The webcomics blog about webcomics

Face Blindness And Gamification, Oh My

A little advice for you — if you go to a talk by Scott McCloud in a city known to have a hefty cartoonist presence, don’t be surprised when a cartoonist you know shows up. Even better, don’t be a half face-blind bozo and stare directly at Raina Telgemeier for like 30 seconds as she smiles wider and wider wondering how long it’s going to take you to realize it’s her. Not that I would know, of course.

  • Once my brain finally worked out that I was, in fact, looking at somebody I knew, it woke the hell up and I was able to determine that the room also contained Mark Siegel, Callista Brill, and Gina Gagliano of :01 Books (logical, as they’re the publisher), as well as Judy Hansen (McCloud’s agent, as well as much of indy/webcomics, a woman with whom I enjoy discussing Belgian beer), and the incomparable Brooke Gladstone of NPR’s On The Media (whom I’d never met before, but because of a well-timed pledge to WNYC, she crocheted me a winter hat that I was wearing and was able to thank her for).

    McCloud and Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Leong spoke for about 45 minutes and took questions for about the same — the underlying theme was creativity and the process of creation and how McCloud had to write Making Comics to teach himself what he needed to learn¹ so that he could actually produce The Sculptor (an idea which had been kicking around his brain since he was 17 or so). No quotes to offer (I was listening instead of taking notes) except for this one:

    By 2024, comics is going to be a majority-female industry

    By which he means both creators and readers (and thinks in the art schools, we’ve already exceeded parity). Here’s hoping.

    Speaking of hope, one thing that gave me a great deal of hope about the evening, comics, and society in general. Waiting in the lobby of the 92nd Street Y, I noticed a cluster of West Point cadets in their distinctive grey uniforms, along with some active-duty Army officers in dress blues; I wondered at the time what program they were there for (92Y does many cultural programs on any given day, as well as being a full Y-style gym).

    They disappeared from the lobby about 20 minutes before we were let into the auditorium. During the seating period, though, I noticed them come into the auditorium and take seats, and Ivy McCloud mentioned that they’d been meeting with Scott; they were in town with professors and staff officers because they’re reading V for Vendetta and Watchmen as part of a literature class.

    After the talk, while waiting in the signing line, my friend Brett and I started talking with an earnest (and serious, and very young) second-year cadet named Fred and a major (alas, I didn’t catch her name) that he was standing with. They were both thrilled to be there, and I never thought I’d be talking comics in that particular company and context. Fred didn’t say explicitly he was also drawing comics², but he did mention at one point he’d wondered if there was some way to surgically remove about half the little finger of his left hand and fit a prosthetic eraser there for convenience.

    Knowing that somebody so unstereotypically military will be commissioned an officer and become part of the Army leadership structure in a little more than two years makes me hopeful. Knowing that somebody (likely multiple somebodies) on the faculty of the most traditional of Army institutions looks towards comics (Alan Moore comics, no less) to shape the minds of Fred and his fellow cadets (about a third of whom at the talk were young women — a little longer to get to parity there) is likewise a comforting thought. All in all, a damn good evening. If you have the opportunity to see McCloud on his book tour, do so.

  • Here’s the thing that you don’t see a lot in Kickstarters: tying stretch goals to thing that happen outside of the campaign itself. We saw it in the campaign for Dr McNinja’s Legendary Showdown back in October 2013, when 2500 Facebook likes or hashtag tweets meant bonus content in the game. See how that worked? You didn’t have to get one more person to pony up one more dollar, but you had to spread the word. Clever.

    Naturally, the phenomenally successful campaign for Exploding Kittens (as of this writing: nearly 135,000 backers, the most in Kickstarter history, and more than $US5.3 million pledged, #7 highest total and closing in on #6) has finally added a series of stretch goals, but mostly not related directly to the campaign itself. Instead, there are a series of achievements based on things like how many backers, percent overfunding, Facebook likes, and public stunts. As of right now, fifteen of them have been achieved, and the stretch goals will be unlocked when 20 or 30 of the ‘cheevos are met.

