About the comic – backstory
Something*Positive is the story of a few friends – namely Davan, Aubrey, PeeJee, and Jason – and their daily lifes, struggles, and the occasional mass catgirl cataclysm. The story began in Boston in 2001. Since then, it’s expanded to Texas, California, and a few other nightmares along the way.
These are people you know, although you may not admit it. It’s just a comic about trying to live you life and bringing a few friends with you so you don’t kill anyone. At least, not anyone you might get in trouble for.
About the guy who drew it.
rkmilholland is probably napping right now. Sometimes, at night, he dons little shoes with curled toes and a little hat and secretly aids overworked cobblers. Then he uses their stores to launder money. He also grew up in a little patch of suburban sprawl between Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas. Under a full moon he sometimes transforms into a meerkat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: 9-3-2009
I draw a webcomic. Would you like to do a crossover with my strip?
Q: When are new comics posted?
A: When I feel like it. I try to post one every day, but that doesn’t happen. Right now, updates are done in the evening.
Q: How do you pronounce “Davan”?
A: “Da-” sounds like “Damn,” “-van” rhymes with “ton.” Davan.
Q: How do you pronounce “PeeJee”?
A: “Pee-” sounds like “Pea,” “-Jee” as in the letter G.
Q: How do you pronounce “Jason”?
A: Don’t talk to me.
Q: Are your characters based on real people?
A: All the characters have had some “real life” basis. Most of the main cast (Aubrey, PeeJee, etc.) are based off a specific person I know. A few characters (Monette, for example) are based off qualities from a few people.
Q: How come [insert character name] hasn’t shown up on the cast list yet?
A: There could be one of two reasons. The first is the most obvious: I’ve not had time to update the cast page. The second reason may be they haven’t shown up enough times. A character is only added to the cast page if they’ve shown up at least three times and I think there’s a possibility to re-use them in the future.
Q: You, uh… sure seem to use a lot of profanity, ya know that?
A: Why, yes. Yes, I do.
Q: Will you post a link to my site?
A: Maybe. First off, I have to like your site. I’m not just giving you a link because you asked (yes, this sounds mean, but it’s true). Second, I have to REMEMBER to do so – there are MANY websites I meant to link to and simply forgot. My memory is horrid.
But, there is something I want to say on this: if your website is a company, don’t hold your breath. It’s not to say I won’t – I’ve got two companies on my main page right now. But because I like them… a lot. And I like their products. I may still link to you because I like you or I think your idea’s neat, even if I’ve never tried your product. But if it’s something I honestly have no interest in (like New Age supplies) don’t expect it. And besides, if I’m going to start advertising things, I might as well slap ads on my site so I can make money off of it.
Q: I’m trying to take up a collection/donations for [insert cause]. Will you post a link/help me get donations?
A: No. Sorry.
Q:I saw/wrote a review of your comic. Will you link it off your site?
A: No. I don’t link to reviews of my work, good or bad. If it’s a positive review, I read it, smile and move on. I don’t link to those review because it seems like I’m trying to say, “SEE! I’m good! This person says so!” If it’s a postive review and the author emails me, I’m thankful. If it’s a positive review and the author emails me, asking me to link to his/her site, I get suspicious.
If it’s a negative review, I won’t link to it because I know other webcartoonists who’ve done this with the intent of sending their die-hard readers to attack the reviewer. I don’t think that’s particularly appropriate. There are people who don’t like my comic. Good for them. That’s their right. Of course, I also don’t appreciate it when these same reviewers go into my comic’s feed or community to promote their bad review of my comic. I’m funny like that.
Besides, most reviews are done by people who have a vague understanding of what their talking about and who’ve never really done it or, my favorite, start their review out with the words, “I don’t really like this type of comic” – then why the fuck are you reviewing it? Jesus. If a reviewer has at least TRIED to do a webcomic – even if it failed – I can respect their opinions a bit more.
Q:I draw a webcomic. Would you like to do a crossover with my strip?
