The webcomics blog about webcomics

For Those Wondering, I Made It To Juneau

But I am very, very tired.

But I am also very, very happy with all the people I am meeting/reconnecting with.

And, if you should ever get the chance to talk film with Kazu Kibuishi, you should do that.

Food and sleep now.

By Way Of Reminder

The chief — perhaps only drawback of the Alaska Robotics Minicon and Camp Weekend Extravapalooza in (duh) Alaska is that Alaska is very far away from my beloved New Jersey, and thus requires long travel days to get there and back. I shouldn’t complain too much about my pre-7:00am departure tomorrow; my return flight from Juneau features a departure time of (meaning I must be at the airport, luggage checked, through security, and seated prior to) five friggin’ thirty in the morning. That’s gonna hurt, but it’s not for another week.

  • Let this serve as a reminder, then, that over the next week I’ll be in transit for significant parts of three days, and in a place with no network for three more¹. And as long as we’re reminding things, let me remind you that the giveaway of a copy of DRIVE: Act One by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett — a US$50 value, if there are any left over after fulfillment; US$25 in softcover once they go up in the store — is still ongoing.

    To enter the giveaway, send an email with the subject GIMME BOOK to me (that would be gary) who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com. Entries are due by 30 April, and I’ll pick a winner at random after that.

  • And as long as we’re throwing out reminders, let this serve as the periodic reminder that the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco is closer every day to the time when they open up dedicated gallery and education space again. In the meantime, they continue their programs and involvement in the cultural life of San Francisco, with the latest announcement regarding their participation in the annual Queer Comics Expo:

    The fourth annual Queer Comics Expo will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 July, from 11:00am to 5:00pm at the SOMArts Cultural Center. This year’s QCE will be expanding exhibition space and programming², and will serve as a part of the Queer Cultural Center’s annual National Queer Arts Festival.

    Those interested in exhibiting, volunteering, or presenting programs at QCE, the application is here. You’ll be part of a San Francisco tradition, and help raise funds for CAM at the same time.

Spams of the day:
Gonna clear out the spambox before I head out, so that I’m not overwhelmed when I get back.

Someone may have ran a background check on you
This single nightly routine is killing you slowly and silently
Bags Lovers: 12 Hours To Save
Melania …
Pure Colon Detox

Oh no, they’re gonna find that dead guy in Reno; we humans call that sleep; this is a bunch of fancy designer purses and not laptop-protecting backpacks you guys are way off in your choice of topic; nnnnnope; and no way in hell I’m enabling images on that one. Thanks for playing!

¹ Y’all behave while I’m gone.

² The increased space means the programming tracks are approximately doubling over previous years.

Still Time To Meet The Goal

I can’t believe I missed talking about this earlier, and here’s April more than halfway over. Okay, enough recriminations, just listen up, ’cause a genius is talking.

No, not me; not even vaguely me. Gene Luen YangMacArthur Fellow, current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature — has declared April to be the time for everybody (okay, it’s really aimed at younger readers, but let’s make it everybody) to Read Without Walls. Declaring things is one of the things you get to do when you’re an ambassador, along with getting out of parking tickets and getting to go through the quick line at Customs.

Actually, Read Without Walls has been Yang’s mission statement since he was inaugurated in January of last year, but now he’s making that aspiration into a specific challenge, with the help of the people at Macmillan (parent company of :01 Books, his longtime publisher).

Yang’s three-part challenge to you is to do one of:

  • Read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you.
  • Read a book in a format you don’t typically read — graphic novels, poetry, audiobooks, plays.
  • Read a book about a new subject you don’t know much about.

And after you’ve done so, pass the challenge on to others. And hey, why should kids have all the fun? You’ve got time in April still (and if you watched Yang’s video, you know that he’s urging you to do so every April, so make plans for next year now), not just to encourage the young reader(s) in your life, but to spread your own wings a bit.

I’m going to interpret the challenge to say that the pass-along may include specific recommendations. So here’s mine: I’ve been digging into the collected writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates; yeah, it’s not a book, but Coates has written a hell of a lot of essays, and reading through them is the equivalent of a book.

