The webcomics blog about webcomics

By Way Of Reminder

The chief — perhaps only drawback of the Alaska Robotics Minicon and Camp Weekend Extravapalooza in (duh) Alaska is that Alaska is very far away from my beloved New Jersey, and thus requires long travel days to get there and back. I shouldn’t complain too much about my pre-7:00am departure tomorrow; my return flight from Juneau features a departure time of (meaning I must be at the airport, luggage checked, through security, and seated prior to) five friggin’ thirty in the morning. That’s gonna hurt, but it’s not for another week.

  • Let this serve as a reminder, then, that over the next week I’ll be in transit for significant parts of three days, and in a place with no network for three more¹. And as long as we’re reminding things, let me remind you that the giveaway of a copy of DRIVE: Act One by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett — a US$50 value, if there are any left over after fulfillment; US$25 in softcover once they go up in the store — is still ongoing.

    To enter the giveaway, send an email with the subject GIMME BOOK to me (that would be gary) who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com. Entries are due by 30 April, and I’ll pick a winner at random after that.

  • And as long as we’re throwing out reminders, let this serve as the periodic reminder that the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco is closer every day to the time when they open up dedicated gallery and education space again. In the meantime, they continue their programs and involvement in the cultural life of San Francisco, with the latest announcement regarding their participation in the annual Queer Comics Expo:

    The fourth annual Queer Comics Expo will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 July, from 11:00am to 5:00pm at the SOMArts Cultural Center. This year’s QCE will be expanding exhibition space and programming², and will serve as a part of the Queer Cultural Center’s annual National Queer Arts Festival.

    Those interested in exhibiting, volunteering, or presenting programs at QCE, the application is here. You’ll be part of a San Francisco tradition, and help raise funds for CAM at the same time.

Spams of the day:
Gonna clear out the spambox before I head out, so that I’m not overwhelmed when I get back.

Someone may have ran a background check on you
This single nightly routine is killing you slowly and silently
Bags Lovers: 12 Hours To Save
Melania …
Pure Colon Detox

Oh no, they’re gonna find that dead guy in Reno; we humans call that sleep; this is a bunch of fancy designer purses and not laptop-protecting backpacks you guys are way off in your choice of topic; nnnnnope; and no way in hell I’m enabling images on that one. Thanks for playing!

¹ Y’all behave while I’m gone.

² The increased space means the programming tracks are approximately doubling over previous years.

Still Time To Meet The Goal

I can’t believe I missed talking about this earlier, and here’s April more than halfway over. Okay, enough recriminations, just listen up, ’cause a genius is talking.

No, not me; not even vaguely me. Gene Luen YangMacArthur Fellow, current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature — has declared April to be the time for everybody (okay, it’s really aimed at younger readers, but let’s make it everybody) to Read Without Walls. Declaring things is one of the things you get to do when you’re an ambassador, along with getting out of parking tickets and getting to go through the quick line at Customs.

Actually, Read Without Walls has been Yang’s mission statement since he was inaugurated in January of last year, but now he’s making that aspiration into a specific challenge, with the help of the people at Macmillan (parent company of :01 Books, his longtime publisher).

Yang’s three-part challenge to you is to do one of:

  • Read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you.
  • Read a book in a format you don’t typically read — graphic novels, poetry, audiobooks, plays.
  • Read a book about a new subject you don’t know much about.

And after you’ve done so, pass the challenge on to others. And hey, why should kids have all the fun? You’ve got time in April still (and if you watched Yang’s video, you know that he’s urging you to do so every April, so make plans for next year now), not just to encourage the young reader(s) in your life, but to spread your own wings a bit.

I’m going to interpret the challenge to say that the pass-along may include specific recommendations. So here’s mine: I’ve been digging into the collected writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates; yeah, it’s not a book, but Coates has written a hell of a lot of essays, and reading through them is the equivalent of a book.

I’m not sure that any piece of writing has had a more profound wake the fuck up effect on me than The Case For Reparations¹, so that’s my recommendation. It’s nearly 16,000 words, so set aside an hour and take your time with it. And if you want to share what you’re reading, the comments are open down below.

