The webcomics blog about webcomics

Convention, Convention, And A Break From Conventional Wisdom

Ready for some cool stuff? Let’s do this.

  • I’ll confess, when TopatoCon announced that it was shifting venues from the hotel/conference center to Eastworks, I had some trepidation regarding one of the cooler things that was on tap. To quote TopatoCo/Make That Thing/TopatoCon honcho Holly Rowland:

    [T]here will be table service that will bring you beer and chicken fingers.

    But that was in the context of a hotel! Would there be such amenities at Eastworks? Then again, the event schedule involves at least two separate sessions on Saturday that involve booze (one of which, I will be speaking), and now today comes further news:

    Hey! You! Do you like beer? We’re going to be hosting local beer tastings all weekend at the TopatoCon bar! […] Free with admission!

    I don’t have the capability for emoji here on Fleen, but there were no fewer than six emoji of frosty beer mugs in that tweet. And maybe we’ll get table service after all.

  • I’m not sure what’s going on in the November/December timeframe in Austin, Texas, but it appears that the traditional season of Webcomics Rampage is shifting to earlier in the year this year. Dragon’s Lair — comic shop extraordinaire and WR sponsor — has announced that this year’s Webcomics Rampage (the seventh such) will be 16 – 18 October, with 14 confirmed guests so far. I hear that Austin’s really nice in October, and hope that running just a week after New York Comic Con doesn’t keep them from adding another webcomics luminary or two.
  • This page has mentioned in the past the efforts of Katie Lane to help get creative types paid, including classes she’s run on that very topic, on multiple occasions. Today, I’m pleased to see that Lane is expanding her efforts and making it even easier for you to learn the skills you need to not get screwed on your work:

    The Ace Freelancer’s Guide to Getting Paid goes on sale next week!

    Before you follow that link, check out the tweet and the gif embedded therein; Katie Lane wants you to get paid.

    Okay, now click through and sign up for the next class session on how to get paid. If you have a history (and be honest with yourself) of falling into the trap of thinking that you’re overcharging, and how it’s not good to be pushy, and if you’re just patient they’ll surely get around to cutting your check sometime this century — you know, the lies the people who employ freelancers are trying like hell to transform into conventional wisdom — you can sign up for the super-duper version of the class that includes a one-on-one consult.

    Your work has value. Even if you aren’t charging much, you damn well have the right to be paid the amount agreed upon, in the timeframe agreed upon. The sob story being pushed by the people who agreed how much/when to pay you does not change your basic needs (i.e.: food and shelter) and you can cut through the bullshit and get what you are due.

    Like everything else in your career, getting paid is a skill, and investing in developing that skill will reward you for the duration of your working life. Look over the syllabus. Look over your billing history. Look inside yourself. And then do what you gotta do to get paid.

Spam of the day:

Though this is not recommended, you could wish to look around to be able to lenders until you are capable of amass just how much you will need from multiple small loans

Somewhere, Spike is preparing to nail a copy of Poorcraft’s chapter on debt and borrowing to the forehead of the sumbitch that wrote this spam.

Good Stuff For You Today

Sometimes the really good work/news just falls into your lap.

  • First up, Boulet dropped a new comic on us. As he has done before, it is very tall, telling a story in the vertical, with visual metaphors of falling downwards ever downwards. As he has done before, there are bits of animation scattered throughout, but never enough to be a distraction; it enhances by catching the eye, but is slight enough to not distract¹.

    To my recollection, however, Boulet has not done these two things in the same comic, and combining them has produced a meditation on science, philosophy, and how the replacing of myth with knowledge need not take the mystery from life. Indeed, knowing what we know and how much more there is yet to know is its own poetry, and Boulet takes us along on a journey through our solar system, every planetary discovery a verse, every realization of how much is out there and how beautiful, a refrain.

    At his best, Boulet’s work leaves the reader breathless, rushing to see the outlines and boundaries of the ideas he’s exploring, then digging back in to see the details. Brassens in Space (for that is its name) is possibly his best-ever webcomics work, which is a distinction that only matters until the next time he has a big idea and does something even better. Also, The Police are along for the ride and a gleeful acceptance that the name of the planet Uranus will always be hilarious appeals to the 12 year old in all of us.

    Go read it from top to bottom, bottom to top and every other way that you can; scan over it, let your eye catch on the details, see where it matches your own personal map of the universe. It’s lovely.

