The webcomics blog about webcomics

All Good Things, Etc

  • It’s not hard to understand Nimona coming to an end, as it did some few hours ago; creator Noelle Stevenson is busy with lots of comics projects these days (not the least being the excellent Lumberjanes), and the story always had a beginning-middle-end feel to it. Still, I would have been perfectly happy for chapter 11 to wrap up a book of the story, if you will, and then for another book to start with a new chapter 1; then again, it’s about the story that Stevenson wanted to tell, not the preferences that I may have.

    In any event, 250-odd (sometimes very odd) pages is a good run for a story, and we’ll always be able to read about the adventures of Nimona and Lord Blackheart, and the ethics of “villainy” from the beginning … or in handy print form from HarperCollins in May, which you may preorder for convenience. Oh, and Stevenson is promising a book-only epilogue and if that’s not ongoing adventure, it’s the next best thing.

  • Kickstarter news I: Unshelved has a problem — namely too damn many comics to put in print form easily. Ten books worth already, an eleventh on the way, and vansihing shelf space the world over. In order to make as many comics available to as many people as cheaply and easily as possible, creators Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes have opted to take the path broken by Diesel Sweeties a few years back and offer the entire damn back catalog on a novelty USB key, presuming all the funding goals get met.

    Stretch goals will mean that the to-be-released book eleven gets included in the ebook bundle, audio commentaries get recorded by Barnes & Ambaum, and — most importantly — free copies of (as of this writing, at least two) books are made available to libraries. It’s an odd thing, making most of the stretch goals into give more stuff to people that aren’t you rather than make the stuff you get more special, but library folk are generous that way.

  • Kickstarter news II: David Malki ! has almost finished the production of nonphysical rewards for the Machine of Death card game, and has a project megapost detailing what’s available now (the audiobook version of the game cards; the game to non-backers via various retail outlets; a downloadable version of the game under a Creative Commons license; new rule variants) and what is yet to come (a downloadable artbook; an MC Frontalot song; an original rules song; various personal appearances) in the culmination of a multi-year project.

    Most excitingly for people like me, Malki ! includes an expenses breakdown and a pretty complete financial accounting of what it costs to put together a project like this, which should serve as critical information for anybody that wants to run their own Kickstart. Please note especially where Postage cost just 0.5% less than Game Production, and consider that some of the production involved complex, handmade wooden boxes that must have cost a bundle, without which post fees would probably have been the single largest expense. How big an expense was postage, at 35.9%? Sending two actual humans (Malki ! and Chun Ming Huang) to China and returning them home safely cost less than 1% of the total expenses.

  • Not quite Kickstarter: As noted in the beforetimes, Operation Let’s Build A Goddamned Tesla Museum was only the beginning — a physical site was saved, but millions more would be needed to build up the actual museum itself — a monumental undertaking, even with the real-life Tony Stark on your side. To that end, honorary Tesla family member Matthew Inman is running funding drives for the GDTM in the form of commemorative bricks (as seen at many cultural and educational institutions that do not feature the word Goddamned in the name) and t-shirts (which feature the Tesla Motors logo, by personal dispensation of Elon Musk). It is not too early to do holiday shopping for the nerds in your life, and both shirts and bricks cost a hell of a lot less than Tesla motorcars, just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

really not, of course.

Of course!

PS: Mary I am very sorry if linking to your delightful stories of teaching English in Japan means you have been brought to the attention of garbage-person spammers.

A Trio Of Terrific Comicmongers, With Bonus Guigar

Because honestly, if you’re writing about [web]comics and can’t find a way to fit Brad Guigar in there somewhere, you aren’t trying very hard.

  • Chris Yates was at SPX and yet I didn’t mention him yesterday — oversight, or planned thing? In all honesty, a little of both, but mostly I wanted to run that photo up there on a day when nothing else would detract from it. Like all of Yates’s work, this Aku Baffler! is a gorgeous, precise piece of work, and I wanted to share it with you.

