The webcomics blog about webcomics

Places To Examine Your Conscience

Some of these will concern you, some will grab at your sense of empathy, some will intrigue; basically we’re all over the place today.

  • I’m very interested to see what the unintended consequences of a new law in California concerning the sales of autographs/autographed memorabilia will do to the major comics shows. Via the twitterfeed of author Amy Stewart, a new law (presumably intended to keep people from buying fake autographs/tchotchkes for big bucks) will require any signed item (think books and art) costing more than five damn dollars (think: everything) to come with a certificate of authenticity with a seven year retention requirement.

    It might be that people at SDCC next year are forced into the charade of selling books/prints/whatever and making the person who bought it then come back for a separate signature. It may be that the “signed & sketched” price variant is actually illegal. It may mean that California-residing creators can no longer supply pre-signed merch to stores (think Raina Telgemeier and the signed copies that bookstores have of Ghosts … they’ll have to dump stock yesterday or risk sanctions that I don’t know how to determine under California’s Civil Code).

    Okay, the summary of the bill indicates that the person signing things is exempt, but resellers appear not to be. Raina can sign a book without recordkeeping, but any comic shop or bookstore with a signed by the author! sticker on books is potentially screwed. California creators/vendors, your thoughts please.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a dispatch regarding a Kickstarter that’s burning up the webcomics category in two languages:

    Commit Strip, the strip about the daily life of coders, has launched a Kickstarter for their new book collection, and their first in English, at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/commitstrip/commitstrip-rise-of-the-coders-a-book-about-the-fu. And about 24 hours in they [had] already blown past twice their (admittedly modest) goal. Note that, much like the Last Man campaign, they have rewards in multiple languages but had to set up a separate page for the French description of the campaign as Kickstarter does not support campaigns in multiple languages.

    That last bit surprises me. I wonder if KS would object if you just had a bunch of text in more than one language, or set up support alternating languages but with identical price points and rewards. Certainly that would be a pain; I wonder what our friends to the bilingual north think about this particular feature lack.

  • We’ve spoken here at Fleen about Something Terrible, and the burden that Dean Trippe has taken upon himself, because the key thing about being Batman is, you don’t want any other people to have to be Batman. Your trauma defined your adulthood, but you can use that to help others not become as I Am The Night as you wound up; for Trippe, it means making himself available¹ to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse and creating his own impromptu Bat-Family, meeting and offering solace to one person at a time.

    But there’s more people out there than you can meet one at a time that need him, so Trippe’s gone the media route. Last Friday saw the launch of the Something Terrible podcast, hosted by Trippe and no doubt finding its own direction for future episodes. Trippe calls it a mission², I call it a most unfortunately necessary public service that I absolutely will not be listening to; I’m not burying my head in the sand, but in order to keep myself where I need to be to help when necessary³, I need to deal with trauma-bearing people individually, in person, as the need arises. I can’t go seeking them out.

    But those on the other side of the equation, who don’t have my luxury of distancing themselves? Who need Batman to avoid becoming Batman? The Something Terrible podcast is going to be a godsend. Here’s hoping you never have to subscribe.


Spam of the day:

Search For Baby Shower Gifts Options

The one part of the patriarchy and general male privilege that I will gleefully engage in is the general pass I get for baby showers. I know that makes me a terrible feminist, but this is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the stake. PS: Benedick rules.

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¹ I suspect, on occasion, to his own detriment. Dean, there’s a reason that they tell you to secure your own mask before helping others — if you aren’t well and whole, you can’t be of assistance to them, no matter how much they need it. Don’t overdo it, please.

² A very Batman-like approach to it, I must say.

³ Occasional reminder: I am an active Emergency Medical Technician.

Fleen Podcast Corner: Big Data

So this is probably a first — a podcast review at a webcomics site; but given that the podcast in question is by the webcomickiest of all webcomickers (the inimitable Ryan Estrada), I figure it probably works. Also, I should note that Estrada sent me downloads for all nine episodes (not to mention minisodes, and the reading of the related Machine of Death story, Shiv Sena Riot) so I’ve heard ahead of the three episodes now available for free listening.

