The webcomics blog about webcomics

Returns, Mostly Happy

Last week was a challenge and I’m sorry about the less-than-usual volume of opinion-mongering. I trust that we’ll make up for it this week.

  • It’s been a long time since we had a new Broodhollow; as previously noted, Kris Straub has been on an extended hiatus, what with getting the Broodhollow book 2 collection produced and having a small human around the house. This had the effect of turning one hell of a dramatic cliffhanger into an extended, existential question — would Wadsworth be stuck in that place of mystery and loss forever?

    Occasional stolen time allowed Straub to show he had lost neither his whimsy nor his ability to craft laughter; yesterday brought a chapter title page and today! Today drags out the mystery by at least a few days more as a dark and forgotten place (for dark and forgotten secrets, in a place that forgets plenty) gives way to springtime cheer and no word of Wadsworth Zane. It’s been a long time, and it’s good to see West Virginia’s most unsettling corner again.

  • Just about exactly three years before Broodhollow went on hiatus, David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc posted his last photocomic, coming full circle some nine years and about 3200 comics after his start. In the three and a half years since he’s had a series of nearly 200 digressions on the nature of the physical world, the science that makes it work, and the consequences we experience in our daily lives — all of which have run in parallel with six-days-a-week reruns with commentary of Irregular Webcomic from the beginning, 1093 of them so far.

    Until today.

    Thanks to the generosity of his Patreon backers, it’s back to the LEGO mines for Dr Morgan-Mar, as he’s constructing two new Irregular Webcomics strips per week, to run on Sundays and Thursdays. If I can make one suggestion, it’s that everybody drop a buck or two towards Morgan-Mar, as while we’re about five times over the threshold that gets us two new IWs a week¹, we’re about one-fifth of the way to where he cuts his day job by one day a week to give us all the creative stuff he’s got stuck in his head. And if you think that he hasn’t been tucking away gag and storyline ideas for the past three years, you haven’t been paying attention.

  • About three months back I mentioned that another PhD-bearing, photo-taking webcomicker — Dante Shepherd, in his day job alias of an ordinary mild-mannered professor of chemical engineering² — was applying for a grant to bring comics to the world of STEM education. Grant writing is a hell of a tough thing (I’ve done enough of it myself), and the odds were not in Shepherd’s favor.

    As it turns out, on Thursday he found out he’d received the US$10,000 grant, which will allow him to pay artists to develop the first generation of materials, and also to develop skills in art/design students to make the program ongoing and sustaining. Which had to be the highlight of his week, except for the part where he received two student-voted awards for teaching, in his second year of teaching. I dare say that this week, everything’s coming up Milhouse Shepherd!

  • Finally, one minor down note — from Heidi Mac we get word that Jeff Smith’s Tüki Save The Humans is going to be returning later than expected. A recurrence of an old overwork injury means that instead of a May/June timeframe, Tüki is delayed until the end of the year. Naturally, this is only bad in the sense that I want more Tüki strips now, which is a minor concern when balanced against the possibilities of all the comics that Smith will grace us with in the future. And has been adequately established already today, what’s six months between friends?

Spam of the day:

Este homem de meia-idade n?o ? t?o generosa como sua m?e e ele pensa de si mesmo antes de pensar no conforto dos outros.

Which, according to Google Translate, is This middle-aged man not so generous as his mother and he thinks of himself before the comfort of others when the source language is autodetected, but This homem of meia-idade not as generous to me and ele pensa sua whether mesmo before thinking no two outros comfort when the source language sets itself specifically to Spanish. Apparently, it makes sense if you don’t try to make the rules of a language apply, and is properly spammy gibberish when you do.

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¹ And while we’re at a funding level of approximately ten times his monthly hosting costs, keep in mind that he’s been paying those costs since 2002 and it costs him $50/month in art materials for Planet of Hats (which has been running for the past year now). At current funding levels, he’ll break even in about two more years.

² Much like the theory that Batman is the actual person and Bruce Wayne invented personality, I subscribe to the belief that Dante Shepherd is real and Lucas Landsherr the secret identity; just substitute a Red Sox cap and lab coat for the cowl and cape, and the graduate assistant for the youthful ward.

