The webcomics blog about webcomics

Well, That Sucked

Network outage at home completely knocked out my internet (and cable), and the sudden loss put everybody on cell data so the rate on that cratered. Back at limp-along speeds now, and it’s Friday before a long weekend (USians only) so I’m gonna just punt on posting today. Stay in school, don’t do drugs, wear a mask in public godsdammit, and I’ll see you next week.

Yet Another Book Kickstart

At its heart, The Nib is all about the politics. Sure, there investigative cartooning going on there, reportage from around the world, commentary on culture and society, but editorial supremo Matt Bors came up from the world of editorial cartooning, and their most memorable stuff has cut straight to the heart of politics.

Thus, six or so years (minus a restart or two here and there), they’re collecting the best of their political cartoons for print, and raising the requisite funds as we speak¹. And check out the talent on tap for this collection:

Take a look at these cartoonists: Pia Guerra, Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Ben Passmore, Gemma Correll, Joey Alison Sayers, Matt Lubchansky, Chelsea Saunders, Matt Bors, Rob Rogers, Niccolo Pizarro, Charis JB, Peter Kuper, Emily Flake, and Kendra Wells.

Hold on, we’re not done: Nomi Kane, Mark Kaufman, Keith Knight, Michael Kupperman, Eli Valley, Lauren Weinstein, KC Green, Megs Wolf, John Martz, Ward Sutton, Julia Bernhard, Jon Rosenberg, Ruben Bolling, Terry Laban, and Barry Deutsch! [emphasis original]

On a day when I had more patience, I’d hunt down websites for all those folks and link them. I’ll content myself with Jon Rosenberg on account of he provides my hosting. Pretty sure about 80% of the others are linked in some post or another here on the blog, so search in the box up there to the right and click whatever you find. It’ll work out fine.

Anyway, bunch of great creators, and a top tier that is making a compelling amount of sense — for US$500, you get The Nib print magazine for life; the individual issues are priced at US$15 per (at least, so far) and there’s been as many as four a year (being dropped by First Look last year and then the pandemic have delayed this year’s offerings, but Bors is determined to get back to quarterly). Call it US$60/year for the magazine (which is actually a mechanism to support the daily cartoons because — and we can never say this too often — Bors pays people what they’re worth), or just over eight years worth of print to the break-even point.

I have every confidence that the magazine will continue that long, and it actually makes even more sense for me. My subscription is actually at the US$8/month funding level, or US$96/year. Would The Nib still be around in five years? They’ve been around for longer than that so far, so I figure it’s a good bet. Gonna have to think on that; I’ve been using the stimulus money to buy more comics from more creators than usual; have to decide if spreading it around is as effective as sending it to one place that in turn pays a couple dozen folks.

Anyways, they’ve been funding for about 24 hours, so the FFF mk 2 tells us that their end level is probably going to be in the US$45K to US$67.5K range, safely above the US$30K goal (which they are currently halfway towards). You’ve got another 27 days to get in on it with the rest of us.

Spam of the day:

Save up to $610 on Auto Insurance This Spring

My auto insurer has already sent me checks for more than US$100, on account of the lockdowns have made them assess downwards how much they’re likely to pay out this year, and decided that we needed the money more than they did. They’ve always issued a similar dividend after year end, so I’m pretty confident this is going to continue. You were saying?

¹ We need a better equivalent to that saying for the current age. I’m not speaking, I bet you aren’t either — Fleen readers have generally demonstrated an ability to read without moving their lips — so it kind of falls apart. I’m typing, you are at some future point reading, maybe we just need to make a reference to observing from the outside, at the as-yet-undetermined state of the Kickstart, like a half-alive cat?

Yeah, I’m a bit punchy today. My students, who have been generally capable this week, suddenly decided to have a big ol’ bowl of stupid flakes on what’s usually the easy day of this class, stumbling from step to step on what’s normally the easiest exercises of the course. Should have been done, 45 minutes in and out, everybody gets an early afternoon. As I write this, we’re past two and a half hours. Grrrrr.

What’s This? More Kickstarts?

For the best experience reading that headline, adopt the accent and vocal patterns of the faux German baker¹ in the old Pillsbury Toaster Strudel commercial: Strudel … zum toasten? And yes, there are new Kickstarts of which you should be informed.

