The webcomics blog about webcomics

Why Is It Always Thursdays?


It’s always Thursdays when there’s nothing going on — absolutely nothing is happening today.

So yeah, I think we’ve scientifically established that absolutely nothing is going on today. Try back tomorrow, maybe there will be something more.


Spam of the day:

If you have a dog, you must see this!

I have a dog that’s a total goofball, why would I want to see anything else?

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¹ Where the Rainbow Alliance pins were a particular hit, with people buying them ten at a time. It’s the only non-book thing I’ve gone out of my way to obtain from a con in about forever, and it’s really quite handsome. Get ’em now before the C&D!

² If there’s going to be a big push in funding it’s going to kick off between now and Monday … although the huge interest in this one at the beginning means this might be the first webcomics megasuccess that just tapered off funding at the end instead of jumping upwards. This is honestly the flattest, most asymptotic long tail I’ve ever seen.

Launch Dates

Okay, one of them’s really a pre-announcement of when a hiatus will wrap, but let’s go with it.

  • Ryan Estrada has, for the past forever, been hard at work on Big Data. He announced the project on this page back in April, he started a Kickstarter a few days later to determine how much to release, and he’s been heads-down ever since putting the polish on.

    And now we have a premiere date. The internet radio play about the Caper of the Century and the Keys to the Internet will start releasing on Tuesday, 13 September (the same days as a few other things; it’s going to be a great day for those of us of certain sensibilities); Kickstarter backers will get all nine episodes at once, the rest of us will have to persevere through cliffhangers and plot twists.

  • Meanwhile, David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator) reached today the end of his webcomic recaps of Old School Trek episodes, Planet of Hats. Or, more properly, reached it again; he finished up the recaps of Star Trek’s run with Turnabout Intruder (ick) back in January. Then he did the end-of-season recap¹ a week later, and gave us a final splash page at the end of the month.

    Then two months later he started all over again with the mid-70s animated series, the 22 episodes of which are what actually finished today. In case you aren’t old enough to have watch the animated Star Trek on Saturday mornings when you were a kid, it was pretty dire, but on average no worse than the third season of the live action show¹.

    And much like a Peter Jackson trilogy, Morgan-Mar had at least one more ending in store for us: although it will be the new year before it happens, he will be tackling the six movies that feature the original Star Trek cast, so we can look forward to the highs of Wrath of Khan and the lows of the execrable The Final Frontier, so that’s all right.

    As of this writing, it appears that Generations is being classified as a nu-Trek film, but who knows? Drop enough in his Patreon on the condition that he recap Darmok or Yesterday’s Enterprise or The Inner Light and I’d bet he’d come around. Even better, give him enough that he’s obligated to make it through all of TNG and DS9 — I’d love to read his take on In The Pale Moonlight or Far Beyond The Stars or even just highlights of Bashir’s bromances with O’Brien and Garak³.

    The thing is, point your RSS readers — it’s still a thing! — at the feed address and see you all on 4 January 2017. You can spend the time until then reading his first Irregular Webcomic print collection, which is being received by backers as we speak.


Spam of the day:

WE’LL PACK AND MOVE YOUR STUFF FOR YOU!

The hell you will. I’m never moving again.

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¹ Hey, if you’re going to borrow a strip’s format from Shaenon Garrity, you include the season recap pages, because they are insane and great.

² Or most of the first season and a half of Next Generation (basically, everything pre-Borg) for that matter. It remains an indisputable fact that only DS9 hit the ground running and stayed there.

³ Shippers, start your engines.

Things That Caught My Eye Today

Evan Dahm started running illustrations from his forthcoming edition of Moby-Dick about 17 months back, and in that time he’s given us gorgeous art, styled like woodcut illos, heavy and dark and brooding, things of substance and weight. The white of the page is wrestled into submission, the slivers that exist here and there acting as contrast and accent rather than the space to contain the black. They’ve all been beautiful to look at (and you can see the full set at the Tumblr), but today’s art tops them all. No part of the book’s text that Dahm chose to accent with this drawing can be omitted and still give full context and power, so here it is:

Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Sperm Whale thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more. In those moments, the torn, enraged waves he shakes off, seem his mane; in some cases, this breaching is his act of defiance.

