The webcomics blog about webcomics

A Perfectly Paced Gag, And Also Kickstarts

Ahhhhh, Barbarous by Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, could I love you any more? No, no I could not. And the between-chapters bumper is a delight, three pages where the most important action takes place off-panel and is still perfectly clear. It — the bumper that is — starts here, and the story starts here and if you haven’t read it, you’ll love it.

If you haven’t read it, come to think, you’ve got an easy way to a) catch up, and b) support the comic just now. Hirsh and Ota haven’t finished the story, not by a long shot, and they’ve released the first chapter as a short print collection — some three dozen pages — in an oversized trim. If you didn’t pick it up at the time, the only place it’s currently available is as part of the rewards package for the Kickstart for the second chapter.

Same deal as before — slim volume, Euro trim size, lots of extras as they hit the stretch goals. Best of all, it’s a sure deal since they’re nearly 50% over goal with two weeks left to go, so all you have to do is pledge and wait for the print edition to come in¹.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, there have been recent conclusions of both the 17th Iron Circus project and the third collection of gay college hockey bromance/comedy. How’d they do?

    FTL Y’all was predicted by the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II to raise US$50K +/- US$10K, and came in at US$51,432; to be entirely honest, the Iron Circus projects have been a dominant contributor to the math of FFF mk2, and they nearly always fall right in the center of the range. I’m starting to think that for Spike-affiliated projects, it would be possible to narrow the margin of error by a factor of 3 or 4.

  • Check, Please!: Year Three was funding too rapidly when we wrote about its launch, and further skewed it’s day one/day two totals by doing a stealth launch to Patreon backers, with a sudden, later surge when the campaign went public; as noted in the past these situations don’t track well with the FFF mk2. According to the straight application of FFF logic, the prediction would come to US$336K – US$504K, but that incorporates the surge. If we go the second full day, the numbers drop to US$250K – US$375K; the actual total was US$353,764.

    That would be at the high end of the range for a surge-ignoring calculation, and at the low end of the range for a surge-ignoring calculation, neither of which is particularly satisfying from a predictive POV. There may need to be a further change to the FFF mk2 logic² to maybe look at a point midway between a Day One peak and a Day Two relaxation³? Further experiments will need to take place, but there will be a Year Four down the line, after all.

    Curiously, Year Three, did not clear the US$398,520 that Year Two raised, but I’m chalking that up to people having information they didn’t have in the Fall of 2016: that :01 Books is printing Check, Please! as two volumes; some people may have decided to trade-wait and get Year Three combined with Year Four next year.

Spam of the day:

Have an invention idea? Where do I start – Free Info Kit!

In fact, last week I had a zillion-dollar invention idea, and I did the only rational thing with it: I gave it to Rich Stevens, because if anybody can execute on it, he can.

¹ Thought that just occurred to me. What with the whole trade war with China stupidity going on now, we aren’t shipping as much stuff to China, we won’t be getting as much stuff from China, is this going to take container ship capacity away (as they’re redirected to other trade routes) or make it more plentiful/cheaper (as there may be an excess of space/ships)?

I have no idea how this might shake out, it could plausibly go either of two entirely opposite ways. But you know who probably does know? George, who just happens to work closely with Ota & Hirsh. I’ve got an email into him to get his thoughts and will report back.

² Take the 24-30 hour trend value from Kicktraq and divide by four; that’s the center of the predicted range. Divide further by five, and that’s the margin of error. Exception: low-backed projects (fewer than ~ 200 backers) are not predictable.

³ Doing so would have given us US$290K – US$435K, with a centerpoint of US$362.5K; that’s much tighter, but it’s also a case of poking around the data until finding something that fits. Many more trials will be needed.

Remaking The World

Y’know, pretty damn soon it’ll be easier to talk about an area where comics — web and otherwise — and graphic novels aren’t making inroads instead of those where they are. Consider:

Down New Orleans way — and I’ve been to NOLA in the summer, so everybody there has my sympathies — the American Library Association Annual Conference is underway, and webcomickers are all over the damn place. Just from my sosh-meeds, I’ve noticed Hope Larson, Rosemary Mosco, George Rohac, Ngozi Ukazu, Vera Brosgol, Raina Telgemeier, Andy Runton, Melanie Gillman, the omnipresent C Spike Trotman, and the irreplaceable Gina Gagliano.