  • Sam Logan cannot be accused of thinking small. He’s been drawing Sam and Fuzzy for just about eighteen damn years, through four distinct eras, wrapping up the last arc after more than 1700 pages and ten years. He took time for a little introspection, and some shorter stories that won’t turn into the behemoths he’s been known for (probably).

    Along the way, he published books, including five great big tomes for the final arc, ranging between 368 and 606 (!) pages each. A’course, the fifth book only contained the story up to the October/November 2015 time frame, meaning four solid years of story remained unpublished in dead tree form.

    For now:

    After 17 years, the Sam and Fuzzy saga’s epic, hilarious, earth-shattering conclusion has finally arrived. And this grand finale is so big, it took two books to contain it all: Volume 6 and 7: Race to the Bottom Part 1 and 2!

    Race to the Bottom is the two-part conclusion to the series, and is jam-packed with over 1100 pages of surprises and mayhem.

    US$45 gets you the two new volumes in softcover, which is a ridiculous value in terms of per-page costs. US$65 upgrades you to hardcover (ditto), and you can get all seven volumes for US$159 (softcover) or US$175 (hardcover). If you’re an obsessive completist and have about a linear meter of bookshelf space, you can get the print versions of the earlier three eras (pre-2009 or so) as well as all seven modern books for US$195 (softcover) or US$229 (hardcover). The bundles also come with a suitable amount of bonuses — pins, bookplates, everything in PDF, etc.

    Impressively, even the largest of those instant libraries doesn’t appear to charge more than about US$25 for shipping (to the US, at least), which makes me wonder it it arrives via freight. The whole thing is under the Make That Thing umbrella, so you know it’ll get done on time and reach you when promised, subject to the possible complete destruction of the US Postal Service to meet the whims of a narcissistic sociopath. In that eventuality, I’m pretty sure the MTT magical elves will find a way to get it to you about three weeks later, possibly by unicorn.

    Anyhoo, as of this writing the campaign is a little under US$24.6K of a US$37.5K goal, which is pretty damn good for a project that launched earlier today. Look for this one to fund out by a more than comfortable margin.

  • Speaking of comfortable margins, you’ve seen Madi: Once Upon A Time In The Future, right? Launched yesterday, presently 378% of its US$50K goal, the third part of Duncan Jones’s distopian trilogy (the first two parts being the films Moon and Mute, co-written with Alex de Campi (for my money, the most broadly capable writer in comics today), with sections of the story drawn by a murderer’s row of artistic talent? No? Well, here’s the first 19 pages available for you to download now.

    Artists include two of my absolute favorites, Pia Guerra and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, mixed in with a few names you might recognize: Stokoe, Fabry, Bisley, Fegredo, and more. The artistic contributors are paid their full asking rate² and will receive royalties. These 260 pages (and various bonus pages in the fancier form factors) will be done on paper period. To quote the campaign, No digital version of MADI will be made available at this time, or indeed maybe ever.

    This book is going to sweep a lot of awards. The free preview has its hooks deep into my brain, and I cannot wait to get my copy come November. Check this one out at the first opportunity.

Spam of the day:

Metformin and 3 other big selling diabetes drugs are under secret review.

Let me know when they’re under double secret review. Until then, you’re full of crap.

¹ This introductory paragraph is dedicated to my old college co-conspirator John Costain “Thrice” Knight III, with whom I would occasionally lock eyes and intone Strudel knowing that he would always reply zum toasten?

He also barfed over the counter in Hardee’s one post-midnight Saturday night, because when you’ve been drinking after exam week and need food at that hour no other place is open. Eventually he became responsible for standing watches to ensure that the nuclear reactor on the John C Stennis (CVN-74) did not melt down despite the fact that he was part of the pre-commissioning crew and the reactor was not yet loaded with fissile material. I’d chalk it up to weird-ass military thinking but it honestly just kind of made sense for Thrice.

² I’m now remembering some tweets from Jones, maybe end of last year, asking how much he should expect to pay for the art for a graphic novel of ~ 200 pages, because he didn’t want to be an exploitative jerk and underpay people. He didn’t know, he asked, and he didn’t pitch a fit when large numbers were quoted at him. I made a mental note of Jones’s approach then, and I’m excited to see what comics can do when a writer of expansive vision partners with a writer super skilled in the medium, with and with visual artists of supreme ability, and nobody’s getting screwed.