    You can catch up with Mr Yates as his peregrinations take him up the east coast towards Queens, and the World Maker Faire therein this weekend. People that Make¹ stuff always dig Yates, so if you want a shot at some of his best work, you’ll have to make² your way to the bedroom borough and check out the scrollsaw work.

  • Speaking of Aku, Jim Zub not only continues work on Samurai Jack and a zillion other comics, he was also in Maryland this past weekend, although over on the coastal part. He and Chart Polski were in Annapolis brimping their way through an in-store signing of their latest work; it would have been nice to see them in Bethesda, but they were on a whirlwind fast-turnaround schedule.

    Nevertheless, in that time, Mr Zub found the time to put me on the distribution list for a preview of his forthcoming official Dungeons & Dragons tie-in comic, Legends of Baldur’s Gate, which I loved and will be buying when it releases next month. It’s got that trademark Zub flair for mixing the right amount of humo[u]r and ridiculousness with solid fantasy, but the real thing that caught me was the essay at the back of the issue which I will now quote from:

    Jim Zub the storyteller exists because of Dungeons & Dragons, the game.

    Right from the start, I could tell this wasn’t like any other game I’d ever played before. No cards, no board, no limits. No matter how young or small I was in real life I could create a character just as capable as the adults I was playing with. The Dungeon Master asked us what we were doing and my decisions, along with nerve-wracking rolls of the dice, had as much value as anyone else’s at the table.

    If I did something memorable, the group would laugh and I got to feel like one of the grown-ups. Unexpected banter, battle cries, one-liners — I wanted to entertain everyone and make sure my character left an impression.

    As the years went by, I grew up and roleplaying games grew with me. I moved behind the DM screen and started building grand adventures for my friends to quest through. Drama, plot, dialogue, pacing — all those core creative skills were honed by sitting around the gaming table using my imagination.

    Getting the chance to tell a Dungeons & Dragons story as part of the game’s 40th anniversary, carving out a new chapter in the fabled city of Baldur’s Gate … it’s wonderful, ridiculous, and surreal all at the same time. Somewhere inside of me there’s an 8-year old Li’l Zub screaming with joy as he runs around the house pretending he’s kicking skeletons in the face.

    When issue #1 releases, take the time to read the entire thing; it’s as loving a paean to the twin values of imagination and play as ever I can recall. Also, I now want to see an Adventures of Li’l Zub backup strip in this book. Bonus points if we can get Chris Eliopoulos or Skottie Young to draw it.

  • Also not at SPX, because he was busy leading a Shakespeare Festival? Ryan Estrada. But that’s okay, he’s made up for it by teaching us to read another foreign language as part of his Gimme Five project. This time, he’s teamed up with Peter Starr Northrop so that we can all Learn To Read Russian In 15 Minutes and you know what? It works. I may not have any idea what the words mean, but I can now read Спокойной ночй, Gracie³ without too much difficulty. Okay, my accent needs work, but it’s a start.

Spam of the day:
Still nothing good. I am not necessarily upset by this turn of events.

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¹ … people … are the luckiest people in the worrrrrllllld.

Sorry.

² So to speak.

³ This gag courtesy of Brad Guigar’s failure to get a reaction from his students today despite dropping some classic laugh-chuckles on them. Kids these days., which I loved and will be buying when it releases next month.

Don’t Ask How I Know What Size Shirt My Dog Wears

It’s a quiet time in Webcomicstan, possibly related to the imminent long weekend (with its attendant influx of creators to opposite ends of the continent, what with PAX Prime and Dragon Con kicking off tomorrow), along with a dash of end of summer doldrums. Nothing deep today, just some quick bits to amuse on a Thursday afternoon.

