The webcomics blog about webcomics

And Lo, Among The Stupid, A Ray Of Light

New Barbarous, y’all, Go back and read the chapter starting from here to get caught up. No, wait, that started right after the previous chapter ended on a cliffhanger, it’s in media res; better go back to the very beginning and read the whole thing. Yuko (that would be Ota) and Ananth (Hirsh, y’all) are so very good at what they do.

Now, about that Stupid I mentioned …

No. [screenshot taken today]

Now, that’s not necessarily definitive, as EmCity’s Google search still lists it as on [screenshot taken today], but the convention was cancelled by ReedPop¹ two weeks back. So let’s drill into the DragonCon site and see what’s up.

Double No. [screenshot taken oh hell, you know]

That’s on an undated page that says further decisions will be made within two weeks, and that the Westin con hotel will have an announcement about what happens to reservations within the next 48 hours. Not sure when the clock started on those statements, and nothing on the Wayback Machine, so I can’t say with any certainty that it went up after a certain date, either. I guess pester them on social media?

Let’s be clear about something, folks. There is no way in hell that a mere two weeks after it’s too dangerous to hold EmCity in Seattle (which was an early hotspot for the novel coronavirus, and which has actually done a decent job of managing this outbreak since), it’ll be safe to hold DragonCon in Atlanta (which is currently an accelerating hotspot for the novel coronavirus because the governor opened the state too early, too aggressively, and which is setting new record highs for diagnoses, hospitalizations, ventilations, and deaths every godsdamned day).

And even if by some dark magic the powers that be in Atlanta decide What the fuck, Disneyworld and Universal Studios will have been open for more than a month by then², we can’t kill people any worse that that with one weekend! it will not under any circumstances be safe to attend. Even if capacity is limited, even if everybody decides to socially distance, even if there is widespread mask acceptance (that ain’t happening), even if the traditional 12-to-a-room geek habit dies, it will not be safe.

Look. We’re all getting cabin fever. But as Jim Zub put it so eloquently about Toronto’s moves towards Phase II:

All I can think of is someone I love dying in a hospital while the shuddering realization washes over me that this is happening because I was bored.

Bored and impatient.

Well said, Zub. Yeah, he wasn’t speaking about DragonCon specifically, but you know who is? Jennie Breeden. If the queen of DragonCon guerrilla exhibiting can decide that after-midnight kilt-blowing isn’t a necessity³, you can give it up. And that goes for you, too, Baltimore Comic Con. Take your shit off sale. Mass gatherings ain’t gonna cut it until there’s an effective, widespread vaccine, or Americans can learn to put up with a minor amount of inconvenience for the general good.

Which means not until the vaccine.


Notspam of the day:
Today marks 31 years since the last public performance of XTC that I’m aware of; they went on Letterman to promote Oranges & Lemons. It was their first appearance in seven years, thanks to Andy Partridge’s crippling stage fright. He seems to be doing okay in that clip.

Anyway, thought you’d enjoy.

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¹ More precisely, converted to a digital event sometime in August, with automatic refunds of memberships transferred from March to August due to be refunded by yesterday.

² The spread due to the people that flock to the parks on their reopnenings next month will only just be getting traced to all over the country by that point … thankfully, New Jersey has announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine going into effect tomorrow for people returning from high-infection states, and Georgia and Florida are on the list.

³ In case you didn’t look at the alt-text for that comic, it reads:

Yeah, Skipping Dragon Con. It’s going to SUCK but I’d rather see everyone in the future than lose some of you now.

Thank you, Jennie.

So Much Worse Than I Thought

By that, I mean the news a mere seven days ago that the Eisner voting had been extended, amid rumors of a technical problem with the voting site. We hear that voting was entirely scrapped and has been re-opened until the 30th at a new site.

Y’all. This was a fucking fiasco from top to bottom, and here’s why: at the piece that ran at The Beat, at the Eisner voting site itself, there is no mention of the fact that the individual accounts were completely unsecured:

The Eisner’s voting site was closed because the people of the Marginalized Genders and POC of Comics Discord channel discovered that we could see and adjust each other’s votes and personal information, including addresses, while we were all talking about sexual assault in comics.

and that the Eisner folks seem to be falling down on a necessary part of the cleanup:

The fact that I found out about this from twitter third-hand and not directly from them… yeah

Okay, let’s back up. There appears to have been a misconfiguration in the website that allowed easy access to the personally identifying information (PII) and votes other registered users, including the ability to change them. The voting issue is actually secondary, the PII issue is primary.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I teach for a technology company; in fact, day job today involves teaching students in two countries how to secure a database from intrusion and keep it secure. I am not a web stack security or incident response expert, but as near as I can tell, I have two legs up on the folks at the Eisners/Comic Con International:

  1. I know that there are technical and legal requirements that apply in circumstances like this.
  2. I know what I don’t know.

