rec.arts.comics.creative Frequently Asked Questions

Maintained by Russ Allbery <eagle@eyrie.org>
Original by Jeff McCoskey
Last modified July 13, 2014

If you're reading this on Usenet, this FAQ is formatted as a minimal digest. If your newsreader has digest handling capabilities you can use them to navigate between sections. In rn variants, you can use Ctrl-G to skip to the next section; in Gnus, press Ctrl-D to break each section into a separate article. For other newsreaders, see the documentation.

The latest version of this FAQ is available on the web at:

<http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/faqs/racc.html>

Please send any comments, suggestions, or updates to eagle@eyrie.org.

Contents

  1. Welcome to rec.arts.comics.creative!
    1.1. What is RACC for?
    1.2. What isn't RACC for?
    1.3. What is the RACC official charter?
    1.4. Where are the stories about Wolverine(tm)?
    1.5. Where are the old stories?
    1.6. How can I read RACC via e-mail?

  2. Writing for RACC (How do I get involved?)
    2.1. Cool! Okay, how do I post?
    2.2. Format! I'm nothing without format!
    2.3. How 'bout them imprints? What's up with that?
    2.4. How do I archive my stories for posterity?
    2.5. What do copyright laws I pay taxes for do for me?

  3. Netiquette for RACC

  4. Glossary

  5. List of current imprints

  6. People to ask for help

1. Welcome to rec.arts.comics.creative!

Welcome to rec.arts.comics.creative, the newsgroup which could have been named rec.prose.shared-universe but wasn't, the newsgroup which has, to date, produced well over 30MB of entirely free original fiction (and that's compressed!), the newsgroup which has nearly nothing to do with your favorite comic books at all!

You're about to go insane. Don't worry, it's fun.

rec.arts.comics.creative (henceforth RACC) is a moderated newsgroup for comics-related original fiction and discussion of same, originally created unmoderated by Martin Phipps and a cast of thousands (well, dozens at least) and later converted to moderated to keep out the spam. Don't worry, even though it's a moderated group, it's still friendly, chatty, and not at all formal, and we go out of our way to keep it that way.

The first group of this sort on the Internet was the Superguy mailing list, which is still in operation to this day (you'll see posts from it on this group from time to time). Later, the Legion of Net.Heroes (LNH) sprung out of a free-form thread on rec.arts.comics and spawned another newsgroup (alt.comics.lnh). They were quickly followed by a wide variety of other comics-based shared universes, including the Patrol, the Net.Trenchcoat.Brigade, and Omega. All of these organizations, in parallel, gathered together authors in shared universes and strongly influenced the nature of RACC.

First and foremost, RACC is a site for people to post comics-related fiction. Stories about long-underwear vigilantes, anthropomorphic animals, SF, westerns, even Kleen Teens if anyone is so moved. As long as it relates to comics it's okay. So whether you're a reader, a writer, or that fabled creature the critic, or even all three -- welcome to RACC: it's all the story, none of the art! (yet)

1.1. What is RACC for?

For the official charter, see section 1.3. Here's the long, readable version.

One term that you'll see a lot is "shared universe." This is a shared story background, co-created by multiple authors and used as the "universe" in which multiple different stories are set. This is a trademark characteristic of most comic books (seen in its clearest form in the ubiquitous crossover, a story written by multiple authors at once and involving multiple characters who all have their own stories), as well as appearing in some other published fiction (such as Wild Cards, or Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars). Most (but not all) of the stories posted here take place in one of the established shared universes (there's a list later on in this FAQ), to the point where this style of writing is nearly characteristic of the group.

Another term you'll see is "comics-related." Nearly all of the authors writing here drew their original (if not primary) inspiration from comic books. As a result, nearly all of the stories are on-going (published a chapter at a time), divided up into "issues" and given numbers, and organized into "imprints." Many people also describe covers or design ASCII graphic logos.

There is no restriction on types of fiction. (That'd kinda take the creative out of RACC, wouldn't it?) You'll see stories run the gamut from slapstick comedy to grim'n'gritty Real Life Supers (TM). As long as it's about comics, set your pen free. (You'll see a lot of superhero fiction, but that just means that those of us who like reading other things as well are anxiously awaiting your non-superhero stories.)

