The webcomics blog about webcomics

Carrying On As Best We Can

Before we get started, I believe that birthday Version 1.0 release anniversary wishes are in order to everybody’s favorite robot pal, R Stevens. Selfless and giving entity that he is, he’s celebrated with a great new pin design in limited quantities that ships for free starting tomorrow. Fuzzy nightmare pals forever!

  • I got my copy of The Nib’s latest print collection, Greetings From The Wasteland in the mail today, and it’s great. For starters, the collection of political cartoons is in large part arranged by creator, so all of your Pia Guerra cartoons are together, all the Gemma Corrells, all the Kendra Wellses, etc.

    Sadly, there wasn’t enough space to dedicate to the entire story of the future wasteland cartoons of editor Matt Bors — there would have been no room for anybody else — which, if arranged in the correct order, form a single, coherent story¹. But that’s hardly a surprise, given that they had four years of daily cartoons from dozens of cartoonists (15 of which get featured sections) to curate and only 200 pages to play with. Get yours now.

  • We are facing down the second year of disrupted in-person events, but if there’s one thing comics-as-a-community has gotten good at, it’s finding ways to shift to virtual gatherings. Thus, the Cartoon Art Museum would like you to know that uncontrolled pandemic² or no, there will be some form of Queer Comics Expo and some way to announce the annual Prism Awards:

    Awards will be presented to comic works by queer authors and works that promote the growing body of diverse, powerful, innovative, positive or challenging representations of LGBTQAI+ characters in fiction or nonfiction comics. The goal of the Awards is to recognize, promote and celebrate diversity and excellence in the field of queer comics.

    The Queer Comics Expo launched as an annual event in 2014 as a celebration of queer culture and to promote diverse queer representation in comics, animation, and other great ways to tell our stories. QCE also serves as a fundraiser for San Francisco’’s Cartoon Art Museum. This year the event will take place May 15-16, 2021. Applications to participate as a creator or presenter for 2021 are OPEN until Monday, March 15, 2021 and will be NOTIFIED by Thursday, April 15, 2021.

    You can submit for both the QCE and the Prisms by browsing to cartoonart.org/qcexpo. Submissions for the Prisms are open until 28 February, with finalists announced at QCE (15-16 May) and winners announced over the summer. Categories include Best Short Form Comic, Best Webcomic, Best Comic From A Small To Midsize Press, Best Comic From A Mainstream Publisher, Best Comic Anthology, and Best Comic For Young Readers (new category).

    Category-specific requirements vary, but in general all submissions must have been first published in calendar year 2020, be in English, and have prominent LGBTQAI+ themes or be a strong allegory to the queer experience. See the entry form for more details.


Spam of the day:

This professor plugged his house to Earth’s core… that can harvest the power of Earth’s core making him 100% energy independent.

Yeah, I don’t have the patience to explain the concept of “electrical ground” to this spamming asshole, but I attended nerd schools — as an undergrad and grad — for six years specifically to learn that the Earth is where electricity goes to die.

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¹ Really, Bors said it himself. Two comics more recent than the book provide the bookends. By the way, their names are Gorm and Tinsel.

² Seriously, people, stay the fuck home, wear a mask, and make people that you know who won’t do those things feel your wrath until they decide to stop killing the rest of us.

Yet Another Book Kickstart

At its heart, The Nib is all about the politics. Sure, there investigative cartooning going on there, reportage from around the world, commentary on culture and society, but editorial supremo Matt Bors came up from the world of editorial cartooning, and their most memorable stuff has cut straight to the heart of politics.

Thus, six or so years (minus a restart or two here and there), they’re collecting the best of their political cartoons for print, and raising the requisite funds as we speak¹. And check out the talent on tap for this collection:

Take a look at these cartoonists: Pia Guerra, Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Ben Passmore, Gemma Correll, Joey Alison Sayers, Matt Lubchansky, Chelsea Saunders, Matt Bors, Rob Rogers, Niccolo Pizarro, Charis JB, Peter Kuper, Emily Flake, and Kendra Wells.

Hold on, we’re not done: Nomi Kane, Mark Kaufman, Keith Knight, Michael Kupperman, Eli Valley, Lauren Weinstein, KC Green, Megs Wolf, John Martz, Ward Sutton, Julia Bernhard, Jon Rosenberg, Ruben Bolling, Terry Laban, and Barry Deutsch! [emphasis original]

On a day when I had more patience, I’d hunt down websites for all those folks and link them. I’ll content myself with Jon Rosenberg on account of he provides my hosting. Pretty sure about 80% of the others are linked in some post or another here on the blog, so search in the box up there to the right and click whatever you find. It’ll work out fine.

