The webcomics blog about webcomics

As Was Foretold: Burgooning Our Way Into 2019

Know who we haven’t heard from in a while? Eben Burgoon. Longtime readers may recall that through the first half of Fleen’s history, we frequently noted happenings in Burgoon’s spy spoof, Eben07, in an appropriately purple prose. Then Burgoon and his compatriots moved onto B-Squad and he even gave me beer themed to his webcomic.

Burgoon’s been doing workshops and Maker Faires from Northern California (his normal stomping grounds) to as far away as Vilnius, Lithuania (no, really), the breadth of which made me wonder if he’d really gotten all that spycraft and secret mission tendency out of his system. Apparently not; Burgoon’s partnering with Starburns Industries to bring B-Squad back:

Starburns Industries Press sets its eyes on remastering an independent series, B-Squad, from indie darling author Eben Burgoon and a rotating roster illustrators and artists that change issue to issue.

B-Squad shares the ridiculous and dangerous missions of an expendable team of misfit mercenaries ranging from pop-culture riffs to cut from whole cloth oddballs. The bargain-bin commandos tackle leftover assignments of other more respected mercenary groups. SBI Press’s run begins with a remaster of the series debut Conspiracy in Cambodia, originally independently published in 2013, written by Burgoon and illustrated by Lauren Monardo.

In the spirit of a Saturday morning cartoon block, each B-Squad book serves as home for brand new tangential comics like [B-Squad illustrator Michael] Calero’s Monster Safari” and Burgoon’s newest creation about six-inch tall wizards trapped in the fast-food culture of a remote truck stop titled Tiny Wizards.

The remastered books are rounded out with activities, puzzles, and bonus content in homage to dentist office staples like Highlights magazine and ZooBooks.

No word as to whether or not the remastered B-Squad will feature Goofus and/or Gallant. You (where you is taken to mean folks in/around the Sacramento, California area) can ask him at the next workshop he’ll be running, on three Tuesdays in February (12th, 19th, 26th), at the Crocker Art Museum.

Spam of the day:

Account Number : [redacted]

Weird, why would you send something for Andrew Farrington to me? Then again, this might not be spam, but the latest in a long line of Other Garies Tyrrell sending their emails my way. Usually that’s easy to clear up, but I’ve had to resort to using the British tech press to shame Ryanair over their persistent screwups. Fun!

Friday Of A Holiday Weekend …

… and I-95, aka The Devil’s Own Intestinal Tract, sits between me and home. Let’s get this done.

For those of you on the far side of the continent from I-95, there’s a few things you should be aware of. Friend Of Fleen Since Small Times Eben Burgoon has sent details of upcoming comicsy events in the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA–NV Combined Statistical Area that are coming up, and heck if that’s not the kind of thing we look forward to on these pre-holiday/I-95 Fridays.

First up, the Crocker Art Museum will be hosting ArtMix|CrockerCon on Thursday, 12 September from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. An like-named exhibition of student & community comics work is presently running, and will stay up until 22 September. US$10 for Crocker members (with some membership levels free), US$20 for nonmembers.

And for those of you looking to learn, or at least to dump your kids somewhere for a few hours that won’t get Child Protective Services on your case, Burgoon will be teaching an after school workshop at the Verge Center For The Arts starting next Wednesday, 4 September. Tuition is US$105 for the public, US$95 for Verge members (which includes CrockerCon admission), and the class is intended for kids 10 – 15 years old. Class runs from 5:00pm to 7:30pm on 4, 18, and 25 September, and 2 October, and I’ma say that registration in advance is strongly recommended.

Check out Burgoon’s current Burgooning at @Burgooneytunes on The Grams, and I’ll see you next week if I ever get home.

Spam of the day:

You have received a messacie from Tori. All our members are looking for fun and often send sexy photos. Are you okay with seeing sexy photos?

I’m not sure what people who send messacies consider sexy. Little scared to ask, actually.

In Any Rational Week, I Would Have Talked About This Yesterday

But a week in which The Nib finds its existence is in upheaval-slash-transition is anything but rational. That being said, better late than never with the news: Gene Yang’s next book has a release date. We’ve known about the title (Dragon Hoops) and the elevator pitch (the story of the basketball team from the high school where Yang used to teach in Oakland) for years — he shared them when we spoke back in Aught-Sixteen.

But now we get the full launch announcement, in Entertainment Weekly¹ no less, with quotes from Yang and a set of preview pages. Yang’s art has lost no steps in the years that he’s let others do the drawing (Sonny Liew on The Shadow Hero, Mike Holmes on the Secret Coders series, Gurihiru on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, various artists on Superman and New Super-Man), and the story …

The story’s different. It’s not just the story of the basketball team at the Oakland high school where he used to teach, their history, and their run for a state championship. It’s a story about his relationship to comics and creativity, to teaching, and to sports. It’s treading into Raina Telgemeier territory and that is terrific news. Yang put a lot of himself into the stories in American Born Chinese but this time he’s literally on the page, captions talking to the reader about what’s going through his mind as he acts out his life on the page.

