The webcomics blog about webcomics

Exploding Kittens May Reach My House Before I Do

Got my shipping notification, and now it’s a race to DFW to see if I can make it home to blessed New Jersey in time. Say what you want about my home state, at least our airports have actual exit roads.

With that in mind (and time short) please enjoy a quick view into what my email and website spam filters are like these days.

Spam of the day: Lightning Round!

Bathe Safely with a Whirlpool Walk-In tub

How old do you people think I am? I don’t need a walk-in tub.

I am a, staff of Private Banking Services at the Bank of China (BOC).

How much? US$8.35 million? Snore. I don’t answer 419 scams for less than 50.

Rachael Ray Bikini Body Diet

Seriously, what is it about Rachael Ray in particular that she keeps getting mentioned in this context? She’s got a good cosmetic dentist, some irritating catchphrases, and pretends to cook.

Your PayPal account has been suspended Case ID 364-186

That would be the PayPal account I don’t have? I will absolutely provide you all my information now.

Holy Cats

  • Holy cats! Raina Telgemeier has somehow slipped, as the latest iteration of the New York Times Best Seller List includes only three of her books, in the relatively modest #4, 5, and 6 slots (although we’re also a mere four weeks away from Sisters being on the list for 52 consecutive weeks, so there’s that). Not to worry; although the first Baby-Sitters Club color reissue has slipped off the list (after dropping to #10 last week, its 11th on the list), the second BSC color reissue released the day before yesterday.

    You can see where I’m going with this.

    There’s a lag time on the NYTBSL, but I’ma guess we’re shortly going to see The Truth About Stacey join Smile, Drama, and Sisters, and very possibly see the return of Kristy’s Great Idea. Can we do five Telgemeier books simultaneously? With the remaining two BSC color reissues due in October and January, could we see an actual majority of the ten slots owned by books about tween girls? No bets, my friends.

  • Holey Cats! Now this is how you meet promised Kickstarter fulfillment goals:

    When we launched our Kickstarter back in January, we hoped to sell 500 copies of our game. With that in mind, we wrote the following on our Kickstarter page: “Estimated delivery: July 2015″

    We wound up selling more than 500 copies. We sold 460,000 copies.

    I know we promised we’d deliver in July. But that’s a lot of things we had to do. So, the new expected delivery date is …

    Still July!

    Yep, kittens that ‘splode start their rolling shipping today; it would be impossible to ship to ship every one of the 220,000-odd (some very odd) backers in 122 different countries on the same day, despite the fact that the EK crüe have sent massive quantities of games to various countries around the world to ship domestically, rather than from the US (which would involve customs, and international shipping, and headaches and delays and missing packages galore). Heck, they had to partner with six companies for production and fulfillment, including seeing the Cards Against Humanity folks set up an entire company — Blackbox — just to handle the shipping and notifications.

    Those specific details — 122 countries, six companies, Blackbox — all come from the shipping-commencement announcement along with other facts about the game; my favorite fact-cluster is that printing the 26.8 million cards required 2356 gallons¹ of paint, producing a gross tonnage of 104,000 pounds² requiring 17 rail-car sized shipping containers to hold them all. You can find at least one member ExKit team at GenCon, with copies of the game, just in case you didn’t back the campaign and/or can’t wait until sometime next week. And if you need a primer on how to play, they released a video starring the voice of Dr Krieger, because listening to Lucky Yates talk about stuff exploding won’t cause nightmares at all.

  • Depending on what topics he decides to cover, there may or may not be cats (holy or otherwise) involved! Ryan Estrada is feelin’ creative again, and we all know what that means: a burst of comics to bury ourselves in. This time, he’s decided to do fake pitches for licensed comics based on existing concepts, and Dylan Meconis has already tossed the first suggestion out: an animated version of Murder She Wrote. But Estrada being Estrada, he’s already got a half-dozen in the pipeline, and posted his unlicensed adaptation of Bringing Out The Dead. Keep your eye on Unlicensed By Ryan Estrada for more insanity in the coming … forever, possibly.

Spam of the day:

All are hands-free, water-proof, rechargeable, and 100% medical grade silicone. There are specific nipple toys which are created to improve nipple stimulation.