“There she breaches! there she breaches!” was the cry, as in his immeasurable bravadoes the White Whale tossed himself salmon-like to Heaven. So suddenly seen in the blue plain of the sea, and relieved against the still bluer margin of the sky, the spray that he raised, for the moment, intolerably glittered and glared like a glacier; and stood there gradually fading and fading away from its first sparkling intensity, to the dim mistiness of an advancing shower in a vale.

“Aye, breach your last to the sun, Moby Dick!” cried Ahab, “thy hour and thy harpoon are at hand!—Down! down all of ye, but one man at the fore. The boats!—stand by!”

I want more than just an illustrated Moby-Dick from Dahm; somehow, somebody make is so that Patrick Stewart reads these textual excerpts as an audio accompaniment.

The other things I saw today were pretty good, too.

  • If you make your living by submitting invoices, then you should already know who Katie Lane is; she’s asking for information today, in the form of a brief, two question survey:

    If you have to invoice clients to get paid, I’d appreciate your feedback on two quick questions I have: https://katie240.typeform.com/to/xJyNM6

    The answers she gathers will be used to help construct a course she’ll be delivering come October, aimed at how to draft invoices that will make clients want to pay. I’m assuming this is more subtle than having the invoice stapled to a guy named Rocko The Knucklebreaker, but honestly I’m not sure what could be as effective as him. I guess we’ll have to give Lane her feedback, let her design the course to answer her audience’s most pressing concerns, and then attend to find out what’s to be done. I’ll keep Rocko on speed dial, just in case.

  • I mention now (in accordance with longstanding blog policy) that Kate Beaton is the best, and point those of you that may not have had the occasion yet to experience her bestness in person towards a forthcoming event wherein you may sample some of her bestosity. The National Book Festival, put on by the Library of Congress, is kind of a big deal. And in keeping with a mission to bring the most interesting people in literature together regardless of petty distinctions like national origin, the NBF people have prevailed upon Beaton to leave Nova Scotia and travel to Washington DC to talk about King Baby on 24 September.

    The National Book Festival is free and open to the public (with the exception of some high-popularity events, which require ticketing, but still free), taking place at the Washington Convention Center; Beaton will be part of the Children programming track, from noon to 12:30pm, with a signing from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Between that and SPX happening just a week before (the exhibitor list isn’t up yet, but given her history of being there and her Ignatz nomination this year, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet she’ll be there), the Mid-Atlantic region has never had a better chance to drink in the bestitivity.

  • Okay, so I know that Zach Weinersmith uses a repertory company approach to his characters, with certain designs in recurring roles (or, more precisely, to play certain types of roles; he’s like Tezuka that way). But how did it take me until today to realize that the big, philosophical (one might even say navel gazing) discussions always go to the same two kids? Way to make me see patterns in the world, Weinersmith!

    I really should have been able to predict it, given that the same system was used in the SMBC Theater shorts, where it was well established that James Ashby is the worst person ever. Thought you could make us forget by keeping a low profile, didn’t you, Ashby? Well forget it! We at Fleen know you are history’s greatest villain¹, and we will never let go our vigilance, so watch it.


Spam of the day:

You are like one of those “denialist”s. Your comments about the internet are so contradictory to what is happening in the real world that I feel sorry for you. The world is changing. I hope it changes so that there is less stealing in our world.

The link to this went to a Tumblr dedicated 100% to high quality photos of lingerie-clad women’s butts, so I don’t think he (of course it’s a dude) is actually mad at me for something I did here at the blog.

I will note that it appears said butt photos are not by the dude in question, but taken with minimal attribution from around the internet. Oh, irony.

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¹ Need proof? Google search for james ashby and all you get is a cop convicted of murder. Okay, he doesn’t look anything like the James Ashby we’re talking about, but that’s just what he wants you to think.

Monday Miscellany Returns, Sales, And The Fleen Book Corner

I see from the permanlink generator in WordPress that this would have been the third time I’ve used the same title, so time for a rewording!

