The webcomics blog about webcomics

Returns And Launches

What a week, what a week. Let’s recap the things that have happened and call it.

  • This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip. Ray’s probably dealing with his hat guy to ensure he has the proper hat, and he and Beef are packing up the motorcycle and sidecar for the trip to The Acres.
  • The entirely delightful Rene Engström has, indeed, resurrected Anders Loves Maria with remastered art. Compare, if you will, the first two installments against the original version. There’s better pacing for the gag, better sense of space, better use of panel count and size to establish the time. There’s also — crucially — a shift from steam forming a heart in the original final panel to Maria looking gobsmacked. There’s an entirely different emotional payoff in this strip, a revision that could only come from a creator that is looking back with a better sense of who her characters are/were in hindsight, instead of just discovering them. I suspect the swing from idyllic love story to relationship trainwreck¹ and back again is going to have a different timbre (sometimes subtle, sometimes not) this time around. I’m looking forward to reading my favorite [SPOILER ALERT] ultimately heartbreaking story again for the first time.
  • Ian Jones-Quartey has been mentioned many times on this page; he is, perhaps, best known for his work on Steven Universe and other collaborations with Rebecca Sugar, but before that he did minis, animated and directed various shows (including The Venture Brothers and Adventure Time), did some kick-ass minicomics, and (oh yeah) a little thing called RPG World². He’s been back-and-forth with Cartoon Network with his own projects (such as Secret Mountain Fort Awesome), and reported been working on a secret project.

    That project has been revealed: CN has picked up his Lakewood Plaza Turbo not as a series, but as their first property outside of broadcast. Specifically, it’s the centerpiece of a mobile game, OK K.O.! Lakewood Plaza Turbo, and the start of an ambitious new direction for the media empire. Now follow me on this: if you’re a network that’s taking a big gamble, making a move that has not been made before by any network, you are not going to make your first project (the one that determines whether or not this gamble goes forward) on somebody you don’t have total confidence in.

    And that confidence appears to have been well placed, as OKKO!LPT currently scoring ratings of 4.5/5.0 on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. There’s probably no good way to determine how many times it’s been downloaded since launch yesterday, but given that the percentage of people that rate downloads is pretty low, having a few hundred (damn near universally positive) ratings in a day means it’s doing pretty well.

    This isn’t a one-off; it’s the start of a new business model for CN, and likely the start of a franchise for Jones-Quartey. Congrats to him, to his team, and to everybody that’s having fun beating stuff up in OKKO!LPT. And if you aren’t one of those people, let me point out that it’s free, so there’s nothing but download time keeping you from playing. You’re welcome.

  • In case you missed it, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin continued his How to curse in French lessons in yesterday’s comments. Don’t say we never taught you anything worthwhile.

Spam of the day:

Your website has to be the elcoertnic Swiss army knife for this topic.

I’m putting that on my next round of business cards.

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¹ Go back through the first run of ALM writeups on this page and you’ll see I spent plenty of time sniffly over those two crazy kids, and plenty of time wanting to boot one or both of them in the skull for being so stupid and cruel. Usually Anders, though — I suspect this time around the motivations for his behavior will be a little more emotionally deep and little less just him being a dick.

² Reminder that you do not ask Jones-Quartey when RPG World is getting finished. Every time he’s asked, he pushes the return date back another month (current estimate: February 2038).

Revisiting Some People We’ve Seen Before

But first, everybody knows that there’s a new Emily Carroll cartoon today, yes? I swear, each story that she puts out is somehow creepier than the one before, and Some Other Animal’s Meat is no exception. She gets more mileage out of one slightly wobbly line, one miniscule suggestion that Something Is Slightly Off (leading to the inevitable truth that Something Is Seriously Off And We’re All Screwed And/Or Doomed) than other horroristas get out of entire novels. 10/10 would be scared witless again.

