The webcomics blog about webcomics

Although I Should Point Out That This Changes Nothing I Wrote Yesterday

It appears that come June, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will have to go vagabond for while, as it is being forced by circumstance to find a new location:

Following a notice to vacate, the Cartoon Art Museum will be closing its doors at 655 Mission Street on Sunday, June 28, 2015. The museum, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, began preparing several months ago for a possible relocation and will now continue those efforts in search of temporary gallery space as well as a new long-term home.

Well, poop. For those that haven’t had the pleasure, CAM is a great museum that puts up some great shows, and I imagine that at least half the effort of finding new space will be to find an appropriate place to keep and protect their collection — from the Smithsonian on down to the smallest, museums have more in storage than on display.

This has the unfortunate effect of making museum spaces expensive, what with requiring specific climate parameters to keep the collection from damage plus requiring nice, spacious, well-lit, and transformable space for all the public aspects. And San Francisco is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, which likely contributed to the requirement to move; no doubt their landlord can make a boatload of money by chopping up the space into fancy retail, restaurant, and/or residential units.

So if anybody wins the lottery and doesn’t have anything better to do with a couple-ten million dollars (or even just a couple of bucks), you can contribute to CAM’s capital campaign.

In better news:

  • KC Green let us know that his various comics projects might be a little less regular than expected for a month or so, for what I would call excellent reasons:

    I am doing a freelance gig with Adventure Time the cartoon series that will take up more than most of my time. Maybe. I am preparing you in case I miss an update or two. Just for the month. I suddenly have a lot of things I am doing at once and a plate or two might fall. Nothing serious tho, we can glue the plate back together.

    I can’t wait to see what a Green-designed or inspired episode of Adventure Time would look like, and on top of that, the Weird Al-edited issue of MAD due out next week (#533, if you’re keeping track) will include laugh-chuckles from KC, which means that Weird Al saw his comics and liked them. I believe that is the definition of professional validation.

  • Speaking of KC Green, he was the first announced guest of TopatoCon, which has made its latest pair of guest announcements:

    *holds out fists* ok pick a hand

    Left, you say?

    Or did you say right?

    For those that didn’t click through, those tweets led to the names of Danielle Corsetto and David Malki !. The full list of guests is behind the cut.

  • Still speaking of KC, he appears as a computer-generated pal for you (at least, a person named KC, along with other suspiciously webcomics-associated names as Sara, Anthony, Holly, Eliza, Frank, Becky, Tony, Karla, Erika, Jess, Eric, Kate, and more) in the latest Twine game from Tom McHenry, the man responsible for teaching us all the mastery of horses.

    Let’s Go Eat is a (specific type not stated, but pretty clearly comics) convention simulator wherein you must wrangle a crowd of people to dinner, when everybody has preferences and dislikes and it is possible to have your group break up due to hunger, impatience, attrition, and actual starvation death. It is absolutely 100% true to life and I encourage everybody to play it to learn why your favorite creators are that way by the end of the day.

  • We’ll finish out the week on a logistical and oddly KC-less note; the following comment was received on the last post I made about an arts space losing its location (way the heck back on Tuesday), regarding a bit of spam and not being able to find the contact page:

    To be fair to the spammer, I did use that Contact Us link on two different occasions the past few months, with no indication that anything had happened.

    Duly noted, and thanks for letting us know, Andrew; in the meantime, you can always reach me by utilizing the name gary, which is reachable at the name of this here site. I’m still not apologizing to that spamming bastard, though.


Spam of the day:

Helklo there, You have done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest too my friends.

Honest question: is Digg still a thing? I’m not sure it’s a thing.

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Well, Dammit

Just yesterday I was raving about the gallery/event space known as Center 548, site of this year’s MoCCA Festival in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, and how I hoped the Society of Illustrators had found a new, permanent home for the show. Turns out, nope:

Sad news for anybody who is currently enjoying MoCCA’s new location https://news.artnet.com/art-world/owne…

In case you didn’t click that link, the owners of the building has sold out to a new landlord who intends to — wait for it — build condos, or so say the rumors. I’m sure somebody will be making a buttload of money off the deal, and while I’ve only ever been in that space on one day of its entire existence, the continual repurposing of NYC real estate into high-priced residences is something that will set off another cycle of decline in the city if the real estate industry isn’t very careful.

