The webcomics blog about webcomics

You Can’t Spell Funding Without Fun!

Warning: we’re talking about the seamy underbelly of creativity today — finding the money to make things while simultaneously not starving to death in the gutter.

  • It looks like we’re getting Big Data after all! Well, okay, Ryan Estrada’s radioplay/podcast about the heist to steal the Keys To The Whole Internet was done, completed, finito, and when has that guy ever made a thing and not shared it? Regardless of the state of his crowdfunding campaign he was always going to release it, it was just a matter if he was going to so much as break even after a year and a half’s effort and thousands of dollars of upfront costs. That means we’re going to get stretch goals now, which … let’s just have Estrada tell us himself:

    Big Data is funded! I posted “stretch goals” that… let’s be honest here… are just stuff I’m doing no matter what.

    Free comics! More fancy voice talents! Estrada’s going to do more audio drama! The only question is are you going to toss him a couple bucks now, or after Big Data blows up into the next Serial?

  • Know who else doesn’t make things contingent on crowdfunding, he just goes out there and makes stuff and then engages in commerce to invite you to buy it? Howard Tayler, that’s who. Today marks the preorder availability of Schlock Mercenary book 12, including the chance to have a dapper man sketch in your copy of the book, with delivery expected in mere weeks.

    See, the drawback — to the extent that there is one — of crowdfunding is that you don’t have the money to produce the thing until the check clears, so even if the thing is already made and you’ve got handshakes with the manufacturer, you can’t sign the contract and say Go until they get paid, then you get on their schedule, then you wait … and that’s best case. Me, I’m guessing that Tayler¹ did a bunch of math, figured out what a print run should look like for immediate orders plus reasonable stock for the future, and that the presses are already whirring.

    That’s why you’ll get your book in July, which means it’s got to get here, and get sketched in, and sent out in five to nine weeks². That’s as close to instant gratification as you’re going to get in webcomics.

  • Speaking of instant gratification — sometimes how fast you get something is entirely up to the fans. Readers of this page will recall the high regard I have for Al’Rashad: City of Myths, as written by [comics commentator, Toronto politics observer, and lawyer] Christopher Bird and illustrated by Davinder Brar (illustration freelancer and teacher).

    It’s a damn good story, it’s nearly 300 pages long (serialized over about four years), and it’s just the first part of a trilogy. Thing is, lawyerin’ and teachin’ don’t leave a lot of time to make comics on the webcomics grind, particularly if it means (as it would for Brar) giving up freelance jobs to have the time to draw a comic that isn’t paying anything for years (if ever)4.

    Enter the Patreon to fund the production of Ra-Boka: Kingdom of the Bound (that would be the title of the second story). And, crucially, the funding goals start off modest, but as they increase they radically increase the pace of production. We’ve all seen Patreons that set goals of one extra comic a week or at least ten comics a month, but Bird & Brar³ start from a low target of $125 (I’m not sure if that’s US dollars, as Patreon is an American company, or Canadian, as Bird & Brar are strong and free), providing one page a month, to $2500 (three pages a week, 12 – 13 per month).

    It’s a hell of a range, and given that Ra-Boka is also projected to run nearly 300 pages, which means the story could take not quite 24 years to tell … or a year and a half. This is very much a case where a couple hundred people with a couple bucks each could make the difference between seeing a story on a schedule that would make even George RR Martin blanch (much less the third part of the trilogy) and seeing it unfold at warp speed before the last season of Game of Thrones hits.

    Time to dig in for that couple of bucks, kids — the first story was damn good (supra), you could see both Brar and Bird progressing in their craft during its run, so I expect the second (and third!) to be even better.

Spam of the day:

We are pleased to inform you of the released results of the Microsoft Iberica S.L Sweepstakes Promotion in conjunction with foundations for the promotion of software products organized for Software users.

This Program was held in Barcelona- Spain; Wherein your email address emerged as one of the online Winning emails in the 1st category and therefore attracted a cash award of EUR344,000.00 and a Mac laptop/iPhone.

Microsoft ran a sweepstakes and is giving out an iPhone? BALEETED.

¹ By which I mean Howard’s wife Sandra, the logistics/business wrangler of TaylerCorp, and the one that makes sure that Art Boy gets all his stuff made and sent where it needs to go.

² Cue Dolley, Jane, and Lily. Dabney can eat it.

³ Together, they fight crime.