This Should Be The Last Superbrief Post For A While

Melonpool! It existed before the dawn of time (ie: when this blog started in Dec 2005), and it has shifted through variations ever since. Has it achieved its Final Form in the current strip, which today hits 200 daily updates. Steve Troop is a trouper and will continue with Mayberry & pals unto his dying day. For now, there’s a good-sized chunk in the current iteration that’s long enough to binge on, short enough you can manage it while the boss isn’t looking.

Everything Is Made Better By Achewood

Everything. It is scientifically known that Roast Beef is the greatest character in all of fiction, and casting him (and Phillipe, and Ray) into [Super] Mario roles instantly makes all of videogames better. For a desolate world that has lacked fresh Achewood for more than a year¹, seeing these characters in pastiche is a pleasure. Thanks to KC Green and the Nintendo corporation for making this moment possible.

In other news, I am ready to murder everybody who cannot manage to engage their brains for five damn minutes to listen to my instructions, so let us all spend a moment waiting for Hobnail and Percacius to come up the lane to play.

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¹ Not that Chris Onstad is my bitch; indeed, there is something profoundly appropriate about the eternal cycle of death and rebirth pausing on Ramses Luther Smuckles, the sands of his violence eternally being mercifully withheld from a milk-eyed son of a slack-tittied dog that deserved it. If there is never another Achewood, this moment stands perfect.

Less To Complain About Than You’d Think

Welp, the Eisner Award nominations are out, and the thing that jumped out at me is how thoroughly web-/indy comics creators have entered the mainstream; they are competing head-to-head against some of the most revered creators of traditional publishers, and against some of the most well-known creations. Let’s go down the list.

First and foremost would be Bandette, which aside from a nod in the Best Digital/Web Comic category (about which more in a bit), was also nominated for Best Continuing Series (going head to head against the likes of Saga and Hawkeye), and artist Colleen Coover’s nomination for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art). Similarly, Emily Carroll’s as-yet online-only When the Darkness Presses is up for Best Short Story against works featuring these obscure guys named “Bat-man” and “Su-per-man”; Carroll also took a nomination for Through the Woods as Best Graphic Album — Reprint. It happens a little more each year: an online work competes directly against print comics, and it’s an encouraging trend.

The other multiple nominee I wanted to mention is Lumberjanes (newly ensconced on the New York Times bestseller list for their first collected edition, by the bye) for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17), with LJ co-writer Noelle Stevenson also nominated for Best Digital/Web Comic for Nimona. And since that’s two of the webcomics nominees listed, let’s continue and acknowledge the rest:

As in past years, the category is a bit of a mish-mash, with The Private Eye and Bandette being comic-booky where Failing Sky, Last Mechanical Monster, and Nimona release page-at-time; Bandette is sold via comiXology, the others release on their own websites. There’s not much overlap between format or genre, with all five being united solely by dint of the fact they release online first. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad, but it’s still restricted to whatever the judges decide counts as long form work, and that maybe should be reconsidered. Regardless, all strong work in the category this year.

That being said, it wouldn’t be the Eisners without a What the hell? moment or two, and for me that came when I noticed a complete lack of webcomics in the Best Humor Publication (where they are often represented) and a lack of both Sisters and Amulet in any of the younger readers categories. In the case of the former, it’s hard to argue when you do get nominations for Cul de Sac and Groo; in the latter, Raina Telgemeier was nominated as Best Writer/Artist, which is arguably better. There are still people out there that regard works for younger readers as somehow lesser; that’s a garbage argument, but to the extent that some perceive it as a ghetto, Telgemeier isn’t being pigeonholed. She’s competing against the best across the entire swathe of comics, including grand masters like Stan Sakai and Sergio Aragonés. Still nothing for Kazu Kibuishi, so I’ve got that to complain about.