First observation: no disrespect to Rohac and Runton, who are both outstanding dudes, but it’s all well and meet that the ladies are dominating here. The books that the women present make (or facilitate the making of) are going to form the spine of a new canon.

Second observation: the universality of comics is not lost on the librarians (which, I would note, is a profession that skews heavily female), who are seeking out ways to bring comics into their collections. This year, the ALA approved the creation of a new round table dedicated to graphic novels, which is a significantly big deal.

The round tables produce research (don’t ever get in the way of a group of librarians who’re researching a topic) which results in best practices, standards, and guidelines for libraries everywhere. Need to figure out what to add to the stacks, how to organize it, how to get and keep the public’s interest? An ALA round table has probably figured it out.

They also provide legitimacy. It is, after all, the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table that convened to present the Stonewall Book Awards earlier today¹, and Gillman was on hand for As The Crow Flies to be recognized as a Stonewall Honor Book — the only graphic novel so recognized.

Being recognized for one of the big literary awards can result in a demand for thousands or even tens of thousands of copies of a book. It conveys to the larger reading world that the book and/or creator is Serious Business, and it’s one of the reasons that Mark Siegel put get on the radar of the the literary awards on his to-do list when founding :01 Books. Siegel figured it would take 5-10 years, and they made it all the way to the National Book Awards 18 months later thanks to American Born Chinese by Gene Yang.

You remember Yang — two-time NBA nominee, Eisner winner, MacArthur laureate, and the fifth National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature², guiding force of the Reading Without Walls challenge? Guy’s probably done more to put books in the hands of kids than anybody else this side of Dolly Parton. And since he’s the sort of really smart, really engaged person that you want to represent reading, it’s no surprise that he’s been named the newest board member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

“I’m so excited to be joining the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund,” Gene Yang says. “Like many people, I’ve found it more and more difficult to wrap my head around issues of free speech because of recent news events. However, I still believe that, to borrow a phrase from poet Liu Xiaobo, free expression is the mother of truth. The CBLDF has been at the forefront of these issues for many years now, which makes our work more important than ever.”

Some of you just went to look up Liu Xiaobo, because that’s what Yang does — make you go learn stuff. Between the librarians and the creators, I’m going to say that the future of reading’s in good hands. Now let’s everybody get out there and make sure the eyes — and minds! — are open to follow where they lead.

Spam of the day:

Contact me today if you are considering buying, selling, or just want to know more about market conditions in your neighborhood. [links to multiple-million dollar homes in the Greater LA area]

My home has a wall-to-wall area of 130 square meters (not including hallways, stairs, etc), and is not in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or Los Feliz. I suspect you meant to send this to somebody very different.

¹ To be completely clear, the awards were announced in January, but were presented today at the annual conference.

² Which I believe entitles him to be addressed as His/Your Excellency.

F-Six, Checking In

The Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back on.

I’m sure you saw the announcement; it’s been several times in my twitterfeed, but let’s go with the one from Ryan North, who (as a giant of a man) cannot be denied:

Our goal is to raise $42,000 for legal defense and support for separated children and their families. I just donated, and you can too: …

Good news: ActBlue reports the US$42,000 goal was hit in under 24 hours. The site is still live. Send me (that would be gary) at this-here website, which is a dot-com your receipt for any amount¹, by the end of the week, and I’ll match the first US$2000. I’m giving away a lot of money these days. Gonna keep doing so, until we prevail.

I’m not the only one making matches or doing fundraising! For example, since I started writing this, Molly Ostertag announced that’s she’s making available three personalized copies of The Witch Boy with three original pieces of art, with proceeds going to Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. You can’t get any of them though, because they went in about 20 minutes. I’m counting her $400 as the first matching donation, so we’re already well on our way.

And for the sake of all that is good, make some noise. Do not let the current administration of racist sociopaths decide for the rest of us that their policy of imprisoning children (how long before they’re put to work, I wonder? I hear work sets you free …) is a thing that’s acceptable in any fashion.

