The webcomics blog about webcomics

Holy Crap, Watterson

We are going to talk about some cool things today, but could anything be cooler than watching Bill Freakin’ Watterson return to the Sunday comics page, even just for one day? We’ve seen him draw in the slightly recent past with the poster for STRIPPED, but to see Calvin again, to see Watterson dinosaurs again, to see something even better than the legendary Tyrannosaurus Rexes in F-14s¹ ², and to see him playing with Opus the gosh-danged penguin.

With a Trump joke.

Look, if it turns out that Breathed just got Watterson to okay the use of Calvin, but that he didn’t draw the lil’ guy again, don’t tell me. Breathed’s done C&H references for a couple of April Foolses now, but the earlier ones didn’t have that spark, that hint of Wattersonian goodness. We all need to find joy where we can.

  • Speaking of finding joy, please enjoy Pénélope Bagieu on the effect of a participation trophy that she didn’t know was a participation trophy, leading to a lifetime of assuming she could do stuff. Which means, naturally, that she can.

    The Teddy Bear Effect is a pure delight. Go read it in anticipation of meeting Ms Bagieu at MoCCA this weekend and telling her how hard she rocks³.

  • On any other day, this photo would be up top, but you know how it goes. Just a few books that have shown up here at the Fleenplex — Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues is a delight through and through, and I’ll have to work up proper reviews for the tenth (!) book in The Olympians by George O’Connor (I say this every time, but this one’s my new favorite) and the first graphic novel from Vera Brosgol since Anya’s Ghost (thanks to :01 Books for the latter two books).

    Suffice it to say that I’ll be carting Brosgol’s and Bellwood’s books (I, uh, got five copies of 100DD so I could give ’em away to people that need them) out to Juneau and Comics Camp later this month, so I can get them signed. I’ll be coming home with more copies of Be Prepared as well, as I’ve got nieces who will love it and they can’t have my copy, it’s mine.

    But what’s the large book taking up all the space? Oh, nothing, just the first college text ever to talk about the entire history of illustration from cave paintings to Cintiqs. Years ago, the lead editor went looking for somebody to write 500 words on webcomics and Scott McCloud sent her my way.

    It was remarkably hard to get down that far, not lose sight of what a big topic was being addressed, and still sound like me (special thanks to KB Spangler, who smacked me upside the head about the latter point; that’s why she’s an excellent editor and you should hire her). But there it is, years later. My essay got split up and folded into a series of digital illustration topics, and my name might have gotten left off the contributor’s list, but it’s totally in the errata and will be in the next edition!

    Look, like I said above, we need to find joy, etc, and I personally look forward to a job interview in the unspecified future and some tech recruiter asks about the line on my CV that says I contributed to History Of Illustration. This is completely a thing and I’m taking joy from it.


Spam of the day:

Is Your Husband Getting Calls Day and Night?

No?

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¹ Leading to an excitable kid to exclaim This is so cool and a jaded tiger to mutter This is so stupid.

² None of which, as far as I know, were T-Rex, in that they didn’t appear to be shouting Frig! Frig! I don’t know how to fly! Friiiiiiiig!

³ Correct answer: So hard.

Festival Friday

The header image is apropos of nothing, except that Kendra Wells has been killing it at The Nib lately, and that there’s something refreshingly hilarious about a pop song called Obstruct My Justice.

It’s spring time (the snow from the Nor’easter two days back is melting and everything!) and that means comics festival time. In case you hadn’t seen, both MoCCA Fest and TCAF have new information up for your perusal.

  • First up: MoCCA (7 and 8 April, at the Metropolitan West event space, next to the Intrepid Museum) has schedules of events (which will take place a skant two blocks away, at the Ink 48 hotel), with six panels on Saturday and six more on Sunday.

    The big draws look to be the retrospective on creating March with co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Saturday at 3:30pm in the Garamond Room), the Jaime Hernandez spotlight (Sunday at 12:30pm, Garamond Room), and the Mike Mignola Q&A (3:30pm, Garamond again). It’s not like what’s happening in the Helvetica Room is bad, it’s just these three caught my eye.