    They’ve gamified Kickstarter. It doesn’t matter which five achievements are met to reach the 20 goal, just whichever get piled up first. And yeah, it may be near impossible to achieve all 30 goals³, but they’ve made the last two weeks of the campaign pretty damn fun to watch. Heck, if they get the Ellen or GRRM things to happen (see footnotes), this project could break into mainstream consciousness. Well done, Exploding Kittens team.

  • Per today’s newsbox at Dinosaur Comics: the previously-mentioned game version of To Be Or Not To Be now has a release date, and it’s, oh, today. Go get it.

Spam of the day:
Nothing in particular today, except to note that something about the recent posting referencing Larry Gonick is attracting spam like nobody’s business. So far today, I’ve cleared more than 50 largely-identical submissions (consisting mostly of question marks) from that thing. I have to figure out how their algorithms work so I can avoid doing whatever caused this flood. Yeesh.

¹ This reminds me a great deal of Minna Sundberg wanting to create Stand Still, Stay Silent but feeling her skills weren’t up to the task, so she instead created the 556 page A Redtail’s Dream first to teach herself what she needed to know.

² Unsurprisingly, they don’t have art majors at West Point; if I remember correctly, about 70% of the student major in some form of engineering, and obviously all cadets study military science.

³ They include things like 10,000 and 100,000 Twitter followers or 100,000 Facebook likes — trivial, given the number of supporters. But they also include things like Get @Ellen [Degeneres] to tweet “A Butt Tuba” is a palindrome and Get George RR Martin to tweet “I use Pantene Pro-V on my beard, because vitamins”.

For the record, I think the following goals are going to be met fairly easily:

  • 150,000 backers (they’re above 134K)
  • 10,000 Twitter followers (already met: @gameofkittens is now at 19.8K)
  • 100,000 Twitter followers (doesn’t require even all of the backers click on “follow”)
  • 100,000 Facebook likes (no idea how may they have, I don’t have Facebook)
  • Get @wilw[heaton] to tweet all cats should wear underpants (will probably happen as soon as Wheaton is back from the JoCo cruise)
  • Post 25 pics of a beardcat (a cat crawling out of a dude’s beard)
  • Post 25 pics of a potatocat (a cat with legs tucked under, looking like a furry potato)
  • Post 25 selfies with goats

The others, involving things like group photos of people wearing cat ears, and pictures of “weaponized back hair” (I don’t want to know), as well as the Ellen and GRRM things will be trickier. Since they aren’t saying what we’ll get if all 30 achievements are hit, it’s hard to say how hard people will work on the goal.

Today’s Post Is Brought To You By Twitter, And Readers Like You

Everything I talk about today, I noticed first on Twitter.

  • Let’s get the rapidly-changing one out of the way first. Yesterday, Matthew Inman dropped a hint that something would be happening today:

    Here’s a little sneak peek of a project I’ve been working on. It launches tomorrow. I am so excited I might hurl!

    … with an accompanying illustration of what appeared to be a card game. At 1:23pm EST he updated us:

    BIG FANCY ANNOUNCEMENT: I helped create a card game and it’s called Exploding Kittens

    That link went to a product page with a link to a Kickstarter. Four minutes later it became certain that this project would not require 30 days to fund out:

    WE JUST HIT OUR GOAL! $10k in 8 minutes

    I first made it to the Kickstarter at approximately the 17 minute mark, when the total was above US$65,0000. Refreshing a few minutes later, it was north of US$70K. As of writing the first draft of this sentence (38 minutes into the project’s history), Exploding Kittens has raised US$133,745 and is jumping every time the page refreshes.

    I’ll hop back there as I’m putting the final polish on this posting to see where it’s at, but right now I’m calling it: an hour in this game will raise more money than Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad, and I’m not exactly sure how long it will take to surpass the funding on Operation Let’s Build A Goddamned Tesla Museum, but I am certain it will do so. Come back tomorrow and we’ll see what the FFF says at the 24 hour mark.

