07/20/11 An Enemy Aboard


I withdrew the Purfin T-shirt. After 24 hours there were still zero sales, and that was too slow a start. I’m trying very hard to provide merch, but I also need to meet some minimum order numbers to even break even. My current rule on tees are I need at least 20 orders to do a print run, and if I get zero orders in the first day, I pull it. That said, a couple people asked me to re-tool the design, and I’m playing with it. Nothing satisfactory yet.

In the meantime, you can continue to support Spacetrawler by visiting my TopatoCo store, where you can get all things Spacetrawler, Little Dee, and Bruno.

And lastly, a picture of Cadfael keeping me company while I work.


  1. War Pig

    Is that pink tentacled thing a female? Dimitri is being unusually compassionate toward a creature whose stated intent is to kill him and all the others. That usually means sex for Dimitri.

  2. War Pig

    PS: You should give us a few days to think it over in this economy before you pull merch. We can make suggestions and then it may sell better. Such as some snappy saying under the Purfin. With the US about to default and the unknown economic trickle-down repercussions, we are justifiably cautious right now.

  3. Abeo

    In Dimitri’s defence, he was willing to save the alien before he scanned her. I think the added hassle of hiding was too much for him to do for nothing. Lucky for her she met his criteria.

  4. Christopher

    @War_Pig, She is indeed female.

    And I see your point about the slow economy…. but still, if among the thousands of people who read this I don’t make a single sale on a new item, I still think that’s a fair barometer that it’s not quite hitting the mark.

    But suggestions? Sure. I’m playing around with it being two-colors (3 if you count the background). Here’s where it stands now, although I don’t think it’s quite there yet. So if anyone has any additional ideas, let ’em fly.

  5. Oh, I wish I could edit/delete comments – the previous design was just in the previous strip’s sub-section.

    The boat-part doesn’t really look much like a boat, without shading, at this angle. My guess would be possibly to go with a new drawing of it, like how it’d look in the Purfin Catalog (what with little blurbs and arrows pointing out the features)?

  6. MercuryFlash

    How about a t-shirt using the Emily sketch from your philly_composite on the 6/22/11 page? Add the name “Emily” in cool letters and I know just the Emily I’d buy it for. Krep and Nogg might look cool on shirts too, even though I don’t know anybody named Krep or Nogg.

  7. Glennnn

    Bad-ass rocket ships firing exploding munitions ! ! + Catchy one liner = Higher likely-hood of consumer approval.
    A basic connection there, that you don’t have to work on.
    Nobody knows what a Purfin is- you might sell these t shirts out in the desert where they run those sand rails in the dunes, but they still wouldn’t know what a Purfin is. Concept is too new.
    Drink some more gunpowder….

  8. Quinch

    Well, the Purfin doesn’t have much going for it – either the cool factor, or any sort of background. It appeared in a couple of panels and that’s it. I’d say you might have better luck with a run of character-themed designs instead, maybe with a quote or a personal philosophy in a nutshell. Hell, I’d even buy a Dusty shirt, if I had a spare limb or two for cross-continental S&H.

  9. Night-Gaunt

    The way this is written and drawn it is a snap to imagine it as a live action space opera/comedy/sex romp/butt kicking adventure. With loads of sentiment in the background. Wish I had come extra money. Between my fixed income and the shitty economy it doesn’t bode well for purchases. But I hope to eventually get at least a T-shirt or better yet a published book. Hang in there.

  10. CompaniaHill

    I still say the Purfin needs full-color, exactly like strip 152 panel 13 — dark knobby tires, gray chassis, shaded blue hull, gray/green fin/engine pack and a giant red/orange/yellow/white flameburst behind it all. If it’s gonna say BRAOUUUUU!! then it should be jumping right off the chest.

    If you really think the Purfin isn’t going to sell, and you’re looking for a T-shirt design with a broader appeal, how about the whole cast? The group shot on the back cover of book 1 would be great. The front cover art is a bit busier, but it adds the ship, Kuu-Drahc and the always-popular Potty-Bot, and has the added “bursting through the T-shirt” border thing going for it.

    I’d buy any of these designs, but again they’d all look best in full-color. Bruno and Dee were black-and-white strips, but we’re all accustomed to always reading Spacetrawler in full-color (both online and in the books) and black-and-white diminishes it somehow. I was always disappointed by Calvin&Hobbes books that reprinted the Sunday strips in black-and-white. Just sayin’…

  11. I read the blog entry comment and I was thinking “Cadfael… Cadfael… maybe that’s what he named his coffee cup? Wait, what’s that in his left hand? Oh!”

    @Glennnn: So, instead of “Brauuu” something like “Defenders of the awesome” or “The most awesome escape of the century”? (the most awesome escape vehicle?)

  12. Prairie

    Re: the Purfin M-32 t-shirt

    [Christopher – I’m going to give my critique without my usual MN nice sprinkled through. But that makes me feel kind of bad, so consider this my disclaimer of your continuing fabulousness.]

    – When I looked at it on the tee, I thought the image was placed too high up on the shirt and also a bit too large.
    – I can’t tell that the flame coming out the back is the flame without the benefit of color. It needs something to make it more ‘flame-like’. In the image above, it looks like a loose cord.
    – There does need to be shading or something. This drawing is not capturing the ultimate coolness that is the Purfin M-32 😉
    – I **love** the idea above of making it like an advert. In doing that, I suggest:
    > not having the people on the vehicle
    > getting rid of the “Braauuu”
    > making a slogan for the vehicle… something that indicates a) this is a cool, fast vehicle, and b) this is science fiction. I can’t think of a perfect slogan at the moment.
    “Purfin M-32: The Extra-terrestrial ATV”
    “Trust the Purfin M-32 for all your intergalactic escapes”
    “Planetary Adventures Begin with the Purfin M-32”
    > it could be an ad with Pierrot standing next to the purfin in his space suit, saying something like “My escape from an alien prison was a success! Thanks, Purfin M-32!”

  13. War Pig

    “The Purfin M-32,
    Air, Land, and Sea
    Preferred transport of bad-ass heroes everywhere!”

    Of course, Chris would beat out any suggestion I could make as a snappy addition. I don’t write that sort of thing. I ghost speeches and papers on the side from farming.

    After all, the Dimitri shirt would not have been so cool without the wording. Without it, it was a sort of cool shirt. But adding; “Have your bar-bot synth you a frozen-cold Limbic Fizzler…and visit the stars” turned it immediately into geek-bait.

  14. This one is attributed to Da Vinci: An all-terrain vehicle is a vehicle that can travel even where there isn’t terrain
    (He was trying to sell his flying machines)

    @ Prairie: Glad you liked the idea. And I have to agree with “Take the people out of the vehicle.” You can barely make out that Pierrot has a face as-is!

  15. CompaniaHill

    @MercuryFlash – Agreed, Chris’s single-character ink-only convention drawings look great.

    @Prairie – Of course! It’s a running gag that Dimitiri’s primary (only?) use of the Approxiscan is as a check for sexual compatibility. See strips 31, 46, 71, 91, 128…

    Hmm, it’s hard to tell with the alien laying on the deck bleeding, but with face-tentacles and hooves, is it a Flimboulxian? I’m already looking forward to seeing Krep’s reaction…

    @Prairie/@Frank – For the T-shirt, I can see the vehicle alone ad-style, but it needs its passengers escape-style. I trust Chris to draw Pierrot legibly at T-shirt scale, even if it gets blobby on the web preview. Compare viewing the strip on the web versus the book.

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