  • It has been about ten months since we pointed you to the fact that Boum was translating her La Petite Révolution into English and running it two pages per week as a webcomic. A Small Revolution had its big gut-punch climax a couple of days back, but today is the day that it wraps up. There’s been plenty of downs and precious few ups along the way, but there’s an odd potential for hope at the end of the tale.

    Revolutions lead to struggle and strife and sacrifice and disquiet¹, trees watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants; yet this particular watering might just lead to a society where just waterings are no longer necessary². Maybe all that happened was one sufferer exacted a price from those that made her suffer. Read the whole thing through.

  • The Cartoon Art Musuem continues their cartoonist-in-residence program, as well as their new event-hosting partnership with the FLAX art & design retail concern at their location in the Fort Mason Center for Art & Culture. Specifically, they will be hosting Matt Harding on Saturday, 13 February, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm; the event is free and open to the public, and further details may be found here.
  • It’s been a year since Exploding Kittens launched its Kickstarter campaign that became one of the biggest crowdfund deals ever. Not much you can do to surpass that, so why not try? Today marks the launch (iPhone only, booo) of the slightly modified³ Exploding Kittens play-against-your-friends app, with all in-game purchases discounted down to zero for the next four days or so.

    The only way I can think to damage your friendships more than playing Exploding Kittens would be to do so on an app, or to take up Scrabble. Those of you with iDevices, give ‘er a look while those of us with Androids look on sorrowfully from outside in the cold and snow where we’ll die of misery. Have fun without us!


Spam of the day:

Directory of engineering programs available here! Start your search to earn a degree!

I’ve had an engineering degree for more than 25 years, Bunky.

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¹ And they aren’t revolutions until they do; cf: John Adams, on the Congress’s argument as to whether or not to be so rude as to refer to George III as a tyrant, This is a revolution, dammit! We’re going to have to offend somebody!

² I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine. John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, 12 May 1780

³ It lacks NOPE! functionality, booo.

Aaaannnd We’re Back

Sorry about that — the hosting facility that brings you Fleen was down from approximately 23:30 14 January (last Thursday) until 20:30 15 January (last Friday), and thus we weren’t able to update on Friday. It also appears that when the server came back, Thursday’s update was lost, meaning that news relating to my holy book, Abby Howard, the Cartoon Art Museum, and multiple creators whose comics are coming to film would be lost to the ages.

Except for VaultPress. Their service pings this page pretty much continuously, and when there are changes they are automatically recorded. It was the work of a moment to find the backup taken after Thursday’s update and to restore it to its proper place¹. Heck, as I am writing this the restored site and the draft that I am partway through writing are being backed up in case anything goes wrong again.

Honestly, if you run a WordPress install of any kind, you really should be using VaultPress (their simplest plans are five bucks a month; I pay ’em more for a greater degree of confidence and automation). They don’t pay me to say that, I just think that they’re a damn good service and worth every penny they charge.

  • Professional terrible person Karla Pacheco (she’s a lot of fun to drink with!) has a lot of irons in various fires: the most inappropriate children’s book ever, naughty, naughty pirates, and a vagabond lifestyle of boats and comics. In keeping her fans (I know! crazy!) up with the latter, she posted her convention schedule for 2016 and inadvertently let us all in on a key piece of information: TopatoCon 2016 will take place 22-23 October. Seriously, she even scooped TopatoCon’s own site on that one. Start making your plans for *hampton, MA in late October — the cocktail competition we had was such a hit, we’re sure to do a repeat variation of some kind.
  • We mentioned the Penny Arcade Kickstart to fund a live-action webseries of Automata, and in what’s nearly world lans speed record time for the entertainment industy², filming has gotten underway and they’ve shared with us costumed photos of their leads with bios.

    Given a series length of five episodes each at 10 – 12 minutes, principal filming may well be done in a week or so (it probably depends on complexity of locations and set dressing as much as anything). Then the long process of post-production and effects generation starts, but I’m guessing they may have rough footage to share at PAX South later this month and possibly a finished episode or two by PAX East in the spring.

