The Dean Trippe Trap

Dean Trippe is a much admired comic book writer and artist, from his webcomic Butterfly, the Project Rooftop resign contest, Power Lunch for Oni Press, and much more.

But these days everyone seems to have a bad Dean Trippe story. I've been hearing them for some time.

It seems to stem down to this. Dean puts out a call for commission requests  to fund life emergencies. He sets out a schedule but then the life emergency in question, or new ones, prevent him from fulfilling the commissions in the given time. Or in some cases from even just posting commissions which had finished some time ago. However, during this time, he is still able to create new work to sell on eBay. There is also the allegation that he spends the money he earns on fripperies, rather than essentials that might help stem such life emergencies.

Much stems recently from his "DeanCon 2013" commissions, many of which are still unfulfilled despite repeated promises. Take Nick Borelli who, amongst with many others, commissioned him for art in October 2013 and who told Bleeding Cool that he heard nothing. And it apparently took threats on Instagram by @Animedad using the #Deancon hashtag to get the work.

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Then there is his Kickstarter for Something Terrible, described as a short, autobiographical comic about recovery from childhood trauma and the power of fictional heroes.

However the title has become somewhat self-descriptive. After raising almost $50,000 to reppublish this already published comic as "2000 copies of a new 36 page, high-quality, softcover edition (including a new foreword and additional behind-the-scenes materials), via Print Ninja, who have been helping me work out the logistics. The cover will be matte with spot-gloss, and the interior pages will be glossy. The final book should be priced at ten dollars, retail. I believe this goal is modest, achievable, and will cover the shipping costs for all donors, thanks to the quantity's unit costs, and leave me with a small stock to sell at future conventions."

He got 1,768 backers, making $48,269, but as to date, nothing has been fulfilled. Last August, he stated that the print edition was "Go" but here was still no delivery.

By October he was telling backers,

Just a quick note: I've had to temporarily stop reading messages and emails from fans of Something Terrible due to emotional health and safety concerns.

The books are still in progress, and I'm hoping pre-orders continue to make the purchase order larger and my unit cost lower. But it's been slow going during con season due to the emotional toll hearing so many similarly heartbreaking stories has been taking on me. I think I was better at this in the beginning, when I was mostly getting messages from fellow adults and folks who shared minimal details.

And just after Christmas,

Last summer, I used part of the KS money to travel to comic conventions, especially ones that invited me to speak about my experience. I can see how some folks may be bothered by my use of KS funds to do things like this, but honestly, I'll make the calls I feel best further my mission of using my experience to help those still searching for a path out of the darkness, and besides, the costs of these trips were offset by print sales and sketches at shows. The only affect this has had on my progress in completing the book is that I took on more emotional weight than I probably should have. I slipped back into a bit of a depression in hearing so many harrowing stories that make mine look small, and have only started to climb out of it in the last few weeks, thanks to a bout of absolute powerlessness while battling the flu.

More recently, I've been working on a series of superhero short stories with Stan Lee starring his kid superhero character, Chakra, and I've been writing and drawing a short story for a classic 80s/90s tv series' new comic, and I've been doing the odd website or band t-shirt here and there over the last few months. I also did the cover for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Free Comic Book Day issue, so look for that in May.

But besides illnesses and normal single dad stuff, the biggest expenditure of time since the last update has been my new day job, managing Area 52 Comics & Games in Gainesville, Georgia, a new shop co-owned by two pals of mine. I have been thoroughly enjoying being back in a shop, but it's a lot of work, especially at the beginning, with only the owners and me working there for now. I drop my son off at school, head to the shop, draw until open, and then evangelize about comics and superheroes all day. It's a good gig for a guy like me, and it's been helping pay the bills.

