The webcomics blog about webcomics

Preparing For The Great Pie-ening

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the US and I’ll be traveling for the most part (the rest, I’ll be eating until at risk of bursting). Friday will be spent with family, so maybe don’t expect anything here until next week?

In the meantime, some quick givings of thanks:

  • Thanks to Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, for sharing a sneak peek at their forthcoming adaptation of The Thief and the Watchdog. Can’t wait until we get to read it.
  • Thanks to Randy Milholland for not (justifiably) murdering all of the idiots that beset him, and to Jon Rosenberg¹, for largely the same thing. Their birthdays are, respectively, yesterday and tomorrow, which makes me wonder exactly what the heck all the parents of webcomics types were up to back in February — Rosenberg, Milholland, Hallbeck, Spike, Gran, Estrada … all November babies.
  • Thanks to all the many creators who entertain me daily, for free, on faith that someday I’ll buy something from them. I try to get as much as I can.
  • Thanks most especially to you. You know why.

Spam of the day:


Beats the heck outta me, Sparky.

¹ Who pushed me to start this here blog, owns my soul, etc.


No matter how bad a day may be, I am convinced that Miyazaki Hayao can make things better. I had planned to binge-watch Totoro and Kiki as a means of dealing with the ugliness of the world, and then the world brought more and more Miyazaki to me. At The AV Club, a review of the new Miyazaki¹ documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. At The Dissolve² the movie of the week is Spirited Away with an extensive discussion of Miyazaki’s ouvre, including the man’s belief in overcoming any challenge if we just have a bit of empathy.

Finally, my wife brought in the mail and said You have a package from Chris Yates and I knew that today could not converge on Miyazaki any more — I now count myself as the caretaker for Baffler! #3400, depicting Nausicaä; she struggled against those who would corrupt the world for their own sake, armed mostly with a deep and abiding love of all living things. Not a bad lesson for today.

Spam of the day:

I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.

This particular spam went on to shill for vaping accessories; all I have to say about that is if you’re gonna vape, at least get some GWAR flavors in there.

¹ Ostensibly, it’s about Studio Ghibli, but in practice it’s all about Miyazaki.

² Founded by and largely written by former AV Club staffers.


The past 24 hours have brought reworkings of three classic stories to me, and darn if they aren’t all wonderful.

  • Firstly, Rebecca Clements has, as noted not long ago, been busy with many things besides comics for a while. Fortunately, she’s got quite a backlog of comics that can be read and re-read. One of those older stories has now been released as an e-book, namely, an attempt at retelling Jack and the Beanstalk from memory, for one Australian dollar (or more! you can give more!) over at Gumroad.

    Clements was kind enough to send me a copy for review and it’s the most interesting take on Jack I’ve ever seen — all the elements are there — eventually — but suffused with the loopy, Seussian logic and visual style that Clements is known for. Oh, and a couple of bad words — including the dreaded F-hyphen-hyphen-hypen bad word — so give it a read through before sharing with a youngling, yes?

  • Secondly, because I backed the Kickstarter, Evan Dahm sent me the PDF version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to tide me over until the hardcover gets released in the new year. It’s nearly 200 pages long, a completely faithful, word-for-word presentation of L Frank Baum’s original, with Dahm’s utterly charming drawings of Quadlings, and Kalidahs, and field mice, and all the other things that you never knew about if you only watch the movie.

    Once fulfillment on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has wrapped up for the Kickstarter backers, Dahm will surely place the book on sale, so start budgeting now. It’s gorgeous inside and out.

  • Thirdly, Zach Weinersmith was exceedingly kind and shared an extra-early sneak preview of Augie and the Green Knight in PDF with me over the weekend. And all I can say is Wow.

    Okay, basically there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are familiar with the Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and those who are not. If you know the story already, seeing it told from the side of the Knight (and that of the very brave, very clever, very rambunctious Augie trying desperately to make sure nobody ends up dead) brings new depths to the story. If you don’t know the story already, you’re going to want to hunt it down because the retelling is wonderful in its Weinersmithiness, and now you need to find out if all those long-dead poets are as good at wordslinging.

    Okay, fine, it’s a story that’s been remembered for half a millennium because at least one of those poets was really, really good; but would he have ever written something like this?

    The squire located a few common fauna -— a frog, a newt, and an amphisbaena. One of those animals may sound unfamiliar, so if you’ve never seen a frog, it’s like a goat, but with the head of a lizard and the body of a grasshopper. The newt was a cauldron-ready cooking newt, and the amphisbaena was pretty much your run-of-the-mill amphisbaena.