    Oh, and I’m not sure if I mentioned that featured guests for MoCCA, but they include webcomicker Rebecca Mock (who also designed the badges this year) and The Nib cartoonist Ann Telnaes (who also draws for other places, like The Washington Post). Exhibitors that caught my eye include Alisa Harris (A119 A), Carey Pietsch (H255), Christian Blaza (H264), Corey Chrapuch (H230), Josh Neufeld (I270 A), Julia Gfrörer (E183 A), Ken Wong (G242), Laura Ķeniņš (E179), Madeline Zuluaga (F231), Pénélope Bagieu (no table listed, but I’ll bet she’s hanging out with the cool folks at :01 Books, E162), Priya Huq (H263 B), Robyn Chapman (E170), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (J286), and Sara Varon (D155 B). Did I miss anybody? Let me know!

  • For those not all festival’ed out, TCAF will run 12 and 13 May, centered on the Toronto Reference Library, but spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood for a event that’s become more and more citywide. They’ve also done us the favor of putting all their exhibitors on one fast-loading page. However, the fast-loading page doesn’t allow you to click links into new tabs or copy link addresses, so there’s no quick way of including websites for folks. I know, but you think I have these all memorized?

    Anyways, you’ll see Lucy Bellwood, Boum, Tony Breed, Vera Brosgol, Emily Carroll, Cecil Castellucci, Danielle Corsetto, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Melanie Gillman, Sophie Goldstein, KC Green, Nicholas Gurewitch, Kori Michele Handwerker, Dustin Harbin, Myisha Haynes, Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota, Abby Howard, C Spike Trotman, Jeph Jacques, Shing Yin Khor, Hope Larson, Kel McDonald, Sara & Tom McHenry, Rebecca Mock, Sfé Monster, Molly Ostertag, Ben Passmore, Katie Shanahan, Whit Taylor, Jen Wang, Ron Wimberly, and the zubiquitous Jim Zub. You should be able to find their sites pretty easily.


Spam of the day:

Congratulations, You’ve Been Considered for Inclusion…

They still do Who’s Who type scams? Man, that takes me back. I remember getting actual postcards back in like high school talking about the importance of being listed in such a prestigious personal branding vehicle. Got some sour news for you, Jack — you weren’t getting my US$39.95¹ back then, you ain’t getting squat from me now.

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¹ US$95.74 in constant dollars.

How Does He Do It?

By he, I naturally mean Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who sent along an unlooked-for update on what’s happening in France, on a day where I’m being subjected to thundersnow. Wet, heavy, needs-to-be-cleared gods-damned thundersnow. Thundersnow that has already caused Pénélope Bagieu’s book tour appearance in Philadelphia tonight to cancel. In other words, he has anticipated my hour of need and delivered unto us an interesting occurrence (and subsequent lessons learned) from Le Monde du Bandes Dessinées Web. Onwards …

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What can you do when you’ve committed yourself to fai[re] un truc de fou (do[ing] something crazy) in a stretch goal?

You probably remember our coverage of the launch of Maliki’s Tipeee campaign and our followup interview, and it’s been going strong ever since.

One interesting aspect is that, given that Tipeee enables one-off contributions, this means each month is the start of a new crowdfunding campaign; of course, it does not reset to zero at the start of the month, rather at the amount of recurring contributions, but otherwise each month is different from the next: the illustrated print changes from month to month, which results in the total at the end of the month fluctuating, sometimes dipping to about 9000 €, but generally reaching the 10,000 € stretch goal, and once reaching up to about 13,000 €.

For January, the illustration Maliki unveiled was not only of a fan-favorite character, but was also the counterpart of an illustration created a few years ago; and while I am not up to date on my Maliki lore, I believe they represent an important event in the backstory of these characters.

As soon as the illustration was unveiled, the counters went crazy. Starting from about 8700 € at the time, the total quickly reached the 10,000 € stretch goal, and then after a few more hours went over the previous record. But it did not stop there. Remember from the interview the mention of the ludicrous stretch goal, the one that was never meant to be reached?

It was cleared (at 15,000 €) with time to spare, and the total ended up at 17,000 €.

While the description of that stretch goal varied before, for the last few months it had simply read je fais un truc de fou (I do something crazy). And now it was as if the contributors had collectively dared Maliki OK, now do something crazy. Oh no.

Understandably, Team Maliki asked for a bit of time in order to come up with something suitably crazy, even taking suggestions from contributors. And last week, they eventually unveiled it in a special broadcast¹: they are going to sponsor an animal shelter called le radeau des animaux through various means: immediate contributions so that they may complete their facilities, but also ongoing money support, illustration work (e.g.: visual identity), etc.

