The webcomics blog about webcomics

Now That’s What I Call A Hiatus

Sure, we’ve seen some epic pauses from webcomics before, but one that goes on for roughly eleven years so that the cartoonist can go to med school and finish a residency? That’s gotta be a first.

I speak, naturally, of Kidnapped By Gnomes, which started somewhere in the first half of 2007, hit 100 strips that October, stuck around until 2009, eked out a few more strips over the next year, and finally just … went away.

Until a sudden realization on the part of Ed (the blue one) and Wilson (the purple fuzzy one) that a lot has happened and maybe they need to “>get back to it. So KBG’s two most recent strips dropped this morning, with a Tuesday-Thursday schedule starting next week. Creator Kathy Peterson — Doctor Peterson if you’re nasty — dropped me the press release as well as a personal email, noting that I gave her some promotion back at the first launch, and noting that there are some actual storylines in the hopper come the Fall.

We at Fleen welcome Peterson, Wilson, and Ed back to the weird world of webcomics, and hope to see what a doctor’s perspective brings to the laugh-chuckles.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why I used the image up above instead of anything from KBG, it’s because Now That’s What I Call Music vol 31 inspired one of the most cutting turns of phrase — and a terrific running gag — that’s stuck with me for nearly a decade. In his comprehensive review of NTWICM (or at least the 38 volumes that were available by the time he’d caught up to the end; there’s hundreds of them now), Nathan Rabin at The AV Club had a special dislike for the Black Eyed Peas, which came to the fore in his review of NTWICMv31:

At this point in the series I think we can all agree that the Black Eyed Peas are essentially a four-person advertising agency flimsily masquerading as a pop group. Think of them as the distinguished firm of Hologram Man, Meth Lady, The Other Guy, and The Other Other Guy, Inc.

Chairman and CEO Will.I.Am understands the secret power of irritation better than anyone this side of Ke$ha or Katy Perry. I suspect he just wanders around wherever the hell he lives (for some reason I see him living in a penthouse suite at the Trump Tower in Las Vegas and having a walk-in closet full of nothing but fur boots) with a Casio keyboard, randomly hitting various notes until whoever he’s with can’t take it anymore and finally blurts out, “Jesus fucking Christ! That is so fucking annoying! Can you cut that out? That has to be the most obnoxious noise I’ve ever heard.”

That’s when Will.I.Am knows he has a hit. After discerning the most irritating possible melody imaginable, Will.I.Am then moves on to the next step in the songwriting process. He heads down to the lyrics lab of Hologram Man, Meth Lady, The Other Guy, and The Other Other Guy, Inc., where scientists with clipboards monitor crazy homeless men around the clock and write down their most annoying patter. Once the most irritating possible melody is married to the most obnoxious conceivable lyric, the song is given to Fergie and the horrible-ification process is complete.

Some day, I hope to write something that enduring, and I wanted to share its glory with all of you.


Spam of the day:

This is bigger and more dangerous than we are being told And it’s headed to YOUR neighborhood…

This is a scarespam meant to engender panic about the novel coronavirus, when so much of its impact could be blunted by wearing a damn mask and avoiding crowded, indoor spaces. Know who agrees with me? Kathy Peterson, an actual doctor!

And Lo, Among The Stupid, A Ray Of Light

New Barbarous, y’all, Go back and read the chapter starting from here to get caught up. No, wait, that started right after the previous chapter ended on a cliffhanger, it’s in media res; better go back to the very beginning and read the whole thing. Yuko (that would be Ota) and Ananth (Hirsh, y’all) are so very good at what they do.

Now, about that Stupid I mentioned …

No. [screenshot taken today]

Now, that’s not necessarily definitive, as EmCity’s Google search still lists it as on [screenshot taken today], but the convention was cancelled by ReedPop¹ two weeks back. So let’s drill into the DragonCon site and see what’s up.

Double No. [screenshot taken oh hell, you know]

That’s on an undated page that says further decisions will be made within two weeks, and that the Westin con hotel will have an announcement about what happens to reservations within the next 48 hours. Not sure when the clock started on those statements, and nothing on the Wayback Machine, so I can’t say with any certainty that it went up after a certain date, either. I guess pester them on social media?

