Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Army Men (Post 5 of 6)

by Nathan Stout (of

Welcome to the next part of my look at Army Men! Today's pick is Toys R Us brand True Heroes Military Forces.

There are 72 pieces in the set but only 54 are Army Men.

At 12.99 that comes out to 18 cents per piece.

Toys R Us has these guys on sale from time to time for 'buy one get one 1/2 off'. That's what I got when I bought my samples. I also got the pirate set. It comes with skeleton pirates!


There is something about these guys that doesn't sit well with my mind.... hum...

Here is the only casualty, Private Doofy. He seems to have melted or something.

You get a couple of tanks, rocks, a helicopter too (nothing matches scale-wise).

You get these fortifications and that cool barbwire fence too. These are great!

Here are the tanks. These guys look just the old ones I remember from back in the day.

Ah ha! Here were go. This is what is not sitting well with my mind. These guys 'look' like the original molds but they are in fact different sculpts made to look like the old ones. Here is the Tim Mee Toys version next to the True Heroes version.

True Heroes on the left, Tim Mee Toys on the right.

You can see that the True Heroes guy doesn't have the belt packs.

That machine gun must be really hard to hold in mid-air. True Heroes truly are... Heroes!
It is nice to see Toys R Us selling some good old Army Men. Although they are not the original molds I remember from my childhood they are pretty good. When you get them for 1/2 price (when you get them with the buy 1 get 1 free) it's a pretty good deal.
My nephew in-law played with them (along with the Pirates) a couple of weeks ago during Easter and he loved them. That's what it is all about!

My rating system: 1 out of 5 (with 1 being worst).

Price: 2
Quality of Sculpt: 3
Material Quality: 4

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making the board game box top

by Nathan Stout (of

Okay, here is a bit of 90's humor for you. If you get it, give yourself a pat on the back.

What you see above are the initial pieces of art work comissioned for our board game: Rise of the Rock Star. Our artist (Jason Chalker) produced these pieces first. We paid him for an initial 5 works to be used for the Kickstarter project (at $200). As time went on I decided that it would benefit us to have the box art finished before the launch of the project. We could have a 'virtual' game box to show people and it would double as the main art for the KickStarter page. I contacted him and ponied up the $300 for the largest piece of art for the project.
Although ready to roll for promotional use, etc... the art isn't finished. It will have more elements once the project is funded (with help from you) and we can pay him the rest of the money. Overall I am happy with the work and will have little changed before the final goes to print (not including the new art he is adding to it).
We ask that you help us make Rise of the Rock Star a reality and back us on Kickstarter. You can back us with as little as $1 (but it would help so much more if you backed us with alot!).
Thanks so much and keep and eye out for the rest of the Kickstarter's 60 day project because we will be posting many more blogs. Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

An Interview with Chris Park

by Nathan Stout (of

Today we are taking a break from our 60 days of Kickstarter (all about our Kickstarter game: Rise of the Rock Star) to sit down for a few and find out a little bit about Chris Park. You will notice that Chris is a million years apart from the theme of our game but in a way he is a Rock Star to many people around the world.

I discovered Chris on a BBC TV show several years back and tracked him him down (not an easy thing and you will see) for an interview for our Blog (apart of the Friday Interview Series).

Thanks for taking the time and finding a PC to get this interview done on. I suspect you don't come into contact with them often... Can you describe, best you can, who you are and what you do so people who do not know you can get a feel for your unique existence ?

My name is Chris Park, born in Henley on Thames, UK. in 1973. My ancestry is Welsh, English and Scottish, my home is in Oxfordshire, I live in a straw bale self build on an organic farm. My work is creative, therapeutic and educational involving ancient technologies, timeless stories, contemporary re-connections to natural materials and traditional crafts, folk music and arts, skep beekeeping and natural spirituality. I originally trained as an artist/sculptor... Then studied contemporary religion, archaeology and music. Always learning. I am a Druid of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and have trained in other forms of native British wisdom traditions. I grow some food, practice and teach skep beekeeping and make much Metheglin (like getafix's potion)...

