The webcomics blog about webcomics

Être un Journal de l’année de la Peste

On this last day before we break for pie, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin brings us news of how the pandemic is affecting next year’s festivals.


The Festival International de Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême has finally acknowledged there would appear to be a pandemic going on, and has announced their plans for the 48th edition (warning: inaccessible, untranslated video). Unsurprisingly, the main event in January is canceled, to be replaced by just the awards ceremony with limited if any attendance, similarly to how Lyon BD and Quai des Bulles awarded their prizes in 2020.

But contrary to these festivals, the Angoulême organizers won’t want for a year to pass without any proper festival, and have thus scheduled a new 48th edition to take place from June 24th to 27th. We know for instance the Grand Prix will be awarded at that time and not be part of the January aways ceremony, but other than that details were light on what this edition will entail, which is fine: we can always learn that as the date for that event approaches.

So what did they announce besides the new schedule? Mostly, the selections for the various awards (Fauve d’Or, 8-12, 12-16, high schoolers, noir, and reissues); of note are G. Willow Wilson for Invisible Kingdom*, Derf Backderf for Kent State, Chris Ware for Rusty Brown, Boulet for Bolchoi Arena, and Lisa Mandel for Une Année Exemplaire) (which interestingly enough is self-published), all for the Fauve d’Or (Kent State being also in the running for the high schoolers award).

Now, had they made their announcement two weeks earlier, I would have asked what made them hope June would turn out to be better than January; after all, Lyon BD was set to take place in June 2020 and had to cancel. But the announcement at their intermediate milestones that the most advanced vaccine candidates turn out to be remarkably effective (you may remember Derek Lowe from Randall Munroe’s What If) is a game changer, because having at least one efficient vaccine is probably the only thing that could possibly allow an event remotely the scale of Angoulême to take place in a way remotely resembling normalcy in the era of COVID-19.

So, yes, vaccine distribution willing, I am going to try and check out what Angoulême is like at the beginning of Summer.


Many thanks, as always, to FSFCPL. I know that it isn’t Thanksgiving in France, but all of us here at Fleen are thankful for his myriad contributions and the bragging rights for being the only comics press with a European desk. In your face, every other comics press that’s won an Eisner!

Stay safe, friends. Keep isolated, wear the mask, and hopefully we’ll be doing better soon¹.

Spam of the day:

Top-1 job in SWorker world rankings

You’re trying to recruit me as a sex worker?

Okay, but you gotta buy me dinner first.

¹ If we’re back here in three weeks with a widespread acceleration in diagnoses because people just had to travel and gather in large groups, I am going to go into a Dutch fugue on those assholes.

It’s … It’s So Beautiful

Hooray! My Four Seasons Total Landscaping shirt from the drunken recesses of Shing Yin Khor’s celebratory id has arrived, and that means I am giving a chunk o’ money to Fair Fight, which Stacey Abrams founded to combat voter suppression in the state of Georgia. I promised to match donations up to US$1000 and … okay, I get it. It’s been a long four years and you’re tapped out. It wasn’t much that I got informed of, but I like nice round numbers, so I rounded my contribution up to five hundo.

And now, let’s talk webcomics.

  • Molly Ostertag remains one of the finest writer/artists we have in comics, and I am very much looking forward to her next book. While I was sad that the Witch Boy series has concluded, it told the story that Ostertag wanted to tell, and I know well that she’s got many more stories in her. Thus, my excitement yesterday when I saw a cosplay photo of a character from the cover of Ostertag’s next book. The excitement that drives people to invest in a story, knowing it’ll speak to them, based on the creator’s track record? That’s intoxicating and joyful.

    And it reminded me that I didn’t mention Ostertag’s next book when it was announced over the summer on account of [gestures] everything. So look for The Girl From The Sea on 1 June 2021, hopefully when we’ll all be able to walk into bookstores freely again.

