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< Piro >

New fine art prints at the MegaGear store!

"promotional forensics"

Saturday - November 29, 2008

[Piro] - 10:21:16 - [link here]

If you've avoided reading my personal twitter for the past year because you really aren't interested in baby pictures, quirky personal philosophies, old-school piro-whining or links to the unusual and sometimes interesting things that tend to snag my moth-like attention span, then you probably have missed what I've been up to over at the MegaGear store. Some of it is actually kind of interesting because it reflects an interesting shift in our "business model" that we're hoping helps us serve our customers (you) better. Since most of you aren't likely to engage in promotional forensics to learn what those changes are and what we are now offering, I really should write something about it... especially since i need all of you to go buy some of it :)

[In case you are balking at the amount of text below, here's a quick summary: All of our new shirts are full color, 100% cotton Direct to Garment shirts that we print ourselves. We are offering a number of new designs as well as some old favorites we haven't offered for a while. We are also offering 11" x 14" fine art prints of pretty much any Megatokyo comic you want as well as the Broken Miho drawing. We are also running a big sale where most products (including new ones) are on sale. On top of this sale price, you can take an extra 10% off the sale price on shirts and hoodies if you use coupon code "G34R" when you order (Good through December 12th). Also, Megatokyo posters are $12.50 each or two for $22, and Megatokyo button sets are two for $10.]

Now for the long version.

One of the core philosophies behind MegaGear is that we like to make and sell stuff we might want ourselves. That's been a little difficult to do with t-shirts because the color limitations of screen printing have prevented us from offering the detailed, full color shirts we've wanted. That situation changed earlier this year when we acquired the other new 'baby' in our family, a Direct to Garment printer. A DTG Printer is basically just a big inkjet printer that has been heavily modified to print directly on t-shirts. The technology has been around for a while but has evolved over the past few years to the point that it has become a viable production choice.

The main advantages to DTG printing is that you can print full color images on normal, 100% cotton t-shirts, including dark/black shirts. The detail and quality of the output is actually pretty impressive. There was a bit of a learning curve (let's not talk about head alignment, shall we?), but a few months ago we felt we were ready to start offering the shirts in our store. Testing included multiple washes to test the durability the shirts which by their very nature they are not quite as durable as screen printing inks over the long term. They will stand up just fine if you take reasonably good care of them. I've been wearing and watching a number of shirts for several months now and they are holding up well. [Care note: just like screenprinted shirts, you should turn them inside out when washing them and use the gentle cycle if you want any shirt to last a long time. Note that *I* am not doing this, because i am testing them to worst case washing conditions :P]

The other advantage to DTG printing is that all shirts are printed on demand, which means i can experiment with shirt designs without having to worry about having a big inventory of shirts no one wants if the design is a real dud (This is liberating, trust me). Another advantage is i can print designs on tshirts, ladies t's, hoodies, etc. This means that we can offer many of our designs in both ladies t's and hoodies which is something we could not really do before.

In the store you'll find some new shirts that take advantage of this full color printing, like the recent Ph33r t3h Cute Ones design and the new Piroko Spellcasting design. It's also enabled me to bring back some Megatokyo designs we haven't offered for a while, like 3V1l Minion and Kimiko Idol. The printer has no problem with solid color graphics, like the long awaited OB3Y design (it took me forever to come up with a graphic i liked, but i'm really happy with the final output).

There are also a number of light colored shirts like Broken Miho and Bunnies and Kitties which i can print much larger on the bigger sized shirts. There's a pretty decent variety of new designs in the store, including a new, alternate Megatokyo logo and even a print of the classic 4 panel MT comic "B4K4 Quake". Check out what we have to offer, and if you like one, i'll print it for you. :)

Another product I put a lot of research into also involves a high end inkjet printer: Fine Art prints. It's actually rather amazing to see the quality output these printers are capable of producing these days. Since there is a lot of detail i draw that most of you never get to see (because of the limitations of web resolution or the print size of the books) I've always wanted to offer fine art prints so people might see it. Since my work is generally pencil and greyscale, it was important to find a printer that could accurately print subtle pencil work. After much research I finally chose the HP B9180 which is a pigment-based ink printer and Moab Entrada Rag Bright 190 Fine Art Paper. Note that both paper and inks are archival, with the HP Vivera inks being tested to be fade resistant for up to 200 years.

