The webcomics blog about webcomics

Actually, One More Because I Have To Share This

Readers of this page will know that I’ve been mocking the spam I get in nearly every post for years now, and it’s only today that I come across one so perfect that it gets a dedicated post. Enjoy this as you are digesting.

Lagies and jenglefenz, I present to you the tactical Christmas stocking:

It doesn’t appear to come with the hatchet, multitool, locking-blade knife, or shotgun shells shown, but the clips and velcro and MOLLE webbing are all there. It’s the ultimate expression of pure, distilled toxic masculinity in pog holiday form!

Last One For The Week

For all those for whom travel and gluttony will occupy much of the next 72 hours¹, have a little tidbit before you get started.

  • David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) has launched the Kickstarter for the second print collection of his LEGOcentric Irregular Webcomic. The first, Burning Down The Alehouse, tiptoed up to the issue of IP rights re: interlocking brick building systems by centering on the storyline that uses painted D&D miniatures instead of minifigs. Having navigated those waters successfully, it’s full sail ahead for book two, albeit not with the storyline that actually features full sails.

    This time around, it’s the Indiana Jonesesque Cliffhangers that get their adventures chronicled, provided backers can come up with the AUS$5000 (approx US$3800), which in the half-day since launch has hit approximately the 60% mark. With such a modest goal (and Morgan-Mar engaging in every trick in the book to keep shipping costs minimal²), he should be funded by tomorrow, with stretch goals knocked down with relative ease. Treat yourself to a present to be delivered in the depths of winter (northern hemisphere) or the sweltering days of summer (southern hemisphere).

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, Book 2 of Stand Still, Stay Silent is about one backer away from US$100,000, aka the fifth (and last so far) stretch goal, since launching on Monday. Time for some predictions! Now granted, this project may fall into the “pent up demand” exception for the FFF mk2, but it appears so far to be following a fairly standing tail-off, so I’m gonna run the numbers.

    It’s looking like about US$1.8M at the 24-30 hour mark per Kicktraq, giving a prediction of US$360K to US$540K; it’s early for the McDonald Ratio, but of of right now (about 2.6 days in), we’re looking at at least US$300,072 (it, uh, cleared the 100K threshold while I was typing this paragraph), and that’ll still be going up. I’ma guess that it’s a success.

Okay, that’s it for today. I wish you all safe travels, good times, and righteous remonstrance with racist relatives.


Spam of the day:

Monitor Your Steps, Heart Rate, BP And More

When are makers of knockoff FitBits going to learn that the perfect ad copy has already been written?

________________
¹ [Raises hand]

² Including undercharging certain international rates. Stand-up guy, our Morgan-Mar.

Continuing The Brief Items

The countdown to pie is go, repeat, GO.

Kickstarter Alert #1: The folks at Cloudscape Comics (including but by no means limited to my favorite comicking engineer¹) do regular print anthologies of the best of British Columbia cartoonists. They’re great! But the latest anthology, on the topic of music, meant to be the 10th anniversary anthology, is lagging a bit in its funding. As of today, they’re at about the 23% mark, and not quite halfway through the funding period. Don’t sleep on this one, and if you don’t believe me, listen to your Auntie Spike. Pledge!

Kickstarter Alert #2: Just launched on the Kicker, Habibi: A Muslim Love Story Anthology. This one looks seriously interesting, and from a POV that’s broadly underrepresented in comics at the moment. The names of the contributors aren’t familiar to me, but that’s kind of great? There’s nothing like an anthology for getting exposed to a bunch of creators you wouldn’t otherwise see, and a couple of them will be great and your new favorites. For US$15 (early bird) or US$20 (regular), you can’t miss the discovery value. The anthology is being based on an extremely modest estimate of 350 copies in the first print run, so this is likely your one shot at getting a copy.

Once In A Long Damn Time Alert: I don’t recall ever seeing Raina Telgemeier put original art up for sale previously, but she’s done so now to support the Southern Poverty Law Center. Seventeen pieces are now up at eBay, with the auctions running another eight days. Want a complete set of Raina, her parents, and her sister Amara? Maybe Cat, Maya, Carlos, and Uncle Jose from Ghosts? Five members of the Baby-Sitters Club? The cast and crew of Drama? This is your shot.

Averted Crisis Alert: John Allison told us back in April that he was wrapping up Tackleford and all the comics that take place there. Over the summer at SDCC, he told me that it would happen at the end of the year. If not all-Desmond, all the time, it looked at the very least like we’d be getting some Robert Cop and that’s all right. But plans sometimes take a backseat; when your brain wants to stay on its current course, you listen, and thus there’s an announcement at the top of the page over at Bad Machinery:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Scary Go Round has been un-cancelled. Stories will now continue in 2018. Danger averted.