  • Katie Lane, lawyer extraordinaire to the creative community, shares a lot of information with you about how to conduct your creative business. For example, today she let us know about the value of having policies, even if it’s just you¹. My favorite bit was how having policies can aid in negotiation:

    Here’s a cool trick: next time a client asks you if you’d be willing to do something you really don’t want to do, instead of saying “I’d rather not” or “I don’t want to,” say, “I can’t; my company has a policy against [thing you don’t want to do].”

    Clients hear wiggle room in “I’d rather not” or “I don’t want to.” But with a policy they hear a rule, a line in the sand, they hear “no.”

    Clients are more likely to respect your boundaries if they look like boundaries they’re already used to following. Most companies have policies and most of your clients have polices. Those polices are there to make the company work better and your clients understand that; your clients are used to following policies. And they’re used to having to make a very strong argument to justify working around a policy.

    Lane shares ideas like this multiple times a month over at her site, much of it for free at her blog, but this is also part of her livelihood. So I’m pleased to note that she’ll be offering more advice on the subject of gettin’ paid in online class sessions in the coming weeks. Way I look at it, if spending a couple hundred bucks and a couple hours (and possibly springing for the one-on-one consult) gets you paid on just one job that wasn’t ponying up the dough, you’ve come out ahead. Twenty spots only, and may I mention other classes and workshops she teaches in person? Why yes, I may.

  • Thought Bubble is one of those shows I know I’m going to have to visit eventually, it’s just that there’s this ocean in the way². Fortunately, the redoubtable Danielle Corsetto retweeted the TB folks earlier today, alerting me to the fact that the first videos of their Sketching Spotlight are now online. The videos in question feature Corsetto, Boulet, Emily Carroll, and Babs Tarr, moderated by Pete Doherty.

    The first video is here, and focuses on Corsetto. Carroll is the subject of the second, Tarr the third, and Boulet the fourth; they range from 15 to 20 minutes of drawing, with an extra 10 minutes of discussion at the end. They’re great fun!

  • Okay, wrapping this up. It’s 2:39pm EST, the Exploding Kittenstarter has been up for 1 hour and 20 minutes, and it’s presently at US$292,217. So, yeah, 70 grand past BearLove and more than 20% of the way to Goddamned Tesla Museum. Yikes.
  • Postscript: I just noticed that sometime in that first hour and twenty, all 200 slots of the limited US$100 tier and all 5 of the limited $500 tier were snapped up. Also, in the first minutes since the total is over US$317K, and more than 8200 backers. We could be looking at an all-time record, folks.

Spam of the day:

Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site :)

Given that your site appears to deal with the removal of tree stumps, I kind of doubt that.

¹ It’s better to set these policies for yourself than have them imposed on you. My friend da9ve (not a typo) had a consultancy that consisted of just him, but the state of Indiana required him to adopt a sexual harassment policy so that if he ever sexually harassed himself at work, Indiana would sue him to recover damages. Fortunately, da9ve was never subjected to a hostile work environment by himself, so he never had to file a complaint on himself or get sued by himself to make restitution to himself.

² I was actually hoping for that thing where Google Maps tells you to swim so many thousands of kilometers and then resume your journey on land, but no luck.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

  • Back: KC Green ran one last Gunshow to say goodbye, and we should remind you that he is retiring one comic, not from the comics game. His adaptation of Pinocchio is top-notch, his collaboration with Anthony Clark, BACK, makes Wednesdays a joy, and you can keep up with his other comings and goings fairly easily at his main site. Thanks for 900 pages of funny, touching, sometimes heartbreaking comics, KC. You remain one of the most fearless creators working today. Also, I just now realized that KC does the comic called BACK and I gave this paragraph the heading of Back and that was totally unintentional. I’m a little tired today.
  • Forward: The future of comics depends on bringing new readers into the fold, not just trying to appeal to an ever-shrinking cohort of lifelong¹ fanboys. Those readers have — rightly! — an expectation that they should be able to see themselves in the comics they read²; as I wrote in a piece that will hopefully see print in the coming year, there’s a sense of I’ve never seen comics about an experience like mine before and it’s damn well time I did. The future of comics is increasingly going to be determined by women and girls. As I’ve long said, nobody embodies that trend more than Raina Telgemeier, and it’s so apparent that no less an embodiment of established authority than the Wall Street Journal agrees. 2014 was the Year of Raina, but I suspect that future years will make 2014 look merely okay by comparison.
  • Back: Readers may recall my placement of an order with TopatoCo back in October, number 519348 to be precise. You may also recall the notice last week regarding the rate at which TopatoCo shipped merch in the first two weeks of December. As I threatened to do in October, I placed an order (for John Allison’s Giant Days three-pack) yesterday, the last day of the year, close enough to the very end of the year as makes no difference and noted the order number: 545856. What can we learn from this?

