The webcomics blog about webcomics

Saturday Update? Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Oh yeah — this is why. On those occasions that I meet somebody that reads this blog, it never fails to give me a little thrill to know that I’m not just sending electrons into the aether. Your kind words buoy me in times like now, when my liver and consciousness have reached their limits in service to webcomics, and I have to take an early night or both will be irretrievably shredded. On the up side, it means that somebody will be alive at the Dumbrella booth (which will please the new boss — details below), and there’s plenty to talk about even with me having missed the evening’s social niceties.

I didn’t manage to make it to the Miyazaki panel or the Kibuishi panel, but I did get to have lunch with The Rockin’ Teenage Combo, aka Becky ‘n’ Frank. We had some disturbingly good breakfast, spoke about how hard it is to make comics or pursue an animation career from New Zealand (beautiful place and absolute tops on my gotta-visit list, but so remote from the rest of your industry), and saw the most clever bit of experiential marketing at the Con so far — the people behind a forthcoming movie called LEGION (don’t know anything about it, but now I kind of want to) appropriated an ice-cream truck, dressed the driver & attendant as zombies, and drove around the Gaslamp hanging out the windows looking suitably dead and chucking t-shirts at unsuspecting passers-by.

On the way back in to the scrum, I had the pleasure of seeing Becky & Frank interact with the likes of Jeff Smith, Steve Hamaker, Scott Campbell, Kibuishi, and others — I never get tired of seeing artists who admire each others work interact. I snagged quick copies of Flight 6 and Owly 5 (and watched the Owly cartoon clip loop on the TV — purely adorable), and was back to the grind.

The rushes came and went, the booth crew were troupers, and organizational changes made. What began as an over-booze discussion about number trending has become an expansion of Dumbrella. Andy Bell’s wife, Jackie MacLeod, works for humanitarian non-profits in a logistical capacity, work which has taken her as far as Congo, trying to get food and medical aid to those in war zones (braving rebels, corrupt governmental officials, malaria, and baboons to do so). Jackie is a tiny person, so to deal with crap of the magnitude she must regularly deal with, you know that she has an enormous capacity to Get Shit Done. By popular acclaim (and fear of reprisals — a woman who can stare down armed insurgent baboons while dealing with a case of malaria is not somebody you want annoyed with you), she will now be known as Madame El Presidente For Life of Dumbrella. ¡Viva!

Getting serious for a moment, there’s a valuable lesson here, one that echoes a conversation I had with Robert Khoo a couple of San Diegos ago: the difference between Penny Arcade and various webcomics collectives is that at PA, there’s one person that makes a decision, and things happen. When there’s multiple people sharing the decisions inherent in prepping months for a shared week-long marketing experience — or in some collectives, having a tighter organization, complete with shared revenues — things will inevitably bog down.

Want an exercise in frustration? Try to get three or more people to agree what to put on a pizza. Now try to get five or more to agree what to put on a pizza that will determine a nontrivial portion of their year’s income. If there can be a level of trust in the skills and fairness of one person to make a decision and just go with it, things can happen, and with less potential for hurt feelings. Thus, Jackie, whose experience in war zones should just about prepare her for the job of dealing with the level of poo-flinging that is found in webcomickers. And there will be a bit more poo flung, as Dumbrella has expanded by two — de facto Dumbrellites Meredith Gran and Chris Yates are now de juris members in (good?) standing.

In other news:

  • Webcomics guest star Wil Wheaton and I discussed the most effective techniques of being a grumpy old guy telling kids to stay the hell of our respective lawns — he favors the cane to gesture with, I’m going with chucking the pears that fall of my pear tree at the little whippersnappers. We agree that releasing the hounds is something you have to hold in reserve, but I’ve just thought of another issue … when do we get the garden hose?
  • Fleen offers condolences to David Malki ! on not taking the Eisner award for humor, particularly after hearing him do a run-through on semi-prepared remarks in the event of a win.
  • IDW will be visited today in an attempt to find out what the hell is up with the announcement that they will be doing a 4 issue comic miniseries on the topic of Bat Boy. A 4 issues comic miniseries that apparently does not involve Danielle Corsetto, who did the Adventures of Bat Boy comics for the Weekly World News after Peter Bagge originated it. What the hell, IDW?
  • Andrew Farago at the Cartoon Art Musuem tells me there’s still slots open for the virtual gallery portion of Monsters of Webcomics. Short form: three strips at 72dpi, to fit on a 1680 x 1050 monitor. It’ll be a slideshow, so no scrolling. Include your name, webcomic title, URL, and keep in mind there’ll be kids so stick to PG-13 (and tamer) material. Submit by 31 July to andrewfarago who may be found at the Google-run e-mail service (dot-com). Also, they need a logo, so if you want to design something that’s truly metal, have at it.
  • If you’re in San Diego, drop by the 1200 aisle and see Randy Milholland. Ask him about the sketch he did that’s Berry, Berry Disturbing. I’d tell you, but it’s both a) extraordinarily rude and b) not my joke to tell. I’m in awe of what comes out of his head.

No photos. Up today: the aforementioned IDW visit, the panel on syndication (morbid curiousity really — noon in room 7AB), the Halfpixel panel (2:00 in room 8) and hopefully the Hope Larson panel (4:00 in room 3). Speaking of Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O’ Malley was grateful when I spoke to him that he and Scott McCloud did their panel and the questions were actually about Scott Pilgrim the comics, and not Scott Pilgrim the it-won’t-be-out-for-another-year movie. Well done, masses.

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[…] rushed-for-press-time missive, I got a chance to head over to the IDW booth and ask about the Bay Boy thing. I spoke with Chris Ryall, publisher and editor-in-chief, who described himself as a big fan of the […]

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