The webcomics blog about webcomics

Holy Cats

  • Holy cats! Raina Telgemeier has somehow slipped, as the latest iteration of the New York Times Best Seller List includes only three of her books, in the relatively modest #4, 5, and 6 slots (although we’re also a mere four weeks away from Sisters being on the list for 52 consecutive weeks, so there’s that). Not to worry; although the first Baby-Sitters Club color reissue has slipped off the list (after dropping to #10 last week, its 11th on the list), the second BSC color reissue released the day before yesterday.

    You can see where I’m going with this.

    There’s a lag time on the NYTBSL, but I’ma guess we’re shortly going to see The Truth About Stacey join Smile, Drama, and Sisters, and very possibly see the return of Kristy’s Great Idea. Can we do five Telgemeier books simultaneously? With the remaining two BSC color reissues due in October and January, could we see an actual majority of the ten slots owned by books about tween girls? No bets, my friends.

  • Holey Cats! Now this is how you meet promised Kickstarter fulfillment goals:

    When we launched our Kickstarter back in January, we hoped to sell 500 copies of our game. With that in mind, we wrote the following on our Kickstarter page: “Estimated delivery: July 2015″

    We wound up selling more than 500 copies. We sold 460,000 copies.

    I know we promised we’d deliver in July. But that’s a lot of things we had to do. So, the new expected delivery date is …

    Still July!

    Yep, kittens that ‘splode start their rolling shipping today; it would be impossible to ship to ship every one of the 220,000-odd (some very odd) backers in 122 different countries on the same day, despite the fact that the EK crüe have sent massive quantities of games to various countries around the world to ship domestically, rather than from the US (which would involve customs, and international shipping, and headaches and delays and missing packages galore). Heck, they had to partner with six companies for production and fulfillment, including seeing the Cards Against Humanity folks set up an entire company — Blackbox — just to handle the shipping and notifications.

    Those specific details — 122 countries, six companies, Blackbox — all come from the shipping-commencement announcement along with other facts about the game; my favorite fact-cluster is that printing the 26.8 million cards required 2356 gallons¹ of paint, producing a gross tonnage of 104,000 pounds² requiring 17 rail-car sized shipping containers to hold them all. You can find at least one member ExKit team at GenCon, with copies of the game, just in case you didn’t back the campaign and/or can’t wait until sometime next week. And if you need a primer on how to play, they released a video starring the voice of Dr Krieger, because listening to Lucky Yates talk about stuff exploding won’t cause nightmares at all.

  • Depending on what topics he decides to cover, there may or may not be cats (holy or otherwise) involved! Ryan Estrada is feelin’ creative again, and we all know what that means: a burst of comics to bury ourselves in. This time, he’s decided to do fake pitches for licensed comics based on existing concepts, and Dylan Meconis has already tossed the first suggestion out: an animated version of Murder She Wrote. But Estrada being Estrada, he’s already got a half-dozen in the pipeline, and posted his unlicensed adaptation of Bringing Out The Dead. Keep your eye on Unlicensed By Ryan Estrada for more insanity in the coming … forever, possibly.

Spam of the day:

All are hands-free, water-proof, rechargeable, and 100% medical grade silicone. There are specific nipple toys which are created to improve nipple stimulation.

Hey, Erika and Matt? I think this one is for you.

______________
¹ Just shy of 9000 liters, or 0.007230289 acre-feet.

² About 47,200 kilos, or 1 adult humpback whale.

Okay, Not Spam Per Se, But Close Enough

More of a trolling attempt, actually.

If you’ll indulge me a little, I want to rearrange the order of things on today’s post.

Spam of the day:

um, he book WAS DONE WHEN HE STARTED THE KICKSTARTER, WAS Intended to help _print the damn book_ hello??!???!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS DONE WHEN IT STARTED!!!!! But you’ll believe his bullshit about being stressed causing him to be a YEAR AND A HALF LATE???

YOU. ARE. AN. IDIOT.

I suppose I should start with the acknowledgement that I’m breaking one of the fundamental rules of the internet by reading the comments, but there’s a general exception for reading comments on your own site; indeed, this comment was submitted here to Fleen in re: our most recent post on Something Terrible and held for moderation¹. Its author is using what I believe to be a pseudonym and fake email address, which is always the sign of quality opinions! Let’s address the author’s points one at a time, shall we?