No Brainers

So there’s a Kickstart you should know about, and a Kickstart that you hopefully did know about with a twist that you should know about. They both offer self-evident reasons why you should engage in commerce that are so compelling as to brook no contradiction. Shall we?

  • Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are on a mission: to make the world better at sex. Sometimes that means sharing reviews of sex toys, so that you can find the device that makes your joybits happiest. Sometimes it means sharing horny, horny smut of all varieties so that you can get all hot and bothered. But a lot of the time — maybe most of the time — it means recognizing the fact that neither horniness nor happiest joybits are enough if you — using the broadest sense of you, the society-level you — don’t know how things work Down There¹.

    Sadly, ours is a society that seems determined to undervalue truthful, actionable information about sex and sexytimes because … honestly, I don’t know. I can’t think of a single reason that this information should be suppressed and kept hidden that isn’t deeply (pardon the pun) fucked up. But [gestures around] yeah. So if Matt ‘n’ Erika are going to make the world better at sex — and that translates to you (this time it’s the personal you specifically) being better at sex, in whatever way you prefer it — they’ve got a lot of sharing and educating to do.

    Thus, Oh Joy, Sex Toy’s line of print collections, but especially the ones that focus on the educational end of sex. Last year, it was their first focused collection that got Kickstarted, and today it’s the followup. Drawn To Sex: Our Bodies And Health moves on from the mechanics of — quoting here — doin’ it² and into the more science-y and biology-y side of sex.

    Because of the importance they feel for their mission, the PDF version of the book has the lowest price point I’ve ever seen for a 200+ page file: eight bucks (US). Even the full print version is ridiculously affordable at US$20 (plus shipping). And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they have a support tier at US$1069³ that includes the physical book, the PDF, a unique piece of art in the book, and we’ll take you out for coffee if you’re ever in Portland. Erika and Matt are awesome folks, I would wager that coffee is at least a thousand bucks of excellent times.

    As of this writing (maybe three hours in), DTS2:OBAH is just over US$15500 in pledges, or comfortably over 200%. You are taking no risks by backing this one (also, the guest artists are definitely getting bonuses). Go get the book, then get to gettin’ it on.

  • Hey, remember how David Malki ! had a book Kickstart delay so much that it ran into the time he was planning to launch his next book Kickstarter? And how he decided to respond to that delay by adding the contents of the second book to the first one for free? No? Funny, we at Fleen went on about it at some length. Assuming you missed out on the Kickstart that suddenly delivered twice as much book as you’d expected, you have a chance to get in on that massive (I just weighed my copy and it’s more than 1100 grams) tome, with the greatest cost for international buyers zeroed out:

    I’ve worked out a special deal with the warehouse in China that is storing copies of my latest book, FRIENDS YOU CAN RIDE ON.

    They are moving to a new warehouse soon, and they want me to clear my inventory off their shelves as quickly as possible.

    So, before they palletize my remaining books and ship them to the US, we have worked out a limited-time deal for economy shipping to the following countries:

    UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • Austria • Belgium • China / Taiwan / HK • Croatia • Cyprus • Czech Republic • Denmark • Estonia • Finland • France • Germany • Greece • Hungary • Indonesia • Latvia • Lithuania • Luxembourg • Malta • Malaysia • Netherlands • Poland • Portugal • Slovakia • Slovenia • Sweden • Thailand

    Orders to these places, of just this book alone (or multiple copies of it), will ship FOR FREE through May 27 only.

    $30 USD gets you the book sent to anyplace listed above, via some kind of intercontinental train or something.

    (USA and Canada orders will ship from me personally, but for the same limited time, I’ll honor the free shipping deal for those shipments too.)

    Just for reference, the cost to ship 1100 grams of book via Priority Mail International flat rate padded envelope (or whatever would protect it en route) from the US to the named countries range from US$35.35 to US$38.60, or more than the cost of the book. Heck, even shipping it to Canada would be US$26.90 and domestically US$8.40 (or US$3.86 for media mail, which can take a while). Bottom line, wherever you are, this is a tremendous deal and you will probably never see another such like again.

Spam of the day:

Ion Mineral Reduce Fatigue, Eliminates Flaky Skin, Improves Hydration & Cell Regeneration

You are selling a shower head. Keep that nonsense for somebody that doesn’t know what ions are. And anyway, if you want to sell a shower head these days, point out that one with a hand shower attachment is easier to install than a bidet on the toilet and you’ll get a zillion takers.