  • It was not quite two weeks ago that I noted that one of Jim Zub’s typically strong creator-owned stories was hopping from Amazon’s clutches comiXology to print, but he didn’t let me know at that time that he was about to launch a second chapter to that selfsame story. Which he did. Today:

    STONE STAR Season 2 Begins!
    Last year, Max Dunbar and I launched a new creator-owned series as part of ComiXology Originals and now we’re back for Season 2 of the series.

    Espen Grundetjern has brought his stunning colors once again and Marshall Dillon’s lettering continues to dazzle. Our creative team is having a ton of fun building out this world and setting the pieces into place for even more cool stuff to come.

    You can pick up Stone Star‘s entire first story arc at comiXology for two bucks, or grab the first issue of the second arc for three. Have at it.

  • Scott C jigsaw puzzles, Scott C jigsaw puzzles, Scott C jigsaw puzzles. On sale starting 1:00pm EST (GMT-5) Friday at the Scott C shop.

Spam of the day:

This brew is a powerful painkiller, without opiates, or addictive effects. Once used for everything, from painful toothaches to leg amputations…

The fact that you are trying to tell people to forage for whatever plant it is you’re basing this on is only slightly less astonishing that the fact that you’re expecting people to find a reason to imagine they’ll be amputating their own legs.

For Crap’s Sake, Stay Home

Yeah, I’m talking to you. Everybody that leaves their personal bubble for Thanksgiving to gather with family or friends is absolutely, positively going to kill somebody by Christmas. Might be somebody you know and love; might be a complete stranger. And while I think I’ve done a pretty good job for selecting against sociopaths among my readership, if it’s the only motivation that moves you, it might be you. Chris Eliopoulos put is succinctly on the Twitters today:

Lots of people upset they can’t be with families this Thanksgiving or selfishly plan on being with a large group anyway. Well, my family will have 1 member on call for the EMT, so do him and all of the first responders a favor & stay out of large groups & wear masks.

This quote is an endorsement¹.

Despite not traveling anywhere, this is your advance notice that the blog will go quiet after Wednesday for the long weekend, so please enjoy your tryptophan and pie at home, away from everybody else. Don’t be That Guy².

In actual webcomics news:

  • I am pleased to note that Wondermark creator David Malki ! is at it again, and by it I mean a deep dive into the wildly inconsistent and frankly disturbing coloring of Garfield strips over the past however many decades. I know that it sounds like the stupidest thing ever, but it’s actually pretty fascinating after a while. Check it.
  • Iron Circus holiday sale? Iron Circus holiday sale, from now until 1 Dec, with 25% off all physical items (unless already discounted) in the store. Keep in mind that thanks to the fuckery with the Postal System earlier in the year, you really should get your shopping done sooner to allow for what will surely be longer mailing times — do not under any circumstances go to the mall this season — and you should probably keep an eye on the TopatoCo annual shipping advisory as they are the gold standard when it comes to shipping smarts:

    Please allow orders up to 8 business days to ship

    Also note that the non-US deadline is today and good luck to you as you make your orders very quickly.

  • Something to look forward to in December besides possible vaccine availability: Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor’s new interactive journaling game. Prelaunch for the Kickstart is now live, witha green button on the page you can click to be notified when it goes live. This looks like a good ‘un.
  • Seriously, stay home. Do it for the old folks. What are you, some kind of monster that hates grandmas?

Relax Your Neck Muscles in 10 Minutes Using Neck Massager

That is … surprisingly reasonable. Is this a trap?

¹ As most readers will know, I am also an EMT; in fact, I got elected to be Chief of my agency, so I’m now responsible for the well-being of two dozen EMTs. We’re having to once again take PPE and decontamination precautions that we were able to stop with back in May because somebody you know is a plague vector that is trying to kill themselves, everybody around them, and my people. Knock that shit off.

² And by That Guy, I mean US Senator and fae changeling Ted Cruz, specifically. Of all the people you don’t want to be, Ted Cruz is at the top of the list because seriously, fuck that guy.

Let’s End The Week On Some Good News

Hey, remember when I said I was gonna give away an awesome graphic novel, way back at the end of summer? And remember around Labo[u]r Day, when alert reader Erik won? It took a while to get him his book (there was a move involved, and a new baby, plus the general fuckery with the Postal Service), but Erik emailed me last night to say that he got the book and took the smiling photo that was the cost of entry. Erik says:

Thanks again, both for the book and for the impetus to get off my tush and subscribe to The Nib.

