The webcomics blog about webcomics


Your attention please. Please yell if you are paying attention.

  • Re: the best thing that you will read today, courtesy of Shaenon Garrity, Queen Of All That Is Rad, a curious and quiet tale regarding how ladies interact with gaming culture. In the event that you think that this is not the best thing that you will (or have) read today, please go back and re-read carefully and I think you will find the source of your error. There are so many wonderful little details in Scores & Scandals that I can’t count them all.
  • Re: yesterday’s posting regarding the Chomic Chameleon Chichstarter¹, the campaign launched about an hour ago (as this is being written) and may be found here.
  • Re: webcomickers and Adventure Time, there are two big things happening come January. The storied team of Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb will be stepping down from the book that launched BOOM! Studios’ foray into Cartoon Network tie-in comics, Adventure Time.

    By that time, the North/Paroline/Lamb team will have produced 35 issues (or seven arcs + seven one-shot issues) over the space of three years, and have garnered signinificant acclaim, including the stray Eisner Award. Per North, it was a planned exit, with the creative team ready to move on to other projects (at the recent SPX show, Lamb told me that he and Paroline were pitching their own story ideas for new comics).

    Big shoes to fill², but BOOM! have found perhaps the best possible replacements on the book in the personages of Christopher Hastings on words and Zach Sterling on art. Sterling’s no stranger to Adventure Time, having partnered with Danielle Corsetto and Kate Leth on AT original graphic novels, and Hastings is not only a funny guy who knows how to write funny comic books, he’s partnered up with North on several projects and will be able to blend his authorial voice with that of the Toronto Man-Mountain to the point that the transition should be largely seamless.

    This is not to say that Hastings should spend his time on Adventure Time emulating North, merely that it won’t be a jarring shift from one writing style to the next. Honestly, I can’t think of a better team to take over the flagship comic.

  • All of that would probably qualify as the best Adventure Time-related news of the month, except for the part where BOOM! also announced that Meredith Gran would be returning to write a second Marceline miniseries. Marceline and the Scream Queens, for me at least, ranks as the definitive exploration of the vampire queen’s personality and nature, and seeing Gran return to the character for six more issues makes me giddy. And that’s before I found out that the new series (titled Marceline Gone Adrift) is essentially the adventures of Marceline and Prubs in space. This time around Gran will be leaving the art duties to Carey Pietsch, whose portfolio gives me great confidence that she’ll do a fantastic job.
  • Still not quite done with webcomickers and BOOM! books at the start of 2015. Jim Zub (who else?) had some news to share yesterday:

    MUNCHKIN #1 arrives in January from @boomstudios and I’m writing back-up stories. :) @muskrat_john @SJGames

    Oh dear glob. Zub’s not one for excessive mayhem in his gaming comics because he’s mindful that they should be at least vaguely acceptable for all ages, but in the cartoonishly excessive world of Munchkin? And in backup stories, where all the rules are a bit looser? He’s gonna run riot and it’s gonna be hilarious.

  • Re: my earlier assessment of what’s going on in Drive. Okay, so the latest update mentions dropships with “interstellars in orbit”, so we don’t know from the visuals here about rings, which was my original contention. But we’ve seen Vinn ships before — no ring. And the possibility of the Vinn getting Continuum technology (which the Makers regard as holy) without the Continuum objecting? I still think we’ve got more than one method of superlight travel, which in the case of the Vinn could have been developed by any of the 14 constituent species. All of which is to say Goddammit Dave, if you kill off Nosh I’m going to be very, very cross with you.

Not spam of the day:
I just wanted to bring to your attention a comment regarding yesterday’s spam of the day:

For the record and from a born spanish speaker: that spam’s line makes absolutely no sense.

Román, thanks for confirming what I suspected. Good to know that spammers are illiterate in more than just English!

¹ Sorry, couldn’t resist.

² In North’s case, literally … I seem to recall he has something like size 15 feet.

It Is Apparently Kickstarter Day

There are several projects that I feel you should pay attention to, in no particular order.

