The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Stand By My St Crispin’s Day Reference, Thank You Very Much

The thing about a network outage (such as I had yesterday) is that it doesn’t just prevent me from participating in a meeting or two. As mentioned on previous occasions, I teach for a technology company, and an interruption means class isn’t happening. That material ain’t gonna teach itself, so we’re behind for the rest of the week. Add to that the fact that three of my students this week are in Mexico City and suddenly piped up this morning We’re having an earthquake, we have to go outside now just put us further behind¹.

But thankfully, we’re in a portion of class with lengthy exercises. While I haven’t had much time to look deep into [web]comics news today (or, honestly, for the past couple days), I did notice a couple of things. They’re extremely random.

  • Chris Hallbeck made my physics-loving heart sing with today’s Pebble And Wren: an explanation of ice cubes, and how we don’t shove around cold in making them, we pull heat out. I sometimes pity the children of today, growing up without Beakman’s World², because where else are they going to learn There’s no such thing as cold, there’s only more heat and less heat? Apparently, from Hallbeck.

    As long as we’re mentioning Hallbeck, this is your early notice that he is about to hit a Big Round Number of Maximumble (current strip: #1985), which I notice puts him past the just over 1900 strips he did at The Book Of Biff. The point, to the extent I have one, is that 1902+ 1985 + 566 (Minimumble) + 292 (P&W) = a metric squatload³ of comics (or, to be exact, 4745) since he started back in January of Aught-Six, or about three weeks after this page launched. Given that there have been 5286 days since the launch of Biff, that’s damn near 0.9 original strips per day, and over that threshold if you count his collaborations with other creators. Dang, Chris, well done.

  • Speaking of well done, I can always count on Erika & Matt to find a way to rise the challenge of [waves hands about helplessly] all of this. To quote the modern-day version of the St Crispin’s Day speech in today’s strip:

    We can’t take time off, but we can do the next best thing: A simpler comic. Let’s just get back to our roots and back to the title of this comic with a good ol’ fashioned sex toy review. We can’t fix the world but, by god, we can review a vibrator. [emphasis original]

    I would follow Erika Moen into battle, no shit. And since I don’t believe that we mentioned the end of the Drawn To Sex: Our Bodies And Health Kickstart. The campaign finished with US$54,027 of a US$7K goal. We didn’t bother with the FFF mk2 because it funded so quickly and those huge Day One campaigns mess with the formula. But I’ma say that any campaign that ends up at 780% of goal is a success. If you didn’t pledge, I guess you can wait until November when they go on sale.


Spam of the day:

Thank you for the quickly delivery to my home. When I saw the order. I immediately saw that something was wrong with it, and when I opened it, the product was unfortunately broken. I am a regular customer, and I regularly order from your shop.

You’re not even trying, Jesus.

I don’t mean that Jesus isn’t trying, I guess that’s his whole deal if you believe in that. I meant it as an intensifier to express the depth of my contempt for this would-be identity thief.

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¹ They tell me that things got shaky in MC, but didn’t mention any damage when they returned. Something tells me that closer to the epicenter in Oaxaca, it’s gonna be not such good news.

² Or even Bill Nye The Science Guy. Nye’s an actual engineer whereas Beakman was played by an actor, but honestly, I was always more of a Beakman fan. Zaloom!

² Which, given the conversion ratio of metric squatloads of 2.54:1, means an Imperial squatload is equal to approximately 1868.11 strips.

Doing Better

Y’know, I’ve missed an awful lot of comic news these days, simply because the volume on social media exceeds my ability to keep up with it. When I get to open Twitter, I’m not reading from where I left off to the present to catch up; I’m scanning what’s immediately in front of me and skipping over entire swathes. Finding the new story is entirely hit or miss if I’m not tagged.

Last night, I happened to open Twitter directly on a story du jour, this one about a creep whose whisper network is finally speaking out loud; the volume of discussion vs my time was such that I’m sure I haven’t seen all of it. Cameron Stewart [no link] did the fairly brilliant (if sporadic) Sin Titulo [no link, although see below], I met him back around 2007 or 8, I bought an original or two from him at MoCCAs past, and we would talk webcomics once or twice a year at shows until, I dunno? 2013? Before he got the Batgirl gig. From multiple people willing to go on the record, he was a sex pest towards much younger women, and arguably grooming teens for later sexual relationships.

I’m not getting into arguments as to whether or not he did anything illegal or if hitting on comics fans (as opposed to up and coming creators) by leveraging his status in the field obstructs new careers while they’re getting started. We’re also not having those arguments on this page — have them elsewhere. His behavior was predatory, and if it was a guy in his 30s in a van hanging around the high school, I think fewer people would be reluctant to call our his behavior. But it wasn’t, it was a respected creator using his position at cons to cultivate relationships not with women he sought out, but with ones he could get alone.

I’ve reached a point in life where I don’t have any compunctions about calling out shitty behavior, or demanding the people I associate with not engage in established patterns of shitty behavior. He hadn’t posted anything on Twitter in about forever that I recall (and his account was locked when I looked this morning), but I’ve unfollowed. His work exists, but I’m no longer promoting it¹. It’s not really a very high bar to clear that you don’t willingly associate with shitty people, or tell people that are perhaps thinking about engaging in shitty behavior that they have to do better.