It’s particularly an interesting tack to take, making Dragon Hoops not just about the team, but also his struggles to find a story — then finding a story just across campus in the gym — while simultaneously admitting that he’s never been a sports guy and actively shies away from the culture of captial-S Sports. I think it’s not coincidence that Yang breaking out of his comfort zone would have coincided with his term as the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, where his efforts were summarized in his Reading Without Walls Challenge:

  • Read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you.
  • Read a book in a format you don’t typically read — graphic novels, poetry, audiobooks, plays.
  • Read a book about a new subject you don’t know much about.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this theme in Dragon Hoops; we’ll all find out together on 17 March 2020, when 448 pages (!) of comics wisdom drops from :01 Books.

Spam of the day:

Thank you for registering at Hotel Tino – Ohrid

Blah, blah, click the link, set up your account, blah. Ordinarily, I’d chalk this up to a clumsy attempt to get me to go to a virus-ridden hellsite, but it appears to be a legit business. Looks like one of the other Garies Tyrrell has forgotten again that my email is not their email. Hope they get their reservation honored.

¹ Remember when a new graphic novel announcement would trickle out with maybe a small mention in Publishers Weekly or at The Beat? Now it’s the Los Angeles Review Of Books, or EW, or Premiere, or some other mainstream culture publication, if it’s not Washington Post or New York Times. Don’t ever tel me that comics as a medium is dying.

Great Quotes For A Tuesday

Let’s just dive in, shall we?

MARCH:A Graphic History of the Civil Rights Movement By Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Cartoon Art Museum exhibition: February 1 – June 19, 2018
Reception with Artist Nate Powell Friday, February 9, 2018

— Andrew Farago, Cartoon Art Museum curator

There are few works of graphic fiction more historically important right now than the March trilogy, and it’s entirely right and proper that the Cartoon Art Museum will be kicking off Black History Month with a tribute to the book. Lewis, Aydin, and Powell are treasures.

By this time next month I will either be happily chugging away, drawing An Embarrassment of Witches pages or I will be trudging through a grim, apocalyptic landscape fighting other plague-survivors over post-dated cans of spam. Hopefully the former.

Sophie Goldstein

Sophie Goldstein is the creator of multiple amazing comic stories (not least being her collaboration with Jenn Jordan on Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell), so the news that she’s about to break ground on a 200 page graphic novel is welcome, to say the least. Good luck with the book, Sophie, and good luck fighting off the sickness that everybody seems to have right about now.

Starburns Industries Press, the publishing arm of Starburns Industries (the minds behind Rick & Morty, Community, Anomolisa and so much more) are calling for scary stories written by children aged 12 and under!
As a partnering editor for this project, I’m happy to offer mentoring and advice to any young imaginations looking to submit to this paid writing opportunity! [emphasis original]

Eben Burgoon, onetime man of mystery, alltimes man of comics

If the opportunity of working with a Starburns-associated title wasn’t enough, I think the notion that it’s a paid gig should put things over the top. More information here about submitting stories to the anthology. Again, this is for writers 12 and under, so pass it along to any budding writers you know (who, if they are reading this post themselves, are about to commit the next sentence to memory for future use).

Diamond can suck my taint.

C Spike Trotman on the least-loved monopoly in comics

Mostly, I just think that anybody that uses the construction verb my taint (for example, noted First Amendment attorney Ken White is known for his motto snort my taint) should be quoted as often and widely as possible. The fact that it’s Spike talking about how Diamond routinely ignores small press and independent comics that could have seen significant sales success and how much she wants them to notice her¹ is hilarious (as is the descriptor of the quote — a dulcet lilt).

The additional fact that it’s in a Vulture article about multiple companies and individuals breaking the comics industry mold of catering to middle aged cishet white dude cape fans is a delight. Give ‘er a read, and be sure to spare a little sympathy for the poor, neglected CWDCF at your local comics shop who isn’t 100% the center of attention any longer.

Like maybe a taint-suck’s worth.

Spam of they day:

Invokana Users Who Lost Toes, Feet or Legs May Have Legal Recourse

The text of this one reads like I should be checking my lower half and counting my toes, feet, and legs to make sure I haven’t suddenly come up short and didn’t realize.

¹ For those not familiar, Spike is the least likely person in history to worry about whether or not sempai will notice her.

Dispatches From Opposite Corners Of The Globe

Hey, it’s Friday. It’s hot and disgustingly humid, and it’s going to be a busy weekend before I have to fly off to Minnesota for a couple of weeks, but hey — imminent weekend all the same.

  • From the westerly climes, Fleen Offical Man of Mystery Eben Burgoon chimes in with a series of shows and a camp for aspiring comic creators. In case you were ever thinking of making a splash in web-/indie comics in northern California, you need to understand that Burgoon is the Man, and you can roll with him, but he better see some damn respect at the following:
  • From the land of fashion, revolution, cheese, and wine, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has a report on a most unusual webcomic, in that it appears to be entirely usual for this side of l’océan Atlantique:

    Today’s recommendation is for Jo. Jo owns a ranch in the Old West, and that’s where Alex was sent for her internship; but while some parts, like the hens, are “nothing special,” the ranch is a bit unusual and that attracts some unsavory types, as Alex is going to find out.

