The webcomics blog about webcomics

Weekend Festivities For You

For the second year in a row — thanks, antimaskers, deniers, antivaxxers, and general covidiots! — the Queer Comics Expo is going to be held virtually, and that means it’s time to get ready for the celebration in the Venn diagram where the circles are marked QUEER CULTURE and COMICS. That little slice of overlap is a lot of fun.

Tickets are on sale now, with a US$10 early bird for those of limited means¹, a US$16 regular weekend pass, and a US$55 VIP package (the latter includes a one year membership to the Cartoon Art Museum, otherwise access is the same regardless of payment level); a little birdie told me that discount code CAMPRIDE will let you save on the costs.

Programming on Saturday kicks off at 11:00am (all times PDT, given the fact that QCE and CAM are San Francisco-located) with a spotlight on keynote speaker Vincent Kao, and follows with the announcement of Prism Awards finalists, panels on mental health, furries, and Thirsty Sword Lesbians (the italics indicate a direct quote). From 6:00pm-7:00pm, there’s and online cocktail party (bring your own) with participants matched up for quick 1:1 conversations about everything.

Sunday programming kicks back in 11:00am again, with discussions involving Paige Braddock & Hilary Price, Latinx queer comics, art demos, body positivity, and more. A full list of speakers is at the ticket link, and the programming will stream at For those actually in the Bay Area, the Cartoon Art Museum is open weekends from 11:00am to 5:00pm.

It may lack the around-the-city, multiple-venues approach of the Before Times, but it looks as if it’s gonna be a party nonetheless, and that may be what everybody needs as much as anything. Open your wallet, block out some time, and have fun.

Spam of the day:

The main feature of the new Zoomshot Pro tactical zoom is the possibility of obtaining 4k quality in your photos from a great distance against very defined targets, or for panoramas.

I’m guessing that by describing this aftermarket cellphone camera lens as tactical, you’re hoping that I’m the sort of dude that automatically associates that word with manliness and therefore your toy is a must-have, rather than the sort that took an optics class in nerd school and therefore knows you need completely different kinds of lenses for zoom and panorama imaging. Fuck you for assuming I’m the former.

¹ And the Cartoon Art Museum, partner and primary fundraising beneficiary of QCE, is asking potential attendees to contact them for other options if ten bucks is too much (email QCExpo at cartoonart, which is a dot-org). They really want you to attend more than they want the money.

We Lost One Of The Good Ones

To be clear: any life lost is irreplaceable, and each of us is unique. But I can’t get over the grief of damn near everybody in comics at the sudden and unexpected death of Jesse Hamm earlier today — his wife, Anna Sahrling-Hamm, said it was a pulmonary embolism — because it seems that everybody in comics knew Jesse Hamm. Knew him, or knew somebody that knew him.

The number of people posting that he was their first friend in comics is staggering.

I never had the good luck to meet him, but he was a part of Helioscope since forever, and a mainstay of the Portland (and earlier, Bay Area) comics scenes. He was generous with his knowledge out of all measure, and was widely expected to write one of those books on the history and theory of comics that would be a definitive reference for the ages.

As near as I can tell, there’s nobody that didn’t like him and respect him more; if he wasn’t a household name, he did exemplary work — including on a fill-in basis when bigger names needed a break for an issue or two — and spent his time tirelessly sharing his comics knowledge, trying to make the next generation(s) of comics artists smarter, more skilled, and better able to navigate professional careers.

Feelings of loss are sharp and raw right now, but I find it illustrative of who he was that the first thoughts of some are to be found in laughter — bitter respite now, but I’m certain that in time it will be how he’s remembered. And I’m confident that judging by the grief and loss, his memory will be fresh for a long time; his work will live on in unnumbered comics careers made better by his lessons. With any luck, he knew how much he was treasured.

May everybody that knew him, or knew somebody that knew him, find comfort and peace and comfort in those memories.

Spammers don’t get to share the day with Jesse.

Now That Is Something That I’d Keep A Close Eye On

Hey, everybody, remember Tapas, formerly Taptastic, the aggregator-slash-kinda-publisher-slash-Tumbleresque-platform that features a lot of webcomics? You know, the one that tried to push through some craptastic ToS changes on the sly, got called out, and backpedalled at a truly impressive speed?