It’s happened before, as the city became too expensive and people moved away; pretty soon there’s nobody to cook and clean for the owners of those multi-million dollar residences, or to make their coffee or deliver their dry cleaning. Then the super rich all decide to leave, the neighborhood falls into underuse, and then the artists and squatters move back in. Cue one of those Disney songs about eternal circles of real property valuation. Thanks to Darryl Ayo for digging up the story.

  • Welp, regardless of what happens with arts happenings in New York, there’s still going to be a TopatoCon in *hampton Mass this fall, and the exhibitor list grows by the day:

    Can you guess who the next guest announcement is? I’ll give you a hint; his name rhymes with “Schmanthony Slark”.

    I’m going to throw another guest announcement at you. Go long!

    IT’S CHRIS HASTINGS! @drhastings IS GOING TO BE AT TOPATOCON!!

    The complete list as it now stands is under the cut.

  • That’s moving fast — Howard Tayler¹ has been making noise about launching a Kickstarter to fund a role-playing game set in his comic’s universe, and in the hours since launch it’s racked up 66% of of a US$45,000 goal. Not so unusual, but these things are unusual: the US$30K he’s gathered so far is from just 300 backers, for an average of a hundo per; he’s logged eight backers (out of total limit of 15) across two US$500 tiers, and five (out of a limit of 10) backers at the US$1000 (!) tier. People love them some games, but even more love them some Howard. No idea where this is going but I suspect all my predictive models would be garbage given the obvious skew going on.
  • How about a simple Kickstarter story? It’s been a while since we had one of thems. Dave Kellett has decided to celebrate the first anniversary of his film, STRIPPED (funded via Kickstarts), with a sale. Until 17 April, you can get the movie and bonus features for 50% off. If you didn’t see it before, see it now.

Spam of the day:

Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send yyou an e-mail.

Yeah, it would be that thing under the masthead on the right that says CONTACT US, can’t imagine how anybody’s ever found it ever.

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¹ Evil twin, etc.

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Patreonage, Announcements, And New Things

We’re headed in several different directions today. It’s an adventure!

  • I need to start this first item with a disclaimer, and ask you to believe that while I would have certainly written about this regardless, how I learned about the item in question may give the appearance of a quid pro quo. Leaving aside all the roundabout verbiage, David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator) emailed me over the weekend with an extraordinarily generous offer — an original strip from his always-amusing Planet Of Hats, my choice, gratis.

    He mentioned that I should look over the list of available strips to see if the one I wanted¹ was available or taken, as he’d launched a Patreon and top contributors could call dibs on a strip. Which is how I learned that David Morgan-Mar, the man who started webcomicking a month before Ryan North, the man who famously has not sought to turn his thousands (to potentially infinite number) of strips into anything resembling a career and does this for fun (his own and his audience’s) had started a Patreon to defray the costs associated with all of his internet-shared japery.

    I’ll note that his campaign has the lowest milestone goals I’ve yet seen on a Patreon — ten dollars a month² to cover the costs of pens and paper, $35/month for hosting and registration on all of his sites (ten in all), $50/month to get one new LEGO brand construction brick toy-based Irregular Webcomic strip a week, and $75/month for two new strips a week.

    Guys, this is chump change, and please believe me when I say that a) we would be having this conversation with or without Morgan-Mar’s incredibly generous gift, and b) that after putting in what I’d estimate to be literal tens of thousands of hours on his various comics, this is just about the very least he could be asking for in way of audience support. His has been the most one-way transaction of laugh-chuckles in the history of webcomics; it’s time he was shown how much he’s appreciated.

  • Still on Patreon for a moment as I’d like to point out another act of incredible generosity by a webcomicker, and with a far greater impact on somebody’s life than some free artwork. Chris Rusche hit some tough times in his personal life last year, and his readers urged him to set up a Patreon so as to offer support — which enabled him to make his comic his main gig, and not coincidentally allow him to care for his kids (one of whom has a chronic health condition).

    So when Rusche saw another artist in similar circumstances whose tablet blew up over on Patreon, he organized his readers to resolve that and has been pushing as much attention towards her campaign as he can. The beneficiary of this kindness is Ginny Higerd, whose work you can find here; she may need to add a few more high-end milestone goals, seeing as how all the existing ones have now been filled. And kudos to Rusche, for using his powers (and followers) for Good and for Awesome.