I think we can draw a few lessons here:

  • To borrow from C Spike Trotman, doing fan art may provide short term success², but building up your IP will result in readers supporting you more in the ways that eventually matter.
  • Stretch goals end up building on each other: that month the 10,000 € stretch goal was for getting the previous illustration in the diptych along with the new one at no additional cost, which made subscribing to the cheetah pledge level (where you get that month’s illustration) an even more attractive option, resulting in more contributions coming. In fact, there being a new illustration for the month is itself a stretch goal, though at 5000 €, it is reached every month.
  • This all went down during the same day (31st of January), in eight hours, from about 16:00 to 23:59 CET. When you have a good connection with your audience, support can come very fast.
  • Do not tempt fate in a crowdfunding campaign, because you never know how far contributors will go and make you live up to your commitments.

Pourriel du jour:

http://enjoy.phonefurry.com

At the risk of kinkshaming, nnnnnoooooppppe.

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¹ The broadcast also included live watercolor drawings, live play of antique games, and Maine Coon licking action³, so that readers could get something, too.

² Though I have to admit to sometimes buying one of their fan art illustrations. What can I say, I am weak.

³ Gary here; get your minds out of the gutter, people. Also, FSFCPL informs me the cats are at 2:08:41 in the video

Fleen Book Corner: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World

Once upon a time, I didn’t have a favorite book designer, but that’s cool; I imagine almost everybody who’s ever lived didn’t know enough about book designers existing to have a favorite, and of those that remain, 99% just say Chip Kidd by reflex. But it was hard not to notice the work that Colleen AF Venable¹ did on the first hundred or so titles that :01 Books put out, and pretty soon I was paying close attention.

I remember complimenting her on the design of Anya’s Ghost and her face lighting up; much like the famous story of Chuck Jones and his artists stealing time from a Road Runner short to have enough animator-hours to make What’s Opera, Doc?, Venable had fought for the budget to give Anya’s Ghost both an embossing (sections of the cover sunken below the normal plane) and debossing (same deal, in reverse)², but couldn’t find a way to stretch the funds to include spot gloss.

I learned in that conversation that you can judge books by their covers, that the willingness of a publisher to spend money and design time reflects their confidence in the ability to earn back the expense, but also the degree to which they want to make it stand out because they believe that what’s inside is important. Which brings us to Brazen (book design by the very capable Danielle Ceccolini, who succeeded Venable at :01, with Chris Dickey).

:01 must think the world of Pénélope Bagieu’s latest, because the cover features embossing, debossing, locations of both kinds of bossing given spot gloss, and a rough (almost flocked) texture to the rest of the cover, all arranged in an unbelievably complex pattern that must have taken roughly forever to design, do test prints of, and finally approve. It’s a marvel.

And what the hell — the inside is more than worthy of the love lavished on the cover.

In her trademark style that sits midway between Kate Beaton and Larry Gonick, Bagieu tells the story of 29³ remarkable women who changed the world in large ways and small. Women that you possibly learned about before (Nellie Bly, inventor of investigative reporting; Josephine Baker, endless champion of equality; Temple Grandin, translator between the worlds of humans and animals), and some you might have known based on your personal interests (Hedy Lamarr, revered in my discipline for her invention of spread-spectrum signal encoding; The Shaggs, reluctant pop stars; Mae Jemison, who is so impossibly broad in her spectrum of interests and expertises that she’s normally reduced to the single word astronaut4).

Then there are the ones you’d never have know about, women who showed up every damn day and did the work to save a lighthouse (Giorgina Reid), run off invaders (Nzinga), hold a country together (Wu Zeitan), stop women dying in childbirth (Agnodice), and forcing a nation to come to peace (Leymah Gbowee). Betty Davis is sometimes remembered as one of Miles Davis’s second wife, but she was Beyonce and Rihanna thirty years before that was allowed (Jimi Hendrix knew how good she was, and Prince spent years trying to meet her). Jesselyn Radack fought the overreaches of the security state when the US government declared her an enemy, and continues fighting for transparency today. Sonita Alizadeh fled the fate of a trafficked marriage in Afghanistan to become an advocate against childhood marriage for girls — and a rap star.

Some died for what they believed in. Josephina van Gorkum married in defiance of the religious norms of nineteenth century Holland and built a tombstone to carry on her defiance after her death. Maria Teresa, Minerva, and Patria Mirabal, Las Miraposas, fought the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic until they were murdered on the orders of the dictator Trujillo. Katia Krafft (and her husband/scientific, Maurice) studied volcanoes up and close, codifying knowledge that has saved the lives of thousands, until they were killed in a lava flow in Japan.