  • The National Cartoonists Society is soliciting nominations for its various division awards, including (for the fifth year) those in the webcomics sphere. Deadline for nomination is 7 February and in the interests of disclosure I’m part of the consulting committee again this year and will be doing my best to make sure that the best work of the past year makes it to the final ballot.

    Like any institutional awards structure, the NCS division awards are not always going to go to what I personally think is the best work, and no winner is going to satisfy everybody (unless we manage to find the webcomics equivalent of Mad Max: Fury Road), but the odds are better when you participate. So if you can think of longform or shortform webcomics that did stellar work in calendar year 2015 that you think I might not have otherwise noticed, make with the comments.

For reals though, back up your shit³. Like, today.


Spams of the day:
Three messages, all coming from the same source (or at least, all claiming the same, likely bogus, contact address to stop being emailed, ha ha ha):

Is alcohol affecting your life? Search for rehab centers here
Senior Independent-Living May Be The Right Choice-For You
Are you in need of – treatment for an addiction

So apparently I’m in the throes of alcohol use disorder and need treatment and/or a stint in a rehab center, preferably one catering to still-active senior citizens. I can’t wait to figure out what combination of click-tracking led them to that conclusion, but it’s probably somehow Facebook’s fault. Fucking Facebook.
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¹ Okay, it took a moment to find the appropriate backup, about 15 minutes to completely restore the site to the appropriate point in time, and about 2 minutes more to fix the header image.

² Seriously, if this was done through the Hollywood studio system, midlevel executives would still be holding cocaine-and-hookers “meetings” to figure out exactly how much they could pad the production budget to cover cocaine and hookers.

³ To quote the oh-so-quotable R Stevens: I named my hard drive DAT ASS so I remember to always back it up.

The Good News Is, I’m A Customer Service Ninja

Ten ninjas, even. Through a combination of patience, taking names, insisting politely on being referred to supervisors, patience, refusing to accept a disconnect or promise of a call back, and patience, I have penetrated to the fabled fourth tier of Verizon customer support¹ and am in the channel to talk to somebody at the policy level.²

But my DSL is still borked. Since Sunday afternoon (when I was told things would be fixed in 24-48 hours; we’re now at 72 and counting) I’ve been capped at approximately 2585kbps, and for periods of time I’m down to actual, literal double digit numbers of “k”. The only thing missing from this late-80s early-90s experience is the shrieking modem handshake sound³. Oh, and the original problem, the one that keeps mutating into worse problems, is still there. Fun!

So I’m not real up on webcomics at the moment. Please take some time to enjoy this latest Channel 58 spookathon from Kris Straub, which looked very spooky and creepy except everything is buffering and that is the absolute destroyer of mood and suspense. But it’s Straub, so it’s creepy, I can tell you that on faith alone.


Spam of the day:

Travel in Style! Amazing-Priced Private-Jet Flights.

Maybe if I win the Powerball tonight (not that I’ve bought a ticket or anything).

______________
¹ Which is actually a contract shop in the Philippines.

² And if that doesn’t work, I have tracked down the Verizon exec in charge of consumer business to a public social media account.

³ Kids, ask your parents, or click here.

In Non-Paris Desk News

There were a few other things (some of which got displaced by yesterday’s dumbassery) so let’s talk about them, yes?

  • Jess Fink has finished — for the second time, no less — the ongoing story of Chester 5000 and the people who built him, love him, and love each other. It started off as straight Victorian robo-erotica (that old saw) way the heck back in 2008 but quickly became something more. It wasn’t just about heaving bosoms sprung free of corsets and a startling array of gadgets put to increasingly hot use; it was about neglect and jealousy and absorption and fury and reconciliation and forgiveness — it was about love.