My work here is done. Everybody feel good for Erik!

Spam of the day:

A recent charge attempt requires your attention

Oh my, that sounds serious,, I am certain to click on the completely harmless buttons you have included in your email, or even the links to the American Express website which mysteriously appear to redirect to Thanks for looking out for me!

PS: I don’t have an American Express card so maybe try a little harder then next time you attempt a crime, jackass.

Corporations Are Not Your Friend; Corporations Are Never Your Friend

For those wondering if I’m still employed, I did not tell a VP-level executive that everybody working for them is fucking around and needs to be replaced by somebody willing to do their godsdamned jobs.

I did say it a director-level executive, who was impressed by the receipts I brought, most especially the logged trouble ticket (it’s got an 8-digit ID number, but we’ll call it “A”) that directed responders to a second ticket (we’ll call this one “B”), that was in turn redirected to a third ticket (yep, “C”), that finally instructed people that further updates and actions should be logged back to ticket A. I may have used the words Möbius clown shoes to describe the situation.

I am far too jaded to assume anything will be fixed anytime soon, but I at least have an acknowledgment that customer-impacting things were fucked for months in precisely the way I’ve been saying they were fucked and if you think that isn’t going right on top of any future responses I have to write to HR, then you don’t know how willing I am to keep a paper trail that proves my point for decades if necessary. I have saved correspondence from a cable company that no longer exists, admitting that they fucked up because they didn’t manage to cash my checks for more than a year (finding out they wouldn’t be honored by the bank) after I’d called them numerous times to ask them to please take my money. That was sixteen years ago and I reread it from time to time to bask in the warm glow it gives me.

Now let’s talk about a corporation for which I have considerably more disdain than my employers¹ — Disney. I’ve never been a Disney fan (Pixar selling out to them was a sad day for me), but their latest bullshit has shocked even me. I trust you’ve seen this:

Disney’s argument is that they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. In other words, they believe they have the right to publish work, but are not obligated to pay the writer no matter what the contract says. If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States. All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company.

If you didn’t read the whole thing, that’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America president Mary Robinette Kowal on the situation that legendary SFF writer Alan Dean Foster has found himself in. Through their purchases of Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, Disney owns the rights to several of Foster’s books, and for years now has neither paid him royalties nor provided royalty statements because FUCK YOU, WE’RE THE MOUSE, THAT’S WHY.

This is, simply put, a whole lotta bullshit. Disney won’t even talk to Foster and his representatives unless they sign an NDA first, which is unbelievably bullshit. So this is your notice that if you have anything to do with any entity owned or operated by Disney, they are stating by their actions that they don’t think you should be paid and cannot be trusted to honor contracts they sign.

And, while I am not a lawyer, if you are working with any entity not owned or operated by Disney, they might buy them out in the future and try this utterly risible bullshit on you, too, so maybe your next contract should have an explicit Disney clause in there. Something along the lines of if your contract is ever acquired by Disney, they have 30 days to either immediately affirm — in writing, naturally — their obligations under the existing contract to you, or release your IP back to you with a kill fee equal to the previous five years of royalties or US$100,000, whichever is greater.

Oh, and on the off chance that you have licensed anything from Disney, there are lawyers on the sosh-meeds offering pro bono services for you to sell your license to a friend who can then use the Disney stuff without paying for it because hey — they started this bullshit, somebody ought to feed some of it back to them.

In the meantime, my determination to never pay Disney tax² is redoubled, and I will be avoiding their properties even more determinedly in the future. Not sure I buy anything that flows back to Disney except the occasional Marvel comic, so ought to be pretty easy.

Spam of the day:

Make the best espresso of your life

I don’t drink coffee. Is this some kind of weird sex thing?

