Chapter 4 Preoders

FCBD_header_2015sm

As Free Comic Book Day inches nearer (ok, more like steamrollering nearer) we realised that we have not yet opened preorders for Chapter 4!

So, to rectify the situation: preorders for Chapter 4 are now open! At this stage it will be easier to accommodate South African readers because of the post office strikes. We’re not sure what’s up at the international mail depot. Last time we checked it looked like Armageddon in there. But if you are interested in ordering, shoot us a message, we’ll see what we can find out for you. Keep in mind that the international rates will differ from the ZAR prices due to exchange rate fluctuations and taxes, and there’s a chance we may have to go via a courier.

We’re selling Chapter 4 at R60, and Chapter 4 sketched editions at R120. You can order for collection at FCBD, or we can mail it to you just after we get them back from the printers.

Each comic will be numbered, and all preorders are signed. The sketched editions come with a sketch on the inside cover, and a backing board and sleeve. Here is an example of what you’d be getting:

sketched-edition-sample

Seen: Comic with sketch inside, comic in sleeve with backing board.

Local shipping is R35 flat rate, up to 3 comics. If you would like to order more, chat to us and we can work out the most suitable shipping option for you.

Preorders not only help us cover costs leading up to printing, but also help us know how many sketched editions to prepare and set aside for you. So the sooner you order, the better!

Please use our contact info to get a hold of us.

We look forward to hearing from you!

<3

Ben & Danelle


Cottonstar on Patreon

Welcome, new Reka!

You may recall this blog post we did about Reka. We promised to redesign her, starting with her facial tattoos. We started with the latest pages and worked our way back, and now all of the pages which feature Reka ought to be up to date. It’s currently around 1am so please tell us if anything looks broken or in the wrong order or anything like that. It should be fine though.

We can’t do anything about anything that has been printed up to this point, but that’s okay. Our intentions were good, we messed up but we accept it all as a part of our creative evolution, and we’re moving on.

This was a bit rough, but we do feel very much at peace about our decision. Thanks again for your support guys.

<3

Ben & Danelle


Cottonstar on Patreon

Free Comic Book Day 2015 hype!

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Wow guys! We can’t believe it’s already almost time for Free Comic Book Day 2015. Last year’s event was HUGE. This year will probably be bursting at the seams.

We have four more pages to do after this one so it’s going to be REALLY tight, as we need to print in about two weeks. That means no sleep for a few nights. That also means that if you come over and buy chapter 4 at our booth, you will get to see the ending before it goes online! Tempting, hmm? 😀 We will be selling our comics at Open Book Comics Fest 2014 prices, which are R50 each for chapters 1 & 2, and R60 each for chapters 3 & 4.

We will NOT be reprinting chapters 1-3. We will only be doing a smallish run of chapter 4. It is not likely that we will be reprinting chapters 1-3 in future, unless there is a sudden huge demand for them. We want to finish up the stock that we currently have and then focus our finances on new stock. Once we have chapter 5 complete, we’ll do a limited run of chapter 5 books, and after that we will no longer be printing loose versions of chapters 1-5. Instead, we will be printing Volume I of Cottonstar, which will contain chapters 1 through 5. We’ll see what happens after chapter 5. Hopefully by then we will be able to produce the comic fast enough to be able to do another volume within a reasonable amount of time.

We will also have EXCLUSIVE NEW PRINTS at FCBD, featuring absolutely amazeballs artwork from our ~mystery chapter 5 cover artist~! They’ve sent us the image and we just can’t wait to show you guys. We won’t be putting up a teaser online, so if you come to FCBD, you will have the opportunity to see it for the first time.

Our gracious hosts and good friends Readers Den now have a dedicated website for FCBD. It lists vendors, artist alley exhibitors, events, activities and more. There is also a Facebook event page for it, in case you needed some social media reminders.


Cottonstar on Patreon

Arr ye scallywags!

Hey guys! We’re back from our weekend break! I’m sick as a dog. I caught Ben’s cold just as he was getting rid of it.

But! All is well, because besides giving me a cold, Ben also gave me a ring on the beach. 😀 We’re engaged!

Dat ring

After 5 years of dating (7 if you count the awkward internet crushes we had on each other). The ring was made from a diamond and metal from his mom’s engagement ring, and Ben designed it himself. We’re pretty chuffed! ;D

I hope you’ll excuse us for not having the page done yet, it’s been a bit overwhelming. And also Ben has a slew of paid work that he needs to get out of the way. We definitely ought to have it ready by Friday at least.

Also, a note to our Patreon supporters: Some of your cards were declined this month. If you pledge, try and make sure there’s enough in your account when the end of the month rolls around! We’re not angry or anything, we just thought it’s worth mentioning.

