STARTING OCTOBER, 2017, THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO JOIN TOM THE DANCING BUG'S INNER HIVE:
1. You can join the CampaignZee version, in which you get weekly comics emailed to you (the day before web publication), plus other content. CLICK HERE.
2. You can join the Patreon version, in which you get the same weekly emails (the day before web publication) and the comics/content on a secure website. Plus, the Patreon version has other membership levels, for which you can pay more to get more. CLICK HERE.
IN BOTH VERSIONS, YOU GET EARLY, EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO COMICS AND OTHER STUFF, AND MY ABSOLUTE APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE.
To learn more about the INNER HIVE, READ ON...
THE ORIGINAL(ISH) ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE CAMPAIGNZEE VERSION:
Fellow Brains In Beakers:
Today, I’m starting a new phase in my little weekly comic strip, Tom the Dancing Bug. It’s an experiment that I hope will both make the strip more sustainable, and make the relationship between myself and my readers more direct.
Tom the Dancing Bug was originally conceived as a newspaper comic strip, and you may have heard about the financial problems newspapers have had over the past few years. Those problems have had a devastating impact on the financial viability of the strip. With my great partner, the Universal Uclick Syndicate, it still has print clients, for which I’m very grateful, and I'm so proud to work with web clients like Boing Boing, Daily Kos, and GoComics, which have become absolutely vital, mostly because of the huge exposure they afford.
The comic strip is more well-read and well-known than ever, but it makes far less money than it used to. This seems to me an anomaly -- as the comic is enjoyed (hopefully) by more people, it should generate more, not less, revenue.
This anomaly is one of the defining features of the digital world, and it’s up to me to figure out how to make it work. That led me to this idea:
I’m selling subscriptions to the appropriately cheesily-named INNER HIVE. It’s not a charitable support-me program, because I don’t think that will work by itself in this context. I wanted to make it a real transaction where the buyer gets something of real, greater value than the money spent. Plus I didn’t want to get involved in the logistical nightmare of distributing tote bags.
What I offer to members of the INNER HIVE is special access to Tom the Dancing Bug: a private email of the weekly comic, a day (or more) before it appears anywhere publicly, plus some contests / giveaways / special offers, as well as occasionally some other content, such as sketches and unused drafts of comics.
(For example, this week’s comic was written in a totally different way until at the last moment I came upon the premise that I ended up using -- I might have included that first draft in the INNER HIVE emailing of the comic.)
The cost will be $11.95 per six months. For about the cost of a movie, members will be getting early and extra “content” (as the kids say), and the satisfaction that they’re contributing to the existence of Tom the Dancing Bug.
Is it worth it? I don’t know. I hope so. I guess it is, if you enjoy and are interested in Tom the Dancing Bug and its viability. And I’m about to find out how many people really do and are.
This should have no impact on my current print and web clients. Even if this program is wildly successful (doubtful), and even if members of the INNER HIVE never again look at the comic in its print and web venues (also doubtful), the numbers involved will be orders of magnitude lower than could have a meaningful effect on the strip’s readership and traffic for these clients.
This is merely a supplementary way to make the strip more viable while maintaining its current distribution system.
The comic will be sent out early and without digital restrictions to INNER HIVE members, so I’m relying on subscribers to honor the spirit of this project, and not re-distribute the content. If you think friends would like this, please encourage them to join! Also, for the logistics of membership maintenance, I’m using a company called MailChimp for the subscriptions and CampaignZee to manage payments, so subscribers will be making that corporate leap of faith with me.
Okay. Thank you, and God-Man bless America.
For information on signing up for this email CampaignZee INNER HIVE, please click HERE
OCTOBER, 2017 UPDATE: I've added an additional way to join the INNER HIVE, which is on a website called Patreon. It's basically the same thing as the email/Campaignzee version, except:
1. you also get access to the comics/content on a site to which only members have access; and
2. the pricing is different, and there are additional levels of membership with additional rewards to members who sign up (i.e. there are ways to spend more to get more).
Either way of signing up is AWESOME and those who sign up in either way have my infinite GRATITUDE. Please click HERE for information about signing up for the Patreon version.
TESTIMONIALS FROM A FEW SATISFIED INNER HIVE MEMBERS:
"I used to spend 20 dollars a year on TOM THE DANCING BUG collections… Happy to support him and pass the word." -Neil Gaiman
"My only argument with Ruben B. here is his apologetic tone for asking you to pay money for early access to his very good comics —- that is to say, something that YOU LIKE AND WANT. DO NOT APOLOGIZE, RUBEN." -John Hodgman
"I signed up the second I read about it. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy hearing Ruben tell the story behind each of his comics. Good luck, Ruben!" -Mark Frauenfelder
"Ruben Bolling is a comic genius, a clever artist, a true gentleman, a pseudonym, and and important ally in the struggle against deep dish pizza. I am happy to pledge to him my sacred honor..." -Peter Sagal
AND, I have publicly posted a couple of INNER HIVE mailings on my blog, so you can view two (particularly substantive) examples of the kind of emails you'll be getting as an esteemed member of the INNER HIVE. Drive around the block, kick the tires. Then join the fun.