The webcomics blog about webcomics

Take That, Content Filtering!

I am slowly expanding the list of Officially Suspect sites, which now includes The Onion¹ but not The AV Club. Also, Twitter is not blocked, but any attempt to click through to a particular tweet or image results in a “that page doesn’t exist” error. In the meantime, I am working around the filters by various means because I am crafty. Okay, mostly it means surfing the Officially Suspect sites from the hotel and being behind the times, but whatever works.

  • SMBC Thee-ah-tuh finished up the funding for their second DVD massively over goal, which means they’ll have to make good on their promise to do weekly sketches (instead of the monthly schedule in preparation for their web series in which they destroy James Ashby² in space). Comparing to their earlier effort, it now seems like a given that SMBC projects will hit 500% of goal funding in everything they do. Wow.
  • Santa plus Dinosaurs in comics form from the mind of Ryan North over at Comics Alliance on Mondays and Wednesdays until Christmas, complete with all the vocal rhythms³ you’ve come to expect from The Toronto Man-Mountain. Speaking of Ryan North, there is now a form of plush T-Rex that looks large even next to a Ryan-sized man, which appears to be both the highest-priced item ever procured via TopatoCo, and limited (as of this writing) to only 37 more examples. If I had space in my living room for one of this things, it would freak my dog the heck out. Also unwary visitors.
  • An instructive tale regarding a blatant piece of design theft, via David Malki ! popped up yesterday. Background: Malki ! endeared himself to my professional tribe with a piece of pithy wisdom that became a shirt featuring explosions. A catalog nominally associated with public broadcasting appropriated the idea (which, given the laws regarding slogans and short phrases, is permissible, if lazy) and implemented a hideously ugly design of their own for a dollar more than Malki !’s version; we’ll let him pick up the story from there:

    I wrote them an email. The reason I’m sharing this story — when I usually don’t bother to bring up situations like this, and give attention to entities that deserve to die in obscurity — is because I thought my approach might be instructive.

    The knee-jerk response is “Cease and desist! Sue! Call a lawyer!” This implies that (a) the issue cannot be solved through more amicable means, and (b) I have a lot of time and money to throw at this kind of problem. The latter is not true, and I like to at least allow for the chance that the former isn’t either. There’s a lot of double negatives in that sequence, so I’ll restate: Being aggressive puts people on the defensive. Being friendly gets people to help you.

    Also, always give the party in the wrong the ability to back off gracefully.

    Learning this is one of the biggest things that has helped me in life: avoid putting people on the defensive. Sometimes it is necessary to be firm, or to express dissatisfaction, or to press for remedy of a situation. But I have never found yelling and shouting to be the easiest way to that end — at least, not as an opener. [emphasis original]

    The email that Malki ! sent is a marvel of firm, yet utterly courteous, assertion of one’s rights; you should go read the excerpt that he posted right now. The practical upshot is that Signals will be carrying Malki !’s version of the shirt from Spring (at a horrible royalty rate, but one which is greater than the Nothing he was making before, and whoever ripped his design will no longer get that horrible rate), with the bonus that the incredibly ugly, lazy design (seriously, that rounded, noodly-looking typeface is as far from anything that evokes “engineering” or “explosions” or even “loud” as anything I’ve ever seen) will fall back into the obscurity it so richly deserves.

    It might not be an optimal win (that would be one where Signals apologized and gave all their ill-gotten gains to Malki !, along with the heart of the “designer” who shat out such a weak interpretation of the slogan), but the net result was a decrease in Total Ugliness instead of a screaming match that would have increased it. Now in addition to his varied skills in film production, podcasting, improv, rapping, design, printmaking, metal fabrication, editing, publishing, heavier-than-air piloting, and freelance firearms special services, we should recognize Malki ! as webcomics’ premiere corporate communications liaison and kick-ass demand letter drafter.

¹ For violence, not sexual content [link NSFW].

² History’s greatest monster.

³ We get it, Ryan, you like the compound plural. iPads 2, jeezum crow.

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