  • Today marks the long-awaited return of Spacetrawler, and Christopher Baldwin’s off to a great start, mixing some tragedy, some backstory, and a pefectly-paced payoff gag. Welcome back, crew of the IA Starbanger GOB Spacetrawler, we’ve missed you. And in a related note, the run on Anna Galactic was miscalculated and runs another three strips, hooray! Even better, the Kickstart to print Anna Galactic has cleared the 50% mark with more than three weeks to go.
  • [C] Spike [Trotman] has a problem — a mishap over the weekend resulted in a busted Cintiq, depriving her of the very lifesblood of a modern cartoonist’s career. When unexpected expenses come your way, there’s only one thing to do: sell your employee’s organs declare a sudden sale, and Spike’s opted to do so by putting slightly knocked-around copies of Iron Circus books on discount and offer up the savings to you.

    Held off on getting a copy of Smut Peddler and worried you’d missed your shot? If you’re willing to put up with some flaws that don’t affect the reading experience at all, now’s your chance to remedy your oversight and get Spike back to comickin’.

  • I missed a couple of books when I was talking about the excellent fall release season last week: 13 September has another must-read book dropping, The Creepy Case Files Of Margo Maloo, a collection of the first 100 or so pages of the Drew Weing webcomic of the same name. And 6 September sees the latest from Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack; both are from :01 Books, with review copies kindly provided by Gina Gagliano.

    What I found interesting about them is they’re both stories about young boys discovering a world of monsters and creepy thing, both partnering up with a more competent girl of about the same age. In Margo Maloo’s case, it’s played more for laughs and the occasional lighthearted creepiness, as evidenced by the fact that the titular heroine isn’t a monster fighter or monster slayer — she’s a monster mediator.

    She know what’s under the bed is a person (granted, a ten foot tall person with enormous teeth and horns, but a person nonetheless) with just as much right to the closet as the kid who lives in the room. She finds the compromises and solutions without too much drama — possibly because in the past she brought the drama hard. The monsters are terrified of her, as are kids with sense.

    In Jack’s case, he just wants to enjoy his summer, but a rare burst of responsiveness from his autistic sister Maddy drags him into a protector role — the garden they planted is full of magic — or maybe alien¹ — vegetation and there’s a dragon wandering about full of cryptic warnings and doubting that he’s a real Jack. Because he’s the one from all the stories: Jack and his beanstalk, Jack the giant-killer, Jack the house-builder, Jack who rules winter and Jack who is nimble.

    An early teens kid in the borderlands between the suburbs and the farms, with an overworked mom and withdrawn sister isn’t a hero — until Lilly from down the block (who swordfights in medieval recreations with her brothers) takes and interest in his challenges and adopts the role of teacher/coach. There’s some alien magic involved, but a lot of it comes simply of caring: Jack wants to impress Lilly (he likes her), take care of his sister (he doesn’t want to spend the summer taking care of her while Mom’s at work, but he still loves her), and not disappoint his mother (and also, if she finds out he grew a dragon she’s going to kill him).

    It’s a potent metaphor for growing up, particularly in the first Hatke male protagonist²; girls face different challenges navigating the throes of maturity (indeed, Lilly presents as the same physical age as Jack, but seems older, wiser, and more capable). The first of a series (but no word yet on when we can expect the next one; given that :01 announced it’s upping its output from 20 books/year to 40, I’d imagine not too far in the future), Mighty Jack ends on a cliffhanger and a promise as Jack gears up to defend his home and family. Darn beanstalk creatures didn’t think he was a Jack? He’ll show you a Jack.


Spam of the day:

Check Out Hot New Model

Now we’re talking!

… Bathroom Fixture Options!

Disregard.

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¹ Cameos from some lovable rogues out of Hatke’s Zita The Spacegirl series pretty much cement the alien interpretation.

² Per the dedication page, Hatke and his wife have five daughters, so it’s no surprise he’s spent so much of his career drawing kick-ass girls.