  • First of all, recent Atlanta-to-Stumptown transplant Jennie “It’s Not Satanic Porn” Breeden¹ has returned to the Kickstarter well to finish off her doll line; about this time last year she made plush versions of two of the three voices in her head: the Devil Girl and Angel Girl as a stretch goal. The campaign fell just shy of creating the Pretty Princess as a final stretch goal, but people have apparently been hounding her mercilessly, for lo the Pretty Princess Plush now springs fully from Breeden’s skull (like unto Athena from the brow of Zeus), sitting about a third of the way to success with four weeks to go. Completists, take note.
  • One may have noticed that I didn’t make a prediction about where the Pretty Princess KS will end up; I’ve come to the conclusion that the Fleen Funding Formula really doesn’t work well with fewer than a couple hundred backers, and the PPKS is in the 130s as we speak. While I think it’s very likely that Breeden’s fanbase (which is loyal in a brutally efficient manner) will not let the campaign falter I cannot predict where the final tally will go. Heck, my ballpark estimate for the Stand Still, Stay Silent book 1 campaign was some US$50K short (in this case, that was about a 40% underestimation), although in my defense it was on Indiegogo and thus didn’t show up on Kicktraq, the basis of the FFF. What I am saying here is congratulations, Minna Sundberg, and I can’t wait to get my copy.
  • I can predict where the next campaign will end up, though: very, very high. Gigi DG has also gone to the crowdfunding platform to make a third thing; in this case, a third print collection of the wholly delightful Cucumber Quest. With a launch less than 24 hours ago and more than 500 backers driving the total to nearly 200% of goal with more than a month to go, Ms DG’s US$20K target is likely to hit a 5x to 6x overfunding. Call it US$150K +/- US$25K; given that the last two Kickstarters for CQ books have achieved, respectively, 645% and 627% of goal, I’d say she’s got a pretty good likelihood of her previous readers sticking around.
  • For going on two years, Comic Chameleon has been bringing webcomics to the mobile masses with the full support of creators; coincidentally, we’ve seen far fewer scrapers since CC’s beta was announced at the end of 2012 and formally launched (of iOs devices) in May of 2013. At the time, I noted that I’m an Android guy and thus don’t get to share in the phone-based goodness, a situation that economics did not off an easy remedy for.

    Until tomorrow. From Comic Chameleon principal (and erstwhile Alien Loves Predator photochronicler) Bernie Hou:

    The time has come to make Comic Chameleon available for your phone! [O]ur Kickstarter campaign to fund the Android version of our app [is] launching this Thursday

    The sharp-eyed among you may notice some elided content in that quote, which was necessary to chop it into a grammatically sound form because I took out some stuff I wanted to address here. Namely, that Hou (knowing as he did that I’m an Android guy) has sent along an alpha version of the app for me to play with and report back on. Work has kept me from doing so yet today, but I will be doing so at the first opportunity, and given the generally happy reviews of the CC userbase on the iDevice platform(s), I expect it (once the inevitable early bugs are identified and squashed) to make the Googleheads as happy as the Jobsters. Keep your eyes on Kickstrater tomorrow, and let’s get that sumbitch funded.

El spam del día:

Me gusta el artículo, la mente es muy clara, yo también hago eso, gracias.

No es nada.

¹ Plain ol’ non-Satanic porn by Ms Breeden is another thing altogether (that link is relatively safe for work).

Some Sci And A Whole Lotta Fi

  • Welp, she teased us on Friday and now we know that yep, it’s porn, horror, porn, and then sci-fi¹:

    New World is a black-and-white sci-fi/fantasy comic anthology set to debut in the spring of 2015. Iron Circus Comics is currently seeking 8–10 submissions with the theme of exploration, colonization, conquest, assimilation, “going native,” appropriation, imperialism, strained relations… essentially, what happens when mutually un-contacted cultures, continents, and species collide. We want your strangest stories about situations where characters are encountering—and having to deal with—the alien.

    But please, let’s not do SF tropes we’ve seen a million times (much like Sleep of Reason banned zombies); Spike mentions the sort of creator whose work you should look to as good examples of the stuff she’s seeking, and dropped names like Evan Dahm and Carla Speed McNeil which means damn I’ma need a copy of New World in six months time or so. Oh, and did I mention the creators she’s already got lined up? In addition to McNeil and Dahm, she’s got Sophie Goldstein, Zach Weinersmith, Abbadon, Adoradora, Evan Palmer², Ezra Claytan Daniels, Matt Howarth, and Michelle Czajkowski already lined up, with an equal number of creators to be added.

    And since this is Spike we’re talking about, she’ll be duplicating the stretch-goals-equals-more-money-for-creators model that’s worked out so very well for Sleep of Reason and both Smut Peddlers. The application form is here and you’ve got until 20 November to get your submissions in.