  • About as far as you can get from the infinities of the universe, Evan Dahm posted the latest illustration of his Moby-Dick illustrations, carrying us down to the existential struggle between one wounded man and one wounded whale, with a boatful of bystanders to a slow-motion duel. Specifically, and at long last, we see the titular white whale.

    Like Boulet’s universe, he’s too large to fit in a page. Unlike Boulet’s universe, he’s trapped in a space too small for him (there is no ocean large enough to avoid Ahab and the Peaquod, no infinity big enough to escape the confrontation that’s coming), and so we get a tantalizingly specific look at the great whale, wondering what monstrosity must exist if this is just a portion of his jaws. There are untold years of life and struggle in that maw, the tale of a creature obeying its nature and in increasing conflict with the world that is rapidly changing.

    Once, he would have continued on as apex predator, with nothing to threaten him but old age. Now, tiny upstarts that know nothing of the depths of the sea intrude into the merest skin of his world, and are become a credible threat. He is not helpless, not yet, and those teeth will be red in the hunt and in defense for some time to come. It’s an image of direst danger and at the same time profound sympathy, and not a single hatch or shadow is misplaced.

    Dahm produced a masterwork here, and more than a dozen others, and dozens yet to come in the story. Take a good long look and drink them in.

  • Got a little bit heady there, so let’s finish on a more concrete note. The good folks of :01 Books will be starting a new series of nonfiction graphic novels to teach science, and the announcement fell to the science comics blogger² Maki Naro at Popular Science:

    First Second Books is releasing an all new series of narrow-focus, single-topic nonfiction graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers. Autologically titled Science Comics, each book in the series will cover a topic in the wide world of biology, chemistry, physics, and more. The idea was to publish books on subjects that could be easily worked into lesson plans, no doubt to the delight of students and educators everywhere.

    The first of the series, Dinosaurs and Coral Reefs, are due to be released in May 2016, followed by and Volcanos in the fall. Each season, a new volume will be published, allowing readers to amass an encyclopedic collection. It’ll be like having a Time Life Science Library in comic books. Which is awesome!

    Even better — the books will be by by :01 vets like MK Reed & Joe Flood (previously seen on Americus, The Cute Girl Network, and Orcs) and Maris Wicks (Primates, Human Body Theater). Oh, and how fresh is Naro’s information? Volcanos doesn’t even appear on the publisher’s own website yet.

    Got a kid in your life that’ll be between, let’s say 4th and 8th grade come Spring? Get ready to make ’em smarter.

Spam of the day:

From hair oil to cricket, wherever Amitabh Bachchan has his name hooked up in just one way or perhaps the other he assures achievement.

You make him sound like Trump. That’s not very nice.

¹ Put another way, there are no clumsy, ugly motion comics, no uncanny valley blinking eyes here.

² In the sense that he blogs in the form of science comics, not that he blogs about science comics. Except when he does.

Coming Soon To A Fleen Near You

For varying values of soon, that is.

  • On the nearer end of the spectrum, we’ll be following up on our recent :01 Week with a deeper dive on two of the books we reviewed. Specifically, the two that shared a post, Ben Hatke’s Little Robot, and the Chris Duffy-edited anthology, Fable Comics.

    Gina Gagliano at :01 Books has arranged for us to do a Q&A with Hatke, and for us to run some nice high-res art from The Boy Who Cried Wolf by the incomparable Jaime Hernandez. Each will run as part of a blog tour in support of the two books, and we’ll point out where you can read other reviews/interviews/discussions when the time comes. Mark your calendars for 13 September for Little Robot, and 30 September for The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

  • A little further out (okay, not until Spring; this is how publishing works), we’ll be obtaining and reviewing the crap out of the long-awaited, full color, original graphic novel from Christopher Baldwin, Little Dee and the Penguin. Here’s the description:

    When Little Dee meets a motley crew of animals deep in the forest, she knows she’s found the perfect set of new friends. Between the bossy vulture, the slightly dim dog, the nurturing bear, and the happy-go-lucky penguin, this mismatched group of big personalities doesn’t always get along—but they’re a family.

    And they’re on the run. A pair of hungry polar bears are after the penguin, and the rest of the team are determined to protect her. They’re not interested in adopting a tiny human. But Dee loves them—especially Ted the bear—and she won’t let them go. Instead, she hops on their getaway plane and joins them on an around-the-world adventure.

