The webcomics blog about webcomics

Big Round Number

[Editor’s note: Postings this week are going to be brief (as I prepare for) or absent entirely (as I travel to and attend) on account of Alaska Robotics Mini-Con on Saturday and the adjacent events. For that matter, you probably won’t get anything out of me next week as I’ll be away from network and/or traveling and/or recuperating. We thank you in advance for your patience.]

  • Evan Dahm’s latest Overside tale, Vattu, is reaching a point in the story that feels like the end game is approaching. The overall plot is at an inflection point — the emperor is dead, plots swirl around the succession, at least two communities of ex-pats are in various stages of revolt, and another of individual exiles is in upheaval — and there are arcs around the main characters to wrap up. What better time to release the 1000th page of the saga, as Dahm did yesterday?

    If you think that reading the whole damn thing to date (which is a very good use of your time, let me assure you) is too taxing via the website (I sympathize, I can’t read big story chunks online), I refer you to the two books that tell the first roughtly-half of the story (nearly six hundred pages worth!), and a third one is about to ship to Kickstarter backers. In the meantime, everybody congratulate Dahm, and I’ll see you in the depths of the Blue Age.

  • Less than three weeks out seems to be not the time to announce new special guests, but you are not TCAF, who add on until the very last moment before opening their doors. The newest tranche of guests from around the world includes Seth, Bessora, Margreet de Heer, Erica Henderson, Kid Koala, Rachel Lindsay, Jonathan Ng, Richard Marazano, Alex Norris, Émilie Plateau, Jérémie Royer, David Rubin, Hiromi Takashima, Typex, Jhonen Vasquez, and Chip Zdarsky¹.

    TCAF will happen in and around the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street) on Saturday 11 May (9:00am to 5:00pm) and Sunday 12 May (10:00am to 5:00pm). Attendance is free, but some events will require tickets to control crowding.


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¹ Who for once is at the end of the alphabet instead of that bastard Jim Zub².

² Jim Zub was kind enough to send a preview copy of issue #2 of his current comiXology series, Stone Star. As you may recall from launch day last month, issue #1 impressed me, and I can safely say that issue #2 builds on that framework and ramps up the narrative.

And, uh, looks like Zub’s now the last person to be mentioned in this post. Sorry, Chipster.

Three Weekends Of Comics

NNnnnnnnokay, I think I can get through this post without reminding you about the Alaska Robotic Mini-Con, which will take place on Saturday, 27 April (plus lead-up events) in Juneau Alaska. Probably. Let’s see what’s up at our friend, the Cartoon Art Museum, instead.

  • This Saturday, 20 April, CAM hosts Rob Rogers as he talks about his editorial cartoon collection, Enemy Of The People, and how he got fired for not being willing to be Ben Garrison-lite. The talk (and signing to follow) is free, and starts at 2:00pm at CAM, 781 Beach Street in San Francisco.
  • The following Saturday and Sunday (that would be the 27th and 28th¹), the Queer Comics Expo will take place at the museum, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, including the announcement of the 2019 Prism Award nominees. Maia Kobabe (who has a current Artist Showcase in advance of the release of Gender Queer: A Memoir, coming this summer from Lion Forge) will be the featured guest. QCE doesn’t have a dedicated site, per se, so check them Facebook or Twitter for info on exhibitors and programming. Tickets run from free (for CAM members) to US$10/day at the door.
  • The Saturday after that is, of course, Free Comic Book Day, and CAM is getting in on the fun. By spending the day visiting comics-oriented shops up and down the Bay, you can get fabulous stuff in addition to the requisite free comic books:

    The Comic Shop Hop is a comic book store scavenger hunt throughout the entire Bay Area. Participants will go from store to store filling up their passport as they go along, tracking their progress from store to store.

    All participants who visit two or more comic shops and submit their passport to the Comic Shop Hop Google Form will be entered into a Free Comic Book Day prize raffle.

