The webcomics blog about webcomics

On The Importance Of Diaereses

Although it's pretty clear from context.

Yeah, I know there’s an elephant in the room and we’ll be getting to it in a moment, let’s just be patient.

  • I was reading Stand Still, Stay Silent this morning (as is my wont) and was taken by the final panel, which creator Minna Sundberg rendered in untranslated Swedish. Okay, it’s pretty clear from context, but I was curious so I hopped over to Google Translate and punched in the text:

    Forbannade finnjavel, Lalli

    Okay, Lalli is a proper name and so I left it off; but the response I got was less than satisfying:

    cursed finnjavel

    Okay, finnjavel looks like a compound word, and Lalli, who the dialogue is directed at, is Finnish; splitting it up gave:

    Forbannade finn javel

    … which gave me:

    Cursed Finn bastard

    Better! But odd that it didn’t recognize the compound word (there was also a slight digression where the language autodetection thought I was typing French, where javel translates as bleach). But what about the diacritic marks I’d left out? Javel also suggested son of a bitch, but what about jävel?


    Nice. Spelling everything correctly (Förbannade finnjävel) gave the much more conversational Bloody Finn bastard, which I’m going to go with (although oddly, förbannade finnjävel becomes cursing Finn bastard). I just found the entire thing a delightful example of the difference between translation and transliteration.

    Also, my regard for Ms Sundberg has gone up another notch, since she’s rendering SSSS in clear, colloquial English, which only somewhat resembles the Scandanavian languages. Oh, and did I mention that she did her last comic in your choice of English or Finnish? Or that Finnish is not like anything else that originated between the Ganges and the Atlantic?

  • As noted back around Halloween, we mentioned that Wacom was putting together an anthology of digital comics, to be released sometime in January. Well, sometime is today, and Pressure/Sensitivity is now available for download over at comiXology.

    Here’s the thing, though — despite being free, you can’t download Pressure/Sensitivity unless you have a comiXology account, which I do not. I know this makes me a terrible resident of The Internet, but I won’t have anythign to do with DRM-heavy services that reserve the right to take back content I’ve paid for. And quite frankly, the last thing I need right now is another account with another service and another set of Terms of Service that says it can change the rules at any time in the future without notice.

    I can tell you that if you have a comiXology account, this is a no-brainer: contributors include the previously-announced Meredith Gran, Ming Doyle, and Giannis Milonogiannis, along with Mike Holmes and Ben Sears, cover by Ulises Farinas and Ryan Hill, and edited by Caleb Goellner.

  • It is, as I write this, as close to 24 hours since the launch of Exploding Kittens, and the Kickstarter campaign for same is as close to US$2 million as likewise makes no difference. I’ll be honest — when I predicted yesterday that this game would out-pace the Tesla Museum campaign, I figured it would take a week or ten days; I really thought that the incredible pace of the first few hours would taper off. Instead, we’re north of 50,000 supporters and the main page updates both supporter count and total amount every few seconds.

    For contrast, the most-funded Kickstarter campaign was for a fancy cooler that raised US$13.2 million. The most-supported campaign I can find was that for Reading Rainbow with just under 106,000 backers. At this point, it seems certain that Exploding Kittens will break into the top 10 all-time most-funded Kickstarters (position #10 presently taken by a nanodrone that funded out at £2.36 million; the exchange rate on the day of campaign close equates that with US$3,522,760) and possibly be the most-backed of all time¹.

    Since we’re past the 24 hour mark and we clearly have at least 200 backers, the Fleen Funding Formula Mark 2 matched up with the present Kicktraq trend value of US$30 million² gives us a predicted finish in the range of US$6 million to US$9 million. Oh, and let’s note that this is presently for a campaign that only has two backer tiers (the two limited tiers are sold out), which is about as simple as you can get. If, as was mentioned in update #2 last night, the team decides on stretch goals, the frenzy could accelerate. Take a look at the daily data from the Order of the Stick campaign (of just about exactly two years ago) and see if you can pick out when Rich Burlew added especially popular stretch goal rewards. I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again: yikes.

    Update: Since starting the post, a new Kickstarter update has gone up for Exploding Kittens and the first stretch goal is simultaneously announced and achieved: the NSFW deck (available at the US$35 backer level, but not the US$20 level) will now have 40 cards instead of 20, no additional cost or shipping. Look for some of the 4300+ backers at the US$20 level to do some arithmetic and decide to re-pledge at the higher level.