End Times A-Comin’

We as a society have obviously done something seriously wrong, in that the latest New York Times Best Seller List for graphic novels (paperback) shows only one title by Raina Telgemeier: Smile, in week #218, at slot number 9. It’s hard to argue with the top three slots being taken with the three volumes of March by Rep John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, or with Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese getting some love (ten years after release, but there was no NYTBSL for graphic novels ten years ago), but still&sup1!

Then again, Ghosts is due on 13 September, and the list starts ramping up a couple weeks before launch day (remember, it represents sales to the retail trade, and the list runs early — this week will be published on 28 August, but represents sales ending 13 August). What I am saying here is that we should expect to see a run on All Things Raina in about two weeks.

And in any event, the next six weeks or so is going to be a glorious time for webcomickers in print — the second volume of Secret Coders by Yang and Mike Holmes releases on 30 August; Ghosts will be joined on the 13th by Kate Beaton’s King Baby and Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World by Colleen AF Venable & Ruth Chan to form The Best Tuesday Ever.

Then a scant three weeks later we’ll see the first volume of Jason Shiga’s Demon on 4 October, and Box Brown’s Tetris a week later on the 11th. I’ll be reviewing as many of these as I can between now and release day(s)².

In the meantime, I’ll note that we’re halfway through the crowdfunding campaign for KC Green’s This Is Fine plush and looking at an astonishing 10,366 (as of this writing) backers and US$370,770 (ditto) in funding. This is more than 1000% of goal, and heading for a finish somewhere around 750 thousand damn dollars³. I can’t wait to see the bump that occurs in the last three to five days.


Spam of the day:

Are You METAL Enough to Take on the Heavy Metal Machines, Gary?! In case you missed the news, WE WANTED TO SCREAM IT INTO YOUR FACE WITH THE POWER OF 5000 DIESEL ENGINES! \m/

What.

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¹ Also contributing: the annual return of Persepolis, as various college classes that use it (also MAUS) stock up for the new academic year.

² Obligatory disclosure: Gina Gagliano at :01 Books sent me copies of Paths & Portals, Demon, and Tetris; Raina gave me an advance review copy of Ghosts, and Kate gave me a copy of King Baby. I still have to track down a copy of Mervin.

³ Using Kel McDonald’s rule of thumb: first three days equals one third of final total. Per Kicktraq, Green raise approximately US$265K in his first three days, yikes

Considerably Better Today, Thanks

I’m in a much better mood, and things have happened that allow me to write considerably more than I would have otherwise. Let’s do this.

Recent Past! Yesterday marked eighteen damn years of Jerkcity, which I freely admit is a bit too unstructured for me, but for which I will always be grateful because it was my introduction to Rands, who in real life has taught me more than I can recall about the industry I work in, the people that inhabit it, and how to interact with them. Also, bags and pens. He’s smart like that.

Past, Present and Future! Josh Fruhlinger wrote a book which I enjoyed a great deal, and he has very kindly opened the metaphorical kimono to share data regarding it. The Enthusiast was funded via Kickstarter, and Fruhlinger has done a detailed post on how the money got spent, which anybody considering a crowdfunded project should consider to be a valuable look at what to expect. Read carefully and absorb.

Today! One year ago, Ryan North did the most Ryan North thing possible when he got stuck in a hole and got out by treating it as a text adventure game with all of Twitter as the controlling player. It’s well known that there are no holidays in August, with some countries resorting to making up arbitrary “bank holidays” to make the month less suicidally depressing, so may I suggest that from now on, 18 August¹ be known as Northole Day? We can celebrate by walking our dogs with umbrellas and seeking out holes. Somebody tell David Malki ! to include it in the list of holiday’s for next year’s perpetual calendar.

Also Today! I got my copy of Chester 5000 XYV: Isabelle & George. I will never not love Jess Fink for her ability to mix together real emotion, real pretty pictures, and really hot, hot sexytimes in one story. I think I understand the whole Stucky thing now.

Next Month! It’s just four weeks until SPX rolls around (sadly, I won’t be able to make it, as it will fall in the middle of back-to-back weeks where work sends me to Minnesota), and the Ignatz Awards nominees have been announced. I first saw the slate over at Comics Worth Reading, so props to Johanna Draper Carlson for being on the story early.

