The webcomics blog about webcomics

Starting To Understand TopatoCo A Little Better

Particularly, the bit that says:

Customs policies vary wildly and unpredictably from country to country. You should contact your local customs office for further information; please do not complain to us as we have little to no control over your government’s policies (for now). Customs clearance procedures can sometimes create delivery delays beyond what we originally estimate.

At least, I think that’s the relevant passage. One may recall that waaaay back in May, thanks to the generosity of Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, I was able to give away a copy of the gorgeous first hardcover collection of DRIVE. The winner, a person named Mario, happens to hail from Portugal, which meant that the arrival of the package would happen potentially never. Today, it was delivered.

To my doorstep.

That’s it up at the top of the page¹. I think the stickers on the box mean that it sat at Portuguese customs until they got tired of looking at it/decided not to deliver it, and it was sent back across the ocean to me. Thanks for not stealing it, Portuguese customs/mail officials, that was very nice of you! Suggestions as to what I should do with it are now being cheerfully accepted, but I think that I am not going to try shipping it across the planet again. Mario, and I’m sorry that you didn’t get the book, sorry that it cost US$22.50, 162 days, and probably 15 hours total flight time to end up back where it started. I tried hard.

  • I try hard, by coincidence, is how Ryan North signed my copy of Happy Dog the Happy Dog, along with a little hand-drawn doodle of T-Rex. It’s adorable. It’s also a segue, as I note that today is the birthday of Ryan North, and also of John Allison. Webcomics is lucky to have two such excellent gentlemen in it, and we at Fleen wish to offer the very best returns of the day to Messers Allison and North, with the expectations of many more to come.
  • Speaking of happy dogs, the fine folks at :01 Books have sent me a copy of the latest addition to their Science Comics series, Dogs: From Predator To Protector by Andy Hirsch.

    It’s a great read, and it’s a heck of a way to teach tweens (and up) not only about pooches, but a goodly amount of evolution and genetics — we’re talking meiosis, DNA base pairs, Punnett squares, alleles, and dominance, people. Darwin’s in there, but he actually is less of a focus than Gregor Mendel and Dmitry Belyaev.

    Add into that a good discussion of dog senses, dog behavior, and dog BALL! BALL! BALL! communication modes, and you’ve got a pretty excellent primer into what’s probably the second-greatest thing accomplished by humanity as a whole³. Dogs is available at bookstores everywhere on Tuesday, 31 October.


Spam of the day:

GRAND_FUCK_AUTO It doesn’t get more fun than this – Play Now

I don’t even want to know.

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¹ At last, I think it is — I haven’t opened the box to see if maybe it’s half a blender instead².

² I checked, not a blender. In fact, it is a copy of the DRIVE hardcover, in perfect condition.

³ I still give the #1 slot to the eradication of smallpox.

Great News From All Around

But before we get to the newsy type deals, allow me to offer props to Randall Munroe for today’s xkcd, wherein he anticipated my critique in the alt-text. Of course Munroe knew about the Great Boston Molasses Flood, as famously catalogued by Milk and Cheese. Of course. It’s comforting, in a way, to have it proved that you are not cleverer (or at least more well-versed in obscure historical trivia) than Randall Munroe.

  • Soonish debuted yesterday, and although I don’t have my copy yet (it will be coming soonish in fulfillment of Zach Weinermsith’s Kickstarter Gold project), I’m eagerly counting down the days. Not just until I get to read the book in physical form, but also to see Kelly and Zach Weinersmith on their book tour next Monday evening; it’s been years since I’ve seen Zach, so this’ll be fun.

    Also fun: hearing Weinersmith & Weinersmith get five minutes of precious airtime on the nation’s premiere daily economic issues program, Marketplace. It brought into relief how much of technology is really dependent on finding an economic niche it can exploit, which did not occur to me when I had the chance to read through a late pre-final copy of the book last year.