But let us finish up on a happy note: Gene Luen Yang is up for Best Writer, both for his Avatar tie-in comic at Dark Horse, and his own The Shadow Hero, and the Tamaki cousins were recognized for This One Summer as Best Graphic Album — New; collectively they’ll be facing competition including Jules Feiffer, Brian K Vaughn, Kelly Sue DeConnick, G Willow Wilson, and Grant Morrison. Webcomics creators (and webcomics veterans) aren’t just being compared to each other, they’re being compared to the best alive. It’s a good year for the community.

The Eisner Awards will be given out Friday, 10 July, at San Diego Comic Con; best of luck to all the nominees.


Spam of the day:

1. Don’t continue putting off your lifestyle change.

Let’s see — wife, dog, house, volunteer work, and the opportunity to opinion-mong on a regular basis? My lifestyle’s jammin’, Sparky.

Let’s Minimize The Potential For Further Losses


Mostly about books, today. Mostly.

  • I have a correction to make; yesterday I made mention of the new Girl Genius Kickstarter campaign, which I said had launched overnight. From looking at the Kicktraq data, it appears that it actually launched ten days prior, and the Foglios were unusually quiet about it; the soft launch ended when they messaged backers of prior Kickstarter campaigns, and what I thought was a hundred grand of progress in a day was actually the result of a week and a half. The soft launch also produced the weirdest funding trendline I’ve ever seen, along with a multi-peak daily data graph. Regardless, they’re well over goal, have maxed out the stretch goals, and there’s a mention of new ones coming soon.

    Soft launches, man. Confusing.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, I am surprised to see that The Best Book has moved from a small but respectable 6% funded day-after-launch (15 April, as discussed here) to a not very encouraging 15% funded a week in. Guys. A Paul Southworth-illustrated kids book about the joys of reading is in danger of not funding and I feel this is partially my fault for not hyping it sufficiently.

    Consider it hyped, and consider this a call to action — the youngest readers (slash-listeners, since this is pitched at the real young’uns) will not discover a love of books on their own; they must be taught and trained and raised right and if this book doesn’t succeed, every single one of you will be contributing to the future decline of reading. Get backing, get talking.

  • From the That’s A Relief department: Ursula Vernon and her travel companions have returned from their sojourn in Africa, with magnificent animals seen, adventure embedded firmly in brains for eventual sharing, and the Life List just a wee bit longer¹. What struck me about Vernon’s first writeup of the experience (apart from the fact that the well known Weirdness Field that surrounds her did not result in her being named Queen of the Were-aardvarks or some such) is a discussion she had with her guide about the hegemony of language:

    “There is no word,” he explained. “Not in Setswana. We say water bird, but then we use the English, kingfisher.”

    “Oh,” I said again. “There isn’t a word. Okay.”

    He frowned down at the paper. “Ah … there is a book. In eighteen-hundred, a man went all around Botswana and collected all the Setswana words. If you look in that book, there may be a word. But we do not know the word now. It is …” He trailed off, waving the tip of the pen in that I-am-trying-to-think-of-a-word motion (which may not be completely universal, but seems to hold up pretty well between Botswana and here.)

    “Lost?” I suggested after a minute.

    “Lost. Yes. There was a word, I think. It is lost.” He handed me back the paper.

    I felt a pang of guilt, as if my native language was a dog that had bitten his. English sheds words constantly, of course, but usually not to replace them with someone else’s. And Setswana is a language with many, many native speakers — Wikipedia says over five million — and on no one’s list of endangered languages. Many of the parks were named in Setswana, and he’d told us both the common Setswana names of animals and sometimes the word in the regional dialect. But here I’d stumbled onto a word that had simply slipped away and been replaced by English.

    If that bit of sic transit gloria mundi is too much to contemplate, Vernon’s latest middle-grades book — Castle Hangnail — is out today, and thus you may cheer yourself up with a copy of that.

  • Finally, happy birthday to two of the most original, relentlessly cheerful gentlemen in webcomics or any other endeavour: Chris Yates and Frank Gibson were both born this day, and that makes this a Good Day.

Spam of the day:

if you decide on the wrong people or company to help you out in loan mod, you happen to be putting your loan along with your you will find greater danger.

