The webcomics blog about webcomics


Okay, we’re talking about other paper-based webcomic-related items, but since a couple of them are specifically calendars, I got to use one of my favorite words for the title. That alone makes it a good day.

  • Firstly, the intrepid David Malki ! has announced the 2016 iteration of his Wondermark calendars, with various bonuses if you’re special. For example, purchasers of four or more previous Wondermark calendars are heroes in his eyes and get a special plague plaque to display along with the calendar. There’s also original art left over from the 2014 calendar up for grabs, and the entire release remains a limited edition of … actually I couldn’t find the edition size but the last couple of years have been 250.

    In any event, the calendar is progressive (you’re always looking at the current two-week block and the next, instead of waiting until the end of the month to flip the page and see the first of the next), and the entire thing is one of the classiest items you can put in your home or place of work.

  • A somewhat more traditional calendar (month at a time, big ol’ piece of artwork) was also announced today from We Love Fine for the Homestuck in your life. Artwork by Evan Dahm, KC Green, Mary Cagle, Caitlyn Humprhies, Cole Ott, M Harding, Matt Cummings, Mallory Dyer, Adrienne Garcia, Xamag, Shelby Cragg, Jonathan Griffiths, and Gina Chacon. I’m guessing that Green’s contribution includes Sweets Brougham and Helpful Geoff, so maybe just burn that month instead of looking at it.
  • Fans of calendars that let you look at a whole year at time and also the Fat Pony will want to check out Kate Beaton’s 2016 calendar, although I personally find it outrageous to consider that the pony doesn’t fart until December.
  • Other paper goods: greeting cards that open a new front in the War on Christmas, courtesy of Zach Weinersmith and assorted artists. It turns out Christmas is not only beset by liberal pants-wetting secular humanists, but now also by the ultrareligious types that love Jesus more than you ever could and are putting a second Christ in Christmashrist. the collection is worth it just for the Abby Howard design of high-fiving socks-and-sandals Jesuses (Jesii?)?
  • Finally, today marks the release of Gotham Academy issue #12, the last to be illustrated by Karl Kerschl. I’ve enjoyed the book over the past year, in no small part because I will read anything Kerschl illustrates, up to and including the phone book. But I’m excited at the possibility that with the end of his involvement with GA, Kerschl will have the time to return to his interminably great The Abominable Charles Christopher.

    It’s been just under a year since the strip updated, and even longer since there was a Kerschl strip instead of a guest strip. Charles, Gilgamesh, and all the denizens of the forest (including the nefarious Sissi Skunk and Luga, the only honest cop) have about a year’s worth of stories left to tell. We’ll see if Charles Christopher wraps up before or after the much-hyped Dark Knight III series¹, but I know where my money is: Karl don’t shiv.

Spam of the day:

joaniemoans24: Do you like moaners in bed?

The only question I have is what joaniemoans1 through 23² think about this.

¹ The original telling of which 30 years ago remains a formative influence on Kerschl, and for which he has contributed at least one variant cover.

² Or possibly joaniesmoans? Can I get a ruling on this, Ryan North?

Fleen Book Corner: The Enthusiast

We’ll be getting to the review in just a moment, but did everybody see the 2015 Gift Guide from The AV Club? It appears to disproportionately recommend merch from TopatoCo-affiliated creators, with a @GOPTeens t-shirt (also available in pink), Night Vale socks, and six separate artistic statements from Brandon Bird. I’m not saying that AV Club copy editor Gwen Ihnat is obsessed with Bird, but she single-handedly made his products nearly 12% of the entire guide.

Josh Fruhlinger is a friend to comics; he’s spent a sometimes-thankless eleven-plus years picking apart the mediocre and inexplicable denizens of the comics pages looking for the occasional gem of batshit insanity (Mary Worth has a stalker and a neighbor with a meth lab!) or banal inoffensiveness that somehow transcended all reason (creepy blinking eyes in For Better Or For Worse and unending depression in Funky Winkerbean). His blog features one of exactly two comment sections that I will voluntarily read, a testament to purpose with which he has imbued his commentariat. He is funny, able to detect unintended irony at twenty paces, and utterly devoted to things whose heydays were decades ago (Mark Trail, Judge Parker, the entire Walker-Browne humor-approximating amalgamation).