  • We’ve mentioned Evan Dahm’s illustrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz project a number of times since he launched it about a year ago; it’s not ready for print, but he may be getting close, seeing as how he’s noodling around with cover ideas. We’ve seen a good number of Winkieland illustrations of late, and if my memory of the original book serves, after returning from Winkieland, Dorothy et. al. made a trip down south (I forget if that’s the land of the Gilikins or the Quadlings), so maybe we’ll get to see another color scheme after Winkie yellow and Munchkin blue. In any event, I want this book.
  • Sometimes, you can only respond to bad times with a deeply stupid (to the point of brilliance) idea:

    It has been a shitty month, so I’m making a #BUTTS t-shirt for fun. Blame Candice!

    One week run, ends Sept. 5.

    From Rich Stevens, as if there could be any doubt. If he actually makes a canine version (you just have to move the design to the back so it’s visible), I am so getting one for my hound (who, as it turns out, can wear a human t-shirt in the medium-large size range, just saying).

  • A final comment on the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story recently won by Randall Munroe for the xkcd creation¹ entitled Time was offered up by the son and former scion of nominees Phil & Kaja Foglio²:

    Aw, don’t worry Mom & Dad — if you had to lose to somebody at least you know it was somebody better than you!

    Ouch. I have met Young Master Foglio³ and I didn’t know he had this level of snark in him. Naturally, I also know Somewhat Older Master Foglio and I entirely believe he has this level of snark in him:

    You are now out of the will, me laddo.

    Tough break, kid. Maybe Munroe will adopt you?


Spam of the day:

In that case, you might have ‘introduced’ Henry’s bar towards the reader from the gunman’s eyes –- it could be new to him and you’ll be able to bet he can be looking around pretty carefully.

Congratulations, this is the single least sensical blogspammer text I’ve yet encountered. You can pick up your trophy in Hell.

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¹ To call it an update feels too limiting.

² Cheyenne Wright was also part of the nominated team, but as he lacks a familial relationship to the young man in question, he is the immediate subject of this discussion).

³ It occurs to me that I don’t know if his parents have referred to him by name on the wild interwubs, and so I’m omitting that detail here. He’s pretty easy to spot though — find the Girl Genius booth at a show, look for the young’un that looks exactly like Phil Foglio must have looked at age 12 or so, and that’s him.

Available Now At Fine Stores And/Or Computers Everywhere

There is so much good stuff available today, it’s almost embarrassing. I honestly don’t know where to start.

  • Out today! Raina Telgemeier has dominated the New York Times bestseller charts for graphic novels with Smile and Drama, and since the Smile sequel Sisters hits today, the only questions to be asked are How long will she stay at #1? and Will she manage the trifecta of Drama coming back to the list? (Smile hasn’t left in more than two years), and Will she pull off the trick of holding the first three positions simultaneously?

    My predictions: At least a month, Probably, and I’d bet ten bucks on it.

  • Out today! But it won’t be a sure thing that I win that ten bucks, because Telgemeier’s Scholastic imprint-mate, Kazu Kibuishi also releases Amulet 6 today. It’s been a long time coming too, what with Kibuishi’s illness in 2012¹, and illustrating the 15th anniversary Harry Potter covers last year, so expect a mountain of demand at bookstores and libraries. Kibuishi and Telgemeier are about to make third quarter very, very lucrative for their publisher.
  • Out today! Scott C has his newest book (his first solo kids book, if memory serves) releasing today, which means you need to make with some hugs. You can, as Mr C observes, hug the person to your left, your right, in front of you, or just the air. Give it a try! And don’t miss out on the HUG A BOOK WEEK events coming up starting on 6 September — hugs, signings, hugsercise, parties, hug obstacle courses, exhibitions, hugs, pizza, and hugs are on deck, with info available at HUGMACHINEBOOK.com. Just keep ‘em little kid-style hugs, not creepy congoer-style, and we’ll be good.
  • Out today! MC Frontalot isn’t a webcomicker, but he’s practically a webcomics character (have you seen the covers of his CDs?). Question Bedtime releases today, with phat [nursery] rhymes for all ages. It’s like a regular rap album, but no need to be concerned if your mom hears you playing it for your niece and nephew.
  • Not specific to today but what the heck! David “Mr Anthology” Malki ! has written a piece in a new anthology of fiction, one that has unlikely and/or hazardous Kickstarters as its unifying theme. HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! & Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects has a ton o’ contributors and is available for your Kindle or Kindle equivalent now. Read it, but don’t get any funny ideas, you.

