The webcomics blog about webcomics

How Long Until The Stage Adaptation?

Hey, did you see the news? You probably saw the news. The news is good:

Steven Universe The Movie ?…? is a musical!!!? Featuring all NEW songs by @rebeccasugar in collaboration with @chancetherapper @EstelleDarlings @PattiLuPone @UzoAduba @SoGallant @aimeemann and more! #stevenuniversethemovie #stevenuniverse #cartoonnetwork

Steven Universe: The Movie, readers will recall, was announced at SDCC last July, with your humble hack webcomics pseudojournalist nailing an interview with lead character designer Becky Dreistadt minutes after the announcement. Since then, we’ve seen huge amounts of Steven lore — Homeworld, White Diamond, the healing of the corrupted gems on Earth, what could have served as a finale for the series.

Rumors have swirled about the movie — it takes place after a time jump, it takes place immediately after the season 5 wrapup, it’ll be the last of Steven Universe — but little definitive until the announcement:

  • It’s a musical! With music-heavy episodes like Mr Greg under their belts, and with the Crewniverse only getting better at songwriting, I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am. Delightedly so.
  • Artists collaborating with Rebecca Sugar include Aimee Mann (Opal’s back!) and Chance the Rapper, and the guy who dropped tight rhymes as Eff-Nocka is a co-executive producer.
  • It’s not the end of the show.

Apart from that, who knows? Me, I’m holding out for a time skip of sufficient duration that we find out if Steven inherits Greg’s hairline or not. Oh, and apparently we’ll get physical media — DVD, soundtrack (probably including vinyl) — by end of the year. It’s a good year to be a Steven Universe fan, and we’re all lucky to have Rebecca Sugar’s vision¹ of what a kinder world looks like. We’ll undoubtedly learn more in about a month at this year’s SDCC Steven Universe panel.


Spam of the day:

hotty Desire Fleen: The Awkward Christmas Dinner Of Our Obligation To Existence

I think they’re trying to say that a hotty (possibly plural hotties) desire Fleen? I mean, it’s a website, so I’m not sure what that would look like?

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¹ Speaking of, this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest — where classic Ghibli movies are simulcast to local theaters in both dubbed and subtitled versions — will be premiering Whisper Of The Heart‘s first major North American theatrical release on 1 (dub) and 2 (sub) July, with a special introduction by Rebecca Sugar. Details on which theaters are participating in the simulcast and advanced ticket sales here.

Subsequent releases this season include Kiki’s Delivery Service (late July), My Neighbor Totoro (late August), The Secret World Of Arriety (late September), Spirited Away (late October, spooooky), Princess Mononoke (late November), and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (mid December).

Lyon BD 2019: Day Three

[Editor’s note: Today, Fleen concludes the recap of last week’s bandes dessin&ecaute;es festival in Lyon, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin.

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Lyon BD has always been an international festival, but it was particularly visible this year with the presence, hot off their appearance in NCSFest, of Charlie Adlard, Bill Morrison, and Steve and Luke McGarry, the latter of which was responsible for this edition’s poster. Their lines were packed whenever they were signing, unfortunately precluding me from meeting these big names, but I was able to meet other international creators such as Ariel Vittori and Natalie Nourigat on Sunday; I was especially interested in the latter’s I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation (which I ate up on the trip back, very interesting even though I has little relationship with my trade of software engineering, you should check it out), and we were able to chat and discuss differences between the Euro and North American comics signing systems, since she has experience with both. I also had Jim Jourdane sign his Fieldwork Fail: while not an international creator, his book is available in English, though it seems you’ll have to catch him to get a copy after his online store had to close.

Another Sunday highlight was the Badass (sic) exhibition: Sandrine Garage, who has been helping organize Lyon BD for some time already, took it upon herself to see whether there were now enough comic book heroines to be worth showcasing, 6 years after the first Héro-ïne-s exhibition, and there were. Rather than commission imaginary covers, she was able to showcase 10 actual, published comic book heroines that have in common that they don’t conform to stereotypes, including that of the strong female character: instead, they do what they want to do; one may be bold, while also being empathetic (and they made sure to display the pages showing that), while another heroine may be friendly to everyone while having a tendency to take responsibility to solve every single problem in the valley. Akissi and Aster were featured, but also Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and Cece Bell’s El Deafo, giving it a worldwide scope. In between the various heroines, pages of Miron Malle’s comic book on feminism concepts, The League Of Super Feminists, were featured. However, they did solicit visitors in creating their own badass heroines, and they obliged.