4 But Gary, I hear you cry, couldn’t Bird just pay Brar out of pocket like he must have for Al’Rashad, or like Estrada’s always doing? Yes, I suppose, but 1) Shut up, nobody is obligated to go into debt to entertain you for free; Estrada is unusually generous, but that does not create a binding precedent; 2) Bird’s got a wedding coming up and I doubt his fiancee is willing to serve guests pigs in blankets instead of a meal in order to make a comic for free reading on the internet; and 3) Seriously, if that’s the way you think, re-examine your priorities in life.

With Apologies For Brevity

Okay, so there’s a Family Emergency brewing, one that may necessitate my absence from El Blog for several days on little to no notice. This is to let you know that if I go silent for a bit, it was because of that and not anything you did, so don’t feel bad. It also means that while waiting for the proverbial shoe to fall, a lot of things are happening in Life, and my blogging time is limited. I thank you in advance for your understanding.

Today we are going to mention (briefly) a trio of Kickstarts.

  • Firstly, Ryan Estrada’s Big Data (cf: here) had gone up in an attempt to recoup Estrada’s expenses from making the audioplay (which will be released as a nine-part podcast, or all in one go if you back it). Now thing about this for a moment — Estrada’s already paid everybody associated with making Big Data, which means he’s taking a risk by putting up the campaign; if he doesn’t hit his goal of US$7500 (which will merely bring him back to a net loss of zero dollars), he gets nothing.

    The podcast is still done and paid for. It will release to the world whether he gets paid or not, and whether you pay him or not. The chief benefit of backing is you’ll get all nine hours in one go instead of listening week-to-week trying to solve the mystery like a chump. Okay, yeah, there are little bonuses where it can me implied that the whole mess of Big Data is your fault, but mostly it’s getting to listen early.

    And not cost Estrada a chunk o’ change. He could have put up a ten dollar goal and kept everything, even if it didn’t meet his outlay; instead, he’s putting a monumental amount of faith into the we like creative people community, willing to bet multiple thousands that you’ll come through. Make with the donating.

  • Secondly, Shaenon Garrity, Funk Queen of the East Bay and Yea, Even Unto The Far Antipodes, launched the Kickstart for the sixth (full color, this time) volume of Skin Horse. This one is gonna go by the numbers — launch one day, 150% funded the next, 39 days to go, you’ll get your stuff when she said because she is a goddamn professional and acts like one.
  • Thirdly, Irregular Webcomic. What the crap, man? Guy does a highly-loved comic for-friggin’-ever, finally get the ability to do a book, and with two and a half days left to do is just under 80% funded? This would be a damn good time for that end-of-campaign uptick to happen. If this falls short, the chance of ever getting other Irregular Webcomics volumes decreases by a nontrivial amount. Clutch time, people.

Spam of the day:

Reply to claim your FREE PANERA BREAD COUPONS worth
Let me stop you right there. Of all the corporate chain “food” that I won’t eat, I most won’t eat the utter garbage at Panera because their “bread” is a travesty. Fake, painted to look like it’s got color and crust, softer and blander than Wonder Bread; I’d literally rather eat the “bread” sticks from Olive frickin’ Garden. It’s in the name of your damn restaurant, it’s got to be not totally sucky and yet it is! Nooooo thank you.

Nonstop Creation Machines

I had decided on the title and theme of today’s post last night, and as I sat down today to pound the text into shape the news broke that Prince has died. I’m going to remember him primarily for two things: I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, which is about as perfect a song as ever was, and his underrated ability to have fun at his own expense. I’m also telling the next two guys I talk about to goddamn take care of themselves, please.

  • Jim Zub is a guy who has spent the past decade or so making his way into the comics industry, and the thing about him that strikes me even more than the quality and breadth of his writing — which are both off the charts — is the fact that he’s always given more than he’s gotten. He is selfless and tireless in sharing his skills and wisdom, doing his level best to make it easier for the next generation of creators to find their way … an action that only makes his life harder, both for the effort it costs him now, and the competitors he’ll have to face down for jobs in the future.

    So imagine how much he’d be willing to share with people that are specifically paying him.

    Zub has, at long last, launched a Patreon but it’s kind of on the down-low right now, because there’s no other reason for it to have a paltry 35 backers and US$183 per month support level. The big thing you get for backing the Zubster? Full comic scripts and pitch documents, or as I like to call them, How To Be Zub 101. And considering that Zub is universally liked and respected, that’s a pretty good thing to be.