I am the same age as you Chris and we couldn't be more apart in our cultural existance and I find that facinating. In 2001 you took part in a BBC "experiment" about Iron Age living. How did you find out about it?

Aha, yes. 'Surviving The Iron Age' ( U.K. title) was televised here in 2001, and filmed in Wales from September to November 2000... earlier that year I was at a Druid Camp called 'Lughnasa Camp', named after the Celtic festival of first harvest. Professor Ronald Hutton, an order member and regular speaker at the camps, announced the intentions of the B.B.C. and handed out some details. After the camp I got in touch and they took my details. Then later on a friend, Ana, asked if I'd like to apply together as a 'family unit' with her and her daughter. So I did that too. We were rejected... But at the eleventh hour they roped me as an 'expert' on Iron Age religious practices, plus some knowledge of herbs and herbalism. Most tragically and awfully I later learned that the young daughter of a family who had originally been accepted was killed, I think in a car accident, or hit by a car. So under sad circumstances the B.B.C. needed some more volunteers. The location for the project was 'Castell Henllys' an iron age hill fort, or holy hill, close to Carn Ingli. The roundhouses there had been reconstructed according to the original post holes and hearth fires. We were given woollen and linen clothes to wear, and all I took in from the 21st century was a mead horn. I learnt many things, experienced much depth of being with the elements, the weather, community, livestock and nature, crafts and myself. At the end of the project (nearly 7 weeks) I was so settled in that I didn't want to leave! I had Welsh ancestors nearby and the spirits of the place kept me strong. We made iron, we made ceremony, we made wonderful and terrible food, we made mischief and merry, we made crafts, conflicts and frustration, we made songs, sacrifices and soap, we made love and laughter, we made fools of ourselves and sovereigns of our souls. The B.B.C made an insensitively sensational, highly entertaining, beautifully crafted with artistic license, celebratory documentary of the little footage they took of our lengthy experiences there.

That is the show where I first discovered who you were and I did get the feeling that out of everyone there, you were most at home and were least wanting to leave. By far I found you the most interesting person on the show and wondered how it would have been if everyone in the group had been on similar footing as you (knowledge-wise). The website where I found your email was Acorn Education, is that your endeavor? Is it your "full-time" job?

Yes it is. It began as my way of sharing some of what I learnt from the Iron Age experience with the world. Today's western lifestyle is highly mechanised. To reconnect with natural materials, natural rhythms, our own nature and a deep connection and a deeper peace is a universal yearning. So to craft a career out of marrying culture and nature, creatively and educationally has been very fulfilling. I'm self employed, I never know what work is around the corner, but something usually turns up to keep the wolf from the door! Touch wood! Sometimes sculpture, other days storytelling, sometimes Druidic work, other days school projects, one week mental health projects, another music, then arts and architecture, perpetually beekeeping etc etc...

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently setting up the British Beekeeping Heritage Society. Beekeeping history and heritage is under-represented in this country, once known as 'the Isle of Honey'. Many countries have at least one beekeeping museum, we have none! There is work to be done. The skep apiary here is expanding here also... Log hives and experimental skep arrangements. There is more Metheglin to make. Its a herbal mead... The root of the word 'medicine'. We are also constructing a forge as a focus for a men's group. I feel like recording an album of music and songs... Perhaps write a book, which is a big deal for me as I consider the world to have too many books already, too much time is spent engaging with text! Less text more telling! Less mechanism more organism! Less abstraction more traction! Whenever we are absorbed in a computer/phone/movie/device/book, there is usually a loved one or pet or friend close by who would so much love to be enjoying eye contact, simple human organism, acknowledgement, engagement, play, togetherness. Then there's a world out there! Scary, but worth it! Most good books were written by someone who has remembered how to live and read by those who need reminding... The rest is just storytelling... Which is far richer from a teller, and we can all be storytellers. Text gets stuck, stories evolve... A bardic tradition contains a dynamic equilibrium between the stories that emerge from it and the spirit of the time it is perpetuated within.