Spam of the day:
Nothing of note today.

¹ Trying to sort the history of Kickstarter campaigns by popularity doesn’t actually sort by descending number of backers, oddly.

² You know, just 300,000% of goal, that’s all.



I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for … no, wait, that’s wrong. I can tell you how long I’ve been waiting for Kate Beaton’s children’s book starring the Pony. She announced it at NYCC in October of 2013, so I’ve been waiting to hear more about this for 15 months, and now we know the deal:

Coming in June with Scholastic, The Princess and the Pony is a picture book featuring one of the most enduring characters I have ever drawn, that roly-poly pony. Here’s an interview I did about it with Wired, ages ago when I started working on it. Good for kids, good for ponies, good for pony lovers (everybody)!

Beaton also talks about Step Aside, Pops, first announced earlier this week, and far be it from me to not give that book its due, but Pony. Pony, Pony, Pony, Pony, PONY!

PS: Pony.

Spam of the day:

I’ve be mindful your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely excellent.

I’m certain this is the result of five or six trips through a computer-based translator; surely no human actually constructed that sentence.

Successes And Less Successes

Let’s get the bad news out of the way right away.

It’s better news from here on.

  • Raina Telgemeier gets so much press (not sure who provides all of that, certainly nobody we know here at Fleen) that sometimes it’s easy to forget that her husband is just as accomplished in comics as she is. Dave Roman and his longtime creative partner John Green announced the latest entry in the Teen Boat¹ series of comics/graphic novels has a cover. Look for Teen Boat! The Race For Boatlantis in October wherever comics, books, or boats are sold.
  • As noted about ten days ago, Erika Moen and Matt Nolan did everybody considering a crowdsourcing campaign a tremendous favor by releasing a detailed Numberwang on their experiences with the first OJST print volume Kickstart. Nolan’s back with more information that explains just how a webcomic about sex toys can support two adults, which I would sum up in one word: diversification.

    It’s a fascinating read for anybody that wants to make comics their livelihood, but I urge you to keep a sense of reality as you do. Moen spent a decade on earlier comicking projects and a good nine months on OJST before launching her Patreon; without that loyal following and proven ability to produce quality comics, she could not have gotten support in excess of US$1000/comic. Remember: you’ve got to show people that you’re good enough to give money to before you can expect them to give you money.

  • From George², busiest man in webcomics, as part of one of his myriad jobs (in this case with the doing-well-by-doing-good anarchosyndicate known as Breadpig) comes news of a shift to webcomics. Specifically, the critically-lauded (but curiously not chart-topping, because people don’t know how good it is I guess) Atomic Robo is getting ready to serialize its first nine volumes of stories online, leading up to the debut of volume 10 later this year. For those that haven’t been keeping up Atomic Robo is the brainchild of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, and this release the back catalog online approach is the same one used by such creator-owned stalwarts as Jim Zub and the Foglios.

    For those that haven’t followed the earlier stories, Zub has credited the online serialization of Skullkickers with driving convention sales of print collections and Girl Genius started as dead-tree quarterly comics, a model which proved to be economically nonviable, prompting the shift to online distribution of the back-catalog, then eventually all new story pages. Going forward, AR will follow the Girl Genius model of web-first, as opposed to the Skullkickers model of print issue first.

    What’s a bit unique about AR‘s shift to the web is how it’s going online: the entirety of Atomic Robo volume 1 will be released on 21 January, followed by a full issue each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We’re going to see more than 1000 pages hit in short order, the better to get everybody up to speed for the debut of volume 10 this summer. To make sure that Clevinger, Wegener, et. al. actually get some value from this massive act of sharing, they’re going to be part of the Hiveworks family, where you’ll find approximately every webcomic and its dog.

    Plus, y’know, Atomic Robo has dinosaur mad scientists creating weapon-bedecked cyborg T. rexes, which can only be good.

Spam of the day:

Both men and woman have been using perfumes for over 4,000 years.

That’s almost as long as they’ve been using knives. THESE KNIVES!

¹ This is the obligatory reminder to never do a Google image search on any string including the word “teen” unless Safe Search is as on as it possibly can be.

