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:

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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.

A Couple Of Minutes And A Couple Of Bucks

I wanted to share with you something I received yesterday, something that if you were to act on it, say, today or later, that will absolutely not be a problem. It’s about the cost of comics.

Producing comics costs money, and it should be in all circumstances that the dominant cost is paying the creators. By a fluke of timing, yesterday also brought forth a damning bit of reporting into throwback practices of the bad old days from a huckster who should be avoided at all costs. If you’re thinking of getting into comics remember that the first rule is money flows to the creator(s).

For a hell of a contrast to Andrew Rev¹, consider that for years now, The Nib has been putting out comics five days a week, and paying the best rates seen since the heyday when every general-audience magazine ran cartoons and there were people making mortgage payments on homes with pools in Connecticut from making those cartoons. These days, it’s pretty much The New Yorker and The Nib. But unlike the heyday of general-audience magazines, anybody can read their stuff for free, no subscription required, and so there’s an appeal that was sent to everybody that’s signed up for their newsletter (which is free and separate from their Inkwell subscriber program). They’re asking people for a few bucks:

This week’s Nib comics cost $2,500. Will you help us cover it?
Each week at The Nib we publish thousands of dollars in comics — most of them original works we’ve commissioned from our artists. A short comic you read on the site costs $300, while our long form often goes over $1,000.

Producing comics isn’t cheap and we have no financial backing other than our monthly members. This is an entirely reader-funded publication.

So we’re setting modest goal of raising $2,500 in donations [14 October 2020] to cover our costs of publishing.

That’s it. If all our readers gave us $10, we’d fund our publishing efforts well into next year!

Ten bucks. If you read The Nib online, can you make a one-time donation of ten bucks? I’m a monthly subscriber and also buy all of the The Nib’s print collections, which comes to maybe six hundo over the lifetime of the site; Matt Bors isn’t asking for class money, he’s asking for ten bucks, once.

If you’ve thought about being a subscriber and this is a good time for US$4/month (or more — more is good) instead of ten bucks once, that’s also a great idea. If you don’t like the thought of an ongoing subscription and another account that needs to be updated the next time TJMaxx or whoever has a data breach and you get a new credit card, I get it … maybe take that US$48 that represents a one-year subscription and send it over all at once.

You can donate here. A few minutes, a few bucks. I’ve always figured my fair contribution to creators at about US$0.10/page (which is about the cost of a print collection), and The Nib does at least three short comics/day (with much longer ones interspersed), so that’s at least a buck and a half a week, or six bucks a month — that lowest level of subscription is a bargain, and a tenner will cover your moral obligation for most of two months.

Comics cost, and money flows to the creators. You’re here because you love comics. Take a few minutes, take the credit card equivalent of the change jar you have on the table by where you keep your keys, and join with others to keep the comics coming and the money flowing in the right direction.

And for the love of all that’s holy, if you’re a creator read that longer piece linked above and never work for Terrific Production.


Spam of the day:

Smart way that can do your ear clean within seconds

This is just that mind-control bug thing from Wrath Of Khan, isn’t it?

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¹ The most vile part of the contracts in that story, for me, wasn’t the We don’t have to pay you until COVID has been defeated to a mathematically impossible degree clause. It was the part that says you’re exclusively tied to Terrific as long as they aren’t more than 45 days late in paying you. Who the hell expects that a contract that says I can violate my obligations to you for a month and a half and it’s all good won’t immediately turn into permission to do exactly that, forever?

Birthaversary!

As has been noted in the past, there are certain folks within the webcomics ambit that have closely-aligned significant dates; Ryan North and John Allison, for example, share a birthdate, and I am a co-birthdayist with Jon Rosenberg. Dylan Meconis and her wife, Katie Lane¹, have two birthdays and an anniversary on three consecutive days.

And today, the 6th of October, one may find celebrations of the birth of Ananth Hirshbon vivant, man about town, possessor of the best poker face in history — and also eight years since the awesome wedding² of Holly Jeffrey Rowland.

Today is also the day that we found out who the 2020 MacArthur Fellows are (no [web]comics folks this year, but still a stunning cross-disciplinary collection of people representing the breadth of human endeavours) and the winners of the Harvey Awards, which will be formally presented by streaming ceremony on Friday evening, in conjunction with virtual NYCC.