As long as we’re making plans, those of you that attend San Diego Comic Con next month may have another means of support and direct action. Pat Race noted that there’s an ICE child detention center (I hated having to type those words) in San Diego, and he’s making enquiries to determine if there’s some way for creators to come and engage the kids with art and comics.

It’s been noted that there’s a risk that engaging in this fashion may normalize the practice, but you know what? I think having eyes on the inside, belonging to ordinary people, has tremendous value. I can’t teach art or speak Spanish, but I will provide witness if given the chance. Fill out the contact form if you’re willing to help, should this turn out to be a possibility.

Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share this day.

¹ Along with how you’d like to be credited, or if you’d prefer to be anonymous.

Weekend Fun

Know who loves comics? Dads. It’s true! And as it turns out, there’s a couple of comics-related things you can do with your (or as a) Dad, on opposite sides of the country! Choose whichever is closest to you!

  • On the Left Coast, our friends at the Cartoon Art Museum are so invested in your Dad having a good time, they’re offering him free admission:

    The Cartoon Art Museum is offering free admission to all fathers for Father’s Day weekend with paid admission for their child or grandchild. Visit us at 781 Beach Street on Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, 2018 and enjoy our current exhibitions.

    Those current exhibitions include a look at the MARCH trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, and Jen Wang’s latest, The Prince And The Dressmaker (with which I had considerable concerns, but read it and decide for yourself).

  • On the Eastside, Danielle Corsetto Heavy Book Tour starts at Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse tomorrow, with a Q&A at noon and signing until 4:00pm. She’ll be spending the rest of the weekend and the early part of next week in transit and sharpening up her Laser Tag skills in anticipation of the Albany signing on Tuesday, with special guests Jess Fink and Eric Colossal¹.

    The mayhem starts at 6:30pm at Zero Gravity FuntimeLaserPlace, 1240 Central Avenue, and will run you US$17 for up to three games of laser tag, plus the usual signing stuff.


    They need at least 22 people signed up (with a maximum of 30) and there are presently 14. You must RSVP so they know they have enough to make the venue happy, and you only have until tomorrow to do so. Hudson Valley folks, this is your moment to shine. Do not make Danielle haul those big-ass books all the way to Albany and then not get to shoot you with a laser.

Side note: Monday may not have a post; I have to travel for work, and as this one will involve a visit to Our Neighbo[u]rs To The North, and since Screamy Orange Grandpa is shitting all over Canada these days, I may be some time at Customs & Immigration.

Hopefully, relations between our countries do not deteriorate to the point that I needs be held as an enemy national … and if so, let me remind our gracious Canadian friends that I know The Toronto Man-Mountain and he can personally vouch for my good character. Thank you.

Spam of the day:

Hey sexy, its Christy Mack!! I added some topless photos just for you on Instagram

I don’t know if the photos in this email are or are not of Christy Mack, but they are not topless. Also, doesn’t IG pretty much ban topless pictures? Try harder, spammers.

¹ Whom I accidentally left out of my previous mention of the event.

Schlockiversary And Other Things Of Note

Happy Strippiversary to my Evil Twin. I see you’re celebrating in the traditional manner: reconfiguring the websserver so that leaving off the “www” part means you don’t get the site. Still, eighteen years and 6574 strips is nothing to sneer at. And the art’s gotten better, too! You may have taken away the “first” navigation button, but I will pull out strip #1 every year, so that people understand the raw value of sticking with it.

Now, things that happened in The Before Times that I’m just getting to:

  • The winner of the Be Prepared giveaway has been chosen, and it’s Steven from St Paul, Minnesota. Book coming your way as soon as I can get to the post office, Steven.
  • Shing Yin Khor is many things: comics artist, installation artist, constructor of awesome haunted houses, space mechanic/hobo, and decrier of capitalism. Come to San Diego Comic Con (holy crud, less than six weeks out) and she’ll have certain stuff for you only if you have something suitable to barter with:

    Can’t wait to launch my Space Gnome Mercantile TRADE ONLY merch at SDCC. In 2018, the space gnome will trade for:
    1. A cool rock
    2. A story about your favourite roadside statue
    3. A handmade ceramic vessel
    4. A compliment, in iambic pentameter or limerick.

