The webcomics blog about webcomics

Promises And Fulfillment

Two Kickstarter stories bookending the creative process coming up; but first, something to do with your hands. I maybe should have mentioned this yesterday, but this has “weekend project” written all over it: courtesy of Adam Whittier at The Nib, a set of plans for a DIY portable drafting table that will cost you an hour or two, a trip to a hardware store, and the price of two Chipotle burritos. Get building, then get drawing.

  • On the one hand, Sam Logan has paired up with Damocles Thread Development — whose usual gigs appear to be more along the lines of large scale event training¹ — to design an RPG set in the Sam & Fuzzy world. The campaign to produce it went live yesterday and is already 70% of the way to goal. It appears in Damocles Logan has found people that know how to handle logistics and deliver things for which there is no possibility of delay, so I’m pretty sure that rewards are going to be delivered with more promptness than most Kickstarts see.

    I’ll be very interested to see how the game plays, though, as there’s a good deal of difference between an RPG and, say, running triage drills². It appears that the physical production is the only step left, which means that Logan and DTD (hopefully) are able to pay out whatever they raise to their vendors between 12 December (when the campaign closes) and 31 December (when unspent money plays merry hell with their FY 2014 taxes).

  • On the other hand, about a year and a half ago, the Kickstart to produce a Cyanide & Happiness TV show on the internet wrapped up with about 300% of the US$250K goal. The plan was to have the show launched back in February, but better late than never, yes? Episode 1 of The Cyanide & Happiness Show hit YouTube (yesterday for backers with a season pass, today for everybody else), resulting in ten minutes of the most chaotic mayhem this side of Tex Avery on a meth bender.

    It’s got a recurring set of short on the theme of bugs and humans swapping roles, two extended pieces (both dealing vaguely with extended struggles ending in last minute head-screwing of dudes with goatees), and a couple of briefer pieces. Oh and butts. Hell of butts.

    On the creative side, all hands were on deck, as Rob DenBleyker and Dave McElfatrick split directing duties, Kris Wilson busied himself with sound editing, everybody split writing duties, and lots of people got in on voice acting. Matt Melvin may have separated from C&H a few months back, but he worked on the show and is credited as both a creator, and for the story on the first long piece, “Ultrasoldier”. Per the Kickstarter’s stretch goals, expect to see ten more episodes of the show, along with weekly shorts.


Spam of the day:

It is learned that the defendant has now appealed.

Yeah, they’ll do that.

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¹ Think everything from emergency services training to convention running.

² Although trust me when I say that putting together even a small Mass Casualty Incident training event is tricky as hell. It’s all worth it, though, to see the looks on the faces of the little baby EMTs when everything goes to hell and they don’t know what to do next.

What

Seriously.

  • This is perhaps the most perplexing thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. It all started out innocently enough, via the tweets of Toronto Man-Mountain himself, Ryan North:

    facebook.com/jacob.spiel/posts/2811947031986… hey guys I’m making my STAND UP COMEDY DEBUT tomorrow night in a smelly basement in Toronto, you should come

    None of that is particularly troublesome or confusing; webcomics creators have performed in public comedic styles for some time now, although one might have though there would be a rivalry between those on the west coast and those on the east coast, peace seems to have held. Nor is North’s description of the venue as a smelly basement in Toronto particularly unusual, as recent studies have shown that fully 37% of all worldwide humorons¹ are generated under exactly those conditions.

    Following the link to the event page itself reveals further details, including the news that this particular show is wrapping up its association with the venue (not weird), and that Scott Thompson (the Kid in the Hall², not the onetime CEO of Yahoo!, although there is a slight resemblance) will be on stage. Thompson’s not nearly the continuous presence in the Canadian comedy scene he once was, but this doesn’t rise to the level of bafflement.

    No, the thing that prompted my utter gobsmackedness is the photo on that event page, reproduced above, which is the most cognitive dissonance-inducing thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously, what the hell.

    PS: assuming that … thing … hasn’t completely melted your brain, you can enjoy the comedy stylings of Ryan North at the Crown and Tiger Bar in Toronto tomorrow night at 8:00pm EST. The event will not be recorded, so I’d advise that you sell all your possessions so you can afford transport, otherwise you will miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.