Anyway, bunch of great creators, and a top tier that is making a compelling amount of sense — for US$500, you get The Nib print magazine for life; the individual issues are priced at US$15 per (at least, so far) and there’s been as many as four a year (being dropped by First Look last year and then the pandemic have delayed this year’s offerings, but Bors is determined to get back to quarterly). Call it US$60/year for the magazine (which is actually a mechanism to support the daily cartoons because — and we can never say this too often — Bors pays people what they’re worth), or just over eight years worth of print to the break-even point.

I have every confidence that the magazine will continue that long, and it actually makes even more sense for me. My subscription is actually at the US$8/month funding level, or US$96/year. Would The Nib still be around in five years? They’ve been around for longer than that so far, so I figure it’s a good bet. Gonna have to think on that; I’ve been using the stimulus money to buy more comics from more creators than usual; have to decide if spreading it around is as effective as sending it to one place that in turn pays a couple dozen folks.

Anyways, they’ve been funding for about 24 hours, so the FFF mk 2 tells us that their end level is probably going to be in the US$45K to US$67.5K range, safely above the US$30K goal (which they are currently halfway towards). You’ve got another 27 days to get in on it with the rest of us.


Spam of the day:

Save up to $610 on Auto Insurance This Spring

My auto insurer has already sent me checks for more than US$100, on account of the lockdowns have made them assess downwards how much they’re likely to pay out this year, and decided that we needed the money more than they did. They’ve always issued a similar dividend after year end, so I’m pretty confident this is going to continue. You were saying?

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¹ We need a better equivalent to that saying for the current age. I’m not speaking, I bet you aren’t either — Fleen readers have generally demonstrated an ability to read without moving their lips — so it kind of falls apart. I’m typing, you are at some future point reading, maybe we just need to make a reference to observing from the outside, at the as-yet-undetermined state of the Kickstart, like a half-alive cat?

Yeah, I’m a bit punchy today. My students, who have been generally capable this week, suddenly decided to have a big ol’ bowl of stupid flakes on what’s usually the easy day of this class, stumbling from step to step on what’s normally the easiest exercises of the course. Should have been done, 45 minutes in and out, everybody gets an early afternoon. As I write this, we’re past two and a half hours. Grrrrr.

We All Knew It Was Gonna Happen

Now that it has, we can spend some time rearranging that week in July, be mad for the opportunities lost, and start to move on. And bonus? No hotel rodeo to negotiate this year.

In the meantime, let’s consider some good news:

Okay, see you on Monday with highlights from the :01 Books virtual con that runs tomorrow. Still time to register if you haven’t! But I did just get an email saying that there’s been a huge response and the conferencing solution might actually max out. In which case, wait for somebody else to leave, check out the livestream on the :01 Facebook page, or wait for the recordings to be released. It’s just like an SDCC panel room that gets too full!


Spam of the day:

Why is your website – fleen.com not featured on Google’s first page for most of your keywords?

It is. Get lost.

You Really Don’t Want Koala Fur In Proximity To Genitals

I believe that I’m on record that Kendra Wells’s contributions at The Nib are rad. I was reminded of this when Wells’s latest hit the web, along with a parallel thought:

Did you know that one of the reasons koalas are threatened in the wild is that they nearly all have chlamydia? And that the current bushfires hit an island that was the home of the only wild population of koalas that weren’t infected?

Yeah, so that HotCelebrityInfluencer up there in the koala bikini definitely has an STI now. And somebody that’s actually using influencer juice to help out with the devastation in Oz has been bounced from her social media accounts after raising more money that Bezos is donating in exchange for nudes. I’m not sure what lesson to draw from all of this but it’s weird where your brain goes after seeing a cartoon sometimes.

In other news, those of you in the San Francisco Bay area will want to think about heading over to the Cartoon Art Museum this weekend, and returning until mid-May; that’s because George Takei’s graphic novel memoir, They Called Us Enemy — about his personal experience being imprisoned in a concentration camp by the government of his country for xenophobic reasons in defiance of Constitutional rights — is getting the featured exhibition treatment.

