The webcomics blog about webcomics

Classics

The past 24 hours have brought reworkings of three classic stories to me, and darn if they aren’t all wonderful.

  • Firstly, Rebecca Clements has, as noted not long ago, been busy with many things besides comics for a while. Fortunately, she’s got quite a backlog of comics that can be read and re-read. One of those older stories has now been released as an e-book, namely, an attempt at retelling Jack and the Beanstalk from memory, for one Australian dollar (or more! you can give more!) over at Gumroad.

    Clements was kind enough to send me a copy for review and it’s the most interesting take on Jack I’ve ever seen — all the elements are there — eventually — but suffused with the loopy, Seussian logic and visual style that Clements is known for. Oh, and a couple of bad words — including the dreaded F-hyphen-hyphen-hypen bad word — so give it a read through before sharing with a youngling, yes?

  • Secondly, because I backed the Kickstarter, Evan Dahm sent me the PDF version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to tide me over until the hardcover gets released in the new year. It’s nearly 200 pages long, a completely faithful, word-for-word presentation of L Frank Baum’s original, with Dahm’s utterly charming drawings of Quadlings, and Kalidahs, and field mice, and all the other things that you never knew about if you only watch the movie.

    Once fulfillment on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has wrapped up for the Kickstarter backers, Dahm will surely place the book on sale, so start budgeting now. It’s gorgeous inside and out.

  • Thirdly, Zach Weinersmith was exceedingly kind and shared an extra-early sneak preview of Augie and the Green Knight in PDF with me over the weekend. And all I can say is Wow.

    Okay, basically there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are familiar with the Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and those who are not. If you know the story already, seeing it told from the side of the Knight (and that of the very brave, very clever, very rambunctious Augie trying desperately to make sure nobody ends up dead) brings new depths to the story. If you don’t know the story already, you’re going to want to hunt it down because the retelling is wonderful in its Weinersmithiness, and now you need to find out if all those long-dead poets are as good at wordslinging.

    Okay, fine, it’s a story that’s been remembered for half a millennium because at least one of those poets was really, really good; but would he have ever written something like this?

    The squire located a few common fauna -— a frog, a newt, and an amphisbaena. One of those animals may sound unfamiliar, so if you’ve never seen a frog, it’s like a goat, but with the head of a lizard and the body of a grasshopper. The newt was a cauldron-ready cooking newt, and the amphisbaena was pretty much your run-of-the-mill amphisbaena.

    The full-page color paintings and B&W spot illustrations by Boulet (including the aforementioned amphisbaena) are, naturally, wonderful. The typography and design are physically pleasing to the eye¹ and make each page enticing and help propel the story along. The book is written in a way that will appeal to both the child that hears it and the adult that reads it aloud; a somewhat older child may be able to read it solo, but may also ask an adult to read it well after she can manage for herself. It’s an experience that’s best shared.

    Augie and the Green Knight will go up for sale after the Kickstarter backers are in receipt of their books, probably by late winter or early spring 2015. Once again, start budgeting now, because these retellings of classics deserve to be on the shelf of the kid (or kid at heart) you love most.


Spam of the day:

Many people think that if they are not spending long periods of time out in the cold, it does not really matter what they are wearing on their feet.

Augie knows this, and wears ½ of a Quadruboots. With stars on them.

_______________
¹ Supplied, Weinersmith informs me, by Michael David Johnson².

² As if the book weren’t appealing to me enough, Weinersmith has included copious footnotes, and even a footnote to a footnote. My heart.

Years Go By

Sometimes things pop into your head out of nowhere; for example, last night I suddenly and inexplicably found myself wondering, How’s that Iron Man thing going? Time, flies, arrow, banana, etc.

