The webcomics blog about webcomics

Sic Transit Gloria Conventioni

Mixed bag today.

  • Well, there goes that. I have attended every iteration of New York Comic Con since its inception on a cold, snowy, overly-crowded February weekend (nearly a full year before this here blog launched), either working the CBLDF booth, doing my reportage, or both. The Javits Center is finally becoming navigable again, and while webcomics have almost entirely absented themselves from the floor, there are still a few to be found.

    Dear Gary Tyrrell,

    Thank you for applying for a Press Badge for New York Comic Con 2016. We have reviewed your application and based on NYCC’s Press Registration requirements, we are unfortunately unable to provide you with a Press Badge for NYCC 2016. Due to the growth of the Show and demand for Tickets, NYCC is utilizing a more intensive application process for qualifying members of the Press.

    While you do not meet our criteria for a Press Badge this year, we encourage you to attend NYCC 2016 as a Fan. If you would like to attend NYCC as a Fan in 2016, please complete our Fan Verification process at You may also apply for a Press Badge again in 2017. [emphasis original]

    Well, they spelled my name right, at least.

    I think I’m okay with this¹. It’s not been entirely clear if the “Fan Verification” process (which has come in for criticism for being overly intrusive) would have applied to press badges, but if it did I’d have been declining the opportunity to give up all my personal info again to glob knows who for glob knows what purposes. Also, I find the implication that Reed Pop will possibly give me a press badge in the future hilarious; I don’t fit their Big Media focus anymore and that’s not going to change in the future. I don’t begrudge the folks at Reed for that, by the way — it’s their show, they can extend free admission to whomever they wish.

    To be honest, the crush of huge, barely-comics comics shows has been something I’ve braved to see people I want to see in as large a grouping as possible, and that’s something I still do at San Diego². Heck, I can see more people I care to see at MoCCA or TopatoCon, and I suspect I’ll be heading to SPX more regularly, and adding TCAF to my rotation. Easy transportation via the train right outside my front door aside, the appeal of NYCC had reduced to the point I was doing a single day trip per year anyway, and I don’t see myself spending fifty bucks to continue that. Been cool, NYCC; see you around.

  • Happier news: tomorrow will see the release of three webcomics-related trade paperbacks. The third Unbeatable Squirrel Girl collection (Squirrel You Really Got Me Now, by Ryan North and Erika Henderson, with an assist from Joe Quinones and Chort Zubaz) drops from Marvel, and the third Wayward collection (Out From The Shadows, Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, and Tamra Bonvillain), and the fourth Octopus Pie collection (with new strips printed for the first time, from Meredith Gran) both come to you courtesy of Image. As a reminder, Gran is having a pop-up celebration tomorrow night on the Lower East Side. Good stuff, straight to your friendly local comics shop.

Spam of the day:

Secret Brain-Enhancer Used by the Elite

Why, yes I’d very much like to see results like improved memory and brain from your completely opaque, no-disclosed-ingredients, unregulated smart pill that will absolutely not poison me.

¹ Apart from the Seemingly Random desire to Capitalize Words. What the Heck?

² Although there’s no speculating how much longer that will last. If I lose the home base of the Dumbrella booth, it may not be worth the travel time and cost any longer.

Out On The Weekend

The transition week between TCAF and VanCAF is wrapping up, that second CAF is set to launch tomorrow, and there will be (as previously noted) oodles of deeply skilled comickers hanging around The Roundhouse for the next two days. Let’s mention a couple of things for those of you that aren’t in the Saltwater City.

  • Surprise: New Softer World, new Softer World, new Softer World. And not the only one! From Emily Horne, the non-Joey Comeau (and most likely saner) half of ASW:

    It’s been about a year since we sank this ship, and for the next couple of weeks, we’re raising her up again. Watch this space over the next few Fridays to see the last of the extra comics we promised in our Kickstarter!

    For any of you who missed the Kickstarter, Anatomy of Melancholy will be available for sale very soon. We’ll post in this space the moment it’s available!

