The webcomics blog about webcomics

SPX 2019, Now With Extra Solidarity And Also Mutant Balloon Animals

SPX was pretty excellent this year, everybody. I saw too many wonderful folks (and forgot to include some on the list while I was waiting for a burger, like Jamie Noguchi, Boum, MK Reed, Patrick Lay, Lucy Knisley, Maia Kobabe, Britt Sabo, Lauren Davis, Kori Bing, Blue Delliquanti, Kori Michele Handwerker, and Melanie Gillman, plus I hadn’t run into George, Raina Telgemeier, and Andy Runton yet), a side effect of the concentrated nature of excellence:space that the North Bethesda Marriott engenders.

But the trip took on an actual reporting task, as the common perception of Kickstarter’s actions last week skewed nearly 100% to They’re unionbusting. The near-universal consensus of everybody I spoke to hit several repeated points:

  • Kickstarter’s upper management does not reflect the community-interface folks, who were spoken of with warmth and support. It was pointed out that the Kickstarter representatives as the show were, themselves, involved in the unionization efforts.
  • Creators indicated that they’ll be looking to the Kickstarter Union folks for guidance and will follow their lead. Boycotting right now has not been requested, and would very likely be counterproductive.
  • Several acknowledged the difficulty of finding a platform that could serve to replace Kickstarter if the Union calls for a boycott.
  • There’s a willingness to lend voices of support to the unionization effort, to the extent that personal involvement with Kickstarter might hold any moral authority or ability to sway management’s decisions.

Speaking of the second and fourth points above, Taylor Moore (one of those ousted last week) is currently tweeting a call to action, asking creators to sign on to a petition to Kickstarter management. Not being a project creator myself I am not the intended signatory, but I’ve noticed more than a few webcomics folks retweeting and stating they’ve signed, so maybe take a look.

Specific responses when I asked if there were comments about the situation for the record:

Sara McHenry, Make That Thing asskicker at large and creative project manager, on unalloyed support while not forgetting point #3 above — I think every workplace should be unionized, and if I only did business with unionized workplaces I would starve.

Matt Lubchansky, cartoonist and editorial force at The Nib, on how Kickstarter’s actions are ultimately self-defeating — Unionbusting is bad for Kickstarter, it’s bad for the industry, and I’m looking forward to hearing [from the Kickstarter Union] what we can do to support them.

Matt Bors, temporarily doing way too much to keep The Nib running — The Nib is planning on using Kickstarter for our upcoming projects. It appears they fired people for trying to organize a union, which I’m pretty sure is illegal? I support the organizers’ efforts and look to them for direction.

Shing Yin Khor, Kickstarter 2019 Thought Leader and creator of mutant-horrorshow balloon doggies¹ — [Silently looks me square in the eye, grasps the ribbon that tethers the KICKSTARTER-branded mylar balloon floating above her table and pulls it down. Writes UNIONIZE in Sharpie on the balloon² and lets it float free, never breaking her gaze.]

Becky Dreistadt, artist, animator, and woman who gave Steven Universe his neckThe reason we [indicating her partner Frank Gibson] both have healthcare is I’m in the animator’s union. Unions are good.

Frank Gibson, the writerly half behind Becky And Frank’s work, including Capture Creatures, Tigerbuttah, Tiny Kitten Teeth, and Bustletown — The stability of my upbringing is because of the New Zealand teacher’s union.

George, official Kickstarter Expert and guy who knows what Public Benefit Corporations are supposed to be like[A long stream of pro-union statements made while I didn’t have my notebook close to hand, but while George was holding the brick he accepted on behalf of Ngozi Ukazu at the Ignatz Awards just prior, while offering to both email me a pro-union statement for the record, and also expressing an understanding of why rioters grab bricks, because the feel of them makes you want to chuck it for great justice.]

I’ll just end on a couple of personal notes: I had a couple of people come up to me on Saturday to thank me for this page³, and one woman who told me that she took a photo of me at MoCCA 2018 to use as reference for a painting, which she showed me on her phone (and which she’ll be emailing to me soon, I hope; I’ll share it when I get it). Thanks very much, Susan, John, and Qu.

Congratulations to Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T Crenshaw, who found out this morning that Kiss Number 8 is longlisted for a National Book Award.

And congratulations to Rosemary Valero-O’Connell on your three (!) Ignatzen for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me. I told her when I met her that her already-strong work was going to become world-class; I told her on Saturday to make room in her luggage for three bricks. So far I’m two-for-two. Back her Kickstarter, which I guess brings us full circle.

Spam of the day:

Every my part are getting hot when I see you

I am a sexy, sexy man, it’s true.

¹ They had a bunch of balloons and I saw similar critters on half the tables on the show floor. They were … yeah.

That’s mine in the picture up top. I call him Bob The Unsettling. He lives on the shelf above my computer, with my Stupid, Stupid Rat Creature. The Rat Creature has a quiche as an accessory!

² I noticed later that Evan Dahm similarly editorialized on the balloon at his table.

Oh, and that’s not a silver wang in the background, pervs. SPX has helium balloon letters of the alphabet floating above each table pod, and that’s Pod J, listing to the side.

³ One added it had been their homepage when I was in high school, which I took as a tremendous compliment. There’s all kinds of things you fixate on at that age, and a hack webcomics pseudojournalist wouldn’t make the top 1000 most popular online topics among highschoolers. Thanks for that, and for the mini — it’s good work.

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