The webcomics blog about webcomics

Good News (With A Side Of Turnips)

It’s been an up and down couple of years for Kate Beaton and family — for every book or wedding, there were setbacks in Becky’s fight against cancer. But even amid grief there’s new hope, and sometimes very, very good news:

My dad just had open heart surgery, and he is through and doing good! Phew. Truly, no one else could keep me in my place.

Beaton’s burying the lede in that tweet just a little, as the accompanying cartoon made clear. She and husband Morgan Murray are expecting a child, her mom is over the moon (as we knew she would be), Da always has a unique perspective on things, and pregnancy is serious overrated.

Anybody that loves Kate’s cartoons (that would be everybody, near as I can tell) is filled with happiness — not only because she and her family are overdue for some joy, but also because this is going to result in many, many moments of hilarity large and small, some of which will be shared with us and the majority of which will be held close to the hearts of those that were there at the time. Some will likely involve turnips.

Congratulations and love, Kate and Morgan and little one to be named later. We’re all thrilled for you.

Spam of the day:

NOTE: In return for the FREE CONTENT/ARTICLE that I will be providing you, I would expect just a favor of a backlink from within the main body of the article.

Oh please, tell me what topics you have on hand that are appropriate for a blog that deals 99.47% with webcomics, a topic that pretty much nobody else cares to write about.

Baker’s Dozen

It’s been established in the past that the exact date is lost to us, but I’m gonna say that today is as good as day as any to say that Fleen went live. It was as early as the 5th of December 2005 that we were banking posts, and it was the 22nd when Jon posted the public announcement and rules, which have mostly been adhered to (although that whole firing thing would be a neat trick, as I’d have to form a majority to fire myself).

But it was around now, somewhere between the 12th and 15th when posts started going public and getting written daily in reaction to things happening on the day. The 13th of December 2005 featured some recurring themes — drama, shitstorms, personalities clashing — to a degree that we may as well declare it the official start.

So, that’s 13 years down; this page is now a Teen, with all that implies. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn so snotty that we have to murder it before it becomes legal to drink.

Spam of the day
We didn’t feature spams when we launched, so we’re giving them a rest for the anniversary.

Redux x 2

We see the return of a coupla’ things today, one recent and one it’s been a while.

  • Readers may recall Project: Rooftop, the superhero fashion website launched in 2006 by Dean Trippe and Chris Arrant to highlight the best in superhero costume/character design and redesign. The site’s featured various art over the years, but it’s been since Summer 2013 since there was a redesign contest — the once-regular highlight of P:R

    Or rather, it was since Summer 2013, because the contests are back:

    CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT – X-Men: Days of Future Pants!

    Pick 2-5 of your favorite X-Men. They can be the team you’ve always wanted to see, your favorite line-up of the past, or just your favorite X-Folks to draw.

    Design a core uniform. For this challenge, we’re inviting you to redesign the base team look, the cohesive uniform that says they’re a team, but as is often the case with a team of varied powers, abilities, and personal motifs, feel free to show individual members in personalized versions of that core uniform.

    The teaser for the contest has to be seen to be believed — a Kirby-style Cyclops having that dream when Professor X summons you to battle for a world that hates and fears you and you’re in your underwear¹. Or, uh, just look up top, it’s right there.

    If you think you can help Cyke (or other, better X-Men) never have to worry about a lack of functional, attractive uniform again, send your design to projectrooftop at gmail, which is a dot-com by 14 January. Judges (which appear to be Trippe, Arrant, and Jay Rachel Edidin & Miles Stokes (hosts of Jay And Miles X-Plain The X-Men) will be back with winners and commentary in February. Bragging rights await!

  • More recently, David Malki ! caught a case of Munchausen’s elphatiasis² by proxy. Approximately 8 episodes into the 23 strip epic, I tweeted the following:

    Oh glob, I just had a terrible premonition. Next year’s @wondermark calendar by @malki is going to be 12 months of check out my sick elephant. And so help me, I’m going to buy it.