  • For those youngsters out there, The Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge is one of the enduring traditions of webcomics; launched nearly a full year before this here blog, it sought to answer the question How long can a webcomic creator go without missing a regular update? Those looking for bragging rights ponied up an entrance fee of US$20, and last creator standing gets the pot, minus contributions to the CBLDF and the HERO Initiative (originally the ACTOR Comic Fund). 56 creators entered (including such longrunners as Jennie Breeden, Chris Cosby, and Scott Kurtz, as well as superstars like Natasha Allegri).

    Three (maybe four; there was a question about 18 months back about a possible disqualification that doesn’t seem to have been resolved) competitors — including Brad Guigar, who doesn’t even look like his official competitor portrait anymore¹ — remain in the running, more than five hundred weeks and 2500 updates² after the start of the competition. I’d ordinarily suggest maybe the remaining three (four?) Iron Men declare a mutual satisfaction and walk away splitting the money, but anybody that’s managed a minimum of five updates a week with no skips for almost ten years (mark your calendars for the week of 9 February, it’s gonna be awesome) isn’t going to take split the pot like gentlemen as an option.

  • Never part of the TDGIMC (as near as I can tell), Ryan Estrada nevertheless has reason to contemplate the passage of years today, as it’s his birthday. I note that his latest creative endeavour — Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here — has passed the two-thirds funding mark over on Kickstarter. Maybe we get there by the start of next week, Spike reveals some of the (as yet secret) stretch goals? Yeah, it’s a little shameless, launching a Kickstart the same week two of the principals have birthdays, thus making it easier to prey on your emotions. That’s life in webcomics, and neither Estrada nor Spike are above using every trick at their disposal to make a project succeed. May as well give ‘em the five bucks, they’ll wear you down eventually anyway³.

  • Spam of the day:

    Following that, the President and Prime Minister joined the First Lady and Vice President in a St Patrick’s Day Reception at the White House for the one year anniversary of vintage shop Byronesque

    I must be tired — I read that as the vintage shop Bronyesque and then I shuddered.

    _______________

    ¹ Brad, update your competitor’s bio picture, please. You’re so much more handsome than you were. Then again, a Google Image Search for “similar pictures” lists a portrait of Jack Kirby as the first match so maybe just keep it? Then again, when you search for “Brad Guigar on GIS, you don’t see that Kirbyesque bit, but you do see pictures like this, to which I can only say Yowza.

    ² For reference, I wrote about the competitors reaching 200 weeks and 1000 updates in 2008.

    ³ All hail our new international leaders.

    Three Cheers And A Tiger For [You]

    The hotel I’m at has an in-room heating system that sounds like a lawn mower having a tonic-clonic seizure when it cycles off, so I’m short a couple hours of sleep right now. Nevertheless, I have found Things, Things that are worth celebrating today.

    • The second piece I ever posted at this here thang — goodness, nearly nine years ago! — concerned the output of Lore Sjöberg, whom I have always foudn to be frighteningly cleverfunny and an all-around stellar fellow. So it gives me no little joy to announce that after various problems around hosting/spamming bastards, Sjöberg has resurrected one of his sites, Bad Gods, and you know what that means: I get to gorge on Bandwidth Theater! Rudolph! Overmom! Lousy Transformers! And, of course, the depleted-uranium beholder statue that goes GRAAAGH! Dig in and enjoy, y’all.
    • It’s been perhaps six months since David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) became the first known successful webcomicker to launch a new comic with the express intention of learning to draw. Planet of Hats has reached the end of season one of Star Trek, and he’s recapped the 29 installments so far with one panel from each.

      It’s wonderful watching the art improve — particularly the staging of elements within panels and the expressiveness of the bodies of characters (Morgan-Mar could never have managed the sneaky-sneaky posture in this strip even two months ago), and I hope (as I’ve expressed to him via email) that when he reaches the end of the 79 episodes of classic Trek, he continues with some particularly stinkeroo episodes of later series. I believe that Planet of the Joggers should do nicely.