Hey, Erika and Matt? I think this one is for you.

¹ Just shy of 9000 liters, or 0.007230289 acre-feet.

² About 47,200 kilos, or 1 adult humpback whale.

“Unable To Reproduce Problem” My Ass

So, massive tech failure at work affecting me and many colleagues, fun!

While I wait for my critical-priority IT ticket to get picked up (which I am sure will not be delayed in any way, shape or form¹), please enjoy today’s spam message because as soon as I finish typing this, my expected response time will be up and I will have to get on the phone to scream at people who are bad at their jobs.

Spam of the day:

A Libyan oil business man made a fixed deposit of $24,500.000.00 in my bank branch where I am a director, and he died with his entire family in the war leaving behind no next of kin. I Propose to present you as next of kin to claim the funds

Yes, and I am certain that “Gary al-Tyrrell” will be a perfectly plausible name for the next of kin of a Libyan oil baron.

¹ I crack myself up sometimes.

Okay, Not Spam Per Se, But Close Enough

More of a trolling attempt, actually.

If you’ll indulge me a little, I want to rearrange the order of things on today’s post.

Spam of the day:

um, he book WAS DONE WHEN HE STARTED THE KICKSTARTER, WAS Intended to help _print the damn book_ hello??!???!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS DONE WHEN IT STARTED!!!!! But you’ll believe his bullshit about being stressed causing him to be a YEAR AND A HALF LATE???


I suppose I should start with the acknowledgement that I’m breaking one of the fundamental rules of the internet by reading the comments, but there’s a general exception for reading comments on your own site; indeed, this comment was submitted here to Fleen in re: our most recent post on Something Terrible and held for moderation¹. Its author is using what I believe to be a pseudonym and fake email address, which is always the sign of quality opinions! Let’s address the author’s points one at a time, shall we?

  • That sure is a lot of correctly-spelled words, Bill (Can I call you Bill? That’s the name you gave although I doubt it’s yours). Not so much with the spacing, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and syntax, though.
  • Regarding the book being done when [the Kickstarter campaign] started, surely somebody as erudite as yourself will acknowledge that pre-press design is a skillset in and of itself, and having images for web done is not the same as just sending things off to press.
  • Regarding [Trippe’s] bullshit about being stressed, two things: First, please educate yourself on the concepts of depression and PTSD, which are not the same thing as being stressed. Second, Trippe’s been remarkably honest in social media and in person about the toll that telling his story has had on him. You may, from your comfortable distance, have decided that it’s bullshit, but I’d defy you to talk with the guy in person and come to the same conclusion. Dean’s one of the most open and honest people I’ve ever met.
  • Regarding a YEAR AND A HALF LATE???, PDFs meeting the lower tiers of Kickstarter pledges were promised in April of 2014, physical hardcopies in June of 2014². Certainly they’re late, but your all-caps exaggeration does not do your argument any favors.
  • Regarding YOU. ARE. AN. IDIOT., it’s entirely possible (have you been talking to my family?), but what about this particular project has you so het up (as my grandmother used to say)? Dissatisfied backer? Trippe’s already made the offer to refund you, which granted means that you lost out on the massive interest you would have earned on your pledge amount over the course of a year. Tell ya what, Bill, I’ll make good on that twelve cents you lost out on. Worried for my financial well-being because I got scammed? That’s adorable, thanks for your concern.
  • Not specific to anything you wrote, but are you familiar with Kickstarter? Almost nothing fulfills on time. That’s practically built into the site’s DNA.

It’s interesting, though, that you’re so concerned about getting THE TRUTH!!!!!!one!!!! about evil, evil Dean Trippe and stupid, stupid Gary Tyrrell out there, speaking boldly against our obvious corruption and collusion. You’ve had many opportunities to do so since January of 2014³ when I started writing about the campaign.

But you dropped in a drive-by comment from with a fake name and fake email, leading me to believe you aren’t a regular reader as they tend to be reasonable people who aren’t afraid to sign their own names to their opinions. I’m talking about something that I like and you have come into my metaphorical home to tell me Trippe’s full of shit and I’m an idiot — thanks so much for your obvious righteousness, but it was an unnecessary effort.

