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.

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:

Club Access LocalMILFsMHP Ad-Partner

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.

Kickin’ 2: Electric Crowdfundaloo

There were some pretty nifty Kickstarts that launched yesterday or the day before, and since new ones keep cropping up I figured it’s time to do a roundup. Let’s get started.

  • Alexis Sugden does comics that are widely varied; I first noticed her name at The Nib as the illustrator of a story about gastric reduction surgery. After I looked up her name, I recognized a previous story at The Nib about gender and body image, It’s All For The Breast. What I hadn’t twigged on was that was a greatly condensed version of a story that she’s been telling weekly since 2016.

    And now she’s going to put it all into a single print volume, which requires the absolute lowest Kickstarter goal I’ve ever seen: CA$950, or US$736. Remarkably (because this is a hell of interesting project, and the book is more than 100 pages, for the low, low price of CA$15 (unsketched) or CA$20 (sketched)¹), it’s not quite hit goal in the first 50 or so hours, but it’s about to.

    This looks like one of the most interesting autobio comics you’re going to read this year, so take a look at the sample pages at the project page — just the page with Bowie forcing Young Alexis to reconsider notions of gender is worth the price of admission by itself.

  • The annual Retrofit Comics Kicker has arrived, and with it the opportunity to support twelve new graphic novels. There’s something there for everybody, from 64 page books to more than 200 pages; some are B&W, some full color, some limited; pracerange from US$8 to $25, with plenty of tiers that include these 12 books, plus extensive collections from the Retrofit backlist.
  • David “Damn You,” Willis has set up the campaign for the seventh (!) Dumbing Of Age collection, which is essentially the most foolproof thing you can ever back on Kickstarter. He announces the Kicker and the stretch goals, his fans back the Kicker and stretch goals, he produces the books and stretch goals, people get the books and stretch goals. You can set your watch (or at least your calendar) by it.
  • Not a Kickstarter but Heidi Mac at The Beat — she always seems to get this story first, year after year — reports that the Center for Cartoon Studies and Slate have announced the winners of this year’s Cartoonist Studio Prize. For reference, the nominees were announced about a month ago, and the winners are Keren Katz for print comics, and Michael DeForge for webcomics.

    In addition to the honor of recognition, Katz and DeForge each get a cool thousand bucks American cash money, which is the only thing better than a six hundo.


Spam of the day:

Unfortunately, I hadn’t experience of technological background, that’s when I thought of my close friend Sasha Petrichenko who is currently working as a software developer and engineer for NASA space exploration.

Just because your dude works for NASA doesn’t mean he knows squat about investing strategies. Trust me, I know people at NASA, and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to be a rocket scientist.

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¹ US$11.62 or US$15.50, respectively, at Kickstarter’s exchange rate.

It’s Apparently Vocabulary Day At Fleen

If you’ve not yet read How The Best Hunter In The Village Met Her Death, get on that. It’s been occupying a large amount of my mental bandwidth with its Ostertagian goodness since yesterday¹, so I’m not sure how much I’d be able to talk about today. The fact that KC Green and Anthony Clark met goal on BACK Book 2 and thus need not destroy all you know and love might have been in my ability today, but maybe not.

So it’s a good thing that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has (as is his wont) sent along a dispatch from the further shores in my hour of need, without prompting. He’s a marvel.

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There have been a few interesting developments in our ongoing coverage of creator activities in festivals. If you just tuned in, just know that comics creators never charge readers for sketches in French-language comics festivals or other meetups, and there is a growing movement that creators sketching be recognized as the main attraction of a comics festival, and as a result that creators be paid to provide this animation.

Now, it is important to realize that the current arrangement would be unfair to creators regardless of the context, but it is true that the recent challenges to this state of affairs indirectly come from the overproduction crisis affecting the industry, which results in the degradation of revenues comics creators do have (advances, royalties, etc.), threatening their livelihood. Add to that changes in taxation that, while affecting any kind of income for everyone, exacerbate their difficult situation, and, well, you have a recipe for unrest.

And that is the situation where the Salon du Livre de Paris found wise to go with Hey, how about we don’t necessarily pay creators for contributing to conferences, panels, or workshops?

The Salon du Livre de Paris², set up by Reed Exhibitions, a for-profit company, on behalf of the Syndicat National de l’Edition, a trade group of publishers, is most definitely a for-profit endeavor contrary to most comics festivals (e.g. to the best of my knowledge they do not make use of volunteer labor), so that skimpy attitude stung even more when participating creators found out about it when discussing it between themselves. Worse, some turned out to be paid for these contributions, but others not, with no discernible pattern.

So creators complained, very publicly, rallying around the hashtag #payetonauteur (pay your creator). While the Charte des Auteurs, representing child lit creators, relatively quickly obtained the guarantee child lit creators would be paid for their efforts, this of course left everyone else, so the campaign continued, with Emilie “Bulledop”, a booktuber, and other creators announcing they would not attend in the current conditions, and cartoonists such as Cy advocating the cause to the public and trying to rally support.

It’s not worth going too much over how the Salon de Livre de Paris justified their position (they tried to claim that creators would actually be promoting their own work through their contributions, therefore no pay), because after a few days of pressure … victory! They relented and announced all contributions from creators would be paid … except for signings; that part will remain a battle for another day.