    Jo is remarkable for a couple of reasons. While in the French-speaking web «blog BDs» (comic blogs) dominate the form to the point of being almost synonymous there with webcomic, Jo is anything but: there is no author avatar, no autobio, no small stories, no fancy experiments. Instead, you get a solid, ongoing longform story.

    Second, Jo features an interesting localization mechanism: the comic is in French by default, but you can hover over the images to read the English version (you might have to wait for a few seconds for the English images to load, but they always do eventually load).

    Jo has just resumed from hiatus, and is so addictive you’ll barely notice time passing while you catch up on it. Go now while the water’s fine.

    I’ve been doing this how long, and never noticed that every single French webcomic I’ve ever seen is essentially an exaggerated autobio and the damn near universal (in English, at least) story strip never once came up? It was right in front of my face, and I never caught on. Once again, our thanks to FSFCPL for the recommendation, and for closing up a gaping hole in our knowledge.

    Regarding Jo, it’s pretty, it starts off with a literal bang, and if mousing over doesn’t kick in the English for you, click on the strip. The English translation, by the way, is very good, with only occasional awkward construction; Jo’s archive is 50 strips deep, so it’s the perfect time for a trawl. Oh, and if you weren’t sure if it was to your liking, consider the description from the About page, which starts:

    Jo est la cowgirl la plus badass de l’ouest

    I think you probably worked out the meaning.

Spam of the day:

Looking for a a guy — I like you girl. find out who she the IS. Write ner, S is not is waiting for you.

Sure thing, Samantha … or should I say, I’ll get right on that.

Being A Chronicle Of The End Times

Sunday is always a weird day at San Diego Comic Con; the crowd is trying to decide on last minute purchases, the vendors can see the end coming but then have to do tear-down (and here’s a little trade secret for you — the larger booths can’t start until the carpet’s taken up, and there’s a lot of carpet) and throw everything on pallets. The good news is that by the time you’re done, there’s not much of a line at any of the restaurants. The best news is that the day earlier Eben Burgoon of Eben07 and B-Squad¹ gifted me a bottle of the honey blonde ale that was brewed to tie in with the publication of B-Squad volume 2 which was opened approximately 12 seconds after the show ended and sustained the crew of several booths through teardown. It was pretty tasty!

But before you get to teardown (and I swear, some year somebody’s going to get caught in the giant layers of clingfilm used to hold everything together on the pallet; I swear it almost happened to me twice) there’s still a mostly-full day of the show. I managed to see the YA panel, which was held in a large room but attracted a surprisingly — disappointingly, actually — small crowd, considering the talent on the riser (from left): Sierra Hahn moderating; Hope Larson; Raina Telgemeier; Cecil Castellucci, James Dashner, and Brenden Fletcher.

Bios: Hahn is senior editor at BOOM! (a somewhat recent transplant from Dark Horse, and not responsible for the crappy contracts they offer; creators that I speak to about BOOM! generally have good things to say about the editorial side); Larson and Telgemeier should need no introduction if you read this page; Castellucci wrote for DC’s now-dead Minx line for YA girls, and more recently a Star Wars tie-in about Leia and Shade, The Changing Girl for Vertigo; Dashner doesn’t write comics (yet), but is the author of the wildly popular Maze Runner series (now a motion picture franchise) as well as other YA book series; Fletcher is the cowriter of Gotham Academy and the revived Batgirl.

A quick word of praise for Hahn here as we begin; the panel could have easily turned into a slog where the moderator throws out a question and each panelist answers it; rinse; repeat. But midway through the first period of questioning, Castellucci asked a question of her fellow panelists and Hahn backed the heck off, letting the conversation take on its own life. After that, about three times she threw out new feeder questions and stood back to let them develop organically; it’s a very difficult thing to moderate with a light hand, I could see that Hahn had prepared a lot of questions and she very smartly adapted to the situation. It was the best moderating job I saw all week.

That initial question was about what it is in YA that unique attracts readers, which became a discussion of influences. Larson’s first experiences with comics were Tintin, Asterix, and other adventure stories, and Compass South is a love letter to the genre; Telgemeier has shifted away from autobio/realism with Ghosts, citing Miyazaki as her biggest influence. Castellucci noted the irony of telling the story of a YA character in Shade within the structure of mature-readers imprint, contrasting with her next project (a girl in 1932 riding the rails with hobos) and recalling the influence of reading My Cancer Year in high school. Grief is what she gets as something that’s uniquely expressible in comics, saying I write prose, but sometimes there are no words to say what I want, and then I turn to comics.

Dashner’s not written comics, but loves what pictures can add to storytelling, being particularly satisfied with some tie-ins to the movie version of Maze Runner. Fletcher said that he would be cribbing answers from others — Tintin, etc — but that Miyazaki (and in particular, Totoro) changed my life when I was falling down a hole of ’90s dudebro comics. Totoro hit my reset button and I thought that was who I am, that’s the storytelling I was to express when I grow up. He tied that ability to influence a younger reader into the idea that his run on Batgirl was mandated to be written for an audience of 21 – 28 year olds — sex, party times, woo — but at the first con after the first issue came out, a 10 year old girl dressed as Batgirl came up to get it signed and that was it: the creative team bucked their instructions and We aged it down. Gotham Academy was always in the space for my 10 year old niece, but we shifted Batgirl to be closer to that same space.

