The webcomics blog about webcomics

Making Things Better

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history:




He does not have time for your mush, and will hush you if need be. This strip, and particularly the last line, has stayed with me more than any other part of the Achewood canon, and possibly more than any other comic I’ve ever read¹. It doesn’t get much better than this.

  • You may have seen the announcement that the Harvey Awards are now open for nominations, with comics professionals being asked to suggest up to five nominees per category, as is the way of their people. Melanie Gillman stole a place in my heart with a wonderful suggestion for those of you in position to nominate:

    If you’re a comics pro, a good thing you can do today is nominate webcomics in categories other than just webcomics: …

    We almost never talk about how often webcomics artists are also top-notch writers & letterers & inkers & colorists, but we SHOULD.

    Too right. You can’t tell me that Tom Siddell or Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett isn’t putting together a story as good as any in print, or that Boulet or Minna Sundberg isn’t cranking out art that is the equal of anybody else’s. The idea that webcomics should have a singular award based on distribution method is antiquated, and will only go away as creators make their way into the non-segregated categories. It’s been happening — slowly, in fits and starts — over the past few years, and it never hurts to make it a conscious thought in circumstances like these. Some day it won’t require conscious thought at all.

  • Pivoting to less happy thoughts, Ryan Pequin² shared the news the other night that his cousin is seriously ill and wishes to visit her grandmother. Fortunately, she lives in Canada, where healthcare is not viewed as something to be earned³, but even making care something other than financially ruinous doesn’t remove all challenges.

    So Ryan’s cousin Megan would like to introduce her sons to the great-grandmother they’ve never met; given the circumstances, it’s not hard to imagine it will also be the last chance for both women to say goodbye to each other. As Kate Beaton (who is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up) observed, we all need a little help, sometimes, for the important things . There’s a crowdfunding campaign, and it represents a very real way to make a significant difference in multiple lives.

  • Still on the serious topics, but one with a bit of hope. Jackie Wohlenhaus does a long-running webcomic about the employees of a media megastore called Between Failures that I don’t believe I’ve mentioned here on the page before, but which I catch up on in a binge about once a year or so. Short version (and this is not the topic for today so I’m not going to expand on this thought): the strip reminds me of a cross between Archie and Real Genius.

    That’s not what’s important right now; the topic for today is a situation that Wohlenhaus has found himself in (and he’s not the only member of the creative community that’s been in this circumstance), where he’s become an inpromptu acute-care counselor for members of his audience in moments of crisis:

    I need to talk about this. — I’ve talked more readers out of suicide than I care to talk about. I don’t…

    When creators have mentioned to me that they’re in this position, I always think how unfair it is — to be put on the spot by a stranger, with the implication (sometimes the outright stated fact) that if you don’t find a way to say exactly the right thing they will harm themselves. It’s one thing to do it with those that you know, it’s another when you’re trained for it and it’s your duty (and trust me, even then it sucks), but however much you’ve made an effort to reach out to your audience, to build up a community? It’s still a stranger.

    I’ve seen the emails that creators have gotten after they’ve decided to get help because of this example in that strip — those are great. But to reach out to somebody and say Because of your creative work I feel you’re the only one I can unburden myself to is deeply, deeply troubling. On the one hand, people in pain need help; this is uncontroversial. On the other hand, to burden somebody not trained or equipped to help, and who must bear the burden of guilt if they can’t help? That’s not something we should ask people to take on.

    I really need to know if other creators go through this, so I’m taking this blog post and setting it adrift on tumblr like a message in a bottle. Just message me with a story, or reblog, or whatever. I just really need to hear what other people do in these situations. You don’t need to draw comic, it can be anything, writing, music, just whatever you do that makes people reach out to you when they’re at their lowest point. For some reason I really need to know that I’m not the only person who goes through this with people.

    I’m not at liberty to name names, Jackie, but yes. Other creators go through this. Because you say in your posting that you know that you’ve failed to prevent readers from harming themselves, let me take this opportunity to ensure that you don’t become pulled down into your own sense of failure over that. It’s admirable that you do try to help others — to muddle through as you put it — but your first obligation is always to take care of yourself. There’s a reason why they tell you on airplanes to secure your own mask before assisting others. So if being the object of readers in crisis is wearing on you, please get help.

    As for everybody else — people who are hurting, and those that know people who are hurting, and those who are approached by people who are hurting — there are resources you should know about. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), with hearing-impaired help at 800-799-4889 (for TTY users) or this link (for interactive chat). also operates an MMS service; you just text START to 741-741. Those in other countries, check the International Association of Suicide Prevention and

    You don’t need to do it alone — on either side of the needing help conversation.

Spam of the day:


Well! I was going to chuck this in the trash considering I’ve already done my taxes, but I see you have a little emoji that says BANK and also a megacephalic lady in stripper heels who I presume is meant to be my personal banker, so I’m sold!

¹ Possible contenders: Don’t ask, don’t ask, no possible good will come of asking (which I say to myself on a regular basis, along with the occasional Oh, blood and shale), and Has a name! Name-Is-Ed! (which is seriously making me tear up here at work), both of which are from Ursula Vernon’s incomparable Digger.

² At this point I can’t be the only one thinking that our sole hope for salvation from Donald Trump and Trumpketeers is President Bird.

³ Can’t work because of your illness? Try not to be so unworthy in your next life.

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