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Neil Gaiman Interactive
February 19, 2013 4:37 PM   Subscribe

The twelve tales are written. (PDF) But words are only half the story – now Neil wants your help bringing them to life. The next step is to illustrate them.

You can read the tales, watch a short video of Gaiman explaining the project, then make some artwork and upload it here to the corresponding month/story. Mr. Gaiman said, "I wrote in three days of madness last week: over 9000 words of tales, each one very different, each one inspired by a reply to a question I'd twittered to the world."

Pepsi Blue? Probably but you can upload your artwork for a chance to feature in the digital showcase and the printed, limited edition of A Calendar of Tales, perhaps a paper one as well.
posted by Sailormom (50 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh I guess he learned from his wife about how to get artists to work for free?
posted by chrchr at 4:49 PM on February 19, 2013 [38 favorites]


Fuck you. Pay me.
posted by aedison at 4:50 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems remarkably mercenary for a man as wealthy as Gaiman to ask artists to do a bunch of work for the chance of maybe getting a calendar for their trouble.
posted by Malor at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I love you MetaFilter.

I also hate you.
posted by Sailormom at 4:56 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was going to post this earlier today but decided, "Fuck it" mostly because MetaFilter hasn't done well with Neil Gaiman in the past year or so.

The stories are pretty good--February, March, May, September, October, and November particularly--but I think my initial squeamishness about this comes more from Blackberry using Gaiman's fanbase than anything else. Again, if people weren't interested/excited/whatever about interacting with him on this, then they didn't have to respond. And neither do you.
posted by Kitteh at 5:06 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah I already sent up the Mefi signal to the mods to delete.
posted by Sailormom at 5:11 PM on February 19, 2013


Aw it's not a bad post. Keep the post! Delete my snark!
posted by chrchr at 5:14 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there is a massive, massive difference in asking people to write 140 characters about their own experiences and asking them to spend time to illustrate stories that you wrote for free.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 5:15 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah... I've had it to here with 'do it for the exposure' mentality. Fuck that and screw the attempt to minimize anyone questioning it. Good god would it be just too much to shell out 2 - 3 hundred dollars for a bit of artwork per month? OMFG but that would mean a few thousand bucks gong to people who might need it.
posted by edgeways at 5:15 PM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


i'm pretty much exactly in the same spot Kitteh is in - i'm way more squicked by the blackberry angle.

but, gaiman is having a big year, a lot of things are coming out or have come out. if there's an area of his that you're interested in - kids books, novels, sandman, dr. who - he has something for you. if you're a fan, best to just avert your eyes to another project if this one rankles.
posted by nadawi at 5:20 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems remarkably mercenary for a man as wealthy as Gaiman to ask artists to do a bunch of work for the chance of maybe getting a calendar for their trouble.

Particularly given Gaiman's own history of suing because someone else was making money from his creations, which he presented as being for the principle of the thing and that any proceeds from the suit would go to charity.
posted by Etrigan at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Again, if people weren't interested/excited/whatever about interacting with him on this, then they didn't have to respond. And neither do you.

Well we certainly don't have to respond - but if we're going to discuss a blatantly exploitative attempt by a hugely successful writer and massive electronics company to utilize unpaid artists to market a phone in a way that mirrors something the successful writer's wife got in hot water for just a few months ago, leaving all that out would be ignoring a fucking hilarious part of the story.
posted by incessant at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


please leave the post up - it's interesting, but it will probably be heavily critical. that's an ok response to something that touches on art and consumerism and attribution and compensation.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Post seems fine, it's okay to walk away from it after posting if you're not thinking you'll enjoy the thread. Please check your email, Sailormom, I've responded to your contact form note already.]
posted by cortex at 5:27 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


they have fifty-pound bags of chicken nuggets!
posted by threeants at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2013


Well we certainly don't have to respond - but if we're going to discuss a blatantly exploitative attempt by a hugely successful writer and massive electronics company to utilize unpaid artists to market a phone in a way that mirrors something the successful writer's wife got in hot water for just a few months ago, leaving all that out would be ignoring a fucking hilarious part of the story.

No, Sailormom posted about Gaiman's project; it was other folks that immediately stormed the gates to post about how exploitative it was. She wasn't talking about that angle. I'm not saying it's verboten to discuss it, but it is bad form to crap all over the post without even talking about the original stories themselves.

