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Questions Frequently Asked About The Adventures of Action Item!

(a.k.a The Action Item FAQ)

Version 1.7 / 24 March, 2008

These are some of the questions/topics I get asked about most often by people who send me email in response to my Action Item comic strip. Ithought it would be easier if you could look up all the answers in one place. That doesn't mean I don't want you to email me, of course — I'm just saving you some time!

  1. Where can I find the "official" Web copy of The Adventures of Action Item?
  2. Why did you email me this comic strip?
  3. Who was involved with creating Action Item?
  4. How can I contact you?
  5. What do you do for a living?
  6. Are there any more episodes of Action Item?
  7. What are your future plans for the strip/character?
  8. Is it true there are printed posters of the comic strip available?
  9. Where can I get other Action Item merchandise?
  10. What about the Secret Decoder Ring?
  11. Has Action Item ever appeared in print elsewhere?
  12. I'd like to publish Action Item in my magazine/Web site. Can I do that?
  13. How can the strip say it's copyrighted when it gets emailed all over the place?
  14. The version I saw was in black & white. What's up with that?

  1. Where can I find the "official" Web copy of The Adventures of Action Item?
    The official online home of the strip is my own Web site, and no place else. You can find it at this URL: http://professionalsuperhero.com. I'd appreciate it if you let me know if anyone else is using the strip on their own site without permission, especially a commercial business.

  2. Why did you email me this comic strip?
    I've never actually mailed The Adventures of Action Item to anybody, except maybe a few of my close friends. At some point a coworker of mine asked me for a copy of the strip to send to a friend. I guess that friend mailed it to a few of his or her friends, and they all mailed it to a few of their friends, and so on. Next thing you know, it's all over the place. I knew the strip had really made the big time when the guy in the office next to me at my old job got it mailed to him by someone neither of us knew! I apologize if you've received this strip in the mail a few too many times and you're sick of it. But it's not really in my control.

  3. Who was involved with creating Action Item?
    I (Neil McAllister) did all the actual work on the strip, all by myself. A number of other people either contributed moral support or otherwise contributed to the success of the strip in some way, including: Laura DeYoung, Ian Bigelow, Rob Pratt, Alex Lash, Jessica Burdman, Chris Keall, Amy Moon, Lisa Van Cleef, and some others I probably don't remember.

  4. How can I contact you?
    You're also encouraged to check out my personal Web site at neilmcallister.com.

  5. What do you do for a living?
    For the past several years, I've been a technology journalist, writing about Internet and computing technologies for business. For three years I was a senior editor at InfoWorld, and prior to that I was senior technology editor for Web Techniques, during the period of its relaunch as New Architect magazine. I first began working in this area as a columnist for SFGate.com, the Web presence of the San Francisco Chronicle. Before I began concentrating on writing, I also worked as a Web developer and consultant. A lot of people wonder whether I'm involved in the military, government contractors, marketing, etc. Not really — though the strip sure seems to have hit home with those groups. I originally wrote Action Item while working at a major Web design agency in San Francisco, where I was inspired by some of my coworkers. I'm not a comedy writer, satirist, illustrator, or even a cartoonist, really — though I'm interested in all those things.

  6. Are there any more episodes of Action Item?
    So far, the one you've seen is the only one that exists. I get a lot of requests to do more. But think about it this way: Does the world really need another Dilbert?

  7. What are your future plans for the strip/charatcer?
    I've pretty much ruled out the idea of doing any kind of recurring series with this character. I just don't think it would be that sustainable, and I've no desire to completely beat the character to death. There may yet be more Action Item type material in me, but I have a lot less "office angst" than I used to! One idea I may pursue is a one-shot, printed on paper, in actual comic book format. I picture it having a nice glossy cardboard cover, so it'll be something you want to keep or give as a gift to friends or coworkers. It might have one story in it, or several stories, each lasting a few pages. It might be rounded out with some ads for fake products or some other goodies. If you'd be interested in something like this, be sure and contact me and let me know. I need lots of encouragement for projects like this.

