The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Nib Is Dead, Long Live The Nib

We at Fleen have talked a lot about The Nib, the Matt Bors-run editorial (mostly) cartooning subsite at Medium, from its inception to its recent folding-up. Things are happening rapidly over there, and if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time you did.

Firstly, they launched a Kickstarter to publish a 300 page book containing the best of the 2000+ comics that were published there in the 1.5+ years of operation. And quite frankly, I’d be talking about Eat More Comics even if Bors had promised that every single one of those 300 pages would be filled with comics I hated by cartoonists whose work I despised¹ for a very simple reason, which was stated by onetime associate site editor Eleri Harris, starting about 45 seconds in on the Kickstarter video:

The money we’re asking for is for two things: Firstly, we’re going to compensate all our artists fairly for republishing their work again.

The thing about The Nib that I loved most of all — the reason that you should have loved The Nib when it was still a thing — is that they paid. Cartoonists got paid for the right to publish their work (or in many cases, re-publish work that had already appeared elsewhere); Bors had a budget and he wasn’t afraid to use it. And I don’t know what the contracts for running cartoons on The Nib looked like, but Bors, Harris, and onetime assistant site editor Matt Lubchansky are paying the creators again for the right to republish them in the book. Which led to the second money (so to speak) quote of the video, from Lubchansky, starting about the 1:10 mark:

If we blow past [the funding goal], we’re just gonna make more books and give the artists more money.

We all know that not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t try to get artists to work for free, or to under-pay them by offering crappy contracts that many (especially creators at the start of their careers) feel obligated to sign out of fear of missing out. The only response that a creator should ever have to such an overture is No, pay me.

Unless, that is, the creator is approached by whoever the hell this is arguing with Rachel from What Pumpkin² that they should get to use Homestuck without paying because (variously):

  • Other people aren’t asking for money!
  • We’re building a BRAND!
  • We’re all still young and have never done this before!
  • We don’t have any money!
  • But our Kickstarter!³

In which case, the appropriate response is Fuck you, pay me.

Getting back to the original point, I don’t think that Bors, Harris, and Lubchansky have ever heard Fuck you, pay me directed at them, and that is reason enough to support Eat More Comics.

The other reason will be that a good showing in the Kickstart will provide direct, measurable numbers on what the support for a site like The Nib is, and how much of those supporters are willing to part with actual money. That can only be helpful to Bors as he talks with other publishers with an eye towards reviving The Nib, seeing as how he’s left Medium. Here’s hoping we don’t have long to wait before cartoonists the web over once again have a site whose mission statement is Hey, can we run your cartoon? We pay.


Spam of the day:

Hmm it appears lile your blog aate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just suum it up what I haad written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

No, your first comment was about gold farming in MMORPGs.

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¹ Which do exist on The Nib, which is a point in Bors’s favor — if you’re running a cartooning site that’s mostly editorial and I love/agree with everything you publish, you’re doing a crappy job. Bors does not do crappy jobs.

² I have my suspicions, and there aren’t many Kickstarts going on now that would fit the pattern that the whiny person describes, but since Rachel’s anonymized it I’ll keep my speculations to myself.

³ Repeat after me: Kickstarter is not a magic money machine that you go to as rank newcomers to be discovered and made suddenly wealthy. It’s a way to measure the appeal of products to an audience that you already have. No audience going in means you’re going to receive some hard lessons coming out. Maybe you’ll be smart enough to absorb them, but I’m not overly optimistic.

Fleen Book Corner: A New Line Of Ensmartening Books

We’ll be taking a look at the first release¹ in the Maker Comics line from :01 Books in just a moment, but first …

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Please Listen To Me, the whatever-they-want-to-talk-about-but-mostly-political offering from Matt Lubchanksy (commonly found these days at The Nib, where they are associate editor) has been on hiatus since April of 2018, for reasons. But it’s back! Maybe not regularly, but back! We’re happy to have you back, Matt.