¹ Or, one should note, Up There, as they are not neglecting the role of the brainmeats in sexual response, attraction, and preferences.

² Gods, I love those two.

³ Nice.

Two Parts One And One Part Two

Some new things kicking off, and a very cool thing returning for another go.

  • If you’ve read Fleen ever, one indisputable fact will jump out at you: Ryan Estrada doesn’t do things by half measures. We’re on the eve of release of his new collaborative graphic novel, Banned Book Club (co-written by Estrada and his wife, Kim Hyun Sook; art by Ko Hyung-Ju), based on his wife’s experiences in the former South Korean military dictatorship. Not content to rest on any laurels (a mountain of glowing press, and continually-increasing pre-orders of the book count as laurels), Estrada decided to launch his latest project: a podcast of sorts.

    Big deal, I hear you cry, everybody and their dog is startin’ a podcast during quarantimes. To which I reply, a) Estrada’s experience of quarantine is very different from yours and mine, as he and his wife live in Busan, South Korea, which has managed the pandemic better than probably anyplace else on the planet¹ and b) it’s not a podcast. It’s a series of radio plays based on the sequels to A Christmas Carol that Dickens wrote and the world promptly forgot about. Let’s let Estrada tell it himself:

    I’m the new writer/host/director of BeFM Drama!

    I’m turning Charles Dickens’ 22 weird forgotten Christmas Carol sequels into brand new radio plays for Korean radio. Not direct adaptations, but kinda like how Clueless is based on Emma.

    Please enjoy episode 1 of my new radio show!

    This one is about a man who has such a bad day that he wishes he didn’t exist. But he reconsiders his position when he’s tricked into believing he’s already dead.

    Yep, sounds weird. The Riverside Chimes is a bit under 20 minutes, and if you like it, there’s three more stories already posted to the Tubes. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, BeFM Drama has a few dozen audio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and other classic English language short fiction for your listening pleasure.

  • Also kicking off, The Nib is partnering with Reveal, the investigative reporting project from The Center For Investigative Reporting; the new series is called In/Vulnerable, and it’s chronicling the ways that the COVID pandemic is hitting all layers of society, where billionaires are demanding everybody else go back to work with insufficient protections.

    Up today: the story of Manuel, a refugee from Cuba who’s been in prison humane and efficient temporary detention for more than a year, and is watching the threat of the virus creep closer. Whatever your views on immigration, you cannot possibly argue that fleeing a repressive government (it’s even one that Screamy Orange Racist Grandpa hates!) is a crime merits being thrown into inhumane conditions until a deadly disease kills you.

    And if you do argue that? Do me a favor and leave my page and never return. I make it a policy not to consort with sociopaths.

  • Lastly, the :01 Books virtual comics show, Comics Relief, has announced sign-ups for its second session:

    Comics fans, mark your calendars for Comics Relief: June 2020 on Saturday, 6/6 from 12pm-4pm ET! Click here to register for the next virtual :01 festival: #ComicsRelief

    Four sessions this time, with a discussion of space comics at noon EDT (Maris Wicks! Jim Ottaviani! Alison Wilgus!), a discussion of Maker Comics at 1:00pm (Falynn Koch! JP Coovert! Sarah Myer! Robyn Chapman!), a discussion of documentary comics at 2:00pm (Box Brown! Calista Brill!), and a talk about whatever’s on their minds at 3:00pm (Clint McElroy! Leuyun Pham! Mark Siegel!). Sign up at the link above, and I’ll see you in the conference on the 6th.

Spam of the day:

New project started to be available today, check it out [redacted].com/?renee

I’m including you because you listed out a series of porn genre terms, and one of them was tannie. Assuming this is a new genre based on, I dunno, well tanned people gettin’ it on, okay for giving people what they want I guess?

But if you managed to misspell the derogatory term for trans folks, then you get double my normal dose of contempt, which I assure you is both well merited and considerable.

¹ Which is what happens when your country demands competency from its leaders, and learned the lessons of the SARS outbreak and determined to never fail in pandemic response again.

It’s Too Nice Out

The first really warm day of the year, and I haven’t see sun in weeks. I’m going to tend to my beans, you should go outside (remember to keep distance and wear a mask) and get away from the computer. I’ll see you next week.