There are too many people out there doing better, doing too much good work, to waste time on those that can’t be bothered to not be a garbage person. I doubt I’ll have cause to speak of him again, and would like to spend the rest of today talking about some of those folks that find ways to do better².

  • Jim Zub is the opposite of an obstruction to new creators; I’ve remarked on this page that his habit of sharing information, best practices, and data from his own creator-owned career has had the effect of making up-and-coming creators more effective and more likely to succeed in their careers, which is arguably against Zub’s interests. If those newbies that he’s coaching become runaway successes, they might take jobs (or comic-buying dollars) that might have gone to Zub instead, and he doesn’t have a problem with that. He wants to succeed in comics, but not by pulling up the ladder behind him. If somebody grows past him, he’ll be thrilled because he’ll get to read awesome new comics.

    Which is why it’s heartening to see him score a success off his first creator-owned comic series³, Skullkickers:

    Copernicus Studios Inc is proud to announce a development deal to adapt the SKULLKICKERS comic series written by Zub and illustrated by Edwin Huang and Chris Stevens into an animated action-adventure series for adults.

    The rest is out of the press release stylebook that talks about Zub, talks about the studio, makes reference to why adult animated makes sense from a market perspective, then has the artificially enthusiastic quote at the end. I’m not sure why press releases feel the need to format themselves in such a way as to invite — nay, demand — a businessperson exclaiming It’s time to kick some skulls!, but there are entire B-school marketing curricula that train people to do that. Anyway, Zub’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to Adult Swim or whoever featuring a pair (sometimes trio) of reprobates that take apart every fantasy trope and cliche.

  • Speaking of those younger creators who hit the stratosphere in terms of critical and popular success, you’d be hard pressed to find one with as meteoric a rise as Tillie Walden. In my review of her spectacular Are You Listening?, I wrote:

    There is a moment when I open a Tillie Walden book when I pause, knowing that there’s a very high chance that what I’m about to read will take up residence in my brain for an extended period of time until I am changed by the experience.

    I pause not because I am reluctant, but because I’ll never again have that moment of anticipation when I have an entire new Tillie Walden story to look forward to.

    So to say that I love her comics is a bit of an understatement. I also know that Walden’s comics are possibly not a thing we’ll get to enjoy indefinitely; musing on how Are You Listening? wouldn’t be out of place as a career-capping masterwork after 50 years of comics making:

    Given how Tillie Walden threw herself into skating to the exclusion of all else for ten years or so before shifting to comics, it might well be the capstone of her comics career if she decides it’s time to shift again. It would be a tragedy to have no more comics from Walden, except for the fact that whichever next artistic endeavour she threw herself into would surely be as assured and captivating as this one.

    I’m not saying that Walden is leaving comics behind, but she’s spent a good deal of the past year or so illustrating a tarot deck, and she’s now part of a comics-adjacent-but-not-comics project that could take her career in a new direction:

    entering the world of picture books with @edhunsinger

    More precisely, Walden and Emma Hunsinger (Eisner nominee this year for How To Draw A Horse in The New Yorker, which was really amazing — even more amazing is for a young woman to break into the ranks of New Yorker cartoon regulars) are partnered up on My Parents Won’t Stop Talking:

    The co-authored, co-illustrated book, which marks Walden’s picture book debut and Hunsinger’s publishing debut, stars siblings whose trip to the park is waylaid by a torturously slow but wildly imaginative wait, as their endlessly with the neighbors.

    And whee-doggies, the world of picture books seems to have different economics than the world of comics, as Roaring Brook Press (sister imprint to :01 Books bought MPWST for a euphemistically large six figures.

    We at Fleen offer the heartiest congratulations to Hunsinger and Walden. I’ll need to clear space next to The Princess And The Pony, King Baby, Leave Me Alone!, The Little Guys, and the soon-to-be-released Let’s Get Sleepy by fall of next year.


Spam of the day:

How to shrink your swollen prostate naturally (sleep better, normal pee, better sex)

Wow. Just went looking for the big ol’ spammer mark profile list that reads “Dudes over 50”, didn’t you?

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¹ He’s no longer linked on the suggested comics list, but for more than being shitty. When I clicked on Sin Titulo’s link earlier today prior to removing it, I found that it’s been replaced by a Japanese language site offering Perfect Bridal Dress [sic], so you couldn’t follow the link even if I wanted to point you towards it. I suppose it’s still at the Wayback Machine, but I ain’t providing a shortcut.

² And may entropy grant that more people whose work and company I’ve enjoyed don’t turn out to be shitty people in future. Giving up their company and their art isn’t the issue — it’s that even a handful is too damn many.

³ Or perhaps, series of miniseries; there were multiple four-issue arcs, each separated by a single issue of short stories.

For The Record, He Sent All This Along On Friday, I Just Didn’t Get To It Until Today

First of all, I need to apologize if you posted a comment since Friday’s post went up … a miscreant engaged in a little Grand Spamming¹ and I found 120 pending comments as I opened up the editor and wasn’t too careful with my mass delete. Mea culpa, if you got caught up.

Second of all, we’re starting out the week with a little cross-oceanic news, as Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who is always on top of what’s happening in the world of bandes dessinées [web].