Let’s be clear about something, folks. There is no way in hell that a mere two weeks after it’s too dangerous to hold EmCity in Seattle (which was an early hotspot for the novel coronavirus, and which has actually done a decent job of managing this outbreak since), it’ll be safe to hold DragonCon in Atlanta (which is currently an accelerating hotspot for the novel coronavirus because the governor opened the state too early, too aggressively, and which is setting new record highs for diagnoses, hospitalizations, ventilations, and deaths every godsdamned day).

And even if by some dark magic the powers that be in Atlanta decide What the fuck, Disneyworld and Universal Studios will have been open for more than a month by then², we can’t kill people any worse that that with one weekend! it will not under any circumstances be safe to attend. Even if capacity is limited, even if everybody decides to socially distance, even if there is widespread mask acceptance (that ain’t happening), even if the traditional 12-to-a-room geek habit dies, it will not be safe.

Look. We’re all getting cabin fever. But as Jim Zub put it so eloquently about Toronto’s moves towards Phase II:

All I can think of is someone I love dying in a hospital while the shuddering realization washes over me that this is happening because I was bored.

Bored and impatient.

Well said, Zub. Yeah, he wasn’t speaking about DragonCon specifically, but you know who is? Jennie Breeden. If the queen of DragonCon guerrilla exhibiting can decide that after-midnight kilt-blowing isn’t a necessity³, you can give it up. And that goes for you, too, Baltimore Comic Con. Take your shit off sale. Mass gatherings ain’t gonna cut it until there’s an effective, widespread vaccine, or Americans can learn to put up with a minor amount of inconvenience for the general good.

Which means not until the vaccine.


Notspam of the day:
Today marks 31 years since the last public performance of XTC that I’m aware of; they went on Letterman to promote Oranges & Lemons. It was their first appearance in seven years, thanks to Andy Partridge’s crippling stage fright. He seems to be doing okay in that clip.

Anyway, thought you’d enjoy.

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¹ More precisely, converted to a digital event sometime in August, with automatic refunds of memberships transferred from March to August due to be refunded by yesterday.

² The spread due to the people that flock to the parks on their reopnenings next month will only just be getting traced to all over the country by that point … thankfully, New Jersey has announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine going into effect tomorrow for people returning from high-infection states, and Georgia and Florida are on the list.

³ In case you didn’t look at the alt-text for that comic, it reads:

Yeah, Skipping Dragon Con. It’s going to SUCK but I’d rather see everyone in the future than lose some of you now.

Thank you, Jennie.

Looks Like It’s Time To Formalize A New Standard In The Fleen Manual Of Style

Bet you didn’t know I had one of those, did you? Granted, it’s mostly in my head, but it determines things like when to go to an aside in em-dashes — like this one — and when it’s time for a parenthetical (I’m big on those), not to mention the absolute necessity of Oxford commas. Footnotes speak for themselves¹. Semicolons are our friend; we have a habit of using italics for both emphasis and direct quotes³, with only the direst of emphases elevated to bold face, bold italics, or larger text sizes. Oh, and print comic names are also italicized; webcomic names are not. Title text always capitalizes articles and other “minor” words, unless there’s a specific artistic reason not to.

Creators are referred to by full name on first usage, and by family name thereafter, unless it’s getting tedious and switching it up will make the flow better. There are exceptions to this policy, persons that are referred to primarily by first name because they earned it — George and Raina come to mind — but even this has limits. Ryan North is The Toronto Man-Mountain. Shaenon Garrity is Tiki Queen Of The Greater Bay Area. Jon Rosenberg is my co-birthdayist, and Howard Tayler my evil twin. Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett knows what he did.

It is actually naming that brings us here today, and a situation that has actually occurred before, but which has now become prominent enough to warrant formalization. Namely, what to do with persons who change their pronouns, gender, or name?