Spam of the day:
None today; I’m in too good a mood to spoil it.

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¹ Bacterial meningitis, the effects of which lingered and robbed him of months of productive time. Speaking with him last year, he told me how recovering necessitated a completely different approach to writing, and that the Harry Potter covers gave him the time to rewire his brain. My suspicion is we’re going to see his new, more structured process of writing results in a tighter, more cohesive story … and Amulets 1-5 were already damn strong on the story end.

Larger Than Life

About the time I was getting all excited about Colleen AF Venable’s book announcement yesterday, USA Today and Heidi Mac were showing off the long-awaited cover to Scott McCloud&rqsquo;s new graphic novel, The Sculptor. It’s been more than five years since the book was first announced; it was originally due for release in 2013 but the tale (as they say) grew in the telling — every time I spoke to McCloud those first couple of years after the announcement, the estimated number of pages (for what was still an untitled book) bumped up by 50 to 100.

So if you’re wondering why you haven’t had the book for a year and a half already, that’s why — you’re getting much, much more book. In fact, I’m pretty sure that McCloud would still be adding pages were it not for some insistent calls from New York to please just send them what was done, it will be brilliant, a situation that is not without precedent among treasured creators of geek entertainments¹.

But I digress.

The important thing is, McCloud’s first work of fiction in about forever (the ZOT! Omnibus was 2008; The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln was 1998) will be out the first week of February; the cover design is done (and who designed the cover? Ms AF Venable, that’s who, so yesterday really was a case of everything coming up Colleen), which means that the logistics of printing and assembly and transport and customs and distribution and every other thing that needs to happen to deliver a physical artifact is in progress. There’s no stopping it now.

  • Know what else is larger than life, or eventually might be? The Bartkira Project. It’s been more than a year since we first heard tell of the attempt to get more than 450 artists to each render five pages from Otomo Katsuhiro’s epic, six-volume Akira, rendering all the characters in the style of specific counterparts from The Simpsons.

    In the meantime, the project has somehow managed to not run afoul of copyright enforcers at Fox, Random House, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, Toho, Kodansha, Warner Brothers, Bongo Comics Group, and Krustylu Studios, any or all of whom may have copyright interests in one or the other aspects of this particular mashup. And hoping that that particular streak of luck holds, the project honchos have launched the first print content associated with TBP.

    Bartkira is not a first volume of the full story; rather, it’s a curated exhibition of pages from the project, in advance of (it is presently planned) the release of the serial story online. It will feature 80 pages from TBP, 16 color pages in a gallery section, and contain work from 19 artists (not including Otomo or Matt Groening). It’s being published by Floating World Comics of Portland, and will set you back US$15, and is a non-profit enterprise:

    Proceeds from this exhibition book are being split between two charities, Naka-Kon (a charity for Katsuhiro Otomo’s home prefecture of Miyagi, which was decimated during the 2011 Tohuko tsunami) and Save the Children (a charity of choice from Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon).

    If this goes through without any angry cease-and-desist letters, I’d expect the full narrative project to get through at least the first volume; if the lawyers get involved, I’m guessing the 2300+ pages won’t see the light of day.

  • Also larger than life, despite being tragically cut short? The boundless skill and lauded career of Richard Thompson. A lot of money has been raised by a lot of cartoonists in support of research into Parkinson’s Disease, including via the Team Cul de Sac book and the forthcoming auction of those Bill Watterson guest strips from Pearls Before Swine.