A: No. Sorry. Except for the rare occurrence I don’t do crossovers anymore – and when that rare occurrence comes along, it’s with a comic that I’ve sought out. I like the idea of crossover’s being a rare thing. It makes them more special when they happen and, honestly, I can only tolerate so many idiotic emails of, “OMG U KANT RIGHT THT CHARCTER WELL KTHXBYE!!!!!U$UCK!!!” Especially when writing a crossover, the key is to COWRITE the story and let the other cartoonist write their characters, so you DIDN’T write the dialogue of the character in question.
Q:Are there going to be any more crossover stories with Queen of Wands?
A:Queen of Wands is over. The closest there will be to crossovers is her commentary updates – when Aeire lets me know she’s doing one for an old crossover, I try to match. So far, I’ve done it… once?
Q: But Kestrel is a character in your comic now. Isn’t that like a crossover?
A: No. That’s like Kestrel being a character in my comic.
Q: I noticed your site/site design/storylines/comics are old/run on outdated technology/are ugly/don’t please me when I scour through all of your HTML looking for something to complain about. May I offer my services to you so I can correct what I dislike?
A: Well, when you put it like THAT… go choke on rhino semen, asshole.
I should point out not everyone approaches me like this – this answer is aimed only at those who do. The rest of you, thanks for the offer – but I prefer to work alone.
Q: Would you like a forum? I could host it.
A: No, but I’d like a pony.
Q: Do you have an RSS feed?
A: Yes. You can find the RSS feed at https://www.somethingpositive.net/sp.xml.
Q:Do you have an RSS feed that shows the comic instead of just a link to today’s strip?
A: No, I do not. I want people to go to the site and look at my advertising, news updates, and merchandise – this helps me keep the site going. Not everyone buys merchandise. Not everyone looks at or clicks on the ads – but I need someone to do it so that I can afford to maintain this site and I see no reason to block myself off from how I financially sustain the comic and myself (no, this is not an invitation for any, “But there are other ways to live than like a capitalist” emails. I’ve heard it all before and most of it, I’m sorry, doesn’t work).
Q:Would you mind if I made an RSS feed that showed your comic?
A: Yes, I would mind. If I’m not offering people a way to bypass my site to mooch my content (and my bandwidth, which incidentally I have to pay for when people do this sort of shit – I’m not on KeenSpot so all the costs come from my pocket), why would I want someone else to do it? If you want to set up your own feed that tells you when the site updates (I’ve seen a few good ones) but doesn’t image link the newest comic or download and host it somewhere else (yes, I’m opposed to THAT, too), go for it. But I don’t like my content or bandwidth been leeched – just because it’s free to you doesn’t mean someone else isn’t paying for it.
Seriously, I think it’s nice and great you like my comic enough that you want to know EXACTLY when it updates and all, but it does put a strain on me as, as it is, we’re almost maxing our alotted bandwidth.
Q: Can I make LiveJournal/AIM Buddy Icons from your strips?
A: On one condition: that icon MUST be free for anyone to use. It really pisses me off when I see people get angry or snide because someone used “their” icon without permission, and “their” icon is something from my comic. Don’t get me wrong. When I see people using my art on LiveJournals or forums as avatar art, it’s REALLY flattering, but understand that just because you take my art and crop it and maybe add a few words or animate it doesn’t make it yours.
Q: Can I link to you on my website?
A: Of course!
Q: I emailed you and you never replied! What gives?
A: It could be one of three reasons: 1) I’m backlogged and your email was lost in the shuffle (this is it 95% of the time); 2) the email never got to me (some users have said emails they sent to me constantly bounce back); 3) you titled, or started your email with something akin to, “I hate to be rude, but….” These emails are deleted immediately without being read further because, frankly, if you don’t WANT to be rude, don’t be. Of course, there is also the option I never replied to your email because I didn’t feel like it or forgot to.