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No real focus today:
[Editor’s note: been there.]

  • Maliki has launched their latest crowdfunding campaign; the start, helped by Team Maliki spreading the link in advance, was too explosive (4000 copies in 24 hours) to allow the FFF to be reliable since it would have predicted more than a twofold increase from their previous campaign, but there was little doubt anyway it would be at least as successful as their campaigns always are.
  • LyonBD has launched their non-festival, with plenty of non-programming [PDF] all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • At the end of an enjoyable live stream hosted by Natalie Nourigat (part 1, part 2), Boulet dropped that Donjon, the series created by Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar for which he has drawn the latest installments would be translated in English and come to the U.S. of A.

    [Editor’s note: !!!]

    We at Fleen will be sure to keep you informed.

  • Speaking of Sfar, he is being sued by the SGDL, a French society of writers, for defamation; yes, the very same society of writers responsible for dispatching aid meant for creators, with Cy wondering at the time why such a private entity would be entrusted with public money. Sfar, as the honorary president of the Professional Creators League was interviewed by Alexandra Bensaid Saturday May the 23rd (replay available here), Sfar segment starting at 1:19:30, if you can understand French), and as we at Fleen understand it the SGDL objects to Sfar denouncing these organisms, such as the SGDL, […] which occasionally get a hold of enormous amounts of money which do not end up going to the creators (all the caveats about both transcribing an audio interview and translating the meaning from French apply).

    The suit has led to quite a backslash, with the Professional Creators League publicly reacting in support of Sfar, and many creators loudly surrendering their SGDL memberships for the same reason. We at Fleen are not in a position to either assess Sfar’s claims nor analyze his legal position, but we regret the use of such tactics by the SGDL, and we think Sfar ought to be able to express himself with few if any restrictions on such a matter of public interest.

  • Finally, we at Fleen think you should be following Kéké for his amazing animations. There is no particular reason for why today we would make this suggestion.

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As always, we at Fleen (US division) thank FSFCPL for his contributions.


Spam of the day:
Anyone Can Learn Piano or Keyboard
I seem to recall a claim along these lines from Planet Of The Apes: The Musical. I love you, Dr Zaius!

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¹ Coincidentally, Grand Spamming is a crime in the universe of Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary, which was the topic of Friday’s post.

Various, Meet Sundry

Hey, welcome back. Try as I might, I just can’t make the stuff I want to talk about today fit into a theme, so let’s just tuck in and see what we got.

  • If you read my takes on this year’s Eisner nominations (and I promise, I’m going to talk about the Digital Comic/Webcomic nominees), you’ll recall that I was generally happy with the overabundance of great work recognized.

    However.

    I will say, at the remove of nearly a week, that it’s baffling that the nominations entirely failed to recognize two long-running, critically acclaimed and widely beloved series that wrapped up last year. I speak, naturally, of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Derek Charm, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham) and Giant Days (John Allison, Max Sarin, Whitney Cogar, Jim Campbell). Actually, that’s not quite true, as Campbell was nominated for Best Lettering, with Giant Days listed as one of ten titles he worked on. But still — tupping liberty.

    That being said, Allison, Sarin, Cogar, and Campbell¹ kept the band together for Wicked Things (issue #2 due sometime in the future, now that we are gradually making our way into commercial resumption), so the voters will have a chance to make it up next year. Additionally, Allison’s been killing it on the Steeple extended story (wrapped today), with some news of what’s next:

    I have more tales of Tredregyn to tell (“Secret Sentai” and “Showbusiness”), but I’m writing this six weeks in the past (April 29th), so I have no idea where they’ll appear, yet. Maybe the comics industry has come back to life. Maybe we are all living in caves. Hopefully I haven’t caught the covid. Awaiting my fate, I have had no choice to but to begin to draw another exclusive limited web-series event — NEMS — at destroyhistory.com. It begins on Monday June 15th.

    Okay, 1: I have never in my life wanted to read anything based solely on a title as much as Secret Sentai, and B: Allison cognoscenti will recall that Destroy History is the short way to say The Further Adventures Of Shelley Winters In Time (her last adventure involved Hedy Lamarr and her WWII-era invention of spread spectrum coding), so bookmark it now so that you may dig in on Monday.

  • There’s been a great deal of discussion about money in publishing in the past sevenday or so, particularly around the topics of who has it, who is offered it, and why most of seems to go to white people. But an ancillary discussion is being had — and keep in mind it was decided to talk about page rates on 1 June well before the world started down either the COVID suckhole or the Gods Dammit White People, BIPOC Have Had It With Your Shit uprising (2020 edition) — around money in comics and such.

    It’s been pointed out that the racial disparities exist here as elsewhere (in terms of money offered and who gets to be the creators/subjects of stories), but also that comics pays a crapload less than prose does². This is for a whole host of reasons, and even if everything were made equitable (which won’t happen unless people talk about it and share their worth so others know what they can ask for), there is an economic limitation on comics that prose simply doesn’t have.

    Paper. What looks good with words alone, and what looks good with words and pictures have vastly different cost bases. You don’t understand that side of publishing economics and neither do I, but fortunately somebody does, and his name is George. He tried to cut his experience-based knowledge down to tweet length, found it was impossible to do so, and slapped up a four and a half page explainer so that you can understand, too.