  • In completely unsurprising news, Scott McCloud goes to a lot of places and does a lot of presentations on comics, creativity, and suchlike. In fact, as I write this, he is on a flight to China³ for ten days of private events at Shanghai American School, the Western International School of Shanghai, and the YK Pao School (and, no doubt, spontaneously meeting and befriending the local cartooning community).

    Some weeks back, McCloud spoke at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab on The Future of Comics (coming from anybody else, this title would be hopelessly overblown, but coming from McCloud, I want to hear more). Since very few of the people who follow McCloud ever get the pleasure of attending one of his presentations, I’m happy to say that USC have made a recording available at Vimeo, which is up now. If you like what you see, there was second part of the conversation with participants from the likes of Lucasfilm, DC Comics, and the New York Times.

Enjoy your weekend, and anybody that’s either near Toronto or on the invite lists in Shanghai, I expect a full report on Monday.


Spam of the day:

It was also a time when men were particularly fond of fitted blazers, checked and striped pants as well as breezy knitwear.

Well, duh. Unfitted blazers look like ass.

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¹ The fundamental particle of comedy.

² Although we are getting dangerously close to What territory, considering that Thompson fellow Kids Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney got their start in a competitive improv team known as The Audience, and the name of David Malki !’s competitive improv team is The Audience. COINCIDENCE??

³ Since I started writing that bit, it appears that the flight has been delayed due to weather; I trust that you all are thinking good thoughts for Scott & Ivy’s safe travels.

What’s The Most Adorable Thing You’ll See Today?

Well done, Evan. Can't wait to hold the book in my hands.

Is it a Munchkin, a snake, or a dog/cat hybrid that speaks in song?

  • Welp, there’s a project that blew the hell out of the Fleen Funding Formula for Kickstarts; I shouldn’t be surprised that Evan Dahm’s illustrated edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz wound up so far above what the FFF would have called for¹, given that enormous bump near the end of the campaign. Dahm came in at roughly twice the midpoint of my projected range, with a total of US$61,324, or some 408% of goal.

    Take a look at the trendline data from Kicktraq; you just don’t see the long tail skew upwards like that, and in just two days near the end of the campaign, Dahm nearly doubled the number of backers. That bump, by the way, coincided with Kickstarter declaring the book a Pick of the Day, bringing in a horde of new backers. Whatever the reason, more than 1200 people will be getting copies of this sure-to-be-handsome volume in a few months, hooray.

  • Speaking of hooray, two new things out there in the aether that you will want to look at. Firstly, the inimitable Jen Wang² has a new webcomic going. More precisely, she’s releasing what looks to be a new graphic novel in chapter-length updates, and the first chapter dropped yesterday (the second will be released when it’s ready, don’t be greedy). Go get in on the ground floor of The White Snake³ now and beat the rush.

    Secondly, as I write this the Cartoon Hangover channel at Youtube is counting down live to the premiere of the Bee & Puppycat series, made possible by viewers like you. We’re at just over five hours remaining (which would make the debut at 8:00pm EST [GMT-5]), and B&P characters are being made out of fondant to decorate cupcakes. Hell, yes.


Spam of the 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.

Honest to dog, I read that quickly in the spam filter and I thought it said defenestration laws and thought it was going to be much more interesting than it turned out to be.

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¹ The FFF would have taken the 24-30 hour trend predicted value (PV) from Kicktraq (US$130K), divided that by 4 (US$32.5K), with a range of +/- PV/20 (US$6.5K), for a final predicted range of US$26K to 39K.

² Who is responsible for one of my favorite original graphic novels ever, Koko Be Good, and more recently an adaptation of a Cory Doctorow story, In Real Life (which I’m still thinking about).

³ Not to be confused with Whitesnake, thank glob. Far too much of the background noise of my college years was taken up with David Coverversion’s hair-metal glam-shouting in the direction of Tawny Kitaen.

Everything I’ve Ever Wanted In Three Places

Seriously, three things dropped yesterday that exceed all my wants and desires except for the places reserved in my heart for my wife and dog.

Okay, that’s it. Enjoy the crap out of your weekend, and hope you avoid all the terrible, terrible people.


Spam of the day:

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

I find your schemes to be insufficient. You may wait outside the Pilgrim’s Door.

Announcements

Your attention please. Please yell if you are paying attention.

