The webcomics blog about webcomics


There’s something about the depths of winter, the short days, that makes us seek out family; for some it’s a matter of travel, for some the journey is longer. For nearly all of us, it’s where our strength and hope reside.

  • Longtime readers of this page may recall that Brian Warmoth¹ and Rick Marshall² were a couple of guys that Megan Fox Tits Wolverine magazine put on the webomics beat back when they still had a magazine and weren’t busy screwing up their business of comics conventions with penny-ante grifting. Instead, MFTW just criminally underpaid a bunch of writers (of whom Warmoth and Marshall were the most prolific) to build up the magazine’s web presence and then fired them unceremoniously, taking down their stories in the process.

    Both Marshall and Warmoth landed on their feet, though, and have done well for themselves in the intervening years. In Warmoth’s case, very well as of this weekend, as he and his wife, Julia, welcomed their first child into the world — an act of profound optimism in the best of times — at their home in the Bay Area.

    Brian’s one of the sweetest, most genuine guys you’ll ever meet, and the rarest of things in the digital media age: a damned skilled editor who can bring out the best words from his writers, while building up audiences in niche media. I’ve seen the photos and while they aren’t mine to share (nor are the specific details), take it from me that Young Master Warmoth is adorable, and will undoubtedly grow to make his parents proud. Fleen congratulates the newly-expanded family, and wishes them all the best (along with a few uninterrupted nights of sleep).

  • But when anybody in webcomics mentions the word family, it’s pretty likely that one idea springs to mind: Kate Beaton is visiting her parents, and at least some of her sisters will be there with their families, and the Best Comics Ever will come about as a result. And that’s pretty much what happened from yesterday, as Beaton made her way to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia from her writerly stomping grounds in Newfoundland. There’s Mom, and Da, and Agnes, of course. Everybody loves Agnes.

    And then Kate shared something more; it was low key and undramatic, as befits the folk of Cape Breton who (one would believe from Beaton’s comics) hate more than anything else the possibility of Making A Fuss. Kate’s sister Becky warned her to be ready, and she reached up and removed her hair. It’s not hair, you realize, it’s a wig and she’s bald underneath. She’s chemo bald and that means … oh, no.

    Here’s the thing — we don’t know Becky; Kate has been extraordinarily generous in sharing her life, and all the Beatons have been willing to be part of that sharing. I can’t imagine that Kate would have done that without Becky’s express permission and it feels real even though we don’t know them because Kate’s always made them feel like they’re right there, we can touch them they’re so close.

    And I don’t know you, Becky Beaton, or Kate’s other sisters, or her parents, or Agnes, or any of the extended clan in Cape Breton³, but I wish I did. I want you to know that everybody that reads Kate’s comics (especially the silly, ordinary family comics) considers every Beaton to be The Best. Love and strength to you, and your family, and laughter too, because that’s pretty much what all the comics since have been about. When there’s laughter in the Beaton household, there’s no room for Fuss.

Spam of the day:

Why Your Soreness is Caused by “Dry Joints”

Are you talking about the solder thing, because that would be the best spam logic leap ever.

¹ Shown here, right.

² Will, and Holly, shown here, center right in khaki.

³ Well, except for her relative Jeff Smith.

Möbius Strip

The last Wigu update went up over the weekend¹. In case you’re wondering, the story does lead to a natural scene, which may be found here. Click 1179 times and end up where you started, which is the best possible metaphor for Wigu Tinkle’s life I can think of — live, experience, grow, repeat, secure in the knowledge that being eight lasts forever.

  • In case you missed it, professional comics funnyman and Twitter personality Anthony Clark has a new pay-what-you-want sketchbook available for your purchase and download. Few things in this world are as purely fun as Clark’s cartoons and even the briefest of his sketches is made from uncut joy. With a one dollar minimum, the 100+ pages you receive are the bargain of the year.
  • Chris Yates continues Webcomics Baffler! Fortnight II with contributions from Scott C, Kate Beaton, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, and Chris Hastings, each better looking than the one before it. Furthermore, I have information that the most intricate of these Baffler!s is yet to come, so be prepared for some good old-fashioned bidding wars when they hit auction a week from today.