  • That sure is a lot of correctly-spelled words, Bill (Can I call you Bill? That’s the name you gave although I doubt it’s yours). Not so much with the spacing, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and syntax, though.
  • Regarding the book being done when [the Kickstarter campaign] started, surely somebody as erudite as yourself will acknowledge that pre-press design is a skillset in and of itself, and having images for web done is not the same as just sending things off to press.
  • Regarding [Trippe’s] bullshit about being stressed, two things: First, please educate yourself on the concepts of depression and PTSD, which are not the same thing as being stressed. Second, Trippe’s been remarkably honest in social media and in person about the toll that telling his story has had on him. You may, from your comfortable distance, have decided that it’s bullshit, but I’d defy you to talk with the guy in person and come to the same conclusion. Dean’s one of the most open and honest people I’ve ever met.
  • Regarding a YEAR AND A HALF LATE???, PDFs meeting the lower tiers of Kickstarter pledges were promised in April of 2014, physical hardcopies in June of 2014². Certainly they’re late, but your all-caps exaggeration does not do your argument any favors.
  • Regarding YOU. ARE. AN. IDIOT., it’s entirely possible (have you been talking to my family?), but what about this particular project has you so het up (as my grandmother used to say)? Dissatisfied backer? Trippe’s already made the offer to refund you, which granted means that you lost out on the massive interest you would have earned on your pledge amount over the course of a year. Tell ya what, Bill, I’ll make good on that twelve cents you lost out on. Worried for my financial well-being because I got scammed? That’s adorable, thanks for your concern.
  • Not specific to anything you wrote, but are you familiar with Kickstarter? Almost nothing fulfills on time. That’s practically built into the site’s DNA.

It’s interesting, though, that you’re so concerned about getting THE TRUTH!!!!!!one!!!! about evil, evil Dean Trippe and stupid, stupid Gary Tyrrell out there, speaking boldly against our obvious corruption and collusion. You’ve had many opportunities to do so since January of 2014³ when I started writing about the campaign.

But you dropped in a drive-by comment from with a fake name and fake email, leading me to believe you aren’t a regular reader as they tend to be reasonable people who aren’t afraid to sign their own names to their opinions. I’m talking about something that I like and you have come into my metaphorical home to tell me Trippe’s full of shit and I’m an idiot — thanks so much for your obvious righteousness, but it was an unnecessary effort.

Much like the last 600 or so words I’ve spent on this response; I trust that we’ve both gotten this out of our systems and can go find other people who are wrong on the internet to confront?


  • Speaking of book Kickstarts, Steve Hamaker has just launched one to print volume one of Plox, and it would be really cool if he could spend GenCon weekend (where he’ll be tabling with Scott Kurtz & co at the Toonhound Studios table) not worrying about if it was gonna fund or not.

    Hamaker’s one of the low-key maestros of modern [web]comics, a colorist that makes even the best work better, and he doesn’t get enough attention for his own creations. Back it now, and if you see him in Indianapolis be sure to let him know that if he doesn’t have the book to you by the last day of March 2016, Bill up above is gonna have a fit at him how much you enjoy his work.

  • In other news, Los Angeles Resident Dave Kellett has announced the latest contributor to his Tales of the Drive project:

    So! That makes 4 super fun DRIVE short stories written/drawn by @ZachWeiner @drhastings @dmeconis and @jonrosenberg!

    That would be Zach Weinersmith, Christopher Hastings, Dylan Meconis, and Jon Rosenberg (okay, that last one was a little obvious). Judging from Twitter traffic ‘tother night, Rosenberg’s still in the writing stage, and LARDK hasn’t said when he’s going to start posting story pages yet. Maybe a nice little back-to-school celebration? A whole story up as a Thanksgiving present? Come on, LARDK, give us something to mark on our calendars and pine away in anticipation for!

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¹ Typically, this happens for tripping keyword lists, having excessive links in the body of the message, or being from unfamiliar IP addresses.

