random thought--Some of the suggestions on here, like Sluggy as a cartoon series, remind me of nothing so much as the way the manga/anime production thing seems to work in Japan--most commonly, one creator does a longform serialized work for several years (which can also be pretty cheaply produced, in that case being in black and white in fat comic anthologies, in this case being put up on the intarweb) and then frequently it'll be picked up for an anime series--it gets an artistic staff who usually cross the look of the original with a more commercial (or some would say more polished--it depends) style, and they reshape all the plot and character that's been laid out for them into anime seasons.
I'm not sure why this struck me, other than the fact that if they made a Sluggy tv show, you'd get the manga effect, where those who are reading are way further in the plot than those who are watching.

Also, I think I remember reading that Shaenon (I probably misspelled that--I'm going to hell) worked/works for Viz, so consider this me calling on her spirit to be drawn to these scribblings and correct me if I've got every widly wrong.

Maybe this similarity, now that I think of it, is part of why I love webcomics so much--I've always loved both American comics and manga, but for depth and faithfulness of character, you just can't really beat one creator shaping the product from birth to death.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 20, 2005 8:52 PM

I can definitely say that a live-action Something Positive would have huge issues right off the bat - can you imagine the CGI bills that show would rack up to have Choo Choo Bear around? Though I honestly wonder if a semi-biographical comic like S*P could work as an animated show... although I personally would be curious to see if Clarine Harp would do the voice for Aubrey, and if she'd use her everyday voice to do it. (I'd guess no on both accounts, myself.)

As for video game movies... oh, I've hoed this field more than nearly anyone around here, I'd bet. It's not so much that a video game movie will, 100%, be guaranteed to stink. It's just that nobody competent has ever tried making a movie based off of a video game yet. As I've said before, do people remember the S*P where a background gag was "Beat Uwe Boll - $5"? I maintain that Milholland could have charged twenty for it and get just as many customers. Hell, for $20 a pop, I'd buy two rounds.

And for the record, I hated both Mortal Kombat movies. This might have something to do with hating the source material too.

Now, as for the so-called "manga effect" - I think you're going to see that no matter what cartoon is picked up, unless it's a strip with a huge amount of backstory, like Sluggy, Schlock Mercenary, or Kevin & Kell (to name three examples listed here).It's simply the nature of how fast each particular industry goes.

And while I understand the sentiment that we should just let webcomics stay webcomics, I think this is an undeniable win for all of webcomics. For one, I seriously doubt Dunne, or anyone else that would be approached with a deal like this, would abandon their core. In addition, I think it will draw more people into webcomics, as they look around to see other things like YDK! On top of that, I think it opens things up much more, and not just in the television arena, for the artists. Finally, given that Dunne hasn't had to compromise his work to get this deal, it shows that by doing what you know and doing it well while sticking purely with your vision can get you rewarded.

Comment from: Freak posted at September 20, 2005 10:22 PM

I think that the big factor behind the change of character designs for an anime is simplicity.

A manga might have 30 pages, say 6 panels per page, each month.

An anime would be animated at 8 fps for 25 min, each week.

1) The anime has to have a lot more art drawn.

2) The anime will have more artists working on it, and they all need to have a consistent look.

Both these factors constrain how complex and individual designs can get.

Comment from: sqbr posted at September 20, 2005 10:41 PM

It seems to me that the obvious comparison is to other (not neccesarily online) strip comics that have been turned into films/tv. The two that come to mind are Dilbert and Garfield, both of which I thought were moderately successful as adaptations though since both comics were already famous it's not quite the same.

Then there's Matt Groening, who reached minor fame with his comic "Life in Hell" and caught the eye of FOX. But the comic itself didn't suit tv, so they got him to design a new one... :) So maybe that could happen with some webcomics too, though I must admit I can't think of any other examples where something like that has happened.

Comment from: Michael Nehora posted at September 20, 2005 11:34 PM

I could see Questionable Content as a toon. It might appeal to the same audience which enjoyed such banter-based, slack-paced shows as Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Home Movies (though I wouldn't recommend Squigglevision animation for QC).

Not Scary Go Round, though--animating it would be like animating Zippy the Pinhead: that particular brand of humour works on the printed page or computer screen, but wouldn't translate well to television.