    To that, we can add one more:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the brilliant and hilarious cartoonist Richard Thompson, who’s career was robbed by Parkinson’s. His strip Cul de Sac is amazing, with such a unique writing style and energetic, scratchy line.

    So! I made this DRIVE watercolor specifically for eBay. It’s the first full-cast watercolor I’ve ever done for DRIVE. And here’s the kicker: Whatever it raises, I’m gonna double to give to Parkinson’s research under the Team Cul de Sac banner.

    Everybody catch that? The more this piece goes for, the more you’re going to cost Dave Kellett, since he’s going to match the selling price. As of this writing, it’s going for a paltry US$305, but there are more than six days to go. Let’s make Kellett dig deep into his wallet on this one; if you can’t afford to bid, you could offer to add to Kellett’s donation. It’s simple, you just say something like, I, [your name], will match the selling price of Dave’s piece as a donation to Team Cul de Sac up to US$____ and then do that once the auction ends. I’ll start it out:

    I, Gary Tyrrell, will match the selling price of Dave’s piece as a donation to Team Cul de Sac up to US$500

    There. It’s on the internet, and that means y’all get to hold me to it. Who’s with me?


Spam of the day:

Fantastic post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Many thanks!

I don’t normally respond to requests in this fashion, but since the post in question was about the latest Wasted Talent book I will write a litte [sic] more: Angela Melick is awesome and her comics are awesome and you should read them and buy her stuff. And by buy her stuff I mean that you should purchase the items that she makes, not that you should purchase things for her.

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¹ I was commissioned by Pan Books in England to write up the series in book form, and after a lot of procrastination and hiding and inventing excuses and having baths, I managed to get about two-thirds of it done. At this point they said, very pleasantly and politely, that I had already passed ten deadlines, so would I please just finish the page I was on and let them have the damn thing. — Douglas Adams

That’s from the introduction to the Omnibus Edition of The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy, published 1983 by Harmony Books. I am not suggesting for a moment that McCloud took too many baths or blew ten deadlines; as noted above, The Sculptor got longer from its initial contracted form, as opposed the the truncation of the first Hitchhiker’s novel.

Better Late Than Never

Sometimes I’m late to noticing things, sometimes it’s others that could have been a little more prompt, and sometimes there’s entirely rational procrastination involved. Let’s party.

  • Interesting idea that I finally saw — a multi-creator Patreon, essentially, where one creator-of-record is gathering the funds to pay contributors to an e-magazine. Worlds Without Master takes as its primary topic sword-and-sorcery short stories, with a particular focus on the common-as-dirt barely-distinguishable-from-the-villagers adventurer. No World-Saving Wielders of the Gods Will, no Promised Ones or Prophecy-Fulfillers.

    I noticed the campaign because the first four issues of WWM feature lots of creators, but the only one to show up in each issue (other than project supremo Epidiah Ravachol) is Bryant Paul Johnson (of the now sadly-concluded Teaching Baby Paranoia), who’s contributing an ongoing comic called Oh, The Beating Drum. Interesting idea, I’ll be looking to see if others adopt this masthead-slash-bullpen approach to Patreonage.

  • Also a few days behind the curve: I see that Andrews & McMeel — the big-time publishing arm of Universal Press Syndicate and publisher of Matthew Inman’s Oatmeal collections — is now offering mini e-books of various comics. For the most part, these are syndicated-type comics (Marmaduke! Luann!), but I notice some less-mainstream offerings, including Skin Horse by Shaenon Garrity and C Jeffrey Wells and Savage Chickens by Doug Savage. In the case of Skin Horse they are single story arcs, and if memory serves they are from different print collections, which means you can’t just grab a couple e-minis at three bucks a pop as a replacement for a proper print collection.
  • I think that The AV Club may have fallen prey to a situation I’ve often found myself in — a story that is timely gets pushed for space, just until tomorrow, then the next week, then later still; by the time it runs it’s not really timely any more, but when it means that you get a really nice writeup of the first two Bad Machinery collections, I can abide a little lateness. It’s also hard to argue with their conclusion: Anyone not reading [Bad Machinery] is missing out on one of the great achievements in contemporary comics.
  • David Malki !, as this page has noted in the past, is a man of ideas; perhaps too many ideas, or at least ideas that Man Was Not Meant To Dabble With. I am not saying that he made a poor choice in offering to hand-write every card in a copy of the Machine of Death game for a single backer willing to cough up US$488; I am saying that perhaps making that support tier available before knowing how many stretch goals would be met, how many additional creators would be contributing cards, was perhaps just a wee bit optimistic.

