About usHi, we’re the Pickford Bros - John Pickford and Ste Pickford - veteran video game designers from the north of England. In the dim and distant past we made games for people like Nintendo and Sony and Rare, now we’re indie developers and game-designers-for-hire.
We also make a weekly(ish) webcomic in our spare time - Plok the Exploding Man - featuring the star of our almost-forgotten, cult-classic SNES game Plok, that we publish free on our website.
We’re asking for help to fund the continued creation and publication of the Plok comic strip.
If you like the comic, or like our games, or just want us to keep going, then you should become a patron today!
About the comic stripAlthough we’re game developers by trade we decided to start a comic strip in summer 2013 for a number of reasons:
Firstly we wanted bring back our favourite creation, Plok, the star of our Super Nintendo game of the early 1990s. The game wasn’t a big hit at the time, but is now considered a bit of a cult classic. We don’t have the resources to make a new Plok game so we decided to do something different and revive Plok in the form of a comic strip.
Secondly we wanted to make something that we could finish and publish on regular basis. Game development takes a long time, and many projects get cancelled before completion, which means we often go for years without releasing anything at all. It’s hard to work for so long on creative projects without any feedback from an audience, so we started the comic strip to keep us sane, and give us the satisfaction of releasing something new every week.
Finally we wanted to do something a bit different from our day job, something that had a chance to be topical, funny, or even comment on the real world (or at least the world of video games). All things that we aren’t easily able to do in games themselves.
How we make the comic stripCurrently the comic strip is an evening and weekend job that we try to squeeze in between our regular gamedev work, which we both do from home.
We use online chat to work out ideas for storylines and gags, trying to balance an over-arching plot (that we’re making up as we go along) with more spontaneous, topical gags.
The comic strip is drawn and inked on paper, then scanned in and lettered and coloured in Photoshop.
Each finished comic strip is then published in the Plok section of our Zee-3 website.
We plan to release ebook editions of each volume of the comic strip (around 25 comic strips per volume) as we complete them, but we’ll always keep the whole series available for free on our website.
What’s the funding for?We don't earn very much from gamedev (being an indie is hard!) but it’s work that at least has the potential to make money, so the day job always takes priority. This means that some weeks can’t find time to work on the comic strip at all.
Even a small trickle of income will help to justify spending some time on the comic strip, and might eventually lead to us being able to spend a whole day a week working exclusively on Plok, which will improve the quality and ensure that there's a new comic strip each week.
Allocating more time to the comic strip means we’ll be able to arrange regular meet ups to plan future stories in more depth, and we hope to eventually be able to do some longer ‘Sunday’ strips, with more than four panels, letting us try more complex stories that are less gag based.
Funding will also help pay the server costs for hosting the comic (Plok generates almost all of the traffic to our server), keep Ste in art supplies, and eventually buy a decent quality Wacom pad and a copy of Manga Studio!
How the funding will workWe’re asking for fans and well-wishers to support us with small contributions on a per-comic strip basis.
Small, because each comic is only short (they probably only take 10 seconds to read), and per-comic rather than per month so that you’re not funding us if we don’t publish any new comics in a particular month.
We aim to publish one new comic strip each week, so that should be four or five new strips per month (we’ve averaged about three per month over the first nine months), although on occasion there might be an extra one if something topical comes up that suggests a new strip.
Each comic strip will still be published free for everyone on our website, although we plan to offer supporters additional updates for patrons, including layout sketches, pencils, and other background info, before the publication of each strip.