The webcomics blog about webcomics

Want To Be The Next Larry Gonick?¹

Two items today, one long and one short.

  • Know what I really like about webcomickers?

    When presented with the opportunity to seek out creative partners for a new project, they pay. Consider the vast amounts of money doled out by your Spikes, or Erikas Moen, who are in the habit of retroactively paying artists bonuses, or your Ryans North, who regard increasing income primarily as a reason to hire more artists. Consider the vitriol among webcomickers inspired by the quotes that Ryan Estrada mines for the @forexposure_txt twitterfeed.

    So it gives me great pleasure to point out another project announcement, one that pays money (probably). Welcome to the world of research grants with your guide, Dante Shepherd:

    This is what I want to do. I want to make science comics. And I want to pay artists to make them.

    I’m currently applying for a grant to help these visual students learn. While the overall grant isn’t for a ton of money in comparison to the usual research grants, it would be enough to pay artists for at least 60 pages of work. These 60 pages would be spread across several disciplines — certainly Chemical Engineering, with it being my background, but also Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biology, and more — and would ideally be a springboard for us to be able to continue adding to the comic education in future years as well.

    And as part of this grant, we would also involve Art and Design students to further their education, too. It’d be as expansive as we can make it for the funds provided to us.

    This is where I’m opening it up to you and any other artists out there for involvement. We need to show that we have actual professional artists interested and willing to participate in the grant. The work would be collaborative to some extent — the engineering researchers, the art and design researchers, and artists all working together to develop optimal scripts and layouts for learning — and you would be paid for your work based on the pages you produce.

    I know that sounds a little convoluted, so let me summarize: the money doesn’t exist yet, and in order to get the money, artists are needed to say that they would be interested in doing the work. If the money doesn’t come through (and writing grants is not a guarantee of success¹), then you don’t do the work. It’s more than a little chasing-your-own-tail, what with needing people willing to do the work, not knowing if they’ll actually be called upon to do it, but without that first step nothing will happen.

    So if you’re interested, if you think you could help teach complex STEM principles in comics form, if you’re willing to to show your past work to help convince the grant committee, drop an email to danteshepherd who has taken out a Google email account.

  • In other news, we’ve previously mentioned that the annual MoCCA Fest will be shifting venues to Center 548, and it appears that the new locale is just a mite too small to accommodate panels. Not to fear, as the Society of Illustrators (parent organization to MoCCA) have obtained two dedicated rooms at the nearby (and gorgeous) High Line Hotel, a brief walk of perhaps four minutes. Also, you know what you get with hotels that you don’t get other places? Lobby bars. Just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

prepared dishes that you would come to expect from an iron chef, because it wasn’t. It just wasn’t. Wasn’t worth

Iron Chefs are always worth it.

¹ Larry Gonick has taught more people about more different things using cartoons than anybody else I can think of. As previously noted, pretty much everything I know about the history of China is due to his comics.

I became an electrical engineer specializing in communication systems and information theory at least in part because I had a copy of the 1983 edition of The Cartoon Guide to Computer Science (since retitled) back in high school and learned about Turing, Shannon, and other giants of the field. Hell, I stole his AND and OR truth tables on the statements P: The pig has spots and Q: The pig is glad when I was teaching computer logic early in my career. The lesson was worth it just for the PorQ? joke.

² Although the relatively low cost of paying some artists to produce comics compared to — let’s say, building a multi million dollar materials-research lab — help the odds. If you’ve got ten grand left over in your funding and here are fourteen unmet grants looking for multiple millions and one over there looking for eight grand, that becomes a no-brainer.

Today’s Post Is Brought To You By Twitter, And Readers Like You

Everything I talk about today, I noticed first on Twitter.

  • Let’s get the rapidly-changing one out of the way first. Yesterday, Matthew Inman dropped a hint that something would be happening today:

    Here’s a little sneak peek of a project I’ve been working on. It launches tomorrow. I am so excited I might hurl!