I'd love to see a Sluggy cartoon, but it would have to be much much simpler plot-wise than the comic has been in the last two years, or viewer brain implosions may occur. (Though part of me imagines that would be kinda cool...)

Comment from: Zaq posted at September 21, 2005 12:15 AM

Though the very concept of a Scary Go Round show would be doomed to failure, I would absolutely love to see John Allison write all the dialogue for a feature film, or at least a 30-minute TV show. (Or, for that matter, Jeff Rowland.) I'm also torn between whether or not this hypothetical show would be animated (not necessarily in Allison's style, mind) or live-action... the concept of watching real people talking in that SGR/Allison-eqsue way is both tantalizing and horrifying.

I'd love to see it, though.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at September 21, 2005 1:36 AM

I'm still waiting for the Lost and Found movie starring Owen Wilson.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 21, 2005 2:06 AM

I have to admit... I kinda don't get it. I'm a year into the archives, and... well... this comic is a good example of why I'm finding this problematic.

Honestly, do people find that funny? I could see it if maybe it was some really edgy joke that I was too thin-skinned for, because I have a history with both those medications and got offended or something...
But it's not. It's just not funny to me.
I mean, who on Earth would be like "Oh, let's take one Zoloft?" That's just... weird. Sadly, the first thing this joke calls to mind is that Chick Tract we looked at the other day with the kid selling drugs at Thanksgiving. Dur hur, kids today! I feel like I'm probably missing something or looking at it wrong, or perhaps I need to look to the Penny Arcade Defense to explain my reaction; it could be that the for an older generation, the apparent changes in children's lives make the comparison of pill-popping to trading apples at lunch an ironic/poignant/humorous one. If this describes you, anonymous Internet conversant, please, chip in. Remind me that I'm one perspective and that different backgrounds make different concepts funny.
But yeesh, this came shortly after a "haha, this child is from a broken home so she swears and references sexuality!" strip. And that was the whole joke.

I just... I don't get it.

Of course, damned if I'm not gonna finish the archives.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 21, 2005 2:16 AM

Naturally, after I post that, I run into a string of funny ones, like this one, which is hilarious and I love.

Doesn't change my reaction to the other, but, you know, balance.

Comment from: Aerin posted at September 21, 2005 3:12 AM

Okay, so I got through the archives, and this is a really great strip. And I think it could work really well on TV, because Dunne proved with storylines like the one about Uncle Mike's wedding that he can do a single story long enough to fill 20 minutes and have it be consistently funny.

However, the very best jokes in the strip seem to be sacreligious and/or extremely sexual. As cool as it would be to see this show follow up Malcolm in the Middle, You Damn Kid would have to be pretty heavily neutered to be made ready even for Fox. No one wants to see that. This is better destined for something like Adult Swim where the character of the strip can be maintained.

Perhaps I should qualify my earlier reservations about webcomics moving to other media. My concern is that Fox won't promote the webcomic You Damn Kid, won't give a rat's ass about the webcomic, and very few viewers will even be aware of the comic. The people who would be aware of the comic would be other networks and developers, who then strip mine the webcomics community for ideas, also without crediting the source. So webcomics do become a big and profitable form of entertainment in one respect, but we're the only ones who recognize them as webcomics. The reality likely wouldn't be this dire, but it is a scenario that should be considered.

Comment from: DocN posted at September 21, 2005 5:17 AM

Expanding on Aerin's post, I had no idea "Hellboy" was ever a comic book until somebody linked to a sample page in their webcomic's newpost. Similarly I know quite a few people who have happened across a "Spawn" comic and thought that it was an adaptation of the movie.

Then again, the neighbors' kids think 'Fantastic 4' was an "obvious ripoff" of 'The Incredibles', so there you go...

The question, though, is how FOX could promote the webcomic if they even tried. "Based off the popular webcomic 'You Damn Kid'" doesn't exactly fill the reader with awe, like "written by Stephen King" or even "based on a true story". (I know the King part is subjective- it was the first example to leap to mind. Put the torches down.)


Comment from: Aeire posted at September 21, 2005 7:50 AM

To those saying my comic's too serious or whatever - honestly, I've always thought that if QoW were to end up animated, I'd shoot for short episodes in a Daria-esque format. I loved that show, it was funny, but there was also a story and it got fairly serious at points. Mine's just uh...a little more so.

