What is so hard about putting Baughb–good ol’ regular Baughb–on a T-shirt?

So, you may have noticed that the Elf Life banner is gone.

The other day I checked Elf Life and found that Carson has added merchandise. I thought, “Yay! This is great! Character T-shirts and mugs! Posters! And maybe a book to come in the future!”

So I went to the store.

And I found about fifty bazillion T-shirts with pictures of a pencil in the shape of a bolt of lightning on them, and a mousepad with a caricature of Carson on it.

There was only one other design besides those at the time. It was, miraculously, related to Elf Life: Filis preparing to whack Baughb with a tree. While this is a great image, I didn’t think it was the best choice for a shirt. Maybe the back of a shirt, but not the front.

When I saw those poor merchandise selections, I removed the banner.

I mean, I put that banner up out of pity. You may have gotten that out of my post about it. I feel sorry for Carson because he is so stupid. But god. Even I didn’t think he was that stupid.

When people write in saying they want merchandise for your comic strip, give them merchandise that has something to do with your comic strip. Give them a variety. And if you are going to insist on including designs that are just there to be “cute”, use categories so people can find the comic stuff and ignore the rest.

Today I checked the store again, and was delighted (not) to discover some new designs. Only one new design is directly pulled from the strip–and it’s a panel with extraordinarily secondary characters, a bartender and a band leader who is probably a parody of something or other.

Why am I going to buy a T-shirt featuring background characters?

Then there are shirts featuring Baughb’s “transformations” from the donation drive. Since these transformations are not comic canon, I’m not interested in having them on a T-shirt. In fact, since those images represent to me an artist begging for money, I don’t see why I would ever want to wear them.

And that’s it for Elf Life stuff. The rest of the new shirts just have stupid slogans like “Got lead?” and “Cartoonists do it sequentially” with a picture of that ridiculous pencil.

Okay, look: I thought that reader who wrote in asking for merchandise made it clear enough, but apparently not, so I will spell it out.

Things I will buy:

  1. A polo shirt (or baseball cap) with an embroidered picture of the sprite.
  2. A T-shirt with a main cast image on the back (Baughb, Filis, Glee, Airek, and Leukothea in prominent positions, with Ryley and Val and the new mermaids perhaps in the back) and an Elf Life logo over the left breast.
  3. A coffee mug with the Elf Life logo on it.
  4. A “main character” (Baughb or Filis) T-shirt, with that character’s face and name on the back and an Elf Life logo over the left breast.
  5. A full cast poster, with everyone who’s ever been in the comic making an appearance. (This would be incredibly cool.)
  6. An Elf Life book. I have wanted a book for a zillion years. (I still want the rest of the comics I paid for, too.)
  7. Elf Life archives on a CD/DVD with a screenprinted logo, including an archive menu system that makes sense of the rich story and its multiple wandering plotlines.
  8. A sprite plushie.
  9. Baughb and Filis action figures/models.

Things I will not buy under any circumstances:

  1. Anything in the current shop.
  2. Anything featuring things that have nothing to do with the comic.
  3. Anything featuring only characters that are so minor no one would recognize them.
  4. A Carson Fire mousepad. I mean, come on!
  5. Seriously, I probably won’t buy anything unless it is one of the items in my “Things I will buy” list.

Because I’m some kind of freaking masochist, I’m still reading the comic. Even though I have to load a huge page and then click a button to get past a gargantuan block of self-serving text to read it.

Because the comic is still good. I still want to know what happens. I still want the comic to go on.

But I am, once again, feeling utterly weary of Carson Fire’s ineptitude. It’s no wonder he’s not making a living at his art. All he does is update infrequently, answer fan requests with indignant monologues or piles of stupid “special features” that he somehow thinks are cool, make the comic harder and harder to find and read, and wonder why the money isn’t rolling in.

So I’ll still read Elf Life, but I’m not going to promote it anymore. I don’t want to endorse that kind of business model.

Update 2005/08/07 1:04 am: Carson Fire wrote me an email in response to this post. I commented on the email here.