The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Boy!

Oh my stars and garters, The Boy! Neil threw me a bit there, what with identifying Eustace Boyce as 25, but then Bad Machinery has been running more than four years now, and that was three years after the end of Scary Go Round¹, and I guess you leave school around age 18 in Britain, so yeah, 25. Looks like since breaking up with Esther, he’s moved well onto the Susan end of life. Still, good to see him again.

  • It’s been a while since we at Fleen have mention Matt Lubchansky, which is Our Bad, because he keeps doing good comics. For just about exactly one year (the first strip dates from a year ago yesterday), The New Amsterdam Mystery Company by Lubchansky and Jaya Saxena has been bringing the mystery, and yesterday the first NAMC collection, The Curse of the Dying Dutchman (which coincides with the first NAMC story arc) went up for pre-order. You’ve got two slim weeks to get in on a story that’s part supernatural mystery, part love letter to New York.
  • Hat tip to Ryan Estrada (or at least, the twitterfeed of The Whole Story): Jerzy Drozd² of Comics Are Great!³ is now offering a course in comic-making; okay, lots of people do that, even people that make (and promote the art of) comics as much as Drozd. What distinguishes this one (and makes sense, being linked by The Whole Story, the name your price publisher) is that Drozd’s course is being offered on Gumroad, pay what you want:

    In this four-part series we’ll explore how to build a comics story from the ground up! There’s a lot to consider when making a comic: developing a dynamic cast of characters, defining your world, devising visually exciting pages, and more. And what about figuring out your options for getting your work to your audience? This series of interactive presentations will provide you with some context and options in navigating those waters.

    Name your price for seven hours of comics instruction! You’ll be able to download the DRM-Free videos or stream them from Gumroad.

    So that’s seven videos, seven hours, for free? Well, yes, but only if you’re a chump. There’s a lot of knowledge and work there, so if you decide to download, don’t leave the price set to zero, ‘kay?

  • I expected to wake up this morning to a bigger than usual backlog on Twitter, what with the last episode of The Best Show, but I didn’t expect to see a new Penny Arcade/PAX controversy. Here’s the short version: Indie Statik broke (and Kotaku confirmed) the story of a new offering at future PAXes: a diversity lounge. There’s been a lot of back and forth about segregation and I’ve seen the word ghetto used more than once; I think that a lot of the reactions have come from people that read the Indie Statik and Kotaku stories, and more of the reactions have come from people that read the first reactions.

    I also think that a lot of people aren’t discussing things so much as they’re projecting assumptions on on each other. We’ve got one set of primary source material here, the document describing the lunge in question, the originals of which may be seen at Indie Statik (image 1, image 2). I think that everybody that’s got an opinion on the matter might want to follow those links, because they might not say what you think they say.

    Most importantly, a lot of people I’ve seen have been describing the lounge as a designated safe space and getting angry that all of PAX isn’t likewise. Thing is, my reading of the document doesn’t indicate that’s what’s planned at all. I do see indications that it’s a place that people can come and learn, and that part of what can be taught is how to establish safe spaces.

    My reading of the description is Hey, want to learn about people who aren’t like you but play games anyway? Willing to pry yourself away from demos for half an hour, maybe? Go here. Implicit in that is a subtext: Everybody that’s always complained that you get jumped on for being oppressive and wondering what you’re doing wrong and why won’t anybody teach you? This is what you’ve been asking for, so avail yourself or shut up.

    What I didn’t see anywhere in the description is All minorities go here so the rest of us don’t have to think about you, which is a pretty close paraphrase of one of the criticisms I read earlier today. But you know what? It hasn’t happened yet, and whether or not it’s well-executed will be determined months from now; whatever aspects of it aren’t done well at PAX East, will they be done better at Prime and Aus? Will the PA principals be involved in curating the content, or will they be delegating that to somebody else? How credible will the content slate be? Crucially, will Mike and Jerry be spending some learning time in there?

    What we’ve got at the moment is a two-page outline, vague enough that it could have come out of a corporate mission-statement generating workshop. It’s not a blueprint, it’s the brainstorm that will build the structure that will eventually be used to define the blueprint. Maybe nobody avails themselves of it and it fails spectacularly. Maybe it succeeds to the extent that the hub and lounge grow and assume more floor space at each subsequent show. Maybe it’s an expression of Mike & Jerry’s parental concern that their kids come up in the hobby they love, but without absorbing the worst parts of the culture that surrounds it4.

    Penny Arcade is too big to do anything quietly — or subtly, for that matter; they’ve got a load of momentum to shed before they can chart a new course. It will take years to work past some of their mistakes (if in fact they ever completely do) and to be known for more than their worst behavior. Maybe — just maybe — this is where it changes.

¹ We’ve actually seen The Boy within the pages of Giant Days, if memory serves, but that’s from the early days of university and thus seven years ago in story time.

² Improbably enough, there are two Jerzy Drozds out there, the other being a bass luthier of some repute. Odd, but no odder than there being two Gary Tyrrells, I suppose.

³ Word.

4 Mike and Jerry have not always been wise in picking which fights to have or how to have them. I suspect that like all conscientious parents, they want their kids to be wiser, smarter, kinder, better people than they themselves have been. Or maybe I’m projecting because my parents and grandparents taught me to be better than the prejudices that they learned and didn’t always grow out of.

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