Radio drama is something we in the US don’t have a lot of experience with¹, and the first thing you have to worry about is whether or not the voices and characters are different enough to follow easily. Estrada’s come up with a story conceit that lets him take a sprawling cast (more than 70 voice actors) across nine episodes and break them into manageable, discrete units that are pretty easy to follow. Apart from an overly-long, overly-narrated chase scene (which is not the easiest thing to depict in audio only) in episode one², the story zips along nicely.

The conceit is that a virus used by MRAs to spy on women has infected the phones of both teams of thieves and their targets. This works better than you might suspect, since everybody’s got a phone on them all the time, after all. The thieves are after the fabled Seven Keys To The Internet³, but that’s just another conceit for Estrada to tell a series of other stories about things he wants to talk about — criminal gangs in the digital age, Korean gaming police, secret hard drives in photocopiers, the history of magic, the history of abusive patents, venture capital and the tech bubble, put-upon phone center workers (a recurring theme, as this would be Manisha, star of Shiv Sena Riot and Estrada’s earlier Broken Telephone), relay phones for the deaf, and the prominence of Eastern Texas in patent trolling all come under his scrutiny … and as the end credits note each time, these are all real things.

The result is a series of I told you that story so I could tell you this story connections, with each story different in place, tone, subject matter, and (in large part) cast. So far, the best balance of all the competing areas of focus has been episode three, Motivation, featuring a lovely series of musical interludes derived from the verse of 19th Century spiritualist scammers and a lead performance (by Chris Tharp) that equally channeled Jeff Garlin and Penn Jillette.

The only thing that I’d ask for is that the show page link to cast credits on a per-episode basis instead of one big list. It’s a bit confusing trying to tie roles to particular interludes this way. Oh, and Jemaine Clement insists, in the opening titles, on pronouncing Data as dah-tuh instead of the proper day-tah. As another Data once pointed out, One is my name. The other is not. Get it together, Clement! Or, since Estrada’s the director and should know better, get it together, Estrada!

But these are minor quibbles. Big Data is a bunch of different stories on a bunch of weird-but-true side effects of modern life, and a fun journey through What Matters To Ryan. Give ‘er a listen, if only for the creative insults lobbed at Kickstarter supporters at the end of each episode.


Spam of the day:

MOVING SUCKS! LET US HELP YOU.

Got that right, which is why I’m never moving again. Pretty good pitch, though.

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¹ Not for lack of enthusiastic trying, sometimes. Waaaay back in college, I was part of a radio show that tried to put together a single, two hour SF radio drama in conjunction with the return of Comet Halley. It’s a creative endeavour that is very hard not to suck at.

² By episode four, a similar fight scene (also tough to do in audio only) was much briefer, reflecting either tighter scripting, tighter editing, or both. Much appreciated, either way.

³ It’s actually twelve, and full disclosure: one of my friends is actually a keyholder and she would find it hilarious to think that somebody might try to steal her key. She’d also kick their ass.

Flight Later Today, So You Get A Roundup

YOU get an event, and YOU get an event, EVERYBODY gets an event to go to!

  • In conjunction with NYCC (which, ahem, has decided not to credential me), there will be an off-site, open to everybody pair of events at a branch of the NY Public Library during NYCC weekend. First up: Friday, 7 October in Greenwich Village at the Jefferson Market Library from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Guests include Ryan North and Box Brown. Then on Saturday the 8th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the 53rd Street Library, the all-ages panel will include Rebecca Mock and Carey Pietsch. The events are free, but do require registration, so hit the links to reserve your spot.
  • No time to bask in the glory of Geniusdom, Gene Luen Yang is on tour for the latest Secret Coders collection — featuring Mike Holmes on art — from :01 Books, starting tomorrow at the National Book Festival in DC. He’ll be bouncing around — New York, Naperville, IL, Cincinnati, Dallas, Albuquerque, and Denver — for the next ten days or so. Locations, dates, and times here.
  • Big news for Ben HatkeZita The Spacegirl has been picked up for animation by Fox; as she so often does, Heidi Mac’s The Beat has the story by Alexander Lu, who seems to be getting all the good stories lately. There’s hardly a better story for middle grade readers than Zita, so I’m looking forward to the final product. In the meantime, Hatke’s on tour to promote Mighty Jack, starting Monday in Louisville, Kentucky and bouncing mostly around the midwest until 4 October (special congrats to Naperville, which also shows up on Hatke’s schedule). Details and dates here.
  • The Check, Please! Kickstarter has passed the three-day mark, meaning we can now compare the FFF mk2 with the McDoanld Ratio — named for Kel McDonald, who predicts that the first three days of funding will equal one third the total — and see how they stack up. Recall that the very steep dropoff after day one (representing fanatical, pent-up, no-delay-brooked demand instead of a more gradual decision to yeah, I’ll back that) throws off the Fleen Funding Formula (Mark II). The day three total is US$206,586, giving an MR value of US$619,758, against an FFF mk2 value of US$750K +/- 150K — approximately in line with each other (at least, in the same order of magnitude); we’ll be able to see which came closer in another 28 days.