    And heck, as long as we’re talking about Yates and Baffler!s, even a blizzard couldn’t prevent the debut of the brand new dual-level production Baffler!s (from Ceaco) at Toy Fair 2013 in New York.

  • There’s some hospital stories to share with you, not all good I’m afraid. Longtime webcomicker Michael Poe was hospitalized with acute renal failure on Friday, with his wife sharing the details on Saturday. Like so many self-employed creators, Poe lacks health insurance and delayed seeking medical help despite obvious illness since the beginning of the year. Those wishing to help Poe with what will surely be considerable costs are requested to make their way to his Etsy shop or online store.

    Meantimes, webcomicker JeffZugsZugale and longstanding Friend of Webcomics Rick Marshall² found themselves in hospitals on opposite coasts over the weekend, helping to usher new people into the world.

    Young Miss Marshall, Young Master Zugale, welcome to the world. It’s noisy and bright and too warm or too cold and sometimes people are jerks, but more often they’re pretty nice if they have a chance to be. Enjoy the crap out of it, and when your parents get that glazed-over look in their eyes that says they’re asleep standing up? That’s the time to double down on the screaming adorably curl into a sleeping ball and let them have six hours of uninterrupted quiet.

  • Finally, the results of last week’s impromptu contest to see who gets a copy of Johnny Wander volume 3. You may recall that the terms for entry were to leave the most convincing argument as to why a friend needs to read Johnny Wander, and after careful deliberation the book will be sent to “Root” to pass onto friend “M”, largely on the basis that “M” is a student librarian active in Young Adult programs, and thus has a great potential to spread the wealth around. “Root”, drop an email to gary in care of this here website with a shipping address and I’ll get the book in the mail.

¹ Although we’ve seen the end of Wigu before, what with things like the WIGU TV network channel comics, and the somewhat-related and entirely coincidentally predecessor strip, When I Grow Up. Also, has Romy ever loved Quincy as much as when she was watching him drive a tricked out van/mecha in a battle to the death with Space Mummy for the fate of the Earth? I think not.

² Willenholly.

How Do I Represent That “Byooooooo” Sound Dead Channels Used To Make?

Strip Search appears to be on the verge of going live, having graduated from a parking page to a test pattern. I’m not a betting man¹, but I’d wager that we’ll see the site live in the next day or two. Then it’s just a matter of how long Robert Khoo feels like teasing us before the first episodes start streaming.

¹ It’s that whole “pretty good at math” thing.

² Who’re still on my list for the shameful way they treated Rick Marshall Willenholly, so you best watch yourself, Viacom!

³ History’s greatest villain.

Cue Theme Music

Friend o’ Fleen Rick Marshall did a set of live, on-camera interviews at Long Beach Comic and Horror Con earlier this month the first of which is now available for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to turn your speakers UP, as the little percussion sting at start takes on a Lalo Schifrinesque character when given sufficient volume. Don’t wuss out with little speakers on your laptop, either — give that sucker some bass.

  • We’re a little more than two weeks into this year’s Child’s Play holiday campaign which makes it a good time to note that the current take is north of half a million dollars, which if the current giving rate can be maintained will produce a total normally only seen attached to things like Homestuck Kickstarters.

    Though unlike Kickstarters, which see a huge front-loaded effort that then drops off (maybe regaining momentum at the end of the campaign), Child’s Play tends to see week-on-week increases through at least the first half of the campaign, typically peaking around the phenomenally well-funded charity dinner/auction (which this year will be on Thursday, 6 December in Bellevue, WA). Recall that Child’s Play has an unbroken streak (even through the economic meltdown) of increasing totals year-to-year, which means another US$3million need to be raised to keep the tradition alive.

  • Speaking of Child’s Play, there’s an entire calendar of events covering the next few weeks, meaning that nearly everybody has a chance to do something that’s simultaneously fund and beneficial and maybe even local. Case in point: my favorite recurring event is Ümloud!, because you really can’t have too many umlauts in your life.