    To which David Malki ! replied with denial:

    Gary, Gary, Gary. You really think there will be meat left on this bone by the time the calendar rolls around??

    Which, in fact I did, despite the Malki !dian scoffing. And I was right to believe:

    Here are some pictures of the (presently in-production) 2019 Wondermark Calendar, Examining Ill Pachyderms: A Veteronorfian Field Guide.

    For those not familiar, Malki ! produces a calendar each year, with beautifully printed cards for two-week periods, arranged in two rows so you can always see at least two weeks into the future³. And while this year’s calendar will feature none of the strips from the recent epic, it will be an entire year of sick elephants.

    For the recent epic, you’ll have to purchase the book (at the same link, but be careful — some browsers don’t offer the choice to get the calendar with the book, or the book on its own; Chrome- and Mozilla-based browsers seem to work okay, though) wherein the entire saga of The Elephant Of Surprise. I ordered my calendar before the book was announced, so I’ll have to pick up a copy later — preferably when I can get Malki ! to sign it, at which time I fully intend to challenge him to come up with a new sick elephant pun. I am fearfully confident he will do it, too.

Spam of the day:

Latest hair growth released from the sharks

Sharks don’t have hair. That’s kind of the whole deal for mammals — hair. Sharks aren’t mammals, so no hair. Duh. Get your fake hair growth psuedoscience right, email spammers!

¹ And visor, since it’s Cyclops. Because of the visor, the dude is even more of a never-nude than Tobias Fünke.

² Look it up.

³ As opposed to a traditional calendar where an entire month is shown, and on the last day of the month you see exactly zero days of the next month until you flip the page. It’s ingenious.

All About The Compy

So since I wrote about Larry Gonick selling originals last week, I maaaay have been in contact with the gentleman. It maaaay be the case that he was able to locate some pieces featuring a certain unicycling genius-slash-personal-Yoda. It definitely is the case that Gonick is underpricing his originals and that if you collect comic art you should get in touch with him and give him money

As a result, it may be that I’ve got computers on the brain moreso than usual, which means I’m grateful that Fleen Alert Reader Mark V pointed me a while back at a series of comics designed to teach computing topics.

Julia Evans is a programmer from Montreal, working on infrastructure at Stripe. She also makes comics (most of which run 20-24 pages, so she calls them zines) about computing. Although they’re described them as for working programmers, don’t let that dissuade you — my reading is that if you mess around with coding and you’ve got an interest that intersects with one or more of these, you’ll be able to make sense of what Evans is talking about. They’re there to make a topic accessible, so if you’ve got trubs with a particular tool, she’ll cut through the cruft and get you to a productive state.

About half her zines are free, and the others go for ten bucks on Gumroad¹. She’s also got some really great thoughts about charging for stuff and the perception of value and the need for having a company … these reminded me of nothing so much as a recent Twitterthread by Infosec Taylor Swift on how you can convert free work into corporations paying you, which requires at least pretending you’re a real gosh-darn company.

Anyway, good stuff. Now I have to go back to designing a look and feel for the frames for my Shannon art.

Want to Flatter your Figure? Take a Look at Fashionable Plus Size Bras

I do not think you are sending this to the person you think you are sending it to.

¹ For personal use; if you want to do volume purchases, she’s got attractive rates. I’d particularly recommend the zine on dealing with managers for any and all entry-evel programmers as part of their onboarding².

² A 20 page zine isn’t going to be as comprehensive as, say, reading the entire management theory section of Rands In Repose³, but it’s also going to take you months less time to absorb some practical lessons if you go with the zine.

³ Aside from being the pre-eminent philosopher on the topic of software engineering and managing those who do it, Rands is of course one of the perpetrators of Jerkcity, which has been running for more than 7200 updates since August of 1998 and I totally missed that anniversary.

And speaking of Rands and his many thoughts on creating software, Evans has many thoughts on using comics to convey technical topics. I suspect that if she and Dante-Lucas Landshepherdherr put their heads together, something magic would result.