Guess what they said today:

Los Angeles, CA (May 11, 2021) — Continuing their global mission to create super IP across multimedia platforms, the leading digital publisher of webcomics and novels, Tapas Media, Inc., has been acquired by Kakao Entertainment in a cash transaction announced today. The acquisition will expand Kakao Entertainment’s original content business in North America and other English-speaking regions. [boldface original]

This is a big deal? How big? The dollar figure involved is US$510 million — which is a hell of a payday for Tapas’s ownership class. Big enough that it was announced in Forbes (although I’m basing this story on the press release sent to me by Tapas)

But I’d suggest the more important parts are the subhead to the press release title:

Kakao Entertainment Acquires 100% Stake in Tapas

and this bit down in the About section:

Kakao Entertainment Corp. is innovating the full spectrum of the entertainment industry value chain. With a mission to ‘Entertain Different’ through its original content, talent and music portfolio, Kakao Entertainment operates Korea’s most popular mobile content platforms, providing users access to over 80,000 IPs, including the most extensive library of original content in the country. Examples include Solo Leveling, Itaewon Class, The Uncanny Counter, Dr. Brain, and Lovestruck in the City. Talent under management includes over 150 globally beloved Korean celebrities and it also owns six highly sought-after Korean film and TV production studios. The company also leads the Korean music industry with a library of songs that exceeds 60,000, with 1,200 new tracks being released each year. Kakao Entertainment Corp.’s global footprint comprises Japan, North America, Greater China, Southeast Asia and India, and is expanding rapidly.

Translation: Tapas is now part of a much larger, much more active IP farm, one that is gonna want to see some return on the half billion godsdamned dollars it just dropped. Whatever terms of service you thought you had, whatever ownership interest Tapas was asserting in your webcomic in return for hosting and reach?

That was yesterday. This is today. Your purpose now is to make money for Kakao. Please note: not to make money for Kakao, and incidentally score a nice payday for yourself; massive conglomerates do not grow to the size required to drop half a gigabuck on a bunch of webcomics by sharing money¹.

If you are hosted on Tapas, your homework from now until forever is to very carefully read whatever new terms of service drop. Don’t assume that Kakao will communicate them to you, go looking for them on the Tapas site, or wherever that gets redirected to. Grab the old ones from the Internet Archive, and compare paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line until you have identified all the changes. Understand how these changes affect you, and do not trust any interpretation as to what they mean from anybody representing Tapas or Kakao. Honestly, don’t trust any interpretation except from a lawyer, agent, or other professional that is legally obliged to represent your interests.

Because if there’s ever a situation to not trust a corporation that smiles and says Of course we’ll take care of you, this is it. If by this time next year there hasn’t been a wholesale, lopsided redefinition of the relationship between former Tapas webcomics creators and Kakao, I’ll be amazed. And if by this time next year you still want to own what you’ve created, the time to do defensive research — and make plans for exit strategies — is now.

Spam of the day:

All she did was this D.I.Y. “carb-pairing” trick that reconditions your 3 female weight-loss hormones to drastically accelerate fat-burning while still eating the foods you love.

a) You’re lying, and b) you sent this to me thinking that I’m AFAB and therefore more likely to be susceptible to your bullshit body-policing diet logic. Fuck that.

¹ Particularly ones that are exploring an IPO and estimating their company valuation — per the Forbes story — at US$17.8 billion dollars. You are not too small to have value extracted from you. Your small value to be extracted, along with a few zillion other small fry, is the actual business plan.

On The One Hand, I Should Stop Encouraging This …

… One the other, you got to admire the hustle. Kathy Peterson would like you to know that Kidnapped By Gnomes has hit 300 strips total, if one considers both the before & after of an epically productive hiatus¹, and also that KBG is taking part in the virtual TCAF, including an appearance in the exhibitor room on 13 May from 5:00pm-7:00pm. Two books on sale, a third premiering, and I have to check that my blogroll isn’t actually changed — those little geeks are persistent.