    • Know what’s better than a book launch party? A sexy book launch party, such as that which will happen on Sunday, 7 December in Portland to celebrate Hurricane Erika’s first collection of Oh Joy, Sex Toy. Free exclusive print! 10% discount on toy purchases! Erika’s favorite dear perverts! And on a personal note, I will pay you five American dollars if you go to the party dressed as the Anal Safety Snails. You know you want to.

    Spam of the day:

    Do you know that you can copy content from other websites to your blog and they will pass copyscape test and google will see them as unique?

    Yeah, you know who does that? Dudes who suck. Sure as hell ain’t my scene.

    Happy Birthday To You, And Us As Well

    Grab yer stuff and start walking.

    When I think of the spirit of raw entrepreneurship in comics — that do whatever it takes to make it scrappiness — I think of two people who take very nearly opposite approaches. Today, we’ll be talking about Spike¹; she’s the master of logistics, wrangling ever-growing numbers of creators onto her anthologies, setting deadlines, making arrangements for projects sometimes a year or more in advance, and doing it all for the absolute minimum cost and maximum return spread as widely as possible². She knows how to do things in a frugal fashion, and having sufficiently shared that advice with the world, she’s now giving it away for free, so she’s a damn philanthropist as well.

    Did I mention that today is Spike’s birthday? And that in celebration, she’s giving all of us a present? Yesterday she launched her latest Kickstarter, for the sequel to Poorcraft, dedicated to the notion of traveling on the cheap. Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here, years in the making, is once again illustrated by Diana Nock, and written by perhaps the most intrepid wanderer that comics has ever known, Ryan Estrada³. He’s been everywhere, man. In other words, she’s chosen the two best people to work on this project, and it deserves your support.

    As of this writing, we’re at just about 24 hours since launch, and close enough to 40% of the US$15,000 goal as makes no difference. More importantly, the nearly 400 backers are overwhelmingly pledging at the low reward levels (US$500 tier [cover cameo]: 1; US$250 tier [interior cameo]: 1; US$150 tier [special thanks]: 0; US$25 tier [retailers only, five hard copies]: 1; US$18 and under tiers [various combos of hard and soft copies, possibly including the first Poorcraft]: 369), so while this will not be a record-setting pledge total, it’s going to be a project with mass support (or it won’t be a project at all). Go wish Spike a happy birthday, and snag yourself a copy of Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here.


    Spam of the day:

    This will be enough time that it will take to become free of debt all you need to do is visit the online site with the money lender you happen to be thinking about looking for a loan.

    NO. Want to know why I’m saying NO? Spike’s gotcha covered, Sparky … start here and read forward to learn about the lowlifes that would prey on you. Then go back to page one and read the whole thing. As a reward, you can read the first thirty pages of Wish You Were Here, which Spike is posting one page a day during the Kickstarter campaign.

    Note that you’ll have to mess around in the archive to find things; on the main Poorcraft site, pages are numbered backwards from the most-recently-added, so page 1 of WYWH is at http://poorcraft.com/page/2 today, but it’ll be at http://poorcraft.com/page/3 tomorrow. You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.

    _______________
    ¹ For reference, the other is Rich Stevens; the guy comes up with an idea on Monday, puts it up for sale on Tuesday, takes it back down on Wednesday, and is dropping the packages in the mail on Thursday. Offhand whimsies become major sellers, sudden sales and clearances keep things fresh, and he approaches merchandise like it was guerilla warfare.

    ² Want to quantify it? Taking the published bonus schedules from the anthologies and multiplying by the number of contributors, you get US$17,550 for Smut Peddler 2012, US$7800 for Sleep of Reason, and US$40,000 for Smut Peddler 2014 for a total of more than US$65,000 over the past two years that she could have kept (she’d already paid her contributors) but instead spread around.

    ³ It is perhaps worth noting here that I first met Ryan the night before he walked out of San Diego Comic Con and across the border into Mexico, to start a commune dedicated to cartooning. That was more than seven years ago and he’s never stopped moving for very long since (although getting married seems to have rooted him to one spot for the past couple of years; then again, it’s in South Korea, a country that features a language that I don’t believe he knew how to speak before showing up).