RACC is also for discussion of stories, both specific ones and in general. The critic and reader is one of the most sought-after types of people around here; if you give us feedback on our stories, good or bad, we'll love you forever.

Finally, if you want to announce your free web strip here, we welcome those posts too. If you're trying to sell it, though, please try rec.arts.comics.marketplace or rec.arts.comics.strips instead. (And rec.arts.comics.strips may be a better group in general, as RACC readers are mostly interested in text fiction.)

1.2. What isn't RACC for?

A lot of things. We're not for wars of attrition, Third World starvation, 45 mph speed limits, and brussel sprout toothpaste. Closer to home, RACC is not for any of the following:

1.3. What is the RACC official charter?

This newsgroup welcomes any form of comics-related original fiction and discussion of the same, including but not limited to stories in the many established shared universes. Discussion of on-line fiction as a whole is also welcome provided that it is related to the stories on the newsgroup. If they choose to write in an existing shared universe, writers are strongly encouranged to follow the existing continuity and rules of that universe. "Comics-related" will be interpreted very broadly, as has been traditional on the newsgroup.

Each posting to rec.arts.comics.creative should include a keyword on the subject line either designating which shared universe the posting refers to or marking the general subject of the post (ADMIN, META, MISC, etc.). If a submitted post does not have a keyword, the moderator will add an appropriate keyword, but posters are encouraged to add keywords themselves to save moderation work.

Large binaries, such as artwork, will not be allowed on the newsgroup. Instead, binaries can be made available in the newsgroup archive (subject to the discretion of the archivist) and a pointer posted to the newsgroup. Pointers to Web pages are also welcome, provided the content of the page is related to the purpose of the group.

Stories using copyrighted or trademarked characters are explicitly not within the charter of this group and may be rejected unless the author owns the copyrights and trademarks or has written permission from the owner. Networking posts (artists seeking writers or writers seeking artists) are inappropriate in this group and should be sent to appropriate mailing lists or other groups in the rec.arts.comics.* hierarchy (rec.arts.comics.misc if there is no other more appropriate group).

1.4. Where are the stories about Wolverine(tm)?

This is very important, so I'm going to yell it. RACC IS NOT THE PLACE FOR FICTION ABOUT ESTABLISHED, TRADEMARKED CHARACTERS. This includes all Marvel, Image, DC, what-have-you characters. RACC's charter expressly FORBIDS such fiction.

The reason for this is the ongoing legislative battles about intellectual property and the Net. rec.* groups are picked up worldwide, and sysadmins do not want to draw lawsuits because someone wrote a story that violated trademark laws. Note that fanfic stories may or may not be lawful and/or prosecutable, WE JUST DON'T KNOW. They're still writing the laws.

To forestall any confusion or debates, and to protect sysadmins from inadvertently becoming the test case, this provision was adopted as a key requirement for RACC's creation. If you really must write about existing, trademarked characters, there is alt.comics.fan-fiction waiting to receive you. alt.* groups get picked up by sysadmins voluntarily, so they presumedly know what risks they're taking.

Nothing will draw this group's ire faster than violating this requirement.

1.5. Where are the old stories?

Thanks to the tireless efforts and bottomless disk space of Russ Allbery, all stories posted to rec.arts.comics.creative are archived! This means stories will be preserved for future generations of readers, providing a link to the past. It is difficult to over-praise this contribution.

(Note: Lest you think I would be so crass as to praise myself, I want to make sure you know that Jeff wrote that last paragraph. 'course, I didn't delete it either.)

The archive site is ftp.eyrie.org in the directory /pub/racc; you can browse through the archives either by connecting to it via anonymous ftp or by pointing your web browser at either of:

    <http://archives.eyrie.org/racc/>
    <ftp://ftp.eyrie.org/pub/racc/>

All of the stories on ftp.eyrie.org are compressed using gzip, so you may want to use the web interface instead (the first link above) as most browsers can automatically decompress them for you.

This archive unfortunately hasn't been updated recently, but it does have all of the older stories.

Every message to rec.arts.comics.creative, story or not, is archived at:

<http://lists.eyrie.org/pipermail/racc/>

in the form of a more traditional mailing list archive, so you can also look there if a story hasn't been saved in the story archive. This is the best way to find anything posted in the last few years. You can search the archive by prepending "site:lists.eyrie.org" to a regular Google search.