For the record, I have zero problem with this.


Spam of the day:

This guy reveals how to get a ?rock hard? boner in less than two weeks

Really? I can usually manage in no more than 3-4 hours. This is not to brag

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¹ Sorry Keen Soo, Jorge Cham, and Dante Shepherd. Y’all are great, but Angela’s got swords, corgis, and moustaches.

It’ll Probably Be A Sparse Week

What with it being American Thanksgiving this week, making for an abbreviated work week, in which a full tranche of work must be done, in addition to plans for the big meal om Thursday. Cranberries must be cooked down, birds brined, bread baked, and pies prepared. Pies, people. Let’s do this.

  • The Creators For Creators grant was announced in April 2016, with applications open for about six months that year, and was first awarded this past March. It looks like the timing of the 2018 grant is going to be a little different, as applications just went live and will run until 31 March 2018. No word yet on when the decision will be made, but one thing’s for sure: it’s worth US$30,000 for a creator or writer/artist team to make a graphic novel. Details at the site.
  • Speaking of just went live: Minna Sundberg and Hiveworks launched the Kickstarter for book 2 of Stand Still, Stay Silent around midnight EST and cleared goal around ten hours later. In fact, the nearly 640 backers (as of this writing) are rapidly approaching stretch goal #2, at the US$50,000 mark. We’ll give this until tomorrow morning and see what the FFF mk2 has to say, but for now it appears that come May, I’ll have a handsome hardcover matching book 1 on my shelves.
  • And while it technically happened yesterday, it was pretty darn recent, so speaking of it also: Chris Yates has emerged from his madness place with the four-friggin’-thousandth of his Baffler! puzzle series. 958 pieces, eight levels, difficulty level 9.95¹, it can be yours for a cool US$2695 and honestly? It’s worth every.

    last.

    penny.

    All of Yates’s previous Big Round Number Baffler!s has been snatched up by one of his dedicated puzzle-collecting fans, and I suspect that #4000 will be gone in short order. In the meantime, enjoy the photos of what it took to construct the 5.4 kg behemoth².


Spam of the day:

The world’s top influencers in media, technology, and finance use Nuzzel to save time and stay informed. Nuzzel Media Intelligence uses data from thousands of influencers to show you what important people in your industry are talking about, in real time.

You named your very serious company Nuzzel? That’s not the name of a media intelligence company (whatever that is), that’s the name of a tissue, or a fabric softener, or maybe a tissue infused with fabric softener to make it even softer for all your tender bits.

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¹ Yates once told me that the difficulty scale is logarithmic.

² Shown here with a life-sized Yates for comparison.

Can I Claim To Have Been Blackout Drunk?

May all the angels and ministers of grace forgive me, I have backed a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff book. Welp, I guess I have between now and April 2018 to do as much good as possible before that thing shows up and I lose all sanity. Again.

Doing Good 1: Hey, remember that talk that Kelly and Zach Weinersmith gave at the Strand Bookstore, which was recorded by C-SPAN? It was broadcast this past Sunday, and that means it’s now available for streaming at the C-SPAN site. Round about the 42:30 mark, I achieve a lifelong dream and get identified in a transcript as Unidentified Speaker.

Doing Good 2: I’m going to reiterate my call for all of you to purchase Shing Yin Khor’s Small Stories. It’s a slim, small volume — almost Moleskine cahier size — with Khor’s delicate watercolors perfectly reproduced, though ten stories of anger, redemption, hope, silliness, and magic. Some of them are heartbreaking¹, some are uplifting, some are both at the same time. She’s collected some of her best work from the past few years, and you will not find a better use of twelve bucks than this

Doing good 3: Looking to get some sweet, sweet webcomics merch for the upcoming Solstice-adjacent holiday(s)? Keep in mind that you can’t wait until the night before and expect to get stuff the next morning … Amazon may be working on direct teleportation via quantum entanglement, but your favorite webcomicker needs lead time. Also, sleep.

As a most optimistic guess, the TopatoCo shipping times calendar for Aught-Seventeen is probably representative of what the most on-the-ball creators can do. Probably want to order at least 4-5 days earlier for a lot of single-person operations, though.


Spam of the day:

Young cute blonde looking to cheat on my BF this weekend

Oh no, what if I am her BF? This is just like the pina coloda song.