I’m not sure that any piece of writing has had a more profound wake the fuck up effect on me than The Case For Reparations¹, so that’s my recommendation. It’s nearly 16,000 words, so set aside an hour and take your time with it. And if you want to share what you’re reading, the comments are open down below.

Spam of the day:

Pentagon Insider’s Secret IRA Technique Exposed

When I think, Gary, where are you going to get solid information on how to save safely for your future, well-deserved retirment?, the answer is usually not, The Pentagon! So unless your Pentagon insider is recommending a systemic, long-term, dollar-cost-averaged program of broad-based, low-load index funds, I don’t wanna hear it.

¹ Even more so than Between The World And Me, perhaps because the shorter length lent a sense of urgency to Coates’s argument.

The Kickstartum Never Stops

If you’ll indulge me for one moment, a quick note from outside the world of webcomics: the Kickstarter to save the treasures of Frank Zappa’s vault (of recordings, significant artifacts, and literally who knows what else) — run by actor, director, and Bill half of Bill & Ted Alex Winter — is one of the few non-webcomics crowdfundings that I’ve backed. If you think about it, though, ol’ Frank was an indie creator of great energy and constant production, and if there’s a better analogue for the modern webcomicker in the period of the late ’60s to the early ’90s, I don’t know who it might be.

The campaign closed more than a year ago, and with so many backers (nearly 9000) due so many different items¹, they’re only just now getting around to fulfillment. I ain’t mad at the delay, I’m impressed as hell at all I got²; and if you think that an ambitious Kickstart can turn into a fulfillment task of nightmare proportions … well, that’s where you’re probably right. Only go complex on rewards if you have the might of the obsessive fans of a revered genius to help you.

Or just keep the Kickstart simple, that works too. Case in point: Retrofit Comics (aka Box Brown and Jared Smith) gather together comics they want to print, pre-sell them via Kickstarter, then print them and ship them. Pretty simple. It’s worked a couple times before, and the campaign for Spring 2017’s six new books looks to add to that streak. It started up on Friday, it’s running until the 11th of May, and per the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II it looks to finish in the range of US$17.5K to 26K, on a goal of US$18.7K³. In other words (and considering the quality of past Retrofit offerings and the loyalty of its audience), this is virtually assured.

The rewards are simple: between six and eight bucks gets you a PDF of a comic of your choice (varying prices for varying page lengths); US$20 gets you PDFs of all six. US$25 gets you a hardcover of one particular book; US$45 gets you print copies of all six (with a US$46 tier if you’re in the DC area and want to pick your books up at a Big Planet comic shop and save shipping). Assuming you get all six (and why wouldn’t you), it’s going to act a little like a subscription: two books printed & shipped per month, in May, June, and July.

There’s higher tiers for those that really like the creators, with bonuses ranging from prints to original pages from the comics in question. It’s a smart approach, since Kickstarter books are really driven by interest in the particular creators; I’ve seen the books sell at non-cape comics shows if people stop and flip through them, or if they recognize the name on the cover. They don’t appeal to everybody, but those that they do appeal to, they really appeal to.

Creators this time around are Zach Hazard Vaupen, Laura Ķeniņš (mentioned on Friday for her Doug Wright Award nomination), Tara Booth, Yuichi Yokoyama, Will Cardini, and Warren Craghead III. Comics range from a series of Trump grotesqueries to gouache paintings to surrealist neo-manga. Click on through and give ’em a good look.

Spam of the day:

Turn your TV into a Smart TV today!

Dudes, I teach systems administration and security for a living. Ain’t never gonna be a smart anything in my house (yes, yes, we know where you’re going with the joke … just let it go) until the IOT chip manufacturers stop hardcoding in admin credentials and passwords. Hard pass.

¹ I was nowhere near a top-tier backer, and I received at least sixteen different types of items (including music on DVD, CD, and cassette), ranging from a poncho (not a Sears poncho) to unused backstage passes from some long-ago concert.

² I was promised a MYSTERY BAG and if had contained a quarter of what was actually inside, I’d have been impressed.

³ The McDonald Ratio predicts US$19.4K, so there’s a pretty close agreement.