Please note that stories will be removed from both the list archive and the story archive at the author's request if the author wants to take them down. This has happened in the past, sometimes because the author wanted to sell the stories to a professional venue.

1.6. How can I read RACC via e-mail?

Everything that shows up in RACC also shows up in its associated mailing list (and vice versa), so if you want to be sure not to miss anything, or if you just prefer e-mail to Usenet, you can subscribe to that mailing list.

To do that, go to:

<http://lists.eyrie.org/mailman/listinfo/racc>

and fill out the form to subscribe. Alternately, you can subscribe via e-mail by sending mail to racc-request@lists.eyrie.org with the word:

    subscribe

in the subject of the message. You then can read and reply to posts just as if the newsgroup were a mailing list. It's all the same to us.

2. Writing for RACC (How do I get involved?)

Write a story. Post it. You're involved.

This assumes you want to create your own universe to write in. If you want to join a pre-existing shared universe, it's a little more involved.

Many of the imprints have FAQs of their own (OMEGA, Superguy, LNH, Crossroads to name a few). These get posted periodically. The first thing you should do is read these documents to get a feel for what these specific universes are like.

The next thing you should do is _read_ the universe in question. This includes tapping the archives for back issues. No one would suggest you read the entire Superguy or LNH archives before writing, but definitely try to sample a large cross-section.

Lastly, email some of the creators you see writing under a specific imprint. They will be able to tell you if your concept fits with their universe or not, and perhaps refer you to a more appropriate universe if necessary.

THEN write a story and post it.

2.1. Cool! Okay, how do I post?

RACC is a moderated newsgroup, which means that every post goes to the moderators first. If your site correctly has the group marked as moderated, you should be able to post just like you post to any other group and your news server will take care of the rest. If you have a Unix shell account, you can check if the group is correctly marked as moderated by typing:

    nntplist active | grep rec.arts.comics.creative

If the last character on the resulting line is an "m," congratulations, you have a good news administrator. If it's a "y," send mail to your local computing support people and ask them to convert the group to moderated like it should be.

If you don't have a Unix shell account, some newsreaders will also tell you if the group is moderated.

If, for any reason, you have trouble posting or your site doesn't have the group marked as moderated, you can mail your post to racc@eyrie.org instead and it will be posted for you.

Because the group is moderated, it can be up to a day after you post before your article is actually posted, and it can take a few more days for the article to propagate back to you. So don't be surprised if it doesn't show up right away.

Many readers of rec.arts.comics.creative use Google Groups to read and post. While this works, and I know it's convenient, Google Groups also deletes anything enclosed in square brackets ([]) at the beginning of Subject lines in replies. If you use Google Groups, please try to remember to put back the imprint tags when you reply to posts; otherwise, I have to add them as the moderator.

2.2. Format! I'm nothing without format!

Formatting is pretty loose. Since this is a comics newsgroup, you will hear people refer to their stories as "issues." Postings tend to run in numerical order just like comic books, and many people write continuing series. For example there are 25 "issues" in Drizzt's _Continuity Champ and the Drizzt's Defenders_ series.

Stories don't have to be series though. One-shots, mini-series, maxi-series, crossovers -- all of these have been done before and will be done again.

The subjects of postings should follow the convention of naming the imprint the title and the number. For example:

            LNH: System Corruptors #15, The Bard's Tale
    imprint --^         ^           ^      ^
    title --------------|           |      |
    number -------------------------|      |
    subtitle/comment/etc [optional] -------|

Since the archive mechanism relies heavily on this format (not to mention the format-accustomed eyes of this group's readers), please follow this strictly, including the use of the #-sign. Subtitles, alternate titles, and title comments should follow the number if they are used at all. If you want to, you can use [TAG] instead of TAG: at the beginning of the subject; it's all the same to the archiver. (TAG: causes a few fewer problems than [TAG] with Google Groups.)

Occasionally, instead of (or in addition to) a number you will see "TEB." This stands for "Trade EtherBack." It means the posting is actually a collection of previously posted issues -- usually cleaned up and relating to a single story arc.

