What is UP with this guy?

October 16th, 2013

From the mailing list:

Hooboy, Summer is truly over isn’t it? That fact came crashing down onto my poor little head a few weeks ago as I was driving back from a weekend spent in the country, where mostly what I did was make river cairns with Hodgman. I try to take it easy on the work stuff in the Summer. The kids are out of school and ready for fun, and everybody is fading in and out with their own vacation plans anyway, so I can get away with letting the world slip into my peripheral vision a little bit. It’s good for my brain and soul (but murder on my waistline, am I right?!). Now it’s back to work, which is both a bummer and a relief, which is probably how it should be.

It’s been a pretty much nonexistent tour schedule for me so far this year, which is new and different. At the end of 2012, I did the enormous bus tour with the band and John Roderick, which felt a lot to me like it put the cap on Artificial-Heart-related touring. It seemed to me that was when Artificial Heart stopped being my “new album” and became my “last album.” (“One Christmas at a Time” is technically my last album, I know, but that feels sort of like a Very Special Holiday Episode of the JoCo TV series.) Between all the opening for They Might Be Giants and my own experiments with longer band tours, it felt like I did more touring in 2011 and 2012 than I had ever done. It was an amazing stretch of really fun shows, and I learned a lot of new things about electric guitars and rock shows and audiences that were standing up. But at the end of it I was pretty tired, and starting to feel a little disconnected from my home and family, like life had gotten out of balance. Being a rock star is great fun, but it’s always trying to take over. So I decided to take a break from touring, on purpose, to just be at home a little while and get my head together, maybe write some things.

And so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my job actually IS, based on what I actually DO on a day-to-day basis. The answer is: I do a lot of stuff. Here’s what this year has looked like for me, work-wise.

GLEE
Glee happened in January, which sucked. That took up a lot of time and energy. After the dust had settled and the lawyers had talked, it became clear to me that I could either pursue a long, stressful, and expensive journey to some unknown, probably not very satisfying version of justice, or I could drop the whole thing, get on with my life, and be satisfied with the story that had thus far been told. As it stands, my track “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” sits side-by-side with the Glee version when you search for “Glee Baby Got Back” in iTunes. Their track has a pretty low star rating. And my track raised $5000 for It Gets Better, and $5000 for VH1 Save the Music. Anyone who has heard the story has already made up their minds about what happened and what it means. Anyone who was a part of it on the FOX side has already decided whether or not they are ashamed of themselves. I have no power to significantly change either of those things any more than I already have. So I’m calling it a victory (I don’t know what FOX is calling it).

CODE MONKEY SAVE WORLD
And then Greg Pak and I did the Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which was amazing. We got a lot more than we asked for, and we’re now making this incredible thing. I’ve been watching the story and the artwork come together, and it’s absolutely thrilling. The universe feels just right, like all these characters belong together. We still have an enormous amount of work to do in getting together all the various rewards, on top of finishing the graphic novel itself, and the acoustic soundtrack album, and “The Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book. As they say, a nice problem to have. Issue #1 is now available for purchase on ComiXology, with more to come over the next couple of months.

ASK ME ANOTHER
In and among those two big sources of background noise were quite a few Ask Me Another shows at the Bell House in Brooklyn. We took a break for the Summer, but they’re starting up again this month, and I’ve just posted them all to my show calendar. It’s been so interesting to watch the show grow and change as we’ve all figure out what it is and how to do it right. For my part, I mostly get to show up and play and sing and crack jokes, which is a pretty fun job. Come and see us – this coming Tuesday our guest is Justin Long. Oh, and you kids still listen to podcasts? Because the Ask Me Another podcast is right here.

JOCO CRUISE CRAZY
And of course, there is JoCo Cruise Crazy in February 2014 – our FOURTH cruise! We’ve been quietly working behind the scenes to create another awesome experience, and we recently announced an amazing lineup of performers. In addition to Paul and Storm (and of course ME) we’ve got Jim Boggia, Hank Green, John Hodgman, Tig Notaro, Pomplamoose, David Rees, John Roderick, Peter Sagal, Nathan Sawaya, Paul F. Tompkins, Sara Watkins, and even I can’t believe this list as I’m typing it! Also there will be some kind of ball pit. A ball pit at sea. What? That’s right. It’s going to be GREAT.