    Some 26500 orders were placed between the end of October and the end of December, which one may reasonably conclude is the TopatoCo busy season. In just one quarter of that time, more than 15000 items were shipped; even accounting for the fact that some orders surely would have been cancelled, you’ve still got between 26.5K and let’s say 60K items (15K in two weeks, extrapolated out to two months) which is a tremendous lot of business, and good news for all involved. Take a moment to thank the merch elves of TopatoCo, much as I did with my end-of-order special instructions³.

  • Forward: There are creative couples in comics where it’s pretty impossible to think of one half without thinking of the other as well — Raina Telgemeier is surely pushed to make even better comics (and pushes in return) thanks to the good fortune of being married to Dave Roman. Other power couples exist: Chris and Carly, Yuko and Ananth, Shelli and Braden, Ryan and Joey, and, of course, Mer and Mike. That last pair up and made it official last night, to which I can only say congratulations. Draw, love, laugh, and if Heidi and Ella can reach some kind of détente, there’s nothing the two of you can’t accomplish. Hooray!

Spam of the day:


Is this some kind of cult thing? Because you have to tell me if you’re a cult.

¹ That is, cape-obsessed.

² And, increasingly, create.

³ The drink referenced in that image was originally constructed for the Pineapple Maki contest, but since it looks like that’s not going to happen I have released it into the wild for all to enjoy.

Ah, Between Week

Not that I don’t love all you people — I do! — but taking some time off while toute les bandes dessinées web are slow to update, or running filler, or just enjoying meals with their families has been wonderful. I imagine it will be another slow week around these parts, and probably next Monday before we’re back to a full update schedule.

  • Naturally, I’d have to update today regardless, if only to wish the very happiest of birthdays to comics enthusiast, friend to all, sometimes actress, all-times fan-nerd¹ and general muse Ivy Ratafia. Scott, Sky, and Winter² are the luckiest people on the planet, with everybody else that knows Ivy tied for second.
  • Cranking onwards, ever onwards: the most oxymoronically-titled webcomic hit a milestone, and it appears that my speculation of how much TopatoCo can/has ship/shipped in its history may be quantifiably verifiable.

    In the case of the former, Angela Melick today celebrates 700 instances of Wasted Talent, a two-word combo that is a filthy lie. Rather, Ms Melick puts together my favoritest autobio comic, never failing to make me smile, and that’s before taking into account the fact that she and I wear the Iron Ring³ and are thus tribesmates.

    In the case of the latter, TopatoCo Supreme Leader For Life Jeffrey Rowland announced just how damn busy all the merch-elves have been:

    Looks like we shipped over 15,000 items between Dec 2 and Dec 16. Wu-Tang ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.

    Those seeking the secrets of perpetual motion, cast your eyes towards the dervish-like merchmongers of *hampton.

  • Wrapped up, or wrapping up soonish: the last Gunshow goes up tomorrow; the last Al’Rashad (or at least, the last of the first story of an eventual trilogy) goes up next Monday; in a few weeks Shortpacked! will be retired and with it wrap up David Willis’s last exclamatory title; this morning Danielle Corsetto is entering the endgame; and Christopher Baldwin’s One Way is finishing up a year and a day after launching.
  • Speaking of One Way’s finish, Baldwin has already lined up its replacement, Anna Galactic, which sounds like it’ll cement his position as the webomic in space guy, what with One Way, Spacetrawler, and writing duties on Yontengu. Baldwin’s also lined up the crowdfunding campaign for a One Way print collection. That one launched on Boxing Day, followed immediately by a weekend, so it’s not surprising that he’s garnered a little less than three dozen backers so far.

