Moistly Harmless: How to Appreciate Newts and Salamanders

by Ethan Kocak

An educational comic book by NYT Bestselling Cartoonist (and amphibian enthusiast) Ethan Kocak.

The finished version of this softcover book will be around 100 pages, 6.625 x 10.25"


supported of $9,000



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PDF book

28 claimed

One PDF copy of Moistly Harmless



224 claimed

One softcover copy of the book. Includes a PDF copy.


Mini print

71 claimed

4x6 print. Scroll down to MINI PRINTS section below to see in greater detail. Let us know your selection at


Digital avatar commission

8 / 15 claimed

A digital avatar for use on social media, drawn especially for you by author and artist Ethan Kocak. Includes one person and one critter. Add-on one additional critter for $10 (limit 2/avatar). Includes a PDF copy of the book.


Book + portrait commission

3 / 5 claimed

One softcover copy of the book, plus one custom portrait commission, drawn especially for you by author and artist Ethan Kocak. Includes up to 4 people and/or critters. Add-on one additional person or critter for $10. Includes a PDF copy of the book.


Fire Belly Newt Pin

19 claimed

1.5" soft enamel pin designed by Ethan Kocak


Mudpuppy Pin

12 claimed

1.5" soft enamel pin designed by Ethan Kocak


Book + Pin

12 claimed

One softcover copy of the book + one 1.5" soft enamel pin. Includes a PDF copy of the book. If you'd like to switch to the Mudpuppy pin, write us with that request at


Book + Both Pins

9 claimed

One softcover copy of the book + both 1.5" soft enamel pins. Includes a PDF copy of the book.



13 claimed

One "Taricha extra-sleepy time tea" stainless steel mug + a 2-oz tea sample by Traveller Tea Shop


Book + Mug

3 claimed

One softcover copy of the book + one "Taricha extra-sleepy time tea" stainless steel mug and 2-oz tea sample by Traveller Tea Shop. Includes a PDF copy of the book


Book + Mug + Both Pins

4 claimed

One softcover copy of the book + one "Taricha extra-sleepy time tea" stainless steel mug and 2-oz tea sample by Traveller Tea Shop + both 1.5" soft enamel pins. Includes a PDF copy of the book


Tip Jar

251 claimed

We appreciate salamanders, and also you! Add a little something extra for us hard workin' creators and administrators. You can increase in increments of $1 by simply pressing '+' in the quantity field during checkout until you reach your desired amount. Much appreciated!


Add ons are only available once you have selected at least one Primary Reward listed above.


Additional critter for avatar or portrait commission

13 claimed

Only available for backers of digital avatar or portrait commission tiers. Limit 2 per digital avatar.


Digital cross-stitch pattern

8 claimed

Digital pattern for "Cute as a Newt" cross-stitch designed by artist Arielle Milstein-Brennan


DIY cross-stitch kit

14 / 50 claimed

DIY kit for "Cute as a Newt" cross-stitch designed by artist Arielle Milstein-Brennan. Includes 3-inch wooden hoop, fabric, needle, thread, pattern, and directions.


Does it Fart?

20 claimed

Hardcover book


Believe it or Snot

20 claimed

Hardcover book


True or Poo

21 claimed

Hardcover book



Book + signed bookplate

100 / 100 claimed

One softcover copy of the book + one bookplate signed by author and artist Ethan Kocak. Includes a PDF copy of the book.


Digital avatar + book

15 / 15 claimed

One softcover copy of the book, plus a digital avatar for use on social media, drawn especially for you by author and artist Ethan Kocak. Includes one person and one critter. Add-on one additional critter for $10 (limit 2/avatar). Includes a PDF copy of the book.



My name is Ethan Kocak. I’m best known professionally for illustrating the NYT bestselling science comedy book “DOES IT FART?” as well as the webcomic “Black Mudpuppy.” I’m also a huge nerd obsessed with newts and salamanders and have been observing, keeping and breeding them for something like 30 years now. And that is why I want to make this book. 


