The webcomics blog about webcomics

Developing Stories

It’s Thursday. We could all use a little uplift today, so let’s look at some critical and popular successes.

  • Following up on yesterday’s story about The Sculptor becoming a movie, we have the closest thing we’re going to get to an insider view of what happens when your creative child gets adopted by the studio system.

    Lucy Bellwood has a unique point of view on Hollywood — her mother is a script analyst, and her father one the screenwriters of Highlander¹, so she can tell you from long experience what Hollywood bought your thing and now it’s going to be a movie! is like, and she shares it in comic form at The Nib. It’s not pretty.

    Don’t get me wrong; should a movie of The Sculptor actually ever be made — and that’s years down the road at the very least — I will be there on opening night, happy to see what got made. But unlike a big-screen version of characters defined with broad strokes and a few zillion plotlines to mine (see: any superhero movie), a story with a beginning, middle, and end is far more likely to end up significantly changed². I’m cautiously optimistic, and overwhelmingly glad that the movie version won’t ever cause the print copy to disappear from my bookshelf.

  • In about eight hours, we’ll find out exactly how huge a success the Exploding Kittens Kickstarter has been. As of this writing, they are probably going to cross the US$8 million mark in the next hour, and are about 500 backers from the 200,000 threshold. To put those numbers in perspective no wait scratch that, in the time I took to write that sentence things have changed. Literally in the two minutes that I looked away from the campaign page, the funding level jumped by about US$40,000 and the backer level by more than 800. They’re now over eight actual megabucks and 200K backers.

    To again attempt to put that in perspective, Exploding Kittens has the #4 all-time highest funds raised record on Kickstarter (and it’s not inconceivable it might raise the US$600K to become #3) and is by far the most-backed project ever. Right now, Exploding Kittens has eclipsed the Reading Rainbow (formerly #1) backer count by not quite 95,000 people, and has an even shot of outright doubling the onetime record.

    Here’s hoping that whole West Coast port-worker slowdown thing is resolved by the time that Exploding Kittens gets put on a container ship (I am presuming it will be printed in China, but with this kind of money, stateside manufacture might actually be economically possible), because otherwise a few hundred thousand pissed-off nerds are gonna be looking for some longshoremen and stevedores to beat up until their rewards fall out.

Spam of the day:

Oprah prevents carbs

I’m speechless. Who knew that Oprah could operate at a metabolic level?

¹ The good one. Also, sadly, the sequel which was … yeesh, not good.

² Please, and I say this as somebody who enjoys his movies for what they are, don’t let Peter Jackson anywhere near The Sculptor.

If I Were Him, I’d Be Shopping For Helicopters And A Better Class Of Friends

Of course, I’m not Scott McCloud (for which I think we can all be grateful), and he is a far nicer person than I am. And lets face it: with the byzantine practices of Hollywood accounting, it’s unlikely (and that’s a damn shame) McCloud will be be joining the ranks of the super-rich anytime soon.

But I may be getting ahead of myself. There’s going to be a movie made of The Sculptor.

When I saw McCloud’s talk at the 92nd Street Y, he did mention in passing from the stage that he wouldn’t mind a movie being made of The Sculptor¹, should that ever happen. He didn’t give any indication that a deal was in the works, but I find it doubtful that negotiations took place and everything approved in the two weeks since, especially since he’s been on the road. Doubly especially because this looks to be an actual movie deal.

Everything I am about to say should come with the obvious disclaimer that I’m not an agent, a lawyer, a studio head, or in anyway knowledgeable about how the entertainment industry works, apart from what I’ve read in Brian Bendis’s autobiographical Fortune & Glory. To wit: studios spend time and money to lock down story rights, both because they might want to make a movie, but also to prevent others from doing so. Snagging the rights is known has an option, and it doesn’t mean that anything will ever be made. In fact, people have had a tidy income sustain over decades because some studio or other keeps paying out occasionally to renew an option, but never actually goes to production.