    Because the total number of cards he became obligated to hand-write turned out to be 960, and he understandably did not drop everything in his life to do that. But now he has, and you can watch as he gets hours and hours and hours into a process that he seems bound and determined to accomplish in one session. Will he succeed? Only the next video will tell.

  • It can’t really be late if the announcements just came out, can it? In case you hadn’t seen them, two awesome projects will be materializing soon. On the one hand, Anthony Clark and KC Green will be collaborating on a new webcomic, and I never knew how much I wanted this until the word went out yesterday:

    It’s called BACK!!! It’s a western fantasy story about the end of the world. Anthony is on art duties and I’m writing it and helping design characters. I also did the little drawing on the top, but Anthony has got the rest covered.

    BACK goes live on 18 June, with an instant archive of pages, followed by two more each Wednesday. I am taking the very unusual step of adding this to the blogroll before it even launches because you know it’s going to be that good.

    And just a bit later — 26 August to be precise — we will finally get the sixth volume of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series. The books were delayed by Kibuishi’s rather serious illness last year, but now he’s back in form, and promising the conclusion of some of the story arcs that have been building over the past few years (though not all of them, certainly, as Amulet is scheduled to run ten books). Watch the official announcement from Kibuishi here.


Spam of the day:

league of legends chinese cosplay

That’s almost a sentence, but not quite.

In Which 439 Is A Big Round Number

You wouldn’t think so, but it is — that’s the number of pieces in the latest Baffler! from Chris Yates, the 3000th in the series. Five layers deep, colors all but indistinguishable from layer to layer, it’s a work of art. Serious enquiries only, please.

Other Big Round Numbers to note:

  • If I’ve followed the news a’right, today marks the 4000th strip at Unshelved. That’s a lot of stories from the library (what, didn’t you know that every single Unshelved strip, including the most horrifying ones, are completely true and taken directly from writer Gene Ambaum’s life?). Congrats to the webcomics power duo of Ambaum and Bill Barnes, and here’s to another 4000.
  • Hey, know what’s almost the same as 4000 strips? 400. What? It’s only one digit different. Anyways, fans of the Greatest Superhero Ever will want to make a special effort to see what Wonderella’s up to on Saturday, as that will be strip #400. I bet she jumps hella high and also yells at Hitlerlla and maybe also teaches a lesson. It’s what superheroes do.

Not big round numbers:


Spam of the day:

fleen.com, with region cricket, a well known fact their co-workers may state in order to as well as bemoan within equivalent amounts.

I spend a tidy sum to spray for region crickets, so I’ll thank you not to imply we have them.

Hooray For RSS!

It’s been described as outdated, and the webcomics-centric RSSPect even closed its doors recently, but RSS is still worth the very minimal effort it takes to subscribe to a feed or check it once a day. Why, without RSS, I don’t know how many people would have known about the imminent return of Tüki Save The Humans.

What’s that? You didn’t know that Tüki was coming back from hiatus¹? Well, let me point you towards the announcement, which I received via RSS:

The wait is almost over!
Season Two of Tüki Save the Humans is set to kick off here on boneville on Monday afternoon, June 9th! We are also working on a Social Media campaign that will widen our presence on the web! Thanks to all our readers for the support on our recently won, Rueben Award [for online strip — long form]! [emphasis original]

Okay, you might have seen that if you’d been in the habit of checking the Boneville blog, but otherwise you probably wouldn’t have known, as I haven’t seen the announcement anywhere else yet. So do Smith a favor, and spread the word — Tüki is back, and that can only be a good thing.