Thanks for your continued support. :3

Danelle & Ben

PS:

Squeee~!

New update schedule!

new-updates

Hey guys. You’ve probably noticed that we’re struggling to keep up with our Wednesday schedule. This is because of extra work pressures on both our parts, as well as my not being able to work as fast anymore because of this goshdarn hand injury.

We used to update on Mondays, which tended to eat up our whole weekend. Then we started updating on Wednesdays, which meant that we were trying to cram a whole week’s work into a weekend plus two days. Neither of those worked out, so we’re trying a Friday update schedule instead. This will give us from Monday to Thursday to work on the pages, instead of just Monday to Tuesday (and it tends to eat into our weekend anyway – if we don’t rough on Saturday we tend to not get it done on time).

We’re hopeful that this will make for more consistent updates.

Thanks as always for reading, you guys are awesome!

Ben & Danelle


 

Cottonstar on Patreon

Rad music, site updates and more

Our friend Kevin who composed this lovely piece of music for our comic has done it again! His new track, titled The Voyage, was an early Christmas present to us. We love it!

Kevin is also the person responsible for all the audio in Super Wolfenstein HD. If you play the game you can hear him barking and attempting German. It’s pretty entertaining.

If you want to hear more of his work, you can head over to his Soundcloud.

Regarding site updates: You may have noticed that we’ve changed our favicon (that little picture to the left of the text in the tab) to our new logo. The header image and other things will be updated piece by piece. Ben’s back at work so we’ll get to it when we get to it. We’re also going to start editing all the old pages to suit Reka’s redesign.

At the moment I’m busy with SEO stuff. I have to admit, I’m groping about in the dark a bit. I know next to nothing about code and technical terms for web development so I’m constantly worried that I’m breaking things. I actually have managed to break a few small things, but luckily they were fixable. I feel like Homer Simpson when he managed to set his cornflakes on fire. So… if anything falls over badly, please let us know on our Facebook page or via the contact info on the About Us page.

Lastly, we are busy working on the page. Ben started work again this Monday and the holiday was so much more busy/stressful than we had anticipated, so the buffer never happened. I don’t know how other people do it, seriously. Maybe if we could work on the comic full time that would be doable. We’d only be able to do that if our Patreon pledges totalled around $1000 a month though. So… if you haven’t yet, please consider pledging to us! And if you can’t pledge, please spread the word. We’re grateful for every cent.

That’s about it for now.

Thank you for sticking with us in 2015!

Ben & Danelle <3


Cottonstar on Patreon

Test

You may ignore this post, it’s just a test. We’re testing some things on the site code! We’re adjusting the RSS settings and some other meta data. If anything looks weird, please let us know. Thanks! Woohoo webcomic admin day!

Please check us out on your feed readers (like Feedly) as well, there ought to be some new features there too.

 


 

 

Cottonstar webcomic on Patreon

Stuff! Things! Etc!

Hello there!

Whew, what a month it’s been. Two huge contracts under our belts, close to the end of two medium ones, with another small one due soon. While we’re happy for the breather, we’re hoping another few things come in, so if you know anyone that might want illustration or graphic design work done, please point them in our direction.

So, couple of things:

First off, thank you so much to everyone who commented on our blog post, on Facebook and in person, regarding our decision regarding Reka. So far everyone has been pretty supportive and we really appreciate that. It was kind of nerve-wracking to go through with that post and words of support helped a lot.

Secondly, we’ve been featured in the prestigious South African quarterly art publication, ARTsouthAFRICA*, in the launch edition of their new comics supplement, ComicArtAfrica.

 

ComicArtAfrica

ComicArtAfrica

Look, it's us!

Look, it’s us!

This is pretty great because this is one of the most respected fine arts publications in the country and has a very wide readership. People who probably haven’t given a whole lot of thought to comics as an art form are now being exposed to it, thinking about it, and talking about it. It features interviews with artists and writers and other comics professionals. There are also some really nice pieces of art from various comic artists. They also quoted a sizeable and largely unedited portion of the interview piece I wrote for them, which is pretty amazing as usually these things get edited almost down to nothing.

The aim for the supplement is to reach out wider, to cover artists from all over the African continent. We think that’s pretty neat. We’re excited to be a part of the launch issue, and are hopeful that this will turn into a really good source of exposure and discourse for African artists. Besides printing hard copies, the magazine also has an app, on which you can download a digital version of the current issue.

We did inform the publication of our revision of Reka. The magazine had gone to print before our conversation with the Māori studies department, but they are aware of the situation. Not much we can do about it at this stage, except point people towards our blog post on the topic if there are any complaints.