    Which sounds like a reboot — or maybe the movie adaptation — of the long-running (2004-2010, now approaching the end of reruns) webcomic. Vachel the vulture, Ted the bear, and Blake the dog were the family that adopted Dee, and there was no penguin at the time. Or was there? Anyway, condensing six years of strips into one story necessitates some changes¹, and I can’t wait to see how LDatP reads. It’s not out until 5 April 2016, so you’ve got time to read through the entire series and see what changes.

Spam of the day:

you’re actually a excellent webmaster. Also, The contents are masterwork.

Damn straight.

¹ But if you’ve got 128 pages to include the breadth of the story, we better see Baldwin’s very best supporting characters, the Rogues of Wool.

Because I Think It Will Be Of Interest To This Community

It was late on Friday when I saw the tweet fromScott Kurtz, and later one from Katie Rice. Rice and Kurtz (and now me) are backers of a Kickstart for a customizable notebook, and it strikes me that this is exactly the sort of thing that comics creators will love, so I’m surprised to not have seen any others yet.

Let me back up a moment.

I’m a sucker for Moleskine-type notebooks¹, but will admit to being disappointed by the actual brand over the past couple of years. Yes, yes, covers with The Simpsons on them, wonderful, but the hard covers and indestructible bindings that first made me love Moleskines have been compromised. So when a London design shop decided to offer customizable notebooks, in sketchbook dimensions (A5, or 21 cm x 15 cm²), with your choice of paper (plain, ruled, or dot grid in ivory; sketch, or pure white) in heavy weights (90 to 140 gsm), your choice of elastic band and ribbon bookmark, and full color DIY covers, I was hooked.

And in case you don’t feel up to designing the cover yourself (instructions and templates are here [PDF]), Book Block are offering your choice of prefab designs:

We will be putting together a selection of limited edition notebooks for you to choose from. A number will be from our artist friends, and we’re hoping to draw some from the crowd. All artists will be paid for their work. [emphasis mine]

If I wasn’t in before reading that last line, I am now because project leader Stefan Johnson is paying his designers. I spent a couple hours on Saturday messing around in GIMP wrestling my design into the template and saving it at 600 dpi. Up top you can see what the template looks like, with design to the right on the front cover; the spine and back cover will be plain white. If you click the next link, you can see the image that I’ve chosen by itself and rotated for legibility.

This, my friends, is Figure 1 of Claude Shannon’s A Mathematical Theory of Communication [PDF]³, the basis of information theory, the wellspring from which all modern communications theory derives, and not coincidentally why the internet works. If you are me, it (and Shannon) holds the same importance that, say, the double helix (and Franklin, Watson, and Crick) would for a biologist. It is the closest thing in the world that I have to religion or spiritual belief; it is the only thing I’ve ever seriously considered getting tattooed on my body.

But I won’t necessarily get my notebook.

Here is where I should disclose that I backed the campaign at a level that requests blogging in exchange for early bird pricing; I assure you that I’d have been writing about this project regardless, though. See, since I backed Book Block on Saturday, only another thirteen people have pledged, and the project sits now at a mere 20% of goal. While Kicktraq has the project trending towards 140% of the £10,000 goal in the 40 days remaining, I am not willing to leave this up to chance. I want my personal philosophy encapsulating notebook, dammit.

I know that at least some of you want a sketchbook that is uniquely, unmistakably yours, in which case you should be checking out the campaign while it’s still running. With a promised delivery date of November, this could make an excellent holiday gift for the artistic type in your circle (or, given that it’s a Kickstarter, a belated holiday gift, depending on which holiday we’re talking about).

Spam of the day:

Dear PayPal User , you have been noticed that some limitation have been placed on your Account this is part of our security process and helps ensure that we continue to be more safer and secured . This means that from time to time we have to make changes To remove limitation from your account , we have posted recent updates on our website.

You bozos know I don’t have a PayPal account, right?

¹ Not to mention Moleskine-inspired comics.

² Call it 8.25 x 6 inches.

³ Originally a paper in the Bell System Technical Journal, July and October 1948. With slightly different contents, it was published the in book form the following year as The Mathematical Theory of Communication, with supplementary material for a general audience by Warren Weaver. Consider the former to be the Vulgate and the latter to the be King James Version.