    Give it a listen, get your copy of Soonish, and don’t forget to use the entire situation spice up your sex life: The Marketplace Interview — listen to the mellifluous voice of Kai Ryssdal through your radio, touch him on the penis.

  • As of this writing, we’re about 2.5 hours out from the end of the Kickstarter for the omnibus edition of Girls With Slingshots, which has been running for the past month. Apart from giving us a new case study to re-evaluate the validity of the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II and the McDonald Ratio, it’s significant for a couple of other reasons:

    This is why anybody in indie/webcomics with their head screwed on straight is listening to Spike; it’s why Kickstarter basically adopted her as an evangelist¹. And we’re up more than US$3000 in the time it took me to do the math in the footnotes.

  • One of these days, I want to be so accomplished that when I change jobs, it makes the industry press; then again, when it comes to webcomics hack pseudojournalism, I pretty much am the industry press, so I guess I’ll let you know.

    But today, that distinction belongs to three colleagues at Workman Publishing who are hopping ship to Macmillan to start a new imprint in the children’s book group; they include publisher Daniel Nayeri, editorial director Nathalie Le Du, and art director Collen AF Venable — onetime designer at :01 Books (the majority of their entire catalog still designed by Venable, despite her being gone for three years), one time Fluff In Brooklyn webcomicker, and force of nature in book design.

    Being an art director recognized by the publishing industry for the revolutionary things you’re doing for kid books is great. Getting in on the ground floor of a new imprint, able to put your philosophies into practice as guiding principles? Even better.

    The as-yet unnamed new imprint is, I’m confident, going to do amazing things. And, in one of those cases of things coming full circle, Venable will now be returning to Macmillan, which is the parent company of :01, and doubtless see her old co-conspirators around the halls. Congrats to her and her esteemed colleagues, and I can’t wait to see what they do.

Oh, and with 86 minutes to go? GWS is above US$256,000. Yowza.


Spam of the day:

Bouquets for less bucks

No offense, guys, but the visual design of the graphics in this spam is very mid-80s, and reminds me of a newspaper ad I saw back in college for a luv-ya bookay. It was painful.

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¹ And let’s consider that of the seven Kickstarter Thought Leaders, there are as of today 35 projects to their names (one of which was unsuccessful), raising a total of approximately² US$3.7 million.

Spike’s responsible for more than US$1 million of that, and 14 of 35 projects. She’s the second-most successful of the creators, beaten only by a three-project design shop (representing two of the seven) that raises US$300K to US$700K on beautiful, pricey art objects.

² Approximately because the GWS campaign is still open, and two of the other Thought Leaders are reported in foreign currencies.

There’s A Double Meaning In That

Middle age, is a weighty phrase — it can mean that extended time of your life when you see perhaps fewer days ahead than behind, and definitely feel the bleh aspects of keeping a human body working. Side effects may include increased torpor and or stamina-lack, baldness, and desperate displays of how youthful and cool you are¹. Or it could refer to that broad swath of time between the general decline of accomplished empire, and the resurgent renaissance as society gets its learning on again.

Or it can refer to the intersection of the two, vis-a-vis the webcomic of the same name by Steve Conley². Conley was kind enough to send me a copy of the first print collection of The Middle Age (30 or so strips plus bonuses) — a slim, squarebound volume, it occupies the middle ground between mini-comic and a printed-overseas-year’s-worth collection. If you’re looking for an introduction to a comic that you don’t now, it’s the perfect balance of economy (of cash and time) and ephemerality, the sort of thing that’s perfectly supported by Patreons.

And it was a necessary introduction, on account of The Middle Age escaped my notice until Conley emailed to ask if I’d be at SPX; there’s a lot of webcomics out there, and even a longtime creator starting one can escape my notice more easily than I’d like to admit. And I admit it, because doing so lets me make up for my oversight; this is a fun comic.