Much like the last 600 or so words I’ve spent on this response; I trust that we’ve both gotten this out of our systems and can go find other people who are wrong on the internet to confront?

  • Speaking of book Kickstarts, Steve Hamaker has just launched one to print volume one of Plox, and it would be really cool if he could spend GenCon weekend (where he’ll be tabling with Scott Kurtz & co at the Toonhound Studios table) not worrying about if it was gonna fund or not.

    Hamaker’s one of the low-key maestros of modern [web]comics, a colorist that makes even the best work better, and he doesn’t get enough attention for his own creations. Back it now, and if you see him in Indianapolis be sure to let him know that if he doesn’t have the book to you by the last day of March 2016, Bill up above is gonna have a fit at him how much you enjoy his work.

  • In other news, Los Angeles Resident Dave Kellett has announced the latest contributor to his Tales of the Drive project:

    So! That makes 4 super fun DRIVE short stories written/drawn by @ZachWeiner @drhastings @dmeconis and @jonrosenberg!

    That would be Zach Weinersmith, Christopher Hastings, Dylan Meconis, and Jon Rosenberg (okay, that last one was a little obvious). Judging from Twitter traffic ‘tother night, Rosenberg’s still in the writing stage, and LARDK hasn’t said when he’s going to start posting story pages yet. Maybe a nice little back-to-school celebration? A whole story up as a Thanksgiving present? Come on, LARDK, give us something to mark on our calendars and pine away in anticipation for!

¹ Typically, this happens for tripping keyword lists, having excessive links in the body of the message, or being from unfamiliar IP addresses.

² Which, between you and me, was optimistic in the extreme; closing the campaign in February, if everything went perfectly, means that hardcover books before September of 2104 would be just barely possible.

³ Is that where you got the year and a half from?


The TopatoCon exhibitor list grows by leaps and bounds! When last we spoke of such things, it looked like this:

KC Green
Jeph Jacques
Jess Fink
Tom Siddell
Rosemary Mosco
Kate Leth
Anthony Clark
Christopher Hastings
Danielle Corsetto
David Malki !
Dante Shepherd
Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson
Michael Rapa
Mildred Louis
Sara Goetter
Jon Rosenberg
Karla Pacheco
RJ Lake
Allison Shabet
Lauren Jordan
Joshua AC Newman
Magnolia Porter
Alison Wilgus
Shoona Browning
Randy Millholland
Brian Lee
David Willis
Kori Michele
Hannah McGill
Blue Delliquanti
Evan Dahm
Molly Ostertag

And thanks to the list that’s been posted at TopatoCon’s Internet Information Center, we may add to the list:

Amazing Super Powers, Kory Bing, Boston Comics Roundtable, Tony Breed, Cardboard Fortress Games, Eric Colossal, Matt Cummings, Megan Nicole Dong, Catie Donnelly, The Doubleclicks, G Town Games LLC, Games By Play Date, Erin Gladstone, John Green, Tyson Hesse, How To Win At Everything (Daniel Kibblesmith & Sam Weiner), Kitfox Games, Amanda Lafrenais, Braden Lamb, Matt Lubchansky, Ira Marcks, Kel McDonald, David McGuire, Tom McHenry, Maki Naro, Nerdcore Medical, Cole Ott, Aatmaja Pandya, Amanda Scurti, Sarah Winifred Searle, Small Beer Press, Sarah Sobole, Space Whale , Spriteborne, Olivia Stephens, Jordan Witt, and Jessi Zabarsky (whew!).

Sadly, we appear to have lost some exhibitors from the list. Rosemary Mosco reports that she’ll be attending, but not tabling. Jeph Jacques isn’t on the new list, and TopatoCon falls right in the midst of the time that he reports he’ll be moving to Canada, and so it may be too uncertain to promise an appearance. I’m sure that there are other missing names, but as my previous list was sequential-by-announcement and the new one is alphabetical, maybe it’s best that you double-check yourself.

