Interview with Shane Thayer

Interviewed Shane Thayer, aka Logar the Barbarian, about his latest project. While the video has 0 editing, there's an edited partial transcript below. Check out Shane's GoFundMe campaign for the print shop.

Richard: All right, hey this is Richard, and I am here today for my first-ever blog interview for the R. Rook Studio blog to talk to a person who’s had me on to run my mouth a whole lot. Shane knows I can’t really shut up unless I’m the one asking questions, so I want to welcome Shane, also known as Logar the Barbarian from the Wobblies & Wizards podcast to be the first guest here.

It is hard to imagine what the TTRPG scene would look like over the past couple of years without Wobblies & Wizards there to be a cheerleader and motivator, inspiring so many people and helping get the word out about so many Kickstarters. Shane’s been wrapping up the daily podcast of Wobblies & Wizards and moving on to what’s next. So I just want to start by saying thank you to Shane.

Shane: Well thank you I appreciate all that.

Richard: So tell us a little bit about what’s going on with winding down the daily part of the podcast, and then we’re gonna move on to talking about what you’re working on now

Shane: So March was the last month, so in April, there’s no Wobblies & Wizards podcast. We’ve been focusing on some other things around here: the print shop, and the co-op stuff is kind of a big part of that and there are a lot of questions still up in the air we’re still ironing out and working stuff out but we’re tediously plugging away, we’ll say.

Richard: So you are running a fundraiser right now on GoFundMe for the print shop and the co-op’s basic funding. Can you tell me a little bit? What is that? What is that all about? What do you what are you kind of working on? What’s your vision for the print shop?

Shane: So I’ll rewind this a little bit. I buy a lot of tickets pretty often. I buy the Powerball and the Mega Millions, and every time I do, I justify this as a fool’s tax. But I’m okay with it because I can go down the street to the fancy theater and only get like two hours’ worth of entertainment but when I buy those two lotto tickets, I spend the next week just daydreaming what I’m gonna do when I get those that Mega Millions right, and I’ve been daydreaming about this little cooperative for like the last 20 years so when I hit the Mega Millions, and I said you know maybe we should just try doing a little bit of what I daydream of doing in my great fantasies of having the Mega Million. We have all kinds of good equipment to run off and print and publish books and things like that, but I don’t got the Mega Millions.

We got a couple of little printers and things like that and some equipment that we managed to pick up, thankfully, thanks to the folks who had backed us on Patreon and showed us support when we were doing the wildlings images podcast, so that was kind of bought the initial equipment. I’ve been pricing lots of equipment out, and I said, you know what, if I had an extra thousand dollars, I could do a lot with it. Because if I had an extra five, I had an extra ten, like we’d be set in my mind now right. Pricing out printing equipment like ten thousand dollars ain’t even the beginning in order to really get up going what we want to see going we’d be like half a million dollars, but we’re starting out small and within our means so that we’ve been looking at things, which means more labor and less automation essentially. So that’s where we’re kind of at, and right now, with the money from the actual GoFundMe is going for, I can’t tell you 100 because we’ve priced out so much equipment, and it’s it was set kind of higher than I expected. It’s done much better than I would expect but I said, you know, if I had the dream budget to be able to purchase equipment, there it is. So initially, we’re looking at things like expanding the sizes that we’re able to print and stuff like that, and hopefully, hopefully when this is over, I’d like to at least be able to print in a diversity of sizes that we are not currently able to print and as well as have some other options with binding.

So that’s where we’re at, and what we’re going to be able to do with the money is going to depend on how much comes in in the long run, right.

Richard: Tell me, if you get sort of that basic minimum budget kind of what are you thinking you would have, and would this be primarily for you and your co-op members? Would you be taking on work for other creators?

Shane: Well, at first, I know that we’ll be able to do zine-size prints for folks, and hopefully, pretty decent prints are what we’re aiming for, something that looks nice. We’re kind of hoping to lean a little artsy with a few of the things, so we’re going to experiment a little bit too. It’s for fun, and largely like I’m hoping to be able to do this for other folks out there, and the other people who put stuff out is largely what our main focus will be. We’re putting a few little things out kind of like our learning, beginning, and getting our way around processes and procedures. Those are probably the first few things that we put out before I will be like, hey yeah, send us your stuff or try to sell them with us yeah, so that’s kind of where we’re at with that. Ideally, I’d love to see a great big print shop where you can print all kinds of books but starting small with a few little things, and then right now, we have the capability of doing small eight-and-a-half by eleven folded in half is what we have the current capability to do.