    The costs of paper stock don’t make the lowballing, crappy WFH page rates, and racial disparities any more acceptable, but if people are going to fight for better pay — and they should! — having all the relevant info is a necessary first step. If nothing else, it’ll provide a quick intro to the kinds of paper that you don’t want to use on your next self-pub project, no matter how much it’ll save you.


SM20 Countdown for 10 June 2020:
2

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¹ Which sounds like an accounting firm of high repute and moderate prices.

² Exception: prose author that dips their toes into comics; similarly, children’s books pay for shit, unless you are a famous person whose name goes on the cover in big letters, with the actual writer and artist’s names much smaller³.

³ Speaking of, a friend of mine was once offered a total of US$300 as WFH to write/illustrate a 24 page kiddie book so that an extremely rich (hefty fraction of billionaire would be my guess) multi-market celeb (music, fashion, film, modeling) could slap their name on it.

My friend said no, the celeb kept asking, my friend milked it for every possible extremely expensive lunch possible. Respect, and fuck that very rich celeb with the mansion and fancy cars and the three-hundo (which is only half as much as class money) offer without even the benefit of exposure. That’s right, it was a no-credit ghost job.

A Bit Of Joy In This Craptacular World

Let us not focus on the reasons we cannot have nice things¹ and instead focus on the nice things that happen sometimes. I am, on this occasion, talking about the second iteration of :01 Books deciding that we needed to talk comics, Comics Relief, and the four talks therein. Editorial note: I didn’t attempt to transcribe the conversations, but where I move from paraphrase to the vicinity of quotation, you’ll find the text in italics.

They were, from the top:

The first three talked process and methods, the last was just three friendly folks killing time with amusing stories, fond reminiscences, and the side effects of having kids mess with your Zoom settings. More on that below.

Importantly, each session started with a statement of solidarity and principles from the panelists; in some cases I believe it was drafted together, in others I think the panelists deferred to the moderator, but all of them acknowledged the current situation and the plain truth that black lives matter. In Siegel’s case, he went so far as to note that if you’re going to move from acknowledging that you benefit from a racist society to becoming actively racist, you’ve got some work to do; he recommended starting with Stamped From The Beginning by Ibrahim X Kendi.

Things that stood out:

  • Ottaviani noted that Astronauts came about when he learned the story of the Mercury 13 and couldn’t fit their story into what he was working on at the time, so he parked it to come back to later. But you can’t have a book with 13 protagonists, and he didn’t want to invent a composite character to stand in for them, so he went looking for an astronaut that wasn’t famous because most people aren’t. The book features three women, but it’s about Mary Cleave because she isn’t famous like Valentina Tereshkova or Sally Ride. That lack of fame (much like Wicks’s choices to have very detailed technology but rather cartoony characters) allows a reader to see themselves in the story.
  • Makers of all stripes have made maker comics; Koch attended culinary school, Myer is a costume-maker and cosplayer since small times, and Coovert has put at least as much thought into the hows and whys of what works in comics as anybody. The key to Maker Comics, Chapman shared, is to have a series of distinct, achievable, build-each-on-the-previous projects for those following along to tackle. Ideally, six to eight of them, with something really familiar to start with, and going deeper from there.
  • Box Brown doesn’t always do documentary comics4 and doesn’t intentionally alternate between books about people (Andre The Giant, Is This Guy For Real?) with books about cultural phenomena (Tetris, Cannabis), its just that sometimes that’s how the story gets into his head. Tetris could just have easily been told about Alexey Pajitnov.

    Brown’s talk with Brill showed how important the working relationship between creator and editor is — it was a revealing look at how they work together, and what the result of that work is like. Brill will not only bring out the best in your work, she’ll find a way to get Mandy Patinkin to blurb your book and to keep your talk going if your internet goes out, as Brown’s did for about five minutes5.

  • Pro tip from LeUyen Pham: check out what your Zoom background looks like before you start the session, lest you find out that your kids have set it and you don’t know it’s a very elaborate painting of a dragon until Clint McElroy compliments you and asks if you did it yourself. For a relaxed conversation with no set agenda, Pham’s frantic attempts to clear the background (in fact, it was one of hers, and it was stunning; McElroy later commented that he missed [her] dragon hat) got things off to an amusing start, which was followed up by some amusing How did we first meet? stories.

    For Pham, it was when Siegel was a lowly, peon designer (that’s an exact quote) at Simon & Schuster, around August of 2001. Siegel’s boss was frantic because an illustrator on a children’s book had completely failed to deliver and there were only a few months left to get art in. Pham’s sample work wasn’t a typical children’s book illo, it was an oil painting and despite the incredible detail in her work, she met the original deadline in November despite the upheavals of 9/11.

    Siegel: Everybody at Simon & Schuster was “Here’s a keeper!”
    Pham: Mark was impressed with my thumbnails and wanted to know if I’d ever want to do comics.

    For McElroy, it was at the :01 SDCC booth, the summer before the first Adventure Zone book came out. I walked up to the booth to introduce myself on the first day and this guy with glasses said “Hey, Buddy, end of the line!” [furious pointing gesture].