  • Speaking of the Scis and the Fis, it appears that we’re going to get a fairly longform story at Penny Arcade on Tuesdays and Thursdays, dealing with the AI rights in the film noire 1930s that is Automata³. I’ve for a while held the for a while that the P-A lads do their best work in the realm of filthy continuity, and ever since the original Automata and its followup short story, I’ve wanted to see more of this concept.
  • Leaving behind the Sci, but still with the Fi: Order of the Stick book five has just been announced for pre-order. This is not a frequent occurrence — the famed OotS Kickstarter blowout of Aught-Twelve was to reprint books thta had previously been printed, not to come up with a new collection. Book five, subtitled Blood Runs in the Family contains all the comics from #673 to #946 — nearly 300 updates (call it five years worth), many of which are the equivalent of multiple pages, resulting in nearly 400 pages of thick, lush, glorious color. Order today, get it in early December for convenient year-end gifting.

[Maybe] Spam of the day:

Seems he successfully explains this away in the next strip! Clever :P

Okay, the thing is, I’m not sure this is spam. There’s no links to knockoff sunglasses and/or boner pills, and the text is reasonably coherent. It’s one of several comments that were submitted in reference to my speculations as to what the heck is going on in Drive right now and could be read as a reaction to that. Except for one thing: Dave Kellett hasn’t released the next strip yet, so the comment is either from the future, or is full of crap. Given that ambiguity, I’m pushing this one — if not fully into the spam category — away from the approved category. If you actually were commenting from the future (will have been commenting from the future? was to be commenting from the future? Man, tenses get all screwed up in discussions like this), drop me an email with the lottery numbers for the next multi-state lottery mondo jackpot and I’ll be happy to reinstate the comment.

¹ Then presumably more porn.

² Two times the Evans, two times the fun.

³ Not to be confused with the recent feature film of the same name which I understand is not very good.

Plot Points And Porn

If I were really clever, I’d have an alliterative sentence here with about eight or nine P-words.

  • Oh man you guys. I believe that I’ve established here previously that I am into Dave Kellett’s space opera, Drive. Dude has patiently entertained my questions and theories of where the story is going on more than one time in the past with the occasional Huh! or That’s a really good question interspersed while never giving anything away, but I think he let something fairly large through in this week’s update. For those of you not up on Drive, spoilers ahoy.

    Okay, we know that the Fekk Dragon is Vinn and what a threat the Vinn are to human space in general. We know that the Vinn are not the only major power in the galaxy (I count nine distinct powers centers on the map). We know that the Vinn are an expansionary culture, and today they come in shooting.

    In ships of various designs that do not feature drive rings.

    If we know one thing about space, it’s that space is big. Really big¹, and both the Continuum of Makers (who invented it) and humans (who reverse-engineered it) traverse the vast, huge, mind-boggling² expanses with an interstellar drive that utilizes a distinctive ring.

    But now we have a third galactic power that apparently doesn’t use the ring, and the Continuum doesn’t appear to be engaged in holy war with the Viccans, or the Kayn, or other powers, so there must be other means of interstellar travel out there. And that means that humanity maybe has a way to give up the ring and yet maintain the Second Spanish Empire.

    Also I just realized that the map is centered on Earth, which we all know is located in uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm³, which means that Continuum space is much closer to the center of the galaxy, where the stars are much, much older. As a civilization, they may have been around for untold eons, which means the first time the Continuum decides to really take action against the hoo-mans (or the Vinn, or anybody else), we’re screwed.

    It’s a big can of worms that Kellett’s opened, and it’s going to take a really big can, a vast, huge, mind-boggling can to fit them all back in.

  • Okay, so it was porn, horror, porn, sci-fi, right? I think that was Spike Trotman’s plan for anthologies, but I guess we’ll all find out together on Monday:

    On Monday, I’ll be announcing open submissions for a new anthology.

    Get ready, folks!

    The woman never stops.

Spam of the day:

Yet, which doesn’t mean i always couldn’t would suggest it again in order to any one because it gives you it’s amazing benefits plus works by using.

Man, I love when things work by using.

¹ Thank you, Douglas Adams.

² Ibid.

³ Ibid.

Endings, Beginnings

Competely. Damn. Fearless.

That’s webcomics for you: always changing.

  • The word I always associate with KC Green is fearless.

    The first time I met him (at the first Webcomics Weekend), he did a sketch for me¹ by staring at a blank page, picking up a brush-pen, and just drawing. No pencils, no practice passes over the page, no careful assessment of how the ink would be taken up (or not) by the paper … just swish swish swish and fifteen seconds later he was done. It was an act of art performed without a net and I’ve never forgotten it.