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¹ On par with Trigger Warning: Breakfast, which was originally published anonymously, but which Khor has recently claimed.

Oh Good Glob, There Goes My Sanity

[Header image below the cut to contain the horror]

Hussie, Green, and (motherfucking) Dril collaborating on a Sweet Bro & Hella Jeff project? I just got over the flashbacks from the last one.

(more…)

All The Feels

Today, I bring you news that the Becky Beaton cancer fundraiser has cleared CDN$126,000, which is friggin’ amazing; I’m certain that the entire Beaton family thanks you. For some added context about what a bastard this particular cancer is, Kate shared the story of a friend of Becky’s with the same diagnosis at the same time and about the same age. Becky’s still with us, and if 2474 donors (and counting) have anything to say about it, she will be for some time.

I also bring news that Shing Yin Khor’s Small Stories collection (which I tweeted about here, and I stand by every word), containing the superlative Desert Walk and nine other stories of feelings, arrived today. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time on this one. It’s a good time to feel what it’s like to be somebody else. More on this one tomorrow.

The world is kind of terrible, so let’s do our best to not make it worse.


Spam of the day:

MEET HOT RUSSIAN WOMEN

Then there’s these assholes, trying to get my attention by trafficking mail-order brides. Did you not see my heartfelt plea about not making things worse? Sheesh.

Family Redux

Yes, yes, I know, toutes les bandes dessineés is buzzing about the new Patreon-alike from Kickstarter, and how it’s going to both compete and compliment other funding platforms, and early adopters, and how it will change everything or maybe nothing¹. It’s very important. But it’s not the most important story today; it’s not even the second most important.

  • This page has, for years beyond reckoning², been in the bag for Kate Beaton and her uniquely hilarious/touching look at … well, everything. Literature, history, ponies, personal biography, and family. To paraphrase Rich Stevens, there’s only one place in the world that bakes the perfect little cookie that is a Beatonesque comic, and that’s Kate’s brain. Nobody else is like her. Except that’s not quite true.

    As her comics starring her family (especially her mom, which makes them momics) show, Beaton is very much the product of her upbringing — the particular place (Nova Scotia) and the particular people (all of whom exhibit not exactly her sensibilities and personality, but were clearly made according to the same rules). Kate’s Mom, Kate’s Dad, and her sisters have been featured in so many quick and delightful comics, they feel like we know them.

    We don’t, of course. But Kate’s made those scraps of paper and jittery lines feel like we grew up with them, know how they’ll react in a given situation, breathe and live and laugh next to us. Which is why when Kate (and by her explicit assent, Becky) shared the news last Christmas, for those of us that followed the Beatons from a distance, it was a punch in the gut.

    But Becky got better. Until she didn’t.

    Hello my friends. There is no easy way to put this out there. This is my sister Becky. Since two years ago, everything has changed in our family. We are asking for help now, we love her more than I could ever tell you. youcaring.com/beckybeaton-10 …

    Remission became recurrence, and she’s reached the limit of what chemo and radiation can safely do; the medical term for this is incurable. Because the Beatons have the good fortune to live in Canada, getting to this stage has not bankrupted them. There are clinical trials and experimental treatments to explore, but they are predominantly in the United States, which means that the family is facing a daunting charge for the privilege of participating in treatments that are still experimental and which may afford the possibility of not dying. The first estimate is CDN$150,000.

    The Maritimes breed hardy souls — self-reliant, sturdy, people that stand on their own two feet with pride. It can’t have been easy for Kate to consider making something as intimate as her sister’s mortality public, to ask for our help. But the Maritimes breed something else, and that’s community; in a place where everybody knows everybody for the past half-dozen generations, you wouldn’t need to ask for help because it would be offered without hesitation.

    We don’t know Kate and her family, not really … but sometimes, the internet approximation is almost as good. Since the appeal went out yesterday, Becky’s Rally Against Cancer has raised nearly ninety-five thousand goddamned dollars. It’s not a cure, it’s not a guarantee, but it’s enough to allow for a fighting chance, and that’s all any Nova Scotian ever needed to move the world.

    Over the next while, I am going to be telling you about her a bit every day. So that you know who you are helping.

    That’s what Kate told us after she asked for help; we don’t know Becky, not really, but we’re going to get the chance to. There are cartoons, remembrances, photos, funny stories, little moments that Kate’s carried with her of the sister she’s known all her life.

