The webcomics blog about webcomics

Books! With Comics! And Math Shows Up Too!

  • As mentioned in the recent past, Angela Melick is launching her latest Wasted Talent collection, and we now have a target pre-order go-live date: Friday, 14 March, at 11:00am PDT. Jam’s the best, note to myself to get in on that.
  • Speaking of future books, Randall Munroe announced today that his What If? sideproject will be releasing a book, to be released on 2 September via Houghton-Mifflin, available in fine bookstores everywhere. The book will feature expanded versions of Munroe’s favorite questions from the past almost-two years (I’m betting that both the Ryan North-related questions make the cut), along with questions submitted that needed more time or space than the website afforded.
  • The Table Titans Kickstarter, mentioned yesterday, has been up for about 27 hours as of this writing, making it the perfect time to apply the Fleen Funding Formula¹: the current Kicktraq prediction (at the 24-36 hour mark) is for US$363,500, about 1200% of goal. We divide this number by both 3 and 6, giving a range of 200-400% of goal, or US$60 – 120,000. We’ll see how well the formula works in another 28 days.
  • Patreon has been a big splash in webcomics circles this calendar year. Today I learned a few things about it. One, the cofounder of Patreon is the guy from Pomplamousse. Two, it scares the bejabbers out of some creators, primarily because of fears of being indebted to backers. Three, it’s funding a new podcast series on creativity, from Brad Guigar, Scott Kurtz, and Cory Casoni². It’s that last one I want to focus on.

    If there was an announcement on the podcast (dubbed Surviving Creativity) before today, I confess I missed it. The first hint I had of it was last week when I had the good fortune to have dinner with power couple Dylan Meconis and Katie Lane³ and Dylan mentioned that she’d been recording a podcast episode with Guigar & Kurtz; I figured it was an episode of Guigar’s revived Webcomics Weekly, but nope! New venture.

    And the first creator to appear will be the aforementioned GFP, Jack Conte. This looks like one to keep your eye on, if only to get your recommended daily allowance of Guigar Giggles™ (that would be 14 seconds daily, or 150 seconds once per week).

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¹ Alternately, Fleen Funding Factor, Fleen Fudge Factor, or any other F-heavy alliterative phrase.

² Kurtz’s business guy, and deeply involved in the now-winding-down ShiftyLook.

³ Who just announced that she’s leaving the corporate job to provide services to freelancers and comickers all the time. Hire her if you care about your financial stability.

Names You May Recognize

All LA-casual rumpled clothing and smiling faces. I’d buy life insurance from them if they were selling door-to-door. They being the notorious film/comic hivemind Freddave Kellett-Schroeder; they’re on the move, in these final weeks of moving STRIPPED towards a 1 April iTunes launch, and now towards a fancy-pants Hollywood premiere event:

Tickets now avail for the @strippedfilm premiere! We’re giving away 10 Watterson posters that night! http://strippedfilm.bpt.me

The skinny: Wednesday, 26 March, at the Cinearama Dome Theatre on the fabled Sunset Boulevard, from 7:00pm until they throw you out, for the low, low price US$20 (plus service fees). Be sure to dress up, there will be celebrities there, along with Messers Kellett-Schroeder. Wish I could be there, tell the paparazzi I said hi.

  • Rebecca Clements has been absent from comics for a bit, something about getting a “graduate degree” in “something important that matters to the world”¹, but she’s got a new Kinokofry today, featuring everybody’s favorite blue globby dude … IN SPACE. Go, Space Engineers!
  • Kristen Siebecker’s ongoing class series on How To Not Suck At Wine (not the official title) rolls on, with the next session devoted to the most elegant (and sneakily alcoholic) of boozes: champagne and other sparkling wines. Fun starts for those 21 & up at West Elm in Chelsea, on 20 March from 6:30pm. Ten percent off the cost of class if you use the super-secret discount code EMAIL10.
  • Scott Kurtz has done a lot of comics, but it seems like the one with the most heart in it (if we don’t count Wedlock, but that’s lost to the ages) is Table Titans. The first year’s story arc concluded recently, which means that it’s time for the print collection, and since preorders are passé, the requisite Kickstarter launched today.