Inside your story do what you will. Some folks run fake ads, others use cheesy ASCII graphics, some just use text. A word of advice: On older/more primitive newsreaders your text is MUCH easier to read if you space between paragraphs. On the other hand, some newer newsreader readers find the spaces jarring. The moral? You can't please all the people all the time. In general spaces seem to be more preferred.

2.3. How 'bout them imprints? What's up with that?

In order to accommodate a near-infinite number of different potential universes, RACC has adopted the reasonable convention of flagging fiction. This allows uninterested parties to skip some genres, and others to quickly find their niches of interest. The flag goes before the title of story issues, related FAQs or universe-specific discussions. Many flags refer to existing shared-universes. New ones will come up all the time. For the current list, see section 5 of this FAQ.

Once you pick an imprint name, stick with it. The Archive and your legion of new fans will both be happier if you don't make marketing name changes.

Regardless of flags all SEXUALLY EXPLICIT or PROFANITY-RICH stories should have huge warning labels at the beginning of text. Last thing we need is a Florida DA bringing us all up on charges. ;] Besides, it's only common courtesy. Note that if a story could reasonably be posted on alt.sex.stories, you've probably strayed a bit far from this group's interests.

Some sort of flag, either an imprint name or a more general tag, is required on all posts and one will be added by the moderator if you don't provide one. Leaving one off requires the moderator to edit your post, though, which takes time and means your post will be delayed. So please save them the trouble and remember to add the tag yourself.

2.4. How do I archive my stories for posterity?

Good news! It's already being done for you! (Or at least it will be if Russ ever catches up with the archiving.)

In theory, every story posted to rec.arts.comics.creative is archived at <http://archives.eyrie.org/racc/>. Most imprints have their own directories, with the stories stored in directories under that (depending on the size of the imprint, the directories could be very structured or just one directory for each series). Some imprints may be collected in the misc directory.

Unfortunately, this archive is substantially out of date. Russ hopes to eventually find time to update it.

The exception is Superguy, which has its own archiving mechanism. The Superguy archives are at ftp.eyrie.org under /pub/superguy, but one of the best ways to access them is through the Autocollector at:

<http://archives.eyrie.org/cgi-bin/superguy>

2.5. What do Copyright laws I pay taxes for do for me?

I don't even play a lawyer on TV, but there are some things you should know about Copyright laws.

Anything you write is copyrighted immediately, whether you flag it with a copyright notice or not. Furthermore, the copyright protection is international under the Berne Copyright Convention, which has been signed by nearly every country with access to Usenet.

If you label your text as copyrighted, it preempts a possible "unintentional infringement" defense from plagarizers. The copyright notice is considered legal notice that you intend to retain your rights. The legal format for such a notice requires three things: Your name, the year, and one or more of the following: "Copyright," "Copr.," and/or the c-in-circle symbol. Note that there is no firm legal precedence for (C) or (c) as having any special copyright meaning. Example notice:

    Copyright 1994 Jeff J McCoskey

The only way to get full legal protection (at least in the United States) is to register your work with the government (forms are free, filing fees apply). This guarantees an archived, dated copy should future legal action be necessary. Other forms of dating, like mailing yourself a copy or archiving (to get a date stamp), are of dubious and unproven legal value.

An excellent resource for Copyright information is misc.legal, where a FAQ is posted monthly.

Another excellent resource is the U.S. Copyright Office home page at:

<http://www.copyright.gov/>

3. Netiquette for RACC

As a rule of thumb, everything you've heard elsewhere about good netiquette applies here. We hate spammers (more in a minute), expect smilies when joking (except in stories of course), and in general expect you to conduct yourselves as good net.citizens. There are three things you need to know after you've mastered Basic Netiquette:

  1. The only times flames are accepted on RACC are when they are both morally defensible and amusing. Flames are not welcome if they do not meet the above criteria. Here on RACC there is one organization that acts as moral compass for acceptable flames: the Order of St. Doomas.

    The Order has defined one activity that is worthy of flame: spamming. One member of the Order (usually the first to his/her keyboard) will have the honors. Repetitive flaming by multiple members is frowned upon by the Order.

    To join this righteous crusade, all you need do is select a net.persona and flame. Incorrect flaming (i.e. at non-sanctioned targets, or with unamusing effect) will result in ostracization and excommunication. Watch the Order in action before joining and all will be clear.