    Having long since grown beyond its conception as some people playing Rock Band in a bar, this year’s Ümloud! will stream the Rock Band fun over the internet, so everybody can enjoy it. Everybody that’s not at the charity auction in Bellevue, that is, as it’s also on 6 December. If you’re catching the fun from home, maybe check out the participating hospital map¹ and find a local beneficiary that you could toss a few bucks? Just sayin’.

  • Interesting: a Top 100 Most Important People List (such as you would find this time of year), this time referring to movers and/or shakers in the comics industry. Unsurprisingly, it’s reportedly overwhelmingly male² with the first woman not showing up until slot #29 (Diane Nelson, head of DC Entertainment).

    In fact, all but one of the women are outside the creative end of comics, the one outlier, the single woman deemed important from a creative standpoint being Kate Beaton. While I have to object that no other female creators are worthy of recognition, it’s hard to argue with the influence Beaton’s had, particularly given the very wide swath of attention that she’s earned both inside and outside comics for the past year and a half or so.

    But seriously, no Amanda Conner? Fiona Staples is redefining how beautiful comic art can be with her work on Saga, Carla Speed McNeil is breaking the boundaries of SF work with Finder, Colleen Doran’s Gone to Amerikay has been received with universal acclaim, and Spike Trotman released Poorcraft to fill a niche that nobody else even recognized. Raina Telgemeier continues a multi-year domination of the YA market, and Hope Larson and Meredith Gran are hauling new/young/female readers into comics hand over fist.

    Granted, the list is reportedly focused on who has power within the industry, but if you don’t have comics that people want to read, you don’t have an industry. If you can’t see how these women (and I could name plenty more) are influential on comics today, and especially to keeping comics alive as a vital industry for the coming decades, you’ve got some research to do.

¹ Which initially centers on North America, yes, but which is scrollable for reasons. Drag ‘er around to other hemispheres, see what you can find!

² On account of the whole thing won’t be revealed until tomorrow, in the inaugural issue of a print companion to the Bleeding Cool website.

If You Don’t Hear From Me On Monday, Rest Assured It’s Only Because Of Stormaggedon¹

Seriously, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy is looking to be pretty damn unpleasant come Monday. Stay safe, all in the way of the storm track.

  • Speaking of disasters of one form or another, everybody’s red-haired pal (no, not Jimmy Olsen) Zach Weinersmith dropped some good news on us last night via Twitter:

    Presenting, a “Starpocalypse” Teaser, from SMBC Theater, written by James Ashby…

    Warning: shirtless James, who, as previously established, is History’s Greatest Villain, primarily for the whole shirtless thing.

    Anyhoo, a trailer to finally showcase last year’s Kickstarted project that exists in large part to write circumstances where James is blown up in space. But more than just destroying James, Starpocalypse will feature a very balls-intensive FSM, orgasm hats, pointless despair, hot lady aliens or androids or something with purple hair and weird eyes whatever, and big-ass space battles. And hopefully a lot of destroying James.

  • Via Chris Hastings:


    I might be reading too much into this, but it appears that Hastings may have a new book. Release is set just prior to whichever winter solstice-adjacent holiday you prefer, so best pre-order it if you want to make somebody’s Decemberween joyous.

One last thing, if I may be serious for a moment — wherever the storm hits (and despite the fact that I have people that I like a great deal or even love throughout that probability cone, I am wishing as hard as I can that Sandy veers towards any of them instead of me because I am almost as great a villain as James), take care and be aware that you may have to care for yourselves for a while.

In particular, ambulances cannot go out when winds are high, because they are all great big top-heavy boxes on wheels that will roll over until they smash into something if the gusts hit just right. If you’re in the path of high winds, count on EMS response being delayed/suspended during the worst of the storm, and even after there may be significant obstructions. Stay indoors, don’t get hurt, and with any luck we’ll all see each other on Monday.²

¹ For the record, I chose this title early yesterday after getting my third advance prep briefing for emergency ops in re: Hurricane Sandy. Then Rick Marshall up and uses the same name in tweets and links it to Doctor Who before I can. Damn you, Willenholly, for stepping on my gag! Daaaaaamn yooooooou!

² Except James, unless he puts on a damn shirt.