The nominal hero (Sir Quimp of Grawlix) and the nominal MacGuffin (Maledicta! The Blade of Woe!) are pretty quickly reversed in roles — Maledicta runs circles around Quimp, berating the largely well-meaning but hapless knight at every turn, and taking control of his body when unconscious to deal out truly horrifying amounts of death. It’s gotta sting for Quimp to be reduced to bit player in his own life by an inanimate (but evil and intelligent) chunk of metal, but it’s also perfectly in character.

But for me, the inversion (clever), the pacing (brisk), the gags (full of earned funny) aren’t what grabbed me about The Middle Age; it’s the language. Grawlix isn’t a nonsense word (well, it is, but it has a meaning); it’s the spiral symbol in word balloons that represents naughty words … and Quimp’s speech is full of grawlix after he meets Maledicta.

Then there’s that name: maledicta, I am assured by Google, translates from Latin as malicious. But break it down a little — male means poorly, badly; dicta means called but is not far removed from dictum (saying, speech, something said). It’s just this side of bad + words, which of course are disguised by grawlix. Ironically, Maledicta doesn’t utter so much as one naughty word in Book One, while Quimp is reduced to it on multiple occasions as they meet, establish their respective stories, and head off (at the end of the book) to the town of Gaffe.

I am beginning to sense a theme³.

Those wishing to explore said theme further, the second book is currently in pre-orders, shipping in the next two weeks or so. For those even more impatient to revel in the word games, Conley updates The Middle Age on Mondays.


Spam of the day:

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR FAVORITE TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX INSPIRED GIFTS

What.

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¹ I, by contrast, have a full and lush head of hair, am vigorous, and have always been this cool and relevant. Why, yes, I am about to turn 50, thank you.

² Whose Astounding Space Thrills I was enjoying back in the Dawn Age of webcomics, some 20 years back. Which might make both Conley and me middle aged if not rapidly approaching decrepit.

³ Previous wielders of Maledicta include Gwaethbfnl the Unpronounceable and Lord Snitbag the Poorly Named. And just to pile on, a Google search tells me that quimp(s) are graphical elements in a maledicta balloon to represent obscenities, resembling the planet Saturn (which kettle-shaped Quimp kind of does).

The same reference calls out jarns and nittles, but definitions are sadly lacking, but Quimp’s surcoat contains an embroidered design with all the curseword symbols represented.

Atlantic Traversals

Let’s finish up the week with a word from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin. He starts with a bit of news, digresses into the fine points of French IP law, and bring it back around to the potential for better access in the future. Take it away, FSFCPL!

Last week, Maliki became an internationally published comic series. Indeed, on October 5th Ediciones Babylon¹ released Maliki: Blog in Spain in Spanish …

… I sense you are disappointed.

It is clear that we at Fleen would be most thrilled to cover the news of Maliki being published stateside, but sometimes events don’t happen in any expected or logical order: contacted about the genesis of this project, Team Maliki stated that [t]he publisher stumbled upon Maliki, then the Maliki BLOG, and simply contacted [them] to know if [they] would be OK for a Spanish version. In other words, an opportunity they were happy with presented itself, and they took it.

It is, nevertheless, an important development, and a first: the first time a French webcomic is published outside a French-speaking country without having first gone through a traditional publisher for the French edition. This means Team Maliki directly manages their international rights, no middleman.

Financially, it matters, but less than you’d think: even when a publisher manages the international rights and sublicenses them to foreign publishers, royalties have to be paid to the author whichever the edition, by French law. For instance, the rightsholders for Astérix once successfully sued their French publisher who played fast and loose with this rule for foreign editions, and given the international reach of Astérix, I can not even begin to imagine what the damages must have been like.

However, when it comes to control, especially creative and quality control, it changes everything: French creators often have very limited control over foreign editions, with sometimes disappointing results. But if there is one thing we know about webcartoonists, it is that they insist on being in control, and Team Maliki were in a position to make sure it was a product they could be proud of. Moreover, they were able to seed a Spanish version of their site with translations provided by the publisher, and while only a sampling is present at the moment, all the infrastructure is in place to produce them all: note the third flag that appeared for e.g. The Creepy Old Guy.