With respect to item #1, the Eisners/CCI (Eisners from now on for short) are likely in violation of at least one strong mandated data-reporting law.

See, Comic-Con International (of which the Eisners are a part) is incorporated in California. California has a stringent law regarding data breaches¹. Any incident that affects California residents must be reported to those residents; because it can often be difficult to isolate just the CA residents, this practically has the effect of making a national reporting requirement. Further, any breach that involves more than 500 Californians must also be reported to the state Attorney General. It’s all spelled out clearly at that last link.

But people are publicly saying (see second quote block above) that they haven’t been notified by the Eisners. And according to the search form that the State of California provides, there have been no breaches reported by any spelling variation of “Comic[-]Con International” or “Eisner[s] [Awards]” that I could come up with over the past year.

Oh, yeah, and the European voters? GDPR. I’m not knowledgeable enough on their requirements to say what the Eisners are obligated to do (see point #2 above), but I do know that they need to consult legal counsel (not to mention some experts in crisis communication) in Cali and Europe and act on their advice yesterday. This is not a situation where you can say Whoopsie! Revote and it’s all good!

It’s not a case where you can shut down a site and open a new one back up in less than a week and have any credibility. There needs to be a full explanation of what happened (crickets so far), whatever is presently known about how it happened (with the caveat that a proper investigation takes time), and why the new system is to be trusted. Oh, yeah, and what the Eisners will do to make up for the risk of identity theft that’s been going on for who knows how the hell long.

Incident response for situations like this is a specialized, skilled discipline; it’s not a job for amateurs (and I’m including myself in that statement: see #2 above again). It’s going to take serious money, serious time, and credentialed experts, before I would recommend that anybody vote for the Eisners in any form other than paper ballot.

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If you haven’t yet created a new account to vote, do not do so without a fuck-ton more explanation and transparency than has been in evidence so far.
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I’m utterly serious. As of right now, the organization has zero credibility when it comes to the integrity of this vote, and has shown no evidence that they understand the responsibility for safekeeping PII that they owe to their voters.

I have submitted a written request for comment about the incident response and when voters can expect a formal explanation as to what, how, and why. I will update this page with any response.

Update #1: (25 June 1800EDT) Jackie Estrada, longtime administrator of the Eisner Awards, was the listed point of contact on the Eisner vote page. She replied to me within seven minutes, referring me to the communications & strategy department of CCI. Remember what I said above about there being specific skills? Responding to a reporter² is a specific skill not for amateurs and she did the exact correct thing. Kudos to her for her prompt, courteous, and professional reply.

A fresh request has been sent to the C&S department.

Update #2: (26 June 1812 EDT) It’s been 24 hours and no response from CCI. I will, however, note this tweet from last night:

im an eisner voter and guess what i just found out from THIS tweet

Not the only Eisner voter I’ve seen online saying they’ve received no notification from CCI. The tweet that Jamey Bash is referring to is one by prominent creator/editor Steenz, who tweeted to respond and agree to the points I made above. As the old saying goes, If Steenz agrees with you, you’re probably doing something right.

The other common thread I’m seeing online is people want to know why the revote is being crammed into a week, when there isn’t a set date for the awards anyway. It would be no problem to delay, get all the proverbial ducks in a row, and do some disclosures prior to running a vote. The alternative is, as my wife put it, for this year’s winners to feel there’s an asterisk next to their names in the history of the awards: Hey, you won an Eisner? That’s great! Oh, it was in 2020? That’s … great?

Further updates as warranted.

Update #3: (29 June 1622 EDT) This is likely the last update. The CCI Communications & Strategy officer has not responded, even with a “no comment”. I have not seen a general discussion in social media about CCI communicating the details of the breach, the specifics of remediation, or the reason that a revote had to be wedged into a week’s time.

For those that trust the voting system, the deadline is tomorrow. I stand by my opinion that the only trustworthy means for voting for the Eisners, in the absence of transparency, is via paper ballot.


Spam of the day:
Spam doesn’t share the page with actual journalism, only random embloggenation. Sorry.