    The full-page color paintings and B&W spot illustrations by Boulet (including the aforementioned amphisbaena) are, naturally, wonderful. The typography and design are physically pleasing to the eye¹ and make each page enticing and help propel the story along. The book is written in a way that will appeal to both the child that hears it and the adult that reads it aloud; a somewhat older child may be able to read it solo, but may also ask an adult to read it well after she can manage for herself. It’s an experience that’s best shared.

    Augie and the Green Knight will go up for sale after the Kickstarter backers are in receipt of their books, probably by late winter or early spring 2015. Once again, start budgeting now, because these retellings of classics deserve to be on the shelf of the kid (or kid at heart) you love most.

Spam of the day:

Many people think that if they are not spending long periods of time out in the cold, it does not really matter what they are wearing on their feet.

Augie knows this, and wears ½ of a Quadruboots. With stars on them.

¹ Supplied, Weinersmith informs me, by Michael David Johnson².

² As if the book weren’t appealing to me enough, Weinersmith has included copious footnotes, and even a footnote to a footnote. My heart.

Comfy And Comfier

Are you sitting comfortably? Would you like to be more comfortable?

  • The schedule for ComfyCon 2014 — the Con that you attend from home! — dropped last night, so now you can see what many of your favorite webcomickers and enablers are going to be doing between a couple of hours from now and Sunday evening. Fire up the compy, make sure the speakers and mic are working properly, and settle in with some snacks.

    Fun starts at 4:00pm today (all times are EST), but the official Opening Ceremonies don’t occur until 6:00pm; this was described at one point as [Something*Positive creator] Randy [Milholland] screams a lot, but now it’s the Randy and Danielle [Corsetto, of Girls With Slingshots] team-up, and those two are always a delight together.

    Tomorrow’s chock-full o’ fun with a pajama party with Jennie Breeden of The Devil’s Panties at 1:00pm (Jennie’s in Portland so it’s still morning for her, shut up), anthology secrets with Spike, Kel, and more at 3:00pm, and sexy, sexy porn with Josh Lesnick and other Slipshiners at 9:00pm. On Sunday there’s panels ranging from dealing with day jobs (2:00pm), a Super Art Fight (7:00pm), and closing ceremonies (more of Randy sobbing uncontrollably; 5:00pm). There’s lots more that I didn’t mention, and it’s likely that panelists and panels will continue to be added. Head over to the main ComfyCon page for the latest info.

  • And just in case that you aren’t quite comfy enough, Pusheen has teamed up with plush manufacture giant GUND to do an official Pusheen plush, with a full line of Pusheen products in 2015. In the meantime you’ll just have to content yourself with the plushes, the holiday cards and tree ornaments, t-shirts, jewelry, the most awesome hoodie ever, and much, much more from the fine folks at Hey Chickadee. Some items are already sold out, so get to clickin’ if you want that special someone to be super comfy on [insert holiday of choice here] morn.

Spam of they day:

The following are just three examples of why defamation laws are so important; if these cases were never resolved, we may have read much differently of these historic figures.

Cartoonists, man. Nuthin’ but defamation city around them.

Years Go By

Sometimes things pop into your head out of nowhere; for example, last night I suddenly and inexplicably found myself wondering, How’s that Iron Man thing going? Time, flies, arrow, banana, etc.

  • For those youngsters out there, The Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge is one of the enduring traditions of webcomics; launched nearly a full year before this here blog, it sought to answer the question How long can a webcomic creator go without missing a regular update? Those looking for bragging rights ponied up an entrance fee of US$20, and last creator standing gets the pot, minus contributions to the CBLDF and the HERO Initiative (originally the ACTOR Comic Fund). 56 creators entered (including such longrunners as Jennie Breeden, Chris Cosby, and Scott Kurtz, as well as superstars like Natasha Allegri).

    Three (maybe four; there was a question about 18 months back about a possible disqualification that doesn’t seem to have been resolved) competitors — including Brad Guigar, who doesn’t even look like his official competitor portrait anymore¹ — remain in the running, more than five hundred weeks and 2500 updates² after the start of the competition. I’d ordinarily suggest maybe the remaining three (four?) Iron Men declare a mutual satisfaction and walk away splitting the money, but anybody that’s managed a minimum of five updates a week with no skips for almost ten years (mark your calendars for the week of 9 February, it’s gonna be awesome) isn’t going to take split the pot like gentlemen as an option.