    And then in 2011, Fink went back and told both what came before and what’s happened since the original run of Chester; subtitled Isabelle and George, it dealt with the characters in even greater depth, added a dash of adventure and vengeance, and gave us a better idea of who these people (Chester himself appears less and less as the story goes along) really are. It’s full of heart, completely lacking in dialogue, and immediately engrossing. Not to mention hotter than hell. Thanks for letting us ride along for the last 300 or so pages, Jess. Here’s hoping that we get a print collection of Isabelle and George to go alongside the first Chester collection.

  • We mentioned not too long ago the Voltron-like collaboration of KC Green and Shmorky to make some animated bumpers for [adult swim]. Via Shmorky, we now have a collection of GIF clips from the other bumpers (ten in all), which are conveniently collected for your viewing pleasure at NerdSpan
  • From the Big Damn Numbers department, today is as good as day as any to declare an end to Child’s Play 2015; per the CP site (which hasn’t changed for the past couple of days), the lifetime fundraising total for the campaign sits at a little north of forty million damn dollars. Taking into account data from previous years, the history of Child’s Play looks like:

    2003: $250,000
    2004: $310,000
    2005: $605,000
    2006: $1,024,000
    2007: $1,300,000
    2008: $1,434,377
    2009: $1,780,870
    2010: $2,294,317
    2011: $3,512,345
    2012: $5,085,761
    2013: $7,600,000
    2014: $8,430,000
    2015: $6,438,053
    Total as of 7 January 2016, the arbitrary end of CPXIII: $40,064,723

    So, in case you were wondering what it looks like when Child’s Play doesn’t raise more than the prior year, it looks like they still raised almost six and a half million. If that counts as failure, we could all use some more failure in our lives and endeavours.

  • New show alert: Pat Race, the never-still creative force behind Alaska Robotics, has with some partners brought a bunch of indy/web comics types up to Juneau, Alaska for talks, cultural events, and meet & greets; word on the street is that the creators have had a fabulous time, and the denizens of America’s least-accessible capital city have enjoyed ’em even more. So how to top a record like that? With a mini-con, naturally:

    I’m very happy to announce Alaska Robotics Mini-Con, a festival and artist camp taking place right here in Juneau from April 22-26th.

    Aaron, Lou and I have been hosting guest artists for several years through our work at the Alaska Robotics Gallery and JUMP Society as well as through partnerships with other non-profit organizations like the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries. We’ve also spent many years attending and exhibiting at comic conventions and arts festivals. Encouraged by those wonderful experiences, we decided it was time for us to host our own tiny comic convention and artist getaway.

    I hesitate to even use the phrase “comic convention” when describing the event but those who have attended such things know that the term has grown to include a much more broad collection of pop and contemporary arts, games, music and more. We’re planning to embrace the spirit of those outside conventions but provide a far more down-to-earth, Southeast Alaska experience.

    The draft schedule calls for a one-day public event on Saturday, 23 April, followed by a two day artists camping retreat with a limited number of attendee slots — applications will open on 18 January. Look for a roster of guests in the near term but for now, if this sounds like fun, I’d say start looking into transport to Juneau before knowing the lineup; the on-faith, camping-centric thing works for MaxFunCon, and it ought to work as well for ARMCon. Given the talent that Race has attracted to Juneau in the past — Kate Beaton, Vera Brosgol, Dylan Meconis & Katie Lane — I’d bet on there being some killer guests hanging ’round the campfire under the northern lights.


Spam of the day:

Reverse your Blood Pressure in only 7 Days

If I reverse my blood pressure, doesn’t that make my entire cardiovascular system collapse? That doesn’t sound good. Then again, this particular bit of sparkling medical science (featuring the obligatory one weird food) came from an actual email address that I swear I am not making up: Dr. Dave <cretin @[redacted].date>. That’s just beautiful.

Old Familiar Faces

If you’re a reader of Randy Milholland’s Something*Positive (and if you aren’t, what the hell is wrong with you?), you may recognize that combination of words. Old Familiar Faces is the name that Milholland gives to miscellaneous strips, not following regular characters and plotlines, that he runs at the end of the calendar year or running over into the beginning of the next year — a palette cleanser of people we see only rarely¹ (and Silas). He’s done this thirteen times so far.

