The Thrilling Adventure Excuse

photo-originalStunningly successful podcast and stage show The Thrilling Adventure Hour launched aKickstarter in 2012 to fund a graphic novel. A goal of $55,000 it smashed that with $192,873.

The Kickstarter was so successful so quickly that one of the main stretch goals was to do a Concert Film DVD. Between then and now Thrilling Adventure Hour has grown immensely, from being a monthly live show in Los Angeles, and a highly successful podcast, to now touring all over the country hitting the bigger conventions and even doing an international tour later this year in New Zealand and Australia. They are even doing two monthly comic books, Sparks Nevada, Marshal On Mars and Beyond Belief, published by Image.

But what of the people who funded the Kickstarter, specifically those backers who included the concert film in their rewards? The graphic novel was made available for the first time at San Diego Comic Con two years ago. Those who included the DVD in their package received it this month, two years after the book was published. However, they were both meant to be signed, the book was supposed to be a numbered first edition printing. So, a few days before the package was received, the writers Acker and Blacker, the writers and the ones who seemed to be running the Kickstarter, sent out the following email

We're in the process of packaging up your concert film DVDs and graphic novels and we have a kind of survey question for you. The DVDs are ready to go, but they're not signed. Signing will take a few extra weeks, as they are shrink wrapped. Wouldn't you rather receive your DVDs soon than have them signed? Please respond with YES for SEND DVD'S UNSIGNED or NO for SEND DVD'S SIGNED. Please do not make us open and sign all of these DVD's.

Those who responded that they would still like them signed, received both the DVD and the graphic novel unsigned.

In later e-mails, they stated that the survey was a "majority rules" appeal, but hadn't made that clear, and the graphic novel status was never mentioned.

You can see some of the complaints here and there are plenty on Twitter. They took to Tumblr to address some of them, and apologise. One complainer received the following,

We're sorry you're disappointed. As we mentioned on twitter, there were a lot of unforeseen complications in every aspect of the Kickstarter campaign. We are just writers, unused to all of the many aspects of this sort of thing. Obviously, in the future, we'd do things differently.
In the process of manufacturing on our book, Archaia was bought by Boom, which led to a shortage of books. (There's still a shortage of books). Had we known this would happen, we would have definitely made the books available to backers at SDCC.

To answer your question about the signed DVD's, the email we sent was to all of the backers who'd receive that package. It was a "majority rules" type of situation, and overwhelmingly responders didn't seem to care about our signatures. (Nor can we blame them). And, to be honest, if we'd had to unwrap and sign every DVD, the final TAH shows wouldn't get written, as it would take valuable hours. So we were a bit relieved. We're sure you can understand that.

These are not excuses, just explanations. We're no more happy about the process than you are. So, what would you like done? Can we send you some TAH swag? Can we publicly apologize again? You tell us.

We are confident that the products you've received–the book and DVD–are of a high quality and that you'll enjoy them

And in a further letter to backers,

Thanks to all of you who responded to our "should we sign" email. Overwhelmingly, you didn't care to have our signatures (we can't blame you). So, majority rules, and the books and DVDs went out unsigned. Obviously, we're thrilled to sign them for you at any shows or appearances in the future. And, to be honest, if we'd had to unwrap and sign every DVD, the final TAH shows wouldn't get written, as it would take valuable hours. We're sure you can understand that.

Here's some more crappy news! After sending back the DVDs once because of a manufacturing glitch in the commentary track, it's been discovered that the version that was sent out has a different glitch (that was not on our check-copy) in a different commentary track. It's on the one from Acker & Blacker & Ginsburg & Mahoney, and it only happens halfway through. If you'd like the full, uninterrupted-by-Paul-and-Paget's commentary track, you can listen to it here:

Consider this version a collector's item! (It's the same one the cast got– theirs will probably wind up on ebay…).

In any event, we hope you'll like both the book and DVD. Though the road to making both was difficult, we're proud of the result. Please find us on Twitter and Facebook and in person at upcoming shows, appearances, and conventions and let us know how you like the concert film. It truly is a labor of love for you, the fans, and we can't thank you enough for making it possible.

From their FAQ of responses,

there were some internal changes at the WorkJuice Corp since the Kickstarter campaign which led to us being ill-informed (or just confused) about what was being done, what was supposed to be done, and what was expected. But let us start at the beginning.

Production of our OGN happened while Boom was buying up Archaia publishing. We're pretty sure this is what led to a very low print run for the first printing of the TAH OGN (someone didn't want to spend money on an "unproven" property). They only produced about 5000 copies. We needed about 2000 for our KS backers. We received maybe 800, which were shipped to those who bought the OGN-only reward. We did sign and number as many as we received. The rest went wherever Archaia/Boom thought they should go—comic stores, Amazon, conventions, etc. At the time, we didn't know how small the print run was.

Had we known the DVD would take so long to produce, we would have shipped the books separately. But, as we said, while we were on track to have them done a year ago, they weren't actually done until about a month ago.

In any event, we didn't have enough books to fulfill KS OGN+DVD shipping at that time.

We spent the next year and a half trying to amass books—which by this time went into a second printing (again, a very small one for some reason)—through Archaia who, because of changes within their own company, were difficult to track down and speak to the right departments.

It's all pretty convoluted and uninteresting, but in the end, Archaia recalled books from wherever they could so we could fulfill our KS orders. They came mostly from warehouses (like Amazon's) but, apparently, some came from retail stores, as some of you found out when you discovered security stickers in your books. (By the way, if you'd prefer a book without a security sticker, go ahead and return the book you received and we'll send you a replacement).

Plus, everything had taken so long and we were so eager to get the rewards out now that we finally had them that we just didn't remember the book signing  and numbering aspect. It's why we didn't even ask about it in the "should we sign the DVDs" email. We'd done it for the ones in that initial reward and thought that we had fulfilled our obligation in that regard. This reward tier involved signing DVD's,  and we thought we had checked with all of you on that. There are ultimately only two of us and we are better at some things than others. Case in point: this FAQ has taken a couple of weeks. We promise you that we are doing our best and every disappointed fan is a blow to us. We truly appreciate that your disappointment has been tempered with respect and sensitivity. All this to say we're terribly sorry to have disappointed you at all.

When contacted about the supply of books, Archaia declined to comment. But I understand there may be some corrections to come…

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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