The webcomics blog about webcomics

To Do This Holiday Weekend

I'm impressed they kept the price point constant despite going to color for the tail end of the book.

I’ve been waiting for my copy of Skin Horse volume 5 for ages now¹, which I should note is not the same thing as being late. Ms Garrity and Mr Wells wisely put plenty of time for fulfillment into their crowdfunding plan, and the book which was due in May 2015² arrived yesterday, on time and as promised. I love that phrase, about as much as I love checking the box on my Kickstarter Backed Projects page that says Got it! By the way, of the 40 projects I’ve backed with delivery dates not in the future, this makes six that are late³, which is a pretty damn good record as far as Kickstarts go.

I’m particularly happy to receive this book because while Skin Horse is one of those comics that I read daily (indeed, I’m grumpy if I don’t get to read it daily for some reason), I get much more out of it in big chunks; receiving the new book means I get to read two full story arcs in one sitting, and given the way the story is resolving at present, volume 5 ends on the record scratch that marks the big reveal at the end of the second act of the overall story. That means that I probably won’t get more than seven or eight books in the full story and that makes me sad — but then again, I was sad when Narbonic ended and now I have faith that whatever Garrity and/or Wells do next (jointly and severally, as the lawyers say), it’ll be well worth my time.

Okay, Monday’s a holiday in the States; I expect I’ll have something to say about the NCS division awards (I don’t get a vote, but I’m very happy to see Danielle Corsetto and Minna Sundberg in their respective categories and am rooting for them), but otherwise you likely won’t miss much if you don’t come back until Tuesday. Have a good weekend, everybody!


Spam of the day:

Hi my name is Olivie and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you.

Feel free to try to call me, but understand two things:

  1. I answer the house phone, which lacks caller ID, with a cheery Ahoy-hoy! which weirds most people out.
  2. I will string out cold-calling telemarketers like yourself as long as possible, figuring that while none of you scamming bastards will ever stop calling (given that you’re already ignoring the Do Not Call list), I can at least cost you money by wasting your time at least as much as you’re wasting mine.

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¹ The first rule of Webcomickers Having Kids is it puts a crimp the schedules of my entertainment (both free and paid), and thus is to be discouraged. The world, alas, must be peopled, so they get a pass for now.

² Also due this month: Evan Dahm’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation, for which I have tracking info that indicates it is presently on a truck in my geographical vicinity. I’ma call that one fulfilled on time as well.

³ One of which is moderately late, and I believe affected by West Coast dockworkers strikes; three are about a year overdue, two for reasons out of control of the creators; the last two are more than two years late, one of which I expect to see in the next couple of months and one of which I’ve mentally written off. Oh, and there were some on other platforms, but mostly it’s Kickstarter for me.

To Get Here, We All Took “The Dave”

If you’ll indulge me, today isn’t going to be about webcomics, per se. It’s going to be about David Letterman, who retired from broadcasting last night (or early this morning, if you prefer), and who is a seminal influence for so many people — in the world of late night shows and comedy, obviously, but for so many of us that hit the teens-to-twenties phase at some point in the past 35 years (including pretty much all of the first couple of generations of webcomics creators). Everybody that has an appreciation for absurdist humor, for knowing irony in the face (and service) of stupidity owes Letterman a debt. And so, on this day after I watched Letterman wrap up his career, I am full of memories.

I remember watching his daytime show, ahead of its time, weirding out the typical early-80s daytime audience. The least weird thing he did in that period was abandon the studio with ten minutes to go in the last show before the long Labor Day weekend, leaving a somewhat confused woman from Iowa he plucked out of the audience in his place. He pointed her at the cue cards, showed her which camera to look at, and left. It was the most audacious thing I’d seen in my life and I loved it.