² Which, between you and me, was optimistic in the extreme; closing the campaign in February, if everything went perfectly, means that hardcover books before September of 2104 would be just barely possible.

³ Is that where you got the year and a half from?

It’s Tightly Cropped For A Reason

This page has long been a fan of Dean Trippe’s Something Terrible, which has been a webcomic and Kickstarted as a book-book. The elephant in the room is that the book is late — delivery was estimated in June of last year — which I’m willing to give Trippe all kinds of slack for. He told a story about himself, and as a result found himself the impromptu leader of a tribe whose price of membership is way too high but whose fellowship is literally lifesaving.

This is especially apparent with the next PDF version of Something Terrible that Trippe sent to his backers this week, which features a new essay about what the experience of sharing his secret origin is like — having stepped into the spotlight, he’s experienced stressors that weren’t there before:

I’m humbled to know how many people desperately needed my story, and most of the time, I don’t regret it. But if I’m being honest, it’s hard. Even revisiting all of this in order to complete this print edition has been tough. I thought doing the digital edition was all the therapy I needed, but I’ve learned that it’s an everyday thing. Always healing. Always training. Just like Batman.

So, yeah. Next time you find yourself with hundred of abuse victims reaching out to you to make it better, I’ll give you slack on your missed deadlines, too.

But Trippe’s done more than work through the mechanical and logistical aspects of putting Something Terrible into print; he’s added a new four-page epilogue to the PDF that he sent to backers this week. It hits a payoff that is even more emotionally overwhelming than the justly-lauded You’ll Be Safe Here.

Think of it as the post-credits scene in the superhero movie that is Trippe’s story, one that required the very tight cropping shown above to not spoil. It’s a perfect coda, I can’t wait for you all to see it, and never forget: not all heroes wear capes.


Updating yesterday’s list of GenCon exhibitors from the wide, wide world of webcomics, Steve Hamaker reports he’ll be there with Scott Kurtz (but not sure where, exactly), and David Malki ! reports that he’ll be at the Blind Ferret table.

So I Have To Go Back To The Airport In A Coupla Hours

Where, @Delta willing, there will be no hassles in getting back home. If there are, however, I’ll most likely be the cause of the disruption at the Atlanta airport that makes the news. Not much going on (Thursdays are always the quiet day in Webcomicstan), so let’s consider a couple of Kickstarters that I think are funding too slowly for comfort. Disclaimer: I am backing both of these and want my books, dammit!

  • We’re about a third of the way through the Eat More Comics campaign to print the best of The Nib, and well into the fallow period where little activity takes place, with an uptick in the last week or so. It just barely makes the cutoff for analysis under the FFFmk2 with 201 users on day one, giving us a prediction of US$53.8K +/- US$10.8K, which is a bit worrying — the low end of that range is below the goal of US$45K, and even the midpoint is not enough to get more money for the contributors.
  • In happier news, we’re at about the 60% point in terms of duration, but the 75% mark in terms of funding for Monster Pulse volume 2, and what puzzles me the most is the very low backer count for Magnolia Porter’s well-loved story of teens in a weird situation. More than 500 people backed Porter’s first print collection, but we’re only at 210 people on book 2 so far. Where’s all the former backers? I know you didn’t fall out of love with Monster Pulse since that’s not possible, so are you deep in student debt? Lost your jobs? Time to sell some blood plasma, Gary needs his book.
  • Okay, okay, let’s make this a little bit not about me. GenCon has become much more webcomicker-populated in the past couple of years, and this year may set the record for participation. Off the top of my head, those in Indianapolis next week can see folks like the Blind Ferret crew, Jennie Breeden, Rob Balder, Randy Milholland, Jeph Jacques, John Kovalic, Howard Tayler, and the ubiquitous Jim Zub. Note that they won’t all be listed under their own names; Zub and Tayler will be with Tracy Hickman at booth 1935, Milholland at BFE, and I’m not sure where Jacques will be. When in doubt, check twitterfeeds.

Spam of the day:

Esta me funcion realmente y la compr en una promocin

“This really function and bought me a promotion”? Okay.

Tuesday Miscellany

We’re all over the place today, from the neatest, most encouraging news to the most horrifying visions of what eternal damnation must surely look like. I suspect that no two of you will precisely agree where on that scale each of these items will fall.