  • So Ryan Estrada sent me a link last night (my time; it would have been daylight in Korea, where he lives) and casually said I could have the exclusive. If you’ve been following his Twitterfeed for the past months, you know that he’s been heads-down on his latest project, an audio play with top-flight talent the names of which he promised would blow our minds. And you know what? He’s not lying.

    Big Data is the story of what happens if the keyholders who keep the internet working got attacked and subverted by a conspiracy of ne’er-do-wells who maybe aren’t all that organized or competent. It posits a world where the internet is dying, and the person who’s determined to get to the bottom of it decides to do so in the form of a podcast, tracing the story of What The Hell Happened, in a weird cross of Serial and whatever Alex Jones is blathering about now. It looks hilarious, and we’ll all get to see what the deal is (duration, full cast, etc) on Monday, when the Kickstarter launches.

    Oh, not the Kickstarter to make Big Data — it’s already been made, the talent’s been paid, it’s in the can and ready to go. And that talent includes people you just might have heard of like Paul F Tompkins, Cecil Baldwin, Kevin Allison, Jermaine Clement, and De Anne Dubin, with a theme by The Doubleclicks. When I asked Estrada how the hell he got these people (and more!) to participate¹, he gave a completely logical answer: I asked nicely, and paid them!

    Here’s the trailer; check the main site on 25 April to see the Kickstart details and learn how we can all get front-row seats to the informational apocalypse. Like all the best apocalypses, the important people will be there.

Spam of the day:

Compare Car Donation Options Today


Compare Cancer Treatment Options Today

That’s a pair of damn near identical-looking emails you guys have sent me. Maybe don’t send them within 12 seconds of each other next time and I won’t notice.

¹ Fun fact: about the time I was wondering how the hell Estrada got his cast, he was wondering how the hell I have a friend who’s actually an ICANN keyholder. She’s done the key-signing ceremony and tells me after a while it gets really boring, and since you’re in one hell of a Faraday cage, you can’t use your phone or post selfies or anything.

Weirdest thing? She’s not an internet hacker from small times — she’s an English major that wound up doing logistics and disaster recovery planning, which utilize her natural aptitudes for organization and yelling at people until they do things correctly². She’s a lot of fun at parties.

² Since the or else in her yelling promises grave physical harm and lasting emotional damage, she is a woman after may own system administrator’s heart. Look, I’m not saying that she once caused a troublemaker to get cavity searched, but I am saying that the belief that she would do such a thing if you pushed her has helped her compliance-with-procedure rates enormously.

Now With Added Me

Kind of all over the place today, from the serious and sincere to the … well, you’ll see in a moment.

  • Okay, real talk time. The Kickstart for the long-awaited first print collection of Irregular Webcomic followed a pretty standard steep start and long tail, but the tail has been lower than usual, and it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a near thing. 70% of the way there with about 72% of the campaign time gone means that the traditional spike upwards in the last week puts everything to rights, but creator David Morgan-Mar is unwilling to leave things to chance and is engaged in desperate measures: he’s added me as a backer reward.

    I will be in New York City on Saturday 18 June this year. With this reward you and one partner/friend can meet me over lunch, talk comics or whatever, and get some spur-of-the-moment hand scribbled comic art by me! I’ll also bring along some random physical goodies related to my comics to give to you! This reward is an approximately 2-hour lunch meeting, and you also get a printed copy of the book, a PDF copy, an MP3 of “It’s Quite Irregular”, and a set of postcards.

    Two backers plus two friends plus me makes 5 for lunch, and also joining us will be webcomic blogger Gary Tyrrell of [emphasis mine]

    There’s already a pledge to meet up with Morgan-Mar in London later this year and I’ll be crushed — crushed! — to think that I’m not an equal draw. Also, it’s no secret that I want this campaign to succeed, but any rumo[u]rs going around that I will be engaging in “favors” for the pledgers are probably overblown. Probably. Only one way to find out!

  • For those who’ve been waiting patiently since January for the opportunity to join iPhone-havers and play Exploding Kittens on your Android phones, wait no more. Seemingly in dual celebration over this release and yesterday’s announcement of an Eisner nomination (his third or fourth, I think), Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman has been crushing all rivals in EK matches today.

    You probably can’t beat him (he’s been playing the game since long before anybody else in the world, remember), but if you want to try watch his twitterfeed for announcements of when he’s playing and the game code. Good luck (you won’t win).

