The webcomics blog about webcomics

The First Thing We Do: Let’s Alienate All The Content Makers

If there are people that have thought more about how to interact with their respective audiences than Zach Weinersmith, Ryan North, and Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, I’m not sure of who they are. And when they start kibbitzing in public about how you done screwed up and made them want to not work with you any more, then Sparky, you screwed up.

And by Sparky, I of course mean Facebook.

LArDK’s feelings have been well-established for some time now, and Weinersmith cited Kellett’s thesis in his public musings on Friday:

For the record, though: We used to do lots of “free” stuff on facebook, back before they turned into an extortion racket for artists.

Btw, @davekellett pointed this out in 2015 ( …) and I poo-pooed it. But, facebook’s basically just gotten worse since. I personally have doubled my facebook “audience” since then, but my reach among them has dropped.

… which prompted concurrence from North, LArDK, MC Frontalot, and others:

yep! same here. I actually did an interview for an article explaining this and giving numbers for why it was so bad, but then the next week it was revealed how bad Facebook was for DEMOCRACY ITSELF, so I think the article got canned :0

I’m actually really close to closing down DC on Facebook – I don’t want to lose the readers, but at a certain point supporting FB becomes a tacit endorsement of what they do… and besides, if they’re not actually showing my stuff to the readers there anyway… SHRUG EMOJI

I would love love love to see Facebook become a vast content graveyard, just page after page perpetually autoposting “we’ve moved on…”

I ended up taking down my personal FB page. For me, their role with Cambridge Analytica and the other groups tacitly working for the FSB/GRU was the final straw.

The last being a reference to the fact that Facebook, presented with evidence that it was being used to spread propaganda, responded by hiring a political hit-firm to spread stories that their critics were paid by George Soros, playing into the most vilely antisemitic tropes that — gosh! — they’ve been so instrumental in spreading. Not that Zuckerberg knows anything about it. Nope, not it.

Which is leading to a fairly fundamental question: why should (in this case) Weinersmith post content for free to Facebook, who then sells ads and makes money that they don’t share with him, and which further charges him money to actually deliver his posts that might make him money so he can afford to keep making the content they’re monetizing? Why should anybody?

And, as I’ve been writing this post, I’m seeing word that Tumblr is apparently taking down NSFW accounts, despite the fact that NSFW content isn’t prohibited by the terms of service. If you don’t trust Tumblr randos, trust George, who’s reporting the same, and back up your content.

There’s been a major shift away from webcomics folk maintaining their own sites in the past few years, with Tumblr and various portal-type sites (Taptastic, Webtoon) offering free hosting and eyeballs that might not have landed on an individual site in this mostly post-RSS (and bookmarkless) world.

But any time you rely on somebody else’s infrastructure to run your business/art/lifestyle/whatever, you run the possibility of it being taken away by somebody whose priorities are not yours. Let us not even talk about Flickr’s forthcoming changes or the fact we’re coming up on the anniversary of the Great Patreon Balls-Up Of AughtSeventeen.

So today’s sentence¹ is as follows: use other (free) services all you like, but keep your content someplace besides the free service. You don’t have to put up your own site! You don’t have to do anything you don’t want! But please, for the sake of your work and my peace of mind, keep a copy someplace so you can rebuild when the free service du jour decides you don’t get to use them for free (or at all) after today.

Spam of the day:

Furnish Your Outdoor Area in Style

Let’s leave my area out of this.

¹ And how is it more than ten years since today’s sentence?

Ask A Speculative Question, Get A Useful Answer

So yesterday I wondered in a footnote about the possible impacts of the looming Trade War With China on webcomics. Here’s the crux of what I said:

Thought that just occurred to me. What with the whole trade war with China stupidity going on now, we aren’t shipping as much stuff to China, we won’t be getting as much stuff from China, is this going to take container ship capacity away (as they’re redirected to other trade routes) or make it more plentiful/cheaper (as there may be an excess of space/ships)?

My thoughts were almost entirely in terms of the raw costs of container shipping; if we aren’t sending soybeans to Shanghai in the immediate term, will there be freshly unloaded ships waiting to be loaded up with stuff for the holiday selling season? Would things not specifically on the threatened tariffs list (which is a moving target, day to day) be impacted as collateral damage? I figured there was only one person to ask.

