This week, in one 24 hour period, two works of art made me cry. They did it by reminding me: of people I have lost, and to cherish each day I have with people who are still alive. And in a very small way I helped support these works of art that made me cry, so that crying felt like hitting myself with a tiny hammer.
In 2012 I wrote about Kickstarter campaigns organized by Rich Burlew and Amanda Palmer. (Links are to my writeups on this blog, which have links to their work. Direct links to the works that made me cry are below.) In crowdfunding terms, 2012 was an aeon ago; for their era, both of these campaigns were over the top: they had dramatic (then-unusual) features, and created unique rewards. Oh, and both creators spent years obsessively creating the rewards and delivering even more than they promised.
The campaigns broke records because the artists had earned devoted fans for their ultra-niche works, and knew what we wanted, and gave it to us. A Kickstarter that can draw on an existing fan base can be very different from a Kickstarter that has to create a fan base. (Lookin' at you, Quantum Chess, entangling new fans with 3 days to go! A great team with actor Leah Cevoli as its crowdfunding campaign manager, which is a thing now.)
What has not changed since 2012: Kickstarters are hard work before and after the funding window closes. According to Rich's latest update, he still has crayon drawings and electronic stories to create, and he's spent all the Kickstarter postage fund (because lots of the fulfillment was international and postage rates skyrocketed), but he's supporting the final mailings by selling the remainders of the print runs of books that the Kickstarter funded. Amanda is now funding her projects partly through Patreon and sharing the ups and downs and lessons learned. (Example: Patreon lets her "do projects lightening-fast and molasses-slow, because NOT ALL ART IS THE SAME.") And because I'm a fan of both, I'm still following their sagas.
Having said that, Rich is famously private and Amanda is famously let-it-all-hang-out and in other ways they couldn't be more different ...
So, I wept when I read episode 1025 of Rich's epic webcomic, Order of the Stick.
If you've never read the comic (or played D&D - read Rich's super-funny FAQ page here) you can still get the subtext of #1025 once you read Rich's news item from 18 May 2015, which to spare you scrolling I will excerpt:
Mark Monack, who went by the screen name "Wrecan," was a pillar of the message board community for many years. He was, among his other roles, the founder of one of the forum's odder traditions: counting the number of strips each character appears in, a project that continues many years after he began it. When he passed in 2013, I asked his wife Jodie if there was anything I could do to help out. She told me he would have loved nothing more than to have a walk-on character named Wrecan in OOTS. Now, there is one.
Those of you who have a taste for epics, while you're waiting for Homestuck to resume, might enjoy reading OOTS from the beginning, and/or buying the print books at your local gaming store (hint: they have lots of extra material that's not online). It's quite a ride! To avoid spoilers, do NOT jump directly to episode #991, which has a cameo by a D&D character created by my current wife.
[I am now being less private than Rich but more private than Amanda would be:] Back in the day Valerie joined a campaign of Rich's playing a "dwarven bard" - not allowed by the rules of the day - which made Squeaky the best dwarven bard in the universe. He appears for just a few episodes of OOTS, but don't look now, start with episode #1, which picks up when D&D version 3.5 came out....
I have not forgotten that Amanda Palmer also made me cry, with the part of her latest song A Mother's Confession about Helen, "who always says 'i love you'" because "you never know." And I don't have to say any more about that project because Amanda has said it all herself, and more.
puts hammer down