“MOISTLY HARMLESS” is a book I’ve had in my head for a long time; part field guide, part memoir, and all about my favorite subject. I want to cover how you can look for and find salamanders in the wild, why they need protection now more than ever and how best to care for captive specimens. But I want to do this book my way, which means with humor and in comic book format. This will be something unique and fun but also packed full of accurate, up to date scientific information. 


And also lots of silly cartoons.





Mini Prints











Ethan Kocak is a cartoonist, illustrator and herpetoculturist. He is most known for Does It Fart? which was an international and NYT best seller. He is cohost of the herpetology podcast Squamates, creator of the webcomic Black Mudpuppy and Punch Everyone. While his career is drawing cartoons, his hobby has been keeping and breeding reptiles and amphibians for the last 30 years, especially salamanders.


Arras Wiedorn (Owner, Endangered Art Books) has a passion for bringing science and beauty to the world. In 2015 she published the collaborative art book Losing Altitude, highlighting endangered birds from around the world, and recently completed her master’s degree (MSc Biology, TAMUCC 2021). She is thrilled to be helping Ethan bring some love to amphibians through Moistly Harmless. 



The book will feature guest art from scientific illustrator and paleoartist Gabriel Ugueto (@SerpenIllus) and comic artists Jessi Sheron (@JessiSheron, creator of The Sea In You), Jon Rosenberg (@JonRosenberg, creator of Scenes From A Multiverse), Rosemary Mosco (@RosemaryMosco, creator of Bird and Moon Comics), and Abby Howard (@AbbyHoward, creator of The Last Halloween and co-founder of Black Tabby Games)


Taricha “extra-sleepy time” tea blended by Traveller Tea Shop (@TravellerTea)


“Cute as a Newt” cross stitch designed by artist Arielle Milstein-Brennan (@arielleishere)


“Ethan is like the They Might Be Giants of webcomics.”

- Jessi Sheron, Creator of The Sea in You, Iron Circus Comics


"You wouldn't think it's possible to build a viable brand around salamanders. You'd be right, but Ethan comes close."

- K.B. Spangler,  Author


If you don’t love newts already, buy this book. If you do love newts already, DEFINITELY buy this book. There is no greater champion of the humble salamander than Kocak. 

- Ursula Vernon, Author of Dragonbreath


"I don't know what pull quotes are..."

- Josh Grosvent, The Show KROCK CNY

Stretch Goals

$12,500 - Upgrade the book to be in beautiful full color (the initial goal funds a black and white book)


$13,000  - One pin design (fire belly newt)


$14,000 - Taricha “extra sleepy-time tea” mug and tea sample

$14,500  - Second pin design (mudpuppy)



The book is currently about 50% written and thumbnailed. The main writing pieces that need to be finished are research-related and need to be checked for scientific accuracy. The art will take approximately six months to complete from sketches to finalization. 


Production times are highly variable at the moment, particularly due to paper shortages, but may take up to several months. We hope to start shipping books around 3-4 months after completion of the art. Other merchandise such as prints, pins, and mugs will go into production right away after the campaign, and so orders without physical copies of Moistly Harmless may ship sooner.


2022-06-03 15:40:19

Campaign successful!


Wow. We nearly doubled our initial goal which is just outstanding. I can’t wait to have this book in your collective hands and I’m really looking forward to the next few months of putting it all together. The support for this project has been almost overwhelming and I really can’t thank you all enough. I’m going to make the best damn salamander comic book I can for you all. STAY MOIST! Wait, no that’s gross. Anyway, stay tuned!

2022-05-24 04:14:53

Final stretch goal UNLOCKED!