  • Surprise: TopatoCon Part The Second is just about five months out, and applications have been extended a week. Want to be part of the weirdest gathering in the Pioneer Valley? Now’s the time to make your plans.
  • Surprise: It’s sunny out after a dreary week, and I get to go chase the squirrels out of my beans. They apparently don’t want to eat the new and fragile bean plants, but they’re digging the hell out of the surrounding soil and undoubtedly messing up the roots. Friggin’ squirrels.

    What? I never said they’d all be about webcomics.

That’s all. We’ve earned a weekend of respite. Be good to each other, people.

Spam of the day:

Ovarian Cancer Patient Wins Huge Verdict Over Talcum Powder Usage

My guess is that if you’re getting talcum powder on your ovaries, are probably applying too much.

I Really Thought Somebody Had Died

Screencapped that for you, Jess.

When I first checked social media this morning I was surprised when Twitter told me I had 456 unread tweets; usually an overnight is good for fewer than 200, given the number of people I follow and their sleep patterns. 250 would be a lot for one night, above that indicates something stupid happening in a Republican presidential debate that I didn’t stay up for or somebody influential kicking it.

This time, however, it was down to one person — and if you’re gonna do a serious tweetstorm, this is the one to do. [C] Spike [Trotman] has been on top of the Rat Queens brouhaha¹ and last night during her typical small hours worktime decided on a course of action:

In light of Rat Queens disappointing everybody: Women/NB creators, tweet me w/links to your cool comics starring tuff gals. I’ll RT.

There was an immediate flood of responses and Spike made with the retweets, blowing up my timelines, pausing for a while to catch some sleep before resuming some hours later. I’d be hard pressed to estimate how many creators she retweeted, but I’d say probably in the vicinity of 200-300 before giving it a rest about eight hours later. Best of all? I recognized a mere handful of the comics that got the RT treatment (and by that I mean literally five), so there’s a lot of new comics to check out.

Probably most of them aren’t great, because most of everything isn’t great. But I’ll betcha there’s 20 to 50 in that grouping that damn good to excellent, just waiting for anybody that’s got the time to start collecting links. Anybody that’s really enterprising could Storify the list; do it for the children.

In other news:

  • My evil twin announced pre-orders on his next book open on Monday along with a deadline to provide shipping info for this last Kickstarter and another deadline to register for the chance to take a tropical cruise with him. If you can think of something better to do for a week in September than spend it on a ship with my evil twin, sipping on fruity drinks and learning about writing, I don’t know what it is.
  • Speaking of Kickstarts, Dante Shepherd² announced that he’s doing another page-a-day calendar for 2017, seeing as how the 2014 one was a success³. Kickstarter went up a couple hours ago, with the able help of TopatoCo and Make That Thing.
  • Heh, when I went by the MTT page to check on Shepherd’s calendar, it told me that Jess Fink’s second Chester 5000 collection will finish its funding round in 69 hours. Yes, I am perpetually twelve years old.
  • Finally, KC Green and Anthony Clark are making the best weekly-updating comic publishing today (BACK) and they are not the sort to screw around with pre-orders or crowdfunding. No! They are men of action and when they want to print a collection of their work they by Glob go out and print it and and pay John Keogh and Britt Wilson for enhancements to the book and then they sell it, financial risks be damned. As a result, you can now purchase a copy of BACK Book 1 from the web’s finest boutiquery so go do that.

Spam of the day:

Stunning waterfront property in Michigan’s majestic Upper Peninsula
Private setting with convenient location to ATV / snowmobile trails.

Translation: no roads, no utilities, you will die out here alone. Also, for a significant portion of the year, the Upper Peninsula is cold as fuck.

¹ Long story short — a comic about female empowerment had its original artist yanked from the book after a domestic violence arrest; other artists have since filled in. A hiatus announcement led to the current artist indicating she was removed from the book in favor of the original guy returning — meaning an abusive husband would again be drawing a book about women that don’t put up with shit, yikes.