    Let’s do what we can to push that up a little, yes? It’s a very modest goal (US$6000), a very short campaign duration (less than three weeks), and a very simple pledge reward structure (no tiers above US$38 bucks, which will get you a signed physical book and a monochrome wash portrait of any of Baldwin’s past characters). Dead simple Kickstarters deserve to succeed as well as complex, massive blowouts.

  • Speaking of dead simple Kickstarts, C Spike Trotman is going to have to run some of them, seeing as how she’s announced five book publishing projects for 2015, including two anthologies (the sci-fi themed New World, and a full-color Smut Peddler themed anthology, My Monster Boyfriend), one longform Smut Peddler graphic novel, and two print collections for other creators where she acts purely as a publisher (the TJ and Amal omnibus for EK Weaver, and Shadoweyes for Ross Campbell).

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Spike is the only possible contender for the crown of Hardest Working One-Person Shop in Webcomics presently held by R Stevens. If they ever decide to be rivals rather than respectful colleagues, the blood will run thick over the land and the lamentations shall be terrible to behold ere we perish by fire.

Spam of the day:

“Nothing about being a celebrity is desirable,” she said.

Tell me about it — nothing but groupies, fame, fortune, hookers, and smack all day long. It’s exhausting.

¹ In the very best sense of those words.

² What the heck? A McCloud with no internet presence? Weirrrrrd.

³ Okay, mine is stainless and is the non-union Mexican equivalent, but the meaning is the same.

In A Mad Rush

Holidays of all sorts — Alliday, even — are bearing down upon us with all rapidity. Let this, then, serve as your notice that until after the New Year, there may not be updates five days a week, as a dearth of news and family time occur in equal measure. So before we let you all get to all the last-minute tasks, let’s do a roundup.

  • New Emily Carroll comic, for the Christmas season! And in case you were wondering if the season would perhaps prompt something jolly, or even cheerful, let me quote from a perfectly ordinary young lady right at the beginning:

    My grandpa says they used to tell ghost stories before Christmas. I’d much prefer a scary story than a bunch of grown-ups standing around…. One with lots of blood! Or maybe a murderer, or sounds coming up from the cellar….

    You know, SCARY.

    This being an Emily Carroll story, one should be very careful what one wishes for, particularly when one realizes that of the two young ladies in this tale (the one asking for the story, and the one telling it) is somebody we’ve met before. Go pull your copy of Through The Woods off the shelf — and if you don’t have a copy, what’s wrong wit you go get one right goddamn now — and check out the last story. The Nesting Place was, for me, the most disturbing of the five stories in TTW, for reasons given at that last link, and it’s retroactively become even spookier now that we see in All Along The Wall just how the creepy things (even in modern times) are willing to play the long game and be patient.

    Very patient. Build up that Yule fire nice and high, and hope that the scuttling things don’t like the light.

  • Along with all the heartache going on in Bedford, Texas one must note that today is significant over at Something*Positive for other reasons. Thirteen years ago, Randy Milholland launched with a strip that implied the humor of cruelty would be a major motif, and very nearly immediately settled into a somewhat more restrained sarcasm.

    But within a few months (perhaps about the time that Choo-Choo Bear first showed up) the first stirrings of heart and deep character were making themselves known. The strip that ran a year on was as far removed from the first as could be imagined and that was it — Something*Positive as we knew it was in full force. Happy Strippiversary, Randy; here’s to many more.

  • Not sure how I missed this until less than two days before it finalizes, but there’s a Kickstarter campaign to make action figures out of old, old, old superheroes¹, including The Green Turtle, the public-domain hero that provided the inspiration and protagonist for Gene Luen Yang and Sonny liew’s The Shadow Hero. As of this writing, they are US$150 from goal, so if this appeals to you even a little now’s your proverbial one chance.
  • Speaking of Gene Luen Yang, one quick note: he’s returning to the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic-writing game for a one-shot to be released by Dark Horse on Free Comic Book Day, illustrated by the incomparable Carla Speed McNeil. That’s five wonderful things all mixed up together, so start making plans to snag a copy today.