  • Never part of the TDGIMC (as near as I can tell), Ryan Estrada nevertheless has reason to contemplate the passage of years today, as it’s his birthday. I note that his latest creative endeavour — Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here — has passed the two-thirds funding mark over on Kickstarter. Maybe we get there by the start of next week, Spike reveals some of the (as yet secret) stretch goals? Yeah, it’s a little shameless, launching a Kickstart the same week two of the principals have birthdays, thus making it easier to prey on your emotions. That’s life in webcomics, and neither Estrada nor Spike are above using every trick at their disposal to make a project succeed. May as well give ‘em the five bucks, they’ll wear you down eventually anyway³.

Spam of the day:

Following that, the President and Prime Minister joined the First Lady and Vice President in a St Patrick’s Day Reception at the White House for the one year anniversary of vintage shop Byronesque

I must be tired — I read that as the vintage shop Bronyesque and then I shuddered.


¹ Brad, update your competitor’s bio picture, please. You’re so much more handsome than you were. Then again, a Google Image Search for “similar pictures” lists a portrait of Jack Kirby as the first match so maybe just keep it? Then again, when you search for “Brad Guigar on GIS, you don’t see that Kirbyesque bit, but you do see pictures like this, to which I can only say Yowza.

² For reference, I wrote about the competitors reaching 200 weeks and 1000 updates in 2008.

³ All hail our new international leaders.

Three Cheers And A Tiger For [You]

The hotel I’m at has an in-room heating system that sounds like a lawn mower having a tonic-clonic seizure when it cycles off, so I’m short a couple hours of sleep right now. Nevertheless, I have found Things, Things that are worth celebrating today.

  • The second piece I ever posted at this here thang — goodness, nearly nine years ago! — concerned the output of Lore Sjöberg, whom I have always foudn to be frighteningly cleverfunny and an all-around stellar fellow. So it gives me no little joy to announce that after various problems around hosting/spamming bastards, Sjöberg has resurrected one of his sites, Bad Gods, and you know what that means: I get to gorge on Bandwidth Theater! Rudolph! Overmom! Lousy Transformers! And, of course, the depleted-uranium beholder statue that goes GRAAAGH! Dig in and enjoy, y’all.
  • It’s been perhaps six months since David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) became the first known successful webcomicker to launch a new comic with the express intention of learning to draw. Planet of Hats has reached the end of season one of Star Trek, and he’s recapped the 29 installments so far with one panel from each.

    It’s wonderful watching the art improve — particularly the staging of elements within panels and the expressiveness of the bodies of characters (Morgan-Mar could never have managed the sneaky-sneaky posture in this strip even two months ago), and I hope (as I’ve expressed to him via email) that when he reaches the end of the 79 episodes of classic Trek, he continues with some particularly stinkeroo episodes of later series. I believe that Planet of the Joggers should do nicely.

  • Know what’s better than a book launch party? A sexy book launch party, such as that which will happen on Sunday, 7 December in Portland to celebrate Hurricane Erika’s first collection of Oh Joy, Sex Toy. Free exclusive print! 10% discount on toy purchases! Erika’s favorite dear perverts! And on a personal note, I will pay you five American dollars if you go to the party dressed as the Anal Safety Snails. You know you want to.

Spam of the day:

Do you know that you can copy content from other websites to your blog and they will pass copyscape test and google will see them as unique?

Yeah, you know who does that? Dudes who suck. Sure as hell ain’t my scene.

Happy Birthday To You, And Us As Well

Grab yer stuff and start walking.

When I think of the spirit of raw entrepreneurship in comics — that do whatever it takes to make it scrappiness — I think of two people who take very nearly opposite approaches. Today, we’ll be talking about Spike¹; she’s the master of logistics, wrangling ever-growing numbers of creators onto her anthologies, setting deadlines, making arrangements for projects sometimes a year or more in advance, and doing it all for the absolute minimum cost and maximum return spread as widely as possible². She knows how to do things in a frugal fashion, and having sufficiently shared that advice with the world, she’s now giving it away for free, so she’s a damn philanthropist as well.

Did I mention that today is Spike’s birthday? And that in celebration, she’s giving all of us a present? Yesterday she launched her latest Kickstarter, for the sequel to Poorcraft, dedicated to the notion of traveling on the cheap. Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here, years in the making, is once again illustrated by Diana Nock, and written by perhaps the most intrepid wanderer that comics has ever known, Ryan Estrada³. He’s been everywhere, man. In other words, she’s chosen the two best people to work on this project, and it deserves your support.