  • Well, okay, I suspect that everybody will place the already-fully-funded Kickstart for Lucy Bellwood’s nautical comics collection, Baggywrinkles, on the positive side of that scale. It’s part autobio, part educational, a downright bargain with physical copies of the book going for as little as US$16, and featuring an all-new story about scurvy! And a very modest US$20K stretch goal will take the collection from B&W to color!
  • Sticking with Kickstarter for the moment, we’ll note that Matt Bors was lying to us when he said that the Eat More Comics Kickstarter campaign would not have stretch goals, on account of they just announced some stretch goals. Every coupla’ thousand bucks from the US$45K goal means exclusive comics from the likes of Zach Weinersmith, Rich Stevens, Gemma Correll, and Bors himself.

    Even better, hitting US$60K means that all the artists — who are getting paid for their comics to run in the collection, on top of the pay they received to run at The Nib, on top of whatever they made from drawing them in the first place — will get a page rate boost. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the best part about Bors & Co is that they pay, and even if some of what The Nib ran made you grind your teeth and regret that money went/will go to cartoonists you despise, I can pretty much guarantee that even more money went/will go to cartoonists you love. Let’s help ’em make rent.

  • Love ’em, hate ’em, wonder how they became so dominant in at least one field (webcomics) and superdominant in another (videogames), there’s no denying that the lads at Penny Arcade cast a long shadow and that they attract attention from outside both those areas of endeavour.

    This time it’s the advertising world, where Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik were named to a list of 10 visual artists who are remaking advertising, part of an overall list of the 100 most creative people in/adjacent to advertising. Also on that list with Krahulik & Holkins: Annie Leibovitz (the most important portrait photographer of the past four decades) and Brett Doar (who creates all those Rube Goldbergian installations for OK Go music videos).

    And as long as we’re on the topic, Randall Munroe was recognized not specifically for comics or art, but for his ability to create viral content that blows the hell up. Also on that list with Munroe: Serial’s Sarah Koenig. Looking at the other 80 names on the list, you’ll find the likes of John Carmack (for Oculus VR), Amy Schumer, Janelle Monáe, Mindy Kaling, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a whole bunch of ad pros and commercial directors you’ll never have heard of. This time next year I’d expect to see Raina Telgemeier or somebody at Ad Week is missing the boat.

  • Finally, I think that we all also will agree on which item definitely falls on the negative side of the scale: for all those who have ever seen Lar DeSouza’s Sailor Bacon cosplay has never been able to un-see that spectacle, that extravaganza, those bloomers. We can console ourselves that the display was always for a good cause (namely, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada), even if there was no way to convey the full horror to those that weren’t there to share in the mental scarring.

    Until now:

    In a grand effort to support me and my wife in our annual fundraising efforts for Multiple Sclerosis research, [Ryan] Sohmer and Blind Ferret have made available these adorable and somewhat disturbing Sailor Bacon plushies!! Designed by me and manufactured by the fine folks at Soft Stuff (who also donated a portion of their manufacturing costs to the MS Society of Canada!), these tiny ambassadors of hugs are now shipping from the BFE headquarters.

    You can order up one of these abominations and send it to somebody that needs a good disturbing! Why should you be the only one unable to ever sleep again without seeing … that … lurking behind your eyeballs? Drop your twenty five bucks, spread the madness, take some minor solace that this great sin against Nature benefits a worthy cause, or maybe just buy them all up and see if you can destroy them before they worm their way into your brain.

    It’s too late. They’ve got you. Pray for the mercy that you’ll succumb to sweet, forgetful madness quickly and Glob have mercy on your soul.


Spam of the day:

Your LED Flashlight Coupon, 75% off expires 07/21/2015

I’ll admit — this one almost got me. I’m a sucker for a good LED flashlight.

The Nib Is Dead, Long Live The Nib

We at Fleen have talked a lot about The Nib, the Matt Bors-run editorial (mostly) cartooning subsite at Medium, from its inception to its recent folding-up. Things are happening rapidly over there, and if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time you did.