I mean, obviously we at Fleen honor that because we’re not monsters. I’m talking about past references to before the announced change (or the time when we at Fleen became aware of the change, as oft-times people don’t tell everybody in the world simultaneously). I thought about instituting a policy of going back through the archives to make the change everywhere I could find it, and ultimately decided against it. Not because — as has been noted on numerous occasions over the past forever — I am a lazy, lazy man. I actually have a good reason to do thing that requires less effort this time.

It’s because this page forms a part of the historical record, and knowing that people can — and have — changed their pronouns, gender, or name is important to remember. If somebody were to bring to my attention that they had recently decided to share one of those changes with the world, and would I mind editing a post that went up today, I’m not adverse to that. But I won’t go back five or ten years to a post that far predates and change it, mostly because it would inevitably lead to a scrambled record, some under one identity and others under a different one, interleaved in time. I will of course not deadname anybody, and endeavour to note when linking back into the archives that at the time, the person referenced was known differently.

All of which is to say, by 20142015, Real Life had gotten increasingly sporadic, and then it went away for a couple of years. 20182019 kept a fairly regular schedule until partway through the year. Things resumed this month and continued from where it left off, wrapping up a storyline last Friday.

And today, everything changed. Or, more precisely, today everything in the strip Real Life is starting to catch up with actual Real Life:

Well, it’s live. So, it’s official: I’m out.

Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mae, the creator and cartoonist for Real Life Comics, which I started back in 1999 when I was just 18.

Over the next 3 weeks, I’ve got a storyline running about my journey.

reallifecomics.com

Eep!

Welcome to the world of webcomics creators, Maelyn Dean; we’re glad to meet you. I have a feeling that somewhere in this storyline, Cartoon Greg (as he still is) will be leaning out of the last panel to edit that copyright credit and embark on a very different, and hopefully far more joyous life.


Spam of the day:

Hidden technology leaks from NASA

One of the most significant things about NASA is that they literally document and release everything. Once data comes into their possession, they have a ridiculously short number of hours before they have to release it, or their Public Information Officers get fired and/or pulled up in front of Congressional committees. There was a whole sub-plot in The Martian about it. So fuck on outta here with this bullshit.

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¹ Namely, whenever there’s a long enough explainer that it would break the flow of the paragraph(s) in the body text, were it to be included there. Or just for a joke, particularly one involving Brad Guigar². And footnotes themselves go inside the punctuation at the end of a clause or sentence.

² He’s dreamy.

³ The distinction between which should be self-evident in the text.

So Much Worse Than I Thought

By that, I mean the news a mere seven days ago that the Eisner voting had been extended, amid rumors of a technical problem with the voting site. We hear that voting was entirely scrapped and has been re-opened until the 30th at a new site.

Y’all. This was a fucking fiasco from top to bottom, and here’s why: at the piece that ran at The Beat, at the Eisner voting site itself, there is no mention of the fact that the individual accounts were completely unsecured:

The Eisner’s voting site was closed because the people of the Marginalized Genders and POC of Comics Discord channel discovered that we could see and adjust each other’s votes and personal information, including addresses, while we were all talking about sexual assault in comics.

and that the Eisner folks seem to be falling down on a necessary part of the cleanup:

The fact that I found out about this from twitter third-hand and not directly from them… yeah

Okay, let’s back up. There appears to have been a misconfiguration in the website that allowed easy access to the personally identifying information (PII) and votes other registered users, including the ability to change them. The voting issue is actually secondary, the PII issue is primary.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I teach for a technology company; in fact, day job today involves teaching students in two countries how to secure a database from intrusion and keep it secure. I am not a web stack security or incident response expert, but as near as I can tell, I have two legs up on the folks at the Eisners/Comic Con International:

  1. I know that there are technical and legal requirements that apply in circumstances like this.
  2. I know what I don’t know.

With respect to item #1, the Eisners/CCI (Eisners from now on for short) are likely in violation of at least one strong mandated data-reporting law.