We’re about to hit fourteen:

S*P Year 14 will end Wednesday. Related, my comic will be 14 years old tomorrow.

If you’d told me back in the early days of 2002 (I started reading not long after Choo-Choo Bear was introduced; he’s now nearly 39 years old and still thriving) that Something*Positive would not only survive this long, but be the most heartfelt, heartbreaking, ideal example of what living, breathing (and sometimes dying) characters in a long-running comic could be, I wouldn’t have believed you. Surely not that marvelously nasty, sarcasm-laden bit of nihilistic joy and cruelty to all (friends and enemies alike, but especially friends).

But something happened along the way. It’s become a continuity strip of the sort that almost existed on the comics page. Mostly, continuity strips change very slowly, with every plotline essentially resetting back to baseline. Kids might be born, but they’ll take decades to age a year. You saw a more realistic approach to the passage of time in, say, For Better or For Worse, but the reset-to-baseline tendency was always going to win². Don’t even get me started on Funky Winkerbean³.

No, if there’s a predecessor to Something*Positive, it’s probably Doonesbury; characters we started with become less relevant each year, as their younger friends, new lovers, and children (some of which we’ve seen since birth) become the centers of story and strip. Only Uncle Duke and Choo-Choo Bear will always be there.

So happy early strippiversary, Randy; I’d guess that you didn’t think you’d still be doing this either. May your characters grow and change and live their lives (until they don’t) for exactly as long as you have these stories to tell.

Speaking of old familiar faces, KC Green dropped a bombshell on the world last night:

ah heck, heres da scoop: shmorky and i are making adult swim ID shorts out of old gunshow strips

just 10 right now including “this is fne” which is what they wanted first. short bumpers for tv and online

.@sashmorky is knockin em out of the park with animating them. and i got to work with @danasnyder for doing a voice also

I’ll let you guys in on a secret: I’ve seen one of these, the famous This Is Fine. I’ve see it with KC doing the voice on a scratch track, and Dana Snyder (Master Shake, Al the Alchemist) doing the final voice. It’s glorious work that Shmorky did on the animation, a perfect match to Green’s comic sensibilities.

Kudos to [adult swim] for seeking out the actual creator of This Is Fine instead of treating it as a spontaneously-generated meme that nobody originally thought up (maybe they could do dickbutt next). Further kudos for finding an animator that would do Green’s work justice. Can’t wait to see the other nine bumpers online, and on my electric teevee machine.


Spam of the day:

McDonalds releases a new healthier menu! Try it now with this $100 Gift!

I can’t even being to fathom what a hundo of McDonald’s foodlike product would look like. Pass.

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¹ Consider the most recent OFF strip, wherein we re-meet a character we hadn’t seen since strip #2.

² Nobody escapes home and family and you will marry your high school sweetheart and/or buy the house you grew up in. Only roadside whores ever left town.

³ Wherein you will return to your hometown and stay in the high school orbit forever, or at least until you’ve passed your existential misery onto the next generation and die.

From cancer.

And Further Still

Continuing from yesterday, The AV Club has more comics that they want you to know about, this time of graphic novels, one-shots, and archive-style reprints.

Webcomics types recognized include Lucy Knisley (for Displacement), EK Weaver (for the omnibus edition of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, published by Spike’s Iron Circus Comics), Ron Wimberly (for Lighten Up, originally published at The Nib and reprinted in Eat More Comics), the various contributors to The Nib (for Eat More Comics, which some would consider redundant with the last item, but Wimberly’s piece was good enough to be called out on its own), Noelle Stevenson (for — do we really need to remind you? — Nimona), and Kate Beaton (for Step Aside, Pops).

That’s more than a quarter of this list of 25, which combined with yesterday’s haul comes to just about 30% of the 50 comics recognized. Well done, all ’round.