How long ago did we hear about the right to BONE and Amulet being sold? Answer: a little shy of seven years. That’s the way the entertainment industry works, and more power to Smith and Kibuishi for getting checks and not seeing a butchered-up version hit the big screen that looks terrible (cf: The Last Airbender). A’course, it’s possible for good adaptations to hit, and sometimes even in a timely fashion, when the right combo of studio desire, director, and idea converge (cf: Scott Pilgrim vs The World).

What I am saying here is that The Sculptor looks like it may be more the latter than the former, because that story doesn’t talk about Sony just picking up the rights; it talks about Sony picking up the rights with specific producers attached. And while these things take time and The Sculptor does not have a director, a script, a cast, or an IMDB page yet², it has cleared more hurdles than most would-be movies ever will. What do you think? Joseph-Gordon Levitt as David (alternately: Jason Schwartzman), Ellen Page as Meg (alternately: Anna Kendrick), Donald Sutherland as Uncle Harry (alternately: Stephen Root)? And if we could get Kenneth Branagh to direct? That’s worth my twelve bucks.

In other news:

Spam of the day:

Selank Russian C is a nootropic, anxiolytic peptide based drug developed by the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Very interesting, but I don’t see how that qualifies as an ingenious method for boosting my wealth.

¹ It was in the context of works being designed to be read in a particular form, and how The Sculptor was designed specifically to be a book, and could he see it in other forms.

² McCloud does have an IMDB page. In fact he has three: Scott McCloud (I), Scott McCloud (III), Scott McCloud (V). Dude’s been busy.

Valentine’s Eve And It’s Cold

Very cold. Right now, it’s warmer in traditionally blizzard-swept regions like the Dakotas than it is here in New Jersey. My dog has gone completely lethargic¹. The only joy in life comes across the laser-etched wires of the internet, and that will have to sustain us until Spring comes, or we are devoured by ice weasels.

  • It was around the first of December of last year that the implications of the European Union tax-harmonization changes going into effect on 1 January 2015 (aka VATMOSS) first broke into the consciousness of webcomickers (as well as others selling e-goods on the internet). Uncertainty about the ability to comply with the requirements² led most creators on both sides of the Atlantic to decide that they would have no choice but to suspend sales to EU residents.

    However, I’m seeing word from more than one creator (KB Spangler, who was among the first to raise the VATMOSS alarm, as well as Jon Rosenberg) that Gumroad — a very popular mechanism for selling things like e-goods — is going to be addressing the VATMOSS headaches:

    Just got an email from @gumroad addressing changes because of #VATMOSS. Still reading over the terms but looks solid. Thanks, guys!

    Looks like @gumroad is changing their policy and they’re going to handle all the VAT bullshit on their end. Good. End of story.

    Gumroad’s announcement is here, with the critical piece being:

    We are tackling VAT in the same way. Going forward, this is what creators on Gumroad need to do to properly handle VAT for their digital products:

    Go back to making awesome stuff.

    In other words, we’re on it. Gumroad will collect VAT as required and remit it to the EU. You won’t need to fill out any forms, register for anything, or send anything out. Your (EU-based) customers, will see (and pay) the added VAT on their purchases.

    . . .

    These changes were neither easy nor cheap, but it was crucial to us to make this as smooth and invisible as possible. Handling VAT will cost us approximately 1% of each transaction. We’ve decided it is important to absorb that cost so there will be no change to our 5% + 25¢ fee.

    [emphasis original]

    I don’t use Gumroad to distribute anything so it’s likely that Spangler, Rosenberg, et. al., are getting additional details, but from the outside this looks like Gumroad has just given their clients a hell of a good reason to stay loyal to them, and once word spreads will likely be picking up new business. And as long as that’s one tax-related headache out of the way, how about you check out Brad Guigar’s guide to US sales tax over at Webcomics Dot Com; Guigar has kindly unlocked the subscription requirement for this post, so you can read the whole thing.

  • Horrible weather and taxes! Can’t you come up with anything pleasant today, Gary? How about a new Perry Bible Fellowship strip, which has just been added to the main PBF site after sitting on Twitter for a couple of hours. Some things to note here:
    1. This is the sixth of the six new strips that Gurewitch announced a few weeks back
    2. Holy [fill in the blank] this thing is gorgeous; Gurewitch gets so much mileage out of his cartoony style (as in these recent examples) that I sometimes forget just how accomplished an artist he is
    3. It’s pretty much a perfect joke; there is nothing to add, nothing to trim away nothing that could make it better

    Go read it; we don’t know when we’ll get more.