    It’s over 20% of goal in the first few hours, and by this time tomorrow we’ll be able to come up with a predicted total for the 30-day campaign by applying the Fleen Funding Factor to Kicktraq’s prediction. But honestly, we can absolutely say this one is going to hit goal, so the only question is if there are any stretch goals not yet announced that will make the book more fancy. I’m betting that there are.

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¹ Urban Planning, to be specific.

For The Next Little While We’re Going To Be All Watterson, All The Time

Yeah, didn’t think you’d have a problem with that.

  • Thing the First: In conjunction with the news about the STRIPPED poster, the Washington Post actually spoke to Bill Watterson about his decision to do the poster.
  • Thing the Second: Filmmakers Freddave Kellett-Schroeder have spoken with admiration about how the first Machine of Death collection hit #1 on Amazon for one day, and are trying to pull off the same trick with STRIPPED on iTunes. And heck if it doesn’t look like they might do so:

    Guys! You guys! Now @strippedfilm is #7: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/stripped/id816065098?ls=1 … JUSTIN BEIBER IS #15! This is the sweetest plum!

  • Thing the Third: The Dave Kellett half of Freddave Kellett-Schroeder was kind enough to answer some questions from me in addition to the first, brief response he gave yesterday. The interview is presented here for your edification:

Fleen: Okay, so Watterson does the first piece of art for public consumption in 19 years apart from Petey Otterloop for the Cul de Sac benefit book. When did he offer to draw this for you?
Kellett: I think we first approached him about it in December. Possibly … November? I’d have to check. It was cheeky of us to even ask, but as he’s been time and time again, he was kind and gracious and said he’d be flattered to do it. He’s a good man, and I’m eternally grateful to him for his kindness.

Fleen: Seriously, do you have an original [Watterson] now?
Kellett: I do not. It was a running joke, while it was in LA for super-high-rez-photography, that Fred would jokingly say “Can we keep it? Can we keep it?” But we never considered it. It’s such a gift that he’d even draw it, we couldn’t ask for anything further. So it sits happily now in the OSU archives.

Fleen: How long have you been sitting on this news?
Kellett: Since Nov/Dec, when we asked.

Fleen: Can I fly to LA and see the original if I promise not to steal it?
Kellett: [no reply; possibly wondering if I am capable of comprehending that he doesn't have the art in his possession]

Fleen: Who the man? Okay, it’s you and Fred, so Who the men?
Kellett: [no reply; I imagine at this point he's looking at his watch, wondering if he should maybe be talking to somebody more important]

Fleen: I promise I won’t even breathe near it if you let me see the original.
Kellett: [no reply; it is painfully obvious that Kellett is strongly considering asking me to lose his number after all this idiocy]

Fleen thanks Kellett for his time, and we completely believe that what’s in the OSU collection is the original and not a clever duplicate, leaving the actual original in a secret, climate-controlled room at Casa de Kellett. We at Fleen are also totally not planning a way to find into that secret room which clearly does not exist and stare at the original which is not there in a state of rapture until they take us away with tears streaming down our faces. Honest.

OH MAN I DON’T BELIEVE IT

Bill Watterson drew the movie poster for STRIPPED. Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap.

NINETEEN years ago, Bill Watterson drew his last cartoon for Calvin & Hobbes. Well, here’s some fun news this afternoon….

Bill Watterson’s AMAZING poster for Stripped: The Comic Strip Doc! nyti.ms/1fI7n7P iTunes pre-sales start tonight! WHAAAT

A quote from Freddave Kellett-Schroeder on how the hell they managed this as soon as I can get in touch with him.

Update to add:
When reached for reaction to the completely understandable observation Holy crap Watterson, Mr Kellett replied Ha ha ha! Further updates as his time permits.