Spam of the day:

But even in the event you don’t, the truth is, these 5 keys are essential for your survival.

Oh sure, start off like that and then don’t tell me what the keys are. Guess I won’t be surviving. Dicks.

¹ Also, as a stretch goal, Mike Allred’s Madman, who I’m pretty sure had an action figure about 15 years ago, in the same wave as Matt Wagner’s Grendel and Kevin Matchstick. Time flies.

Busy Weekend, Busier Monday, Also Moustaches

Where to start, where to start? How about with the bad news? If you sell e-books to customers in Europe, 2015 is looking really damn complicated for you; I first saw the rising concern — honestly, panic would be justified — on the twitterfeed of Ursula Vernon, and the entire nasty situation is nicely summed up by KB Spangler on her blog. If you live in Europe, maybe buy your e-books before 1 January, because it looks like it will be prohibitive for all small producers (on either side of the Atlantic) to legally sell them to you after.

If you sell e-books, or e-anything, you will want to do some careful research between now and the end of the year, although my suspicion is that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (or the equivalent agency in other EU countries) can demand all the not-properly-collected value-added tax from a non-EU seller as loudly as they want, and unless you have money stashed in a European bank (or visit there under your own name), they may not be able to collect very effectively. Maybe? Nobody knows, which is the frustrating and scary part.

The rest of the news is better, I promise.

  • For the first time, Emily Carroll is selling original comic art pages via auction, running until next Monday. Correction: this Monday, i.e.: today. Act now!
  • TCAF is launching a pop-up store at the Toronto Reference Library for the holiday season, with the grand opening the day after tomorrow in conjunction with the debut of Just The Tips — the potentially hazardous sex advice from the back of each issue of Sex Criminals. Chip Zdarsky will be there to, uh, spread the love starting at 6:00pm, and regular store hours will start on Thursday at 9:00am. In the new year, the pop-up will convert to a regular retail space, presumably offering the best of comics from Toronto and elsewhere.
  • Speaking of Toronto comics, Jim Zub has dropped more publishing financial data on us, detailing the entire sausage-making process that is the creation and selling of Skullkickers. Once again, ignore Zub’s extreme generosity at your peril — he’s sharing usually-proprietary information so that you need not flounder about and fail.
  • Speaking of proprietary information, Chris Yates is giving away all his trade secrets; with a steady hand, some spray paint, and practice, you can make your own Baffler!s. Of course, he’s got ten years experience, so your knockoffs are gonna suck; you should just buy some of his instead.
  • Speaking of buying, David Malki ! announced last night his annual perpetually uninterrupted flow of time-style calendar for 2015 is now up for sale, in the usual limited edition. Don’t delay if you want one, because only a lucky few will get the opportunity.
  • There’s a really good interview with Randall Munroe in British tech journal The Register from the weekend; I’m a fan of El Reg, but if you’ve not read them before, there’s a fair amount of British nerd vernacular. A glossary of Reg-speak may be found here.

Spam of the day:

I was just looking at your site and see that your site has the potential to become very popular. I just want to tell you, In case you didn’t already know …

Wow. Very popular. Not sure how I’d deal with fame; poorly, I’d expect.

Comfy And Comfier

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of they day:

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

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

Lots Of Stuff Happening, Hooray

Where to start, where to start? How about in Yorkshire? I love their pudding.

  • Convention Season is almost done, with what I think is the last sizable comics show of the year going on in Leeds this weekend. Actually, the Thought Bubble Festival runs this entire week, but the bulk of the events are in and around the exhibitors/panels event this weekend on 15-16 November.

    Webcomicker (and related independent artist type) guests of Thought Bubble include Natasha Allegri, Danielle Corsetto, John Allison, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson¹, Boulet, Emily Carroll, Gemma Correll², Darryl Cunningham, Hope Larson, Phil McAndrew, and Cameron Stewart.