In other TopatoCon news, the venue has changed to allow more attendees, and the show will now be taking place at the venerable Eastworks, site of the much-loved NEWW and NEWW2 shows in 2009 and 2010. Hotel/ticket information will be coming soon, and the showrunners have released a code of conduct that lays out a zero-tolerance policy for:

… offensive comments (related to a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, disability, or religion), stalking, unwanted photography or recording, unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention, and disruption of events. In general, the polite and courteous method is to err on the side of caution. If you feel you may be making someone uncomfortable, end your interaction with them. No one owes you their time or attention (and you don’t owe anyone yours), so be cool. [emphasis added]

I bolded that part because it seems necessary to remind the Sea Lions out there that the world does not, in fact, revolve around their obsessive needs to talk you to death. Hooray!

Spam of the day:


You know, just waving about your hands and saying SEO is not how that actually works. Maybe in the LARP of website management, but not in the real world.

It’s Tightly Cropped For A Reason

This page has long been a fan of Dean Trippe’s Something Terrible, which has been a webcomic and Kickstarted as a book-book. The elephant in the room is that the book is late — delivery was estimated in June of last year — which I’m willing to give Trippe all kinds of slack for. He told a story about himself, and as a result found himself the impromptu leader of a tribe whose price of membership is way too high but whose fellowship is literally lifesaving.

This is especially apparent with the next PDF version of Something Terrible that Trippe sent to his backers this week, which features a new essay about what the experience of sharing his secret origin is like — having stepped into the spotlight, he’s experienced stressors that weren’t there before:

I’m humbled to know how many people desperately needed my story, and most of the time, I don’t regret it. But if I’m being honest, it’s hard. Even revisiting all of this in order to complete this print edition has been tough. I thought doing the digital edition was all the therapy I needed, but I’ve learned that it’s an everyday thing. Always healing. Always training. Just like Batman.

So, yeah. Next time you find yourself with hundred of abuse victims reaching out to you to make it better, I’ll give you slack on your missed deadlines, too.

But Trippe’s done more than work through the mechanical and logistical aspects of putting Something Terrible into print; he’s added a new four-page epilogue to the PDF that he sent to backers this week. It hits a payoff that is even more emotionally overwhelming than the justly-lauded You’ll Be Safe Here.

Think of it as the post-credits scene in the superhero movie that is Trippe’s story, one that required the very tight cropping shown above to not spoil. It’s a perfect coda, I can’t wait for you all to see it, and never forget: not all heroes wear capes.

Updating yesterday’s list of GenCon exhibitors from the wide, wide world of webcomics, Steve Hamaker reports he’ll be there with Scott Kurtz (but not sure where, exactly), and David Malki ! reports that he’ll be at the Blind Ferret table.

Travel Trubs Over, Lack Of Sleep Remains

Oh, and also the previous strip, where the barista cabal that secretly controls everything has functioning transporter technology because OF COURSE they do.
Thanks to the tender mercies of Delta, I spent the majority of my waking hours yesterday at Newark airport trying to get to Atlanta for a work gig, a tale of woe I was only too happy to share on Twitter. Getting in eight hours late has left me a bit punchy today, so let’s keep today’s discussion brief.

  • I don’t know how many of you noticed that it’s Comics Week at The AV Club, and while there has been some webcomics in the discussion threads, today saw the first overt recommendations from staffers. Asked What comics are you reading this month?, staffer William Hughes threw props to A Softer World and Achewood before a lengthy analysis of what makes Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie so damn good:

    It’s a tricky book to summarize, honestly, because the thing that makes it great is Gran’s unwillingness to let easy labels dictate who her characters are—in the initial comics, Eve is “grumpy,” while Hannah is “the carefree stoner,” but the longer they spend on the page, the less those titles make sense or apply. It’s a book that’s less about big plot arcs or romantic entanglements—although it has its fair share of the latter—than about what those events mean for the characters and their attempts to build a stable sense of who they are and what they want.

    He also notes that Gran shifts between slice-of-life and magical realism (although not the Mexican variety), which by coincidence is well demonstrated by today’s installment; whatever else might be going on in Jane and Marigold’s inner feelings, those little homunculi are absolutely real.

