The webcomics blog about webcomics

Never Felt So Prescient

UK younger people, Jon Rosenberg predicted what your older citizens have done to you two and a half years ago. Let’s find happier things to consider now that the entire world’s economy has been thrown into uncertainty by people who admit they didn’t really want this to happen.

  • Happy Thing! It appears that Faith Erin Hicks has taken a bit of time from her Nameless City series of graphic novels (first one: so good; second one: due out in April) to do a Squirrel Girl/Ms Marvel crossover in an annual due in August. Reserve this one now.
  • Happy Thing! Speaking of Squirrel Girl, her book has done a nice job of featuring drop-in art from a variety of webcomickers, normally in the form of the collector’s cards that SG uses to learn about her foes. Issue #9 (due next Wednesday, 29 June) will one-up that with a full page from Wondermark scribe David Malki !, in his trademark style.

    Ever wonder what it looked like when Kraven the Hunter punched Giagantos at the bottom of the ocean? Wonder no more! (It looked a lot like Victorian woodcut illustrations smushed up together.) This is so beautiful I want to laugh and cry simultaneously.

  • Happy Thing! Spike Trotman over at Iron Circus Comics continues her Friday Upcoming Book Announcement trend, giving us the dope on next boo she’s signed for publication. This time it’s Crossplay by Niki Smith, a graphic novel-length expansion of a shorter story that was serialized at porny subscription site Filthy Figments [NSFW, duh], where many of webcomics finest go to vend their adult creations while waiting for the next Smut Peddler anthology to come about.

    And if ICC’s new offerings are heavily tilted to the Smut Peddleresque, I think it’s going to be filling a market niche (well-produced smut that’s not juvenile or misogynist) that’s pretty wide open¹ for whoever’s smart enough to exploit. And Spike is very, very smart.


Spam of the day:

A Shocking Energy Boost For Men 50+

Gods dammit, spammers, how many times do I have to tell you I’m not over 50, I’m not interested in walk-in tubs, chair lifts for the stairs, retirement living, or Medicare plans. You are bad at math, spammers.

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¹ So to speak.

From San Francisco And The Immediate Environs

News and things! Things and news! Let’s see what there is to see out there.

  • I believe I’ve mentioned the excitement that we at Fleen have for the imminent release of Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock’s Compass South (that would be in just under a week). I don’t know if I mentioned that a chunk of the story involves twins Cleo and Alex trying to make their way to San Francisco (by steamer and train, in the mid-1800s, when such successes were not guaranteed and plagued by greater dangers than a lack in in-flight WiFi), thus tying into today’s theme.

    What I know that I haven’t mentioned is that Larson and Mock will be taking a virtual book tour in support of Compass South, visiting on-line and in the [virtual] cafés talk about how Compass South was created. The blogtour kicks off Monday (the day before release) at Supernatural Snark, and in subsequent days will make daily port calls at Love is not a Triangle, Forever YA, YA Bibliophile, Sharpread, and finishing up at Watch. Connect. Read. on Saturday.

  • And while Cleo and Alex might have to wait a century or so before the Cartoon Art Museum gets organized in San Francisco, we need not engage in any such temporal chicanery, and CAM has plenty of events in the coming weeks, just in case you missed their just-closed exhibitions with the Queer Cultural Center at SOMArts Cultural Center and were wondering what’s up next.

    The highlight, at least in my opinion, will be A Salute to Chuck Jones¹ at the Castro Theater. Jones, naturally, is best defined by his cartoons and so the salute will be a screening of over a dozen shorts, including One Froggy Evening, Feed the Kitty, Duck Amuck, Rabbit of Seville, and motherscratching What’s Opera, Doc?.

    You have probably never seen these on the big screen. You need to see these on the big screen, with a big, booming sound system². If you are anywhere near San Francisco on Sunday, 10 July from noon to 3:00pm, you must see these cartoons on the big screen. Packages run from US$17 to US$150 (with various goodies and perks on top of admission, naturally) and may be purchased in advance through Guestlist. Presenters from the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity — conservators of Chuck’s³ legacy — will be on hand to talk about the films and memories of their creator.

  • Should you find CAM’s efforts to continue to bring you the finest in cartoon art laudable (and really, you damn well better), there’s a new channel by which you can indicated your support. Check out their new Patreon, where you can help unlock curator blogs, online exhibitions, member pricing for events, and the general running of the museum.