    In the years since, he’s done a few zillion comics under the banner of Gunshow — loose themes like the two jerk rabbits, one-off rude gags, heartfelt character studies like The Dog’s Sins, and longform stories like The Anime Club and Graveyard Quest — and it looks like he’s taken that approach as far as he can:

    I’m going to stop doing Gunshow at the end of the year. No beating around the bush, right to it. I feel a little lethargic with comics right now so I need a change. So, I’m gonna make that happen. Why the end of the year? Why not. It’s the start of a new year! New things need to happen or else it all gets moldy. Plus I have a story with the office workers I want to get out of the way instead of sitting on it forever and never having it used. So two more months of comics will give me time to do that.

    But if you stop doing the comic you’ve built your career around for the past almost-900 updates, you’ll need to replace it with something:

    I wanna do a monthly comic book about the forest animals from Gunshow. The idea I proposed in an earlier post, “Forest Fwends.” I really want to do that, so I’m gonna bug publishers until someone gives in. Why? Why do more print, why do a monthly, print is dead? I agree and yes. But, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It may be stupid as hell, but I want to be stupid as hell. I want a dumb monthly comic book with talking animals in it. Maybe I’ll succeed. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll give up and just make it as a webcomic. All I know is I got to try cus I need something else to happen around here.

    Fearless. Green’s getting (rightfully) acclaim for BACK (with creative partner Anthony Clark) and his adaptation of Pinocchio, as well as his scripts for the Regular Show tie-in comic but none of those are completely his. This monthly comic book — whatever form it takes — will be pure Green, and that’s something that comics will always need. However long it lasts, this change is going to let Green take his work to the next level and I for one can’t wait to see what he’s got cooking.

  • Kris Straub may be on a hiatus from Broodhollow, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not busy with a bunch of different things. First teased back in July, we got more details on his five-part comic minieries with Len Peralta and Mikey Neumann, Exterminite. It’s going to be an e-comic, and you can pre-order the first issue now in a variety of formats, to be released Halloween week.

    No word yet on how long it will be between issues, but when we’re talking about a hitman that you can hire to kill your bad dreams, any interval translates to frustratingly long. My guess? We won’t be done with Exterminite by the time we get Broodhollow back, so this will fill the Straub-shaped hole in our hearts nicely.

Spam of the day:

several grouping up from 3 suits is likely to lead to a clothing fashion a problem,

I think they want me to watch the season finale of Project Runway tonight?

¹ In my second-favorite themed sketchbook — Beards and Moustaches.

Okay, That’s Better

Man, I do not know what got past the shields yesterday, but I was laid low by that 24 hour bug. Feeling much better today, hi, how are you? That one day’s worth of illness has thrown me off, as stuff I wanted to mention yesterday gets pushed to today, and my heads up on who will be where at NYCC gets pushed to tomorrow by which time the show will already be open, and due to a combination of work and my niece’s wedding (love you, Heather!), I’ll only be at the show on Friday. Was that a sentence? It feels kind of disorganized as a sentence, and big disorganized thoughts still make my head somewhat swimmy, so let’s dive in.

  • But before we jump into stuff that got pushed, something very timely: there appears to be a concerted attempt to reset passwords on WordPress sites. I first became aware of it when I saw the warning on Twitter from Phil “Frumph” Hofer, Word Press expert-for-hire and ComicPress/Comic Easel developer. Since Hofer has helped a lot of people, he got about 30 password reset-attempt emails and raised the alarm. It turned out not to be limited to Hofer, as many people were experiencing the same thing; I noticed an attempt on we at Fleen occurred about 5:00am.

    As Hofer says, you need to secure administrative access to your WordPress site:

    Important as it is, you NEED to set people back to subscriber after they’re done helping you out, the only person who should ever have consistent administrator access is YOU, no one else. (unless in the case of those people who have a site administrator helping them out, but you get the idea … no 3rd party people)

    Embarrassing as it is to say, I wasn’t fully secure; I had long since killed the privileges on former contributors to this site, but I hadn’t disabled Hofer’s account from when he helped me with a hosting migration a year back. Worse, there’s only one account that ever posts on this site these days — which made it a clear target — and I was using it both to post and for administrative operations.

    Please note that I said was, as I’ve changed that. If you’re using WordPress, take the five minutes to demote your main account to “editor” and shift admin duties to an arbitrary account with a non-obvious name and an obnoxiously long password, then never use it except for admin purposes. You’ll be happy you did.