  • We may be coming to the end of the Cartoon Art Museum’s cartoonist-in-residence program, what with the loss of the physical space coming at the end of September and all. But it’s not the end of September yet, and curator Andrew Farago shows every sign of wanting to pack as much programming as their remaining lease time will allow.

    Thus, those of you in San Francisco on Saturday, 1 August 2015 can participate in the residency of Hannah McGill from 1:00pm – 3:00pm. For those not familiar, McGill is the creator of RAWR! Dinosaur Friends, as well as being a graphic designer with work visible around the Bay Area. Her talk is free and open to the public.

Spam of the day:

Technological advances in home based surveillance allow one to keep out hackers from your home alarm system.

Oh son, do not even bring your claims about Internet of Things security here. That bullshit will not fly with me.

Tuesday Miscellany

We’re all over the place today, from the neatest, most encouraging news to the most horrifying visions of what eternal damnation must surely look like. I suspect that no two of you will precisely agree where on that scale each of these items will fall.

  • Well, okay, I suspect that everybody will place the already-fully-funded Kickstart for Lucy Bellwood’s nautical comics collection, Baggywrinkles, on the positive side of that scale. It’s part autobio, part educational, a downright bargain with physical copies of the book going for as little as US$16, and featuring an all-new story about scurvy! And a very modest US$20K stretch goal will take the collection from B&W to color!
  • Sticking with Kickstarter for the moment, we’ll note that Matt Bors was lying to us when he said that the Eat More Comics Kickstarter campaign would not have stretch goals, on account of they just announced some stretch goals. Every coupla’ thousand bucks from the US$45K goal means exclusive comics from the likes of Zach Weinersmith, Rich Stevens, Gemma Correll, and Bors himself.

    Even better, hitting US$60K means that all the artists — who are getting paid for their comics to run in the collection, on top of the pay they received to run at The Nib, on top of whatever they made from drawing them in the first place — will get a page rate boost. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the best part about Bors & Co is that they pay, and even if some of what The Nib ran made you grind your teeth and regret that money went/will go to cartoonists you despise, I can pretty much guarantee that even more money went/will go to cartoonists you love. Let’s help ’em make rent.

  • Love ’em, hate ’em, wonder how they became so dominant in at least one field (webcomics) and superdominant in another (videogames), there’s no denying that the lads at Penny Arcade cast a long shadow and that they attract attention from outside both those areas of endeavour.

    This time it’s the advertising world, where Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik were named to a list of 10 visual artists who are remaking advertising, part of an overall list of the 100 most creative people in/adjacent to advertising. Also on that list with Krahulik & Holkins: Annie Leibovitz (the most important portrait photographer of the past four decades) and Brett Doar (who creates all those Rube Goldbergian installations for OK Go music videos).

    And as long as we’re on the topic, Randall Munroe was recognized not specifically for comics or art, but for his ability to create viral content that blows the hell up. Also on that list with Munroe: Serial’s Sarah Koenig. Looking at the other 80 names on the list, you’ll find the likes of John Carmack (for Oculus VR), Amy Schumer, Janelle Monáe, Mindy Kaling, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a whole bunch of ad pros and commercial directors you’ll never have heard of. This time next year I’d expect to see Raina Telgemeier or somebody at Ad Week is missing the boat.

  • Finally, I think that we all also will agree on which item definitely falls on the negative side of the scale: for all those who have ever seen Lar DeSouza’s Sailor Bacon cosplay has never been able to un-see that spectacle, that extravaganza, those bloomers. We can console ourselves that the display was always for a good cause (namely, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada), even if there was no way to convey the full horror to those that weren’t there to share in the mental scarring.

    Until now:

    In a grand effort to support me and my wife in our annual fundraising efforts for Multiple Sclerosis research, [Ryan] Sohmer and Blind Ferret have made available these adorable and somewhat disturbing Sailor Bacon plushies!! Designed by me and manufactured by the fine folks at Soft Stuff (who also donated a portion of their manufacturing costs to the MS Society of Canada!), these tiny ambassadors of hugs are now shipping from the BFE headquarters.