    There will be more, and even after all of them we won’t really know Becky — not really — but we’ll be closer. Kate’s sharing her sister’s life with us; we’re all going to share the joy and the hurt in return. We haven’t met her, most of us never will, but I think we can all trust Kate will tell her for us, Becky, because we know the Beatons are no strangers to colorful idiom: fuck cancer. We love you.

  • And yet, in this strange, sometimes wondrous, sometimes broken family called webcomics, we must make time to welcome another who has seen fit to join us:

    Introducing Quentin Malcolm Gruver Sung, born 11/13/17 (the first three two-digit primes). Baby and mom are happy and healthy; I’ve already changed 5+ diapers and am therefore ready to handle ANYTHING

    Also he met some Snoopies

    I’ve been asked about Quentin’s stats, sorry to neglect this vital info:

    Weight: 6lb 13oz
    Length: 20.67″
    Sign: Scorpio with knife
    Alignment: Neutral good
    Warp field output: 5.01 kilocochranes

    That from Jon “Ferocious J” Sung, as fine a man as ever has been and I’ll fight anybody that says different. Young Quentin will know the joys and embarrassments of growing up with an ubernerd for a father, who will surely never let him forget every late-night feeding and how many diapers barely contained warp core breaches.

    You’ve gone and done something amazing by being born, Q³ — you’ve engaged in an act of supreme optimism, joining us here in a world that’s frequently stupid and determinedly so. We’ll try to make it better by the time you’re old enough to notice; if we fail, I have every faith that you’ll pick up from us and see the job done. With your lineage, I know you’ll settle for nothing less than the establishment of a post-scarcity, egalitarian, technological, spacefaring utopia. Quentin, you have the conn.


No spam today. They aren’t family.

_______________
¹ One thing I haven’t seen mentioned — Kickstarter has a more global footprint than other services, so I wonder if this becomes a more global alternative to Patreon.

² It’s about ten years. Sorry for the hyperbole.

³ I see what you did there, J.

MB/sec

Sometimes, you just gotta go with what you know, and I know that when you say the word butts, a few names spring to mind.

  • Probably the first association is that of the perpetual back-and-forth between Jeph Jacques and David “Damn You” Willis. Seriously, just do a search for willis jacques butts and you’re buried in links to butts, butt tacos, and the dreaded butts disease. Jacques doesn’t actually figure into today’s story¹, but Willis does.

    Willis is, as we all recall, a webcomicker since small times, having started the first of his Walkyverse strips waaay back in September of 1997. Roomies! ran for two-plus years and spawned two books before mutating into It’s Walky!, at which point Willis stopped with the books until he started Shortpacked! in 2005. The entire run of It’s Walky — 99 to 2004 — remained available only in electron form until now²:

    IT’S WALKY! is a webcomic that ran from Christmas of 1999 through the end of 2004. In 2005, the first storyline was retold and redrawn as a full-comic-book-page-style graphic novel! …well, the first half was. The second half was completed in 2014. This book collects both this complete 83-page redrawn epic and the 78 original newspaper-style strips in CAPTIVATING black-and-white!

    Completists! You have the Roomies! books, the Shortpacked! books, the first five (or maybe six, as he’s finishing fulfillment now) Dumbing of Age books, but you do not have any It’s Walky! books. This is your chance to resolve that.

    Willis has done seven successful Kickstarts before, and he does so by setting a realistic goal, offering limited rewards, and generally keeping things simple; no variations this time. You get IW1 and/or a three-book bundle and/or some character magnets; a single stretch goal adds one magnet to the pile. That’s it. Simple, controlled, fulfillable by a sleep-deprived father of twin toddler sons.

  • Of course, there is another name we should think of re: butts. I speak, naturally, of the very sexy Richard Stevens III, for whom butts are a thing of beauty and reverence. That glow in the dark t-shirt was so compelling, I bought one for my dog, who has a deep and abiding interest in hashtag-butts.

    And today, Stevens lets that love express itself in the most magnificent fashion, as we are all treated to the mental image of one million butts per second³. My god, it’s full of stars.


Spam of the day:

designs and builds specialty lines of lead oxide production equipment,

Isn’t that the stuff they used to add to gas that filled the atmosphere and made us all stupid? Why would I want equipment to handle the idiot-making chemical?

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¹ At least, not yet. Both he and Willis have been known to drop everything at the mere mention of butts, and create some new butt-themed drawing in about ten minutes flat.

² Or more precisely, until sometime around July, assuming the funding remains on track.