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Madison Furr and her excellent colleagues at :01 dropped a stack of review copies on me recently, and I was super excited to find Maker Comics: Bake Like A Pro! by Falynn Koch near the top of the stack. It may be because I am a home baker of some practice (mostly breads these days², but I flatter myself to say that I can do a decent pie crust, and I pride myself that the cheesecakes I make in the December holiday season for my bartenders get me free drinks all the year long), it may be because the other candidate for first Maker Comics release, Fix A Car! is one that I have less comfort with³.

Let’s just say it’s because I know enough about the topic that I can tell if the book’s getting things right and have enough to learn that a new explanation will help my own understanding. And here’s the deal: Koch scores on both criteria. I haven’t tested all of the recipes myself, but I recognize enough to see that the methods and instructions are solid. It teaches from a perspective that I wish I’d had in my home ec classes back in my teenage years:

  • Baked things don’t have arbitrary recipes, they have ingredients that behave in certain ways, and you can make changes and substitutions if you understand how they behave.
  • Each ingredient serves a purpose (providing structure, leavening, moisture, color, flavor) and how you bring those ingredients together matters.
  • Cooking may be an improvisational art, but baking is rule-based math and science.

Or, as Koch has it, magic; the framing story features an apprentice wizard who is learning baking as an introduction to alchemy.

The references in the back indicate that Koch’s learned from the best — I’m not familiar with some of them, but I can see the influence of Alton Brown, particularly in the exploration of one master recipe (the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, which is as close to a perfected recipe as we’ll ever see) to get variations by playing with proportions. Please understand, I’m not accusing Koch of ripping off Brown, any more that Brown was ripping off Shirley Corriher when he used Good Eats to do the same. Besides, Brown’s puppets that explain yeast action belch out carbon dioxide, and Koch’s little cartoon yeast fart out carbon dioxide. Totally different!

But bakers always have things they consider most important — more than one family has had long-running disputes over whether to use shortening or lard in biscuits4 — and thus there are things I wish Koch had covered. While she correctly points out the importance of having a clean oven interior in temperature regulation, she didn’t talk about how oven interior temperatures can vary widely, and therefore you need a good thermometer (in-oven, probe, instant read, IR or all of the above).

And I will die on this hill — we should not be measuring flour by sifted/scooped/leveled volumes, we should be weighing it. Yes, baker’s scales are somewhat pricey (as are some of those thermometers), but they are no less useful than the stand mixer that makes its way into the book which is listed as (if available) in multiple recipes. There is no quicker way to getting consistent results — which are necessary to seeing where your baking needs improvement — than having accurate temperature awareness and portioning ingredients by mass5.

And EMT hat on: there was one very odd recommendation on taking a hot pizza stone out of the oven to move the uncooked pizza to it. Okay, I get it, not everybody has a pizza peel, but this struck me as super hazardous for anybody, much less kids. If you cook on a baking stone and don’t have a peel, get a sheet of parchment paper under your crust, put it on a cookie sheet (on the underside if it has a lip) and slide the whole thing onto the very hot rock. You can grab the parchment and pull back onto the cookie sheet when it’s time to come out. Please don’t try to take a hot stone out of the oven (which could shatter when you place it on the stove top if you’re even a little rough in your handling) and return it.

But those editorial choices aside, kids will not develop their own deeply held baking beliefs if they never start baking. And if you want them to get a head start on baking, Bake Like A Pro! will get them on that path so that we can have the very important fights later.


Spam of the day:

Shock your family, make your garden more contemporary. You will love it’s new look!

Or I could ignore your spamming ass, and wait for the future release, Maker Comics: Grow A Garden!. Release date not announced yet, but it’s on the back cover of Bake Like A Pro! and :01 haven’t lied to me yet.

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¹ Okay, the first two titles in the Maker Comics line released simultaneously last Tuesday; I’m looking at the one that both comes first alphabetically by title and by author’s last name.