See, Comic-Con International (of which the Eisners are a part) is incorporated in California. California has a stringent law regarding data breaches¹. Any incident that affects California residents must be reported to those residents; because it can often be difficult to isolate just the CA residents, this practically has the effect of making a national reporting requirement. Further, any breach that involves more than 500 Californians must also be reported to the state Attorney General. It’s all spelled out clearly at that last link.

But people are publicly saying (see second quote block above) that they haven’t been notified by the Eisners. And according to the search form that the State of California provides, there have been no breaches reported by any spelling variation of “Comic[-]Con International” or “Eisner[s] [Awards]” that I could come up with over the past year.

Oh, yeah, and the European voters? GDPR. I’m not knowledgeable enough on their requirements to say what the Eisners are obligated to do (see point #2 above), but I do know that they need to consult legal counsel (not to mention some experts in crisis communication) in Cali and Europe and act on their advice yesterday. This is not a situation where you can say Whoopsie! Revote and it’s all good!

It’s not a case where you can shut down a site and open a new one back up in less than a week and have any credibility. There needs to be a full explanation of what happened (crickets so far), whatever is presently known about how it happened (with the caveat that a proper investigation takes time), and why the new system is to be trusted. Oh, yeah, and what the Eisners will do to make up for the risk of identity theft that’s been going on for who knows how the hell long.

Incident response for situations like this is a specialized, skilled discipline; it’s not a job for amateurs (and I’m including myself in that statement: see #2 above again). It’s going to take serious money, serious time, and credentialed experts, before I would recommend that anybody vote for the Eisners in any form other than paper ballot.

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If you haven’t yet created a new account to vote, do not do so without a fuck-ton more explanation and transparency than has been in evidence so far.
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I’m utterly serious. As of right now, the organization has zero credibility when it comes to the integrity of this vote, and has shown no evidence that they understand the responsibility for safekeeping PII that they owe to their voters.

I have submitted a written request for comment about the incident response and when voters can expect a formal explanation as to what, how, and why. I will update this page with any response.

Update #1: (25 June 1800EDT) Jackie Estrada, longtime administrator of the Eisner Awards, was the listed point of contact on the Eisner vote page. She replied to me within seven minutes, referring me to the communications & strategy department of CCI. Remember what I said above about there being specific skills? Responding to a reporter² is a specific skill not for amateurs and she did the exact correct thing. Kudos to her for her prompt, courteous, and professional reply.

A fresh request has been sent to the C&S department.

Update #2: (26 June 1812 EDT) It’s been 24 hours and no response from CCI. I will, however, note this tweet from last night:

im an eisner voter and guess what i just found out from THIS tweet

Not the only Eisner voter I’ve seen online saying they’ve received no notification from CCI. The tweet that Jamey Bash is referring to is one by prominent creator/editor Steenz, who tweeted to respond and agree to the points I made above. As the old saying goes, If Steenz agrees with you, you’re probably doing something right.

The other common thread I’m seeing online is people want to know why the revote is being crammed into a week, when there isn’t a set date for the awards anyway. It would be no problem to delay, get all the proverbial ducks in a row, and do some disclosures prior to running a vote. The alternative is, as my wife put it, for this year’s winners to feel there’s an asterisk next to their names in the history of the awards: Hey, you won an Eisner? That’s great! Oh, it was in 2020? That’s … great?

Further updates as warranted.

Update #3: (29 June 1622 EDT) This is likely the last update. The CCI Communications & Strategy officer has not responded, even with a “no comment”. I have not seen a general discussion in social media about CCI communicating the details of the breach, the specifics of remediation, or the reason that a revote had to be wedged into a week’s time.

For those that trust the voting system, the deadline is tomorrow. I stand by my opinion that the only trustworthy means for voting for the Eisners, in the absence of transparency, is via paper ballot.


Spam of the day:
Spam doesn’t share the page with actual journalism, only random embloggenation. Sorry.

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¹ The law actually mandates reporting regardless of where the company is; the fact that CCI is incorporated in California means that they really should know about their obligations to that state.

² Shut up, I am too.

The Day Will Promise To Be A Most Happy And Pleasant One!