Spam of the day:

Pentagon Insider’s Secret IRA Technique Exposed

When I think, Gary, where are you going to get solid information on how to save safely for your future, well-deserved retirment?, the answer is usually not, The Pentagon! So unless your Pentagon insider is recommending a systemic, long-term, dollar-cost-averaged program of broad-based, low-load index funds, I don’t wanna hear it.

¹ Even more so than Between The World And Me, perhaps because the shorter length lent a sense of urgency to Coates’s argument.

The Kickstartum Never Stops

If you’ll indulge me for one moment, a quick note from outside the world of webcomics: the Kickstarter to save the treasures of Frank Zappa’s vault (of recordings, significant artifacts, and literally who knows what else) — run by actor, director, and Bill half of Bill & Ted Alex Winter — is one of the few non-webcomics crowdfundings that I’ve backed. If you think about it, though, ol’ Frank was an indie creator of great energy and constant production, and if there’s a better analogue for the modern webcomicker in the period of the late ’60s to the early ’90s, I don’t know who it might be.

The campaign closed more than a year ago, and with so many backers (nearly 9000) due so many different items¹, they’re only just now getting around to fulfillment. I ain’t mad at the delay, I’m impressed as hell at all I got²; and if you think that an ambitious Kickstart can turn into a fulfillment task of nightmare proportions … well, that’s where you’re probably right. Only go complex on rewards if you have the might of the obsessive fans of a revered genius to help you.

Or just keep the Kickstart simple, that works too. Case in point: Retrofit Comics (aka Box Brown and Jared Smith) gather together comics they want to print, pre-sell them via Kickstarter, then print them and ship them. Pretty simple. It’s worked a couple times before, and the campaign for Spring 2017’s six new books looks to add to that streak. It started up on Friday, it’s running until the 11th of May, and per the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II it looks to finish in the range of US$17.5K to 26K, on a goal of US$18.7K³. In other words (and considering the quality of past Retrofit offerings and the loyalty of its audience), this is virtually assured.

The rewards are simple: between six and eight bucks gets you a PDF of a comic of your choice (varying prices for varying page lengths); US$20 gets you PDFs of all six. US$25 gets you a hardcover of one particular book; US$45 gets you print copies of all six (with a US$46 tier if you’re in the DC area and want to pick your books up at a Big Planet comic shop and save shipping). Assuming you get all six (and why wouldn’t you), it’s going to act a little like a subscription: two books printed & shipped per month, in May, June, and July.

There’s higher tiers for those that really like the creators, with bonuses ranging from prints to original pages from the comics in question. It’s a smart approach, since Kickstarter books are really driven by interest in the particular creators; I’ve seen the books sell at non-cape comics shows if people stop and flip through them, or if they recognize the name on the cover. They don’t appeal to everybody, but those that they do appeal to, they really appeal to.

Creators this time around are Zach Hazard Vaupen, Laura Ķeniņš (mentioned on Friday for her Doug Wright Award nomination), Tara Booth, Yuichi Yokoyama, Will Cardini, and Warren Craghead III. Comics range from a series of Trump grotesqueries to gouache paintings to surrealist neo-manga. Click on through and give ’em a good look.

Spam of the day:

Turn your TV into a Smart TV today!

Dudes, I teach systems administration and security for a living. Ain’t never gonna be a smart anything in my house (yes, yes, we know where you’re going with the joke … just let it go) until the IOT chip manufacturers stop hardcoding in admin credentials and passwords. Hard pass.

¹ I was nowhere near a top-tier backer, and I received at least sixteen different types of items (including music on DVD, CD, and cassette), ranging from a poncho (not a Sears poncho) to unused backstage passes from some long-ago concert.

² I was promised a MYSTERY BAG and if had contained a quarter of what was actually inside, I’d have been impressed.

³ The McDonald Ratio predicts US$19.4K, so there’s a pretty close agreement.