Readers of this page know the regard that we at Fleen have for George Rohac: slayer of problems, fixer of systems, arranger of logistics. He’s overseen maybe more Kickstarts than anybody else, to the point that they recognize him as an official Expert. He knows the sausage-making end of getting things made, especially via print. SO when I asked, I was unsurprised that he’s been thinking about it, but a bit surprised that he’s looking at things from another angle. To quote:

So for now, it isn’t hitting anything. But as with anything in the world of Trump, that could change on a dime. I haven’t seen/heard anything happening with regards to more frequent customs crackdowns, so right now its basically business as normal.

Not capacity/logistics, but the possibility of policy decisions mess with things. If the order comes down to make every Customs inspection of everything from China extra specific, time and costs (storage, brokerage, etc) go up.

That said I am encouraging people to just factor in an extra 25% as a trump tax in case stuff gets fucked. This I’d recommend regardless of where you’re manufacturing. Since he’s hitting Canada the plants people use in Montreal often could be hit, and also US plants that are part of global multinationals could wind up having trickle down cost increases.

Again, not the shipping end of things, but the possibility that Screamy Racist Orange Grandpa decides to suddenly slap worldwide tariffs on paper, or finished printed goods, or whatever. Planning ahead for extra costs also seems to be smart planning in that if you get hit with unexpected expenses, you’re covered; if you get lucky and the costs don’t materialize, you’ve suddenly got more money and that’s not a bad thing.

A quote will typically have a “price good until X date” so if you’re printing in that window, fine, if not, then build in buffer.

And here’s where George’s long experience with printing comes in — if your printing proposal doesn’t have a timeframe on the pricing, any unexpected costs could be passed along. The last thing you want is a profitable project suddenly turning into a break-even or money-losing project. If I were to summarize George’s answers, it would be Do your due diligence, get everything in writing, and assume your unexpected costs could be even greater than your past calculus. Much like planning now for the potential of a USPS shipping rated increase in six months¹, this is going to be a careful balancing of probabilities, optimism, and pessimism.

There will probably be people that offer to help cropping up in greater numbers than in the past, and it’ll be important to ensure that they know what they’re talking about before paying them money, or tying the success of your project to their supposed expertise. I’m not saying they have to have George-level experience², but I am saying that there’s a difference between a company that’s done this before and one that’s assuming it can do this³.

Just as for every Make That Thing there’s several dozen companies whose ability sits somewhere between aspirational and completely fictional, there are going to be newcomers and fly-by-night operators in this facilitation space. Choose carefully. Or, if we’re lucky, George (or somebody like him) will do some seminar-type training on how to navigate these challenges on your own. Like somebody that I just made up in my head once said, Trumpian chaos is just another way to say opportunity.

Spam of the day:

What Company is #1 Rated Overall for Home Security?

The answer suggested by this spam is bestcompany™, which appears to not be a home security company, but rather a directory of all kinds of companies. It’s some pretty mixed messaging

¹ Never mind what would happen if SROG’s stated intention to privatize the US Postal Service actually gains steam.

² Only George has George-level expertise, pretty much by definition.

³ Fun fact that came up in an unrelated conversation today; when you fly into Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, all the usual airport ads for car services, hotels, etc, are entirely replaced by ads for contract logistics and merch-management companies, whose entire pitch is Hire us if you want to be less screwed by Walmart. Some of them tout years or decades of experience navigating the Walmartian minefield and others … do not.

A Perfectly Paced Gag, And Also Kickstarts

Ahhhhh, Barbarous by Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, could I love you any more? No, no I could not. And the between-chapters bumper is a delight, three pages where the most important action takes place off-panel and is still perfectly clear. It — the bumper that is — starts here, and the story starts here and if you haven’t read it, you’ll love it.

If you haven’t read it, come to think, you’ve got an easy way to a) catch up, and b) support the comic just now. Hirsh and Ota haven’t finished the story, not by a long shot, and they’ve released the first chapter as a short print collection — some three dozen pages — in an oversized trim. If you didn’t pick it up at the time, the only place it’s currently available is as part of the rewards package for the Kickstart for the second chapter.