Fleen Book Corner: :01 Catch Up Twofer

We’re looking at a pair of nonfiction, largely non-narrative :01 Books (and thus the concept of spoilers doesn’t really apply) today, both of which have been out for a while but which haven’t gotten write-ups because of [waves hands] everything.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I held off on reviewing Maker Comics: Grow A Garden (words and pictures by Alexis Frederick-Frost, released 25 February) because I wanted to try out some of the suggestions in my own annual, smallish garden endeavours and see how things worked compared to previous years. And I held off on Science Comics: Crows (words and pictures by Kyla Vanderklugt, released 24 March) because I was going to bring it and make observations of the ravens of Juneau at Alaska Robotics Comics Camp, only that didn’t happen.

Grow A Garden‘s up first, with a framing story about garden gnomes at the garden gnome version of Hogwarts, including the obligatory reveal of the evil professor up to no good. It’s cute, it serves the purpose of providing a rationale for lecture-like content (a similar approach was taken in Falynn Koch’s baking contribution), but it’s not why you’re here. You’re here to learn a bit about dirt, how to make compost (although you’ll likely have to wait until next year to see how it turns out), how to start seedlings and keep them comfortable, and about the things you might do that will mess up your plants.

On these scores, Grow A Garden is a resounding success, particularly in the way it finds MacGuyver solutions to gardening needs. Fancy drainage posts aren’t needed, you can drill a hole in the bottom of any can or container and give it a good cleaning (unless it held paint or other complex chemicals). Cold frames are complicated, but you can clip together a couple of those transparent shields for window wells.

And that seedling you started that is all atrophied right at the dirt line and falling over? Damping-off disease, from cool, wet conditions and soil fungi¹. Once I get my stuff in the dirt outside² (fortunately I started them a bit late this year, otherwise they would have been outside for the polar vortex and hard frost we got on 7 May, what the heck), I’ll be able to try some of the pest control recommendations. Grow A Garden won’t turn a kid (or an adult) into a master gardener in a season, but it’ll give you some time to get your hands dirty and build up some skills, and we could all use a distraction along those lines.

Crows, subtitled Genius Birds, does a bit better with its framing story. It features a flock of crows that use planning, stealth, tools, and misdirection to steal food from Buddy the dog, with one of their number taking Buddy for a walk around town in search of more food. Along the way, Buddy gets taught about crow vision (color perception into the ultraviolet), memory (faces, circumstances, etc), tool use and fabrication, problem solving, counting skills, vocalization, family dynamics, and brain structure, as the POV crow explains how awesome crows are to an eager (but not genius) audience.

Both Buddy and the nameless crow (well, Buddy refers to the crow as Crow, but there’s never a proper introduction) are pretty expressive characters; mention digging or the park or friends or praise him and Buddy is all excited, ears and tail and eyes doing the talking. Crow, meanwhile, uses some distinctly non-corvid eyebrows and primary feather finger-guns to indicate emotion and reaction.

Crow’s also got a pretty healthy sense of self-esteem (I’m the smartest crow in the world, which would put Crow on par with about a five year old human), a sense of mischief, and an occasional streak of dickishness. It’s Crow that orchestrated the heist of Buddy’s food, earning the gratitude of their family for the feat; a’course, Crow ate far better than they did with Buddy’s help, meaning Crow simultaneously put one over on the flock, pillaged multiple garbage cans, suckered Buddy into all kinds of mischief, and got an ego boost in the process.

Honestly, it might be a bit much, except for the fact that I’ve seen ravens — close cousins of crows, after all — act pretty much like Crow just because they can. As the foreword (by corvid scientist John M Marzluff) reminds us, it’s not a coincidence that crows and ravens are part of myth and religious belief around the world, sitting on the shoulders of All-Father Odin, saving Israelite prophet Elijah, or being regarded as the creator spirit of numerous indigenous groups.

Both books are appropriate for any readers that have the patience to sit and plow through 100 pages at a go; Grow A Garden is useful as an activity guide for let’s say 10 and up with supervision as individually necessary. As always, we at Fleen thank everybody at :01 Books for the review copies.

Spam of the day:

Keep America’s Great

Keep America’s what great? And no, I ain’t clicking on your identity stealing link so I can get my (quoting here) free New Donald Trump gold $1,000 Dollar Bill, whatever the hell that’s supposed to be, not even to blow my nose in. I was going to do something far ruder with your Trump thing, but kids might be reading today’s post.