Richard: Standard zine size?

Shane: Yeah, yeah, standard zine size. But it looks like the way that the crowdfunding has gone that the other larger printers that we had eyeballed may be within our grasp, so we might be doing like like the module size like old D&D module-type prints.

That’s what I’m really hoping to be able to do, especially with those I’d like to see like there are some ideas we had going forward with some of that stuff. So we’ll see what we’re able to actually get equipment-wise. The first thing I know that I want, because I feel is probably the most used type of binding in role-playing games, is perfect binding. As much as we do a lot of the saddle stitch and the staples and stuff like that, those types of things we can do, I’d like to get to a point where we can do a really good perfect binding, and we’ve been playing around with other things as well, I think.

I’m a very hands-on person. I worked for many years as a framer. When I do art, I like to be hands-on. Oils are my preferred medium but lately, I’ve used a lot of colored pencils but yeah, I very much like to be physically involved with the thing. I got a history around printing, you know, I was using offset print printers and stuff like that in the mid to late 90s, doing different forms of screen printing and stuff like that. So I haven’t done a lot of that stuff in quite a while, right, but it’s stuff I’ve done in the past.

One of the things that seem to be our focus is, well, we’ve been taking in broken machines that nobody wants. So like, give me the broken machines and we’re learning how a lot of it’s going to be working with these machines and messing with them, and I’ve learned that it’s going to be learning how to get them to work because it ain’t always I mean a lot of people have messed with some of these printers, copiers, presses, and stuff like that that are out there. It’s not always smooth riding sometimes. You have to get your hands dirty so learning a lot of that, I will say, is what we’ve been doing a lot of learning and reading. I was told to read manuals and we’ve been doing that, learning a lot.

It’s good we destroyed this thing had we not done this, so that’s the kind of stuff that we’ve been spending a lot of our spare time on—a lot of the research and getting to know some of these machines and stuff like that.

Richard: So, tell me a little bit about your plan for color? I mean initially.

Shane: Color, yeah: we’re doing fine right now. Right now, we’re planning on doing full color that’s what we have the stuff here to do, but again that’s at a smaller print size right now. I’m a big fan of black and white, so just because I have the ability to default to color, I don’t know if everything should use that much color and just the practicality of doing the nice awesome cover.

I’m excited about that, but still, how much each individual page could probably get away with it a lot of times, black and white interiors and things like that, depending on what you’re looking at, doing color will make it go up ink-wise. I’ve been messing with that. Ink is not the cheapest thing on Earth, but everybody tells me how expensive some of this stuff is, and sometimes I think that might be relative because I’m very used to art supplies, and it doesn’t seem as expensive as some other art supplies

Richard: So, I think one question that may be on a few people’s minds is a lot of people right now are either working with Mixam or Lightning Source through DriveThruRPG as their primary printer, and we both hang out in places adjacent to the OSR world and see a lot of Lulu stuff or Lightning Source stuff (that’s the printer who works with DriveThru), or we get stuff printed by Mixam, and in the GoFundMe you talk about taking back sort of some of the means of production so that we’re not solely exclusively relying on these big or even not-huge companies just mid-sized companies. I know you get really excited about just having that hands-on connection when it comes to that.

Shane: What we’re attempting to do is, and we have a few people on board and I’d like to talk to other people that are out there doing, especially people who are kind of, rhizomally popping up everywhere. They’re kind of struggling on their own, and I’d like to find ways to kind of pull them together and be able to support each other and a few of us have talked about doing that as a larger Cooperative, doing things like fulfillment and stuff like that for some folks which is in the works.

