There might be some folks that call Clango Cyclotron “CC” for short, but as far as I know Clango is still keeping his full name. No, the big news is that Richard Stevens, creator and artist of the web and print comic Diesel Sweeties, is releasing Diesel Sweeties under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license as part of the comic’s eighth anniversary. Know what I have to say about this? WOW. This means that now you or I or anyone has explicit permission to take the comic and do what they want with it, as long as they’re sure to follow these two rules:
DO: Be clear that the comic was created by Richard Stevens 3.
DON’T: Sell it.
Anything else is fair game, which is the point of Creative Commons licensing — the original creator can release their work so that others can use the work, and the original creator is able to allow people to modify, adapt and republish as permitted. The specific terms of the license are available here (legalese).
Even though releasing things under a Creative Commons license isn’t new, what I think is remarkable is that the comic itself is under syndication. However, Richard was able to secure a deal with United Feature Syndicate that allows him to continue the online version of the comic in addition to the print version. He describes how that came about in an interview with Randomville in June 2007:
Rv: It’s been a few months now since United Feature Syndicate picked up Diesel Sweeties for publication in newspapers across the country. How has that been going and what is it like working, in-part, for The Man?
Stevens: Aside from the far-tighter deadlines, it hasn’t been very different at all. Out of 100+ comics, I’ve only had 2 rejected and both got repurposed into web strips. Aside from if I was making trillions of dollars off it, it couldn’t get much better. It pretty much pays my rent, which takes some of the pressure off t-shirt sales and the like. I’m really enjoying it.
Rv: How did this arrangement come about and how has it impacted the work you do?
Stevens: Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall started working for UFS last summer with the mandate to find cool, new stuff… under an extremely tight deadline. He was aware of me from my inter-netting and gave a ring. There was a little contract haggling with UFS so that I could keep doing my web stuff, then I jumped right into it! The main impact so far has been really good. Actually TALKING to editors has forced me to think harder as far as word choice and I think my writing’s gotten better for it. I also had to figure out HOW to draw pixel art in black and white, which was a really neat challenge. All in all, it turned out to be a very productive “back to basics” process of re-examining how I make comics and re-learning some of the fundamentals.
Rv: How have long-time fans of the web-comic responded to the new print comics?
Stevens: Mixed, but mostly positive. A few people just “don’t like it” but they keep reading the web version, which is totally fine by me. Most people seem to be reading both and digging it.
Rv: What feedback have you received from fellow web-comic creators about syndication? Have papers been receptive in signing up for the comic?
Stevens: Also mixed, but mostly positive. I know a couple webcomics people who want NOTHING to do with syndication, but none of them have given me any hassle. I’ve definitely had a lot of conversations with other artists who are curious and would like to try their hand at it, which has led to some new cartoonist friends. I dig that because I really hadn’t made any new friends for a while.
The comic is going to be released in 10 volumes over the span of 10 weeks, and I’m happy to host a mirror the comics as they are released here. Now I wonder what this would be like to read on a Kindle…