    Anybody visiting two or more locations for passport stamps gets entered for the lowest tier prize, the mid-tier is open to those that get stamped in five ore more locations (or visit two to four and purchase in at least two of them), and the top tier is for those that get stamps in ten or more locations (or visit five to nine and purchase in at least five of them).

    Passports are available in any of the participating shops or CAM; hours vary from location to location, so click on the location names in that map to see who’s open when. More information is available by calling (415) 227-8666 or emailing either membership or education at cartoonart.org.


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¹ For those of you not going to Juneau … dammit!

Now With Color!

That would be the show poster for Alaska Robotics Mini-Con, which has announced more of the goings-on in and around the show on Saturday the 27th. To wit:

Speaking of Tillie Walden, I should note that the LA Times Festival Of Books named Walden’s On A Sunbeam the 2018 Festival Book Prize winner in the Graphic Novel category. If you haven’t read it you really should.

Speaking of awards, the Slate/Center For Cartoon Studies Cartoonist Studio Prize winners for 2019 were announced today, with the honors (and a thousand dollars cash money) going to Chlorine Gardens by Keiler Roberts (Best Print Comic) and Being An Artist And A Mother by Lauren Weinstein (Best Web Comic).

As previously noted, Nancy was nominated in the Best Web Comic category which remains a head-scratcher. It’s still the best thing on the newspaper page in the past decade or more and if you aren’t reading it you need to start reading it. That being said, congratulations to Roberts and Weinstein, and to all the nominees.


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Shownouncements

A pair of comics shows had announcements about guest appearances today. One is large, one is HUGE.


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MoCCA 2019, Part 1

[Editor’s note: This has only the slightest bit to do with MoCCA, but it’s time-sensitive. Zach Weinersmith & Bryan Caplan’s graphic novel on immigration releases in October, but it’s available for pre-order starting today. As in the past, Weinersmith is angling to prevail on the Amazon algorithm and offering up rewards for those that do preorder.]

Today’s theme on the happenings at MoCCA Festival 2019 is what people are working on, on account of I ran into a lot of people working on a lot of things. This isn’t necessarily chronological, so don’t look for a consistent passage of time.

  • Before I even made it inside on Saturday morning, I ran into Magnolia Porter and Tom Siddell (both of whom are killing it on their respective comics right now), and they’re working on their new, shared life as married folks. It’s a long way from the UK to Brooklyn, but they’ve got tablet, network, and each other. You will seriously not ever see anything more adorable — I am including sleepy puppies trying to keep their heads from drooping in this statement — than newlywed Porter gleefully introducing Siddell to somebody as my husband. I love those crazy kids.
  • In the opening minutes, I also ran into Calista Brill, editorial supremo at :01 Books, who is working on everything — walking the aisles trying to determine who should be on her radar, keeping to the ambitious release schedule (they’ve gone from about two dozen books a year to more than twice that in less than two years), launching at least two, maybe three new lines in the space of a year¹ … they’re on the verge of world domination but too busy to slow down for the customary Mwah-ha-ha-ha!
  • Just as well they haven’t declared victory, really, since Gina Gagliano is less than nine months from Random House Graphic‘s debut year, with twelve books on the slate and announcements reaching out to 2023, if I’ve paid attention. Less than a year ago, she was thrown into a new job without a staff, an office, or time to catch her breath before having to develop things like a marketing budget (for books that didn’t exist and had no deliverable date because she didn’t yet have any creators under contract yet), and now she can see things starting to happen. Preview material for sales folks, printing press time and shipping containers coming together, all the logistics that assure yes, this is real.
  • Evan Dahm is going to be able to show off three, four new books over the coming year; Island Book is just over a month from release, Vattu’s third collection is approaching delivery, and he’s in the final stages of a project for Iron Circus called The Harrowing Of Hell, about what happened to Jesus for those days between crucifixion and resurrection; there’s going to be a collection of shorter works as well. Somewhat appropriately, Dahm will be finishing Harrowing just as Easter approaches; with printing lead times, I’d expect it to release (also appropriately) sometime in the Lenten season next year.