² Who, in accordance with the Fleen Manual of Style, is only ever referred to by his first name

New Projects

We’ll talk about what webcomickers are up to in a moment, but first I want to address an email I got about 20 minutes ago (as I write the first draft of this). It appears that Emerald City Comicon has been bought out by ReedPOP, showrunners of New York Comic Con, the PAX family of shows, C2E2, and more high-draw conventions dealing with everything from Star Wars to sweaty dick punching.

ECCC has had a reputation for a few things — extremely rapid growth, and the personal touch of show founder Jim Demonakos, who’s kept the focus of the show squarely on the comics side of the equation. Put bluntly, there are not a lot of big “comics” shows (and EmCity is going to be somewhere in the 70 – 80K attendance range this year) that don’t actually focus on TV, movies, wrestling, or other aspects of nerd culture.

It can’t be easy running a show that big, and I have no reason to criticize Demonakos for turning to ReedPOP to provide showrunning services; I only hope (and it’s not clear from the press release I received) that the team and focus that were developed under Demonakos are retained. I know a lot of webcomickers that look to ECCC as one of their best shows of the year, and if it goes the way of NYCC and C2E2 (with their far lesser emphasis on the comics end), that would be a hard blow. The full press release is below the cut, so you can read and interpret it for yourself.

  • KC Green may have wrapped up Gunshow, but he’s got plenty of other outlets for his comics, and he added a new one yesterday. US Gamer has added a weekly videogame-themed comic from Green known as Cheats n’ Beatums, the first of which you can read here. Maybe. It might be my choice of browser, it might be my choice of security settings, but the comic did not render on the page for me, instead substituting an image placeholder.

    Clicking on the placeholder gave me an error in opening a secure connection, but editing the URL from https: to http: did the trick. I’m not sure I would have gone to so much trouble for anybody else, but I got my reward: Green’s first Cn’B showed us why Mario always wins … he cheats.

  • Readers of this page may recall that Kate Beaton is the best. So it was no small amount of happy-making to see her announce this morning that D&Q have announced her next comic collection; Step Aside, Pops will be released in September, and will no doubt put the fear of Victorian-era velocipeditriennes (velocipeditrixes? velocipeditrices?) into the fear of bowler-hatted men everywhere.

    For added fun times, Beaton spoke to the Los Angeles Times; I only wish they had asked if any of her Kate-goes-home-to-Nova Scotia-and-we-see-lots-of-her-mom comics (aka momics) will be included. I sure hope so. As I’ve said in the past — and I stand by this — you could burn down all of San Diego Comic Con and everybody inside, but if we got daily momics it would be a fair trade.

Spam of the day:

The 500 Euro note makes it much easier to smuggle cash out of Europe. After the police officer conducted his investigation he informed me that the manager’s signature wasn’t an original signature.

While I stand second to no man in my appreciation of sweet, sweet, untraceable cash, I think that perhaps you have misapprehended the focus of this blog.


Scroll Waaaaay Down

Every once in a while, you get a comic that just couldn’t be done on paper, and Meredith Gran delivered one to wrap up the latest Octopus Pie story arc. The act of scrolling through the very tall image and the fact that there’s more and more space between the panels to control your sense of the passage of time are giving Chapter Four of Understanding Comics a boner¹ without falling into an infinite canvas-for-the-sake-of-infinite canvas circle jerk². Even if you’ve never read Octopus Pie before, click through that header image, scroll on down, read the (nearly wordless!) story, and tell me you don’t know exactly what’s going on. I double dog dare you.

  • It is always a good thing when new dinosaur comics³ make the rounds, and Bird and Moon creator Rosemary Mosco partnered up with David Orr to bring us a beaut. For everybody that feels a little guilty — raises hand — for thinking that Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle in the midst of a pack of trained raptors is pretty cool despite the fact that they (the raptors) have no feathers, Mosco and Orr have the balm to soothe your conscience. Hooray for feathers!
  • From Katie Lane, your unofficial source for legal advice that you aren’t paying for4, has a New Year’s resolution for you, with a handy walkthrough to make good: how to register your copyrights and why you should bother. Bottom line: you’re even more protected with a formally-registered copyright than an implied one.
  • Kickstarter is changing payment processors, and it looks like it’s going to be transparent process, except for the check-out. Right now, I get shunted to an Amazon page and punch in my password, then just approve the details. I’m guessing that with Stripe I’ll either have to provide name/address/credit card details each time, or start a new account.