Firstly, they launched a Kickstarter to publish a 300 page book containing the best of the 2000+ comics that were published there in the 1.5+ years of operation. And quite frankly, I’d be talking about Eat More Comics even if Bors had promised that every single one of those 300 pages would be filled with comics I hated by cartoonists whose work I despised¹ for a very simple reason, which was stated by onetime associate site editor Eleri Harris, starting about 45 seconds in on the Kickstarter video:

The money we’re asking for is for two things: Firstly, we’re going to compensate all our artists fairly for republishing their work again.

The thing about The Nib that I loved most of all — the reason that you should have loved The Nib when it was still a thing — is that they paid. Cartoonists got paid for the right to publish their work (or in many cases, re-publish work that had already appeared elsewhere); Bors had a budget and he wasn’t afraid to use it. And I don’t know what the contracts for running cartoons on The Nib looked like, but Bors, Harris, and onetime assistant site editor Matt Lubchansky are paying the creators again for the right to republish them in the book. Which led to the second money (so to speak) quote of the video, from Lubchansky, starting about the 1:10 mark:

If we blow past [the funding goal], we’re just gonna make more books and give the artists more money.

We all know that not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t try to get artists to work for free, or to under-pay them by offering crappy contracts that many (especially creators at the start of their careers) feel obligated to sign out of fear of missing out. The only response that a creator should ever have to such an overture is No, pay me.

Unless, that is, the creator is approached by whoever the hell this is arguing with Rachel from What Pumpkin² that they should get to use Homestuck without paying because (variously):

  • Other people aren’t asking for money!
  • We’re building a BRAND!
  • We’re all still young and have never done this before!
  • We don’t have any money!
  • But our Kickstarter!³

In which case, the appropriate response is Fuck you, pay me.

Getting back to the original point, I don’t think that Bors, Harris, and Lubchansky have ever heard Fuck you, pay me directed at them, and that is reason enough to support Eat More Comics.

The other reason will be that a good showing in the Kickstart will provide direct, measurable numbers on what the support for a site like The Nib is, and how much of those supporters are willing to part with actual money. That can only be helpful to Bors as he talks with other publishers with an eye towards reviving The Nib, seeing as how he’s left Medium. Here’s hoping we don’t have long to wait before cartoonists the web over once again have a site whose mission statement is Hey, can we run your cartoon? We pay.


Spam of the day:

Hmm it appears lile your blog aate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just suum it up what I haad written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

No, your first comment was about gold farming in MMORPGs.

_______________
¹ Which do exist on The Nib, which is a point in Bors’s favor — if you’re running a cartooning site that’s mostly editorial and I love/agree with everything you publish, you’re doing a crappy job. Bors does not do crappy jobs.

² I have my suspicions, and there aren’t many Kickstarts going on now that would fit the pattern that the whiny person describes, but since Rachel’s anonymized it I’ll keep my speculations to myself.

³ Repeat after me: Kickstarter is not a magic money machine that you go to as rank newcomers to be discovered and made suddenly wealthy. It’s a way to measure the appeal of products to an audience that you already have. No audience going in means you’re going to receive some hard lessons coming out. Maybe you’ll be smart enough to absorb them, but I’m not overly optimistic.

Winners

Welp, the Eisners were given out over the weekend, and it appears that that webcomic-adjacent had a very good year. I’m a little miffed that Nimona didn’t win for Best Digital/Web Comic, but what are you going to do? Brian K Vaughn (and Marcos Martin, who won for The Private Eye) is pure, distilled name recognition in comics circles. But that’s pretty much the only place I that I was disappointed (aside from my continuing bemiffment that Kazu Kibuishi didn’t get nominated at all), as there were some very encouraging results.

Let’s start with Nimona’s Noelle Stevenson, who as part of the Lumberjanes team (along with Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen) took both Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) and Best New Publication. The former would have been great on its own, but to be recognized as the standout book of the year? That’s a hell of an accomplishments for the hardcore lady types. Likewise, consider that the Best Short Story of the year came from Emily Carroll, whose When the Darkness Presses ran online and defeated the collected efforts of the entire print industry.