And since we’re talking about the reigning Queen of Hey Remember When That Webcomic Launched, maybe we should mention one of the Kings. A looong time ago, one of the most complex (in terms of topic matter and visuals) webcomics was A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible by David Hellman and Dale Beran. They did maybe the last ALILBTDII over at The Nib, where Beran also posted some heartbreaking comics essays about his experiences as a teacher in Baltimore in times of unrest. He did a book about how the worst areas of the internet shitposted their way to an authoritarian government, too.

And lately, he’s been running a comic that he made during quarrantine on Twitter, about a page a day, starting here. It’s called Arthur Pendlebroke, 1st Level Mage, and it’s seemingly about a guy who finishes grad school and discovers his parents never told him about his invite to wizarding school a dozen years ago, and being the oldest recently-graduated wizard in a world of too many roomies and the gig economy.

I say seemingly because Arthur leaves the story after about four pages and a couple of his friends (one of our mortal realms, one decidedly not) have to hunt him down find him you know what? Hunt him down might actually be accurate. He was supposed to take them on a Trader Joe’s run, and now he’s in a goblin palace, you see. Probably. Might be dead. Might have to kill him. Hard to tell.

It’s a hoot and a half, and I recommend that you read along until you decide, Self, I can’t stand this one page a day pace! and drop the five bucks it’ll cost you to grab the whole thing on Gumroad.

Spam of the day:

Vaccine Shedding Testimonies along with Vax Death and Illness Pics/Videos
[lengthy list of bullshit and Bible verses]

I am going to find you, come to where you are, and shed all my vaccine detritus on you until you are irredeemably contaminated and God hates you. Hail Satan.

¹ Attending med school and doing a residency would have been enough for most folks, but coming back to doing a webcomic while serving as an emergency medicine doctor during a pandemic? That’s gotta be a record of some kind.

Starting Tonight: A Week Of TCAF

Kind of snuck up on us, didn’t it? But it’s Mother’s Day weekend, and that means TCAF. whether in-person (someday) or virtual (again). There’s lots going on with a mix of pre-recorded and live video events, Zoom room exhibitor hours, and a vendor’s marketplace. Some sessions will require registration, and all are subject to TCAF’s Code Of Conduct, so no griefing.

Things that caught my eye (all times EDT):

Friday, 7 May
Kickoff Session
Pre-recorded, premiering on YouTube at 7:00pm.

Saturday, 8 May
Make Comics Your Way With Story Planet
Live online (register here) geared for grades 3-6 as the panel and participants create characters & a story. 1:00pm

Sunday, 9 May
Molly Knox Ostertag Spotlight
Pre-recorded with live Q&A (register here), featuring a reading from Ostertag’s new graphic novel, The Girl From The Sea. 3:00pm.

Monday, 10 May
Rage, Apathy And Satire In The Black Creative Realm
Abdul Ali, Ben Passmore, and Richie Pope live (register here) talking about the meaning and challenges of being Black and creative. 3:00pm.

Tuesday, 11 May
Boulet Spotlight
Live talk (register here) with Peterbirkemoe. 5:00pm.

Protest Comics
Ho Che Anderson, Derf Backderf, and Nate Powell in a pre-recorded talk about the need to present dissent, and the responsibilities that entails. Premieres on YouTube at 7:00pm.

Wednesday, 12 May
Nagata Kabi Spotlight
Creator of the groundbreaking My series of autobio manga (My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, My Solo Exchange Diary, My Alcoholic Escape From Reality) in a pre-recorded conversation with Deb Aoki and interpreter/comics translator Jocelyne Allen. Premiering on YouTube at 7:00pm.

Thursday, 13 May
Health (S)Care: Personal And Global Perspectives
Everything from traumatic brain injuries to the big and small ways that COVID-19 has affected all of us. Live panel discussion (register here) at 4:00pm.

Friday, 14 May
Life Into Comedy
Where autobio meets humor, or mining real-life experiences for various degrees of fictionalized funny. Shary Flenniken, Meichi Ng, Thom, Yuko Ota & Ananth Hirsh, moderated live (register here) by Boum. 8:00pm.

Saturday, 15 May
Closing Panel
When else are you going to get to see Katie Skelly, Jaime Hernandez, Aubrey Sitterson, and Chris Moreno hold forth on their love of professional wrestling, comics about professional wrestling, and the history of women in professional wrestling? Never, that’s when. Live (as all the best wrestling is; register here) and refereed by S-Quire Johnson. 5:00pm.