Spam of the day:

REPLACE MISSING TEETH IN A DAY!

Dude, if you were able to repair what was shown in that photo (it was gross) in a day, the arc of Raina Telgemeier’s career would have been very different. You lyin’.

Apparently, I Went To Bed About Ten Minutes Too Early

On the other hand, this meant that the first thing I saw when I got up this morning was — glorioski! — good news, in the form of the annual reveal of MacArthur Fellows. And if you scroll down the list to the Ys, you will find — double glorioski!Gene Luen Yang. Yang is (as I have mentioned here) a consummate professional, a quiet, deliberate gentleman (in every sense of the word) and the last person I can imagine being thoughtlessly vulgar. I can only hope that he forgives me then, when I sum up my feelings on this as:

Fuck, yes.

Okay, he’s not (as I tweeted too early this morning before my brain had fully engaged) the first comicker to be named a MacArthur Fellow (or “genius”, as they are popularly known); that would be Alison Bechdel, two years back. He’s the 975th in a line of highly accomplished people who have made the world better, he’s one of us, and we are celebrating today, dammit.

I won’t be able to say anything new at this point about Yang — many people are talking about him today — so I instead have copied the review I wrote just about exactly ten years ago for American Born Chinese, the book that launched him on his current trajectory (and, not coincidentally, paralleled the rise of :01 Books). My feelings about ABC have only strengthened in the meantime. If you haven’t read it (or haven’t read it in a while), today would be an excellent day to remedy that.

Originally posted 12 September 2006, complete with long-dead links.
(more…)

An Unusually Busy Wednesday

I promise, it will eventually become clear why I have a picture of Frank and Ike up top, but if you’re expecting a quote from Thing-Fish, you’re probably on the right track.

  • Let’s go to David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator), who notes in the comments yesterday that he’s also blocked from accessing Oh Joy, Sex Toy [NSFW if your work sucks], on the basis of “Pornography”. It’s not an accurate basis, but if you’re gonna block stuff, porn makes more sense than education.

    Morgan-Mar speculates further than his test may have resulted in a black mark on his personnel record, but due to good fortune, it probably only counts as 90% of a black mark, as he’s now only 90% of an employee¹:

    1a. My Patreon campaign has reached the significant milestone of $700 per month. I set this up as a goal to enable me to reduce my salaried working hours from 10 to 9 days per fortnight, freeing up a full day every 2 weeks to make more comics and do other creative activities. The first immediate effect is a doubling of new Irregular Webcomic! output, from 2 strips to 4 strips a week. I have a business trip last week of September, so this change will take effect from Monday 3 October. Thank you to all the patrons who have enabled this!

    1b. To help enable the change to 4 new strips a week and mesh with my time away on the business trip, IWC’s new strip schedule will change from Sunday/Thursday to Monday/Thursday for the week 25 Sep-1 Oct, and then to Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri beginning on Monday 3 October. Other days will be reruns with new commentary.

    Congratulations to Morgan-Mar, and to all that have helped him to make more comics.

  • Meanwhile, a long-awaited pair of books is on the horizon, as Danielle Corsetto announced Girls With Slingshots Books 9 and 10, bringing the longrunning webcomic (currently in recolored reruns with director’s commentary) to a conclusion in print. Please note the unusually tight turnaround — there are but ten days to raise the oddly-specific amount of US$10,934. The short duration is so that Corsetto can hopefully get the books to people in time for the holidays.
  • As long as we’re at Kickstarter, the campaign for book 2 of Check, Please! is tearing up the site, with more than 2000 backers and US$180,000 pledged in a bit more than 24 hours. The Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II would have us believe that Ngozi Ukazu would reap on the order of US$750K +/- US$150K, but I notice something here that tends to give the formula a bit of trouble:

    There was an enormous first-day surge, and then a tremendous drop-off to day 2 … the same thing happened with the This Is Fine plush, which led to an overestimation. While there’s certainly a history of KS campaigns dropping off after the first day, pent-up demand of this sort tends to skew the math. I’ma wait to see what the McDonald Ratio says after tomorrow and decide if the FFF mk2 needs tweaking, but heck if I won’t be thrilled if Check, Please! actually hits the 750 large.