He is directly responsible for the Archie Joke Generating Laugh Unit 3000 and undoubtedly inspired Funky Cancercancer and My Mother Is F’in Insane. In short, he is a voice of wry amusement in the barren, largely humorless world of the increasingly inappropriately-named funny pages, and he has brought all of those skills to bear in his first novel, The Enthusiast; Fruhlinger kindly set me a pre-final copy for review, and now you get to hear about it with uncharacteristically few spoilers but a fair amount of meandering. It’s the kind of book that forces you to look at lots of different things from different perspectives, revisiting some and digging into others that are new, synthesizing something from disparate maybe-nothings.

Bear with me for a bit; I promise it will make more sense.

Since I finished The Enthusiast, I’ve found myself wanting to go back and watch Merchants of Cool¹, a nearly 15 year old episode of Frontline, about the business types trying to figure out youth culture so it can sell that culture back to those who are living it, and ideally to those who aren’t yet. Such cool hunting can manifest in profoundly clumsy attempts, like a PR firm that ’bout five-six years back paid models to go to trendy New York bars and loudly order particular brands of vodka² to try to create clandestine buzz. It turns out when a stunningly attractive blonde won’t talk about anything except a particular brand of vodka (in weirdly repetitive soundbites) that she isn’t actually drinking, people are more creeped out than likely to buy booze.

Another example: we’ve all seen the futile, flopsweat-covered attempts of corporations to will into being a viral ad campaign, or to make a social media component (often gamified) of their incredibly staid website into the next Facebook. Okay, you can’t practically hear the executives thinking, we’ve made it like what we think that last popular thing was, so it will automatically become self-perpetuating and beloved … now! They never quite cotton to the fact that Facebook (which is much better at being Facebook than any wannabe) was an organic/accidental success before it became an actual success (and then, later, a ruthlessly engineered success … turns out you can will brain-stickiness into being, but only if you’re reinforcing the position you already hold). This is world in which Fruhlinger decides to play, and it’s like PR by way of Calvinball.

The agency that Fruhlinger describes (Subconscious Agency by name) is more subtle than the clumsy attempts at culture exploitation in that it’s not looking for cool, it’s looking for what people already love in niches that can be indirectly commodified. The right twenty people can (with the right manipulation) preach to the right three hundred, who carry along the right ten thousand, all without trace. If Subconscious Agency actually existed, the nerd-hype movies out of SDCC would have groundswelled to become bona fide blockbuster hits instead of borderline flops (looking at you, Snakes On A Plane) or critically-lauded low-sellers (howdy, Scott Pilgrim vs The World).

Which isn’t to say that such undertakings don’t exist — by its nature, it would have to operate under the radar, never letting on that careful nurturing of naturally-occurring enthusiasm, directed to the right place at the right time, causes changes out of all reasonable expectation. For example, it would explain some portion of the loud, disproportionate success of Donald Trump’s political career.

Subconscious Agency feels like a character — it’s shown to have an evolving nature and a carefully developed eusocial structure; it’s even got an absolute boss ensconced in her office like a queen bee, directing her hive mind the way she wants it to go. We learn their mission and structure and methods gradually, pulling us in and building up our interest into an absolute belief that this is how the world really works. It’s the cheeriest depiction of secret masters of the world you’ll ever read — Illuminati by way of twentysomething urban professional borderline hipsters.

This layer-at-a-time building, this involvement of our own desires to learn more without it being obvious that we’re being led by the hand? That’s possibly Fruhlinger’s neatest trick, where the structure of the book mimics the central thesis: in our modern world, attention is just another resource to be mined and refined and expended in the marketplace, preferably without too much notice being drawn. Let others be the hunters and merchants of cool; Subconscious Agency domesticates and selectively breeds its subjects without them ever being aware of it.

For Kate, our heroine, the subjects she’s juggling are a pair of distinct nerderies — train and transit fans (particularly as relates to the Washington, DC metro system) and a soap opera comic strip that’s seen better days (clearly inspired by Apartment 3G, which closed up shop some 10 days ago, and which was a beloved favorite of Fruhlinger’s snarkblogging). Fruhlinger’s got an innate ear for what happens when people care about something too much and find like-minded people online — they immediately and collectively become a comments section³, with all that implies.