Tying in with the launch issue of ComicArtAfrica is an exhibition called BLIKSEM!** at the Change Room project space in Salt River, Cape Town. Their Facebook page is here. The event details (copypasta’d from the Facebook event page) are as follows:

Saturday at 12:00–15:00

Unit 2 Pals Parkade, Cecil Rd, Salt River, 7925 Cape Town, Western Cape

CHANGE ROOM. Artists include Susan Opperman, TREKNET, Ben Winfield, Danelle Malan, Ben Geldenhuys, Daniel Hugo and Gerhard Human from the launch issue of ComicArtAfrica.

BLIKSEM! is a showcase of original art and limited edition prints by some of the best talent currently producing independent comics in the local arena. These comic artists are pushing the boundaries in terms of content, style and subject matter, creating a new language of sequential narratives that are fast positioning South Africa as a seedbed of emerging creativity in the field.

COME AND JOIN US
Prints and comic books on sale – just in time to find the perfect Christmas gift!

Ben and I will have six prints on show. They’re really nice quality prints, too – printed on Epson Double Weight Matt paper, and both ink and paper are 100% archival. So, a far better quality than we normally sell. They will also be signed and numbered as editions. Most of them will be  420mm x 594mm, around double the size of our normal prints. On sale will be one edition each of The Great Wave of Cape Town, Chat Noah, Reka With A Pearl Earring (revised), Play Room, Rockabilly Monster Mash, and Ben’s Metal 4 Africa Summerfest design. Here are some clickable thumbnails. Sorry that they are all underneath one another, we always struggle to get things to display right when putting images into our posts:

Reka With A Pearl Earring

Reka With A Pearl Earring

Rockabilly Monster Mash

Rockabilly Monster Mash

Metal 4 Africa: Summerfest

Metal 4 Africa: Summerfest

Play Room

Play Room

The Great Wave of Cape Town

The Great Wave of Cape Town

Le Chat Noah

Le Chat Noah

Play Room is a big print with insane detail. A thumbnail really doesn’t cut it, you’ll have to click it for the preview. Better yet, come to the exhibition opening and view it for yourself! :)

AND lastly… our costliest and probably second-to-last business investment/Christmas gift:

Cintiq Companion Hybrid!!

Cintiq Companion Hybrid!!

 

Holy crap there's a cintiq in our house!

Holy crap there’s a Cintiq in our house!

Holy wow, right?? I spent weeks conspiring with Ben’s family about this. It’s his Christmas gift, and 30th birthday gift for next year, plus a business investment because I’m paying half, all rolled into one. A whole bunch of us chipped in to make it happen and we are both pretty excited. Ben actually cried with joy when he opened the packaging, so it was totally worth all the secrecy. I mean, just look at this face:

happy-ben

Totally worth it.

We made this investment with the intent to speed up our workflow and boost our work quality. I for one can now write in Photoshop without it looking like something that a crustacean pooped out. It’ll help me a lot with detail work because I can now see where my pen is going, and the same goes for Ben. I have to wonder how much of one’s photoshopping career is spent hitting ctrl+Z or ctrl+alt+Z+Z+Z+Z+Z+Z….

Anyway. That’s pretty much it for now. We’ll report back after the exhibition opening with some photos and the like.

Thanks as always for your patience and support.

<3

Danelle & Ben

 


 

*ARTsouthAFRICA, Volume 13, Issue 02, December 2014: Controversy Issue. ISSN 16846133

**An Afrikaans word meaning (to) punch/beat up violently, it is considered a crass expression and is often used as an expletive of surprise or anger. (Think Captain Haddock.) The noun and verb are the same. Also sometimes used in exaggeration by Afrikaans parents when they threaten to give their kids a hiding. You know you really stuffed up when your parents yell “Ek gaan jou bliksem!” 😛

 


 

Cottonstar on Patreon

On creative license and cultural sensitivity

This is a really long post. But it’s really important, and we’d appreciate it if you read it all.

As some of you may know, Disney has recently announced its next film, Moana, for release in 2018. The film will be starring a Polynesian seafaring princess by the same name.

When I first heard about it, I was really interested, and I looked around a bit to see what kind of character designs they’ve released, and found plenty of fan drawings on tumblr, and then I found this, and this. Which is just a small sampling of a lot of (valid) apprehension I’ve been seeing about it. It seems that Disney is focusing on Māori culture in specific, which has left people divided; on the one hand, relieved that Disney seems to be doing their homework, but on the other, suspicion because of its terrible track record regarding representation of… well, everything. The entire internet is there for you to go and look that up, I’m not going to waste time exploring that topic here.