¹ I’d noticed this in the past with some of my bean seedlings, and was more careful about overwatering this year as a result. Only one seedling out of 24 damped off this time!

² The gnomes recommend starting from seed with two seeds in a pot and then culling the smaller prior to transplant; I’ve traditionally started with two seeds per cup in a pressed-paper egg carton, but never culled. Wondering how that will turn out.

Another Day, Another Cancel

Rose City, this time, which is the biggest event I’ve seen nixed in the September timeframe (anybody that thinks DragonCon, Baltimore, or any of the PAXes is happening, I have a bridge to sell you).

At this point, it’s probably safer to assume that even if a comics event does happen, that attendance will be way down barring extensive measures for disease control. By that I mean widespread vaccination (that ain’t gonna be the case for multiple months after the availability of a proven, effective vaccine), or absolute cultural acceptance of infection prevention measures.

What kind of measures? Societal agreement that not only should masks be worn, but agreement that people refusing masks or refusing to wear them correctly should be shunned. Despite the media attention given to the very noisy agitators for FREEEEDOM¹, pretty much everybody is on board with masks.

But it doesn’t stop there. There has to be widespread, trusted contact tracing and isolation (with people willing to obey isolation guidelines after probable exposure — we’re onto dicier ground here) and point-of-contact confidence measures like no-contact temperature checks & handwashing prior to entering a space. Americans might put up with these obstacles to get into a facility, but how many are going to be willing to step away and abandon their plans if they’re 0.4°ree; over the published limit? That would absolutely require extremely liberalized refund/transfer rules for tickets or entrance fees.

Which show runners may not want to (or, given economic realities, be able to) agree to, because you’re finally going to have to limit attendance to fractions of previous capacities. Want to hold SDCC in a no-vaccine 2021? You’re going to have to keep the number of warm bodies inside the cavernous San Diego Convention Center to about 10-20% of normal. Can Comic-Con afford to rent the space with that few paying attendees? If they do, can they afford to give back money to somebody that fails the door check? And will somebody who made it to the front of the (now much slower) line be willing to shrug and go away for not meeting entrance screening criteria, having paid for flights and hotel?

Here’s another idea: Panels will have to be aggressively capped, from the lineups to the seating inside; the Hall H experience and its equivalents might be dead for good, which in turn might reduce the presence of big media studios at what’s supposed to be a comics event. Either that, or a big media con might have to turn big-ass launch panels into simulcasts on the the event channels of con hotel TVs. Anything other than cramming 6000 people in a room, or having twice that number camping out cheek by jowl for 72 hours.

The only comics events that I’d expect to see in the next calendar year are small ones, with attendance measured in the single digit thousands, and even then likely with capacity controls or time-limited access. Got a red wristband? You can be on the floor from 10:00am to 1:00pm and then you have to vacate². Imagine SPX or MoCCA with 30-40% fewer exhibitors, half as many tickets, and assigned to early half/late half access; the sparsely attended NCSFest on the boardwalk in Huntington Beach this time last year might be the model — outdoors, spread over a large area, no crowded points of contact. Not so many places in the country where you can do something like that and rely on the weather, though.

The wildcard in all of this is how much we can act like members of a godsdamned civilzation in the meantime, show that we can act for the common good instead of pitching hissy fits about getting haircuts or buying toasters. Act like responsible grownups, the odds of events go up; act like entitled babies, and I hope you didn’t want to gawk at cosplay ever again, ’cause it’ll be years before it’ll be safe to, and event longer before people are willing to risk their lives or health on that actually being true.

Spam of the day:

Trøjan V¡rus g¡ves me full access and cøntrøl øver a cømputer ør øther dev¡ce. Th¡s means that ¡ can see everyth¡ng øn yøur screen, turn øn the camera and m¡crøphøne, but yøu dø nøt knøw abøut ¡t.

That would be the camera and microphone that I don’t have on this computer? Or maybe the one on my laptop, which is behind a plastic shield because fuck you and your attempt to extort US$1200 in bitcoin (always bitcoin with these CHUDs) based on your fevered imagination. Now go tell your mom that you’re a failure.

¹ Covidiots, or if they have a religious justification for their stance, Branch Covidians.

² Which, if nothing else, might finally put a stake in the heart of the worst habit of big cons: the limited edition convention exclusive. The howler monkeys will be out in force if they can’t get in until after the exclusives are definitely sold out.

