The webcomics blog about webcomics

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:

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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:

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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.

Before They Get Away From Me

It seems that you enjoyed Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebaupin’s writeup of Day 1 at Lyon BD las week, at least as much as he enjoyed writing it; FSFCPL has further contributions of Days 2 and 3 at Lyon BD, but I’m going to make you wait a little for them. Last Friday’s congressional bid news¹ bumped some other stories that I think are still relevant and which I don’t want to get stale. So let’s see what we would have talked about on Friday had Pete Sessions not picked up a challenger.

  • We’ve mentioned Pénélope Bagieu more than once here at Fleen, including news of her biocomic series of remarkable women (Les Culott&ecaute;es) being acquired by :01 Books, to be published as Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World. It’s under that name that we’ll find some spectacular news from Variety:

    Penelope [sic] Bagieu’s Feminist Graphic Novel ‘Brazen’ Set For Animated TV Series

    Penelope [sic] Bagieu’s daringly feminist graphic novel “Brazen” (“Culottées”) which portrays bold and rebellious women around the world, is being turned into an animated TV series by a pair of French production banners, Agat films & Cie and Silex Films.

    Developed into 30 episodes of three minutes each, “Brazen” will explore the lives of 30 women such as Nellie Bly, Mae Jemison, Josephine Baker and Naziq al-Abid.

    Sarah Saidan, an Iranian filmmaker who studied at France’s prestigious animation school La Poudriere, is on board to direct the series that will air on Gaul’s public broadcaster France Televisions.

    Here’s hoping that some channel will follow :01’s lead and bring the animated shorts to English-speaking shores.

  • Hard to believe, but yesterday was but one month to the day since the Taptastic TOS shitshow got noticed and rapidly walked back; one of the bright spots to come out of said shitshow was the commentary of IP lawyer Akiva Cohen, who contributed some much needed expertise and a healthy dose of reality to the discussion. Cohen took some time out end of last week to drop some new wisdom under the hashtag #WebcomicsLawSchool, with the day’s lesson being on that perpetual source of misunderstanding, copyright registration:

    OK. Time for #WebcomicsLawSchool. This week’s topic, Copyright Registration: When, why, & how?

    [Side note: the best thing about that thread is the phrase This week’s topic, as Cohen is dropping knowledge on the regular. Did you know this? I didn’t know this. That’s why I’m talking about it, so you’ll know this and keep your eyes out for more. As always, keep in mind that Cohen’s advice is general and while he is a lawyer, he’s not your lawyer unless you pay him to be, in which case he’s not talking about your business in public. Okay, back to the smart guy stuff.]

    First thing to know: You don’t need to *register* your copyright to *have* a copyright #WebcomicsLawSchool

    As soon as you “fix” your creative work in a tangible form – get it out of your head and on paper, performed, etc.

    You have a copyright in that work. Nobody can take it without permission; if they do, you can sue them.

    Well, sort of. Because “you can sue them” is one of the primary reasons to actually *register* your copyright

    Until your copyright is registered with the US Copyright Office, you cannot file a copyright lawsuit in Federal Court.

    And that’s the key idea, the one that in my experience tends to be misunderstood more than anything else in copyright law — copyright is automatic, but there are hoops to jump through to preserve your legal options².

    Those hoops are well-established, and your job is to go through the #WebcomicsLawSchool history to see what more Coehn has to say, because that’s where the thread ends — his kid was doing something adorable, and that outweighs giving free legal advice to the internet.

    Hint: it starts here. Bookmark the hashtag, keep an eye on the posts, they’re really helpful.


Spam of the day:

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¹ Which, due to a fortuitous bit of timing, I believe we were the first to report on; I happened to see Rob DenBleyker’s tweetnouncement about two minutes after it went live, and we had our story up about ten minutes later. Fastest typing of my blogging career.

² And no, the “poor man’s copyright” of mailing yourself a copy to prove creation date doesn’t count.

Because It’s Always A Good Day For FSFCPL

When Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin gets to thinking about what distinguishes the French webcomics scene from that in other countries, I say Yes, please!. Please enjoy his latest thoughts without further adieu.