For the record, I disagree that artists should submit their work to Blackberry w/out compensation. And I hope they demand some.
posted by Kitteh at 5:37 PM on February 19, 2013


What in the world possessed Gaiman to think this (asking people to submit art for free, not writing the stories himself) was a good idea after Palmer had to apologise for doing this same thing? Especially when he is doing it with a huge company's backing?

I look forward to reading the stories, but this will irritate me a little when I do.

Interestingly I don't see much negative response to this online except here.
posted by jeather at 5:40 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Robert Rodriguez is also on tap to be a Blackberry Ambassador (that's probably not marketing's preferred terminology but it's part of the URL). Alicia Keys is also doing something collaborative-y.

Of course you'll have to confirm to the RIM ToS which specifies they own it forever and it can't conflict with their brand image which can't include sexual, political, or "obscene" content, etc. But hey! Maybe you'll win! (at least the prize isn't Blackberry hardware).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2013


What in the world possessed Gaiman to think this (asking people to submit art for free, not writing the stories himself) was a good idea after Palmer had to apologise for doing this same thing? Especially when he is doing it with a huge company's backing?

Honestly? Because he can and people will come out of the woodwork in droves to be a part of it.
posted by Kitteh at 5:44 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the point here is that sometimes we don't get to dictate the discourse -- we present things to the world, and then everyone discusses the angles that make it interesting to them. In this case, that angle (at least for me) is that Gaiman and Blackberry just waded into the same morass Amanda Palmer did. If the stories and the art were the most interesting part of this tale, then that's what we'd be talking about.
posted by incessant at 5:44 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honestly? Because he can and people will come out of the woodwork in droves to be a part of it.

Well yes, but people came out of the woodwork for Palmer also, happy to be able to volunteer, until the complaints got loud enough and she had to backtrack (which I think is impressive, many people would have dug in).

I'd love to see some big names asking if Gaiman is being paid and, if so (presumably he is), why don't the artists deserve the same consideration -- maybe we'll get some comic writers to do so.
posted by jeather at 5:52 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


with the beating she is undoubtedly going to continue to get in this thread, i do feel it's important to note that amanda palmer paid every musician who played with her on the grand theft tour. if anyone cares to read some of the details on that, the bass player/orchestral arranger (and all around awesome) jherek bischoff has a pretty good write up.
posted by nadawi at 6:03 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I want to love this, but I hate it.
I want to hate it, but I love it.

On the one hand this is such a cute little artist-interacting-with-fans thing that I love it, but its also weird and creepy reading the stories with the blackberry brand at the bottom. My first impression was "I love all things Gaiman," but once I actually tried to read the story my automatic bullshit filter started flashing and started screaming ADVERTISING
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 6:25 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You read it here first: Neil Gaiman is not going to save Blackberry.

I predict Blackberry won't exist in 5 years.

Look at that time/date stamp down there and get back to me in 1825 days.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So a UPS driver dressed like Zeus just delivered a lion head ring to my door. How do I get rid of it?
posted by dubwisened at 6:54 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the key here is that this is an open call for any images at all, not limited to professional, or even competent artists.

Whether it’s a sketch, photo or doodle, using paint, ink or collage, upload your artwork for a chance to feature in the digital showcase and the printed, limited edition of A Calendar of Tales .

There are a billion people who's work is most likely not good enough to sell, this is open to them as well. This is for school kids. If you are a professional artist, don't send anything in.


The video cracks me up. Neil writes with some sort of old timey pen you dip in ink, sits alone in the snow in an empty stadium wearing a tiny hat, and in between goes for a ride on the subway. Neil leads an entirely anachronistic solitary existence.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:16 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


My outrage is almost as much as I feel for cookie companies that have colouring competitions. Hire a colourist, ya tightwads!
posted by Sparx at 7:34 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I ain't saying which, but one of these is mine.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:01 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's an article on the front page of the New York Times right now that addresses some of these same issues. At least in the comedy realm of the article, I think it succeeds at showing both positive and negative facets of the situation. (Well, it's interesting what a creative incubator the club became. There's quite a lot, admittedly, weighing in on the other side, including how it affects artists who don't even perform there.)
posted by spbmp at 8:03 PM on February 19, 2013


Palmer wanted professionals who would spend time rehearsing & stuff. This is not quite the same, is it?
posted by asra at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've known Neil Gaiman. I've worked with Neil Gaiman for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I liked Neil Gaiman. But I am weary as all fuck of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer and their constant need for attention.
posted by dejah420 at 9:11 PM on February 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is not quite the same, is it?