Libraries & Education Day
A separate track for librarians and educators (register here) on Friday, 14 May, with keynote speaker Jeff Smith kicking things off at 9:00am and a full day of programming following.

Of particular note are a mingle session with reps/creators of Scholastic Canada, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Fantagraphics, and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group + First Second (12:30pm to 1:30pm) and Comics Publisher Speed-Dating with a series of quick presentation on new releases from NBM/Papercutz, Renegade Arts Entertainment, Highwater/Portage & Main, and Arsenal Pulp Press (4:00pm to 5:00pm).

Naturally, there’s lots of other sessions during the day about the kinds of material that comics in the classroom excel at, but librarians and teachers making contact with the creators and publishers behind the comics has been, in my experience, a uniquely fruitful thing.

Spam of the day:

Every person who did this 30-second trick after brushing their teeth, experienced a dramatic rejuvenation of their gums AND rebuilt their teeth…

Or you could just floss. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it saves you a mountain of headaches — some literal — and doesn’t require to mix three common household ingredients (why do I get the feeling two of them are ammonia and bleach?).

Want To Be A Better Person? Give Him A Read And/Or Listen

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my purchases of comics was waiting until the March trilogy was complete, as it gave me the chance to purchase all three at once from Nate Powell at MoCCA, and tell him how much his work meant to me. It was a quiet moment at the table, nobody else looking to buy or talk for about ten minutes, and the respect that Powell had for his creative partners Andrew Aydin and Congressman¹ John Lewis suffused the entire conversation.

Powell will forever be associated with March² — rightly so — but he’s done plenty of work on his own for years. For those that need a quick primer, you can find a exploration of how fashion (in the sense of what we want our clothes to convey about us) ties into toxic masculinity and fascism, or maybe a look at people for whom global warming is neither abstract nor in the future. There’s a strong tendency towards thoughtful consideration of complex issues, and a sense of seeking justice in Powell’s work, and all of it resonates with emotional heft, not least because of his tendency towards abstract, implied panel gutters (check out the page previews here, here or here, you’ll see what I mean immediately).

And with a new collection of comics essays³, Powell is talking about his work, the message he wants to share, and the world he wants to see. Save It For Later is the book of the month at The Nib (buy it from them and you’ll get a signed bookplate, while they last), and they’ve got a talk with Powell up at their YouTube channel. Also: Powell in conversation with Eleanor Davis (courtesy of Politics & Prose), and an upcoming Q&A with the Monroe County [Indiana] Public Library on Sunday, 16 May at 2:00pm EDT (register here).

That ten minutes that I spent talking with Powell was an experience that I still think back on — it’s the sort of conversation that makes you want to think hard about things and make decisions that will bend the arc of your life in directions that benefit others. Check out the interviews he’s done, sign up for the session in ten days, and see if it doesn’t lead you in some new directions (which may or may not involve good trouble).

Spam of the day:

Scientists at the Dental Study Institute in New Jersey have quickly run some tests and CONFIRMED the mixture is legit and that it indeed eliminates cavities in a very short time. [emphasis original]

There is no “Dental Study Institute” in New Jersey. There is a Dental Studies Institute, but they don’t have scientists; they are an instructional company that teaches dental practice personnel required continuing education courses. The only test they’re running is on the students, to determine if they learned enough about herpes to get their 5 CEUs.

¹ And strong contender for Greatest Living American Of The Past Century, alongside Mr Rogers and Dolly Parton.

² And, undoubtedly, Run once it releases.

³ I’m still waiting for my copy, which is also your occasional reminder that Diamond’s entire comics distribution business is extraordinarily craptacular.

No Post Today

Running on no sleep thanks to the cardiac call on EMT duty in the wee hours. Take care until tomorrow.

This Looks Cool And Fun

I really love what's going on in these few scraps of paper.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (hereinafter: “The Billy”) has an upcoming event that is free, but strictly capacity limited, for Saturday, 15 May at 2:00pm EDT. It’s a comics drawing workshop with Hyejeon Jeon, recently graduated from OSU with her MFA, and working as a freelance illustrator while doing comics (not all of which are available in English, sorry!).