Trailers

Don’t worry, we’re talking about the good kind of trailer today, the kind that doesn’t give away every good joke and scene, and makes you more anxious to see something instead of feeling like you’ve already seen everything worth seeing. Promise.

  • This page has not been shy about the general awesomeness of people that occupy my voluntary tribal affiliation, the Engineers¹; there are a surprisingly large number of engineer-cartoonists in webcomicdom, particularly given the relative stealthiness of engineers in society² compared to other careers and professions.

    What can I say? They don’t make exciting and/or sexy TV shows about my mathematically-inclined, winging-it brethren. This may well be because we aren’t really very good at explaining what we do³, beyond it’s very complicated and it would take too long so don’t worry. Which may go a long way to explaining why my very favorite engineer-cartoonist is the one that does the most to demystify the ways of my people; while never dismissing the hard work and lifelong study that are the hallmarks of engineering, Angela Melick also shows the sheer delight of making something awesome.

    The latest chronicles of Melick’s life as an engineer (and just as importantly, life beyond engineering) is rapidly approaching, and she has graced us with a book trailer for Cubicle Warrior, the third collection of Wasted Talent. Be ready come March to order the crap out of what will be the best collection yet of the best webcomic dealing with engineering, life, change, Canadianess, and the best stuff in life. Nothing will exceed it until the fourth collection of Wasted Talent, because that’s when we’ll get swords.

  • I have watched the trailer for STRIPPED more times than I can count. I am full of anticipation for the final film, and have tried to be patient, lo these long months since an ever-optimistic FredDave Kellett-Schroeder thought that they could have the film wrapped and Kickstarter rewards delivered by January 2012, or at least December 2013. Nobody could have known how many outside limiting factors would delay the production of STRIPPED (not the least being licensing and legal clearances from copyright holders), but for a while now the progress on releasing movie has been dependent upon literally the richest corporation in the world. Thus, these tweets yesterday:

    Hooray! Good news from iTunes, today, means good news is coming shortly for 5,000 Kickstarter backers. Just sayinnnnnnnn’.

    Kickstarter backers! @strippedfilm email went out asking for your info to send rewards! If you have probs/questions: dave@davekellett.com :)

    I have a feeling that I am shortly going to be toasting Freddave, and Jen and Ben, and everybody else in the production of STRIPPED with a very generous pour of very good scotch4. I’ve known in my heart for a long time that y’all have done good; now’s just when we finally get to see it.

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¹ Right-hand rule represent.

² I speak here of actual engineers, those that are trained, examined, eligible for licensing, and have drummed into them the idea that what they do matters because lives and safety depend on doing their work right.

Anybody that mentions fake “engineering” fancifications designed to make a crappy job sound more appealing will be beaten.

³ My preferred elevator pitch is Engineers bend the laws of nature and math to practical use. If it stands up instead of falling down, goes where it’s supposed to instead of stopping, turns on instead of powering down, or generally works instead of breaking, then engineers designed the interesting bits.

4 I have it on good authority that that Kellett half of Freddave Kellett-Schroeder will be celebrating with a delightful wine cooler.

Looking Ahead To March

But first: Happy 5000 Strips Day to my evil twin. Also, does somebody who knows Wikipedia want to update Howard’s bio to reflect that he’s my evil twin? That would be awesome.

  • Not so long ago I was musing on people that Kickstart new comics and don’t deliver and I was thinking to myself Tavis is due to launch in March; I bet he’s all over that deadline. Tavis being Tavis Maiden, whom I had the opportunity to talk to at length last summer, about his Kickstarter to launch a new comic, and why would it take him six months anyway? In a word, infrastructure, and he was quite clear that Tenko King would be launching in March. Well, whaddaya know:

    Tenko King is coming in two weeks.

    Short, clear, to the point, and two weeks from yesterday would be … 3 March, the very earliest he could launch in March on a weekday. The lesson here being, do not doubt Tavis.