² In fact I have a pizza dough resting in the fridge as I type this. If it turns out particularly pretty, I’ll tweet a picture later tonight.

³ One might argue that my lesser expertise is a reason that I should have gone for the car fix book. But I don’t have the tools to practice what I might learn, and I can change a flat and check my oil and am perfectly willing to pay people to handle more in-depth automotive interactions.

4 Lard. Duh.

5 For those that pick up the book and play with the pizza recipe, make the following substitution: 300 grams of flour instead of 3 cups, 180 grams of water instead of 1 cup; the golden ratio for basic breads is 5:3 flour:water by mass (plus yeast as necessary, plus oil as required by the type of bread — the amounts given will work nicely).

As an aside Brown’s baking book is from 2004 and he lists virtually every ingredient by volume (because his editors and his mom made him) and mass (which is what he wanted); in the 15 years since, I think we deserve a general-audience intro to baking book with the courage to make the leap to ingredients by mass only.

Day Of Delights

Hey, everybody! It’s February 1st, and you all know what that means — it’s Saint Groundhog’s Day Eve! Okay, it’s also Hourly Comic Day and we’ll get to that presently.

  • Today is also-also the day that KC Green wraps He Is A Good Boy after 300+ multipage updates of spiral time and inner journeys. Crange may not be a good boy (he’s certainly not the greatest god-damn boy you’ll ever meet), he’s kind of a dick and pretty much inertia personified. But after seeing all the variations, all the Crange, all the Emersons, all the quantum-variant versions of himself, he found a way to start over with some peace, a way to exit the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth, which I’m pretty sure makes him a buddha.

    The big finish starts here. If it’s too weird for you, maybe check out a recent one-shot at The Nib wherein a squirrel gets his comeuppance. None of those acorns are Crange. At least, they probably aren’t.

  • Right! Hourly Comic Day! You know the drill, you make a comic that expresses what you did in each hour of the day, ideally within that hour. There’s more of them out there today than a reasonable person can count, but I’ll get you started with ones that I particularly enjoyed: Tony Breed, Carly Monardo, Jeph Jacques, Jean Wei, Haley Boros, Meredith Gran, Colleen Frakes, Abby Howard, Dean Trippe, Christopher Baldwin, Shing Yin Khor, and Lucas Landherr are all on Twitter; Danielle Corsetto opted for Instagram, and there’s a zillion on Tumblr (I’m not on Tumblr).

    But for my money, the best single hourly comic was the first posting from Magnolia Porter, because her comic for 6-7am doubles as that you ten years ago vs you today thing that was going around two weeks back. Oh, and happy day after your birthday, Mags; you rock.


Spam of the day:

Never eat THIS after 7:00 pm (triggers heart attack)

Man, now I’m going to be all paranoid when it’s time to shift the clocks. Does the heart attack food know about Daylight Savings? Or time zones?

Oh, This Looks Good

Before we get to the Good Thing in the title, I wanted to mention an Auxiliary Good Thing. That is to say, the second issue of The Nib in print is reaching mailboxes — such as mine, today — and it looks great. If you want a copy of this issue, on the theme of Family, you can either go back in time and back the Kickstarter, or you can take out a supporting membership.

Both options give you a choice of digital or print, but let me assure you that like the Death issue from September, Family is beautifully designed, on weighty, satisfying paper and has a considerable odor from the many inks¹ used in its construction.

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Okay, the main Good Thing: Word’s been going around for the past few days about how the Eric Carle Museum Of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, would be running an exhibition on the history of the graphic novel. Out Of The Box: The Graphic Novel Comes Of Age² opens on !0 Febrary and will run until 26 May, and will feature the work of Vera Brosgol, Catia Chien, Geoffrey Hayes, Gene Luen Yang, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hope Larson, Matt Phelan, David Small, Raina Telgemeier, and Sara Varon.

But wait! There’s more.