Once Saturday rolls around and the exhibition opens, you’ll find details on the Current Exhibitions page, and once 18 May arrives and the exhibition closes you’ll find it on the Past Exhibitions page. For the moment, however, you’ll need to read about it here, so:

The Cartoon Art Museum, Top Shelf Productions and IDW Publishing proudly present They Called Us Enemy featuring artist Harmony Becker’s artwork from the acclaimed graphic memoir written by actor, author, and activist George Takei in which Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of 120,000 Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. The exhibition includes an inside look at Becker’s creative process, including excerpts from her reference library and never before seen preparatory illustrations.

This exhibition also features a selection of original artwork from the Cartoon Art Museum’s permanent collection, including comic strips and animation from the 1940s, providing patrons with a snapshot of popular entertainment on the home front during the second World War.

Opening reception — during which there are frequently creators present, along with snacks — details to be announced, but we’ll let you know when we find out. Enjoy the launch, I’d be there except I’m on the wrong side of the country and also I’ve got Richard Thompson tickets for Saturday; it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve seen him live, and near as I can tell his finger have lost nothing. If you’re wondering why I’m talking about a 70 year old guitar virtuoso, it’s because he shares a name with multiple sadly departed cartoon/comics virtuosi. Some names are just blessed.


Spam of the day:

Your Wine is Cold – 15 Premium Wines for 70% off PLUS Bottle Ugly Sweater!

Not only does that topic line make zero sense, the body of the email is touting their Black Friday sale — traditionally, the day after US Thanksgiving (this year, 29 November) — but wasn’t sent until 28 December. Are they trying to get me hooked for Black Friday 2020?

Kickday

Hey there. Let’s catch up with some stuff over at the Kickstarter, yes?

  • Rippin’ up the charts, the latest game from the folks over at Cyanide & Happiness is notable for a few reasons:
    1. It gamifies the traditional philosophical connundrum known as the Trolley Problem for laugh-chuckles.
    2. They asked for a funding goal of US$69,420, an amount known as one sexweed.
    3. They cleared goal in 44 minutes.
    4. They have further gamified stretch goals by putting in now-familiar social media promotional activities, but also by essentially playing a mass game of Trial By Trolley. The outcome for the first vote hasn’t wrapped up yet, but presumably the stretch goals will be revealed based on which path the murdery (but quaint) mass transit vehicle takes.
  • Jon Rosenberg¹ is Kickstarting the third Scenes From A Multiverse collection, in part to get the revenue to reprint out of print Goats collections to fulfill a previous Kickstarter². Normally, an uncompleted fulfillment would be a red flag, but since Jon’s gone from trying to run this himself to engaging the professional stuff-handlers at Make That Thing, I’d say that supporting this one is safe, and will do a solid to folks waiting for the earlier one to finish.
  • From Matt Inman and the Throw Throw Burrito team, news that shipping on product which was due to begin in September has been rescheduled to approximately now. I am not convinced that somebody on Team Kittens hasn’t internalized the lessons of one Commander Montgomery Scott, who notes that you always inflate your delivery promises so as to come in earlier than you said you would. If half of adulthood is showing up, the other half is managing expectations.
  • Anthology 1: A new themed anthology that will raise funds to support the Coalition To End Gun Violence and the Community Justice Reform Coalition has been announced. Shots Fired finishes its 28 day campaign in a week, and features a (pardon the expression) murderer’s row of creative talent, including Tom Beland, Alex de Campi, Colleen Coover, Roger Langridge, Carla Speed McNeil, Trina Robbins, Marguerite Sauvage, Scott Snyder, Paul Tobin, Fred Van Lente, Shannon Wheeler, and about four dozen others. US$25 for the paperback, US$35 for the Kickstarter-exclusive hardcover.
  • Anthology 2: There’s lots of harbingers of the End Times out there, friendos, but maybe none so disturbing as the fact that a Kel McDonald Kickstart is in danger of not funding. The anthology Can I Pet Your Werewolf was Kickstarted back in 2017, and it’s out of print. The reprint campaign is three days from wrapping and (as of this writing) a bit more than US$3000 from goal.

    That’s a lot better than it was two days ago when it was under US$10K (and boy howdy, that’s a weird funding curve), but still possibly it will fall short of the mark. McDonald and co-editor Molly Muldoon have a lot of great folks on the book³ which again — just needs a reprint. It’s done, it’s all laid out, it’s a proven seller. It just (as Thrór told Thráin4) needs gold to breed gold.