To anyone requesting a hard timeline for the books to ship, I'm going to offer one:



Well, that digital date whizzed past. And this week, he addressed that, saying,

I just want to apologize for the delay in sending out the digital edition and let you know the new delivery goal is to have the books out by Heroes Con in June. I'm sorry for the wait, there's just been a lot going on, as usual, at Trippe HQ. Thanks so much to everyone who wrote me to pass along their condolences for my grandmother, and to everyone who's sent kind words about how the comic shop looks, and to everyone who came by for hugs and updates at SC Comic Con last weekend. As always, it's not easy to share in the pain and triumph of all our stories, but it's a good job, even if it's a hard job, and I'm glad it's my job. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your patience and understanding while I work to make this book the best I possibly can.

I'm also sorry about the lack of updates. As a depression-battling dude with PTSD, I gotta say, I have a hard time processing the level of stress that comes with seeing the disingenuous, bullying messages coming from the small, extremely vocal minority in the comments here, so it's hard for me to deal with everything going on with me medically, psychologically, and professionally, AND keep track of the latest bizarre accusations below, brought on with renewed vigor whenever I update. That kinda stress is paralyzing and leaves me in my head trying to figure out responses for days. Conversely, I thrive on good stress. I've been working 60-80 hours a week at the shop, helping my family through a series of unfortunate events, and getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night, so all my projects are running long, including this most important one. I've recently convinced the shop's owners to hire my two top candidates, so I'll be able to cut back on my time at the shop by half in the coming weeks. Between the new hires and the help of my intern, productivity is getting back on track. I've also been taking a lot of quick-deadline drawing gigs to keep the bills paid, which isn't easy, but again, it's good stress. (In romantic news: I've almost got my family under one roof, so that should cut down on my travel time and scheduling stress, which is super exciting!)

I'm also trying to work something out with Kickstarter or Amazon to refund the few folks who have decided that the best way to help me complete my project is to bully me here and make stuff up, but so far, no luck. There's a 60 day limit on Amazon for refunds initiated by me, and Kickstarter can't remove anyone from my backer list unless the refund is processed through Amazon. I'm in contact both companies, but if I can't refund through the official channels and remove them from my backers, I'll have to send out PayPal payments as refunds at the end of the project.

The Dean Trippe Bad Experience thread on Statue Forum is long and ongoing.

June 22, 2010

That's when I contracted Dean for 2 inked pieces, Superman and Batman. I had met him at ECCC that year and got a Captain America piece. I enjoyed chatting with him about comics and life and thought he was pretty cool.

As of today I've haven't received anything but excuse after excuse. I joke with my wife that I must be bad luck since it seems that many times I commission something the artist immediately has health issues, car trouble or something else that prevents the completion of the work which I already paid for! Don't accept commissions for me! I'm bad trouble! The Dean Trippe Trap

I've actually seen pics of the pieces, one was done I think and the other needed to be inked. This was about 2 years ago?

Not to make a massive bump, but I've been having the same issue with Dean. I contacted him in June 2013 for a Watchmen commission. After we agreed to a price, I told him I could pay up front, which after a few weeks I did. At the same time, Dean ran a commission drive called "DeanCON" where if you paid 55 bucks you could grab a two character commission. I figured I'd help out so I ordered one. A few months later he did "DeanCON" two, in order to fix his car. I had already paid for the first two, sent him an email to see what the status was, he said they would be done soon, so I ordered a third commission. (I know, I know.)

In the next few months, I checked in with him from time to time, and his response was always "oh, just running a little behind, but they're coming". I finally got the first DeanCon commission in June, about a year after ordering it. Was fine with it, but wondered where the other two pieces were, especially the Watchmen piece which cost me significantly more than the DeanCon pieces. Cut to now, and he has stopped responding to emails, twitter messages, and he blocked me on Twitter after, admittedly, I made a snarky comment. Any ideas on what my next move should be? Or is this one where I'm going to have to cut my losses and move on.

There's even an anti-Dean Trippe twitter account, @avoiddeantrippe


His eBay feedback however is perfect.

This is the lesson, you may need to learn. if you donate something to Dean Trippe, consider it a donation and nothing more. If you feel sorry for him, that's fine, if you want to reward him for previous work he has done that you enjoyed or inspired you, that's great. But don't expect anything for your money.

Which means, if you do get something back at some time, you can treat that as a very nice surprise indeed.


Because sometimes, just sometimes he comes through…


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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