On a personal note, literally two days before the news broke I picked up Rat Queens trade paperback one on the recommendation of my niece and loved it, having been unaware of the unsavory reputation of the original artist, and was planing on purchasing the second and third collections but now I’m not sure.

² Who is his own evil twin, or at least his own dark reflection. Which one is more like Batman?

³ He was kind enough to send me one — it took up so much space on my desk. This is not a tiny page-a-day, it has heft and also terrible jokes.

There’s A Hard Rain A-Coming

… and I’m going to have to drive through it up ol’ I-95¹. Let’s make this brief.

Over the past three months, the full run of previously-published Octopus Pie (by Meredith Gran, who remains Best At Comics) has been republished by Image in three handsome volumes; in a little less than two weeks time, the fourth book in the series — never before published material! color! — will hit the shops and Gran’s having an event to celebrate:

I’m hosting a pop-up event for the release of my new book, Octopus Pie Volume 4!

This is the first time in years that brand new OP material has been in print, and I’m damn proud of this book and hope you would like a copy! They will be for sale at the event, in addition to Volumes 1-3, a bit of TBA merch, and original comic art on the walls!

That’ll be on Wednesday, 25 May (release day!) at Creations Gallery, 89 Avenue C (corner of East 6th) in Manhattan, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. You can RSVP at the Facebook event page (which I would do except I’m not on Facebook — Mer, barring disaster I’ll totally be there), and come enjoy some Good Times.

And a few days after, Octopus Pie will be considered for the Online Comics — Long Form division award from the NCS at the Reubens weekend in Nashville; Gran’s got some formidable opposition in her category, but I think with some luck and gumption, she’ll wake up the following day a Broadway star!

I may have gotten a little ahead of myself there, but for reals — tell your local comic shop you want a copy of Octopie 4 because it’s full of great comics.

Spam of the day:

Hi my name is Emily and I just wanted to send you a quick note here instead of calling you.

Who the hell are you and how did you get my number.

¹ If I don’t make it, tell KB Spangler that I died in battle with her nemesis.

Bigger Than The Day

We’re pretty much at deadline if you still want to head to Toronto and the attendant Comics Art Festival therein. Part of what showrunner Chris Butcher’s put together that’s always impressed the hell out of me is how much the city of Toronto is involved in TCAF, and how many events happen around the Fest. In case you’ve been wondering how broad TCAF is, check out the list of associated events.

Exhibitions launched 12 days ago, discussions and salons are taking place, artistic meetups have met up (some with sophisticated adult beverages), gallery shows are opening, academics are convening, book launches are happening, international receptions will celebrate the creators of multiple countries, celebrations of previously-marginalized people, concerts, awards, and a plain ol’ party or two.

Plus comics. You know, for kids.

Oh, and a world’s worth of the best guests and exhibitors mixing it up on five different programming tracks plus (for the first time) portfolio reviews. Everything and everybody significant in comics is converging on Toronto except for the otherwise-ubiquitous Jim Zub who is presently busy gettin’ drunk in Japan¹.

So to whatever degree it is practical for you to do so, get up to The Big Smoke², get you some comics, and if you see Chris Butcher thank him for all the work he does year ’round to make TCAF the best show for its size in the world.

PS: Yuko is going to be there and she is totally going to have an 18+ Stucky minicomic that she and Jess Fink did together and that is the best thing ever.

PPS: I forget how many days it’s been since I mentioned that Meredith Gran last achieved a New Best Octopus Pie Strip, but in any event the clock has been reset to one day and counting. Holy crap, so much story, so much emotion, and the best representation of inner mental state all packed into one image. Eve’s lizard brain is my new hero.

Spam of the day:

Don’t-Take a Cruise! Rent a Yacht! All Budgets & Sizes Available

You have radically overestimated the degree to which I wish to take a cruise, and my recreation budget. I guess thanks for the second half?

¹ I’m so envious about the stop he and his lovely bride made at Ikebukuro’s owl cafe.