As of this writing, we’re at just about 24 hours since launch, and close enough to 40% of the US$15,000 goal as makes no difference. More importantly, the nearly 400 backers are overwhelmingly pledging at the low reward levels (US$500 tier [cover cameo]: 1; US$250 tier [interior cameo]: 1; US$150 tier [special thanks]: 0; US$25 tier [retailers only, five hard copies]: 1; US$18 and under tiers [various combos of hard and soft copies, possibly including the first Poorcraft]: 369), so while this will not be a record-setting pledge total, it’s going to be a project with mass support (or it won’t be a project at all). Go wish Spike a happy birthday, and snag yourself a copy of Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here.

Spam of the day:

This will be enough time that it will take to become free of debt all you need to do is visit the online site with the money lender you happen to be thinking about looking for a loan.

NO. Want to know why I’m saying NO? Spike’s gotcha covered, Sparky … start here and read forward to learn about the lowlifes that would prey on you. Then go back to page one and read the whole thing. As a reward, you can read the first thirty pages of Wish You Were Here, which Spike is posting one page a day during the Kickstarter campaign.

Note that you’ll have to mess around in the archive to find things; on the main Poorcraft site, pages are numbered backwards from the most-recently-added, so page 1 of WYWH is at today, but it’ll be at tomorrow. You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.

¹ For reference, the other is Rich Stevens; the guy comes up with an idea on Monday, puts it up for sale on Tuesday, takes it back down on Wednesday, and is dropping the packages in the mail on Thursday. Offhand whimsies become major sellers, sudden sales and clearances keep things fresh, and he approaches merchandise like it was guerilla warfare.

² Want to quantify it? Taking the published bonus schedules from the anthologies and multiplying by the number of contributors, you get US$17,550 for Smut Peddler 2012, US$7800 for Sleep of Reason, and US$40,000 for Smut Peddler 2014 for a total of more than US$65,000 over the past two years that she could have kept (she’d already paid her contributors) but instead spread around.

³ It is perhaps worth noting here that I first met Ryan the night before he walked out of San Diego Comic Con and across the border into Mexico, to start a commune dedicated to cartooning. That was more than seven years ago and he’s never stopped moving for very long since (although getting married seems to have rooted him to one spot for the past couple of years; then again, it’s in South Korea, a country that features a language that I don’t believe he knew how to speak before showing up).

All Hail

Nothing but people who are making the comics industry great today; it’s a good time to be a reader.

  • I know that you must have seen this already, but damn, I’m mentioning it anyway.

    This page has mentioned the New York Times Best Sellers List for paperback graphic novels more than once in recent weeks; we noted the debut of Sisters by Raina Telgemeier and Amulet book six by Kazu Kibuishi on the list, approximately three months back. We also observed with some glee the occasion of Kibuishi and Telgemeier making up a full 50% of the list all by their lonesomes two weeks ago; that phenomenon is still in effect, as Sisters, Amulet book six, Smile, Drama, and Amulet book one are all still on the latest iteration of the NYTBSL.

    What’s different is the relative positioning of the books.

    Specifically, Raina Telgemeier holds the #1, #2, and #3 spots on the 23 November list, released yesterday, ahead of obscure books like The Walking Dead and Persepolis. I don’t believe that this feat has ever been achieved by any single author on any portion of the NYTBSL, much less for books with a cumulative 207 weeks of bestsellerdom. Which just leads me to one question — with some three dozen comics-based movies on the release schedule in the next five years, who is going to be first studio exec to be smart enough to drive a dump truck full of money up to Astoria and the front stoop of Ms Telgemeier?

  • Most of a month back, I noted that BOOM! Studios would be launching a Munchkin tie-in comic, with the omnipresent Jim Zub contributing backup stories for John Kovalic&rsquo’s tender art mercies. What I didn’t notice at the time (and what’s not emphasized even at BOOM!’s own website) was who else is on the book. The non-backup stories will include writing by none other that Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court, and Kovalic will be joined on art duties by Rian Sygh and Mike Holmes. That’s a lot of webcomickers on one book, which shouldn’t have surprised me, given that it’s from BOOM!. Fleen apologizes to Siddell, Sygh, and Holmes for the delay in recognizing your contributions, and we are now looking forward to Munchkin even more than we were.