    Asked about what public domain book he’d like to adapt next, he allowed that he’d like to take a shot at The Worm Ouroboros by ER Eddison, but he may be a while before he gets to it; you can’t help but notice that nice, big 1 at the top of the spine of Island Book, so I’m guessing he might be a bit spoken for for the next while.

  • Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is working on saying No for a while. Her debut longform work, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (words by Mariko Tamaki; I’ve been reading it obsessively since I got a review copy on Friday), hits in four weeks, and making a 250-plus page book in just about a year, while working on other items at the same time, would tax anybody. After some downtime, she gets to start work on her second longform work, one that she’ll be writing as well as drawing. I’ve said ever since I met her that she would produce astonishing work and just keep getting better; so far, it looks like I’ve been right.
  • Colleen AF Venable² has plenty to keep her busy, too. Kiss Number 8 is so, so good³, and her gig directing art for Odd Dot is starting to pay off. I told her that the ringbound easelback presentation for Code This Game! made me angry, because I wanted that innovation to have existed for my college years; she heaped praise on her staff member (she called him one of my inventors) that came up with that design in 30 seconds with an X-Acto) and I begged her to license it. Apparently, every imprint up and down the Flatiron Building is asking if they can use that innovation (I really hope that includes all their cookbooks) and she’s more than happy to share. She’s just happy, period. Collen AF Venable has the proportional happiness of a spider that’s really, really happy.

    And all of that is before she gets to her own books — she’ll be doing a Maker Comic and she’s got a superhero story that sounds brilliant and hilarious and brilliant again, one that will hit right in the spot that the Minx line failed to capitalize on a dozen years back.

  • I’d never met Tea Fougner in person before; we wound up geeking out over how wonderful Olivia Jaimes has been on Nancy for the past year. She hopes that seeing the tremendous interest shown in a nearly century-old property will make it easier when she argues to her bosses that she needs to be able to revitalize some of King Feature’s legacy strips with bold returns to what made them great.

    The tributes to Popeye are a start, but we agreed that she needs to just hand that strip over to Randy Milholland and then let him go to town. Either that, or she needs to hop to Disney, work her way up to the appropriate place, and then hand Duckville to Milholland and likewise let him go to Duckburg.

You know what? At least four more people to talk about in this context, plus all the new creators I met for the first time, and we’re over 1000 words. More tomorrow.


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¹ 2019 saw the start of the Maker Comics line, early next year will see the civic engagement line, World Citizen Comics (of which Weinersmith & Caplan’s book is less a member, more a precursor), and I heard rumors of a history line in the works.

² She gave me her current business card which notes, Yup, That’s My Real Middle Name.

³ Despite some folk asking if it matters that they didn’t read the first 7.

Plenty To Carry With Me This Weekend

Let it never be said that the folks at :01 Books (and their fellow imprints at Macmillan) don’t make their catalogs available for review. Their Spring/Summer offerings are getting ready to drop, and I find myself today in possession of advanced copies of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, Hawking, The Time Museum vol 2, I Will Be Fierce, and This Was Our Pact (I, uh, may have given one or two of them a first read already).

Also in the Big Box O’ Quality Reading: previews and exceprts of Island Book, Pumpkinheads, Old Souls, and The Adventure Zone: Murder On The Rockport Limited. and Code This Game!¹. Creators associated with these books who’ll be at MoCCA Fest include Evan Dahm, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Carey Pietsch, and Colleen AF Venable².

Look for reviews of these books closer to their respective release dates, and if you’re anywhere near NYC this weekend, to drop in to see these and many more creators.


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¹ The last from Macmillan’s new imprint, Odd Dot. It’s too narrow to describe them as an education imprint, but they are definitely geared towards ensmartening their readers.

² Venable is the Creative Director at Odd Dot, and you can bet she’s responsible for the design of the book, which will feature spiral binding and an easel back so you can prop it up next to you while you type code samples from it, and the pages aren’t constantly flying around.