Same deal as before — slim volume, Euro trim size, lots of extras as they hit the stretch goals. Best of all, it’s a sure deal since they’re nearly 50% over goal with two weeks left to go, so all you have to do is pledge and wait for the print edition to come in¹.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, there have been recent conclusions of both the 17th Iron Circus project and the third collection of gay college hockey bromance/comedy. How’d they do?

    FTL Y’all was predicted by the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II to raise US$50K +/- US$10K, and came in at US$51,432; to be entirely honest, the Iron Circus projects have been a dominant contributor to the math of FFF mk2, and they nearly always fall right in the center of the range. I’m starting to think that for Spike-affiliated projects, it would be possible to narrow the margin of error by a factor of 3 or 4.

  • Check, Please!: Year Three was funding too rapidly when we wrote about its launch, and further skewed it’s day one/day two totals by doing a stealth launch to Patreon backers, with a sudden, later surge when the campaign went public; as noted in the past these situations don’t track well with the FFF mk2. According to the straight application of FFF logic, the prediction would come to US$336K – US$504K, but that incorporates the surge. If we go the second full day, the numbers drop to US$250K – US$375K; the actual total was US$353,764.

    That would be at the high end of the range for a surge-ignoring calculation, and at the low end of the range for a surge-ignoring calculation, neither of which is particularly satisfying from a predictive POV. There may need to be a further change to the FFF mk2 logic² to maybe look at a point midway between a Day One peak and a Day Two relaxation³? Further experiments will need to take place, but there will be a Year Four down the line, after all.

    Curiously, Year Three, did not clear the US$398,520 that Year Two raised, but I’m chalking that up to people having information they didn’t have in the Fall of 2016: that :01 Books is printing Check, Please! as two volumes; some people may have decided to trade-wait and get Year Three combined with Year Four next year.

Spam of the day:

Have an invention idea? Where do I start – Free Info Kit!

In fact, last week I had a zillion-dollar invention idea, and I did the only rational thing with it: I gave it to Rich Stevens, because if anybody can execute on it, he can.

¹ Thought that just occurred to me. What with the whole trade war with China stupidity going on now, we aren’t shipping as much stuff to China, we won’t be getting as much stuff from China, is this going to take container ship capacity away (as they’re redirected to other trade routes) or make it more plentiful/cheaper (as there may be an excess of space/ships)?

I have no idea how this might shake out, it could plausibly go either of two entirely opposite ways. But you know who probably does know? George, who just happens to work closely with Ota & Hirsh. I’ve got an email into him to get his thoughts and will report back.

² Take the 24-30 hour trend value from Kicktraq and divide by four; that’s the center of the predicted range. Divide further by five, and that’s the margin of error. Exception: low-backed projects (fewer than ~ 200 backers) are not predictable.

³ Doing so would have given us US$290K – US$435K, with a centerpoint of US$362.5K; that’s much tighter, but it’s also a case of poking around the data until finding something that fits. Many more trials will be needed.

Remaking The World

Y’know, pretty damn soon it’ll be easier to talk about an area where comics — web and otherwise — and graphic novels aren’t making inroads instead of those where they are. Consider:

Down New Orleans way — and I’ve been to NOLA in the summer, so everybody there has my sympathies — the American Library Association Annual Conference is underway, and webcomickers are all over the damn place. Just from my sosh-meeds, I’ve noticed Hope Larson, Rosemary Mosco, George Rohac, Ngozi Ukazu, Vera Brosgol, Raina Telgemeier, Andy Runton, Melanie Gillman, the omnipresent C Spike Trotman, and the irreplaceable Gina Gagliano.

First observation: no disrespect to Rohac and Runton, who are both outstanding dudes, but it’s all well and meet that the ladies are dominating here. The books that the women present make (or facilitate the making of) are going to form the spine of a new canon.

Second observation: the universality of comics is not lost on the librarians (which, I would note, is a profession that skews heavily female), who are seeking out ways to bring comics into their collections. This year, the ALA approved the creation of a new round table dedicated to graphic novels, which is a significantly big deal.

The round tables produce research (don’t ever get in the way of a group of librarians who’re researching a topic) which results in best practices, standards, and guidelines for libraries everywhere. Need to figure out what to add to the stacks, how to organize it, how to get and keep the public’s interest? An ALA round table has probably figured it out.