Gonna Be Weird For Ten Days Or So

See I’m about to go camping in the woods with bears weirdos a whole bunch of creative people (and totally bears), which is going to make things here at Fleen a little irregular for a bit starting middle of next week. In the past when away, I’ve scheduled Best of Fleen posts, but you know what? Y’all approximate grownups, and you can manage without me for a bit. So here’s what’s going to happen from next week:

Wednesday will likely be brief, due to last-minute around-running. Thursday will largely be taken up with travel from New Jersey to Juneau. Friday will be helping with school & library visits, Saturday will be the actual one-day con, followed immediately by woods, s’mores, and no electronic signals of any kind until sometime the following Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday will be travel and recovery. But expect a mountain of posts after that about what wildly creative people (both in and out of comic) are up to. Kindly try not to have any huge news in or around webcomics while I’m gone and try not to let the world end. Deal? Deal.

In the meantime, I’ll note that Alaska is similar to Canada in many ways, and Canada (the whole damn country) has announced the latest nominees for Canada’s most prestigious comics recognition, the Doug Wright Awards (well, probably tied with the Joe Shuster Awards). Winners will be announced (as is custom) at TCAF in four weeks, and will be blessedly limited to three well-curated categories plus one hall of fame.

The Best Book Award, presented for the best book published in Canada (in English), will go to one or more of Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown, Big Kids by Michael DeForge, Burt’s Way Home by John Martz, The Envelope Manufacturer by Chris Oliveros, and Bird in a Cage by Rebecca Roher. The Doug Wright Spotlight Award, presented to a Canadian cartoonist deserving of wider recognition, will go to one or more of Jessica Campbell, GG, Nathan Jurevicius, Laura Ķeniņš, Brie Moreno, and Steve Wolfhard.

The Pigskin Peters Award, presented for the best experimental, unconventional or avant-garde comic, will go to one or more of Carpet Sweeper Tales by Julie Doucet, Draw Blood by Ron Hotz, Garbage by Matthew Reichertz, After Land by Chris Taylor, and The Palace of Champions by Henriette Valium. The inductee into the Giants of the North Canadian cartoonist hall of fame, is cartoonist and comics journalist Katherine Collins. Seemingly every other nominee¹ was published by Conundrum Press, Drawn & Quarterly or Koyama Press, highlighting the importance of small, editorial vision-driven presses.

Fleen wishes the best to all the nominees, and we’ll be back in a month to reveal the winners.

Spam of the day:

Save on your interstate move – free quote

After the last move I made — which was a year and a half before I started this blog — I swore to never move again, and that was less than 30 km distance. If I ever have to move interstate, kill me.

¹ It was actually 10 out of 16, which is even more impressive. The remaining work was self-published, or run via Floating World Comics or via the Latvian comics anthology kuš!

Big Ol’ Hardcovers Day

The mail has been good to me lately — it’s brought me long-awaited, very hefty, very handsome hardcovers of two of my favorite webcomics. I get to enjoy ’em, and that means you get to enjoy ’em, too.

  • Okay, it was actually last week, but Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett’s Drive is one of the very best sci-fi stories you’re ever gonna read, and hundreds of pages in he’s still setting up the pieces for his story’s conflict. I’ve spoken of Drive plenty here, so I’ll just mention that what we get in the first volume is roughly the first act of a story (from here to here, interrupted from time to time by things like childbirth and movie production) that will run for years yet, plus a series of his guest-contributed Tales From The Drive shorts.

    But what a book! The slipcover pulls back to reveal a design that carries the logo of the story’s imperial family, and the endpapers present an in-continuity map chock full o’ context (not to mention references to key story points¹ as almost afterthoughts, there’s so many of them). The guest stories are by (respectively) Dylan Meconis, Christopher Hastings & Anthony Clark, Ryan North & Tony Cliff, Zach Weinersmith, and Evan Dahm.² They are (respectively) uplifting hilarious, hilarious, hilarious and melancholy/insightful.

    In the interests of full disclosure, the book features a blurb on the back cover by a hack webcomics pseudojournalist, who is also mentioned on the thanks page. Apparently the many questions I have pestered him with over the past six or seven years have been more than simple fanboying and convinced LArDK that I would be a good alpha reader for the book³, and he sent me a copy several weeks in advance of the Kickstarter fulfillment. This means that I have a second copy of Drive: Act One, which fact will be relevant a bit further down the page.

