Category ArchiveUpdates

Updates 08 Nov 2010 05:15 pm by David !

Reviews are coming in: You like it!

Besides all the Amazon hoopla, besides Glenn Beck and everything else, only one thing matters: is this book any good? We ourselves are very proud of it, but to be honest, after reading and re-reading this manuscript over the course of years, we have somewhat lost our objectivity. That’s why it’s tremendously, tremendously gratifying to see tweets such as these:

@natosaichek I bought 3 copies, and now I’ve downloaded the free PDF! Can’t get enough #MachineofDeath.

@jenniferbrozek Also, started reading “Machine of Death” edited by North, Bennardo and Malki. It is an amazing collection. Got it for free, going to buy it.

@treelobsters My 12-year-old finally relinquished control of #MachineOfDeath. I never had this problem when he was into Dr Seuss.

@LordCleverpork I want to thank @malki, @ryanqnorth, and all the contributors to #machineofdeath. It was a wonderful, and amazingly varied, read.

And Amazon reviews such as these:

I remember wishing when I read the original Dinosaur Comics comic that started it all that the book would be made. As a fan of science fiction short stories, I couldn’t have been more impressed. The many authors’ various idea[s] on such a world and society’s changes are astoundingly brilliant, witty, and imaginative. I have yet to read a more brilliant collection of stories, thanks in large part to the amazing concept they are all based on. The ideas of possible uses for such a machine are incredible… I can already tell this is going to be my favorite book for years to come. I read the first few stories aloud to my twin sister, numerous friends have asked to borrow it when I’m done, and I’ve recommended it to pretty much everyone I’ve talked to since picking it up.

I read the paperback version a few days ago, and it was great. I disliked only 1 or 2 of the stories in the entire book, which is quite the feat for an anthology like this. There’s a story in here for everyone, and all are well-written. The editors did a great job, and the artwork is a great touch.

The concept is great, and it is amazing how each author takes a unique look at how a Machine of Death would affect life. The book ranges from pure comedy gold to incredibly inspirational stories to intensely debate- and thought-provoking ideas. Machine of Death is a new favorite of mine.

This is it, guys. This is what we were after. This is what we were trying to prove to the publishers all those years. We’re so glad you like it — this whole enterprise isn’t about marketing gimmicks or bestseller-lists, really. It’s about getting all this great work by incredibly talented authors into the hands of people who will enjoy it. Thank you for helping us make that happen.

Here are some more reviews we’ve found. We’re trying to collect as many as we can, so if we’re missing any, or if you see new ones, please let us know! Leave a comment or email us. Thanks!

Ebook &Updates 02 Nov 2010 09:50 pm by David !

Announcing the free PDF download of MACHINE OF DEATH & the free podcast.

Please find below the entirety of Machine of Death as a free, downloadable PDF.

Why are we doing this? Aren’t we worried about hurting our book sales?

In a word: no. You have proven time and again that you are willing to pay for content that you find valuable. You have shown that you are driven to share material that you fall in love with. And we are committed to ensuring that you can experience our work whether you can afford to buy a book or not; whether you live in a country that Amazon ships to or not; whether you have space in your life for a stack of paper or not.

Please, download, read, share and enjoy!


This is the double-page-spread version:
Link to Dropbox:

This is the single-page-width version:
Link to Dropbox:

Use the Dropbox links if you can, so our servers don’t explode,
but if you can’t access Dropbox, here are mirrors:

These files are DRM-free and released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. This means you are free to download them, share them, email them, copy them, print them out, seed them, torrent them, and generally send them about however you like, provided that the manuscript remains unbroken, that attribution is always given, and that all use remains noncommercial.

Many of the stories themselves are further released under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, which also permits non-commercial adaptation of the work into other media. See the back of the book for full copyright information.

EBOOKS. We are also pleased to bring you these ebook versions:

Machine of Death in the Amazon Kindle Store – $9.99 $5.99.
Available for download worldwide, right now. DRM-free.

Machine of Death in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store – $9.99 $5.99.
Available for download right now. DRM-free.

Machine of Death as a downloadable ePub – $9.99 $5.99 from us, via Gumroad.
Available for download worldwide, right now. DRM-free.

Machine of Death in Apple’s iBookstore for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch – $5.99.
Available in all the markets that Apple allows us to sell to.

PODCAST. Starting today, we will be releasing about one story a week in audio as a free, Creative-Commons-licensed podcast. We’ll also be posting each episode here on the site. The first one’s up now — you can go listen right this second!

To subscribe in iTunes:
(Please use this link rather than the direct feed if you can, it helps the iTunes servers track how popular we are!)

However, if you don’t use iTunes, the direct podcast feed works fine! It is: Plug that into your favorite podcasteater!

Updates 29 Oct 2010 05:38 am by David !