  • Elsewhere on the web, Larry El Santo Cruz has been absent from Webcomics Overlook for about forever, but he’s back! An account of the Blerch Run in Seattle on Sunday, an analysis of Webcomics: Still A Thing? yesterday, and a piece on webcomics, webtoons, and phones today. It’s the middle one I want to talk about.

    El Santo’s a smart guy, and if he’s musing on if webcomics is still a meaningful term, I’m all ears. I got pulled up short, though, when he concluded his comparison of webcomics against its nearest competitors (newspaper strips once, memes now) with this description:

    Webcomics exist in that nebulous undefined region between passing fad and real art, with aspiring artists edging toward the latter. But… due to the market reality, most webcomics are not the best in either field. Too good to be a meme, not got enough to be art.

    I get what he’s trying to say, but to say that webcomics are not got [sic] enough to be art is, at best, short-sighted. To pull up merely the most recent examples of webcomics embodying art — and here, I’m defining that as the ability to convey point of view and emotion, not merely the visual component — consider two Achewoods and one Schlock Mercenary of current vintage.

    Everything you need to know about Ray, Cornelius, and Téodor is encapsulated in that wordplay; the depth of character is staggering, whether you’ve ever visited Achewood before or not. And I’d challenge you to find a bit of dialogue that expresses the costs of soldiering — a topic that is overlooked far too easily while we engage in prominent displays of support for the troops — more succinctly or with deeper understanding than that discussion between an uplifted polar bear, a four-armed alien, and a sociopathic amorphous blob with a sudden attack of conscience. To paraphrase the immortal Ike Willis, I got yo art hangin’, boy².

    Which is me being overly wordy in saying: we settled this a long time ago. Webcomics are comics. Comics are art. The transitive closure is left as an exercise for the reader, as is my instruction that you all bookmark The Webcomics Overlook and pay attention to El Santo.

  • Hey, the next Science Comic from Dantecus Shepherr is up, this one dealing with the refrigeration cycle; per the note at the bottom of the comic, the artwork for this one (and the rest of the series) will be part of a gallery show in Belfast, Maine from Friday. Shepherr will be there, so drop in and say howdy to him in the actual art gallery because webomics are art, goddammit.

Spam of the day:

SeniorSoulmates — ???r??R?l?t??n??????t?rt??With a Date

Please do not send me spam for senior citizen dating. I’m not that old, and the hidden control characters in your text make me suspect you’re looking not for old people to get laid, but for old people to steal from with evil embedded code. Drop dead.

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¹ Morgan-Mar’s newsbox isn’t directly linkable, so I have copied all the relevant text.

² ‘long wit a two-week supply of IGNINT McNUGGET, de breakfast o’ champiums!

Fairly Enraging

Okay, so I make it a policy to not read certain comics during the work hours — NSFW means something different to everybody, after all. But a misclick today brought up a blocker when the browser requested Oh Joy, Sex Toy, which is fair enough. Everybody has a right to decide what is displayed in their own environs. But the reason cited — that’s pissing me the hell off and fairly emblematic of so many damn problems we have because America, as a country, is way too hung¹ up about sex. Not blocked for sexual content or situations, not blocked on the basis of explicitness, blocked because sex education is forbidden. This one time, I’ma say Screw you, nanny filter; you suck.

Let’s talk about happier things, any of which should have contributed the header image for today’s post instead of that dumbassery. In fact, let’s have multiple header images because these other items deserve it.

The Ghosts tour rolled into Minneapolis last night and I’ve never seen a crowd of 10 to 14 year olds so physically unable to sit still, they were vibrating at the excitement of being in the same room as Raina Telgemeier. The presentation is a tight half-hour of Ghosts read-along (with audience sound effects), inspirations, past books, and how comics are made. The crowd was larger than what’s shown in the photo by at least a third in that room, plus an overflow room down the hall. The folks at UMinn had the signing down to a science, with numbered tickets being called in groups of twenty, and comics-drawing activities for those waiting. A++++, would attend again.