This was about the point that Castellucci shifted the conversation, asking what appealed to the others about YA. She found it compelling because the characters are raw and figuring out who they are, and that was what she always wanted to write. Larson noted it’s what comes most natural to her, and doesn’t understand why YA is looked down on; eople that look down on YA suck at writing it, she opined. Dashner jumped in to tell the story of a friend who was told by a Very Important Person In Publishing that her YA writing was really good, so she might now be good enough to write for adults.

Telgemeier held forth on the idea that YA as a category didn’t really exist when she was growing up, that you went from Baby Sitters Club straight to VC Andrews (or possibly Stephen King); her introduction to the idea of YA was discovering Lynda Barry at the age of 12. There followed a general discussion of what counts as YA and why, despite the fact that good YA has always had a significant older readership (and 60%+ of the market is women over the age of 30), the term all ages isn’t helpful. All ages is code for inoffensive, as Larson pointed out. But at the same time, comics publishers don’t always know what to do with it. Fletcher related how Gotham Academy was ignored in the direct market because it had two teen girls on the cover so they figured it was for kids. Librarians asked him where to shelve it — in the children’s section, or teen/YA?

Hahn fed that point by noting that libraries and bookstores will have to have a YA shelving concept so you don’t put Vertigo books next to those appropriate for kids. Fletcher lamented that Barnes & Noble has Gotham Academy next to Batman (alphabetically, wedged in by Gotham Central, which, yeesh, serious disconnect), but Lumberjanes is in YA, so where will the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover go?

Castellucci wonders if people who want their comic books not just for kids, dammit! are willfully ignoring the YA section and how that might prevent people from picking up a book they might like. Larson wryly observed that those readers won’t pick up a book with a non-powered teen girl on the cover anyway, so there’s no harm in putting it in a YA section. Dashner wasn’t sure — he said that his books, and others like the Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Divergent series, and plenty others wouldn’t sell nearly as well without adult readers. It’s also the case that several of those series were issued with serious, adult-style covers to provide the ability for grownups to read them in stealth mode.

There’s always a point in a panel like this where the discussion turns to the value of comics in getting kids to read and it followed the usual path, but there was an observation from Catellucci I hadn’t heard before. She works as a literacy volunteer in LA public schools and started a reading club. One girl brought in Larson’s graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time and spent all year on it. She loved that book, and later when Castellucci showed a page from Mercury her hand shot up and she asked Is that Hope Larson? It hadn’t occurred to her the idea of having a favorite author who does different kinds of stories. She proselytized that book, shared it with all her friends, and then wanted to make comics herself. Kids that love comics make and share comics, which is the crux of Catellucci’s point. There’s an enthusiasm that even the most eager readers of prose don’t have.

(This was followed by Fletcher telling how his 10 year old niece fell in love with Gotham Academy, which he basically wrote for her. She shares them, she begged to go to a comics creation camp that was aimed at older kids, and on a visit she gave him a copy her first comic. That destroyed me. She’s doing fanart of my characters and I burst into tears.)

The other thing that usually comes up in YA discussions is deciding what’s appropriate for inclusion, and again there were a pair of unique points I hadn’t heard before. Castellucci pointed out you could aim a comic for a particular age (say, 10), and there are kids that age reading far above that level, and kids reading far below; reading ability really spreads out in age cohorts, but they may all be reading the same comic, so finding a way to keep language, sex, or violence “age appropriate” is almost impossible.

Telgemeier pointed out that comics are a challenge in that showing something has more impact than writing about it, even for the same audience; she’s so far been unable to get any character having a period into her books (all of which star teenage girls), but thinks it might be possible soon. Fletcher pointed out the advantage to comics is you can treat danger in different ways; Batgirl might be beating people up, but the Gotham Academy kids are more likely to run until they’re in a kind of environmental danger (collapsing floor, possibility of a fall, etc). In Batgirl there’s an acknowledgment that things like drinking or sex exist, but since it’s aged down now, you can cut away without showing. You’re not ignoring it, it’s not imposed, it’s just what feels right.

A short while later, it was time for the Kickstarter panel, which at long last bows to reality and includes on the dias George friggin’ Rohac, along with Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press and Kel McDonald of Sorcery 101, along with Jamie Turner from Kickstarter (from left: Turner, McDonald, George, Nicholson). Interestingly, Turner introduced the panel by noting how many projects they’ve each run: 5 for himself, 9 for McDonald, 6 for Nicholson, and an estimated 50 for George.

The first third or so of the panel was taken up by a sort of Kickstarter 101 which in an ideal world shouldn’t have been necessary, but given the number of people in the audience who had indicated they planned on doing a Kickstart at some point, and who were frantically taking notes and photographing the projection screen, it was wanted by the majority of the viewers. Some numbers, then: comics represent about 4000 of Kickstarter’s 108,000 successful projects, with a funding rate of about 55% (versus 40% for the site as a whole). This means that George himself has run approximately 1.25% of all comics projects in Kickstarter history, yikes.