When The Time To Doors Opening Gets Into Single-Digit Hours, You’re Officially In Pre-Show Territory

As this goes live, we’re in the vicinity of 90 hours until MoCCA Fest 2019. We’ve got the programming, there are some late exhibitor addenda (see below), and some news on peripheral events that you may want to keep an eye on. There’s some other things going on, too.

  • MoCCA, then: Word comes to us via the Tweets Machine that Evan Dahm will be at table G238. I mean, this was a no-brainer, guy’s got Island Book coming out six weeks from today from :01 Books, which is going to put him square in the sights of those that pay attention to kids books. And kidlit librarians/advocates are relentless in their pursuit of good books, so congrats to Dahm on his forthcoming recreation of the opening of A Hard Day’s Night.

    Also at MoCCA (although not tabling) will be Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, also no surprise, given that Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (pictures by Ms Valero-O’Connell, words by the incomparable Mariko Tamaki) is coming out five weeks from today¹, also from :01. She’ll be signing at their table (E162) at 2:00pm on Saturday, and will likely be wandering the floor other times. Her other appearances in conjunction with Laura Dean will come between now and November, and will encompass the cities of Minneapolis/St Paul, Toronto, Chicago, and Leeds.

  • Speaking of MoCCA, one of the long-running traditions is that the night before, Drink And Draw Like A Lady; since 2008, it’s gotten women together to make comics in public, have some delicious beverages, and never once have to hear the question, So what’s it like being a woman in comics?

    But the thing about traditions is, somebody has to arrange the damn things, and oftentimes it falls onto just a few. The first DADLAL was put together by a couple of ladies named Hope Larson and Raina Telgemeier², and since then a fluctuating group of volunteers have taken on tasks for events in various cities, from arranging the posters³ to lining up sponsorships (for a number of years, that would have been Katie Lane’s Work Made For Hire) to making sure the venue was ready.

    Most recently, it’s been Alisa Harris“>Alisa Harris, Alison Wilgus, and Tea Fougner that have done most of the work for the NYC events; they have lives and obligations the other 364 days of the year, and also life sometimes gets in the way:

    We know it’s been a while and we’d like to apologize for the late notice that we will be taking a break from our annual pre-MoCCA Fest party this year. A number of factors have come up. Most notably, The Productive, our awesome venue for the past several years has closed its physical location.

    Alison, Tea and I have been busy with life and work and decided that it might be best to take a year to recuperate so we don’t spread ourselves too thin. We are so grateful to everyone who has attended and helped out in past years! This party is awesome because of you.

    DADLAL isn’t gone, it’s just taking a break. Here’s hoping Fougner, Harris, and Wilgus get to spend Friday night with their feet up, a preferred beverage close to hand, and whatever amiable companionship they prefer purring, wagging, or even speaking in human words that they’ve earned this break.

  • And not MoCCA, but still on the festival circuit: Shelli Paroline is many things — artist, writer, half of a very successful creative duo with Braden Lamb, and co-director of MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo. It’s in that latter capacity that she would like you to know that this year’s MICE will be happening on 19 – 20 October, on the campus of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and that exhibitor applications are now open:

    You can now apply to exhibit at MICE happening October 19 – 20, 2019 in Cambridge, MA! Application period open through April 23. We got guidelines here: http://www.micexpo.org/application/

    I really have to get up to that show one of these years, as it is by all accounts a great one. And, for those who are just starting out exhibiting, MICE has one of the most reasonable table pricings in all of comics: full tables for US$180, halfsies for US$90, and thirds for US$65. They like to put an emphasis on the comics part of comics expo, and also to see new faces, so give it some thought between now and the 23rd, yeah?


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¹ I am going to get home from Comics Camp and immediately have a bunch of great books to read. This truly is a new golden age of comics.

² Before they were HOPE LARSON and RAINA.