It's not exactly the same, but it's got some similar ingredients.
posted by incessant at 11:08 PM on February 19, 2013


Yeah, this is just another of those "talent" contests like any other. Being open to anybody, at any level, with no requirements for additional hoop-jumping in order to compete. This is not like asking people to audition and rehearse for an unpaid gig.

But it is enough like it that I'm not keen on these kinds of contests any more. It's just one among many, but I'm surprised Gaiman in particular would want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

I'm just tired of for-profit companies' abuse of crowd sourcing. A shoe company which will remain nameless, has a standing invitation for customers to submit their own shoe designs which might end up getting produced commercially! That's it. That's the prize, you get to give away a design to a for-profit company. Yay?
posted by tel3path at 11:23 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read the stories and I enjoyed them all. I like Neil Gaiman's voice, as a writer, a lot.

I doodle a lot at work, in between calls. Some of them look pretty cool but there's no-one who'd buy them. If I'm feeling inspired I'll upload one for sure.

The fact that this whole thing is sponsored by Blackberry doesn't bother me because, like most of the advertising on the Internet, I choose to ignore it.

Thanks for posting, Sailormom.
posted by h00py at 3:10 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Fuck you. Pay me."

Word to Mother!
posted by markkraft at 3:28 AM on February 20, 2013


I thought Amanda Palmer learned a lesson from that debacle last year. If she did, I guess she forgot to tell her husband.

This leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm sad to spit it out because some of my love for Gaiman will probably go with it.
posted by 256 at 6:02 AM on February 20, 2013


From his tumblr:
Actually, nobody’s saying that exposure here will make anyone famous. It won’t. Drawing a picture for the Calendar of Tales won’t get anyone work. This isn’t that kind of thing.

If you’re submitting art here, whether a photograph, a drawing, a collage, or whatever it is, it’s for the joy and the fun of being part of lots of people making art — in the same way that the people who submitted answers for the tweet-questions that I put out weren’t being paid per-tweet to reply, but were doing it because it was fun. (And the people whose tweets I chose weren’t paid either, although they were credited and thanked.) When we get to the make-a-video stage of the project, nobody will be paid to make a video, either.

If something commercial, not being done for charity, is done with these — say I did an actual book you could buy in the shops, and I wanted to use the pictures as illustrations, then we’d go back to the illustrators and get their permission and work out a fair payment.

But this isn’t that. It’s for fun, and should definitely not be seen as a way to get professional artists to do work for free for a promise of exposure. This is about encouraging as many people as possible to make art, and to remember that making art is easy and fun.

posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:59 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


But this isn’t that. It’s for fun...

I love Neil dearly. I've bought everything he's ever written that I could legally obtain. I invited him to my first wedding. But if he's making money from this "fun" thing, he needs to explain why the artists shouldn't. And if he's not making money from this corporate-sponsored and branded thing, then he needs to say that.

Just like he did when people asked why he charges so much for appearances (he says that he does it to cut down on the requests, since they take him away from his job, which is writing).
posted by Etrigan at 8:09 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I'm not a huge fanMONSTER or anything so I don't find myself incredibly inclined to leap to the guy's defense, but my assumption is he's getting paid for writing twelve stories and letting them use his image and name to do a thing that contains the word Blackberry and lots of pictures and video of this guy using his Blackberry.

I do think it's different from what happened with Palmer - for one thing, Gaiman's already been paid, as far as I know. He doesn't get paid more if more people contribute. The difference is that Palmer was trading actual performance value for exposure, since more people will come to see a good show (hence the barriers to entry), especially because she'd sell more tickets if someone said they were going to be onstage playing the trombone that night and hey Facebook friends you should all come see this. She was profiting off their work in a real way - making money off other people's work when that money did not go to those people.

Whereas Blackberry is trading exposure for exposure - you get your art looked at, they have your art up to look at and hooray for you all. Gaiman is being paid for his time and name value to be used to get people involved in a free project which is a promotion put on by Blackberry. Neither Gaiman nor Blackberry are making any actual money off the artists who choose to participate (they're getting exposure and brand awareness but that's the nature of advertising), and (though I note that it was stated in vague terms and I have no idea if they'll really follow through with this) they will apparently compensate artists if there comes a point when they do. If they do start making money off it, and none of that money goes to those people, then I'll be ripshit.