  • Speaking of Eisner nominations, Iron Circus Comics President For Life¹ Spike Trotman has declared a day of jubilee to celebrate the fact that her very first solo artist project — EK Weaver’s TJ and Amal omnibus reprint — took a nomination for Best Graphic Album — Reprint. You can get the TJ and Amal omnibus from the Iron Circus shop for 15% off with the coupon code EISNERFYEAH. Go cash in, you lucky people.
  • Lastly, the sort of thing that I like to see because it has the potential to make people better, more thoughtful creators: KB Spangler of A Girl And Her Fed² has posted a piece on how she approached writing a character that started out minor and became a major part of her story mythos, and how she’s changed her approach after realizing that she was Doing It Wrong. Specifically, Spangler’s take on Rachel Peng’s arguably defining characteristic — her blindness — was initially done without (in retrospect, and certainly not from a point of malice) insufficient consideration of what being blind actually means.

    And before a theoretical subset of you start screaming about PC goons forcing a creator to change her story — honestly, if that’s your first thought, the door’s over there and don’t let it hit you — it’s not in response to anybody yelling at Spangler other than Spangler. It’s about having the honesty to assess when you have sufficient experience in a community/culture to represent it properly, and when you have to shift your approach because you realize you didn’t. As Spangler repeatedly states:

    I’m an asshole but I’m trying to do better

    The first part of that statement is a filthy lie, but the second part you can take to the bank. Even if you’re inadvertently an asshole (or not an asshole at all), you can always do better if you’re willing to admit there’s better to be done. Go read it and think about how to do better yourself; and if there’s better I can be doing, please let me know.

Spam of the day:

Join our professional network

No name for this professional network? Nice try, LinkedIn, but you ain’t getting your hooks in me!

¹ And co-founder of Creators For Creators; application info coming in ten days.

² AKA my buddy Otter.

The Jaunty Tune Will Stay In Your Head, Too

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: Ray is getting a bit full of himself with Beef and showing depths that, if not quite hidden, reveal insight into his heritage. Also, we learn all there is to know about Bob Raffles.

  • If I didn’t have a strict policy about what goes at the top of posts where there is an anniversary strip from the Great Outdoor Fight, I know for an absolute fact that today’s post would be the results of me playing around with my new favorite online toy. Which toy? I hear you ask — let’s let Kate Beaton fill you in:

    now you can actually play with my @TorontoComics paper doll!

    Yes! The delightful show poster that Beaton did for TCAF is now interactive, complete with music, encouraging voice-overs, and screenshot capability. And in case the pictures are just too darn small for you, creator (and TCAF staffer) Kim Hoang made a fullscreen version available at her site. Just don’t blame me if you’re playing dress-up for the rest of the day.

  • It’s Will Eisner Week, an annual recognition of the innumerable contributions made to comics by Will Eisner, timed to coincide with his 6 March birthday¹. Events are going on around the world between now and next Monday, and the good folks at the Cartoon Art Museum aren’t letting a little thing like a lack of gallery space keep from recognizing the master and his works. CAM invites you out to Mission: Comics and Art (2250 Mission Street, San Francisco) on Sunday for their celebration.

    The centerpiece of the event (which runs 2:00pm to 4:00pm) will be a panel discussion between prominent Bay Area creators Steve Englehart, Al Gordon, John Heebink, Mario Hernandez, and Steve Leialoha, free and open to the public. For those that might have favorite stories and characters created by these longtime pros, there will be a signing that follows immediately after. And heck, it’s The Mission, so I imagine people will be going for drinks after.

Spam of the day:

Prevent Your Fatal Heart Attack: Watch For These Signs

Sorry, but for some reason I don’t believe that “Princeton Health” (is that supposed to make me think you’re actually University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, or possibly Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, which is the fictional hosptial from House?) really has an email address at mkvtqh2.[redacted].xyz … call it a hunch. Try harder, spammers.

¹ Eisner would have been 99 this year, which means you should start planning on how to celebrate his centenary next year, oh, now-ish.

Returns And Launches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

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

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

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

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

Revisiting Some People We’ve Seen Before

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

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

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

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

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

³ It lacks NOPE! functionality, booo.

Aaaannnd We’re Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

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

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

¹ Which is actually a contract shop in the Philippines.

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

³ Kids, ask your parents, or click here.

In Non-Paris Desk News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

Reverse your Blood Pressure in only 7 Days

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