  • David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) is one of those guys I will never stop following online; his comics (of which Irregular Webcomic is just one) are variously funny, inventive, and/or feature interesting technological hooks. His philosophical treatises on science and the world around us are enlightening. And he’s going to be launching a new project, soon:

    I have a new webcomic idea which I plan to work on and launch some time in the next few weeks. It will be wholly produced by me (as opposed to produced with co-authors like Darths & Droids, or soliciting reader contributions like Square Root of Minus Garfield).

    Stay tuned.

    Next few weeks? Sounds like it could be March. I’ll be over here, perched on these tenterhooks.

  • In March of last year the internet saw fit to give three quarters of a million dollars to the creators of Cyanide and Happiness for the purposes of cornering the market on hookers and smack making an internet-based show, since attempts to do an actual broadcast-type show would have resulted in a whole bunch of people who were not the creators of Cyanide and Happiness taking ownership of various degrees of Cyanide and Happiness.

    Screw that noise, I can imagine Dave, Kris, Matt, and Rob saying to themselves. Now, a show (even one on the internet) is considerably more complex to put together than an webcomic, but a year’s production time for such an undertaking is practically warp speed. Progress is being made, reports Rob DenBleyker on behalf of The C&H Show team , with a launch later this year. You know what’s later this year? March. Just sayin’.

I Snorted When I Read This

John Allison has neatly, in just two panels from today’s Bobbins redux, why half of EMTs regard the two most important words on a childbirth call to be Don’t push¹. Naturally, Shelly is enthusiastic about all things, and here’s hoping that Amy doesn’t murder her in retribution.

  • I wasn’t going to say anything about the big, fat nothingburger petition that’s decrying rampant, oppressive, Big Brotheresque censorship re: the Science Fiction Writers of America. For one, it gravely misunderstands what the concepts censorship and freedom of speech and fascistic; for another, it’s extremely illogical and poorly written. John Scalzi neatly addressed those points and I could gladly go back to not caring.

    But.

    Ursula Vernon — and I believe the record will show that I am on the record as loving me some Digger — decided that she is not just a writer but an arter also and attempted to bring some perspective. Some people aggressively didn’t get it, others aggressively nitpicked wording, and in the end, there was only one thing to do: add more honey badgers. Morally ambiguous honey badgers, honey badgers looking for love, honey badgers decrying things aren’t like they used to be, honey badgers coming face to face with change, honey badgers seeking an equal voice. If a grumbly hissy fit about how Things Should Be Like They Used To Be is what gets Vernon drawing honey badgers, I am more than willing to poke the cage of a codger.

  • Times come when creators feel the need to apologize about not making updates on time, and I think that in very nearly every case that’s unnecessary. As well established by precedent, your favorite creator who entertains you² owes you nothing other than to create. But there are times when it is especially unnecessary to apologize regarding missed updates, hiatuses, or other irregularities, and that is when meeting a particular schedule will take away from the time the creator needs to care for either their own or their family’s well-being.

    Cases in point: a printer that delivered weeks ahead of schedule and has disrupted Minna Sundberg’s production of new episodes of Stand Still, Stay Silent (a comic that updates with a gorgeous full-page in color four days a week!). But you know what? Fulfilling the orders of people that have already given you money for the last series trumps production of new pages for people like me that haven’t given you anything. Creators: in all cases, your well-being comes first.

    Actually, in some cases it comes second. Parents³ know what I’m talking about, and in no reasonable universe should Paul Taylor feel the need to apologize for taking a few days off when his young son is facing a hospitalization. Best of luck to your little guy, and to your entire family, Paul. We’ll be here when he’s back on his feet; in the meantime, do what you have to do.

  • Advance notice: two of my favorite people are about to have a conversation that some of you have already had the chance to hear. Brad Guigar continues his series of Kickstarter-funded podcasts, which release first to backers, then to subscribers of Webcomics Dot Com, and then the world in general. The lastest ‘cast (which will be generally available on Friday) features the very sexy Rich Stevens, and I am hard pressed to think of two people who are so different (particularly in terms of improvisation vs planning) and yet so similar (both are whip-smart) at the same time. An hour and forty five minutes never went by so fast.