Postcard From The Edge (Of The Continent)

There’s nothing like getting an unexpected letter to raise your spirits¹. During the Alaska Robotics Camp @ Home event at the end of April, I hosted a session of the ever-popular Talk About Whatever You Want For Five Minutes; there were quick presentations on Mastodon, food manga, English paper piecing, marble sports, and more. I led off with a quick five minutes on cocktail making², mixing along as I spoke into Zoom, then enjoying the fruits of my labors for the rest of the hour.

Lee Post was watching. Something you need to know about Post is that he sketchnotes, much like fellow Camp alum Jason Alderman. He mentioned he enjoyed my talk, and then I got a Post-card (I’m so sorry) in the mail yesterday with six panel version of my five minute talk and I am in a good mood as a result. Let’s see what’s going on in the world today, if we can’t maybe elevate your mood as well.

  • I almost picked a different image for the top of the post today, because how could I not love Erika Moen talking about ordering a Small, Flat 7-Up, No Ice, Two Inches High, for $19? [CW: boobs] She regrets nothing, and she’s gonna write it off on her taxes because she is a boss. Also, she is a woman who not only owns an axe, but will use it if necessary to stop the beeping of her hideous CO detector. [CW: dying appliance battery and ensuing madness]
  • Now live: Ru Xu’s Saint For Rent, Volume 1 Kickstarter. We’re about a day in and about 25% of the way to goal, which bodes well; there was a contraction of Kickstarter spending for a bit there (not the least evidence being the layoffs at Kickstarter; thankfully their union negotiated one hell of a decent severance package), but I think we’re going to see a bit of a bounce-back, particularly for projects that result in a tangible reward (i.e.: a book, whether print or PDF) at a reasonable pledge level (i.e.: US$25 or under).

    Note that Xu³ has done something very smart, given the determination of Screamy Orange Racist Grandpa to kill the USPS — the pledge levels for physical rewards are only for the items; shipping will be calculated later, closer to actual dispatch time. Given that postal rates may be all over the place or we as a nation will be in an Unconstitutional, postal service-less state, this is the only way to guarantee not taking a bath and losing money hand over fist with a successful campaign.

  • Hey, remember Pizza Island, the studio of amazing cartoonists in Brooklyn? Where you could find in one room Meredith Gran, Julia Wertz, Kate Beaton, Domitille Collardey, Lisa Hanawalt, and Sarah Glidden? They closed up shop near a decade ago, and have gone on to do amazing work. Of late, they’ve halfway gotten the band back together, starting up a WordPress blog under the PI name and letting us know what they’re up to — Gran, Wertz, Beaton, Collardy, Hanawalt, and Glidden are all listed as participating, along with Karen Sneider. As Beaton says, it’s been a heck of eight years
  • Hey, did you know that VanCAF is running online programs this week, in conjunction with TCAF, Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival (aka DCAF), Festival DB de Montréal (aka MCAF), and Quebec BD under the collective identity of #CanCAF? It’s true! Yesterday there were interviews with Gene Luen Yang, Sloane Leong, Leslie Hung, and Matt Fraction, today there are YouTube sessions with Karensac, Aron Steinke, Steenz, and more.

    Rest of the week will see podcasts, demos, and conversations with everybody from Michael DeForge to Junko Mizuno. Of particular interest are the Publishing Comics With Kickstarter panel (YouTube, 16 May 11:00am presumably PDT) with Jeff Ellis, Lucy Bellwood, Hannako Lambert, and Haley Boros, and the Webcomics panel (also YouTube, 17 May at 3:00pm pPDT) with Alina Pete, Kory Bing, Sam Logan, Angela Melick, and Jephy McJacquesface. Check out the programming page, and keep an eye on the hashtag to see what else the Canadian CAFs have in store for us.

Spam of the day:

1 Bathroom Trick That Kills Diabetes

No, no, that’s not how it works. Bathroom tricks are always about how to clean grime and soap scum out of tile grout, not diabetes. Get with the program.

¹ In a minute, you’ll be mad at me for that pun.

² I called it Three Drinks In Five Minutes and based it around the idea you need to balance the key flavor components: sweet, sour, and bitter, with your preferred booze in the center. I started from the classic Negroni (1:1:1 gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari), noting that you could sub in other liquors (bourbon makes it a Boulevardier; applejack makes in an Avenue A) or liqueurs (Aperol is distinct from Campari) for a wide variety.