    Best believe I’m brushing up on my poetic forms and keeping my eyes peeled for rocks.

  • Kerstin La Cross, adventure cartoonist, has a habit of walking far places with her stuff on her back, scaling high peaks, traversing low valleys, and then sharing what the experience was like with those of us who appreciate The Great Outdoors just fine as long as we can do our appreciating from The Great Indoors. Her newest recounting is an autobio treatment of a 100 mile (161 km) hike took with their husband, and it’s a brave piece of self-examination.

    It took all of three strips to get to the point where they have to portray the most humble-making thing that any of us can experience — getting deservedly smacked upside the head with the ol’ cluebat. It’s a hell of a cold open, and determining how they got to that point is just getting started. Buckle up and be prepared to keep up — there’s rocky times ahead.

  • Is there anything C Spike Trotman can’t do? Aside from being listed as one of the upcoming creators in ComiXology’s new foray into original, creator-owned stories, she’s got Iron Circus’s 17th damn Kickstart going, one that funded out in the customary few hours, and which is headed for US$40K-60K according to the FFF mk2¹.
  • Hey, remember the Multiplex animated short? It’s on Amazon Prime.
  • Hey, remember KC Green and Anthony Clark? They have a double treat for us tomorrow. In addition to the weekly dose of BACK goodness (and it’s been very good lately), they partnered up on an issue of Invader Zim from Oni, releasing this week.
  • Danielle Corsetto’s Big Ass Heavy Book Tour kicks off in Philly this weekend (I may try to hop down for that one) before exploring the Northeast and Canada. Highlight: next Tuesday in Albany, the tour will feature LASER TAG WITH JESS FINK if enough people reserve spots. I’m going to be in Ottawa, or hell of yes I’d be there.

Spam of the day:

Look inside! New Credit Card may be available here.

That shit doesn’t work when you send me an actual envelope, it’s not going to work with a friggin’ email.

¹ By the Iron Circus model, there’s a US$5/page pay bump for every US$5K over goal, so between 4 and 8 bumps, or another US$20-40 per page on top of the already-earned page rate.

Are You Satisfied Now, Doubters?

Words. Pictures. Boom: comics.

3548 comics, give or take. Ten years and a day. Grad school, industry, academia. Dante Shepherd Lucas Landherr ends Surviving The World on the message he’s always had for us, and while he won’t be watching over us, yea, as a shepherd watches over the flocks, he’ll still be out there making comics to make the world better, smarter, kinder.

And weirder, probably. Dude’s got an appreciation of The Weird.

For those so inclined, as of this writing you’ve got about 70 minutes to get in on the Kickstarter for the one and only print collection of Surviving The World; from here on out if you want to see Landherr’s comics, you’ll have to check out PhD Unknown, or maybe be enrolled in a course of STEM study, or if we’re lucky we’ll find an Easter egg or two in the Crash Course: Engineering series.

Okay, enjoy your weekend, see you again on Monday, and let’s each say one thing that’s good, smart, kind, or weird to one person in Landherr’s honor. And Luke? Kick back, enjoy a tasty and refreshing beverage, enjoy the love of your wife and daughters for a bit. Then it’s back to work — the world won’t be getting better, smarter, kinder, or weirder on its own, and putting down the chalk doesn’t mean you’re off the clock, Sparky.

Good job. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

PS: Speaking of comics that make the world better/smarter/kinder/especially weirder, there’s a new What If? today!

Spam of the day:

Live WebCam ( . )( . )

Man, that just does not when you apply the quoted text style to it. Looks like the putative naked lady is leaning hard to her left and about to tumble over. Just — somebody steady her, please?

Future Endeavours

It’s late, there’s lots to talk about, onwards.