  • Evan Dahm’s illustrated edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has launched its Kickstarter, and is about halfway to goal one day in. This is going to be a gorgeous book, and with the assistance of Make That Thing on fulfillment, it should arrive with no hiccups. I’ve just ordered two copies — one to keep, one to present to my youngest niece-and-nephew pair.
  • When you talk about old school webcomics, it’s harder to get older than original Blank Label (the site isn’t even parked anymore) member Steve Troop and the venerable webcomic/puppet show known as Melonpool. It’s been off-and-on for years now (to be perfectly honest, mostly off) while Troop has worked towards a movie version, but Melonpool has returned to webcomics with a reboot. Daily updates so far (and a promise of color Sundays), and we’ll have to see what all the old characters get up to.

We’ll do the full roundup of NYCC exhibitors of interest tomorrow, but how about a list of people that won’t be off at their own tables?

Spam of the day:

I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your subject matter.

Wow, never would have guess that the secret to having a popular website is to have a topic people are interested in. It’s like rocket science!

Good News All Over The Damn Place Today

This is not your typical Monday. Shall we count the ways?

  • Perhaps the largest news to hit the geekosphere today (I watched the first season of Twin Peaks before thoroughly losing interest, so today’s news of a return isn’t really grabbing me) would be the word of Ryan North’s next project: he’ll be writing an ongoing Squirrel Girl series for Marvel with an inspired choice for artist in the person of Erica Henderson.

    This ranks high in terms of superhero comics I didn’t know I wanted but I totally do, possibly matched only by the thought of Brad Guigar getting a crack at Plastic Man/Ambush Bug teamup or Chris Hastings getting to write an all-ages, lighthearted Spider Man.¹ I love this, despite the well-documented fact that I despise squirrels. Hate ‘em. And yet I am ready to give money to Marvel come January (despite my reluctance to give any more money than is strictly necessary to the Disney corporation) because I know this is going to rule so hard.

  • So I noticed ‘tother day that Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells have launched the requisite Kickstarter campaign for their next print collection — their fifth — which is going to make the “S” section of my bookshelf even more crowded than it already is, what with it already hosting Sandman, Starman, Strangers in Paradise, The Spirit, Sheldon, Schlock Mercenary, Starslip, Spacetrawler, and Scary Go Round. Rearrangements will be a necessity, as Skin Horse is one of my genuine daily delights, with the honest laughs cranked up to eleven pert-near every day that I read.

    Unsurprisingly (Garrity and Wells have an extremely loyal following, one that likely exceeds the usual 10% will buy stuff rule of thumb), the campaign has already nearly doubled its (extremely modest) US$6000 goal, and now I need only wait until May or so in order to have said book in my hands. What really caught my attention, though, was something rather clever that was done for this campaign, something that I don’t see done often enough. There was no chance of me missing this Kickstart, because some few hours after it launched, I (along with all backers of Skin Horse volume 4) was sent an email noting that hey, you bought the fourth book in a series, so you’d probably dig the fifth, right? Exactly right.

    Granted, it’s not every project or every creator that can do this kind of carryover marketing, but if you’re producing a sries on a regular schedule, you’d be foolish not to leverage that opted-in mailing list you’ve already got. It doesn’t hurt that Garrity and Wells offer one of the best bargains in webcomics — a sketched & signed physical book, for US$25 (shipping included).

  • Speaking of books, my wife had a copy of Randall Munroe’s New York Times bestselling What If? waiting for me after my escape from the city of Chicago (which was more that mildly affected a full week after that disgruntled jerk that tried to burn down the air traffic control center). I am thoroughly enjoying it, and more than a little disturbed how often the people in the addressed situations end up confronted by rapidly-expanding clouds of superheated plasma.
  • It is simultaneously the wedding anniversary of two of the most wonderful people ever and the birthday of one of the classiest, most excellent fellows on the planet. I’ll go further: the wedding of Jeffrey and Holly Rowland was the best wedding ever (and I include my own in that statement), and Ananth Panagariya’s continued existence provokes a dilemma in me: I can’t decide if I would rather be Ananth Panagariya, or perhaps one of his roommates, because then I would get to spend every day with Ananth Panagariya. Happy Everything to the excellent lady and dudes.
  • Two weeks, two Dresden Codak updates (which I believe all would acknowledge is a land speed record for Aaron Diaz), and the possibility exists of not only sustaining that schedule, but perhaps even increasing it to three pages a month. Diaz is threatening to attempt weekly but acknowledges that such a schedule would possibly break the laws of physics, so on behalf of a frightened world that likes the laws of physics² as they are, please don’t feel the need to fly so close to the sun, Aaron.
  • Coincidence? Red Robot shows us how to deal constructively with oppressors and barely four hour later the US Supreme Court declines to hear seven challenges to marriage equality, meaning that five more states have been brought into the fold of modern civilization³. Thirty states down, twenty to go, and as of today more than half the population of the United States can marry whoever the hell they want. So yeah, probably coincidence, but if Stevens wanted to do similarly-themed comics on the eves of other judicial decisions, it couldn’t hurt.

