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.

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.

_______________
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.

Ignatz 2018 And Also Fleen Book Minicorner

First up, the nominations hit in the last hour or so, and Fleen congratulates not only the nominees for Outstanding Online Comic, but also the web-type folks who are peppered throughout the other categories. OOC first, then:

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal (originally on Instagram, now most easily read on Webtoon), The Wolves Outside by Jesse England, A Fire Story by Brian Fies, Lara Croft Was My Family by Carta Monir, and A Part of Me is Still Unknown by Meg O’Shea. I’m not familiar with England’s work, and I know I’ve read Dhaliwal’s but don’t recall all the details; I remember reading Fies’s, Monir’s, and O’Shea’s and am pleased to see them here.

Other nominations of note include Say It With Noodles: On Learning To Speak The Language Of Food by the Sawdust Bear/Space Gnome/Paul Bunyan fetishist, Shing Yin Khor (for Outstanding Minicomic and How The Best Hunter In The Village Met Her Death by Molly Ostertag (who is having such a good year) for Outstanding Story, both of which appeared online originally, but which will be available from their respective creators at SPX on 15-16 September at the Bethesda North Marriott.

Right, books:

  • If you’ve got a kid in the house, they undoubtedly know Gene Yang already; if they’re even a little geeky, they’ve probably been reading the Secret Coders series by Yang (words) and Mike Holmes (pictures), which wraps up with its sixth installment in a few weeks.

    Along the way they’ve followed the story of Hopper, Eni (whose name turns out to be … no, no, you’ll just have to wait) and Josh as they’ve learned some fairly sophisticated programming in LOGO¹, solved a mystery, and dealt with … let us say a romance of many dimensions. Highly recommended for the budding problems solver in your orbit, and since book 6 (Monsters & Modules) doesn’t drop until 2 October, you’ve got time for them to make their way through the first five books².

  • And another book, one that you can read, I’ma say in the next week, week and a half. Longtime readers of this page know that I am fully, 100% in the tank for KB “Otter” Spangler’s A Girl And Her Fed, and particularly the associated novels. I mentioned AGAHF last week, in conjunction with a turning point in the story, and Spangler’s got more to say on the topic today (I’m linking to the crosspost at her writing blog, because the comic’s newsposts don’t have permalinks), and especially about the book in question:

    In fact, the next Hope Blackwell book comes out this week! It’s the story of what happened after Thomas Paine showed up in Mare’s kitchen and told her about the Afterlife. There are chupacabras.

    I’m not naming the novel in question because Spangler hasn’t released the title publicly, but she did let me read an advance copy and if you are a fan of words, you’ll find something here to love. Yes, monsters, and yes what happens when a nun with very proper sensibilities butts head with an ADHD-afflicted narrator with a potty mouth. There’s odd bits of history that really happened, and the most intelligent person in the world is an asshole for shits and giggles, and trustfund ghost-hunter wannabes.

    But mostly it’s a story about trauma. About the hurts — some physical, some not — that we shove down and try to forget, and how they come screaming back to the surface when our defenses are down. You can laugh and deflect and delay, but trauma finds a way. You have to grow through it, and Spangler’s subjected her characters to more growth — kicking and screaming, in most cases — than anybody this side of Randy Milholland or Meredith Gran.

    Spangler doesn’t always have a lot of sympathy for her characters, but there’s empathy in spades. She specializes in damaged, quasi-terrible people doing the right thing despite the costs, people who have no fucks left to give but plenty of damns³. Plus, we send each other Sharktopuses. Anybody that you can send a Sharktopus to is by definition a quality person.

    Title To Be Revealed: A Hope Blackwell Novel releases sometime this week, maybe next — there’s cover artwork to be finished, final passes on the various e-book encodings to do, all the last minute stuff. When it’s out, you can find it on Spangler’s book page for a ridiculously reasonable sum, and I’m sure she’ll make mention in her tweets.


Spam of the day:

Dear Gary, You are invited to attend Passionflix’s World Premiere of New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg’s Driven series [date redacted]. [In attendance will be] Tosca Musk ?(Passionflix co-founder, director), Maye Musk (COVERGIRL® supermodel)

Not really my beat, but FYI, that director and supermodel in attendance? They are, respectively, Elon Musk’s sister and mom. I just found that interesting.

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¹ And really, it’s less about the coding language and more about learning to think in a problem-solving manner. The language could have been entirely made up and it would have had just as much impact.

² As always, thanks to the fine folks at :01 Books for the review copy.

³ Hat tip for that turn of phrase to Helen Rosner, whose brilliance at Twitter is surpassed only by her brilliance at The New Yorker.

Counting Down To The Holiday

Okay so our Friends To The North celebrated their big holiday already, and we here in ‘Merika won’t until tomorrow, but the holiday doldrums are well upon us. Not much going on, but there is one thing to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks:

On July 17 we’re Kickstarting The Nib Magazine, a 100 page print quarterly. The first four issues — Death, Family, Empire and Scams — have been in the works all year and we will hit send to the printer the second it’s funded.