At any rate, wow. YDK. I've always loved that comic, and I'm thrilled that he's got this option opening up for him. That's just fantastic!

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 21, 2005 9:53 AM

Actually, Aerin, I found that one comic sadly funny because it's true. Kids really do trade medications like that (though usually at parties).

Now, I can understand the fears that people will never hear of the webcomic. But that's going to be true no matter what is done for promotion. The only thing that can be hoped for is that they do a good job with the show.

Though I can easily come up with a promo for the show (keep in mind, while a writer I'm not a professional shill and this will reflect that, I'm sure):

"One of the web's funniest comics is now coming to Fox!

[cue animated version of the first two panels of the 4/21/2000 comic linked to above]

It's outrageous!

[cue animated version of the last panel of the 8/17/2005 comic]

It's shocking!

[cue animated version of the last panel from 7/8/2005]

It's like nothing else on television!

[cue animated version of the second panel from 7/5/2005]

It's the web's You Damn Kid!, now on Fox!

[cue title graphic]"

Easy as pie.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at September 21, 2005 11:19 AM

I have seen the future of the ad industry, and its name is 32_footsteps.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at September 21, 2005 11:30 AM

I've noticed both Onstad (of Achewood) and the Penny-Arcade guys mention that they'd like to see their creations animated, and I an see both of them working. PA would have to change format a bit, but it could still work. They've done stories before.

Also, I'd like to point out that Ian J of RPG-World has mentioned on his blog that he interned for Noodle Soup on the second season of Venture Bros.

Finally, I'd like to say that Fox, unlike [AS] has no idea how to market animated shows, or any show for that matter. Any show that I end up watching and liking on Fox, (American Dad, Firefly, Family Guy, Andy Richter Controls the Universe) is made to look like vapid inane crap by the ads. I don't hold that against the shows.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 21, 2005 12:01 PM

You know, some people might take being called "the future of advertising" poorly. But then again, I'm the guy who last night wrote how Nintendo should be praised for realistically rendering a dachshund's awkward pooping stance. I really have no way to go but up.

In all seriousness, thanks, J. I seem to have a way with the pithy saying, or so say the people who think I should be in advertising or slogans.

I think the problem with most of Fox's advertising is that it goes beyond hyperbole and right into melodrama. Anyone else remember the advertisements for Skin? "His father's the district attorney!!" Every shot has to be "the hottest," "the greatest," "the funniest," or some other superlative. It's impossible for anything they show to ever meet the hype given to the shows. That, and Fox is hoping too much for instant hits, forgetting that shows often need time to develop an audience (ones they're driving away with their ads).

Comment from: Michael Nehora posted at September 21, 2005 2:29 PM

I think the problem with most of Fox's advertising is that it goes beyond hyperbole and right into melodrama.

I agree, and would add that the same is true of comic book advertising. If I had a dollar for every time I saw an issue blurb which included "Shocking revelation 'x' will change character 'y' forever," I could retire now at age 36. "Forever" is a meaningless term in an artistic medium where major characters don't even stay dead when they die, and in which writers can reboot or retcon characters and entire universes at will (or the will of the editors).

Comment from: quiller posted at September 21, 2005 4:08 PM

Hmm, I'm not sure Penny Arcade itself would make a very good animated series, though I could see Cardboard Tube Samurai making it as a series, though they'd probably have to play it a little more for laughs than the PA guys do. CTS himself could be all serious and straightforward but give him a comedic supporting cast or something. Probably want to do cable rather than network, though to do the samurai genre justice.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at September 21, 2005 4:20 PM

To DocN: the movie version of Fantastic Four was a ripoff of The Incredibles.

To quiller: Cardboard Tube Samurai movie? Sw33t!

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 21, 2005 4:25 PM

32: I think you mean to answer me, not Aerin, about the pills thing. See, she's the one with the good taste to already love YDK!

As for "Kids really do trade medications like that (though usually at parties)."
They do? I can't really put up too much protest here, because it's not like I'm actually acquainted with every member of my generation, and, well, it seems pretty clear you wouldn't have said that if you didn't know it to be true, but...

I've heard of kids abusing others' prescription meds like Ritalin. They do it for a concentration aid (which is, of course, unhealthy and potentially dangerous for kids who aren't taking it under doctor supervision or aren't chemically ADD in the first place), which while it could be the subject of a sad and funny comic along the lines of "Then: Gee, I have to write a report, I guess I can't go play outside and Now: Man, I have to write a report, I better call Tom and get the hook-up" (no one's accused me of being a comedian), doesn't fit either the party thing or the lunch-trading thing.