One Year On And No Sign Of Slowing

A year ago I wrote this:

Out today! Raina Telgemeier has dominated the New York Times bestseller charts for graphic novels with Smile and Drama, and since the Smile sequel Sisters hits today, the only questions to be asked are How long will she stay at #1? and Will she manage the trifecta of Drama coming back to the list? (Smile hasn’t left in more than two years), and Will she pull off the trick of holding the first three positions simultaneously?

My predictions: At least a month, Probably, and I’d bet ten bucks on it.

Here we are, a year later, Sisters has been on the list for 52 out of 52 weeks, and the actual outcomes to the predictions are: I lost count but I think it was close to 20 weeks over the year, starting in week 2, She’s got five books on the list right now, so yes, and Yep, she did, and then she took the top four spots simultaneously and nobody will take my bets anymore.

And for those keeping track at home, as of today, Raina Telgemeier has a cumulative 343 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List (two of which are Eisner winners), which is insane. Consider what it takes to manage that feat — these books are not only insanely popular, but they are sustaining demand over the long haul; she is creating new readers with each new book, not just selling to the same demographic cohort¹. I’m calling it now: Raina Telgemeier will sell 100 million books over the length of her career. She will be one of those authors whose total sales count is measured in reference to the Bible.

Happy Sistersversary, Raina. You’re amazing, and you just keep getting better.

Spam of the day:

Once you’re it a fact that the common gladness on the bestexperiences in a foreign country.

I think this is selling some kind of sex tourism?

¹ The last person I can think of that expanded the reading pool like this was JK Rowling.

Messing With PHP Because WordPress; How Are You?

[tap, tap] This thing on? Trying to figure out if what I think was a shift of PHP will keep WordPress running; Brad Guigar ran a guest piece from Phil Hofer at Webcomics Dot Com a couple days back; it’s behind a paywall so I’m not going to quote it, but it’s something you should look into. Pre-emptive apologies if I break anything here.

  • In the meantime, y’all saw the announcement from Hope Larson yesterday about her collaboration with Rebecca Mock, right? Cover and story for Compass South are at Comics Alliance, which looks to combine Larson’s always-sharp writing with Mock’s lush art¹, which is going to be an absolute delight in combination. Best news: it’s the first book of a series! Worst news: because of print lead times, it’ll be summer 2016 before we see it. You know what? It’s a fair trade.
  • It appears that I will be presenting at TopatoCon, alongside Frank Gibson and TopatoCo’s own Holly Rowland on the topic of cocktails (see yesterday for details). Guys, I am so excited about this. Come see us nerd out on booze-mixing! Learn my feelings on falernum! Ice! Stirring vs shaking! And if you’re very good I’ll share the recipe for the Pineapple Maki which is made in a pineapple and is delicious.

    The original session title, Let’s Drink About It with Harrison and Bowman, now seems inaccurate, so I’m going to suggest Frank, Gary, and Holly Save Boozemas as a substitute. Presumably it will take place same time/place (Saturday, 26 September, 5:00pm — 6:30pm, Room One), but stay tuned here for any possible updates.

Spam of the day:

Bartender was very friendly and made… I’ve come here on many occasions for dates as well as business lunches/dinners. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed and the decor is beautiful and…

If you can’t tell me what the bartender made, then never darken my email inbox again.

¹ I love Larson’s work and think she’ll go down as one of the most important comics artists of the century, but her art style can tend to the sparse. I don’t want to say it’s minimalist, but she definitely gets across her ideas with a high-contrast, let-the-reader-fill-in-the-details-in-their-brain approach. Mock’s art is more detail oriented, perhaps less restrained?

This Is Weirdly Resonant

So about the time that I was writing about Ryan North starring in a webcommerical for arguably terrible computer vendor Lenovo, North was answering a philosophical question. Namely, Can Ryan North, a giant of a man, find a hole so deep that he cannot get out of it? The answer apparently being Yup, for about 40 minutes, which was Storified for the historical record.

That would not be the end of it.

The Internet, having been entranced by North’s ordeal (we do, as a culture, seem to have a fascination with people stuck in holes), was not letting go. First The Guardian reported it as a fairly straight news item, almost no smirk detectable. The Toronto Star joined in this morning, and a text adventure produced last night allows you to replay the entire thing ZORK style. As usual, the final word was provided by Rich Stevens, who noted that North got into the hole with his faithful hound Noam Chompsky:

@ryanqnorth The fact that your dog stood by and let you fall down the well leads me to believe his philosophy is …


Now let’s all put our heads down and think about this for a while.