I realize that the title is a bit over the top as well as being a bit old fashioned and awkward in construction; this is only right and proper, as it’s an exclamation to accompany the return of KC Green’s Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. A return to the darker and infinitely weirder story than what Disney shared, Green’s been doling out chapters for several years now, and with the latest (which would be number 31, he’s gotten back to what most of us would consider a familiar part of the story.

To wit: After being carved of wood by Geppetto and generally being a little shit, after being conned by the Fox and the Cat, and taken in by the Fairy, Pinocchio is tempted by his friend Candlewick to head to a land of leisure where it is always Saturday (except when it’s Sunday) and there is no school. Trust me, the previous 30 chapters take a much more circuitous path than you’ve probably been exposed to previously.

Chapter 31 is the crux, the one that initiates the final set of trials for the small puppet, and Green’s adaptation is firing on all cylinders. The slightest of shifts in expression or posture convey the inner duplicity of the coach driver, and the exaggerated, affected reactions and posing of Pinocchio and Lampwick reveal their utter foolishness without saying a word. Collodi’s original story took up 36 chapters so we’re near the end now — there’s donkeys and rampaging giant fish in the future, a familial reunion and more a redemption that’s more earned than the version with songs¹.

The next few chapters will be chock-full of the bizarrest visuals and situations, the most melodramatic declarations of repentance and defiance, all of which Green is so very good at conveying. Pinocchio has some grief in his immediate future, but you can brew up some coffee with cream and butter some bread rolls on both sides and re-read from the beginning. Just don’t tell any fibs along the way, because the Fairy is onto your bullshit. Pinocchio is a classic of literature for a reason, and I do believe that Green’s adaptation will long be regarded as one of the truest and most definitive.


Spam of the day:

Hi, We are wondering if you would be interested in our service, where we can provide you with a dofollow link from Amazon (DA 96) back to fleen.com? The price is just $67 per link, via Paypal.

Sure you can pay me 67 bucks for the privilege of linking to Fleen. Thanks.

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¹ I mean, did you know that the Grillo Parlante — the talking cricket — was killed by Pinocchio almost immediately after they met? Rather than acting as conscience and guide, its ghost returned to chastise Pinocchio and make him feel as bad as he should on numerous occasions. Or that Pinocchio spent months or years reforming on multiple occasions only to fall back into his degenerate ways, even after Geppetto disappeared and seemingly died?

I Stand By My St Crispin’s Day Reference, Thank You Very Much

The thing about a network outage (such as I had yesterday) is that it doesn’t just prevent me from participating in a meeting or two. As mentioned on previous occasions, I teach for a technology company, and an interruption means class isn’t happening. That material ain’t gonna teach itself, so we’re behind for the rest of the week. Add to that the fact that three of my students this week are in Mexico City and suddenly piped up this morning We’re having an earthquake, we have to go outside now just put us further behind¹.

But thankfully, we’re in a portion of class with lengthy exercises. While I haven’t had much time to look deep into [web]comics news today (or, honestly, for the past couple days), I did notice a couple of things. They’re extremely random.

  • Chris Hallbeck made my physics-loving heart sing with today’s Pebble And Wren: an explanation of ice cubes, and how we don’t shove around cold in making them, we pull heat out. I sometimes pity the children of today, growing up without Beakman’s World², because where else are they going to learn There’s no such thing as cold, there’s only more heat and less heat? Apparently, from Hallbeck.

    As long as we’re mentioning Hallbeck, this is your early notice that he is about to hit a Big Round Number of Maximumble (current strip: #1985), which I notice puts him past the just over 1900 strips he did at The Book Of Biff. The point, to the extent I have one, is that 1902+ 1985 + 566 (Minimumble) + 292 (P&W) = a metric squatload³ of comics (or, to be exact, 4745) since he started back in January of Aught-Six, or about three weeks after this page launched. Given that there have been 5286 days since the launch of Biff, that’s damn near 0.9 original strips per day, and over that threshold if you count his collaborations with other creators. Dang, Chris, well done.

