The webcomics blog about webcomics

Looks Like It’s Time To Formalize A New Standard In The Fleen Manual Of Style

Bet you didn’t know I had one of those, did you? Granted, it’s mostly in my head, but it determines things like when to go to an aside in em-dashes — like this one — and when it’s time for a parenthetical (I’m big on those), not to mention the absolute necessity of Oxford commas. Footnotes speak for themselves¹. Semicolons are our friend; we have a habit of using italics for both emphasis and direct quotes³, with only the direst of emphases elevated to bold face, bold italics, or larger text sizes. Oh, and print comic names are also italicized; webcomic names are not. Title text always capitalizes articles and other “minor” words, unless there’s a specific artistic reason not to.

Creators are referred to by full name on first usage, and by family name thereafter, unless it’s getting tedious and switching it up will make the flow better. There are exceptions to this policy, persons that are referred to primarily by first name because they earned it — George and Raina come to mind — but even this has limits. Ryan North is The Toronto Man-Mountain. Shaenon Garrity is Tiki Queen Of The Greater Bay Area. Jon Rosenberg is my co-birthdayist, and Howard Tayler my evil twin. Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett knows what he did.

It is actually naming that brings us here today, and a situation that has actually occurred before, but which has now become prominent enough to warrant formalization. Namely, what to do with persons who change their pronouns, gender, or name?

I mean, obviously we at Fleen honor that because we’re not monsters. I’m talking about past references to before the announced change (or the time when we at Fleen became aware of the change, as oft-times people don’t tell everybody in the world simultaneously). I thought about instituting a policy of going back through the archives to make the change everywhere I could find it, and ultimately decided against it. Not because — as has been noted on numerous occasions over the past forever — I am a lazy, lazy man. I actually have a good reason to do thing that requires less effort this time.

It’s because this page forms a part of the historical record, and knowing that people can — and have — changed their pronouns, gender, or name is important to remember. If somebody were to bring to my attention that they had recently decided to share one of those changes with the world, and would I mind editing a post that went up today, I’m not adverse to that. But I won’t go back five or ten years to a post that far predates and change it, mostly because it would inevitably lead to a scrambled record, some under one identity and others under a different one, interleaved in time. I will of course not deadname anybody, and endeavour to note when linking back into the archives that at the time, the person referenced was known differently.

All of which is to say, by 20142015, Real Life had gotten increasingly sporadic, and then it went away for a couple of years. 20182019 kept a fairly regular schedule until partway through the year. Things resumed this month and continued from where it left off, wrapping up a storyline last Friday.

And today, everything changed. Or, more precisely, today everything in the strip Real Life is starting to catch up with actual Real Life:

Well, it’s live. So, it’s official: I’m out.

Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mae, the creator and cartoonist for Real Life Comics, which I started back in 1999 when I was just 18.

Over the next 3 weeks, I’ve got a storyline running about my journey.


Welcome to the world of webcomics creators, Maelyn Dean; we’re glad to meet you. I have a feeling that somewhere in this storyline, Cartoon Greg (as he still is) will be leaning out of the last panel to edit that copyright credit and embark on a very different, and hopefully far more joyous life.

Spam of the day:

Hidden technology leaks from NASA

One of the most significant things about NASA is that they literally document and release everything. Once data comes into their possession, they have a ridiculously short number of hours before they have to release it, or their Public Information Officers get fired and/or pulled up in front of Congressional committees. There was a whole sub-plot in The Martian about it. So fuck on outta here with this bullshit.

¹ Namely, whenever there’s a long enough explainer that it would break the flow of the paragraph(s) in the body text, were it to be included there. Or just for a joke, particularly one involving Brad Guigar². And footnotes themselves go inside the punctuation at the end of a clause or sentence.

² He’s dreamy.

³ The distinction between which should be self-evident in the text.

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