Q: Are the real Aubrey, PeeJee, Kim and Claire hot?
A: Why, yes. Yes, they are.
Q: Are you going to post real pictures of them?
A: Why, no. No, I am not. For, you see, I didn’t just “come up” with the idea of making them excessively violent in the comic strip. That, my dear reader, is quite biographical (well, for Aubrey and PeeJee, anyway. Kim would have her revenge on me in other unpleasant ways).
Q: So, how do you make money off your comic strip?
A: Currently, my income’s divided three ways: sales, ad revenue, reader generosity. I sell merchandise via our Positive*Thinks store, run ads through Project Wonderful, and I have a “click to donate” button on the front page down by the news area. I’m not even close to millionaire, but I get by and I’m happy.
Q: Can anyone make a living off webcomics?
A: Theoretically, yes. However, it’s not easy. I waited until I had an audience over 100,000 before even trying. I know people who’ve done it with less but I didn’t risk it. The thing you have to remember is that less than a percent of your audience will ever donate, and just a little more than that buy merchandise. It’s hard and can be very sink or swim. I don’t recomment quitting your day job and starting a webcomic the next day. If you’re going to try this, start a webcomic with a business plan as a side project. Work on it for a year or two and see if it’s something you like and can keep doing and monitor the stats. Put some merchandise out to test the waters. Basically, be informed and be careful about what you’re doing.
Q: I’d like to donate money, but I really can’t.
A: Then don’t, and don’t worry about it. I’m not going to throw a tanturm because people aren’t giving me money to draw pictures and post them on the web. This is something I do voluntarily. If you can donate, and you want to, great! I really appreciate it. If you can’t afford to, or have other things you need to put your money towards, believe me – I understand. If I was expecting people to give me money for my comics, I wouldn’t be posting the for free on the web, would I?
Please realize the comic won’t be vanishing just because people don’t donate. Nor am I going to post angry messages because people don’t. In the near future, I hope to have incentives to get people to donate (wallpaper, mini-comic books, etc.), but if you can’t I understand. And the thought really does count. If you still wanna help, get someone to read the comic, and keep reading it yourself.
Q: If I donate money, what are you going to do with it?
A: Pay costs for running the site. First, my “rent” to iWeb for my dedicated server, then for my cable modem, and anything left over either goes to art supplies or crack…. er crackers. Can’t get enough saltines.
Q: Hey, I work for/run a webhost and I was wondering if could persuade you to move your site(s) to my company’s servers?
A: No thank you. I’m at iWeb now and I think that’ll be fine. I hate moving sites around. It’s a pain in the ass. I’m hoping to be with iWeb for a few years.
Q: Did you really ask your readers to give you a year’s salary?
A: Okay, here’s the story about the notorious donation drive. In January of 2003, I got it in my head that if I asked my readers to donate a year’s salary, I’d quit my day job and work on the comic. I’d offer a free section of the site and oh, it would be glorious!
It didn’t work. No biggie. It didn’t hurt me, either. I endeed up unemployed for a little while, but was able to survive thanks to reader kindness.
Flash forward to May of 2004. A reader pissed me off because he was mad I didn’t update as often as I once did and there were errors in the comic at time. Mind you, by this point in time, the comic was taking over forty hours a week of my time AND I still had a full-time day job. So I blew up in a rant on the front page. Amongst my furious, blind ragings, I dared my readers to put their money where there mouth is and give me a salary so I could just stay home and work on the comic full time. My reasoning was more to shut people up. Instead, I got $4,000 in a day. By a month’s time, I had my salary matched. I promptly gave notice at my old job.
Q:But the section about your donation drive in “A History of Webcomics” makes it sound like you were earnestly trying to get money. Explain that.
A: “A History of Webcomics” takes a snippet from my archives where I did, honestly, ask readers to help me out and make doing S*P my fulltime job. I did that in March of 2003, over a year before the 2004 “No, Fuck YOU!” donation drive. It didn’t do well, BUT it did give me enough money to be able to quit my job doing data entry for American Medical Response and tide me over until a month and a half later when I started doing data entry for Abt Associates, Inc. (there’s a WORLD of difference between medical emergency billing and medical research).