  • Today marks ten years and 3547 strips from Lucas Landherr, or Dante Shepherd, or whatever he calls himself, the beardy chemical engineering guy with the chalkboard over at Surviving The World. Here is where I’d ordinarily wish the strip and creator many years of continued success, but that would be pointless. As previously announced, tomorrow will be the final strip for STW; when Landshep started, he was a doctoral student, and ten years later he’s a father twice over, a beloved faculty member at Northeastern University, and recognized as one of the most innovative teachers of engineering in the country.

    I’m not going to say that it’s because of webcomics, but I’m pretty sure the guy will tell you that having a creative¹ outlet is crucial for getting through the rigors of nerd school; for me it was being on the radio, for Dantecus, it’s horrible puns and chalk dust, raptor impressions, and Peanuts dances. He tried to keep his weirdo side on the downlow for a while after he got the teaching gig, but the students found him and embraced him. They’ve taken his weirdness and multiplied it, and will coincidentally take his other lessons out to their careers (and possibly their own students).

    It’s a significant legacy, and if you find it inspirational in the slightest², a reminder that tomorrow also marks the end of the Kickstart for the one and only STW print collection. Landherr (for that is his proper name) has future comics and future lessons in him, and it’s time to turn the page on the present³ project in favor of what comes next. Make your chalk always be the dust-free variety may the erasers always clap clean, and may you never lose the lab coat and Red Sox cap, Dr Landherr. Thanks for all the laugh-chuckles along the way.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, did you see that Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan broke all their previous records in funding the all-educational strips collection of Oh Joy, Sex Toy, titled Drawn To Sex? And that the just about 3000 backers blew through the nice-thousand funding level, and the US$80085 funding level, and ponied up a total of 85,793 damn dollars (American)?

    Congrats to Nolan and Moen — it must feel great to know that five years in, you’re more necessary and more appreciated than ever. Celebrate tonight, be remember that tomorrow you’ve got to produce a book that will blow (heh, heh) everybody’s socks off. Seeing as how you’ve done that repeatedly, I think you’ll manage it again this time.

  • Speaking of blowing socks off, did you see that Molly Ostertag released a cover for the sequel to last year’s The Witch Boy, a book which I was not shy about declaring my favorite book (not just favorite graphic novel) of 2017? And that you can pre-order it now? The Hidden Witch releases on 30 October, just in time for Halloween, and it looks like we get a lot more of Charlie in this one. Set aside cash and space on the shelf now, this one is going to be great.
  • Speaking of going to be great, we have the promised name of the new kids imprint at Macmillan, the one where Colleen AF Venable will be determining the look of things as the Creative Director. In her words, Odd Dot is Run by weirdos, making fun non-fiction for kids, and they’ve announced their first tranche of releases: the Tinker Active series of workbooks on STEM topics, Code This Game, aimed at teaching tweens to make videogames, and One More Wheel (written by Venable herself), a counting board book with a spinning wheel on the cover.

    If you’re at BEA (running in New York at the Javits, through tomorrow), look up Odd Dot at booth 2444 and give Venable a high five (or a hug, if she’s amenable) for me. I couldn’t be happier for all she’s done and is yet to do.

Spam of the day:

My name is Orko


and we are a Video Content creation solution that helps businesses create videos easily. I would like to invite you to please review how you can easily produce quality videos to show or communicate more about Fleen.

Why is He-Man’s faceless dipshit sidekick trying to sell me on content (ew, ick) creation solutions?

¹ Or weird, if you prefer

² I find it hell of inspirational, even though Shepland insists on cleaving to an objectively inferior form of engineering. Electrical rules, chemical is stinky and gloopy and sometimes glowing green.

³ Want to creep him out? Stare him in the eye and in an overly enthusiastic voice ask the one word question, Presents? Trust me on this.

Sports! Yay, Sports!

I know, sports? Just stick with me.

  • Okay, this is just great: we have previously been informed that Kazu Kibuishi had received the ultimate sports geek honor — an official Day in his honor at a major league ballpark — but over the weekend the Seattle Mariners upped the stakes. On Sunday, Kibuishi threw out the first pitch at a Mariners home game.