  • Speaking of well done, I can always count on Erika & Matt to find a way to rise the challenge of [waves hands about helplessly] all of this. To quote the modern-day version of the St Crispin’s Day speech in today’s strip:

    We can’t take time off, but we can do the next best thing: A simpler comic. Let’s just get back to our roots and back to the title of this comic with a good ol’ fashioned sex toy review. We can’t fix the world but, by god, we can review a vibrator. [emphasis original]

    I would follow Erika Moen into battle, no shit. And since I don’t believe that we mentioned the end of the Drawn To Sex: Our Bodies And Health Kickstart. The campaign finished with US$54,027 of a US$7K goal. We didn’t bother with the FFF mk2 because it funded so quickly and those huge Day One campaigns mess with the formula. But I’ma say that any campaign that ends up at 780% of goal is a success. If you didn’t pledge, I guess you can wait until November when they go on sale.


Spam of the day:

Thank you for the quickly delivery to my home. When I saw the order. I immediately saw that something was wrong with it, and when I opened it, the product was unfortunately broken. I am a regular customer, and I regularly order from your shop.

You’re not even trying, Jesus.

I don’t mean that Jesus isn’t trying, I guess that’s his whole deal if you believe in that. I meant it as an intensifier to express the depth of my contempt for this would-be identity thief.

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¹ They tell me that things got shaky in MC, but didn’t mention any damage when they returned. Something tells me that closer to the epicenter in Oaxaca, it’s gonna be not such good news.

² Or even Bill Nye The Science Guy. Nye’s an actual engineer whereas Beakman was played by an actor, but honestly, I was always more of a Beakman fan. Zaloom!

² Which, given the conversion ratio of metric squatloads of 2.54:1, means an Imperial squatload is equal to approximately 1868.11 strips.

Oh Fun, Network Outage

Right in the middle of the workday, too. That’s gotta be my priority, instead of typing this further on my phone. Sorry.

One Cheer For Today

Woo, Thursday. Woo.

  • Hmmm, he said, in his role as both computer professional and hack webcomics pseudojournalist, that’s interesting. That, of course, being the news that the Eisner voting had been extended (tweet from a 2019 nominee, who was contacted by the Eisner folks). I’ve seen reports (near as I can tell right now, all deleted) that there was a security issue with the voting database, and that voters were being urged to check that their ballots had the correct choices listed. I’ve also just been by the site, which says voting is now closed. I’m … not feeling great about this, y’all.
  • Longtime readers of this page may recall that of all the people that Fleen encourages you to dislike and never support, top of the list is James Ashby, aka History’s Greatest Monster. So I particularly want to warn you (so you don’t accidentally end up entangled with HGM) that Ashby is running a Kickstart right now to revive a YouTube series from years ago, which taught people how to cook with just the cheap ingredients that could be had, things that could produce a mountain of leftovers and be dressed up various ways in their re-presentations.

    It was called Hand To Mouth, and it featured the infinitely patient Marque Franklin-Williams, trying desperately to keep HGM from … well, being HGM while simultaneously making potentially sucky food suck less. It ran for three seasons, and Ashby is now back seeking to make a fourth; Franklin-Williams has moved onto other projects but has given his blessing to Season Four¹.

    If, for some reason, you think that HGM should be trusted with what you put in your body, I suppose I can’t stop you from helping to fund the project, but I would suggest seeing some kind of therapist. I suppose, in the best of all possible world, HGM might be so inept in his evil that he might accidentally provide useful, helpful information to people who need it. I mean, anything’s possible, including the outside chance that James Ashby might not be History’s Greatest Monster.

    Naaaahhhh.


Spam of the day:

Get your Hemp Infused Coffee Here

I use neither cannabis products nor coffee products.

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¹ Alternately, if he can keep Ashby busy on Season Four, at least he won’t have time to get up to any other reprehensible behavior for a while.

Doing Better

Y’know, I’ve missed an awful lot of comic news these days, simply because the volume on social media exceeds my ability to keep up with it. When I get to open Twitter, I’m not reading from where I left off to the present to catch up; I’m scanning what’s immediately in front of me and skipping over entire swathes. Finding the new story is entirely hit or miss if I’m not tagged.