  • As a followup to KC Green announcing that Pinocchio would get an irregular schedule to allow him to work on other things, something really quite nice. And disturbing. Nice and disturbing. Green was a contributor to The Sleep of Reason, and he’s shared his contribution to that anthology with us. I AM SICK is based on the church Green attended as a child and is a profoundly unsettling story (not unlike his earlier The Dog’s Sins), and reinforces my belief that self-contained longform stories are where Green really shines. Go read it, but maybe be careful being around anybody with flu-like symptoms afterwards.

Spam of the day:

[incoherent string of placeholder symbols ]

Thanks, and while I’m sure that your selection of mail-order brides is excellent, you seem to be mistaking me for somebody who buys into MRA theories of gender roles and that makes you terrible. Please go be a garbage person elsewhere.

¹ Although, given that he’s a greyhound, that’s not unusual.

² In that a scheme designed to get large vendors like Amazon to pay up their fair share of VAT was going to whack mostly small vendors who couldn’t possibly meet the regulatory data-gathering and retention requirements, and there was no lower threshold of sales to trigger the compliance requirement.

Returns And Launches

Apropos of nothing, there is apparently a DJ-type guy named Diplo (I’d never heard of him before) who has apparently lifted art from Rebecca Mock, and when called on it proved himself to be human garbage. Just putting that out there.

  • I believe that I’m on record as finding Scott C’s work whimsical and wonderful, and I particularly love how he can made anything adorable. Consider: instead of the lifeless reanimated husks of Zombie In Love scaring the bejabbers out of its very young intended audience, it is charming and happy-making. That’s a heck of a trick to pull off, and one that should not be limited to 32 pages. Luckily, it no longer is:

    You’ve already seen the book, but here is an official announcement for the new Zombie in Love 2 +1!

    Ready to read something adorable?

    Mortimer and Mildred are back with the sequel book called Zombie in Love 2 +1! It follows the young couple as they journey into parenthood! A brand new human baby is left on their doorstep and they must learn to care for him. They discover quickly that human babies are not into zombie stuff. Parenthood can be a struggle normally, so you can imagine how tough it is for these two zombie parents to care for a human baby. I mean, just imagine! And guess what? All your other friends are in this book, the zombie dog, the worms, even a new zombie cat. You’ll probably love it.

    I’ma go out on a limb and guess that Mr C is right and you probably will love it. I still can’t get over that line about shrieking lullabies.

  • I wasn’t going to mention the whole Scribd thing for a couple of reasons:
    1. I have never trusted media that I don’t own¹, although I suppose a library access via subscription model is much less likely to hit my paranoia than the pay for it and download stuff that we can take if we want model
    2. I am innately suspicious of sites that offer no functionality unless I enable JavaScript²; seriously, you can’t so much as read a description of Scribd’s comics offerings without allowing scripting
    3. I’m not that interested in the vast back catalogs of print comics when there are so many good new comics (in print and not) coming out now
    4. I absolutely despise this whole tech industry thing of making up a word by randomly leaving out an letter; I’m not on Tumblr, either

    But gosh darnit, it seems like there are webcomics angles to consider, one of which is possibly why I haven’t been able to enjoy one of my favorite webcomics for months and months:

    At last I can reveal what I’ve been doing the past few months: curating the amazing new comics section at @Scribd!

    This is mixed news for me. One the one hand, I am not going to be a subScribder to this service for the reasons listed above. On the other hand Shaenon Garrity has pointed me to some damn good comics in the past, on account of our tastes track each other by about 70%, meaning I can innately trust her and she’ll still surprise me with stuff I wouldn’t have looked at before. Her palette for completely bonkers off the wall concepts (like, say, a 26 volume manga fighting series about the cut-throat world of competitive bread baking) is unmatched and has brought me much pleasure. Not buying into Scribd means I may be missing out on stuff I’d really like.

