Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Project is 100% Creator Owned

This project is 100% CREATOR OWNED

If you read nothing else of this, please seek out and support a 100% Creator Owned project! Take a moment and learn the difference between Creator Owned and corporate created entertainment. I don't mean to make that sound negative it's justthere is a difference and I've come to see it as an important one if we hope to have a healthy creative economy.

What this brand seeks to do is promote awareness about the difference between a corporate sponsored project and a guy in his basement trying to build something that keeps him up at nights...maybe you will seek out and support some creator owned projects! If you are already involved with Kickstarter,, or other crowdfunding sites YOU are the reason cool things will exist in the future! It's the reason why 5000 copies of my crazy-ass book about a homicidal pig-man will most likely see the light of day and allow me to do another crazy-ass project.

It occurred to me that the David and Goliath paradigm may not really be clear to folks who don't make a living off their creative work, or they may not understand what its like to be launching your labor of love the same month some giant franchise is sucking the air off the planet with a 50 million dollar marketing budget. The difference can be excellently illustrated by the entertainment all around you, lots of sequels, and lots of movies, comics, all vying for your attention. I love many of these projects and I know people who make them, they're amazing, built by brilliant people! Those kinds of projects are like the pyramids of Egypt. It's a given they will exist in the future as they do today, but 100% creator owned projects are actually quite rare if you look at the industry as a whole.

100% Creator Owned is different, it means it's an individual or a small group of people who are laboring on something outside the framework of a corporate sponsorship. It means we own our intellectual property means if we can do whatever we want with our stories and characters. It means we can earn money from these efforts our entire creative lives regardless of who employs us.

I created this little stamp for Oink because I had recently heard a guy use that term 'creator-owned' which hearkens back to an amazing time in comics and it's really coming back again in a big way, not just for comics but all entertainment and there is no better way to support it than crowdfunding!

I recall the term Creator Owned was on everyone's lips in the early 90's and it meant that whatever it was it would be different, it would attempt to step outside the norm and be incredible, and the best part was any single person could do it! That's happening in video games right now and it's incredible what's being produced.

With creator-owned comics in the 90's It was a guy telling a story he wanted to tell you, exactly how he wanted to tell it to. Stories like Jams O’Barr’s The Crow, or Dave McKean’s Cages...and I’m proud to say stories like Oink. What it meant was you knew the motivations for it's existence went beyond money. You knew that someone defied commerce, common sense, and faced adversity in it's creation. When I read Frank Miller's Sin City the first time it literally blew my brain out the back of my head and I was not alone.

The creative economy of 1998 put Oink and other stories I had planned on hold. You see distribution and awareness was the problem. This problem was the critical factor in putting my publisher Kitchen Sink Press out of business. In 1998 I had spent 2 years working on a follow up to Oink called Blood & Circus. Like the first book it was a 96 page fully painted novel, KSP was literally folding as I was trying to finish it. I remember the call from my editor she told me if I didn't finish my book in within the next 30 days it would not be published...this was two years of my life. So I completed 30 pages of fully painted art and story in 30 days..and strangely looking back at it it was some of my best work, but I was exhausted and broke at the end of it.

We were able to get the four issues out the door, but with a sky-high price tag on the book, and no money for marketing unable to refill orders with a single outlet of distribution it just put me in the poorhouse and I found myself waiting tables that summer after one of the most grueling crunches of my sort of broke my enthusiasm and I left the industry for the amazing world of video games, which has been absolutely incredible to me.

Okay okay, with the sob story, what does that have to do with this stupid stamp? It was hard earned is what it means to me, and it’s the one thing I can legitimately claim that differentiates Oink from 99% of the entertainment options you could be spending your dollars on when it comes time to bring it to market. It’s just a statement about it’s origin. If someone is pirating a PDF of my book I really want them to know they aren’t taking money from a faceless corporation...that’s years of my life they’re bootlegging.

Crowdfunding has essentially made a level playing field and it has me believing in the dream's why I toil nights and weekends on my book, but I love my career in games and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just want to be a guy that tinkers on a book and every few years comes out with something new.