    Now that the group has been moderated, most opportunities for flames are gone. But watch carefully; new ones may arise.

  2. Reviews of stories (even negative ones) are one of the most sought-after commodities on RACC. You will instantly win friends and influence people if you post reviews. But especially in the case of negative reviews, ensure you confine your review to the story and not the writer. Keep in mind as you write "that SUCKS" that someone worked long and hard on the text. They might want to know what worked and what didn't in their narrative but it's doubtful they want to hear how clever you can be in ripping them up.

    It's certain the rest of us don't.

  3. One of the best features of a shared universe is the opportunity to have your characters interact with others in that universe. This is a privilege, not a right. All characters on RACC (and their distinctive text-likenesses) are the full and exclusive property of their creators. This is not as dogmatic as it sounds, and we're all adults (or pretending to be). Cameos (non-speaking/non-plot affecting roles) do not typically require permission unless the creator desires it. Speaking roles should be previewed through email and approved by the creator before being posted.

4. Glossary

These are terms you will see come up on RACC that have special meaning here. (For general net.terms and abbreviations, see the META RAC FAQ.)

Acraphobe   RACC's version of adult warning label.  Yes, with an "a."
            Don't ask.
Arc         A multi-issue storyline.
Archive     ftp.eyrie.org, where nearly ALL the back issues live.
Crossover   A storyline that involves several titles and/or authors.  Also
            the bane of all mankind.
Elsewhirls  An imaginary story.  (Yeah yeah, we know they're ALL
            imaginary.  How about "out-of-continuity"?)
Fanfiction  Fiction about established, trademarked universes and
or fanfic   characters that the author did not create -- in short, the
            sort of stories RACC *wasn't* designed for.  There's a good
            list of newsgroups at the end of this FAQ that should help in
            finding a better group if this is what you want to write.
Imprint     The shared universe your story takes place in or subject your
            posting relates to (we have many to chose from).  This is
            usually an all-caps prefix on the title of the posting.
LNH         The Legion of Net.Heroes.  The immediate father of this group
            and the oldest of the Usenet-based writing universes (see
            Superguy).
RAC*        The rec.arts.comics.* hierarchy of newsgroups.
RACC        rec.arts.comics.creative.  You're soaking in it!
rACCIES     The annual RACC fanfiction awards, as voted on by the readers
or RACCies  of this newsgroup.
Repost      Story has been posted before, natch.
Superguy    A mailing list that predates all other Internet comics-fiction
            forums.  There is a good-natured rivalry between the LNH and
            this group.
TEB         Trade EtherBack.  This is a collection of previously posted
            material, usually cleaned up and relating to a single story
            arc.
Title       A numerically increasing, continuing series.  Usually
            involving one character, cast, city, or unifying concept.

5. List of Current Tags

When choosing a tag to put at the beginning of your post, this list should be a canonical reference. If you see a need for a new tag, send mail to the FAQ maintainer so that it can be added.

First, the general tags:

ADMIN       Administrative matters affecting everyone on RACC.
FAQ         FAQs of note for the entire RAC* hierarchy.  These will tend
            to be crossposted here.
META        Discussion about the newsgroup itself.  This includes
or CHAT     everything from general discussion of on-line fiction and RACC
            in particular to recommendations on how long posts should be.
PRECOG      Announcements of upcoming series, planned stories, and the
or PROMO    like.
WWW         Announcement of a web page related to RACC or a free strip.

Now, all of the writing imprints. Note that new ones of these pop up all the time. Entries marked with (*) are in danger of being retired due to lack of activity. If you have any changes, please mail eagle@eyrie.org.