  • The Book Of The Year and Best Children Or Young Adult Book went to Gene Yang for Dragon Hoops and Superman Smashes The Klan, respectively; the latter is shared with Gurihiru as the artists. The former was up against the likes of Lynda Barry and Tillie Walden’s Are You Listening? (one of my favorite books of the past year), along with Chris Ware, Eleanor Davis, and more.

    The latter was an even more impressive win, as Yang was competing against himself (Dragon Hoops being double-nominated), Guts, Stargazing, and Almost American Girl. It’s pretty unheard of to go against Raina with a Raina-alike book and then defeat both of them with the cheeriest story about stomping Nazis ever. Also, although I never got back to Books 2 and 3 of SSTK, let me say that Yang not only gets Superman better than anybody in the past couple of decades, his Lois Lane is perfect.

  • Digital Book Of The Year went to The Nib which I’m not sure is a book in the way the other nominees were, but certainly well-deserved. Matt Bors and his co-conspirators do amazing work, five days a week.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to check back in on the Ringo Awards, due to be announced in a few weeks. It’s finally acknowledged (as near as I can tell, the announcement about two hours after I last wrote about it) that Baltimore Comic Con ain’t happening in person, and the awards will be streamed from the virtual BCC. So, glad to see sanity prevailing.


Spam of the day:

Alison Wethering wrote: Hey, great site! Have you thought about adding a video in response to COVID-19?

I believe that I am firmly on the record that my response to COVID is Isolate and wear a mask, or stay the fuck away from me forever, you plague rats.

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¹ Light-ning Law-yer!!

² No cake at this shindig, there was an ice cream truck complete with Choco Tacos.

Defining Moments

Sometimes, you come across a comic and you’re convinced that this is what the creator(s) regard(s) as their defining work (at least to date). There’s previous stuff from them, and later stuff, but this is where they plant a flag and pour their heart and soul into it even if that wasn’t their original intent.

It can be fairly obvious where that labor of love is (case in point: The Abominable Charles Christopher, running in fits and starts but Karl Kerschl will always come back to it) and sometimes there’s so much work, so good, so invested, that you aren’t sure if you’ve seen it yet (case in point: I’m not sure if Box Brown would regard any of his projects that way, although I suspect either the André or Andy Kaufman bios could come closest).

But I think the key indicator is not only somebody making a great work, but finding ways to return to it, no matter what gets in the way. Which is a long way of saying that for Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, I think Barbarous fills that role for them. They’ve done plenty of great work, together and individually, and it’s hard to get more personal than an autobio diary strip¹, but I think that the depth of character and sheer artistic skill on display in their story of a magic school dropout and her unconventional familiar pal just may be their defining work.

And lucky for you, it’s at the perfect point to get caught up — five story arcs² comprising Season 1 (with some canon side-stories drawn by pals starting next week), with infinite re-readability (every time I go back, there’s more layers that reveal themselves), and best of all — a beginning, middle, and end such that if we have to wait until never for Season 2 (because they are busy folks, and there’s paying jobs to get to), it’ll still feel complete while making us want more.

Hirsh and Ota have decades of comic-making experience between them³, all leading to this deceptively deep story; they’ll have more in the future, some that may be better known or more widely read, but I really do think this is where they will look back after a long and lauded career and say Yeah, that one could only have been told by us.


Spam of the day:

Dear Valued Candidate,
You were recently nominated as a biographical candidate for the next edition of Who’ s Who In America. We are pleased to inform you that the first phase of your candidacy was approved! Your prompt response is needed to ensure your complete professional information is considered.

I haven’t seen this particular scam since I was in high school. Respect for pulling out the deep cut.

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¹ One that, a dozen years on, makes you wonder if you want to keep sharing your life with strangers on the internet forever.

² Including one that was the NCS Division Award winner for Online Comic — Longform for 2018. The first two of which are collected into massive oversized print editions, and the third is in the fulfillment pipeline, and the fourth just completed its funding round. Me? I’m waiting for the inevitable Season 1 omnibus.

³ Also, they are cool people and have been to my house and pet my dog.

Book News!

Whee doggie, buncha news for you today (okay, some of it’s a couple days old but today’s when we got to it). Let’s dig in.

Y’know, I had three other books to talk about today, but running things down on the Internet Archive is a time-consuming business, so we’ll come back to them tomorrow. See you back here then.