  • Speaking of using your powers for good, yesterday Jon Rosenberg and family were returning from a Florida vacation when they were involved in a multi-car collision. All are unhurt, thankfully, but at last report the Rosenbergs were trapped in a Denny’s in South Carolina, which is far from the best Denny’s to be at without good transportation options. Maybe this would be a good time to look at his Patreon?
  • The list of confirmed TopatoCon 2015 guests now stands at four, with KC Green, Jeph Jacques, and Jess Fink now joined by Tom Siddell (who you can also see at this weekend’s MoCCA Fest alongside Magnolia Porter). And since we’re mentioning Siddell, I want to particularly congratulate him on his current story arc, which has me twisted up in knots, anticipating each new installment, even as he puts our main character through the wringer.

    It’s a masterful job of storytelling, causing an emotional response where I’m feeling protective of Annie, outraged on her behalf, and find my visceral loathing of her until-now-absent father growing by the day. It’s been ten years that we’ve been following Annie’s story and I’m well-invested in her narrative. Story threads that have been woven over that decade are being violently disrupted, and making the agent of all this upending be the person that should be apologizing to Annie (for his sudden and prolonged absence, particularly when he most needed her) is a bold stroke.

    But seriously — Anthony Carver is a jerk, fuck that guy, I also hope he gets laser-cowed.

  • New strip alert! Otaku Dad looks to be hilarious, which is hardly a surprise as it’s coming from Ronny Filyaw of Whomp!; just one page and a cover so far, but the premise in that one page is delicious.
  • Live action Automata, possibly under production as soon as the fall and released next year? Intriguing.

Spam of the day:

Hi my name is Janette and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you.

a) It is very unlikely that is your name, and b) people that call me are subject to significant levels of verbal abuse. I once reduced a I am calling from Microsoft Technical Support, we have detected a virus on your computer to a frothing rage. Then again, it’s pretty easy to provoke that when you study the work of the master.

_______________
¹ Which presented a dilemma — which episode of Star Trek would make the best fodder for a humorous piss-take? Something intentionally silly like Planet Of The Gansters A Piece of the Action? Something no-doubt well-intentioned but more than a litte train-wrecky, like Planet Of The Primitive Blonde Americans (Not Native Americans, They Get An Episode Next Season) And Yellow Peril Communist Stereotypes The Omega Glory? Something well-intentioned and a bit heavy-handed but not entirely train-wrecky like Racism Is Bad, Mmmkay? Let That Be your Last Battlefield? Something completely off-the-rails insane like Space Hippies Don’t Like Herbert The Way To Eden? Coming near the end of Trek’s run, Morgan-Mar’s skills ought to be nicely sharpened by the time that one comes up in the rotation. Ultimately, I went with a strip yet to be drawn — the ur-Planet Of story — one which should sum up everything in SF’s tendency towards every planet is just one thing: Planet Of The Nazis Patterns of Force.

² I’m assuming ten US dollars a month, since Patreon in a US-based company, but don’t discount that he’s looking for ten Australian dollars, which would be about seven and a half American at today’s exchange rates.

April Non-Fools

Okay, one April Fools, because Emily Carroll’s work is too spooky for some people, she made the ending of her critically- and popularly-acclaimed His Face All Red less mysterious and spooky.

  • Congrats to the nominees in the NCS division awards for long- and short form webcomics. Repeat nominee (and past winner) Vince Dorse for the now-concluded Untold Tales of Bigfoot; Harvey- and Eisner laureate Mike Norton for Battlepug, and Minna Sundberg for Stand Still, Stay Silent are showing the world what you can do with long form, and Danielle Corsetto’s just-concluded Girls With Slingshots, Jonathan Lemon’s Rabbits Against Magic, and Rich Powell’s Wide Open are the esteemed representatives of the short form.

    I should also mention that in other categories — graphic novel, gag cartoons, editorial cartoons — you’ve got indy- and webcomics types like Jen Sorensen, Jillian Tamaki, Mike Maihack, and Liza Donnelly recognized; between that, and seeing the animation categories recognize The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Song of the Sea, and Over the Garden Wall, it appears that new, bold works are getting their due consideration. I’m not a member of the NCS, but I’m pulling for Sundberg and Corsetto over in webcomics; best of luck to all the nominees. The NCS awards will be handed out at the NCS Reubens Weekend in Washington, DC, Memorial Day Weekend.