Moving Too Fast To Keep Up

In the time since I decided on the topic for today’s post, the latest (and last for the year) Iron Circus Kickstart has launched, run out its early bird rewards, and cleared 45% funded.

It’s been 45 minutes since launch. I’ll have to update the numbers when I’m ready to put this post to bed.

I’ve really only got one thing to add, which I’ll get to in a moment. The campaign for the second Letters For Lucardo volume by Otava Heikkilä, the first having been a hit. It’s got vampires and hot, hot dude/dude action. The portrait of Lucardo on the cover bears more than a little resemblance to Prince. The prefunding will run for a total of 19 days, wrapping up on the 28th.

And there’s the one thing I wanted to mention — you need to be careful having Kickstarts at the end of the year, because if you get the money from the campaign but don’t spend it on project expenses before 31 December, that’s a tax hit. Given that the 28th is a Friday and it generally takes Kickstarter some time to come up with the dough, I expect that Iron Circus Supreme Leader For Life C Spike Trotman will actually get the money right at the start of 2019 and have the entire damn year to spend it before taxes raise their ugly head. Nice planning, Spike!

And even if hot, hot dude/dude vampire stories aren’t your thing, I can pretty much promise something in the Iron Circus catalog is. Spike sent me an email (and said it’s okay to share) about the storewide sale that’s going on now … there are six new books in the shop (and plenty more coming in the New Year), but if you want to save 20% on your purchase, place your order by the end of the month and use the discount code WarOnChristmas.

Update: 62 minutes, 52%.

Spam of the day:


Yeahno. Not even trying to make sense of that.

To The Pain

I was having such a good week at work, too.

Long story short, at approximately 0932 CET, somebody from my company’s European operations (presumably, given the time) decided to log into the resources dedicated to the class I’m teaching and treat it as their personal experimentation sandbox. They uninstalled the product I’m teaching and then reinstalled an earlier version incorrectly.

Then … nothing. No further messing-about, which suggests strongly that they realized they’d fucked up and decided not to tell anybody. That last part is why I’m going to war.

I am going to find them. I am going to psychologically and physically damage them until they never want to go near a mouse or keyboard again. The seventh generation of descendants will whisper to their children to always take care in their computing, or Gary will get them. I will salt the earth beneath their annual evaluation and leave no survivors. Babes will look at their career and cry out Dear God, what is that thing?

This may take a while (as will getting my class back on track), so probably won’t see you until Monday.

Some Surprises

Things are happening quickly. History barrels on.

  • Following up on the Tumblrpocalypse (Tumblrgeddon?) from t’other day, I’m seeing a lot of posts indicating utterly nonsensical this is adult content !!!!11one!! judgments from Tumblr’s algorithms. For a representative sample of how bad those naked people- and smut-identifying tools are, let’s look at just one set of flagged images, from Yuko Ota:

    a cool compilation of posts that were flagged by tumblr for containing pornography

    Included are a photo of the cover of her Offhand art book, a photo of the cover of Our Cats Are More Famous Than us, two update teasers from Barbarous, a picture of a gargoyle and mutant bird Maw, and the Maw plushie.

    What the hell, Tumblr? And this is just one creator, with a relatively short thread of WTH. I’ve seen literally hundreds of entirely inoffensive images that are about to be purged to heck and back because the entire class of content that Tumblr built its growth on is now officially icky¹. As people are grabbing up their Tumblr contents to preserve them, they are also looking for new places to keep all that stuff for display.

    Various Mastodon and Ello proponents are out there, but C Spike Trotman is pointing folks towards Pillowfort³, which as of this writing is experiencing stability issues to the massive land-rush. Under The Ink is keeping a running list of NSFW webcomics and creators, so that everybody can find stuff when it all settles again.

  • Another intriguing possibility? PornHub:

    Tumblrs: Pornhub welcomes you with open arms. Join our amazing community of millions Curators: Customize your personal feed, create playlists, generate gifs and more Creators: Upload videos, photos, gifs & share text posts to a massive audience. Earn revenue on your content.