Spam of the day:

Amazing Invention Takes Over Control of Any Barking Dog

I have a greyhound. They are notoriously rare barkers.

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¹ That one is from the Wayback Machine because the original is offline which … it was full of NSFW stuff which would seem to make it a natural for appropriation by scammers, but it hasn’t been. Weird.

Busy Weekend

You know, what with two different sets of comics awards being given out, nominally from different coasts but practically speaking all from the confines of cyberspace.

  • On the delayed hand, you had NCSFest handing out the various NCS Division Awards, along with the Reuben¹. In the Online Comics categories, you had wins by Alec Longstreth (Long Form) and Jim Benton (Short Form); the latter wouldn’t have been my votegetter if I had a vote, but I can’t say it’s undeserving; I can say it was probably the most familiar work for the membership who, as previously noted, notoriously skew old.

    Which might explain why The Reuben itself went to the oldest nominee, one with a career stretching back four decades. A’course, the oldest nominee is the deeply subversive living legend Lynda Barry, whose work is most definitely not what I’d have expected the older members to vote for. It’s hard argue with the choice, and easy to argue that there might not have been a Raina Telgemeier if not for Lynda Barry’s deeply personal, memoirlike work (which started in print when Raina was about 2 years old) blazing the way. So no complaints here — Raina’s mantlepiece is getting a bit crowded anyway — and I suspect every one of the other nominees up for the top prize agreed that Barry was the right choice.

    As a side note, I see that Joe Wos — once a recurring name on this page during his years of directing Pittsburgh’s now-folded Toonseum — was given the division award for Variety Entertainment for his Mazetoons. Congrats, Joe.

  • And on schedule (although distanced), the Ignatzen were also presented on Saturday, and managed a simultaneous best-and-worst outcome in the same category. Do a quick refresh on the dilemma that the Ignatz Awards found themselves in this year and you’ll understand. Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is a creator whose work I deeply admire and, I daresay, a friend. The work for which she was nominated as Outstanding Artist, the short story collection Don’t Go Without Me, is magnificent and entirely worthy of the brick.

    But Valero-O’Connell was also on the jury. And while I stand second to no person in my love of and evangelical fervor for her work, and I recognize the accomplishment of being only the second person to win Outstanding Artist twice² and the only one to repeat in back-to-back years, I wish that it hadn’t happened. I do think that this situation has lessened the credibility of the Ignatz Awards, and I really, really hope that they write some ground rules to ensure that this appearance of a conflict of interest cannot happen again.

    Looking at other winners, Ebony Flowers has had nearly as good a year on the awards circuit as Valero-O’Connell; last year she took the Promising New Talent brick for the short story Hot Comb and this year for the expanded print collection incorporating it (also titled Hot Comb), she’s recognized for Outstanding Graphic Novel. Ariel Ries received bricks for Outstanding Online Comic (for Witchy) and Outstanding Comic (for Cry Wolf Girl); if you weren’t following her work before, you really should be.

    Outstanding Anthology went to Be Gay, Do Comics by the various contributors of The Nib. Look, you know that on a daily basis, it’s the most wide-ranging source of original editorial and nonfiction comics around, with a list of contributors that kicks every ass. Curating their best work on a theme is something that Matt Bors, Eleri Harris, and Matt Lubchansky were going to throw themselves into, and produce something terrific.

    Speaking of The Nib, Whit Taylor’s contributions there have always impressed the hell out of me (as well as everyplace else her work runs), and today she must take some solace in the fact that after two years of utter bullshit being inflicted on her in the form of a baseless lawsuit³, her Fizzle took the Ignatz for Oustanding Series and nobody can remember that other guy’s name. Seriously, I had to look him up, whereas members of The Eleven keep getting recognized for their work. It was a long, expensive, pointless road, but I have to imagine that the heft of that brick is gonna feel really good in Taylor’s hands.


Spam of the day:

As of today there is a limited supply of LUMIGUARD Solar Motion Sensor Floodlights Click the Button below to find out if they are still available.

I got something like this for literally twelve bucks at the local hardware store two years ago. It picks up the neighborhood outdoor cats when they wander by after dark. Why exactly do I need your more complicated and expensive version?