² Southern Ontario version.

I’ve Been Looking For A WordPress-Compatible plqaD Font For The Past Week, Haven’t Found It Yet

I refer, naturally, to this Diesel Sweeties strip from a week or so ago; I’m sure anybody that’s watched the last few iterations of Trek intuitively knows what the punchline is¹, I’m just surprised that Rich Stevens didn’t render it in plqaD script, but if you want to read Maura’s line in the original you can do so here.

Yes, that entire thing amused me enough to mention it after my time away. Deal.

In other news:

Spam of the day:

Cadence Williams (Google Team) sent you a message:

You know, the fact that you sent me this spam at Google’s own email service but that it doesn’t have a Google return address? Makes me a mite suspicious.

¹ If not, you can type Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam into the Bing Translator (but it doesn’t autodectect tlhIngan Hol).

² Assuming we do a drinks competition again this year like last year, I’d want Black, the reigning 86d! champion, to either take a judging role, or join me in hosting/commenting duties.

³ Yep, she’s just now graduating college and this makes her less than half my age and already so very skilled. She’s only going to get better.



Oh hey, what? The Abominable Charles Christopher is back.

This is no minor AHHHHHHHH, this is the AHHHHHHHH from deep in your soul, best accompanied by the declaration I’M A SHARK. Karl Kerschl is between projects, Charles Christopher is back, and all is well in the world again.

Oh, yeah, other stuff is going on, too. Like TCAF later this week, which almost everybody in webcomics attends in alternating years¹. And that event reminds me that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin noticed that the French contingent at TCAF will be more than just Featured Guest Boulet (who, don’t get me wrong, is great):

  • Yves Bigerel, better known as Balak, renowned inventor of turbomédia (remember about digital comics? He has kept making this stuff ever since) and of the jambon-beurre-based method of drawing the chonchon [NSFW], who, with Bastien Vivès, will be there for Last Man.
  • Marguerite Abouet, writer of the fantastic Aya of Yop City and Akissi.
  • Somehow I missed the announcement of Balak and Vivès, and I don’t know Abouet’s work at all, so be smarter than me and seek them out. Also, that video of Balak? Somebody make sure that Rokudenashiko sees it, since it’s right up her alley². I don’t know if the split verdict on Rokudenashiko’s obscenity trial³ would cause some overzealous prig at Canadian Immigration to keep her out of the country, but here’s hoping it doesn’t happen.


    Spam of the day:

    Checkout the latest Cleaning Service Options
    Checkout the latest Used Cars
    Checkout the latest Varicose Vein Treatment
    Checkout the latest CPAP Options

    Four spams, one return address. So I’m an elderly person with bad legs, sleep apnea, a dirty house, and a need to hit the open road? Got it.

    ¹ TCAF being so popular with vendors and space not being infinite, a couple of years ago showrunner Chris Butcher instituted an every-other-year plan for exhibitors. Some individuals are there more often if they get hosted by, say, a publisher like TopatoCo or Koyama Press.

    ² So to speak.

    ³ She was acquitted on charges of displaying plaster casts of her vulva as art, but convicted of distributing 3D printer data files that would allow others to create the same sculptures. The latter hit her with a ¥400,000 (approximately US$4000) fine, which she is appealing.

    As for the immigration issue, the customs and immigration folks have long had a bug up their respective butts about what they consider obscenity, especially as regards comics and manga. If anybody traveling to TCAF will invoke their ire, it’ll be Rokudenashiko. On the plus side, if there’s no problems with getting to the show, she can trade kayak stories with Karla Pacheco.

    It Certainly Has Been A Week

    Let’s just wrap this one up and get to the weekend without anything else happening, okay?

    Spam of the day:

    Discover Bathtub

    I expect the next email to say I don’t know how to discover bathtub and something about grues.

    Now With Added Me

    Kind of all over the place today, from the serious and sincere to the … well, you’ll see in a moment.

