The webcomics blog about webcomics

Oh, Hartsfield-Jackson, You Sure Are An Airport

Take that as you will. In light of the need to get to said airport, today will be brief, but worth your while. We’ve got Dave Roman on deck, in and around his multiple NYCC appearances this weekend, has scored an interview with The AV Club that starts off with a line I wish I’d written myself:

Over the past dozen years, Dave Roman has been akin to the patron saint of all-ages comics.

There are other candidates for such an honor, but it’s hard to argue that Roman has, in addition to creating many great all-ages works, has uniquely been at the center of enabling others to do the same (particularly through his editorship of the late Nickelodeon Magazine). It probably also doesn’t hurt that Roman and Raina Telgemeier¹ have, between them, the best possible spouses/sounding boards/early readers of all-ages comic work imaginable. And he’s funny off the top of his head. Asked how reading Astronaut Academy might impress a potential job recruiter, Roman answered:

Pop culture is ultimately the commerce of the future. It’s just going to be Simpsons references and quotes from anime from the ’80s. The more you can digest in a very succinct, compressed package, which Astronaut Academy is, the better fluent you’ll be in that pop culture commerce of the future. It’s like bitcoin except a lot more fun.

Read the whole thing, and if you’re in New York this weekend, check out his panels and signings and tell him Gary said hi.

Spam of the day:
Dammit, I had a good one about winning the Netherlands national lottery in Dutch and I accidentally deleted it. Dang.

¹ Who, shockingly, claims only four of ten slots on the latest New York Times Best Seller List; they add up to a total of 346 weeks worth of best sales, though, so that’s all right.

This Again

Alert readers may have noted that this year, I did not attend San Diego Comic Con because while I submitted all the required materials in advance of last December’s deadline, I never heard back if the press pass was actually approved.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

I received an email from the SDCC press registration desk telling me that my credentials required reverification. This normally happens every other year (odd years for me), and was the source of my headaches in 2015. And so the fact that they’re asking for verification again for 2016 suggests I was never verified last year.

Then again, in the runup to the show, I was regularly (as in multiple times per day) receiving emails inviting me to press-only events, interview opportunities, and the like, leading me to believe that maybe I was approved. It’s not like I could check, as you can only claim your press badge if you have the barcode that you get sent when approved, and I was never sent a barcode, so basically I have no idea where I stand with the SDCC organization at this time. So I sent ’em an email at the indicated address:


I got your email 20 minutes ago about press verification being due for 2016.

Unfortunately, I’m still waiting on my verification for 2015. I submitted well in advance of the deadline, received a confirmation of submission, and then nothing.

As instructed in the verification details, after six weeks I emailed this address and received a reply that questions should be sent to this address after six weeks. I did so again a month later, same response. Another month, same response (I still have the email chain from this process if you’d care to see it).

At this point, it was time to make flight and hotel arrangements and I was not going to shell out two grand with no indication as to whether or not my credentials would be waiting.

So far as I know, I’m the only journalist that attends SDCC solely to cover the webcomics pavilion; I get quoted by the likes of Heidi MacDonald and Brigid Alverson, and Scott McCloud’s cited me as a useful source of information. I’ve been credentialed for SDCC from 2006 to 2014; I don’t know if I was ever credentialed last year, and I’m not willing to try for 2016 unless I know that my application (which was acknowledged as received) is going to end up in front of an alive human that can render a yes or no decision. Being told I don’t qualify any longer would be a disappointment, but it would at least be an answer.

Please advise as to the likelihood of my verification actually being reviewed this year, and I’ll do my best to make my case as to why I have earned credentials.

I immediately received a canned response:

This automated response is to let you know that your email has been received.
[repeat of first email’s intructions for applying for press credentials]

As of this time, it appears that the situation is unchanged from last year — that the email address provided for questions is solely automated, that no human will ever get back to me, and that after nine years of of covering SDCC I have become persona non grata. That last bit is not a problem — it’s up to SDCC to decide who constitutes the legit press and who doesn’t, but I am at least deserving of an actual rejection instead of being in limbo for (as of this writing) the past eleven months.

I might never get a reply from SDCC which I suppose means I won’t ever go again — that would be a shame, but unless somebody from the SDCC press reg desk is reading this, there’s literally nothing in my power to change the situation. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to fly home from a work trip tomorrow night, and on Saturday morning I’m going to walk to the New Jersey Transit station by my house and head into New York Comic Con.

