White Lightning Productions
White Lightning Productions exists to publish those comic works which we believe deserve publication. Considerations of profit are secondary to this goal, so long as the works being published are economically self-sustaining.
Kris Overstreet founded White Lightning Productions in January 1997. After being downsized from his position as warehouse manager at Antarctic Press in October 1996, Overstreet decided to begin his own publishing company based on what he felt Antarctic Press had once been: a fun publishing company more dedicated to finding new talent and supporting artists than in profits. At the beginning, Overstreet had only a lottery ticket worth about $130, two boxes worth of Antarctic Press comics collected from comp copies during his time with the company, and assorted other goods left over from his comics trading days with his father's flea market company.
White Lightning made its debut appearance to the public at the one and only Antarcticon. At the time, in addition to some odds and ends, it offered for publication four art portfolios licensed from Jason Meador and a single oversized fanzine, Moonshine Presents. Although WLP appeared as a dealer at a handful of small conventions over the course of 1997, the lack of a reliable vehicle forced Overstreet to convert WLP to an Internet-based mail order and auction company before the end of the year. Despite this, Overstreet's needs at the time were modest enough to allow WLP to grow, albeit slowly. This was assisted in no small part by the income Overstreet derived from Antarctic Press as webmaster. By summer of 1998, two issues of Moonshine Presents and the first issue of what would become G. A. H.! had been produced, and a number of other art portfolios had either been licensed for re-publication or commissioned for exclusive publication.
During this period Kris Overstreet first made contact with John Barrett and Josh Lesnick, two artists who would contribute early work to WLP and who would give Overstreet contacts with other creators. In particular, after collaborating with WLP's first exclusive art portfolio, "Experiment 45-EEE", John Barrett became the character designer for what would become WLP's first direct market comics publication, the adults-only comic The Magnificent Milkmaid. A short story, "Mission of Mercy," was produced for submission to Radio Comix for use in its "Milk" anthology. Both the short story and the full-length origin story were completed by July 1998.
Expansion and Success
In August 1998 Overstreet, and White Lightning Productions, relocated from San Antonio to the Overstreet family home in the Big Thicket of southeastern Texas. With a vehicle at his disposal once more, Overstreet returned to the convention circuit, selling comics from other publishers to support his own efforts. This proved quite successful, allowing Overstreet to fund the publication of the first issue of Milkmaid and the three-issue adult miniseries Cream and Sugar. Throughout 1999 and 2000, White Lightning Productions would enjoy modest prosperity, marred by unwise borrowing on Overstreet's part which would lead to crippling debts later on.
Although the fanzines Moonshine Presents and G.A.H.! had never done more than break even, Overstreet was by this time receiving submissions of shorter comic stories and requests to send scripts around to other artists. Also, John Barrett had decided to leave the Milkmaid project to work on the Gold Digger "Edge Guard" spinoff and other personal projects. Since the original Milkmaid short story had not been used by Radio Comix, Overstreet decided to begin his own adult anthology, Bootleg, which first saw publication in February 2000. Other publication attempts during this period, such as Gingerbread Cinnamon and Hive, either were rejected for solicitation by Diamond Comics Distributors or did not sell enough to justify printing.
Beginning in August 2000, a combination of factors began to cripple White Lightning Productions. First, the Internet boom, and its prosperity, began to deflate about this time, taking with it the high levels of disposable income that White Lightning depended upon. Second, with WLP's income reduced by dragging sales at conventions and steadily dropping sales in the comics direct market, Overstreet found it harder and harder to keep up to date with royalties owed to artists. Finally, the use of several credit cards to help fund WLP's growth and operations left WLP with ever-growing debts it was no longer able to pay. By the end of 2000 WLP's boom period was over; when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred, WLP was in serious trouble. Ever since then, WLP has remained in a nearly constant state of financial emergency, struggling to even find sufficient money to continue printing comics, much less paying bills. Worst of all, the ever-worsening financial situation led to long backlogs on mail orders as WLP was forced to use even postage money to cover bills. This made the loss of mail order business even worse, as dissatisfied customers took their money elsewhere.
During this period WLP was given the exceptional opportunity to enter the translated manga market. A Japanese creator of adult comics, Tohru Nishimaki, was referred to White Lightning Productions by another publisher. An agreement was quickly reached, and in July 2001 the first issue of Blue Eyes was released to the public.
Although Blue Eyes was and remains WLP's highest selling comic, it hurt WLP in the long term. Production costs on Blue Eyes were higher than on any other book before, beginning with a significant advance payment on royalties. Although popular by the standards of adult comics, Blue Eyes did not sell enough to offset its higher production costs. Eventually White Lightning Productions negotiated a total liquidation of its stock and a release of any claims to rights to publish Blue Eyes in order to free up funds for a more modest and inexpensive Japanese translation project, Kouzou Shimokata's Nipple Magician. The transfer of Blue Eyes to Icarus Publishing left WLP with more debt than ever before, but with enough liquid assets to soldier on. It did so without one of its major revenue sources, as increased expenses and auto troubles forced WLP to severely curtail its convention sales appearances.