Why yes complete stranger with a partial command of the language of international finance, I would very much like to trust you with a high-value loan modification. In other news, deposed Nigerian princes like me.

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¹ And by wee bit, I mean 154 new birds.

They Want What In How Many Days?

Answer: seven days of class material in five days. One may understand that I’ll be somewhat … brief this week.

  • New TopatoCon announcement du jour: Dante Shepherd, imitator of raptors¹, wielder of mallets, teacher of the young, record-holder for chalk concentration in the blood of an alive human. Be sure to shout Woo, Yankees! when you see him.
  • New Kickstarter for Girl Genius went up in the wee hours, already sitting at 155% of its US$60,000 goal and less than US$250 from its last stretch goal. Good thing too, as it’s only running for eleven days. Of perhaps equal interest is the fact that while this is the 14th (!) volume of Agatha Heterodyne’s adventures, Pr & Pr Foglio have created a story break to serve as a jumping-on point and renumbered back down to one — the better to not scare off new readers, presumably. We’ll see over the next few years if that worked in their favor but whatever — I cleared space on my bookshelves for up to 25 Girl Genius collections years ago.
  • It appears that the indications we had on Friday that the contact form isn’t working have been borne out — Steve Troop dropped into the comments to let us know that he also had a no-result experience. It’s on my list of things to do, but for the meantime I’ll put a note on the contact page. Thanks for letting me know.

Spam of the day:

Woman of Alien [emphasis original]

I’m not sure what this one is getting at? Are they trying to sell me alien women? Or do the aliens — perhaps from Mars? — need women? Help me out here.

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¹ Now we need to have a Science And YOU! presentation at TopatoCon, where Shepherd can share the stage with Randall Munroe, who has a well-known fear of raptors; put Munroe on a treadmill with Shepherd hissing behind him, we can power the entire venue.

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Although I Should Point Out That This Changes Nothing I Wrote Yesterday

It appears that come June, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will have to go vagabond for while, as it is being forced by circumstance to find a new location:

Following a notice to vacate, the Cartoon Art Museum will be closing its doors at 655 Mission Street on Sunday, June 28, 2015. The museum, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, began preparing several months ago for a possible relocation and will now continue those efforts in search of temporary gallery space as well as a new long-term home.

Well, poop. For those that haven’t had the pleasure, CAM is a great museum that puts up some great shows, and I imagine that at least half the effort of finding new space will be to find an appropriate place to keep and protect their collection — from the Smithsonian on down to the smallest, museums have more in storage than on display.

This has the unfortunate effect of making museum spaces expensive, what with requiring specific climate parameters to keep the collection from damage plus requiring nice, spacious, well-lit, and transformable space for all the public aspects. And San Francisco is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, which likely contributed to the requirement to move; no doubt their landlord can make a boatload of money by chopping up the space into fancy retail, restaurant, and/or residential units.

So if anybody wins the lottery and doesn’t have anything better to do with a couple-ten million dollars (or even just a couple of bucks), you can contribute to CAM’s capital campaign.

In better news:

  • KC Green let us know that his various comics projects might be a little less regular than expected for a month or so, for what I would call excellent reasons:

    I am doing a freelance gig with Adventure Time the cartoon series that will take up more than most of my time. Maybe. I am preparing you in case I miss an update or two. Just for the month. I suddenly have a lot of things I am doing at once and a plate or two might fall. Nothing serious tho, we can glue the plate back together.

    I can’t wait to see what a Green-designed or inspired episode of Adventure Time would look like, and on top of that, the Weird Al-edited issue of MAD due out next week (#533, if you’re keeping track) will include laugh-chuckles from KC, which means that Weird Al saw his comics and liked them. I believe that is the definition of professional validation.

  • Speaking of KC Green, he was the first announced guest of TopatoCon, which has made its latest pair of guest announcements:

    *holds out fists* ok pick a hand

    Left, you say?

    Or did you say right?

    For those that didn’t click through, those tweets led to the names of Danielle Corsetto and David Malki !. The full list of guests is behind the cut.