    All Hail

    Nothing but people who are making the comics industry great today; it’s a good time to be a reader.

    • I know that you must have seen this already, but damn, I’m mentioning it anyway.

      This page has mentioned the New York Times Best Sellers List for paperback graphic novels more than once in recent weeks; we noted the debut of Sisters by Raina Telgemeier and Amulet book six by Kazu Kibuishi on the list, approximately three months back. We also observed with some glee the occasion of Kibuishi and Telgemeier making up a full 50% of the list all by their lonesomes two weeks ago; that phenomenon is still in effect, as Sisters, Amulet book six, Smile, Drama, and Amulet book one are all still on the latest iteration of the NYTBSL.

      What’s different is the relative positioning of the books.

      Specifically, Raina Telgemeier holds the #1, #2, and #3 spots on the 23 November list, released yesterday, ahead of obscure books like The Walking Dead and Persepolis. I don’t believe that this feat has ever been achieved by any single author on any portion of the NYTBSL, much less for books with a cumulative 207 weeks of bestsellerdom. Which just leads me to one question — with some three dozen comics-based movies on the release schedule in the next five years, who is going to be first studio exec to be smart enough to drive a dump truck full of money up to Astoria and the front stoop of Ms Telgemeier?

    • Most of a month back, I noted that BOOM! Studios would be launching a Munchkin tie-in comic, with the omnipresent Jim Zub contributing backup stories for John Kovalic&rsquo’s tender art mercies. What I didn’t notice at the time (and what’s not emphasized even at BOOM!’s own website) was who else is on the book. The non-backup stories will include writing by none other that Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court, and Kovalic will be joined on art duties by Rian Sygh and Mike Holmes. That’s a lot of webcomickers on one book, which shouldn’t have surprised me, given that it’s from BOOM!. Fleen apologizes to Siddell, Sygh, and Holmes for the delay in recognizing your contributions, and we are now looking forward to Munchkin even more than we were.

    Spam of the day:

    Ofttimes, the word jewellery is related to womenfolk. However, for hundreds of years men have sported some form of jewellery

    True story — earlier today, I accidentally purged the spam folder instead of carefully curating which of the latest batch should be held for consideration as Spam of the day. Oh no, I thought to myself, what will I do if I don’t get more spam? Turns out, it wasn’t really a concern.

    Lots Of Stuff Happening, Hooray

    Where to start, where to start? How about in Yorkshire? I love their pudding.

    • Convention Season is almost done, with what I think is the last sizable comics show of the year going on in Leeds this weekend. Actually, the Thought Bubble Festival runs this entire week, but the bulk of the events are in and around the exhibitors/panels event this weekend on 15-16 November.

      Webcomicker (and related independent artist type) guests of Thought Bubble include Natasha Allegri, Danielle Corsetto, John Allison, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson¹, Boulet, Emily Carroll, Gemma Correll², Darryl Cunningham, Hope Larson, Phil McAndrew, and Cameron Stewart.

      Additional webcomics types who will be exhibiting in the various venues include Rembrandt le Compte, Tom Siddell, Marc Ellerby, Paul Duffield, Lucy Bellwood, and many, many more. Tell them all I said hi.

    • As long as we’re talking about conventions, Howard Tayler³ wrote up a bit about a medical emergency that happened at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC, this past weekend. His part in resolving the issue was minor, but utterly necessary: nobody else and taken the initiative to simply report the person in distress to those that could help. He did, and in short order the situation was resolved. As Tayler put it:

      I’m an Eagle Scout. I can staunch bleeding, and feel for a pulse. I can do the Heimlich, and though my CPR skills are rusty, if I’m the only guy around who can do it, I’ll do all I can. But the critical skill in this particular situation, and in most of the convention medical emergencies I’m likely to run into, was the ability to speak clearly.

      Oh, and the ability to decide to speak.