The lover of modern art (Peggy Guggenheim) and the warband leader (Lozen), the athlete (Annette Kellerman, Cheryl Bridges) and the actress (Margaret Hamilton) are equally honored. No one’s story is more important than that of unashamed bearded lady Clémentine Delait, explorer Delia Akeley, cartoonist Tove Jansson, transgender trailblazer Christine Jorgenson, utopian Thérèse Clerc, revolutionary and suffragist Naziq al-Abid, or promoter of formal crime forensics Frances Glessner Lee.

And to back it all up, Bagieu provides a list of thirty more women — dancers, pirates, samurai, groupies, painters, poets, reporters, photographers, teachers, and more. I long to read her take on Aisha Bakari Gombi, Hunter of Antelopes and Boko Haram Militants, Laskarina Bouloulina, Admiral, Ship Builder, and Harem Liberator, and Margaret Hamilton (the other Margaret Hamilton, Computer Scientist of the Apollo Space Program5). I want to see what she’s got to say about Rosalind Franklin, Ching Shih, and Grace Hopper.

She’s got other stories that she wants to tell for now, some will probably be biography again (like her stellar California Dreaming) and some fiction (like her equally stellar Exquisite Corpse); I’ll read everything she puts on paper and suggest you do as well. Only do me a favor — don’t skip the last story in the book, a brief two-pager about a girl born in Paris in 1982, who dreamed about selling her drawings and becoming Queen of America. She’s doing quite well on the first, and if the second is out of reach, she’s living a pretty cool life in New York City, listening to rock music, drawing what she wants to, and playing drums just because. I think she’s going to go places.

Brazen releases tomorrow, 6 March, and Pénélope Bagieu will be marking the occasion with an eight-city book tour. Fleen thanks Gina Gagliano — who has a staff to help her now! — for the review copy provided.


Spam of the day:

Is Your Wife Getting Calls Late at Night?

Dear dudes who are spamming me about a creepy phone spying app, if anybody woke my wife with a late-night call they had better be dying or she will kill them for interrupting her sleep. So, no.

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¹ AF being her actual middle initials, and not the internet-born linguistic intensifier.

² The cover of the book is a tactile delight.

³ As recently noted, one entry was left out of the North American edition due to a need to keep the book YA-friendly.

4 She also is (or has been) a chemical engineer, physician, speaker of Russian and Swahili, student of sub-Sarahan politics and dance, Peace Corp medical officer, CDC vaccine researcher, science camp director, sci-fi geek, guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation, college professor, poker shark, and LEGO minifig in the Women of NASA set I have.

5 Who is also a LEGO minifig.

We Are Very French Today

For example, :01 Books announced earlier today that the incomparable Pénélope Bagieu will be going on tour in support of Brazen starting on Tuesday, 6 March (coincidentally, launch day), and wending her way through eight cities in seven days.

And in a completely coincidental occurrence, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has thoughts creators and signings. Let’s see what he’s got to say.

As we saw the other day, the tradition in French comics festivals of free sketches ends up being hard on creators. Mind you, they are overall happy to come and greet readers and make them happy with a sketch, but given they are basically unpaid for the work (besides transportation and lodging) they provide under their host, they think of it a bit as a corv&eacutee, that is the duty of unpaid labor outside his fields that a peasant owed his feudal lord.

As a result, the idea has been spreading of late to have creators be paid when doing signings (French-only). Not by the recipient of the sketch: no one, least of all the creators themselves, seem to want that; when asked on the matter, Shyle Zalewski, who writes, draws, and self-publishes queer (and more) strips, and comes to festivals on their own stand, was clear: As a creator I’ve never been paid for signings and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind it happening, on the sole condition that it would be for the festival to pay. For instance having the readers pay for a sketch as it is sometimes the case in the US is unthinkable to me. Most creators seem to agree.

So while different variants of such a payment scheme are being thought up, the one that dominates would be for the host to pay the hosted creators more or less on the basis of the time spend. That would acknowledge the fact that creators are, if not performing, at least contributing to the animation of the stand as, well, animators. After all, it’s typically not just the reader who requested the sketch who gets to watch the sketch being drawn, but also the next two or three in line at least.

This is easier said than done, however. Publishers and festival organizers resist the idea, and with some justification to the extend that their financial equations are already hard to balance as it is: for instance publishers warn that if that was implemented, they would scale back their presence in festivals and only remain in ones where they are confident they will not lose money … leading Obion to the (not entirely serious) conclusion that, for lack of any other solution, impressionable young creators, too happy to sign in a prestigious location, will end up paying for the whole scheme (French-only).