The night before (that would be 9 February), there’s an opening reception from 5:00pm-7:00pm, with guest curator Leonard S. Marcus Brosgol, Chien, Krosoczka, Phelan, Telgemeier, and Varon expected to be in attendance. There’s a talk with the same folks the next day (10th again) at 11:00am to officially open the exhibition.

If you want to attend these special events, you need to RSVP, via one of two different methods. For the reception, contact Jenny Darling Stasinos at 413-559-6310 or jennys [at] carlemuseum [dot] org; for the gallery talk, RSVP at 413-559-6336 or info [at] carlemuseum [dot] org. Reservations open today, and run through Monday, 4 February.

Now here’s the kicker — both of those events are for Carle Museum members. If you aren’t one, now’s the time to join. Please note that Amherst is in the middle of one of the greatest concentrations of web/indie comics creators on the continent³, the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, home to Northampton, Easthampton, TopatoCo, Eastworks, the very sexy R Stevens, and at least one creator of Ninja Turtles, so if you’re going you may as well wander around and try to spot background locations from Questionable Content.

It’s not like those folks keep storefronts you can wander into, but if you bump into one on the street, they’d probably appreciate it if you told them I love your work, please accept three dollars cash from me a tip and I promise I will leave you alone and not be a creepy stalker.


Spam of the day:

As Seen On TV + 1 Month FREE!

One of the great improvements in Gmail lately is that images do not automatically load in spam. As there’s no text in this email, only pictures, I literally have no idea what they’re trying to scam me with. It’s awesome.

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¹ I pity the youth of today, who never received a fresh-from-the-ditto machine quiz in junior high, the purplish ink still stinky and damp, making all your penciled answers smudge and tear. Wait, no, the opposite of that, those things were terrible.

² No direct link; at present, that’s on the upcoming exhibitions page, and will presumably shift to the current exhibitions page, and eventually the past exhibitions page.

³ Other loci include Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area, Toronto, Brooklyn, and White River Junction.

Some Surprises

Things are happening quickly. History barrels on.

  • Following up on the Tumblrpocalypse (Tumblrgeddon?) from t’other day, I’m seeing a lot of posts indicating utterly nonsensical this is adult content !!!!11one!! judgments from Tumblr’s algorithms. For a representative sample of how bad those naked people- and smut-identifying tools are, let’s look at just one set of flagged images, from Yuko Ota:

    a cool compilation of posts that were flagged by tumblr for containing pornography

    Included are a photo of the cover of her Offhand art book, a photo of the cover of Our Cats Are More Famous Than us, two update teasers from Barbarous, a picture of a gargoyle and mutant bird Maw, and the Maw plushie.

    What the hell, Tumblr? And this is just one creator, with a relatively short thread of WTH. I’ve seen literally hundreds of entirely inoffensive images that are about to be purged to heck and back because the entire class of content that Tumblr built its growth on is now officially icky¹. As people are grabbing up their Tumblr contents to preserve them, they are also looking for new places to keep all that stuff for display.

    Various Mastodon and Ello proponents are out there, but C Spike Trotman is pointing folks towards Pillowfort³, which as of this writing is experiencing stability issues to the massive land-rush. Under The Ink is keeping a running list of NSFW webcomics and creators, so that everybody can find stuff when it all settles again.

  • Another intriguing possibility? PornHub:

    Tumblrs: Pornhub welcomes you with open arms. Join our amazing community of millions Curators: Customize your personal feed, create playlists, generate gifs and more Creators: Upload videos, photos, gifs & share text posts to a massive audience. Earn revenue on your content.

    Turns out they’ve always allowed non-video content, and they are probably the site least likely to ever decide that hosting naked people and smut is beneath them, so there’s that. Gonna get tripped by a lot of nanny filters, though.

  • And for those of you not dealing with the Tumblr thing today, here’s another surprise: Larry Gonick — indie cartoonist since small times; I first read his Cartoon Guide To Computer Science 35 years ago in high school, which is where I first learned about Claude Shannon, whose wisdom I have built my life around — is having a sale.