  • Still speaking of KC, he appears as a computer-generated pal for you (at least, a person named KC, along with other suspiciously webcomics-associated names as Sara, Anthony, Holly, Eliza, Frank, Becky, Tony, Karla, Erika, Jess, Eric, Kate, and more) in the latest Twine game from Tom McHenry, the man responsible for teaching us all the mastery of horses.

    Let’s Go Eat is a (specific type not stated, but pretty clearly comics) convention simulator wherein you must wrangle a crowd of people to dinner, when everybody has preferences and dislikes and it is possible to have your group break up due to hunger, impatience, attrition, and actual starvation death. It is absolutely 100% true to life and I encourage everybody to play it to learn why your favorite creators are that way by the end of the day.

  • We’ll finish out the week on a logistical and oddly KC-less note; the following comment was received on the last post I made about an arts space losing its location (way the heck back on Tuesday), regarding a bit of spam and not being able to find the contact page:

    To be fair to the spammer, I did use that Contact Us link on two different occasions the past few months, with no indication that anything had happened.

    Duly noted, and thanks for letting us know, Andrew; in the meantime, you can always reach me by utilizing the name gary, which is reachable at the name of this here site. I’m still not apologizing to that spamming bastard, though.


Spam of the day:

Helklo there, You have done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest too my friends.

Honest question: is Digg still a thing? I’m not sure it’s a thing.

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Institutions

There are towering institutions in the realm of {indy | web}comics and allied forces of creativity; we’ll note some goings-on with three of them today.

  • The ToonSeum has been a part of the rebirth of Pittsburgh’s arts district, as well as honoring the legacy of a wide swath of the comics arts. It takes a lot to keep an organization like that running, so if you’re in Western PA, consider dropping by their annual fundraiser, Ka-Blam!, on 25 April at the Teamsters Temple Banquet Hall in Lawrenceville.

    In keeping with a mission that honors not just cartoons but also its hometown, this year’s Ka-Blam! theme is Pittsburgh Characters, meaning prominent Pittsburghers (Pittsburghians? Pittsburgundians? Pittsburghasques?) will be honored, meaning you can watch people remember the greatest human of the recent common era: Mister Rogers.

  • On the far side of the North American continent sits another institution that preserves, popularizes, teaches about, and studies the comic arts: the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It’s a very active place, with programs out the proverbial wazoo, including a particularly rich and lively cluster in the immediate future. This Sunday, 19 April, will be the monthly Sunday Storytime Hour (theme: bunnies!) from 11:00am to noon.

    A scant hour later at 1:00pm, there will be hosted demo of Mangaka: The Fast and Furious Game of Drawing Comics until 4:00pm. And in a few weeks on 7 May, CAM hosts their annual fundraiser/comedy showcase, Comics 4 Comix. On the off chance none of those programs suits your fancy, there’s still a whole museum to enjoy, with a current exhibition of the films of Cartoon Saloon.

  • Coming back to the Eastern Time Zone to finish, you have an institution that is unlike the other two; one that is interested in the art and creators of comics, but in the tangible approach of directly supporting them in their efforts (not to mention their ability to pay for things like rent and food). An institution that exists in a compact, moveable (indeed, in near perpetual motion) form that is responsible for facilitating more than ten million dollars of support directly to various creators.

    I speak, naturally, of George, who condensed from an aether of pure consciousness into our world of meat and sorrow on this day in the year of our greatest hope; who took on physical form to better help us; who causes reality to shift around himself to aid those who put forth the effort to better their skills and create good works. Let us honor him on this, the anniversary of his birth, with the traditional gifts of spreadsheets, cool glasses, friendship, and Big Gay Ice Cream. Happy Georgeday, everybody!


Spam of the day:

We have Excellent work from home Option , where you will get steady Income source here No Target No Limitation,

Curiously enough, I already have that, and from a company whose checks don’t bounce.

Future Books For The Kid(s) In Your Life

Two of them, in fact, and I think it will be fairly obvious why I recommend both of them even though neither yet exists in a tangible form for me to read.

