Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going Apelad

We give shirt.woot a hard time often here at Singularitee. I don't apologize for that, because they usually deserve it... I find it probable that most of you, loyal readers, know what I mean. Still, I am intrigued by the site's Second Anniversary extravaganza this week. The dailies have all been guest-curated by Adam "Apelad" Koford (shown approximated to the left). Adam has been featured at woot before, and will be including his own work in his week of curating, but he will also be bringing in some high profile names, at least in the internet world: Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of BoingBoing, which originally made me fear for internet ephemera, but also the editor-in-chief at MAKE Magazine, which means he could easily bring us something awesome and creative instead of webhumor 2.0. R. Stevens, who like Apelad has been printed at woot before, is the brains behind Diesel Sweeties, a webcomic. And then there's Mitch "Spacesick" Ansara, a cartoonist/designer who maintains a strong presence in the Threadless community and is the creator of the supremely awesome I-Can-Read Movies Series.

I'm most excited to see what Spacesick has for us... his work is often simple and cartoony, leaving plenty of room for his comedic prowess to shine through in concept, but his characters are also distinctive. It's not what I generally go for in a shirt, but I respect that he's making a solid joke in there (I won't lie, I laughed audibly at his WereBurger). On the other hand, I'm not at all excited for Stevens... I hear that Diesel Sweeties is "hugely popular", but all I see is hideous pixel-art and worse punchlines. Actually, I rarely see punchlines at all. That said, the strip HAS been around for nearly a decade, so if you're actually a fan, please feel free to comment with your favorite installment(s) and show me what I'm missing. For now, I'm simply expecting the worst.

Overall, though, this is one of the few new developments shirt.woot has rolled out that makes me at all excited. It's not perfect, but it shows a shred of interest in keeping woot diverse. I will stand up for woot's dailies any time... they are the saving grace of the site for people who want great tees, because unlike the derbies, great tees occasionally pop up as dailies... but lately even they have felt increasingly stale, and a good week of curating from a different viewpoint could help, especially if this sort of thing happens more often. I'd love to see actual wooter-curated weeks, with popular site-based designers selecting their favorites. My main gripe, though, is that it IS a week of dailies, and the dailies are technically ALWAYS curated. It's interesting, but what I'd really love to see is a guest-curated Derby. That's the part of woot that is in need of a good shake-up. Still, I am cautiously optimistic about this particular experiment. Here's to a good week, guys. Check it out, and feel free to leave your commentary on how it's going here.


Jaden Kale said...

Very good write up. I AM looking forward to Adam's (and most interested in Spacesick's) choices for HM's from the derby. At least it's a start towards the direction some of us have felt the derbies should go.

Omnitarian said...

Huge fan of Spacesick, can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve for us.

Woot's dailies have been increasingly hit-or-miss... Woot-Artist curated dailies would indeed be mega-exciting.

Adder said...

I agree the dailies have been very hit-or-miss lately, but the derbies have been miss-or-miss-harder for even longer. When people insist that woot prints more derby shirts instead of weak dailies, I fly off the handle, because you've already foisted three sub-par shirts on us with the same topic. Dailies always have the anticipation and surprise, which alone is more quality than most derby shirts can give. I welcome ways to improve dailies, too, but the derby is where the jaws of life are most needed.

rainoftoads said...

Now that the week has drawn to a close... I think the ApeLad stuff was not very good, and this week's derby contenders are appallingly bad, IMO. Well, I liked one of them, but it got deep-sixed for art ripoffery.

They need to change something about their model. Start with draining the derby swamp.

Adder said...

I think the problems were two-fold:

1) the derby is always a wash. And that is what woot really needs to change. They can appease the idiot masses, or they can be a shirt site. So what we need more than a guest week is an improved derby structure.

2) who is Apelad? Why do I care? What does he know about woot? Whenever I think of the dude, I think of his original tee of the same name, which was pretty universally panned. I read through his Laugh Out Loud cats while putting this post together, and it's some good stuff, but is he that well known? Do we really care what some dude is picking? I think there's a large disconnect between their choice of presenter and their audience. Had they picked a derby regular, let's say, the hype would have been higher, and I believe there would have been work that really stood apart. No offense to Apelad, but he's not going to know what wooters are yearning for, nor have a bead on what sells, so we're left with a series of tees that do slim returns with mediocre concepts and art that neither appease the blithering masses nor the rarely satiated hoards that want something more artistic and awesome.

That said, there have been FAR worse weeks of woot dailies, and this is one concept I'd love to see woot try again, with a more well-known purveyor of taste, or a more popular and reliable curator.