I have a fondness for Larry “Bud” Melman (portrayed by the peerless Calvert DeForest, who never entirely let on as to the degree that he was in on joke with us), particularly considering that in the first six months of Late Night, he did a remote from my town. As the proprietor of Melman Bus Lines, he toured my small suburban New Jersey borough, making an inspection of our bus stops and shelters, deciding if we were worthy of addition to his network of day tours. A year or so later he nearly caused Dave to choke during his infamous remote segment, greeting arrivals at the Port Authority bus terminal. I remember the last night we saw Larry “Bud” Melman’s son, Troy “Skipper” Melman.

I remember being lucky enough to get bonus Dave, as Late Night taped down the hall from, and at the same time as, NBC’s local late-afternoon new magazine show, Live At Five. Any time they got a good guest he couldn’t book (Wayne Gretzky, former president Jimmy Carter), he’d take a camera crew down and bust into their set and interject himself, amusing Sue Simmons and pissing off Jack Cafferty mightily

I treasured the guerrilla comedy of those early years: throwin’ stuff off a five-story tower, crushing stuff in a 80,000 lb drop press, or drivin’ around LA in a convertible gettin’ drive-through fast food with Zsa Zsa. Dave never left the studio enough, preferring in later years to hide behind a Taco Bell mic or a walkie-talkie connected to Rupert Jee to mess with people.

Those were the days of rampant anarchy on Late Night, as we got to know stage manager Biff Henderson, director Hal Gertner¹, Chris Elliot as Marlon Brando, the Stupidest of Pet and Human Tricks, Bob the dog, and the sky-, monkey-, thrill-, Anton-, and tiger- cams.

Maybe it’s because there is no better time to watch Dave than in college, but this period stands out as his creative peak for me — when there was no better block of TV than The Tonight Show-Dave-Later, when Dave took the opportunity to mess with his audience during Monday reruns (dubbing an entire episode into Spanish; rotating the camera continuously over the course of the hour), or his colleagues any old time (I remember him taking the last two minutes of his show to play the Star Spangled Banner and run a we now conclude our broadcast day announcement before walking into frame and admitting it was just a prank on Bob Costas).

It was the era of why the hell not?, when Jack Hanna² got his start as a recurring guest, when Marv Albert or Tony Randall would appear in the most random of cameos and Connie Chung would crush walnuts in her bare hands because why the hell not? Harvey Pekar, the person least likely to ever appear on TV, guested multiple times because why the hell not? More seriously, it was also a time of glasnost and perestroika and it made perfect sense for 22 members of the Red Army Chorus — on a goodwill tour of the US to promote friendship with the Soviet Union — to drop by repeatedly to sing the Henry Mancini-penned Viewer Mail theme song because why the hell not?

I remember watching Crispin Glover freak Dave out and the next night when he was reported that Glover had been murdered by Paul and Biff; I remember watching Madonna derail the show and Dave’s reaction the next night. I remember the great Top Ten lists — Amish pickup lines, Effects of Y2K with James Earl Jones, one where Isabella Rossellini was played by Dave Foley³. And always, always, always: Dave’s mom.

We all remember the night he returned from his bypass surgery and his medical team welcomed him back to the world of the living; the night in September 2001 when he welcomed us all back from despair and to the start of finding our way back to normal following a goddamn disgrace; the nights he said goodbye to Johnny and to Warren.

People with more cause than me to have been inspired by Dave have already paid tribute to him, including Conan’s incredibly gracious insistence people should watch Dave instead of him, and James Corden entrance to Letterman’s theme music before offering up his own thanks to Dave. It’s been a long, weird, funny journey, and we’ll never be the same as we were before we started.

Thanks, Dave.

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¹ Uh, that’s Gurnee, with two Es.

² The only person who could reliably mess with Dave, apart from Penn & Teller what with the rat traps and cockroaches, and the Tokyo Shock Boys.

³ I can’t find this anywhere and am toying with the idea that I invented it in my head, but it sure sounds like something Dave (and Dave) would do.

Fourth Time’s The Charm

Briefly, as I promised: the original art from Planet of Hats episode #51, Patterns of Force, by David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc), shared with you now that the colo[u]red strip is up. Click to embiggen.


If my memory serves me right¹, this will be the fourth time that the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival has graced the jewel of the Pacific Northwest, and by all accounts it’s getting better with each year that goes by.

