The webcomics blog about webcomics

New Arrivals And An Unexpected Departure

If you’re not in the mood for heavy news, maybe stop after the first two items, ‘kay?

  • Steve Conley would like you to know that he has a Kickstart launching today, although given that he’s already reached 60% of his goal, it’s pretty much assured to fund at some point in the next 30 days. Those who’ve kept up with this page for the past coupla years know that Conley’s main project these days is The Middle Age, which is replete with comic adventures, derring-do, laugh-chuckles, and language-based puns¹ for days.

    The first hardcover collection of TMA having been published crowdfunded last year (and final, straggling orders shipped earlier this year), it’s time to check in again on Sir Quimp of Grawlix, Maledicta the curséd sword, and a mischievous duck². Considering that the book will contain more than 100 pages of full-color story in hardcover, US$25 seems like a steal (US$35 signed, US$50 doodled), but go check it out yourself.

  • Speaking of webcomics longtime creators with a new collection, C Spike Trotman would like you to know that Sylvan Migdal is finally going to have a comprehensive printing of the very sexy, very adult Curvy, which started online more than a decade ago and finally wrapped two years back. Migdal’s done a whole bunch of comics — for a while there, seemed like a new one every time you turned around — but there’s always somebody that’s discovering them for the first time.

    But you’re here for the smut, so:

    The Complete Curvy features pink-n-cyan colorization, a spot-gloss cover, refined and remastered panels and dialogue, and the whole story in one mighty, 520-page tome!

    It’s officially on sale everywhere November 19th, but you can get your copy before everyone else by pre-ordering from our online store. There will be no Kickstarter for this project, because the books are finished, ready, and waiting.

    Pre-orders of The Complete Curvy ship on November 4th and quantities are limited.

    PDF is US$25, softcover is US$50.

  • Okay. This story isn’t as informative as I’d like (for reasons that will shortly become clear), and it’s not a happy occasion. Readers of this page will recall that we at Fleen are a somewhat rare kind of person (in so many ways, yes), in that we are a casual reader of Erfworld.

    Rob Balder’s sprawling, detailed, pun-charged epic started about a year after this blog launched, and immediately attracted a fanbase that reveled in the deep lore and minutia of the comic. The comments that greeted a new page attracted a level of scrutiny and discussion that would prompt Talmudic scholars to say, Okay gang, let’s take it down a notch, huh?³

    He spent a significant amount of that going-on-decade-and-a-half trying to figure out how to make a living while also providing for his artists and the people that kept the infrastructure running; he was determined to do so in a manner that didn’t take advantage of his readers. When interruptions to the story came, he had to deal with the expectations of people who were shelling out money to support the comic — and the even higher expectations of those who were reading for free. When his wife was diagnosed with a cancer that had truly dreadful statistical outcomes, he tried to balance those needs, delivering story as he could.

    To paraphrase Hamilton, Balder seemed to be frantically searching for a method that would let him get the whole story in his head, all of it, all the twists and turns and worldbuilding, out into the world and be done with it. The burden of producing something so large must have been enormous, and the desire to get it done so people would stop demanding to know when everything would turn out just like they wanted it to, give it to me faster almost overwhelming.

    When it looked like odds might have been beat after all and remission — even a long-term resolution — was in sight, he was grateful, but he hinted at other imminent tragedies in his life, a sense of shoes waiting to drop. So when I browsed by the Erfworld site and saw the announcement, it became clear that an entire cobbler’s shop had been upended:

    Because of horrific and unbearable events in our personal lives, Erfworld is permanently discontinued as a webcomic.

    The statement is signed Rob and Linda Balder, so at least my initial fear that the cancer had won was misplaced. But that means that something worse — perhaps somethings worse — than staring down cancer had happened. Whatever happened to Rob and Linda, I’m certain that a Google search would reveal details, but I’m not going to do that; if they’d wanted us to know more (and they may share more in future), they’d have said so. The barely-subtext is that whatever’s happened makes it impossible to balance dealing with life and the comic, and in that situation the comic isn’t going to win.

    Nor should it.

    Erfworld may come back. It may never come back. The first chapter, which had long been hosted at Rich Burlew’s Giant In The Playground site (which is where Erfworld launched) has been removed at Balder’s request. The full archives are still available (minus, it appears, the comments, which … good). The store appears to have technical issues at the moment, but Balder says it will remain. I imagine some portion of all of this changes, as the immediate tragedy begins to fade. Or not.

    In times like these, you have to take care of yourself first. I hope that Rob and Linda can find the space to heal, and I thank them — and everybody associated with the production of Erfworld over the years — for entertaining me all this time. The link will remain over on the right side of this page because there’s some damn good story there, told in a bunch of different interlocking ways, and nobody should ever look on it and feel like they’re owed any more. Thank you.

Spam of the day:

It is boring one houses Let’s talk. Pass free registration and find best girls. Only men are more senior than 20 years!

I think they’re trying to say that their site is full of teens? Which, ewww.

¹ But Gary, I hear you cry, all puns are language-based! Yes, yes, you’re very clever, and we all know the failure mode of clever, right? The puns in question are about language and words, and not just puns made in a language.

² Well before the current interest in poorly-behaved waterfowl.

³ I base this assessment on the many, lengthy discussions I have had over the years with a friend/colleague who is a Java programmer, jazz trumpeter, mohel, cantor, and Hasidic rabbi. A casual question like Wait, you said that beer you bought was kosher and I’ve never heard of such a thing. What about every beer we’ve had before now? would lead to a argument (median duration: three hours) on the intricacies of Jewish Law, commentaries on the law, commentaries on the commentaries, and teachings of sages down the millenia.

When I once commented that he’d been through half an hour of legalistic loopholes to justify why, under certain circumstances, doing this thing was permitted on the Sabbath whereas under very slightly different circumstances it was forbidden, he smiled and said You can’t be stupid and practice my religion. If you can talk the rabbi into it, you’re good.

Yakov would have felt right at home among the canon-keepers and clue-seekers of the Erfworld fora, only I don’t think he ever spent hours in a flamewar declaring that God was a hack who obviously was screwing up the narrative.

The comic was definitely not closed due to stress on Robert’s part. Google Robert and Linda Balder, and you’ll learn why.

Rob Balder is not my friend; we have never hung out together, gotten drunk together, shared triumphs and losses with each other, exchanged advice with each other. I’ve read his comic for ten years. I wished the best for Linda’s health. This was a one-way relationship, not a friendship.

He didn’t put details on his webpage. I am not entitled to know more than he has already shared.

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