      I concur with everything that he said, with the exception that you shouldn’t let your CPR skills get rusty. Going into a place with a lot of people (alternately, hanging out in the bar until the wee small hours)? Note the exits, where any public AEDs may be, and where the nearest place to get assistance (hotel reception, security post, whatever) is. That’s all. Oh, and take a CPR class, it ain’t rocket science4.

    • I mentioned Gemma Correll and The Nib up above; news comes from that esteemed aggregator of comics (esteemed because they pay) that they’re doing a calendar for the coming year if only they get enough orders. Your favorite Nib contributors will be illustrating obscure holidays, so if you ever wanted to see what Rich Stevens would do with National Fetish Day5, now is your chance. As of this writing, 183 more orders are needed over the next 15 days, or no calendrical joy for you.
    • Speaking of funding/pre-orders, Kel McDonald is now crowdfunding the first volume (of two) for her omnibus reprint of Sorcery 101, which will be a 750 page book covering the first five years of the story. Guys, that book is going to be friggin’ huge, and McDonald is offering it up as a backer reward of as little as US$30 which is insane.

      Oh, and did we mention that she had to redraw more than 450 pages because in their original form they weren’t suitable for print? Or that she’s hired colorist par excellence Mary Cagle to apply her magic? Let’s repeat it once more: thirty bucks for 750 pages in color is stupidly cheap.

    • Finally, speaking of crowdfunding and colorists, Ed Ryzowski does color duties for a bunch of your favorite webcomics and now he’s Kickstarting a new self-published comic book series. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a comic project for something new to be created, but I make exceptions for creators who’ve proven themselves on other work, and Ryzowski counts by any measure.

      Season of the SHARK issues 1 to 4 will chronicle what happens when your underfunded espionage agency has to sell video rights to reality TV in order to do its work. It’ll be released digitally starting in December, with special low pricing for you early adopters. Honestly, this one looks like a hoot.


    Spam of the day:

    Get away from the traffic cone orange you envision, and type in the world of tangerine, bronze, burnt orange, gingery undertones and also the calla lily.

    Lots of gingers in the UK. Just saying.

    ________________
    ¹ As part of their Capture Creatures debut tour.

    ² She’s rapidly become my favorite regular contributor over at The Nib.

    ³ My evil twin, etc.

    4 Didn’t take a class and somebody’s got no pulse? Call 911, or the appropriate emergency services number wherever you are. Open the shirt, make a fist, put in the center of the chest midway between the nipples. Wrap your other hand around the fist. Lock your elbows and push down hard and fast and don’t stop. Substitute somebody else in every two minutes because you’re gonna get tired. Now go take a class.

    5 Or possibly Erika Moen, Zach Weinersmith, Gemma Correll, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, Brian McFadden, Eleri Harris, Andy Warner, Matt Lubchansky, Liza Donnelly, or Scott Bateman.

    Variations On The Theme Of The Best

    So much good stuff today; it’s kind of unexpected for a Monday.

    • Hope Larson is one of the very best people working in comics, when she’s not working in filmmaking, that is¹. Her work always feels honest, the kind of honesty you get between close friends who don’t bother to be polite. Today she released an autobiographical account of her life this century told via cameras and lenses, and it’s sticking with me hard. It’s honest. It’s unvarnished. It’s maybe got more questions than answers. It’s really damn good and you should go check out Reframed right damn now.
    • You know who else is one of the very best people working in comics? Meredith Gran². She’s got a comics-writing mojo that can turn from slapstick to introspection in a page or two, without ever feeling unrealistic or unearned. She gets her own characters down to their DNA, and chronicles not just who they are, but who they have been and are in the process of becoming, better than anybody else in the business. She understands how to bring up those depths in other peoples characters, too.

      Having proved herself as both an animator [warning: laugh chuckles ahead] and webcomicker, returned to her alma mater, where she’s teaching the next generation of comics creators. In her spare time she has honed her physical presence to the point that she could probably take Tom Richmond in an arm-wrestling match.