What I found especially interesting is the jury members: Tony Breed, Summer Pierre, Keiler Roberts, C Spike Trotman, and JT Most²; There’s a lot of web-first art from these creators, and unsurprisingly the category for Outstanding Online Comic is super strong:

That’s an impressively wide range of styles, topics, and presentations, and really no bad choices there.

Other nominees that hail from the wide world o’ webcomics include Melanie Gillman (As The Crow Flies) for Outstanding Comic; Jason Shiga (Demon) and Keiler Robert (Powdered Milk), and various contributors to the Isaac Cates-edited Cartozia Tales for Outstanding Series; Lisa Hanawalt (Hot Dog Taste Test) for Outstanding Graphic Novel; Kate Beaton (Step Aside, Pops), and various contributors to the Sfé R Monster & Taneka Stotts-edited Beyond: The Queer Sci Fi and Fantasy Anthology for Outstanding Anthology Or Collection.

Uniquely, the Ignatzes (Ignatzen?) are voted on by the attendees of SPX, with the votes quickly tallied between end of exhibit hours and the start of the awards ceremony on Saturday, 17 September. Best of luck to all the nominees.


Spam of the day:

30??nimals Surprised By Their Owners Coming Home Sooner

Cute, but why is the same address in Romania sending me pictures of animals, pictures of Asian women, pictures of beautiful vistas, and pictures of “unbelievable fails”?

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¹ No shifting to a Monday or Friday for a long weekend, it has to fall on the 18th.

² I’m not familiar with Most and I’m finding it impossible to Google them, as all the responses refer to Justin Timberlake and headlines like Is this JT’s most awesome video ever?.

It’s sort of like how the one person I’d be interested is finding from high school, my old physical lab partner, is un-Googleable, because her name closely matches the nickname of an old aircraft carrier and all matches are for sailor reunions. Her sister is also un-Googleable, as her name matches too closely with DC superhero Robin. They’ve achieved the dream: no digital footprint thanks to a favorable signal-to-noise ratio.

Changes Afoot

It’s definitely one of those days, when nobody around you is capable of following even the simplest directions. So let us talk about webcomics, that I may regain some sanity. There’s some things we mentioned in recent times“>recent times that are come to fruition that I would share with you.

  • One may recall that The Nonadventures of Wonderella has been offering up slacky delight for approximately forever. More specifically, 11 days from today (that would be 26 August 2016) marks ten years of Justin Pierce chronicling the events around Wonderella, Wonderita, Hilterella, Jokerella, Wonderella’s mom, Jesus (Lamb of Hosts), Dr Shark, and the other residents of a cape-common world gone … not mad per se, but vaguely annoyed. Add in the five years that that Pierce ran the much-missed Kilroy & Tina at Modern Tales (RIP) and you’ve got a seriously long run of weekly (or better) comics and it’s time for a shift.

    We mentioned all of this back in May when Pierce announced it, but it seems like a good time to remind y’all that the 27th will be the last weekly Wonderella; thereafter, Pierce will be updating whenever he’s got a story to tell — might be a page, might be five or ten. If you’ve enjoyed the world’s greatest superhero (with the world’s greatest idea), maybe take the time between then and now to drop Pierce a line and tell him so?

  • Toward the end of June, we noted that Anna Galactic (the third? I think it’s third and Yontengu the fourth) scifi (mostly) comedy (mostly) webcomic by the prolific Christopher Baldwin would shortly be wrapping up and Spacetrawler returning. At the time he wasn’t much more specific than sometime in August/September, but if you’ve been following Anna, you know that she’s in the endgame, and while there’s a reasonably happy ending for our protagonists, it comes with a side helping of every other human in the cosmos is dead (oops).

    Endgame enough, in fact, that Spacetrawler will be relaunching next Monday, 22 August! And to celebrate the end of Anna Galactic, the traditional let’s print the completed story Kickstarter went up today. Baldwin has set an extremely modest goal of US$4000 (his last Kickstart, for One Way, was unsuccessful¹, and he’s gone even lower on his ask this time), of which about a quarter is covered so far. It’s a simple, straightforward campaign: you can get a postcard, a PDF, a book (signed or unsigned), or two books (signed or unsigned). No crazy rewards, no stretch goals, just order up here if you like his stuff. PS: His stuff is very likable, so go like with money.