  8. Is it true there are printed posters of the comic available?
    You can buy 16x20" full color posters, printed from my original 300dpi master art, from my CafePress store at http://cafepress.com/actionitem. They cost $16.99 apiece, which means I profit from each one to the tune of about one beer. More recently I've also added postcards and T-shirts. I don't make these myself, so if you have problems with the quality of the merch please let me know. UPDATE 08/29/06: Sure enough, I have received reports that Cafepress has begun shipping defective merchandise. The early posters looked great. New ones are pixellated and illegible. Until I get this resolved, I request that you please DO NOT order merchandise from Cafepress.

  9. Where can I get other Action Item merchandise?
    Sometimes people write to ask why I'm not offering T-shirts, or coffee cups, or mouse pads with the character on them. I suppose I could — but I'm just a little leery of the idea of filling landfills with more junk. I don't like the idea that everything thats fun and entertaining has to be "merchandised" half to death. If there's something you really, really want to see, let me know and I'll think about it. But don't count on there being an Action Item product catalog any time soon. Manufacturing-on-demand means I don't have to make a bunch of items before anybody buys them, but in my opinion the prices of a lot of made-to-order items are usually too high.

  10. What about the Secret Decoder Ring?
    Darn! I was just about to bring these to market, but I had to scrap my plans because of patent problems. I guess we'll just never know what those people are saying.

  11. Has Action Item ever appeared in print elsewhere?
    Yes! The strip has so far seen print in two magazines. It first saw print in the March 6, 2000 issue of The Industry Standard, a leading Internet business publication during the dot-com bubble. It ran full-page (almost) on page 47, and even had a little blurb on the Table of Contents. It later was reprinted in the July 2000 issue of New Zealand PC World, on page 136 (the last page of the magazine). Why New Zealand? Don't ask me. How did you first see the strip? In each case, the editor of the magazine had seen the comic online, or been sent it via email, and contacted me about running it in their publication.

  12. I'd like to publish Action Item in my magazine/Web site. Can I do that?
    I like seeing the strip reproduced in print, especially if you're going to run it in color. But please contact me before doing so, to arrange terms. Online publications, please don't copy the image to your own site. Excepting some unusual circumstance, I request that no one host the strip but my own site. Particularly, I insist that you not modify or duplicate the graphics in any way. Feel free to link to the official page at http://professionalsuperhero.com, though. If you have any problems or questions with regard ot this policy, please contact me.

  13. How can the strip say it's copyrighted when it gets emailed all over the place?
    Copyrights do not expire just because someone violates them, even if I don't choose to do anything about that particular instance. I assure you that The Adventures of Action Item is a copyrighted work, registered with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, and I am legally empowered to seek financial redress for violations of that copyright. If I have a problem with your usage of the strip, you can expect to hear from me. Best to contact me first.

  14. The version I saw was in black & white. What's up with that?
    There's actually three versions of this strip floating around. I originally drew the strip completely freehand, using india ink, brushes, pens, magic markers, and a big piece of Bristol paper (about 14x20"). I lettered it by hand using Rapidograph pens. At some point, this version of the strip got scanned in to the computer, and was the first to start making the rounds via email. At some point I decided it would be fun to host the strip on my own Web site. But at this point I decided my own handwriting wasn't "professional" looking enough for the computer screen. I went back in and re-lettered the strip with a computer font of my own creation, and rendered the logo the way it was meant to look (like a ripoff of Superman's Action Comics magazine). At this point, it was still in black & white. When The Industry Standard wanted to publish the strip in a magazine, I thought the best thing would be to re-do it in color, because otherwise it would be jarring to the readers of the magazine. I also took the opportunity to make some art corrections to certain panels of the strip, to fix things that had been bugging me. That's the final, full-color version you see today. Interestingly enough, what this means is that there's no "original" to the strip anymore ... it's scattered throughout several pieces of paper and computer files.

Return to the strip or to Neil's Home Page.