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¹ Alternately, I’ll drive.

² In exchange for money or other considerations for a section of their work, and especially if they distribute their work for free.

³ And others with younglings in their care, which is a situation I find myself in from time to time with EMS cadets.

Full Circle

Okay, let me see if I’ve got this straight: ShiftyLook is a subsidiary of Bandai Namco, which through predecessor companies and associated firms, has a deep catalog of videogames going back a few decades. The purpose of ShiftyLook has been to find new ways to use the IP associated with those old games, which they’ve done by starting up webcomics, webtoons, and a multiplayer large visual novel-type game. That’s pretty much everything they could be doing, right?

Wrong.

Jim Zub (well known to readers of this page) has been pretty involved in the development of the ShiftyLook comics (writing, scouting talent, etc), and one of his comics projects, Wonder Momo, is about to square the circle that is Momo’s Wonder-Hoop.

Having originated as an arcade side-scroller, Zub, co-author Erik Ko, and artist Omar Dogan (all of whom are part of UDON Entertainment) turned it into the story of a wannabe idol singer with lots of over-the-top Power Ranger-type action¹. Now Bandai Namco are turning the new story based on the old game into an anime miniseries, with a videogame to follow. So that’s a game based on an anime based on a webcomic based on an arcade game. Opined Mr Zub on Twitter:

Bandai-Namco made a Wonder Momo anime based on the comic strip story I wrote! Unveiled in Japan just now! @ShiftyLook

And there’s a new Wonder Momo video game also in development based on our comic story. Absolutely surreal.

For a little more context as to what this means to Zub, check out his history with anime, and what this would have meant to his 15 year old self.

Wonder Momo (the anime series) will stream as five, 5-minute episodes on Crunchyroll on Thursdays at 7:30pm (presumably EST), starting in February. Wonder Momo (the game) is under development for PC and Android. Jim Zub (the architect of Momo’s revival) probably took about half an hour to feel justifiably proud, then got back to work because that’s the kind of guy he is.

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¹ And, given that the protagonist, the frenemy and the protagonist’s mom are all magical girls with transformation sequences and battle suits that don’t feature pants, surprisingly tame and tasteful fan service. Heck, the original arcade game featured a perv with a camera distracting Momo with upskirt attempts; Zub’s repurposed him into a legit photojournalist.

Thursday Catch-Ups

Well! That was a fun couple of days, including two separate airports that just did not want me to leave their premises and threw every possible obstacle in my way. Now let’s never speak of the last 48 hours again.

  • Catching up! My buddy Otter — or more properly, KB “Otter” Spangler — of A Girl And Her Fed has launched her first Kickstarter campaign, to take her first novel (released last year) and her next novel (to be released in about six weeks) recorded as audiobooks. On casual inspection this would seem an odd project, since wouldn’t you just make that a stretch goal of the Kickstarter for the books themselves?

    In this case, no, because a) the books weren’t Kickstarted, they were just released on her own; and b) the protagonist of Digital Divide and Maker Space is blind, and releasing them as audiobooks is outreach to an audience that wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect to a relatable character. In fact, one of the stretch goals will be to convert the books to Braille and donate copies to libraries that serve the visually impaired, so this is maybe less about help me make a cool thing and more about help me extend this cool thing to people who tend not to get as many cool things in a form they can access.

    We’re not quite 48 hours in (like, 12 minutes shy of 48 hours as I write this) and we’re sitting around 95% of goal; per the venerable F^3 calculation, this project should finish up somewhere between 200% and 400% of its modest US$7000 goal. Go support it, and enjoy the project video, which is a puppet show¹.