Spam of the day:

Ofttimes, the word jewellery is related to womenfolk. However, for hundreds of years men have sported some form of jewellery

True story — earlier today, I accidentally purged the spam folder instead of carefully curating which of the latest batch should be held for consideration as Spam of the day. Oh no, I thought to myself, what will I do if I don’t get more spam? Turns out, it wasn’t really a concern.

Like a Swear Jar

For those of you not blessed with encyclopedic recall of Fleen necessary to remember exactly what was written back on 2 January 2014, $25,196,670 is the total raised by Child’s Play in the first ten years of its existence. Well, ten calendar years, more or less, but eleven annual campaigns; regardless, it’s a big damn number.

And it’s getting bigger by the moment. Child’s Play runs year-round these days, but I always think of it starting on the first of November (despite the fact that the first Child’s Play started closer to Thanksgiving), and since then the total is up another US$170,000 or so. Things will really kick in around the time of the annual dinner/auction on 4 December. I know that I say this every year, but I’m wondering what the heck could be done for this year’s campaign to exceed last year’s US$7.6 million, but they’ve managed somehow or another each year.

I actually have a way to juice the totals, but it will require the good-faith efforts of a lot of people. What you do it set up a jar, and every time somebody you know sincerely complains about SJWs or feminazis ruining gaming or insists that’s it’s all really about ethics in gaming journalism, make them put a dollar in the jar. Count the money on, let’s say 23 December, and write a check or PayPal the amount collected to Child’s Play. Given that Child’s Play started as a mechanism to convince the world that self-identified gamers were not human garbage, it would be sort of appropriate.

Spam of the day:

Thanks for sharing such a good idea, article is fastidious, thats why i have read it completely

I know, right? It’s not likely to make me believe that somebody completely distanced from reality is a rational person, but at least they can do some good while trying to convince me otherwise.

Promises And Fulfillment

Two Kickstarter stories bookending the creative process coming up; but first, something to do with your hands. I maybe should have mentioned this yesterday, but this has “weekend project” written all over it: courtesy of Adam Whittier at The Nib, a set of plans for a DIY portable drafting table that will cost you an hour or two, a trip to a hardware store, and the price of two Chipotle burritos. Get building, then get drawing.

  • On the one hand, Sam Logan has paired up with Damocles Thread Development — whose usual gigs appear to be more along the lines of large scale event training¹ — to design an RPG set in the Sam & Fuzzy world. The campaign to produce it went live yesterday and is already 70% of the way to goal. It appears in Damocles Logan has found people that know how to handle logistics and deliver things for which there is no possibility of delay, so I’m pretty sure that rewards are going to be delivered with more promptness than most Kickstarts see.

    I’ll be very interested to see how the game plays, though, as there’s a good deal of difference between an RPG and, say, running triage drills². It appears that the physical production is the only step left, which means that Logan and DTD (hopefully) are able to pay out whatever they raise to their vendors between 12 December (when the campaign closes) and 31 December (when unspent money plays merry hell with their FY 2014 taxes).

  • On the other hand, about a year and a half ago, the Kickstart to produce a Cyanide & Happiness TV show on the internet wrapped up with about 300% of the US$250K goal. The plan was to have the show launched back in February, but better late than never, yes? Episode 1 of The Cyanide & Happiness Show hit YouTube (yesterday for backers with a season pass, today for everybody else), resulting in ten minutes of the most chaotic mayhem this side of Tex Avery on a meth bender.

    It’s got a recurring set of short on the theme of bugs and humans swapping roles, two extended pieces (both dealing vaguely with extended struggles ending in last minute head-screwing of dudes with goatees), and a couple of briefer pieces. Oh and butts. Hell of butts.

    On the creative side, all hands were on deck, as Rob DenBleyker and Dave McElfatrick split directing duties, Kris Wilson busied himself with sound editing, everybody split writing duties, and lots of people got in on voice acting. Matt Melvin may have separated from C&H a few months back, but he worked on the show and is credited as both a creator, and for the story on the first long piece, “Ultrasoldier”. Per the Kickstarter’s stretch goals, expect to see ten more episodes of the show, along with weekly shorts.

Spam of the day:

It is learned that the defendant has now appealed.

Yeah, they’ll do that.

¹ Think everything from emergency services training to convention running.

² Although trust me when I say that putting together even a small Mass Casualty Incident training event is tricky as hell. It’s all worth it, though, to see the looks on the faces of the little baby EMTs when everything goes to hell and they don’t know what to do next.