      And she did all of that before today, her 30th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mer. You’re the best.

    • Contrary to what a casual reader of this page might think from what’s been written so far, there are also dudes that make comics that I like. I know! Weird! And one of them is Eric “Colossal” Feurstein whose Rutabega: Adventure Chef, is making the leap to print courtesy of Amulet Books. If you’ve got th bloodberries and Pyka palms and other exotic ingredients, Rutabega’s recipes are the best. And if all you have are the ordinary bits from the local store, they’re still pretty adaptable. To get the lowdown on the best eats in a world of monsters and magic, pre-order Rutabega: Adventure Chef Book 1.
    • Speaking of books, do you like the porn? Of course you do, porn is the best (mathematically proven here), and now that Smut Peddler series wrangler Spike has gotten her Kickstarter pre-orders shipped³, availability has opened up for the general reading public. US$30, softcover, hundreds of pages and more than US$1600 in bonus payments for each contributor/team? Plunk down your cash here.
    • We’re approaching the end of the year, and with it we may expect to see lists of what people considered to be the best of 2014. Amazon (yep, that Amazon) chimed in today with a list of the year’s best comics and graphic novels, where one may note contributions from Matthew Inman, Emily Carroll, Gene Luen Yang, and Box Brown, webcomickers (past/present) all. Nicely done.

    Spam of the day:

    I think that your page can go viral easily, but you must give it initial boost and i know how to do it, just search in google–mundillo traffic increase

    Google-pillow? Am I missing something?

    ________________
    ¹ And if you haven’t seen her short film, Bitter Orange, or her music video for Did We Live Too Fast for Got A Girl, what are you waiting for?

    ² Disclaimer: I met Ms Gran when she was still an undergrad — holy crap, about a third of her life ago — and she remains a good friend to this day. Also, she designed our masthead image up top there.

    ³ Which has the added benefit of providing a mini-academy in Kickstarter costs accounting: shipping costs must be factored in, especially international. Those 400 international shipments (barely 7% of the 5700 backers) accounted for a full quarter of the shipping costs.

    So much good stuff today; it/a

    What’s The Most Adorable Thing You’ll See Today?

    Well done, Evan. Can't wait to hold the book in my hands.

    Is it a Munchkin, a snake, or a dog/cat hybrid that speaks in song?

    • Welp, there’s a project that blew the hell out of the Fleen Funding Formula for Kickstarts; I shouldn’t be surprised that Evan Dahm’s illustrated edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz wound up so far above what the FFF would have called for¹, given that enormous bump near the end of the campaign. Dahm came in at roughly twice the midpoint of my projected range, with a total of US$61,324, or some 408% of goal.

      Take a look at the trendline data from Kicktraq; you just don’t see the long tail skew upwards like that, and in just two days near the end of the campaign, Dahm nearly doubled the number of backers. That bump, by the way, coincided with Kickstarter declaring the book a Pick of the Day, bringing in a horde of new backers. Whatever the reason, more than 1200 people will be getting copies of this sure-to-be-handsome volume in a few months, hooray.

    • Speaking of hooray, two new things out there in the aether that you will want to look at. Firstly, the inimitable Jen Wang² has a new webcomic going. More precisely, she’s releasing what looks to be a new graphic novel in chapter-length updates, and the first chapter dropped yesterday (the second will be released when it’s ready, don’t be greedy). Go get in on the ground floor of The White Snake³ now and beat the rush.

      Secondly, as I write this the Cartoon Hangover channel at Youtube is counting down live to the premiere of the Bee & Puppycat series, made possible by viewers like you. We’re at just over five hours remaining (which would make the debut at 8:00pm EST [GMT-5]), and B&P characters are being made out of fondant to decorate cupcakes. Hell, yes.


    Spam of the day:

    The following are just three examples of why defamation laws are so important; if these cases were never resolved, we may have read much differently of these historic figures.

    Honest to dog, I read that quickly in the spam filter and I thought it said defenestration laws and thought it was going to be much more interesting than it turned out to be.