With over a week still left in the campaign, we've unlocked the final stretch goal - the mudpuppy pin design! This also unlocks two special bundles: buy a book and both pins and save $5, or buy a book, a mug, and both pins, and save $10! This is just our little way to thank you all for your support. None of this would be possible without you!
As I mentioned before, we didn't want to get bogged down with too many extras; keeping it simple helps ensure everything goes smoothly! So then, what's next for the rest of the campaign? The short answer is: Ethan gets a raise! In this house, we love paying artists a living wage. 
Basically, the only stretch goal remaining is an open-ended one. The initial funding goal already covered Ethan's base pay rate in addition to manufacturing and shipping costs, and each stretch goal covered the additional manufacturing costs of the color upgrade and extra items. But every additional book sold directly helps to support Ethan!
Anyways, thank you all so much again for your support - we are well and truly blown away! And we can't wait to get books (etc.) into your hands!
-Arras Wiedorn 
(P.S. - Ethan and I got a little preview of Abby Howard's guest art and all I gotta say is WOW! As expected, it's absolutely incredible. I can't wait for you all to get to see it!)

2022-05-22 16:38:47

Mug and tea sample UNLOCKED!


Stretch goal number 3 is officially unlocked! You can now order a stainless steel mug featuring art of some highly-inadvisable tea... and each mug will come with a sample of some extremely advisable, 100% amphibian-free tea custom blended by the Traveller Tea Shop! Personally I'm very excited.
(If you're confused - don't worry, the book will explain all about the genus Taricha and the story that inspired the mug!)
What's next? Our fourth and final stretch goal, the mudpuppy pin design! Let's go!
-Arras Wiedorn 

2022-05-20 04:45:33

Colored page example


Now that we've unlocked the Stretch Goal that makes the entire book in color, Ethan has sent an example of a colored page to share with supporters! This isn't final, but is a little taste of what the colored book will look like :)

2022-05-18 15:05:33

Full color + enamel pin!


Wow! Two stretch goals completed in one day! As of this evening, Moistly Harmless is going to be printed in glorious full color, AND we'll be bringing at least one pin design to you! Thank you all so much for helping Ethan's technicolor amphibian dreams come true! There's no need to do anything extra to get your color copy - all copies of the book will be in color.
In addition, the soft enamel fire-bellied newt pin will now be available both as a bundle with the book and as a separate item. The bookplate bundle is now sold out, but there are still plenty of fun extras available, and hopefully more to come!
On that note, our next stretch goal is another fun one that Ethan was really excited about: the Taricha "extra-sleepytime" mug and custom tea blend* by the Traveller Tea Shop! (*Guaranteed 0% actual Taricha in either product!)
But more on that when it unlocks!
Thanks again for all your support - we couldn't do this without you!
-Arras Wiedorn

2022-05-13 15:58:50

Foreword Announcement


It’s a huge pleasure to announce that Dr. Darren Naish (Twitter: @tetzoo) of the famous Tetrapod Zoology blog and podcast will be penning the foreword to Moistly Harmless. Dr. Naish is a brilliant science writer, zoologist, paleontologist and most recently was the lead consultant for the new Attenborough dinosaur documentary Prehistoric Planet. I’ve been reading Darren’s writings since 2006 and got my science comic start turning his articles into weird little Tetzoo Comics. It’s an honor to have him on board for this and I’m thrilled to have him.
-Ethan Kocak

2022-05-10 16:18:48

Fully Funded!


Wow! Fully funded in just under a week! To celebrate, here is a little doodle Ethan did because... it's over 9000!!!
Anyways, bad jokes aside, we are really thrilled! This means that Moistly Harmless is for sure coming to your door in fabulous black and white. But there's still over 3 weeks left in the campaign, so next comes stretch goals! We only have a few - it was important to us that we keep it simple. Stretch goals are exciting! But it's easy to let them get overwhelming, and we wanted to avoid that.
So! Our first stretch goal is also the biggest - full color! Once we reach the first goal, we'll be able to print Moistly Harmless in glorious full color for added fun. This one was most important to us, which is why it's first! 
You, our fabulous supporters, are what has made this possible. We truly appreciate your support, and we hope you can keep helping us out by hyping up the project and talking about it on social media. We'd also love to hear about your favorite amphibians, so please tell us your stories, your favorite species, or what you're most excited for in the book using #MoistlyHarmless!
Thanks again,
Arras Wiedorn

2022-05-05 01:00:20

Launch Day!