This is just a thought I had- that if people clearly knew the difference it might make them consume their entertainment differently...maybe more balanced. Just like 'certified organic' says a whole lot with a stamp maybe this will too. It's a confusing world of entertainment and it's not always clear what you're buying, where it comes from, or who is benefitting.

I created Oink because some pretty amazing guys came before me. Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Arthur Adams, and all the amazing creators at Image Comics in the early 90's. These guys pretty much coined the term Creator Owned and educated people about the difference...which when I was 17 years of age I had no understanding why all my comic books were the way the were. When these guys broke off and started to create books like Spawn, Sin City, 300, Hellboy, Battle Chasers, they pretty much reinvented was an amazing time and I really miss if you find this topic interesting go find a creator owned project to support on a crowdfunding site. You may even get to know the creator and I can tell you they will appreciate your interest more than they can ever express.

Over the coming months I'm going to be producing some shirts, posters, and I encourage the mass proliferation of this brand and awareness of this topic. If you are a creator and you want people to know that you are a creator owned project- use this logo if it suits you or make your own!

Where I live there is a concept called 'Go Local' what it means is that Austinites support local businesses because we live here. It's why our city is thriving and why people say 'Keep Austin Weird!!' I'd like to keep the world weird and have more strange things being created and finding an audience.

I'm guilty of watching movies that I am not that excited to see, what I'm doing now instead of giving my money to something I have really low expectations for is finding campaigns I can contribute toward. It feels good doing it because you know that contribution is greatly appreciated by those guys defying commerce and logic to make something that they hope you will love...maybe they succeed or maybe they struggle or things don’t turn out as they hoped, but you will have a good story to tell and you will be a bona fide patron of the arts.

Thanks for reading and just by liking this or sharing it you are supporting a 100% Creator Owned project today!!!

John Mueller
Creator of Oink
Austin, Texas


  1. I hear what you're saying. I have also done a creator owned project, me being the creator. It seems so hard to get it recognized and it sometimes feels like people aren't interested in the story I have to tell. That may be the case but it could also be that I don't have huge loads of cash to sink into promoting it more than I'd like. From what you say, it's nice to know creator owned projects are picking up. I feel entertainment as a whole has gotten stale and we could use a little more originality. As far as your project goes, I picked up every issue of Oink back when Kitchen Sink Press published it and I fell in love with it. I hope your reboot goes up for sale. I'd really like to pick one up.

  2. Hey man there is no better time than now with the popularity of crowdfunding. It's hard, but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of the pace for the social networking aspect that didn't exist 20 years ago...oh and the internet! I've been able to connect with fans in ways I never really could have imagined. It is a new frontier I'm curious to know how its going to turn out. I could be building all this for very little return, but whatever!!! I love it!!

  3. I'm assuming you're going to remaster "Blood and Circus". Are there any plans to continue the story from there? As much as I'm looking forward to your remastered work, I'm super excited about the possibility of more stories being told.

  4. I'm going to reprint Blood and Circus yes! It never really had a chance the way KSP went under so I'm excited to work on thing at a time though. I was thinking I might just reprint it as is, it was really some of my best traditional work. Thanks! Yes I want to do City of Loons which is sort of the last big arc I had originally planned. I also have something totally new much to do.

  5. Maybe there is no better time than now to start creator owned projects, but it's a pain in the balls anyway. If your unknown and nobody has ever heard of you as an artist, then it's really, really hard to get published, to get help or even to work as an artist in general,inspite of internet, crowdfunding or whatever. At least that is what I have experienced.

    Nice logo. We'd probably need something that establishes like creative commons, only for creator owned stuff :)

  6. @Oliver It's hard, but 'relative' to my experience- as in pre-internet. It's better than it's ever been for creator owned projects. Don't give up, that's my #1 piece of advice and don't compare yourself to other artists. I'm amazed at how people crave something different, so the more different the better I say...maybe commerce follows or maybe your find contentment in the creation and the not the acceptance. I try not to worry about the reactions as that part is totally out of my control, as long as I'm regularly sitting down to make art...regardless of having an audience I'm heading in the right direction.