Spam of the day:

The guy lost 84 lbs

Wait, which guy? Stinko Man? Because everybody says he’s the guy, and I wanna be the guy, too!

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¹ Disclaimer: he hosts this page, was the one that prompted me to start it in the first place, and owns my soul.

² And let’s acknowledge that was approximately the time that Jon and his wife had a high-risk pregnancy with two very small twin sons, one of whom has spent a significant chunk of his life getting past the medical side-effects of being born. Dude’s had some shit on his plate is what I’m saying.

³ Aud Koch! Seanan McGuire! Monica Gallagher! Sophie Goldstein! Cat Farris! Kendra Wells! Plus at least one dude because there are men that make comics, too.

4 Nerrrrrrrrrrrd.

Things To Check Out

Well I mean I would bet basically one dude or maybe none in a million from the vast Fleen audience is unaware that Noelle Stevenson’s take on She-Ra debuts at Netflix today, so I’m not sure why you’re reading this instead of binging. From here, I can tell you two spoiler-free things:

  1. It’s cool that the closest thing to costume cut-outs are on characters that appear to be dudes; no boob windows here!
  2. It appears that episode 8 (Princess Prom) is going to be cameoriffic. Keep your eyes peeled for awesome people in animated form.

That keening sound you hear in the distance, ever so faint? That’s either the whiny manbabies who are upset that these characters are no longer designed for the male gaze¹, or my new dog when she perceives and insufficient amount of attention is being paid to her².

The much louder cheering sound is a mix of adult animation fans seeing something well-made and entertaining, and younger kids seeing something aimed at them that broadens their perception of who can be a protagonist — shapes, sizes, skin tones, and apparent genders are are broad enough that kids who didn’t get to see themselves as the hero now have a chance to. Bravo.

In other news:

  • We mentioned comiXology’s move into creator-owned stories back around SDCC, and how they’d tapped a series of webcomics creators to help launch the new comiXology Originals endeavour. One that looks particularly promising is The Stone King by Kel McDonald and Tyler Crook. I had a chance to read issue #1 before its debut tomorrow³. The story’s a little Moebius, the art is a little early Finder crossed with War Child-era Grendel. If you’ve got a comiXology account, I strongly recommend checking this out.
  • Ever since Goats celebrated 20 years of comics last year, we’ve been in the territory where more and more webcomics (and/or webcomickers) of a similar vintage would be meeting the mark. The Walkyverse hit 20 about five months after the Goatsiverse, and Penny Arcade will roll over the two decade odometer on Sunday, with a retrospective up at the site.

    PvP actually cleared the Big Two-Oh back in May without much fanfare; the actual day didn’t have even an oblique reference in the strip, unless you count that obvious 20-sided die in panel two. And now, it’s clear there was a reason for the earlier quietude.

    Scott Kurtz is doing a comprehensive reprint of the entire damn thing. Oh, sure, you can get a single hardcover with 200-odd pages of the best PvP strips (plus Kurtz’s Wedlock and Elementary, the former of which hasn’t been seen in forever and which I still maintain is his most promising work) for US$50. Or you can admit you’re a completist and get the strips not in the 20th anniversary volume. That’s nine damn hardcovers, every single strip, 2500+ pages, for US$200 which is kind of a bargain.

    I mean, it’s not spare change, but US$50 is an eminently reasonable price for a 200-ish page color hardcover, and by rights nine of them should come to US$450. Oh, plus whatever it costs you when you go to the doctor for painkillers after you throw your back out lifting the box they came in, because it comes to more than 22 frggin’ kilos.

    The PvP Definitive Edition 20th Anniversary Collection Kickstart runs for another 24 days, and by the FFF mk2 can expect to raise US$92K-138K (the midpoint of that range is about 153% of the US$75K goal). One potentially important factor: due to the relatively high price points on all rewards (US$10 for 1 PDF, US$45 for all 9 PDFs, physical rewards from US$50 to US$2000), this is going to be a relatively low backer campaign (as of this writing, the amount pledged per backer averages a staggering US$141!), and campaigns with fewer than about 200 backers on the first day (Kurtz had 90) are notoriously hard to fit to the prediction model.

    The McDonald ratio (hey, there’s Kel again) is probably a better predictor and it says US$108K. We’ll all find out together in a bit less than a month, and I for one am intensely curious to find out how many superfans out there are willing to engage in this degree of purchase.