    • Okay, real talk time. The Kickstart for the long-awaited first print collection of Irregular Webcomic followed a pretty standard steep start and long tail, but the tail has been lower than usual, and it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a near thing. 70% of the way there with about 72% of the campaign time gone means that the traditional spike upwards in the last week puts everything to rights, but creator David Morgan-Mar is unwilling to leave things to chance and is engaged in desperate measures: he’s added me as a backer reward.

      I will be in New York City on Saturday 18 June this year. With this reward you and one partner/friend can meet me over lunch, talk comics or whatever, and get some spur-of-the-moment hand scribbled comic art by me! I’ll also bring along some random physical goodies related to my comics to give to you! This reward is an approximately 2-hour lunch meeting, and you also get a printed copy of the book, a PDF copy, an MP3 of “It’s Quite Irregular”, and a set of postcards.

      Two backers plus two friends plus me makes 5 for lunch, and also joining us will be webcomic blogger Gary Tyrrell of [emphasis mine]

      There’s already a pledge to meet up with Morgan-Mar in London later this year and I’ll be crushed — crushed! — to think that I’m not an equal draw. Also, it’s no secret that I want this campaign to succeed, but any rumo[u]rs going around that I will be engaging in “favors” for the pledgers are probably overblown. Probably. Only one way to find out!

    • For those who’ve been waiting patiently since January for the opportunity to join iPhone-havers and play Exploding Kittens on your Android phones, wait no more. Seemingly in dual celebration over this release and yesterday’s announcement of an Eisner nomination (his third or fourth, I think), Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman has been crushing all rivals in EK matches today.

      You probably can’t beat him (he’s been playing the game since long before anybody else in the world, remember), but if you want to try watch his twitterfeed for announcements of when he’s playing and the game code. Good luck (you won’t win).

    • Speaking of Eisner nominations, Iron Circus Comics President For Life¹ Spike Trotman has declared a day of jubilee to celebrate the fact that her very first solo artist project — EK Weaver’s TJ and Amal omnibus reprint — took a nomination for Best Graphic Album — Reprint. You can get the TJ and Amal omnibus from the Iron Circus shop for 15% off with the coupon code EISNERFYEAH. Go cash in, you lucky people.
    • Lastly, the sort of thing that I like to see because it has the potential to make people better, more thoughtful creators: KB Spangler of A Girl And Her Fed² has posted a piece on how she approached writing a character that started out minor and became a major part of her story mythos, and how she’s changed her approach after realizing that she was Doing It Wrong. Specifically, Spangler’s take on Rachel Peng’s arguably defining characteristic — her blindness — was initially done without (in retrospect, and certainly not from a point of malice) insufficient consideration of what being blind actually means.

      And before a theoretical subset of you start screaming about PC goons forcing a creator to change her story — honestly, if that’s your first thought, the door’s over there and don’t let it hit you — it’s not in response to anybody yelling at Spangler other than Spangler. It’s about having the honesty to assess when you have sufficient experience in a community/culture to represent it properly, and when you have to shift your approach because you realize you didn’t. As Spangler repeatedly states:

      I’m an asshole but I’m trying to do better

      The first part of that statement is a filthy lie, but the second part you can take to the bank. Even if you’re inadvertently an asshole (or not an asshole at all), you can always do better if you’re willing to admit there’s better to be done. Go read it and think about how to do better yourself; and if there’s better I can be doing, please let me know.

    Spam of the day:

    Join our professional network

    No name for this professional network? Nice try, LinkedIn, but you ain’t getting your hooks in me!

    ¹ And co-founder of Creators For Creators; application info coming in ten days.

    ² AKA my buddy Otter.

    That Changes Things

    There was stuff I was going to go into today, like the announcement that Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar is adapting a key plot into childrens book form or that in the run-up to the relaunch of The Nib, Matt Bors is sending out comics in email newsletter form, and Chris Yates is marking twelve years of making Baffler!s. Then the Eisner nominations came out and that kind of swamps everything.