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¹ Yes, yes, common parlance refers to all of these awards as Reubens, but the term proper applies only to the Cartoonist Of The Year, the one chosen by the entirety of the NCS membership rather than those of a particular area. It’s the COTY that gets the fancy Rube Goldbergian trophy, where the division winners get a (admittedly, handsome and heavy) plaque.

² The first being Jaime Hernandez in 2007 and 2012.

³ Which resolved after tens of thousands of dollars of legal fees and the plaintiff not getting his US$2.5 million, which is apparently the going rate for butthurt in the first degree.

Appropriately Distanced Celebrations Of Comics

Just under ten years ago, David “Damn You” Willis launched his rebooted Walkyverse¹ comic, Dumbing Of Age. In the 9 years, 11 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days since then, the story has progressed from college move-in day through about … eight weeks of story. Up to midterms or so, a rate of about 5 days of story time per real-world year.

Since Sunday, the story has wordlessly jumped forward three whole months, saving us about 15 years of daily reading. Given that Thursday is the actual tenth anniversary, I expect we’ll get one more timeskip update tomorrow, and we’ll finally reach second semester on Thursday. Which means that in four strips, Willis has shifted the rate of story time:real time up to ten years per sememster, meaning we’ll see graduation sometime in 2090 instead of 2170 at the old rate.

Given that comic strips have a long history of being passed down to third and even fourth generation creative teams, I have no doubt that Dumbing Of Age will still be running when graduation comes in, whenever that may be. In any event, congratulations to Willis on ten years of DOA and 23 years of continuous webcomicking. That’s a damn big round number.

In other news:

  • We’re down to the wire on the Ignatz voting, with votes due before 9 September, which means you have until 11:59pm EDT to get yours in. The bricks will be awarded on Saturday the 12th, which is actually a very leisurely turnaround time for the Ignatzen, with the tallies normally taking between close of the exhibit hall and 9:30pm the same day.

    For reference, given the poor situation that the Ignatzes have found themselves in, I voted Michael DeForge for Outstanding Artist rather than personal fave Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. In the Outstanding Onnline Comic category, I had a dilemma because the work is all very good. But what do you do when end up with a short editorial comic like I Exist (by Breena Nuñez) up against a words+pictures poem like Like The Tide (by Isabella Rotman), an Insta account of single-panel gags (by Gabby Schulz), and a long-stretches-silent, page-a-week updater like Superpose (by Seosamh & Anka). I tossed my vote to Witchy (by Ariel Ries) because I dig the story. Good luck to all of the nominees.

  • Know what else is happening this weekend, virtually? NCSFest. I lost track of it in the lockdown, but I got an email today that it’s going on this weekend, including the Reuben Awards, which will be broken up into six separate programs (the programming page doesn’t have hard start times, but the day’s programming starts at 10:00am EDT).

    I wasn’t involved in the process this year, so I couldn’t tell you anything about the webcomic awards beyond what’s been publicly shared. The Online Comics — Long Form nominees are Steven Conley for The Middle Age, Maaria Laurinen for Phantomland, and Alec Longstreth for Isle Of Elsi. The most interesting thing there is that Phantomland is on Tapas, which is about three revolutions in comicking beyond what a large part of the NCS membership is aware of.

    The nominees for Online Comics — Short Form are Jim Benton, Christopher Grady, and Emma Hunsinger. The short forms don’t have specific titles to go with the creators, but I’ll wager that Hunsinger is on the list because of How To Draw A Horse as much as anything else. That’s magnificent work, but so is Grady’s Lunarbaboon. Benton’s a one-man IP factory, but I think he’s outclassed by the other two.

    But the Reubens news that has me most curious isn’t in the Online categories, it’s the Big Award Of The Night, the Cartoonist Of The Year, the one that’s gone to folks like Schulz, Johnston, Watterson, Larson, Trudeau, Amend, Thompson, Guisewite, and other legends of cartooning. The nominees are:

    That’s three solid practitioners of the comic strip and one living legend in Lynda Barry. Also, four nominees where normally there are only three². Also, three women. And … wait, I’m being told that there’s a fifth nominee:

    Okay, the NCS almost never nominates somebody whose work is outside the newsprint mode — comic strips, editorial comics, magazine work, all periodicals is my point — and the last one to win Cartoonist Of The Year from outside that world was Matt Groening back in 2002³. I don’t think they’ve ever recognized a graphic novelist, and certainly not anybody whose medium is middle grade autobio aimed at girls.