You think perhaps there’s a theme developing here, where the most outstanding work of the year is overwhelmingly created by women? Because when it comes to original characters, stories, concepts, and such, that appears to be the case. For instance, Mariko & Jillian Tamaki wrapped up a nonstop year of praise for This One Summer (including being named as both a Caldecott and Michael L. Printz Honor Book) with Best Graphic Album—New, and Cece Bell wrapped up a nonstop nine months of praise for El Deafo (including be named a Newbery Honor Book) with Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12). These are all stories by women, about girls; these are all stories that are different from much of the history of American comics.

Okay, fine, we’ll throw in a token dude: Gene Luen Yang was recognized as Best Writer for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Shadow Hero ; he was competing against the likes of the previously-mentioned Mr K Vaughn, Grant Morrison, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jason Aaron, and G Willow Wilson (who I thought was going to win). And next year will likely have some representations from the likes of Scott McCloud for The Sculptor and Ryan North/Erica Henderson for Squirrel Girl; get a few more cases like that and we’ll have enough dudes to have a panel on What It’s Like To Be A Male Creator.

But we all know who the night belonged to, and if there is one Eisner that entirely typifies the art of words + pictures, that says you are the whole creative package when it comes to comics, it’s Best Writer/Artist. Charles Burns, Sergio Aragonés, Steven Collins, Richard McGuire, and Stan Sakai were up for the award — there’s got to be close to 150 years experience in those five dudes.

They lost.

To Raina Telgemeier.

Who told an autobiographical story about growing up with her younger sister.

It’s no exaggeration to say — it’s never been an exaggeration each time I’ve said it in the past — that Telgemeier is the future of comics. She writes and draws stories that resonate with her readers in a way that any artist would give up their eyeteeth to replicate; she hooks them and brings them into a medium turning them into not just lovers of comics, but lovers of reading. And she’s just getting started — she’s got dozens of books yet to share with us. She’s still got four books on the NYTBSL (although she’s temporarily ceded the #3 slot to Fun Home, meaning she only has four of the top five books, which list is rounded out by El Deafo and Nimona, by the way), for a total of 317 weeks.

Oh, and she just announced her next book, due Fall 2016. And there will be a couple more Baby Sitters Club books released between then and now. And Smile, Drama, and Sisters aren’t likely to fall off the list anytime soon. You thought I was kidding when I said that the Times might need to qualify the softcover graphic novel list as best sellers not by Raina Telgemeier? McCloud’s famously said that he sees the industry as majority-women (creators and audience) by 2024, and I think that the clock moved up a couple years on Friday night; comics now belongs to Raina and her fabulous friends, and it’s great.

Terrible Things And Also Useful Information

So the USPS has gotten its act together and finally decided that Michigan and New Jersey are not the same place and I have my Inspector Pancakes rewards! The photo today was going to be the FRIEND TO LITTLE DOGS medal with my dog, but when he saw me place the medal on the floor near his paws he freaked the fuck out, gave the panicked yelp you only hear when you trip over a dog in the dark, and snapped in the direction of the medal as if to say I’m not mad at you but get that thing away.

I see two possible explanations for this:

  • Inspector Pancakes author Karla Pacheco’s legendary awfulness is so pervasive, it incorporated itself into the medal and my loyal hound detected it, like how dogs can see the invisible ghost monsters that try to steal your soul and which are only discouraged by random staring and growling at empty air¹.
  • The loyal hound is a retired racing greyhound, who was distressingly good at racing and kept on the track for nearly three years (168 starts). He lacks the scars that most greys have from being in the middle of the pack where collisions with other dogs and the side rails occur, so he was out front a lot. He was almost certainly photographed with medals — shiny, shiny medals — around his neck following his wins (still wearing his loathed racing muzzle).

    If there’s one thing I’m certain is awfuller than Pacheco it’s the dog racing industry, which treats these gentle creatures as a crop to be bred, used until useless, and then disposed of² like yesterday’s garbage. Screw you, greyhound racing industry; my guy got the hell away from you and I’m mortified I inadvertently brought back such traumatic memories in him.