Yours with love and laughter an eagerness to disengage from this machine! Chris

Thanks so much to Chris for this fantastic interview. I have interviewed musicians, international stars, and artist but I have yet to have someone be so succinct about their views on life... quite frankly, knowing what I already knew of Chris, his responses are right on target! Thanks!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Army Men (Post 4 of 6)

by Nathan Stout (of

Today I am going to veer wildly off course and cover Tim Mee Toys 'Galaxy Laser Team'!!!!!! Sure, they aren't true Army Men but they are in the same vein of toys and I used to have these as a kid and I'd like to cover them.

Tim Mee Toys has re-released these 70's guys. I used to have them back in the day and I have fond memories of them. If you didn't know what they were called you will have a hard time finding them on the net. Once I did find them I found out that there has been a bit written about them.

Tim Mee Toys 2012 re-release.

Here is the original packaging (that I found on the web).

You get 50 guys (6 of each with 3 robots of each color and 2 'X-fighters') for 11.89 which comes out to 24 cents each. My o my!

The R2-D2 rips offs were my favorites (what kid didn't like R2-D2).

I was never for sure why regular astronauts were in this set. How boooorrrring. Probably a fake moon landing they are preparing for...

Give me sword-wielding dudes and turtle space aliens any day!

It looks like they took the standard F16 and modified it slightly to make the X-Fighter. Pretty cool. Oh yeah, there's a chick with a computer... yawn...

There you go. These guys bring back happy memories and nice change from the normal Army Men. I am glad Tim Mee Toys re-released them. You can find these and the original crazy colored ones on Ebay so never fear, they are easy to get.

Here are a couple of links to articles about these toys:

My rating system: 1 out of 5 (with 1 being worst).

Price: 1
Quality of Sculpt: 5
Material Quality: 5

Monday, June 17, 2013

Halfway point for: Rise of the Rock Star Kickstarter board game

by Nathan Stout (of

Welcome to our ongoing coverage of According To Whim's Kickstarter 60-day project: Rise of the Rock Star.

Today's post marks the halfway point of the Kickstarter. We have 30 days to go and a long way to travel to reach our goal but with your help, we can do it! Please take a moment to back us. Thanks!

It has been a long road to get to this point and we really appreciate everyone who has backed us and given us words of encouragement. We began years ago with the uniting of a couple of different ideas for this game between Chris and myself. We dived into the game again last year at our friend Loren's suggestion and we began working on it again (for real this time)!

After much game play, adjusting, and preparing we launched our Kickstarter back in May at the Dallas Comicon. Preparing for a Kickstarter is a long (and sometimes tedious) process but ultimately rewarding with all the knowledge how the system works. You will see a few more blogs in the coming 30 days about setting up a good Kickstarter so keep your eyes peeled (and subscribe to this blog)!

We will keep pushing this Kickstarter right to the end and guess what... we have more on the way! Chris and I have a few ideas we have already begun testing (and even gotten quotes for).

Thanks for stopping by and check out our other posts. We have HUNDREDS (literally) so bookmark us and we will see you later!

Nathan (and Chris)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Promoting our Kickstarter Project

by Nathan Stout (of

Today I am going to talk about what we (According To Whim) did to advertise our Kickstarter Project for Rise of the Rock Star.

Planning a Kickstarter (doing it right, anyways) relies on 2 methods:

Method 1: Assumption: You are already well known or are dealing with a well known brand.
Method 2: Assumption: You are unknown.

Some examples of Method #1 is the Robotech Kickstarter from April/May. Robotech has a big following and they had a big turnout for their miniatures game. Another example is Steve Jackson's OGRE game. Steve Jackson has clout and it shows in KS support.