The venue in Yaletown is open and inviting (and this year, VanCAF expands into two of the spaces, up from prior years), the guest and exhibitor lists are deep and varied, and attendance is free. We may have TCAF to thank for pioneering this kind of comics show, but VanCAF has quickly grown into its own unique thing. Congrats to the showrunners, the exhibitors, and the attendees, all of whom have collaborated to build the show up.

Speaking of guests, those of webcomicky nature that you’ll find in Vancouver this weekend will include Matt Bors, Ed Brisson, Zac Gorman, Jeph Jacques, and David Malki !.

They’ll be joined by exhibitors including Lucy Bellwood, Kory Bing, Boum, Jennie Breeden, Tony Cliff, Joey Comeau & Emily Horne², Blue Delliquanti, Jeff Ellis, Cat Farris, Christianne Goudreau, Hazel & Bell, Abby Howard, Amanda Lafrenais, Steve LeCouilliard, Sam Logan, Kel McDonald, Dylan Meconis, Angela Melick, and Erika Moen, Sfé Monster.

That’s right, every exhibitor has a name that falls in the first half of that alphabet, nobody at all from the N-Z range.

Okay, fine — but if my fingers fall off after adding Maki Naro³, Gabrielle Ng, Karla Pacheco, Alina Pete, Doug Savage, Mackenzie Schubert, Katie & Steve Shanahan, Anise Shaw, Spencer Soares, Kat Verhoeven, and Alison Wilgus to the list, it’s on your head.

Also please note some twenty hours of programming and , starting with a book launch on Friday night, and including discussions on the art of editing comics, the realm of all-ages comics, the realm of some-ages comics (the ones with butts and boobs and weiners), the art of self-promotion, and the sheer laugh-chuckles of competitive quick-draw improvisation. Also, for some reason, this atrocity, filled with the work of multiple terrible people; this one should be a hoot.


Spam of the day:

The company main business is further process the petrochemical production, with 8 production lines of ten-thousand-ton capacity for C9 and C10 separators, thermal & cold polymerization petroleum resin, petroleum naphthalene, tar and thousand-ton capacit

True story: my credit card company once called me up to ask if I’d placed an order for US$7000 of industrial solvents, to be delivered to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. No, I replied, on account of I’m not a meth cook. That was what they figured, and I had a new credit card three days later. Presumably, that chemical supplier is the one that passed my contact info onto this one; at least the petrochemical industry is marginally less sleazy than the meth trade, so I’m attracting a somewhat better class of environmentally-destructive supplier these days.

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¹ Now I have the urge to bite into a pepper. Thanks for that, Chairman Kaga.

² Whose Kickstarter for the definitive collection of A Softer World is kicking loads of ass: nearly 500% of goal and twelve days yet to go.

³ Speaking of whom, Naro was one of two creators whose traffic growth data was shared by Hiveworks CEO Joseph Stillwell last night/today. I’m a sucker for this sort of information, and Stillwell is one of those people whose analysis you ignore at your peril.

The other creator, by the way, is Minna Sundberg, whose growth is hell of impressive. Sundberg, as a reminder, will be paying attention to the NCS Reubens gala in Washington DC this weekend, where she’s up for the NCS Division Award for Online — Long Form.

That Took Longer Than Two Weeks

One may recall from a bit more than two months back that Jeph Jacques — in what amounted to a private joke that twelve people would have ever noticed — registered the domain name walmart.horse¹, slapped a stupid picture² on the index page, and called it a day.

The Walmart corporation did not call it a day. As noted at the time, they sent Jacques a C&D and threatened him with dire consequences if he didn’t acquiesce to their demands to surrender ownership of walmart.horse within two weeks.

We learn today that they actually were preparing to take their claims of rightful ownership over walmart.horseto the World Internet Property Organization when Jacques decided he had more productive uses for his time than continuing to cause the Walmart corporation to continue to expend lawyerly time and effort over the fight for walmart.horse. It apparently never escalated to a hearing and today walmart.horse no longer displays the image of a horse in front of a Walmart. In fact, walmart.horse leads to an error page.