They also provide legitimacy. It is, after all, the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table that convened to present the Stonewall Book Awards earlier today¹, and Gillman was on hand for As The Crow Flies to be recognized as a Stonewall Honor Book — the only graphic novel so recognized.

Being recognized for one of the big literary awards can result in a demand for thousands or even tens of thousands of copies of a book. It conveys to the larger reading world that the book and/or creator is Serious Business, and it’s one of the reasons that Mark Siegel put get on the radar of the the literary awards on his to-do list when founding :01 Books. Siegel figured it would take 5-10 years, and they made it all the way to the National Book Awards 18 months later thanks to American Born Chinese by Gene Yang.

You remember Yang — two-time NBA nominee, Eisner winner, MacArthur laureate, and the fifth National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature², guiding force of the Reading Without Walls challenge? Guy’s probably done more to put books in the hands of kids than anybody else this side of Dolly Parton. And since he’s the sort of really smart, really engaged person that you want to represent reading, it’s no surprise that he’s been named the newest board member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

“I’m so excited to be joining the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund,” Gene Yang says. “Like many people, I’ve found it more and more difficult to wrap my head around issues of free speech because of recent news events. However, I still believe that, to borrow a phrase from poet Liu Xiaobo, free expression is the mother of truth. The CBLDF has been at the forefront of these issues for many years now, which makes our work more important than ever.”

Some of you just went to look up Liu Xiaobo, because that’s what Yang does — make you go learn stuff. Between the librarians and the creators, I’m going to say that the future of reading’s in good hands. Now let’s everybody get out there and make sure the eyes — and minds! — are open to follow where they lead.

Spam of the day:

Contact me today if you are considering buying, selling, or just want to know more about market conditions in your neighborhood. [links to multiple-million dollar homes in the Greater LA area]

My home has a wall-to-wall area of 130 square meters (not including hallways, stairs, etc), and is not in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or Los Feliz. I suspect you meant to send this to somebody very different.

¹ To be completely clear, the awards were announced in January, but were presented today at the annual conference.

² Which I believe entitles him to be addressed as His/Your Excellency.

Hey. You. You’re Doing Okay.

Today’s post is brought to you by the idea that it’s gonna be okay. There is so much hate and stupidity in the world, but on Saturday I met a six week old kid that was absolutely adorable while I was riding in an elevator and he doesn’t know that there is all that hate and stupidity. With luck, we’ll make it a good deal less so by the time he can tell the difference.

  • On the list of difference makers: George Rohac, or as he is known in these parts, George. Not many people get to be mononymic — your Madonnas, your Barbras, your Beyoncés — and her at Fleen only two people have earned that status¹, and only one of them could post a tweet to a survey that asked for my real name, address, birthday, and a whole squatload more info, and I’d fill it out.

    It’s part brand research, part effort to understand people better, part feedback on how he (that would be George) can be a better person. It caused a lot of thinking on my part, and I don’t doubt it will do the same for you. Give George some info, you know he’ll do something amazing with it. It’s the least you can do — it’s his birthday².

  • One of the most important things that George ever did, bee-tee-dubs, was share a video about his challenges with mental illness; it’s not available any longer, but you can read what I wrote about it at the time. It was a hell of a lot less common, five-plus years ago, to make these kinds of public declarations. It let a lot of people know that they aren’t alone; this message is particularly important in the creative community, which seems to have more than its share of people shouting down the lies that their brains tell them.

    Every share of this nature — and here’s the latest I’ve seen — increases the chances that somebody else gets the help they need³. Help can mean a lot of things, and the webcomics community does an inordinate job of helping the creators they follow. Whether it’s sticking with creators during involuntary hiatuses, or readers coming together to increase support so that creators can take care of their families, I think there’s another benefit at play.

    For each person that we know (or “know”, in the sense that we know their work) and help, the thought pattern grows — why just these people? Why not everybody? It’s making the selfish and exploitative stand out as outliers as we do what we can. It’s a hopeful thing, to think we can turn that desire to help into permanent, structural mechanisms that will keep health crises from bankrupting entire families. I’m usually far more cynical than this, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  • And in case you’re worried about what your future brings, young people, Matt Boyd and Ian McConville have a thought for you today. And if it’s still a dread day for you, consider: after doing far better in his surgery last November than expected, Jon Rosenberg’s son Alec was told he didn’t need followup surgery the day before his birthday no less, and his dad is able to get comickin’ again. New SFAM, folks, with Jon at his Jonnest. If his curmudgeonly ways don’t make you smile today, wait until the next strip. He’ll definitely get you then.