MoCCA 2012, Part Four

Time prevented me from talking with other creators extensively, but even brief conversations are fun.

  • For example, Box Brown’s been working much of the past six months on Retrofit Comics, which is now down to a familiar process. The back catalog is pretty much sold out, and the project will run its course as planned; Brown may or may not keep the “Retrofit Comics” name for future projects.

    The project most consuming his time would be his comics biography of André Roussimoff, professional giant and haver of posses. Brown has gone so far as to communicate with Mr The Giant’s brother¹, and expects to work the rest of the year on what may well be the definitive biography of André. Oh, yes, and he’s also doing webcomics again, you know, in his free time.

  • Magnolia Porter, meanwhile, is splitting her time, with the first project being the ongoing Monster Pulse, which mixes a quirky visual style with lots of heart². Speaking of visual style, I finally figured up what it is that makes Guuzy so appealing, despite that fact that he may be the most dangerous of the monsters, what with being an acid-filled stomach monster and all. It’s the way that his forelegs are so much shorter than his hindlegs, giving him the same posture as a dog that’s got a tail wagging high and a head down low and eyes that say Play, play, play time to play!

    That same instinct for creating appeal in non-human characters carries over to the human characters as well; Bina and the other players we’ve met all act like whole, real people; their anger, their exhaustion, their bewilderment and denial all come from an organic place and make you want to know them more.

    It’s something that Porter has had a lot of practice with, what with years of Bobwhite under her belt — Marlene, Ivy, and Cleo lived and breathed and influenced each other, and shortly their story will be collected into print. That would be the other thing that Porter is working on, and I can only believe that Bobwhite will read beautifully as a continuous story. Personally, I’m holding out for a bonus story that reveals more of the main cast’s feelings for Ben Bailey.

  • Shifting gears for a moment, all those books will surely require some Kickstarting, which put me in mind of a conversation that took place on the Armory steps. It started with some catching-up with Rick Marshall³, and we were by chance joined by a passing Johanna Draper Carlson and Heidi MacDonald. Kickstarter discussion about sweet spots, Smut Peddler’s ultimate total (I’m putting it in the range of US$55-60K), and Shaenon Garrity’s clever use of unlocked rewards on the Skin Horse 3 campaign.

    I tried laying out some of my (very early) analysis and desire for a Grand Unified Theory of Kickstarter, but so far my attention has been on the numbers and not the words to describe it. I should have just waited a few days more and I could have pointed them towards yesterday’s Penny Arcade, because (as usual) Jerry’s words do the trick:

    You’ve seen Stretch Goals before, if you’ve ever watched one of these things succeed: mechanisms to maintain funding momentum after success, with whispered promises of more…. Goodies you can add a la carte, independent of your pledge level. They’ve essentially developed an RPG, where your money is the XP. [emphasis added]

    There it is, maybe the key element I’ve been grasping for. Kickstarter reward design isn’t just a min-max problem for the creator, it’s one for the supporter as well. We’ve established that you need an audience that’s crying out for whatever you’re offering, and you have to give them a compelling reason to back you. Those things are still true.

    But now, shift the perspective: instead of trying to manage the money you take in, you should be setting up a structure where your backers will seek on their own to maximize the money they can possibly contribute. There’s a weird mixture of industrial-grade psychology and probability math at the heart of it, which is to say — it’s a game. Don’t try to play it yourself, try to make the most appealing set of rules.

¹ Or at least attempt to; a letter has been written to an address in France that reportedly once belonged to the surviving Mr Roussimoff. He hopes for a reply, but acknowledges the odds are long.

² I’m so, so sorry.

³ Will, and Holly.


  • 2.96 From Child’s Play:

    Our current fundraising total for 2011 is $2,960,000, making this our BEST YEAR EVER! We are absolutely blown away by your generosity- this year has obliterated last year’s fundraising total of $2.3 million.

    Last week when I goaded y’all to hit US$2.5 million, I figured it was doable (at the time it would have required US$300,000 to be raised by the end of the year). Instead, that Big Round Number I suggested might be a nice milestone has been exceeded by half a million dollars. Let’s just admit to ourselves that by the 31st, Child’s Play will hit 3 megabucks¹, making a to-date total of twelve million dollars². I’ve said it before and I will say it again — everybody that gives to Child’s Play is engaged in the definition of Good Works.