So well done, Walmart corporation — you absolutely didn’t spend dozens of hours by multiple lawyers on a trivial non-issue. And certainly anybody that searches for walmart.horse will never see the image of the horse in front of a Walmart anywhere except for here at Fleen, or at Ars Technica, Consumerist, The Guardian, Vice, Business Insider, The Daily News, or approximately (as of this writing) 11.9 million other places on the web.

As for Jacques? He doesn’t seem to be horribly broken up about the whole thing, possibly because he’s got Ryan North to commiserate with³, more likely because he’s getting ready to head to the Pacific Northwest for his special guest gig at VanCAF this weekend. We’ll talk about his fellow guests and exhibitors tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy this link to TaylorSwift.horse, and props to her for having a sense of humor about these things.

PS: walmart.horse


Spam of the day:

{ {I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never founhd any interesting article like yours. {It’s|It is} pretty worth enough ffor me.
{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content aas you did, the {internet|net|web} wikl be {much more|a lot more} usefyl than ever before.|

text omitted

{I am|I’m} {trying to|attempting to} find things to {improve|enhance} myy {website|site|web site}!I suppose its
ok to use {some of|a few of} your ideas!!\

I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the 2745 words/358 lines/8 pages that I cut out is a lengthy discourse on walmart.horse, but I’m not going to look for it.

_______________
¹ Which phrase is going to be repeated here a number of times, which may have the unfortunate effect of forever linking the phrase walmart.horse with the story of the walmart.horse domain name fight in Google aka the first draft of history.

² Of a horse in front of what appears to be a Walmart in Nova Scotia, judging from the flag.

³ As of this writing, walmart.horse.rip leads to a blank page but who knows how long before Walmart seeks to stamp it out as well.

Back Into The Swing Of Things

Hey, everybody! ‘Dja miss me? It’s going to take a day or two to get fully back into the swing of things, so today is mostly about me getting caught up on things that happened while I was gone.

  • Going furthest back you may or may not have noticed that Jillian Tamaki did an interview with The AV Club about SuperMutant Magic Academy, This One Summer¹, her episodes of Adventure Time, and more. It’s a great conversation and I recommend it to you if you hadn’t seen it before.
  • Howard Tayler² has been running a fairly massive Kickstart for an RPG to be set in his Schlockiverse for the past month or so; the management of expectations and stretch goal announcements have done well to make the traditional last-week bump in backers and pledges into more of a last fortnight, as well as causing that rarest of things on the Long Tail: an uptick in funding predictions.

    As I write this line, the Planet Mercenary campaign will be wrapping up in about five minutes, somewhere in the vicinity of US$350,000 (or 777% of goal)³. For reference, the Fleen Funding Formula Mark 2 would have predicted a whopping US$206K — US$309K which he’s handily exceeded. Well done, Tayler and partners, and enjoy the massive pile of creative output that you’ll be engaging in for the next year or so.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, Spike Trotman launched her latest on Friday; as mentioned in the before times, she continues to alternate anthology topics, with a Smut Peddler followed by a specific genre, followed by more porn, and then another genre. It’s Sci Fi’s turn, and New World (specifically dealing with the topic of cultures coming into contact/conflict) is off to a rousing start.

    From launch on Friday to nowish, it’s reached 102% of the US$20,000 goal, meaning we’re now into the Iron Circus Comics Overfunding Bonus Plan: every contributor (or contributor team) just earned a US$50 bonus on top of the page rate they’re already been paid with another US$50 for each additional US$5000 on the campaign. For references, the bonuses paid for Smut Peddler 2012, The Sleep of Reason, and Smut Peddler 2014 were US$650, US$300, and US$1700 (!), respectively.

    In any event, four weeks left to make Spike write as large a check as possible to her incredibly skilled list of contributors; given the FFFmk2 prediction of somewhere between US$55K and US$83K, would be on the order of US$400 to US$650 a pop (which would be in line with the bonuses pad for TSOR and further proving the point that porn is innately more popular than anything else). This is why people want to work on Spike’s books — she pays, then she pays more.