Big Ol’ Hardcovers Day

The mail has been good to me lately — it’s brought me long-awaited, very hefty, very handsome hardcovers of two of my favorite webcomics. I get to enjoy ’em, and that means you get to enjoy ’em, too.

  • Okay, it was actually last week, but Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett’s Drive is one of the very best sci-fi stories you’re ever gonna read, and hundreds of pages in he’s still setting up the pieces for his story’s conflict. I’ve spoken of Drive plenty here, so I’ll just mention that what we get in the first volume is roughly the first act of a story (from here to here, interrupted from time to time by things like childbirth and movie production) that will run for years yet, plus a series of his guest-contributed Tales From The Drive shorts.

    But what a book! The slipcover pulls back to reveal a design that carries the logo of the story’s imperial family, and the endpapers present an in-continuity map chock full o’ context (not to mention references to key story points¹ as almost afterthoughts, there’s so many of them). The guest stories are by (respectively) Dylan Meconis, Christopher Hastings & Anthony Clark, Ryan North & Tony Cliff, Zach Weinersmith, and Evan Dahm.² They are (respectively) uplifting hilarious, hilarious, hilarious and melancholy/insightful.

    In the interests of full disclosure, the book features a blurb on the back cover by a hack webcomics pseudojournalist, who is also mentioned on the thanks page. Apparently the many questions I have pestered him with over the past six or seven years have been more than simple fanboying and convinced LArDK that I would be a good alpha reader for the book³, and he sent me a copy several weeks in advance of the Kickstarter fulfillment. This means that I have a second copy of Drive: Act One, which fact will be relevant a bit further down the page.

  • Today’s mail brought the similarly long-awaited and just as impressive first print collection of Abby Howard’s The Last Halloween. The story, which I’ve loved from the beginning, reads even better on the page; the original strips are more than can fit on one page, and Howard has cleverly designed her book to make reveals even better. The best example is this strip, which features one of her best gags; in the book the setup ends at the bottom of a right-hand page and final punchline panel is at the top of the following left-hand page, hiding the payoff and increasing its effectiveness.

    To give you an idea how hefty the book is, that gag with Ringley and his dad is the 39th strip in the archives, but the punchline doesn’t appear until page 144; this translates into more than 400 pages of story, with dozens of extras, sketches, and bonus material at the back. If you missed backing the Kickstarter, look for copies in Howard’s TopatoCo store (NB: Said store is currently undergoing a redesign and may be sporadically available for the next few hours as I write this We’re good!) once backer fulfillment is done.

  • Back to Drive for a moment; I’d also expect to see the book added to LArDK’s Drive Store shortly, but what if you don’t want to wait? And haven’t I got a spare copy hanging around? Why yes, yes I do. So I’m gonna give that mutha away. Email me at gary who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com by 30 April, with the subject line GIMME BOOK.

    I’ll draw one at random and send it your way (but if you live overseas and it’s gonna cost me like thirty bucks, I’ll ask you chip in on shipping), then you will read it and become as addicted as I am. Oh, and I should mention that the book has one minor print error (two pages stuck together, leading to a very minor tear on separation) which may reduce your reading enjoyment by as much as 0.00378%; if this disturbs you, then don’t try to win a free book. Good luck, and get to emailing.

Spam of the day:

3 Secrets The Mattress Store Don’t Want Out

Mattress store mattresses are made from orphans? That’s one, what are the other two?

¹ Here I’m referring to the disclaimer on the map about the Captain’s Dictate (which was revealed in the strip relatively recently, well after the events in this book). For that matter, there’s back matter including a timeline that likewise features a major spoiler in the form a critical character’s name that was revealed less than a year ago.

So, uh, maybe don’t read the timeline until you’ve binged through the archive?

² Dahm’s story being the absolute best 12 page single story I read in 2016, bee-tee-dubs.

³ Probably because my obsessive tendencies meant I asked him years ago if he realized in two strips that ran five years apart that he’d referred to the same character as “Stephen” and “Steven”. Pedantry! It can be used for good!