Okay, so there’s lots of comics-drawing workshops from The Billy, or CAM, or similar organizations. Why did this one catch my eye? Because of the primary medium participants will be asked to work with, which makes for an interesting rule, and as was established on this page way back in small times, rules prompt creativity¹.

The rule is that these comics will be drawn on sticky notes. Small space, but you can move them around and see new ways to make the story work. The object of the workshop is to produce a mini adventure story, but before that you’ll stretch your creative muscles with sticky note drawing games.

Registration is strictly limited to 25, so hop on that quickly if you want in. The session isn’t being recorded, but if it’s popular (and if it produces a deep enough waitlist), maybe the folks at The Billy can run it again or even make it recurring. It looks like a lot of fun, and you have to respect any workshop that includes on its list of things to bring:

  • Sticky notes or note cards (any small pieces of paper works!)
  • Your trusty pen or pencil.
  • Optional: tea and snacks because one cannot create on an empty stomach.

They get me. All skill levels welcome, recommended for those 16 and up.

Spam of the day:

Recently, I have figured out that you are a big fan of porn and enjoy watching “XXX movie”. I think you know what I mean … I have managed to edit a few clips, where you eagerly cum, and I have included the films you were watching while masturbating. You transfer $1750 USD in Bitcoin equivalent to me and I once the payment is received, I will immediately delete all the evidence against you. So, here is my Bitcoin wallet: 1NTAPV7fYhWqNjwZmaDnJwdCSUSCYS6fhF

Okay, so 1) Everybody watches porn; b) I don’t have a webcam on the computer that I use for watching porn, and the webcam on the other computer is covered by a hard plastic shutter; III) I’m publishing your fakemoney wallet so that people can flood you with requests for money and fractions of fractions of fakecoins until you are so bothered you decide to leave behind your life of petty scamming and resolve to be a better person, maybe join a youth group or something. Otherwise, fuck off.

¹ I swear to you that it is a coincidence that the linked post is from exactly 15 years ago. Weird how life works out sometimes, innit?

Also, I may have been doing this for too long.

Things That Should Be On Your Radar Right Now

No time to dilly-dally, we’ve got items to discuss.

Item! The recent unpleasantness is now well behind us, and Skin Horse is back! We return to our heroes as they navigate an imaginary, more-Vegas-than-Vegas dreamscape in the small, self-centered universe that is the imagination of Baron Mistycorn, former Disneyesque mascot and all-around dick.

In a strip where characters have had a real opportunity to breathe and grow into better people (looking at you, Nick¹), it’s almost refreshing to know that BM is still the same up-his-own-ass jerk that he started as, and I look forward to him being humbled by whatever he’s gotten himself into for about four seconds before he’s back to his old, jerkwad self.

Item! John Allison’s been the custodian of an ever-expanding archive of comics going back to the time when the Y2K problem was still a couple years away from crisis. Alas, it appears that the depth of his comics trove has caught up with what conventional technology can do:

The old Scary Go Round site has been running a near 20-year old CMS that can go no further. Getting thousands of legacy comics onto a new one won’t be easy. An attempt to move it to WordPress/ComicEasel collapsed under the weight of my three-headed archive.

That update from Allison last Friday, along with directions as to where you can find his works online:

You can read the Bad Machinery archive on GoComics (the enhanced version with all the extra book pages) and I’ll organise a page where you can sort all the chapters easily.

… along with an opportunity to give him money:

I’m assembling PDF collections of the “New Bobbins” stories. $3 and up Patreon subscribers will get these as part of their subscription, just keep an eye on my Patreon page.

Otherwise, you can pay what you want for them on my Gumroad. I’ll try to put a PDF up every week – the first is up now. There are four collections — A Magical Pink Being (Amy is pregnant), Out Of The Woods (Shelley and Tim cause a great local disaster), End Of The Road (wrapping up the Erin Winters/Eustace Boyce comics) and Hard Yards (the epic wrap-up).

They each feature a new essay and notes.