Speaking of RSS feeds, I’m not the only one that feels fondly about them — the redoubtable R Stevens likes ‘em so much, he wears his heart on² his sleeve, or at least his chest. Alas, the RSS shirt design is being retired to make room for new stuff³, so it’s on sale now for US$15 while they last. The technology persists even while the shirt needs must go, but given the quality of shirts that Stevens (and everybody else that sources from Brunetto) vends, it’ll last roughly forever, or at least until RSS gets replaced by DBS (Direct Brain Syndication, which won’t be creepy at all).


Spam of the day:

fleen.com, recommend which you reply simply by discussing a location regarding development, yet swiftly increase everything you already are carrying out to be able to improve in which talent.

The robot uprising has come, and they’re starting with blogspam.

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¹ The original plan was that Tüki would run in 24-page chapters, one page a day, three days a week, taking two months. Then, there would be a two month hiatus to prep up the next chapter. By that schedule, we should have seen the launch of chapter two in April, and just been wrapping it up about now. A’course, some of the time between the end of chapter one and April was taken up retooling the website, which was pretty necessary.

Please note, I am not criticizing Jeff Smith for not following the original plan. The man can produce his comics on whatever damn schedule he feels like and I’ll be there to read it, and come next month, to buy the reprint of the first issue. Fortunately, reading things on whatever schedule may come is really easy, because RSS feed.

² <sigh> Yes, yes, Hurrr … he said heart-on. You’re very clever.

³ Quote from the announcement that Stevens sent out via — you guessed it — RSS.

Unexpected Pleasures

Click to embiggen.

Oh my goodness I’m not sure which of these surprises I should share first. Coin flip! Okay!

  • Raina Telgemeier — previously noted on this page (and all other pages that matter) as one of our cartooning national treasures — graphic novelist par excellence and 100-week New York Times bestselling author, must have gotten a thrill this morning on seeing some respect thrown her way by that most establishment of all cultural endeavours, the syndicated comics page.

    Smile got some love from Mark Tatulli¹ Heart of the City strip for today², and given the setup of Heart and her mom arguing about whether graphic novels count as book books, may continue to have its praises sung for the next day or so. I’m guessing that Telgemeier has got to be feeling pretty great right about now.

  • About ten months ago, in the dead of the night, the greatest thing known to mankind up to that time was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. I speak, naturally of Tom McHenry’s Horse Master: The Game of Horse Mastery, which laid bare essential lessons about the nature of life, and horses, and the importance of mastering your horse. I’m proud to say that I joined the ranks of Horse Masters, and I have the bleeding stump of a little finger³ to prove it.

    Literally and without any exaggeration whatsoever, life could not be any better than when one is horse-mastering.

    Until now, at least for those going to TCAF this weekend, for McHenry has been busy:

    In case you missed it last night, this is a thing that exists for TCAF

    3 glow in the dark buttons, a completely unnecessary full-color instruction manual, the whole game on a horse-shaped USB drive.

    All in this stylish #HorseMaster box: pic.twitter.com/8FNsDIzMGV

    Then I wept, for I am not going to TCAF. But then McHenry assuaged my grief4:

    Ordering info for non-TCAF goers will come soon!

    And there was much rejoicing, and the pupae of horses everywhere did swell with quickening tendrils, waiting for the day they could ripen, and escape, and feed.

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¹ Tatulli actually does two strips and while Heart of the City is pretty okay, his silent and subversive Liō may be the most brilliant thing left in syndication.

² That link may go away in the future, so please enjoy the permanently-linked version at the top of this page.