Various Things To Feel Good About

Last night was EMS night and there was a vehicle fire — we’re talking about the entire front end of a minivan fully involved before the firefighters dumped half an engine’s tank full of water (call it 1400 liters) and a goodly amount of foam on it — which affected the paved driveway it sat on, the vinyl siding of the house it was next to, both the car and the siding next door, and some overhead power lines. Quick knockdown, but today everything still tastes like plastic. How’s your day going?

  • Jeph Jacques, he of so many nicknames that it’s not worth trying to keep up with them all, has launched the pre-orders (let’s face it, this is just a formality on the way to funding) for Questionable Content book 6 (aka strips 1500 to 1799. Given the huge readership for QC, there’s a fairly high goal (US$55,000), which will be enough to stock the book for the foreseeable future in the store; at about eight hours in, just under 480 backers have put Jacques just under 33% of the way to goal; I expect to see that number creep up as people leave work and return home and pledge.

    Overfunding will result in the first three books (still in print in the older 23cm x 28cm trim size) reprinted at the current, small size (13cm x 18cm), so that those of you that purchased the first five books and are desperate to have them all line up on the shelf just so (or maybe never bought the first three) can have a matching set. For once, my obsessive completist attitude is under control and I will prevent myself from such a purchase. For once.

  • But the bigger news over Kickstarter way is the announcement of seven Thought Leaders, creators who between them cover the wide gamut of Kickstarter creative areas, and have run a total of 26 projects backed by 35,347 people for a total of US$3,010,897. And one of them is webcomics own C Spike Trotman, continuing her run on 2017 being the Year of Spike.

    It also probably explains her tweet last week about never doing SDCC on her dime again, given that KS will be likely sending her to top-tier shows to do panels (heck, she’s on any reputable Kickstarter panel of any show she’s at already). Additionally, she’ll be answering questions on Campus, Kickstarter’s message board for project-running advice. Add in all the ICC books seeing wider exposure (not to mention the new edition of Poorcraft, updated for 2017 realities). Oh, and another one of the Thought Leaders, comics fans? Hope Nicholson. Seems like somebody over at Kickstarter likes the words+pictures.

  • Speaking of the words+pictures, the fifth annual Cartoonist Studio Prizes (a joint venture of the Slate Book Review and the enter for Cartoon Studies have been awarded. As in past years, two prizes of US$1000 have been awarded, one to a print comic and one to a webcomic. Print honors go to Eleanor Davis for Libby’s Dad, and webcomic honors to Christina Tran for On Beauty. Both are more than worthy winners in standout fields¹.

    Should I point out that the nominees were majority women, as were both winners this year, and 50% of the winners across five years? I believe I should. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the future of comics rests on the shoulders of women — both those making comics and those reading them — and the sooner they take over the entire damn industry, the better.

Spam of the day:

Wohin ja hier gegen das Talent

Google Translate assures me this means Where, then, against the talent which I dunno, means something in some context or other. Pretty weak sauce for my spam filters, if you ask me.

¹ Particular respect to Representative John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, who were nominated for March: Book 3. This may be the only time they don’t win their respective fields this year.

Media, Oh My!

  • As hinted at yesterday, word came down that the Faith Erin Hicks-penned Nameless City trilogy of graphic novels (the second of which, The Stone Heart, released yesterday) from :01 Books, is going to be an animated miniseries. From io9:

    [E]ach book in the fantastical trilogy — which focuses on the adventures of Rat and Kai in the titular city, nameless for the fact it keeps getting invaded and renamed by different warring nations all the time —- split into four-episode adaptations. While there are no other details about the series just yet (like, where it’ll eventually air), Frederator Studios plans to release the first four episodes in the fall of 2018.

    For reference, Frederator are the folks behind Adventure Time, Bee and Puppycat, Bravest Warriors, and other cool things. While it’s true that their existing shows have had a somewhat simplistic design aesthetic, and The Nameless City is visually rich and complex (think Legend of Korra complex), they’ve built up enough animation talent and goodwill that I think they’ll do right by it.

    The animation part is great news, as it will allow for complexity to be rendered economially;it would probably be near-impossible to create a multiple-Asian-inspired-cultures visual palette (the background architecture, clothing styles, and visual details in TNC are full of competing artistic traditions stretching back generations) in the real world.