In 2003 and 2004 WLP took several measures in an attempt to retrench its financial situation. It closed its credit card merchant account, which cost more in leases and fees than were taken in through it in an average month. WLP switched banks, saving gas and reducing fees significantly. Donations were solicited through various means to clear out WLP's mail order backlogs and get order processing back up to speed. Most notably, in an attempt to attract possible customers to the WLP website and to provide content for a now languishing Bootleg, WLP began offering free webcomics for the first time in November 2003.
Prior to this effort Overstreet had opposed posting content electronically. In WLP's early days the entire first issue of Milkmaid and other WLP publications had been bootlegged and posted around the Internet. Drastic action and threats of legal action curbed these thefts, but they left Overstreet convinced that offering any comic in an electronic format was tantamount to begging people to violate copyrights. It took a combination of factors to overcome Overstreet's prejudice and to commit to the webcomics model.
The first factor was Maid Attack, WLP's third effort at a general audiences book. The first, a mass market version of "Moonshine Presents," failed for universal lack of interest. The second, "Hive," did not sell enough to justify printing the 48-page oversized issues. "Maid Attack" lost a modest amount of money on its first issue, and sales reports for following issues dropped off so precipitously that Overstreet was forced to cancel printing after the first issue. With the rest of the four-issue planned miniseries cancelled, Overstreet had a printed first issue with an obvious cliffhanger but no place to go. Webcomic presentation was the only option.
The second factor was the submission by W. C. Pope of a number of newspaper-style strips unsuitable for use in "Bootleg." Sex Puppies was ideally suited for webcomics, and unsuited for print comics; the decision to present it on the WLP website was a simple one.
The final factor was "Bootleg." Submissions for Bootleg had dropped off greatly as WLP proved more and more unable to provide payment of royalties on anything like a timely fashion. If WLP was to continue publishing comics at all, action needed to be taken to generate content for Bootleg. Lawrence Mann proposed a spinoff of "Milkmaid" featuring a character of his own creation, Chocolate Milkmaid; Overstreet in turn sketched out ideas for 4-panel gag strips featuring WLP's adults-only comics mascot, and Dave Menard was tapped to draw The Misadventures of Chichi-chan.
Reception of the web comics were mixed. Chocolate Milkmaid and Chichi-chan each gained a small but significant following, while Maid Attack and Sex Puppies languished. Mail orders did not improve; however, PayPal donations helped to keep WLP from collapsing during this period. However, in August 2004 PayPal blacklisted Overstreet from its service because of White Lightning Productions' adult content. Donations continued, although at a much reduced level, when WLP switched its donations to YowCow, even instituting a clumsy but workable website shopping cart. Unfortunately, YowCow changed owners in February 2005, and the new ownership refused to release funds to its members, leaving WLP without any electronic means of accepting donations. Not only did WLP effectively lose all electronic means of accepting donations- no other major service would allow adult merchandise- but over $600 of money for orders shipped and donations was lost, presumably forever, to YowCow's clutches. Again, only massive infusions of money by donors allowed WLP to stagger on.
Despite this setback, WLP has continued its webcomics projects. Maid Attack completed its run in April 2005. W. C. Pope put Sex Puppies on hiatus in May of the same year. They were effectively replaced, earlier in the year, by Peter is the Wolf and Stellar. In particular Peter, created by Overstreet and drawn by BAR-1, has surpassed Chocolate Milkmaid as WLP's most popular webcomic.
WLP began a line of T-shirts in 2004 as part of an effort to support its webcomics. Although most of the early shirts did not do well, certain designs proved extremely popular, and WLP kept adding new designs as time went on. By the end of 2006 WLP's cashflow had turned the corner, allowing the company to build itself up for the first time in several years. During this period, T-shirt sales became the primary source of income for the company.
The growing success of the clothing line allowed WLP to acquire a new, cheaper merchant account in 2006. The implementation of credit card processing on a working web store vastly boosted mail orders and donations.
At the time of this writing, in addition to clothing, WLP is experimenting with the sale of art prints, badges, and other art-related products connected to its comic projects.
By the end of 2004 Overstreet had to make a decision regarding WLP's comics line. Of all the comics published in 2003 and 2004, only Bootleg had even come close to breaking even. The long-awaited second issue of Milkmaid would be its last, as sales came in vastly below break-even levels. With WLP's financial situation as precarious as it then was, it could no longer afford to throw good money after bad. If WLP was to remain in the market at all, something had to change- and fast.
Eventually Overstreet decided to convert Bootleg to a 64-page format, placing all its comics projects- Milkmaid, Nipple Magician, and its web comics- in one cover. The first issue of the new format, #13, proved to be nearly half again more expensive to produce than first estimated, and as of the end of 2005 it appeared to be a major money loser. Issue #14, however, almost broke even, allowing WLP to continue in the comics market in the short term. The decision of WLP's existing comics printer to abandon the printing of adult comics in 2007 forced a re-evaluation of the situation. The change of printers, plus the steady drop in sales, made it clear that the reprieve of Bootleg was short-lived, and that WLP would have to make the transition to graphic novels.