    I’m kind of curious about seeing if I cancel a pledge on a campaign that I’m presently supporting and then immediately re-pledge, if it’ll shunt me to the new process? In fact, I have such a campaign (supported just prior to the change announcement), but I’m afraid if I cancel, I may cause the creator [warning: link Not Safe For Anyone, seriously] to freak out a little (which is probably reason enough to do the experiment by itself).

    In the interests of full disclosure, I have both a hand-stapled, illustrate-it-yourself minicomic of Inspector Pancakes and a PDF review copy, both presented to me by author Karla Pacheco; the ARC is better, because it’s got illustrations (by Maren Marmulla)and a series of fabulous pin-ups by the likes of Kate Leth, Becky Dreistadt, Anthony Clark, Jeph Jacques, Lauren Jordan, Matt Cummings, and Leia Weathington, and they are pretty.

  • For those wondering, Child’s Play continues the streak of beating each year’s total:

    2003: $250,000
    2004: $310,000
    2005: $605,000
    2006: $1,024,000
    2007: $1,300,000
    2008: $1,434,377
    2009: $1,780,870
    2010: $2,294,317
    2011: $3,512,345
    2012: $5,085,761
    2013: $7,600,000
    2014: $8,430,000
    To date: $33,626,670

    That’s as of 5 January 2015, which we’ll call the end of the season.

    Of course, looking at the main CP page, the counter is still incrementing twice a minute or more, and as of this writing is sitting at $34,947,208 or more than 1 point 3 million dollars since Monday. Taking bets now — assuming calendar year 2015 starts at the 5 Jan total, will this be the year to top ten million?

Spam of the day:

I think one of your ads caused my web browser to resize, you may well want to put that on your blacklist.

I think that’s pretty unlikely.

¹ Yes, yes, that was a little rude, I apologize.

² That too; sorry.

³ Not to be confused with Dinosaur Comics; the near-ubiquity of The Toronto Man-Mountain aside, the two are not synonymous.

4 This means that she is not your lawyer, the advice is general, and you should consult a legal professional before taking any action, as your circumstances will vary. If you are paying her and she is your lawyer, the congratulations — she’s the best you could have in your corner unless Hammurabi, Learned Hand, and Richard Posner all have a kid together.

Didn’t We Just Do This?

One may recall that on Friday we spoke of Jon Rosenberg¹ getting his site DDOSed because some terrible people saw themselves in a terrible, made up cartoon character. Having apparently not learned his lesson — that depicting a person behaving terribly is akin to a hate crime — Rosenberg re-ran that comic today at The Nib, and pointed out the central flaw in the logic of his opponents: if you identify with somebody who is terrible because you also behave terribly, perhaps you should stop being terrible.

In a calm, reasoned response — completely foreseen in panel four — Rosenberg’s site was hit with more DDOS attempts today. And much like last Monday’s strip, Rosenberg’s comic is being seen by new readers, making it entirely likely that far more people are seeing his critique of terrible people than if they hadn’t been terrible in reaction to the incontrovertible statement Terrible people are those who behave in a terrible manner. Then again, if they weren’t terrible, Rosenberg wouldn’t have been paying attention to them in the first place, so there you are: the stupid comes full circle and is ultimately self-defeating.

  • Let’s move on from regular terrible to terribly useful: relatively late on Friday, Matthew Nolan (Erika Moen’s husband and co-creator on Oh Joy, Sex Toy) did creators everywhere a favor and released a big ol’ data dump relating to the recently-concluded² OJST Kickstarter campaign. Even if Nolan hadn’t titled the article in reference to the greatest game show ever, it would still be a great thing because of the summary right at the top where you can quickly determine:
    • Expenses (including bonuses to guest artists) and production constituted just over 50% of the take
    • Fulfillment costs just under 30%
    • Estimated taxes are given their own line item

    Honestly, I’ve sat in too many convention sessions about Kickstarter where it’s absolutely clear that the people asking the questions have no idea that Kickstarter is not a magical money machine. Profit here was an estimated US$10,427.03 and 1647 books left over to sell at various price points in the future³, but that required six months worth of effort.

    Put another way, that US$10K constitutes just over Oregon’s minimum wage (where Nolan and Moen live) for one person for six months, and the value of the books yet to be sold comes to something shy of the median annual household income in Multnomah County (again, where they live).