Boulet’s avatar generator is now an app, with an even wider range of features and expressions. Download the Bouletmaton for Android, and I dunno about Apple but if this means for once we get the app first and the iPhone users gotta wait, I’m fine with that.

Ngozi Ukazu does a hella cute, irregularly scheduled webcomic about college hockey that I can only read about twice a year because I have to read the story in chunks. She had a hella blowout Kickstarter for a Year One print edition last spring, and she’s just blown the damn doors off of the Year Two campaign, launching (as of this writing) in the past three hours and already past 1300 backers and 117 damn thousand American dollars cash money, holy crap.

Speaking of Kickstarter, Brandon Bird just put one up for his latest creative project — I have internally referred to each of these as an Art Thing — and it’s a doozy. Bird wants to make a lowrider dedicated to the late Jerry Orbach: half art car, half statement of purpose for a life lived following your muse, wherever that leads. In this case, hopefully, to an impromptu back-alley competition to see whose Jerry Orbach tribute car can bounce the highest.

Who wants serialied fiction? T Kingfisher, the authorial pseudonym of Digger² creator Ursula Vernon had one of those stories that just wouldn’t go away, and so wrote out 90,000 words and has decided that her Patreon support is such that she can release it for free, Tuesdays and Thursdays (with bonus material on Sundays) until it’s complete. It’s a through-the-portal story, but not the kind you read as kids, which starts with a young girl named Summer — not allowed to do anything thanks to her overprotective mother — being surprised by the sight of a house on chicken legs over the back fence.

Baba Yaga is nobody’s kindly fairy godmother, and when she offers Summer her heart’s desire (or to suck the marrow from her bones … could go either way, really) it’s pretty certain that wherever Summer ends up, she’s going to come back different — sadder, wiser perhaps, very possibly scarred inside or out. Summer In Orcus starts today; read the introduction to get where Vernon’s coming from, then dive into Chapter 1 and join me in counting down to Thursday.

Finally, Tillie Walden picked up a couple of Ignatzen over the weekend (Promising New Talent for I Love This Part and Outstanding Artist for The End Of Summer), and the :01 Books twitterfeed (with whom she has a book coming; :01, not the twitterfeed) tells us that she’s about to start a weekly webcomic on top of everything else. Per Broken Frontier, it’s titled On A Sunbeam, it debuts next Wednesday, the 28th, and will run weekly. It’s early to tell where the story is going to go, but I’m getting a rebellious prep school students in space vibe, which is a combination of words that pleases me.


Spam of the day:

From: Andrea Chamberlin
To: Me, that is to say, Gary
Message: Hi George, Just checking the emails is this a good one for you?

Tom

Every single name wrong. Good job, team. Good job. Lotta hustle.

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¹ Heh … he said hung.

² Obligatory reminder: I loves me some Digger.

Science: It Works

News came in from the Bethesda Marriott on Saturday night that all and sundry were having a great time at SPX’s Ignatz Awards ceremony¹, and the winners (list from the always valuable Johanna Draper Carlson, as it was her livetweets I saw first) include Kate Beaton (Outstanding Anthology Or Collection for Step Aside, Pops), Meredith Gran (Outstanding Online Comic for Octopus Pie), and Lisa Hanawalt (Outstanding Graphic Novel for Hot Dog Taste Test), all members of the since-disbanded-by-rent-pressures Pizza Island studio in Brooklyn.

Also pointed out Carlson, the nine awards were spread out across eight creators (only Tillie Walden repeated) and only two were won by dudes². Ladies are the future of comics, y’all — it’s scientific.

Speaking of scientific, there are two stellar examples of comics-as-science-education to commend to you today.

  • First up, The Nib continues its habit of providing as much space as is necessary to tell the story, this time so that Andy Warner can bring you a sidelight the story of the biologic revolution du jour, CRISPR. If you’re not familiar with CRISPR, there’s a nice introduction at Radiolab that you can listen to; suffice it to say that it’s as revolutionary as Polymerase Chain Reaction, and may well beat out PCR for the introduction-to-Nobel Prize land speed record³.