In my contributions so far for Fleen, I never felt the need to make a general introduction as to how webcomics in the French language work, because there is no need to: they are comics on the web, only in French (the web being divided more along language lines than around country borders). That is everything that is needed as a starting point to further know about them.

But when you get familiar with them, it is obvious that many cultural norms developed differently here, compared with English-language webcomics. Some of these differences are in fact inherited from French-Belgian comics traditions in general, such as the common use of pseudonyms by comics creators; but most interesting are those differences that are specific to webcomics, which I am going to present today.

  • No ads
    Boulet’s distaste for ads, and his refusal to feature any on his site, is well documented (French-only, though it is clear enough even without the text). But he is not an exception: almost none of the webcomics I have linked to so far (Maliki, Comme Convenu, A Cup of Tim, Jo, Professeur Moustache, etc.) have any ads either, and the sole case I could find in French webcomics is a single leaderboard at the top of Pénélope Bagieu’s site; otherwise, they at most feature internal ads, like the comics hosted on lapin.org. This is unexpected when coming from English-language webcomics, where ads are standard.

    The implication is that, by and large, creators do not use the comic’s availability on the web as a revenue source, but purely as a display window to lead the reader to support them in other ways, such as through book collections, merchandising, patronage, commissions, hiring opportunities, etc.: most French webcomic authors practice at least one of these.

  • They don’t use webcomic templates
    Most of the time, webcartoonists from the French-Belgian tradition start with a base blog engine, only their blog posts are images or mostly images rather than text; WordPress+Comicpress is almost unknown around these parts. As time goes on, they either keep that system, or move on to a fully custom solution, with designs that are generally minimalist, especially as they don’t need to feature ads, which contrasts with the generally heavy designs of webcomic sites in the English web.
  • No schedule
    Granted, having a set posting schedule is no longer seen as mandatory in English-language webcomics, with notable webcomics (Octopus Pie, in particular) renouncing a posting schedule; but a large majority of them still follow one. In French, most of them don’t: the norm is not to have any set schedule, with many well-respected webcomics having never had one. I only know of Comme Convenu and Maliki to currently adhere to any schedule.
  • More reliance on social networks
    Having no schedule means it is harder to make readers get into the habit of checking the site in a regular fashion, so except for those readers who use RSS, French readers follow webcomics by subscribing to the social media feeds of their favorite comics. This means that around here social media subscriptions represent a large portion of a webcomic’s regular audience, and pushing updates to the social networks (and ensuring they do reach readers) is of great importance to creators.

    Moreover, since French webcartoonists do not make any ad revenue from their sites, some don’t hesitate to post the full updates along with the links on social networks: Comme Convenu (Twitter) and Commit Strip (Twitter) do so, for instance. And a few have openly floated the idea of only posting on social networks, like Marc Dubuisson, though for now he still posts to his site as well (a site is still more practical to browse the archives, for instance).

  • Dominated by autobio
    As previously discussed when introducing Jo, the overwhelming genre in French webcomics is autobio, possibly enhanced (with a smattering of “political commentary” strips here and there); you could consider them to be blogs that are drawn rather than being written. I am not going to offer theories on why this is the case, at least not yet; I will just note that the field is still relatively young when compared to webcomics in general: almost no French-language webcomic existed prior to 2004, and diversification from the genre the local pioneers started around is a slow process, even if we can now see the first examples of this diversification.
  • No appearance schedule
    Time for full disclosure: this is a matter that directly affects this pseudojournalism hobby, and if French creators were to adopt this custom, it would make my planning of which events to attend much easier. With that in mind …

    If you look at the site for a French webcomic, you won’t find any appearance schedule (Maliki being a notable exception; may they be blessed for the next 1000 generations). It’s not that the creators always stay at home, never to meet readers: if they are published, they do go and attend conventions and shows, but only advertise those when the date is close, on social media. It would be presumptuous of me to explain why this is the case; I will just note that creators have limited involvement with their convention appearances, which are planned by their publishers (e.g. the booth is always in the publisher’s name), and creators go with these plans.