    Granted, they only just launched it, but at the moment the Patreon has a shamefully insufficient eleven (11) backers pledging US$33 (thirty-damn-three dollars) per month. The people who love cartoons and comics (and who do you know that doesn’t?) can do better, and CAM deserves better. Support, and spread the word.


Spam of the day:

Re:Scelerisque Dui Suspendisse Corp. Please find attached the bill

I’m supposed to believe that your company is actually named after a section of lorem ipsum text? Nnnnope.

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¹ Very possibly the greatest animator America’s produced yet, and definitely a dominant influence on every comicker, animator, filmmaker, and teller of stories and jokes for the past 60 -70 years.

² Not that I ever have, at least not by actual modern theater standards, but even a poor imitation was life-changing. Below the cut, a small story how how life-changing, adapted from a letter I wrote in 2001 to be included in a collection of letters from Chuck’s fans as a birthday present for the master.

³ It is Fleen’s editorial policy to refer to people by given and family name on first reference, and family name thereafter. There are two exceptions to this rule, namely Chuck (because he is always Chuck) and George (because he is always George).
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Can’t Blame Morgan-Mar For Today

Again with the weeds, and tonight’s EMS duty night, so no chance of getting ahead. It’s almost like work takes up the whole day!

Items of note:

  • Benign Kingdom does the most beautiful art books in webcomics, and they are inexplicably at 70% funded with 7 days to go on the latest iteration of their art. Compare to earlier efforts, ranging from 121% to 937% of goal and ask yourself if you want this to be the project that fails. There’s loads of unproven creators biting off more than they can chew (or have the IP right for) to make up the approximately 50% of projects that fail. Let’s not see people who can actually fulfill wither on the vine.
  • Speaking of B9, one of the contributors this time around is Meredith Gran, and this is your periodic reminder that she continues to kill it on Octopus Pie, particularly with the quiet moments of self-revelation. This is one is so good, says so much in so few words (and fills in loads of characterization between the cracks of the last half-decade of story without ever resorting to exposition) that killing it seems too mild. Gran is laying waste to entire civilizations and salting the earth for all times lest enemies rise up to challenge her eternal rule.
  • Dante Shepherd¹ continues to spend that grant money in productive ways to teach large, complicated engineering ideas. See, I was an electrical engineer² in college, so what I know about chemists is that their building always had beakers that smelled funny, and what I know about the chemical engineers (such as Shepherd) is their building always had 500 liter tanks that smelled funny.

    So basically I am ignorant of what went on in those enormous arrays of pipes in the high-bay lab and now I know a bit more, thanks to him and Matt Lubchansky. Also cookies are involved somehow?

  • Speaking of [web]comics making their way through the development cycle of Hollywood, I see that Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet has taken one more step towards realization with the news that the executive producer of the current Star Trek TV efforts is taking over the scripting. Also I see that the reports are that Amulet was to star Will Smith’s kids, but now it’s not … did we know that? I’m not sure we knew that.
  • Let us finish, as is often the case, in the northern reaches of Webcomickia, which is to say, Canada. Ryan North has shared the news that his and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl has new merch in the wild, and also the less-happy news Howard The Duck (written by fellow Torontonian Chip Zdarsky, drawn by Joe Quinones) will be coming to an end soon. It’s a shame, and I hope it doesn’t presage more cancellations of comics that are actually, you know, fun.

    At least we have some more good news from Canada, as it seems Blind Ferret is hiring. Supremo Ryan Sohmer is vocal about the often-dismal pay scales in comics, so you can bet the salary on this one doesn’t fall in the category of crap job you take to build up experience while eating ramen.


Spam of the day:

A sure-fire way to get richer …

Make regular deposits into an index fund that you leave the hell alone for 20-30 years? Oh, sorry, I see — fake gold futures from a crazy person that believes the Federal Reserve is illegal and that random punctuation in your name means you don’t have to pay taxes. Silly me.

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¹ Professor, bon vivant, man about town.

² AKA the best kind of engineer. Shepherd would probably dispute that, but I think we can agree that at least we aren’t civil engineers, ew.

Weeeeekend

But first, thanks to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin for entertaining us all with lessons in effective French cursing during yesterday’s self-inflicted charlie-foxtrot.

Let’s do this.