Sorry I'm being cantankerous about this. I've never heard anything (before now) that would indicate taking ADD meds for a high, or taking each other's antidepressants at parties. I'm not sure it would even do anything (one dose of SSRI), other than put the kid trading away the Zoloft on track for withdrawal symptoms. Are we talking kids today like since I've been out of high school 4 or 5 years things have changed?

This is a weird thing for me to fixate on, but I just seem to have a really strong response on this one. I've seen ideas like this (kids trading their meds at lunch) used in comedy before, and it's just such a bad match against my personal experience and sphere of knowledge that I'm fascinated by the gulf. It's also exactly the sort of thing someone who knew that many kids today are medicated and didn't know anything else about their lives would cook up for humor, but that doesn't mean it's not also true. I know this whole thing is pretty hideously off-topic for this thread, but... do you think you, 32, or anybody else can help me by pointing me in the way of news reports or accounts that make this make more sense to me? I'd actually really appreciate that, and I do feel bad for showing such stubbornness on the issue (like asking for evidence when I admitted earlier that you wouldn't have been saying it was true if you did't know it to be so).

(And you did answer my call for people who thought the joke was funny--so thanks! Unfortunately I still can't seem to make my peace with it... I'll work on that.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 21, 2005 4:43 PM

Oops on who actually brought up the pills joke. We all have brain farts, sorry.

Putting that aside, though, I first encountered this kind of thing when I was in high school, and I graduated over 8 years ago. I only heard of it happening once, but it didn't surprise me at all.

Of course, such anecdotal evidence could just mean I was in a particularly screwed-up area. However, Time Magazine did an article about this just last month - I'd have to search for the specific issue date, but it was the one with the "Remembering Hiroshima" cover story in 2005. There may be other places that have done the story, but Time is the one I've actually read.

Really, though, it shouldn't be a surprise that Ritalin is abused to get a high. It alters your emotional state - as a stimulatn no less. That makes it liable to be abused, and its ready availability in schools means that students can get a hold of it easily. This isn't proof that it's being abused by anyone, merely a logical argument on why it might be abused.

Also, I'd like to point out that the article I'm pointing to just details the issue. Drug abuse just doesn't make sense to me emotionally (rationally, I can see it).

Comment from: gwalla posted at September 21, 2005 5:09 PM

LCARS, on the thread about this at Keenspot Central, brought up an important point. "Optioned" basically means "Fox knows it exists". The chances of them even making a pilot are slim to nonexistent.

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at September 21, 2005 5:20 PM

Having a webcomic get noticed by a large corporation like Fox is pretty impressive.

Of course, I don't doubt if YDK becomes a good series that has well written dialogue and the people love, it'll be cancelled.

That's kind of how Fox seems to work.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 21, 2005 5:22 PM

LCARS, on the thread about this at Keenspot Central, brought up an important point. "Optioned" basically means "Fox knows it exists". The chances of them even making a pilot are slim to nonexistent.

Very true. However, the way they indicate their notice involves dollar signs.

Regardless of how much he got paid, it had to have been a better payday than Dunne was used to. And that's cool.

Comment from: Aerin posted at September 21, 2005 6:09 PM

Having a webcomic get noticed by a large corporation like Fox is pretty impressive.

Of course, I don't doubt if YDK becomes a good series that has well written dialogue and the people love, it'll be cancelled.

That's kind of how Fox seems to work.

That's how most networks seem to work lately, though Fox is certainly at the forefront. After all, who needs to pay writers when you can make The Bachelor 8 or Survivor 25?

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 21, 2005 8:21 PM

And while I understand the sentiment that we should just let webcomics stay webcomics, I think this is an undeniable win for all of webcomics.

32: I definitely see where you are coming from, but there are a couple of reasons that I'm skeptical.

For one, in all of these discussions, whether it is this announcement, or Megatokyo signing with Dark Horse, or PvP signing with Image, or whatever; there is a kind of undercurrent of "Now that creator X, is working in medium Y, they're work is more valid." Now I realize that in 99% of the cases, this isn't the intended meaning, and I'm sure that it isn't the intended meaning of anyone here, but living in DC, and having, very loose, ties to Olympia, WA's K Records; I'm hyper sensitive to those kind of things.