    But I know some creators who are itching to booth in independence from their publishers, especially when currently they have to split their appearance time between the multiple houses which publish them, so this may change sooner rather than later…

Something that strikes me as I’m reading FSFCPL’s observations now for the third time, is how much his first four points mirror what Brad Guigar describes as his personal new reality over at Webcomics.com [subscription, with occasional free posts]. He’s rethinking a bunch of the prime directives of webcomics, a number of which parallel how the French have apparently always done things. With Guigar’s recently announced discontinuation of convention appearances, you have something pretty close to the sixth point as well.

I believe that this may merit some close consideration on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks once again to FSFCPL for his analysis, and for much food for thought.


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MoCCA 2017 Will Have To Wait

That’s because things that are more time-sensitive than MoCCA Fest 2017 recaps happened since last we spoke.

Okay, one tidbit from MoCCA, but mostly because it’ll make FSFCPL happy. Thanks to the good graces of :01 Books editor Mark Siegel I was very briefly introduced to the marvelous Pénélope Bagieu, who was promoting her newest book. Siegel shared :01 will be publishing an English omnibus of her two-volume collection, Les Culottées. The American edition will be titled Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World (available March 2018), and :01 is pretty much her American publisher going forward. Now if they can just get Boulet’s Notes series, I can die happy.


Spam of the day:

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¹ Whom I had never met before; we had a lovely bar-shout/chat, more discussion the next day, and will undoubtedly have more to discuss at the Alaska Robotics Comics Camp later this month.

² That reminds me: Otter, I spent some time at MoCCA talking with George O’Connor, and he’s going to be looking up Greek Key because he really liked your take on Helen. He’s also all-in on your next Hope Blackwell novel because I mentioned the magic word: chupacabra.

And Here We Are Again, Friday

I don’t know about you, but I’m just about ready for the weekend. Let’s boogie.

  • For the life of me, I can’t figure out how Reed!Pop could buy Emerald City Comicon (and, not coincidentally, the services of showrunner team Jim & Andrea Demonakos) and still have their two opposite-coast major comics shows (that would be EmCity and New York Comic Con) be polar opposites when it comes to indie- and webcomics. EmCity, in case you didn’t know, has essentially eclipsed San Diego as the big attendance show that webcomics flocks to, and NYCC is inhospitable to the very same crowd. Most perplexing.

    But, since EmCity is next week and all, how about a rundown of who you’ll find there? I love the maps that people create to show where they’ll be (although they’re a bit rarer this year than past), but even without the maps we can give you a list of who’s gonna be there (in no particular order, and we quote):

    Pat Race and the Alaska Robotics crew (booth 204, including Marian Call, whose new album dropped today and is awesome and she’ll have shows concurrent with EmCity); Sohmer, Unca Lar, and the Blind Ferret folks (booth 110); (Brad Guigar (booth R5); Danielle Corsetto and Randy Milholland (booth 1413); Jennie Breeden (booth 1322); all of the miscellaneous Explosm weirdos (booth 828); and Kaja & Phil Foglio (booth 118).

    There’s a hefty delegation from Helioscope (formerly Periscope) (booths H1 through 16 inclusive, to be occupied by Aaron McConnell, Aud Koch, Ben Dewey, Brian Wolf, Bridget Underwood, Cat Farris, Dan Schkade, Lucy Bellwood, Lukas Ketner, Ron Chan, Ron Randall, Roxy Polk, Steve Lieber, Tadd Galusha, Terry Blas, and Zach Fischer).

    Want more? How about Spike Trotman, Blue Delliquanti, Takneka Stotts, and Amanda Lafrenais (together at booth 212); Jake Richmond (booth X4); Molly “Jakface” Nemecek (booth Q3); the ubiquitous Jim Zub (booth V3); Kate Leth (booth J6); Kazu Kibuishi (booth K1); Lars Brown and David McGuire (booth Z1); Ngozi Ukazu and Tessa Stone (booth M9); and Pascalle Lepas (booth P16).