  • Item! Ryan North has discovered that he is now a New York Times Best Selling Author in the category of Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous¹. By the principle of transitive closure, this means that all of the artists who appear in the book are also now New York Times Best Sellers. Congrats, um, almost everybody Ryan knows! And in case that not enough major media domination for one day, please enjoy the audio of an interview that North did with NPR’s Scott Simon last weekend. It’s a hoot.
  • Item! Spike Trotman has shared with us the latest Iron Circus Book Pre-Announcement; we can expect these weekly for the next forever, and this week we find out about As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman, due in 2017. It’s a story of faith and skepticism, serialized online in gorgeous pencils.
  • Item! They don’t all work out. Dante Shepherd/Lucas Landherr put up a Kickstart last month to make the second iteration of calendars for his chalkboard-centered webcomic, Surviving The World. It failed to fund yesterday, reaching only about 53% of goal. Oddly, there are some numbers in the successful first calendar campaign and second that are virtually mirror images. See, calendar 1 had a goal (US$12K) that’s about the same as the amount raised for calendar 2 (US$13,891), whereas calendar 2 had a goal (US$26,000) that was about the same as the amount raised for calendar 1 (US$24,686). Increased costs necessitated a rough doubling of funding to make the project viable, but if he could raise more than US$24K three years, why could he only manage about half that today?

    Honestly, I think it’s a case of success breeding success. He crossed the goal line about a third of the way through the campaign in 2013, meaning that everybody knew it was going to happen, and there’s no sense of wasted effort to click a couple of times to back the project. Yes, I know, clicking a couple of times is hardly an effort, but we’re talking about perception here. By contrast, this campaign had a much higher goal and although the funding was a bit slower at the start of calendar 2 than it was for calendar 1, it wasn’t that far off. But having to make up twice as much money? I think it drove some people away because it looked tougher to reach.

    People like sure things, and had that dropoff not happened, I think that calendar 2 could have made it. It’s been a while since an established webcomic (particularly one with Make That Thing behind it) failed to fund, but realistically not every project is going to succeed. Nor should we take this as the start of a trend; right now it’s just one data point. Then again, there’s other projects out there which I would have thought would easily succeed (and in which I have pledges) that are still working towards funding, so maybe let’s try to reset our expectations towards the positive. They won’t succeed if they don’t fund, they won’t fund if people don’t think they’ll succeed, but the risk of trying is low so fund ’em if it’s in your budget. If you don’t, well it’s on you if the world economy collapses is all I’m saying.


Spam of the day:

Want a New T-Shirt?

I know literally every vendor of webcomics t-shirts. I think I’m good.

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¹ What? I mean seriously, what? Just put it in Paperback Trade Fiction where it belongs, New York Times. Although it’s probably pretty satisfying to be on the same list as The Food Lab, What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and that cleaning up for crazy people book.

Oh My

For the three of you that hadn’t heard, Robert Khoo¹ resigned from the presidency of Penny Arcade yesterday; from other reports, it appears to be effective 15 July. I seem to recall that he’s part of the trustee structure for Child’s Play, and that he holds at 10% ownership stake in Penny Arcade Industries; no word yet on whether those have changed. Fleen contacted Khoo for and interview which he politely declined.

It has been some time since I sat in a Vegas buffet after the Reuben Awards and asked Robert what he was going to do when all the challenges of Penny Arcade were solved and he was just grinding in repetition — tropical beach with fruity drinks? High speed motorsports? A line of vanity soups?

I don’t know, he said. Probably catch up with all the games I don’t have time to play now. My suspicion is that we will learn what he’s up to next exactly when he feels like letting us know; that guy always knows how to play three moves ahead of the rest of us. If I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s got plans to run a venture capital-style business serving the games industry as a whole … either that, or secret volcano lair and demands made of the Security Council.

In other news:

  • We at Fleen are big fans of Vera Brosgol, since the old Return To Sender days [NB: only access that site via Wayback Machine, not directly], through Anya’s Ghost, one of our favorite books ever. She’s just had her next three books announced (scroll down, and it is me or does Publishers Weekly use subheads that sound eerily like Hollywood press?) through :01 Books and their sister imprint, Roaring Brook Press.

    Roaring Brook will be up first, with Leave Me Alone!, a picture book about a grandmother’s search for a little quiet, due out on 13 September; a second picture book will follow (presently untitled and no release date). :01 gets their shot with Be Prepared, a middle-grade graphic novel about summer camp, based on Brosgol’s own experiences; again, no release date as yet. I’m going to go out on a limb and pre-announce that these will be terrific.