    Siegel remembers realizing that they had something really huge on their hands — the McElroy’s were brought out to the con, there wasn’t any swag yet for a book that was a year off, just some postcards, and he figured a few hardcore fans might show up. And then this MOB came to the booth, I didn’t recognize any of the cosplay, and we had to have con security help us wrangle the line which spanned three aisles. We put up tickets for a livecast and 1500 of them sold in four minutes. John Turner Sargent, the CEO of Macmillan, is calling up me looking at pre-orders for a book that’s a year away and asking “What the hell is The Adventure Zone?”

    McElroy remarked on that scheduled signing: We came out of the secret security tunnels in the convention center and saw this huge line that just kept going and said “We feel sorry for whoever’s line that is.” But it kept moving in the direction of the :01 booth, and there were people in Taako hats and … [gestures to Siegel on the screen] and then that night you bought my dinner and I loaded up on appetizers. Success!

    Siegel wanted to come back to the idea of huge, ongoing successes (TAZ, Pham’s collaborations with Shannon Hale, Real Friends and Best Friends), neither of which he saw coming. Every time I try to design a cash cow for :01, it tanks. People can smell it a mile off.

    Pham remarked how her kids are somewhat a barometer for that — they aren’t fans of her work, per se, it’s just what mom does; but towards the end of Real Friends, when young Shannon does something jerky, it affected her older son, who wanted to know why mom couldn’t just change the story to make her nicer. I had to explain what a memoir is. It was when he got really invested in the story that she started to think it might be more than just another book.

    And it all wrapped up with McElroy wanting to pitch Siegel on his cash cow idea: a billionaire cow that travels around spending cash. And y’know, if he partnered with Carey Pietsch on it, I think it just might work.


SM20 Countdown for 8 June 2020:
4

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¹ In this case, “Nick”, who decided to be a jerk about halfway through the first session and got the chat disabled as a result. I hope you got kicked out, Nick, I hope you got banned from future events, I hope you some day realize how little your inchoate rage at women is regarded by the world. You’re terrible and we’ve all decided to forget you.

² And author; Wilgus’s own graphic novel (Wyeth Yates provides the pictures), The Mars Challenge, comes out next week. How into space is Wilgus? She lays out Tsiolkovsky’s Rocket Equation in story form in chapter two, Gravity Is A Jerk.

³ Who was quick to note that she shares series editing duties with Bethany Bryan.

4 His next, Child Star (due out 30 June), is a fictional story inspired by multiple people who were child stars in the 80s. Brill, his longtime editor, remarked that she is in awe of his facility with awful 80s sitcom dialogue, and putting words in the mouths of assholish people.

5 At just about exactly the time that Brill’s mom was calling her. All of the classic Zoom interruptions happened at the same time.

Shutting Up Today

There’s nothing I can say that needs to be said. I’m spending my time, and suggest you spend yours, perusing the work of people who haven’t gotten attention they should have earned and bookmarking it for later.

May I suggest you seek out a Black artist thread, or just trawl through the #DrawingWhileBlack. If you’re pressed for time and looking for a collaborator or artist for hire, there’s a directory featuring more than 50 fine artists, more than 100 painters, more than 40 game designers, more than 100 graphic designers, more than 100 animators, more than 100 comics artists, and more than 400 (!) illustrators.

Or maybe just promote to others the best up-and-coming Black artist you’ve found recently. For me, that would be Dylan B Caleho, who blew my socks off with the mini she had at MoCCA last year, and whose comics work is impeccable. I want a publisher to give her a dump truck full of money to expand Don’t Linger to graphic novel size.

Okay, you’ve got your tasks for today. See you tomorrow.


Spam of the day:
For the next little while, Spam of the day will be replace by the SM20 Countdown. This is the number of days until 12 June 2020, the 20th anniversary of continuous, seven days a week, one big story arc updates at Schlock Mercenary¹.

SM20 Countdown for 2 June 2020:
10

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¹ Obligatory update: Schlock Mercenary creator Howard Tayler is my evil twin. As far as opposite doppelgangers from a parallel dimension², he’s probably the nicest you could hope to have.

² In this case, either Utah, where he has lived his adult life, or Florida, where he was born. Tayler is likely the least disastrous Florida Man in history.

Yet Another Book Kickstart

At its heart, The Nib is all about the politics. Sure, there investigative cartooning going on there, reportage from around the world, commentary on culture and society, but editorial supremo Matt Bors came up from the world of editorial cartooning, and their most memorable stuff has cut straight to the heart of politics.

Thus, six or so years (minus a restart or two here and there), they’re collecting the best of their political cartoons for print, and raising the requisite funds as we speak¹. And check out the talent on tap for this collection:

Take a look at these cartoonists: Pia Guerra, Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Ben Passmore, Gemma Correll, Joey Alison Sayers, Matt Lubchansky, Chelsea Saunders, Matt Bors, Rob Rogers, Niccolo Pizarro, Charis JB, Peter Kuper, Emily Flake, and Kendra Wells.