    Including originals.

    Time to get me a unicycling engineer that teaches me about Boolean logic.


Spam of the day:

Take part in a simple survey and get a guaranteed prize

I see no reason that your email — translated from the original Russian — should make me hesitant to click on your surely-innocent link.

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¹ I’m told² that in addition to the tsunami of inappropriately-flagged images, a bunch of people are loading their formerly SFW Tumblr with as much hardcore porn as they can, figuring that if they’re gonna be flagged/shut down, they may as well earn it. Well done, I say.

² I don’t have a Tumblr account and so cannot verify.

³ She’d know, she’s the publisher of lots of quality smut. A peddler, you might almost say.

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.

Returns

  • I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it, what with it being one of my absolute favorites for the past half-decade, but Stand Still, Stay Silent has returned from inter-chapter (and in this case, inter-adventure) hiatus. The gang are exactly where we saw them last — locked in quarantine aboard a freighter, returning from the Silent World with their lives and some intelligence, but not as much loot as was hoped.

    The dead are still dead, the trolls are still trolls, and it’ll be interesting to see how Minna Sundberg motivates any of them to want to head away from the confines of home again. They’re all still haunted by the loss of Tuuri, but perhaps Lalli most of all. Emil’s been forced to grow the hell up some, and might see the value in staying somewhere that isn’t trying to kill him or drive him insane at all times. Maybe he’ll take up Finnish so he and Lalli can finally converse.

    Mikkel is tough to read; I get the feeling that he’d go back with others out of a sense of obligation, but not otherwise. Sigrun has been a hell-raiser, but losing somebody under her command like that gave her a real pause. And Reynir just wanted to see the world outside of his sheep meadow; he had no idea that it would be the Silent World. He’s ready to take up the crook again and never leave the paddock … except for those mage stirring’s he’s feeling. Kitty just wants scritches, and I wonder who’ll she’ll choose to go with.

    It’s as good as it ever was, and while I can’t see the road ahead, I’m sure that Sundberg knows what she’s doing. Updates Moon’s day, Tyr’s day, Thor’s day, and Freja’s Day, with gorgeous full-color pages.

  • Kerstin La Cross’s Bashers, an autobio telling of a particularly challenging (in more than just the physical sense) hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, started in June, ran for a chunk of summer, then hit hiatus (appropriately, La Cross was out hiking for a bit, then had to catch up on her work). It’s been back for a bit less than a month (keeping in mind that it updates Saturdays and Sundays, so you haven’t missed that much) and the tension is ramping up on Day Two of the adventure.

    We know from the prologue that things come to a head on Day Three, and at that point she and her husband will be far enough out on the trail that displeasure with one’s partner can’t be avoided by going to another room. You’ll have to get to the pickup point together, if only because food and shelter have to be shared. I can’t imagine getting into a spousal argument (the worst kind) and then not being able to clear off and cool down until days later. I said it when Bashers started, this is a brave thing that La Cross is doing, sharing this history. Give it a read.

  • So there’s this guy, Rob Rogers. He was the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years (picking up a Pulitzer nomination along the way), and then one day he wasn’t. Like editorial cartoonists are supposed to do, he took aim at politics, and these days that means the screamy idiot who is inexplicably occupying the White House. Turns out the publisher and editor of the Post-Gazette are major trumpaloompas, and fired Rogers for doing his job too well. He’s since been replaced by somebody willing to meet the publisher’s sensibilities¹.

    Rogers, however, kept ownership of his cartoons when he left, which is why he’s able to print a new collection, which was announced today by publisher IDW. Enemy Of The People: A Cartoonists’ Journey. While the press release I received lacks certain details other media indicate it’s due out 11 December at a US$25 price point. Order it now to get under Reality Show Mussolini’s skin.


Spam of the day:

Give Yourself a Makeover with a New Hairdo | Hair Extensions

I may not be handsome in the Jon Hamm mode, but one thing I got? Lustrous hair. Drunk women in bars want to get their hands all over it.