The point I’m getting to is that it made us reconsider our currently Māori character, Reka. We’re planning to expand her role in the comic in the next few chapters. Part of this would involve the reader gaining insight into her cultural history, such as her tattoos. But we realised, when trying to script it out, that we weren’t sure how to tell the story of her culture and background convincingly. We realised that, despite having created her, we actually know very little of her origins. And before all this, we hadn’t actually considered the impact that designing a character like Reka would have on Māori readers.

In our quest to learn more about Māori culture, we read up more in-depth about Māori tattooing, and realised with a sinking feeling that the tattoos Ben designed were all wrong. This, combined with the recent Moana publicity, made us decide to do better research, so we could have a character which is not culturally insensitive. I had no idea where to begin reading, as our questions were rather specific, so I decided to email the School of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland, asking for help. Which was at the same time the best and the worst idea, because we got a very honest and straightforward answer from them.

In a nutshell, I asked if we could talk about our character’s tattoos, and that we were concerned that our representation of her is culturally insensitive, and that we would hate for our comic to be offensive and arrogantly western.

Their response, in a nutshell, is that having created the character in the first place, despite knowing nothing of Māori culture, is already offensive and arrogantly western from the outset. And that if we wished to learn about the Māori culture, the best would be to go to New Zealand, and talk to them face to face, and learn from them in person, and then ask them personally about Māori representation.

Needless to say, we didn’t know where to stick our heads. Because they’re right. We messed up.

So I guess this post is both a combination of an explanation about some changes we’re going to make, as well as a deeply heartfelt, public apology. First and foremost to Māori people. But secondly,  also to anyone else we led to treating an already marginalised culture as exotic and voiceless. Especially as two people living in South Africa, being what it is, that is just a really, really shitty thing to do. We ought to have known better. We messed up, and we apologise. We’ve emailed back saying as much, too. Reka was designed in ignorance, not malice, but the effect is the same, and we really regret that.

So… what now?

Not many of you know this, but Cottonstar was actually never designed to become a webcomic. Ben spent one weekend back in 2008 on an entry for a comic contest. The requirements were: A synopsis of the comic, a minimum of three characters, and a minimum of three comic pages. The contest fell through because Ben turned out to be the only entrant, and he was left with all the work he’d done, which was the cast, the concept of Cottonstar, and three pages that we’ve redrawn and integrated into Chapter 2. After that, in 2009, Ben was approached by a party who proposed to publish the comic, if it was developed further. That also fell through after Ben did pages 1-12 of what is now Chapter 1. (Page 11 was added after the fact to flesh out the story). Then, all of it went into hibernation until around 2010, when we started dating. We chatted about the idea of  launching a webcomic using what he already had, and got pretty excited about the idea, and we leapt into it blindly, not knowing much about either webcomics or writing or publishing. So pretty much everything core about the comic was done hastily in one weekend. Since there was only script for three pages, we had to start writing from there, plugging up plot holes and winging it as we go. We like to think we’ve done alright so far, except for this. If we could go back, we would probably do a lot of things differently.

It’d be really easy to say “eh, well it’s hundreds of years in the future, who’s to say cultures haven’t evolved,” and play the creative license card. But that would actually be even worse, because not only do we now know better, but we would also be wilfully perpetuating a harmful thing. Once you put your work in the public eye, you need to take responsibility for the things you communicate with it. If you’re going to be presenting any kind of narrative, you need to understand what you’re saying, and why you’re saying it.

We’ve discussed it, and we’ve decided the best course of action would be to redesign Reka. She’ll keep her name, her personality and.. well, pretty much everything (including her arm tattoos, because those were not Māori to begin with, and they do actually have a back story), but her background will change. It won’t affect the overall plot, and will make her more a more balanced character. At this point we have the benefit of not having revealed any of her backstory yet, nor has she actually shown any signifiers of Māori culture aside from her tattoos, specifically because we were unsure of how to proceed with her. That stuff can all be rewritten now, with more confidence, involving cultures closer to home, with people we can talk to and consult with when writing her.

We can’t do anything about all the books and posters that have already been printed, nor any of the press and interviews. Fortunately, none of these things have occurred on a very large scale yet. But we’ll be editing our pages piece by piece and changing the cast descriptions. Future printings of the comic will not contain Māori tattooing, and we will be editing all our older pages to reflect this.

We are by no means perfect people, but we’re trying to do what we can to be good people. We still make many mistakes. We have a lot to learn and a lot to change.

The comic is our baby, and we love it, but there are more important things than pride. This is one of them. We hope you’ll understand.

Yours as always

Danelle & Ben

<3