  • Congratulations as well to Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh for wrapping up Lucky Penny yesterday. It’s been a goodly while since Johnny Wander was an autobio/diary strip, and while we’re going to be getting strips about Ota’s trip to Japan in 2014, I doubt it will ever entirely be autobio again. Nevertheless, Lucky Penny was a damn good read, and the fact that it got completed despite Ota’s frequent wrist impairments¹ is a monument to either work ethic or stubbornness to the point of insanity. Read it again from the beginning, and look for it in print when it’s released.
  • The first guest of TopatoCon 2015 has been announced and it’s all-around great cartoonist KC Green, whose new comic (on which we speculated yesterday), He Is A Good Boy, is a now running and hitting on all the familiar Greenian themes — a semi-likeable protagonist, the requirement to grow up despite the desire for things to stay the same, a deep ambivalence (bordering on loathing) about things staying the same, and sudden outbursts of profane (yet I suspect utterly earned) fury. Oh, and the main character is an acorn who doesn’t want to go plant himself. It’s gonna be a good one, folks.
  • Zach Weinersmith has his hand in so many projects it’s tough to keep up, but one that he keeps circling back around to is BAHFest — the Festival of Bad Ad-Hoc Hypotheses — which aids the cause of science literacy by getting science types to laugh at themselves before going back out to show the world what is and what is not science.

    Weinersmith will be talking to public radio’s Science Friday this Friday about BAHFest, which is sure to be the most amusing segment until this year’s coverage of the IgNobel Awards. Check here for local NPR stations, and then with that local station to see if they run the show live 2:00pm-4:00pm EDT; alternately you can listen to SciFri segments at their website following the broadcast, or via iTunes.

  • Some day, Randall Munroe may tire of elaborate, experimental comics that act as crowdsourced idea factories, but today is not that day. Start clicking and don’t forget to eat at some point.

Spam of the day:

Mayo Clinic Study-Eradicate Diabetes

While more plausible than your previous attempt to hook me in by claiming NASA had figured out the cure for diabetes, I still somehow doubt the truthfulness of your claim. I’ve been up to the Mayo Clinic for work, and I’ve rarely met a group of people so dedicated to their work² and you know what? They have an actual public affairs office, one that does not announce major medical breakthroughs — and a cure for diabetes would rank up there with the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox in terms of medical breakthroughs — by direct-emailing me at my blog on webcomics. Try harder, you horrible people.

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¹ Finding herself under doctor’s orders to not use her right hand, she taught herself to draw just as well with her left, which she then promptly injured from overuse so the right wouldn’t be jealous. She’s gotten better about pacing herself but make no mistake — this is a woman that can draw better than you with either hand.

² In the main lobby there is a display case showing the gifts that they give you for your 5th anniversary working for the Clinic, 10th, 15th, etc. They went all the way up to sixty-five friggin’ years, which I believe is the definition of dedication.

Again With Toronto

I got more comments on the post last week where I mused on the lack of a single, highly-visible song with which one might reference the grand T-Dot than any other recent topic. And here we are again with the news coming from that noblest of cities.

  • To start with, you got your Chris Butcher, retailer, showrunner, relentless promoter and lover of comics and those that make them, and real-life counterpart to the best character in Scott Pilgrim’s world. He’s been a major force in Toronto becoming a center for the comic arts, and it seems that scarcely a week goes by that he doesn’t get to announce something cool. Today, it’s the TCAF pop-up shop in the Toronto Reference Library, launched for the most recent year-end holiday season, with the promise of converting to an ongoing retail endeavour. Today, that conversion comes true:

    The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is thrilled to announce that its festival shop is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Located inside Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge Street, we’re pleased to announce that the shop has been newly rebranded as Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop (with a spiffy new logo design by illustrator Chip Zdarsky), and the store will continue bringing the very best of comics, graphic novels, art, design objects and book culture merchandise to Toronto.

    [Please note that the logo mentioned does not feature even one set of genitals.]