    Additional webcomics types who will be exhibiting in the various venues include Rembrandt le Compte, Tom Siddell, Marc Ellerby, Paul Duffield, Lucy Bellwood, and many, many more. Tell them all I said hi.

  • As long as we’re talking about conventions, Howard Tayler³ wrote up a bit about a medical emergency that happened at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC, this past weekend. His part in resolving the issue was minor, but utterly necessary: nobody else and taken the initiative to simply report the person in distress to those that could help. He did, and in short order the situation was resolved. As Tayler put it:

    I’m an Eagle Scout. I can staunch bleeding, and feel for a pulse. I can do the Heimlich, and though my CPR skills are rusty, if I’m the only guy around who can do it, I’ll do all I can. But the critical skill in this particular situation, and in most of the convention medical emergencies I’m likely to run into, was the ability to speak clearly.

    Oh, and the ability to decide to speak.

    I concur with everything that he said, with the exception that you shouldn’t let your CPR skills get rusty. Going into a place with a lot of people (alternately, hanging out in the bar until the wee small hours)? Note the exits, where any public AEDs may be, and where the nearest place to get assistance (hotel reception, security post, whatever) is. That’s all. Oh, and take a CPR class, it ain’t rocket science4.

  • I mentioned Gemma Correll and The Nib up above; news comes from that esteemed aggregator of comics (esteemed because they pay) that they’re doing a calendar for the coming year if only they get enough orders. Your favorite Nib contributors will be illustrating obscure holidays, so if you ever wanted to see what Rich Stevens would do with National Fetish Day5, now is your chance. As of this writing, 183 more orders are needed over the next 15 days, or no calendrical joy for you.
  • Speaking of funding/pre-orders, Kel McDonald is now crowdfunding the first volume (of two) for her omnibus reprint of Sorcery 101, which will be a 750 page book covering the first five years of the story. Guys, that book is going to be friggin’ huge, and McDonald is offering it up as a backer reward of as little as US$30 which is insane.

    Oh, and did we mention that she had to redraw more than 450 pages because in their original form they weren’t suitable for print? Or that she’s hired colorist par excellence Mary Cagle to apply her magic? Let’s repeat it once more: thirty bucks for 750 pages in color is stupidly cheap.

  • Finally, speaking of crowdfunding and colorists, Ed Ryzowski does color duties for a bunch of your favorite webcomics and now he’s Kickstarting a new self-published comic book series. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a comic project for something new to be created, but I make exceptions for creators who’ve proven themselves on other work, and Ryzowski counts by any measure.

    Season of the SHARK issues 1 to 4 will chronicle what happens when your underfunded espionage agency has to sell video rights to reality TV in order to do its work. It’ll be released digitally starting in December, with special low pricing for you early adopters. Honestly, this one looks like a hoot.

Spam of the day:

Get away from the traffic cone orange you envision, and type in the world of tangerine, bronze, burnt orange, gingery undertones and also the calla lily.

Lots of gingers in the UK. Just saying.

¹ As part of their Capture Creatures debut tour.

² She’s rapidly become my favorite regular contributor over at The Nib.

³ My evil twin, etc.

4 Didn’t take a class and somebody’s got no pulse? Call 911, or the appropriate emergency services number wherever you are. Open the shirt, make a fist, put in the center of the chest midway between the nipples. Wrap your other hand around the fist. Lock your elbows and push down hard and fast and don’t stop. Substitute somebody else in every two minutes because you’re gonna get tired. Now go take a class.

5 Or possibly Erika Moen, Zach Weinersmith, Gemma Correll, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, Brian McFadden, Eleri Harris, Andy Warner, Matt Lubchansky, Liza Donnelly, or Scott Bateman.

Happy Halloween

Okay, get out there, get some candy, and rot the hell out of your teeth.

Spam of the day:

Of course, he follows the scalper’s golden rule — never carry more than 10 tickets at a time. His partner carries most of the tickets and hides in dark lanes awaiting a call from him.

Yes, yes, very clever. The spam is coming in thick these days — up from maybe 3 or 4 a day to 50 or 60. For the love of glob, nobody here wants your fancy sunglasses or footwear.