    We’re still not done (even allowing for the fact that I probably missed a bunch of people), consider that you’ll also find Dave Kellett (booth 1116); Der-shing Helmer (booth K6); Matt Inman (booth 410); Tony Breed and Lonnie Mann (booth M10); and Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh (booth M10).

    Finally, you gots the creatorpaloozas that will be the :01 Books (booth 1602) and TopatoCo (booth 1102) contingents. The former will include Box Brown, Gene Luen Yang, Matthew Loux, MK Reed, Pénélope Bagieu; the latter is bringing Jeph Jacques, Sam Logan, David Malki !, Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Alina Pete, Tyson Hesse, Becky Dreistadt, Matt Lubchansky, Abby Howard, Catie Donnelly, and Brandon Bird.

    Emerald City Comicon runs from Thursday 2 March to Sunday 5 March 2017 in Seattle.

  • For those that can’t make it to the upper-left corner of the country, may I suggest curling up with a good podcast? Owne Dunne may be back to hiatusland with You Damn Kid, but that doesn’t mean that he’s idle. Dunne’s always done a stack of projects simultaneously, one of which was the webcomic parody of old-fashioned, hard-boiled cops, Banion.

    Of late, Banion has been audio-enhanced for your listening pleasure, and is now downloadable from Google Play and iTunes. Dunne’s at his best when he takes a classic form (the childhood memoir, the Dragnet style cop, the British prestige drama) and knocks it 47.3° to the side, which pretty much describes Banion, The Podcast


Spam of the day:

A Better Way to Inflate Everything

Nnnnooope. Not going near that one.

Bless You, TCAF, For You Bring News On A Harried Day

In this case, their announcement of Kids and YA Guests for 2017 (held, as always, in/around the Toronto Reference Library, this year on 13 & 14 May), which includes some huge names: Isabelle Arsenault and Fanny Britt! Svetlana Chmakova! Elise Gravel! Matt Forsythe! Jarrett Williams! And also a huge crew of creators coming with :01 Books, including Scott Westerfeld, Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham, Faith Erin Hicks, Molly Ostertag, Matthew Loux, Mike Cavallaro, Mike Holmes, George O’Connor, Farel Dalrymple, Box Brown, Penelope Bagieu, and Alison Wilgus, half of whom will have debuts. It’s gonna be a great time in the Big Smoke¹.


Spam of the day:

Monthly curated natural treats and toys for your pup

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¹ They call Toronto that, right? I mean, I knew about Cabbagetown being a nickname, but I’m pretty sure I saw Big Smoke somewhere.

Gaaahhhh, So Busy

Thankfully, when all seems bleak, a hero appears to save the day!

I am speaking, of course, of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who dropped me an email chock-full of info about this year’s Angoulême Festival. Take it away, FSFCPL!

The 2017 edition of the FIBD in Angoulême took place last week, and as always it has served as the venue for a number of announcements, some of which do involve the various indie creators we focus on here.

But first, it is good to note that contrary to last year no incident or polemic or injustice to speak of was reported¹, and so let me take the opportunity to congratulate Cosey for his Grand Prix. Cosey is from Switzerland, and this is as good a time as any to recognize the contributions from Swiss authors to the sequential art, such as, I don’t know, creating it in the first place.

On to the announcements!


¹As for our friend Bondoux (actual friendship not included), I must confess I still haven’t wrapped my head around the structure of the various Angoulême committees so I can’t tell you whether he was demoted or anything, but he hasn’t been seen putting his foot in his mouth, so that at least is an improvement.

He included a footnote! That, my friends, is how you get your stuff published here. And also, I must learn more about this Professeur Moustache. Oh, yes, I must.


Spam of the day:

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That is an oddly specific number, but I have no problem believing that he makes a mere seven grand a month (or $86,364 annually). That guy ain’t no billionaire. When he dies and the companies have to be split, his kids are gonna owe into their fourth or fifth reincarnations (most of which, judging by their current behavior, will be as poo bugs).