  • Today’s mail brought the similarly long-awaited and just as impressive first print collection of Abby Howard’s The Last Halloween. The story, which I’ve loved from the beginning, reads even better on the page; the original strips are more than can fit on one page, and Howard has cleverly designed her book to make reveals even better. The best example is this strip, which features one of her best gags; in the book the setup ends at the bottom of a right-hand page and final punchline panel is at the top of the following left-hand page, hiding the payoff and increasing its effectiveness.

    To give you an idea how hefty the book is, that gag with Ringley and his dad is the 39th strip in the archives, but the punchline doesn’t appear until page 144; this translates into more than 400 pages of story, with dozens of extras, sketches, and bonus material at the back. If you missed backing the Kickstarter, look for copies in Howard’s TopatoCo store (NB: Said store is currently undergoing a redesign and may be sporadically available for the next few hours as I write this We’re good!) once backer fulfillment is done.

  • Back to Drive for a moment; I’d also expect to see the book added to LArDK’s Drive Store shortly, but what if you don’t want to wait? And haven’t I got a spare copy hanging around? Why yes, yes I do. So I’m gonna give that mutha away. Email me at gary who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com by 30 April, with the subject line GIMME BOOK.

    I’ll draw one at random and send it your way (but if you live overseas and it’s gonna cost me like thirty bucks, I’ll ask you chip in on shipping), then you will read it and become as addicted as I am. Oh, and I should mention that the book has one minor print error (two pages stuck together, leading to a very minor tear on separation) which may reduce your reading enjoyment by as much as 0.00378%; if this disturbs you, then don’t try to win a free book. Good luck, and get to emailing.

Spam of the day:

3 Secrets The Mattress Store Don’t Want Out

Mattress store mattresses are made from orphans? That’s one, what are the other two?

¹ Here I’m referring to the disclaimer on the map about the Captain’s Dictate (which was revealed in the strip relatively recently, well after the events in this book). For that matter, there’s back matter including a timeline that likewise features a major spoiler in the form a critical character’s name that was revealed less than a year ago.

So, uh, maybe don’t read the timeline until you’ve binged through the archive?

² Dahm’s story being the absolute best 12 page single story I read in 2016, bee-tee-dubs.

³ Probably because my obsessive tendencies meant I asked him years ago if he realized in two strips that ran five years apart that he’d referred to the same character as “Stephen” and “Steven”. Pedantry! It can be used for good!

Various Things To Feel Good About

Last night was EMS night and there was a vehicle fire — we’re talking about the entire front end of a minivan fully involved before the firefighters dumped half an engine’s tank full of water (call it 1400 liters) and a goodly amount of foam on it — which affected the paved driveway it sat on, the vinyl siding of the house it was next to, both the car and the siding next door, and some overhead power lines. Quick knockdown, but today everything still tastes like plastic. How’s your day going?

  • Jeph Jacques, he of so many nicknames that it’s not worth trying to keep up with them all, has launched the pre-orders (let’s face it, this is just a formality on the way to funding) for Questionable Content book 6 (aka strips 1500 to 1799. Given the huge readership for QC, there’s a fairly high goal (US$55,000), which will be enough to stock the book for the foreseeable future in the store; at about eight hours in, just under 480 backers have put Jacques just under 33% of the way to goal; I expect to see that number creep up as people leave work and return home and pledge.

    Overfunding will result in the first three books (still in print in the older 23cm x 28cm trim size) reprinted at the current, small size (13cm x 18cm), so that those of you that purchased the first five books and are desperate to have them all line up on the shelf just so (or maybe never bought the first three) can have a matching set. For once, my obsessive completist attitude is under control and I will prevent myself from such a purchase. For once.

  • But the bigger news over Kickstarter way is the announcement of seven Thought Leaders, creators who between them cover the wide gamut of Kickstarter creative areas, and have run a total of 26 projects backed by 35,347 people for a total of US$3,010,897. And one of them is webcomics own C Spike Trotman, continuing her run on 2017 being the Year of Spike.