The second thing, and more to the point, as I said before, I see these things from the vantage point of someone who's into underground music, and who specifically got into underground music in the wake of Nirvana's success. I've seen a lot of bands, and even know a few, who have absolutely regretted dealing with majors. The thing is that even if you love YDK, that doesn't mean that the cartoon will be any good. I wouldn't put it by Fox to turn it into a steaming pile of crap. Now, Dunne has already gotten his money, and he can still do the strip (hopefully he wasn't dumb enough to jeopardize that), but how is he going to feel when thousands, if not millions, of people equate something he has spent so much time and effort on, with a horrible cartoon series? Plenty of artists in that situation have just walked away from the whole game. I also wouldn't put it past Fox to try and rip him off. Be it, not pay him what he deserves or try to steal his creation away from him.

As I said in my first post, my background in such things means I'm paranoid about these kind of things. And I was sincere in offering my congrats to Dunne, and I hope everything works out. But, I've seen a lot of very gifted people come away from their experiences with corporations, disillusioned and broken, and I'd hate to see people go through that.

Comment from: benbrooks posted at September 21, 2005 9:07 PM

The thing no one seems to have mentioned yet is that if YDK becomes a big success it suddenly puts Keenspot in the position of kingmaker. They suddenly have an even more vested interest in fostering marketable properties, putting pressure both internally and from their partners for certain types of comics that would be palatable to the mass market. People will be drawn to them in the hopes of being chosen from on high for tv and movie development, and have to play by certain rules in order to do so.

You might see other webcomic groups change to follow this model to compete and cash in, especially if other corporations take interest in skimming for development deals. It would be like the newspaper syndicates all over again. With independants either being popular enough to stand on their own or fade into obscurity, and most of the rest of the attention being paid to the big comics groups.

Meanwhile the corporations like Fox will be giving creators the short end of the stick because most comics are far too small to have any real leverage. It would be their way or the proverbial highway.

And Eric; I'm surprised you forgot one of the important points from your mini essay on Girl Genius a few days ago. Print comics aren't doing any great shakes. This despite having several wildly popular movies and video games recently produced and taken directly from comic properties. Viewership won't translate into more webcomics readers.

Owen Dunne will make out well whatever will occur. However if large comic groups start brokering these kind of deals with any regularity the overall effect will be a weakening of the creative spirit of webcomics so that artists can chase a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Had this been an independant comic, it would have been great news indeed. As it stands though YDK is a publicly represented commodity, no more and no less.

As someone else said, Webcomics need success stories of their very own to be taken seriously and stand on their own feet. Until then, this is Owen Dunne's very private success.

Comment from: JDanRyan posted at September 21, 2005 9:51 PM

What really surprises me here is how everyone talks about webcomics as something new for TV, and then tries to think about this in terms of a television model that's fast becoming obsolete. Heck, maybe YDK was picked up and other webcomics will follow because their concepts work well for the next wave of televised output...

Right now, a lot of the traditional industry and a few new players are scrambling to get in on the ground floor with non-traditional distribution models, such as phonecasting, VOD and broadband. Just today, Verizon announced they're getting into the TV retransmission business (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/V/VERIZON_TV_LAUNCH?SITE=NYBUE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT) which means we're finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of mobile content. Sony is now offering comics to phone user in Japan on demand(http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/J/JAPAN_CELL_PHONE_COMICS?SITE=NYBUE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT), recently right on top of a Chinese company preparing a soap opera for phone users, and Fox offering cut down versions of 24 for phone users in England.

So what, you may ask? Consider the following: You have a potential market of millions, if not billions, of eyeballs that you want to touch, but need content that's not going to tax your delivery systems as they currently stand. Something with name recognition for those folks carrying around bleeding edge receivers in their pockets, that's easy on the eyes, and pretty quick to shoot out...

What better than webcomics for that role! Instead of trying to expand a lot of strips into a 22-minute episode, you can do a set up and punchline for a quick bit of a few seconds, or a week's worth of strips in a few minutes. And since it's all on demand, the issue of S&P review (i.e., whether the censors can cut it to ribbons) is side-stepped by the virture that people who don't want it can just bypass its button on the menu. And since you can come up with a set of three minute pieces of animation far more quickly than a single longer episode, your pipe's not in as great a danger of closing down on you and making bored viewers go elsewhere.