³ They been drawn by Larson, Raina, Lucy Knisley, Erika Moen, Harris, Emi Lenox, Cary Pietsch, Savannah Zambrano, Janet Sung, Kat Fajardo, Olivia Li, Megan Brennan, and more. You recognize some of those names, and you’re going to recognize the others in future.

Tuesday’s Gonna Be Busy


That’s when a pair of books by a pair of webcomickers drop, and they could not be any more different.

  • First up, Vera Brosgol continues her alternating pattern of graphic novel with at least some elements of growing up Russian (Anya’s Ghost, Be Prepared) and childrens picture book, sometimes with a Russian feel to the whole thing (Leave Me Alone!), when she releases The Little Guys via Roaring Brook Press.

    It’s about these guys who are little, maybe half-height to a Smurf. They wear acorn caps for hats, they’ve got prominent noses, and I’m not sure if they have shaggy bodies or that’s just beard covering their bodies, but they’re totally charming. And, crucially, the eponymous Little Guys are the villains of the piece. Slowly the tale turns — they are little, but work together (that’s good!) and together they are mighty (admirable!) They meet any challenge (you go, Little Guys) to get what they want (uhhh, maybe slow down, Little Guys?) with the clear message: None for you! All for us! Hand it over to the Little Guys!

    Look, I’m not saying this book is to teach 3-6 year olds about the perils of in-group conformity and out-group oppression and how easily fascistic systems can evolve from seemingly benign messages … but I’m not not saying it. And I’m definitely not saying that this is a story that said 3-6 year olds should be kept from, since inoculation against virulent pathogens (of both the biological and sociopolitical varieties) is a good thing for herd immunity.

    I reserve the right to revise my impressions of Guys, Little and otherwise, once I get my hands on a copy, but in the meantime you can get a look at how such a book gets put together, and to check out Brosgol’s upcoming book tour dates, starting Sunday the 31st.

  • Second, Box Brown continues his alternating pattern of graphic novel that’s a biography of somebody related to wrestling (Andre The Giant, Is This Guy For Real?) and sociological examinations, sometimes with a Russian connection (Tetris), when he releases Cannabis via :01 Books.

    Moreso than some of his earlier works, Cannabis depends on its subtitle to give an idea what the book’s really about: The Illegalization Of Weed In America. There’s a brief history of cannabis use going back a few millenia in India, its spread to the Old and New Worlds, and then it hits the meat of the story: how the prohibition of cannabis was an explicit grab for power and social control, largely by the singular efforts of Harry Anslinger, the first drug policy commissioner.

    (If you don’t know Anslinger’s story, On The Media included a detailed profile of the man in their history of the American drug war, which left me with the inescapable conclusion that Anslinger was motivated, more than anything else, by the fact that he was a racist shitbag. Dude basically murdered Billie Holiday, because she was performing her blackity-black music around decent white folk. )

    All of which makes Cannabis a unique book — not a social history of weed, or arguments for its beneficial nature or why it should be legal, but rather an examination of why it was outlawed, and how very much overemphasis on its dangers has come not from medical proof, but from political expediency to oppress the poor and non-white. My review copy was an early, uncorrected proof, so I’m interested to see what the final version looks like when it comes out. In the meantime, you can make plans to catch up with Brown on his book tour, which technically started last weekend at C2E2.

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From The Bay Area

And we all know that when I talk about the Bay Area, there’s just one thing that could mean: party at Shaenon Garrity’s backyard tiki hut! something cool is happening at the Cartoon Art Museum.

As it has in past years, CAM is participating in a museum exchange bonanza, where memberships at one cultural institution are honored at all of them, thus allowing people to see more cool stuff than they’d ordinarily be able to. This year, Member For A Day (taking place on 14 April, that’s a Sunday) will allow CAM members to take in:

Note that there may be surcharges for special exhibits at FAMSF and the Oakland Museum Of California.