In other news:

  • Dammit, a program at TopatoCon that I was really looking forward to (cf: yesterday) is canceled due to the presenters not being able to attend. We’ll miss you, Chris and Benjamin. Now, because I am helpful, and because I have spent a number of years slowly learning from one of the best bartenders in the business, I’m willing to volunteer to fill in for Ben & Chris and run the session on the history, theory, and practice of cocktails. There will be a number of people at TopatoCon who are at least as knowledgeable about mixed drinks as I am, and I’m sure we can do a credible job. Showrunners, how about it? Let’s save Boozemas!
  • While we’re talking about comics and drinks, you’ll find both at the Cartoon Art Museum’s Night of 1000 Sketches, a fundraiser to benefit their move/celebration of 14 years at their location in The Mission. Artists from around the Bay Area will be drawing (and drinking), sketching for attendees in exchange for donations (US$10 and up) to the moving fund. Details on tickets and such will be forthcoming, but the date will be Thursday, 10 September, so mark that on your calendar now.

Spam of the day:

Make all your fantasies come true. Personal Preview expires 08/18/15
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PS: We have been featured in Maxim, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated!

I know that I mentioned this particular spam earlier, but given that the 10GB data dump of Ashley Madison’s userbase occurred earlier today, this is an especially bad time to be trying this particular attempt to … what? Get me to sign up to an entirely insecure service?

Oh, and that PS should include other locations you’ve been features, like Krebs On Security, Techdirt, and the twitterfeed of Securitay. Sucks to be you.

Too Much Going On Today

Tuesday as busy day? Very odd.

  • We start, as we have done with increasing frequency over the past five months or so, with TopatoCon, on account of they keep announcing stuff. Today it’s fact that ticket sales are now live and the preliminary programing schedule is now up.

    There are some unfortunate conflicts in the schedule, such as Saturday afternoon when the Let’s Drink About It guys will be talking cocktails (oooh!) at the same time that Christopher Hastings will be leading a workshop on writing sketch comedy. This is tragic, because Hastings is a creative mixer of drinks and would greatly enjoy the LDAI session, but one can’t have everything (I’ll go there on your behalf, Chris, promise).

    It’s also ironic that on Sunday afternoon, there will be discussion with Wes Citti and Tony Wilson about how to Play Nice With Others at the same time that David Malki !, Spike, Kate Leth, and Randy Milholland will be talking about how Internet People are basically dicks who’ve forgotten how to Play Nice With Others.

  • Speaking of small conventions heavy with indie-type creators, SPX have announced the Ignatz Award Nominations for 2015, and there are a couple of names that stand out. Specifically, Jillian Tamaki is all over the damn thing (and deservedly so), with nominations for Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Anthology or Collection (both for SuperMutant Magic Academy), and Outstanding Story (“Sex Coven”, from Frontier #7).

    Other webcomics types include Emily Carroll for Outstanding Artist (Through the Woods), Sophie Goldstein¹ for Outstanding Graphic Novel and Outstanding Comic (both for The Oven), and Box Brown for Outstanding Anthology or Collection (An Entity Observes All Things). The category of Outstanding Online Comic itself has nominees

    Best of luck to all the nominees. The Ignatz Awards will be presented at SPX, 19 September, in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Speaking of longtime webcomickers who are looking to spend more time making webcomics and less time at the day job (okay, we weren’t, but work with me), David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) is about to join your ranks. Having spent more than a dozen years making more than a dozen comics with literally an infinite number of updates, Morgan-Mar has decided that the drudgery and unrewarding nature of the day job² is less fun that making comics and other creative things, and you can help make it possible:

    News: Hey folks, I have good news! I have talked with my manager and HR department at work, and confirmed that I can reduce my working hours to 9 days per fortnight. That means I could spend one full day every two weeks making more creative stuff!

    But I have a mortgage and bills to pay, and am very risk averse. So I have posted a goal of raising US$750 a month on Patreon to partly offset my resulting loss in income. If I can reach this goal, I will make this move and dedicate a day every fortnight to making more comics, books, podcasts, videos, and other cool stuff. This will include raising the number of new Irregular Webcomic! strips to 4 per week.