According To Whim: Method 2

We have a concept and a game that we enjoy. We think others will enjoy it too. Our idea is to create a game that when people play it, they want to play it again and again. A simple roll and move game isn't going to do that (unless your name is Monopoly). Chris did a great job in taking the card aspect of the game to a whole new level. The amount of combos and game altering card moves pushed the game from being 'ok' to being 'fun'. That was our goal and we made it... now to convince everyone else about it. We still get people claiming our game is the 'detested' roll and move type but we disagree.

Promotion is really a topic Chris could talk your ear off about but I beat him to the punch with this post (so he will have to give you his take on it later). We approaching the promotion aspect of our Kickstarter we have taken about 50% of Chris' ideas and 50% of my ideas on board.

Chris: Promote the game by promoting ourselves (via blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and videos)
Nathan: Promote the game by promoting the game (via social media, game forums, print, conventions).

I this it is a well rounded and powerful promotion engine.

Many people (via forum posts) say that one thing they find interesting is that many Kickstarters are not advertised at all. Someone comes up with an idea, makes a Kickstarter and sits back, waiting for it to succeed. This might work for the Robotechs and Steve Jacksons of the world, but not for unknowns like us. Unknowns need to get out there, make a presence well in advance of their project going live.

How do you get out there? That is the question we asked ourselves in between test games of Rise of the Rock Star. We brainstormed, wrote lists, discussed, dissented many times and finally came up with a plan of attack.

Please join me next time for a post where I lay out that plan of attack. It might give you some ideas and pointers in setting up promotion for your KS project! Later!

** Please help us see our game come to reality by backing our Kickstarter board game: Rise Of The Rock Star. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Army Men (Post 3 of 6)

by Nathan Stout (of

We are going to step back from our promotion of our Kickstarter: Rise of the Rock Star to take a look at something different.

Welcome back! Today I get my hands on the goods... Tim Mee Toys 'Soldiers'! These guys are just about as close as you can get to the Army Men you grew up with. Tim Mee Toys seems to be more of a nostalgia type of toy manufacturer so these guys are more expensive than most Army Men.

I got these guys on Amazon in a 100 count bag. Let's take a gander, shall we?

You get 100 guys for 12.50, that's a pricey 13 cents each!

 Here are the tan guys. Lot's of 'frog crawlers' and flame throwers.

These were always my least favorite Army Men. I don't know why. I think maybe it was just that this was one type you got the most of. Tim Mee Toys version had a lot of plastic flash left around the base (see pic).

You get 2 commanders here! Woo hoo!

Here is the green side. No commanders... poo. You seem to get a lot of that one dude (below) and a lot less of all the others (except the flame throwers).

Oh, and here is that one dude. He is only in green, no tan versions of him. I can foresee the green side getting wiped out since so many dudes are not actually fighting but just waving their hands (and guns) about.

Here is our only casualty... Poor Peewee. His flame tank must have blown up on him.

Flame throwers ready!

Here is a comparison shot of the Delta Force flame thrower and Tim Mee Toys flame thrower. It looks like Imperial made a copy of a copy of the original. Man that looks bad!

After a count I got 53 green and 54 tan soldiers. That's 7 freebies (including Peewee) bringing my total down to 12 cents each. A penny saved... Either way I still feel that's a bit high for Army Men. I think they shouldn't be more than about half that (considering that they are just colored plastic with no embellishments).

I am still happy that these guys still exist in a more pure form (as opposed to the Imperial copies). I think the True Heroes versions are like these guys too but I will have to get them to verify this.

I also bought Tim Mee Toys Galaxy Laser Team 'Army Men' set which I shall cover as a special blog post in this series since they really aren't Army Men but they have great sentimental value to me. Later!

My rating system: 1 out of 5 (with 1 being worst).

Price: 2
Quality of Sculpt: 5
Material Quality: 5

Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting our game manufactured

by Nathan Stout (of

Here is a post that those of your who might be considering making a game of your own and getting it paid for with a crowd funding project (like our Kickstarter one).