Spam of the day:

You are so cool! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So good to discover someone with unique thoughts on this subject.

Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

Any other day, I would have given this comment no credence viz authenticity, but today I’m in a good mood. Thank you for your good wishes, anonymous commenter who included a link that no way in hell will I ever click on. Much ‘ppreciated.

¹ Oh please, oh please.

² And thus the universe.

³ No doubt kicking and screaming in some quarters. Darn.

Erika, No

It’s mostly about books today. Books and disappointment.

  • I think the historical record is pretty clear: I love Erika Moen’s work. I love DAR!, I love Bucko, I love Oh Joy, Sex Toy, and I love Hurricane Erika herself. I am also on record as digging me some Star Trek — all varieties! — so when I say that today’s OJST update physically pained me, it’s not because of dislike of the artist, the topic matter, or the blatant Trek fangirlism. I am fine with all these things.

    It was the puns. Oh, glob, the puns. Erika, you’re better than this. Because if there’s one thing that I’m also clear on — the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake — it’s that Brad Guigar is not a role model. Tastemaker and teacher without compare? Sure. A sexy, sexy man? Oh mais, oui. But he has a bad boy side, and he is an unrepentant paronomasiac who should be shunned for his bad example. Erika. This road leads only to one place: Dad Jokes. Just say no before it’s too late.

  • Speaking of DAR!, Ms Moen rather prominently held a close-out sale and ditched her remaining stock of books 1 and 2, closing out her sales of those items on 30 September. You can still get them as PDFs, but if you want a dead-tree version, you’re out of luck unless you want to try to convince me to give up my copies¹ or brave the secondary market. Except that maybe you’re not out of luck!

    For those of you that missed it, Minna Sundberg put twelve copies of A Red Tail’s Dream up for sale which immediately sold; the fact that they immediately sold isn’t the interesting part, but rather where they sold. Like an ever-expanding roster of creators, Sundberg’s a member of webcomics advertising/services collective The Hiveworks, which has been hinting at getting into retail merch sales. Well they’ve soft-launched that storefront, and if Hivemill is sold out of ARTD, they’ll likely get some more in future, and oh look — copies of DAR! volumes 1 and 2 also for sale.

    Hivemill’s soft launch has been very soft; this is first I’ve noticed it although it appears to have been in operation since the summer. Look for more stock to show up there as affiliated creators who don’t want to do their own shipping (or who aren’t already associated with TopatoCo) start shifting stocks in advance of the upcoming holiday season. Having more people out there doing order fulfillment on behalf of webcomickers can only be a good thing.

  • Speaking of books, I shamefully neglected to mention that I picked up a copy of Strong Female Protagonist book 1 by Brennan Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. I really like SFP but it’s one of those comics that I just can’t read in twice-weekly updates; getting 200 pages of wonderfully chunky story is just what’s needed, and I enjoyed the crap out of it.
  • Finally, let’s just admit that nobody knows how to end a book (with attendant hiatus) on a note that makes you want to read more now than Kris Straub. Broodhollow’s second book (subtitled Angleworm, starting here and running for one year) ends with Zane in maybe the worst circumstances since his arrival in the weirdest corner of West Virginia, and there we will have to sit until (likely) January. Take the time to read through the collected story arc and start saving, because when the inevitable print collection becomes available, you are going to want this one.

Spam of the day:

At the beginning of for each and every, the type of publicaddress announcer attempted using mightily toward fuzzy laptop computer Mexico was previously dealt the right fight about communities which have each blended 17 history.

Wha … fuzzy laptop computer Mexico? Is this related to that one very bad Gundam series where various countries fielded giant robots shaped like the laziest ethnic stereotypes and the Mexican Gundam had a giant robot moustache and giant robot poncho and giant robot sombrero? Because that shit was straight-up racist.

¹ Ain’t happening.s Dream

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.

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.