    Amazing stuff, CRISPR, with incredible potential and incredible ethical challenges ahead — and one hell of a messy legal fight between two research labs that assert they should be given the patent in lieu of their competitor. Bad Blood is Warner’s look at the issues and the fight over the potential billions of dollars of future value. You know it’s journalism masked as comics when the caption below the last panel reads Doudna, Charpentier and Zhang [the primary researchers/litigants] all declined to comment for this piece.

  • Meanwhile, Dante Shepherd, or Lucas Landherr, or whoever the Batman/Bruce Wayne of Chemical Engineering is shared the latest comic done under education research grant to teach STEM subjects. Science Comic #7, Assumptions talks about the value of approximations in scientific/engineering inquiry, starting from a reference to one of my favorite books ever: Consider A Spherical Cow, first recommended to my by Dr Frank Acker, the man that taught me to viciously oversimplify complex waveforms because damn, it works.

    Shepherr4 is joined by a co-author for the first time in Science Comics, Christopher Cogswell, who is the primary explicator in the comic. Artist Carey Pietsch did a great job, in that it was immediately apparent that the teacher character was an actual person, where the learner is a stand-in for anybody that wants to know about assumptions/approximations. The result is the most accessible and readable of the comics that have been produced so far, and sets the bar for future iterations (which, per the note at the bottom of the comic, will continue later this week).


Spam of the day:

Verizon Info — Make your home safer, smarter, and more connected

The Internet of Things is a hodge-podge of ferociously insecure crap, and Verizon is a company that, 48 weeks on, still has not resolved the problem with DSL, although they finally have finally fixed the enormous static they managed to introduce into my landline. I don’t trust them to control the elements of my house any further than I could fling the members of Verizon’s executive board for distance from the height of a cliff.

BONUS PROBLEM

Consider a cliff of 100 m height, with a cylindrical Verizon board member of radius 0.25 m, length 1.7 m, and a mass of 75 kg. Gary is able to loft the board member upwards at a 12° angle above the horizontal plane at an initial velocity of 2.5 m/sec.

Neglecting tumbling effects and air resistance, how far can Gary trust Verizon to control the elements of his house? At what velocity will the Verizon board member crater into the damp sand at the base of the cliff?

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¹ Sadly, I couldn’t be at any part of SPX, but I do get to see Raina Telgemeier&rqsuo;s Ghosts book tour tonight, so I’m going to call it even.

² I expect to see panel discussions at every con next year asking promising male creators what it’s like to create comics while male.

³ Truly huge scientific breakthroughs often take decades to show their effect, with a corresponding lag in time from publication/demonstration to the fancy award ceremony with the King of Sweden. PCR was developed in 1983 and its developer, Kary Mullis was awarded the Nobel a scant ten years later.

4 It’s not everybody that gets their own celeb couple/shipping name all to themselves.

Please Send Me The Photo When You Do

Oh, Ryan North, you lovable (and enormous) scamp, you know that somebody is now going to take this suggestion from T-Rex completely to heart, and very possibly to upper arm. I love it.

Know what else I love? The uncanny ability of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin to somehow just know when I’m going to be tight on time (today because of an impending flight and a rental car with a dead battery) and to drop some sweet bande desinée information, for your edification¹.

A while back, he introduced us to Maliki, which is both a magical-realist² (as all the best ones are) autobio webcomic and the quasipseudonymous creator of same, in the context of monetizing with the Eurofunding site Tipeee. Today, he sends an interview with Maliki about how the funding is going some three months in; note that the interview was conducted in French via email, and translated by Lebeaupin.

Take it away, FSFCPL!

Fleen: Hello Maliki, and congratulations on your successful Tipeee campaign. It was one thing for it to start high, but now in the third month it doesn’t appear to be really dropping off so far. Were you expecting this?

Maliki: We were expecting (or at least hoping) a positive response from our readers, but we weren’t expecting so big a success. We were also picturing a significant dropoff the following months, which has not occurred so far. So we’re cruising in uncharted waters!

Fleen: In fact, many of your tipers were not even registered on Tipeee before you opened your page; you provided an avatar pack on your page so that they wouldn’t remain with the default Tipeee avatar, for instance. Were there other consequences to so many people having your page as their first Tipeee experience? For instance, did you have to expend time at the beginning answering questions from tippers on how Tipeee works?

Maliki: Yes, since the concept is not widespread yet, we had to explain the differences, compared to classical crowdfunding in particular.

Fleen: Have you noticed pledges being cancelled just before the end of the month or other such anomalies? Such a ghost pledging phenomenon is a problem on some Patreons, for instance.

Maliki: We have only had a limited number of cancellations or payment failures. So far people appear to be willing to play by the rules, but I hope this question won’t give anyone ideas!

Fleen: Promise, it’ll remain between us :). On that subject, you provided a remarkable transparency effort by publishing the timetable of what a tipper can expect as rewards over the month when he supports and over the following one, after his tip has cleared.

Maliki: Thanks. That was really the goal. We want everything to be perfectly clear and for no one to be disappointed or get unpleasantly surprised.

Fleen: I noticed that at the start of each month the total starts lower and limited rewards are reset. How does it work? Does it mean you have to each month start over the recruitment of tippers past a certain pledge or reward level?

Maliki: On Tipeee people can choose between making a monthly contribution or a one-off one. At the end of each month, the counter is automatically reset, and only the people who have set up a monthly contribution remain. Over the course of the month, new one-off contributions are added, as well as newly set up monthly commitments.

As for limited rewards, monthly contributors keep their spot, while the spots previously taken by one-off contributions are freed … but they generally don’t stay that way for long. In a matter of minutes after the counters are reset, they’ve been taken over.

Fleen: I also noticed the stretch goals structure changing each month (bonus points, from a software developer, for making each level of July be the double of the previous one: 500€, 1000€, 2000€, etc.); it is standard to Tipeee or something you came up with yourself?

Maliki: We defined these goals ourselves, based on levels that felt coherent AND realistic (except for the last one which is a kind of ludicrous level since we know we won’t reach it). And yes, I imagine it’s my logical mind who liked to speak in term of doubles, even if we slightly changed it since then.

Fleen: The Tipeee rewards imply an additional workload for you and Becky. After almost three months, have you found your stride?

Maliki: Not yet! The most complicated is physical rewards (the artwork). For the Tipeee we had to set up a lot of things very quickly, like the radio, the chat, the questions and answers, the lottery broadcast, the mailings, the monthly ex-libris. All that added to the weekly strips and peripheral projects represent a significant workload, not to mention we had to set up a small legal entity to be able to receive the Tipeee income. In short, we still need to optimize all that, but it’s already better than when we started.

Fleen: “Independent Maliki” is a long-term project, and it’s still early a bit early to discuss outcomes. But did the Tipeee page already allow you to reduce your reliance on freelance work? I am referring for instance to the illustrations you sometimes provide for youth magazines (Okapi, Science et Vie Junior, etc.).

Maliki: Let’s say that even if I wanted to take on more freelance work, I couldn’t :) But anyway, that’s not what interests me most, I much prefer to work on my own universes thanks to Tipeee.

Fleen: What kind of feedback or reactions did you get from your fellow comics authors (and other comics professionals)?

Maliki: In the end I didn’t get a lot of reactions. Hearty support from some authors, publishers or booksellers, MANY questions … I think most of them are waiting to see how this is going to play out in the long run. At any rate, I know we are being watched in silence ;)

Fleen: And I have to ask: any plans for English-language collections?

Maliki: Unfortunately no … Previously published Maliki books likely never will. My publisher has been talking about it for years and it never happened. Anyway, I think it’s too late now and it wouldn’t be relevant to launch Maliki by starting with volume 1, without first recreating the phenomenon that occurred in France with comic blogs at the time. So, not possible.

With our first self-published collection, we could consider it. But there again, our English community on the blog is tiny, and we’d need quite a tsunami of new English-speaking visitors for it to be worth considering an English language collection. [Editor’s note: see concluding thoughts below.]

Fleen: Lastly, a question closer to home, since one half of my family is from Nantes and I love Brittany. While your influences lie closer to Japan than to, say, the Pont-Aven School, have you considered taking advantage of being a “local artist”, for instance by trying to have your self-published books be regionally distributed if you can’t get France-wide distribution for them?

Maliki: The local artist is unfortunately not the status taken most seriously. Look at comic shows, regional authors are always consigned away in a corner … If my comic at least dealt with Britanny a lot, but it could take place mostly anywhere. Anyway, I am not necessarily looking to get distributed everywhere, but only by motivated booksellers. Other than that, it will occur through direct sales, by mail order.