Last night, I happened to open Twitter directly on a story du jour, this one about a creep whose whisper network is finally speaking out loud; the volume of discussion vs my time was such that I’m sure I haven’t seen all of it. Cameron Stewart [no link] did the fairly brilliant (if sporadic) Sin Titulo [no link, although see below], I met him back around 2007 or 8, I bought an original or two from him at MoCCAs past, and we would talk webcomics once or twice a year at shows until, I dunno? 2013? Before he got the Batgirl gig. From multiple people willing to go on the record, he was a sex pest towards much younger women, and arguably grooming teens for later sexual relationships.

I’m not getting into arguments as to whether or not he did anything illegal or if hitting on comics fans (as opposed to up and coming creators) by leveraging his status in the field obstructs new careers while they’re getting started. We’re also not having those arguments on this page — have them elsewhere. His behavior was predatory, and if it was a guy in his 30s in a van hanging around the high school, I think fewer people would be reluctant to call our his behavior. But it wasn’t, it was a respected creator using his position at cons to cultivate relationships not with women he sought out, but with ones he could get alone.

I’ve reached a point in life where I don’t have any compunctions about calling out shitty behavior, or demanding the people I associate with not engage in established patterns of shitty behavior. He hadn’t posted anything on Twitter in about forever that I recall (and his account was locked when I looked this morning), but I’ve unfollowed. His work exists, but I’m no longer promoting it¹. It’s not really a very high bar to clear that you don’t willingly associate with shitty people, or tell people that are perhaps thinking about engaging in shitty behavior that they have to do better.

There are too many people out there doing better, doing too much good work, to waste time on those that can’t be bothered to not be a garbage person. I doubt I’ll have cause to speak of him again, and would like to spend the rest of today talking about some of those folks that find ways to do better².

  • Jim Zub is the opposite of an obstruction to new creators; I’ve remarked on this page that his habit of sharing information, best practices, and data from his own creator-owned career has had the effect of making up-and-coming creators more effective and more likely to succeed in their careers, which is arguably against Zub’s interests. If those newbies that he’s coaching become runaway successes, they might take jobs (or comic-buying dollars) that might have gone to Zub instead, and he doesn’t have a problem with that. He wants to succeed in comics, but not by pulling up the ladder behind him. If somebody grows past him, he’ll be thrilled because he’ll get to read awesome new comics.

    Which is why it’s heartening to see him score a success off his first creator-owned comic series³, Skullkickers:

    Copernicus Studios Inc is proud to announce a development deal to adapt the SKULLKICKERS comic series written by Zub and illustrated by Edwin Huang and Chris Stevens into an animated action-adventure series for adults.

    The rest is out of the press release stylebook that talks about Zub, talks about the studio, makes reference to why adult animated makes sense from a market perspective, then has the artificially enthusiastic quote at the end. I’m not sure why press releases feel the need to format themselves in such a way as to invite — nay, demand — a businessperson exclaiming It’s time to kick some skulls!, but there are entire B-school marketing curricula that train people to do that. Anyway, Zub’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to Adult Swim or whoever featuring a pair (sometimes trio) of reprobates that take apart every fantasy trope and cliche.

  • Speaking of those younger creators who hit the stratosphere in terms of critical and popular success, you’d be hard pressed to find one with as meteoric a rise as Tillie Walden. In my review of her spectacular Are You Listening?, I wrote:

    There is a moment when I open a Tillie Walden book when I pause, knowing that there’s a very high chance that what I’m about to read will take up residence in my brain for an extended period of time until I am changed by the experience.

    I pause not because I am reluctant, but because I’ll never again have that moment of anticipation when I have an entire new Tillie Walden story to look forward to.