We’re getting to the point where some cabin types will start to run out, so if you have your sights set on a particular kind of room, my advice is to get on it. We’ll have more information about hotels and transportation “soon,” as we like to say in the cruise business.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC!
Well, yes. I’ve been messing around. That’s very unsatisfying I know. But it’s true: I’ve been playing with knobs and computers and guitars and drum beats and synthesizers and words, in pursuit of ideas that I find interesting and fun. I have made a bunch of little bits of things all for myself, trying stuff out. I have a few musical ideas that I’m looking forward to fleshing out into actual songs. All of it will become an album eventually. What form it will take I’m not entirely sure yet. Trying to follow the muse, but as many of you know, she can be tricksy. The other day I put all these little half finished ideas into a list, and it was actually kind of a long list, and there were actually some good things on it. So I’m optimistic.

I think that’s what I got, for now. I hope your re-entry into non-Summer life was a gentle one. And I hope we don’t default on our debt and cause a global economic crisis. Fingers crossed!

Code Monkey Save World ON SALE

October 16th, 2013

I’m happy to report that the Kicktarter Greg Pak and I launched a long time ago has born delicious fruit, i.e., bananas.

cmsw1 cover

Code Monkey Save World #1 is now available online through ComiXology. If you were a Kickstarter backer at the digital level or higher, you should have already received your download code (and if not let us know!). But if you missed out the first time around, you can now buy it the old fashioned way, with money.

I’m really happy with it. Greg Pak and everyone else has done a fantastic job of fitting all these different pieces together in a way that’s natural and funny and poignant and just generally awesome. Thanks to everyone who made this possible – I’m still amazed that this thing exists.

Issue #2 is mostly done, and we’ll be rolling that out to backers soon, and to the public soon after. We hope to have all four issues finished and available digitally in the next couple of months, and the physical book (and the 25,000 other physical items from the Kickstarter) done and shipping in February of 2014. I will likely have copies with me on the cruise.

We do plan to make physical copies available for sale in some way, but haven’t yet figured out how best to do that. A lot depends on how it’s received by the general public. One of the side effects of crowd funding is that you basically chop off the top of your sales curve and eat it all up immediately, and then you don’t know how much of a market there is for a thing outside your supporters. So I don’t know if we’ll have some sort of distributor, do it ourselves, or find some other solution. But do not despair: if you were not a backer and want it, we will make sure there’s a way for you to get it.

OK, stop reading and start READING.

This is for Samuel

May 8th, 2013

Dear Samuel:

One Christmas at a Time is BY-NC except for “Wikipedia Chanukah” which is BY-SA.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Coulton

JoCo Cruise Crazy 4: Booking Open!

April 26th, 2013

Hello fellow cruisers past present and future!

After a few hundred Scarface hours of database polishing (keep in mind each Scarface hour is worth about 250 man hours – Scarface isn’t really a MAN anymore per se), we’re finally ready to open up booking for JoCo Cruise Crazy 4 to the general public. To refresh your memory, the cruise is awesome. To refresh it a little more: February 23 – March 1, 2014 on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, traveling to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Labadee.

So have at, and get em while they last:

JoCo Cruise Crazy 4: Book Now!

Code Monkey Save World

April 22nd, 2013

About a week ago my friend Greg Pak and I announced a secret project we’ve been working on called Code Monkey Save World. It’s a graphic novel based on characters from a few JoCo songs, and we’re funding it through Kickstarter. Here’s the cover:

Greg Pak is an old friend from college, and a talented writer of many comics including “Planet Hulk,” “Batman/Superman,” and “Magneto Testament.” Artist Takeshi Miyazawa will do pencils and inks, Jessica Kholinne (“X-Treme X-Men”) will color, and Simon Bowland (“Incredible Hercules”) will letter.

Boy howdy, this internet thing moves fast! I was expecting a slow ramp up that would allow me to carefully compose a thoughtful blog post about the nature of crowd funding. Instead, we blew through our goal of $39,000 in less than a day, and we currently sit at around $125,000. We’ve already increased the page count from 60 to 80, kind of a retroactive stretch goal arbitrarily set at some number that was higher than we ever expected to get, and we’ve got other stuff planned for even more ridiculous numbers.

FOR INSTANCE: today we’ve announced that if we reach $130,000 we’ll increase the page count yet again to 96 pages, which means four covers, the back cover, 80 pages of story, and eleven pages of extras and goodies. That’s 32 more story pages than we originally planned. And as part of those 11 pages of goodies, we’ve enlisted Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, the creators of “Action Philosophers” and “Comic Book Comics,” to create a little two page story based on one of my songs (probably “Mandelbrot Set”).

THIS WHOLE THING IS NUTS.

Honestly, the response has blown my expectations out of the water. My sincere thanks to everyone who has already chipped in – it’s going to be an amazing thing thanks to you guys. Everyone knows this already, but it’s pretty great living here in the future.

You can check out more artwork, story details, and all the various cool stuff available to backers here at our Kickstarter project.