Q:How do you feel about the other comics that tried donation drives right after yours ended?
A: Uncomfortable. Here’s the thing – a little over 1% of my actual audience donated. The average donation was $5. Now, for a comic like Goats, which has a considerable audience, a donation drive has the chance to be successful because, again, around 1% of the audience being kind is still a lot of people. When you have a smaller webcomic trying the same thing, the turn out is a lot different. They might get 20% of their audience donating, but if that’s only 80 people, it doesn’t take you very far.
Q:You’re a fucking thief! How do you justify taking people’s money and not updating since July, 2004?
A: What the hell are you talking about? I’ve missed a handful of days, but I did not stop updating my comic.
Q:Oh yeah? Then how come I haven’t seen any new strips and I check EVERY SINGLE DAY?!
A: You’re probably using reaper software – the type that culls webcomics from websites and downloads them to your computer so you can read them all offline.
Q:Uh, maybe. So what if I am?
A: I got a little frustrated with those programs. See, the people who make them NEVER contact webcartoonists first to get our input – or even just out opinions – on the matter. Meanwhile, they’re making software that not only bypasses our ads and news updates but taxes our bandwidth (that’s right – it still affects us even though you don’t have to go to the “strain” of opening your goddamn bookmarks and clicking on our link). For me, the breaking point was a program whose author chided webcartoonists for being greedy and using what he deemed an “outdated” business plan, then chided people who didn’t pay him fifteen bucks to use a software he’d spent so much time developing.
Nope. No hypocrisy there.
This is the same reason I don’t like webfeeds of my comic. For one, no one ever asks if I’m okay with them hotlinking my comic on their site (which, incidentally, I’m not). It hits my bandwidth, the people don’t get any news updates, like if I have new merchandise or if I’m going to miss an update or I have an auction or whatever (and as it is, whenever someone emails me bitching about something I explained in a news update, I’m not very polite). Not to mention these programs fuck up weblogs, too, because they give false info. I’m just not very fond of them. The only one I ever found that didn’t piss me off was one written by a college kid for a class project – the kid was REALLY nice when I spoke to him in email. We discussed the future of webcomics and reaping software briefly, and that was it.
Everyone else I’ve encountered who’s authored such software, however, has been a sanctimonious cock. They’ve never done their own webcomic, yet they prattle on at length about how webcartoonists SHOULD be running their business affairs. That’s like me telling a lawyer how to work his cases even though I don’t even have a firm grasp of the going-ons of Law & Order. Until you do it, you don’t understand it (one of my various complaints about most reviewers). Then they start whining or putting little glitches in their software to complain that someone hasn’t paid THEM for software that just yanks our work.
Can you tell this is something that really annoys me?
I can appreciate this software’s going to be there. I don’t have to like it, though. Nor do I have to simply throw up my hands and say, “I can’t do anything, I guess!” And until one of the people who writes reaping software actually comes to the webcartoonist community before releasing this software and politely and earnestly asks our input, they’re not going to get a lot of support from any of us for stealing our work.
And, yes, I consider it theft.
Q: Actually, I’m not using reaper softerware and I can’t see your site. What gives?
A: Then I don’t know how you’ll see this answer – but just in case anyone is reading this has the same problem later of my site seeming to vanish, here’s what the problem ALWAYS seems to be: something’s wrong with your service provider’s DNS entries. Contact them and have them update. This usually happens after we’ve moved servers (which is why I try to give everyone a heads up). Please, please, PLEASE don’t email me bitching that my site’s broken and I need to fix it. Only once snice 2002 has the problem been my site was “broken,” and even then bitching at me couldn’t fix it (it was a server implosion on the part of my service provider). But every other time, it’s really been a problem on the user’s side.