When I began looking at getting Rise of the Rock Star made I looked at three possibilities:
  • Selling it to a publisher
  • Making it on or own (kitbashed)
  • Having it manufactured
The first option went out the window after just an hour or so of research. It seems that if you really want to make games for the sole purpose of making games then this option might fit you. We want to make games but we want to run it as a successful business and have total control over what it made. Selling the game to a publisher is basically giving your baby up for a small amount of money. At that point you have no say as to what happens to your game or even if it will ever actually get published! It is a nice option for someone who can crank out games and doesn't really concern themselves with the business side.

The second option might be cheaper if you can find the right suppliers for the major parts of the game (the board, box, and printers) but in the end I didn't feel we could find these components cheap enough to warrant the time and effort of making the game ourselves. It was a serious contender since the other parts of the game (like chips, dice, etc) can be gotten so cheap but in the end we didn't want that level of granularity on this project. our first game (WhimWars) was a total kitbash. I bought the dice, trading card boxes, and printed the maps and rules myself. It was cheap and easy enough and people seem to like the whole 'homebrew' aspect of the total package. However, Rise of the Rock Star is more involved and so we went with a manufacturer.

I began by searching the game forums for reputable game board manufacturers. There were a few out there. I would have been more interested in one in the US to control costs (like the shipping) but it turned out that the price didn't warrant it. The quotes were almost 25% higher than overseas manufacturers.

I turned my attention to PandaGM. There were several fairly positive reviews and what little contact I had with the company worked well (I was kinda afraid of the whole language barrier) since my rep was in fact English.

Much to my surprise a friend of mine brought a game over to play one weekend and it turned out to be a Kickstarter funded game. It also turned out to be manufactured by PandaGM. I got a good gander at the quality of the product and was impressed with it all with the exception of the cards. It looked like they picked a cheaper card stock and the cards were already showing signs of wear. I made sure to get the best cards quoted for our game after that.

I vowed to go with PandaGM and told the rep as much. I requested several quotes (for goals, stretch goals, etc) and asked him a bunch of question. I think we are getting the best quality game we could for the price. I realize that PandaGM is actually a broker and I am paying more but I have no Chinese connections so this will have to do and I'm fairly satisfied with it.

As I close out this blog I'd like to give you some pointers if you plan on using a manufacturer to get your game built:
  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Cardboard punchout (pieces) are cheaper than plastic chits, chips, etc. (and they look better).
  3. Get the highest quality card stock you can.
  4. Get shipping estimates (it might shock you if you fail to do this first).
  5. Contact them as early in your project as possible, it takes a while to get quotes.
  6. Plan you project with plenty of time waiting on your game to actually get made.
I hope this stuff helped you out. If you enjoyed, please show us some support by backing our Kickstarter project. There is even a cheap $1 backer level!


Friday, June 7, 2013

We Want to Interview Your Band (or Other Creative Project)

By Chris McGinty (According To

In the interest of cohesion and content generation, Nathan and I discussed something of a format for the According To Whim blog recently. It is According To Whim, so we can always go off-format, and we have an open-topic day on Wednesday, but for the most part we wanted to focus on a couple of main topics for a while. One of those topics is interviews with creative people about who they are and what they do. I titled this in a way that sounds like the focus is on bands, but it was just to streamline the name. We’re interested in all forms of art and creative work. Below is an example list, but not all inclusive. Please note that we were testing the waters with the interviews, so what we have to present right now is simply text interviews. We’ll probably request pictures in the future to make the interviews look better.

Game Designers - Nathan and I are both pretty focused on game design right now, obviously. We’re part of the Board Game Geek forums right now, and are interested in talking to other designers.

Nathan did this interview with Irakis of LudiCreations.

Crowd Funding Projects – We’re also interested in anyone currently fighting the uphill battle on Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Nathan did this interview with Joe Pilkus.

Artists – We’ve talked to a few artists out at Comicon while developing our Kickstarter for our board game, Rise of the Rock Star. We enlisted Jason Chalker to do the art for the game, but we also grabbed an interview with Ben Dunn.

Nathan interviewed Ben Dunn.
Nathan interviewed Jason Chalker.