    You can order up one of these abominations and send it to somebody that needs a good disturbing! Why should you be the only one unable to ever sleep again without seeing … that … lurking behind your eyeballs? Drop your twenty five bucks, spread the madness, take some minor solace that this great sin against Nature benefits a worthy cause, or maybe just buy them all up and see if you can destroy them before they worm their way into your brain.

    It’s too late. They’ve got you. Pray for the mercy that you’ll succumb to sweet, forgetful madness quickly and Glob have mercy on your soul.

Spam of the day:

Your LED Flashlight Coupon, 75% off expires 07/21/2015

I’ll admit — this one almost got me. I’m a sucker for a good LED flashlight.

What Is Wrong With Internet People?

Couple of things today, mostly hung together on the common thread of people being jerks to webcomics creators.

Here’s the thing: Rosemary Mosco is great at field biology, and even better at explaining nature to the rest of us in ways that make complex ideas easily graspable. Her art and writing styles are unique and unmistakable, and her reputation is of somebody that both knows what she’s talking about and being level-headed and worthy of your trust.

So it sucks that somebody out there is appropriating her good name in a Twitter account. It’s not the case of somebody else coincidentally being named Rosemary Mosco¹; it’s somebody that’s grabbed her avatar and links to her site and uses her name in the account name. Granted, there are only four tweets there and none in the past 18 months, but how many people following the fake account think it’s the real Rosemary Mosco? Scanning the followers of the fake reveals it’s recently been followed by two different environmental organizations, who presumably don’t want to follow an account that’s likely laying fallow until the day that it unleashes a torrent of spam.

Unfortunately, Twitter itself seems monumentally uninterested in dealing with the situation, describing the impostor account as a mere case of similarity. There’s not much to say here other than you have to proactively keep an eye on your name and who may be using it; you have to keep an eye on websites formerly associated with you (a situation which has afflicted Rene Engström, Box Brown, and Vera Brosgol) as well as those that are actively yours (cf: Lore Sjöberg’s domain-jacking, the brute-force attempt to steal Digger yesterday²).

Can you still get screwed even with best practices? Sure — you don’t know who else is taking security seriously, which can lead to things like an unsecured database resulting in 37 million compromised accounts³. But doing nothing because somebody else might not hold up their end of the load isn’t acceptable practice — be a little paranoid, take a few minutes to review your online security (in every sense of the phrase), and make things a little more difficult for the sumbitches that seek to make our lives a little more miserable.

Spam of the day:

Invitation Only event for: Ashley Madison is the top rated married-dating company in the U.S., dedicated to privacy.

Boy, did you pick the wrong day to send this crap. Note to readers: I swear that this is a verbatim spam that I received 18 minutes ago as I write this. It’s one thing to be a lowlife spammer, but a stupid lowlife spammer? Just go back to school, get your GED, and maybe you can work your way up to Do Not Call List-evading phone solicitations.

¹ Much as I am plagued — plagued, I tell you! — by the existence of the other Gary Tyrrell. He got the Twitter name, I got the domain name, and our uneasy détente continues.

² On the topic of brute-forcing, you may be interested in a recent accounting of how many apps allow brute-force password guessing and how long it will take to guess your password (between 30 minutes and half an hour, depending on password strength). If that scares you, please reference past discussions on securing your sites, securing your data, and developing a general approach to security. Short version: take a lot of backups, don’t use an admin account for posting, and secure all accounts with unique, long-ass passwords.

³ Although a website for cheaters would appear to have little to do with the primary mission of this site, I decided the Ashley Madison hack was relevant for three reasons:

  1. It’s timely.
  2. I teach databases in the day job (much of which revolves around securing the damn things, which ain’t rocket surgery) and this one has me shaking my head at what a boneheaded, easily-prevented situation was the root cause.
  3. With 37 million accounts that were compromised, some of them have to be webcomickers. This is not an invitation to start speculating.


It’s short post today, because you’ve got some homework to do.

Spam of the day:

this weblog contains awesome and actually good information designed for visitors.

I am but a humble guide to the actually good information.

¹ Also available in our own post archive, but lots of busted links and lost images can pile up over nine years. Heck, even the Wayback Machine version is going to be missing images in that post.

² Or doing something spectacularly dumb, but Brothers is the opposite of spectacularly dumb.