    And if I can get to the dream goal of $1500 a month, I can quit my day job one day per week, and Irregular Webcomic! will return to a full 7 new strips per week. Spread the word! And please consider supporting my Patreon. Thank you to all of you

    For reference, Morgan-Mar is presently at just under US$450/month, or 60% of the way to goal. And honestly, if there’s anybody that should be able to be a full-time creative, it’s Morgan-Mar. The dude’s got more ideas per cm³ than anybody else on the planet. I can’t wait to see what he can come up with when he can spend full days on his ideas instead of a stolen hour or two.

  • Kickstarts? Kickstarts! Alina Pete is doing a card game based on the concept of the tarot, sitting about 18.5% of goal as she comes into the back third of the campaign time. This one needs a big bump if it’s gonna get made. On the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Sohmer is looking to make three books of Least I Could Do and is about 35% of the way to goal since launching yesterday. The Fleen Funding Formula (mk II) doesn’t apply to either project due to the low backer counts, where predicted results and actual results diverge violently.
  • I have serious problems with Lenovo these days due to their terrible, terrible decisions re: privacy-invading design decisions in their consumer line of laptops, so they are very lucky that Ryan North is a likable dude with an adorable dog and he’s willing to promote their ThinkPad line4. I am sorry to say that I don’t trust the company you are promoting, but we are still cool, Ryan.

Spam of the day:

Do you have any tips for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

Footnotes, man. Readers dig footnotes.

¹ Goldstein is also listed as a member of the Jury, but please note two things about the Ignatz rules: the Jury is anonymous, even to the other members, during the nomination process, and while Jury members may not nominate their own work, there is no prohibition from one Juror’s work being nominated for an award by his or her fellow Jurors. I trust that Ms Goldstein recused herself from any decision that would have resulted in her own nominations.

² Working on image-processing for a corporate research arm and helping to set the ISO standards for image definitions. Such boring and unappreciated scut-work! Might as well work retail.

I almost said all of that with a straight face. Next time for sure!

³ That’s a “power of three”, or cubic centimeter, not a footnote.

4 Which line doesn’t seem to have been affected by Lenovo’s terrible, terrible decisions — which is actually even worse, because the ThinkPads are mostly aimed at corporate customers that are best able to detect and mitigate such terrible, terrible decisions. The consumer-grade laptops that Lenovo sold pre-compromised are hitting the demographic least able to defend themselves. Never buying another Lenovo product, but man, Chompsky’s cute.

It’s Changing Faster Than I Can Adapt! Soon It Will Achieve True Intelligence!

TopatoCon, that is. For starters, there’s more names on the exhibitor’s page — I noticed Kevin Budnick, Gillian Goerz, Jonathan Griffiths, Phil Kahn, and Stacey King in addition to the previoiusly-announced guest below the cut — and there’s news of a pre-con concert!

TopatoCon proudly presents:

To kick off our convention weekend, we’ve invited some of our favorite musicians to play a concert that’s open to the public!

8 p.m., Doors open at 7:30
Academy of Music Theatre
274 Main St
Northampton, MA 01060

$15 General
$12 Students

Purchase at the box office, by telephone at (413) 584-9032, ext. 105, or click here to order online.

Reminder: this is before the con even starts, and you’re entertained; further, those that have never seen The Doubleclicks or Molly Lewis before can sample their (considerable) talents and have the opportunity to meet them the next day (although Lewis isn’t listed on the exhibitor site yet, I doubt she’s getting out of town immediately after the show) and buy all their stuff. That’s at least a win-win, possiby a win-win-win-win.

In other news there’s a pair of comics that tell stories about being in comics. The first is from Maki Naro, and tells of his righteous irritation at yet another “contest” for illustration/comics pros that amounted to spec work; he actually submitted it to the contest-holders in question, which I think is brilliant and laudable. The other is from Faith Erin Hicks (h/t: Heidi Mac at The Beat), and tells of how you can only break into comics by knowing the secret handshake and living in a big city oh wait no, that’s not how it works. Both of them are worth your time.

Spam of the day:

You are requested to claim your pending commission
payout in the amount of $7,302.29 earned since
you registered for our programme.

Best regards,


Bite me, “Gary”


WordPress Badass In Training And Also Communities

So I hopped into WordPress to make some quick notes and Something Was Wrong. Instead of the usual editor, it rendered as a bunch of bare, unformatted text, like something from 1998 or so. It wasn’t browser-related, as I got the same result on three different browsers on two different computers and an Android phone; something was definitely off on the back end. A quick trip to the host verified that the database was consistent, and my next attempt at logging in brought back the regular dashboard. Yay, me.