³ You will never look at a data transfer spec measured in mBps again without thinking of this. With the minor quibble that the strips title — GIGABUTT THROUGHPUT — would properly refer to one billion butts per second. Frankly, that thought is simply too beautiful for our puny human minds.

Fleen Book Corner: The Witch Boy

I finally got the chance over the weekend to pick up a copy of The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag; given that it released nearly two weeks ago, this was long overdue. Short version: you want to read this book which is beautifully illustrated, clever and subtle in its message, and a cracking good read; more importantly, you probably know somebody in the target age range (call it 8-12) that desperately needs to read this book. Longer version is below, with the requisite warning that spoilers abound.

Aster has the same problems as any other just-teen boy — cousins that make fun of him, a family that doesn’t understand him, expectations that he beats himself up for not fulfilling, or even feeling that he can fulfill. Then again, he’s got some problems that other just-teen boys don’t — three generations of his family, 20 or more people, all live together in a big house that’s somewhere between isolated and quasireligious compound.

There are rules in the family, too, some of which would be downright sinister in a slightly different story (don’t talk to strangers, don’t leave the property, there are evil things away from this place of safety that want to destroy you), and a great big one that dominates the story:

The family (and others like it, scattered around the world) has magic. Girls are witches. Boy are shapeshifters. Acting outside those roles is forbidden and dangerous.

Come to think of it, the blind faith in gender roles is still sinister, even though it comes from a place that’s more benign that a lot of real-world implementations¹. Aster understands, and he wants to fit in — he begs unseen fates to let him fit into his assigned role — but the truth inside him is undeniable. Shapeshifting doesn’t work for him, and he’s drawn to witchery.

Nobody understands, not his parents, his sister, his cousins, aunts and uncles … although Grandmother surprisingly doesn’t berate him, despite knowing more than any the danger in fighting the system. If you’re going to be playing with witchery, she says while correcting his pronunciation, at least get it right.

The only person he can confide it should think him even crazier than his family does — wandering out past the wards and guardian spells into suburbia, he meets Charlie: nonmagical, dreads on her head, denied participation on sports teams because they don’t let girls on them. She catches him doing magic, he confesses his misgivings, she tells him he should be who he knows himself to be. He’s a witch, and hers is the only encouragement he gets.

Good thing too, because one of those dangerous things wanting to destroy the family starts stealing away Aster’s cousins as they try to improve their shapeshifting. It whispers in their ears that it will make them powerful, let them defeat all those that have wronged them; Aster should be easy prey for temptation, but the tempter can only offer what Aster’s not interested in: mastery of shifting. Ultimately, it’s Aster’s delving into forbidden areas (scrying, healing, binding) that saves his cousins and unmasks the danger preying on his family. It takes some time (and a rather surprising remonstration from Grandmother) to set his family on the path of acceptance.

But — and I think this is the most important part of Ostertag’s message — there’s tension still there when Aster admits to Charlie, Mom and Dad don’t really get it, but … I don’t know, they haven’t kicked me out or anything. It’s a shock to their worldview and they don’t understand, but they love him. The rules are changing more quickly than anybody knows what to do with, but Grandmother’s word is I think we have much to learn from each other. And Aster decides that there are some rules you have to figure out for yourself.

Aster doesn’t get happily ever after because his life isn’t a fairy tale. It all worked out is messier, but ultimately more achievable. There’s a lot of readers of The Witch Boy (young and old) that need to be reminded that achievable changes and the path of acceptance and figuring out rules for yourself are things that can happen. Not usually as quickly as for Aster, but they can. And if their families aren’t as accepting as Aster’s, then deciding who gets to be their family is one of those rules you figure out for yourself.

Aster is people, Ostertag is telling us. Grandmother, who’s more than solely a witch and never admitted it before, is people. The rest of the family, coming around on their lifetimes of habit, are people. Charlie is people. Even the adversary is people, or was before he fell and rejected everybody that wasn’t him². The Witch Boy tells us unambiguously that anybody that tells you that you aren’t people, they need to come around.

In the meantime, you can come sit here with us. We know you’re people.


Spam of the day:

Black Friday racking up debt?

This doesn’t work until after Black Friday. You’re ten days early, scammers.

_______________
¹ Rather than being based on ancient dictates and the subjugation of women, the customs of gender roles is reinforced by a recent, living memory disaster of what happened when Grandmother’s twin brother tried to be a witch. Think fallen Jedi in thrall to the Dark Side.

² Or perhaps, was rejected by everybody around him, leading to the fall. There’s plenty of blame to go around there, even among the good folk of the family.