  • And while we’re running down lists of immensely skilled creators, Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett has released a new list of contributors to his Tales of the Drive shared-universe series. If I recall correctly, we knew that Zach Weinersmith was going to be doing a story, and that Ryan North would be writing one.

    Not sure if we knew that North’s artist would be Tony Cliff, and it’s definitely news that Karl Kerschl (ooh!), Jeph Jacques (I hope it’s about AI rights), Lar deSouza (due can draw anything), Meredith Gran (is there a Brooklyn in the Second Spanish Empire?), and Evan Dahm (dude can draw non-humans better’n anybody) will be contributing. I figure that’s enough to cover then next couple of years and make one hell of a print collection.

  • News of all the announced contributors to the revived MST3K has set my head a-spinning. I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore MiSTie, but I love this tendency we seem to have these days where enormously creative people in one field seem to gravitate towards enormously creative people in other fields, like a post-millenial version of the Algonquin Round Table, with less emphasis on the literary and possibly even more drinking.

    Just look at the list! Pendleton Ward! Rebecca and Steven Sugar! Adam frickin’ Savage! I saw on another list that Paul and Storm would be part of the project, and of course we’ve got Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt — the cross-pollination of pure imagination is going to be a wonder to behold. It’s something we spoken about here in the past, where a creator need not be just one kind of creator for their entire career, and I think it means we’re in for a golden age of guerrilla entertainment.


No good spam today. Maybe Monday.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Today’s a challenge, tomorrow likely moreso. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Saturday at 7:00pm, http://www.carminestreetcomics.com/ in the West Village (New York City, dontcha know) will be launching a speaking series (to run on the third Saturday of the month), and is kicking things off with Meredith Gran headlining what looks to be a fascinating evening on the theme of Identity.

    I wasn’t familiar with Carmine Street Comics, which is unsurprising as its site describes itself as the newest comic book store in the oldest part of New York City; it’s also described as being a combined shop/open comics studio, which sounds really neat. Those of you not getting the hell out of New York early for [American] Thanksgiving, I’d recommend this event highly.

  • It’s been about three months since the SyFy Network/Candle Cove deal was announced, and comes today the news that SyFy has committed to a pretty decent show order:

    Syfy Greenlights Two Seasons of Horror Anthology Series ‘Channel Zero’ http://bit.ly/1j7Ta8S

    To be clear, Channel Zero will feature a different storyline each of those two seasons, and Candle Cove will only be the first season, but that’s still six episodes, which are slated to run in conjunction with Octoberween 2016. Start getting your Candle Cove-themed Twitter avatars ready, it’s gonna be a creepy ride.

  • I know that a lot of you don’t remember where you were 30 years ago today (I was a college freshman, so getting ready for finals in Calculus I, Chemistry I, Comedy¹, and Military History²), but on that day Calvin and Hobbes. Heck, a significant number of you may not remember where you were when C&H wrapped after ten years.

    Anyway, it was a magical time of comics, perhaps the high point of the form: Bloom County was still a couple of years from its decline and retirement; The Far Side was at its peak; even Peanuts was sharper and funnier than it had been for about 15 years. Much has been written of Bill Watterson and his most famous creation; it’s hard to think of a more influential example of pure strip cartooning on everybody engaged in [web]comics today.

    There are tributes everywhere you look, but the one I found most edifying is at Sketchd, by David Harper, with contributions from Kazu Kibuishi, Michael Cho, Skottie Young, and others. Read it, and maybe enjoy a nice tuna fish sandwich while you’re at it.


Spam of the day:

Nancys Desperate Fight to Cure Alzheimers disease over?

I think the Nancy they’re referring to is Nancy Reagan, in which case it appears that even paranoid nutjob Obama-disliking spammers are acknowledging that we had a symptomatic Alzheimer’s patient in the Oval Office for at least four years.