The lesson here is one of two things:

  • Taking ten minutes to dick around in different browsers and dig out host credentials is enough for transient weirdness to resolve itself
  • or

  • The mere act of thinking I’d better get Phil Hofer on this is enough to reach through space and cause cranky WordPress installations to behave.

Either one’s good.

  • And since we’re talking about back ends of webpages, Clay Yount is trying to make it easier for people to put up webcomics without needing to know all this backend stuff. If that thought appeals to you, be sure to check out a series of tutorials that Yount’s put together as a result of experimentation to make Squarespace into a platform for webcomickry. Check it:

    At the beginning of the year, I released a Squarespace template for webcomic artists. The response has been pretty good, and hopefully some of you have put it to good use. I’ve gotten some feedback, and the two biggest complaints are that the (recently increased) $18 per month developer account is too expensive, and the template is too hard to customize for someone without a lot of coding skills.

    Since I released the template, Squarespace has made some important updates to their platform that have allowed me to create a new easier solution that doesn’t require a custom template and just uses some copy and paste code. This means it’ll work with ANY Squarespace plan including the $8/month basic plan. I’ve put together some video tutorials to help you get the basics of a site up and running in about 30 minutes. I’ll be adding some more videos as I complete them, and am willing to take suggestions for tutorial topics. If you are a web developer and want 100% control, you can still use my original template as a launching off point, but this new solution is incredibly versatile and I think it is the best option for 99% of people.

    There follows a collection of templates, video demos, and code samples which will allow you to set up ads (Google and Project Wonderful), chapter divisions for your archive, blog posts, and wrap it all in customizable CSS. Take a look, make suggestions as to what you’d like to see next, and remember — Yount shared this with the community, so maybe toss him some thanks?

  • While we’re talking community, a community is seeking contributors to a new anthology — Elements — of speculative fiction comics work on the theme of Fire, with the goal of producing comics by creators from ethnicities and cultures that don’t get the same play in comics publishing as white dudes. The announcement from Black Girl Nerds is here on Twitter with more details at their website.

    Key points: submissions are open until 30 August, the anthology will be all-ages, and its open to all who identify as creators of color¹, with a goal of having lots of different viewpoints/experiences represented in the final product. As always, please read over the guidelines and submission instructions so you don’t screw something up and have nobody to blame but yourself.

  • One more on the theme of doing things for the good of a community: the warring personalities of Dante Shepherd/Lucas Landherr occasionally stop trying to murder each other and cooperate to achieve some mutually-beneficial aim; most of these lulls in psychological violence revolve around trying to make STEM education better. The problem is, these sorts of undertakings take time and money, and those that give out grants are capricious and … actually, there is no “and”. They’re just plain ol’ capricious.

    Anyhoo, it’s third time’s the charm for Landherr/Shepherd, and this year’s iteration of the NSF grant application is at a stage where it needs help:

    The STEM education component relies on the collaboration with K-12 educators who would be able to get involved (even from a distance) with the research conducted and help directly craft the STEM modules produced. As such, providing proof to the NSF that there are K-12 educators who would be on board with the grant would be a tremendous boost to our chances of receiving the grant.

    We are NOT allowed to submit letters of “support” as part of the proposal – but we can submit letters of “commitment” by which educators can express their desire to work with the research program. So we are asking that any K-12 instructors who would be interested in collaborating, especially those involved in biology or physics classes, to write a short letter of commitment as part of the proposal submission.

    The grant, if awarded, would allow us to conduct this research and produce 30 new STEM modules over the course of three years — so even if next year would not perfectly align with your needs/interests, expressing commitment for a future summer would also work well.

    As always, these grant proposals come together extremely quickly at the end, so we need to have a scanned or PDF or word processor copy of your letter by next Friday, August 21. If this is possible and you are interested, please let me know via email at sciencetheworld (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will do what I can to make this as easy for you as possible. [emphasis original]

    There it is; if you know somebody that does K-12 education on STEM topics, point ’em towards the guy with the lab coat and Red Sox hat.

Spam of the day:

I have a proposal for you. I will furnish you with the details when you reply. Thank you and God bless you.

Sorry dude, I’m married.

¹ Anybody whining But what about me, it’s not my fault I’m a white dude will just have to content themselves with 90% of the industry being made by and for people just like you. Take that weak shit and go bitch about how oppressed you are with Bill Willingham.