    Turns out they’ve always allowed non-video content, and they are probably the site least likely to ever decide that hosting naked people and smut is beneath them, so there’s that. Gonna get tripped by a lot of nanny filters, though.

  • And for those of you not dealing with the Tumblr thing today, here’s another surprise: Larry Gonick — indie cartoonist since small times; I first read his Cartoon Guide To Computer Science 35 years ago in high school, which is where I first learned about Claude Shannon, whose wisdom I have built my life around — is having a sale.

    Including originals.

    Time to get me a unicycling engineer that teaches me about Boolean logic.

Spam of the day:

Take part in a simple survey and get a guaranteed prize

I see no reason that your email — translated from the original Russian — should make me hesitant to click on your surely-innocent link.

¹ I’m told² that in addition to the tsunami of inappropriately-flagged images, a bunch of people are loading their formerly SFW Tumblr with as much hardcore porn as they can, figuring that if they’re gonna be flagged/shut down, they may as well earn it. Well done, I say.

² I don’t have a Tumblr account and so cannot verify.

³ She’d know, she’s the publisher of lots of quality smut. A peddler, you might almost say.


At least it didn't say "(Roadside)".

It’s going to take a bit before that title makes sense.

This Friday, the Cartoon Art Museum hosts a screening for a movie with an unusual history. The Folks Behind The Funnies is about newspaper strip artists, and it takes a look at a lot of familiar — which is to say, old — names: Chris Browne, Bil Keane, Mell Lazrus, Mort Walker, and Scott Adams are prominently featured. But Gary, I hear you cry, aren’t most of those dudes dead or clinically insane? Yep, and there’s a reason beyond the mortality of all living things and the fact that we live in the worst timeline.

The Folks Behind The Funnies was originally co-produced as a national PBS documentary on the history of the comic strips, looking broadly at comic strips from the 1950s to the present. Principal photography started in May 2003. In October of that year, the film’s director/producer, Nicholas Armington passed away in an accident. The project was left dormant until 2015 when Sari Armington (Nicholas’s widow and business partner) revived the footage.

Okay, so it’s fifteen years old, which might explain why the only creators on the list that haven’t been syndicated since before the 90s are Darby Conley, Patrick McDonnell, Stepahn Pastis, and Hillary Price. Maybe a few others, I haven’t memorized everybody’s resume. There’s twenty one folks there in all, and Olivia Jaimes ain’t one of them.

But the amusing part of it all? Two of the creators listed have parentheticals after their names, one of which is:

Cathy Guisewiste, Cathy (retired)

Which I thought was a bit weird, as I don’t think she was retired during principal photography, although she certainly is now. If current working status is the criterion, then folks like Walker, Keane, and Lazarus¹ should be marked as deceased. But the real kicker? The one that I wanted to bring to your attention?

Lynn Johnston, For Better Or For Worse (Canadian)

Yep, being Canadian or retired is worthy of note, being dead less so. That just amuses me.

The Folks Behind The Funnies by Sari Armington premieres at CAM on Friday, 7 December 2018 at 6:30pm. Tickets are available online on Eventbrite and, possibly at the door if seats remain. As of this writing, just under 100 tickets remain available.

Spam of the day:

Welcome to Your user registration is activated. We appreciate your business and look forward to supporting your collateral valuation needs.

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly have no idea what they are selling.

¹ Irony!

Check out a trailer for The Folks Behind the Funnies here.

Holy Days, Holy Shit, And Various Places In Between

Hey, you see that image up top? Go click it, if you haven’t seen it — it’s the latest episode of the irregularly-released Hell’s Kitchen Movie Club, wherein writer Alex de Campi wonders what it would be like if Frank “The Punisher” Castle and Bucky “Half Of Stucky” Barnes hung out occasionally for movie night. This is the Hanukkah Special, wherein we meet some of Buck’s family on the first night and it’s fantastic.