    It also probably explains her tweet last week about never doing SDCC on her dime again, given that KS will be likely sending her to top-tier shows to do panels (heck, she’s on any reputable Kickstarter panel of any show she’s at already). Additionally, she’ll be answering questions on Campus, Kickstarter’s message board for project-running advice. Add in all the ICC books seeing wider exposure (not to mention the new edition of Poorcraft, updated for 2017 realities). Oh, and another one of the Thought Leaders, comics fans? Hope Nicholson. Seems like somebody over at Kickstarter likes the words+pictures.

  • Speaking of the words+pictures, the fifth annual Cartoonist Studio Prizes (a joint venture of the Slate Book Review and the enter for Cartoon Studies have been awarded. As in past years, two prizes of US$1000 have been awarded, one to a print comic and one to a webcomic. Print honors go to Eleanor Davis for Libby’s Dad, and webcomic honors to Christina Tran for On Beauty. Both are more than worthy winners in standout fields¹.

    Should I point out that the nominees were majority women, as were both winners this year, and 50% of the winners across five years? I believe I should. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the future of comics rests on the shoulders of women — both those making comics and those reading them — and the sooner they take over the entire damn industry, the better.

Spam of the day:

Wohin ja hier gegen das Talent

Google Translate assures me this means Where, then, against the talent which I dunno, means something in some context or other. Pretty weak sauce for my spam filters, if you ask me.

¹ Particular respect to Representative John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, who were nominated for March: Book 3. This may be the only time they don’t win their respective fields this year.

Because It’s Always A Good Day For FSFCPL

When Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin gets to thinking about what distinguishes the French webcomics scene from that in other countries, I say Yes, please!. Please enjoy his latest thoughts without further adieu.

In my contributions so far for Fleen, I never felt the need to make a general introduction as to how webcomics in the French language work, because there is no need to: they are comics on the web, only in French (the web being divided more along language lines than around country borders). That is everything that is needed as a starting point to further know about them.

But when you get familiar with them, it is obvious that many cultural norms developed differently here, compared with English-language webcomics. Some of these differences are in fact inherited from French-Belgian comics traditions in general, such as the common use of pseudonyms by comics creators; but most interesting are those differences that are specific to webcomics, which I am going to present today.

  • No ads
    Boulet’s distaste for ads, and his refusal to feature any on his site, is well documented (French-only, though it is clear enough even without the text). But he is not an exception: almost none of the webcomics I have linked to so far (Maliki, Comme Convenu, A Cup of Tim, Jo, Professeur Moustache, etc.) have any ads either, and the sole case I could find in French webcomics is a single leaderboard at the top of Pénélope Bagieu’s site; otherwise, they at most feature internal ads, like the comics hosted on This is unexpected when coming from English-language webcomics, where ads are standard.

    The implication is that, by and large, creators do not use the comic’s availability on the web as a revenue source, but purely as a display window to lead the reader to support them in other ways, such as through book collections, merchandising, patronage, commissions, hiring opportunities, etc.: most French webcomic authors practice at least one of these.

  • They don’t use webcomic templates
    Most of the time, webcartoonists from the French-Belgian tradition start with a base blog engine, only their blog posts are images or mostly images rather than text; WordPress+Comicpress is almost unknown around these parts. As time goes on, they either keep that system, or move on to a fully custom solution, with designs that are generally minimalist, especially as they don’t need to feature ads, which contrasts with the generally heavy designs of webcomic sites in the English web.
  • No schedule
    Granted, having a set posting schedule is no longer seen as mandatory in English-language webcomics, with notable webcomics (Octopus Pie, in particular) renouncing a posting schedule; but a large majority of them still follow one. In French, most of them don’t: the norm is not to have any set schedule, with many well-respected webcomics having never had one. I only know of Comme Convenu and Maliki to currently adhere to any schedule.
  • More reliance on social networks
    Having no schedule means it is harder to make readers get into the habit of checking the site in a regular fashion, so except for those readers who use RSS, French readers follow webcomics by subscribing to the social media feeds of their favorite comics. This means that around here social media subscriptions represent a large portion of a webcomic’s regular audience, and pushing updates to the social networks (and ensuring they do reach readers) is of great importance to creators.