The most valuable part of the panel was the first thing Turner said: although he titled the panel Kickstarter Secrets Revealed in order to get it approved, there are no secrets. It’s all in the tutorial material that Kickstarter makes available: have an original project, communicate with your backers, have a good video, make sure you can explain what’s compelling, bring an audience with you. Prep before the project, complete with cushion for unexpected situations (McDonald calls it The Screwup Fund and budgets in US$2000; Rohac calls it The Unexpected Situations Fund and allots 12.5% on top of however much he thinks the project will require). Keep close track of expenses, expect postal rates to go up by the time you have to deliver rewards, and as Nicholson emphasized, If you don’t want to think about shipping [in the planning stage], don’t offer physical rewards.

Other rules of thumb:

  • From McDonald: expect to get 1/3 of your total take in the first three days; if that’s not going to get you to goal, re-evaluate what you’re doing and know that you still have time to correct course.
  • From Rohac: Don’t set the goal of the project to do your absolute Platonic ideal of a book; look at one that’s simpler and cheaper, and if you hit funding make the idea version a stretch goal.
  • From Nicholson: Don’t neglect to include both time and expense of shipping from the printer to you — people have been crippled in the past by unexpected multi-month, multiple-thousands-of-dollars delays and expenses.
  • From everybody: the glut of offers you get from companies that want to charge you to promote your Kickstarter will do absolutely nothing for you.

The audience didn’t appear to fully take in the lessons, though. They wanted to know about things like changing SEC rules that allow crowdfunding to be used for investment (Turner: moot point because KS is ideologically opposed to the idea; Rohac: if you think keeping track of shipping is a headache, imagine trying to keep track of who is owed what share of equity in your business), what the benefit of paid promotions/advertising is (Rohac: you will convert so few it’s not worth it; McDonald: you can promote to your audience, who are most likely to support you, for free; Nicholson: does sometimes do Facebook ad buys because Facebook is a donut-stealing mobster), exactly what format the video should be (all: whatever you want, just make one), how much prep to do before launch (all: as much as humanly possible, then some more), and the most effective promotions channels (all: Twitter, existing audience channels). You know, questions the answers to which are embedded in all the previous advice.

The questions weren’t about How do I determine if my audience is large enough to support a project? or What percentage of them will actually give me money?; instead they revealed the still too-common attitude that Kickstarter is a game that can be approached algorithmically, and if you have the cheat codes you will get All The Money. The answer remains what it always has been: hone your craft, grow your audience, make stuff, then crowdfund. You never could do it in reverse, and you won’t be able to in the future. The Magic Money Machine was always a myth.

Creators who gave me books or significantly discounted them at some point during the week because they all rock and are The Best:
Kate Beaton (King Baby), Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts), Jeff Smith (BONE Coda), Dave Kellett (Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M Schulz).

Cosplay was a bit thinner on Sunday, but I did see a pretty impressive Rescue² but the most ambitious cosplay of the entire show was the woman who dressed as the entirety of Middle Earth.

¹ Tagline: Like Suicide Squad, but funnier.

² In recent Marvel continuity, Pepper Potts has her own Iron Man-style armor, and you can tell from the distinct design of the chest reactor it’s not just a gender-swapped Tony Stark. I have no idea how I know this.

SDCC 2016 Floor Preview

Hey, look at that! A map of San Diego Comic Con 2016’s exhibit hall, which you can pull down to your device of choice here [PDF].

There will never be an extension to the San Diego Convention Center, so once again the bend in the hall divides things roughly in half, with our attention mostly on the north — or away from Tijuana¹ — side of the hall.

The Great Geek North
Let’s start over to the right side of the map, which is the side of the building closer to most hotels, the harbor, and the road from the airport. Conversely, it’s further away from the stadium and the surrounding lots where much of the offsite eventing will take place. It looks like this:

The Webcomics, Small Press, and Independent Press Pavilions are all reasonably accessible from the “B” lobby. Let’s break ’em down.

Upon The Webcomics Sea
Centered roughly on booth #1332, you’ll find a majority of the webcomickers who will be at the show within about a 1.5 aisle radius; some are slightly outside the orange area, but not too far. Those that return are for the most part at the same booth number as previous years, but there’s been some upheaval, as we shall see.