    _______________
    ¹ The FFF would have taken the 24-30 hour trend predicted value (PV) from Kicktraq (US$130K), divided that by 4 (US$32.5K), with a range of +/- PV/20 (US$6.5K), for a final predicted range of US$26K to 39K.

    ² Who is responsible for one of my favorite original graphic novels ever, Koko Be Good, and more recently an adaptation of a Cory Doctorow story, In Real Life (which I’m still thinking about).

    ³ Not to be confused with Whitesnake, thank glob. Far too much of the background noise of my college years was taken up with David Coverversion’s hair-metal glam-shouting in the direction of Tawny Kitaen.

    Today, Tomorrow, This Weekend, And Beyond

    Sometimes, the stories just line up.

    • Speaking of John Allison’s decision to end the Bad Machinery casefiles, there was a nice demonstration of how deep his comic world does in today’s update of Expecting To Fly. In 1996, young Erin Winters learns that being in Hell is pretty awesome if you’re a kick-ass lady. In 2007, Erin got sucked into Hell and found it wasn’t all looking awesome in skimpy battle armor and beating boys with a sword. Rather, it was honkin’ huge battle armor and beating the snot out of Robot Hitler.

      Alas, ruling Hell can get old and she made her way outwards in 2010, but even escaping from Hell doesn’t make things all the way better. If Hell is other people, what is people not being able to remember you unless they look right at you? Will she ever get to see her family again? Possibly not. And that, my friends, is how you do a callback across two (maybe three) different series.

    • Speaking of old strips and re-draws, part one: tomorrow will be the re-release of the one strip that did more than any other to propel me wholesale into the world of webcomics. Tomorrow will be the return of the fabled Frog Rocket Wiener. I’ve mentioned before that the first money I ever spent with a webcomic creator was for a merch pack offered by Owen Dunne in the before-times: a t-shirt, a book, a sketch of Jethro. I think I speak for all when I greet this news with a hearty Clippy.
    • Hey, anybody going to be in the lower panhandle of Alaska, say, this weekend? The fine folks behind Alaska Robotics continue their trend of inviting creators north of 48 to talk on topics of interest, and this Friday/Saturday is when Dylan Meconis talks about character design (and since this is Meconis we’re talking about, probably a good mention of worldbuilding as well).

      Best of all, she’ll be sharing a wealth of never-before-seen material for the workshop part of the weekend, and we may see the information shared widely afterwards. I’d drop by, but you know — there’s a whole continent in the way. If you in the PNW and can catch a flight or ferry, I urge you to do so.

    • Speaking of old strips and re-draws, part two: in case you ever wondered why it is that Randy Milholland hasn’t released any Something*Positive print collections (I know I was), we now know the answer is bad luck:

      Basically, long ago, I lost a lot of the 300dpi master files. I had multiple back-ups, but some ended up corrupted and some, the CDs they were on were destroyed in a move. I did over 330 strips my first year, and I only had about one hundred comics’ master files in a complete form (i.e. laid out with word bubbles, etc.). Just under a third them, I had elements of the master files — characters and backgrounds — but not laid out in strip format (mostly from December to March – I don’t remember why I saved all of those elements to separate files, but am glad I did). Many of these aren’t complete, so elements had to be redrawn, but that’s something.

      The remaining strips, I had nothing for but the web-resolution 72dpi files that are on my site. I considered pushing the 72dpi files to 300dpi and just redoing the text. The comics would be fuzzy but readable, but I got some sample pages and it looked awful. I tried a slew of things (converting to vector and enlarging, filters, and more) – everything looked horrible.

      So what I’ve been doing since for comics I have no master files for is printing the 72dpi comics out, enlarged, and tracing them on a light box — panel by panel — rescanning them, coloring them, and just remaking the entire comic.