The artwork of Jason Chalker

Photographers – Particularly interested in artistic photography, but if you can provide an interesting interview, contact us.

Writers – This includes book authors as well as other blogs. In fact, if you have a blog, and you’d like to interview us as well, we’d be happy to do so.

Podcatsers - Again, we'd like to interview you about your podcast, and if you'd like to interview us, we like to talk.

Musicians/Bands - I’ve always intended to focus some of my time and writing for the blog on music that I enjoy. For that reason, I’m devoting my blog post on Tuesday to music. I listen to a lot of underground, and/or local, and/or unsigned music, and so I would like the focus to be mostly on the good stuff I’ve found over the years, and continue to find now. I know a lot of bands locally, so I will be using the names Fort Worth and Dallas a lot, but it’s not a local blog, so bands from anywhere are welcome.

Nathan did this interview with George Call of ASKA.

We have an email set up for interview inquiries:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

ATW Updates: June 6, 2013

By Chris McGinty (

The Kickstarter for our board game, Rise of the Rock Star, is rolling on. We’re up to 3% funded, which is low I admit, but Nathan has set up advertising on Board Game Geek to start at the 30 day mark. Hopefully, that exposure to our target audience will generate interest in the game. Thank you to our friends, family, colleagues, and the one guy we don’t actually know in person, who have supported us so far. You can follow the Rise of the Rock Star Kickstarter Twitter and you can follow the According To Whim Twitter.

Also, even if you’ve already seen our Kickstarter page, we recently shot a video explaining the game mechanics a little bit. That video didn’t make it to the Kickstarter page, but a video similar to it did, so go check it out.

In the meantime, Nathan suggested that he and I come up with game ideas on our own and play-test with each other. He created a card game that we first tested while we were out at Comicon Fan Days recently. He also handed me 173 blank cards and jokingly said, “I want 5 card games made out of these.” It was a joke, but my mind said, “Challenge accepted.” I’ve come up with one game so far, which we tested recently. We’ll keep you updated as to how development of those games goes.

Lots of other stuff being worked on that we’ll talk about in upcoming weeks. If you haven’t read it yet, Nathan did an interview on Monday with Jason Chalker, who is doing the art for the board game. Nathan is also doing a six part review of army men, as in seemingly everything about army men, so check that out.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: Army Men (Post 2 of 6)

by Nathan Stout (of

We are going to step back from our promotion of our Kickstarter: Rise of the Rock Star to take a look at something different.

Welcome to the next post in my review of Army Men! I got stuck on this Army Men kick lately and it drove me to these mad lengths!

Today's Army Men are from Imperial and came from Kroger. In Keller (North of Fort Worth) there is one of those newer, fancier Kroger stores that have a rather large toy section. As with all grocery stores there is an isle of cheap-o toys where you can always find Army Men.

Imperial uses the classic molds for their Army Men. These are the guys you grew up with! This brings up a question I have about Army Men... are the designs we see (the 'classic' molds) public domain or something? Imperial uses these molds but it looks like they took molds from old figures and are not using the original molds since the figures look sloppy and ill-defined (see bottom pic).

Blogger kept flipping the image sideways. Any way in this 'Delta Force' set you get 35 for a dollar. That comes out to almost 3 cents each.

All the classic look. And as you can see there is only one bazooka guy. They were my favorites, I mean who can stand in the way of a line of bazooka wielding troops?

See how mushy and ill-defined the figure is. This is like a copy of a copy of a copy. These Army Men are made of a harder plastic and aren't so bendy like the ones I grew up with.

My rating system will be 1 out of 5 (with 1 being worst).

Price: 3
Quality of Sculpt: 3 (would be higher but the poor re-use of molds brings it down).
Material Quality: 3

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Promoting Your Unsigned Band

By Chris McGinty (

I don’t currently have a band, but I play one on TV. Ignore that last sentence. It didn’t make any sense. I also have not been in a highly successful band at any point in my life, but I feel like I have some good advice about promoting. So what the heck? Give this a read, and the worst case scenario is that you don’t think I know what I’m talking about, and you can just go on with your life. Fair enough?