  • Speaking of :01 sister imprints: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux will be publishing Compass South, the eagerly-awaited next graphic novel from Hope Larson (words) and Rebecca Mock (pictures) in about, oh, two weeks. The invaluable Oliver Sava at The AV Club has a six-page preview and brief overview today. Go look at it, it’s very pretty and I’m already hooked on the story.

Spam of the day:

Asian Women Online — Am I Your Dream Love?

That’s refreshingly straightforward for spam, but still ain’t clicking.

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¹ Robert is.

For Your Edification

Well, this is where I was going to quote from the initial announcement from Spike Trotman about how Iron Circus Comics has started a series of announcements regarding its releases through 2018 or so. Was, because the filter here at work has decided that http://ironcircuscomics.tumblr.com/ (which in turn redirects to poorcraft.com is blocked:

due to potential malicious activity or other security reasons.
Phishing, malicious, spyware sites are compromised or unsafe websites that may trick you into revealing personal or financial information (e.g. username, passwords, credit card information, PIN numbers, etc.).
These unsafe websites may install software to your computer often without consent to damage your system or use your computer to attack others.
The website may also contain other malicious threats (e.g. viruses, trojans, worms, spyware) as part of the malware ecosystem.
Additional information about website blocking at [redacted] can be found here (Authentication required).

Your request was categorized by Blue Coat Web Filter as ‘Pornography’.

Which, okay, I could see that if I’d linked to Iron Circus itself (which is not blocked), where you get the Smut Peddler books for sale and even samples. Or heck, I could see it if the link stayed on Tumblr, which is itself a cesspit at times. But no, Poorcraft, which is one of the most useful things ever, is blocked by Blue Coat, who I noticed over the weekend is being bought by Symantec¹. So anyway, check that announcement out, Spike’ll be making them weekly, just don’t ask me to report on the specifics during the day.

In other news:

  • What may be the very last A Softer World ever dropped earlier today; as co-creator Joey Comeau pointed out, there have been a few ASW strips up in recent weeks as side effect of the successful Kickstart to print the strip-spanning best of collection, Anatomy of Melancholy, and these have now concluded. As co-creator Emily Horne pointed out, if you missed the Kickstart, you can now order a copy from Breadpig.
  • My Evil Twin passed a Big Damn Strippiversary yesterday; when Schlock Mercenary launched on 12 June 2000 it was a far simpler strip (in scope and visuals), Tayler was still slaving for The Man, and two of his kids didn’t exist yet (nor did Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Tumblr, or the George W Bush administration). A kid born on that day would today be eligible for a driver’s license in most states², and Tayler himself can now claim to have updated 5846 days in a row without fail.

    Today he’s got a thriving business, a dozen books (with more on the way) and a damn Hugo award.; not bad for a kid of twelve birthdays from the wide open space of the west, armed with nothing but imagination, a drawing tablet, and gumption.


Spam of the day:

Finally, Give Your Woman What She Wants
Is it time to grow your confidence even more?

Curiously, only one of those two spams was for a questionably-sourced “male enhancement supplement”; the second is actually for discount breast enhancement surgery, which is not a series of words I ever wanted to see placed together.

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¹ Weirdly, the internet filter is no longer blocking He Is A Good Boy which it has in the past. I mean, that was annoying when it did, but I could at least see the logic in blocking material like Crange Is Horny. Still not going to try to check out Oh Joy, Sex Toy, though; just the ads on that site could get me hauled down to HR.

² My own home state of New Jersey wisely makes the little menaces wait until 17 when they’re hopefully one year less stupid.

Remarkable Things

Tuki, by the incomparable Jeff Smith. Read it!

Okay, that’s got nothing to do with anything today, other than I’ve always liked that page and hey — reee-markable.

  • First thing: EK Weaver has gotten a lot of notice over the years for The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, especially over the last year or so since it was published in omnibus form via Iron Circus and Kickstarter. I mean, hey, Eisner nom and all that. But today she’s back with something that’s much briefer, much rougher, and maybe much more important than TJ and Amal, being the first exploration I’ve seen in comics about the toll that finishing a creative project can take:

    A personal, messy comic about depression + the fallout from finishing a major creative project: http://tjandamal.com/other/depressioncomic.png …

    It’s not pretty, it’s not polished, and it’s terribly, terribly valuable every time a creator that fights against the brain-lies depression shines a light on that struggle. And even when there isn’t the additional burden of mental illness, it’s worth remembering that creation is an act of great effort under any circumstances. To pass something out of your imagination into the wider world (particularly something with an extended, serialized existence) and then to see it end? Put another way, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Gary Larson or Bill Watterson — to name just two — have withdrawn from public life (even if their works wrapped on their own terms), or that Charles Schulz couldn’t live without creating Peanuts.