¹ Who at least don’t try to convince me to love them. The pay is good, the check are on time and don’t bounce, and that is that absolute extent of the slack I give to them. My immediate manager I would follow into a wall of flame because she’s gone to bat for me on numerous occasions, but the entire org chart above her? Strangers that I work for, not some kind of feel-good “family”.

² I swear, half of my decision to not have kids involved never wanting to give the Disney corporation money.

Just Me?

You ever spend hours clenching your jaw into a rictus smile because you are on the verge of telling paying customers that they should find something better to spend their money on than products that you are attempting to teach, on account of your employer can’t manage to make their own shit work for half an hour at a time in an environment that is designed and built to showcase them?

I am finding the mantra I need the insurance, I need the insurance, I need the insurance¹ to be helpful in this regard, but I am also dangerously close to telling people further up the reporting structure that they are sabotaging my ability to do my job and to either get out of the godsdamned way or else fuck off into the ocean, their choice.

As I have already submitted student comments reading If my systems failed this much I’d be fired and Glad to know I’m not the only one that can’t keep [product] running, they already think that I have an attitude problem, so I’m actually not sure speaking up would make anything worse.

This particular issue has been building for quite a while — see every missed post of the past nine months because of euphemistically-described tech issues at work — and I’m ready to burn things down as long as I take some of them with me². We’ll talk about webcomics tomorrow assuming I still have a job and haven’t taken up day drinking.

Spam of the day:

I work for Editorial PR based here in London. We have a client that is potentially looking for coverage on your site. I am currently working on a rolling 25-day budget so if you could come back as soon as possible with your terms of business it would be appreciated.

My response:

I don’t take advertising, and if you push a client at me and I cover them, the story will run under a 72-pt headline reading THIS GUY PAID ME TO RUN THIS STORY.

Rates start at US$12,782 per 500 words or fraction thereof.

No reply, curiously.

¹ Note for overseas readers: in America, if you are not employed, you are not considered worthy of medical care and will be left to die from preventable causes, or otherwise to die poor because you spent all your money in previous attempts to not die.

Because freedom.

² For context: I finally got a response from the responsible parties assuring me that they are very interested in observing the failures that occur every Wednesday in this particular class like clockwork, just give us the details and we’ll be there to see for ourselves what you’ve been describing for most of a year.

That email was sent on Monday morning at 5:00am. I replied by 10:00am with the necessary details, only to get an autoresponse that my email won’t be read because they’re on vacation until Thursday.

No jury would convict me.

Love, In All Its Myriad Forms

Love is in the air. I know they say it’s a Spring thing, but I’m declaring it to be in the air today.

  • It’s hard to believe that it was ten year ago that Rosemary Mosco got the news. It’s not hard to believe that she was a stupendous badass in the face of cancer¹, and every time one of these milestone comics has been posted, the net joy in the world has gone up. Congrats to Rosemary, congrats to Randall, and tell your friends you love them just because.
  • Erika Moen has, as this page has mentioned in the past, been one of the bravest, most generous folks in the world, sharing for all to see what it’s like in her life and especially in her brain; every time she talks about mental health, other people get the chance to recognize what in the lives could be better. She has absolutely, definitely saved people from misery and death.

    And today she’s done just as big a service for everybody — neurotypical and aneurotypical alike — by discussing frankly, empathetically, and above all truthfully something that we’ll pretty much all experience. Today’s Oh Joy, Sex Toy (the remit for discussion of which is surprisingly broad) is about heartbreak. Gettin’ dumped. Splitsville. Singletown, population: You.

    More importantly, she talks about how so much of that pain comes from people not knowing what love really means, having the wrong expectations, and having to figure it all out on their own; it’s been that way since time immemorial, but it seems like just expecting everybody to go through the unpleasant aspects before they grow into their final selves and realistic love is maybe suboptimal? But Moen’s got some choice advice (plus a promised trip to The Bouncy House Of Sexuality, the absolute finest metaphor to hit OJST since the Anal Safety Snails) and we can all be grateful for her insight and willingness to share.