But the most important lesson is this: it can be made to work out. There is no reason for foreign publishers not to treat directly with creators who still have all their rights, and the latter will usually be more than happy to have someone else handle promotion in a market unknown to them as well as translation (not everyone can summon a translation dream team out of their communities, at least not for every language): the proof is in the pudding.

As always, we are grateful to FSFCPL for keeping us up on the development in bandes dessinées web, and hope that this prompts some of our stateside publishers to look to creators on the continent when next trawling for good reprint projects.


Pourriel du jour:

Irina Shayk is without question heating up the summer season on the quilt pertaining to saying!

Translation: they can manage it for a webcomic or graphic novel, at least try with the spams, yes?

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¹ Who, incidentally, also publish Lucky Penny in Spain, including a nice interview with Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh (English version at the bottom of the page).

I Missed What?

Okay, I didn’t really miss it, but with the travel and all, this is the first chance I’ve had to write about the fact that Homestuck is getting an annotated print treatment from Viz:

Viz had some interesting announcements at their NYCC panel. And this is the biggest: a new print edition of Homestuck, Andrew Hussie’s cult webcomic/interactive experience. The strip has already had print collections from Hussie, but the new editions will be very extensive, with animated content rendered as frames on the printed page. And commentary on EVERY page by Hussie.

Which raises some questions:

  • How will these be different from the previously-published TopatoCo¹ collections?
  • What kind of production challenges will have to be met, particularly in the later acts of the story, where animations/music sometimes went on for 12 – 15 minutes?
  • Is this happening too late? Homestuck was the fandom that grew crazy big, but which has definitely faded from view.
  • Will this include Sweet Bro And Hella Jeff? I’m not sure the existing edition can be improved upon in any fashion.

It’s that third question that keeps coming back to me. The time for this was a year and a half ago, when Homestuck was concluding (or, even better, for the printing to have begun in earnest during one of the long hiatuses, and for it to have been well underway at the time of the big finish). A comprehensive program like this needed to be in place in the era when Jeffrey Rowland could lead a parade of literally hundreds of Homestucks across the floor of San Diego Comic Con; they would have dropped the cash to pre-order the entire run without thinking about it.

But, publishing being publishing, the announcement is that in April, a full two years after the strip wrapped, the first two chapters of Homestuck will hit print in a combined volume. Which, by my count of pages in the archive, amounts to a bit less than 10% of the full run — so how long before the War And Peace of the 21st century is concluded in print?

Like I said, a lot of questions, but it appears that Viz believes they’re in it for the long haul — http://homestuck.com now exists as a clearinghouse of all things Homestuck, and if you look at the very bottom of the page, it reads

© 2017 Homestuck & VIZ Media

Joint ventures, man. Takes forever to wind those things down, especially when they’re building new stuff:

WPG [What Pumpkin Games, publisher of Hiveswap] and Homestuck, Inc. (Homestuck) also announced a strategic partnership with VIZ Media to develop a comprehensive array of additional entertainment content and licensed merchandise based on the HOMESTUCK universe, including both the original web comic and the HIVESWAP game series.

Viz is banking Homestuck never going away, and becoming a perpetual IP. And hell, if any webcomic can do it, the weird little story that could will be the one that does.


Spam of the day:
This is too long, I have to show you a screenshot:

And that, kids, is why you set your email client to disallow HTML emails.

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¹ Which have author’s notes on each page, but the first two of the three volumes are sold out.

Some Good News, Sorely Needed

So it’s nearly the weekend and who the hell knows what’s happening in the world at large (much less the world of [web]comics). Let’s focus on some happy thoughts.

  • Tillie Walden has been having a heck of time the past twelve months. At SPX last year she took two Ignatzen, then she launched her first webcomic, then the buzz started building for her debut graphic novel (which turned out to be brilliant), and she’s been guesting and paneling at seemingly every prestigious comics show in CY 2017. Not bad for having just turned 21.