Fleen: You’re obviously busy, so we will be leaving you to tend to your fans. Any last words?

Maliki: Thanks for covering us in English, you are the only ones who pay as much attention to our new independence venture so … THANKS!

Okay, minions, it’s clear what needs to happen — if you’ve been over to Maliki and like what you see, drop an email (or better yet, some remote coin) towards the site, and maybe we’ll get an English collection some day. Thanks to Pierre Lebeaupin for following up, and for his single-minded devotion to the idea that the French webcomics scene deserves coverage in English. I learn something cool every time he emails.


Spam of the day:

legal update on vaginal mesh implants

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nopers. Not touching this one.

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¹ Also, for a very light editing pass for English spellings and formatting.

² But not Mexican magical-realist.

“As Long As He Brings Us Profiteroles”

You had to be there, but trust me, it was hilarious.


Spam of the day:

Belize Real Estate — Amazing Investment Properties: Now Available

Do I look like a self-deluded dickhead on House Hunters International that is demanding a 4000 square foot center-hall McMansion with all the mod-cons for US$75,000 in an overseas location? Because I assure you, I am an entirely different dickhead.

Doop De Doo, Just Gettin’ Ready To Have Dinner With A Favorite Comicker, How ‘Bout You?

Fun fact: my brother's chihuahua mix is named "Shakes", but not for "Shakespeare". For "Shakes the Clown" (the CITIZEN KANE of alcoholic clown movies!).

Pretty sweet being an unpaid hack webcomics pseuojournalist, sometimes. Pret-ty sweet. Here’s what caught my eye today.

  • Peace, Good Tickle-Brain is not a webcomic I’ve known of previously, which means I need to have words with one Mister E[ric] B[urns]-White, seeing as how he’s my go-to guy for literary things and P,GT-B is mostly dedicated to Shakespeare. I noticed it today because an older strip (it’s from April) has been linked about in the sosh meeds, and it combines two of my favorite things: Shakespearian plays and flowcharts, to help you find the play that’s right for you.

    And you know what? It works. As I encountered each question I answered in the way that was most appropriate for one of my favorites (Twelfth Night, Merry Wives of Windsor, Comedy of Errors, Henry V, and especially Much Ado About Nothing) and BAM! Arrived at the correct destination each time. It’s foolproof!

    There’s also scads of play-appropriate comics (example: taking a French woman to see the Olivier version of Henry V, a comic which ran on the vigil of Crispian Crispianus), and if that’s not enough for you, check out the Three Panels series of comics (examples of which are linked above). Willy Shakes only ever aspired to create popular entertainment; if he was around today, you can damn well bet he’d be doing a graphic novel adaptation or two.

    On top of everything else, creator Mya Gosling is into rock climbing, which is the closest thing to a sport I’ve ever voluntarily engaged in. Go read the whole site, it starts just about three years back updating twice a week, so there’s a decent (but not forbidding) archive trawl.

  • From the mailbag: Web- and indie-comickers Shing Yin Khor, Elan’ Trinidad (previously noted here for his work on God™¹), and Marc Palm, and scientific illustrator Reid Psaltis (dinosaurs!) have communicated to say that they’ve collaborated on illustrations for the weirdest, funnest project I’ve seen in quite a while:

    Dream It! Screw It! lovingly mocks the history of Disney theme parks. This art book parody tells the life story of Dipp Disney – Walt’s drunk, dumb cousin with a job for life at Imagineering – through dozens of his Disney attraction ideas rightfully rejected for being too impractical, violent, sexy, insane, or all of the above.

    Words are from humorist and Disney Princesses author Geoffrey Golden, who taglined the project as Rides Too Dumb For Disneyland. Dream It! Screw It! is published by Devastator and releases on 28 September. A release party/reading with free churros will take place at WACKO in LA on 15 October from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.


Spam of the day:

Whats the best thing about Toilet Paper Coupons

I confess, I haven’t given this one a lot of thought.

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¹ Full title: “God™ © 2XX8 *** ***** ****** ******* Incorporated. All rights reserved. God and all related characters, titles, names and documents are trademarks of *** ***** ****** ******* Incorporated. No similarity between any of the names, characters, persons and/or institutions in this deity with those of any living or dead person or institutions is intended and any such similarity which may exist is purely coincidental.