    Page & Panel already has author events planned for tonight (for Toronto anthology comic Monstrosity 2), 30 March (Carson Ellis), and 1 April (Jim Zub), as well as exclusive merch from local creators like Kate Beaton¹ and John Martz. Congrats to everybody at TCAF and TRL for making this happen.

  • Staying in Hogtown and speaking of Jim Zub, everybody knows that like every week is Jim Zub week down at the comics shop, but there’s a special coinciding of Zub-owned comics coming next week. 25 March is when we’ll see the release of both the first issue of the last Skulllkickers (aka the series that really launched Zub’s current career trajectory) story arc, and the first issue of the second Wayward (aka the series that took all the hard work that Zub’s put in since Skullkickers #1 and bumped it up even higher) story arc, along with the trade paperback of the first Wayward trade collection. While it seems the dude’s got comics coming out all the damn time, I’m declaring next Wednesday to be Zubday.
  • And rounding out our tour of The Big Smoke, Ryan North² has some news for us today regarding the interactive game version of To Be Or Not To Be:

    DID YOU KNOW:

    There’s now an Android and iOS version of this game, out THIS VERY DAY??

    Yesssssss it is a FACT

    I believe that this means that every single possible vector for distributing North’s CYOA version of Hamlet is now covered. If you don’t own at least one, there is something distinctly wrong with you.


Spam of the day:

Going time for the furnishings shop in Gloucester example

I am utterly unable to parse what this was meant to convey.

_______________
¹ Speaking of whom, Beaton is back in The Queen City after her book-promotion trip to Germany which she has comic-chronicled here and here. They aren’t trip-home-to-see-the-family comics, but if you’ve ever wondered about medieval German torture devices designed to wreck your butthole at 9:00am on a Sunday morning — and I sincerely hope that you have — then these will be right up your alley.

So to speak.

² AKA The Toronto Man-Mountain, AKA He Who Has Returned, AKA Lord of Castle North.

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.

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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.

Canadians And Equality

We look to our northern neighbors for examples of how to be better today.

  • If you weren’t reading Twitter at the right time last night, you may not have noticed that Kate Beaton has released a new autobio comic chronicling her time in the tar sands of Fort McMurray. We last got a glimpse of Beaton’s time in a very strange, very male place in Ducks, a five-part comic telling the story of one big event (and the much more relevant smaller everyday events) from 2008. I’ve said before that Beaton’s ability to tell stories from her own life are second to none, and each time she’s revisited that mining site has been breathtaking in its honesty, particularly with respect to her experiences there as a woman¹.

    I’m not the only one that feels this way:

    So last year, I made some comics about working in Fort McMurray. And I said I planned to make more.

    The question I get asked the most by far when I talk about the place is what was it like to be there, as a woman, specifically.

    The answer is complex but I started a sketch. Whether I finish it here or in a book, I wanted to take look at that: http://harkavagrant.com/images/what1.png …

    it is, as ever, only my own experience.

    Is What It Is is many things at once — deeply personal, but also very likely damn near universal; I can see many women having experienced things like Beaton did, in places far less … let’s say phallocentric. It’s a painful read, see the shit that Beaton put up with for the sole reason that the men around her see her as some kind of object they have a collective right to. It makes me proud to see her tell them it’s not that she’s Miss high and mighty, it’s just that they’re dicks and she opts out of their worldview. It kills me a little inside to see her interacting with the biggest dick of them all, the one piling needless shit on her, and realizing that the only thing she can do is act like it’s not a thing.

    Nobody will read Is What It Is without coming away with a strong opinion; I’ll say that it will definitely provoke one of two reactions. If you read it and say to yourself What’s she complaining about? then the door’s over there and you can see yourself out. Everybody else — anybody with a sense of empathy — is going to feel hurt; hurt that people are capable of treating each other this way, hurt because too many of you have been on the receiving end of similar situations, hurt because Beaton is so good at conveying these kinds of moments and making you feel what she did.

    The very tall story is subtitled Part One, and Beaton’s left open her options for how she continues this tale; personally, I’m hoping for the possibility of a book. Beaton is one of the finest memoirists working in English today, and I long for the day that the reading public can let her stories of things experienced wash over them in great big chunks.

  • Ryan Sohmer, as I believe I have mentioned on this page previously, is a man of contradictions. His comics aren’t for me, but I like him personally a great deal. He’s cheerfully mercenary, got a plan to dominate all aspects of the comics-making business, and will never fall prey to the poisonous thought that being involved in the arts means being poor.