  • Firstly, you have The Best Book, presently Kickstartering, from Barnes, Ambaum, and Southworth. It’s about books, the fact that everybody can have their own idea of what the best book is, and how reading is its own reward. From the little we know now, it won’t take the approach of hitting a kid over the head with the idea that BOOKS ARE GOOD YOU SHOULD READ THEM; instead, it just presents the idea that everybody in the family reading something (and feeling passionate about it) is normal, ordinary, to be expected.

    It’s a good situation to emulate, and we’ll all get to do so provided the Kickstart (presently sitting around 7% funded after a day) succeeds. Actually, let’s get it considerably past the “success” point, as stretch goals will involve getting copies and supplemental material in the hands of libraries.

  • Secondly, you have the next (that would be third) book in James Kochalka’s Glorkian Warrior series, following 2014’s The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza and The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie from last month. Kochalka being Kochalka, :01 Books being the publisher, and the first two being (in my opinion, based on review copies thoughtfully supplie by :01) excellent kid-amusers, I would have suspected that a third story (due in March of 2016) would be excellent under any circumstances.

    Given that I’ve learned that the third volume is titled The Glorkian Warrior and the Mustache of Destiny, I now have no doubts. Forward, my moustachey siblings, forward to destiny, and let’s hope some kids decide to emulate the heck out of us.


Spam of the day:

If you are from one of those royal families of the Middle East, then this discussion is going to be of no interest for you.

Damn! You discovered my secret!

Well, Dammit

Just yesterday I was raving about the gallery/event space known as Center 548, site of this year’s MoCCA Festival in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, and how I hoped the Society of Illustrators had found a new, permanent home for the show. Turns out, nope:

Sad news for anybody who is currently enjoying MoCCA’s new location https://news.artnet.com/art-world/owne…

In case you didn’t click that link, the owners of the building has sold out to a new landlord who intends to — wait for it — build condos, or so say the rumors. I’m sure somebody will be making a buttload of money off the deal, and while I’ve only ever been in that space on one day of its entire existence, the continual repurposing of NYC real estate into high-priced residences is something that will set off another cycle of decline in the city if the real estate industry isn’t very careful.

It’s happened before, as the city became too expensive and people moved away; pretty soon there’s nobody to cook and clean for the owners of those multi-million dollar residences, or to make their coffee or deliver their dry cleaning. Then the super rich all decide to leave, the neighborhood falls into underuse, and then the artists and squatters move back in. Cue one of those Disney songs about eternal circles of real property valuation. Thanks to Darryl Ayo for digging up the story.

  • Welp, regardless of what happens with arts happenings in New York, there’s still going to be a TopatoCon in *hampton Mass this fall, and the exhibitor list grows by the day:

    Can you guess who the next guest announcement is? I’ll give you a hint; his name rhymes with “Schmanthony Slark”.

    I’m going to throw another guest announcement at you. Go long!

    IT’S CHRIS HASTINGS! @drhastings IS GOING TO BE AT TOPATOCON!!

    The complete list as it now stands is under the cut.

  • That’s moving fast — Howard Tayler¹ has been making noise about launching a Kickstarter to fund a role-playing game set in his comic’s universe, and in the hours since launch it’s racked up 66% of of a US$45,000 goal. Not so unusual, but these things are unusual: the US$30K he’s gathered so far is from just 300 backers, for an average of a hundo per; he’s logged eight backers (out of total limit of 15) across two US$500 tiers, and five (out of a limit of 10) backers at the US$1000 (!) tier. People love them some games, but even more love them some Howard. No idea where this is going but I suspect all my predictive models would be garbage given the obvious skew going on.
  • How about a simple Kickstarter story? It’s been a while since we had one of thems. Dave Kellett has decided to celebrate the first anniversary of his film, STRIPPED (funded via Kickstarts), with a sale. Until 17 April, you can get the movie and bonus features for 50% off. If you didn’t see it before, see it now.

Spam of the day:

Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send yyou an e-mail.

Yeah, it would be that thing under the masthead on the right that says CONTACT US, can’t imagine how anybody’s ever found it ever.

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¹ Evil twin, etc.

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