I mean, if you’re interested in that something like that, please reach out. We’ve talked a lot to Drago up at Ratti Incanti specifically about a lot of that type of stuff and the equipment buying stuff like label printers for printing out addresses and all that kind of stuff. But the biggest thing I think is that we’ve been researching and looking into how to make a worker-owned/worker-run cooperative. So it’s not just a company or someone at the top with all the money. I’ve been doing the 14–15-bucks-an-hour dance for a minute, and it don’t work especially when you got two kids. Like yeah, it’s so good if I can do that on my own thing but that doesn’t cover the mortgage. So one of the things is that I’m not a business, I have an aversion to businesses and capitalism if you haven’t noticed by the title of my podcast: Wobblies & Wizards.

Wobblies were a reference to the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, who is a very, I guess how would I say it a very libertarian socialist leaning sort of radical-leftist union for all workers, and…

Richard: Mother Jones, Emma Goldman….

Shane: Well, Emma Goldman wasn’t as much it was… oh yeah… Lucy Parsons, right. I think Rosa Luxembourg. Helen Keller was a Wobbly.

Richard: Wobblies have a fantastic history.

Shane: Yeah yeah. So we’re hoping to be to make sure that whatever we put out will be in a union shop where the workers are not, you know, the workers are owning the means of production, and they have an equal vote and equal say and the inner runnings of things, equal vote, and who gets what money and stuff like that. So we’re trying our best to kind of navigate that now that there are all kinds of documents that are pre-made for them and stuff like that I’ve been reading through those and trying to get a little assistance and weeding through that so that’s not a hundred percent ironed out, but that’s kind of the what we’ve been spending some of this time doing is uh going over some of those things here locally.

I don’t want to bore everybody, but you know we did some research into how to legally file as cooperatives and all that, and approaching that whole thing is another time consumption, so yeah. That's what’s different: the biggest thing that I think that I see now that we’re offering is if you aren’t going to deal with something that’s not that’s going to be trying to like that.

In talking to other Wobbly folks about things we could provide for folks, I’ve managed to land on or source 100 sweatshop-free union-produced t-shirts. Everything like that. So that’s positive like we’re hoping that the if there’s a selling point, it is that we’re trying to avoid as much of that stuff. There’ll be more union-involved, more union labor, and less sweatshops, and that’s what we’re aiming for.

Richard: You mentioned shirts.

Shane: I’m talking about coming back and doing screen printing and stuff like that. So here’s the thing, we’re looking at creating a cooperative and there are a few people who do screen printing we’ve been talking to, and some Wobblies that do a live stream, and a few others are getting into it so I think by the time I’m like pricing this again. I’m putting 100 things out there’s like, oh and that’s what I’m not supposed to do I’m supposed to keep it real small you do this one little thing, but potential for the future that we will have access to something like union-made t-shirts as opposed to the stuff that people are getting for like pennies in the dollar for practical slavery.

So that’s some of the things that I’m hoping I can accomplish.

Richard: So I’m going to change gears slightly. I’ve heard a rumor that a little like me, you’re a nerd, and you know the nerd-to-game-designer or game-writer highway is pretty well traveled. And I hear that you’ve got a game in development or in play testing right now. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Shane: Well, it’s Hobo’s Guide to Time and Space, and it’s being created by me and a few of the fellers that are in my game group. We’ve been meeting regularly, going over this, running it. I will say that it’s been an interesting process. It’s been a very long process and there’s been a lot of going back and forth some of us are trying to because, as the name implies, it’s kind of a Doctor Who, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Sapphire & Steel, Red Dwarf, or Blake Seven inspired. So it’s kind of along that line and it is kind of it is its own entity.

The concept is that you travel through the time lab so instead of traveling to a dungeon. The dungeon is the method by which you time travel and go from place to place so the adventures can happen throughout the Labyrinth. I like to call it more of a falling down the rabbit hole than anything you know. So more Alice-inspired, a little more LSD than I don’t know, Franzetta.

Richard: So shoot me a link when you all are doing public playtests.

Shane: [Public playtests] are possible I don’t want to give a day I know one of the fellers that’s been working on it said they wanted to have it ready to drop it on May Day. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen, I feel that I feel that we need to do a few more things but there will be a public a public-ish play test type thing coming. I have a lot of stuff I want to add to this game. There are things I wanted to do with it that I don’t think the actual playtest is going to do.

Richard: It has been so great to get to talk to you. I also know back download that last episode of Wobblies & Wizards from March, you will get to hear Logar the Barbarian singing.


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