  • Speaking of existential horror as I write this the exhibit hall at the San Diego Convention Center is forming itself into the center of All Things Nerd for the next five days; SDCC Preview Night starts in about six hours, and I encourage you to follow Rich Stevens, Jon Rosenberg, Andy Bell, Chris Yates, and Jon Sung for news on everything happening in the grinder of the showfloor.
  • Let’s leave behind the terrible things and move onto information that may actually be helpful. If you’ve been keeping an eye on proposed copyright policy — as one does — for the past couple of years, a term that’s been popping up with increasing frequency is orphan works. An orphan work is basically a creative work for whom there is no clear copyright holder, and with copyrights basically extending unto the heat death of the universe, this leaves vast swathes of work untouchable — Fair Use isn’t easy to determine, nor licensing for derivative works, nor even simply bringing the damn things back into print/release. As things stand presently, it’s unknown what their status is, and that makes it risky to try to do anything with them.

    From time to time, various remedies have been proposed, and each time somebody gets their metaphorical panties in a knot over whatever is being proposed. Sometimes it’s copyright holders, sometimes it’s remix-friendly technologies, sometimes it’s trade groups, but almost every time, somebody starts screaming that the proposed solution is the worst thing ever. This results in a big stink for a week or so, then orphan works disappear for a period of time until they come back again — kind of like Brigadoon.

    The latest proposed solution to orphan works has caused the latest freakout, this time full of declarations that artists are inevitably going to get screwed — which may or may not be true based on the latest proposals, but which is also likely out of proportion to any probable outcome.

    Enter Katie Lane, lawyer to the creative community and general smart person when it comes to intellectual property issues. She thought that this latest iteration of proposal/freakout/refractory period was odd, so she went and looked at the recently-released report on orphan works from the US Copyright Office; generous soul that she is, she’s shared her interpretation of the situation, the proposal, the likely outcomes, and how much it’s all a cause for concern. You can read the whole thing here.

    It’s worth your time because orphan works are a concern for the creative community, but panicking and overreacting are not the ways to get policy that works in your favor. It’s absolutely an issue that needs a broad and vigorous discussion, but one based on what’s actually being proposed rather than the shadows of the monsters hiding behind the legislative proposals. She’s even done you the favor of pointing out where the most important sections of the report are, but I’m going to make you read her post to find that. You can cheat by reading Lane’s assessment of the report, but only reading my gloss of Lane’s assessment of the actual report is just lazy.


Spam of the day:

Nitrocellulose from Hebei Jinwei Chemical Co., Limited With the combination of durability, compatibility and unsurpassed drying speed.

I don’t think I want any nitrocellulose, especially with a fast drying speed — when that stuff’s dry, it’s an explosive.

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¹ Good luck with that, invisible ghost monsters! I sold my soul to Rosenberg for a dollar!

² Thankfully, greyhound adoption is well-established, but there are still tens of thousands of dogs a year that are simply put down. If you’re looking for an awesome dog that will love the crap out of you, look into the greyhound rescue closest to you!

Enough With The Kickstarts Already

Everything has to do with Kickstarter today, even the fact that the US Postal Service has apparently taken a package (in fulfillment of a Kickstarter) meant for delivery from TopatoCo/Make That Thing headquarters in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts to The Fleenplex in scenic downtown New Jersey, and sent it through Western Michigan. USPS: not good at maps.

  • To start, I find that I have inexplicably omitted discussion of KC Green’s Kickstart for the final print collection of Gunshow comics which is a serious oversight, me. Even more inexplicably, more than a full week in, Gunshow vol 6: Doomed To Repeat It sits at 86% funded, which means that in the 21 days remaining it will easily eclipse goal, but why so slow to meet funding? Just go check out the video — I was going to put a still from it up top of this post, but I couldn’t choose just one and don’t want to spoiler it in any event — and you will want to give Green all your money ever.
  • Next up, Gordon McAlpin (onetime sporting bet nemesis) is Kicking the third collection of Multiplex and off to a good start a bit more than — I want to say a day and a half or so — into the 24 day campaign. Go, look, support.
  • I have to believe that David Malki ! is somehow abusing the Kickstarter process by setting up a campaign with a goal of one dollar, perhaps trying to set a record for most overfunded in history? He’s sitting at about 95,000% of goal as I write this, but I can’t get mad because I eventually realize that Malki !’s Kickstarter campaigns are really odd performance art pieces where he has to build and do stuff. Consider:

    US$325 “CUSTOM DICE BOX” [4d6 + Coloring book + Postcards + PDF] – We’ll design an incredibly elaborate laser-cut wooden case, containing your own official set of 6-sided, color-coded Roll-a-Sketch dice. Just regular dice, but in a REALLY nice box.