But Sunday was most interesting for its interviews, beginning with that of Pénélope Bagieu. Of particular interest were these bits:

  • While she has to focus on one project at a time, she likes to alternate between personal projects and boring ones, the latter of which to allow her to recharge and remind her why she sets out to plunge on multi-year personal projects. In fact, at the end of a project she tends to be unable to work on much, trying to start new stories but failing, though by no mean remaining unoccupied as she devolves some time to the promotion of the just completed project (book tours, etc.), until such time as the sparks strikes again and she dives back in a new project.
  • No one has so far managed to publish Brazen in Arabic; the only publisher who was interested started demanding a long list of absurd changes which she gave up on reading halfway through, such as not showing women who smoke, at which point she told them she might as well remove all women and avoiding them the trouble of publishing the book. She did mention breasts having to be covered and the story of Phulan Devi having to be removed from the U.S. edition, explaining to the audience the particularity of the young adult positioning of the book in the U.S., in no small reason because comics books are still thought as being for children there and are hard to sell to adults, relating feedback such as I bought it for my daughter, and couldn’t believe I was enjoying it myself. But she was proud to mention she successfully fought back more meaningful censorship, such as when the Polish publisher wanted to remove any mention of abortion, while she refused, and she won as it ended up being published there without any cut in that regard. Ironically even when censorship happens there is no mention of it: the only disclaimer that was added to the U.S. version was a warning that elements in the books should not all be taken literally, due to the duality in the U.S. market of fiction/non-fiction and Brazen being sold as non-fiction, and the fear of fact-checkers coming e.g. for the campus restaurant background gag in Agnodice’s story. On the other hand while there was less censorship there Russia made sure to physically slap the book with a forbidden to minors badge, due to the references to homosexuality.
  • She is currently working on a comic book adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, which she is very excited about: she takes it to be the best Roald Dahl book. The idea of a comic adaptation of a Roald Dahl book came from Dahl’s estate, which proposed it to Gallimard, their French publisher, and that is how she was proposed the job. However, Gallimard initially proposed adapting Matilda, and while she loves the book, its relative lack of action did not strike her as making it particularly suited for a comics adaptation (that, and people’s idea of the universe tend to be shaped by the 1996 movie, not to mention Quentin Blake’s illustrations), so she made a counter-proposal to Gallimard of adapting The Witches, which the Dahl estate accepted. It will simultaneously come out in French and English beginning of 2020, which means she’s glad it is going to beat the Zemeckis movie to market and not be taken to be the book of the movie.

Then later in the afternoon, as the last event of the day, it was Boulet’s turn to be interviewed in a similar setup, and … wait, what are these people queueing in the stairs for? Oh, come on, it can’t be for the room where the Boulet interview will take place, it’s too far!? Well, turns out that is what it was for that. I swear, I never intended for the Lyon BD festival to conclude with the sight of Boulet’s mile-long line to be a running gag, but here we are; except that in the case of a panel/interview/etc., it’s not that you have to wait hours for your turn, it’s that the room is full before you have a chance to enter. So I am unfortunately unable to report on anything that happened there. I’m going to have to start showing up 15 minutes early whenever Boulet is involved from now on …
[Editor’s note: Nobody tell him about the Hall H camp-out lines in San Diego.]


Spam of the day:

It’s 2019 and yes! you can now burn fat without exercising!

I do that all the time, unless you count trying to put out a grease flash on my stovetop as exercise.

The Downsides Of Disruption

So this came across my Twitterfeed a little bit ago:

Earlier this year, we announced that we’d partnered with @kickstarter to build a new platform to succeed @drip. Today, we’re announcing that we’re cancelling the project. We wrote a little about why.

To catch everybody up, Kickstarter was turning the task of building a Patreon-killer over to The Andys. It held out great promise. The reason that Drip: The Next Generation is not gonna happen? Economics:

Our platform would prioritize the large population of smaller creators in our community, with a focus on raising up work from new and marginalized artists. We were designing strong community moderation tools, and writing progressive policies and guidelines. Discovery and curation would be based on personal recommendations, rather than an over-reliance on algorithms.