    Moreover, since French webcartoonists do not make any ad revenue from their sites, some don’t hesitate to post the full updates along with the links on social networks: Comme Convenu (Twitter) and Commit Strip (Twitter) do so, for instance. And a few have openly floated the idea of only posting on social networks, like Marc Dubuisson, though for now he still posts to his site as well (a site is still more practical to browse the archives, for instance).

  • Dominated by autobio
    As previously discussed when introducing Jo, the overwhelming genre in French webcomics is autobio, possibly enhanced (with a smattering of “political commentary” strips here and there); you could consider them to be blogs that are drawn rather than being written. I am not going to offer theories on why this is the case, at least not yet; I will just note that the field is still relatively young when compared to webcomics in general: almost no French-language webcomic existed prior to 2004, and diversification from the genre the local pioneers started around is a slow process, even if we can now see the first examples of this diversification.
  • No appearance schedule
    Time for full disclosure: this is a matter that directly affects this pseudojournalism hobby, and if French creators were to adopt this custom, it would make my planning of which events to attend much easier. With that in mind …

    If you look at the site for a French webcomic, you won’t find any appearance schedule (Maliki being a notable exception; may they be blessed for the next 1000 generations). It’s not that the creators always stay at home, never to meet readers: if they are published, they do go and attend conventions and shows, but only advertise those when the date is close, on social media. It would be presumptuous of me to explain why this is the case; I will just note that creators have limited involvement with their convention appearances, which are planned by their publishers (e.g. the booth is always in the publisher’s name), and creators go with these plans.

    But I know some creators who are itching to booth in independence from their publishers, especially when currently they have to split their appearance time between the multiple houses which publish them, so this may change sooner rather than later…

Something that strikes me as I’m reading FSFCPL’s observations now for the third time, is how much his first four points mirror what Brad Guigar describes as his personal new reality over at [subscription, with occasional free posts]. He’s rethinking a bunch of the prime directives of webcomics, a number of which parallel how the French have apparently always done things. With Guigar’s recently announced discontinuation of convention appearances, you have something pretty close to the sixth point as well.

I believe that this may merit some close consideration on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks once again to FSFCPL for his analysis, and for much food for thought.

Spam of the day:

Cannabis gummies LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES!

You might want to run that claim by our new Attorney General, who’s hot on restarting the drug war.

Coming Soon To A Phone Screen Near You

One of those endings/beginnings days, you know?

  • Gordon McAlpin¹ has been in the webcomic game as long as anybody, putting together a just about exactly 1200 strip archvie over (by a peculiar corinsidence) just about exactly 12 years over Multiplex way. It’s been, to no small degree (and I mean this sincerely and without any malice whatsoever) the webcomics equivalent of For Better Or For Worse

    That is, it’s let characters age and grow and drift apart and come back together and sometimes leave never to return, with both the good and the venal prevailing at times, but always centered on the (in McAlpin’s case, improvised) family at the center². And, like FBOFW, there is an end to such stories, even though we know the characters will go on. Through nine books, McAlpin has let his love of movies and his characters show in equal measure … and when you’ve got that much love to give, why not have a tenth book?

    Multiplex (the webcomic) may have scrolled all the way to the end of the credits today, but there’s a teaser that comes after; Multiplex 10 (the animated short, and perhaps trailer for more animation) will be part prequel, part reboot, and, I’m guessing, all awesome. But while webcomics are easy to put together and toss out on the web to find an audience, animation of any quality is hell of work, and not the sort of thing you can dash off in the spare hours of the day. Enter Kickstarter, and the crowdfunding campaign for MUX10, which went live a bit more than 12 hours ago and is presently a bit more than a third of the way to its US$15,000 goal.

    There’s rewards and an impressive list of collaborators at the campaign, but what I’m most impressed by is the fact that overfunding will go not to stretch goals, but into making a better film … and possibly even more episodes. Give ‘er a look, and if you’ve ever enjoyed Multiplex during its original theatrical run, consider tossing McAlpin a buck or two, yeah?