  • Finally, Zubday — that regularly-occurring holiday that happens every Wednesday when there’s a new Jim Zub comic (or two, or more) on the stands — comes early this week. That’s because today is Zubday Prime, aka Zub’s birthday. Early reports are that Zub is spending the day much like any other: planning to take over the world writing and editing and merchandising and designing and generally making comics. In other words, a good day. Happy Zubday, everybody.

Spam of the day:

send 10,000 blog comments Fee just $ 100
send 100,000 blog comments Fee just $ 800
send 200,000 blog comments Fee just $ 1200

Yes, please, let me give you money to make the percentage of my life spent on crap comment pruning even greater than it already is.

_______________
¹ Which — goodness! — is a year old now. Time sure does fly.

² My evil twin, etc.

³ Actual total: 5,312 backers for a total of US$348,641, or 775% of a US$45,000 goal.

Submitted [Almost] Without Comment

I believe that I am well on record that Raina Telgemeier is the most important person working in comics today, and if the industry wants to really grow they should be watching everything she does and emulating it. I thought she’d reached a pinnacle when she had three books on the New York Times Bestseller List, then specifically the top three slots on the list¹.

Pfft, old news.

As her publisher, Scholastic, noted via tweet earlier today, Telgemeier has added the first of the reissued-in-color Baby-Sitters Club books to the list, meaning she now owns the top four positions all by her lonesome².

I am through being astonished, and will no longer be surprised at anything Telgemeier manages to pull off.

If I remember a-right, the BSC books are being re-released at six month intervals, which should mean that we’re never more than half a year from something new with Raina’s name on the cover between now and her next original graphic novel in 2017. Could the entire four-book BSC stay on the list along with the other three? To be (inevitably) joined by that next OGN? Could we actually see between five and eight Raina Telgemeier titles hogging the NYTBSL, to the point where — in order to maintain any relevance — it’s repurposed as a list of the best selling paperback graphic novels specifically not by Raina Telgemeier? No bets, my friends, no bets.

Fleen congratulates Telgemeier and reminds an industry that lurches spasmodically from line-wide-crossover-that-changes-everything to line-wide-crossover-that-re-changes-everything: this woman is single-handedly eating your lunch, half of your dinner, and is in the process of repossessing your coffee machine and all the good snacks. Adapt or die.


Reminder: Next week is my internet hiatus. I’ll be back online and posting again on the 18th.

Spam of the day:

Yes! Finally something about Michael Kors.

Weirdly, although I have mentioned His Orangeness several times over Fleen’s history, including once within the past two weeks, this particular spam was left on a post that didn’t mention Kors at all. Feel free to insert a paraphrase of Kirk telling Khan that he keeps … missing … the target.

¹ Since then, the order has been shifting back and forth, but Smile, Drama, and Sisters have been holding strong.

² Rest of the list? Cece Bell (El Deafo), Victoria Jamieson (Roller Girl), G Willow Wilson (the second Ms Marvel collection), and Jillian Tamaki (Supermutant Magic Academy), all aimed squarely at girls. Only two books could be said to be “traditional” comics — the fourth Saga collection and a resurgence of the nearly 30 year old Dark Knight Returns, probably because they just announced Miller would be doing a second sequel. Figure it won’t be off the list in a week.

Featuring Hot, Hot, Nested Bullet-Point Action!

The layer of crud on my car and all outside surfaces is matched only by the layer of crud built up in my sinuses and upper lungs, thanks to every tree in the tristate area decided to have sex in public. I yearn for a half hour of gentle rain to wash the air, or at least a maelstrom of cleansing fire. Should I succumb to this sea of snot, avenge me.

  • I mentioned earlier in the week how much I love when creators share data, but that extends to more than numbers and business decisions; I’m a sucker for workplace tours, process videos, all the details of how the creative impulse gets channeled into making the abstract concrete.