This raises many more questions. For instance, as part of my pseudojournalistic activities I may very well wait in line for a signing for the sole purpose of having some access to the creator, without requesting a sketch, for instance for additional discussion after a lecture or panel. But if the creator is paid to animate the stand, would he still have time for discussion without sketching?

But while these questions deserve answers, they should not be a reason not to implement the idea. Not to mention some additional benefits would exist: worker protection would kick in for instance, making it easier to justify closing the signing activities at the scheduled time, etc. Overall, paying creators for their time would be fairer for everyone involved.

I find that the idea of paying creators (who, after all, are not creating when at a show) ties directly into the idea of Shows Not Being Worth It Sometimes; cf: C Spike Trotman and the ever-expanding ECCC:

Looking forward to ECCC, but not thrilled it’s getting longer and longer. Thursday will be a full day this year instead of a preview night. Too many comic cons are going for this size queen bigger-is-better thing, and it’s just exhausting.

One of the best cons I do all year is SPX, which is Saturday, Sunday, DONE. More days doesn’t automatically mean more money.

And I have shit to do! Longer cons means more days trying to run a publishing company from a hotel room, for me. Not ideal.

A big (but not the sole) motivator for ditching SDCC was it began swallowing a week of my life for diminishing returns. I genuinely hope ECCC doesn’t start going down that same road.

Guarantee some income? You’ll see more creators willing to brave the marathon shows. Thanks as always to FSFCPL for adding his cross-Atlantic perspective on what’s likely a universal dilemma.


Spam of the day:

GAL-EVANTING WITH THE GIRLS!The perfect girls night out styles!

Your cutesy, intentional typo offends me.

It Is A Pleasure To Be Back

Last week was … buhhh. Let us not speak of last week, but rather move forward.¹ Catching up on news is the order of the day.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a pointer to a story I would have otherwise missed; The Beat has a terrific interview with Pénélope Bagieu, so good that I’m not even mad to discover that Heidi Mac has gone and added her own French-speaking contributor. The interview mostly concerns the soon-to-be-published Brazen (née Culottées), a review of which will be forthcoming here at Fleen.

    Most fascinating was the discussion of the edits that are made to the list of accomplished ladies in different countries, including the fact that the US edition (by :01 Books) omits the story of Indian bandit queen Phoolan Devi. The reason given is need for the book to be YA, which required removing mentions of rape from Devi’s story, which removed much of the impetus for her career of banditry². Lots of good stuff, so go read Bagieu’s talk with Philippe Leblanc.

  • From C Spike Trotman, news that the new, Iron Circus edition of Evan Dahm’s Rice Boy is now available in the world (indeed, reports on the wubs indicate people are finding it in stores). Dahm’s first story from the very strange these are alien peoples and cultures, not humans with one feature distinctly different world of Overside are some of the best mythmaking and worldbuilding to be found in any medium, and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, get on that right now. Punch up those sales numbers and maybe we’ll see more ICC-published Overside stories.
  • From Steve Hamaker, designer, colorist, and all-around stellar comicker³, news that the second print volume of his webcomic, Plox, is now Kickstarting. Plox, if you’re not a reader, is definitely one of those stories that does better in big chunks that twice a week, so if you’ve been holding off, now’s the time to jump in.

    The campaign has an unusually low backer count for the funds raised so far (he’s just over 51% in the first week of a 30 day campaign), low enough that it’s outside the range where the FFF mk2 works well. The McDonald Ratio does pretty well in these situations, though, and it calls for Plox volume 2 to collect about US$11.7K, which is comfortably over the US$8K goal. The other piece of good news is that the backer averages are a full US$70, primarily because a significant number of people are pledging at the US$150 level for a cameo. You cannot beat super-fans.


Spam of the day:

Patron Initial Coin Offering

Oh, well I’m sure to trust this digital Ponzi scheme because I’m assured it’s on a whitelist.

Actually, I kinda do trust them because their logo is a moustache. Don’t judge me.

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¹ Not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

² Although the story of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee has a similar inclusion of repeated spousal rapes, which were just as much an impetus for her career of social work, justice for women, and rehabilitation of child soldiers. Then again Gbowee was a grown woman and Devi was ten years old.

³ Seriously, have you seen the list of people he collaborates with? Jeff Smith, Terry Moore, Judd Winick, the Flight folks, Scott Kurtz … the list goes on and on.