    For those that thought said webcomic was great and also thought that there should be a way to reward Walden for it, your moment has come:

    We’re SO EXCITED to be publishing the amazing @TillieWalden’s graphic novel ON A SUNBEAM next year!

    Makes perfect sense; :01 Books are already Walden’s publisher on Spinning, and :01 head Mark Siegel is very open about wanting his imprint to be the sort of place that keeps the well-fitting creators around forever. And given the lead times on book production¹, this is an incredibly tight turnaround — no more than 15 months from now. I know of books at :01 that were announced last year for Fall of 2019.

    (And side note from the announcement embedded in the tweet: Seth Fishman — no relation to Desmond — is rapidly becoming one of the two or three most important people in the comics publishing world, representing some of the best in indie/webcomics³ in between writing his own books. Heck of a nice guy, too.)

    So congrats to Walden, congrats to :01, and congrats to everybody that will get to read On A Sunbeam on paper. The next 3 to 15 months can’t come quickly enough.

  • And for those looking forward seven months or so, applications for the 2018 iteration of VanCAF are now available. Saturday and Sunday, 19 and 20 May at the Roundhouse with guests TBA, but VanCAF has had one of the best exhibitor curations of recent years, so I’m entirely confident the lineup will be great.

    Applications are open until 31 October, and note that they give priority to comics artists (as opposed to illustrators/animators/other artists) with new works debuting at or around the show, who represent all the communities of Vancouver and around. PNW, this is one of your moments to shine.

Okay, I’m out for the weekend, and quick note that I’ll be traveling for work on Monday, so maybe no post. If you’re in Canada, Happy Thanksgiving.


Spam of the day:

Up to $100 Off and Free Shipping

This spam was for glasses and I’ll give ’em this — the image that they used is pretty much exactly the frame of my glasses, just in black instead of silver. Still think I’ll stick with my Warbys, though.

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¹ I’m pretty sure every time I’ve check the publication info on a book from :01, it’s indicated that it’s printed in Dongguan City, Guangdong province in China. Printing in China means there’s necessarily a boatload² of time taken up in shipping and customs before stateside distribution can begin.

² I’m so sorry.

³ Kate Beaton, Randall Munroe, the Weinersmiths, Abby Howard, Ryan North, and more.

For The Life Of Me, I Can’t Think Of A Title

Okay, this is my fault: I dropped the ball on pushing the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS campaign for hurricane relief after I launched my matching campaign last week. Jon Rosenberg’s medical fundraiser¹ hit just after and distracted me, as did the general state of the world being awful. Regardless, we didn’t get as much as we might have otherwise (then again, having four matching fundraisers this year, plus helping Alec Rosenberg to walk without pain, means that we may all be feeling collectively tapped out).

Nevertheless, you came through. Backers (all of whom elected to remain anonymous) donated and I rounded up my match to US$500. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. For reference, this brings the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund to a total of US$9275 of matches, plus another US$375 from my employer. Between you and me, that’s nearly twenty thousand damn dollars from fans of webcomics to help and defend those that need it. Thank you all.

In other, less immediately financial news:

  • We wrote last week of the return of Christopher “Doctor” Hastings to webcomickin’, and he had one more surprise for us. Turns out the five comics we saw last week are not related to each other at all, but were each the launching point for a separate story:

    Here are my FIVE new weekly comics!

    Mon: Magical Merlin
    Tue: Queen of Clubs
    Wed: Asimov’s Laws
    Thu: Karate Sewer Gator
    Fri: Woodsman!

    Magical Merlin is naturally a wizard; Queen of Clubs looks to be a domestic sitcom; Asimov’s Laws features Inventor Dad and wacky maker mishaps; Karate Sewer Gator is intrigue involving punks, dope, and the eponymous gator; and Woodsman! so far is heavy on camping mishaps at the hands of bears. Friggin’ bears. One or more of them is sure to tickle your fancy.