    So to say that I love her comics is a bit of an understatement. I also know that Walden’s comics are possibly not a thing we’ll get to enjoy indefinitely; musing on how Are You Listening? wouldn’t be out of place as a career-capping masterwork after 50 years of comics making:

    Given how Tillie Walden threw herself into skating to the exclusion of all else for ten years or so before shifting to comics, it might well be the capstone of her comics career if she decides it’s time to shift again. It would be a tragedy to have no more comics from Walden, except for the fact that whichever next artistic endeavour she threw herself into would surely be as assured and captivating as this one.

    I’m not saying that Walden is leaving comics behind, but she’s spent a good deal of the past year or so illustrating a tarot deck, and she’s now part of a comics-adjacent-but-not-comics project that could take her career in a new direction:

    entering the world of picture books with @edhunsinger

    More precisely, Walden and Emma Hunsinger (Eisner nominee this year for How To Draw A Horse in The New Yorker, which was really amazing — even more amazing is for a young woman to break into the ranks of New Yorker cartoon regulars) are partnered up on My Parents Won’t Stop Talking:

    The co-authored, co-illustrated book, which marks Walden’s picture book debut and Hunsinger’s publishing debut, stars siblings whose trip to the park is waylaid by a torturously slow but wildly imaginative wait, as their endlessly with the neighbors.

    And whee-doggies, the world of picture books seems to have different economics than the world of comics, as Roaring Brook Press (sister imprint to :01 Books bought MPWST for a euphemistically large six figures.

    We at Fleen offer the heartiest congratulations to Hunsinger and Walden. I’ll need to clear space next to The Princess And The Pony, King Baby, Leave Me Alone!, The Little Guys, and the soon-to-be-released Let’s Get Sleepy by fall of next year.


Spam of the day:

How to shrink your swollen prostate naturally (sleep better, normal pee, better sex)

Wow. Just went looking for the big ol’ spammer mark profile list that reads “Dudes over 50”, didn’t you?

_______________
¹ He’s no longer linked on the suggested comics list, but for more than being shitty. When I clicked on Sin Titulo’s link earlier today prior to removing it, I found that it’s been replaced by a Japanese language site offering Perfect Bridal Dress [sic], so you couldn’t follow the link even if I wanted to point you towards it. I suppose it’s still at the Wayback Machine, but I ain’t providing a shortcut.

² And may entropy grant that more people whose work and company I’ve enjoyed don’t turn out to be shitty people in future. Giving up their company and their art isn’t the issue — it’s that even a handful is too damn many.

³ Or perhaps, series of miniseries; there were multiple four-issue arcs, each separated by a single issue of short stories.

Practical Information

Boy, there’s nothing I like more than comics that give me relevant, actionable information that I can use in everyday life. It might be something for the home (lookin’ at you, Erika and Matt), it might be a delicious new recipe (what up, Saveur magazine?), or it might be tips and tricks for overthrowing an oppressive policing system.

No, really.

Coming at you from (unsurprisingly) The Nib, there’s an entire zine titled Safer In The Streets, full of advice for protecting yourself and others during protests against increasingly violent and irrational police. Highlights include:

  • Have you noticed the prevalence of kettling, where cops prevent protesters from moving in any direction and then run out the clock until curfew or a declaration of protest illegality so they can descend with force and arrests? There’s ways to counteract.
  • Bike cops! They were supposed to be a kinder, more community-interacting form of policing, but they seem to be overpopulated with hyper-reactive physically-confronting roid rage cases. You can get in their way and prevent them from shaping your march.
  • Keeping together, keeping masses of people from being strung out along a march route can keep police from picking off subgroups.
  • Directing your de-escalation efforts (this is for you, White People acting as meat shields for BIPOC) at cops instead of protesters is where you can use your privilege.

I’ll note that you can download a B&W or color version of Safer In The Streets for printing (assembly instructions here; all three links are PDFs) and distribution. I’ll also note that this zine is captioned Vol 1, so hopefully we’ll see more in the future, maybe including info about counteracting chemical agents, first aid, communications opsec, and more.


Spam of the day:

Half glass water + THIS = Smaller Belly By Morning

Dude, I am already concave but even if I weren’t, this would still be gross. Stop fat-shaming.