Archive for the News Category
Wednesday 10th February was a long day, take it from me. From around 8am till way past 9pm, I was spreadsheeting, wrapping and printing my way to insanity! Why? Because Wednesday was the day the rewards for The Herebey Dragons were sent!
Did it work? As a matter of fact, it did. All of the rewards are wrapped tightly in their envelopes, and making their way to backers now!
This is the first of the self-written Kickstarters that didn’t have the name in the back of the book reward, mainly as it slows production down.
To have to wait for all the surveys to come in, and then to annoy Lyndon to create the backer page in the comic (he’s a busy man) all takes time. And 2021 isn’t a year we have the luxury of time in.
Which brings us on to The Herebey Dragons rewards! Devoid of backer names, we were able to print the comics as the campaign was going on, so they would be ready as soon as it finished. There were a couple of hiccups in timing, but we were all ready to go a week later.
Using our tried and trusted label printing system (more on that here), we had all the post ready in bags by the end of the night. I also had some pretty sore shoulders, too!
It all went pretty smoothly, too. Here are the bags ready to be taken to
Santa the post office. The only issue I had was digging the car out of the snow the next day!
Written by Simon Birks, with art by Eda Çağıl Çağlarırmak and letters by Lyndon White, the comic poses the question: If humans weren’t the first intelligent species on Earth, do we have any rights at all?
You can find all our The Herebey Dragons merch here, including some of the rewards we sent out.
For anyone who regularly runs crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc) campaigns, or just who regularly sends parcels, I thought I’d let you know how Blue Fox Comics go about sending out their online shop postage around the world.
Of course, there may be better ways of doing it, but we’ve been running Kickstarter’s and fulfilling backers for five years now. One of our recent campaigns had 1700+ separate backers!
We are not at the stage of using a fulfillment company yet, though that may be on the cards for larger campaigns in the future. At the moment, I’m just talking about the creator sticking the comics in envelopes and sending them out.
The Post Office Click & Drop service also means you do not have to stand in queues at the Post Office for hours on end annoying people – you just put the parcels in the nearest Click & Drop bin and away you go. It’s the way to go not just for online shop postage, but for any instance where multiple parcels are sent out on a regular basis.
Find out the nearest one to you here.
The TL:DR is this:
- Buy a Dymo Labelwriter 4XL – we used Amazon – they’re not cheap, but they don’t need ink, which will save you money in the long run
- Buy the labels for the printer
- Sign up to the Royal Mail Click & Drop
- Format the name & address information for the backers/shop customers in a simple spreadsheet – template is here
- Add the weight, the parcel type and shipping type code to the spreadsheet
- Import it into the Click & Drop system
- Match the spreadsheet headings to the required fields
- Generate the postage cost information (all you do is hit a button)
- Pay for the postage (it then downloads the labels for you)
- Print the labels on the label printer
step 1: Buy a Dymo Labelwriter 4XL
We print our labels, which, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to see my handwriting, you’ll know is essential if you want the parcel to actually reach you.
It uses a USB connection into your PC. It says on Amazon it works with a Mac, too.
Step 2: Buy the labels for the printer
Yes, this is another expense, but they make the online shop postage so much easier and more professional. If you need to factor the cost of the labels into your products, then that’s fine.
Step 3: Sign up to the Royal Mail Click & Drop
The interface is really easy to the system, which surprised me. Once you have an account, go to Settings in the top right-hand corner. The screen below should appear:
There is also a Desktop version of the software, though I don’t use that. Things to set up in settings are:
- Company Address
- User Management (I only have me showing in here)
- Trading Names
- Label Format (we use Separate Label & Despatch Note, 6×4, Do Not Generate Despatch Notes, Generate Customs Declarations with Orders)
- Default Customs Information (we use Other, Automatically Sign and Date Customs Declaration Documents, Apply the Following Default Package Contents to International Orders – see image below)
- Miscellaneous – Hide Postage Price on Your Postage Labels (this seems to be the norm for all the packages we receive)
step 4: Format the online shop postage name & address information
Using the postage spreadsheet template, fill out the information (or, more likely, export the information from the Kickstarter, Backerkit, etc) and format the column titles appropriately.
Step 5: Add the weight, the parcel type and shipping type
- The Weight column is in kilograms, so format 499 grams as 0.499
- The Size is generally going to be Large Letter or Small Parcel
- The Services are shown in the Settings section mentioned above, but the common ones are:
- OLP1 – First Class
- OLP2 – Second Class
- IEOLP – International Economy (only makes a real difference outside of Europe)
- ISOLP – International Standard Class
- ITROLP – International Tracked
- ITSOLP – International Tracked and Signed
Step 6: Import it into the Click & Drop system
Then in Click & Drop, go to the Orders menu, and select Import.
The first thing you’ll need to do is select your file, then you’ll need to say the Name Format is ‘First and Last Names Are Combined‘, select the date format, and select the check boxes as shown below.