Did somebody say STREET TEAM

• If anybody’s going to the Rally to Restore Sanity this weekend, or is in fact going anywhere else at any time, and you want to print out something fun to introduce folks (whether their names be Stewart, Colbert, or anything at all really) to our little book and the story behind it, here is a printable PDF for any use whatsoever

• More media mentions! The Atlantic Wire and The Awl both capitalize on the Glenn Beck angle. (We’ve now got audio of that, below.) A rather more personal write-up at Connective Visions, and a nice interview with contributor Pelotard at the Litopia homepage. Pelotard’s got exactly the right idea: contributors! Solicit your local press! This is your victory too!

• What happens a few days after a bunch of people order books? A bunch of people start receiving books in the mail! We’ve seen tweet after tweet of folks excitedly opening their Amazon boxes to discover our thick, shiny stack of pulp inside. And reading it. And loving it. How cool!!

• We had a Facebook event for the Oct 26 launch date, but that date’s now passed. So we’ve set up a new Facebook page for ongoing participation — some people are posting photos, and David made a little prediction photocomic. Anyone who wants to take pictures, or share their thoughts on the book, or discover prediction slips out in the world (as David did! Scarily!) is urged to do so on the new Facebook page!

• Here’s the Glenn Beck audio from the 27th. It’s possible he’s mentioned us again — or mentioned taking the top spot in general — in the days since, but we haven’t heard from anyone who’s listened to the program. This bit’s about three minutes long, and of course we posted a partial transcript yesterday.

Anyone who knows Roger Ebert or Rachel Maddow, have them drop us a line, willya?

And remember that MOD is still under $10 on Amazon if you’re interested in joining the culture of death! I promise that every new sale is another tiny pea beneath Glenn Beck’s many mattresses.

• We’ve been sending out so many confirmation emails to folks who’ve asked us for the free ebook versions (coming soon!) that Gmail has throttled our outgoing mail. This has slowed us down a bit on responses, but rest assured we are still receiving everything fine. Keep sending in those receipts.

• Speaking of which, anybody who has, in the past, successfully formatted a Kindle .mobi file and would like to help us, please email us. This is hard UPDATE: We’re set for now!

• Finally — David wrote up a thing on Wondermark today about what’s next for MOD:

Machine of Death rose to #1 on Amazon and stayed there for over twenty-four hours. We accomplished everything we set out to do. Agents, publishers, retailers, distributors, well-wishers and the press have been flooding our email inbox. I can’t stress this enough: It worked. We won!

Once we hit #1, I called an agent I’ve worked with in the past — one who’d tried to sell MOD before but just couldn’t find anyone who wanted it — and he sprung instantly into action. Doors that were once closed started positively flying open before us. Although some big publishers have now approached us about buying the rights and doing a new edition of the book, we have declined. That ship has sailed. We are the publisher.

We also realized that we had an opportunity here to gain a level. We could have struck a deal with a publisher, potentially even a lucrative one, that would have been nice in the short term and could probably have led to interesting places. But we have larger goals than just signing a book deal, and we realized we could play the long game here, not just for our benefit — but for the benefit of our friends and colleagues in webcomics as well.

And so in the last few days, using resources offered to us that previously would have been absolutely inconceivable, we have laid the groundwork for a complex but amazing publishing/distribution structure that, in the future, should hopefully allow us to get not just Machine of Death, but also all TopatoCo-published and TopatoCo-partnered books into regular bookstore/retail channels, both in the U.S. and abroad. Ryan, Matt and I are harnessing this amazing rising flood-tide to lift all the boats we can find, all the ropes we managed to grab hold of when the waters hit.

Much has yet to be settled on this front, so I will simply say it remains a carefully considered work-in-progress and I expect to make more important announcements about this in time.

TopatoCo is, of course, the publisher/distribution company that handles merchandise for both Ryan’s Dinosaur Comics and David’s Wondermark, and in the last year or so, TopatoCo’s been publishing great new editions of comics such as A Softer World, Problem Sleuth, Nedroid, Hark! A Vagrant, and most recently Questionable Content. TopatoCo’s business has always been mostly a direct-to-consumer model, but, guys — what we’ve done here has changed everything. We are setting some pretty cool goals for the future, and we absolutely want to drag our friends and colleagues up with us.

International folks, check the shipping prices for MOD on TopatoCo. Don’t know how they’ll compare to Amazon — it’s a heavy book — but it might be more reasonable for some, and if you want any other TopatoCo merchandise as well, you can always request a Flat Rate box and cram it full of T-shirts and everything else, amortizing the cost somewhat!

• Hugs to all and to all a good night

Updates 28 Oct 2010 12:09 am by David !


Some more media mentions!

Here’s a cleverly-titled post on SLOG, the blog of The Stranger alt-weekly in Seattle (which runs Dinosaur Comics in print, albeit a week ago I noticed that they printed the wrong title on it).

