The webcomics blog about webcomics

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:


    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.

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: …

    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:

    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!

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

    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.

Faith, Science, Charity

Oh hell yes, full-size Jethro coming Wednesday to You Damn Kid. The strips don’t get permalinks until they hit the archives, so you’ll just have to click over promptly for that one to work.

  • Got twelve minutes, a hankerin’ to laugh along with Matt Inman, and an appreciation for the job that ASL translators have to do? Check out Inman’s keynote speech from BAH! Fest West 2014, a marvelous piece of proselytizing for Jibbers Crabst and an opportunity to see what the ASL for this is an eight-legged vagina that gives you boners until you are dead looks like.
  • From the storming the gates of academia division, news comes of Rosemary Mosco’s Bird and Moon getting the museum treatment:

    I’m so excited: the Museum of the Earth just opened a Bird and Moon exhibit!
    exhibitions.php?page=currentexhibitions/quirksofnature …

    Come see my comics alongside expert commentary, fossils, live critters, sweet-smelling dirt, and more at PRI’s MOE

    A few photos from the exhibit. Yes- they’ve got fashion items inspired by nature. Museum of the Earth, you rule. https://www.…

    To decode those abbreviations a bit, that would be the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution which is affiliated with — but not part of — Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The show, Quirks of Nature, will feature Mosco’s cartoons paired with specimens, fossils, live animals, and other museum-type stuff. Descriptions and captions written by major science types from major science places will provide the context, while Mosco provides the pretty pictures and funny laugh-chuckles. The next time you’re in the Finger Lakes region, drop by and check it out — Quirks of Nature runs through 8 June 2015, unless they decide to extend it and honestly, why wouldn’t they?

  • The Child’s Play page hasn’t updated with a story specific to last week’s annual charity auction, but I believe we can utilize some basic math to see what the impact of the night (and the weeks running up to it) were. The lifetime total raised as of 2 January 2014 (taken as our starting point for this year’s Child’s Play) was US$25,196,670. The current lifetime total raised as of this time I am writing this is US$28,417,292¹. The difference between a) and b) is US$3,220,622, a significant portion of which would have been raised last Thursday night.

    If I were a thinkin’ man I could have taken a total on Thursday afternoon and compared on Friday morning, but ehhh. Close enough. Since the start of active fundraising (taking the traditional start date of 1 November), Child’s Play has pulled in US$3.2 million, or roughly what they took in cumulatively in the first five years, and a little less than half (so far) of last year’s total. Lots of time between now and end of the year, just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

The test can also determine if you have a vitamin K deficiency. Where does my last name come from

Well, since vitamin K deficiency can cause osteoporosis and coronary disease, I’d speculate that would be the origin of “McHearthouch-Breakbones”.

¹ With the caveat that the counter is moving every time I go back to the page.

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.

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.



  • 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:… 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.

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.

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.