Step 7: Match the spreadsheet headings to the required fields
You will also need to map your fields. The first seven are shown above, and the last three are shown below. You can see the mandatory fields are shown in green.
Then you need to click the Import Orders button shown above.
If the import is successful, you should see a green banner appear as below.
If it has errors, I usually Undo the Import (on the screen after) and then fix the errors in the spreadsheet and re-import. The errors are fairly self-explanatory, I think.
Step 8: Generate the online shop postage cost information
Click on the Pay & Generate Labels button shown below.
You can receive errors here, mainly to do with the address containing characters that need replacing. I try and find the most similar letter and use that.
step 9: Pay for the online shop postage
Personally, I use PayPal, I think it might be the only option. When you come back to the Click & Drop screen (after successful payment) it will automatically download your labels. I find these really useful for interrogating when I’ve sent the rewards out.
step 10: Print the labels on the label printer
Open the PDF, and select your Dymo printer. The label name is as shown below when you come to print them out.
Stick the labels on the parcels, and it’s off to the parcel bin with them! Amazingly simple, and no waiting in queues at the post office ever again!
Let me know if this helps with your online shop postage and if you spot anything which needs fixing/elaborating on.
1st January 2021
In January 2021, we’ll be running a special Make100 Kickstarter for The Herebey Dragons #2! Why is it special? Because, as well as the regular edition, we’ll be making 100 copies with a limited edition cover by Lyndon White.
The copies will be numbered and signed, so, if you’re a fan of limited editions, now is your chance to grab a piece of history!
What’s the herebey dragons about?
Bobby is just a normal boy with a normal mother. Or so he thought. But when she takes him to an antiques shop one lunchtime, he discovers a prism which harbours a secret his ancestors have sworn to protect. Unsure what to do, Bobby is torn between helping the imprisoned dragons, or helping his mother keep them there.
In Herebey Dragons #2, Bobby and his mother are on the run in their beaten-up car. On the way, she stops and asks different people about the whereabouts of a group she used to know. When they finally catch up with them, Bobby befriends a girl named Bobbi, and they once more summon Ponnis, with disastrous effects.
The Herebey Dragons is written by Simon Birks and drawn by Eda Çağıl Çağlarırmak. It follows the story of Bobby, a boy who discovers his ancestors were responsible to banishing the first intelligent species to walk the Earth to another dimension.
Exciting news at Blue Fox Comics! The arrival of Robyn Volume One!
Here’s a video of Robyn author and Blue Fox Comics Co-Founder Simon Birks to tell you about it!
Want to know more about Robyn Volume One?
Abandoned as a child, Robyn sought solace in the forest, and raised herself in this harsh environment. She learned to trust no-one, especially not Tuck, as she lives from dawn to dusk in the shadows of Sherwood.
Now, however, something is beginning, and it’s something she cannot defeat alone. In this first arc of Robyn, we meet a band of people she must learn to protect, or face losing everything.
“Robyn is a fine example of the future of comics.” Starburst Magazine
“The art from Ege Avci has to be seen to be believed.” Comics Anonymous
With the arrival of Robyn Volume One, it won’t be too long before everything else arrives and I can start sending the books out to the backers. If you haven’t purchased one yet, the book is available to pre-order on this site.
Portsmouth Comic Con held its inaugural event over the bank holiday weekend at the Portsmouth Guildhall, and Blue Fox Comics had a table there.
There’s always a reason to be slightly wary for a first con, but Portsmouth Comic Con have been great at getting the marketing far and wide, and I’d heard a rumour they’d sold 4000+ tickets prior to it opening.
Another great plus point in its favour (for us, anyway!) was the location. Portsmouth is 30 mins away by train or car, so there was no need to travel up the night before, or at some terrible hour of the morning. We just arrived around 8.30am with our cases, got our wristbands and were shown to our table.
In fact, the whole set-up process was very smooth.
As for any show in a similar style building, there were several rooms, which made it feel a little fragmented. We were housed in Comic City 2, which felt like a good room to be in for comic creators. Most of the tables were creators, so people knew what to expect when they walked in.
Some of the other rooms seemed more random, with one of them not housing any comic creators at all, which was a shame.
The guests artists alley was in the main hall, on the stage. I wasn’t there in rush hours, but the times I did visit it, it was very accessible, with a good range of comic guests for the size of con. I also got to chat with Alison Sampson, which is always fun.
Saturday was the busiest day. The weather was blisteringly hot, but it didn’t put people off coming inside (and perhaps it helped). We had a good trading day, with Gone and Hexes graphic novels being our best sellers.
Sunday was slightly slower, as it always is, but we still had good sales.
The Guildhall was in a good location, with easy access to cafes and smaller supermarkets for reasonably priced food.
As first cons go, Portsmouth Comic Con went very well. There was a lot going on, and it felt well organised. Hopefully they’ll snag a few more independent comic creators for next year.
Find out more about the con here.
As for Blue Fox Comics, we’ll definitely be after a table in 2019!
I’m Simon Birks, co-founder and chief writer of Blue Fox Comics, a small indie comic book publisher based in the UK. I wanted to talk about Robyn, and how we learned positive lessons about gender swapping characters.
Robyn is the story of an intelligent, skillful and capable girl, who lives on her own as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest, struggling to survive. To make ends meet, she runs errands for a monk named Tuck, a shady character, who knows more than he’s letting on. The comic follows Robyn as she decides to investigate the rumours of a monster in the crags nearby.
The reviews for Robyn have been fantastic. I’ve felt extremely proud, reading about their love of the art, of the characters, of the comic as a whole. It’s a real affirmation of everything we wanted to do with the story.
One of my favourite comments, however, was from Starburst Magazine, who wrote:
“the gender of the lead protagonist isn’t a gimmick. The character isn’t overly sexualised, there’s no cheesy ‘woman doing a man’s job’ approach or any of that nonsense. What we have is a young person who lives in a medieval world trying to be the best by their own conscience.”
We took a risk by taking a well-known male character, and making them female. It’s a pitfall many haven’t survived. We didn’t want Robyn to be a poor imitation of Robin.
How did we avoid it?
My wife and co-founder, Marielle, sums it up well. “We captured the Robyn character at a completely different stage in their life, which has never really been explored, boy or girl. Robyn, because of her age, has the opportunity to grow and develop, and that’s the key; she is going to develop her own character, and through our own unique story, will face completely different characters and challenges. All of this, will shape Robyn into the person she becomes.”
Robyn isn’t simply re-treading old ground, it’s creating a new legend, with a character whose core values and skills we know something about. It’s a chance to see how some of these values came to be, a chance to understand who she is.
As the series progresses, we’ll meet other recognisable characters, too, both from the Robin Hood mythos, and from other legends. Each will be familiar, yet unique; people you know, yet don’t know.
If creators aren’t offering anything new to a gender-flipped character (whether it be boy to girl, or girl to boy), they must ask themselves why they are doing it, at all. Consumers want to be surprised, and entertained. I know I do. Creating Robyn has been one of the most gratifying projects to date, and I look forward to many more adventures with her.
I’ll leave you with another quote from Starburst Magazine:
“[Robyn] takes an old idea and makes it new. It subverts our expectations and demands that we re-think our assumptions.”
Robyn raised funds on Kickstarter for printing. The campaign was fully funded, and we hit several stretch goals.
In February, we’re going to be Kickstarting our latest comic book series ‘Robyn’.
Written by Simon Birks, with art by Ege Avci and letters by Lyndon White, Robyn is a gender flipped Robyn Hood action/adventure comic for ages 7 and up.
Robyn’s gender isn’t the only change we’re making! Little John does not fight with a staff, but with the crutches he uses due to disability. Scarlett is also gender flipped, Friar Tuck is slightly shadier, and Robyn and the future Sheriff of Nottingham are friends!
What’s the story about?
In issue 1, whilst Robyn is on a mission for Tuck she hears about a monster within the forest, and decides to investigate herself. What she finds is beyond anything she could ever have imagined!
We’re getting together some very unique rewards for our campaign, so keep an eye out on your email and your social media for more information!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story.
Around 11.30pm on 6th December, Sinners III Kickstarter campaign ended, after raising a brilliant 112% of its £1200 goal.
Kickstarter campaigns are always interesting (for interesting, read stress inducing) affairs, with a lot of work going on in the background to raise more backers. Each and every backer is vitally important, and as we learned on our very first Kickstarter (for Sinners I, as it happens, back in the mists of Feb 2015) numbers of backers can go down as well as up!
Fortunately, Sinners III was fairly steady. We are lucky enough, now, to have a following on the Kickstarter platform, who regularly back our campaigns.
So, now the money is raised, what next?
Still left to do:
- Send out the surveys – we need to know a lot about our backers in order to get everything just right
- Letter Sinners III – Lyndon White will be working his magic on the lettering for us once again.
- Order the extras, including, A4 print, T-Shirt, Postcard, to name a few – you’re never sure how many you need until the campaign finishes
- Wait for the money to come through from Kickstarter – this normally takes a couple of weeks
- Get the comics printed!
- Send the comics out to the backers.
So, the work continues.
As with all our other campaigns, the comic will be available to buy from this website as soon as it arrives at Blue Fox Comics HQ, so don’t worry if you missed the campaign.
That’s all for now – we are hoping to do posts 2 or 3 times a week from now on. There’s always a lot going on here, so we’re excited to be able to show you new stuff as it comes in!
Please subscribe to our newsletter to keep in touch, and follow our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc to be kept up to date!
For now, ’nuff said.
Title: Night at the Motel
Pages: 36 full colour
Sinners goes full on horror for the next issue, Night at the Motel. Following events in Issues 1 & 2, Hope needs to find a place to rest after her first traumatic day of being dead. Unfortunately, the motel she ends up at has secrets of its own.
RHStewart once again provides the fantastic art, and for the first time supplies the beautiful cover!