Spam of the day:

Your Mechanical Engineer Training Options — Graduate with strong job prospects

Oh son you seriously did not just try to get an electrical engineer to click on your scam for fake credentials as a mechanical engineer. The only thing more insulting is if you tried to entice me to become some kind of chemical engineer².

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¹ In a lot of ways, One Way was the least Baldwin-like of his SF projects — there was some real philosophical heaviness to it, a sense of resignation that contrasted heavily with the serious-but-leavened-by-goofball-antics Spacetrawler.

² Hi, Dante.

Raina. Just Raina.

She had, in the hearts of her numerous fans, entered the territory of the mononymic, like Madonna or Bono or Frank¹, there is no doubt who you are talking about when it comes to superstars². And today there are things to mention regarding Raina [Editor’s note: okay, fine, Raina Telgemeier] that you should know about, at least if you’re out in the Bay Area.

Firstly, Ghosts is rapidly approaching release date, and that means release parties. Green Apple Books in San Francisco (that would be Raina’s hometown) will be hosting such a party at 6:00pm (reading at 7:00pm) on Tuesday, 13 September (that would be the release date), and while they don’t explicitly say that Raina’s going to be at the party, she is tweeting out the event announcement.

Update to add: It’s confirmed now.

In order to bring some order to what’s going to be a busy, busy night, Green Apple are pre-selling tickets which are good for a paperback copy of the book, and have shifted to a location with ample parking and space away from the main store. No doubt other bookstores will be holding their own events to meet reader demand; if you know of one, drop me a line and I’ll share it.

And in the meantime, whether you can get to the release party or not, there’s a display of original pages³ from Smile, Drama, and Sisters at the Berkeley (that would be just across the bay from Raina’s hometown) Public Library Central branch. They’ve even got five original pages from Ghosts, on view in the second floor through 26 August.

Central’s hours and address are at their webpage, and like all libraries it’s free and open to the public. Since it’s a proven scientific fact that you can never have too much Raina, I’d advise everybody in the area to make the trip and look at some pretty damn great pages while we all count down to the 13th. Given the fact that Ghosts is going to have a print run of 500,000 copies (pretty sure that’s a graphic novel record), you should be able to get a copy without too much difficulty, but I’d put in a pre-order, just in case.


[Media Alert] Behold the Instruments of Righteousness in Super Dung

What?

..eon Tactics!

Oh. Gotcha. Not a good place for the subject line to get truncated.

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¹ Okay, there is a little ambiguity here as to which Frank one might be mentioning: Frank as in Zappa, or as in Becky and.

² Also: George.

³ Hat tip: Mark V of Electric Puppet Theatre. Read his comic!

Fleen Book Corner: Compass South

It may have been mentioned by somebody in the past forty or so years that one of the great ironies of San Diego Comic Con is you don’t get to read many comics. Thanks to travel before and after, I missed two weeks at the local comic shop, and thanks to the owner having to take a sick day, today will be the first day I’ll get caught up on books since the middle of July. I’m really looking forward to reading Hope Larson’s take on Batgirl (issue #1 released on 27 July), but I’m not been Larsonless in that time.

Because I finally went and picked up a copy of her newest graphic novel (art by Rebecca Mock), Compass South. We spoke about it during our interview in San Diego, where I was particularly struck by the generosity she shows towards her collaborators (which is a recurring theme with Larson; cf: her Twitterfeed today). Unusually for me, this review is mostly spoiler free, as I find myself wanting to talk about some overarching structural choices more than the particulars of the story.