    But something I don’t see as much is how general life habits can support (or undermine) creative careers; I recall the episode of Webcomics Weekly from last year wherein Brad Guigar¹ and Dave Kellett shared the secrets of cartooning with new babies in attendance to imminent first-time father Kris Straub.

    And earlier this week, Meredith Gran did the same thing in written form, laying out how she approaches time and career management in general. I particularly liked a couple of her tips:

    • When it gets busy, lose everything you can before diet, exercise, and housekeeping. If you feel bad and your work/life space is dirty, you won’t work well.
    • When your day seems impossible, it probably is. Lose one obligation and feel the cool wave of relief wash over you … ~*AHHHH*~
    • On exhausting days, make no promises. I never commit to intense work on a Thursday after class. I know I’ll be cooked when I get home — why commit to a weekly sesh of disappointing myself?
    • Make time for breaks. Schedule them in and earn them. Maintain your friendships and leave the house. There is nothing cool and romantic about being “the busy guy”.

    Read the whole thing — whether you work for yourself or for others, make your own schedule or have to punch a clock, there’s good advice here.

  • Speaking of working for somebody else, there’s a job opening at Blind Ferret Enterprises for a Junior Affiliate Manager; some things that are not explicitly mentioned in the ad but probably should be:
    • BFE Supremo Ryan Sohmer harbo[u]rs delusions of Bond-level supervillainy; do not under any circumstances accept any work uniforms that consist of colo[u]r-coded jumpsuits with a “henchman ID number” embroidered on the chest, and if you hear him muttering The fools! They’ll all see! for more than ten minutes a day, tender your resignation and seek a minimum safe distance¹.
    • Sohmer looks forward to weekly paintball matches with a ferocity that can be slightly intimidating, but don’t be scared! He just wants you to enjoy a healthy, social time with others while building intra-company camaraderie. Rumo[u]rs that he is a lethal shot that scored five yellow capsules directly on the crotch of an intern who can now only walk with a 15° tilt to the left are probably unfounded, so join in the fun and don’t forget your cup.
    • You may be required to help “Unca” Lar DeSouza into his Sailor Bacon outfit; if he offers to demonstrate his “moon magic”, politely decline.
    • Do not touch the LEGO models if you value your life. Just … don’t.

    All kidding aside, the one thing that’s not in the job listing that should be is that Ryan Sohmer has committed to paying decent wages to his employees and that’s a sad exception to the comics and internet sectors of the economy. It may be hard work, but working for BFE will be a fun, weird, well-compensated kind of hard work, so check it out if you’re near Montreal.


Spam of the day:

My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and fijd a lot of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.

Hey man, hey, keep me out of your sex games. That’s between you and your spouse.

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¹ Recommended: Saskatchewan.

A Wonderful, Awful Idea

I believe that I mentioned recently that David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator) very kindly offered me my choice of original strips from Planet of Hats and how I chose the ur-“Planet Of” episode of old-school Trek: Patterns Of Force, aka Planet Of The Nazis. Well, my friends, that strip successfully wended its way from distant ‘Straya to deepest New Jersey, and I have learned a few things:

  • Morgan-Mar works at a fairly standard size — the four-row, twelve-panel strip took up two sheets of drawing paper, approximately letter/A4 size.
  • Morgan-Mar does not screw around when it comes to protecting art — the two sheets of art paper were sandwiched in two sheets of plain paper, which in turn were sandwiched in what appears to be the carefully-excised cardstock-and-vinyl covers of a three-ring binder, which package was bound up by five strips of duct tape. The end times could come and that artwork would have survived all the vagaries of Armageddon.
  • I’ll share a visual once the original strip runs so as not to steal Morgan-Mar’s thunder; today’s update at Planet of Hats is Return to Tomorrow, which means Patterns of Force is next. However, Morgan-Mar also announced today that he’s skipping next week as he’ll be on vacation, so it’ll be another week.

All of which leads to one inevitable conclusion: Morgan-Mar will be away next week and I now know his home address. The opportunities for mischief boggle the mind!