    That sound you hear is the industry coming to grips with the fact that the literal Old Boys Club is fading from existence and getting replaced by those damn Millennials. Gonna have to figure out when that broadcast is and pay some damn attention to it.

Edit to add: The NCSFest schedule page now has start times for sessions, instead of just durations.


Spam of the day:

Currency printed is NOT wealth, real wealth is what we produce (in terms and goods and services) and exchanged for currency (a measure of your productivity).

Oh crap, this is a pitch for some new blockchain fantasy, which is even more of a fiction that actual money. Go peddle your shit to somebody that’s bad at math.

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¹ So named because a series of related comics — Roomies!, It’s Walky!, Joyce And Walky!, and Shortpacked! — had one David “Walky” Walkerton as a central character, to whom all of the others could trace relationships. The Walkyverse itself debuted 13 years to the day before DOA.

² I mean, since Pastis broke his Susan Lucci streak last year, may as well open it up. [shrugmoji]

³ Okay, Glen Keane, animator, won a couple of years ago, but being the son of Bil Keane of The Family Circus means he’s part of that world. The only others I can think of are Sergio Aragonés and Will Eisner, the latter of whom won in 1998 — well past his creative peak, and clearly as a lifetime achievement.

Happy Fake Labor Day

What’s that? You didn’t know how this isn’t the real day to celebrate working folks, the one that’s celebrated around the world? Fortunately, The Nib has you covered, with a timely rerun from two years ago by Sam Wallman.

So in honor of the holiday (not that we can really tell the difference, as today is functionally March 192nd), this is going to be short post, letting you know about the winner of the Fleen Free Graphic Novel Giveaway. We took at look at the responses¹ and from them randomly picked Erik, who wrote:

I’ve been meaning to subscribe to The Nib for quite a while, and this is exactly the push over the line I’ve been needing. Regardless of whether I win a book, I’m subscribing now, for the foreseeable future given the level of content. And if by some chance my name gets pulled, I’d love the George Takei memoir – he’s been a superb role model for how to turn celebrity into positive social energy.

Everybody feel good for Erik! Once They Called Us Enemy gets delivered, there will be a selfie that we’ll run here.

Oh, and as a quick reminder, today is the premiere of Elinor Wonders Why; you can look up broadcast times for your local PBS station at PBS.org and clicking on the link for TV Schedules, which should take you to your local PBS station; for those of you in the NYC metro area, Channel 13 has it at 10:30am and 1:30pm.

That’s it, everybody; enjoy the day, read about the history of the labor movement or other attempts at progress and justice, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.


Spam of the day:

Hey, great site. Are you guys still open? I’m reaching out businesses who need more customers right away. Here’s how we can increase the visitors to your business immediately

Reply to spam of the day:

If I were any more open, I’d be the Goatse guy!

I swear I actually replied to the email with this. I am both proud and not proud of this.

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¹ Since we posted the contest, we at Fleen have become aware of an irregular email issue where some senders (but not all, and even those that are affected aren’t affected all the time) are getting errors that the domain fleen.com doesn’t exist. I spent some time with tech support today and it’s a nameserver issue, the resolution to which will take another day or two to spread. If you got bounced on your entry, I’m very sorry and better luck next time we give something away.

Free Book For You, Maybe

If there’s one thing true about the opinions of all of us at Fleen, it’s the unnecessarily-pluralized identity that we at Fleen have adopted. But if there’s a second true thing, it’s that we at Fleen are big fans of The Nib. Editor Matt Bors and his staff have put together something special, and if you aren’t supporting them in their mission to bring the best comics possible to the world — while fairly paying the people who make them — then you should be.

But sometimes we need a little push.

I support The Nib with a monthly subscription at a level that qualified me to receive a free book; to be honest, I’d forgotten about it, so when I got the email on Friday with the discount code, it was a surprise. Some of what’s on offer I’ve read already, some of what’s on offer is on my Gotta Get That list, some of what’s on offer I’d never heard of before, but Bors & Co have excellent curation skills and I have no doubt the stuff that new to me belongs on the GGTL.