Arras Wiedorn

Already over 1/3 funded and it hasn't even been a whole day yet! We are really blown away (or as Ethan said, "woah!"), and so incredibly grateful. Let's keep this energy up! 
On that note, I want to take a moment to answer a few questions we've had:
To start, we WILL be shipping internationally! Newt books for everyone! International shipping can get pretty expensive, so if that's not quite in the budget, don't forget there's a PDF edition. It will include everything in the physical book, so you won't miss any of the amphibious fun.
Speaking of fun - the book will be appropriate for all ages, so if you were thinking of getting a copy for a larva (or several) in your life, don't hesitate! This fun is for the whole family.
Another big thank-you to all of our supporters thus far! We can't wait to bring you an amazing book.
Thank you!
-Arras Wiedorn 


Does Zoop save my credit card info?

Zoop does not store or keep your credit card info. Stripe simply holds the credit card info until the end of a successful campaign and then charges it. It is strictly for this one time use and won't charge it ever again.



What does Zoop use for checkout and when would my credit card be charged?

We use Stripe for checkout because it is VERY secure. They exceed industry security standards and are trusted by thousands of companies, including Amazon, Lyft, Slack, Shopify, and Airbnb, who use Stripe's software tools to accept payments. Their interface is pre-made by them and we don't have the ability to augment it in any way. Once there, you have 15 minutes to complete the transaction by hitting the 'SAVE CARD' button. Stripe then holds the credit card info until the end of the campaign. You won’t actually be charged unless the campaign reaches the funding goal. The pre-order amount will show as 'pending' on your credit card statement until that date.

If the campaign doesn't fund, your pre-order will be canceled, and the pending charge will disappear. You'll get an email confirmation with a summary of rewards and charges both after the initial pledge and after the actual charging of the card (try looking in your spam folder if you don't happen to see it in your inbox). 

How do I cancel a transaction?

You can either access the transaction through your account and click the cancel button, or contact us at and we'll cancel it for you and send back a confirmation email.
Cancellations of rewards or add-ons of $500 or more must be made before there are 72 hours left in the campaign. The reason for this is it can have a negative effect on the tally of the campaign. If it is a limited reward or add-on, there may not be sufficient time for someone else to purchase it, leaving the campaign possibly not funded. We ask for your courtesy of the people running the campaign when making these decisions.

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You could e-mail us at with that info during the campaign if you'd like to get it out of the way. Otherwise, we'll be reaching out to all supporters of rewards that require feedback shortly after the campaign is over.

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Since we have an a la carte rewards system, shipping rates will vary from supporter to supporter. We use a weight-based calculation system in your checkout cart, though, so, after you enter your country, you'll be able to see it calculated in real time with each item you add.

If I purchase rewards and then want to make changes to that purchase later on in the campaign, what is the process?

If you want to make changes, you should first cancel your original order and then start over with a new one. If you don't do that and simply process an additional order, the way our system is currently set up you may end up being overcharged for shipping -- which we could remedy for you, but it just takes that extra step of catching it and crediting you back the extra shipping, so please try the prior way first.

Will there be a post-campaign period where you can make changes and get add-ons through a 'pledge manager'?

No - this is it! We're essentially your in-campaign pledge manager. If you are interested in supporting these creators, this is the time to do it!  And it's the exact reason we allow you to purchase as many rewards as you want during the campaign!

What's the idea behind the Rewards and Add-Ons? Can I get both?

Rewards are the priority items that the creators have chosen for the campaign. Add-Ons are meant to be secondary items that are 'unlocked' after you buy something from the Reward level. There are no restrictions on buying Rewards, but you can only buy Add-Ons if you've bought a Reward. Zoop sets this up under the direction of the creators. Some may choose to only have Rewards, some may choose an even balance of Rewards and Add-Ons, and others may choose to only have one or two Rewards with the rest of the items being Add-Ons.

Can I get more than 1 item?

YES!  We encourage you to get more than 1 item! That could be multiple copies of the same reward, or you can mix and match rewards! There is no limit, unless otherwise stated in the reward description.