:01 Books Booth 1323
Alaska Robotics
with Marian Call²
Booth 1137
Blank Label Booth 1330
Blind Ferret Booth 1231
Cyanide & Happiness     Booth 1234
Dumbrella Booth 1335
Girl Genius Booth 1331
Monster Milk Booth 1334
PvP and Table Titans Booth 1316
Scallywags International Booth 1332
Sheldon and Drive Booth 1228
The Oatmeal Booth 1021
TopatoCo Booth 1229
Two Lumps Booth 1230


  • Blank Label appears to have given up its space, with David Willis deciding that twin boys are preferable to SDCC crowds. Booth 1330 will be the home of newcomers Cool Cat Blue.
  • Similarly, it appears that Matt Inman will not be at the show, perhaps the better to defend against pornbots (or, more likely, spend his time and effort on his ever-expanding series of Blerch Runs; coincidentally, yesterday marked seven years of The Oatmeal, so happy strippiversary to Inman).
  • Other listed newcomers to Webcomics Central include Jefbot in 1232, Mystic Revolution (boothing away from the rest of Keenspot, see below) in 1235, Digital Pimp in 1237 (which is odd, considering their latest newspost is about SDCC 2014), and Rhode Montijo (of Happy Tree Friends fame) in 1329. Lotta turnover.
  • No news yet on which TopatoCo creators will be along; we’ll update once we know.
  • Given all the book deals flying about, I would be remiss not to mention the presence of Hachette (1116), Harper Collins (1029), Macmillan Children’s Publishing (1117), and Simon & Schuster (1128) in Publisher’s Row; Knopf Doubleday is staking out their turf on the other side of Webcomics Central (1520).
  • As of this writing, Booth 1332, the heart of Webcomics Central, is not listed as having an exhibitor. If this situation persists on arrival, I will claim that space in the name of Garylandia. So much for territorial ambitions. Looks like (an indie community for comic book, graphic novel, children’s books, cartoon and original content authors and fans) grabbed up the space.

Small Press And Such
Right by the Webcomics section is Small Press. Here you should find:

Eben Burgoon Table P-12
Bob the Angry Flower Table K-16
Ben Costa Table O-07
Claire Hummel Table Q-15
Kel McDonald Table M-13
Wire Heads Table N-01

From the Small Press section, you’re close by:

Cartoon Art Musuem Booth 1930
CBLDF Booth 1918
BOOM! Booth 2229
Oni Press Booth 1833
Gallery Nucleus Booth 2643


  • Gallery Nucleus will feature arty types when they aren’t hanging out at Mondo down in booth 835. Keep an eye out for your Scotts C, your Beckys and/or Franks, and alumni of the various Flight anthologies.
  • No confirmation yet on which webcomickers will be at the BOOM! booth when, but I’d expect a pretty strong rotation.
  • Gene Yang and Hope Larson will be spending at least some time at DC’s enormobooth (1915).

Now head back toward the “B” Lobby into the Independent Press area and you’ll find Jeff Smith (no longer webcomicking but so what, he’s the best) again splitting booth space with Terry Moore (who’s announced no new series work — miniseries only from here out) at Booth 2109. You’re also not too far from the Jack Kirby Museum at Booth 5520 which, yes, is a very large number but is actually just inside the B1 entrance. Weird, right?

Going back to that larger map of the northern half of the exhibit hall. Wedged in between the Marvel and Image megabooths you’ll find Keenspot in Booth 2635.

The South Shall Rise Again
There’s still some neat stuff if you keep wandering past the video games, Star Wars, Legos, and suchlike.

Give yourself half an hour or so, try not to spend all your money on Copic markers (Booth 5338), and you’ll find both Udon Entertainment (home of such worthies as Christopher Butcher and Jim Zub at Booth 4529); and The Hero Initiative (at Booth 5003). Zub’s onetime Skullkickers artist, Edwin Huang will be in the Artists Alley at table EE-19, and Katie Cook will be at table HH-17.

Every year for the past half-decade the amount of stuff you can see outside of the exhibit hall has grown; I’m guessing we’re only a year or so away from complete parity. If you know of anything especially good, let us know and we’ll add it here. Otherwise, just wander the city and see what you got.

Spam of the day:

Lonely Asian Girls Looking for Boyfriends

Nothing special about that, but the fake disclaimer at the bottom that tells me how to get off their list (liars) is hilarious: Click here if you no longer want to receive offers of Safeway coupons.

¹ The happiest place on Earth.

²Don’t forget that Ms Call has a concert on Friday night over in Little Italy with a passel of internet musicians, NASA scientists, and David Malki !.

On Reflection, It Makes Perfect Sense

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: There were three, then there were two, and Rudy Cava had some dark shit in his past. All hail the pissed man with goals.

Longtime Friend o’ Fleen and shadowy mystery man Eben Burgoon has been on a bit of a tear recently; we mentioned that he put up a Kickstart for the latest volume of his kill-’em-all comic series, The B-Squad, unfortunately the same day as the Cyanide & Happiness folks put up their megasuccessful card game’s campaign¹. But now that the oxygen is coming back into the room, we can see that B-Squad Volume 2 is a bit shy of goal (that is to say, 45% with nine days to go), and direct people to check it out. Burgoon was kind enough to send a copy of Volume 1 over to the Fleenplex and it’s a hoot. A hoot and a half, even, with cruel twists of fate dictated by literal throws of the die².

Burgoon’s been here before — closing days, goal looking iffy — and he’s always regrouped, replanned, and readjusted to reality, and it’s made him a better creator. He’s also too smart to have just one creative venture define him. Which is why he’s now got a signature beer:

The beer itself is a blonde ale brewed with Sacramento wildflower honey. BEE-SQUAD! SEE! It is all connected!