Wrangling the unwrangleable (shut up, it is too a word), directing the undirected id of the online is Kate’s mission, which eventually involves some light trespassing, Hollywood types, the soul-killing thought of another August on DC’s Blue Line with no goddamn air conditioning and that weird smell in the carpet, Euro EDM, an unmovable force that doesn’t care about money or fame, and the existential question of what happens when you wonder about your own enthusiasm for enthusiasm. Questions become plans become actions become reactions become more questions, threatening to spin either completely out of control or into a state of control so profound as to lose all joy … possibly both at the same time.

The Enthusiast is tailor-made for anybody that’s ever been convinced that somebody else loves a thing you love in the wrong way4, which is to say anybody that’s been online in the past couple of decades. It’s a look at shared-interest cultures and the attempts to co-opt them, written from a perspective that couldn’t have existed just a few years ago5; I think we’ll see similar tropes from other writers with increasing frequency in the future.

It’s funny, thought-provoking, somewhat paranoia-inducing, and when you think on it a little too much, resembles a what hybrid of Escher, Moebius, and Mandlebrot would look like if they took the form of words6. It’s a hell of a debut novel, and will nudge you, tug you, poke you, until you want to tell others about it. Don’t worry, though — you can still tell yourself that you liked it before it was cool.

Josh Fruhlinger’s The Enthusiast launches with a big party in LA in two weeks time. It will be available for your purchase just as soon as Make That Thing gets its hands on the print run and into the mail to the Kickstarter backers that funded its production.

Spam of the day:

On behalf of everyone at San Diego Concierge, we would like to wish you and your family a very safe and happy Thanksgiving! We are deeply grateful for the continued support of all of our client.

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly have no idea what this is about.

¹ Which you really should watch because you haven’t lived until you’ve watched a serious PBS correspondent try to tease meaning from a screaming call-and-response between Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J on the one hand, and a teeming crowd of juggalos on the other. Apparently, they like titty fucking.

² Vodka largely having no appeal beyond the bottle design and how much the person you’re trying to sleep with has bought into the marketing campaign.

³ Which can go one of two ways:

  1. Varying degrees of low-level hostility occasionally erupting into all-out flamewars and public meltdowns
  2. A culture can form, with an accepted set of unspoken rules and only the occasional crankypants showing up to try to crap in the punchbowl and not much succeeding at that provocation

4 AKA Someone is wrong on the internet.

5 It requires being of such a culture long enough to internalize it, but also having the skills to observe from the inside with the perspective of an outsider. Fruhlinger, with a degree in Classics, may be uniquely suited to this task.

6 Also if Escher, Moebius, and Mandlebrot were regularly called posers and instructed to eat a bag of dicks by COMICNOVELUVVER69.

Who’s A Genius?

I was completely ready to hit the ground running after Thanksgiving weekend (it was very nice, thanks for asking — much pie was had) and jump back into the ol’ blogging game. The work travel I engaged in yesterday (Busiest travel day of the year? Check! Busiest airport in the world? Check!) was surprisingly easy, and everything was cruising along.

Guess who forgot to take the laptop’s power cord with him from the hotel this morning, necessitating a sudden midday errand and eating up (ha, ha) all the free time at lunch. Go on, guess. So you’re spared a couple hundred extra words as I have to be brief about things today.

  • Item! Randall Munroe’s Thing Explainer dropped last Tuesday (I have yet to pick up a copy), and when The Guardian asked him to do a piece for their weekend section in the form of a conversation with somebody interesting, Munroe chose the only former NASA employee more famous than he is: Chris Hadfield — astronaut, ISS commander, musician, popularizer of all things spacey, and moustache-haver of legendary renown. Turns out (unsurprisingly) that they are mutual fans of each others work, and their conversation is a delight¹. Go read it.
  • Item! Kate Beaton — as previously noted — is moving back to the Maritimes of Canada, and to help finance the move she’s holding a sale event. Next Thursday, 10 December, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, you can get copies of her books (including a couple of French and Spanish editions). Get a copy of Hark! A Vagrant, Step Aside, Pops, or The Princess and the Pony signed to your favorite person for holiday gifting. And if your favorite person is you, that’s cool — gotta love yourself before you can love anybody else the way they deserve to be loved. The fun (and commerce) will take place at Beaton’s studio in the Kensington Market of Toronto — 156 Augusta Ave, to be precise.
  • Item! A new big round has been achieved over at the Chris Yates Baffler! foundry as puzzle #3700 rolls off the bespoke, artisanal assembly line, along with a series of other lovingly-crafted handmade wooden jigsaw puzzles. Those interested in maintaining some sort of state of grace when you shuffle off this mortal coil should be aware of the fact that Baffler! #3700 has been assembled by self-proclaimed horrible person Karla Pacheco, and her particular evil is on every piece. Every one. I know that for at least three of you, that’s a selling point.