8FOLD       A closed universe that encompasses serious superheroes, comedy,
            memoir, and just about anything else: high-quality fiction of
            any stripe is welcome.
ACRAPHOBE   Mature stories that may or may not fit into other universes'
or ACRA     continuity.  Using this flag in conjunction with another is
            not unheard of.  (For example, Scav's _501 Blues_ is
            LNH/ACRAPHOBE.)  Think a meta-Vertigo.
ASH         Academy of Super-Heroes.  Dave Van Domelen's RPG-based future-
            history stories.  See <http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH>.
ELSEWHIRLS  LNH stories that do not fit into LNH continuity.  Think DC's
or EW       Elseworlds.
HCC         The High Concept Challenge, a continuous series of writing
            contests.  Each round, the winner, chosen by reader vote, gets
            to pick the next round's concept.
LNH         Legion of Net.Heroes, "The Friendliest Shared Universe
            Going!(TM)"  A mostly parody universe, though it does have its
            serious side.
LNH20       On the LNH's 20th anniversary, a group of writers took it upon
            themselves to create a new world, based in everything they
            loved about the LNH, in the best spirit of comic book reboots!
            LNH20 is just as friendly as the original, but easier to get
            into!  Hop right in, the adventure's fine!
LNHY        An Imprint involving an alternate LNH universe called
            Looniverse Y.  The big difference between this and the Classic
            LNH is that writers are allowed to have only one character of
            theirs in this Looniverse's LNH.
RACCCafe    A continuity-free outpust where RACC characters can unwind
            after a hard day of being mangled by their writers.  Anything
            can happen, as long as it's funny, and there are no
            consequences!
SG          Superguy.  From Space Moose to the Bomb.  Comedy superhero
            writing with a far different background than LNH.  Note that
            only a small slice of Superguy stuff appears here; to see the
            rest, read bit.listserv.superguy or subscribe to the mailing
            list.
STARFALL    Lightly serious and seriously light superheroics, and better
            because of it.  ;)
NTB         Net.Trenchcoat.Brigade.  A bunch of Vertigo-like characters
            that own stock in London Fog.  Not tremendously active, but
            they do have a considerable history.  Implied Acraphobe.
OMEGA       A serious psi-based shared super-world and once upon a time
            RACC's third largest universe, now inactive.  Created by the
            legendary Matt Rossi.
OSD         The Order of Saint Doomas.  Items relating to RACC's anti-spam
            cult.  (See Section 3 above.)  No posts have been seen from
            this imprint in quite some time, but that doesn't mean they're
            gone....
SW10        SW stands for Superhuman World.  10 is an annual tag.  The
            comic has proceeded to 2011, but the tag has frozen at 2010
            because that's when the series really interacted with RACC.
            Scott Eiler has written the story of this universe since
            before 1991, but 1991 is when the modern heroes of this series
            start.  His sources include adolescent male power fantasy,
            superhero role-playing, comic-book satire, and dreams.
MISC        Stories not in the above categories or in their own universes
            (authors are encouraged to make up their own headers as well).
            To limit the number of imprints, and to keep this FAQ to
            reasonable lengths, let's adopt this convention: One-shot
            stories or series should use the MISC flag.  Series that set
            up shared universes should create their own, new imprint.

6. People to Ask for Help

The major header contacts are listed below, who will be glad to answer email question. Also keep your eyes peeled for FAQs specific to particular imprints. The FAQs are also often in the archive in a directory named "FAQs" under the imprint directory.

  Imprint        Contact                Email
  ------------   --------------------   ---------------------------------
  8FOLD          Jamie Rosen            jamie.rosen@sunlife.com
  8FOLD          Tom Russell            joltcity@gmail.com
+ ASH            Dave Van Domelen       dvandom@eyrie.org
+ LNH            Andrew Perron          pwerdna@gmail.com
  LNH20          Andrew Perron          pwerdna@gmail.com
+ LNHY           Arthur Spitzer         arspitzer@earthlink.net
+ NTB            Arthur Spitzer         arspitzer@earthlink.net
+ RACChallenge   Sean MacDonald         mcdonald@vorteb.math.uab.edu
+ StarFall       Ted Brock              phantom_belcher@yahoo.com
+ Superguy       Eric Burns             eaburns@annotations.com
  SW10           Scott Eiler            seiler@eilertech.com
  The Archive    Russ Allbery           eagle@eyrie.org
  Moderation     RACC Moderation Team   racc-request@eyrie.org

+ indicates separate FAQs are available for these imprints.

If you need to contact the moderator directly, the contact information is:

    Russ Allbery <eagle@eyrie.org>

If none of the above people help, or your questions are too general or specific, just email anyone you see posting here that seems to know what they're doing. (WARNING: This is rarely the case.)

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