The final issue of Bootleg, #19, was printed in May 2008. After this WLP began publishing graphic novels (beginning with collections of Peter is the Wolf in 2009) and PDF downloadable comics (beginning with the debut of its Superboobs Online website in 2011). WLP also maintains a growing income through its t-shirt line and a selection of other merchandise sold at conventions and over the Internet.
White Lightning Productions, although open-minded to all-ages comics, is best known for publishing sexually explicit comics, with a tendency towards silliness and breast fetishism.
White Lightning Productions operates under the truism that pornography and erotica are inherently silly, and thus should be played for all the laughs possible. Sex which is not fun for all participants is not accepted for publication by WLP. Other themes which might cause legal issues, such as watersports and coprophilia, bestiality, and most especially Lolicon or other underage themes, are likewise strongly discouraged.
For its print projects, WLP maintains standards of quality. An artist whose work is not yet up to par will not have their work in print by WLP. These standards are relaxed but not eliminated for web publication, which is much less dependent upon market forces. WLP has been complimented many times by its readership for the quality of the works printed in its comics.
WLP stands strongly behind the creator-owned model of comics creation. WLP only claims ownership over properties either created by Kris Overstreet or characters created expressly for WLP, such as mascots Shiroi and Chichi-chan. All other creations remain the property of the artists; WLP only seeks printing rights, not ownership.
WLP recognizes, with regret, that artists will move on to better-paying publishers if given a chance. WLP's role is as a place for new comic artists to get practice, exposure and experience. Once an artist finds a place with a larger publisher, WLP wishes that artist the best of luck, always keeping the door open for projects from that artist if and when possible. WLP regards exclusive contracts and non-compete clauses as a form of legalized slavery and never forces any artist to sign anything of the sort.
WLP tries to compensate its creators in whatever ways they can. This includes cash when it is available, trade credit for WLP products, complimentary copies of WLP merchandise, paid admission at conventions WLP exhibits goods at, and other benefits. Unfortunately, health, dental and pension isn't part of the package.
WLP prefers not to offer services such as a paid membership website, e-books, etc., believing that such services are a lure to Internet piracy. Furthermore, print books don't require batteries and are much easier to hide under mattresses, behind toilets, etc.
Comics Publishing History
Comics not listed here were never printed.
The Magnificent Milkmaid #1 - December 1998
Cream & Sugar #1 - April 1999
Cream & Sugar #2 - June 1999
Cream & Sugar #3 - September 1999
Bootleg #1 - February 2000
Bootleg #2 - April 2000
Bootleg #3 - June 2000
Bootleg #4 - September 2000
Bootleg #5 - December 2000
Bootleg #6 - March 2001
The Magnificent Milkmaid #1 Deluxe Edition - May 2001
Blue Eyes v. 1 #1 - July 2001
Blue Eyes v. 1 #2 - September 2001
Blue Eyes v. 1 #3 - November 2001
Blue Eyes v. 1 #4 - January 2001
Blue Eyes v. 1 #5 - March 2002
Bootleg #7 - October 2002
Bootleg #8 - April 2003
Maid Attack #1 - May 2003
Bootleg #9 - August 2003
Nipple Magician v. 1 #1 - March 2004
Bootleg #10 - April 2004
Nipple Magician v. 1 #2 - May 2004
Nipple Magician v. 1 #3 - July 2004
Bootleg #11 - September 2004
Nipple Magician v. 1 #4 - October 2004
Bootleg #12 - November 2004
The Magnificent Milkmaid #2 - December 2004
Bootleg #13 - August 2005
Bootleg #14 - December 2005
Bootleg #15 - June 2006
Bootleg #16 - September 2006
Bootleg #17 - January 2007
Not Ninja High School V. 2.0, May 2007
Bootleg #18 - September 2007
Not Ninja High School in Space, February 2008
Bootleg #19 - April 2008
Son of Not Ninja High School, February 2009
Peter is the Wolf Book 1: The First Twenty-Five Hours - October 2009
Peter is the Wolf Book 1A: Werewolves Gone Wild! - October 2009
Chocolate Milkmaid: the Eruption of Mt. Yukiko - January 2011
101 Ways to B. E. Part 1 - January 2011
Webcomics Publishing History
Chocolate Milkmaid - Nov. 1, 2003 - current
The Misadventures of Chichi-chan - Nov. 1, 2003 - current
Sex Puppies - Nov. 1, 2003 - May 27, 2005 (removed by request of artist)
Maid Attack - Nov. 1, 2003 - April 30, 2005 (story completed)
Peter is the Wolf - Jan. 1, 2005 - current
Stellar - March 1, 2005 - Jan. 1, 2009 (story unfinished)
Shadowchasers - Joined WLP October 13, 2005 - current; originally ran on another host June 13 to July 25, 2003
The Magnificent Milkmaid - August 28, 2006 - current
WHITE LIGHTNING PRODUCTIONS
16286 FM 943
LIVINGSTON, TX 77351