Hold on, we’re not done: Nomi Kane, Mark Kaufman, Keith Knight, Michael Kupperman, Eli Valley, Lauren Weinstein, KC Green, Megs Wolf, John Martz, Ward Sutton, Julia Bernhard, Jon Rosenberg, Ruben Bolling, Terry Laban, and Barry Deutsch! [emphasis original]

On a day when I had more patience, I’d hunt down websites for all those folks and link them. I’ll content myself with Jon Rosenberg on account of he provides my hosting. Pretty sure about 80% of the others are linked in some post or another here on the blog, so search in the box up there to the right and click whatever you find. It’ll work out fine.

Anyway, bunch of great creators, and a top tier that is making a compelling amount of sense — for US$500, you get The Nib print magazine for life; the individual issues are priced at US$15 per (at least, so far) and there’s been as many as four a year (being dropped by First Look last year and then the pandemic have delayed this year’s offerings, but Bors is determined to get back to quarterly). Call it US$60/year for the magazine (which is actually a mechanism to support the daily cartoons because — and we can never say this too often — Bors pays people what they’re worth), or just over eight years worth of print to the break-even point.

I have every confidence that the magazine will continue that long, and it actually makes even more sense for me. My subscription is actually at the US$8/month funding level, or US$96/year. Would The Nib still be around in five years? They’ve been around for longer than that so far, so I figure it’s a good bet. Gonna have to think on that; I’ve been using the stimulus money to buy more comics from more creators than usual; have to decide if spreading it around is as effective as sending it to one place that in turn pays a couple dozen folks.

Anyways, they’ve been funding for about 24 hours, so the FFF mk 2 tells us that their end level is probably going to be in the US$45K to US$67.5K range, safely above the US$30K goal (which they are currently halfway towards). You’ve got another 27 days to get in on it with the rest of us.


Spam of the day:

Save up to $610 on Auto Insurance This Spring

My auto insurer has already sent me checks for more than US$100, on account of the lockdowns have made them assess downwards how much they’re likely to pay out this year, and decided that we needed the money more than they did. They’ve always issued a similar dividend after year end, so I’m pretty confident this is going to continue. You were saying?

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¹ We need a better equivalent to that saying for the current age. I’m not speaking, I bet you aren’t either — Fleen readers have generally demonstrated an ability to read without moving their lips — so it kind of falls apart. I’m typing, you are at some future point reading, maybe we just need to make a reference to observing from the outside, at the as-yet-undetermined state of the Kickstart, like a half-alive cat?

Yeah, I’m a bit punchy today. My students, who have been generally capable this week, suddenly decided to have a big ol’ bowl of stupid flakes on what’s usually the easy day of this class, stumbling from step to step on what’s normally the easiest exercises of the course. Should have been done, 45 minutes in and out, everybody gets an early afternoon. As I write this, we’re past two and a half hours. Grrrrr.

What’s This? More Kickstarts?

For the best experience reading that headline, adopt the accent and vocal patterns of the faux German baker¹ in the old Pillsbury Toaster Strudel commercial: Strudel … zum toasten? And yes, there are new Kickstarts of which you should be informed.

  • Sam Logan cannot be accused of thinking small. He’s been drawing Sam and Fuzzy for just about eighteen damn years, through four distinct eras, wrapping up the last arc after more than 1700 pages and ten years. He took time for a little introspection, and some shorter stories that won’t turn into the behemoths he’s been known for (probably).

    Along the way, he published books, including five great big tomes for the final arc, ranging between 368 and 606 (!) pages each. A’course, the fifth book only contained the story up to the October/November 2015 time frame, meaning four solid years of story remained unpublished in dead tree form.

    For now:

    After 17 years, the Sam and Fuzzy saga’s epic, hilarious, earth-shattering conclusion has finally arrived. And this grand finale is so big, it took two books to contain it all: Volume 6 and 7: Race to the Bottom Part 1 and 2!

    Race to the Bottom is the two-part conclusion to the series, and is jam-packed with over 1100 pages of surprises and mayhem.

    US$45 gets you the two new volumes in softcover, which is a ridiculous value in terms of per-page costs. US$65 upgrades you to hardcover (ditto), and you can get all seven volumes for US$159 (softcover) or US$175 (hardcover). If you’re an obsessive completist and have about a linear meter of bookshelf space, you can get the print versions of the earlier three eras (pre-2009 or so) as well as all seven modern books for US$195 (softcover) or US$229 (hardcover). The bundles also come with a suitable amount of bonuses — pins, bookplates, everything in PDF, etc.

    Impressively, even the largest of those instant libraries doesn’t appear to charge more than about US$25 for shipping (to the US, at least), which makes me wonder it it arrives via freight. The whole thing is under the Make That Thing umbrella, so you know it’ll get done on time and reach you when promised, subject to the possible complete destruction of the US Postal Service to meet the whims of a narcissistic sociopath. In that eventuality, I’m pretty sure the MTT magical elves will find a way to get it to you about three weeks later, possibly by unicorn.

    Anyhoo, as of this writing the campaign is a little under US$24.6K of a US$37.5K goal, which is pretty damn good for a project that launched earlier today. Look for this one to fund out by a more than comfortable margin.

  • Speaking of comfortable margins, you’ve seen Madi: Once Upon A Time In The Future, right? Launched yesterday, presently 378% of its US$50K goal, the third part of Duncan Jones’s distopian trilogy (the first two parts being the films Moon and Mute, co-written with Alex de Campi (for my money, the most broadly capable writer in comics today), with sections of the story drawn by a murderer’s row of artistic talent? No? Well, here’s the first 19 pages available for you to download now.