  • Re: the best thing that you will read today, courtesy of Shaenon Garrity, Queen Of All That Is Rad, a curious and quiet tale regarding how ladies interact with gaming culture. In the event that you think that this is not the best thing that you will (or have) read today, please go back and re-read carefully and I think you will find the source of your error. There are so many wonderful little details in Scores & Scandals that I can’t count them all.
  • Re: yesterday’s posting regarding the Chomic Chameleon Chichstarter¹, the campaign launched about an hour ago (as this is being written) and may be found here.
  • Re: webcomickers and Adventure Time, there are two big things happening come January. The storied team of Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb will be stepping down from the book that launched BOOM! Studios’ foray into Cartoon Network tie-in comics, Adventure Time.

    By that time, the North/Paroline/Lamb team will have produced 35 issues (or seven arcs + seven one-shot issues) over the space of three years, and have garnered signinificant acclaim, including the stray Eisner Award. Per North, it was a planned exit, with the creative team ready to move on to other projects (at the recent SPX show, Lamb told me that he and Paroline were pitching their own story ideas for new comics).

    Big shoes to fill², but BOOM! have found perhaps the best possible replacements on the book in the personages of Christopher Hastings on words and Zach Sterling on art. Sterling’s no stranger to Adventure Time, having partnered with Danielle Corsetto and Kate Leth on AT original graphic novels, and Hastings is not only a funny guy who knows how to write funny comic books, he’s partnered up with North on several projects and will be able to blend his authorial voice with that of the Toronto Man-Mountain to the point that the transition should be largely seamless.

    This is not to say that Hastings should spend his time on Adventure Time emulating North, merely that it won’t be a jarring shift from one writing style to the next. Honestly, I can’t think of a better team to take over the flagship comic.

  • All of that would probably qualify as the best Adventure Time-related news of the month, except for the part where BOOM! also announced that Meredith Gran would be returning to write a second Marceline miniseries. Marceline and the Scream Queens, for me at least, ranks as the definitive exploration of the vampire queen’s personality and nature, and seeing Gran return to the character for six more issues makes me giddy. And that’s before I found out that the new series (titled Marceline Gone Adrift) is essentially the adventures of Marceline and Prubs in space. This time around Gran will be leaving the art duties to Carey Pietsch, whose portfolio gives me great confidence that she’ll do a fantastic job.
  • Still not quite done with webcomickers and BOOM! books at the start of 2015. Jim Zub (who else?) had some news to share yesterday:

    MUNCHKIN #1 arrives in January from @boomstudios and I’m writing back-up stories. :) @muskrat_john @SJGames

    Oh dear glob. Zub’s not one for excessive mayhem in his gaming comics because he’s mindful that they should be at least vaguely acceptable for all ages, but in the cartoonishly excessive world of Munchkin? And in backup stories, where all the rules are a bit looser? He’s gonna run riot and it’s gonna be hilarious.

  • Re: my earlier assessment of what’s going on in Drive. Okay, so the latest update mentions dropships with “interstellars in orbit”, so we don’t know from the visuals here about rings, which was my original contention. But we’ve seen Vinn ships before — no ring. And the possibility of the Vinn getting Continuum technology (which the Makers regard as holy) without the Continuum objecting? I still think we’ve got more than one method of superlight travel, which in the case of the Vinn could have been developed by any of the 14 constituent species. All of which is to say Goddammit Dave, if you kill off Nosh I’m going to be very, very cross with you.

Not spam of the day:
I just wanted to bring to your attention a comment regarding yesterday’s spam of the day:

For the record and from a born spanish speaker: that spam’s line makes absolutely no sense.

Román, thanks for confirming what I suspected. Good to know that spammers are illiterate in more than just English!

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¹ Sorry, couldn’t resist.

² In North’s case, literally … I seem to recall he has something like size 15 feet.

It Is Apparently Kickstarter Day

There are several projects that I feel you should pay attention to, in no particular order.