    But mostly importantly, I’d figured that Shaenon Garrity’s stellar X-Files recap comics were on hiatus still due to the challenges of raising her new son; it seems she’s been at work for a chunk of time, which means that now that Scribd’s comics service has launched, she might be able to get back to Mulder³ and Scully and Skinner’s Righteous Fists of Rage. Here’s hoping, at least.

  • Actually, one other reason to maybe hold back on Scribd, this one from the keenest mind in webcomics:

    Warning: Do NOT sign up for Scribd for its comics if you have a Kindle Fire! Every title I clicked so far is “not available for this device”

    Which is odd, considering that Scribd supports the Kindle Fire, albeit with a specific installation. Anyway, Kindle Fire owners emptor, I guess.

    Update to add: Brad Guigar has retracted his caution.

  • For those of you that keep track of these things, a card game that nobody has played yet is on the verge of raising US$6 million and having 150,000 backers and is now the fifth most-funded project in Kickstarter’s history. With eight days to go, it seems certain to move into the #4 slot. Yikes.

Spam of the day:

Hello. And Bye.

Not much to add, really.

¹ And yes, this means that I don’t have Netflix.

² Which, in terms of widespread crappy technology that opens up my computer to drive-by infections, is second only to Flash.

³ As I am finishing this post, David Duchovny is coming on the radio, being introduced by Leonard Lopate as I type this sentence. Spooooky.

For The Article

Couple of stories that just won’t die today.

  • Welp, everybody is still talking about Scott McCloud today (not that that’s any surprise), and lots of people have been talking to McCloud, but I doubt that Scott enjoyed any of those interviews as much as the one that went live at Playboy (mostly SFW, surprisingly) since it was conducted by his wife/muse, Ivy Ratafia. It’s a great read and gives you an idea just how damn in love these two crazy kids are.

    I’m going to quote my favorite part — Ivy has asked Scott to describe the character of Meg, who is about 70% Ivy and then follows up with what could be a marriage-killer of a question:

    IVY: And now the reciprocal. You have to describe me.
    SCOTT: You’re shorter than she is, probably by a good four inches —
    IVY: Haha! Okay, I’m going to interrupt you here, because the question I wanted to ask was, why is Meg taller than me?
    SCOTT: Because when I have the two of them in frame I can’t do the same kind of physical theater without pulling back the camera. I can’t do close-ups of the two of them talking. If I was a better cartoonist; if I was smart enough and practiced enough to get interesting compositions out of the height difference; maybe it could’ve worked. But, I’m just not good enough. So I made her only a half-head shorter.

    IVY: This really bothers me.
    SCOTT: I know!
    IVY: Short people unite! We have problems!
    SCOTT: I know, I know. We should be celebrating shortness. But no, I didn’t have the chops for it because I was still teaching myself how to be a better figure artist. So the real answer is because I suck. Is that okay?

    For the record, Scott does not suck. Also for the record, I picked up a copy of The Sculptor in hardcover and the spot color used throughout (Pantone 653, in case you were wondering) is a bit darker than that used in the advanced review copies, and it does give everything a bit more structure and depth. Also, the page numbering is different by two, in case you weren’t fascinated enough by the minutiae of publication details.

  • Following up on yesterday’s discussion of the newly-gamified Exploding Kittens Kickstarter, some rules have been posted to determine which photos of various things will count towards the achievements. Notably, the hashtag #update9 needs to be in the photo (along with the text of the tweet, along with the hashtage #explodingkittens, so everybody with old pics of themselves with goats, sorry.

    Likewise, there have been a couple of photos posted of people with cat ears, but the requirement is that a single photo contain 10 (or 50, or 100) people wearing cat ears. Solos don’t cut it here. On the “plus” side at least two of the requisite five photos involving weaponized back hair¹ have been posted so that’s all … well, it’s not right, but it’s something.

Spam of the day:[redacted]

Hmmm, your message consists solely of a link. is Utah State University, and it appears that the bft stands for Big File Transfer. So somebody’s using the academic site to distribute who knows what? I’ma pass on clicking that one, Bunky. You understand.

¹ Insert that mumbling, horrified noise that Sideshow Bob makes just after getting smacked with a rake.

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.