It’s overcrowded, in a dead part of the city, in a nightmare of a convention center, with no webcomic presence to speak of, but the press application approval process took four days¹ and I’ve had my physical badge at my home for a month. San Diego may have things to teach Reed Pop about line-wrangling and floor layout, but Reed’s all over the registration process, and I’m curious to see if any of the Demonakis magic has seeped into NYCC since Reed bought Emerald City Comic Con.

Spam of the day:

23 Second Abs

Better than yesterday’s promise of restored vision and Tuesday’s promise of bigger breasts, but still no sale. The one thing that’s pretty good about being a chronically-underweight stick figure (my suit guy had to measure me three times before he would believe the numbers on his tape … I really am 181cm and 60kg) is that you got abs. Late 40s, still got a sixpack, yay me.

¹ Based on their published schedule, I shouldn’t have expected a reply for nearly four weeks.

I Remember My First Time

Two bits today about finding where you’re supposed to be — in a chosen tribe, and in the places that pull on us.

  • Today’s delightful new comic-maker to watch is Eryn Williams, who I learned about only because she was willing to share a story about herself. Specifically, a story (in delightful comic form) of accidentally meeting Scott McCloud & Ivy Ratafia at SPX while being all cool & brave and introducing herself to Spike.

    Then realizing who it was she was talking to.

    Then heading for the hills with all speed.

    Which prompted Spike to share her own story of meeting McCloud for the first time, which appears to have jumpstarted a I met Scott McCloud and peed confessional from Shaenon Garrity. Which reminded me of this year’s MoCCA show when I was able to introduce my comics-loving nephew to Scott & Ivy and managed to hold the fanboy explosion in by the merest of margins. Seems like just about everybody’s got a meeting McCloud story, and for some of us it stretches over multiple days.

    Anyway, I very much enjoyed Ms Williams’s comic (the art’s clean and engaging, her visual metaphors are great, and the pacing of the story beats and gags is dead on), and her other comics, and we have a chance meeting to thank for it. I’m gong to be keeping an eye on her work, and you should as well.

  • How good is Eryn Williams’s one-shot? Good enough to bump a block of Kate Beaton family comics to second story. Seems Our Kate has been feeling the pull towards the homestead that many Maritimers feel, and she announced on The Twitter yesterday that when her current book tour is done, she’s moving back to Cape Breton. Which is perfectly fine; she can make comics anywhere, and some of her best come from being around her family, which will only happen more frequently.

    Travel safely, Kate, good luck with the new place, and I hope you find the capital-H Home that you deserve.

Spam of the day:

Restore Vistion in 7 Days

Assuming you’re talking about vision, if I needed it restored, how am I reading your email Mr Smartypants Spammer? Somehow, I don’t think that you’re completely up on the latest in assistive technology.

Attention, Dudes

And we’ll get to those things, but before we talk about the other items — before you’re allowed to scroll down, and no cheating because I’ll know — all dudes¹ are required to follow this link and read what’s there. No commenting on this topic is allowed, dudes; if you feel an overwhelming compulsion to say something, let it be some variation on Thank you, Julia Wertz, I think I understand better now. Because goddammit, there is way too much garbage person behavior going around and we all need to do better.
NB: Wertz’s site has been getting hammered, so if you can’t get through, try Tumblr.

  • It’s becoming an annual tradition with me that I see the inimitable Scott C at New York Comic Con and buy his latest book; this year will be no exception as the new Great Showdowns collection released today. Pick one up from Mr C in Artists Alley (table N5) if you’re going to be at NYCC, or from your nearest purveyor of quality amusements if not.
  • Speaking of comics in print (and also e-publishing), Jim Zub² is back with the latest of his self-evaluations of the world of the creator-owned comics bid’ness, this time with an analysis of the sales of Wayward (presently between story arcs) to date. I really like the discussion of how Wayward is doing in trade sales, as Zub gave me the short version when we spoke at TopatoCon:

    Image showed a lot of faith in Wayward and printed enough copies of trade paperback #1 for two years. We sold half of the inventory in the first five months.