Our first Fine Art Print offerings in the MegaGear store are prints of any Megatokyo comic you wish (with a few limitations), printed, signed, dated and slipped into an archival plastic sleeve with an acid free backer board. I'm also offering a print of the updated version of the original Broken Miho drawing i did back in 2002, also signed and dated. More to come as i work on making availible some of my COPIC colored works.

Normally, that'd be more than enough promotion, but... hey, it's the holidays, and we want to give you lots of incentive to buy stuff from us. :) Most products in the store (including new ones) are on sale! For example, most $22 t-shirts are on sale for $20, $20 t-shirts for $18, etc. Also, be sure to check out our Clearance section where we are closing out some of the older designs

On top of the sale price, you can take an extra 10% off the sale price on shirts and hoodies if you use coupon code "G34R" when you order (Good through December 12th). Also, All Megatokyo posters are $12.50 each or two for $22, and Megatokyo button sets are on sale two for $10.

So, in short, the shift in our "business model" is that we are now printing most of our own t-shirts, Dye-sub mugs, license plates and coasters, and now our own fine art prints. When you buy stuff from the MegaGear store, you are not only supporting the comic, but you are getting stuff we produce ourselves. Stuff we pack and ship ourselves. It's the way we like it.

Hopefully you will find something you like. Thank's for shopping with MegaGear and supporting Megatokyo. Jack appreciates your support :)

Ok, that's enough of that. Right now, it's snowing outside my window, i have a little something i'm trying to finish for Applegeeks, and then it's back to work on the Megatokyo comic. Thank you, as always, for your support.

< Dom >

"Men of Winter"

Monday - January 5, 2009

[Dom] - 13:01:27 - [link here]

Now that holidays, family issues, and illness have all been wiped off of my "things to do" list, I finally have the time to write in detail about my trip to the Midwest.  And just in time to make a fresh start on 2009 ranting - my resolution is to rant twice a week for the year (and I am now taking bets on how many months it will be before I break this resolution - I say about 3).

One of my 2008 travel goals was to experience weather in all of its forms - February in Germany, August in Southeast Asia, and December in Ohio and Michigan.  And boy, let me tell you - weather is scary.  Out here in the SF Bay Area, we have two main seasons: Warm, and Kind of Cold.  Neither of these seasons are particularly intimidating, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could take whatever the world could dish out. 

When I landed in Detroit, my battle with the elements started out pretty well.  The coat I'd worn in the cold German rain held up against the icy chill of Michigan well, and I felt good standing on the airport pickup area until Fred showed up.  Full of bravado about how well I was putting up with the freezing temperatures (Fred called it a warm day - go figure), I stepped out of my hotel the next morning for a quick walk to breakfast, wearing my favorite Cal hoodie and a regular pair of pants.

I might as well have been wearing wet tissue paper.

Pride is a weird thing - because of it, I gritted my teeth and walked on instead of doing the sensible thing (turning around and grabbing my coat).  That same pride swelled up me later in the trip, when Fred had to head out late at night to pick up milk for Jacko (who is an adorable baby, just in case I hadn't thrown that out there yet).  The battery in Fred's van died after someone left the door open, so the two of us rummaged around his garage for a Sears Craftsman charger and an extension cord.  As we popped open his hood and hooked up the cables, we reminisced about the beat-up old hoopties of our youth.  Fred told me war stories about The Anti-Christ, an International Harvester Scout that probably should have killed him at least twice before he finished college, and I shot back with stories of the Phoenix, a Ford Aerostar that died three or four times and was resurrected for summer road trips until its engine fell out on the way back from Oregon.

Toward the end of the conversation, something struck me about our situation.  Fred and I were standing outside, in the cold Michigan night, staring at the engine of his Toyota Sienna and talking about cars.  Given the weather, the subject matter, and my frozen brain, I turned to Fred and said, amusedly:

"Fred, did you know that right now, we are the manliest men in webcomics?"

I dare you to come up with a manlier webcomic moment.  It can't involve video games.


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