Q: How can I buy ad space on S*P?
A: Currently all of our advertising is done through Project Wonderful. In addition to Project Wonderful’s policies, we have our own advertising policies and Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: Will you donate ad space to my cause/organization/website?
A: Depends. Will you donate money to me?
Q: How do you make your comic?
A: With a hint of ginger, usually.
Q: What the fuck’s up with Choo-Choo Bear?
A: I dunno. What the fuck’s up with you?
Q: Okay, lemme reword that. Why is Choo-Choo Bear like he is?
A: As explained in his first appearance, Choo-Choo Bear is twenty-five years old, has a rare bone disease that makes him “extra huggable,” and long ago went through chemotherapy. He is also very devoted to Davan. Some might say co-dependent even.
Q: Why don’t you use Choo-Choo Bear more?
A: I don’t want to over-expose him. I’m trying to limit him to appearances and being the occasional focus of “one-shot” gag comics.
Q: Where did Twitchy-Hug come from?
Q: Did you know you keep messing up Twitchy-Hug’s color?
A: Yes – because that can’t be intentional, can it?
Q:Why did Twitchy-Hug go nuts?
A: I dunno. I never got around to asking him.
Q:What’s up with Kharisma’s clothing?
A: I dunno. She used to be so much more fashionable.
Q: How can Davan’s full name be Davan Xanthias Macintire II when his dad’s name is Fred Macintire?
A: Well, obviously, he’s not named after his father. 5-9-07: At long last, it is revealed who Davan is named after.
Q: Is he named after his grandfather?
A:No, he is not.
Q: Is he named after his deceased half-brother?
A: That’s one of the most fucked up things anyone’s ever asked. What the hell’s wrong with you? No one would name one child after their deceased child. Go. You’re not allowed to read my comic anymore. Go read Sluggy Freelance, where such questions will be tolerated.
1-20-05: Countless readers have emailed me to tell me that being named after a deceased sibling isn’t creepy and it’s been the case for numerous people in history. Know what else has happened repeatedly in history? Female genital mutilation. I think that’s fucking bizarre and unnecessary, too.
Q: Is Davan your idea of how people should act/be/what’s cool/acceptable?
A: No. God, no. Davan’s a horrible jerk. Just because he’s one of the protagonists doesn’t make him good or right. A lot of Davan’s misery is self induced and probably deserved.
Q: But… isn’t he based off you?
A: Yeah, although we have a lot less in common than we used to (set the next question). When I started S*P, I said Davan was who I had been two years previously. I admit I’m snarky and I can be sharp-tongued, but I also generally give people a chance before cutting them off. And, frankly, Davan’s attitude and behaviour can get you in a lot of trouble and rightfully so.
Q: How much of your comic is based off real life?
A: About 30-40%. In the orignal few comics, it was about 90%.
Q: Do you work for an ambulance company and send people who live below the poverty line bills like Davan does?
A: I did until March of 2003. Then I worked for a medical research company doing data entry until 2004. Then I did the comic full time (I realize that’s news to many people who’ve read this FAQ in recent years – sorry, I’ve been bad at keeping this thing updated).
Q: Will you call me on the phone?
A: What? Are you nuts? I think you’ve got some serious misconceptions about the reader/cartoonist relationship. This isn’t like a date, where I’m s’posed to call you the next day.
Q: What’re you scared of?
A: The dark.
Q: Why are you scared of the dark?
A: Because you’re likely to be eaten by a grue.
Q: What is a grue?
A: “The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is either adventurers or enchanters, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its horrible fear of light. No grues have ever been seen by the light of day, and only a few have been observed in their underground lairs. Of those who have seen grues, few ever survived their fearsome jaws to tell the tale.” – Zork I
Q: Are you as big of a jerk as Davan?
A: I can only dream of being as socially acceptable as Davan.
Q: Will you send me something?
A: Yes. My warmest regards.
Q: You make a lot of mistakes on your website.