    It also gets away from what would be an enormous potential for whitewashing in casting. Congratulations to Hicks, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and everybody at :01 Books. I’ll be waiting the next 18 months with bated breath.

  • Not that live-action is always the wrong choice. Care to comment on the uses of live action to convey kick-butt young heroic women, noted comic writer Ryan North?


    Okay, to be clear, we aren’t going to open TV Guide and find a listing for Squirrel Girl; the show will actually concern itself with Marvel second-stringers New Warriors, who are younger heroes that mostly you haven’t heard of. Needing some star power to anchor the show, Marvel’s naturally turned to Doreen Green and Tippy-Toe (and please include Nancy, Mew, Chipmunk Hunk, and Koi Boi), despite her not being a member of the New Warriors in comics.

    Doesn’t matter! We’re gonna get Squirrel Girl defeating bad guys with empathy, cleverness, and awesome punching when empathy and plans fail to work. It looks like the show will feature a comedic take (and please include Squirrel Girl’s theme song), will debut sometime in 2018 (and please include little asides to represent North’s alt-text from the comics pages), will run on Freeform (the basic cable channel formerly known as ABC Family, and please find a way to include the Kra-Van, and the Deadpool cards, and Squirrel Girl’s Twitter habit, and Gigantos, and beating up Galactus on the friggin’ moon), so now’s the time to call your cable company and make sure you get it.

  • But Gary, I hear you cry, what if I don’t want to wait until 2018 for cool comics stuff in media? Well then, Bunky, you’re gonna want to fire up your podcatcher of choice and check out the latest from NPR’s Code Switch, titled Changing Colors in Comics [no direct link to the show; it’s dated 5 April 2017].

    The culture podcast takes the societal conversation about race as its ongoing topic, and this week they’re talking to Ron Wimberly (I’ll remember his visual essay on skin tones in Marvel characters forever), the Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia (the first comic shop on the east coast owned by a black woman, it mixes comics and cultural conversation), and some crazy dreamer turned ass-kicker/name-taker out of Chicago named Spike who’s building a comics-publishing empire.

    It’s a hell of a good show and while I know not enough about Wimberly’s work, and have never been to Amalgam, I am pretty familiar with Spike’s career path over the last decade or so.

    She’s broken down the resistance and denigration she got for her attempts at making a business more than once in various public fora, and make no mistake: some of the contempt was because she’s young, some because she’s working in webcomics instead of real comics, and a great big ol’ heaping helping because she’s a woman, black, and a black woman who just doesn’t know her place.

    Listen. Learn. If you ever said to yourself she’d never succeed, and especially if you ever thought she didn’t deserve to succeed, it’s still not to late to smarten up and approach the future with less fear.

    Welllll, not too late for some of her critics. Bunch of ’em were old white dudes back when, are even older now, and are going to die knowing the world left ’em behind. The rest of us can decide that the world changing for the better doesn’t mean we’re suddenly put upon.

Spam of the day:

These 4 Ingredients Can Stop Alzheimer’s?

No. Next!

Cool Things At MoCCA Fest 2017

So many people have written about MoCCA Fest 2017, I’m just going to mention some things that I enjoyed hearing/hearing about/discussing. No particular order.

  • Meredith Gran tells me that she’s got 15-20 story pages of OctoPie left to go; everybody is getting wrapped up but concedes that there will be minor characters whose arcs aren’t completely finished; given sufficient desire, she said she could spend another year working all of those resolutions. Somewhat similarly, she’s still deciding on what her next project will be. Me, I want Manuel the cat, Olly’s snotty nephew, and the Rock Lobster to fight crime together in New Orleans.
  • Gene Yang, Damian Duffy, Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and Jonathan W Gray had a hell of smart discussion about the need for diversity in comics to start the programming track. Ironically, this came one day after the Marvel pronouncement about diverse characters not selling, and they were having very little of that claim. Bonus points to Duffy; when Gray threw out an open question about how to make comics more diverse, he replied Well, as the white male, let me solve that racism for you … to big (if slightly knowing) laughs.