  • Did I mention that my wife quit her job last year to go back to school for a good old-fashioned re-careering? Because she totally did. Which is why last night, I was helping her study the geological time scale, from the Hadean eon (formation of the Earth to ~ 3.6 billion years ago) through to the modern day (we’re in the tail end of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era, of the Phanerozoic eon, starting a paltry 2 million years ago). At the conclusion of the study session², I passed her my copy of Abby Howard’s Dinosaur Empire and told her just to read that. All the life before dinosaurs back to the pre-Cambrian, and all the life since the K-T extinction event have all sucked rocks compared to dinosaurs³.

    As noted when I reviewed Dinosaur Empire, that book is listed as the first volume in a series called Earth Before Us, but it wasn’t clear who might be making subsequent books.

    Wonder no more.

    Hey, folks! Just to let you know where I’ve been all month, I’ve been hard at work on the pencils for book 2 in the Earth Before Us series~

    So this is why I haven’t been updating. Sorry for all the waiting you’ve had to do, and thank you for your patience!

    Speaking for myself, this is great news. Sure, I like getting free comics from Abby Howard, but getting more ancient critter books? Maybe the Oligocene, aka The Age Of Horns? Or the Devonian, aka The Age Of Fish? Heck, let her take a shot at the Cambrian explosion and all the protofish and sea scorpions and weird-ass spiral shell squid. I’m so in, and ready to give her money in exchange for books 2 through infinity.


Spam of the day:

Jane Seymour explains how Crepe Erase can help you look as young as you feel.

I feel about sixteen most days, and if you ditch the random grey in my hair and the moustache, I still look it. Do I win?

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¹ Which, as I write this five days later, is sitting just north of 93% of goal. You are all amazing.

² And that’s why the writers of Doctor Who screwed up in the Third Doctor era, because they were described as having dinosaurs, but the Silurian Period was over a good 160, 170 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared in the Triassic period. I’m not sure her professor will appreciate my nerdrage.

³ Not sure what the academic appreciation of that opinion would be, either. Don’t care. Dinosaurs are the best.

Equinox, Bright And Sunny

I intend to get out and enjoy it.

  • Last night I noticed a tweet from everybody’s favorite, Kate Beaton that lead to a story that is both fabulous news and deeply disappointing at the same time. Barnes & Noble, at their SF/Fantasy blog, honored the 80th anniversary of The Hobbit‘s publication by recounting the story of hour Maurice Sendak almost got the gig to illustrate an edition 50 years ago. Great story, terrible that we never got that and they used that as a jumping off point to imagine how seven legendary artists¹ would also make great partners with Tolkien’s work.

    The seven chosen are Paul Pope, Mary Blair, Dr Suess, Al Hirschfeld, Edward Gorey, Mo Willems … and Kate Beaton.

    This is amazing company to be in, and I can’t say that it isn’t entirely earned. Each of the seven is immediately, uniquely identifiable, each suits their chosen material perfectly, and each would bring a wonderful spin to Bilbo’s adventures. That’s the good part.

    The bad part? Four of the seven — Blair, Suess, Hirschfeld, and Gorey — are dead, and so it’s entirely appropriate for B&N to contract with an artist to do work in their style. But Pope, Willems, and Beaton are all very much alive, and to have somebody else ape their style when they’re around is weak tea.

    Grant Lindahl’s got a pretty good handle on Beaton’s style (I particularly like the spider, which looks like the offspring of Shelob and Fat Pony), but you know who’s got an even better handle on Beaton’s style? Same applies to Willems and Pope.

    Maybe she was busy. Maybe the amount they had in the budget was too little to interrupt her current work. But her tweet reads to me like she wasn’t asked, which is weak tea. To paraphrase a character that every reader of the SF/Fantasy blog should be familiar with, OK, so ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?