Spam of the day:

Cremation Vs Burial – Learn-More

Geeze, what’s with assuming I’m old and about to die? Yes, my birthday was the other day, but don’t you think this is a bit excessive? What else you got?

Russian–Dating Sites, Find The Man You Have Been Looking For

Midlife crisis-y, and I’m not gay. Anything else?

Why Kathy Ireland looks so young….

Excellent genes, good personal habits, and the stolen lifeforce of every teenage dude when I was 16? But how about we give Ms Ireland props for parlaying a modeling career (and a squeaky-voiced acting career that landed her one headlining role on MST3K) into a business empire?

¹ The conversation is less about space, and more about geography and the notion of deep time.

Grab Bag Before The Holiday

We are heading towards the first pie-centered coma of the holiday season¹ and between the actual holiday, travel, and a day off to celebrate Rosenbergmas² on Friday, I’m giving you a bunch of stuff now and won’t guarantee any more posts before Monday.

Spam of the day:

See what secret gift did you got

Oh very nice, fake Victoria’s Secret you get a free gift spam — you put up a link that reads Report Spam in your email that goes to exactly the same address as the attempt to get me to click on whatever crapware you’re trying to install on my computer. That’s pure bloody evil.

¹ Yes, yes, I know that Our Friends To The North celebrated Thanksgiving six weeks ago, but we all know when Thanksgiving really happens.

² In addition to the usual disclaimer that Jon Rosenberg owns my actual soul, one must make an annual notification that he and I share a birthday, along with at a Song Dynasty Emperor, the guy who invented the proper temperature scale, the founder of Panasonic, a puppet wrangler, a martyr to democracy, a martial arts master, a guitar master, an Oscar-winning director, an actor mostly known by one of his character’s names, a Science Guy, a goddamn genius taken from us too soon, fuck cancer, the voice of Brak, at least four rap artists, another actor mostly known by one of his character’s names, two porn stars, and Kim Pine.

I guess people just like screwin’ in early February.

Dammit TopatoCo, Stop Introducing Cool Items

Or at least introduce them all at once so I can put together an order and split the shipping costs. I mean, I know that’s basically what you do — introduce cool items, as recounted by the profile you recently earned in Take magazine, issue #3, but sheesh … slow down a little. I no sooner get my notification about one cool thing shipping than you come out with another. First it was the Judge John Hodgman tea towels, then the Fat Pony plush, and now the most perfect deconstruction of insane culture ever.

For those of you not familiar, Chick tracts are terrible little pamphlets that a fellow named Jack Chick has written for decades now (and either drawn himself, or had artists draw for him — their identities are not well known). They are meant to promote a particularly mean-spirited version of evangelical Christianity, and his followers buy them by the kilo to give away, leave in public places, or stuff under your car’s windshield wipers. In case you ever wondered how not making kids recite The Lord’s Prayer in public schools inevitably leads to fascist witches hauling good Christians away to death camps, Jack’s got you covered.

Sithrak is the asshole god from Oglaf [NSFanything], who doesn’t have any laws or commandments for you to follow — he doesn’t care, he’s going to torture you for all infinity no matter what you do¹. So please stay healthy as long as you can to avoid that fate as long as you can, and you may as well have that threesome because you’re getting punished whether you like it or not. And wouldn’t you know it, Sithrak’s got his own evangelists spreading the word that you can’t prove isn’t made up.

So if you believe in the god that hates you unreservedly, what better way to spread the word than by giving away, leaving in public places, or stuff under somebody’s car’s windshield wipers some brand new Sithrak tracts? It’s the very best in blasphemy, just in time for the holiday season. Order ’em today! Or don’t! It doesn’t fundamentally matter either way! But I’ll bet that somebody’s got a Trumpalo uncle coming for some holiday or other who desperately needs to find one of these in his luggage when he gets home, just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

82 Y.O. Electrician, Humiliates — Power Companies

I’m not even going to try to parse out that nightmare of punctuation you got there. Instead I’ll just point out that you’re trying to convince me that Stirling engines are secret, suppressed technology that runs for free “on thin air” when a) they’re used all over the place, and b) they require a transfer of heat from the outside². Maybe next time don’t try sending that crap to an electrical engineer who didn’t much like his thermodynamics class but still remembers it?