    Yang, by the way, is the consummate professional; we spoke very briefly at SDCC last summer and he both recognized me and asked how I was doing when we caught each other’s eyes. I asked him what it’s like being an Official Genius and he noted I still have to do the dishes. I told him to try using his Ambassador For Young Peoples Literature credentials — they must surely offer some kind of diplomatic immunity from sink-based chores.

  • George O’Connor and I spoke at decent length about our love of Greek myths; I’m constantly impressed by his ability to take stories that are fundamentally dark, filled with horrific punishments and hubris and death, and make them accessible (without losing that edge of menace) to young readers. He replied that he started reading them at that age (drawn in by the idea of monsters; his design for the hecatonchires as fractal horrors is really inspired) and he turned out okay.

    He’s done some deep dives into the entire corpus of the mythic tradition, too; there’s thousands of variations and contradictions, cobbled together across a millennium or so of varying oral cultic traditions, and he’s trying to come up with a single narrative structure that reconciles them all.

    You can see his approach to getting all the different stories to line up in how the tone of characters has shifted. The first book had avenging young badass Zeus; the most recent volumes have him more harried and put-upon by the responsibilities of running a very fractious family. He’s managed to bring these deities down to a human level¹, which I expect to lead to great things in the next volume — Hermes has become, over the last few books, a smartass verging on bro with a side of complete dick. It’s gonna be hilarious.

  • Lucy Bellwood was my first stop of the morning, and we spoke about tying Turk’s head knots, about whether or not the US Coast Guard training vessel USS Eagle counts as a tall ship (Bellwood: It totally does), and about the Riso demo station that was set up at the far end of the hall. I always flatter myself that I have a feeling of what autobio comickers are like before I meet them, but in Bellwood’s case that intuition was pretty much dead on. She’s a woman that loves the open water, lines in her hand, sheets filled with wind above her head.
  • Brigid Alverson always make vague plans to meet up at shows we’ll both be at, and never follow through. This is never a problem, because we invariably bump into each other at some point and get caught up then. This time it was coming out of the diversity panel, and we spent a pleasant hour having lunch at the hotel bar, with Johanna Draper Carlson joining us. Less talk about comics, more about other stuff. If you ever meet Alverson, ask her to tell you her One Time It Was My Job To Keep Stephen Hawking Happy For A Couple Of Days At A Conference story. It’s great.
  • By the time we got back to the show floor from MoCCA, it had become a wall-to-wall sea of humanity; it was wonderful to see so many people there to search out new comics, but man! I made it back to Evan Dahm&rsquo’s table and managed to introduce him to Mark Siegel (his editor at :01 Books; they’d never met face to face); I have a suspicion that Dahm’s forthcoming Island Book (due early 2019) will be but the first of his collaborations with :01; they’re a perfect fit together.

    As I noted to Siegel, they have a full slate of books with tween or early teen girl protagonists who have adventures!, but they aren’t aimed at girl readers. They’re just aimed at kids of a certain age, and it’s a hell of a valuable thing for boys to read Zita The Spacegirl, or Time Museum, or Space Scouts, and see heroes that don’t look just like them. And what’s Island Book about? A tween or preteen girl (or equivalent, since we aren’t talking about humans here) protagonist that has adventures. Why should kids get all the girl heroes?

  • There was also a big push at the :01 table for the second Nameless City book from Faith Erin Hicks (The Stone Heart, and hey, look at that: tween or early teen girl co-protagonist that has adventures); today is its book birthday, and also the announcement that the trilogy will become an animated series. We’ll give that the full attention it deserves tomorrow.
  • Sadly, the crowd prevented me from making it back to aisle H, and a print that I saw early in the day and had wanted to purchase. It’s by a young woman named Olga Andreyeva, and it was the result of an accidental pigment spill that she turned into something really unique and beautiful. The rest of her portfolio is great, but the sort of thing that others are doing — videogame-inspired art of great imagination and technical skill, but familiar.