  • 10 Guessing you’ve seen this already — Paste magazine describes itself as Signs of Life in Music, Film, and Culture, and in their year-end roundup they’ve included a list of the 10 Best Webcomics of 2011. We’ll take all assertions of different tastes, shocking omissions, and the appropriateness of the use of the word “webcomic” as a given; it’s nice every time somebody on the pop culture beat pays attention to creator-owned comics on teh intertoobz.
  • Approximately 450 and/or ∞ Two years and three months after launch, Paul Southworth’s last contribution to the Not Invented Here art chores ran today. Four strips a week since then, with some rerun weeks to accommodate various alternate priorities and storyline beats, making some 450 times that Southworth has illustrated Owen, Desmond, and the other refugees from common sense in the world of software development. As previously noted, JeffWooo!Zugale will be taking over the art chores in a couple of weeks, and Southworth is hard at work at his next project:

    Just finished the first installment of my new webcomic. Only infinity more to go!

  • 1 Friend o’ Fleen (and webcomics in general) Rick Marshall³ is down one wisdom tooth today, having had that sucker removed from his face. Feel better and enjoy tripping all the balls, buddy.

¹ Or be so close as to make no difference.

² Ditto.

³ [obligatory Land of the Lost reference here].

Birthdays And Things To See

For starters, let me point out the Birthday Boys of Webcomics, Rick Marshall¹ (today) and Aaron Diaz² (tomorrow). You would be hard pressed to find two guys more in love with comics, more devoted to finding good examples of same, or more dedicated to improving their own skills within their respective roles (reviewer/promoter, writer/illustrator/teacher). Happy birthday, guys, I owe each of you a beer.

Pretty things for you to see, some of which I’m recommending purely on the basis of their creators’ past work:

  • Rebecca Clements did a 24 hour comic, and it’s available for your purchase. Come Inside My Body is a choose-your-own adventure tour to the insides of Clements³. Her whimsical, Seussian style is ideal for what might otherwise be an unending parade of horrors, since let’s face it — our insides are pretty awful, disgusting bags of glop. Bonus points if you can tell which pages were done during the onset of no-sleep madness.
  • Also on the recommended sight-unseen list, Tyson Hesse has a Kickerstarter campaign up, to support print versions of his Boxer Hockey and Diesel projects. There’s lots of price points with small incremental dollar amounts, with tangible dead-tree product available down to the $15 level.

    Guys, if you’re not familiar with Hesse, what you need to know is that he has a command of color that’s mindblowing. Check out his posters if you don’t believe me. That one guy working alone can produce work this pretty (and that printing technology is advanced enough that it can be produced without the need for a monastery full of illuminators) is surely proof that we live in the future.

  • Recommended sight-seen: I’ve long been a fan of Tyler Page’s Nothing Better — it just reads so honestly that you could almost think that you were reminiscing about your own experiences, not reading about people that are totally made up and not real. Page is now turning that eye for verisimilitude to somebody that is real and not made up — himself, in the just-released first chapter of a full graphic novel titled Raised on Ritalin.

    Part memoir, part exploration of ADD/ADHD and the medicines prescribed to treat it, it’s eventually going to be a full book, but for now you can get a taste of what’s to come. So far it’s unsparing, uncompromising, and promises to read like a combo platter of Tracy White’s How I Made It To Eighteen and the psychiatric/science comics of Daryl Cunningham.

¹ Will, and Holly.

² Who may need a new nickname, seeing as how the only reason he doesn’t have a promised update today is that he had to run off a pack of four would-be muggers yesterday. The Latin Art-Throb sounds great, but what do you all think about The Punkbuster?

³ She already did the ladyparts previously, so don’t expect a guided tour this time around. KLARBLARG, indeed.