I think the best would be if I broke into his house and photographed myself covered in all his LEGO bricks, American Beauty style. The fact that he also knows my home address doesn’t really bother me since the only thing here to photograph himself covered with is one very lazy greyhound.

While I’m making my way Down Under on my errand of chaos, here’s what everybody else in webcomics will be doing:

  • Approximately half of them will be going to TCAF, where the fun at the Toronto Reference Library starts on Saturday, but where comic-related events are already happening around town. The other half of webcomics will be there next year; they have to alternate because the TRL can only contain so many awesome folks at once.
  • Brad Guigar¹, it’s been previously established, will be spending the weekend at his home-town Megan Fox Tits Wolverine show, where he hope that people will not be confused by the proximity of his booth and that of Mr Burt Reynolds. Brad’s prepared a little guide to help you keep them straight.
  • Those few who won’t be at TCAF this year, planning on being at TCAF next year, or trying to tell the difference between one of the sexiest men in American history and Burt Reynolds will be checking out some numbers: there are Kickstarts for Oh Joy Sex Toy and A Softer World to consider², both of which are well on their way to meeting or exceeding the previous (successful) Kickstarts for each creator team, respectively.

    A final bit of math: what are the odds that Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan could get Emily Horne & Joey Comeau to do one last ASW next year as an OJST guest comic? That would be the very, very best, but I put it at maybe one in seven. Or, for the ultimate guest strip, make sure there’s some LEGO models in the photos, and whatever kind of sexy business is happening in the main field of vision? Over to the side is laughing Brad Guigar, approving of the hijinks all you wacky kids are getting up to. I’ll put that at one in several million, but I can dream, can’t I?


Spam of the day:

Personalised Hollywood Walk Of Fame Star comes already framed.

Unless it comes with an original horned Grinch on the back side, I ain’t interested.

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¹ Rebel, loner, heartbreaker.

² They each funded out in less than a day and meet the criteria for Fleen Funding Formula predictions (>= 200 backers in that first 24 hours), so let’s call it US$84K to US$126K for OJST and US$136K to US$204K for ASW.

Sic Transit A Softer World

It’s a little somber up ahead; you might want to have a picture of adorable animal babies ready in case it gets too heavy.

  • I had all sorts of stuff cued up to talk about today, but that’s before the news broke (scarcely fifteen minutes ago as I write this sentence) and all previous plans got scratched. A Softer World — bastion of weirdness and melancholy, in the best possible sense of all of those words — will be coming to an end:

    It’s the end of the world. A Softer World is ending, and we want to do something fun to celebrate! Are you with us?! tinyurl.com/RIP-ASW

    I feel like I just pushed a big red button.

    There have been other melancholy comics, other places where weirdness reigned supreme, but none so perfectly encapsulate the beautiful and banal horror of everyday life like the joint effort of Emily Horne and Joey Comeau; their comics pulled no punches and after more than 1200 they aren’t about to start now. This will not be an extended goodbye, old favorite characters trotted out to give their storylines a wrap-up¹; the trigger gets pulled today, the bullet lands in 27 days.

    Which date will coincide with the ending of the Kickstarter campaign to print a hardcover collection of the very best 200 strips from A Softer World’s dozen-year history. Emily Horne and Joey Comeau, claims in their Kickstarter video notwithstanding, are not going to fake their deaths and disappear in a month; they both will continue to share their creativity for as long as there are such things as photos and words.

    Well, Horne certainly will; Comeau’s always been the sort that you suspect will end up in circumstances that cause bystanders to be completely baffled until they’re running in terror. But until then, he’ll totally be sharing his words! Until then, you can ask them what their future plans (creative and/or destructive) this weekend at TCAF, where they’ll be exhibiting and delighting their fans.

  • One other thing that was on my to discuss list for today fits the mood that’s come over Fleen Central today, so I think I’ll keep it. In my time writing this here page, I’ve been privileged to meet many, many creators; some were friends and acquaintances before I joined the ranks of pixel-stained wretches and have been kind enough to continue to be seen with me, others I have come to know specifically because I’ve pounded out maybe a million words on the topic of webcomics.