    Eve is spare, conveys a sense of frozen time, and delivers an emotional wallop. It’s absolutely the best thing I saw on the floor this year, and I’m very sorry I didn’t get back to purchase it. Hopefully a few of you go take a look at it (not to mention the rest of her portfolio) and Andreyeva gets more than just my missed sale out of it.

Spam of the day:

This new kitty litter is like having a veterinarian check daily! IT AUTOMATICALLY TURNS DIFFERENT COLORS BASED ON PREVENTABLE HEALTH ISSUES!

On the Top Ten List of things I want to do ever, checking out rainbow-colored magic kitty litter appears approximately zero times.

¹ Not that any religion has ever invented gods that really behaved better than their worshippers.

MoCCA 2017 Will Have To Wait

That’s because things that are more time-sensitive than MoCCA Fest 2017 recaps happened since last we spoke.

Okay, one tidbit from MoCCA, but mostly because it’ll make FSFCPL happy. Thanks to the good graces of :01 Books editor Mark Siegel I was very briefly introduced to the marvelous Pénélope Bagieu, who was promoting her newest book. Siegel shared :01 will be publishing an English omnibus of her two-volume collection, Les Culottées. The American edition will be titled Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World (available March 2018), and :01 is pretty much her American publisher going forward. Now if they can just get Boulet’s Notes series, I can die happy.

Spam of the day:

Our team works hard everyday to ensure that we are providing the best possible service for all our customers.
Cordially, Derek Customer Service Representative, Slut Roulette

Man, Derek’s got the best business card ever.

¹ Whom I had never met before; we had a lovely bar-shout/chat, more discussion the next day, and will undoubtedly have more to discuss at the Alaska Robotics Comics Camp later this month.

² That reminds me: Otter, I spent some time at MoCCA talking with George O’Connor, and he’s going to be looking up Greek Key because he really liked your take on Helen. He’s also all-in on your next Hope Blackwell novel because I mentioned the magic word: chupacabra.

News You Can Ews

News and such. You know the deal.

  • Item! We have word of new names to add to our MoCCA Fest 2017 exhibitor page and one bit of additional information. The first new exhibitor will be the exquisite Jess Fink, who tells us she’ll be at the Top Shelf table (A101 & 2) on Saturday, starting at 2:00pm. The second new exhibitor will be Mike Holmes, who will be debuting his newest collaboration with Gene Yang, the third book in the Secret Coders series¹. Mike will be at table J278 B, alongside his show wife (and, incidentally, wife wife) Meredith Gran.
  • Item! Speaking of Meredith Gran, this is your occasional reminder that Octopus Pie continues to get better with every damn update, and the story mechanic of having a party for protagonist Eve Ning in honor of her job catching fire is brilliant. The strip may be on the glidepath to wrapping up, but by glob we’ll get to see all the old faces one last time. Whether it’s semi-recurring characters or formerly major characters that we haven’t seen for-damn-ever, everybody will get their threads wrapped up.

    Case in point: the desparkled America Jones, onetime throwaway villain, now sublimating her evil tendencies with roller derby and Nazi punching², making her just another one of the weird people in Eve’s orbit. I’ve come to believe that we’ll see the pea-wiggle guy, Mr Pedals, and Olly’s nephew before everything concludes. And you know what? I am one thousand percent okay with that. If Gran wants to drag out the conclusion of this strip so that we find out what’s up with the ducks or James, I am ready and willing to read those strips.

    Okay, maybe not James. That guy’s a dick.

  • Item! Via the twitterfeed of “Uncle” Randy Milholland,news of a Kickstart you may want to check out:

    So @TheOnlyTrout has a Kickstarter. He’s a good guy who works hard on his comics. Please consider backing it.

    I missed this, so thanks to Randy for letting us all know; John Troutman’s been doing webcomics for as long as I can remember, and always produces projects that are unlike anything else you’ll find out there. The campaign in question is to print a collecton of The Gospel Of Carol, which is the story of Jesus’s twin sister, the one that got left out of all the Gospels because … well, you know. She does all the work, He gets all the credit.