    It may be that MLB is recognizing that the jock/nerd dichotomy is a fake idea, it may be that somebody in the front office has a kid who’s a huge Amulet fan, or maybe it’s the team members themselves that can’t wait until Book 8 drops¹. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Kibuishi got to suit up and throw a pitch from the mound in his hometown ballpark, and he looked pretty damn happy to be doing so. Here’s hoping that there are even bigger achievements and thrills in store for him the future.

  • Speaking of bigger achievements and thrills, we are (as of this writing) a bit less than six and a half hours since the news broke this morning of Kickstart for the third print collection of Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu, and the book has already raised more than US$106,000 (nearly 500% of goal), provided by 1325 backers. Those numbers are changing as I type, so I’ll update them below just before I hit “post”.

    What’s not changing is the fact that all the top rewards (5 @ US$250, you get an original art bookplate; 5 @ US$400, you also get original character sketches; 1 @ US$1000, you get to be in the comic) have been snapped up already; if not for the fact that they were limited, I’m certain that each of those tiers would have ten times the claimants they do now.

    For reference, this campaign is already well over the total numbers for the first collection of Check, Please! (1577 backers, just under US$75K), and if we adopt the McDonald Rule², Ukazu is well on her way to eclipsing the second collection³. By tomorrow morning we’ll possibly be able to apply the FFF mk2, but it seems safe to say (especially given all the press and excitement right now around the upcoming release of a combined Year One/Year Two edition from :01 Books) that this will certainly clear the half-million mark.

    And, as I observed this morning within that first public hour, I can’t wait the hear the rhetorical knots that the “Diversity is killing comics” bozos will have to twist themselves into to explain about how this doesn’t really count, and how a comic by a Nigerian-American (!) woman (!!) with an ethnically-diverse cast (!!!) about gay (!!!!) hockey players is really a failure. The schadenfreude will be delicious.

  • Not sports: Over the weekend the National Cartoonists Society held their annual meet-up in Philadelphia, and on Saturday night the various division awards were presented. The two awards for Online Comics went to (Long Form) John Allison for Bad Machinery (which is once again Scary Go Round), and (Short Form) to Gemma Correll for various work.

    Again, as a disclaimer, I’m involved in the process of producing the nominations for these two divisions, but I do not have a vote towards the awards themselves. And, as previously noted, I am a tremendous fan of both Correll’s and Allison’s work and am pleased to see their stellar work recognized.

    We at Fleen congratulate the winners as well as their fellow nominees, and note that between the wins for Bad Machinery and Scenes From A Multiverse, and the unprecedented three nominations for Octopus Pie, the reprobates of Dumbrella must be considered some of the best webcomickers ever.

Update to add: At 1447 EDT 29 May, 1370 backers, US$109,726, or 490% of goal.

Spam of the day:

Did you not file with the IRS this year because you owe back taxes?

No, because not filing is literally the dumbest thing you can do. If you owe three bucks, the penalty for not filing will dwarf the penalty for underpaying/paying over time if you owe three thousand (or thirty thousand, for that matter). And geez, you can file for an automatically-granted extension, which gives you more time to get your shit together.

¹ 25 September, y’all.

² The first three days of funding will represent 1/3 of your eventual total.

³ 5088 backers, just about US$399K raised. Right now, both backer count and total raised are about 27% of what Year Two achieved in 31 days. While we’re here, a note about timing: the campaign was publicized last night for Patreon backers, where it funded in less than half an hour. It hit 300% within an hour of the public announcement.

Know What We Haven’t Had For A While? A Roundup

We’re kind of all over the place today.

  • Okay, this one is going to cost you some money, maybe. Brad Guigar — cartoonist, speaker, consultant, itinerant smutmonger, and weaponized jollity delivery device — has stepped up to talk about the (almost entirely bad faith) backlash against diversity in comics. The vast majority of those who are opposed to characters who aren’t straight white dudes are like the anonymous guys (of course they’re guys) that regularly shit on Jim Zub for “caving”, who gives them far more thoughtful responses than they deserve. But somewhere in there are some few that — if you squint really hard — aren’t opposed to creating characters that don’t look like them, but are scared.