It’s brewed with California grown barley and blend of 2 hops. It’s a slight twist on their previous blonde ale, but to me it sounds ridiculously & dangerously drinkable at 7.0% alcohol and I certainly intend to leave many an expended pint full bee-hind! [emphasis original; puns unfortunate]

Why has no other webcomic had a signature booze before? Those of you in Sacramento on Saturday the 19th of March (coincidentally the end date for the Kickstarter) will have a chance to ask Burgoon, label designer Sean Sutter, and the brewmasters of New Helvetia Brewing Company in person, as they’ll be having a combination end-of-Kickstarter launch-of-beer party from 3:00pm to 8:00pm. Fun goes down at New Helvetia, 1730 Broadway in Sacto, and fun it will be if the book funds out.

If not, it’ll be a hell of a fun wake, and Burgoon will get up Monday to find the next way to bring his creations to life. Adaptability + booze is pretty much what indie and webcomics are all about.

Spam of the day:

LEGAL NOTICE: You may be entitled to settlement from implantable-mesh

Fun fact: my wife has worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for pretty much her entire career, and so I know that implantable meshes are commonly used for breast augmentation. I haven’t ever had either of those, so I suspect that the authors of this spam may not, contrary to their claims, have actually tailored the message to my unique situation.

¹ Joking Hazard by name, and I use the term megasuccessful in a precise sense, as it closed earlier today having raised 3.246 US megadollars, or roughly double the midpoint of what the FFFmk2 predicted. Well done, lads.

² There’s a double meaning there; the character whose number comes up on the die will die. If one of them perishes in some kind of industrial die-cutting machine, it’ll become a triple meaning.

Busy Day

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip; Beef is undoubtedly deciding who among the gathering hordes will be invited to roll with Son of Rodney.

So much going on, I barely know where to start. Let’s just go in the order of when I scribbled notes to myself.

  • Longtime Friend o’ Fleen Eben Burgoon started in [web]comickry with spy spoof Eben07, then moved onto action-adventure spoof B-Squad (and, almost uniquely among creators, managed to repurpose a failed Kickstart into success with the first volume). He’s back with more weird deconstruction of the ragtag-team concept as B-Squad volume 2 launched on the ‘starter yesterday. I was going to write about it yesterday, but honestly when C&H dropped their immediately megasuccessful card game¹ on the world, any other new Kickstart was just gonna be overshadowed and so I pushed back a day.

    And B-Squad didn’t deserve that, so here we are today. One day in, 38 to go, sitting at about 16% of goal, as Burgoon pairs up with five artists to tell five stories and also deal with the worst writing constraint in history: each story, at least one character is going to kick it, as determined by a die roll that Burgoon must then adapt to. They say that writing is about killing your darlings, but what if you put work and love into a character and then the die says they gotta, well, die? Help make it all a bit less painful for Burgoon by at least making financially worthwhile for the creators to deal with the challenge and heartbreak.

  • The ongoing endeavour that is trying to figure out who the heck gets a table at SPX hits a significant date soon; the curated portion of the floor is being allocated, and soon the showrunners will know exactly how many spots will go into the table lottery. Want to exhibit but not specifically invited? Check it:

    On February 12, 2016, the lottery registration will become available and the lottery registration period will last between February 12 and February 26, 2016.

    The lottery registration will take place through a web page on the website. We will provide basic instructions on this page that can also be viewed in the FAQ section below.

    Each lottery registrant will receive an e-mail containing their own randomly generated 6-digit number that you will receive within 48 hours of registering for the lottery.

    Once the lottery registration period is completed on February 26, 2016, we will have a digital coin flipper to determine whether we sort the random numbers by ascending or descending order. The lottery registrant list will then be sorted by random number according to the coin flip, and those tables above the capacity threshold will be selected to exhibit at SPX 2016. The order of the tables below the capacity threshold will determine the wait list. [emphasis original]

    Got that? Friday is the day to start looking at the website for lottery applications. This is a much better system than the frantic rush to apply that SPX used before the lottery system, meaning that timestamps and postmarks and checks received don’t determine who gets in. Two weeks, same chance whenever you apply, and hope to see you in September.

  • For those wondering, Queen of Comictopia Raina Telgemeier has topped off a recent move back to San Francisco with the release of the fourth of her newly-colored Baby Sitters Club adaptations and whaddaya know, it’s entered the New York Times Best Seller List in its first week. In slot #1. With five other books (Smile, Drama, Sisters, and two other BSC volumes) in slots 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9. Okay, book purchasers, let’s get that last BSC book on the list so that Telgemeier can have 70% of it to herself (until Ghosts comes out and she hits 80%). It’s her world, comics, we may as well acknowledge it.
  • The Nib, lost to a reorg at Medium, has pretty much been Matt Bors’s singular focus for the past eight months or so. First it was the Kickstart to reprint the best of the site, and much of the time since has been dedicated to finding a new home for editorial cartooning on the web that pays. Good news dropping this morning, then:

    First Look Media today announced that they have partnered with award winning cartoonist Matt Bors on his irreverent comics publication, The Nib. Formerly part of the online platform Medium, The Nib will re-launch this summer through First Look Media as an independent daily publication and online newsletter.