    He also notes how the recent conclusion of Skullkickers brings a new dimension to future sales analyses — how an entirely finished series continues, or tails off, or becomes backlisted. Nobody works harder to put out amazingly good comics than Zub, and nobody thinks more about how to do all aspects of the business better. Keep an eye on future installments of his tutorials, they are beyond value and he’s giving them away for free.

  • Speaking of comics in e-publishing, Meredith Gran worked her tail off in the weeks leading up to her own wedding to put together a new mini comic, and now that she has the opportunity to breathe again, it’s up on Gumroad. Backstory! Hanna! Character development! Only five bucks! Go get it!
  • Still with the comics, Steve Troop decided to embrace the madness of 24 Hour Comics (which you can read now, or on the Melonpool site from Saturday), and Randy Milholland has decided to jump into the Patreon pool with both feet. You can find him on the Patreon site as choochoobear (naturally), and he has gathered a modest (but generous) following in the hours since.
  • Finally, one may note that today is the birthday of Ananth Hirsh — storyteller, fashion icon, gentleman about town — and known kingmaker George Rohac is already angling to make this a more Ananthariffic world:

    It is @ananthymous’s birthday, which means he is one year closer to his ultimate run for presidency.

    I, for one, welcome his inevitable cruel (but fair) tyranny.

Spam of the day:

Get Bigger Breasts without Surgery! $15 Off

Well done, spammers, determining that I was well and truly sick of offers to buy boner pills. However, I don’t really think I need bigger, firmer breasts, with or without surgery, so … yeah.

¹ Sadly, there is no need for ladies to do so, as they already know everything there.

² Never play against this man in We Didn’t Playtest This At All, it’ll end in tears. For that matter, don’t play him at Skull either, as he will attempt to set up residence inside your brain and likely succeed.

Crisis Mitigation In Progress; Civilization To Rebuild

While Achwood remains down as of this writing, it appears that the worst fears of last week were not realized. Achewood is on its way back:

Achewood will be down for the weekend while we fix big old computer problems. I’m sorry for the absence.

Rioters and looters are urged to cease their devastation and return to their former lives as productive members of society. In other news:

  • The Cartoon Art Museum may have lost its gallery space, but that doesn’t mean it’s closed its metaphorical doors. Although the news reached us too late to make it about a future event, CAM participated in the Alternative Press Expo this past weekend in the San Jose Convention Center. Two panels were presented by CAM’s Andrew Farago and Nina Kester, as well as the usual booth-based outreach and fundraising. Expect to see a wide-ranging presence of CAM at various shows, keeping up the mission while trying to find a place outside The Mission¹.
  • Progress report, and a happy story of a Kickstart gone so very, very right. Readers of this page will recall that Oh Joy, Sex Toy totally rules, and that also the second annual print collection was crowdfunded to great success back in June, with books expected to be shipped to backers in November.

    Yeah, didn’t work out that way. On account of pretty much every book was already in transit by the last week of September, and OJSTv2 is now available for purchase by the general public via fine merchateers TopatoCo. XX half of the OJST team “Hurricane Erika” Moen rose from her sick bed long enough to send me some excerpts and let me tell you — she and co-conspirator Matt Nolan have hit the sweet spot² of mixing informative, sexy, funny, sexy, engaging, and sexy all into a big ball o’ fun. Sexy, sexy fun.

    Moen and Nolan are just two of the many contributors, what with the many guest strips they’ve run (and, as discussed previously, paid for at a more than fair rate which was retroactively increased) over the year of the collection. Nearly a third of OJSTv2 is by guest contributors, throwing in exciting change-ups from the usual look and feel of the strip. It’s a hell of a bargain (wholesale rates available, even!), and I recommend it to you quite heartily.

Confidential to Mer And Mike On Lawn Guy Land — So happy for you guys. Wrap yourselves up in joy and never emerge.

Spam of the day:

Amazing Opportunity to be Included In Women of Distinction Magazine!

Got some bad news for you there, Sparky.

¹ Because their gallery space was in San Francisco’s Mission District, or The Mission, and they got priced out because it’s all expensive there now and look it was clever, okay? Sheesh.

² So to speak.