Here’s trenchant analysis from Publishers Weekly, or at least a succinct bullet-point version of the highlights of what’s happened over the last few days!

ABC News in Australia has also picked up the story, quoting at length the absurd hobos-winning-the-Super Bowl metaphor that Ryan and David rambled on about in our audio message.

Something else we learned today! When we picked a release date, we tried to aim for a day far from other major book releases — why invite more competition than we needed to? Unfortunately we don’t know anything about publishing, and so missed the fact that a number of high-profile books also had official release dates of October 26: a new John Grisham book; Keith Richards’ autobiography; a Barefoot Contessa cookbook; etc.

Let me put that another way — the books we beat on Tuesday were on their release date.

Apparently someone named Glenn Beck had a book come out on Tuesday too? I don’t know who Mr. Beck is, but a quick Google seems to indicate that he’s some sort of Ron Popeil-like infomercial huckster or something:

He also apparently has a three-hour daily radio program (well, one hour and forty-one minutes if you don’t count commercial breaks), an hour-long streaming internet program, and an hour-long talk show on cable that he’s been using to push his books. His radio show is full of fancy-sounding commercials like this.

But we beat him on his release day. I feel bad! He must have been looking forward to that day so much!

Anyway, I’m absolutely certain that our particular brand of bootstrapping, entrepreneurial, small-business-friendly capitalism is right up Mr. Beck’s alley — by all accounts he is an outspoken champion of the little guy, a humble spokesman for the downtrodden.

And I want to tell you that, um…our books are ALWAYS #1. And I find it REALLY fascinating, FASCINATING, that if you go to, Broke is number THREE. And the two books that are ahead of it — one is Keith Richards’ Life, which is getting a TON of — you know, that’s everywhere.

But this is a book about, you know, how he snorted his father’s ashes, after death. (sarcastically) THAT’S cool. This is the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] book. This is for all of the — this is for [union leader] Andy Stern who’s all, I guarantee you he’s on the phone and has been the last few days, you know, with people like, you know, Bill Ayers going “All right, DUDE! Ah, do you remember when we were rolling around in the mud like animals? Remember that? This guy was smoking ash — you know, smoking his dad, and, and, popping stuff into his veins? Ah, those were the DAYS, man.” And then William Ayers was like, “Whaddaya mean, those were the days? I’m still doin’ that stuff, man!”

So that… “culture of death.” And it’s an escape into the past, of, you know, the Woodstock stuff.

And then, the #1 book — TODAY, at least — is Machine of Death. And it’s a — collected stories about, you know, people who know how they’re gonna die. Haowww!

So you have DEATH — I know it’s called Life, but what a life it is, really! It’s a culture of death! OR, “How do we restore ourselves?”

These are the — this is the left, I think, speaking. This is the left. You want to talk about where we’re headed? We’re headed towards a culture of death. A culture that, um, celebrates the things that have destroyed us. Not that the Rolling Stones have destroyed us — I mean, you can’t always get what you want. You know what I’m saying? Brown sugar. I have no idea what that means.

– Glenn Beck, The Glenn Beck Program, October 27, 2010

UPDATE: The audio has been posted here.

In the hours since that program was first broadcast into the ears of legions nationwide, Mr. Beck has gotten his wish and captured the #1 spot. We’re just sad we couldn’t have given him his special day on Tuesday! If you’re reading this, Mr. Beck, we’re sorry about that. We just didn’t even know you were there.

Updates 26 Oct 2010 12:04 pm by David !


Thank you so very much!! Here’s an audio message from Ryan and David.

What’s next? The football game doesn’t just end when one team wins! (Wait, what?)

• Ebook versions! We’re accepting your forwarded receipts (from a sale of a print edition) to info at machineofdeath dot net. Specify your preferred flavor of ebook and we’ll have it winging your way as soon as the files are prepared.

• The official release date for the PDF version and the first episodes of the podcast is November 2nd.

• Amazon has (temporarily?) lowered the price on the book without prompting from us — probably something they do automatically once the title reaches a certain threshold? If the price was an issue before, take another look!

• Thank you to the contributors and fans for all your blogging, tweeting, skywriting and haranguing passers-by! It is working

• Thank you as well for the very kind mentions at Boing Boing, io9, Bookslut, and thanks to Chris for the incredible review and interview over at

• I just want to say that it is really, really exciting to check one’s email and see not one but TWO messages in there from Barnes & Noble corporate bookbuyers. More information on the bookstore situation as it develops!

This has been, and continues to be incredible, one of the great joys of our lives to see the superlative groundswell of support that has arisen around this project. We just told you about this a week ago. This is incredible.

UPDATE: We are now #1 in all Books > Literature & Fiction overall (beating even the brand-new Grisham Kindle edition that was released today)!!

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