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What It Takes To Be A Hero

Aurora West, hero in training.

Editor’s Note: We at Fleen were invited to participate in a virtual book tour for The Rise of Aurora West, which means we’ll be discussing elements of the plot. For those that are concerned with such things, here be spoilers.

Paul Pope garnered a lot of well-deserved praise last year for Battling Boy, which I believe I described as Paul Pope at his Paul Popiest and his Jack Kirbiest. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a young godling (emotionally/physically around 13 years old, but who knows how gods calculate such things) sent on his rite of transition to adulthood (i.e.: becoming the protector for a world beset by monsters). It’s the first of a series, a classic Hero’s Journey, and it’s great fun.

It’s not why we’re here today.

We’re here because Pope (along with co-author JT Petty and artist David Rubín) have released a “parallel” (for reasons that will become apparent momentarily) prequel called The Rise of Aurora West which released yesterday, a review copy of which made it into my hands some time back courtesy of Gina Gagliano of :01 Books. It’s a far more interesting book to me than its predecessor, which I mean as no slight to Battling Boy.

Here’s the thing: in any Hero’s Journey, the Hero comes to the people that are in dire straights and puts things right; in some cases, the Hero falls in love with said people and adopts their ways to some degree, but it’s always about the Hero leaving and returning to wherever he (it’s always a he) came from. What about those people before the Hero came along — were they helpless and hopeless? That’s what TROAW concerns itself with, and it turns out the people were struggling and hurting, but they were not without their own champion.

Haggard West (what a marvelous name, reminiscent of H Rider Haggard) was¹ your basic adventure hero in the Doc Savage/Buckaroo Banzai/Tom Strong mode, and he and his wife and daughter travelled the world seeking out mysteries and righting wrongs. When the infestation of child-stealing monsters descended on Arcopolis, he became the protector as well, and it was all still adventure until the monsters killed his wife. Young Aurora West is still a child, Haggard wonders who will protect her (in general as the monsters prey on children, and in particular as he is the greatest enemy the monsters have) and the city. He falls into a funk and does the only thing possible: he makes her into an inversion of Batman.

Think about it for a moment — what if Bruce Wayne lost only one parent, and was raised not by Alfred but by the surviving parent — driven to vengeance — determined to protect his child by building up skills and also by making young Bruce harder than he could ever be otherwise. What if the quest to eliminate evil didn’t come from within, but was taught and you just kind of go along with it because you don’t really remember a time it wasn’t like that? What if Batman isn’t a holy calling, but the family business?

And what if, as a teenager, you find yourself disagreeing with aspects of the mission?

Aurora isn’t her father; she has empathy for some of the lower-level, pathetic minions of the monsters, something her father won’t allow himself to feel. He doesn’t allow himself to feel much, hardening his heart so that he can be as demanding of his daughter as is necessary to train her in the ways of violence and vengeance. Only when he’s sure that she has the skills that he needn’t worry about her safety (he lost the love of his live, he cannot bear another loss, not that he’d admit such) can he relent.

Aurora isn’t her father; she wonders where the monsters come from, and why they are the way they are. He doesn’t care about motivation, beyond figuring out what their next plot might be, and which weapons will be most effective. He confronts monsters in a destructive dance, like a graceful sledgehammer; she would rather sleuth than confront.

Aurora isn’t her father; she remembers an imaginary friend, one that hasn’t been seen since the night her mother died, and discovers not having an imaginary friend any longer may not have been because she was suddenly forced to grow beyond having imaginary friends. Maybe it’s because the imaginary friend fled the scene of the crime.

Aurora may be more like her father than she thought.

Somewhere down the line, in the pages of Battling Boy or Aurora West, she’s going to point out to a godling that he may have been sent to be the savior of Arcopolis, but it’s already got people that protect it and love it and will stay around when godlings go home to their parents. The monsters may fall, but Aurora will always be part of Arcopolis. She’s not innately powerful, she’s not able to beat the foe into rubble, but she’ll not blunder in without thinking or regard the defeat of the monsters as an item on a checklist to earn the recognition of her people. She’ll help them whether they ever acknowledge her or know her name, because it’s the family business and because it needs doing and because she can.

Aurora West is a Hero, and she doesn’t need a Journey to prove it.