    He’s also willing to put his money where his mouth is, whether it’s setting up scholarships for up-and-coming comics students. And with the news from Oxfam earlier this week that half of all global wealth is held by 1% of living humans, he’s been thinking about income inequality.

    Sohmer’s not a benevolent tyrant-king to the world (not yet, anyway), so he’s setting his sights a little lower than eradicating worldwide income inequality. He’s also deeply cognizant that Comics is an industry that’s made some pretty substantial fortunes by screwing people over, and determined that simply won’t do:

    I can’t change what McDonald’s or Home Depot does, but I can be an example and hope that others follow suit.

    Blind Ferret has 32 full time employees and 12 part timers. I make the following statements and will hold to them:

    • Minimum Wage for hourly/part time employees at Blind Ferret is $12.00 per hour.
    • Starting salary for a salaried employee will be no less than $32,000 per year.
    • Blind Ferret will not employ unpaid interns. Interns receive minimum wage, and should the school that placed them not allow that, we will no longer work with that school.

    We should be paying our employees what we can, not what we can get away with.

    I call on every company in the comic industry to join me in providing a living wage for our employees. Our success is built on their backs, and it’s time we remember that.

    Bear in mind that minimum wage in Quebec, where Blind Ferret is located, is presently CAN$10.35/hour² so Sohmer is committing to starting people at nearly 14% above that required level. Median household income in Canada (for 2011, the most recent year I could find) is CAN$28,404, so he’s putting starting salaries 11% above.

    And by my reading, the no unpaid interns portion is potentially the most important rule there, and even if other comics companies don’t follow Sohmer’s lead on pay rates, they can pay their damn interns. Comics industry, you’ve got Blind Ferret and Iron Circus showing you how it’s done. Get on that.

  • Via the twitterfeed of The Toronto Man-Mountain:

    There’s gonna be a game version of To Be or Not To Be! And it’s gonna go… a little something… a’like this: http://bit.ly/ToBeGame

    http://bit.ly/ToBeGame

    Interactive TBONTB, everybody!

    For those of you grumping that this last item definitely meets the Canadian content requirement for today’s theme but is light on the equality portion, may I remind you that TBONTB‘s version of Ophelia is the smartest, most capable protagonist choice in the book, and the text/game will actively punish you for trying to play her as weak, passive, and uninteresting? Choose her and she’s the star of her own story, same as Hamlet or Hamlet, Sr.


Spam of the day:

tasted it before putting it in my taco because it really ruined it. Ick.

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Good job stepping up, spammers!

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¹ Which, because she’s a woman on the internet, means she’s probably spending a good chunk of today deleting shitty emails and blocking morons on social media, because every time she brings up the topic they crawl out from under their rocks to tell her she’s wrong and stupid and ugly and what about men and shut up already. Her bravery in putting her stories out there is many-layered.

² According to today’s interbank rate, that would be US$8.35. By way of comparison, the US Federal minimum wage is US$7.25, and you need to consider that Canada’s public funding provides the best healthcare system in the world.

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 www.explodingkittens.com

    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.

Appropos Of Nothing

This has nothing to do with webcomics whatsoever, but it’s my blog so too damn bad.

After years — decades! — of waiting, season 4 episodes of The Muppet Show exist other than in my memory! Okay, Disney (who bought out Henson Associates, which never would have happened when Jim was alive) hasn’t released past season 3 on DVD, damn them, but my twice-yearly trawl of Youtube revealed somebody (and I have no idea if they’re authorized or infringing and right now I don’t care) has uploaded a goodly chunk of season 4 full episodes.

Including my very favorite backstage gag of all time: How To Fly, from the Lynda Carter episode, where Scooter, Gonzo, Fozzie, Link, and Lew Zealand all try to be superheroes via correspondence course. As a side note, watch the whole thing — no guest was ever more gleeful at being around the Muppets than Lynda Carter. Just watch how she’s practically cracking up interacting with Beauregard in the dressing room gag after the news flash. It’s a joy to watch. Reezal-eevad-gib!

Where was I? Oh, yes — webcomics.