    Great news, in fact, but why do I recognize that name, First Look Media?

    Bors will remain editor of The Nib as it joins First Look Media’s family of media properties including The Intercept,, and Field of Vision.

    Ohhhh, right, The Intercept — that’s Greg Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the people that brought Edward Snowden’s leaks to light. Damn, this is going to be a match made in heaven, with adversarial journalism committed in both words and pictures. It’ll have been a year spent Nibless, but before long we’re going to have voices back that we haven’t seen as much lately, in one place, both delighting and enraging me, and (most importantly) getting paid. That’ll do, Matt. That’ll do.

Spam of the day:

say hello to these naughty and wild milfs

Why, for the love of all that you might find holy, why would you send me a spam trying to intrigue me on a sexual basis and then write that spam in ficking Comic Sans?

¹ As of this writing, above US$400K on a US$10K goal, with more than 8700 backers. The FFFmk2 predicts a final funding in the US$1.5million (plus or minus call it US$300K) range, which would be frankly insane if not for the example of Exploding Kittens last year.

The Value Of Art

Although the best rule one can follow on the internet is Never Read The Comments, I find it for somewhat obvious reasons useful to go through those at this site. The post from Tuesday of this week attracted some comments that caught my eye, not only for their length, but for the mention of something that’s been on my mind a fair bit. Responding to my commentary on his latest Kickstarter, the probable cover identity that self-identifies as Eben Burgoon discussed his logic for resubmitting an initially-unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign; here’s the important part:

I really fundamentally looked over the Kickstarter last time and rethought my plan of attack. The main thing –- hire Lauren as the artist and do so with my own pocket money so that my goal was far more reachable. She’s an incredible talent, deserves to be paid for her hard work, and if I am going to ask the internet for money to help see this work to it’s end –- I sure as hell better pony up too.

The Lauren referred to would be Lauren Monardo, a colleague via the Brainfood Comics project, and creator of several comics that aren’t really accessible on the web right now¹. Monardo’s credentials (which are excellent) aren’t the point here — the important part is the bit about deserves to be paid for her hard work and I sure as hell better pony up too.

Burgoon’s regard for his artist made me happy, particularly because I’ve spent entirely too much time reading Ryan Estrada’s For Exposure twitterfeed and watching his dramatic re-creations of people that don’t think artists should be paid. Hopefully (although in truth, I hold out very little hope for this), the bozos who have provided Estrada with so much material will look at Burgoon’s example and realize that their pathological short-sightedness is not the only way to approach making comics.

  • Speaking of art having value, there are times when you can get away with not paying a creative collaborator — when said collaborator finds value in something other than up-front cash², or volunteers to work for free, or is dead and the work is out of copyright. That last one doesn’t come up too much, but may do in the not-too-distant future.

    Evan Dahm (whose work you should be familiar with, seeing as he’s put a few thousand pages of it out there for you to enjoy for free) has of late been noodling around with images inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; that would be the original Wizard, the novel by L Frank Baum, adapted a few million times³ since it was first published in the dawning days of the twentieth century.

    Many people have taken their artistic whacks at the Oz milieu since W W Denslow’s original illustrations, notably the work being done presently by Skottie Young for the Baum novel adaptations being published by Marvel. Dahm isn’t talking about doing a sketchbook though, or an adaptation; he’s thinking bigger:

    My name is Evan Dahm and I would like to illustrate and publish an edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was published in 1900 and is now in the public domain. I like it a lot and I think I can illustrate it in a way that works with the story and has a visual character that’s distinct from other interpretations.

    I can’t recall anything like this happening previously. There was an edition of Huckleberry Finn with racist language softened a few years back (which prompted an emulation with the n-word replaced with robot), and there have been some pretty beautiful comics editions of classic works (Kipling seems to be a favorite there), but I can’t recall somebody producing a new edition of a prose work to do their own spin on illustrations.

    And what illustrations! Dahm’s new Baum-sketchbook Tumblsite is full of promise as he starts what will likely be a lengthy project; he’s set ground rules for himself that guarantee that it’ll be years before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum with illustrations by Evan Dahm sees print. However long the wait, I’m ready to grab a copy.

  • Also speaking of art having value, here’s an emergency commission announcement from Dean Trippe. whose MacBook had a crisis and requires replacement as soon as possible. If you like Trippe’s meld of clean line and capes, he’s declared an impromptu convention complete with bargain pricing for superheroic inked drawings. DeanCon lasts through the weekend, so get your requests in now while you can.

¹ The Slightly Askew Adventures of Inspector Ham & Eggs leads to a dead page, the Brainfood Comics page has a bunch of unreadable symbol placeholders and a Call of Duty 2 ad, and may be somebody squatting on Monardo’s former domain.

² Possibly an ownership stake.

³ Sadly, a Google search for “wizard of oz” puts Baum’s novel (the first of 14 in the Oz series) sixth behind various references to the 1939 film, although some of those are because one of three surviving Munchkin actors died at the age of 89.