Angels And Ministers Of Grace, Protect Us

There will be a “Ask Me Anything” on the reddit website on Friday at 2pm Eastern with @kcgreenn and @dril, top minds responsible for this thing

This thing being the Sweet Bro & Hella Jeff book by KC Green, Andrew Hussie, and Dril, gods help us all. Oh, and did we mention? It’s made goal and will be produced, gods help us again. All we can do is pray that a significant number of backers are actually jerkbag griefers who will cancel their pledges at the last minute for the “loolses”. Then again, the worse act of trolling would be to ensure that this abomination is birthed into the world, we all helpless before its vile might.

Let’s go across the ocean, far from the impending monstrosity, and see what Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin is up to:

  • We know you are all interested in Marion Montaigne’s latest, so you’ll be happy to know In The Space Suit of Thomas Pesquet was released on November 24th. And while I don’t think I would have been able to come anyway, I’m a little jealous of the journos who got to attend a launch press conference where the hero himself was present.
  • We at Fleen have been covering Pénélope Bagieu’s Les Culottées (to be published in English as Brazen) for more than a year now, but all the while it was not possible to point you to a version you could read (which is what webcomics are all about) if you couldn’t read French. Until now. The Lily News will run excerpts of the book leading up to its English publication in March 2018, so now you can finally see for yourself what the fuss is all about.
  • And if you can’t get enough of French webcomics that (horror!) do not feature autobio or self-insertion, Jo is back! After the artist had to take an extended break, Jo resumed on November 6th. And it now features a set schedule: one update every first Monday of the month, so you can look forward to the next one this next Monday, December the 4th.

Everybody thank FSFCPL, because I read that excerpt of Brazen t’other day, and totally spaced on mentioning it here.


Spam of the day:

No one expects you to stop on your own – get addiction help

I refer you to the statement of one Mr Z Harris, 6 August 1973.

From The Saint-Malo Comics Festival, Part The Third

We wrap up the coverage of the Quai des Bulles comics festival in Saint-Malo, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, with an intriguing look at a boundary-breaking comic. This looks really, really good and I can’t wait for somebody in the Western Hemisphere (are you listening, :01 Books?) to grab the reprint rights.

Except for a few offsite events (for which you had to rely on the plan to get to, no signage), Quai des Bulles is quite concentrated around the Palais du Grand Large, a proper convention center with theater, auditorium, enclosed floor space for exhibitions and the like, a bar for refreshments, etc. Meanwhile, on the other side of the road (thankfully closed to traffic for the duration), a large tent housed the exhibitors: all major French-Belgian publishers (plus Urban i.e. DC) and most minor ones were there with their wares and table space for creators to sign at. Under the tent as well were booksellers specialized in original and historical editions of comics, art schools, publishers of youth books (not just comics), as well as Asmodee, because why not play a board game in between two signings?

And in order to find one’s way between all that, they featured interesting signage, here on the road between the tent and the convention center, or here once inside the convention center to further determine where to, etc. The convention in general was well run, though I did not get to interact with convention staff (other than the people checking tickets upon entry, etc.) given they required professional journalist proof to give accreditation, so I did not manage to get accredited. That did not hamper me in covering the convention from start to finish, however.

Highlights of the day:

  • A meetup with Pascal Jousselin set up (again) by N Masztaler. It was even more conversational than the previous day’s with Marie Spénale, not to mention in an Irish pub¹ (which did not lend itself to the deployment of the Fleen French Mobile Newsdesk, i.e. an iPad and wireless keyboard), so it was not transcribed; but of note from his background was the fact he was part of a comic project with fellow creator Brüno where they would each draw a page and send it to the other for him to continue, and they set up a mailing list for the public to follow the project, before it was eventually published on paper.

    Currently, he works on Imbattable (unbeatable), which he introduces as the first real comics superhero. How so? Well, best let Editions Dupuis show you, and observe how you hardly need to understand what is being said in these pages (and he notes that it is hardly a good investment for his publisher, given it won’t ever be able to cash in on that sweet, sweet movie or animation adaptation money²). I did get the book (volume two and three are in preparation), and a review is in order.

    I first heard of Imbattable on Twitter (via Boulet, most likely), and I then got to see a few more pages since they were part of the exhibition around the work of Scott McCloud that I covered as part of Lyon BD: how best to show how comics reading works than by showing examples of how it can be broken? Still, I was skeptical: I was afraid such tricks would turn into an easy way out of situations (think Tex Avery), so an entire comic book around that? But I was wrong: not only it is brilliant, but in fact it has to obey twice the constraints as usual, as the reading has to make sense whether you follow Imbattable’s sequence, or the regular sequence; each page is a marvel of construction.