¹ According to his followers. Sithrak himself has a different view on things.

² Meaning small ones can work off of solar power, but likely it’ll require some focused concentration. To get the amount of work out of it the spammer is describing, you’re gonna have to burn some fuel to produce some heat, when then has to be removed on the other side of the engine, meaning more energy to run some kind of cooling unit on account of passive radiation ain’t going to provide the differential needed. Second Law, bitches.

Kickstarts And Comfort Zones

Working outside them, finding places that can be them.

  • So if there’s one thing that I’m deeply conflicted on, it’s pointing out failures to fulfill Kicstarter rewards. I’m not talking about obvious scams or people that clearly have no idea what they’re doing; I’m talking about people who have the ability to create what they say they’re going to create, have every intention of making good, and then things happen.

    Sometimes, it’s out of their control. Sometimes it’s reach exceeding grasp. I’ve got one promised reward that I know I’m never going to see and I’ll never mention it to the creators (who are friends of mine) because it’s honestly not worth the headache.

    But sometimes it’s impossible to not talk about; case in point, the very prominent, very high-funded Kickstart from Strip Search alum Lexxy Douglass that started towards its stated goals, almost immediately stalled, and unexpected revived:

    After a two year hiatus, page 008 of The Cloud Factory is up

    At a certain point, no matter what kept you from fulfilling, even when those obstacles seem less and progress could be made, the thought of going back to something that you publicly promised and didn’t make good on when you said you would … you end up with the makings of the most vicious of circles.

    This unfinished page has been one of the biggest obstacles in my repeated attempts to resume the project.

    There’s more at the Tumblr; go read it. It must have been tough for Douglass to write, and she’s not making any promise about a defined schedule for future updates. From the outside, she seems to be staring directly into the classic dilemma of being so swept up into worldbuilding and backstory and design that the actual production fails to match up to internal expectations and keeps getting pushed back.

    I wonder how many intricately-plotted stories exist in the world, locked away in imaginations and never making it to the page¹? If nothing else, let’s try to remember that behind every well-intentioned crowdfunded campaign, there’s a person there feeling the weight of expectations. Even the best handled campaigns must be stressful out of all reasonable measure.

  • How about a less fraught story to send you out on the weekend? I knew this was coming on account of how at the end of TopatoCon, the TopatoCo store that I worked (alongside the legendary Ferocious J, under the guidance of Agent Paperklip) was, per the direction of TopatoCo Vice President Of Kicking Your Ass Holly Rowland, not torn down and packed out at the end of the show.

    The decision was made to leave the store stocked, and run it through the holidays for the benefit and convenience of Pioneer Valley locals. The shopping season begins tomorrow and runs past even the worst New Year’s hangover. Go nuts.

Spam of the day:

You have deferred notifications traitor
With many thanks, Facebook team
I’m honestly not sure if I’m more offended by the notion that I’ve committed treason, or that I have a Facebook account.

¹ And if my memory serves me, this is still the extent of ongoing story that she’s produced so far; she’s an amazing illustrator, but as I noted during her time on Strip Search, her ability to craft and pace a story is still unknown.

Along those same lines, Kickstarts like hers — intended to fund time to create something — have become markedly less popular of late, and remain inherently risky for both backers (who can easily end up feeling burned) and creators (who can kill the goodwill of their fans).

So I was surprised to see that a high-goal campaign launched the other day along exactly those lines. Jake Parker’s a known quantity as a creator, but if something comes up that derails his ambitious production schedule? SkyHeart could become the next Cloud Factory and nobody wants that.

This Day Is Exciting!

So much exciting news today, you guys. So very, very much.

Spam of the day:

Looking for the ultimate way to experience GIANTS Software’s blockbuster Farming Simulator 2015 Gold Edition?

You guys, this is amazing. It’s less spam and more press release, but some company thinks that farm equipment driving simulation games are going to be so massively popular that they have produced a specialized controller bundle that goes for US$299. They want to send me a review unit.