In fact, while the web cartoonist has a great shot right now at writing his or her own ticket in the scramble for content to license, imagine what the web animator is likely to end up with! Right now, Angry Alien Productions (http://www.angryalien.com) and their 30-second re-enactment of movies with bunnies has a sweetheart deal with Starz, offering VOD content on digital platforms both tied to theatrical films and as stand-alone content. It's only a matter of time before other pieces like James Farr's XOMBIE series (http://www.xombified.com/main.html) gets picked up for re-distribution.

Which means if you have a webcomic, watch for your work which you licensed to show up not on your TV but your phone, and grab what you can now so long as you pick up some skills in animation to stay ahead of the game. And if you're like me, a writer that draws only bored stares (badly), well that's even further behind the eight ball now, ain't it? ;)

Comment from: vark posted at September 21, 2005 10:11 PM

When I saw the announcement on ydk, I thought it was a joke. I guess I'm coming to see websnark as an authoritative voice for what's going on, from webcomics to hurricanes. I don't have a tv or read the newspaper; I get my info kinda indirectly from blogs and a bit of google, and some sources are less trusted than others.

Comment from: cyco posted at September 21, 2005 10:44 PM

siwangmu, in regards to the YDK with the kids trading medications, I think you're missing the punchline. In my opinion the strip was referencing how nowadays it seems like every elementary-schooler has ADD, or ADHD, or something else they're taking medication for. Most people didn't see this back when they were kids (hell, I didn't, and I'm still in high school!). I think Dunne was just parodying the absurdity of this state of affairs, not making a joke about getting high.
And BTW, you CAN get high on Ritalin. Apparantly, when you don't have ADD it has the opposite of the prescribed effect and becomes a stimulant.

Comment from: miyaa posted at September 22, 2005 12:01 AM

1. Since G4 actually went and interviewed Gabe and Tyco at Pax Expo, a Penny-Arcade-ish toon on G4 might work. If more people actually knew G4 is on a digital cable outlet or on Direct TV. (I can not get G4 at home, and from what I've seen on its video game shows, it sucks.)

2. The problem I see is that in most cases, the content of various webcomics would have to be extremely toned down to be viable on the little screen, unless HBO (Cinemax, etc.) suddenly decides to add HBO Animated (and who knows, they might have already).

3. Now, if Fox decides to turn an webcomic into a live-action show, that could be also very interesting. But that is another can of worms altogether, and I don't know we want to get into actors that could play Davan from Something Positive.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at September 22, 2005 12:56 AM

Pissible shows --

Penny Arcade: do they do plots on that one? I guess it worked for Beevis and Butthead.

PvP: Sure. Make it live action. Maura Tierney could play Jade. Andy Dick could play Skull, Brent could be played by...uh-oh.

Goats: The art would certainly slide. The humor is already "let's keep throwing weirdness at the wall and see what the viewers laugh at". Might be too surreal for broadcast Fox viewers, but I think Adult Swim fans would get it.

Sluggy Freelance: only in a suicide binini frisbee format with season finale being taking on cloney. current plots (or even 'bug, witch and robot') would just be disasters.

Kevin and Kell: too much is controlled by what happens off camera. The comic stays lighthearted because one can ignore the fact that the main characters routinely kill sentient individuals.

Ozy and Millie: Ow! why not Calvin and Hobbes while we're at it? Just give Simpson some funds and tell him to start updating every day again.

Questionable Content: It does feel a little like a sitcom. However, there are too many "quips" and not enough "jokes". If "Andy Richter..." couldn't survive Fox, neither would this.

Scary Go Round: same problem, add in culture shock.

Frankly, most of my "truly good" pile (Digger, CRFH, Sluggy, O&M, QC, SGR, etc.) would just suck as a TV show. Most of my next teir is stuff like 8-bit theater, irregular webcomic!, Alien loves Predator, and other strips predicated on the format more than the haracters or plot. It is only the third tier of comics where I find things that would translate, and most of those I'm not sure I'd want to see.

Comment from: thok posted at September 22, 2005 1:53 AM

PvP: Sure. Make it live action. Maura Tierney could play Jade. Andy Dick could play Skull, Brent could be played by...uh-oh.