    Artists include two of my absolute favorites, Pia Guerra and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, mixed in with a few names you might recognize: Stokoe, Fabry, Bisley, Fegredo, and more. The artistic contributors are paid their full asking rate² and will receive royalties. These 260 pages (and various bonus pages in the fancier form factors) will be done on paper period. To quote the campaign, No digital version of MADI will be made available at this time, or indeed maybe ever.

    This book is going to sweep a lot of awards. The free preview has its hooks deep into my brain, and I cannot wait to get my copy come November. Check this one out at the first opportunity.


Spam of the day:

Metformin and 3 other big selling diabetes drugs are under secret review.

Let me know when they’re under double secret review. Until then, you’re full of crap.

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¹ This introductory paragraph is dedicated to my old college co-conspirator John Costain “Thrice” Knight III, with whom I would occasionally lock eyes and intone Strudel knowing that he would always reply zum toasten?

He also barfed over the counter in Hardee’s one post-midnight Saturday night, because when you’ve been drinking after exam week and need food at that hour no other place is open. Eventually he became responsible for standing watches to ensure that the nuclear reactor on the John C Stennis (CVN-74) did not melt down despite the fact that he was part of the pre-commissioning crew and the reactor was not yet loaded with fissile material. I’d chalk it up to weird-ass military thinking but it honestly just kind of made sense for Thrice.

² I’m now remembering some tweets from Jones, maybe end of last year, asking how much he should expect to pay for the art for a graphic novel of ~ 200 pages, because he didn’t want to be an exploitative jerk and underpay people. He didn’t know, he asked, and he didn’t pitch a fit when large numbers were quoted at him. I made a mental note of Jones’s approach then, and I’m excited to see what comics can do when a writer of expansive vision partners with a writer super skilled in the medium, with and with visual artists of supreme ability, and nobody’s getting screwed.

No Brainers

So there’s a Kickstart you should know about, and a Kickstart that you hopefully did know about with a twist that you should know about. They both offer self-evident reasons why you should engage in commerce that are so compelling as to brook no contradiction. Shall we?

  • Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are on a mission: to make the world better at sex. Sometimes that means sharing reviews of sex toys, so that you can find the device that makes your joybits happiest. Sometimes it means sharing horny, horny smut of all varieties so that you can get all hot and bothered. But a lot of the time — maybe most of the time — it means recognizing the fact that neither horniness nor happiest joybits are enough if you — using the broadest sense of you, the society-level you — don’t know how things work Down There¹.

    Sadly, ours is a society that seems determined to undervalue truthful, actionable information about sex and sexytimes because … honestly, I don’t know. I can’t think of a single reason that this information should be suppressed and kept hidden that isn’t deeply (pardon the pun) fucked up. But [gestures around] yeah. So if Matt ‘n’ Erika are going to make the world better at sex — and that translates to you (this time it’s the personal you specifically) being better at sex, in whatever way you prefer it — they’ve got a lot of sharing and educating to do.

    Thus, Oh Joy, Sex Toy’s line of print collections, but especially the ones that focus on the educational end of sex. Last year, it was their first focused collection that got Kickstarted, and today it’s the followup. Drawn To Sex: Our Bodies And Health moves on from the mechanics of — quoting here — doin’ it² and into the more science-y and biology-y side of sex.

    Because of the importance they feel for their mission, the PDF version of the book has the lowest price point I’ve ever seen for a 200+ page file: eight bucks (US). Even the full print version is ridiculously affordable at US$20 (plus shipping). And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they have a support tier at US$1069³ that includes the physical book, the PDF, a unique piece of art in the book, and we’ll take you out for coffee if you’re ever in Portland. Erika and Matt are awesome folks, I would wager that coffee is at least a thousand bucks of excellent times.

    As of this writing (maybe three hours in), DTS2:OBAH is just over US$15500 in pledges, or comfortably over 200%. You are taking no risks by backing this one (also, the guest artists are definitely getting bonuses). Go get the book, then get to gettin’ it on.

  • Hey, remember how David Malki ! had a book Kickstart delay so much that it ran into the time he was planning to launch his next book Kickstarter? And how he decided to respond to that delay by adding the contents of the second book to the first one for free? No? Funny, we at Fleen went on about it at some length. Assuming you missed out on the Kickstart that suddenly delivered twice as much book as you’d expected, you have a chance to get in on that massive (I just weighed my copy and it’s more than 1100 grams) tome, with the greatest cost for international buyers zeroed out:

    I’ve worked out a special deal with the warehouse in China that is storing copies of my latest book, FRIENDS YOU CAN RIDE ON.

    They are moving to a new warehouse soon, and they want me to clear my inventory off their shelves as quickly as possible.

    So, before they palletize my remaining books and ship them to the US, we have worked out a limited-time deal for economy shipping to the following countries:

    UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • Austria • Belgium • China / Taiwan / HK • Croatia • Cyprus • Czech Republic • Denmark • Estonia • Finland • France • Germany • Greece • Hungary • Indonesia • Latvia • Lithuania • Luxembourg • Malta • Malaysia • Netherlands • Poland • Portugal • Slovakia • Slovenia • Sweden • Thailand

    Orders to these places, of just this book alone (or multiple copies of it), will ship FOR FREE through May 27 only.