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¹ Not sure where you’d find somebody of sufficient deference this side of Ben Garrison or Michael Ramirez, but he managed to. No links because those guys suck. Really, Garrison’s a white supremacy propagandist, and Ramirez is just this side of Kelly when it comes to hackiness.

MICE? Nice

This weekend is the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, one of the increasingly-common, increasingly well-attended, increasingly relevant, free (or near-free) comics shows that goes by Expo or Festival. MICE, as always, will be held on the campus of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, at University Hall, adjacent to the Porter Square T stop.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Lesley; Cambridge is across the river from Boston, and as we all know, Boston isn’t a big college town.

MICE has done a nice job of attracting webcomickers and webcomicker-alikes, and this weekend you’ll be able to meet the likes of Vera Brosgol, Tillie Walden, Tony Cliff and Rosemary Mosco (all of whom are Special Guests and will be in the main atrium).

In the exhibit hall, you’ll find Abby Howard (H94), Alex Graudins (H88), Nate Powell (E128), Jean Wei (A42), John Green (E115), Blue Delliquanti (H95), Jon Chad (D09), Josh Neufeld (D19), KC Green (D16), Christine Larsen (B86), Wendy Xu (A57), Dan Nott (B65), Zack Giallongo (E117), , Dirk Tiede (E122), Eric Colossal (E139), and Anne and Jerzy Drozd (E118).

A few clarifications: Ben Hatke was scheduled to appear, but had to cancel; George O’Connor will be at table H102, not George O’Connor; Nicholas Offerman will be at table D20, not Nicholas Offerman; the Center For Cartoon Studies will be at table E137; Matt Lubchansky will be repping The Nib at table H89; and it is entirely possible that Lucy Bellwood will be lured away from table E116 by boats. Shelli Paroline would be a notable local absence, except for the part where she’s the co-director of the show, and thus has no time to promote herself; if you see her at rest for ten seconds, be sure to thank her.

By the way, tables starting with an A are in the atrium, B tables are in the Bechdel Room, D tables in the Doucet Hall, and H tables in the Hernandez Room, all on the upper floor. The lower level is where you’ll find the E tables in the Eisner Level, as well as the Cartoonarium (where artists will be doing demos all weekend). Panels are upstairs in the amphitheater, workshops downstairs in the Eliot and Lesley Rooms, with the schedule here.

MICE show hours are a nicely humane 10:00am to 6:00pm tomorrow, 20 October, and 11:00am to 5:00pm Sunday, 21 October. MICE is free and open to the public.


Spam of the day:

Find Love With a Beautiful Russian Woman

And yet, you advertise yourself as Ukraine Dating Agency, not recognizing that Ukrainians and Russians are not the same. Curious.

Building Interest

We at Fleen have, on more than once occasion, taken note of newly-launched webcomics and made recommendations regarding the same; it’s rare for us to point readers at new new work without a track record from the creator (cf: Skin Horse was recommended on Day One, pretty much sight unseen, because Shaenon Garrity is very good at webcomics¹). You gotta have at least a couple weeks in the archive so we can see where the story’s going.

Sometimes creators launch and run one strip a day; sometimes, it’s less often. Mostly, they’re full of ideas and running each update as soon as it’s drawn and then they miss a day … and another. Like I once got quoted in an academic treatise for saying, there’s a million webcomics, and maybe one in ten will ever update more than a handful of times².

The smart creators get a couple dozen strips in the archive to start, but most of them release that entire chunk at launch, so you can see where the story’s going and that’s great, but it can be a challenge (particularly in this post-RSS world) to go from read a bunch of strips all at once to accept a much slower pace when I got used to reading a bunch of strips all at once.

Sophie Yanow has taken another approach. You may recall her work from longform contributions to Retrofit or reportage via The Nib (the most recent of which ran yesterday, a reprinting of her contribution to the Death issue, which was really damn good), and her online work goes back nearly ten years.