    I think I’m probably in danger of conflating my two points here — that creation is effortful and ending it stressful, and that stress can exacerbate existing mental conditions. Schulz would absolutely be diagnosed as depressive today, but I am making no implications of such a condition in Watterson or Larson. To bring it back to my original point, Weaver’s letting us in on an important set of ideas, and there’s a third one there as well: that creation is itself sustaining as well as straining. Give it a read and have a bit more empathy the next time your favorite creator’s a bit late with updates, yeah?

  • Second thing: fifty-two weeks makes a year, so it appears from the latest New York Times Best Seller List that Raina Telgemeier’s Smile has now spent the equivalent of four full years on the list¹, along with a total of 149 weeks for Drama, 90 weeks for Sisters (out of 94 weeks since release!), 54 weeks for Kristy’s Great Idea (I missed it’s one-year anniversary, sorry), and 14 for Claudia and Mean Janine. Yep, only five spots out of ten so the cumulative total of 515 weeks is artificially low, but don’t worry — Ghosts is already racking up the advance praise and we’ll see the others back soon enough.
  • Third thing: book day! Two review copies from the wonderful Gina Gagliano at :01 Books² — the fifth in the Last Man series and the second in Gene Yang & Mike Holmes’s Secret Coders series — and the second volume of Vattu from Evan Dahm (soon to be added to Dahm’s TopatoCo store).

Spam of the day:

Free Gold IRA offer

I’m sure Ira’s a nice guy and all, but I don’t want him gold-plated, thanks.

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¹ 208 weeks out of the 332 since publication on 1 February 2010.

² Who, I see, added a new editorial assistant yesterday, increasing the staff by 25% because a remarkably small staff produces all those great books. By the way, want to feel old? Kiara Velez, the new addition, was asked the first comic she can remember reading and replied I vaguely remember reading the 1st volume of Scott Pilgrim at the library when I was in 5th grade. I was in my mid thirties.

Okay, Weird

Something’s going on with WorkPress where I lose connection to the back end and editing functions, but the front end continues to show the site. And then it comes back without doing anything! So let’s be quick about this, and I hope you will appreciate how much work went into this one.

See, I owe Amazon an apology, as I was complaining t’other day about my copy of Romeo And/Or Juliet not being here on day of release, and now I’ve got it. Thanks, Amazon! It’s wacky and wonderful, and features many, many terrific artists and story ending illustrations. Author Ryan North’s sense of both complete absurdism and Shakespearean drama are intact, as he takes us through multiple plots, multiple story styles (I’m presently following along a noir pastische), and pulls in multiple plays for inspiration (said pastiche stars Rosalind from As You Like It, and there are short versions of Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even Midsummer’s play-in-a-play, Pyramus and Thisbe). There’s time travel, giant robots, sex-having, sweet fights, record-setting one-rep weightlifting, a cookie recipe, and even a nod to Back To The Future¹.

Sadly, the best thing we saw in To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure — where those illustrations were full page with the minor text associated with the story ending (usually grisly death) — is modified somewhat; the illos are mostly 1/3 page in size, with a continuous stream of text-illustration-next story point. As a result, RAOJ doesn’t have page numbers, it has passage numbers — a passage being a node in the story, ranging from a line or two to more than a page. Additionally, instead of the full-color glossy illustrations from TBONTBTITA, the papr stock is matte and the pictures are all combinations of black, white, and red. The changes do make the book less of a bicep-building than TBONTBTITA, though … that was one seriously heavy book.

But despite all of the good points, Romeo And/Or Juliet has one stunning flaw, one shared with To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, namely: the index of artists in the back of the book contains only an alphabetical listing, not a listing by passage (or page, in the earlier book) number. So when I came across a stunningly beautiful (or funny, or disturbing … ) illustration in my read-through, I’d sometimes recognize the artist by style, but more often not. Then I had to scan the index, looking for the passage (or page) number, to find it who it was.

Well, no more! Ryan North, I am calling you out for having a defective book, and furthermore I am doing something about it. Specifically, I have painstakingly transcribed the passage numbers and artist names and compiled them into a table (below the cut) that you may print and stick in your copy of RAOJ. I trust Mr North will prevail on his publishers to include information in future printings; with a clear typeface, you might be able to fit it on a promotional bookmark, but at the least you could “tip in” some pages in this and future North/Shakespeare collaborations.

It’s a minor thing, though — don’t let the lack of reverse-lookup prevent you from picking up Romeo And Or Juliet; it’s a brilliant job from a brilliant writer and nearly 100 brilliant artists. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to decide what to do in this game of rock-paper-scissors I seem to have found myself in.


Spam of the day:

Identity Issue PP-658-119-347

I believe that you are the PayPal Review Department exactly as much as I believe the South Asian-accented man who called himself Steve Martin on the phone yesterday really was calling from the Treasury Department².

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¹ Or at least North’s obsession with the novelization of the movie.

² I called him to point out he is very bad at being a thief and he hung up on me. So I called back and got him again and continued my spiel. After five further discussions (sample statement from me: I can do this all day), he apparently decided he had to take a break and a woman picked up in his place. She said I was very rude and not to call their scam operation again or I would be in trouble. That was fun.

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Booksday

Books! Is there anything as good in life as a book? The shelves behind me with a literally ton of paper on them say probably not¹. There are three books I want to talk about today.

  • As you should know, Ben Hatke is one heck of an illustrator and comics creator, responsible for such wonderful tales as Little Robot and the Zita The Spacegirl trilogy. His latest book, Nobody Likes A Goblin (an ARC of which was sent to me by the invaluable Gina Gagliano at :01 Books) releases today, and it’s a must-get.

    It’s more rambunctious than Little Robot (although the naming conventions are somewhat similar; the titular goblin is just named Goblin; his best friend is Skeleton), less swashbuckling (or plot-driven) than Zita, and most resembles Julia’s House For Lost Creatures in that it’s meant to be read in a single bedtime, has a simple story, and a powerful pair of messages.

    Firstly, friendship is wonderful. Secondly, don’t believe all the stories that you’ve heard about the Heroic Adventurers that blunder their way through dungeons, terrorizing the likes of Goblin (and his neighbor, Troll), who’ve done nobody any harm. Just because you’re different and people hate you on sight doesn’t mean that you’re bad, or that they’re in any way right. The Adventurers² may have taken all his stuff, the farmers and innkeepers and elves may be chasing him on general principals, but not everybody is subject to their prejudices.

    See, hanging out on the loot cart of the Adventurers is a young woman that doesn’t look thrilled to be there, and when Goblin finds friends to defend him, she grabs Skeleton’s sword (he used to be a mighty warrior, you see) and helps run the Adventurers (and farmers, innkeepers, and elves) off, returning to the dungeon with her new friends. I found her fascinating, and the lack of any narration or explanation about her motivations means there’s plenty of room for young readers to make up her story.

    And when they do make up her story, they’ll have a chance to share it with Hatke on his book tour, touching down today in Richmond (Virginia), with additional appearances in Takoma Park (that would be Maryland), Ann Arbor (Michigan, naturally), Orlando (the ALA conference, not the theme parks), and San Diego Comic Con. Dates, addresses, and times at the link.

  • Speaking of book tours, Lucy Bellwood is on one right now, for Baggywrinkles, her autobio-slash-tall ships primer that she Kickstarted last summer. Bellwood’s East Coast tour goes for another two weeks or so, touching down in Boston, Washington, DC, New York City, and Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, we’ve already missed her Portland (the Maine version) and Mystic (Connecticut) stops, but can I point out how awesome that most of her stops will be at nautical-themed locations?

    Boston’s stop is at the USS Constitution Museum, the New York stop at South Street Seaport Museum, and both Portland and Mystic are basically living paeans to the nautical life. By the way, the Ann Arbor stop will be at the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival on 18 and 19 June, which will be the same time that Hatke will be there. Goblins and Boats, in the same place at the same time!

  • As previously noted, Romeo And/Or Juliet by Ryan North releases today (with a launch party starting in a few hours in Toronto). I’ve had that book on pre-order since the second of November and today Amazon says oh yeah, they suppose they’ll drop it in the mail and I’ll get it someday and not on release day that is the deal we had Amazon.

    Ahem.

    Anyway, I’m assured by people who have actually gotten their pre-orders that it’s brilliant and I hope to confirm that fact at some point.

  • Finally, I’d like to note that I’m seeing people on the SoshMeed share the fact that Something Terrible (book by Dean Trippe, for the last six months or so published by Spike Trotman and Iron Circus Comics) is showing up in their mailboxes. Good news, can’t wait to get my copy.

Spam of the day:

Miracle Bamboo Bra Wants To Hear From You!

This prompts so many questions, I don’t know where to start.

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¹ Okay, probably dogs are better than books, but let’s not lose the thread.

² Your standard party of Wizard, Dwarf, Elvish Swordmaiden, and skulky looking Rogue.

I Will Accept No Apology From Her

Perhaps you saw the posting earlier today, the 400th update at Hark! A Vagrant, which consisted of an announcement of Kate Beaton’s next children’s book — King Baby, which I will buy multiple copies of day-of-release — and a long apologetic note about the lack of frequency of updates at H!AV and the likely continued paucity of same:

Hark! is always in the back of my head when I’m working on anything else, and I find myself wracked with guilt for not keeping the updates coming, I have one foot here and one foot there. This push and pull, I have to accept, makes anything I’m working on suffer. And I’ve been trying to figure out a solution to this! Something better than slow work all around. Because if I’m honest, I’m scared that if I leave this site alone too long, I’ll lose something very precious to me.

You.

I’ve worked a long time to bring you here, and you’ve been good to come here and read my comics and support my work. I feel that we have built a relationship, my readers and I, it’s very important to me, and I never want to put it in peril. So what to do? [emphasis original]

I do not accept this apology. Mostly because Kate Beaton has nothing to apologize for. The amount of pure research she must do to bring us the figures from history that we’ve never heard of¹ (and should have!) is mind-boggling. Okay, sure, sometimes it’s relatively quick (and usually from a place of ire) to come up ridiculousness for our amusement, but most of the time she’s got to dig deep to understand her subject before she can mine those beautiful, shining specks of humo[u]r from what is often extremely serious source material.

Like so many others that have entertained us for free, we have no claim on Beaton’s time or attention. Particularly not when she talks about what’s taking up her time and attention:

[T]he main thing is the graphic novel, which is a memoir of my time in the oil sands, years ago. You may have seen the sketch that launched it, Ducks. Or the few comics on this site that are memoir-ish that don’t really fit with the rest of the things on here and I should probably get rid of. It’s a very different story from anything in Hark! A Vagrant, and a different mind set to work on. And I need to give that mindset some time and concentration in order to do a good job. So, I’m going to do that. [emphasis original]

Beaton’s time in the oil sands is something I want to read; it will be the confluence of so many different stories — toxic masculinity and toxic industries being just the two most obvious — that will be told by her in a way that nobody else can tell them. I want to read longform Beaton more than anything else, and if that means she feels bad about not producing more shortform laugh-chuckles, then I feel it’s us that should be apologizing to her.

For anybody that’s ever place a sense of obligation on her for anybody that has acted on that entitlement, I unreservedly apologize. And keep in mind that I once said that I would be willing to trade all comics, everywhere, for all time for more of Beaton’s “momics”, but that’s me wanting what I want for my own selfish reasons.

Really, what I want — what we should all want — is for Beaton to follow her muse and show us what it looks like when she stretches into another kind of storytelling. Whenever she feels the need to put together more Hark! strips, that’s awesome. If we ever get another story of Princess Pinecone and Pony, that would be wonderful. And if I never get another comic from Beaton that looks like what she’s done before, that will be best of all because she’ll be doing what she wants to do.

Thank you, Kate Beaton — for all the comics you’ve given us, for all the comics you will give us, for all the things that aren’t comics that you have kicking around in your head. You look at lives just a little bit differently than the rest of us do, and for us to get to share that is an act of profound generosity. Find what works for you, we’ll be waiting when you’re ready to tell us what’s next.

Plus, come on, King Baby. Look at that little guy. He’s gonna be great.

I other news, I can assure Ryan North from personal experience that it is completely normal to be nervous the first time you solemnize a marriage, but it’s also the best feeling in the world. Glad to have you with us.


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Paging Richard Stevens, Richard Stevens pick up the mocha courtesy phone.

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¹ I count myself as reasonably well-read in the history of several nations — although I am hopelessly turned around on Chinese dynasties, have a sketchy (at best) sense of sub-Saharan history, and essentially no good sense of Southeast Asian or pre-Columbian South American history at all — and she still manages to surprise me four updates out of seven. Most recently: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.