  • Updated Kickstarter numbers for the Girls With Slingshots omnibus, Yuko Ota’s off-hand comics, and Howard Tayler²’s thirteenth (!) Schlock Mercenary collection, according to the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II, and the McDonald Ratio:
    • GWS Omni: US$276K to US$410K (FFFmk2, unchanged since Wednesday); US$357K (McDR, up from US$347K)
    • Offhand: US$36K to US$54K (FFFmk2, up from US$25K to US$37K); US$51K (McDR, up from US$30K)
    • Schlock 13: US$90K to US$136K (FFFmk2, up from US$84K to US$126K); US$120K (McDR, up from US$99K)

    This time next month, we’ll know how they all worked out.


Spam of the day:
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¹ Legendary is their word choice; in fact, the title of the post. Also, by Tolkien’s numerology, this would make the artists equivalent to the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone. Granted, most artists do end up hunched over their drawing boards and don’t always get out into the sun.

² Evil Twin, etc.

Unfortunate Happenstances

Things don’t always work out for the best, but that doesn’t mean that they’re completely unworkable.

  • For instance, Thought Bubble — a weeklong celebration of comics in Leeds, UK, that culminates in a weekend comics convention — lost its traditional November dates and had to relocate. Unfortunately, that puts it in close proximity to SPX, which led more than one creator to tell me that they had to choose between doing one show and the other. Thought Bubble’s made the best of the situation, though, and will run their comics show with an impressive list of guests and exhibitors, from both sides of the Atlantic.

    On the Guests list (which is helpfully divided into Writers, Artists, and All on the website), you have webcomics luminaries such as Jon Allison, Darryl Cunningham, Marc Ellerby, Cameron Stewart, and Spike Trotman. The page is laid out with nice big images and names, and each links to a page about the guest — easy to navigate and intuitive to use!

    On the Exhibitor front, Thought Bubble did something I’ve not seen before that I really liked; the show is spread out across different venues, and thus there are multiple exhibitor pages, one per venue.

    Unfortunately, the layout of the pages requires a good deal of effort to decipher — exhibitors are shown by an image, which may be a character, a scene, or a photo. Names are sometimes present, sometimes not, and they’re seemingly arranged alphabetically by URL of all things. As a result, it’s tough to pick out who’s attending without clicking through to every website, which I’m not gonna do. I can tell you that Tom Siddell will be at the Cookridge Street Marquee, and that by chance the comiXology Marquee has a significant number of avatars with names on them.

  • In a completely different kind of unfortune, A Girl And Her Fed creator KB “Otter” Spangler has a dying tablet, which makes it hard to draw stuff. By good fortune, however, she was putting the finishing touches on a new novel last week¹, so she’s got a new thing to sell and hopefully get back to the art game. Stoneskin is Hogwarts in space (cosmic beings beyond our ken performing the stand-in for magic) meets trade empires, and it’s a hell of a good read.

    It’s completely different from her other books (set in the world of a single near-future technology, and the societal and political upheavals it causes), but it’s unmistakably Spangler’s writing. Even better, it’s a preface to a planned trilogy, which means I (and you, I suppose) get to read another 750 to 1000 pages of her writing, so yay. It’s entirely worth your five bucks, is what I’m saying.


Spam of the day:

Stop taking the wrong blood pressure drugs and try this out

124 +/- 4 systolic, 80 +/- 4 diastolic, bitches. I once had a cardiologist tell me that I will obviously die of something, but it won’t be heart disease.

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¹ At least, it was a little less than two weeks back when she asked if I wanted to be an beta reader for it. As has been well-established on the page previously, Spangler is a very close personal friend, I love her work, and I wrote the foreword for her first book. I believe that’s us sufficiently disclaimed.

Kickin’ Books And Also Around The Continent

Okay, there’s gonna be a lot of Kickstarter numbers thrown around, but before we get to that, I don’t want to miss out on talking about Ben Hatke’s Book Tour Extravaganza in support of Mighty Jack And The Goblin King. He’ll be hitting eight cities in nine days starting next Monday (25 September) in Portland and finishing up the Tuesday following (3 October) in Winnipeg.