    … with an accompanying illustration of what appeared to be a card game. At 1:23pm EST he updated us:

    BIG FANCY ANNOUNCEMENT: I helped create a card game and it’s called Exploding Kittens

    That link went to a product page with a link to a Kickstarter. Four minutes later it became certain that this project would not require 30 days to fund out:

    WE JUST HIT OUR GOAL! $10k in 8 minutes

    I first made it to the Kickstarter at approximately the 17 minute mark, when the total was above US$65,0000. Refreshing a few minutes later, it was north of US$70K. As of writing the first draft of this sentence (38 minutes into the project’s history), Exploding Kittens has raised US$133,745 and is jumping every time the page refreshes.

    I’ll hop back there as I’m putting the final polish on this posting to see where it’s at, but right now I’m calling it: an hour in this game will raise more money than Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad, and I’m not exactly sure how long it will take to surpass the funding on Operation Let’s Build A Goddamned Tesla Museum, but I am certain it will do so. Come back tomorrow and we’ll see what the FFF says at the 24 hour mark.

  • Katie Lane, lawyer extraordinaire to the creative community, shares a lot of information with you about how to conduct your creative business. For example, today she let us know about the value of having policies, even if it’s just you¹. My favorite bit was how having policies can aid in negotiation:

    Here’s a cool trick: next time a client asks you if you’d be willing to do something you really don’t want to do, instead of saying “I’d rather not” or “I don’t want to,” say, “I can’t; my company has a policy against [thing you don’t want to do].”

    Clients hear wiggle room in “I’d rather not” or “I don’t want to.” But with a policy they hear a rule, a line in the sand, they hear “no.”

    Clients are more likely to respect your boundaries if they look like boundaries they’re already used to following. Most companies have policies and most of your clients have polices. Those polices are there to make the company work better and your clients understand that; your clients are used to following policies. And they’re used to having to make a very strong argument to justify working around a policy.

    Lane shares ideas like this multiple times a month over at her site, much of it for free at her blog, but this is also part of her livelihood. So I’m pleased to note that she’ll be offering more advice on the subject of gettin’ paid in online class sessions in the coming weeks. Way I look at it, if spending a couple hundred bucks and a couple hours (and possibly springing for the one-on-one consult) gets you paid on just one job that wasn’t ponying up the dough, you’ve come out ahead. Twenty spots only, and may I mention other classes and workshops she teaches in person? Why yes, I may.

  • Thought Bubble is one of those shows I know I’m going to have to visit eventually, it’s just that there’s this ocean in the way². Fortunately, the redoubtable Danielle Corsetto retweeted the TB folks earlier today, alerting me to the fact that the first videos of their Sketching Spotlight are now online. The videos in question feature Corsetto, Boulet, Emily Carroll, and Babs Tarr, moderated by Pete Doherty.

    The first video is here, and focuses on Corsetto. Carroll is the subject of the second, Tarr the third, and Boulet the fourth; they range from 15 to 20 minutes of drawing, with an extra 10 minutes of discussion at the end. They’re great fun!

  • Okay, wrapping this up. It’s 2:39pm EST, the Exploding Kittenstarter has been up for 1 hour and 20 minutes, and it’s presently at US$292,217. So, yeah, 70 grand past BearLove and more than 20% of the way to Goddamned Tesla Museum. Yikes.
  • Postscript: I just noticed that sometime in that first hour and twenty, all 200 slots of the limited US$100 tier and all 5 of the limited $500 tier were snapped up. Also, in the first minutes since the total is over US$317K, and more than 8200 backers. We could be looking at an all-time record, folks.

Spam of the day:

Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site :)

Given that your site appears to deal with the removal of tree stumps, I kind of doubt that.

¹ It’s better to set these policies for yourself than have them imposed on you. My friend da9ve (not a typo) had a consultancy that consisted of just him, but the state of Indiana required him to adopt a sexual harassment policy so that if he ever sexually harassed himself at work, Indiana would sue him to recover damages. Fortunately, da9ve was never subjected to a hostile work environment by himself, so he never had to file a complaint on himself or get sued by himself to make restitution to himself.

² I was actually hoping for that thing where Google Maps tells you to swim so many thousands of kilometers and then resume your journey on land, but no luck.

It’s Not Just Me? I Mean, This Is Weird, Right?

Huh. Okay. That's ... kind of weird.

So end of last week, I noticed a retweet from Sohmer, Ryan Sohmer, and thought huh. He’s got plans, Sohmer does, and is typically thinking three steps ahead, and if he is going to take one of his comics into print as floppies, he’s thought of all the angles. Not much else about Looking For Group teaming up with Dynamite crossed my radar over the weekend, so this morning I went looking and it seems that Dynamite hasn’t heard they’re doing this book yet.

Which is odd, because there’s an announcement from Blind Ferret today, and Bleeding Cool has previews (including a Becky Dreistadt variant cover), and Sohmer himself weighed in today on the whys and wherefores. Then again, Dynamite doesn’t seem to have updated their News page (as of this writing) since August of last year, so at least it’s not a slight specifically against our neighbors to the north.

  • Another case of the news getting ahead of the newsmakers: while there’s nothing at the SPX site as of this writing, Heidi Mac has the lowdown on the non-curated end of SPX registration — it launches on 1 February and will surely be oversubscribed:

    1. SPX 2015 invitees will hear from us before the end of January. Tables associated with any invitations not accepted will be rolled over into the lottery pool.
    2. The SPX 2015 table lottery will run from February 1 to February 15, 2015 (at midnight eastern time). We’ll widely advertise the lottery opening and, at that time, provide access to an online form to enter the lottery.
    3. After entering the lottery, you’ll receive your lottery number. Don’t lose it! Just kidding. We’ll keep a copy and notify you either way if you win.
    4. All lottery entries will be reviewed by SPX. What are we reviewing them for? SPX is a showcase for independent comics. If it will not be clear to us that you make such things we reserve the right to remove your lottery entry. If we contact you to follow up with your registration, we appreciate your help in letting us know more about your work.
    5. Upon conclusion of our review, we’ll notify the lottery winners for 2015 (yay!). You’ll have a reasonable window of time to pay for your requested table space.
    6. We’ll also maintain a wait list (based on the next 50 potential lottery winners). Tables that are not paid for in a timely manner or are subsequently cancelled will be offered to members of the wait list in turn.

    There’s also a detailed bit on the lottery process which is rather lengthy, so I’ll just send you over to The Beat for the deal. Short form, there’s a sorted list of randomly-assigned six-digit numbers, and they’ll assign booths based on the list in either ascending or descending order based on a computerized coin flip.

  • Today marks 250 pages of Stand Still, Stay Silent which is really rather impressive considering that since the 1 November 2013 launch, there have only been 444 days. There have been a couple of 2- or 3-week hiatuses as Minna Sundberg did things like mail out a few thousand hardcovers, put together another hardcover, and move between countries.

    That brings us to somewhere around 400 days of the strip’s existence that one could reasonably expect Sundberg to be working (and includes weekends, holidays and such, because we all know that cartoonists are automatons that don’t observe such niceties) meaning that more than 2 days out of every 3 she’s delivered a full page, in color, with incredible detail. Also humor, pathos, creeping horror, and linguistics.

    What I am saying here is that she has been working at a furious pace (on her own, no less) to produce a ripping good read, my favorite of the past year, and you should be paying attention because it’s damn good. If you don’t read it, start your archive trawl now while it’s still practicable.

  • On the off chance you don’t yet appreciate what one creator can do on their own, consider the most recent update from Boulet: it’s beautiful, highly evocative of mood, more than a little melancholy, and utilizes the “web” part of “webcomics” exactly as it should be used. The little bits of motion enhance rather than detract, and put to shame every half-assed “motion comic” that uses motion just for the sake of using it.

    For other examples of Boulet utilizing limited motion and infinite canvas, see Game Over, Our Toyota Was Fantastic, and The Long Journey; in each case, the technological elements in service to the story rather than the other way around. The man is a treasure, and that’s before you take into account his acknowledgment of the power of moustachery.

Spam of the day:

I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your site?

No. Next!

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.


Deadlines are wonderful things — they focus the mind, and anybody that says they don’t screw around until the last possible moment before deadline is dangerously self-deluded. I, uh, may have heard that somewhere, not that I’d know. Nope. Not me.

    So, three weeks back, we were talking about the Society of Illustrators and the second iteration of the Comic & Cartoon Art Annual and how the deadline for submission in all categories (several of which track neatly with webcomics) would be (was, now) yesterday. Well, good news, procrastinators! Deadline’s been extended to this Friday, 9 January.

  • As long as we’re talking about juried processes involving the comics and cartoon arts, there was this bit from the twitterfeed of National Cartoonists Society president Tom Richmond:

    NCS Divisional Reuben Awards Submission Call

    In other words, time for my annual reminder that webcomics are represented by two awards, long form and short form, and if you want to be considered you should follow that link and decide which category you fall into. One might also note that a number of you reading this may also fall into other categories, particularly the Comic Books (Ryan, Shelli, and Braden ought to really be submitting for Adventure Time, as should Noelle et. al. for Lumberjanes) and Graphic Novels (Box, Emily, Raina, Gene & Sonny, and Kazu, just off the top of my head).

    As in past years, I’ll be part of Richmond’s advisory committee, making sure that the best webcomics don’t get overlooked from consideration, so if there’s something that you feel I should bring to the membership’s attention, let me know. Please note that the deadline for submission is 15 February, which is sooner than you think.

  • Speaking of the NCS awards, last year’s winner for On-Line Comics — Long Form, Jeff Smith¹, has returned from hiatus with the latest chapter of Tüki Save The Humans (that would be number three) kicking off yesterday. Tüki hasn’t run as frequently as was originally planned¹, and the site has had growing pains, but you know what? Free Jeff Smith comics delivered to me by magic internet lasers are good under any circumstances.

    Oh, right, deadline … deadline … okay, Tüki’s been in that fight with Big Ugly there since midway through the last chapter, and I’d say that one or the other one is gonna be dead soon. Considering it’s Tüki’s book, my money is on Toothless to be the one with his ass on the line.

Spam of the day:

Thank you for your helping hand.

You’re welcome. I pride myself on being a helpful kind of guy.

¹ As was explained to me by Cartoon Books publisher and all-around nerd-wrangling badass Vijaya Iyer, Tüki was to run M-W-F for eight weeks, then take two months off, then on to the next chapter. Instead, we’re averaging about two chapters a year. Please don’t take this as a criticism of Smith and Iyer; I love them both to death, I love the story, and if that’s the pace that they can deliver the free webcomic at while maintaining their paying work, then I am happy for it.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

  • Back: KC Green ran one last Gunshow to say goodbye, and we should remind you that he is retiring one comic, not from the comics game. His adaptation of Pinocchio is top-notch, his collaboration with Anthony Clark, BACK, makes Wednesdays a joy, and you can keep up with his other comings and goings fairly easily at his main site. Thanks for 900 pages of funny, touching, sometimes heartbreaking comics, KC. You remain one of the most fearless creators working today. Also, I just now realized that KC does the comic called BACK and I gave this paragraph the heading of Back and that was totally unintentional. I’m a little tired today.
  • Forward: The future of comics depends on bringing new readers into the fold, not just trying to appeal to an ever-shrinking cohort of lifelong¹ fanboys. Those readers have — rightly! — an expectation that they should be able to see themselves in the comics they read²; as I wrote in a piece that will hopefully see print in the coming year, there’s a sense of I’ve never seen comics about an experience like mine before and it’s damn well time I did. The future of comics is increasingly going to be determined by women and girls. As I’ve long said, nobody embodies that trend more than Raina Telgemeier, and it’s so apparent that no less an embodiment of established authority than the Wall Street Journal agrees. 2014 was the Year of Raina, but I suspect that future years will make 2014 look merely okay by comparison.
  • Back: Readers may recall my placement of an order with TopatoCo back in October, number 519348 to be precise. You may also recall the notice last week regarding the rate at which TopatoCo shipped merch in the first two weeks of December. As I threatened to do in October, I placed an order (for John Allison’s Giant Days three-pack) yesterday, the last day of the year, close enough to the very end of the year as makes no difference and noted the order number: 545856. What can we learn from this?