Spam of the day:

My Name is Mr.Thomas Phaahla and I am writing to Introduce you and your Company to the Asia Pacific Investment Pte Ltd.(APIP) Debt/Loan Funding Platform.

Dude, you managed to spell your purported name three different ways. Try harder.

¹ After first reference so that any newbies have context. The other is Raina Telgemeier

² Just in case you were worried, George is the person least likely to demand a birthday present that turns him into a twisted shell of himself, warped by greed and evil, and tied up in the doom of the world. Second lest likely would be, I dunno, Mr Rogers or Dolly Parton.

³ Not to mention the very key effect of normalizing treatment. As a tweet I saw over the weekend said, If you don’t have enough artisinal, handmade neurotransmitters, store-bought is fine.

Short Answer, No; Longer Answer, A Little

It was yesterday afternoon when C Spike Trotman — who is on top of things to the degree that I suspect she has a hidden neural jack someplace — tweeted the alarm:

…wait did patreon just ban porn

There’s a flurry of discussion, which I’ll let you examine; suffice it to say that on first read, This Seemed Bad:

Fuck, more than a few people just went from +$10k a month in steady income to NOTHING if this is true. How do you not puke yourself to death

My initial suspicion anytime something porn related gets the heave-ho is that the credit card companies and/or PayPal are at the heart of it, but the vagueness around Patreon’s move seemed disturbing. Fortunately, there are people in the community one may rely upon to explain things with insight and careful analysis, and in the intersection of webcomics and business systems, we have George.

His report was based on primary documents from Patreon and a bit of informed suspicion. This is good stuff, so I’m quoting at length:

Okay gonna talk about the changes to patreon stuff real quick since I see a lot of people losing their minds…

Let’s start with links to their community post – … and then the guidelines –

This has been the looming threat as its use as a webcam sub service started growing –

The problem doesn’t come down to prudish attitudes, it comes down to credit card processors, and they most certainly finally cracked down.

So to go back to patreon in particular – the language they use in their updated guidelines is clear by way of wink and nudge.

If you’re an artist there’s a few full nos – “glorification of sexual violence which includes bestiality, rape, and child exploitation”

If you were selling cam subs or modeling shots – you are out of luck. This is actually similar to Kickstarter’s policy. Art ok? ppl no.

So yeah, if you’re drawing smut, flag your patreon adult, keep it all patrons only, & don’t cross the few guides.

And if you cry vague… They’re more specific than kickstarter’s which just say “pornographic content” period. …

And that hasn’t stopped a whole wave of people from running anthologies, graphic novels, and other books and pins and what have you on it.

Which makes it sound much more like Patreon got rid of people who were less using the platform as a creative funding mechanism, and more for a straight payment processor to get around restrictions from the financial industry. This reading is much closer to Patreon got rid of people stretching rules to the breaking point specifically so it could keep the people well in-bounds.

But is it a danger? I asked Brad Guigar, who as we all know has been making a tidy living from the smut-friendly corners of Patreon for some time now. Here’s what he said on the record:

Patreon’s rules disallowing things like incest, rape, bestiality, and child exploitation don’t really effect [sic] me. My stuff doesn’t go into those areas. The bigger takeaway, for me, was Patreon seems to be taking great pains to accommodate folks who are creating adult content. And that’s huge.

At least, for now. Because a couple of days after I spoke to Guigar about his experiences with Patreon and the cartoon naughties (and goodness, that was just about exactly two years ago!), the world reminded us that nothing is static with respect to how much respect adult content can get in payment channels. To somewhat self-indulgently quote myself from that piece:

We think of webcomics has having evaded gatekeepers, and on a content/editorial basis, it absolutely has. But in trying to make that independent effort a proper business, one must engage in a system that is entirely one-sided. Run afoul of one person at Chase or Bank of America and you’re frozen out; they’ll never take on a major corporate creator of inferior smut (cable and dish companies make a lot of damn money off of naughty pay-per-view; so does every hotel chain other than Hilton, who are weaning themselves off the grumble flicks), but they’ll freeze out anybody that attracts enough attention from a loud enough pressure group.

… With the continued concentration of information services into the hands of fewer and fewer providers, the possibility of getting strong-armed by somebody that doesn’t like your personal aesthetic is something we’re going to have to be increasingly cognizant of. [emphasis original]

Which is why the real lesson of Patreon’s moves yesterday is not the panic we saw in some quarters, or even the modest optimism of Rohac and Guigar: it’s the recognition that Patreon’s support of adult content is 99.44% good for now, but that could change drastically at any time.

The time to start brainstorming the backup plan to Patreon is now, before the disaster strikes. Maybe it never does, in which case hooray. Maybe you draw a line in the sand that says If these ____ changes occur, that’s when I start to transition to _____. Maybe you see the writing on the wall and get in on another channel (partially or fully) well in advance. Revisit your analysis (when you file quarterly taxes is probably a good time) and don’t let external decisions make you go from income to no income without a backup plan.

Do it for the children.

Spam of the day:

Prevent anymore memory loss with these simple steps

The accompanying photo appears to be somebody fondling a beef heart, which is honestly less worrying that what I figured would be involved. These sort of things usually involve horrors like shoving coffee grounds up your urethra or whatever.

Countdown To SPX

For those who were intrigued by the early descriptions of SPX panels, I should note that the programming schedule is now posted, with speakers including Jillian Tamaki, Eleanor Davis, Tillie Walden, Gene Yang, Keith Knight, and Shannon Wheeler.

Of those, Tamaki and Walden will have book debuts; it’s not listed on the site as a debut, but the English-language edition of Alex Alice’s Castle In The Stars: The Space Race of 1869¹ is on Tuesday and I say that’s close enough.

And then, of course, there are the many, many exhibitors who’ll be in the Marriott Bethesda North ballroom; in roughly geographic order, you should keep an eye out for:

Green Zone
Top Shelf (wall 64 to 67), Iron Circus Comics (wall 72 and 73), Kel McDonald (wall 74), Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota with George Rohac (wall 81), Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert (wall 82), Ru Xu (wall 91A).

Blue Zone
Drawn & Quarterly (wall 1 to 4), Miss Lasko-Gross (table H10A), Whit Taylor (table H14B), Tony Breed (table I3B), Ross Nover (table I10), Natasha Petrovic (table J6), Adam Aylard, David Yoder, Joey Weiser, and Drew Weing, Eleanor Davis (tables K12 to 14), Cartozia Tales (table K8), Lucy Bellwood (table K9), Retrofit Comics (tables L2 and 3), Nilah Magruder (table L6), Shan Murphy (table L10B), Koyama Press (tables M1 and 2), Dustin Harbin (table M4), Carla Speed McNeil (table M7A), Sophie Yanow (table M12A), Toronto Comics Art Festival (table M14), MK Reed (table N1), Gemma Correll (table N2), Sophie Goldstein (N13B), Ed Luce (N14), Fantagraphics (wall 56 to 61).

Red Zone
School of Visual Arts (wall 7 to 8), Colleen Frakes (table B5), former Fleen scribe Anne Thalheimer (table B6A), Liz Pulido (table B8), Zach Morrison (table B11), Jamie Noguchi (table B9), Barry Deutsch (table C13), 2dcloud (tables D1 and 2), Evan Dahm (table D8), Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson (table D9), Penina Gal (table D13), Carolyn Belefski (table E4A), Carolyn Nowak (table E6), Carey Pietsch (table E7A), Natalie Riess (table E7B), The New York Review Of Books (table E13B), Liz Prince (table E14A), Falynn Koch and Tucker Waugh (table E14B), Rebecca Mock (table F3A), The Center For Cartoon Studies (table F4), NBM Comics (tables G1 and 2), Tillie Walden (table G3), Alex and Lindsay Small-Butera (table G4), Kori Michele Handwerker and Melanie Gillman (table G5), Adhouse Books (wall 53 to 55).

Yellow Zone
Sara & Tom McHenry (wall 25), Jess Fink and Eric Colossal (wall 28), Danielle Corsetto (wall 29), TopatoCo² (wall 31 to 33), The Nib (wall 34), Meredith Gran and Mike Holmes (wall 35A), Out Of Step Arts³ (wall 44 to 46).

The Small Press Expo runs on Saturday 16 September (11:00am to 7:00pm) and Sunday 17 September (noon to 6:00pm). Admission at the door is US$10 on Sunday, US$15 on Saturday, and US$20 for the weekend.

Spam of the day:

Search for the best gas cards Compare for the best features

What features? You put money on the card, you give it to somebody, they get that much gas. Done.

¹ Imagine a Miyazaki story with a male protagonist, set in Jules Verne’s Europe, against a backdrop of Prussia’s quest to unify all the German states under their banners (and the threat of an unstoppable fleet of near-space ships as the Romantic period wound down and the Belle Epoque got underway; also, Mad King Ludwig is in it).

It’s a lushly-painted story with a tight story that will be concluded in a second volume; the hdardcover itself is in the dimensions of a children’s book, but clocks in at 60 pages of gorgeous bandes dessinées. Get it for the airship fan you know.

² Including Kate Leth and Abby Howard

³ Including Andrew MacLean, Paul Maybury, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, and Neil Bramlette.

Small World

What’s that? Oh, just a story in Entertainment Weekly about Ngozi Ukazu signing representation with George Rohac, as :01 Books announces that Check, Please! will be published as a two-volume series. You know, just another Friday in Webcomicstan.

Key bits:

The first volume, which hits stores Fall 2018, will collect the first two “Years” of the comic, while the second will collect the latter two, and is set to be published in Fall 2019. Both books will feature extra content not included in the Kickstarter editions.

It’s not clear at the present time if Ukazu will run Kickstarter editions of Year Three and Year Four, or if by that time the first :01 volume will be so close that it’s not worth doing. Speaking as a reader for whom obsessive completionism is a lifestyle, I can see a demand for separate Y3 & Y4 editions that match on the bookshelf of existing readers, along with new readers jumping on the combo versions.

In any event, it’s kind of hard to imagine a combo platter of unstoppable awesomeness more inevitable than Ukazu + George + :01, and I am really interested to see what other self-published works :01 will snag up for new editions in the future. Unless I’m misremembering, this is the first case of non-French material that’s been obtained for republication rather than being commissioned as a new work. Very interesting.

Okay, enjoy the long weekend, Canadians (1 July) and Usians (4 July). Catch you next week.

Spam of the day:

CANNABIS GUMMIES Without a Prescription in All 50 States

Man, I can barely manage a handful of regular gummies without my teeth starting to ache. I ain’t going near gummies that will get me hepped up like I’m on goofballs.

Improvement, Sort Of

So that was fast. Tapa* backpedaled with great speed, although I have to say that their rationale for the change doesn’t pass the smell test:

The purpose of the Right of First Refusal is not to take any rights away or steal your content. The purpose is to help you. We’ve witnessed multiple creators on Tapas accept unfair, uncompetitive deals and sign away their rights for far less than their work is worth. Creators who should have been paid 10x what they were offered agreeing to terrible deals because they either did not know their market value or did not have any competing offers.

We have connections in traditional publishing, merchandising, tv, and film. Our intention is to work with creators to bring additional offers to the table, and to create competition in the market so individuals get the best deal possible.

Go back and read that again, and then explain to me why a completely benevolent — caretaking, even! — change to the TOS was put through without any explanation, highlighting, or prior notice. Not buying it. So they put their TOS back to what it was before the change — we think; they’ve excluded that page from Internet Archive gathering, so there’s no independent way to confirm — but that in and of itself reveals a weakness. As always, one should listen to George

[long thread prior to this point … go read it]
They make an offer, if it doesn’t involve 6+ figures per exploitation right, decline. Then you’re in the clear. Kind of.

“Kind of” because Tapas can, at any time, change the ToS again and screw you over. You consent to that as item 2 in the ToS. [emphasis mine]

Yep, it’s right there in the TOS:

Although we will attempt to notify you when major changes are made to these Terms of Service, you should periodically review the most up to date version (found at Tapas Media may, in its sole discretion, modify or revise these Terms of Service at any time. Modifications and revisions will take effect 5 days after they have been posted. Nothing in these Terms of Service shall be deemed to confer any third party rights. [emphasis mine]

Unilaterally creating a new claim on your IP seems like a major change, and to my eye Tapa* didn’t make any kind of effort to notify anybody, nor are they committing to any such notification in the future. Want to get back something like a measure of trust, Tapa*? Unilaterally change the TOS one mo’ gin to amend item 2 for the last time under the current rules.