    From my outsider standpoint, it looks from the post-mortem that they did everything just about as well as they possibly could have, avoided any major missteps, and have ideas how to do the next one a bit better.

    But what all of that got them was this: OJST didn’t make US$70K in 30 days; it took half a year’s continuous work gave two artists a reasonable shot (taking into account all of the other work they’ll do) at a decent standard of living for the next year, assuming demand for that accumulated inventory doesn’t drop off. Considering the number of working artists that don’t achieve a decent standard of living, I’ll count that as a win.

    Next year? Another book, another campaign, hopefully with less effort and a better margin, but that’s the funny thing about a big success — it doesn’t last forever and you have to keep working for the next one or you’re sunk.

  • Finally, speaking of building on the last success to achieve the next one, Spike is my hero:

    My records state I paid other cartoonists over $100,000 in 2014.

    Well, shit.

    Way I figure it, if she were as evil as the guys that screwed Siegel & Shuster, she could be making big bank by screwing today’s creators. The fact that she uses her powers to spread the wealth around instead of exploiting aspiring creators is worth (at the very least) a polite round of applause.

Spam of the day:

Why do not we try this ?

Probably because you suck.

¹ Standard disclaimers apply.

² In the sense that reward fulfillment is all done.

³ Since those books have already been paid for, if they are all sold directly by Nolan and Moen — say, at conventions and not sold at discount to other vendors — and shipping is entirely taken care of, Moen and Nolan are sitting on just shy of US$50,000 in inventory.

However, the OJST store is with TopatoCo, so the value is reduced. Then again, you can get signed and doodled versions for extra charges, which will offset the distribution discount for a fraction of those books. There’s also the e-book version, which requires no inventory, production costs, or shipping expense.

Honestly, it’s impossible to put a number on the value of future sales; we can establish the upper boundary, but nothing more.


As of right now, I have posted on 100% of the days in 2015; wonder how long I’ll keep this up? That being said, it’s the Friday after a legal holiday and I know that nobody’s on the internet, so let’s do a couple of quick items and call it a day.

  • Okay, so back on Monday, Jon Rosenberg¹ ran this strip on the general topic of forests, trees, and fundamentally missing the point you hopeless man-child. Laugh-chuckles all ’round for his usual readers, and nothing else to say, except that he was apparently feeling much better following his recent surgery, as this level of piss-taking required a bit too much energy during his convalescence. Come Wednesday, there’s a new strip on the theme of the new year, and all is still well. Yay for finishing up an absolute kidney stone of a year!


    Mid-afternoon on Wednesday is when the technical issues began, as well as people contacting Rosenberg to tell him why his site was down, leading to much contrition on Rosenberg’s part. Weird thing, though — the comic that apparently caused so much drama was available via other channels and far from impairing Rosenberg, the attempt at punishing him for the crime of … I’m not sure what, exactly … instead brought him to the attention of far more people than usual. So, congrats nameless self-styled internet vengeance-dealer, you kept everybody from seeing Jon’s work ever again, jorb well done.

  • Rich Stevens, I’ve long suspected, enjoys making sudden changes to his website and store more than he enjoys making money, with the latest proof being that he’s put into effect a flash sale that effectively chops prices on rare items in half:

    Let’s start the year off right! All hardcover books on my site are just $20.15 this weekend. …

    For reference, the softcover versions of the Oni collections list for US$19.99 and the hardcovers for US$40, so this sale is like getting an upgrade from softcover to hard for sixteen cents. Heck, he’s even offering signed/personalized books for no extra charge. Take advantage while you can.

  • Okay, didn’t see this one turning out this way; about six weeks back I noted that Kel McDonald was Kickstarting the first friggin’ huge volume of an omnibus edition of Sorcery 101 for the absurdly low target of US$22,000 (it’s a 750 page book, in color), with an absurdly low get-the-physical-book reward tier of US$30. McDonald has had five successful Kickstarts before, with targets ranging from US$3000 to US$20,000, and while she has had past campaigns hit goal late in the game, we are six days out and still 16% shy on funding.

    As of right now, Kicktraq show her topping out at 95% of goal which is frankly baffling to me. Folks. Kel McDonald does things right. She puts together anthologies that attract top-notch talent. She produces quality work for publishers as well as self-publishing. She delivers on her Kickstart promises. So what the heck? Six days, people, let’s make this happen.