    Some 26500 orders were placed between the end of October and the end of December, which one may reasonably conclude is the TopatoCo busy season. In just one quarter of that time, more than 15000 items were shipped; even accounting for the fact that some orders surely would have been cancelled, you’ve still got between 26.5K and let’s say 60K items (15K in two weeks, extrapolated out to two months) which is a tremendous lot of business, and good news for all involved. Take a moment to thank the merch elves of TopatoCo, much as I did with my end-of-order special instructions³.

  • Forward: There are creative couples in comics where it’s pretty impossible to think of one half without thinking of the other as well — Raina Telgemeier is surely pushed to make even better comics (and pushes in return) thanks to the good fortune of being married to Dave Roman. Other power couples exist: Chris and Carly, Yuko and Ananth, Shelli and Braden, Ryan and Joey, and, of course, Mer and Mike. That last pair up and made it official last night, to which I can only say congratulations. Draw, love, laugh, and if Heidi and Ella can reach some kind of détente, there’s nothing the two of you can’t accomplish. Hooray!

Spam of the day:


Is this some kind of cult thing? Because you have to tell me if you’re a cult.

¹ That is, cape-obsessed.

² And, increasingly, create.

³ The drink referenced in that image was originally constructed for the Pineapple Maki contest, but since it looks like that’s not going to happen I have released it into the wild for all to enjoy.

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.

Same As Last Year, Just Pushed Up A Bit

Last January, I shared with you how the Society of Illustrators had extended one of their traditions into the space of MoCCA, when they launched the Comic & Cartoon Art Annual. This year they made good on the “annual” part, as it turns out not to be a one-shot deal. As before, the basic terms are the competition is:

[o]pen to artists worldwide, entries are considered by a jury of professionals, including renowned cartoonists, illustrators, publishers, and editors. The competition will result in an exhibition that will showcase the most outstanding works created in this genre throughout each year.

The original works will be exhibited in the MoCCA Gallery at the Society of Illustrators from June 16 through August 15th, 2015.

Opening Award Galas will be scheduled where Medals and Certificates will be presented to the artists whose works are judged best in each category.

All accepted entries will be reproduced in a full color catalog.

A selection of 40 works from each Exhibition will then tour colleges throughout the country in an educational traveling show, a tradition that we have had at the Society for over 30 years.

Categories are largely the same as last year, with the exception that they have removed the Moving Images from consideration. Otherwise, Long Form (more than 40 pages), Short Form (between 2 and 40 pages), Special Format (limited edition, small press, hand-made or artists books), Digital Media (native to digital format, up to 20 images), Comic Strip (4 or more panels, up to 1 page), and Single Image. Full details are available online, including instructions on submissions.

The key things are:

  • The work must have been done from Jan 2014 to Jan 2015
  • The deadline is Monday, 5 January 2015
  • There’s an entrance fee of US$20 for SoI members, US$30 for non-members

I know that I generally don’t hold with art competitions but this isn’t to compete for the right to do free work, it’s for a well-respected, juried process. And the fee isn’t for the privilege of exposure, it’s to cover the costs of mounting the exhibition, and producing the physical rewards and catalogs. It’s pretty much the opposite of a scam, so if you did work you’re proud of, submit away.

Oh, and because I missed it in last year’s post, I specifically went to check. There is no Death At Your Door Kickstarter this year.

Spam of the day:

A bumbag of saving enjoy create going could have hold a mug or two in different exclusively established company.Computer!

I didn’t know that the “bumbag” was the unit of savings. Also, that sudden outburst of Computer! at the end reminds me of an old Comics Curmudgeon gag, so thanks anonymous spammer!