    And they spared no expense: at some point an action seemed not to make sense … until I exclaimed: “Oh come on, he could not possible have dared to do that, no way, no how!”

    I lifted the page to check.

    Turns out, he did dare.

    I won’t spoil it; I will just note that the printer must have hated Jousselin and his publisher for it (that, or they comfortably billed for the additional printing pass).

    Furthermore, while it started out as a gag a day week whenever³ without necessarily a book as the goal, after a few pages it became obvious there was something there and (in a process that webcomics often follow as well) Jousselin started expanding both the setting and in some cases the page count of each story. And while keeping the original concept as well as some aspects that harken back to the early days of comics when everything seemed possible, he did manage to insert some meaningful stories, such as the unusual way the one who will become his sidekick is first introduced, or the hardly black and white situations Imbattable ends up finding himself in (though Jousselin mentions Imbattable is a bit on the naive side).

    And all the while, Imbattable manages to remain accessible to the youngest readers. Jousselin told the first book did not publish as soon as the pages were ready, as the sales team got stuck on how to market it, and initially thought going towards a connoisseur market, which I found silly: while it is true that classic creators such as Pétillon, Gotlib, Fred, Greg, Hergé (in Quick Et Flupke), or Windsor McCay if I remember correctly have used approaching techniques, so have children magazines in the less distant past, which shows children easily get it. To me this work joins the lowbrow and the highbrow (remember its presence in the McCloud exhibition), the new and the experienced readers, the young and the old. Buy it.

  • Watching the Atelier Mastodonte perform its show; in fact they did one each day around noon where they would first invoke the names of Franquin, Bagieu, Achdé, etc. so as to get help with their tendinitis, impending tax reform (not a U.S.A.-exclusive concern), etc., then give each other drawing challenges, challenge the public with quizzes (in relation to comics of course) such as “for each of these words, it is the name of a comics creator, or an onomatopoeia … or possibly both!”, or give silly conferences such as Hergé’s last message, where Lewis Trondheim would claim to have found the secret message for the future of comics that Hergé hid deeply in his Tintin books but left clues for. It felt like standup, especially as they were simply on a podium with an audience made of the people eating at the tables of the bar built in the convention center.

    Atelier Mastodonte is also a comic in Spirou from the same people where the members each draw an update before another draws the next, either building off the previous one or starting something else; it purports to tell the story of the creators themselves working together in a studio. Of course, in true autobioish fashion they actually work in their own respective cities rather than a studio in Marcinelle (Dupuis’ headquarters), but Jousselin, who is part of the atelier, noted during the meetup that he ends up spending more time on the internal blog/discussion board where scripts are coordinated than he does discussing with his actual studiomates in Rennes … even if it is not available on the web, Atelier Mastodonte is in a way an online creation.

  • In the last few hours of the show, murdering my wallet with sweet, sweet comics loot.

Spam of the day:

Tinder [incomprehensible Cyrillic script]

Oh, right, I totally forgot that I signed up for a hookup app in a language I neither read nor speak.

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¹ Special mention to the lady who, upon discovering the setup (a side room of the pub with only bar tables, no “real” table), told the person she was with: Ah he’s not doing a signing, let’s go elsewhere.” within earshot of everyone.

² Though after someone asked how it could work anyway, we brainstormed and your correspondent mentioned how in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs the titular Spaceballs try and look into future events by watching the VHS tape of their own movie, and others mentioned how in Looney Tunes or Tex Avery shorts the characters would sometimes peer into the future of the film roll, or escape it, or even possibly cut it out entirely to escape a gruesome fate.

³ Before they get published in books, Imbattable stories are published one by one in the Spirou weekly periodical, and Jousselin has an agreement with his publisher that they come whenever they are ready, without any set schedule: he wants the idea to be right each time without repeating himself.

Live From The Terrible, Terrible Javits

NYCC is upon us, and although this is the second year they’ve decided I shouldn’t be granted press access (although they’ve been awful free about spreading my email address around as if I were accredited press, not that I am bitter), it appears to be a better year for webcomics types at the show than in recent years. It used to be full of of the New York/east coast webcomics crowd, then almost all of them were driven out in favor of such comics-associated brands as Chevrolet, but this year’s not bad.