³ Not to mention a drug habit, criminal record, and seared-in memories of too many teeth in a gaping maw to go along with it. These are the prices of ascending to the political and social elite.

4 And coincidentally probably removed the need on my part to physically harm one or more of the friends that would go to TCAF, for a true Horse Master would let nothing stand in his or her way of obtaining this treasure; not family, not friendship, not blood. Oh glob, so much blood.

Fundamental Rules

Ah, webcomics. You have mysterious ways, rules that are unique to your world, rules which are not always apparent even to you. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they work against you.

  • In the working for you domain, Kris Straub ran up against one of the fundamental rules of webcomics — the First Law of Fanart states that If you make something cool, other people will make new stuff inspired by you. Naturally, said new stuff is subject to Sturgeon’s Law, but even the ninety percent can give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside: I inspired somebody! And that last ten percent? Sometimes it’s very, very good:

    Several months ago, David Graey, a composer/performer and fan of Broodhollow, let me listen to a piece he wrote for Curious Little Thing. I was really impressed, and even more impressed to learn he had an entire album in him. It’s now on sale — 33 minutes of soundtrack music for the first Broodhollow book! 13 tracks and a digital booklet of liner notes from David and myself!

    To sum: a musically-inclined person was inspired by Straub’s webcomic, and put together compositions good enough to make into a product with Straub’s blessing and cooperation. Graey and Straub¹ make a little money, we get to hear some scarily-appropriate music, and Graey may find himself the Patrick Doyle, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, or James Horner of webcomics. Seriously, how great would it be for a very mood-specific soundtrack to be released with your favorite reprint collection? Say, Table Titans, Monster Pulse, Family Man, or Vattu? Just think about it, creators, okay?

  • In the didn’t even know it was there domain, hidden metadata regarding your site, which affects the advertising you might be able to obtain for your screen real estate. Jennie Breeden and her husband Obby saw a sudden and unexplained drop-off in the advertising rates for The Devil’s Panties and it took some digging to find out why. Bottom line: a seven-part score of the — let’s say respectability — of the site decided that on the Adult Content scale, Breeden’s autobio was judged as unsavory as hardcore streaming porn.

    The process of finding out that these scores exist, correlating them to advertising efforts, and the possibility of getting them adjusted to reflect reality are the subject of a technical writeup at Medium that you need to see if you ever use (or may in the future use) advertising on your site. The (so far) rather opaque nature of the TRAQ (for that’s what it’s called) scores and the not-terribly-well-defined process for getting bad scores re-evaluated underscore the importance of a fundamental rule: the First Law of Your Website’s Reputation states that nobody will care about your site as much as you do, and you ignore attempts of others to characterize you and your content on their terms at your peril.

  • In the nothing is ever static domain, a reminder that the infrastructure of the modern internet is always changing — Kickstarter announced that in addition to their project categories, there will now be subcategories. The oft-used (at least by readers of this page) Comics category now has five subsidiaries, Anthologies, Comic Books, Events, Graphic Novels, and Webcomics.

    The greater granularity may make it easier to avoid ill-fated projects like the guy who has the greatest comic book idea ever but has never actually made a comic book and those that look at Kickstarter as the magic money machine. I have a feeling that these doomed projects will tend fall into the Comic Books category, with some spilling over into Graphic Novels. Webcomics, I have a feeling, will be for people that have a body of work you can look at and judge, and Anthologies the same thing writ large, as there will be multiple people whose work you can judge. Events will most likely remain a wildcard.

    I know that you’re expecting a fundamental rule at this point, and I have to go back more than 30 years to cite something I heard that I’ve since come to think of as the First Law of Ubiquity: don’t reference anything (in entertainment or advertising or business) you’d have to explain to your audience. Kickstarter’s audience may be somewhat more internet-savvy than the general population, but not by a tremendous amount. Yet there it is: Webcomics, without further explanation. I’d say that’s only a good thing.

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¹ Himself no slouch in the musical realm.