  • Speaking of things finishing and restarting in other forms, this is your periodic reminder that our friends at the Cartoon Art Musuem are nearing their end of their time in the wilderness, and preparing to open in their new (hopefully permanent, but who can say with San Francisco real estate?) location. If you live in the Bay Area and wanted to tell CAM what a good job they’re doing you have a chance next weekend at the Silicon Valley Comic Con at the San Jose Convention Center, 21 – 23 April. As far as I can determine, it’s the only comic convention presented by The Woz, the ur-geek to whom all owe allegiance.

Spam of the day:

Expose someones past with this simple tool


¹ AKA The Nicknameless, having once been my sporting bet nemesis, but that was resolved long ago.

² Also in McAlpin’s case, there’s no requirement that you only ever marry the creepy dude you met in high school, the one with absolutely nothing to recommend him, and who brought moustachery into disrepute. Screw you forever, Anthony.

Congratulations To All The Nominees

I was reflected last week at the Goatsiversary party that given distance, a shift in work location, and general business, I haven’t seen Jon Rosenberg but half a dozen times since a tuxedo-clad weekend in Las Vegas five damn years ago when the National Cartoonists Society first recognized webcomics.

I’ve had the honor to participate in the (ever evolving) process of presenting nominees to the NCS membership for consideration; given that many of them don’t really understand the world of webcomics, this is a similar process that other divisions (notably, animation) undergo — a panel of experts makes recommendations to filter out the less worthy.

The NCS Awards for 2017 announced their nominees today, and I wanted to list ’em here. While I’m only involved in the process of webcomics (short form and long form), there are nominees in other divisions that are of interest to we here at Fleen, and I’m gonna mention ’em.

Online Comics — Short Form

Online Comics — Long Form

Some thoughts: I will acknowledge that no slate of nominees will ever perfectly reflect my preferences¹. Heck, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with three nominees and only three, or to choose between a perfect three if I could come up with them. While there are things I would see on the lists if I could, there’s nothing here that isn’t entirely worthy, and nothing here that I wouldn’t (were I a member of the NCS) vote for myself on any given day. I’m thrilled to see Ruben (appropriate name) Bolling’s Trump strips from The Nib, and if I might have preferred some other long form stories, I’m thrilled to see Gran recognized for the third time in the very short history of the awards.

I’m also taking it as a sign that the NCS membership (which skews old, white, and male) is changing considering that OMG Check Please is nominated — it’s a strip about gay college hockey players created by a young Nigerian-American woman — and is about as far from the experience of the old guard members as you can get. Change and progress come slow sometimes, but sometimes they leap and bound. I’ll also note that of the Online nominees, four of the six are by women, which is entirely representative of who’s doing good work these days. Now, in other parts of the ballot:

Magazine Feature/Illustration
Jon Adams is nominated; he did the stellar Chief O’Brien At Work webcomics.

Comic Books
Giant Days Max Sarin and Liz Flemming nominated for art; a day after the Tackleford Shakeup, it’s encouraging to see John Allison’s most whimsical work recognized. Stan Sakai also got nominated for Usagi Yojimbo, which is basically the book you want to lose to if you gotta lose.

Editorial Cartoons
Bolling again, and also Jen Sorenson for her work at The Nib, which is top-notch. Matt Bors, et. al., have turned The Nib into a powerhouse of editorial and reportorial cartooning in a remarkably short period of time.

Graphic Novels
Amazingly, Ghosts is not on the list. Can’t fault a slate that includes Rick Geary, Bryan Talbot, and Jules Feiffer, but I wouldn’t want to be the person that forget to send in copies of Raina’s latest.

The NCS Awards will be presented in Portland, Oregon on 27 May. Fleen wishes best of luck to all the nominees.

Spam of the day:

British Bank Branch [text entirely in Cyrillic]

Yes, you are entirely a branch of a bank in Britain. I completely believe you.

¹ Someday when I am dying and no longer fear the wrath of NCS enforcers² over breaking my promise of confidentiality, I’ll write a tell-all about all the comics I nominated that never made it to the ballot. I believe it will provide a revealing look at what my brain processes were like from the age of 45 or so onwards.

² You ever see former NCS President (and driving force in the establishment of the online division awards) Tom Richmond? Guy could bench-press a Buick. His individual biceps weigh more than I do.