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¹ As opposed to Tragedy; we started with Aristophanes and Plautus, lots of the ruder Shakespeare, took a detour through Moliere and Shaw and Feydeau, and ended up with Bringing Up Baby and Animal House. Big props to Dr Parshall, who really cemented my love of literature.

² My college weaseled out of requiring a phys ed class by instead requiring two ROTC courses (Military History, Organizational Leadership) that were each one credit and pretty much impossible not to get an A in. It also meant that every freshman was technically enrolled as a cadet in the US Army, which means I have a DoD personnel record somewhere.

Rassa-Frassin’ DSL Goin’ Out

All of a sudden, no network at home for any of the devices, wired or WiFi; reboot the modem, it would come back for about 30 seconds and then disappear. This sort of thing has happened four times in the past, and it’s always been traced to somebody in billing at my DSL provider¹ deciding to switch me to a different circuit further away from my house and crapifying my signal.

Today, however, the tech support drone decides it’s my modem and I need a new one. This declaration came:

  1. Just as my signal cleared up and got stable again, which coincided with
  2. Me finishing describing my problem, and
  3. Reading off the serial number of my modem, which to be fair is sorta old

So I’m gonna get a new modem because it’s probably time and a new one hopefully has a more securely patched chipset inside.

But I’m still pissed off because tech support drone told me he could offer me a US$20 discount on a $US59.99 modem, for a total of US$49.99. I pointed out his math was dodgy. He told me he could give me another discount on a different network plan. I used some bad words internally and told him to just send me the damn thing. No email confirming the order yet either, which absolutely guaranteed means he spelled my name wrong in the email address.

How’s your day going? Let’s talk about something more pleasant.

We mentioned the somewhat circuitous nature of film options last week in the context of Ursula Vernon² and Hamster Princess, noting that just because an option’s been obtained doesn’t mean anything is happening soon. I think the land speed record for option ==> movie in comic land is Scott Pilgrim, and even that took about 3-4 years³. I bring this all up because of some immensely good news that broke yesterday:

Looks like the news is out: Amulet will be a live-action movie, hopefully a series. Looking forward to this. http://deadline.com/2015/11/amulet-kazu-kibuishi-fox-temple-hill-graphic-novel-1201617398/ …

Firstly, there couldn’t be a better property to make a movie out of than Amulet, and live action is going to rule; congrats to Kazu Kibuishi and all his collaborators. Secondly, this did not happen overnight. One may recall (if one has a sufficient memory) that the option for Amulet was first obtained in 2008 (when the plan was for Will Smith to produce and his kids to star).

The Deadline story describes this in terms of X will happen, but so did the Variety story from 2008, so either this is Amulet moving to the next stage of production (which may falter or progress, we’ll all see together), or maybe it’s not closer to being a movie than it was eight and a half years ago. It’s definitely a paycheck for Kibuishi (the 2008 announcement was at Warner Bros and this one is at Fox, so the old option expired, a new one was obtained, and Kazu gets to do the I got paid twice happy dance), so that’s all right.

Thirdly, note the use of the word franchise in that story; with the right cast, the right director, and the right vision, this could be the next Harry Potter. That being said, if some studio dipshit decides that a girl can’t be the central character and changes Emily to a boy, I’m burning down Hollywood, so you best respect the source material, Fox. I’ve got my eye on you. In the meantime, I’ll be over here waiting for the seventh volume of Amulet, due in Feburary.

Okay, going to wrap it here, on the off chance that my network gets stupid again. See you tomorrow, I hope.


Spam of the day:

Predicted In The Sacred Book of Revelation – Obama’s Deadly Curse The massive downfall that willwipe out 49 out of 50 American states … And unfortunately you won’t make it out alive, because what’s coming has the devil sign on it.

Since I won’t make it out alive, I suppose I’ll spend my time wondering which is the heaven-blessed 50th state that survives. I hope it’s something completely unexpected, like Rhode Island, or maybe just the upper peninsula of Michigan.