One Of Those Faith In Humanity Days

Where to start, where to start?

  • How about with the elephant¹ in the Bethsda Marriott hotel ballroom, where it was noticed that the famed bricks that represent the Ignatz Awards all went to women. Before any arrested man-children start bawling their delicious, delicious tears that this is everything wrong with feminazis ruing comics and making things nobody wants to read, they would do well to remember:

    1. The Ignatzen are voted on by everybody attending SPX, which attracts a sizable and diverse crowd.
    2. The nominees range from low-circulation minicomics to critically- popularly-acclaimed works that have large print runs and are obtainable in any bookstore in the country.
    3. Nothing about this prevents you from continuing to read your masturbatory power fantasies, so quit acting like this is a zero-sum game².

    Looking back at the nominations, for instance, I failed to notice that of the five of the nominees in the Outstanding Online Comic, none identify explicitly as male³. A quick scan of the other categories show that women made up pretty much 50% of all the nominations (40% here, 60% there, some teams and group efforts make attempts at calculation necessarily inexact; I’ll note that Promising New Talent was 80% ladies).

    Still, there’s a long way to go from a hell of a gender-balanced slate of nominees to it’s Ladies Night in Comictown, and the simplest explanation is that this year, the work that spoke most to the audience happened to be made by women in each case. So congratulations to Emily Carroll, Eleanor Davis, Sophie Goldstein (×2), Jillian Tamaki, Sophia Foster-Dimino (×3), and Lilli Carré.

  • It’s pretty much inarguable that one of the most important tools in the business plan of a web/indy-comics creator (or creator of any sort) is crowdfunding, and that the dominant platform in that space is Kickstarter. So it’s pretty damn encouraging to see that the people that run Kickstarter are in no hurry to run up the valuation, float an IPO, cash out with a dumptruck full of money, and watch from the sidelines as the need to make tech-bubble levels of profit screws over the user base.

    In fact, they’ve just made that worst-case outcome pretty much impossible, and they’ve got the legal structure to enforce it:

    Kickstarter Inc is no more. We’re now Kickstarter PBC — a Public Benefit Corporation. We’re thrilled to share this news, and we’d love to take a minute to tell you exactly what it means.

    Until recently, the idea of a for-profit company pursuing social good at the expense of shareholder value had no clear protection under U.S. corporate law, and certainly no mandate. Companies that believe there are more important goals than maximizing shareholder value have been at odds with the expectation that for-profit companies must exist ultimately for profit above all.

    Benefit Corporations are different. Benefit Corporations are for-profit companies that are obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society, not only shareholders. Radically, positive impact on society becomes part of a Benefit Corporation’s legally defined goals. [empahsis mine]

    That’s from an email that you probably received if you’ve ever dealt with Kickstarter, or you could read the story at the New York Times if you prefer. If you want to see how Kickstarter is interpreting their positive social impact, you can read their PBC charter here.

    Interestingly, the Kickstarter board is going extra-strong on the public benefit and transparency. The PBC structure requires them to report every other year on how they meet their charter’s goals, but they’ve also defined themselves as a B Corporation; that’s a voluntary designation that requires annual reports on their social goals, as well as some fairly rigorous environmental standards. What it all amounts to is that the people in charge of Kickstarter not only recognize what made it a success, they want to preserve it rather than abandoning it to unchecked capitalist exploitation. Good for them, and good for all of us.

  • And for those of you that like geeky things and leave the house occasionally, Jorge Cham has some news for you:

    It’s #ThePHDMovie2 premiere week! Pass it on! >20 screenings this week including @CERN @DukeU and more:

    Doesn’t look like any of those screenings will be at TopatoCon, but given that it appears that Cham will be conducting a Q&A and signing at CERN in that time frame, I suppose we can forgive him. Just one request for everybody working the LHC, though: if you want to show off for Jorge, please don’t do so by pressing the Big Red Button that says Generate Black Hole, Suck Earth In. Thanks.

Spam of the day:

Hello pecker 8-) i need s3x right now i’m not picky!!

“[N]ot picky”? Are … are you negging me? Am I getting the same approach that MRA dipshits think works on women?

¹ Fun fact: elephant society is matriarchal in nature; the females that have lived the breadth of life’s experiences are what holds the culture together. I’m sure this has absolutely nothing to do with anything we’re talking about today.