Ultimately, we couldn’t find a way to make the business viable. We explored a number of different options—voluntary subscriptions from users, premium features, increased fees—but the resources required to support a high number of lower-volume creators always outpaced our revenue. [emphasis mine]

A few thoughts:

The lack of business viability is disturbing. I’ve been operating under the assumptions that Patreon has been bungling a golden egg situation, and trying to bleed creators with their various pricing scheme changes. But what if that’s not the case? I’m not aware of any public number from Patreon on its burn rate, which means we don’t know if it’s actually making money. Their emphasis on the biggest creators (the opposite approach of The Andys) may alter the math somewhat, but what if they don’t have a positive cash flow?

What if they’re Uber, but for subscriptions?

Uber, remember, has lost money on every ride, and only maintains negative double-digit profit margins (as opposed to triple digits) by knuckling their drivers. They cannot make money in any rational economic manner of free exchange of goods and services, only by subsidizing the growth process of crushing existing for-hire services, then shifting costs to their employees. Now Patreon’s creators aren’t like Uber’s drivers, but if Patreon cannot make money without VC support, the eventual crash of this (again, Uber-like) quasi-monopoly will be devastating. A few super-rich people will have gotten richer, a series of moderately rich people will lose their investments, and a lot of people that depend on the service for income will be SOL.

Quoting again from The Andys:

We were intent on running a sustainable and independent business. Even if we went the traditional route and raised venture capital, it didn’t appear likely to survive once that funding ran out. We were building this for the community we care about, and many of the artists and creators in our community are already financially insecure and vulnerable. The idea of launching something with so much uncertainty and risk felt irresponsible and unfair. [emphasis mine]

That’s a wholly ethical and admirable thing — they aren’t going to take people along for the ride if they don’t have confidence where they’ll end up. It’s a huge disappointment for everybody that was waiting for an actually viable Patreon competitor (or replacement), and noneso more than early adopters:

We’re working with our friends at Kickstarter to help migrate the remaining Drip beta creators elsewhere. And then we’re returning the remaining seed funding back to Kickstarter.

There’s the collateral damage in all of this — the people who’d made the shift to Drip (as it is now) were waiting for the new platform, but since it’s not happening and Kickstarter announced that they were shutting down Drip in favor of The New Thing, those folks have limited options. It’s going to be an uncertain time for those that were on Drip, and I think it’s only going to magnify down the line.

Lyon BD 2019: Day Two

Editor’s note: Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin continues his reporting of the French comics festival scene.

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Setting up a festival of the scale of Lyon BD is never an easy task, but this year they had their work cut out for them. For instance, terror level in France as a whole has abated somewhat since 2017, when I first went; but the explosion of an abandoned package which wounded about a dozen people (they’re all out of the hospital by now) in the center of Lyon mere weeks before the event was undoubtedly responsible for heightened security: mainly, the need to show an ID before entering the main festival spaces on Saturday, and the need for tickets to be nominative, which was completely unplanned. As a result, at the ticket booth vendors had to manually write down the name of the attendee on the tickets, slowing down the sales process and lengthening the lines.¹

Given that context, my Saturday went remarkably well. I took advantage of the lack of panels in the morning to check out local creator Phiip and his Lapin crew (Marc Dubuisson, Cy, Tim, etc.), and catch up on their latest releases. Same with Thom Pico (who I met for the first time on this occasion, allowing me to congratulate him for not talking down to kids in his writing, and he was glad I noticed that) and Karensac, whose Aster is slated to be released in English by Random House in 2020.

[Editor’s note: I’d been wondering when another imprint would challenge the essentially free reign :01 Books has had with grabbing the pick of Franco-Belgian comics for re-release in the US; it’s not surprising that it’s Gina Gagliano that’s taken up the banner.]

Then the afternoon was the occasion to get to the LGBTI+ comics event (the second edition, meaning the first wasn’t a one-off), where I bought a zine from Anna Lkiss and Holly Rectum, where each of them tells how they found out they were non-binary. Then a number of panels and events on Chilean comics (including a zine created by women, the latest edition of which they made wordless, in order to present their work abroad), on migrants entering France through the Roya valley north of Nice, and on making the invisible visible, where creators of a “hobo mom” story, of a story of a Roma family tricked into emigrating to France then getting trapped into debt by the human traffickers, and of a story of emigration from Africa to Europe, exchanged on their processes for bringing these stories to life. For instance, Christian Lax, creator of the latter story, told he took advantage of a partnership with a museum and mixed that with a migration theme to create the story of a man saving an African art artifact from Muslim fanatics by taking it with him in Europe.

Come back soon for coverage of the third day, including U.S. and English creators, Pénélope Bagieu, and Boulet.


Spam of the day:

This revolutionary lightbulb camera is driving home security companies out of business

Yeah, under no circumstances am I putting an unvetted wi-fi attached camera on my home so that you assholes can either stripmine the video for your own purposes, or leave it exposed to the world. Bugger off.

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¹ Oh, and the Lyon city hall was searched by police mere days before the festival following an inquiry involving the mayor, though I have no idea whether that affected festival activities.

Bonus Post To Say Happy Stripperversary

I wished to neither take away from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin’s report from Lyon BD below, nor to ignore an act of remarkable longevity on the part of Howard Tayler:

Today, June 12th, 2019, marks the 19th anniversary of Schlock Mercenary on the web. The comic has updated daily, every day, without fail, for nineteen years now. Not because I’m a machine, but because I plan ahead, and have always had smarter people than myself handling the automation.

Don’t let him fool you, he is a machine. Or at least, more machine now than man, and the best evil twin I could ask for. Well done, let’s see what twenty (and maybe the wrap-up of the story of Schlock?) looks like.

Lyon BD 2019: Day One

Editor’s note: It’s all Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeapuin today, chiming in from the Lyon BD festival. Well, except for the Spam of the day, that’s me.

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Guess what happens at the beginning of June? That’s right, Lyon BD Festival, and just like in 2017 and 2018 your correspondent was there to cover it.

One characteristic aspect of Lyon BD is that it lacks a congress-center-like space as a central hub: Quai des Bulles in Saint Malo has the Palais du Grand Large, Colomiers has the Hall Comminges, and that is without mentioning the convention centers housing the various anime cons. As a result, when the Place des Terreaux had to go into renovations this year, meaning they couldn’t erect tents to host booths like the previous years, Lyon BD had to split itself between the Town Hall where it usually resides and the Palais de la Bourse) a few blocks away.

But regardless, Lyon BD always sets up or encourages more exhibitions that they have space in the main locations for, spilling them in many public places. The lobby of a small theater/comedy scene? Yup. The town halls for three boroughs? You betcha. A local bookshop? Of course. A hospital lobby? Been there, done that. An underground parking space? That, too. Contrary to Angoulême it does not feel quite like comics taking over the town, because Lyon is just too big, but they’re getting close.

So while sub-par planning on my part prevented me from attending professional day on Friday or entering the main locations, I nevertheless had a full day going to and fro between the different exhibitions¹. My favorite piece was in the Héro-ïne-s exhibition, one of the new pieces recently introduced from international creators, called Umah-Mah, by Thomas von Kummant (the names at the top may be familiar: Umpah-Pah was an early work of theirs, from just before they started Astérix). What if Sacagawea was a badass warrior, not merely saving hapless European explorers ready to walk into every trap, but able of single-handedly hunting buffalo armed with but a tomahawk, and striking fear in the hearts of her enemies, becoming single-handedly responsible for the success of the expedition? That’s Umah-Mah in a nutshell, since that is pretty much the plot of Umpah-Pah that von Kummant references².

The day was capped by an opening party, the first of its kind, with a dozen artists including Boulet and Luke McGarry drawing live on a small scene over music they chose (one or two at a time!), with in the middle a zombie-themed drawn concert on the main scene, featuring Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead) and
Julien Limonne.

P.S. I should mention Boulet and Cy directly switched to covering the Annecy animation festival as in past years. Since the two festivals arrange themselves to be set up on successive weeks, couldn’t they coordinate to give poor creators a day of rest?


Spam of the day:

If you’d not prefer not to recive future emails Unsubcribe here
480 Walnut Drive Penn, ND 58362

Hey, I don’t want to alarm you, but apparently Penn, North Dakota is literally about six small blocks, a car repair shop, and a bar, situated on maybe eight streets total, none of which is called Walnut Drive. Weird! You’re referring me to a place that doesn’t exist, no doubt by accident.

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¹ Note to the lowlife who stole my bike: I hope it gets stolen back from you at the most inconvenient time possible. And that you get caught, of course.

² Umpah-Pah actually takes place in the somewhat extrapolated context of a French expeditionary force reaching New World shores in the 18th century (e.g. they end up encountering a Prussian expeditionary force; Goscinny’s penchant for playing with history did not start with Astérix), but the parallels are otherwise striking.

That Guy Just Can’t Win

And by That Guy, I mean Alex Jones, who has a history of losing (or at least settling and admitting he was wrong) when his bluster and terrible behavior actually arrives in court. Matt Furie, on the other hand, is now two-for-two in his efforts to take various MAGA types and CHUDs to task for turning his cartoon frog into a symbol of white supremacy and Nazism.

You may recall that Furie sued a guy that appropriated Pepe to use in an anti-Muslim children’s book¹ and forced him to give up all his ill-gotten gains — and then contributed it all to CAIR, which was a rather nice fuck you to the haters. In March of last year, he filed suit against Jones for selling a poster that featured Pepe. Given that Jones sits atop a questionable-supplement-fueled media empire and no doubt has lawyers on speed-dial to deal with all the shady shit he gets up to, I had some fleeting concerns about Furie’s chances of success.

Then I remembered it’s Alex Jones, nightmare client who never shuts up or stops his clownery, and waited for the inevitable:

Fringe conspiracy-theory outlet InfoWars settled a lawsuit Monday over their use of cartoon character “Pepe the Frog,” paying $15,000 to Pepe’s creator and promising never to use the cartoon again.

To be precise, Jones and InfoWars had to fork over the US$14 grand they’d made on the poster, and another US$1000 just because. Jones and his lawyer, who apparently want to project an image where writing a check with three zeroes is insignificant, are calling it [Wayback Machine, not Jones’s site] a tiny amount and speculating that Furie spent over a million in legal fees, ignoring the whole bit where Furie was represented pro bono.

They’re … not very smart. And considering that Jones is about to be deposed in the suit that Sandy Hook parents have filed because he’s made their lives a living hell just because, here’s hoping that he keeps up the bluster, the bravado, the general dissociation from reality, and brings all of that with him into his sworn testimony, because being him is going to damage the hell out of his case.

Furie is donating the extra US$1000 of Alex Jones’s money to amphibian conservation group Save The Frogs.

In other news, Boulet is at the Annency Festival of animation and is sharing his experiences via Twitter. Day one in French and English, with more presumably forthcoming. Speaking of French festivals, Lyon BD Festival was this past weekend, and our own Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin was there. We’ll share his reports starting tomorrow.


Spam of the day:

There Is A Hidden Secret Inside You… Waiting!
=> It blows away the “complexity” of breakthrough
=> It heals the deepest of wounds and blocks… even the “impossible” ones.

Anybody ever tell you that you sound like a cut-rate Jack Kirby? Let me know when I get the “Tiger-Force” at the End Of All Things.

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¹ ‘Cause your kids won’t hate who you hate without proper indoctrination, I guess.

News, Leaving Today, Etc.

Hey, remember when the news broke, ’bout four months back, that Randall Munroe would be doing a book about how to do stuff?

For any task you might want to do, there’s a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally bad that no one would ever try it. How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems is a guide to the third kind of approach. It’s the world’s least useful self-help book.

So Zach Weinersmith’ss BAH!Fest if it were run by experimenters instead of theorists¹, then. Very, very insane experimenters. How To releases on 3 September, and the same day, Munroe starts his book tour at the Harvard Science Center. The following two weeks will find him in Washington, DC, New York City, Ann Arbor, Portland (OR)², Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Louisville (KY), and Raleigh (NC). Venues and associates include the likes of Sidwell Friends School, Politic ‘n’ Prose, Cooper Union, The Strand, Powell’s, University of Utah, NC State University, a couple of churches, a library, and a fraternity³.

There will be one more stop on the book tour, and to get Munroe to your town (United States only), you’re going to have to gather some friends, some books, and some creativity:

Arrange the titles of your favorite books into sentences that tell a story, assemble a single continuous line of people holding up the covers, and take a photo or video documenting your feat. You can make the story as long as you want, but each book needs to be held by a different human.

Creative grammar is fine, and you’ll get extra credit for including as many books and people as possible.

Now, write the best story you can within those limits, and either post it to the sosh-meeds under the hashtag #howtoxkcd or email it to howtoxkcd — which can be found at Google’s e-mail, dot-com (say that last bit in a Homestar Runner voice for bonus points from me … I’m not sure Munroe will hear you) — between 10 June and 31 July. The additional tour stop will be announced in August.

As we all know, give Munroe’s readers a challenge, and they exceed all expectations. Best be creative as all get-out, and get to work.


Spam of the day:

One thing I am tired of is high power bills. I want to share with you a way to never for power again.

I used to dream about the day I would never for power again. Alas, big power again will require me to always for, never to never.

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¹ I am reminded of that time when Richard Feynman was given a tour of CERN and shown to a massive block of science (you now the ones, they’re all over CERN) that his tour guide was busy explaining when he realized Oh! This will test your hypothesis about charge change in particles, Professor Feynman.

Feynman looked up and down over the looming, cavernous pile of technology and asked how much it cost. The guide said 37 million dollars or whatever the figure was, and Feynman asked You don’t trust me? You can find it in here.

² Event info coming soon; click here to pre-order the book for the event.

³ That is, a nerd frat; my father was a member alongside Robert Lucky, a situation that I believe I have mentioned with some slight bitterness. Also, if you follow that link, bear in mind it was from before we knew Doug TenNapel was a jerk about and to transfolk.

This Looks A Little Different

I’m presuming you saw this from Matt Inman yesterday:

I am happy to announce that I am in development on my own animated feature for Illumination.
In short: I got a movie deal.

The good news: I’m making a movie and it’s going to be very funny.

The bad news: these things take years to make and it is an all-consuming task. This means I will no longer be working on The Oatmeal full time.

With that, Inman joins a pretty sizable list of web- and indie comics to get a Hollywood deal: You Damn Kid, Odd Jobs, Last Blood, Agnes Quill, The New Kid, Delilah Dirk, Castle Hangnail, and big kahuha build-a-franchise titles like Bone and Amulet.

Thing to keep in mind? Some of those deals go back a dozen years or more and by my count, the number of webcomic-originating properties that have made it to screen (large or small) so far¹ is one: Axe Cop, with Nimona having a release date in 2021. But this is a little bit different.

Because the movie isn’t The Oatmeal; the deal isn’t for the IP, it’s for Inman. He gets to make a movie with a studio that’s … well, they aren’t the top of the animation hierarchy, but they aren’t nobodies, either². Think about how Noelle Stevenson got the opportunity to make She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power, and has managed to get two full seasons released since Nimona was optioned, and has time for two or three more before it will release.

But also think about how nothing exists until it actually exists and all sorts of things may happen between now and a hypothetical release date that cause production to be abandoned, or the end product to be shelved. A’course, Illumination doesn’t have the resources to make movies that won’t be released. If they don’t release Untitled Matt Inman Project it’s because something went badly wrong rather than they just decided not to put it out in the world. You’d pretty much have to be the dominant, near-monopoly power-player of the entertainment industry to have the resources to do that.

Speaking of which, Kazu Kibuishi may or may not ever see an Amulet adaptation (or franchise) hit the big screen, but he’s made a movie. You’ve never seen Let’s Get Francis and you never will, because while Disney paid him to conceive and direct it, they also chose to scrap it. We at Fleen are cautiously optimistic that Inman will enjoy the next several years, but the best laid plans, etc.

In the meantime, there won’t be many comics from him as he shifts to a very different kind of creative endeavour. My money’s on him succeeding (at least on the things he’s got under his control), as it was revealed that he’s been doing creative consulting for Illumination for the past year and a half, including punch-up on the just released The Secret Life Of Pets 2. He’s not going in cold, and I think in three to five years he’ll have made something he’s proud of.


Spam of the day:

Live Chat with Asian Women

I think you got your generation scripts scrambled, Spammy. You shift from promising me access to beautiful Asian women to instead pointing me to Hot Russian Ladies (who may or may not be Desperate Girls) in the space of two lines. Pick an unfortunate mail-order bride ethnic sterotype and stick to it!

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¹ I’m not counting things made directly for the web, meaning that various projects related to PvP, Cyanide & Happiness, SMBC, and Automata. The standard here is that a big company pays you for the rights to make something from your story, and they bear the costs of making it and distributing it.

² I’m speaking here about longevity and creative reputation; Illumination have, thanks to owning the Minions, made on-the-order-of billion dollar grosses on four of their ten releases so far. They don’t have the legacy of Disney, the technical and gonzo creative skill of Pixar, or the legendary mystique of Ghibli. They also don’t have the cookie-cutter sameness of Dreamworks, or the mercenary laziness of Blue Sky and Sony Animation³.

³ Which both show signs of improving as they break their past patterns. Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, was friggin’ brilliant and Blue Sky are making Nimona.

I Hate That This Is Necessary

So everybody knows Dustin Harbin, right? Active up and down indie comics, one of the folks who’ve helped put on HeroesCon (the newest iteration of which is Friday-Sunday next week), gentleman beloved by all that have met him? And, as of a little bit ago, the latest recipient of access to medical care¹:

Hey guys: a couple weeks ago I faceplanted on my bicycle and — short version — they had to reattach the bones of my upper jaw to my skull and I lost 3+ teeth, Guess who doesn’t have insurance? I’ve set up a GoFundMe for what will be some large large bills: http://bit.ly/nosmash

Let’s get what passes for good news out of the way: as of this writing — approximately six hours after Harbin posted his tweet and eighteen since the fundraiser went up — he’s over US$23.5K; he originally was looking to raise US$25K, but surgery being what it is, he’s raised his estimated need to US$75K. I donated, and if it’s in your means to do so, I’d request you join the 400+ people that have done so already.

I hate that this is necessary. I hate that quality of healthcare you’re entitled to in this country depends on your ability to leverage social networks. I work a corporate, technical job with what’s likely a 90th percentile health insurance plan and I know that one bad diagnosis would still result in bills that would bankrupt me. It shouldn’t be like this, every other country in the world manages to not be like this, and it needs to change.

If I had smashed up my face like Harbin did² my insurance would probably find a way to soak me for a few thousand dollars — which I have a far greater ability to absorb, not being self-employed in the arts — and I’d complain about it, and the hassle of getting fixed up, but I’d eventually get fixed up to a reasonably high quality end state.

I do not deserve this more than Dustin Harbin.

I do not deserve to pay US$20 for a three month supply of meds that I require on a daily basis instead of wondering how I’m going to get by because a drug company decides to discontinue low-margin drugs or jack prices up by 100,000% because they can³. I am not more worthy of good health because I have a good job because I had a good education because my family was able to pay for it because they didn’t have to worry about medical needs sucking us dry because my father had a good job because he had a good education because Jesus tapdancing Christ I’m at least four generations from anything resembling bootstraps.

Nobody wants this. Go Fund Me doesn’t want this, despite the fact a full third of their income has been from campaigns for medical expenses. Our economy and everybody that lives here would be infinitely better off if medical bankruptcy weren’t a thing. But a cabal of super-rich are existentially offended by the idea of paying a proportional amount of their wealth in taxes for the common good and then give relative pittances in charity4.

None of this needs to be the case. None of this should be the case. If you don’t want any of this to be the case, give what you can to Harbin, and then give to/support candidates for political office who are willing to say that healthcare is a godsdamned human right so we don’t have to do all this again in a week.


Spam of the day:

It is a new “super” antenna that is able to capture TV signals through the air like no other antenna ever could.

It is a piece of wire that is between 01.x and 10x the wavelength of the signal it’s trying to capture. In the US, that’s between 54 and 806MHz, or from 0.37-5.5m, so a hunk of wire 50-100cm long would do it. It was not developed by a NASA engineer using military technology, except that I suppose somebody in the military uses technology like tape measures, wire clippers, and plug crimpers. Fuck outta here with this bullshit.

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¹ No word yet if he was seen at St Biden’s Memorial.

² And I damn near did when I was 16. I was also thrown headfirst from my bike, but I landed right side supraorbital instead of facefirst. I managed not to crack my skull, managed not to break my neck, but also managed to pierce my right ear in seven places. The fact that I landed on gravel — which skidded beneath me — instead of on hardscape probably saved my life.

³ Fun fact! My wife worked for a company that got bought by Mallinckrodt years ago. They treated their employees like shit.

4 Which is then leveraged into a tax break. For the record, I’ve ranged between 8-12% charitable giving for the past ten years, less for the past couple since my wife’s been back in school and not working.