  • First of all, recent Atlanta-to-Stumptown transplant Jennie “It’s Not Satanic Porn” Breeden¹ has returned to the Kickstarter well to finish off her doll line; about this time last year she made plush versions of two of the three voices in her head: the Devil Girl and Angel Girl as a stretch goal. The campaign fell just shy of creating the Pretty Princess as a final stretch goal, but people have apparently been hounding her mercilessly, for lo the Pretty Princess Plush now springs fully from Breeden’s skull (like unto Athena from the brow of Zeus), sitting about a third of the way to success with four weeks to go. Completists, take note.
  • One may have noticed that I didn’t make a prediction about where the Pretty Princess KS will end up; I’ve come to the conclusion that the Fleen Funding Formula really doesn’t work well with fewer than a couple hundred backers, and the PPKS is in the 130s as we speak. While I think it’s very likely that Breeden’s fanbase (which is loyal in a brutally efficient manner) will not let the campaign falter I cannot predict where the final tally will go. Heck, my ballpark estimate for the Stand Still, Stay Silent book 1 campaign was some US$50K short (in this case, that was about a 40% underestimation), although in my defense it was on Indiegogo and thus didn’t show up on Kicktraq, the basis of the FFF. What I am saying here is congratulations, Minna Sundberg, and I can’t wait to get my copy.
  • I can predict where the next campaign will end up, though: very, very high. Gigi DG has also gone to the crowdfunding platform to make a third thing; in this case, a third print collection of the wholly delightful Cucumber Quest. With a launch less than 24 hours ago and more than 500 backers driving the total to nearly 200% of goal with more than a month to go, Ms DG’s US$20K target is likely to hit a 5x to 6x overfunding. Call it US$150K +/- US$25K; given that the last two Kickstarters for CQ books have achieved, respectively, 645% and 627% of goal, I’d say she’s got a pretty good likelihood of her previous readers sticking around.
  • For going on two years, Comic Chameleon has been bringing webcomics to the mobile masses with the full support of creators; coincidentally, we’ve seen far fewer scrapers since CC’s beta was announced at the end of 2012 and formally launched (of iOs devices) in May of 2013. At the time, I noted that I’m an Android guy and thus don’t get to share in the phone-based goodness, a situation that economics did not off an easy remedy for.

    Until tomorrow. From Comic Chameleon principal (and erstwhile Alien Loves Predator photochronicler) Bernie Hou:

    The time has come to make Comic Chameleon available for your phone! [O]ur Kickstarter campaign to fund the Android version of our app [is] launching this Thursday

    The sharp-eyed among you may notice some elided content in that quote, which was necessary to chop it into a grammatically sound form because I took out some stuff I wanted to address here. Namely, that Hou (knowing as he did that I’m an Android guy) has sent along an alpha version of the app for me to play with and report back on. Work has kept me from doing so yet today, but I will be doing so at the first opportunity, and given the generally happy reviews of the CC userbase on the iDevice platform(s), I expect it (once the inevitable early bugs are identified and squashed) to make the Googleheads as happy as the Jobsters. Keep your eyes on Kickstrater tomorrow, and let’s get that sumbitch funded.


El spam del día:

Me gusta el artículo, la mente es muy clara, yo también hago eso, gracias.

No es nada.

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¹ Plain ol’ non-Satanic porn by Ms Breeden is another thing altogether (that link is relatively safe for work).

All About Ants. Really.

Photo by unknown; sourced under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0) from AntWeb

The religious fervor that any fragment of the population assigns to their particular hobby has always puzzled me. I define myself as a lot of things: husband, engineer, EMT, moustache-haver, Subaru driver. The fact that I’ve been playing videogames since before the original Atari home console has never compelled me to define myself as a “gamer”, but whatever.

Define yourself however you like, but understand you’re going to be lumped in with the actions of everybody else that claims your particular tribe. That includes everything from low-grade defensiveness to the stunted, sociopathic fraction of the gaming tribe that has an inquisitorial zeal to stamp out the “heresy” they perceive in the “threat” to their identity in that a) somewhere, somebody might like games that are different; and b) women are having sex. This has lead directly to:

[T]he unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. — 28 CFR Section 0.85

You get a gold star if you can figure out what word that definition applies to.

If you think that the word gamergate can be salvaged to refer to anything other than reflexive misogyny (sorry, ants, you need another word) suffused throughout with a piquant But we’re the real victims here, do me a favor — stop reading this page. The world is changing in ways not entirely catering towards you, and the way to deal with that is not with doxxing, rape threats, death threats, school shooting threats¹, and voluntarily associating with a spastic movement to “punish” anybody that doesn’t agree with you². I’ll be on the other side of history with the non-garbage people.

Back to webcomics tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy these quality laugh-chuckles that I picked entirely at random from the internet.

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¹ Honestly, it’s like you’re trying to prove that Jack Thompson was right. You have no idea how hard it was to type those words in that order. I once got into a face-to-face argument with that guy but right now there are people providing empirical evidence for Thompson’s thesis that videogames turn young males into violent, remorseless criminals. Good job, geniuses!