  • And sometimes love means hot, hot gettin’ it on. For those in the mood for said on-gettin’, Iron Circus Comics is running a Kickstart for the latest Smut Peddler anthology, this based on history times and subtitled Sordid Past. Unsurprisingly, it funded in an hour, and presently sits just south of 300% of the US$20,000 goal. Short campaign this time, just 17 more days to back the project, so that will likely shift the FFF mk2 numbers downwards from their present prediction of US$110K – US$165K². Plus, Yuko Ota’s cover is spectacular. Get on this one while the gettin’s good.

Spam of the day:

Mailbox is running out of data storage. All incoming messages will be blocked until you upgrade.

Oh no, my Fleen mailbox is running out of storage and everything will be blocked — including your bullshit spam — unless I click on an actual executable you’ve sent me. Let’s absolutely do that right now, no possible downside there.

¹ FUCK cancer.

² Which, if met, will make for some nice creator bonuses.

An Act Of Stunning Generosity

There’s something about when people who have a bit of fame share a little insignificant bit about themselves and you can see from 1.609 km off that it comes from a place of narcissism. The share is too neat, to designed to elicit a specific emotional response, usually something along the lines of See, I’m just like you and now you love me more.

But there’s something entirely different about when people who have a bit of fame and also howler-monkey detractors and share something about themselves that you just know will set those monkeys a-howling but they do it anyway because it’s something that’s true, something they have to get out¹, and it’s an act of stunning generosity because that vulnerability they share can reach out to somebody who’s likewise vulnerable and tell them You think you’re messed up but see, I’m just the same and I’m okay (or gonna be okay) and that means you’re okay, too.

I have mentioned before that I am incredibly lucky to be both neurotypical and utterly in line with society’s expectations of my assigned-at-birth gender, which removes a shedload of obstacles in life. I am likewise incredibly lucky to know people who weren’t so lucky on either or both scores, and who’ve been generous enough to share their experience of finding ways — sometimes by fits and starts — of being kinda okay with who they are, then fully accepting of who they are, and hopefully arriving in a place of loving who they are. I’m a better person because of everybody that didn’t fit into societal or neurochemical norms and doesn’t let the world deny them who they are.

I’m likewise grateful to the medium of [web]comics for helping so many creators come to realizations of who they are; I’m thinking particularly of a panel discussion at last year’s Queers & Comics Conference where a creator related the story of a reader saying that their comic made them realize they were trans and the creator’s reaction was Huh. HUH. as the lightbulb went off in their own head. Looking around the panel and the room, there were more than a few nodding in agreement.

All of which is to say that one of the most nuanced, empathetic, stunningly generous creators we have, Noelle Stevenson, shared her latest truth over the weekend in the form of a 35 page pay-what-you-like meditation in comic form called The Weight Of Them at Gumroad. Whatever you’re doing right now, take the time to download it and read it; like all their projects, you’re a different person than you were when you started. It’s a gift to pull another into your head and see what life is like from behind your eyes, and Stevenson’s among the very best we have at it.

Spam of the day:
Y’know what? Nope. Spammers don’t get to ruin the mood today.

¹ And, too often, because if they don’t share, the howler monkeys will scream all the louder. There’s no satisfying the toxic elements of a fandom.

Ever Wonder What A Harvey Award Looks Like?

I like the different color treatments, high polish vs patina. It's neat.

Gene Luen Yang has an answer for you, as the two he scored last month have apparently arrived in the mail. Gotta say, it’s a much better likeness than the Eisner globe is of Will Eisner.

Speaking of Yang, he’s going to be half of the latest iteration of :01 Books’s current online hangout series for these isolated times. They’ve been running Comics Creators Getting Coffee about monthly since August as an extension of their Comics Relief online events, but I just realized that I hadn’t written about them.

More to the point, I haven’t really thought about them, because when the first one was announced (with editor Calista Brill and creator Kiku Hughes), I saw the bit that said Instagram Live and immediately tuned out because I’m not on The Grams. Since then, there have been talks between Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter with editor Kiara Valdez, and Brill and Lisa Brown. Me not being on The Grams isn’t a reason to not talk about these, though, so this is me informing you that Yang will be talking with Sloane Leong, next Wednesday at noon EST, on the :01 Instagram account.