All new comics every issue — journalism, strips, Nib crew, Intercept journalists, names from mainstream comics. I can’t wait to drop who is on board.

That from The Nib editor and driving force Matt Bors, who’s shepherded the editorial/reportage comics site from (intermittently neglected) Medium section to big-ass book to recurring calendar to animated series, the contributors to which keep showing up in consideration of various awards.

You’ve got two weeks notice. Be prepared.

And I just realized that I haven’t discussed this year’s Eisner nominations, on account of they came out while I was at Camp. As we’ve seen in the past forever or so, the distinctions between Best Digital Comic and Best Webcomic are confusing and/or confused, and which are described as:

For the Best Digital Comic category, works must be longform — that is, comparable to comic books or graphic novels in storytelling or length. Webcomics similar to daily newspaper strips, for example, would not be eligible. Digital comics should have a unique URL, be part of a webcomics site, or otherwise stand alone (not be part of a blog, for instance).

So webcomics are defined by what they aren’t rather than by what they are, but for the most part they’ve come to largely be creator-owned work without publisher gatekeeping (although there are a couple of fascinating exceptions in the Best Webcomic Category. This year’s nominees are:

Best Digital Comic

  • Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)
  • Barrier, by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin (Panel Syndicate)
  • The Carpet Merchant of Konstaniniyya, by Reimena Yee (reimenayee.com/the-carpet-merchant)
  • Contact High, by James F. Wright and Josh Eckert (gumroad.com/l/YnxSm)
  • Harvey Kurtzman’s Marley’s Ghost, by Harvey Kurtzman, Josh O’Neill, Shannon Wheeler, and Gideon Kendall (comiXology Originals/Kitchen, Lind & Associates)
  • Quince, by Sebastian Kadlecik, Kit Steinkellner, and Emma Steinkellner, translated by Valeria Tranier (Fanbase Press/comiXology)

Best Webcomic

I’ll go out on a limb and say that Carpenter & Powell, and Halpern & Sloan were doing Work For Hire; I’ll also note that O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society is functionally indistinct from what the Eisners call a Digital Comic — to the extent that she and it are also nominated in the category of Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12).

Outside the immediately applicable categories, you’ll find Giant Days (John Allison, Max Sarin, and Liz Fleming) nominated as Best Continuing Series, Spinning (Tillie Walden) in both Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) and Best Reality-Based Work, What Is Left (Rosemary Valero-O’Connell) in both Best Single Issue/One-Shot and Best Coloring, and Elements: Fire (edited by Taneka Stotts) in Best Anthology¹.

The Eisner Awards will be presented on Friday, 20 July, as part of San Diego Comic Con. Best of luck to all the nominees.


Spam of the day:

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I’ve often wondered if there was some way to make Russian mail-order bride spam not the ickiest thing in the spam filters, and … ick. Just ick.

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¹ Presumably, if it wins, Stotts will have Shing Yin Khor devise some means of breaking up the statue into components that can be distributed to the contributors.

Okay, Is There At Least A Translation For “Clark Kent”?

Hey, you! Are you just sitting on the couch, wishing you knew what happened at Lyon BD? Of course you are, because Fleen readers have a deep and abiding appreciation for webcomics from all corners of the globe, but especially for those where Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin can provide us with insight and analysis. In which case, we’ve got a treat for you today.

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French language comics festivals come in many sizes and shapes: in a huge convention center (though that is mostly the purview of anime cons) or in the premises of a business school, in the vicinity of Paris or many hours of travel away (to say nothing of those taking place outside Europe), centered around anime or around bandes dessinées (with sometimes some U.S. comics on the side), with excellent programming and exhibitions or with none at all, only creators, etc. Some of which I even went to since my last con report in Saint-Malo.

But Lyon BD is easily my favorite. They allow significant space for independent creators and publishers, treat attendees and exhibitors well (as well as hack webcomics pseudojournalists — yes, against all reason they again provided me with press credentials), have a good balance of scale and intimacy, feature very interesting exhibitions, etc. And it was a pleasure to come back after last year.

I do not have as much to report on this year, though: how can you beat the presence of Scott McCloud as a source of interest for Fleen readers? Still, I was able to gather a number of interesting tidbits.

  • The setup was improved from last year, with the tent on the place des Terreaux not only covering more surface (among other reasons because the fountain at the center of the plaza was no longer covered by scaffolding), but also having air conditioning! I know, not the most environmentally-friendly improvement, but when you’re wearing a Superman T-shirt, white shirt, and blue suit in order to cosplay Clark Kent, you selfishly welcome it.
  • Saturday morning had Pénélope Bagieu)¹ give a talk on her activities in the form of an interview in a small auditorium under the tent. Not much on what she’s currently working on except that it is for younger audiences than what she is used to, but she came back to Brazen, and one interesting tidbit is that she relied on written sources even for the women featured who are still alive today, and avoided going directly to them, so as to avoid making sort of “official biographies”; she has had some reactions from them now, especially after the English-language edition came out, mostly them being honored of being represented. However she had little choice when it came to Sonia Alizadeh given Bagieu had little information on her, so Bagieu contacted her to fill in the blanks; and as a result Bagieu did get some pushback on some aspects of the finished work, mostly how her mother is represented, and that Bagieu had to take into account.