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¹ Rhymes with Morizon.

² Reminder: I loves me some Digger

³ Unless you want to count The Martian as comic land due to Any Weir’s history as a webcomicker. Bit of a stretch, actually.

Somewhat Less Frantic Than Yesterday, Thanks

You’d think after doing this for nearly 10 years, I’d have a better feel for when work was gonna get in the way. Then again, my match says this is the 2663rd posting I’ve made on this here blog, meaning I’ve posted about 73% of the days since launch, so I’m not gonna beat myself up too much over it. Here’s that big news that I promised you.

  • I’m assuming that you’ve all seen the big interview with Kate Beaton running at The Comics Journal? It was started at SPX (a place as formative to Kate Beaton, Internet Cartoonist as Cape Breton is to Kate Beaton, Alive Human) and gives a nice recap of how she simultaneously got to be the favorite cartoonist of those who love comics and those who are completely indifferent to comics.

    Personally, I was struck by how things happened for Beaton both very quickly and very slowly — she bounced around between the Maritimes, Vancouver, the Alberta tar sands, and Toronto, becoming a huge deal in webcomics circles while simultaneously isolated from the community. The success of her first pieces of merchandise brought her quickly to full-time pro status, but at the same time she went back to Fort McMurray and the tool crib to retire student loan debt. She exploded in popularity at that time, with her ballpoint-on-printer-paper drawings¹ — uploaded at night from the middle of an environmental moonscape — capturing something in all our hearts, and then found herself an Official Big Deal with her return to the faster pace of metropolitan life.

    See also: her entry into childrens books took a couple of years from suggestion to pitch to launch, and some of her best work comes about from leaving the speed of urban life for the sedate pace of Nova Scotia (cf: any of her family comics). She’s a pile of contradictions, then; she contains multitudes, all of them funny, insightful, charming, adorable. Go read it.

  • The other big news I wanted to make sure you all saw came from The Hollywood Reporter; it’s been a while since Ursula Vernon did webcomics on the regular², what with all the kids lit she’s writing, and the modern takes on fairy tales and fantasy, and the podcasting on disturbing events/disturbing food, and all the rest. So maybe you didn’t notice that one of her books got optioned for film by an obscure sometimes voice actor:

    Disney has optioned the movie rights to Castle Hangnail, a children’s book by Ursula Vernon, for an adaptation to be produced by Ellen DeGeneres.

    So that’s all right. As noted on this page on several previous occasions, an option doesn’t mean that Vernon is now rolling in huge piles of money; it doesn’t even mean that a movie will get made anytime soon or at all. Lots of things can happen between now and some nebulous point in the future, particularly if Degeneres and Disney decide to go the animated route ’cause dang, that takes time. But it means that Vernon’s more on the radar of the deep-pocketed entertainment industry, that other studios may try to lock up rights to her other works in case Castle Hangnail becomes a monster hit, and each of those things means the possibility of less financial wobbliness than is usually found in the indy comics/indy writer career path.

    Vernon celebrated the announcement by welcoming a new rescued dog into her household and threatening a hack webcomics pseudojournalist who smarted off at her on Twitter. Honestly, she’s probably happier about identifying a new moth in her garden than anything else in the last week, which means she’s unlikely to go the coke and hookers route of other suddenly successful people; Fleen congratulates Vernon on not letting Hollywood change her.


Spam of the day:

****Second email notice***** Sequel to your non response of our earlier letter sent by post to you by to you on behalf of the Trustees and Executors of the Estate of our late client.

Been getting a lot more of these scams lately; bonus points for this actually being a second email and being signed by the same fake lawyer (who claims to be from Zurich but has a Russian character in the middle of his Germanic name and give a UK phone number).

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¹ As Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, her choice of topic (literature, history), posting schedule (irregular), posting location (Livejournal), and drawing materials should have killed any chance of success, but her style, humo[u]r, and raw skill overcame those presumed handicaps.

² As always, I loves me some Digger.