Note that what you want has a floor of £1, which is exceedingly generous on Allison’s part, given that PDFs of full SGR collections are going for £2.50 and up (which is criminally underpriced, but the books are somewhat old at this point). I plan on picking them up at my usual PWYW rate of US$0.10/page, which would be about four bucks, which I’ll probably just round up to £3 for each of the Bobbins collections. And, since I prefer reading comics on paper, should these ever see print I’ll just buy them again. They’re that good.

Item! Let this be your general reminder that tomorrow is Tüki Day, when Jeff Smith launches his third creator-owned comic series on Kickstarter with Tüki: Fight For Fire (and, later, Tüki: Fight For Family) releasing in conjunction with BONE’s 30th anniversary. You don’t want to miss it.

Spam of the day:

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren Wir gewähren Darlehen in Höhe von 10.000,00 € bis 5 Mio. € mit einem Zinssatz von 2%

I’m sorry, when I read German in a spam, I go into a frothing rage much like Steve Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Please take your concatenated devil language elsewhere.

¹ Whose character arc I’ve just now realized is a pretty good parallel to that of Mike Dowden over at Something*Positive. Randy Milholland and Shaenon Garrity/Jeffrey C Wells are giving me hope that emotionally stunted manchildren can, with the right influences, become capable of empathy and grow into the sort of person that is a good partner worthy of love.

Fleen Book Corner: The Crossroads At Midnight

Boy howdy, I have determined that if there’s one thing in this world I do not want, it’s for Abby Howard to be mad at me, since it’s obvious that her mind works in ways that could devise — as Benedick would have it — brave punishments for any that crossed her.

I’m getting ahead of myself a little.

Received this week after considerable delay¹ in fulfillment of its Kickstart, was Howard’s latest book, The Crossroads At Midnight. It was supposed to have been in backers hands and stores at Halloween time², as one would expect for a horror anthology, but honestly? Waiting for the Spring and the beginnings of hope that the Great Plague may finally be receding from our shores³ probably put me in a better brainspace for reading it, particularly because I opted to do so right before bed.

Genius move, Gary.

The stories range from mildly creepifying but ultimately affirming (wherein an old woman who has always been alone by choice becomes friends with some reanimated corpses from the local bog) to emotionally damaging (a classic come-away-to-Faerie tale, only at the seashore, with sisterly love and regrets) to modern fears that are literally skin-crawling (just don’t — repeating, do not — take a stained and possibly murderous mattress home from the sidewalk, no matter how much it appears to be free to a good home).

The two that stuck with me, though, were the ones that dipped into splatter territory — if Howard ever gets a job storyboarding a horror movie, they better do her dismembering eviscerations justice — because they both dealt (in a roundabout way) with the same theme: what happens when your friend is something monstrous? In a moment of crisis, will they use their monstrosity to protect, or act according to their nature in ways that to human sensibility are an unimaginably cruel betrayal? And who is at fault then, the monster or the hubris?

Howard’s characters encompass a range of ages, genders, types, and personalities; nobody is a victim because of who they are, but rather because of what they choose to do. Sometimes it’s foolishness, sometimes it’s love that precipitates the fall. Sometimes, it’s a salvation of sorts, as the ordinary evils of people who are human contrast with people who are … not. Howard lets you know who each and every one of them is, with just a few lines of dialogue or a panel’s worth of expression4.

If you didn’t back the Kickstart, you can get The Crossroads At Midnight from major retailers, and I imagine it’s just a matter of time before it shows up in Howard’s store and that of publisher Iron Circus. It’s decidedly not for kids, but if you’re up for a good scare, Howard’s damn near unmatched at spookification.

Spam of the day:

Welcome.To.Your Life Insurance Offer

Those extra periods are making you sound rather creepier than you intent, methinks.

¹ Fucking COVID.

² Ibid.

³ But not all shores. Help out the people of India if you can, as they suffer from the malicious incompetence of an authoritarian leader who has better things to do than deal with the death befouling his land, just as we did.

4 My favorites: the grabby hand and the eyes. The first is the protagonist’s roomie who deals with sickness in the apartment by getting out the mechanical grabby hand to maintain three feet of distance at all times; the body language instantly tells you this isn’t the first time. The second involved the girl who sacrifices herself and later comes back with distant, disinterested eyes to show how indifferent she now is towards the sister she protected so fervently.