And, uh, let me know what they say, on account of no account, and also day job. Thanks.

Spam of the day:

Coca-Cola Award (£2,000,000.00)

In Russian? Really? Do you not realize that I know the history of American cola-flavored caffeinated soda beverages wrt the Soviet Union? That Eisenhower was personal friends with a Red Army marshal that he got so hooked on Coke that Ike had to convince the Coca-Cola company to produce a version of their bottlecaps with red stars instead of their usual swoopy logo?

Or that later, Eisenhower’s vice president (and history’s yard waste) Richard Nixon undermined Coke’s private supply for the senior army officers in the USSR because he had once been a staff lawyer for Pepsi and was a close personal friend of Pepsi’s president, and they arranged for Pepsi to be the first Western mass-market brand to get a foothold behind the Iron Curtain?

Or that after the fall of the Soviet Union and the cratering of the ruble, Russia was so addicted to Pepsi that they traded twenty decommissioned warships for US$3 billion worth of fizzy sugar water, briefly rendering PepsiCo the sixth largest navy in the world? They had 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate, and a destroyer!

So yeah, you want me to fall for this scam in Russian, it fucking better be a fake Pepsi Award, not Coke.

Wednesday Is Zubday

I mean, Jim Zub is one of the more omnipresent writers of comics in the biz these days, with some Wednesdays seeing as many as four Zub titles dropping simultaneously. Even better, the guy who’s made a career out of being able to write in any genre, for any publisher, on time, slotting into whatever line-wide crossover or editorial mandate is going on, and setting up the big name who’s eventually going to be brought onboard to replace him with a solid story foundation and plot hooks is working his way up to major titles. You know, things like Avengers.

But his heart will always be in his own stories. Okay, his own stories and Conan, because Zub knows what is best in life, but for the purposes of our discussion right now, his own stories. One of those own stories dropped via comiXology about 18 months back, and it was pretty damn good.

Thing about comiXology is that you don’t really own comics, you rent them for as long as Amazon figures you should be able to, and to keep reading them in that timeframe you have to keep giving Amazon money. I prefer physical media that can’t be memory-holed unless Bezos comes over to my house¹.

And whaddaya know, that pretty damn good story will be getting a physical release after all:

Stone Star volume 1, the Space Fantasy book I did with @JimZub, Espen Grundetjern, & @MarshallDillon for @comiXology, is getting published for print by @DarkHorseComics in 2021!

That from Max Dunbar, who had lineart chores on Stone Star to Zub’s words, Espen Grundetjern’s colors, and Marshall Dillion’s letters. It’s a story I wholeheartedly recommended before, and do so again now that you can actually pay for a permanent copy.

And because Zub’s never got just one bit of news to share, allow me to point out that he’s got some pure prose available for you, too:

I’m thrilled to announce that From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is now available from your favorite bookshop or online outlet. I’m one of 40 authors who contributed a short story showcasing how characters beyond the main cast see and feel about events that take place in that wonderful Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Every author involved in this special project has waved initial payment and royalties so that all proceeds can go to First Book — a leading nonprofit providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch, Penguin Random House is donating $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm will donate 100,000 children’s books — valued at $1,000,000 — to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education.

That from an email that Zub sent me yesterday, but if you want deets you can check out the tweet as well. Zub’s story is about Yoda’s reaction to a certain farmboy showing up in his swamp. Ever wonder if Yoda’s people have inverted syntax in their internal dialogue? Or if a 3rd-person narration can be written in Yodaspeak while still getting the point across clearly? Or if reading Yoda’s words will cause Frank Oz’s dulcet tones to resonate in your brainmeats? One way to find out, nerf herder.

Spam of the day:

Herb Hegmann, a 47-year-old father of 4, was close to giving up? He had struggled with tooth and gum decay for more than 7 years? He’d tried everything, but nothing worked?

It’s called flossing, Herb. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it works.

¹ And if he does come over to my house to memory-hole my comics, I have a greyhound that can sprint up to 70km/hour and who will aggressively get in his face to demand attention and petting.