² But I’m not like that and you’re a big meanie Gary! Sorry, you picked a label that’s being used for those purposes, the entire world knows it, and the only outcome here is that your carefully-adopted identity goes from pretty goddamned mainstream to denigrated and despised fringe group. Which, given the amount of whining I’ve seen, is pretty much where you think you are already. I think that you’ll find actual pariah status to be far less comfortable than you’ve imagined it to be.

Broad Horizons

We at Fleen have spoken more than once about (and in this interview, with the key person behind) Make That Thing, the crowdfunding production-and-fulfillment arm of The Topato Corporation. The first part of that descriptor, production-and, is probably the most important, as MTT isn’t just a post-Kickstarter merch-shipping service. To quote MTT Supreme Honcho Holly Rowland on staying in a relatively narrow range of projects¹:

We do what we do, and we do it well. We want to stay “on message”, so to speak, and not fuck around with video games or whatever because we don’t do video games and someone’s massively successful Kickstarter doesn’t seem like a proper testing ground.

But it appears that after a series of print- and plush-oriented campaigns (including some of the very largest in the publishing/comics category), MTT has branched out a bit. After all, Rowland followed up her previous assertion with:

That is not to say that we won’t open ourselves up to it in the future.

Their foray into recorded media started with the Deathmöe album, and now they’re partnering on a documentary film that will be chronicling the effort of building the biggest thing ever:

12 men have set foot on the moon, and getting them there cost $25.4 billion dollars. The last moonwalk ended more than 40 years ago. Two men, Michael and David, are dedicating their lives to creating the next great leap for humanity, and they think they can give us permanent access to the moon for less than a billion dollars.

This is what I love about the Topato family of creators — there’s always something there that will surprise me. And while watching the process of STRIPPED’s production makes me doubt that Shoot The Moon will be finished by Fall 2015³, I would be thrilled to be wrong. Here’s hoping they raise the necessary US$37,000 in the coming month and we can all find out together.

As long as we’re mentioning crowdfunding, check it out: Stand Still, Stay Silent book 1 has already raised US$34,452 of its anticipated US$25K, with a mere 27 days left to go. Since it’s on IndieGoGo and not Kickstarter, I don’t have the data to apply the Fleen Funding Formula, but I’d anticipate it finishing in the US$75K (plus or minus) range. Well done, Minna Sundberg, can’t wait to read the book next summer (she has to finish drawing chapter 4 for inclusion, then printing, then shipping).


Spam of the day: Hello gary! I am looking for a man, i’m 21 y.o. let’s talk? My name is Svetlana, I’m from Ukraine.

Hello Svetlana, what is it like in the bridebasket of Europe?

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¹ To quote the MTT website on project scope:

We don’t know how to make USB toasters or solar-powered flashlights², so we simply won’t take on Hardware, Design, Video Game, or Fashion projects. Other people are better at that than we are. However, the rewards for your project are heavily weighed toward the following:

  • Printed materials (books, comics, posters)
  • Printed or embroidered apparel items (T-shirts, polos, neckties, aprons)
  • Novelties and baubles (stickers, patches, bookmarks, foam swords)
  • Other things that don’t involve inventing a new type of manufacturing apparatus

Then we might be a good fit. (You can take a look at the things we sell at TopatoCo.com for an example of the things we make day in and day out).

² The first time I saw that I read it as solar-powered fleshlights and thought Oh man, Erika Moen’s got to get her logo on those.

³ The target date as described on the KS page; to quote their Risks and Challenges:

We’ve been around the video production block many times, but this is the first feature-length production we’ve done. It’s possible we may face delays when perfecting special effects, the score and editing, but we think any extra time spent will make for a better film. Plus, once we’ve got the movie done, sending it out digitally will be a breeze. [emphasis mine]

Utterly no disrespect to the STM team, but a year seems a very short time to tackle the project and I hope they don’t kill themselves in the making.

How’s WordPress 4.0 Working For You? Everything Loading Right?

Even though I’ve got excellent, real-time backups, there’s still a moment of uncertainty as my finger hovers over the button that says Update Now.