Thanks once again to Gina Gagliano for the review copy, and for inviting us to be part of the blogtour; other stops can be found here. And because all the folks associated with Battling Boy and Aurora West love us and want us to be happy, they’ve sent along some lovely art by TROAW artist David Rubín of one of the bigger bads from the book: Medula the Witch. Because there is nothing better (in the sense of totally insane) than a monster-lady with a Tommy Gun and a penchant for chaos. Be sure to check it out full size.


Spam of the day:

You should think about whether you would like a garden that is growing almost wildly or perhaps a garden which is highly structured.
Frictional forces within the accretion disk generate huge numbers of energy, which is radiated as either visible light, radio or X-rays.

I prefer gardens that provide for happy bees and produce edibles, and definitely are not so densely overgrown as to produce their own gravity wells.

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¹ Was because in the early acts of Battling Boy, Haggard West falls to the monsters; this is a prequel, after all, so we see him before his defeat.

All Good Things, Etc

  • It’s not hard to understand Nimona coming to an end, as it did some few hours ago; creator Noelle Stevenson is busy with lots of comics projects these days (not the least being the excellent Lumberjanes), and the story always had a beginning-middle-end feel to it. Still, I would have been perfectly happy for chapter 11 to wrap up a book of the story, if you will, and then for another book to start with a new chapter 1; then again, it’s about the story that Stevenson wanted to tell, not the preferences that I may have.

    In any event, 250-odd (sometimes very odd) pages is a good run for a story, and we’ll always be able to read about the adventures of Nimona and Lord Blackheart, and the ethics of “villainy” from the beginning … or in handy print form from HarperCollins in May, which you may preorder for convenience. Oh, and Stevenson is promising a book-only epilogue and if that’s not ongoing adventure, it’s the next best thing.

  • Kickstarter news I: Unshelved has a problem — namely too damn many comics to put in print form easily. Ten books worth already, an eleventh on the way, and vansihing shelf space the world over. In order to make as many comics available to as many people as cheaply and easily as possible, creators Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes have opted to take the path broken by Diesel Sweeties a few years back and offer the entire damn back catalog on a novelty USB key, presuming all the funding goals get met.

    Stretch goals will mean that the to-be-released book eleven gets included in the ebook bundle, audio commentaries get recorded by Barnes & Ambaum, and — most importantly — free copies of (as of this writing, at least two) books are made available to libraries. It’s an odd thing, making most of the stretch goals into give more stuff to people that aren’t you rather than make the stuff you get more special, but library folk are generous that way.

  • Kickstarter news II: David Malki ! has almost finished the production of nonphysical rewards for the Machine of Death card game, and has a project megapost detailing what’s available now (the audiobook version of the game cards; the game to non-backers via various retail outlets; a downloadable version of the game under a Creative Commons license; new rule variants) and what is yet to come (a downloadable artbook; an MC Frontalot song; an original rules song; various personal appearances) in the culmination of a multi-year project.

    Most excitingly for people like me, Malki ! includes an expenses breakdown and a pretty complete financial accounting of what it costs to put together a project like this, which should serve as critical information for anybody that wants to run their own Kickstart. Please note especially where Postage cost just 0.5% less than Game Production, and consider that some of the production involved complex, handmade wooden boxes that must have cost a bundle, without which post fees would probably have been the single largest expense. How big an expense was postage, at 35.9%? Sending two actual humans (Malki ! and Chun Ming Huang) to China and returning them home safely cost less than 1% of the total expenses.

  • Not quite Kickstarter: As noted in the beforetimes, Operation Let’s Build A Goddamned Tesla Museum was only the beginning — a physical site was saved, but millions more would be needed to build up the actual museum itself — a monumental undertaking, even with the real-life Tony Stark on your side. To that end, honorary Tesla family member Matthew Inman is running funding drives for the GDTM in the form of commemorative bricks (as seen at many cultural and educational institutions that do not feature the word Goddamned in the name) and t-shirts (which feature the Tesla Motors logo, by personal dispensation of Elon Musk). It is not too early to do holiday shopping for the nerds in your life, and both shirts and bricks cost a hell of a lot less than Tesla motorcars, just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

really not, of course.

Of course!

PS: Mary I am very sorry if linking to your delightful stories of teaching English in Japan means you have been brought to the attention of garbage-person spammers.

Monday And Things Are Happening

We’ve got something for everybody today. Let’s dig in.