Well, close to webcomics, at least. Assuming San Francisco doesn’t wash away in the current Rainageddon¹, Bay Area parents may be looking for fun activities to engage in with their children during the upcoming school holidays. The Cartoon Art Museum is stepping up with two days of multiple parent/child cartooning classes, available for reservation now. First day is Friday, 26 December and the second is Tuesday, 30 December, with a total of four different 90-minute sessions to choose from.

Each class is US$10 a head (and adults must have a kid to register), on the topics of drawing the Boxtrolls (Friday, 11:30am), clip art comics (Friday, 2:00pm), caricatures (Tuesday, 11:30am), and superheroes (Tuesday, 2:00pm). No more than two ids per adult, please, and follow the links to reserve your place. Oh, and if you sign up for that last one, be sure to draw Lew Zealand with his fish helmet and Gonzo with his chicken helmet. Wonder Lynda would want it that way.


Spam of the day:

Pourquoi ne pas combiner les deux passions de votre vie et de devenir un artiste de tatouage? . formation et de persistence pour. Comment.

Myr French is a little rusty — mon français est un peu rouillé — but I’m pretty sure that what you just said has nothing to do with Muppets, Lynda Carter, or any combination of Muppets and Lynda Carter, so I don’t give a rat’s ass. Rats, by the way, can be found in this backstage gag.

_______________
¹ As opposed to Raina-geddon, Raina Telgemeier’s continued domination of the New York Times bestseller list, of which she personally commands 30% and the top two entries this week.

Good News And Bad

The good news(es) are very good, and the bad is … yikes.

  • Okay, a little background: just after Thanksgiving, Dave Kellett dropped some hints on Twitter that STRIPPED (his love-letter to comics with hivemind-lifepartner Fred Schroeder) was possibly going to screen next year someplace very cool. Cooler, he said, than frickin’ Pixar.

    Angoulême, muthascratchers.

    STRIPPED is going to air continuously for three days at the 42e Festival International de la Bande Dessinée aka the second biggest comics festival in Europe and third biggest in the world, way the heck out of the way more than 400 km from Paris, France. Think twice as many comics fans as they cram into the San Diego Convention Center, spread out across an entire damn medieval town, oh, and you can get a four-day pass for only €31 I think that just maybe Kellett was right — this was bigger than Pixar, and anybody on the other side of the Atlantic at the end of January/start of February ought to consider dropping by.

  • Speaking of year-end good news, The AV Club has doubled down on their John Allison appreciation (noted here last week) by naming Bad Machinery one of the Best Comics of 2014, alongside North/Paroline/Braden’s Adventure Time (which is coming to a close and a hand-off to Hastings/Sterling just about now-ish). Considering that the rest of the list contains the biggest of big titles, things like Saga and somebody called “Super-Man” (sp?), that’s some pretty significant praise there. Also called out for recognition: Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree, originally serialized on Boing Boing and presently re-running on The Nib, so that’s a pretty healthy appreciation for the webcomickers.
  • Not all the year-end news is good.

    Fred MacIntire has known for — holy cats — more than nine years that he’d tested positively for Alzheimer’s; he celebrated Thanksgiving that year with typical MacIntire tact by telling his son. Shortly after the worst day of his life the rest of his family knew, too. That was so long ago, and he’s been so feisty since, it seemed that the possibility of a false positive had been borne out.

    He hasn’t needed the help that Davan and PeeJee have been there to provide for most of a decade, he’s been a curmudgeonly sarcastic cuss, terror to the stupid and fundamentally decent human being simultaneously.

    Then he started falling. Loss of motor control is common in mid-stage Alzheimer’s. And now his recall is impaired.

    Damn you, Randy Milholland. You’ve made us care about your characters, you’ve made us share their triumphs, feel their losses, weep with their pain. You’ve never made things artificially happy or shied from the costs of life, and that’s part of why we love Something*Positive and a big part of why you can hurt us now. We knew in the backs of our minds that this day would come, but we maybe didn’t entirely believe it. This is going to be painful, but we’re going to have to read it because we owe Fred that witness to his life. As for you, Milholland … this is no cheap twist coming out of nowhere; you’ve earned this. Damn you.


Spam of the day:

There is a company that you can get traffic from and they let you try the service for free. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my site.

Man, my dog could set up a website can get over 300 visitors a day. Try again before you try to sell me a service that would produce a traffic cut.