NYCC Panels And More

Before we get to the NYCC stuff that happens next week (assuming Hurricane Joaquin doesn’t ruin everything), everybody knows that Patreon announced a security breach, right? If not, Brad Guigar has a decent summary up at Webcomics Dot Com. From what’s been announced so far, this doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but I’m always reluctant to sign on to anything that says all … information remain[s] safely encrypted without further details of how that’s been determined. Could have been worse, never a bad idea to change passwords, and let this be a lesson: don’t leave dev sites publicly available.

Thanks very much to Heidi Mac, on account of she’s got an actual readable, searchable text dump of the NYCC panel offerings, which makes looking for things of interest a damn sight easier than it is on the actual NYCC webpage. It’s just a quick runthrough, but things you might want to look at include:

Content Literacy: Teaching STEM with Comics
Thursday, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Room 1A05

Can’t argue when your panel includes MK Reed and Maris Wicks, who’ve done great STEMmy books for :01. Here’s hoping that next year, the STEM comics that Dante Shepherd has gotten a grant to produce will include him on the panel.

Kickstarter 101: An Intro to Funding Your Dream Comics Project
Friday, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, Room 1A24

Kickstarter 201: The Pros Reveal Their Secrets
Friday, 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM, Room 1A24

Back-to-back sessions; I’m kind of more interested in the first, as it’s got indy creators who’ve never worked for a major publisher (like Molly Ostertag). I still maintain that any such panel(s) without George or Spike is inherently lacking.

Camp Out with Lumberjanes!
Friday, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Room 1A24

It’s got Noelle Stevenson, Raina Telgemeier, and Shannon Watters talking about hardcore lady types. Why the heck would you miss this? Personally, it’s because I’ll be on a plane home from Atlanta and won’t get to see anything on Thursday or Friday, but get your butts here, people!

The Cyanide and Happiness Group Sketch Jam Panel
Saturday, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Room 1A10

You won’t need to get your butts here; plenty will be drawn for you.

Goosebumps & The Baby-Sitters Club Revisited: A Conversation with R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman
Sunday, 10:45 AM – 11:30 AM, Room 1A10

Ann M. Martin (Baby-Sitters Club series) and RL Stine (Goosebumps series) talking to Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier? This is every series book you read as a kid, and every series book your kid is reading, all in one place.

And if that’s not enough for you, please search out the likes of Carla Speed McNeill (Artists Alley, B4), Comic Bento (aka the Blind Ferret folks, 2345), the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (1764), Cyanide & Happiness (2247), the First Law of Mad Science (1046), :01 Books (2237), the Hero Initiative (Artists Alley, N104), Jim Zub (Artists Alley, X3), Katie Cook (Artists Alley, C10), Scott C (Artists Alley, N5), and, oddly enough, The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore (Artists Alley, NC132).

Spam of the day:

Hours left! Warehouse Sale Can’t see images? Click here

That link leads to a site literally called and you want me to click it? Nnnnnnoooope.

Bonus Post For Timeliness

First, scroll down and read about Jaime Hernandez, because that guy rules.

Second, here are some things that are time-dependent:

  • Tony Breed is one of the nicest guys on the planet; he was sorely missed at TopatoCon, but with a husband dealing with cancer, he had more important things to deal with. And because complicated diseases can wipe people out financially, friends have prevailed on Tony and Eric to accept a crowdfund on their behalf. This is not optional; give.
  • Speaking of TopatoCon, Jeph Jacques had copies of QC book 5 with him there, which the rest of the world will be able to buy the day after tomorrow.
  • John Allison shares the news that Giant Days is now an ongoing comic! Happy day, I get Esther deGroot every month!

How To Make A Pineapple Maki Khaleesi

Sorry, Maki, but Sara McHenry renamed it and that’s a really kick-ass name.

Multiple people requested the recipe after 86’d! at TopatoCon, so here’s how to make one yourself.

  1. Core out a pineapple. Don’t just hack around like some kind of cartoonist on a reality show, use one of these. Leave any residual pineapple juice in the shell. Enjoy the delicious pineapple guts while we move onto the rest of the drink.
  2. Mix together:
    3/4 oz lemon juice
    3/4 oz lime juice
    3/4 oz orange juice
    1/2 oz spiced rum
    1/2 oz Laird’s bonded applejack¹
    1 oz falernum²
    1 oz pisco³
  3. Shake over ice and strain into pineapple shell.
  4. Top with serious ginger ale. None of that mass-market HFCS shit, get some Blenheim’s or Fever Tree or something with some bite.
  5. Garnish orange slice, crazy straw, little festive umbrella.