Hold yourself to a requirement of proper notification and with a decent interval before changes take effect (30 days, minimum), and maybe you won’t get the stinkeye from the community any more. Short of that, you’re screwed as far as any creators who are serious about earning from their creations are concerned.

But, that ain’t happening, I don’t think, and Tapa* will pay the price. Nothing like finishing the week on a positive note. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m told that my copies of Wasted Talent books 4 and 5 have arrived, and I need to affix some bookplates. If you’re at VanCAF this weekend and see Angela Melick, toss her the engineer’s gang sign for me.

Spam of the day:

Record Thieves Around Your Office Wirelessly

Only thief around my office has four legs, a pointy nose and long tail, and sleeps with his eyes open until I’m sufficiently distracted that he can strike with silent quickness. Don’t think I need wireless capability to determine who stole my lunch that one time.

This Day … This Day

Where to start? With the hotel that didn’t supply all of the lightbulbs it should have, more than one towel, and a working phone? With the gig assignment that sent me to the wrong office? With my laptop, which decided that it’s still the ’90s and wifi is not a thing? With my voice, which is rapidly decreasing? I think that KB “Otter” Spangler hit the nail on the head re: today earlier this morning. So despite some genuinely encouraging news, I’ve only got enough bandwidth (mental and TCP/IP) to go brief. As it so happens, we’re heading to Kickstarter and staying there today.

  • Firstly, followup on Letters From Lucardo (cf: here), which hit goal in half a day and is now sitting at 150% about two days in. Not bad for a largely-unknown Scandinavian creator making a first book, but then again Iron Circus has a reputation of delivering quality smut on time. so there’s that. The Fleen Funding Factor (Mark II) predicts Lucardo will finish up at US$45K +/- $9K, with a personal expectation that it’ll go up in subsequent volumes.
  • Secondly, Tessa Stone (who partnered with Ananth Hirsch on Buzz! and Is This What You Wanted, has launched a Kickstarter for the first volume of her own webcomic, Not Drunk Enough. The semimythical George is shepherding the project, so full confidence that things will run properly. It’s not quite old enough for the FFF mk2, but it is at 58% of its US$17.5K goal, so that’s okay.
  • Lastly, a dream (?) team of creators/professional reprobates is seeking to raise US$69,420¹ to release a pay-what-you-can Full Motion Video game based on the work of Dr Chuck Tingle. All buckaroos and others opposed to demonic forces are encouraged to investigate >deep breath< Kickstarted In The Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure for the opportunity to spread a little joy to people whose lives are sorely lacking in (quoting now) Unicorn Butt Cops, the unexpected juxtaposition of disparate concepts (for instance: pirate, ghost, and bigfoot), and the absurd treated as the mundane. With hot, hot, butts (butts technically optional):

    The very nature of the Tingleverse is The Rawest of Graphic Sensualities, but players who aren’t down with visual depictions of sexual content needn’t fear. While we’re working with video and real actors (the cast will most certainly SURPRISE and AMAZE you), there won’t be explicit footage of people taking a trip to bonetown. Our salacious scenes are literary in nature and read aloud by talented performers, intended to pound the most sexual of your organs … Your imagination.

    We’re also including a Kitten Mode, where sexual situations will be replaced by footage of kittens playing. If you wish, you may also engage Kitten Mode on its own, just to watch some kittens playing, because why not.

    Or, in case you are called to explain the project in an elevator pitch-style quick sentence, the developers have provided one for you: Our exquisitely handcrafted smut puts the anal in artisanal.

    No stretch goals (overfunding will just result in a prettier game), but higher reward tiers will allow the backer to be involved in the game². Go, give, and may whatever spiritual or supernatural power you believe in recognize your virtue and buckaroo nature³.

Spam of the day:

D? you care about dental hygiene?

Yes. That’s why I go to the dentist, who takes care of my teeth. Oh, sorry, was this not a rhetorical question?

¹ An amount also known as one sexweed.

² Obligatory disclaimer: this may involve visual or verbal depictions of the backer being subjected to literary poundings in heart, brain, AND butt.

³ Buckarooness? Buckarooality?