 1. You Have to Really Mean It, Really

I think this is the most important thing. You probably can’t expect too many people to spend more time caring about your band (or other creative projects) than you do. The goal is to get to a point that the combined total amount of time that your fans spend caring about your band is more than you do. This means that you have to put your best foot forward to begin with.

I’ve seen a lot of local bands in my time, and I can promise you one thing, I typically cared more about the ones that I saw more. I’ll admit that on occasion when I really liked a band, I bought their cassette… oops, I’m showing my age, or their CD, and spent a lot of time listening to them. For the most part, this isn’t the case. If I didn’t manage to catch a band more than once or twice, I typically forgot about them.

This means that you have to spend time letting people know who your band is, and what they do, or no one will know that they should care.

2. There are 7 Billion People in the World…

…and Your Band is Only a Few of Them.

This is one of the hardest things to swallow. Even if you’re an international superstar, only a small percentage of the people in the world will be aware of who you are. On top of that, we live in a time when everybody has a band or solo project. There is so much music out there that you really have to be special to matter.

Here’s the funny thing (sadly funny, that is). In order to be special, you don’t necessarily have to be better than every other band. You have to be good enough that people like you, sure, but the important part of what you do is being available to your fans. When people talk about this, I think it’s usually misunderstood to mean that you talk to people after your gigs, and you respond to email. That’s a big part of it, but there is another important part, and it has to do with what I said in entry #1, spending time letting people know what’s going on. When you have a means to update your followers, make sure they’re in the loop. Keep them interested in what you’re doing.

As an example of this, my favourite local Fort Worth/Dallas group, The Crazy Ivans, gets out and plays a lot, but there have been a few slow points for playing live. Usually, they’re writing new material, and so forth. Once, they were on one of these breaks, and they took the time make a quick video of one of the songs they were working on.

The Crazy Ivans - Lesley Jean

This meant that by the time I saw them play it live for the first time, I was already familiar with the “new song.” They probably don’t do enough updating like this, but that was one time they got it right. This brings me to my next point…

3. Put Your Damn Music Online

I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve noticed that a lot of bands are very stingy about letting people hear their music. It seems to me that that would be like if I wrote a bunch of blog posts and then created a website that said, “Hey, I have blog posts. They’re really good.” If I go to a band’s website and I find that their front page gets more attention than showcasing their music, I typically close it out. You’re a band, not a web design firm. Front page of your website: This is who we are. This is our music. Enjoy.

I think that it’s a symptom of the digital age. After the music industry became paranoid and convinced that their sales drop was due to file sharing, they became very guarded about letting anyone get anything for free. Nevermind that radio stations always did, and still do, offer free music for people to listen to. That’s right. If someone doesn’t want to spend money on music, they won’t. They’ll listen to the radio. They’ll go to free shows. They’ll do whatever.

But they might also tell their friends about your band, and their friends might buy. I know that I’ve seen bands that I wanted to post to my Facebook Timeline only to find out that they have nothing worth posting online. Maybe someone posted a really poor sounding live video from their phone, but nothing that I can say to my friends, “Check this out.”

The sad fact of the matter is that there are careers that are more appealing than others. If you want me to collect trash, you’ll have to pay me a good wage, because I don’t want to do it. On the other hand, I want to be in a working band, along with lots of other people. The funny thing is that a lot of those other people will do it for really cheap… as in, free. You can either make a couple of extra sales on iTunes, or you can actually be heard. When someone goes to your website, make sure that they want to stick around. Provide music.

4. Promotion Usually Takes Time

Have you ever been handed a business card or a flier? I’m guessing that most of the time those things end up in the trash the next opportunity you get. Guess what? The same thing applies when you are in a band. Even if you play a show, and the crowd is really into it, it’s likely that most of them will not remember your band’s name when they get home. It’s also likely most of them will never return to see you again. This can be disheartening. Believe me, I know.