The Guests of the show include a bunch of familiar names, but don’t actually list their Artist Alley addresses; for that, you have to go to the show floor guide and scroll through until you find ’em, which is annoying. Others aren’t in AA but are on panels, yet their panel schedules are listed as Coming Soon. Given that the show starts in two days, that’s cutting things a bit close. Anyway, Guests include Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota¹ (fresh off their Ignatz win, N2), Carey Pietsch (Friday panels only), Emi Lenox (Thursday to Saturday only, K24), Erica Henderson, K15), Kate Leth (K16), Molly Ostertag (couldn’t find a booth assignment, try :01 Books), Ngozi Ukazu (N1), Pénélope Bagieu² (Thur/Fri only, no booth assignment, try :01 Books), and Tessa Stone (N1).

In addition, you’ve got the Blind Ferret folks (taking bets on which Broadway shows Sohmer goes to see when he’s not at 1728), the Cyanide & Happiness folks (2247), Evan Dahm (I6), First Law Of Mad Science (1050), Kel McDonald (I5), and Scott C (G28). Publishers that will likely have webcomics types in attendance at various times include BOOM! (1828), :01 Books (2239), and Oni Press (2028).

I know that Jim Zub will be wandering the show like a vagabond samurai, without a booth. Finally, lawyer to the independent creative community Katie Lane³ will be part of the NYCC Continuing Legal Education series, as part of the panel for Beyond the Printed Page: An Overview of Licensing Comic Book Properties to the Film, Television, and Merchandising Industries4, on Sunday morning. Not gonna bother with the details, since it’s an extra hundred bucks and only of interest if you’re a lawyer. And it’s pretty likely that I missed people that should be listed, so be sure to drop me a line to fix that, or if you want to hang out away from the Javits Center (aka The Worst Convention Center In The World).


Spam of the day:

Microsoft flight simulator x gold edition

Man, even back in the day of the first IBM PC, I couldn’t ever keep those planes in the air. Thank you for reminding me of my manifest failures.

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¹ I always list them as Yuko and Ananth, but today I’m switchin’ it up. Also, if you go looking for them in the exhibitor list, you’ll find Johnny Wander and Ananth Hirsch [sic], no mention of Yuko.

² Thanks to the sharp eyes of FSFCPL, we also know that Bagieu, Zep, and Julia Wertz will be at Columbia University’s Butler Library tomorrow, Wednesday 4 October, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm talking about DIY careers in comics.

³ Light-ning Law-yer!!

4 I guess lawyers get paid by the word as well as the hour.

Hey Kids, What Day Is It? FSFCPLday!

Webcomics are, naturellement, a world-wide phenomenon; we at Fleen are pleased to bring you the latest news on the French webcomics scene, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin.

  • Montpellier¹ might not seem like a big city, but it does house a vibrant comics community, of which at least Paka (corny, untranslatable puns, with some exceptions) and Fabrice Erre (the life of a history and geography teacher in high school) maintain webcomics. These are very much anchored in local life … which also means they are unlikely to ever be translated (corny puns don’t help, either).

    But earlier this year they have been (re-)joined by Yllya (a previous veteran of comic blogs), another Montpellier dweller, who tells us about her Happy Family and in particular their daughter .. Their troll, pizza-hating, job-threatening, just plain evil daughter. Not only are those are available in English for your reading pleasure, but you can see the author improving her English strip after strip, up to a point it will soon be flawless. Highly recommended.

  • Not only do Agat Films et Ex Nihilo produce the animated version of Tu Mourras Moins Bête (of which the second season has just started airing), they also unveiled a few images of their adaptation of Les Culottées on the occasion of the Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, and they seem to be doing a great work of adapting Pénélope Bagieu’s style. They are also there in order to look for foreign broadcasters; no word as yet on that front, but we at Fleen will be sure to keep you posted.

Many thanks to FSFCPL, and come back tomorrow for an analysis of the Girls With Slingshots omnibus Kickstart; we’re a little short of 24 hours (and thus outside the window to calculate the FFFmk2), but considering that (as of this writing) it’s sitting at US$97,824, I’m going to guess that the final total is: large.


Spam of the day:

Your 2017 Transunion, Equifax and Experian Credit-Scores as of Sep 16

Weird. In the aftermath of the Eqiufax breach, there’s plenty of disclaimers on the sites of Transunion, Equifax, and Experian about how they maintain credit histories, but do not themselves calculate credit scores, which are determined by outside algorithms. It’s almost like you don’t actually represent these bureaus and don’t know how they work. I’ll certainly give you all my personally identifying and financial information!

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¹ Full disclosure: you correspondent studied there for two years and has a number of relatives living in the area.