Part of Palmer's mistake was in asking for a performance quality approaching professional - demanding rehearsals and auditions but no compensation for one's time. If she'd said something like, "Hey, the first ten people who get into the show can come up on stage and sing backing vocals for this one song, you don't have to be good or anything," I don't think anyone would have cared or even asked if they'd be paid.

On the other hand, the promotion he's involved in isn't asking for professional-ish artists. Instead, they're saying everyone can submit work and he'll pick his favorite for each month. At the moment it's looking like he'll have his pick of a lot of Instagrammed selfies, stuff which was not so much inspired by the stories as previously existing and able to be pigeonholed into the theme (also including additional Instagrammed selfies), photos which are ART because the guy tilted the camera a little, and all sorts of drawings of highly varying degrees of quality.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


If they do start making money off it, and none of that money goes to those people, then I'll be ripshit.
Pepsi Blue? Probably but you can upload your artwork for a chance to feature in the digital showcase and the printed, limited edition of A Calendar of Tales, perhaps a paper one as well.
That sounds to me like there is at least the possibility of money changing hands.

Also, there's the question that, if Blackberry didn't think they'd be making money (in some way) off this thing, would they be doing it?

Apart from the comparisons to Palmer, as I pointed out earlier, Gaiman himself spent a decade suing Todd McFarlane over whether McFarlane was unfairly/illegally/non-contractually making money off Gaiman's work, and then gave the money away. Clearly he is emotionally invested in the principle that creators should get paid for their work as an abstract, so how did he manage to be so utterly tone-deaf on this one?
posted by Etrigan at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2013


the mcfarlane thing is so far away from this that you can't even see it from sarah palin's house. if gaiman takes one the drawings from this and then creates multiple characters off of it and puts them into wildly successful comics and makes toys out of them, then he'd be pulling a mcfarlane.
posted by nadawi at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


And that's the thing.

So you're telling me if a little kid gets his scribbles chosen for one of those stories that he should get paid even though Gaiman has stated that this is not for profit? It's still wrong even if the calendar does make money and the little kid is compensated? Because now it's sounding to me like either people are willfully misinterpreting this venture--as well bringing their Amanda Palmer axes ready to grind--or want blood for the blood god as apparently Gaiman owes you something.

I say hold your temper until it's proved that he's ripping off people left and right.
posted by Kitteh at 12:54 PM on February 20, 2013


even though Gaiman has stated that this is not for profit

Oh, I hadn't noticed he said he was not getting paid for this and that he donated the stories to RIM, that well-known charity.
posted by jeather at 1:09 PM on February 20, 2013


So you're telling me if a little kid gets his scribbles chosen for one of those stories that he should get paid even though Gaiman has stated that this is not for profit?

"Not for profit"? Just because RIM is circling the drain doesn't make them a non-profit company. And frankly, even if they were, not-for-profit doesn't mean "no one gets paid." Do you think Gaiman wasn't paid? Of course he was, because writing is his actual real-life job. But just like his actual real-life wife found out, people get annoyed when you supplement your actual real-life job with their labors and expect them to be stoked because they get to say "I totally worked with Amanda Palmer!"

Sure, some people will be stoked because they get to say "I totally worked with Neil Gaiman!" Some people were stoked to share a stage with Amanda Palmer. But in both cases, they're farming people's goodwill and using it to their own advantage, and that is at least a little skeezy.

It's still wrong even if the calendar does make money and the little kid is compensated?

If paying the selectees were held up as a possibility -- even if it were a lousy $100 per, which is chump change for this project, I'm sure -- then I wouldn't be as annoyed as I am with this project. In point of fact, the Terms and Conditions state:
By participating in this Promotion, and to the extent allowed by law, participants (i) grant a worldwide, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sub-licensable (including the right to sublicense to further third parties), unconditional, fully paid-up and transferable license to use his/her first name, last name and create derivative works of all Submissions (whether acceptable or not, regardless of the form they take, and including, without limitation, any and all copyrights, trademarks, contract and licensing rights, moral rights or “droit moral” and other intellectual property and proprietary rights in Submissions) to RIM...
Because now it's sounding to me like either people are willfully misinterpreting this venture--as well bringing their Amanda Palmer axes ready to grind--or want blood for the blood god as apparently Gaiman owes you something.