    Later on, a member of the public asked if she had found what she was looking for in the U.S. (she has been living in Brooklyn for the last three years or so), and she answered that it had allowed her to get out of her routine and find renewed interest in her craft for instance; working on Brazen came naturally as soon as she was installed. She is also getting inspired by local architecture (including escape stairs), though whenever she comes back to France she does keep an appreciation for French architecture. Lastly, she is keeping contact with the local indie scene, which is widely more active than it is in France.

    After that interview, she was signing for most of the festival. You would think that with the last volume of Culottées having come out more than one year ago, and the omnibus in 2017, more than six months ago, pressure would have abated somewhat … but you would be wrong. Her line was packed with people clutching their copy of Culottées for most of the festival, with mostly women waiting in line, I must unfortunately report. Guys, if Gary and I enjoyed it, you can too.

  • An updated version of the Hero-ine-s exhibition was on display for the festival, now featuring pieces from international creators: it was updated and translated in English for the purposes of the Lakes Comic Art Festival in October 2018 (and will also show for the first time at Cumbria University in May). It was great to see an additional perspective on this matter, and I particularly appreciated some of the pieces; try and catch it if you’re remotely near the Cumbria area at that time. It will also remain all June in the Comédie Odéon in Lyon.

    I was even able to catch writer JC Deveney, creator of the exhibition, between two events, and while nothing more is confirmed yet, he told me the plans that are afoot in this area. Oh, yes, Plans Are Afoot.

  • In a meetup with Guillaume Long, who has been creating a blog BD about cooking called A Boire et à Manger that now has three collections published and a fourth one coming, not to mention a few spinoffs, I learned that his book will come out in English; it will be called, surprisingly enough To Drink And To Eat, but it will also have an all-new cover, which I unfortunately cannot show you … but I have seen it, and it is great. I do not know the publisher, but I would not be surprised for it to be First Second. We at Fleen will be sure to keep you informed.
  • Sunday morning, it was Boulet’s turn to be interviewed (this time by Paul Satis) in the auditorium about his numerous projects. First, the latest tome of Notes, numbered 11, which came out pretty much because he had reached the required number of pages published on the blog … except he miscounted, so once he realized he scrambled to fill in the 50 or so missing pages, allowing him to cement the theme of the blog: his brain is an asshole. Which in turn allowed him to expand on themes such as neurosciences, etc. He remarked that while most people, including artists, are frustrated artists (of another art when it comes to artists, obviously), he considers himself a frustrated scientist; he could very well have followed STEM studies, but that would have meant no longer studying drawing so that was a dealbreaker for him.

    Satis asked him about the Inside-Out-like people living in his head, and Boulet related they had saved his bottom on multiple occasions. In fact, his mishap in Your Comment Here did not receive the standard “autobio dramatization” process, it happened pretty much as is (with some details changed), and he finds the process fascinating.

    Another aspect of the notes that are now on paper that was raised is his adventures in Los Angeles, in which he now lives part of the year to be with his girlfriend, who works for Disney. Interestingly (particularly in parallel with Bagieu’s talk), while in France he lives at odd hours, with him rising after noon, and crashing sometimes as late as 4 AM, in Los Angeles he plays the perfect homemaker, taking breakfast with his girlfriend and waving her as She goes to work, and then, since he’s up, he might as well be working, so he does. But he’s always eager to come back to France.

    He went on to mention his other projects: Infinity 8 (synopsis by Lewis Trondheim, remainder of the writing and drawings by him), Bolchoi Arena (written by him, drawn by Aseyn), his Instagram monsters, which he generally draws live on his Twitch channel and where he also answers questions from the audience during the process, and the Octopus collection he edits, with the last book from the initially announced lineup having come out just a few weeks earlier.

  • By the time the festival ended, I was able to catch up with online comics creators Janine, creator of said book, Marc Dubuisson, Pins, Paka, Shyle Zalewsky, and Karensac.

    And just like last year, the festival ended with the sight of Boulet’s mile-long signing line. Shetty Shet, fellow blog BD aficionado on Twitter, was courageous enough to wait in this line, but I wasn’t, so I left, though not without waving her good luck, confident that the Lyon BD people and I will meet back next year …

P.S.: In related news, Bagieu, Boulet, and Cy are present in this year’s edition of the nearby Annecy animation festival this week, the latter two to provide comics coverage of the event, just like last year, and the former both for the animated version of the Culottées and as a jury member for the end of studies shorts awards.


Spam of the day:

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This email purports to be from a 23 year old woman. We are on the cusp of MILF and Barely Legal converging into the same state.

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¹ Who, by the way, drew the poster for this year’s edition; it was not only all over town, but got declined into a bunch of exceedingly cute merch.