The story is both touching and hilarious, the art (from Ted Brandt, Ro Stein, and Dee Cunniffe, is beautiful, and de Campi includes a piece of advice that I don’t recall seeing elsewhere:

Lettering some of your own work helps a lot, so you’re better able to “see” the letters on the page. (Also doing a lettering script once the art is in.)

Because de Campi not only wrote it, she lettered it. Obviously, single-creator webcomics are lettered by the writer, but if you’re only writing? Taking this step to make sure the words really do what you mean them to do is very, very smart.

  • By the way, de Campi notes that you can see a higher-resolution version on Tumblr, at least for the moment. And Tumblr, it seems, has decided that it doesn’t really want to be in business any longer. In case you didn’t click through, it appears that Tumblr is banning adult content from 17 December, which it defines as real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, unless they decide that it’s classy enough to pass muster today (breastfeeding, works of art).

    No promises about what they decide is classy enough tomorrow; those definitions are loose enough to drive a truck — filled, no doubt, with human porn, furries gettin’ it on, and the traditional shitting dick nipples — through, and basically provide cover for whatever they want to no longer be associated with. Is it because they’re for sale, or got a new investor, or a payment processor doesn’t like teh nudez, or they just got sick of being banned from the various app stores? Who knows. They’re going to say that they only mean to get right of the child porn¹, but it seems to me they could get rid of that without discarding the rest.

    Consensus is this is going to kill fandom Tumblr, which is likely going to kill Tumblr as a whole. If your comic, or your blog, or whatever is hosted solely on Tumblr, time to find alternatives that you control, because the next TOS change doesn’t have to be about naughty bits, it could be about anything.

  • If you’re outraged enough over Tumblr to want to Do Something, may I suggest another path for your ire? The Indie Comics Eleven are still deep in the lawsuit brought by Cody Pickrodt, with various responses and counter-responses to the (in my non-lawyerly opinion, bullshit) claims therein occurring in the recent past; The Comics Journal has a rundown. My reading of the situation is there’s at least three respondents that have a good chance of being dismissed from the action, but the fight will continue on as Pickrodt — raise your hand if you ever heard of him before this — continues to insist that his reputation and business prospects have been fatally damaged to the tune of US$2.5million².

    Which is to say that the need to fund the defense for Pickrodt’s targets continues, and you can contribute to their legal bills via the SPX-established Go Fund Me. There’s an estimated US$37,000 or so still needed to keep legal ruination away.

  • Lastly, I was going to point out that Dustin Harbin — who, near as I can tell, is universally beloved — had put up a funding request for surgery for his dog, but a few hours ago he noted that the campaign had fully funded in half a day. Still, if you’ve ever enjoyed Harbin’s work (and I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that you have), maybe hit up his store? Paying for the surgery is one thing, having the financial cushion to take a little time off and spoil a Very Good Boy would be useful.

Spam of the day:

To stop receiving these emails from us ( adulte & dating emails ) just send us ” remove me ” for normal process or ” remove me now ” for fast process

Oh, yes, you are absolutely from Google™. For certain.

¹ Pretend I bothered to track down the Helen Lovejoy GIF here. You know the one.

² Real talk here — I’ve been a ridiculously highly-paid technical professional for transnational computing corporations for more than 20 damn years, and my total earnings in that time do not add up to two-point-five mil. Pickrodt has a very high opinion of his earning potential.

I Thought They Were Bad Earlier In The Week, But They Waited Until Friday To Really Pile On The Stupid

Seriously, if this is who CBP has doing their work, I expect the entire DHS/ICE infrastructure to collapse in a month.

Re: this.

Bunch of my students this week work for a CBP contractor and I feel a whole lot better about the entire immigration shitshow. When you can’t figure out that a user account must be CREATED before it can be USED, I don’t think the deportation machine is running at peak efficiency.

I had my lunch stolen fixing their fuckups and we’re not going to finish this class and I am ready to murder. Dog is doing her best to calm me. See you on Monday.