Snow Days Were A Lot More Fun When I Was A Kid

For the record, my driveway is 32 meters long, 3.7 meters wide, and was covered to an average depth of 40 centimeters of moderately wet, drift-packed snow; that’s a total of 47.36 cubic meters, or 47,360 liters. Snow samples averaged 200 grams per liter, or about one fifth the 1 kilogram/liter density of water. The approximately 9500 kg of snow that is now no longer in my driveway is why this post is both late and minimal. The only upside of this, the seventh snowfall of the season (and I should note that the average snowfall per year round these parts is about 70 cm, which was just about equaled on the first snowfall of the season), was watching my greyhound trying to walk through the yard, which was more than chest-high on her. That was hilarious.

So I want to thank my occasional nemesis Gordon McAlpin for sending me a quick note about a new interview he’s done with MTV Geek, ’cause otherwise I’d have no damn idea what was going on today. Side thought: am I the only one that thinks its weird that comics journalism superstar and friend of webcomics Rick Marshall Willenholly isn’t writing for the MTV comics and other nerdery site? I mean, he does great at the MTV comics-meets-movies site, but this seems like a case of not exploiting your assets. Like I said, weird, but as MTV Geek is starting to pay attention to webcomics, no complaints here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take all the Advil.

Fast News Day

Almost more than one can keep up with today. Let’s dive in, shall we?

  • From Tony Piro‘s twitterfeed, news that Calamities of Nature is one of the twelve finalists in the Washington Post’s “Riffy” Awards, webcomics division. One might note that two of the nominees, xkcd and Jesus & Mo are in the running for the overall Best Comic (Any Medium) award.
  • Speaking of the Riffies, one might also note that one of the nominees is The Oatmeal, the status of which as “comic” or not formed a great deal of the discussion on the latest Webcomics Weekly. Yet another of the nominees (Scott Kurtz for PvP) has Opinions on this, and outs himself as a curmudgeon in both the podcast and yet another comment thread at The Daily Cartoonist. Even more remarkably, Kurtz and his nemesis, Ted Rall, find themselves in agreement towards the end of said comment thread! In other news, the end of the world has been moved forward from 2012 to next Thursday.
  • Book alert — the first Girl Genius novelization (first reported about six months back), Agatha H[eterodyne]. and the Airship City has been in release since the first, but 12 January (which by amazing coincidence is Professora Kaja Foglio‘s birthday) is Girl Genius Day. If you intend to buy the book but haven’t yet, make your purchase that day and make a bit of a splash, hey? After all, there is precedent.
  • How does Warren Ellis do it? Today marks the 120th 6-page update of FreakAngels, which makes it the last update to be a part of the fifth reprint collection (each of which consists of 24 updates of 6 pages), which is due for release on 8 February — a mere 32 days from today. That’s called not letting your audiences have to wait to give you money. Granted, Internet Jesus has the advantages of an established name and no backlog of stories to work down, but damn. That’s some organization right there.
  • Darryl Cunningham, who did such a wonderful comic about Andrew Wakefield (whose falsified vaccine “research” almost certainly caused children to die of preventable diseases) back in May was well ahead of the curve — the British Medical Journal are reporting on Wakefield’s actions (they mince no words, calling it fraudulent) this week, and Wakefield is finally getting the attention he deserves. Too late for some of those kids, of course, and no matter how thoroughly he’s discredited he will still have those that believe him uncritically (no links, not giving them any traffic), but it’s good to know that investigative cartooning has a valued place. How valued? Cunningham tweeted that the BMJ wants to reprint his cartoon in the student version of their journal. Well done, Mr Cunningham.
  • Family News — via webcomics überfan Michael Kinyon (seriously, I read five or six dozen webcomics regularly; he reads several times that), the news that the irregular postings and hiatuses over at Digital Pimp Online are done. Creator Kevin Gleason’s son, Alexander, has had multiple health issues and surgeries in his short life, and now he’s healthy. Congratulations to the entire Gleason family. Oh, and congrats as well to Greg and Liz Dean, who are expecting their first child. If Real Life is a bit sporadic over the next decade and a half, I hope you’ll understand.
  • Finally, late-breaking news that Kate Beaton has been invited to Yale University for the purpose of a Master’s Tea Q&A with the The Yale Record. The fun kicks off at 4pm on Monday the 24th, at the Pierson Master’s House, 231 Park St on the campus of Yale.