He owes me an honest wage for work he asks me to do and that I do for him, yes. So does Blackberry. I don't write to him and say, "Could you pen me a little story to impress my spouse for Valentine's Day? The exposure will be great for you!" nor do I steal his work (hell, I've bought the complete Sandman four times in various formats).

I say hold your temper until it's proved that he's ripping off people left and right.

What's your threshold? Apparently, it's greater than 12.
posted by Etrigan at 1:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blackberry has every right to solicit Gaiman for whatever this project is. I didn't have to pay to read the stories, it's not convinced me to want a Blackberry, and I really could care less that he's asking for art of whatever stripe for a calendar I will not be interested in having or buying.

And I say that as a Gaiman fan. I understand that there will be completists who must have every single thing His Nibs has made/tweeted/farted, but the outrage over this is simply misplaced. The only people who have the right to feel hurt by this are the people who have participated in this venture and feel they should have gotten something more (and heck, maybe they will). Now if I had been asked to sign up with personal info to read the stories? Sure. Bring out the pitchforks.
posted by Kitteh at 1:29 PM on February 20, 2013


So it's your position that we don't have the right to have negative opinions of things that we're not actively involved in. That's an interesting outlook.
posted by Etrigan at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2013


Because now it's sounding to me like either people are willfully misinterpreting this venture--as well bringing their Amanda Palmer axes ready to grind--or want blood for the blood god as apparently Gaiman owes you something.
Kitteh

Honestly, you're really coming across as a mindless fan in this thread, with your constant demands that no one discuss this angle which many find interesting and then becoming indignant about criticism of the venture at all. You might want to sit back for a bit and think about what you're saying.

It's a valid point of discussion, even if the original poster didn't intend to raise it (though they seemed aware of the angle as they alluded to "Pepsi Blue"). Gaiman is being paid by Blackberry to do this. RIM is not a charity, they are doing this for their brand, to make money. They are specifically using Gaiman to tap into the fan enthusiasm that he can obviously generate, to be harnessed in this venture to make them (and Gaiman) money.

That rubs people the wrong way. It is emphatically "for profit" despite what Gaiman says: Gaiman's and RIM's. It does feel a little icky, like Gaiman is treating his fan base like a resource he can sell off. It would be very different if this were a charity project Gaiman conceived and he wanted his fans to help out with. The fact that this is part of a corporate advertising effort for which he is being compensated and which RIM will benefit from while his fans are being manipulated via their good will for him kind of stinks. You're right upthread: his fans will come out in droves, but that's exactly what RIM is paying him for.

Sure no one is putting a gun to the participant's heads, but that doesn't mean people can't express that they find the whole set-up a little shitty.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:50 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still like the stories, though. Those came out really cool. And I say that as a Twitter-hater.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:56 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't feel hurt by this. I am annoyed and think it's pretty tone-deaf of Gaiman and RIM. It's nice that they aren't asking you to log in or like them on facebook or tweet about it to get the stories, though I wouldn't care all that much if they had.

This isn't a not-for-profit venture. This is a for-profit venture (Gaiman's profit is certainly money, RIM probably exposure though perhaps also money if they end up selling the stories) where the winners aren't even necessarily getting anything.

If this were all for charity -- Gaiman said he was donating his payment to [charity] and RIM was going to sell the stories/calendars/whatevers and donate everything to [charity], winners would get a free product only -- that would have worked for me. But it isn't.
posted by jeather at 2:00 PM on February 20, 2013


Here is your live-on-the-scene update from MONSTER News, the source for all things I feel like typing:

Again from Gaiman's tumblr.

The important part:
I’ve talked to BlackBerry about it: they are embarrassed, and told me they are drafting a new set of Terms and Conditions which actually reflect that the art is solely for use in relation to the Keep Moving Project, A Calendar of Tales, and is not to be used by them for any commercial purposes beyond the project.

And as they explained to me, “Regarding us taking ownership of people’s work (i.e. – them losing the copyrights), in fact this is not what the T&Cs say! I think we’ve suffered from an unfortunate case of misconstrued legalspeak. We’re licensing people’s artwork for use, but they retain all rights to their own work. To do with it what they will!”
Doesn't address the issue that he was paid and the people contributing art are not, but there it is.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:07 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


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