Spam of this day:

At launch, the service includes comic titles such as, ‘Give My Regards To Black Jack’, ‘Vanguard Princess’, ‘Danity Kane’, ‘God Drug’, ‘Soul Ascendance’, original animation videos such as ‘Demian’, ‘Break Ups’, ‘Short Age’, the official soundtrack to the video game ‘Vanguard Princess’, and the award-winning feature-length animated film ‘Padak’ among others.

I wouldn’t even have mentioned this one except for two magic words: Dannity Kane. Because now I get to point you again to the one of the best editorial cartoons of the year: Reality Star’s Son Allegedly Had Affair With Reality Star by Kendra Wells. It never fails to make me giggle.

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¹ That’s pretty much their entire argument — if they can’t see copious titties in the kids cartoon, it’s devoid of worth and a dire insult.

² So same thing, really.

³ And dropping new issues on New Comic Day? Smart. Getting the readers to accept these are just another form of comics is going to drive readership, I’m sure.

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.

Thursday Continues The Tradition Of Being The Quiet Day In Webcomics

Especially Thursdays in late summer.

I do, however, want to point you to something that happened today, something which puts the capper on a great deal of work by a number of ferociously skilled people. I speak of the final episode of the first series of The Nib animated, as seen at Topic.

Matt Lubchansky (associate editor at The Nib, as well as creator of a zillion brilliant cartoons, editorial and otherwise) has put in a lot of the producer work to make static comics come alive, and the project has delivered what was promised: sharp humor, and the more horrifying Trump visages imaginable¹. All told, the ten episodes come to some 45 minutes of piss-taking, and if you’ve not been watching them for the summer, you could to worse than to binge.

Congrats to Lubchansky, Nib editor Matt Bors, and contributors including Jen Sorenson, Emily Flake, Andy Warner, John Martz, Kendra Wells, Joey Alison Sayers, Keith Knight, Maki Naro, Sarah Mirk, Pia Guerra, Brian McFadden, Nomi Kane, Sas Goldberg, Ellen Crenshaw, as well as voice actors James Adomian and Rachel Butera, and the animators at Augenblick Studios. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next series.


Spam of the day:

30% Off Sakai Trench Rollers!

I never really thought of getting earthmoving equipment to roll trenches before, but now I kind of want to.

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¹ Since Trump shows up in multiple segments of each episode, based on the work of different cartoonists, it’s a kick to see multiple interpretations of him.

Mostly From Twitter Today

Slow day.

  • Jeffrey Rowland has built TopatoCo up over the last ten years as an enclave of idiosyncratic, wildly creative goofballs, so it’s no surprise that he would find much to like in the most free-form of all radio stations, WFMU. WFMU (which is public-supported, but about as far from traditional public radio as you can likely imagine) is having their pledge time right now, leading Rowland to tweet:

    I just pledged to http://wfmu.org #tomthon ! And TopatoCo will UNOFFICIALLY match pledges for employees and clients (up to $25 each)

    You guys, said pledgeathon last night featured Expert on Everything (and TopactoCo client, via Maximum Fun) John Hodgman in an impromptu Star Trek trivia battle with Twitter’s favorite elected official, Newark mayor Cory Booker. That’s what supporting the independent arts gets you — unplanned wonderfulness.

  • Speaking of impromptu wonderfulness, the always-delightful Chainsawsuit turned five years old yesterday. Then it accidentally got its website registered a second time, and now it’s TWO WEBCOMICS.
  • Official: more people should write about Evan Dahm’s comic, Vattu, and also interview him on the internet. I can think of few creators who take more time and care in getting all the details that matter exactly right¹ and treating world-building not as an exercise in self-absorption, but as a means of creating an organic setting for his stories. He’s also a really, really nice dude.
  • I can’t wait to see how the latest Octopus Pie story arc translates to print. Although the animation aspects have been steadily ramping up for a half-dozen updates, today’s is my favorite, mostly for panel 2.

    Even with all the flash and splash provided by Lacey Micallef, it’s the expression on Hanna’s face that tells me all I need to know about her state of wonderment. Meredith Gran remains the master of communicating everything you need to know about characters via deceptively simple faces.

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¹ Even the ones that casual readers will never notice or appreciate; perhaps especially those details. The man’s invented like four different internally-consistent writing systems just to make documents and banners look more plausible.