    US$4895 “CUSTOM CHESS SET” – You and I will roll some dice on Skype, and together we’ll create a full chess set of 32 custom characters. I’ll tell my wife Nikki to sculpt all of them for you. The money then goes towards my divorce proceedings.

    It’s really almost a cry for help, but involving creating things and doing things that he wouldn’t force himself to do without money. I’m actually very okay with this, as long as he doesn’t actually make his wife construct 32 custom chess pieces. Or, if you don’t want to pledge to the Kicker and just want to get a Roll-A-Sketch without visiting a convetion, you can purchase those at his store for the duration of the campaign.

  • Howard Tayler¹, thankfully, is not running a Kickstarter just now. Instead, he’s going to be at the Salt Lake City (the one in Utah, as opposed to all the other Salt Lake Cities) Public Library this Saturday talking about Kickstarter and how to run a successful crowdfunding project.

    Unlike 99% of public talks on Kickstarter and running a successful project, Tayler’s talk will not be a useless parade of crap; this is because unlike 99% of people that opine on Kickstarter and how to run a successful project, Tayler has actually run multiple successful projects on Kickstarter. Anyway, check it out if you’re in town.


Spam of the day:

I don’t see many commenters here, it means you don’t get many visitors. I know how to get laser targeted

At last! Something not to do with Kickstarter! Also, you know who gets laser targeted? Sniper victims. Noooo thank you.

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¹ My evil twin, etc.

Holy Crap, It’s Supposed To Be A Quiet Week

I mean, it’s SDCC week, people are already traveling to SoCal for the nerd prom, and a billion items have come up in the past couple days. Okay, these are each going to be brief because it’s like seven things.

  • New SDCC offsite events In addition to all the programming mentioned last week, there are things happening outside the convention center. Singer-songwriter Marian Call (cohort of Alaska Roboticist Pat Race and famed portrayer of Top Space Man) will be part of a show called Space Time on 10 July (that’s Friday) at 7:00pm. Know who else will be there? Molly Lewis (aka Ground Control) and Bobak “We Are Go” Ferdowsi.

    Lewis will also be part of BAMF, the Bad Ass Music Festival, held 10-12 July in nearby Ruocco Park, alongside such luminaries as Kirby Krackle, Paul and Storm, and The Doubleclicks.

  • Future plans for The Response Matt Bors follow up on earlier announcements of what’s going on with editorial cartooning at Medium via an announcement at The Response. Short version: It’s a finite project, through the end of July, and more conversations will occur between now and then.
  • The AV Club loves webcomics Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor got cited as one of the best piece of media (not comics, all of media) for the first half of 2015, while John Allison, Noelle Stevenson, Ryan North & Erica Henderson, and Gemma Correll were cited as being part of the best of print for the same timeframe.
  • Kickstarts Magnolia Porter wins the Most Adorable Kickstarter Video, Like, Ever award … oh, yeah, and it’s part of the launch for Monster Pulse’s second print collection, Phantom Limbs. It’s no secret that Monster Pulse is one of my favorite webcomics (just check out today’s update to see why — wow), so I’m urging everybody to back this one because I want my book, dammit.

    And if that weren’t enough, longtime editorial cartoonist Tom Tomorrow announced his Kickstart via Make That Thing, and it’s a doozy. Twenty five years of strips will be constructed into a 1000 page, two-volume hardcover collection, with an estimated mass of nearly 7 kg. Such a huge collection needs a huge goal, and with less than 24 hours elapsed, Mr Tomorrow has exceeded the US$87,000 needed and is closing in on US$100K. And can I say holy crap, somebody took him up on the US$10K reward tier? This one’s gonna be metaphorically and physically huge.


Spam of the day:

Dr.Oz bikini secret

Man, I can’t find even one picture of Dr Oz in a bikini. Laaaaaame.