And while the Salon du Livre de Paris is now over (creator revendications³ did show themselves, but it went smoothly overall), the struggle goes on, now to try and obtain better statutory protections, especially in the context of the incoming general reforms in France (e.g. unemployment, retirement, ongoing training, etc.). We have probably not seen the end of it.

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Many thanks for FSFCPL, and is your mind as blown as mine by the bit at the end? Creators seeking legal protections against exploitative circumstances at shows? In the US, we can’t even get major publishers to not offer illegal internships. Thankfully, others understand that treating people well forms a pipeline for the skills you need to keep your business running (heck, I’m tempted to take a leave from my frustrating job and apply for that :01 Books internship myself).


Spam of the day:

Discrete, Beautiful, Women Waiting For You

Wait, you mean the Asian mail-order brides you’re advertising are distinct and separate individuals? Awesome, I’ve never really been into hive minds. Now, are they also careful and circumspect in their speech and actions, so as to avoid causing offense or gain advantage?

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¹ Along with a narrowing from some late night EMS calls and not enough sleep in the past 24 hours.

² Which covers prose books and children books in addition to comics.

Editor’s note: Reed Exhibitions (a division of RELX Group, formerly Reed Elsevier) is the parent company of Reed!Pop, who run NYCC and bought (and greatly changed) Emerald City Comic Con. Reed Exhibitions do a lot of trade shows worldwide, and their mastery of forms as diverse as the boat show or the home improvement show reveals that they try to treat their events according to a standard script. But comics are neither boats nor building contractors.

³ This is not only a French word, but apparently also an English word. Revendication: action of claiming back or recovering a rightful possession, according to the folks at Oxford. Learn something new every day! In this sense, I’d say it’s close remonstrances mixed with vindication — creators had to get a bit loud and noisity to make sure they weren’t ignored or run over.

Festival Friday

The header image is apropos of nothing, except that Kendra Wells has been killing it at The Nib lately, and that there’s something refreshingly hilarious about a pop song called Obstruct My Justice.

It’s spring time (the snow from the Nor’easter two days back is melting and everything!) and that means comics festival time. In case you hadn’t seen, both MoCCA Fest and TCAF have new information up for your perusal.

  • First up: MoCCA (7 and 8 April, at the Metropolitan West event space, next to the Intrepid Museum) has schedules of events (which will take place a skant two blocks away, at the Ink 48 hotel), with six panels on Saturday and six more on Sunday.

    The big draws look to be the retrospective on creating March with co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Saturday at 3:30pm in the Garamond Room), the Jaime Hernandez spotlight (Sunday at 12:30pm, Garamond Room), and the Mike Mignola Q&A (3:30pm, Garamond again). It’s not like what’s happening in the Helvetica Room is bad, it’s just these three caught my eye.

    Oh, and I’m not sure if I mentioned that featured guests for MoCCA, but they include webcomicker Rebecca Mock (who also designed the badges this year) and The Nib cartoonist Ann Telnaes (who also draws for other places, like The Washington Post). Exhibitors that caught my eye include Alisa Harris (A119 A), Carey Pietsch (H255), Christian Blaza (H264), Corey Chrapuch (H230), Josh Neufeld (I270 A), Julia Gfrörer (E183 A), Ken Wong (G242), Laura Ķeniņš (E179), Madeline Zuluaga (F231), Pénélope Bagieu (no table listed, but I’ll bet she’s hanging out with the cool folks at :01 Books, E162), Priya Huq (H263 B), Robyn Chapman (E170), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (J286), and Sara Varon (D155 B). Did I miss anybody? Let me know!

  • For those not all festival’ed out, TCAF will run 12 and 13 May, centered on the Toronto Reference Library, but spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood for a event that’s become more and more citywide. They’ve also done us the favor of putting all their exhibitors on one fast-loading page. However, the fast-loading page doesn’t allow you to click links into new tabs or copy link addresses, so there’s no quick way of including websites for folks. I know, but you think I have these all memorized?

    Anyways, you’ll see Lucy Bellwood, Boum, Tony Breed, Vera Brosgol, Emily Carroll, Cecil Castellucci, Danielle Corsetto, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Melanie Gillman, Sophie Goldstein, KC Green, Nicholas Gurewitch, Kori Michele Handwerker, Dustin Harbin, Myisha Haynes, Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota, Abby Howard, C Spike Trotman, Jeph Jacques, Shing Yin Khor, Hope Larson, Kel McDonald, Sara & Tom McHenry, Rebecca Mock, Sfé Monster, Molly Ostertag, Ben Passmore, Katie Shanahan, Whit Taylor, Jen Wang, Ron Wimberly, and the zubiquitous Jim Zub. You should be able to find their sites pretty easily.


Spam of the day:

Congratulations, You’ve Been Considered for Inclusion…

They still do Who’s Who type scams? Man, that takes me back. I remember getting actual postcards back in like high school talking about the importance of being listed in such a prestigious personal branding vehicle. Got some sour news for you, Jack — you weren’t getting my US$39.95¹ back then, you ain’t getting squat from me now.

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¹ US$95.74 in constant dollars.