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PSU alumni publish internet comic

PSU alumni Bartholomew Klick and Zachary Stoppel have published their web comic, “Thieves Can’t” in a 15-page print edition. 

Klick and Stoppel currently run their website (yesthievescan.com) together and publish smaller pages of their comic online. However, they began working together during their student days as employees of the Collegio. 

“We start with, usually a conversation,” Klick said. “… Back in 2012, when I was reporting for the Collegio … Me and my buddy Zach Stoppel got together and we wanted to make a comic … we weren’t sure about what at that point …” 

The “Thieves Can’t” comic is a “team effort,” according to Klick. 

“The conversations (Stoppel and I) have could be as simple as ‘Yeah, I don’t have anything. Do what you want,’ or be as complicated as, ‘You remember that time at the table when the player turned into a murder-hobo for this one thing they wanted? How can we make that funny?” Klick said. “That conversation will turn into a script.” 

For the comic’s production, Zachary handles the illustration based on the script and Bartholomew handles the “lettering” in the panels created for the comic. 

“Nine times out of ten I will write the script,” Klick said. “Occasionally, Zach will write it …”  

The scripts, as described by Klick, could have as little as one line of dialogue to a complete description of everything that is supposed to go in the panel. 

“It varies in complexity,” Klick said. “… I give him the script and then he’ll send me back the pencils.”  

The pencil drawings are rough outlines of the proposed paneling to go into the comic. These sketches could be as simple as stick figures to elaborately drawn scenes. 

“After he sends them back, I will take them into Adobe Illustrator and will letter them,” Klick said. “… That tells him what part of the image the text bubbles are going to hide … And then we’ll do the first edit of the script.” 

Before “Thieves Can’t,” the pair’s comics appeared in the Collegio, under the regular headline of “Ramen Empire.” 

“We started experimenting…” Klick said. “We ended up with a project called ‘Ramen Empire’… the editor-in-chief at the time came to us and said, ‘Look, I just don’t get the comics’ … We made that for four or five years until we realized it was just juvenalia. It was us just figuring out how to make comics without really being entertaining.” 

The pair has gained more followers than when they worked at the Collegio. Approximately 5,000 people regularly visit their website weekly to check for updates on the progress of “Thieves Can’t,” according to Klick. 

“The original ‘Thieves Can’t’ script was very sarcastic … and people liked it,” Klick said. 

Klick and Stoppel’s comic is based on the popular tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons and some of their own experiences as players. Klick commented that anyone attempting to start their own comic should do it because they “love it.” 

“If you do it because you love it you’ll be happy no matter what,” he said. “If you happen to get money and fans later on, it’s just nice.” 

Klick and Stoppel fund their publishing output through external websites like Kickstarter and Patreon, at which parties interested in donating to their cause can find on the “Thieves Can’t” website.

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