Spam of the day:

After many years in the making, the whole world third largest shopping mall, Meadowlands Xanadu will probably be indulging every person’s fantasies.The much-awaited opening during the summer of 2009 is determined to attract various shoppers, gawkers, artists, sports enthusiasts, and useful seekers.Don’t you want to be where there on freedom day?

Speaking as a resident of New Jersey, please tell me where your time machine is that you are looking forward to the triumphant opening of this colossal boondoggle in the far-flung optimistic future of 2009. I’d like to borrow it to go back in time and give myself some stock tips and lottery numbers.

¹ Obligatory disclaimer: Jon is the guy who got me to start up this here blog, conspiring with me for a good six months pre-launch, and who also owns my soul as the result of a perfectly legal cash transaction.

Ah, Between Week

Not that I don’t love all you people — I do! — but taking some time off while toute les bandes dessinées web are slow to update, or running filler, or just enjoying meals with their families has been wonderful. I imagine it will be another slow week around these parts, and probably next Monday before we’re back to a full update schedule.

  • Naturally, I’d have to update today regardless, if only to wish the very happiest of birthdays to comics enthusiast, friend to all, sometimes actress, all-times fan-nerd¹ and general muse Ivy Ratafia. Scott, Sky, and Winter² are the luckiest people on the planet, with everybody else that knows Ivy tied for second.
  • Cranking onwards, ever onwards: the most oxymoronically-titled webcomic hit a milestone, and it appears that my speculation of how much TopatoCo can/has ship/shipped in its history may be quantifiably verifiable.

    In the case of the former, Angela Melick today celebrates 700 instances of Wasted Talent, a two-word combo that is a filthy lie. Rather, Ms Melick puts together my favoritest autobio comic, never failing to make me smile, and that’s before taking into account the fact that she and I wear the Iron Ring³ and are thus tribesmates.

    In the case of the latter, TopatoCo Supreme Leader For Life Jeffrey Rowland announced just how damn busy all the merch-elves have been:

    Looks like we shipped over 15,000 items between Dec 2 and Dec 16. Wu-Tang ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.

    Those seeking the secrets of perpetual motion, cast your eyes towards the dervish-like merchmongers of *hampton.

  • Wrapped up, or wrapping up soonish: the last Gunshow goes up tomorrow; the last Al’Rashad (or at least, the last of the first story of an eventual trilogy) goes up next Monday; in a few weeks Shortpacked! will be retired and with it wrap up David Willis’s last exclamatory title; this morning Danielle Corsetto is entering the endgame; and Christopher Baldwin’s One Way is finishing up a year and a day after launching.
  • Speaking of One Way’s finish, Baldwin has already lined up its replacement, Anna Galactic, which sounds like it’ll cement his position as the webomic in space guy, what with One Way, Spacetrawler, and writing duties on Yontengu. Baldwin’s also lined up the crowdfunding campaign for a One Way print collection. That one launched on Boxing Day, followed immediately by a weekend, so it’s not surprising that he’s garnered a little less than three dozen backers so far.

    Let’s do what we can to push that up a little, yes? It’s a very modest goal (US$6000), a very short campaign duration (less than three weeks), and a very simple pledge reward structure (no tiers above US$38 bucks, which will get you a signed physical book and a monochrome wash portrait of any of Baldwin’s past characters). Dead simple Kickstarters deserve to succeed as well as complex, massive blowouts.

  • Speaking of dead simple Kickstarts, C Spike Trotman is going to have to run some of them, seeing as how she’s announced five book publishing projects for 2015, including two anthologies (the sci-fi themed New World, and a full-color Smut Peddler themed anthology, My Monster Boyfriend), one longform Smut Peddler graphic novel, and two print collections for other creators where she acts purely as a publisher (the TJ and Amal omnibus for EK Weaver, and Shadoweyes for Ross Campbell).

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Spike is the only possible contender for the crown of Hardest Working One-Person Shop in Webcomics presently held by R Stevens. If they ever decide to be rivals rather than respectful colleagues, the blood will run thick over the land and the lamentations shall be terrible to behold ere we perish by fire.

Spam of the day:

“Nothing about being a celebrity is desirable,” she said.