    If I get it wrong, their argument goes, they’ll call me racist/homophobic/whatever. I’m not! They’re making me that way! Yeah, it’s about this far from the claim that calling out racists makes them become full-bore Nazis, but let’s have a Zublike moment of patience for the argument. Or, better yet, let’s let Guigar do so in a post today at Webcomics Dot Com:

    “I’d write more black characters into my comic, but I’m … scared.”

    The rest is behind the WDC paywall, but the gist is this: yes, if you write outside your comfort zone, you’ll get it wrong sometimes (likely in inverse proportion to the amount of research and listening you do). People can tell the difference between somebody that tries, gets it wrong, apologizes, and learns, and somebody who’s being disingenuous. As a writer, stretching yourself is something you ought to do. I’d only add one thing to what Guigar wrote, and that’s the value of cultural/sensitivity reviewers, who can tell you where you’re getting things wrong before your work hits the wider world.

    It’s a neat refutation of the argument that everybody that’s trying to avoid diversity but I’m not like those haters over there, and the only drawback is that a bunch of those that most need to see it won’t. But then again, Guigar brings back posts for free preview on Fridays, and this would be a great one to include at some point in the future. Either that, or find the diversity-resistant creator you know and convince ’em to drop five bucks for a one-month trial.

  • Speaking of diversity, the latest Cautionary Fables anthology has started its funding, this one with a focus on Oceania. Previous volumes did attract some discussion as to how many creators contributing stories about Africa and Asia belonged to the cultures and traditions that originated the stories; this time, I’m seeing a fair number of creators who identify as being from Pacific Island cultures contributing, and prominently promoting the campaign. For instance, from Rob Cham:

    I gotta commend @KateDrawsComics @sloanesloane and @kellhound for putting together such a rad anthology and giving us a platform to share our stories Got to read through this antho and man it is an amazing book

    That focus on a platform to share our stories wasn’t as visible in the last couple of volumes, and it’s a credit to series editor Kel McDonald (joined this time by Kate Ashwin and Sloane Leong) that she recognized that this makes for a better book and better stories. The Kickstart runs until 13 July (about a week shorter than the 60 days McDonald usually runs, but the 20th would run into SDCC and nobody needs that complication).

  • Know what never attracts any controversy? Awesome cartoons about delightful pets. Sam Logan tallied up the pet-themed comics from the long and storied history of his career, and discovered he had more than 100 pages worth of President Dog (a dog), Baker (a corgi), Butcher (a cat), Buddy (a goldfish), and more. They’re now collected into Vote Dog, Kickstarting in softcover, hardcover, and deluxe artist editions, along with prints, pins, and commissions of your bestest fuzzy friend.

    Basically, this is your chance to get an entire book with the sensibilities of that corgi shapes poster, which is pretty much guaranteed to make anybody happy. The campaign runs until 21 June, with rewards expected by December aka the gifting season, hint, hint.

Spam of the day:

Can your idea survive the Shark Tank?

You’re looking for inventions you can rip off and exploit? May I point you at a dude that is literally giving ideas away?

Three Media

When the rules keep you from being able to act like a normal human being, it's time to ask where we went wrong.

You know I probably could have broken up all the news into several posts, but I couldn’t bear to not talk about any of the stuff that’s on deck today. My apologies in advance is this is more than you wanted to read, or if a scarcity of news in the coming days means there’s not much to discuss later in the week.

  • I received multiple packages of joy from the good folks at :01 Books since lasts we spoke, and it’s going to be very weird to not credit the until-now omnipresent Gina Gagliano¹ for these review copies. :01 no longer being a one-person-per-job-function kind of place, it looks like Sophie Kahn is the one who sent out All Summer Long by Hope Larson, Animus by Antoine Revoy, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (words) and Emily Carroll (pictures). Give me time to thoroughly read the, and we’ll talk.

    Additionally, I received a copy of Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (previously received and reviewed here), which means I now have an extra. Which means that one lucky reader is going to get a copy of Be Prepared in the mail, with the sole requirement that they ensure at least one age-appropriate reader (say, a kid from 9 up) gets to read it when you’re done. Pass it on, loan it out, whatevs … just make sure kids get to read it.