You have to keep letting people know who you are. That’s really the only way it’s going to work. I haven’t given you any specific means of promoting here, because there are plenty of how-to articles out there. I don’t need to repeat it all here. I want to get a point across instead.

Some of the biggest actors of the late 70s and early 80s stopped making movies believing that they would always be immortalized in Hollywood, but then people forgot about them and paid more attention to the new stars. So what did they do? They started making movies again. They started promoting themselves again. Why? Because if you don’t let people know who you are, they won’t know.

Take the long view with promotion. Things usually don’t come easy in life, and even if they do, they aren’t easily maintained. As I said in entry #1, you have to really mean it. If you don’t, very few people are going to care anywhere near as much as you do. And if you don’t care enough to keep letting people know you’re there… well, you get it.

On an Unrelated Note

Speaking of promotion, we’re still running our Kickstarter for our board game, Rise of the Rock Star. At the time of this post, it’s almost halfway over, and we’re only 3% funded. If you’re into board games, and especially if you’re interested in a music themed game, go check it out.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Interview with Jason Chalker

by Nathan Stout (of

Hey everyone, today (as apart of our interview Tuesdays) we have a special interview: Jason Chalker. Jason is our artist for Rise of the Rock Star, our Kickstarter board game. The way (I assume) Kickstarters (are supposed to) work is that you get some examples of the art work to promote then once you fund you can pay the artist to finish the work. We hired Jason after the February Comicon and have been bugging him to help us not only with the art but the logo, and board design. He has been very obliging and we are happy to let you guys get to know Jason a little better here... enjoy!

How long have you been an artist professionally?
I have been a professional artist/ graphic designer in some capacity since I graduated from SCAD in 1994 with a MFA in Illustration. Over the years I’ve worked at a number jobs in t-shirt design, advertising, interactive design and freelance off and on. In the fall of 2004 I joined the animation team for A Scanner Darkly and that started me on the course I’m on today. Working with so many talented artists really rekindled my interest in comics and pop culture as an art form. About a year after my stint on the film ended, I took a job with Motorola in Chicago as an interaction designer. Chicago has a great art scene which really pushed me in some new directions. After a couple of years in Chi-town I moved back to Dallas to help take care of my parents and I have been freelance ever since.

How do you sell/promote your artwork (cons, etc..)?
I have numerous avenues I pursue for selling my art. Two of my primary resources are my online store, The Manly Art Shop, and conventions. I also do as many art shows as I can and maintain a website and blog ( and respectively).

Do you do anything other than paint/draw?
I also create custom toys and do some sculpting here and there. Art is what I love to do, so my career and hobby are the same thing. It’s pretty nice. I rarely feel like I’m doing a job.

What media do you feel you do best in (digital, pencil, paint)?
Probably drawing/inking. Painting would be a close second. I used to do a lot more digital art, but I missed the tactile feel of the materials and getting messy.

What are your future plans (any big upcoming events/commissions)?
The rest of my year is very busy. I’m currently working on a short comic called “The Spawn of Sasquatch” written by Sean Whitley (of Southern Fried Bigfoot fame). After that I will be doing the art for the Rise of the Rock Star board game once it gets funded on KickStarter. I will have tables at Wizard World Chicago, Dallas Fan Days, ComiKazi Expo, Designer Con and most likely Wizard World Austin. I will also be participating in a Red Bull live art event in Dallas in July and a couple of other art shows in the fall. Oh, and I have three “alternative” poster designs being featured in the book “Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground” scheduled to be released in October.

Thanks so much for taking time in your super busy schedule to answer these questions. For those of you who want to read more of his work on our Kickstarter game: Rise of the Rock Star check out our post on June 24th. I will post the art we prepaid for and give a little background about Jason's art.

Thanks so much. We hope that having a solid packed 2 months of blogs, vlogs, videos, and audio shows will give you reason to back our Kickstarter project. Please back us!