A: And in my personal life as well.
Q: When are you going to sell stuff?
A: I dunno. Is right now good for you?
Q: Why don’t you just use Cafe Press?
A: It’s a quality issue, mainly. I know very few people who’ve been happy with what they’ve bought from Cafe Press. Also, I don’t like their minimum price requirements (you must charge at east $15.99 for a shirt, and if you want to see any revenue off your hard work, you have to charge more because all of that sixteen bucks goes to Cafe Press).
Q: How come you’re never at a con in my area / Are you going to be at [insert name of con]?
A: If I’ve not been at a con in your area, it’s either because no cons in your area have invited me, or if they have, they weren’t willing to help pay my expenses to get me out there. Y’see, it’s customary when a con invites a someone who lives far away to be a guest to help pay their expenses. Unfortunately, most of the cons that have invited me hoped I didn’t know this and were sad when they learned I did and promptly withdrew their invitations.
I really only go to cons I’m invited to. I like them, don’t get me wrong, and I like meeting readers, but they’re exhausting (this happens when you reach that ancient age known as the late twenties). So, for me to go to a con, I have to be invited by the con itself and they have to be willing to help me get there (this last part is usually what causes the most problems).
Q: So, if I’m running/representing a con and want you to come and talk/run a game/declaw catgirls, what’s considered helping you “get here”?
A: Just a few things.
- First off, direct all correspondence to [email protected]. There is a bare-bones contract I now require conventions to sign. There are no “I demand green M&Ms” clauses – it’s all basically the same stuff here, plus stuff on safety, what I’m expected to do for the con, maintaining schedules, etc.
It should be noted that this contract is required for all conventions that want me to attend as a guest or panelist of any form. I will not list your convention on my site or make any announcement of my attendance until the contract has been returned, signed.
The contract must be returned no later than one month before the convention’s start date. If this is a last minute guest invite and one month is impossible, the deadline will be two weeks before the convention’s start date. There will be no exceptions to this.
- Free admission to the con (yes, you’d think this was obvious, but I’ve been invited to cons as a guest and they still expected me to pay to get in. What’s more impressive is they were shocked I turned them down).
- Helping to cover travel expenses. The closer the con is to where I live (outside Dallas), the more willing I am to shoulder the burden.
- Covering room and board expenses. And, no, I will not sleep on the couch of some guy in your Scifi club. Yes, this makes me sound like a dick to a lot of people. I don’t care. I’m edgy around people I don’t know, and damned if I’m going to stay in their home.
That’s really it. And, mind you, this is if you ask me to come to your con. I don’t call up cons and tell them I want to come and I expect some sort of star treatment. If I were to decide I wanted to go to a con, I’d pay my own way like everyone else. But if I’m asked to go to a con (especially one I’ve never heard of in some place I’d never considered traveling), it’s only fair to me that I get reimbursed for the expenses I’d incur to do so. See, I don’t make a lot of money. I’m not asking to make a profit off going to a con. I’m asking to be paid back for whatever I have to put up to get there so I’m not in the hole financially, and since a few cons have taken serious advantage of this in the past, I’m having to be more strict about this.
Q: Will you take vendor space to sell your merchandise in lieu of any reimbursement for the above?
A: Not a chance. I used to be willing to do this, but, again, it was taken advantage and I was screwed over in the end when promises of space were made and not kept, so the entire trip came out of my pocket. If you want to offer vendor space to help take away some of the burden on you/your con to reimburse me, we can talk.
Q: Do you mind if I use images from your site on my homepage?
A: As long as you put a nod/copyright note saying it’s my artwork, don’t try to claim you did it, and aren’t making money off my work, go for it. (A link to S*P would be nice, too).
Q: Can I be in your comic?
Q: C’mon! Please? I told my friends/girlfriend/boyfriend/local clergy I’d get you to put me in your comic.
A: Well, I guess this is a valuable lesson. Don’t make promises you have to depend on others to keep.