    If you want to be considered, send an email to me (that would be gary) who is the editor at this blog (Fleen), which is a dot-com. You have until I wake up on 1 June 2018 to get your entries in. Be aware, you may set the book down more than once because of feelings and or cringes of recognition. These are not bad things.

  • It’s tough to find any bit of positivity in the world of social media, but like some metaphor about something beautiful rising from the muck that I can’t be bothered to construct right now, there’s occasionally bits that restore your hope. So far today, I’ve seen three.
    • First, via Lucy Bellwood, a comics piece by Wendy MacNaughton about prisoners in the infamous San Quentin lockup confronting the reality that America’s prison population — thanks to mandatory minimums and three strikes laws — has a rapidly graying population; there are a lot of incarcerated people who are elderly, sickly, and approaching the end of their lives.

      Eight inmates — all lifers, which means we’re meant to understand they are the worst of the worst — have responded by asking to create a hospice program so that their fellow inmates don’t have to die alone. They aren’t approved yet, but if there’s any sanity in the prison-industrial complex, this will be approved and spread to other facilities yesterday.

    • Second, from Scott McCloud, a note that comics and medical care seem to be overlapping to a growing degree (cf: Cathy Leamy, who uses comics for medical education and outreach), and a pointer towards the newest instance he’s noticed.

      Therapy Comics is tackling the problems that arise when mental care services (in this case, in England) rely on a baseline level of literacy and facility in English; whether because those in need of services speak other languages, or because whatever prompts the need for mental health care keeps them from communicating effectively, comics can help provide interventions without relying on language.

      The practitioner behind Therapy Comics, Michael Safranek, has so far provided resources for improving sleep hygiene, dealing with panic disorders, and learning progressive muscle relaxation. Safranek’s asking for feedback, so if you think you could use some help in any of these areas, or if you’re well-versed in how to build effective comics, give them a good reading and let him know your thoughts.

    • Thirdly, from many, many people, a thread by Steve Lieber of Helioscope Studio in Portland on how to give art critiques that is the best I’ve ever seen. It focuses on what the person seeking feedback needs (both in terms of what the reviewer sees in the work and what the reviwee identifies as the direction they want to take their work).

      It mostly boils down to a small — but crucial — bit of empathy at the beginning: We only have a little time, so I’m going to talk about what I see that needs improvement in your work, but that doesn’t mean everything is wrong. Show me your best, tell me what kind of work you’re seeking, who do you emulate or look to for inspiration? The rest is a set of principles that Lieber applies to himself as he looks through the portfolio, and it’s deeply insightful. If you work with others in any kind of creative fashion, this is worth your time.

  • The hoo-ha in the Interwubs about exactly whose childhood is being ruined by the announcemnt of a Thundercats reboot has driven out another announcement out of the news cycle. Which is a pity, because the previous announcement, the one that nobody has anything by enthusiasm for, is that Noelle Stevenson will be co-executive producing and showrunning a She-Ra reboot for Netflix.

    On the one hand, it’s a little sad that more people will see Stevenson’s work because of a legacy IP than for her groundbreaking comics. On the other hand, a generation of kids will be influenced by the stories, the designs, the message that she gets to set into their eyeballs. And heck, her comics ain’t going anywhere, they’re still right there on my bookshelf and will be until the bindings fall apart from overuse.

    Congrats to Stevenson, and whether the next big thing you work on is more She-Ra, the Nimona adaptation, or something completely new, we’ll be here to snap it up.

Spam of the day:

Record and Download Any Video from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, The CW, NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, and More. This is a Limited-Time Offer.

Wow. You get a one-time payment of US$39.99, I get infringement grief from at least nine famously litigious and massive corporations. I think your business model may not be skewed to my advantage.

¹ Every publishing house in the English-speaking world is mentally re-evaluating how well they’ve treated their key people; when Gina gets to hiring, you’re going to see the absolute best in the business go to work for her.

Likewise, I imagine every graphic novel imprint is frantically looking at their most lucrative creators, wondering if they can sneak in a contract extension a year early; when Gina gets to signing talent, you’re going to see some seismic shifts.