¹ Disclaimer: I did a technology test on that e-book for author KB Spangler² to make sure that it looks good on a variety of screen types and resolutions, and I can assure you that Come Bowling With Us is friggin’ gorgeous. As soon as Spangler adds this item to her store, you’re going to want to get it.

² AKA “my buddy Otter”.

&sup3: To wit: do we assume that every invoice number since #500,000 up to 519,348 was abandoned except for mine, and that reported by Alice Bentley? That would seem to be the worst possible case, making for an abandonment rate of 19,436/519,348 or about 3.74%. This requires more thought.

When There Was Only One Batrope, That Was When Batman Carried You

Health and commerce and flying through Atlanta in a couple of hours; Wednesday, in other words.

  • This deserves to be quoted at length, because it speaks directly to how capital-A Art impacts capital-L Life, for both creator and audience; Dean Trippe on why the Something Terrible books are behind schedule:

    Just a quick note: I’ve had to temporarily stop reading messages and emails from fans of Something Terrible due to emotional health and safety concerns.

    The books are still in progress, and I’m hoping pre-orders continue to make the purchase order larger and my unit cost lower. But it’s been slow going during con season due to the emotional toll hearing so many similarly heartbreaking stories has been taking on me. I think I was better at this in the beginning, when I was mostly getting messages from fellow adults and folks who shared minimal details.

    So please understand: I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing, but it’ll be a little bit before I respond, as I need to stay functional for my family and the folks who rely on me. This year has been amazing, traveling the country and meeting people who needed my story. But while it’s validated every ounce of the small courage I mustered to tell my story, it’s also been fairly overwhelming on a regular basis.

    I don’t think it’ll surprise anyone to hear I have a bit of a Batman complex with this stuff, and feel a strong push to fight through the tough parts to be the shoulder and sometimes the symbol fellow victims need to help them process their own pasts. But while what I present to the world tends to be chipper Adam West or driven Kevin Conroy, the cumulative effect of these stories has left me wallowing in decidedly Frank Miller territory.

    I appreciate your patience as I plot this batboat back on course, and I’m sorry for the delays in getting the ST hardcovers printed. It’s all down to decisions now, but I’m the one who’s been flaking on making them. But I’m dragging my broken back to Nanda Parbat to get my head right again so I can finish this.

    Watch for my signal.

    Anybody that’s met Dean Trippe or seen him at a show in the time since Something Terrible released knows that his Batman Complex is absolutely true; I’ve never seen anybody that wanted to take care of the entire world as much as he does¹ and he is absolutely right to adopt a posture of defense for as long as he finds it necessary. Light the signal when the time is right, we’ll repeat it as needed. Be well, SuperBatDeanMan.

  • Because I’m curious: I placed a TopatoCo order yesterday (for volume 8 of Girls With Slingshots, out now!) and I noticed the invoice number on the confirmation page: 519348. Every order I’ve ever placed with TopatoCo has had an increasing invoice number, and I believe that it’s actually serially increasing. Combined with the announcement that they recently passed order #500,000, this would mean nearly 20 thousand orders have gone out in the past few weeks. We’re arguably at the point where year-end holiday (Alliday?) shopping kicks into high gear, and I’m curious as to exactly how much work that is for the Space Potato and his earthly minions.

    So I am going to make a small order at the start of the year, compare invoice numbers, and get my answer. Right now I’m going to estimate it’s somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 orders between now and then.

Spam of the day:

In honor of James Gunn’s Marvel movie masterpiece becoming the highest grossing film of 2014 domestically, and the recent announcement of the upcoming sequel, [site I’m not shilling] knew that now was the time to begin work on showing the world what real space genitals should look like. Gnardians of the Galaxy: 50 Shades of Groot will be written & directed by Lee Roy Myers.


¹ Which is why I actually look on Trippe as having a big red S on his chest. In my eyes, he’ll always be Superman from issue 10 of All Star Superman. If you haven’t read it for God’s sake go do that and understand why this character inspires despite being so badly bungled by recent movies.