Questions, Answers

This post must surely set the record for the longest header image alt-text in Fleen history.

  • Ever wonder how the universe really works? What the answers to the big, mysterious questions really are? Ever want a book that would — once and for all — provide clear and concise details about the inner workings of everything? Well, too bad, because what you’re getting is a book about everything that we don’t know:

    Announcing WE HAVE NO IDEA! A book about the big mysteries of the Universe: http://bit.ly/WeHaveNoIdea @DanielWhiteson @riverheadbooks

    That would be courtesy of Jorge Cham, actual PhD smart guy and explainer of science to the masses, teamed up with particle physicist Daniel Whiteson, to look at the stuff that we know we don’t know¹, due in May, and with a forthcoming book tour to spread the word. You can get more details from the book’s site, which will hopefully contain recipes and hints for particles you can cook up at home on a lazy weekend afternoon.

  • Ever wonder what we can definitively say? Well, when it comes to the state of French [web]comics/bande desinée [-web], we can always relay on Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who has some knowledge to drop:

    Reminders and Cultural Context:

    • Pénélope Bagieu was a guest at MoCCA 2015, and has seen her Cadavre Exquis translated by :01 Books as Exquisite Corpse (a personal favorite of mine last year), with California Dreamin’ (a bio of Mama Cass) due in March.
    • Laurel [Duermael] and Maliki’s adventures in Eurocrowdfunding and the model of books (instead of currency) forming a goal was discussed on this page a few weeks back.
    • Also previously discussed: the phenomenon of how French-language webcomics are almost always autobio in nature (albeit a bit magical; cf: Maliki, Bouletcorp). Les Culotées was an outlier, being a collection bio/historical portraits of prominent women. Recent subjects [French] including Mae Jemison, Hedy Lamarr, and The Shaggs.

    Thanks as always to Lebeaupin for keeping us informed of the comings and goings in BD-web.


Spam of the day:

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¹ A book containing all of the stuff that we didn’t know we don’t know would be much, much larger.

Oversight

It occurs to me that while I mentioned programming at the upcoming MoCCA Fest t’other day, I neglected to make mention of the special guests that will be there. Obviously, Scott McCloud and Raina Telgemeier will be there, what with their spotlight panels being discussed, but there are loads of others.

(For those wondering who is going to be at EmCity, which kicks off tomorrow, the answer is: everybody. Every person in webcomics is gonna be there.)

Joining Telgemeier and McCloud as special guests will be Aline Kominsky-Crumb: painter, cartoonist, collaborator with husband R. MoCCA has also always made a concerted effort to bring cartoonists (both guests and exhibitors) in from overseas (remember the year of the Swedes?), and continues the tradition this year. The emphasis this year is on French-speaking countries, from whence come:

  • Pénélope Bagieu (known for comic bloggery and her collaborations with Joann Sfar and Boulet)
  • DoubleBob (whose pencil-centric style has found a home in Belgium, in contrast to the ligne claire style)
  • Annie Goetzinger (with a career of longform work, especially graphic novels dealing with societal and historical issues)
  • Ilan Manouach (whose experimental comics are a part of a larger creative output, including music and publishing)
  • Anne-Françoise Rouche (founder/director of an arts center catering to the mentally handicapped)
  • Barbara Stok (the token non-French guest; she’s from Holland and known for humorous autobio as well as a comic biography of Van Gogh)

Several of the international guests are touring in support of their first translated-into-English work, so it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor in following talent that new to those of us that don’t speak French, Dutch, or the Belgian variations on French and Dutch.

MoCCA Fest runs Saturday and Sunday, 11 and 12 April, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. See you there.


Spam of the day:

93 Mouth-Watering Quick Easy Recipes at a Whooping 66% discount!

I’m not sure if you mean a whopping discount (as discounts typically do not whoop, but honestly — do they whopp?), but that’s actually the lesser of my concerns. What exactly is being discounted? The recipes themselves? The watering mouths? Enquiring minds want to know!