    It’s pretty unusual for well-known creator to be completely unknown to me, as I’ve been able to wrangle at least a passing Hey with so many. But for all that, I’ve never been lucky enough to meet the creators of the internet’s most sporadic piece of great art and know little about them. David Hellman has had acclaimed pursuits outside of ALILBTDII, but I knew nearly nothing about Dale Beran until this morning.

    Dale Beran, I learned, is a weekly contributor of comics to Baltimore’s City Paper, which has done so much valuable reporting of the terrible events of the past week, and which is not a newcomer to the story of inequality, economic challenge, and systematic oppression in the Charm City. I learned this because today The Nib ran a lengthy piece of cartoon reportage by Beran about navigating the recent events in Baltimore, where he is a public school teacher.

    It’s a powerful read — enlightening as to the sociopolitical state of Baltimore, depressing in the sense that everything we see happening now has happened in nearly identical form before² — and one that you should take ten minutes now to absorb. It’s not a new situation, but only first-hand accounts by observers that middle America will give credence to³ will get the rest of us to own up to the reality of what’s always been happening.

    I still don’t know who Dale Beran is from personal experience, but his words and pictures are doing a pretty damn good job of convincing me he’s somebody we should all know and listen to.


Spam of the day:

The many shades in brown, from dark to mild, will help you pick a unique one.

I don’t even want to know.

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¹ It doesn’t hurt that they don’t have characters or storylines, apart from the ever-popular spot the Ryan North cameo.

² And unless we as a society are much smarter than we have been to date, will inevitably happen again.

³ That is to say, not the people who have to live on the receiving end of a system built on centuries of dehumanization and marginalization, who were not miraculously elevated to political and economic parity in 1965.

That is to say, a white guy.

It’s Amazing How Fast A Year Can Go By

Because it was more or less a year ago (okay, a year less about 17 days) that Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan launched the Kickstart for the first volume of Oh Joy, Sex Toy, which (above and beyond its financial success) was notable for a couple of reasons:

Which is to say The Hurricane and Matt¹ are good ‘uns, and their success well-earned.

And wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for a new, larger, second volume of OJST, with the campaign over here jsut past the one hour mark (and pushing 15% of goal) as I type this. From the project description, Moen & Nolan are plowing some of the money they made on the last book back into this book, so they’re in the slightly precarious position that if they just make goal, they’ll actually be out a chunk o’ change, so let’s not let that happen. They’re running simple on this campaign, with essentially no stretch goals — simple means you get your Big Book of Happy Educational Smut faster, and they’ve already locked in those higher page rates thanks to last year’s campaign. Plus you’ve got seventeen guest contributors, along with some brand new comics and essays.


Quick side note: Fleen will be going dark next week. There’s a family wedding coming up with lots of events planned and while that will only be a couple of days, it occurred to me that I haven’t been seriously offline in maybe 20 years (certainly not in the nearly 10 years I’ve been writing here) and I’m gonna do it. Oh, sure, I’ve taken time off before in exigent circumstances, but I was reachable; I intend to be as off-grid as I can manage this time around. Emails will pile up, comics will go unread, entire subcultures centered around Twitter shitfights will be born, rise to prominence, and fade away before I come back to you on the 18th. So if you’ve got something going on next week, now would be a good time to let me (that would be gary) know (at this website, known as fleen, which is a dot-com) ’cause come the weekend, I’m going cold turkey for a week.

Maybe. We’ll see how the withdrawal symptoms are.

Spam of the day:

Changing your Facebook status from “In a relationship” to “Single” is a childish involving “sending a message” in the partner since got angry at your sweetheart. Even though this immature act is a lot more often done by girls involving anger from the moment, in order to make a little impact on you, really are millions some men that I’ve noticed attempt that too.

I’m not on Facebook so I have no idea what you’re whining about, but I’m sure it’s super important.

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¹ That sounds sorta like a Saturday morning cartoon, doesn’t it?