  • Catching up! Some new comics launching over at ShiftyLook, with some veteran creators taking a whack at videogame characters that have … shall we say thin? … plots. Shannon Campbell and Sam Logan are breathing life into Tower of Babel, which is essentially a Jenga-in-reverse puzzler/platformer. Meanwhile Team Nice Wizard (aka Ryan North, Christopher Hastings, and Anthony Clark) are fleshing out the story of Dig Dug.
  • Catching up! Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics started as a limited-duration project to publish comics for a year. Then it became an ongoing imprint. Brown himself spent a lot of time working up André the Giant² for much of the past two years, but as that project’s all done but the shipping at this point, he’s back to his publisher role with a vengeance:

    After only publishing 7 books in 2013, we ARE BACK to a 12-comics-a-year schedule! In 2014 we’ll be releasing comics from these HOT comics artists!

    Which you can click through to see; I just wanted to stress that this is not a funding announcement, this is an availability-of-subscriptions announcement. These comics are getting published, the only questions are how many, and will you get them or not.

Whew, I think that’s everything I needed to get caught up on. Fortunately, nothing going on in comics today except for the surprise announcement that Scott McCloud is an android. Reached for comment, McCloud responded Of course not, I am a completely alive human, beep, null set. You heard it hear first.

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¹ No sign of Spinal Tap, who presumably made off with the audio equipment for the puppet show as the sound levels are bit low. You’ll want to bring the volume up on your computer for all the puppety goodness.

² No lie, this looks to be premier work of André the Giant scholarship; I’m not into professional wrestling³, but like everybody, I know (and have a fond spot for) André the Giant.

³ By which I mean I had a brief period of watching in late junior high school. If I understand my wrestling history right, this was when what is now the WWE was moving from a mostly Northeast base into a wider national profile, pre-Hulkamania. Anyway, my knowledge of pro wrestling is from 30+ years ago, aside from some bored Saturdays watching GLOW4 in college.

4 That would be the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, because come on, watching Amy the Farmer’s Daughter getting beat down by Matilda the Hun until her [Amy's] little brother Timmy pulls himself from his hospital bed and makes his way ringside on crutches to inspire her [again, Amy] to defeat her evil rival? That’s gold, from the time of two-reel 1930s melodramas5 to the first epic battle between Morimoto and Flay on Iron Chef. Heck, I’m pretty sure that the kid cheering on Morimoto actually was named Timmy!

5 By the way, I experimented with the construction 1930s two-reel melodramas before rewriting. I heard on the radio last week (or maybe it was an episode of Judge John Hodgman that there are certain rules of grammar that aren’t taught, but which we instinctively absorb; for instance, you wouldn’t say the red big car instead of the big red car. If anybody knows the name for this phenomenon, I’d love to hear it. Ryan North, I’m looking at you.

Footnotes, everybody!

Happy Boxing Day

Also, Happy Starpocalypse Release Day Plus One.

As promised the long-awaited SMBC project dropped yesterday; it’s got a would-be prophet, a would-be robosexual, the alternating triumphs of (thoroughly insane and perverse) God and (thoroughly disdainful of everything other than neuro-helmet induced orgasms) Science, and James Ashby¹ getting torn apart. It’s five episodes of a rudely hilarious sketch-comedy series thrown together to form a full season, complete with cliffhanger. Oh, and in and around the various perversities and transgressions, there’s the question of whether humanity should put its faith in anything blindly, whether the supernatural or the scientific².

If the effect look a little rough, keep in mind that it was done on a budget that wouldn’t cover a day’s craft services on a regular sci-fi movie or TV show, and in that context, they look damn good. I’d go so far as to say that I enjoyed all the FX, and was disappointed only in that there weren’t more effects of James getting destroyed in creative ways, but there’s always Season Two! Order it up for three measly dollars here, and enjoy the blasphemy.

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¹ History’s greatest villain.

² Although many of the scientific types are dicks, they also didn’t invent suffering and vengeful smiting like the malevolent alien pervert claiming to be God did. Potato, potato.