      Check out the sample originals and redraws — Milholland’s done an amazing job of recreating his art style from 2001-2002, which is to say he’s probably ground down his teeth to nothing, since they look so very different than his modern style. For me, this is great news … not the ground-down teeth, but the fact that my long wait for a print collection of S*P (the first of many, hopefully) will not have to continue much longer. Soon, my precious, ssssoooonnnnn.


    Spam of the day:

    Variable weather is one of the few guarantees.

    In Juneau, that is definitely true. Dress warm/dry, Dylan!

    The Next Generation Of Readers Is In Good Hands

    Hey, remember back at the start of September, when Sisters and Amulet 6 made the New York Times Bestseller List for paperback graphic novels? Good times, a whole nine weeks ago, and Raina Telgemeier and Kazu Kibuishi have been on a near-neverending book tour since.

    Let’s consider what’s happened in the weeks since on the NYTBL. By the second week on the list, Sisters and Amulet 6 vaulted to the #1 and #2 slots, where they’ve pretty much sat ever since¹. Smile has been on the list basically forever, and as of the fourth week, it started rising up as people who heard about the new Telgemeier book decided to check out the older one they’d missed. By Week Five, Sisters, Amulet 6, and Smile were #1, 2, and 3, respectively.

    By Week Six, the top four books were Sisters, Smile, Amulet 6, and Drama (Telegemeier’s last book, not related to the other two, with more than a year on the list previously). And in the latest New York Times Bestseller List, the tenth since Telgemeier & Kibuishi started their march to dominance, Kibuishi’s first Amulet book gets added in, as readers that have missed the Amulet train have decided to go back to the start and run the series². As Ryan Estrada put it:

    Dang, literally half the NY Times GN best seller list is Kazu and Raina.

    It won’t end there; there are four more Amulet books, and I’m confident in the belief that at least two of Kibuishi’s back catalog will join book six at any given time, meaning that Telgemeier and Kibuishi will form a majority of this list by themselves. None of which should surprise anybody, given that by all accounts (such as this one by graphic novel superstar Gene Luen Yang), Telgemeier and Kibuishi are rock stars to kids (a significant number of whom are recovering reluctant readers):

    The signing was freaking amazing. I’ve never been to a comics signing like it, not even with the Image Comics founders when they were at the height of their fame in the 90’s. Raina did a joint event with the inimitable Kazu Kibuishi, and the entire store was packed with parents and kids holding stacks of Smile and Drama and Sisters and Amulet.

    The crowd was so big that the store had to give out little tickets to tell you what signing group you were in. Group #1 got to see Raina and Kazu first, then Group #2, and so on. We were Group #7. Twenty minutes in, I said to my daughter, “I know Raina and her husband Dave. We see each other at least a couple times a year at different book events. We can get her to sign it later, at Comic-Con or something.”

    My daughter looked me straight in the eye and pointed to her ragged copy of Sisters. “Daddy, we came to get this book signed.”

    And that is why I don’t despair every time somebody moans that kids don’t want to read; put the right book in front of them and they will read holes through the pages. On the off chance you know anybody that would sniff that what Telgemeier and Kibuishi do isn’t “real books”, just wait to see what those kids do if either of them decides to do a mostly-prose-occasional-pictures type of book (like, say, Ursula Vernon, or what’s being done by Zach Weinersmith or Evan Dahm).

    Kids want books that they can find themselves in, and that’s what these creators are supplying. The only way that this tide breaks is if Raina or Kazu succumbs to Book Tour Madness. Should you happen across them, feel free to offer quality ice cream and/or booze, and a nice quiet room with a soaking tub for their signing hands.


    Spam of the day:

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    ¹ That is to say, Sisters has stayed #1 for the past nine weeks, and Amulet 6 has typically hoved in the #2 or 3 slot, but has dropped as low as #6.

    ² When the first Amulet released nearly seven years ago, it flew a bit under the radar — possibly due to being released right after Christmas — and never charted. This is the NYTBL debut for The Stonekeeper. Kibuishi started their march to dominance, Kibuishi