Along the way he’ll be talking with the likes of Lucy Bellwood, Kazu Kibuishi, and Ryan North, so if you’re going to be in Stumptown, Seattle, Monterose (California), Salt Lake City, Saint Paul (Minnesota), Amherst (Massachusetts), Toronto, or The Slurpee Capital of the World, do check out the cities/dates/accompanying cool people.

  • I was going to be spending some time today talking about how the Girls With Slingshots omnibus Kickstarter was going and how it was likely to do, but it’s probably not practical to do so. Recall the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II: take the predicted amount of funding for a project from the Kicktraq “Trend” tab at the 24-30 hour mark and divide by four — that’s the base prediction. Then take that amount and divide it further by five — that’s the uncertainty. Thus, a project predicted by the Trend formula to raise US$100K would likely finish in the US$25K +/-5K range.

    But, it’s not good for certain projects — if the number of backers in that first time period isn’t at least 200 or so, it’s not accurate. It’s also not good where there are huge, pent up cascades of money that then drop off because everybody who’s gonna back the project jumped in during the first few hours; the FFFmk2 depends on an organic long tail. In both of these cases, the McDonald Ratio is more accurate: take the total raised in the first three days and that’s about 1/3 of the final total¹.

    The total amount asked for, and the relative pricing of the reward tiers have not, to this point seemed to affect the accuracy of either of these tools. With those caveats out of the way, the McDonald Ratio is premature for the GWS campaign (it’s still less than 48 hours in), but it’ll be above US$347K, because that’s what you’d get by tripling the total as of this writing, and I don’t see many people canceling pledges.

    The FFFmk2 (again, I think this is gonna be skewed) is running US$343K +/- 67K, or somewhere between US$276K and US$410K. There’s just no precedent in the formula for a project that brings in US$116K in less than 48 hours, but it seems a safe bet that the US$50K goal will be met five to eight times over.

  • So then I was going to talk about Howard Tayler²’s campaign (launched yesterday) for the thirteenth Schlock Mercenary collection; the high backer count (over 650 as of this writing) and history of successful projects (the formula tends to work better when backers see the creator has a track record) are both good, but the short funding period (only 24 days) makes the McDonald Ratio a bit suspect. Regardless, I’m going to run the numbers and call it US$84K to US$126K (FFFmk2) and north of US$99K (we haven’t had three days yet); call it three to five times goal.
  • Finally, well under 24 hours ago (so all calculations are going to be low) the newest Johnny Wander collection went up for funding; fresh off their Ignatz win, Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh are printing a collection of Ota’s art from the past five years from those periods when repetitive stress injuries forced her to use the wrong hand. Spoiler: Ota quickly draws better with her non-dominant hand than most everybody draws with their dominant hand.

    This is such a cool idea, made even cooler by the fact that the special edition of the collection will feature a lenticular image of an MRI of Ota’s right wrist, in all of its damaged glory. So, with knowledge that these numbers will only go up, US$25K to US$37K and US$30K are the prediction or comfortably over the very modest US$19K goal (those lenticular effects ain’t cheap, y’all).

By end of the week, all of these estimates will be more accurate, but honestly? The numbers games — which make no mistake, I adore — are less important than the fact that so many great comics are available almost on a whim these days. Take advantage of it as much as you can.


Spam of the day:

porn star $20 and a sandwich and she’d fake an orgasm over Weetabix

There is so much wrong with that sentence I don’t know where to start.

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¹ Named for Kel McDonald, who has run a stack of Kickstarts, and found the rule very useful in her campaigns. However, McDonald tends to run longer campaigns than most — six to eight weeks, typically — and that may skew the prediction high on campaigns shorter than the traditional 28 to 31 days.

² Evil twin, etc.