Tell me about it — nothing but groupies, fame, fortune, hookers, and smack all day long. It’s exhausting.

¹ In the very best sense of those words.

² What the heck? A McCloud with no internet presence? Weirrrrrd.

³ Okay, mine is stainless and is the non-union Mexican equivalent, but the meaning is the same.

In A Mad Rush

Holidays of all sorts — Alliday, even — are bearing down upon us with all rapidity. Let this, then, serve as your notice that until after the New Year, there may not be updates five days a week, as a dearth of news and family time occur in equal measure. So before we let you all get to all the last-minute tasks, let’s do a roundup.

  • New Emily Carroll comic, for the Christmas season! And in case you were wondering if the season would perhaps prompt something jolly, or even cheerful, let me quote from a perfectly ordinary young lady right at the beginning:

    My grandpa says they used to tell ghost stories before Christmas. I’d much prefer a scary story than a bunch of grown-ups standing around…. One with lots of blood! Or maybe a murderer, or sounds coming up from the cellar….

    You know, SCARY.

    This being an Emily Carroll story, one should be very careful what one wishes for, particularly when one realizes that of the two young ladies in this tale (the one asking for the story, and the one telling it) is somebody we’ve met before. Go pull your copy of Through The Woods off the shelf — and if you don’t have a copy, what’s wrong wit you go get one right goddamn now — and check out the last story. The Nesting Place was, for me, the most disturbing of the five stories in TTW, for reasons given at that last link, and it’s retroactively become even spookier now that we see in All Along The Wall just how the creepy things (even in modern times) are willing to play the long game and be patient.

    Very patient. Build up that Yule fire nice and high, and hope that the scuttling things don’t like the light.

  • Along with all the heartache going on in Bedford, Texas one must note that today is significant over at Something*Positive for other reasons. Thirteen years ago, Randy Milholland launched with a strip that implied the humor of cruelty would be a major motif, and very nearly immediately settled into a somewhat more restrained sarcasm.

    But within a few months (perhaps about the time that Choo-Choo Bear first showed up) the first stirrings of heart and deep character were making themselves known. The strip that ran a year on was as far removed from the first as could be imagined and that was it — Something*Positive as we knew it was in full force. Happy Strippiversary, Randy; here’s to many more.

  • Not sure how I missed this until less than two days before it finalizes, but there’s a Kickstarter campaign to make action figures out of old, old, old superheroes¹, including The Green Turtle, the public-domain hero that provided the inspiration and protagonist for Gene Luen Yang and Sonny liew’s The Shadow Hero. As of this writing, they are US$150 from goal, so if this appeals to you even a little now’s your proverbial one chance.
  • Speaking of Gene Luen Yang, one quick note: he’s returning to the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic-writing game for a one-shot to be released by Dark Horse on Free Comic Book Day, illustrated by the incomparable Carla Speed McNeil. That’s five wonderful things all mixed up together, so start making plans to snag a copy today.

Spam of the day:

But even in the event you don’t, the truth is, these 5 keys are essential for your survival.

Oh sure, start off like that and then don’t tell me what the keys are. Guess I won’t be surviving. Dicks.

¹ Also, as a stretch goal, Mike Allred’s Madman, who I’m pretty sure had an action figure about 15 years ago, in the same wave as Matt Wagner’s Grendel and Kevin Matchstick. Time flies.

The Best Book Of 2015

I also feel like I just watched Scott & Ivy's courtship in a very slightly alternate universe.

I read the ARC of Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor and it is washing over me. It will require many, many more readings before I can write a proper review, which will be closer to the release date at the beginning of February.

So this is not a review. It’s not even a pre-review; I’m unable to produce one right now because I am not able to stop experiencing this story, to step back to see it in detail and in the whole, to think. It is, at the moment, a wholly emotional experience.

Except for this one thing: I have the distinct impression that McCloud, over the nearly 500 pages of story, has recapitulated his own artistic development. Like they say you see your life flash before your eyes in that split-second before death, reading The Sculptor was like watching McCloud’s career and theories of Art, Comics, Tribes, and everything else play out in fast-forward. It’s like he’s re-developing it all sequentially, figuring it out as he goes from page to page, getting better as he goes.

tl;dr: This is the book that pushes Understanding Comics out of the first paragraph of his future obituary.

No spam today; they don’t get to share the page with Scott.