    Because webcomics people — and those that came up from webcomics, or run their creative endeavours like webcomics, or likewise have that independent, creator-owned bent — are all over the damn list this year. But there remains a persistent question around what should be the point of greatest interest to readers of this page, namely, what the hell remains up with the Best Digital/Webcomic category? From the FAQ:

    For the Best Digital Comic category, works must be longform—that is, comparable to comic books or graphic novels in storytelling or length. Webcomics similar to daily newspaper strips, for example, would not be eligible. Digital comics should have a unique URL, be part of a webcomics site, or otherwise stand alone (not be part of a blog, for instance).

    … which seems to be inconsistently applied at best. Most notably, this year in the entirely worthy-of-consideration Lighten Up by Ron Wimberly, as seen at The Nib. It’s six-and-a-half screens tall, each four panels in size; it’s not comparable to either a comic book or graphic novel in length or storytelling. It’s excellent, and I’m glad it’s up for consideration, but there are been dozens — hundreds! — of comparably excellent works that have not been considered for the nomination because the criteria are used to exclude them (except when, as in this case, they’re not). The NCS, for goodness sake, is doing a better job of consistently applying criteria in a way that makes sense¹.

    It does a disservice to the nominees to be nominated in such a chaotic fashion, especially considering the quality of the other nominees: Bandette (Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, Monkeybrain/comiXology); Fresh Romance (edited by Janelle Asselin, Rosy Press/comiXology); The Legend of Wonder Woman (Renae De Liz, DC Digital); These Memories Won’t Last (by Stu Campbell).

    Not all of those are what we at Fleen would consider webcomics (after all, that’s not the name of the category), so it’s probably time to scrap the not particularly useful category and just let webcomickers compete in the other categories oh wait that’s exactly what they’re doing:

    • Best Short Story includes It’s Going to Be Okay (Matthew Inman); Best Continuing Series includes Bandette and Giant Days (John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin; nice job nominating both artists); Best New Series includes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Ryan North and Erica Henderson); Best Humor Publication Cyanide & Happiness: Stab Factory (Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, and Dave McElfatrick) and Step Aside, Pops (Kate Beaton).
    • Continuing: Best Anthology includes Eat More Comics: The Best of the Nib (Matt Bors, editor; includes Lighten Up); Best Graphic Album — Reprint includes The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal Omnibus (EK Weaver, via Iron Circus Comics Kickstarter campaign) and Nimona (Nicole Stevenson); Best Writer includes John Allison (for Giant Days); Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team includes Erica Henderson (for Jughead and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl); Best Painter/Multimedia Artist includes Colleen Coover (Bandette again … that’s three so far).
    • Finishing up: Best Lettering includes Lucy Knisley (for Displacement); Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8) includes Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion (Dominque Roques and Alexis Dormal) and Little Robot (Ben Hatke), both from First Second; Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12) includes Baba Yaga’s Assistant (Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll) and Over the Garden Wall (Pat McHale and Jim Campbell); Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) includes SuperMutant Magic Academy (Jillian Tamaki)².

    That appears to be eighteen nominations outside of the Digital/Webcomic dumping ground for webcomickers and webcomicker-alikes, which is surely a record. At least, last year I was astonished how many webcomickers and webcomicker-alikes were nominated and there were a total of eleven. Progress, she is gradual sometimes, but she is relentless. We’ll see how it all turns out when the Eisners are handed out on Friday, 22 July, at SDCC.

    Spam of the day:

    livesex cams “[…]Fleen: The Elcoertnic Swiss Army Knife For This Topic » ”

    If there are cameras broadcasting Fleen World Headquarters to people expecting live sex, I sure hope they get their money back.

    ¹ Obligatory disclaimer: I have been involved in the NCS selection process each year that they’ve recognized webcomics.

    ² I removed nearly every publisher reference in this rather extensive list for space, but I’ll note that BOOM!/KaBOOM!/BOOM!Box are represented out of proportion to their relative size in the industry. Maybe with all this recognition they can expand their distribution/sales and afford to pay some non-sucky page rates.