  • Own a copy of Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be? Like me, did you think that you’d exhausted all the possible story paths last year? Au contraire, as North has been sharing some semi-walkthroughs of the story, at least one of which leads to a story point that I never encountered in my dozens of readings:

    It reads as a joke, but it isn’t one: if you do actually perform those calculations at the appropriate time in the book – and you’ll know it when you see it – their result will be a new page number to turn too, at which point you’ll continue your adventure as both Present Hamlet and Just Arrived From The Future Hamlet.

    That’s right: time travel. On the other hand, I did come across a story ending that involved the nature of reality itself, and a massive game of chess. Oh, and if you’re of a culinary bent, I also came across a tasty recipe, which North is also sharing with you:

    You will find yourself in a locked-room puzzle with only a few moves to dispose of the body before being discovered. Direct your choices towards making stew, and in one of the endings you will be rewarded with a really excellent recipe for stew.

  • Each year, I know that Faith Erin Hicks is going to come up with a new graphic novel that’s going to knock my socks off, ranging from summer camp horror to high school intrigue, to scares mixed with a new high school to wacky hijinks involving high school and robots to the not-at-all-high-school-related Adventures of Superhero Girl, and many, many more. And today is her birthday! Everybody wish her a happy one, and encourage her to take at least one day off her breakneck pace of book-creatin’ to enjoy herself.
  • New! Sweet Bro and Hell Of Jeff start a new weeklong story at Paradox Space. Be sure to double up on your sanity meds before you click.
  • New! After a long series of delays while she worked on other projects (you know, little things like Sleep of Reason and Smut Peddler and running a publishing company), Spike is itchin’ to get back to the comic that she made her name on. In fact, a few weeks ago at SPX as I was giving her grief for leaving me hanging on Scip and his swirled cone (April, 2013) and the immediate aftermath (last Christmas), with a shift of scene in January and February she promised that Templar, AZ would be returning this month. With the clock counting down, we saw the news earlier today:

    Stream over! TAZ page status: 95% finished, from sketch to colors, in about 10 hours. It’ll go up later today. But my wrist hurts, so yeah.

    I’ve been obsessively refreshing my browser and it’s not up yet, but soon! I’d also like to remind Spike that I am in Chicago this week and would be very disappointed in person if the page did not go up as promised¹.


Spam of the day:

But why don’t you consider the narrow people with the loads of diet routine coke, Kraft meals, melted hen, furthermore cookies?

Melted … hen?

_______________
¹ In case you’ve never met me, that’s not a threat of getting physical; I’ve never met you and I’m pretty sure you could kick my ass. Rather, I would pester her relentless. In the immortal words of Kevin McDonald, I’m a whiner without dignity, I’ll make your life hell!

A Larger Than Usual Number Of Deletions And [NSFW] Tags

Man, what’s this about Chicago’s airports being shut down? I gotta fly there on Sunday. Grumble, grumble.

  • Clever idea of the day: You Damn Kid’s recent return means that we are getting new strips three days a week and vintage strips (with commentary) on Thursdays — in essence, two entirely different strips. But today, Owen Dunne has combined the two into a form — like Voltron — that is greater than the sum of its parts: the strip-in-a-strip [NB: right now it's the front page of the site, but by Monday it'll have a different URL, which I'll update eventually].

    Original Kid/current father to the New Kid is reminiscing about his own childhood, and clicking anywhere on the current strip will bring up the vintage strip from history 2005¹. Or, if you’re very brave, you can check out the uncensored version [NSFBrain]. Long story short, it’s a clever idea.

  • When Dylan Meconis — whom I love more than anybody except probably her wife and maybe her mom — and Matt Bors tweeted earlier in the week about deer porn, I was torn between really wanting to see that and never wanting to see that. As it turns out, some comics at The Nib feature entirely innocuous titles that do not indicate what you’ll be seeing. May I suggest that in future, rather than Prequels All The Way Down (clever wordplay, no argument) [NSFW if you're a deer], this particular comic be instead called Warning! Lark’s Vomit! Deer Porn!
  • Let’s go out on something really excellent: Bad Machinery book 3 exists in at least a few corners of the world, and will hopefully be available through the engines of commerce sooner rather than later. Or, you know, December. Fires! Jack and Shauna’s romance reaches its peak! The Mystery War is over. Get caught up on the story, then get your preorders in because this is the start of Bad Machinery really hitting its stride, with each subsequent case somehow getting even better.

Spam of the day:

walmart

Man, fuck Wal*Mart.

_______________
¹ Coincidentally, Ray got kind of stoned in 2005, making those two strips contemporaries.

How Did I Miss This?

What can I can? Sometimes I’m behind the game.

  • Julia Wertz has produced some of the most painfully funny/honest comics of the young century under the monikers of Fart Party/Museum of Mistakes; painful in the sense that anybody reading them would find something that resembled their own experiences and spend the afternoon cringing all over again. Growing up is often a process of accepting what an idiot/jerk/asshole you were and being relieved that you aren’t anymore¹.

    For most of a week, Wertz has had a print collection of her cartoons available for purchase (pre-orders, which I missed entirely, have been fulfilled, and it’ll be moving into bookstore channels in the coming weeks). Various editions of Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Collection (all of which are signed and doodled), offering various additional bits of art, knick-knacks, gewgaws, and tchotchkes.

  • Also how did I never notice this: Zach[ary] Weiner[smith], webcomicker par excellence, sketch comedian, meme wrangler, CYOA author, and children’s book wordbender uses one of two commonly-accepted spellings for [the root of] his last name: W-E-I-N-E-R.

    But when speaking of the male generative organ in slang, he uses the other of two commonly-accepted spellings: W-I-E-N-E-R. Now I have to write a graduate thesis on this non-singular self-image that Mister W holds and its likely impact on the origins of his irreverent — even transgressive humor. Either that, or dude typo’ed his own last name.

  • Not a missed item: yesterday, the Society of Illustrators announced the dates and special guests for next year’s MoCCA Festival, along with a shift in venue from the 69th Regiment Armory. In order, then, the show will be 11 and 12 April, guest will include Scott McCloud (fresh off the release of The Sculptor) and Raina Telgemeier (no doubt completing six months on the New York Times Bestseller List for Sisters, and about 150 weeks for Smile), along with Aline Kominsky-Crumb and JH Williams III.

    The new venue is Center 548 on Manhattan’s west side at 22nd, near to the famous High Line, one of the most innovative urban parks in existence. More information as it becomes available, but if you’re of a mind to exhibit, applications will open on 3 November.

  • Finally, Jeph Jacques launched his new comic today, which caused a demand that promptly made his hosting fall over. At some point in the future, then, you’ll be able to check out Alice Grove in its permanent home twice a week. Until then, you can check out the mirror at Tumblr, where the first two pages don’t give away very much. Can’t wait to see how this one develops.

Spam of the day:

does vinegar kill spiders

Why would you want to kill spiders? They keep nastier things under control, are interesting as hell, and occasionally hilarious with their HEY! LOOK AT ME! OVER HERE ME! ME! ME! LOOK! behavior. Unless you’ve got a crack spider, or live in Australia. Then again, everything in Australia wants to kill you, so no need to be mean to spiders particularly.

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¹ Of course, that just means that in a few years you’ll be looking back on now and realizing that you were still an idiot/jerk/asshole. With any luck, today is to a lesser degree, and eventually the lag time before you recognize your own idiot/jerk/asshole nature narrows to the point that you can see it in real time and adjust your behavior.

Broad Horizons

We at Fleen have spoken more than once about (and in this interview, with the key person behind) Make That Thing, the crowdfunding production-and-fulfillment arm of The Topato Corporation. The first part of that descriptor, production-and, is probably the most important, as MTT isn’t just a post-Kickstarter merch-shipping service. To quote MTT Supreme Honcho Holly Rowland on staying in a relatively narrow range of projects¹:

We do what we do, and we do it well. We want to stay “on message”, so to speak, and not fuck around with video games or whatever because we don’t do video games and someone’s massively successful Kickstarter doesn’t seem like a proper testing ground.

But it appears that after a series of print- and plush-oriented campaigns (including some of the very largest in the publishing/comics category), MTT has branched out a bit. After all, Rowland followed up her previous assertion with:

That is not to say that we won’t open ourselves up to it in the future.

Their foray into recorded media started with the Deathmöe album, and now they’re partnering on a documentary film that will be chronicling the effort of building the biggest thing ever:

12 men have set foot on the moon, and getting them there cost $25.4 billion dollars. The last moonwalk ended more than 40 years ago. Two men, Michael and David, are dedicating their lives to creating the next great leap for humanity, and they think they can give us permanent access to the moon for less than a billion dollars.

This is what I love about the Topato family of creators — there’s always something there that will surprise me. And while watching the process of STRIPPED’s production makes me doubt that Shoot The Moon will be finished by Fall 2015³, I would be thrilled to be wrong. Here’s hoping they raise the necessary US$37,000 in the coming month and we can all find out together.

As long as we’re mentioning crowdfunding, check it out: Stand Still, Stay Silent book 1 has already raised US$34,452 of its anticipated US$25K, with a mere 27 days left to go. Since it’s on IndieGoGo and not Kickstarter, I don’t have the data to apply the Fleen Funding Formula, but I’d anticipate it finishing in the US$75K (plus or minus) range. Well done, Minna Sundberg, can’t wait to read the book next summer (she has to finish drawing chapter 4 for inclusion, then printing, then shipping).


Spam of the day: Hello gary! I am looking for a man, i’m 21 y.o. let’s talk? My name is Svetlana, I’m from Ukraine.

Hello Svetlana, what is it like in the bridebasket of Europe?

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¹ To quote the MTT website on project scope:

We don’t know how to make USB toasters or solar-powered flashlights², so we simply won’t take on Hardware, Design, Video Game, or Fashion projects. Other people are better at that than we are. However, the rewards for your project are heavily weighed toward the following:

  • Printed materials (books, comics, posters)
  • Printed or embroidered apparel items (T-shirts, polos, neckties, aprons)
  • Novelties and baubles (stickers, patches, bookmarks, foam swords)
  • Other things that don’t involve inventing a new type of manufacturing apparatus

Then we might be a good fit. (You can take a look at the things we sell at TopatoCo.com for an example of the things we make day in and day out).

² The first time I saw that I read it as solar-powered fleshlights and thought Oh man, Erika Moen’s got to get her logo on those.

³ The target date as described on the KS page; to quote their Risks and Challenges:

We’ve been around the video production block many times, but this is the first feature-length production we’ve done. It’s possible we may face delays when perfecting special effects, the score and editing, but we think any extra time spent will make for a better film. Plus, once we’ve got the movie done, sending it out digitally will be a breeze. [emphasis mine]

Utterly no disrespect to the STM team, but a year seems a very short time to tackle the project and I hope they don’t kill themselves in the making.

Whooboy, Long Day

Let’s just assume I wrote something cool and erudite about each of these.

  • Stand Still, Stay Still print drive went live yesterday, and you can get a copy of SSSS in beautiful hardcover (judging from my copy of A Red Tail’s Dream) for US$55, shipped anywhere in the world. The usual premiums apply for signed bookplates/sketches (cats only, but cats are very important in SSSS), and what the heck — full color, hardcover, nearly 300 pages, and Minna Sundberg has proven her ability to ship and deliver. Get in on this before the IndieGoGo campaign closes on 21 October.
  • My evil twin is celebrating 10 years as a self-employed cartoonist with an AMA on one of the less scum-and-villainy-oriented corners of Reddit tomorrow. I’ll be working, so somebody ask him if Howard ever feels the urge to be the good twin for a while.
  • So matter of fact as to almost be missed over at Questionable Content:

    I am launching a new comic this Thursday

    Presumably, this is the new comic promised in the third milestone goal of Jeph Jacques’s Patreon and holy crap he’s on the verge of achieving the fifth milestone goal. Good for you, Jeph, and can’t wait to see the new strip.

  • New Dresden Codak, the first in two months. Aaron Diaz has been pretty absent from social media for some weeks now, and he tells us why:

    Sorry for the radio silence for so long. I’d been kind of not dealing with anxiety and depression for the better part of a year, and it reached a breaking point last month. I’m doing well now, but all this has necessitated a limited use of the internet for a while. For the next few months I won’t be available much through social media, so if you need to contact me, please email me at dresdencodak [at] gmail [dottity-dot] com. If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you won’t notice any difference, as I’ll still be updating the comic as always! I’ll also be posting sketches and little content updates on the Patreon blog.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — depression sucks the life right out of you and good for Diaz finding a way to deal with it; it appears that Diaz’s coping mechanisms must including lots and lots of drawing, because he hadn’t shared much of his usual in-process drawings when he went dark some weeks back. Oh, and as you may have noticed from the quote above, he’s opened up a Patreon, so check that out.


Spam of the day:

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr … well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

Yeah, that sucks. Also, nice spam links.

Quiet Day

Maybe it’s everybody getting back into the swing of things after SPX and XOXO Fest last weekend. Maybe it’s everybody trekking to Austin for MondoCon¹ (where one may find Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott C, and Becky & Frank) or to Portland (they just had XOXO last weekend) for Rose City Comic Con (where one may find Scott Kurtz, Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Ethan Nicolle, and the ubiquitous Jim Zub).

Or, to be more precise, those people listed around Rose City are merely the webcomickers who are special guests of the show. Wecomicky exhibitors will also include Christopher Baldwin, Jennie Breeden, Evan Dahm, Sam Logan, Tavis Maiden, Kel McDonald, Bill Mudron, and the various members of Periscope Studio. No doubt others are attending but not listed by their individual names, what with both Dark Horse and Oni being local to Portland, and the Pacific Northwest in general having such an embarrassment of riches in the depth of its cartooning talent.

  • Speaking of Dylan Meconis, did you see that today’s update of Family Man was the last page of Chapter 3 and consequently the last page of what will be the second print collection? My copy of the first volume has been sitting lonely on my shelf for four years, and it is thus thrilling news to me that Meconis took the opportunity to announce:

    [M]y traditional short break from page updates to start pulling together the print volume. In the meantime, I’ll update with notes on past pages every Friday. If you’d like to know more about something in particular, comment here and I’ll add it to my list!

    I hope to return to page updates in six weeks; you can follow the Facebook page or my Twitter account for alerts.

    Six weeks. Print volume pulled together in six weeks, then the Kickstart and/or preorders, then print time and shipping … I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.

    None of which should take away from just how lovely today’s page is — a cut crystal glass breaking on floor by candlelight. It’s part of a violent moment, but it strikes me as oddly quiet and contemplative — if this were a movie, it would suddenly run in slow motion and the soundtrack would drop low for emphasis. Brava.

  • In contrast to the quiet, how about something loud? How about potentially the loudest thing ever associated with webcomics, namely the use of David Malki !’s greatest creation, the Piranhamoose, as a decorative element on a demolition derby² car. When said derbysters wrote to Malki ! to ask permission to include his design, he answered in the only way possible:

    I’m dismayed that you have not already completed said car so I can see it. This sounds like the best idea I have ever heard of.

    Click through to the before-and-after pictures. They are — in the literal sense — amazing.


Spam of the day:

September patch adds new levels and gameplay to Steam early access; terrifying new vision of Pac Man now available

That is the greatest subject line ever.

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¹ Whose Guests page is a beautiful piece of design, featuring logos and signatures that turn into actual names when you mouse over ‘em — but it’s a pain to determine who’s coming.

² Note for non-American readers: demolition derby is the most American possible of entertainments, where automobiles are purposely driven into each other at speed with the intention of damaging them to the point of no longer being able to be driven. It is loud, stupid, potentially dangerous to all involved, and requires a surprisingly high degree of both engineering and driving skills.

Upliftin’ Frolic And Cavortment

SPX is done for another year, and it’s pretty safe to say that everybody who attended is looking forward to next year with the most baited of breath. It’s a show that’s just the right size, in that you can see everything in a few hours, but also spend the entire weekend in deep dives if that’s what you want. I didn’t have the entire weekend, alas, but I did manage to see the show floor on Saturday and have no regret except not being able to spend more time with everybody¹. Thoughts as they occur to me:

  • Congratulations to the Ignatz Award winners², and may I note that unlike every other awards program of the year, I have a good record picking Ignatz winners. Particular congrats to Evan Dahm, Meredith Gran, Sophie Goldstein, Robert Kirby, and Jason Shiga, who appeared on my ballot³, as well as all the other winners.
  • Speaking of Evan Dahm, he tells me that he’ll be launching his illustrated Oz book on Kickstarter in the near term, near enough to have the printer order submitted by end of the year. My only desire for this is that he offer a two-book bundle reward tier, as I need a copy, and I have a niece and nephew who will also need one.
  • I spoke to both KC Green and Anthony Clark, and somehow managed to completely space on talking about BACK, which makes me an idiot because I love BACK. I did manage to talk to Christopher Hastings about how his involvement in improv and sketch comedy is improving his comic writing and vice versa, but neglected to ask if he has any more major comic book writing gigs coming out soon, given that he’s become Marvel’s go-to guy for the slightly wacky story niche. In each case, I choose to blame the fact that I didn’t want to block the table from people that wanted to talk to these fine gentlemen and buy their wares. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.
  • Speaking of Green, and similar to Dahm’s Oz project, did you see that he (Green) launched an adaptation of Pinocchio today? That is to say, the original story by Carlo Collodi, not the Disney version. In case you’ve never been exposed to the original version, The Talking Cricket (il Grillo Parlante) tries to advise Pinocchio and is squished for his troubles, returning as an advice-spewing ghost, whereas his American counterpart Jiminy not only lived all the way through, he got the good song. Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio runs M-W-F, with Gunshow shifting to T-Th for the duration. Five days a week of KC Green comics is like a fairytale.
  • Speaking of il Grillo Parlante, that’s been the name of the current story arc over at Skin Horse, where a series of guest artists have filled in for most of the summer for new mom/Radness Queen of Webcomics Shaenon Garrity. Garrity’s returned today to wrap up the last week of the arc, which gives me hope that we may also see the return of Monster of the Week.

Right, SPX. Got distracted for a minute there.

  • Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson are super excited for their Capture Creatures series, coming in November from BOOM!
  • Dean Trippe tells me that the print version of Something Terrible is with the book designer as we speak.
  • Tom McHenry, whom I’d never met in person before, is a far more normal person that I would expect to ask people what they named their horses and get excited when I ‘fessed up that my horse was named Buttplumber.
  • Carla Speed McNeil viciously underprices her original pages. I came home with three — two of them from the just-released Third World collection, which I have been obsessively reading and re-reading for the ten days or so since I picked it up — and I seriously considered taking out a second mortgage in order to buy the entire bin she had on her table. If you are not reading FINDER you are missing out.
  • SPX remains a readers con, with multiple creators (among them Dahm, Jon Rosenberg, and Spike) expressing delight on social media at how much less stock they took home than they brought. Spike, in particular, was essentially sold out on Saturday, some hours after she promised me that she’s getting back to Templar this month, dammit.
  • Power couples: Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya are maybe the living embodiment of Zen patience. Ota’s well-documented wrist difficulties4 are keeping her from drawing (or even signing!) at present, but they are dealing with the situation with admirable calm and equanimity. They shared booth space with Tom Siddell and Magnolia Porter, both of whom are presently doing the best work of their respective careers, and the latter of which was presented with a fan-made, near life-size plush of her character Rixis.

    They were directly across the aisle from Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, who are gearing up for the Princeton Book Festival next Saturday. Telgemeier was sporting a wrist brace which she assured me was precautionary: the last time she went on book tour (as she is now), she went to the National Book Festival (as she just did) and signed about a thousand books in a short period of time and blew out her wrist and then had to go home and draw a book (which became Sisters). Here’s hoping the precautions work, but at least for now she and Ota get to be wrist-brace superhero buddies.

    Meanwhile, creator duo Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline — so well known for their collaborations with Ryan North — have the time now that Midas Flesh has wrapped to put together their own story and series pitches. With any luck, in a year or so we may see something that they’ve written as well as drawn, and in the meantime they remain busy. Busy’s good.

  • Kel McDonald is having a blast working with Dark Horse on the Misfits of Avalon print collections (the first of which is out next month), and remains her usual, unflappable, hyperorganized self. How organized? She won’t be putting up the Kickstarter for the next Cautionary Fables anthology until the end of 2015, and she’s already got her contributors on lockdown more than a year in advance. Somebody come up with a planning calendar app and get McDonald to endorse it.
  • Tony Breed, by all accounts, KILLED it in the DJ booth at the SPX post-Ignatz dance party/prom. I’d never met him before and he struck me as an amazing nice guy. I picked up a copy of his mini of recipes in comic form, which makes me wish that Recipe Comix was still a thing oh wait look, it is. Also amazingly nice: Jess Fink, who in a just world would be in the midst of a bidding war from competing publishers for the soon-to-finish Chester XYV 5000: Isabelle and George. I am an entirely straight dude, and yet I had to tell Fink how thrilled I am to see that those two dudes are about to get down to some serious gettin’ it on. I think it’s my innate desire for George and Robert to get a happy ending, so to speak.
  • I know I’m forgetting people; mea maxima culpa.
  • New To Be or Not To Be artist signatures obtained count: 25.

Spam of the day:

Nuthin’ good. Sorry.

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¹ That, and I completely lost track of time and missed Raina Telgemeier’s spotlight panel.

² I was already driving home by the time the awards got underway, so Heidi Mac’s writeup was invaluable to me.

³ To be clear, I voted for Shiga for Outstanding Series (which he won) and not for Outstanding Online Comic (which Dahm took), and I voted for Goldsteinn for both Outstanding Minicomic (which she won) and also Outstanding Artist (which went to Sam Bosma, which you can’t really argue with). Likewise, while I backed Gene Yang’s Boxers & Saints for Outstanding Graphic Novel, you can’t really get upset with that one being won by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki for This One Summer.

4 Taking advantage of the fact that I am totally ordained, I attempted a faith healing of Ota’s wrist. I don’t think it worked, despite invoking the spirits of Kirby and Herriman.

Still Waiting On The Official Site

This just in: my dog is ridiculous. Dude was just napping like that all afternoon until the sleep wore him out and he flopped his legs over onto the floor without otherwise moving. I’m not entirely sure, but I think he might have modeled for the Spider-Woman cover that everybody finds ridiculous.

  • The Harvey Awards have always been the comics awards that are the most insider-basebally, what with the voting being restricted to the pool of comics professionals. For whatever reason, they’ve also had an an occasional tendency to be somewhat lackadaisical about distributing information once the ballots are in — they were given out over the weekend at Baltimore Comic Con and there still isn’t an update at the Harveys official website to indicate winners¹. As such, I’m basing my information on that supplied by Heidi Mac on Saturday night.

    Best Online Comics Work went to Mike Norton for Battlepug, which he also won last year², in addition to the Eisner in 2012; although I would have given the nod to Gunnerkrigg Court, it appears that Norton’s peers regard him highly. Either that, or webcomickers don’t vote in the Harveys.

    There was also a run of Canadian webcomics (or webcomics-adjacent) winners, as Ryan “Muscles” North took the Special Award for Humor in Comics for Adventure Time, which book was also the winner for Best Original Graphic Publication For Younger Readers (which it also won last year), and Chort Zubaz was recognized as Most Promising New Talent³, as well as being co-recipient of the award for Best New Series on Sex Criminals.

    Adding in the Humor in Comics recognition for Kate Beaton in 2012, and for Bryan Lee O’Malley in 2010, there’s a strong argument to be made that the category should in future years just be renamed Funny Person That’s Essentially From Toronto4 (a distinction that would preserve Jim Zub‘s shot at the trophy next year). Fleen congratulates all the winners.

  • Fleen also reminds all attendees of SPX this coming weekend that they get to vote on the Ignatzes (Ignatzen?). Since it looks like I’ll be driving down for the day, I’m throwing my vote for Outstanding Online Comic to Evan Dahm, Outstanding Graphic Novel to Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang, Outstanding Story to Meredith Gran for Brownout Biscuit. Those were some tough decisions, what with the likes of Jason Shiga’s Demon, and This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki and more.
  • In other news: It’s official now, can’t go back on it, The Sculptor is on its way and nothing short of the destruction of all life on Earth will prevent it from ending up in my hands, dammit.

Maybe spam of the day:

Out of curiosity, where would you get medical grade superglue? I’ve used the normal stuff in a pinch before, I’d be more comfortable with something designed for the purpose. Is there a store you’d recommend getting it at?

It got caught in the moderation filters, but on the other hand it’s not trying to sell anything, is rather specific to something I wrote, and reads like it was written by a human, so I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt.

I didn’t have any medical grade superglue, since it’s a by-prescription device, so I had the sticky stuff applied by the Emergency Department of my local hospital. Also, given that the medical device in question is prescribed, I’d trust any place that’s offering it for sale about as much as I’d trust places selling boner pills.

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¹ For that matter, the list of Previous Awards & Nominees stops in 2011; there’s nothing listed for 2012, and while the ballot for 2013 is present, no list of winner will be found there.

² The Harveys have a habit of repeat winners in the category, with Perry Bible Fellowship winning in 2007 and 2008, and Hark! A Vagrant in 2011 and 2012.

³ Despite not being new to the game at all, what with having his own convention and all. Odd award, that one.

4 For the current decade, Toronto has apparently been the locus of funny comics, with a quick detour to New Zealand/UK for Roger Langridge in 2011. Apparently, in the modern world, comics spells humor with an extra “u”.