² One might address a parallel thought towards those that are bitching about Viola Davis’s speech at the Emmys last last night.

³ One, Ariel Ries of Witchy, uses the pronoun they; the others describe themselves in bios using explicitly female pronouns or depict themselves in their comics as women.


In rough chronological order.

Spam of the day:

Hello admin, i see your website needs fresh content. If you are too lazy to write unique posts everyday you should search in google for

Attention Workers it has been 127 days since our last dumbest spam sentence

¹ Make no mistake, I am thrilled with Cornelius Bear, but who could resist the allure of The Man With The Blood On His Hands?

² Or, if I’m feeling like dropping class money several times over, that second row as Ramses Luther removes the cap from Lyle’s beer.

Because I Think It Will Be Of Interest To This Community

It was late on Friday when I saw the tweet from Scott Kurtz, and later one from Katie Rice. Rice and Kurtz (and now me) are backers of a Kickstart for a customizable notebook, and it strikes me that this is exactly the sort of thing that comics creators will love, so I’m surprised to not have seen any others yet.

Let me back up a moment.

I’m a sucker for Moleskine-type notebooks¹, but will admit to being disappointed by the actual brand over the past couple of years. Yes, yes, covers with The Simpsons on them, wonderful, but the hard covers and indestructible bindings that first made me love Moleskines have been compromised. So when a London design shop decided to offer customizable notebooks, in sketchbook dimensions (A5, or 21 cm x 15 cm²), with your choice of paper (plain, ruled, or dot grid in ivory; sketch, or pure white) in heavy weights (90 to 140 gsm), your choice of elastic band and ribbon bookmark, and full color DIY covers, I was hooked.

And in case you don’t feel up to designing the cover yourself (instructions and templates are here [PDF]), Book Block are offering your choice of prefab designs:

We will be putting together a selection of limited edition notebooks for you to choose from. A number will be from our artist friends, and we’re hoping to draw some from the crowd. All artists will be paid for their work. [emphasis mine]

If I wasn’t in before reading that last line, I am now because project leader Stefan Johnson is paying his designers. I spent a couple hours on Saturday messing around in GIMP wrestling my design into the template and saving it at 600 dpi. Up top you can see what the template looks like, with design to the right on the front cover; the spine and back cover will be plain white. If you click the next link, you can see the image that I’ve chosen by itself and rotated for legibility.

This, my friends, is Figure 1 of Claude Shannon’s A Mathematical Theory of Communication [PDF]³, the basis of information theory, the wellspring from which all modern communications theory derives, and not coincidentally why the internet works. If you are me, it (and Shannon) holds the same importance that, say, the double helix (and Franklin, Watson, and Crick) would for a biologist. It is the closest thing in the world that I have to religion or spiritual belief; it is the only thing I’ve ever seriously considered getting tattooed on my body.

But I won’t necessarily get my notebook.

Here is where I should disclose that I backed the campaign at a level that requests blogging in exchange for early bird pricing; I assure you that I’d have been writing about this project regardless, though. See, since I backed Book Block on Saturday, only another thirteen people have pledged, and the project sits now at a mere 20% of goal. While Kicktraq has the project trending towards 140% of the £10,000 goal in the 40 days remaining, I am not willing to leave this up to chance. I want my personal philosophy encapsulating notebook, dammit.

I know that at least some of you want a sketchbook that is uniquely, unmistakably yours, in which case you should be checking out the campaign while it’s still running. With a promised delivery date of November, this could make an excellent holiday gift for the artistic type in your circle (or, given that it’s a Kickstarter, a belated holiday gift, depending on which holiday we’re talking about).

Spam of the day:

Dear PayPal User , you have been noticed that some limitation have been placed on your Account this is part of our security process and helps ensure that we continue to be more safer and secured . This means that from time to time we have to make changes To remove limitation from your account , we have posted recent updates on our website.

You bozos know I don’t have a PayPal account, right?

¹ Not to mention Moleskine-inspired comics.

² Call it 8.25 x 6 inches.

³ Originally a paper in the Bell System Technical Journal, July and October 1948. With slightly different contents, it was published the in book form the following year as The Mathematical Theory of Communication, with supplementary material for a general audience by Warren Weaver. Consider the former to be the Vulgate and the latter to the be King James Version.