The first book (of two) in the Four Points series (we’ll get Knife’s Edge next June) is a quick, engaging read that left me with a nagging feeling as I read it. Twins — Alex and Cleo — get chased out of 1860 New York, heading for San Francisco; there’s criminal gangs, child-sellers, pirates, tall ships a’sailing, an overland crossing in Panama, a perilous trip ’round the Horn, and a goal of the mythic city of San Francisco. There’s mistaken identities and assumed names and impersonations. There’s blackhearts chasing treasure, evil-minded small men chasing a girl disguised as a boy, and a missing father full of mysteries.

And there was something there at the back of my mind saying You’ve seen this before, but where?

Then it hit me. It’s not that Larson took from any particular story, or any particular genre even (the idea of mid-19th century boys adventure magazines get namechecked, which is particularly frustrating if you’re a girl that doesn’t want to be constrained by gender expectations); it’s that she has tapped into the same themes and tropes that Shakespeare used.

Two sets of twins? Check. Ships in peril and pirates? Check. Missing parents and missing children? Check. Mistaken identities? Check. Everybody meeting up and working out where they were and how they got there? Check. Girls disguised as boys? Check. Shakespeare built his most popular plays — on story cores that had been part of song and myth for millennia. They’ve persisted for so long because they each capture our imagination in particularly strong ways; old Will knew that grabbing one trope was good, but piling on two or three was better, and Larson’s gone further by grabbing four or five.

It’s perhaps inevitable that Compass South would leave me with echoes of The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, and more. In lesser hands, it would come off as derivative or gilding the lily. Here, it’s almost subconscious and makes for a compulsively readable story.

Much has been made of the similarity of comics and movies, but Compass South makes me think that the stage is a better comparison. The stock characters of comics — mysterious playboy/nighttime hero, the youthful ward, the alien with powers beyond those of mortal men, the angsty teen thrust into responsibility — are just as recognizable as the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte — the doomed lovers, the evil prince, the hidden twins, the unscrupulous businessman, the unrepentant villain, and the jolly comic relief — that Shakespeare appropriated and made central to the theatrical world. Larson’s combined the two traditions, and it makes for a cracking story that enriches both¹.


Spam of the day:

New roof! Get work done cheap!

Sorry, just put one in. Had a dumpster in my driveway for two weeks and every damn thing. Also, of all the things to cheap out on, the part of the house that keeps the weather out is probably not the best candidate.

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¹ Or perhaps three traditions — in addition to comics and theater, there’s the literature of the time. More than one character in Compass South is more than a little Dickensian, including a guy who’s very possible Fagin’s second cousin twice removed (in temperament, if not not actual relation). I’m now thinking that maybe why I never cottoned much to Dickens is that he drew from the same tropes as Shakespeare, but trying to express everything solely in words instead of visuals, he becomes bogged down and overly verbose. Now I really want to see what an original graphic novel by Dickens would look like.

At Last, Friday

Several brief items for you today, as I am observing the first really nice day in forever and that’s pulling on me more than webcomics at the moment. You know how it is.

  • KC Green seems to finally be hitting the long tail portion of the This Is Fine plush campagin but I’ll note that so far today even though new support is but a trickle of the past two days, it’s still more than US$18K and 500 people. I wonder if we’ll see a bump from outside his usual audience when tomorrow’s New York Times — which has an arts section story about Green, This Is Fine, This Is Not Fine, and the plush — hits widely.
  • Speaking of Green¹, he was the first to point me to another Kickstarter, that for the first print collection of The Meek by Der-shing Helmer. Three chapters of the longrunning (abeit with sometimes lengthy interruptions) adventure quest, with fancy upgrades to the book and bonus material on deck (Helmer’s working with Taneka Stotts — who’s done a number of successful projects — on the production end). Given the sometimes sporadic update schedule on The Meek, a book is probably the best way for new readers to get on board, so get to pledgin’.
  • Latest news on the TV adaptation of Kris Straub’s Candle Cove: Deadline Hollywood reports that SyFy will premiere the series on Tuesday, 27 September. Set your TiVo now for maximum scares.

Spam of the day:

Looking for HOT

Great, more fake Russian dating site spam.

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… nevermind. Alhtough they are using the same picture as the Russian dating site spam was using.

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¹ Fans of The Meek now believe me to be in full Dad Joke mode. They’re not wrong.