Then I introduced the idea of adding one part citrus (lime would do well if it were gin based, especially if you changed the Campari to something like Suze), and finally kicked it up another notch by mentioning egg whites. Three master recipes, and I got to call James Bond an idiot for insisting on martinis being shaken. It was fun times.

³ Or possibly George, who manages Xu’s business. Smart guy about the Kickstarts, that George.

Fleen Book Corner: The Daughters Of Ys

There are places in this world that are constituents of nations, yet apart; they end up traded between empires and yet somehow remain unchanged. In North America, the best example is New Orleans; New Orleans stands on its own, not part of America any more than it was part of New France or New Spain. It is older than America, wilder, and stays a part of America only out of a sense of bemused sufferance.

Across the ocean, there was a people that occupied great swathes of the continent and the islands to the west, its people living with the sure knowledge of the fae folk and the way they interfere with the lives of humans. The great empires came to displace them — although the empires were sometimes kept at bay by a hero or two and the help of a magic potion — and the people were displaced, pushed to rocky places, hard by the hazardous sea: Scotland, Ireland, Brittany.

The stories are old, in these pushed-to places, and the promise no easy morals. There are punishments for being wicked, but also for turning your face away from the wickedness and pretending it doesn’t happen or isn’t your problem. The Daughters Of Ys is based on one of those old stories, and it has a new graphic novel adaptation from :01 Books, who were kind enough to send me an advanced review copy¹. There’s almost nothing we’re going to say here that isn’t on the back cover or the first five pages, but you may still consider there to be mild spoilers.

It’s written by MT Anderson², who has a fine ear for dialogue. The words that come from his characters sound just a little bardic, a little musical, a little fairy tale-formal, but at the same time natural feeling. It’s easy to imagine them being told around the fire, with just a touch extra dramatic emphasis and the promise this what my grandmother said she saw and heard.

The art is by Jo Rioux (past winner of the Joe Shuster Dragon Award for Cat’s Cradle, her debut graphic novel), and it is a marvel, combining the effects of pencils and pigments, and looking just a little like a cross between ancient vellum illuminations and tapestry embroidery. All of her characters look just a little bit haunted nearly all the time, except for the times that they look like there’s a hunt going on. Of course, sometimes they are hunting, and sometimes they are hunted.

Nobody in the book comes off entirely well, and only one character seems to have a full understanding of what his life actually is — that a blessing that keeps him fed each day is actually a curse. The story is set in what sounds like a made-up place, but is eventually revealed to be real; the now-ancient city of Quimper, the cathedral, the bishop, King Gradlon of Kerne all are or were part of the Brittany landscape. In a country whose names persist to this day (and across the Channel in Cornwall as well), who’s to say if the submerged city of Ys is legend, or a long-repeated object lesson for kings and princesses³ to learn how their forbears failed.

My copy of The Daughters Of Ys by MT Anderson and Jo Rioux says that it releases tomorrow, 12 May, but the website lists the release date as 11 August; I got the book in the Spring 2020 collection of advanced review copies about three weeks back, so it may have been pushed back for pandemic reasons. If you have to wait another three months to read it, let that fuel your anticipation, because it is very, very good. Consider it a top choice of gift for yourself of the reader in your life, let’s say age 12 and up.

Spam of the day:

File has been corrupted

No, see, you have your tenses wrong. If I click on your link then my files will become corrupted. Future, not past.

¹ As it’s not the final version released to shops and libraries, the usual disclaimers apply: there may be differences between my copy and yours, but this story feels complete. I didn’t find any issues in production that required correction.

² Whose The Astonishing Life Of Octavian Nothing you may recall took the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2006, the year that American Born Chinese was nominated; no shade, Octavian Nothing is an astonishingly good book, and Anderson followed up with a graphic novel finalist of his own in 2018: The Assassination Of Brangwain Spurge. Dude comes up with the best names.

³ In the legends, the daughter, Dahut, is immodest, immoral, and consorting with otherwordly powers; she’s clearly the villain of the tale. Anderson gives her a sister, Rozenn, to spread the consequences around. If Dahut falls because her hands are bloody, Rozenn is too concerned with keeping hers clean by intentional avoidance. Their father has a temperament that mixes both daughters, feigning innocence of crimes while demanding the spoils.