    There’s 25 days to go and Troutman’s not quite halfway to the exceedingly modest US$3000 goal (with additional gospels and epistles as stretch goals, up to US$6000). Look, you’re not going to find a more redeeming (yet heretical) comic out there, so give Carol a look, yeah?

Spam of the day:


Your crappy attempts at identity theft (with your non-Roman characters designed to evade keyword matching) might actually work better if you included the near-porn photos your promise. Just a thought.

¹ If I remember correctly, Yang told me once Secret Coders will run 5 or 6 books. Certainly, book 3 ends on a cliffhanger (thanks, as always, to Gina Gagliano at :01 Books for the advance copy).

² I realize that Nazi punching is a 2017 thing but honestly? It would not have been out of place in America Jones’s character back in 2008 when we first met her.

Triumphant Returns

There’s a webcomic that I don’t mention nearly enough, because it’s always just so good, what new need be said? Your Wild City is the brainchild of science educators Rosemary Mosco (words) and Maris Wicks (pictures), and teaches us about the undomesticated critters that inhabit our cities and towns. It’s great stuff.

It’s also been on a bit of hiatus, on account of Maris Wicks has been off in Antarctica at a research facility, learning stuff that she will share with the world via comics. Regular readers may recall she did roughly the same thing this time last year on an ocean-going research vessel looking at weird rocks. Well, hiatus is over, Wicks is back from the far antipodes, and Your Wild City resumes today with stories of what various critters do over the winter: your gray squirrels, your great horned owls, various insects, turtles, Marises Wicks and Rosemarys Mosco are all looked at with the naturalist’s eye. Welcome home Maris, good job guarding the couch Rosemary, and everybody go check out the prime info and hearty laugh-chuckles.

  • So the pop culture commentary machine that is The Nerdist has a comic book component, in the form of the interview series known as The Nerdist Comic Book Club. Coming up on the 18th of April, TNCBB will be in New York City and talking to webcomics own Yuko Ota & Ananth Hirsch of Johnny Wander, Lucky Penny, Barbarous, and many, many other awesome comics. No word yet if their awful (but adorable) cat Cricket will be part of the show. Show runs 8:00pm to 9:00pm at the Peoples Improv Theater with tickets apparently required, but free.
  • Kickstart alert: David Willis is doing the KS preorder thing for Book Six of Dumbing of Age; in keeping with tradition, the subtitle is long and ridiculous. The Machinations Of My Revenge Will Be Cold, Swift, And Absolutely Ridiculous (for that is its name) will cover strips from late August 2015 to early September 2016, plus two dozen strips not previously released to the interwebs. The campaign went up about 15 hours ago (as of this writing), is currently sitting at 112%, and runs for 30 days in all.
  • As noted the last five times around, Willis’s Kickstarts are pretty much guaranteed to immediately fund, to have a completely predictable range of goodies irresistible to his fans, and fulfill on time. He’s basically mastered the art of using the crowdfunding platform as a pre-order mechanism so that he doesn’t have to go into speculative debt to print a book for which there may not be demand.

    It’s a vital skill to today’s independent creator, and probably nobody has figure it out better than C Spike Trotman; I mention Spike because of a general discussion that broke out on Twitter regarding the economics of freelance art/comics making, with more people than I can count pointing to one tweet or another and declaring Thread.

    The best two takes I saw were from Spike (from the perspective of a small publisher, with advice to new creators, and a supplement regarding new opportunities in self-publishing) and Rian Sygh (from the perspective of the completely indie freelancer and working for publishers).

    I’ve seen one or two people try to make them into dueling and intractable opposites, but I really think they’re saying the same thing — comics works on small budgets, and there are publishers out there that will be upfront and honest about what they can afford to pay, and there are publishers out there ready to screw young and hungry creators. Make sure you know which is which.

Spam of the day:

Dr. Oz: Hack

Why, yes! Yes, he is a hack!

Your Brain For More Focus, Clarity, and Energy

Oh. Subject line got cut off. No thanks, I don’t need your fake Dr Oz-approved mind-hack gum.