¹ Laird’s has recently abandoned the “bonded” tag to distinguish their 80 proof applejack (perfectly acceptable) and 100 proof straight apple brandy (fucking amazing and about two bucks more than the 80, always use this).

² Falernum is a mix of white rum and simple syrup. Want to make your own? It’ll substitute for simple in any drink you care to make and add a lot of flavor. Take 1 liter of white rum (Bacardi works fine) and add the zest of ten limes, 50 cloves, a 1/2 inch knob of ginger (peeled,sliced fine), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp almond extract. Let sit 24 hours and strain. Mix with 1 liter of 1.5:1 simple syrup. It’s a big recipe so make it with friends and divide up the batch.

³ A Chilean grape brandy, very clean and neutral flavor, adds kick and depth to the drink.

Man, I Don’t Even KNOW What Has Happened These Last Few Days

[Imagine a picture of the SuperBloodMoon here, as twenty assorted webcomics types recreate Wondermark #302]

It’s kind of freeing, being off Twitter almost entirely for half a week; there was just no time to look at the phone. So, final photos from TopatoCon 2015 (the first of its name), then the drive home, then back to work tomorrow¹.

  • The day started early when Webcomics Own Angel of Mercy and Carbs brought donuts. Amazing, amazing donuts, including gluten-free, and the Secret Donut which appeared to have been carved directly from a half-kilo lump of pure chocolate, then rolled in chocolate chips.
  • The only session I got to sit in was Go Away, Sea Lions!, as David Malki ! spoke with Spike and Randy Milholland about how not to be a dick on the internet. Good stories, good laughs, good lessons, good questions from a smart audience. Like the other panels in room one (like Stacy King’s discussion of Tokyo fashion, Emily Nagoski’s roundtable on ladies, sexual pleasure, and comics that mix the two, and the cocktail competition I hosted), it should be on YouTube in the near future.
  • As was foretold in prophecy, Karla Pacheco and Jeph Jacques are actually MasterBlaster.
  • The residents of the haunted AirBnB (Tom & Sara McHenry, Ferocious J[on Sung], Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, David Malki !, Tyler Hutchison, possibly others) hosted a weenie roast under the SuperBloodMoon. A new cult was birthed, and there were also s’mores. Ia! Ia!

Okay, got to check out and eat something before I drop. Come to the next TopatoCon, and if it looked like fun, please drop a note to showrunners Holly Rowland and Sara McHenry (you can read both through Make That Thing) and tell them what a great job they did because they can’t be told that enough times.

¹ Note: work tomorrow means flying to Dallas, so there may be an abbreviated post then.

Somehow I Ran Around More Than San Diego

I’m just going to refer you to the #TopatoCon social media tag because holy crap, I’m tired today.

Okay, part of that is probably because Stacy King, Andrew Wheeler, and Jim Zub enticed me, Ferocious J, and Dante Shepherd to stay up past midnight playing tabletop games which tested the limits of friendship. Part of it was probably from helping the aforementioned Dr Shepherd and Maki Naro run science experiments on alive humans, or my extensive time in the TopatoCo Merchateria with the redoubtable Ms Smith and the entirely doubtable Mr J. Part of it was probably just the energy in the exhibit hall, where people just seemed to be enjoying themselves.

And part of it is probably because the cocktail competition 86’d! with Holly Rowland, Holly Black, Frank Gibson, Katie Donnelly (contestants), Kaliis Smith, Eric Churchill, and Karl Pacheco (judges) that I hosted drew an enormous crowd that seemed to enjoy itself (too busy to take pictures, but video coming soon). Hollys Black and Rowland made it to the finish, prompting the crowd to break into a spontaneous cheer of Hol-ly! Hol-ly! Hol-ly! before Ms Black took the crown. We have got to do this again next year.

But mostly it’s probably because the best idea of TopatoCon is also the most dangerous: there’s a bar and I had an excellent bottle of scotch to share.

Please enjoy these photos:

Now I’ve got to scrub the filth from my carcass and return for Day Two. I am as nontheist as they come, but friends … pray for me.