Obviously, we'd need to resurrect Phil Hartman to play Brent, and have Stephen Root as Cole.

And this would have absolutely no resemblence to NewsRadio whatsoever[/joke]

Comment from: gwalla posted at September 22, 2005 2:12 AM

That's how most networks seem to work lately, though Fox is certainly at the forefront.
It's how Fox has always worked. Remember the Jim Henson Hour?

Comment from: gwalla posted at September 22, 2005 2:18 AM

The thing no one seems to have mentioned yet is that if YDK becomes a big success it suddenly puts Keenspot in the position of kingmaker. They suddenly have an even more vested interest in fostering marketable properties, putting pressure both internally and from their partners for certain types of comics that would be palatable to the mass market.

Except, of course, their only example so far is the opposite of that. Who would've though YDK was mass-marketable?

Comment from: Chris Crosby posted at September 22, 2005 3:07 AM

"Who would've though YDK was mass-marketable?"

[raises hand sheepishly]

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 22, 2005 8:38 AM

"Who would've though YDK was mass-marketable?"

[raises hand sheepishly]

Mr. Crosby has it in one. ;)

Seriously -- this is such an unqualified win for Keenspot it makes my head spin, and one reason for that is (with absolutely all due respect to Mr. Dunne) most of us pikers wouldn't have likely thought of You Damn Kid for this. It's just not one of those strips we always mention when we talk Webcomics or Keenspot. It's not because YDK isn't good, or well drawn, or well characterized. It's just one of those things.

But Chris Crosby thought of it, and pitched it, and got something hooked. That should be sending a clear message to other Keenspotters, to my thinking -- you don't have to break 100,000 in the Alexa rankings, or get mentioned every other day by webcomics journalists, or be fraught with TEH WEBCOMICS DRAMA for Keenspot to pitch you.

And good on Chris Crosby and the Crosby Kids (I couldn't resist) for that. Seriously.

I mean, look both at my snark up above and the comments underneath. Look at the suggested other good properties for development. PvP. Penny Arcade. Queen of Wands. Something Positive. Questionable Content. And others, of course.

But what haven't we talked about (or at least what haven't I seen in the point four seconds I scanned the above list? Lost & Found, which has a simple core premise and core characters and would be perfectly suited to 22 minute adventures. Or Filthy Lies? Or Striptease or Skirting Danger? I could see any one of those being eminently developable. The same with many others.

It takes a certain kind of vision to recognize that, and Keenspot's actually shown they have it, now. And deserve to have we the hoi polloi acknowledge it.

(Not to mention becomes a significant point for strips that get 'Spotted.)

Comment from: benbrooks posted at September 23, 2005 12:46 AM

"Except, of course, their only example so far is the opposite of that. Who would've though YDK was mass-marketable?"

I can see why Fox would after reading through a good section of the archives....ugh. It's like the most boring episode of South Park you've ever seen mixed with the utter blandness of modern Garfield. Yeah, it tries to be offensive, but damn, it's like the strip is winking at you the whole time. "Oh, isn't this funny? He's a kid, and he's doing/saying/thinking naughty things! D'oh, It's so WACKY!!!!" All it needs is a canned laugh track.

YDK is essentially a one joke strip. Granted there are other jokes, but I'm afraid I haven't found one worth mentioning.

I think Fox is interested because it's just Family Guyish enough to ride on that show's coat tails and effectively non-offensive enough to do well with 'middle America' focus groups. Just a thought, Keenspot, but don't put this on your resume if you want to be taken seriously.

I know I'm being really negative, but I just can't see how this is any good for webcomics, Keenspot, or indeed ANYONE except Mr. Dunne. It's like saying Scrappy Doo was good for Scooby Doo.

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 23, 2005 8:42 PM

Time to see if the Recent Comments section works.

A little idea that's been bouncing around my head for awhile now. Since it touches on my comments here, I'll throw a link out here

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 23, 2005 8:43 PM

Time to see if the Recent Comments section works.

A little idea that's been bouncing around my head for awhile now. Since it touches on my comments here, I'll throw a link out here

*sorry if this posts twice*

Comment from: benbrooks posted at September 24, 2005 12:52 AM

It's a good idea, a seperate trade show for webcomics. Though would you really want indy print comics left out? It's all sequential art.

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