What she hasn’t done in that time is a serialized webcomic story, and that changed this week with the launch of The Contradictions, which is an autobiographically-inspired story about a 20ish queer person learning to navigate — lots, really. Themselves, the world, adulthood, all of it.

The art is full of bold, chunky, black-and-white contrasts (it reminds me a bit of European alternative comics creators like Joost Swarte) and the story is unfolding via an introspective narration. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m disparaging her earlier work, but this feels so much more polished and assured than what I’ve seen from her previously; it’s really good.

The Contradictions is intended for weekly updates, but the first bunch of pages are running over 30 consecutive days; since launch two days ago, five pages have gone up, which means by the time Yanow settles down to her weekly schedule, we may have somewhere upwards of 80 or 90 pages to get us good and hooked. Note also that she said updates will occur weekly (until the story is done), each of which I suspect will comprise multiple pages.

No indication how long a story The Contradictions will be, but I suspect that over the next six? twelve? months, we’ll get the equivalent of a graphic novel, the sort that’s already reading like the kind that gets recognized by the Ignatz or Cartoonist Studio Prize juries. And yeah, five pages and three days is really damn early for a recommendation to read, but that should tell you how much promise The Contradictions is showing already. Dive in.


Spam of the day:

End Years of Toenail Fungus With This Simple Solution

I’m actually curious if they mean solution as in the means to eliminate a problem or as in a mixture of a solvent and a solute. I’m really hoping it’s the latter.

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¹ Also Radness Queen of the tiki-intensive corners of the Bay Area, and one third of the Nexus Of All Webcomics.

² Of those that do, maybe one in ten will ever be read by more than the immediate friends and family of the creator; of those that do, maybe one in ten will continue regularly and develop art/story as they progress; of those that do, maybe one in ten will ever make their creator more than beer money. That’s 100 or so left over that are making their living, which seems about right.

I Love Free Stuff

I have, perhaps, mentioned The Nib once or twice in the past here at Fleen. You have, perhaps, backed the Kickstarter that launched their quarterly themed magazine, each issue of which is full of original cartoons on a single topic. If so, by now you’ve received the first issue, Death, printed on ridiculously heavy stock and sealed against both rough handling and the possible escape of ink aroma¹. You may even be aware that The Nib has launched a membership subscription program to support their efforts online (including their animated offerings) and the magazine.

You might not be aware that two of the above things overlap to your benefit.

If you supported the Kickstarter, watch your email thanking you for joining the subscription program (The Inkwell, by name). I mean, if subscribing at the appropriate level is enough to get the magazine, it makes sense that getting the magazine means you should get some of the perks of subscription — phone wallpapers for a start, maybe more later. It also explains the description of the Kickstarter reward — The Print Magazine, Early Bird Special. Sure, we got our issues of Death prior to the official debut at SPX, but Early Birds at Kickstarter are traditionally not just early shipping, but also a discount. The KS backers got the first year for US$10/issue, and subscriptions that include the print collection start at US$4/month or US$12 per issue. Eight bucks savings, woo!

It also answers what The Nib’s model for the second and subsequent years would be — you wouldn’t want to Kickstart every year to figure out your operating budget, not when you’ve already commissioned the comics (printing must have started almost immediately after the funds cleared, and people were receiving their copies less than a month after the campaign closed). At present, there are only month-to-month subscriptions, no annual plans or specific print subscriptions; we’ll see what gets offered in the coming months. Me, I’d like to pay once a year (even perhaps a bit more than month-to-month) because I hate auto-repeating charges on my credit card.

But you know what? Death was damn good. I’ve got about 10 months to decide if I want to put up with a month-to-month, but if the next three issues are as good as the first one? I’ll be signing up.


Spam of the day:

Yikes – Get Covered Now Low Monthly Rate

That’s … strange wording for convincing me to buy insurance.

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¹ I’ve never experienced such a strong smell off any printed material, including scratch-n-sniff features.