  • Speaking of fingers, mine is doing much better, thanks for asking; if you looked at it today you’d figure I’d had a particularly nasty papercut combined with an overly-aggressive session with the nail clippers. It’s still kinda painful if I get overly exciting while typing, but nothing too terrible. I bring this up because we are approaching open enrollment time for health insurance, and if you’re new to having insurance (thank you, ACA), you may not have had experience with renewing insurance.

    Long story short, there will be a fixed period of time that your insurer will notify you of, and that’s when you have to decide what kind of plan you want for next year. Guys, you want a plan. How much do you want a plan? Consider this — I got my insurance benefit statement for my little trip to the Emergency Department two weeks ago, and if not for that insurance my momentary bout of kitchen stupidity would have cost me nearly two thousand damn dollars.

    So consider this my semi-regular plea that you self-employed folks take the time to investigate this very carefully, because guess what? A cheapo high-deductible plan that’s meant to cover only catastrophes wouldn’t help in a situation like this; until we get this entirely bitched-up system of healthcare delivery properly fixed, you’ve got to have insurance if you don’t want something small to put you into potentially crippling debt.

  • So what should I do with all the money I saved on EMERGENCY SERVICES and STERILE SUPPLIES and DRUGS/OTHER¹? How about buying a metric crap-load² of cartoonist interviews? Hivemind filmmaker Freddave Kellett-Schroeder have a limited-time sale going on for all the extras associated with STRIPPED:

    STRIPPED SUPER AWESOME DELUXE EDITION

    ON SALE UNTIL FRIDAY! SAVE 39%!
    Get over 26 HOURS of additional content!
    WHAAAAAAT

    Compare to other editions:

    • Basic film: US$14.99 (10 DCPWH)
    • Deluxe Edition (film plus director’s commentary, 30 minutes of various interviews, full Jim Davis interview): US$19.99 (5.7 DCPWH)
    • Bonus Material 1 (Deluxe Edition plus 14 more interviews adding up to 16 hours): US$34.99 (2 DCPWH)
    • Bonus Material 2 (seven more interviews, including a nearly three hour extravaganza with Kurtz, Straub & Guigar, almost 12 hours inall): US$16 (1.3 DCPWH)

    Those numbers in parentheses after the prices are the dollar cost per watchable hours ratios; At US$40 and equal to the content of both Bonus Material packages, the SADE features almost 29 hours of video for less than 75 cents per hour. The only reason to hold off on this is if — like me — you hold out hope for a full release of all 300 hours of footage, in an Ultra Super Awesome Deluxe 75 disc boxed set.

  • Speaking of Brad Guigar (and honestly, why wouldn’t we speak of Brad Guigar?), if you’re like me you miss regular Guigar-heavy podcasts. Well, this is your lucky day, because the only thing better than a Guigar podcast is a multi-Guigar podcast:

    It’s official. The boys and I are podcasters. Subscribe to “Hey Comics — Kids!” on iTunes: http://ow.ly/BCMLv

    Everybody that always thought those other guys were holding Brad back during Webcomics Weekly, now’s your chance to swim in pure, uncut Guigar: Brad’s teamed up with his sons, Alex and Max, to talk about comics (or honestly, whatever pops into their heads … they are Guigars, after all) and they now have the imprimatur of Apple. Just listen carefully: science has hypothesized that if three or more Guigars end up in simultaneous laugh loops (click here, skip forward to the seven and a half minute mark, and glob have mercy), insanity may be the result.


Spam of the day:

Inspiring story there. What occurred after? Thanks!

nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd.

I’m sorry, what was the question?

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¹ The DRUGS/OTHER category featured a charge of one (1) dollar, and hell if I can figure out what it was for. I didn’t get any drugs. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the billing category that equates to you showed up in the ER and sat on a bed was the largest charge; the one that represented the PA fixed your damn-fool finger was a couple hundo less.

² Or 2.54 imperial crap-loads, if you prefer.

Minions, I Am Disappointed

Okay, there’s still a day left to cost me and Dave Kellett some money. If it wouldn’t be unethical as hell, I’d bid the damn thing up to somewhere in the US$500+ range. In fact, let’s make this game a little more interesting: I pledged to match the purchase price of this piece up to US$500. If this is what it takes to spur some of you to get in the spirit of things (only full cast of Drive watercolor in existence, people!), I’m going to change the terms of my pledge:

I, Gary Tyrrell, will match the selling price of Dave’s piece as a donation to Team Cul de Sac up to US$1000, and with a minimum of US$500 in any case

You can’t afford to bid on a piece that might cost you multiple hundreds of dollars? Pledge a donation — however small — in the comments. You’ll get a reward beyond measure: official mensch¹ status, as declared by Richard Thompson himself.