I’ve also got completely packed booskhelves with a one-in/one-out policy in effect, and a desire to not only talk about The Nib, but to get people to give them money. So here’s the deal: I’m giving away my free book to one of you, gratis. More specifically:

  • This offer is good for people that are not presently subscribers to The Nib; we’re looking to expand the subscriber base.
  • You’ll get to pick from any of the books on this page (which includes the individual past issues of The Nib magazine, but not the bundle of the first four issues combined).
  • We’ll choose randomly from everybody that emails me (that would be gary) at a domain which is also the name of this website, which is a dot-com by end of Friday, 4 September. Heck, if your email is in my inbox by the time I wake up Saturday morning (EDT), I’ll count it.
  • You’ll agree to a) subscribe to The Nib at any level you choose for at least six months. Want to cancel after that? Fine; if they can’t hook you in half a year of excellent editorial and nonfiction comics, it’s not for you. You’ll also send in a photo of you holding your choice to run here, so we can all see what good taste in reading material you have.
  • You don’t need to send proof of subscription or subscribe in advance to enter our little giveaway; we at Fleen like to think that we’ve promoted a readership that wouldn’t take advantage or go back on their word. And heck, if in a couple of months you’re in such financial straits that keeping a US$4+ subscription is a hardship, it’s not like we’re gonna yell at you. Your good faith attempt is all we’re asking.
  • You agree that if you don’t love the book you chose, or if at any time in the future you find yourself ready to get rid of it, you’ll donate it to your local public library.
  • Residents of the United States only, please. I don’t regret the ultimately futile attempt at sending a book to Mario from Portugal, but I’m ready for a success this time.

But, Gary!, I hear you cry, I’m already a subscriber to The Nib! What kind of cool stuff can I get in on? Glad you asked, Sparky. How about the new Skin Horse Kickstarter? Harking back to the top of the page, if there’s a third thing that we at Fleen are known for, it’s thinking that Skin Horse, by Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey C Wells (with colors by Pancha Diaz), is hell of rad, and not just because there’s historically a 50/50 chance that something I’ve written ends up on the back cover as a blurb¹.

Actually, it’s two books, containing strips from 2 October 2017 to 7 March 2020, which if my date math is correct corresponds to 762 full color strips, plus bonus stories, which you can get in print starting at US$40 (you can also get the full ten book run in PDF for US$40, so read the descriptions carefully). 30 days to go on the campaign, which is just over 180% of goal so far. It’s a terrifically fun story with lots of ups and downs, and there’s no time like the present to jump in and enjoy the mad science, non-human intelligence, and omnipresent civil service bureaucracy. Plus goinking.


Spam of the day:

Get an accurate body temperature reading at a distance with this medical-grade infrared thermometer.

Or, y’know, just get one from Home Depot like I did. Okay, it’s industrial and I use it on my oven, but there’s medical use infrareds online for as little as twelve bucks. Don’t let these opportunists talk you into something that can be had in exchange for three easy payments.

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¹ For the record, existing volumes 4, 5, 6, and 8 contain quotes from me, alongside such luminaries as Mark Waid, Dylan Meconis, Lauren Davis, Seanan Maguire, Brigid Alverson, and Christopher Baldwin. I’m also quoted on the cmpaign page for these two books, with one of my more tortured constructions, but one which I think sums up Skin Horse nicely.

Ringo Redux

Revisiting yesterday’s post, we can add a bit more on the two things that got way the hell under my skin, the lack of a nominees listing for the Ringo Awards and the reality-blind full speed ahead intention of the Baltimore Comic Con to take place in person. Let’s take ’em in reverse order.

  • The BCC (that would be the Con) seems intent on the fiction that in two months, they’ll be seeing all of you in 3D at the BCC (that would be the Baltimore Convention Center). One more reason that the Con Committee needs to change their messaging to Sorry, we’ll see you in 2021, everybody be safe was added in a comment by reader Rob Nobody:

    I feel compelled to point out that the Baltimore Convention Center is ALSO the primary public COVID-19 testing center in Baltimore. (I just got tested today for the second time; very quick and smooth operation and have been getting our results in ~36 hours, highly recommend as much as one CAN recommend getting that thing jabbed up your nose into your sinuses.) So yeah, if the Comic Con people think they have a chance in hell of actually doing this in person, they are in for a RUDE awakening.

    Just pointing that out because the ConCom apparently doesn’t know.

  • Right, the Ringos. They are, hands down, the weirdest awards in comics, with a complex structure designed (at least it’s my reading) to deal with the critiques that jury-nominated awards don’t match up with fan interests, and fan-nominated awards can be gamed by block voting. Thus, there are four entirely different kinds of awards at the Ringos:
    • OPEN+JURY NOMINATED AWARDS: Two nominees will be selected by an open, online nomination process. The remaining three nominees will be selected by a jury of comics industry professionals. A tie among the jury’s choices may result in more than five nominees in a category.
    • OPEN NOMINATED AND VOTED AWARDS: All the nominees and the winner of these five categories will be selected by open voting. The five top Fan-Only Favorites will be announced at the Award Ceremony in September at the Baltimore Comic-Con. A winner in a given year’s Fan Favorite category is not eligible to be nominated in that category the following year.
    • THE MIKE WIERINGO SPIRIT AWARD: The nominated works will be voted on by the professional jury as well as three additional, perennial jurors: Matt Wieringo, Todd Dezago, and Mark Waid.
    • THE HERO INITIATIVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AND DICK GIORDANO HUMANITARIAN AWARDS: These award are selected by Hero Initiative and will be announced at the Ringo Awards Ceremony.

    It’s only the first cohort that has a proper ballot, as the second is all write-in and the third and fourth are closed processes. Since we spoke yesterday, the Ringos have made public the nominees for the 17 Open+Jury categories, 8 which have five nominees and 9 of which have between 6 and 9 nominees. Folks, this is getting overly complicated already.

    Look, I’m not going to fault the jury for having ties, but when you’re supposed to come up with 3 nominees and you end up with as many as 7, you need to pare that down a little. I’ve been part of a jury process eight times (holy crap), and we’ve had protracted voting rounds to get down to three nominees every single time.

    You’ve got to work it down because if you’ve got eight or nine nominees, you’re going to have a winner with somewhere in the 20% range of votes. It’s a situation tailor-made to get the most excitable, antisocial, attack-oriented chuds (and no, I’m not naming their little hate movement here because fuck those guys) screaming about how the real fans were excluded by secret SJW cabals trying to destroy comics and also tits.

    Anyways, you can find web- and indie comickers up and down the ballot, including in Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist) (which features alternative/political comics makers alongside arthouse comics makers alongside strip cartoonists alongside monthly floppy folks alongside Raina, just in case you were wondering), Best Writer (where you’ll find Mariko Tamaki), Best Artist Or Penciller (including Fleen fave Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell), Best Single Issue Or Story (which includes Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers), Best Original Graphic Novel (Hot Comb again but weirdly this category has essentially zero overlap with the Cartoonist, Writer, and Artist categories in terms of people and their work both being nominated), Best Comic Strip Or Panel (including Nancy by Olivia Jaimes, Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen, The Middle Age by Steve Conley, and specifically Pia Guerra’s comics at The Nib but looks like not anybody else), and Best Kids Comic Or Graphic Novel (Guts).

    The Best Webomic category has seven nominees:

    The category is dominated that what you’d call graphic novels updated in chunks, with only Penny Arcade following the strip format.

    But the one that’s most unlike the others is Rocío Diestra, which is a) on Instagram (which means I can’t really read it because fuck Zuckerberg), b) single comics panels interspersed with photos and other content, and c) in Spanish. From what I can see, the art style is reminiscent of Gemma Correll, so that’s all right. I’m intrigued and honestly surprised that Americans would nominate something not in English.

If you want to vote on stuff, you can do so here. The winners will be announced on 24 October, but despite what both websites say there is zero chance that this will be a presentation at Baltimore Comic Con.


Spam of the day:

In general, I recently broke up with our mutual friend (if interested, I’ll tell you later when we meet)
Well, now I need a man for hot, but very pleasant meetings.

The only mutual friend we might have that speaks Russian is John, who I knew in college, and who learned to drink from Russians one summer on a work exchange in Orel back before the Berlin Wall came down (and thus was responsible a year later for the single most epic drunk incident at my college in the entirety of the 80s). He’s why I have a genuine Red Army furry hat, which he got in trade for an old, worn-out pair of New Balances I was going to discard. Fun fact: John’s wife doesn’t speak Russian so I think you might be fibbing.