Importantly, the presence of some of the premier museum of not just the area, but of the country (SFMOMA is world class, MOAD is a Smithsonian affiliate) means that CAM is an equal, a legitimate home of scholarship and culture. I find that something that should be repeated every once in a while, as comics still get regarded as unimportant, or lesser — neither art nor literature. I mean, we all saw this on Twitter, right?

My daughter said her LA teacher has officially banned graphic novels from his class. She then asked me to find bags so she could bring hers to school so she can lend them out. A story right from one of @AlanGratz or @allisonvarnes books. #rebellibrarian #banthisbook

Kudos to both mom (for raising a daughter that wants to read and recognizes good reading doesn’t require a particular form) and daughter (who will be running a clandestine library out of her locker — I’m pretty sure this makes her a booklegger in the Leibowitzian sense). Who knows? Maybe the thrill of the illicit will entice a reluctant reader or two even moreso than some graphic novels would have on their own (and GNs are a tremendous tool for getting reluctant readers to engage with books) and it’ll be a net positive.

Mostly, though, that teacher (and some who are cheering him for making kids read “real books”) need to understand — comics are part of the culture and an equal to any other art. Maybe we can encourage that guy to visit San Francisco to see for himself if he needs traditional arbiters of worthiness to give him permission to let kids read what they want.


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From The Tweet Machine

Man, you can learn a lot from the Twitters. Sometimes, you learn that an idea you had is already in motion. Sometimes you learn that an idea that nobody had makes perfect sense.

  • I swear, when I wrote a week ago about the new line of civic engagement graphic novels from :01 Books and how they should pick up Zach Weinersmith, I didn’t know they already had:

    Check out the exclusive cover and excerpt reveal of #OpenBorders by @bryan_caplan and @ZachWeiner, on @PasteMagazine! This nonfiction graphic novel on immigration comes this fall, and is available for pre-order now!

    Weinersmith’s been talking to me forever about the graphic novel he’s been working on that argues in favor of open borders; I think the first time we talked about it here was a good eighteen months ago. In all that time, he never let on it was with :01, but honestly I should have guessed. And today, we have a cover reveal and street date, courtesy of Paste¹ magazine: Open Borders: The Science And Ethics Of Immigration, and 29 October.

    There’s a six page preview over there, too, which quickly establishes the central thesis of the book: that wholly unrestricted immigration is not only an economic good, but also morally necessary. I’m calling the over/under on the number of angry, early morning “executive time” tweets about the book on or around the release at … let’s say four.

  • There’s a thing I never knew I needed — that anybody needed — and in retrospect it appears bloody obvious. Jeph Jacques has made a habit of purchasing … unique URLs to redirect to his comic², which is no new thing in webcomics. Jeffrey Rowland showed me a list of all the domains he owned once, and it was a thing of demented beauty; Rich Stevens collects domains like an early ’90s kid collected pogs.

    But Jacques makes use of his redirects, linking them when a new comic goes up; I don’t think he’s used questionablecontent.net in more than a year; on the one hand, most of his aliases are much shorter, and on the other, the fact that a massive, worldwide technological infrastructure was constructed just to allow dildo.pizza to exist is funny all by itself.

    But let’s face it — a gag can only take you so far, and some of those exotic TLDs have noncompetitive registrars; at some point, you gotta cut your losses or find a way to pay for your hobby:

    I have the best URLs in the business, and now you can have a sweet fuckin’ print of them thanks to @topatoco https://topatoco.com/collections/jeph-jacques/products/qc-urls-print …

    This is, I believe, the first poster that needs to possibly come with annual updates. Hey, Jeph, have you considered that? This could be an annual subscription item.


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¹ And hot dang, can I just express my admiration for a moment of how the folks at :01 have taken the let’s promote our forthcoming graphic novel game from sending the exclusive to The Beat or CBR and raised it to the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and Paste? It sends a message not just about their own offerings when you can say a new graphic novel is not just of interest to the comics world, it is and should be part of the general culture.

² And sometimes just to have. Remember walmart.horse?