  • One of the things that I’ve observed with interest over the past few years is the (slow, but growing) adoption of writer’s rooms in webcomics. You could say that there’s an element of it at Cyanide & Happiness where it’s easy to imagine one of the lads bouncing an idea off another of them, but I think primarily it’s individual efforts. Anyplace you get a writer/artist partnership, there’s certainly give-and-take there.

    But I think you could probably trace proper writer’s rooms to the Pacific Northwest where (as often happens) you find Scott Kurtz at the center of experiments in webcomics. The Trenches started as an explicit writerly collaboration between Kurtz and the established duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins; along with the artist changes, the writer’s room reduced to a singular voice: that of Strip Searchmonaut Ty Halley. While he may have withdrawn from one writer’s room, Kurtz was busy building up another as Dylan Meconis² joined him on writing duties on PvP.

    Crucially, I think the fact that Meconis creates comics so very different from Kurtz is a strength of this particular partnership. While Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins undoubtedly work well together they have similar strip approaches (gag-oriented, videogame and pop culture focii) and that limits the number of additional viewpoints that can be brought to bear on the final product. One might wish to compare with the writer’s room that was put together for the now-shuttered NAMCO High, featuring a bunch of creators of different ages and backgrounds (although there was a tendency for them to presently live in Brookklyn).

    I’m bringing this up because for anybody that’s considering a writer’s room, finding that balance of different experiences is probably one of the most crucial elements for success, but historically it’s something that’s been elusive. The traditional venue for writer’s rooms has been TV comedy, and much has been written in the past about how those rooms tend to be dominated by white dudes, often from Ivy League colleges, and viciously under-representative of women and minorities.

    And all of that is by way of pointing out a discussion that anybody considering a writing partnership (whether in a room or not) will probably want to listen to: as I write this sentence, WNYC midday host Leonard Lopate is introducing the author of a new book on comedy writing to discuss writer’s rooms at places like SNL, Letterman, and The Onion. You can listen to the interview here, and we can discover together what makes a good writer’s room (or perhaps the discussion follows some other track, but it’ll probably still be enlightening).

  • Skin Horse, by Shaenon Garrity and C Jeffrey Wells, is in an odd semi-hiatus right now. Those of you paying attention may have noted that Garrity is (as of this writing), hugely pregnant and not intending to do a daily strip whilst dealing with the immediate aftermath of presenting a small human child to the world³.

    Having wrapped up a storyline on Saturday, she announced that she was done drawing comics for a while on Sunday, and the next storyline (a catch-up-with-peripheral-characters melange, to feature a variety of guest artists) started on Monday. And if my eye does not fool me, Garrity even provided the art for the first vignette herself (or somebody out there has her style down cold), easing us into a summer of random fun, with Wells undoubtedly shifting plot and pacing to best match the fill-in artists.

    And in one of those weird coincidences, today’s strip features an offhand reference to an obscure cryptid known as The Hodag, which by a peculiar corincidence just happens to be one of the critters mentioned in an endnote of Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell, to wit:

    In 1893, the Rhinelander Daily News reported the discovery of the corpse of a hideous creature with huge claws and a spiked tail. It’s discoverer, local land surveyor Eugene Shpher, called it the hodag, then claimed to have caught a live one in 1896. Shortly after, he displayed it at the First Oneida County Fair. He stood by the veracity of his claims until the Smithsonian Institution announced it would travel to Wisconsin to inspect the evidence, after which he promptly recanted. This ridiculous hoax is now the official symbol Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is pretty great.

    The more you know!

  • The last time David Malki ! thought up a game, it turned into a half million dollar Kickstarter and a year-plus process of production and fulfillment. This time, he’s just decided to put the damn thing up in a post and let you play without going down the path that leads to things like livestock and international shipping incidents.

Spam of the day:

Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!

Yeah, that’ll happen. My suggestion is that to avoid future trauma to unsuspecting and blameless hermit crabs, you seal your daughter in a barrel, with a small opening to pass in food and water.

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¹ For those of you that didn’t grow up someplace where you got off from school for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, being a mensch is a good thing.

² About whom it is literally impossible to say too many good things.

³ With, it should be noted, the assistance of husband and Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago.