The webcomics blog about webcomics

Fundamental Humanity

Scott McCloud and Gene Luen Yang spoke and there’s only one thing you need to know: It is imperative that you shelve Boxers & Saints in that order from left-to-right, or both McCloud and Yang will punch you.

It was an informal talk (McCloud’s prep notes covered one sheet of hotel notepad) between two creators that have very similar approaches to their work (outline, preparation, revision, revision, revision), one of whom directly credits the other for his career, and who have thought deeply about the creation if comics and their power as a medium. McCloud’s direction of the conversation returned time and again to Yang’s very humane approach to his work — in addressing the immigrant experience, he credit’s Yang’s willingness to engage all perspectives with “eyes unclouded with hate” (an idea McCloud returned to in discussing Yang’s objections to the racebent casting in the Avatar movie, which he called the Martin Luther King approach).

This was most apparent in the discussion of that most complete collection of lazy racist cliches, Cousin Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese; Yang found ways to make even Chin-Kee something resembling a sympathetic person. He also noted that Yang is an unpredictable writer, in that Chin-Kee came out of nowhere, and couldn’t have been been foreseen even a page before he intruded on the story. Yang pointed out that ABC was original a series of mini comics, and It had like twelve readers, and I knew eleven. If somebody didn’t understand, I could call them up and explain.

Counterpointing that unpredictability was Yang’s direct nature with words; reading an excerpt from The Shadow Hero he challenged any English teachers in the room to find a single word to remove, or one that needed to be added. The writerly discussion contrasted Yang’s approach to writing for himself versus writing for an artist; for example, Boxers & Saints required a singular focus¹ that required complete control, but The Shadow Hero that couldn’t have been done without the artistic contribution of Sonny Liew.

They also discussed the relationship that Yang has with mythology in his work, particularly in the opposing belief systems of the Boxer Rebellion, all of whom had their mythology made physical and real … they couldn’t all have been true, but they all were. It makes for an ambiguity in the story that perhaps makes it more real. The best uncertain stories invite you to find the story in your own life said Yang, primarily in relation to a discussion of the Book of Matthew — his favorite of the Gospels, and one that originally had a different, more ambiguous ending (McCloud: So, they ran it by a test audience and they didn’t like it?).

This led McCloud to observe that there is one project that perhaps only Yang could tackle.
McCloud: You know what you need to do? You know the Gnostic gospels with teenage superpower Jesus?
Yang: He’s a jerk.
McCloud: Somebody annoys Him and He zaps them? You could be the one person that could do that justice.
Yang: The Gospel of Thomas: the Comic!

Quick cuts:

  • Yang is no longer teaching computer science as a day job, as he did through most of his cartooning career; he went part time, primarily doing database work, but is going back to teaching because he’s found comics to be lonely work. He’ll be teaching one class come the start of the next school year.
  • Yang has been called “the Asian Scott McCloud” before, and I think I’ve tried to cultivate that.
  • The Anglo Gene Yang was unsurprised (delighted, even) to find out the Asian Scott McCloud is also the son of an engineer, given that their work methods and approaches to comics are so very similar. To be specific, Yang says I try to work by the seat of my pants, to harness my inner spontaneity, but I have no inner spontaneity. Asked if he ever feels out of place among the right-brained community of comics, Yang replied Sometimes I’m with other creators and they talk about things like their feelings and I’m like McCloud then exclaimed Feelings only get in the way!
  • Yang does not, in fact, have the ability to be in two places at one time. During the two panels that are scheduled at the same time, he will not be at the one led by Nick Abadizis. During the two that overlap, he will be leaving one early and arriving at the other late.

Gene Yang will be found many, many places during the rest of Comic Con. Find him and tell him how you like his work.

¹ Although they later discussed Yang’s actual collaborator in the person of Lark Pien, his frequent colorist.

Sic Transit Gloria Webcomicia

It’s an odd vibe in Webcomicsland this year; no Scott Kurtz (given up on the exhibiting end of Comic Con), no Kris Straub (awaiting the imminent birth of his first child), likely no Penny Arcade next year (for reasons previously stated), no Jon Rosenberg (laid low by his three mobile disease vectors children) … it feels like the era of webcomics-cum-San Diego has hit an inflection point. Fortunately, there are always things happening to keep it weird.

  • Darren “Dern” Gendron is pissed. Righteously pissed, even. He spent (by his account) five months planning to have a ball pit form the bulk of his booth, and then DashCon went and blew up the novelty of the whole thing. Nevertheless, it’s there, he’s offering an extra hour to anybody that wants in the ball pit for US$100, and every time somebody pays it he’s upping the price until they stop buying. I’m not sure, but I think that he just wrote Zach Weinersmith’s next economics-themed strip. Things got off to a slow start, ball pit-wise, on Preview Night, but he still managed to have party times, woo! Thankfully, there are not quite enough balls in the pit to hide the fact that the inhabitants are wearing pants.
  • David Willis assured me he was joking about Monday’s Shortpacked being the last. If nothing else, he likes round numbers, and January will mark ten friggin’ years of that strip, with a total of eighteen in one continuity. I’m pretty sure that’s just about half his life. As well, his streak of Hawaiian shirt wearing remains unbroken.
  • Kel McDonald dropped by bearing a copy of the second Cautionary Fables anthology (that would be the Africa edition), as well as news that the next edition with be Asia¹, followed by North America, Australia/New Zealand/Pacific Islands, and then South America. Antarctica and the problems it presents will have to wait to see how the others do. There’s also plans for a massive, 2 x 700 pages (or so) comprehensive Sorcery 101 omnibus edition (asked about a slipcover, she intoned the magic words stretch goal), so keep your eyes for that.
  • Kate Beaton is not at the show, but she is there in spirit — a large avatar of her adorns the banner at the Drawn & Quarterly booth (where she is presently working on a second Hark! book), and she’s just finished the Fat Pony book for Scholastic, so all is well. Oh, and she’s presently driving across Canada with family, so look for awesome Beaton Family comics (seriously, they are the best) while that’s happening.

Pictures: Calm before the insanity hits at Dumbrella², TopatoCo, Sheldon/STRIPPED, and elsewhere. These photos were taken relatively early in the day, before other booths were fully built out, before even the blue-shirted convention center staff became very concerned that no exhibitor be beyond arm’s reach of their booth two hours before the doors opened.

It was weird and control-freaky, but did allow for a hilarious interaction when Matthew Inman to have an exchange with one of the blueshirts; he was constructing a banner in the aisle just outside his booth when he was asked if he intended for the banner to stay there. Not taking the question seriously, he replied Yes, I’m going to keep it here in the middle of the aisle, which response was taken seriously by the convention center official. She became very concerned about this, because apparently no exhibitor in the history of the San Diego Convention Center has ever used aisle space to construct something that would then be pulled into the booth space. Like I said, weird.

Panels to watch for today:

  • Gene Luen Yang and Scott McCloud at 3:00pm, 28DE
  • Scott McCloud solo at 5:00pm, 7AB
  • Bee & Puppycat at 5:30pm, 6A

Reminder to all creators at the show: check the programming guide for your name. Much like we noted earlier that Gene Luen Yang is double-booked at least twice, Frank Gibson mentioned to me that he found out he was on the Bee & Puppycat panel by reading your blog, Gary. You never know what the con organizers or your own publishers might have forgotten to mention or accidentally sent to your spam folder.

Spam of the day:

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¹ As well as the admirable admonition that Asia is broader than Japan, comics people! She’s doing a Turkish myth herself, and one contributor is planning on doing a Mongolian fable. There’s cultures from the Tigris to the Ganges to the Yangtze to the Mekong that fall into Asia and she’s looking to explore them broadly.

² The Ron Swanson Baffler! sold about 45 minutes into Preview Night; it may have also spawned a Tobias Fünke commission for Mr Yates, so that’s all right.


Quick programming note: my plan right now is to post smaller, mostly-text pieces from the show throughout the day; I’ve got a new ultra-light, ultra-fast laptop with a keyboard action that lets me type fast, but it sucks down battery like a motherscratcher so we’ll have to see how it goes. In any event, photos will most likely have to wait until the plentiful hotel wifi becomes available at the end of the day.

There’s a certain calm — almost a rationality — that hangs over San Diego the day before Preview Night. It’s a time when you can touch down at the airport, hop a hotel shuttle, check in, drop your bags, walk ten blocks to the Convention Center and meet Rich Stevens who has your badge¹ in the space of 57 minutes. By this time tomorrow it will not be possible to cross the train tracks and get to the show floor in less than 57 minutes². It’s a time when you can unload a pallet of, say, Android toy four-packs and make a Jenga-style pyramid taller than a man. It’s a time when plans of pre-show donut runs seem plausible³ and not a cruel joke as exhaustion causes you to sleep as late as possible before dashing to the convention center.

And it was a day that, oddly, the management of San Diego Comic Con sent a very interesting email to at least registered members of the press; I don’t know if all attendees got it, but they probably should have. There’s the usual stuff about not allowing carts on the show floor, the fact that fixed recording equipment isn’t allowed, and that prior permission is needed for commercial filming. But a few things stood out that seem to apply to more than just the press crowd:

  • The general prohibition on recording during clips and footage in panels has expanded to mention Google Glass; if you have prescription Glass, you must swap them for another pair of glasses while footage is shown.
  • There’s a recommendation for interviewees (not interviewers; remember, this went to press, so I wonder if it was copy/pasted from an email that went out to everybody) to not sign interview releases until after the interview is done, which should give some leverage for people confronted by the sort of jerk “media” that seem to pop up at every show.
  • There’s an explicit communication of the anti-harassment policy; SDCC has come under criticism for not having made this policy available, so if this was (as I suspect) taken from a communication to all attendees, it represents a welcome (if late) improvement. For the record, the policy reads:

    Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy.

    Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a Comic-Con staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner. If your safety is at risk and you need immediate assistance you may also use a white house phone and dial 5911.

    Security may be contacted by visiting our Show Office in Lobby C. A Comic-Con staff member will be in the office during public hours.

    It’s still pretty weak given its reliance on weasel words like common sense (Emerald City has been held up as a good example of what you want your harassment policy to be like, for both clearly identifying unacceptable behavior and describing their obligation to keep all attendees, staff, guests, and exhibitors feel safe), but it’s still the most publicized instance of the policy I can recall seeing in my years of attending and covering SDCC. So yay, I guess.

Shortly, the real work of show prep will begin; boxes that were pulled inside booth perimeters will be unpacked, banners will be unfurled, people that you see once a year4 will trade labor, and scissors, and duct tape. As I write this, it’s less than eleven hours until the full force of CON descends, and may glob have mercy on those empty spaces where our souls are supposed to be.

Spam of the day:

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¹ Your mileage may vary; it’s unlikely that in your particular case Rich would have your badge, but then again the man is a goddamn miracle worker.

² I exaggerate but slightly; there are signs on the exterior of the convention center — which I did not notice in past years — that inform people from the opening of the doors it may take 20 minutes to clear the lobby area and enter the show floor or make it upstairs to panel rooms.

³ I am not in my usual hotel which is four blocks from the convention center and one block from my preferred breakfast place, with the to-go breakfast burritos. But I noticed last night that my usual hotel has three enormous construction cranes in the immediate vicinity — like on the same block — so maybe that’s not a problem. I am also at the further border of the Gaslamp, away from the loudest party spots; this has a certain appeal now that I am old and need my sleep.

4 Like Brian Sunter, merch-wrangler extraordinaire for the Penny Arcade Imperium. As the PA and Dumbrella booths face each other, Brian and I have spent years giving each other regular register-monkey nods during lulls in the crowd. I particularly associate Sunter with this show as I met him on the floor during prep some years back, about a week after he was hired in Robert Khoo’s first public cattle-call job announcement/decimation hiring process. If the tweet earlier this week about PA possibly abandoning SDCC for PAX South in future years comes true, I’ll miss seeing him.

Nearly Ready For San Diego. You?

Higher volumes of postings will kick in later this week; tomorrow will largely be taken up by travel, but expect at least some info regarding build-out and Preview Night on Wednesday, and then as many posts as make sense on Thursday through Sunday. Next Monday will also be a travel day, for what it’s worth.

In the meantime, if you could keep me from forgetting my phone charger/laptop power cord, and make sure I don’t miss the train to the airport tomorrow, that would be great. Travel safe, everybody that’s travelling, and have a good time everybody that’s not.

Personal goals this year:

  • Meet Gene Luen Yang and thank him for his work
  • At long last, meet Tom Spurgeon in person
  • Buy Jim Zub a drink
  • Find Chris Sims, give him five dollars

Spam of the day:

As tempting since it could be, it is financially irresponsible to borrow more cash than you’ll be able to afford to repay

This is surprisingly good advice; much like a broken clock being right twice a day (or Ross Douthat for once being merely inoffensive rather than his usual cranio-rectalized), spammers must have useful information once in a while.

Lull Before The Nerdstorm

Did I use that title before? I feel like I may have but also don’t feel like checking. There are things happening in comics that, oddly, do not involve the imminent San Diego Comic Con.

  • If you read my review of the print collection Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell and thought Dang, I’ve got to get me that book!, I’ve got good news for you. Creators Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan are having a book launch This Saturday, 19 July, at the highly-regarded Bergen Street Comics in Darwin’s own borough of Brooklyn. To add to the fun, they’re teaming up with fellow creator Jon Chad, who will be celebrating the launch of The Bad-ventures of Bobo Sadsack from Adhouse Books. The celebratin’ and launchin’ starts at 7:00pm, is free to attend, will have plenty of books for purchase and signing, and (based on past events at Bergen Street) may even feature snacks and drinks.
  • Speaking of drinks, there’s a new educated booze-up session from winemistress Kristen Siebecker for those that will be in New York City rather than San Diego, but it’s waitlisted. Lucky for you she’s got a second one coming up a month later, with an emphasis on organic and biodynamic wines that will complement the paleo diet. As usual, Siebecker has provided us with a discount code — EMAIL10 — for 10% off the costs of the class(es).
  • August is going to be celebratory at Portland’s own Excalibur Books & Comics, which will be celebrating 40 years in the funnybooks biz. There’s a sidewalk sale the weekend of 1 August, signings — featuring a slate of local comics talent, including about half of Periscope Studio, as well as webcomics types Mike Russell and Bill Mudron (who collaborated on the anniversary poster) — on Wednesdays the 6th, 13th, and 20th, a party on the 27th complete with cake, and a 50% off sale the weekend of the 29th. Lots of events, so lots can change in the meantime; check the link above for latest updates.
  • The Harvey Awards ballot for 2014 has been announced, and there are some names of note on it. Webcomics and webcomics-adjacent nominees include Steve Wands (Adventure Time) and Britt Wilson (Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake), both up for Best Letterer, Ryan North (Adventure Time) and Jim Zub (Skullkickers) for the Special Award for Humo[u]r in Comics, and Adventure Time for Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers. In the actual category for Best Online Comics Work you’ve got Mike Norton (Battlepug, which took the Eisner in 2012), Laura Innes (The Dreamer — also nominated in this category last year), Tom Siddell (Gunnerkrigg Court), Yale Stewart (JL8), and Scott Kurtz, Steve Hamaker, and Brian Hurtt (Table Titans).

    Also I should probably mention that serial reprobate (and thus webcomicky enough) Chip Zdarsky got tabbed for Most Promising New Talent for Sex Criminals, which also was nominated as Best New Series. Votes (from comics industry professionals) are due by 18 August, and the awards will be given out at Baltimore Comic-Con on Saturday, 6 September.

  • Okay, I lied — one bit about San Diego Comic Con. Pat Race of Alaska Robotics likes running, and he’d like some company, so the somethingth annual SDCC Completely Unofficial Fun 5K will be taking place at some point during the con. Tentatively, the plan is to start at 10:00am on Saturday morning on the bay side of the convention center, but if people want to finish (and shower) before the show opens, it may be started earlier. Check in with AKRobotics at booth 1134 to confirm time and location.

Spam of the day:

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The irony of that quote being about punctuation is giving me a stroke.

Satur-diddly And Also The Lord’s Day

I swear I came up with that title before I saw that the first panel listed on Saturday is for The Simpsons.

Saturday Programming
Cartoon Network: Steven Universe
10:00am — 11:00am, offsite

Well, sort of offsite; much like the STRIPPED screening at the Marriott, the Steven Universe panel (with series creator Rebecca Sugar and supervising director Ian Jones-Quartey¹ plus the voices of Steven, Steven’s dad, and all three gems) will be outside the convention center, but part of the show and thus require badged access. In this case, the Hilton Bayfront (that’s the one on the opposite side of the convention center from the Marriott, past the meadow where they line up the Hall H crowd for four days), in the Indigo Ballroom.

Writers Unite: Writing and Pitching Comic Stories
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 25ABC

If you can’t make it to the Bayfront Hilton, this session featuring the ubiquitous Jim Zub looks like a good alternative.

Diversity in Genre Lit
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 7AB

Okay, this is getting spooky; the even more ubiquitous (at least at this show) Gene Luen Yang will be on the panel here …

Avatar the Last Airbender: Legend and Legacy
10:30am — 11:30am, Room 24ABC

And, allegedly, here as well. Okay, at least this isn’t two sessions in exactly the same timeslot like yesterday, but given the distance he’d have to cover to get from 7AB to 24ABC, Yang couldn’t spend more than 20 minutes in the first if he wanted to make the start of the second. Does he know that he’s apparently being shuttled from panel room to panel room all weekend long without so much as a bathroom break? And will we see the ever-elusive triple booking to go with two (and counting) doubles? Let’s find out together!

Berkeley Breathed: The Last Comic-Con Panel!
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 9

Whoa. Breathed is almost as reclusive as Watterson. All these influencers on Generation Webcomics are coming out of their cloistered retirements.

Spotlight on Bryan Lee O’Malley
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 28DE

Everybody knows that Seconds is out this week, right?

We Are BOOM!
12:30pm — 1:30pm, Room 24ABC

The description starts with a blurb about a deal with 20th Century Fox, and a movie staring Denzel and Marky Mark, but I know I’m not the only one that thinks all of BOOM!s interesting stuff is coming on the all-ages end of things. To that end, I’ll note that Noelle Stevenson of Lumberjanes and the Frank half of Becky and Frank (of numerous Adventure Time backup stories and The Amazing World of Gumball) are the participants what caught my eye.

CBLDF: Banned Comics!
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 30CDE

Featuring Gene Luen Yang. I should get a running count of how many panels he’s on. I’m starting to think my kidding about him being held prisoner by the showrunners is more true than I meant it to be.

Spotlight on Lucy Knisley
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 28DE

Lucy Knisley is one of the very best creators we have, and the only one that makes me physically hungry reading her work.

30 Years of Usagi Yojimbo!
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 28DE

I am sometimes puzzled that you don’t see more written about Usagi Yojimbo until I realize that after three or four months you run out of ways to say Yep, Sakai put together another master class in comics storytelling, art, layout, and pacing. Uhhh-gain. He’s had a hell of a rough year, and I think everybody showing up to give the guy a little love would be an excellent thing.

Comics Journalism: The Hulk Takes a Butt Selfie and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next
6:00pm — 7:00pm, Room 23ABC

My nominee for best panel title of the show.

TeeFury-Practicing Nichecraft: Marketing & Brand Development for Independent Artists
6:30pm — 7:30pm, find it yourself

Seriously? They gave a self-promotion panel to frickin’ TeeFury? It is the end times.

Best and Worst Manga of 2014
7:00pm — 8:00pm, Room 23ABC

Props to my buddies Brigid Alverson, Christopher Butcher, and David Brothers (and also Deb Aoki, who I don’t know personally but whose writing I find smart and insightful) for sharing their wisdom so late in the day when by rights they should be at a bar enjoying a well-earned drink or eight.

Sunday Programming
Panels & Pictures
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 32AB

There’s some counter-intuitive staffing on this panel devoted to graphic novels for kids. Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier, Mike Maihack, Sonny Liew (artist of The Shadow Hero, written by Gene Luen Yang, who will apparently be in a coma at this point since he’s not on the panel) all make sense … the curveball comes from the inclusion of Emily Carroll, whose work I absolutely adore, but never thought as for kids. Then again, kids love to have the bejabbers scared out of ‘em, so I can see them eating her stuff up. Well done, panel organizers!

All-Ages Comics Have Arrived
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 24ABC

Gene Luen Yang will be dragged from the medically-induced coma that he’s been in for the past twelve hours long enough to talk with the likes of Dave Roman, Ian McGinty, Dave Petersen, and moderator Shannon Watters.

Fund My Comic
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 29A

Everything I said about the Kickstarter panel on Thursday would also apply here, except they included Kel McDonald on this one. Still offering that dollar to successful crowdfunders to attend.

Keenspot 2014: Giant-Size Panel of Pure Weirdness
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 4

The blurb says this is the 14th year for the Keenspot panel and that sounds about right. What caught my attention was the inclusion of DJ Coffman, who we haven’t seen in the webcomics scene for some time. Interesting times we live in.

First Second in Conversation
3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 26AB

Readers of this page know I stand second to no man in my admiration of :01 Books, and they’ve got four of their very best in conversation: Paul Pope, Faith Erin Hicks, Lucy Knisley, and the restless ghost of Gene Luen Yang. This is my fourth must-attend of the weekend, and if I’ve got my math right, Yang’s eighth panel of the show. If you see him on the floor, maybe pass him some snacks?

Spam of the day:

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You know how artificial language-construction systems are getting to the point where they can persuasively simulate like a 13 year old Ukrainian kid? Yeah, this was apparently written by a system that simulates a drunken libertarian brand marketer.

¹ I’ll give you a dollar if you ask him when RPG World is coming back.

Aw Man, I Left This Without A Title For More Than 48 Hours? I Suck

San Diego Comic Con programming continues its release, with Friday’s panels and things now up for your perusal. As always, the schedule may change over the next couple of weeks, so verify the schedule before sitting in line for 37 hours.

Friday Programming
Gender in Comics
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 4

Some very smart people on this panel, whose writings on the Venn diagram of gender and comics I enjoy a great deal, including Janelle Asselin, Andy Khouri, Jennifer de Guzman, and Laura Hudson.

Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Rescued by Batman: Finding Hope in Something Terrible
10:30am — 11:30am, Room 26AB

Dean Trippe talking about his experience with sexual abuse and how Batman saved him. My third must-attend of the show.

Origins of the Comic Strip: The Untold Story of Artists and Anarchy, 1895-1915
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 29A

Could be an interesting companion to the screening of STRIPPED later today.

Walking the Line: An Investigation into Alternative vs. Mainstream Comics and Beyond
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 28DE

Kazu Kibuishi and Gene Luen Yang will be part of the panel, moderated by the always-great Calvin Reid. But here’s the weird part:

Words and Pictures
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 9

Got that? Same time as the panel immediately above. Moderated by Lev Grossman of TIME magazine, it’s a murderer’s row of modern masters of graphic storytelling: Michael Cho, Faith Erin Hicks, Lucy Knisley, Jen Wang, and Gene Luen Yang¹.

Comic Book Entrepreneurs: The Business of Comics
6:00pm — 7:00pm, Room 9

Bunch of business types, but also Noelle Stevenson of Nimona and Lumberjanes.

6:10pm — 7:40pm, offsite

Well, half offiste; STRIPPED will be screening as part of the Comic Con International Independent Film Festival, which takes place at the Marriott next door to the convention center, in Hall 2. It’s still part of SDCC so you do need to be badged, it’s just not in the convention center. With another film starting immediately after, it doesn’t look like there’ll be time for a Q&A with filmmakers Freddave Kellett-Schroeder, but they’ll be at booth 1228 all show, so drop by there to pick up a copy or ask ‘em about focal length or whatever.

Okay, that’s it for now; as a quick note, I’ll be on Pacific Time next week, so look for updates to occur later than they normally do. Yep, work sends me to the Left Coast just before I have to fly there for the convention like three days after I get home. I am not going to know what damn time zone it is for weeks.

Spam of the day:

what does yolo swag mean

Let me Google that for you.

¹ Is Gene Yang able to be in two places at the same time? It might explain how he has the time to turn out so many graphic novels without seeming to rush or skimp on any of them.

I Knew There Was A Reason To Write Late Today

San Diego Comic Con programming started to drop today, with Thursday’s slate now available for your perusal. As usual, I’m listing out things that caught my eye; your mileage may vary.

Thursday Programming
Graphic Novel Programming at Your Library
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 23ABC

If you’ve been wanting to get your work into libraries, this is probably a good place to trawl for librarians.

Legends of TV Land
find it yourself

This is just to point out that Betty White now counts as valid topic for SDCC panel time. Look, I get it, she’s a treasure, but we’ve really jumped the sharknado on this one¹.

Under the Dome: Panel and Exclusive Sneak Preview
11:15am — 12:00pm, Ballroom 20

I am including this solely to make Jon Rosenberg’s head explode.

Welcome To Night Vale
12:00pm — 1:00pm, offsite

TopatoCo will be presenting a panel at the Geek and Sundry Lounge on 4th Ave in the Gaslamp, covering the secret history of one weird little town. As it’s offsite, no SDCC badge is needed.

Gene Luen Yang in Conversation with Scott McCloud
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 28DE

This is the first must-attend of the show for me. I’ve never met Yang, but I owe him many profuse thanks for his body of work.

NASA’s Next Giant Leap
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 6A

Okay, I’m not sure why Seth Green is moderating this one, but any panel with Buzz Frickn’ Aldrin and Bobak Frickin’ Ferdowsi² on it gets my attention. They may have undersized the room for this panel.

The Sergio & Mark Show
3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

The two most consistently amusing people in comics.

How to Kickstart Your Dream Like a Pro
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 25ABC

Spike, Ryan North, David Malki !, Zach Weinersmith, Aaron Diaz, and George Rohac are, inexplicably, not on this panel (indeed, half of them won’t be at the show). However, I’ll give a dollar to each one of them that attends the panel to kibitz from the floor.

Understanding Stories: The Making of a Graphic Novel
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 7AB

McCloud again; hopefully includes previews of The Sculptor.

Cartoon Hangover: Bee and PuppyCat and Friends
5:30pm — 6:30pm, Room 6A

Natasha Allegri, Becky & Frank, Madeleine Flores, Allyn Rachel and Kent Osborne (voices of Bee and Deckard), and others. Second must-attend of the show for me.

Indie Comics Marketing & PR 101
6:30pm — 7:30pm, Room 8

Panelists from comiXology, BOOM!, and Fantagraphics. Could be some very worthwhile info at this one.

Spam of the day:

As explained NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the biggest market of gravity is “the average location with the weight from the object.

This spam may actually tie with this one:

how much is 100 grams in tablespoons

… in terms of fundamentally misunderstanding how basic concepts like mass, volume, and gravity work. Going to ask me how much time twelve parsecs is next?

¹ Sharknado 2, naturally, has its own panel on Thursday because of course it does.

² Who, let’s be clear, oversaw the most audacious landing in space exploration history before his 33rd birthday. Respect, my brother engineer.

The Map Of The World

Well, it’s just about two weeks out from Preview Night and (as of this writing) we don’t have a definitive programming schedule for San Diego Comic Con 2014; despite this, there are hints leaking out here and there, such as Dean Trippe’s Something Terrible panel on Friday morning. But what we do have is an exhibitor list for the main floor, Small Press, and Artists Alley areas, which we at Fleen have broken down for your convenience.

Surprising nobody, the SDCC exhibit floor [PDF] remains unreasonably huge; good news, though — if you’ve been before, webcomickers and similar folks are mostly where you’ve found them in prior years. Please note that all the information given is what I could confirm at press time, and as more information becomes available I will update or correct this page.

On The Right Side
Let’s start over to the right side of the map, which is the side of the building away from the stadium parking lot where so much offsite stuff will be found. It looks like this:

The Webcomics, Small Press, and Independent Press Pavilions are all reasonably accessible from the “B” lobby. Let’s break ‘em down.

The Sexy Lagoon
Centered roughly on booth #1332, you’ll find a majority of the webcomickers who will be at the show within about a 1.5 aisle radius; some are slightly outside the orange area, but not too far.

:01 Books Booth 1323
Alaska Robotics
with Marian Call
Booth 1134
Blank Label Booth 1330
Blind Ferret Booth 1231
Cyanide & Happiness     Booth 1234
Dumbrella Booth 1335
Girl Genius Booth 1331
Monster Milk Booth 1232
Penny Arcade Booth 1334
PvP and Table Titans Booth 1235
Booth 1332
Sheldon and STRIPPED Booth 1228
The Oatmeal Booth 1021
TopatoCo Booth 1229
Two Lumps Booth 1230


Small Press Is The Best Press
Right by the Webcomics section is Small Press. Here you should find:

Bob the Angry Flower    Table K-16
Ben Costa Table O-07
Keith Knight Table K-15
Kel McDonald Table M-13
Wire Heads Table M-01

From the Small Press section, you’re close by:

Cartoon Art Musuem    Booth 1930
CBLDF Booth 1920
BOOM! Booth 2229
Oni Press Booth 1833
Bolt City/Gallery Nucleus Booth 2743


  • Gallery Nucleus/Bolt City will feature Kazu Kibuishi, and no doubt other arty types when they aren’t hanging out at Mondo down in booth 805.
  • No confirmation yet on which webcomickers will be at the BOOM! booth when, but I’d expect a pretty strong rotation.

Now head back toward the “B” Lobby into the Independent Press area and you’ll find Unshelved in Booth 2300. Head towards entrance B2 in particular and you’ll be right next to Axe Cop at Booth 1603.

Going back to that larger map of the northern half of the exhibit hall. Wedged in between the Marvel and Image megabooths you’ll find Keenspot in Booth 2635.

Down South
Two last places to mention, if you trek down to the southern (that’s the end closer to the Happiest Place On Earth¹) end of the hall:

Waaay down there, past all the art materials and vinyl toys and Copic markers, you’ll find Udon Entertainment (home of such worthies as Christopher Butcher and Jim Zub at Booth 4529); and The Hero Initiative at Booth 5003. One may also find Mr Zub in Artists Alley, table GG-06, or variously at the Dark Horse, IDW, Image, or Marvel booths; look for the Canadian-shaped blur and that will be him.

I don’t have a specific place to direct you like last year’s ShiftyLook (RIP) Arcade featuring Andrew Hussie, but I’m guessing that neither the Gaslamp Hilton terrace nor the massive parking lots within a kilometer of the convention center will be empty. I’ll add info to this page as I become aware of it. I’ll also update any info I get on people that are going to SDCC, but not necessarily boothing on their own.

Spam of the day:

does pizza go bad overnight

You shut your filthy mouth, pizza is never bad.

¹ Tijuana.

New Arrivals

New — in some cases long-awaited — things popping up all over the damn place today.

  • Ever want a Scott C painting of your very own? I’ve got a couple and they’re great, but they aren’t necessarily in everybody’s price range. The valiant Mr C heard your cries of despair, though, and has a solution:


    DAY 1

    Here’s what’s happening: I will post a little painting from a popular little film once every day this week leading up to the Revenge of the Great Showdowns exhibition on Friday, July 11th at Gallery 1988. These paintings shall be placed into envelopes and hidden somewhere at the location in which that scene happened.

    The first person to find this painting shall keep this painting as a gift from me to you! I only ask that you post a picture of the found painting in your possession, so I can congratulate you in front of the world. Tweet it or whatever you like. #GreatGreatShowdownsHunt

    Today’s painting appears to be of the cast of Reservoir Dogs, and it’s been placed in proximity to the diner from the early scene where they discussed tipping. Get on that, LA people! Presumably the others between now and Friday will also be in LA, but maybe he’s arranged for one to be left somewhere in suburban New Jersey. Please?

  • From the twitter machine yesterday

    Baby arrived 8:14 this morning. Seven pounds, four ounces, 19 1/2″ long. Enjoying family bonding time at the hospital right now.

    That would be the sprog of Shaenon Garrity and Andrew Farago, born to webcomics royalty. There’s only so much you can say in 140 characters, so we at Fleen will presume that mother, child, and father are all doing well, and hope that all settle into their new routines easily. Child, you are going to have an amazing life, with parents that not only love the crap out of you, but alsodraw great pictures for your amusement and have a appreciation of nerdy things second to none.

    Listen to them well, learn their lessons, and you may someday inherit your mother’s crown as one of the three Nexuses of All Webcomics Reality and Radness Queen of the East Bay and Adjoining Metropolitan Areas. Welcome, little one; we’ll try to make the world worthy of you.

  • Little baby children are all adorable, and a good thing too, or the stories of what they’re like at two years old would have led to a lot more of them being raised by wolves¹. Nightmares at that age, the lot of ‘em. Not that nightmares don’t have their appeal from a storytelling perspective, which is why I’m equally curious and (given the imagery coming out of Broodhollow these says) trepidatious about Kris Straub’s newest project:

    What if there was a company that could go into your dreams and kill your nightmares? EXTERMINITE is a mind-bending 5-part graphic novel from Len Peralta, Mikey Neumann, and Kris Straub that will scare you out of your own pants, hilariously.

    Okay, sure, the blurb there claims that Exterminite will also have the hands of Len Peralta and Mikey Neumann, but when you start talking about nightmares, really disturbing nightmares, my mind goes straight to Straub. Hopefully the ha, ha aspects of this one will outweigh the Well great, you can just rock me to sleep tonight, Kris aspects.

    May Straub find this project a means to deal with his well-known fear of ghosts, because he’s just way too nice a guy to spend his days spooked by the things that aren’t quite there. Besides, he’s expecting his own first child soon, and as I understand it worrying about everything dangerous your infant can do to her/himself leaves little time to worry about ghosts.

  • New book cover/recently rediscovered Art Deco masterpiece courtesy of Justin Pierce; Wonderella may be taking a little break while the third collection of her nonadventures is being put together, but if we get beautiful renditions like this (love the juniper, barley, and hops, very apropos) I’d call that a fair trade. Kickstarter information to come soon.

Spam of the day:

Depending which type, gas powered or electric, make certain you hands are dry before plugging it in to operate. You can buy this dryer at Sears, Home Depot and select Loews locations.

And remember, you have to keep the lint screen clear or you’ll burn down your house.

¹ Or perhaps moles; I can never keep those two straight.