    $30 USD gets you the book sent to anyplace listed above, via some kind of intercontinental train or something.

    (USA and Canada orders will ship from me personally, but for the same limited time, I’ll honor the free shipping deal for those shipments too.)

    Just for reference, the cost to ship 1100 grams of book via Priority Mail International flat rate padded envelope (or whatever would protect it en route) from the US to the named countries range from US$35.35 to US$38.60, or more than the cost of the book. Heck, even shipping it to Canada would be US$26.90 and domestically US$8.40 (or US$3.86 for media mail, which can take a while). Bottom line, wherever you are, this is a tremendous deal and you will probably never see another such like again.


Spam of the day:

Ion Mineral Reduce Fatigue, Eliminates Flaky Skin, Improves Hydration & Cell Regeneration

You are selling a shower head. Keep that nonsense for somebody that doesn’t know what ions are. And anyway, if you want to sell a shower head these days, point out that one with a hand shower attachment is easier to install than a bidet on the toilet and you’ll get a zillion takers.

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¹ Or, one should note, Up There, as they are not neglecting the role of the brainmeats in sexual response, attraction, and preferences.

² Gods, I love those two.

³ Nice.

Two Parts One And One Part Two

Some new things kicking off, and a very cool thing returning for another go.

  • If you’ve read Fleen ever, one indisputable fact will jump out at you: Ryan Estrada doesn’t do things by half measures. We’re on the eve of release of his new collaborative graphic novel, Banned Book Club (co-written by Estrada and his wife, Kim Hyun Sook; art by Ko Hyung-Ju), based on his wife’s experiences in the former South Korean military dictatorship. Not content to rest on any laurels (a mountain of glowing press, and continually-increasing pre-orders of the book count as laurels), Estrada decided to launch his latest project: a podcast of sorts.

    Big deal, I hear you cry, everybody and their dog is startin’ a podcast during quarantimes. To which I reply, a) Estrada’s experience of quarantine is very different from yours and mine, as he and his wife live in Busan, South Korea, which has managed the pandemic better than probably anyplace else on the planet¹ and b) it’s not a podcast. It’s a series of radio plays based on the sequels to A Christmas Carol that Dickens wrote and the world promptly forgot about. Let’s let Estrada tell it himself:

    I’m the new writer/host/director of BeFM Drama!

    I’m turning Charles Dickens’ 22 weird forgotten Christmas Carol sequels into brand new radio plays for Korean radio. Not direct adaptations, but kinda like how Clueless is based on Emma.

    Please enjoy episode 1 of my new radio show!

    This one is about a man who has such a bad day that he wishes he didn’t exist. But he reconsiders his position when he’s tricked into believing he’s already dead.
    https://youtu.be/XFRFP0kkzcs

    Yep, sounds weird. The Riverside Chimes is a bit under 20 minutes, and if you like it, there’s three more stories already posted to the Tubes. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, BeFM Drama has a few dozen audio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and other classic English language short fiction for your listening pleasure.

  • Also kicking off, The Nib is partnering with Reveal, the investigative reporting project from The Center For Investigative Reporting; the new series is called In/Vulnerable, and it’s chronicling the ways that the COVID pandemic is hitting all layers of society, where billionaires are demanding everybody else go back to work with insufficient protections.

    Up today: the story of Manuel, a refugee from Cuba who’s been in prison humane and efficient temporary detention for more than a year, and is watching the threat of the virus creep closer. Whatever your views on immigration, you cannot possibly argue that fleeing a repressive government (it’s even one that Screamy Orange Racist Grandpa hates!) is a crime merits being thrown into inhumane conditions until a deadly disease kills you.

    And if you do argue that? Do me a favor and leave my page and never return. I make it a policy not to consort with sociopaths.

  • Lastly, the :01 Books virtual comics show, Comics Relief, has announced sign-ups for its second session:

    Comics fans, mark your calendars for Comics Relief: June 2020 on Saturday, 6/6 from 12pm-4pm ET! Click here to register for the next virtual :01 festival: https://bit.ly/2WFlTcs #ComicsRelief

    Four sessions this time, with a discussion of space comics at noon EDT (Maris Wicks! Jim Ottaviani! Alison Wilgus!), a discussion of Maker Comics at 1:00pm (Falynn Koch! JP Coovert! Sarah Myer! Robyn Chapman!), a discussion of documentary comics at 2:00pm (Box Brown! Calista Brill!), and a talk about whatever’s on their minds at 3:00pm (Clint McElroy! Leuyun Pham! Mark Siegel!). Sign up at the link above, and I’ll see you in the conference on the 6th.


Spam of the day:

New project started to be available today, check it out [redacted].com/?renee

I’m including you because you listed out a series of porn genre terms, and one of them was tannie. Assuming this is a new genre based on, I dunno, well tanned people gettin’ it on, okay for giving people what they want I guess?

But if you managed to misspell the derogatory term for trans folks, then you get double my normal dose of contempt, which I assure you is both well merited and considerable.

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¹ Which is what happens when your country demands competency from its leaders, and learned the lessons of the SARS outbreak and determined to never fail in pandemic response again.