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¹ The law actually mandates reporting regardless of where the company is; the fact that CCI is incorporated in California means that they really should know about their obligations to that state.

² Shut up, I am too.

One Cheer For Today

Woo, Thursday. Woo.

  • Hmmm, he said, in his role as both computer professional and hack webcomics pseudojournalist, that’s interesting. That, of course, being the news that the Eisner voting had been extended (tweet from a 2019 nominee, who was contacted by the Eisner folks). I’ve seen reports (near as I can tell right now, all deleted) that there was a security issue with the voting database, and that voters were being urged to check that their ballots had the correct choices listed. I’ve also just been by the site, which says voting is now closed. I’m … not feeling great about this, y’all.
  • Longtime readers of this page may recall that of all the people that Fleen encourages you to dislike and never support, top of the list is James Ashby, aka History’s Greatest Monster. So I particularly want to warn you (so you don’t accidentally end up entangled with HGM) that Ashby is running a Kickstart right now to revive a YouTube series from years ago, which taught people how to cook with just the cheap ingredients that could be had, things that could produce a mountain of leftovers and be dressed up various ways in their re-presentations.

    It was called Hand To Mouth, and it featured the infinitely patient Marque Franklin-Williams, trying desperately to keep HGM from … well, being HGM while simultaneously making potentially sucky food suck less. It ran for three seasons, and Ashby is now back seeking to make a fourth; Franklin-Williams has moved onto other projects but has given his blessing to Season Four¹.

    If, for some reason, you think that HGM should be trusted with what you put in your body, I suppose I can’t stop you from helping to fund the project, but I would suggest seeing some kind of therapist. I suppose, in the best of all possible world, HGM might be so inept in his evil that he might accidentally provide useful, helpful information to people who need it. I mean, anything’s possible, including the outside chance that James Ashby might not be History’s Greatest Monster.

    Naaaahhhh.


Spam of the day:

Get your Hemp Infused Coffee Here

I use neither cannabis products nor coffee products.

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¹ Alternately, if he can keep Ashby busy on Season Four, at least he won’t have time to get up to any other reprehensible behavior for a while.

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

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

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

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

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

    [Editor’s note: !!!]

    We at Fleen will be sure to keep you informed.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Guess I’ll Have To Do Programming Posts After All

It looks like a bunch of aspects of San Diego Comic Con are on after all:

Plans for Comic-Con@Home include an online Exhibit Hall complete with everyone’s favorite exhibitors offering promotions, specials, and limited-edition products unique to the celebration. As well, Comic-Con@Home promises exclusive panels and presentations about comics, gaming, television, film, and a wide variety of topics from publishers, studios, and more. As if that weren’t enough, Comic-Con@Home will also have a Masquerade, gaming, and many other activities in which fans can participate from their own homes.

Not a lot of details about how all of this will work, yet. Will exhibitors be linked from an official platform, one that offers both transaction capability but also the ability to interact with a creator? For real, if you could come up with something that lets an attendee produce a verifiable payment, then talk with a creator for five minutes while watching merch get personalized, you’d have something replicating the experience and providing a value-add for so many people who’ve watched their income tank this year¹.

Related question: is there a mechanism that provides for con exclusives, something that gives people a chance at their favorite variant stuff but keeping eBay churners from snapping everything up? It’s not a simple problem, as anybody who’s tried to get a hot concert ticket can attest.

How do you wrangle the cosplay Masquerade and/or the Eisner ceremony with far-flung participants? Will the former, particularly, feel the same without the presence of an adoring crowd? More generally, are there some panels and discussions that will have less cachet if they don’t come with a veneer of I was there, you weren’t²?

On the other hand, the lack of crowds, the lack of overpriced (and frequently terrible) convention center food, the lack of hours-long lines to get into a popular panel, and having to dodge maniacs on electric rental scooters are all positives. And then there’s this:

Although Comic-Con@Home will provide badges for fans to print and wear proudly, all aspects of the initiative are free and there are no limits to how many can attend.

If this is a success, there will be a tremendous pressure to keep some parts of the no-cost, at-home participation in future; there are many more people that want to attend than are able to score passes, after all. It’ll also mean that I could just sit and listen to panels for the first time, rather than try to take notes and pictures for write-ups.

For those interested in blocking out time to attend, Comic-Con@Home will be held on original SDCC 2020 dates, 22-26 July³, although times (and time zone!) have not been announced. If I can figure out how to replicate the experience of having lovely drinks at my favorite speakeasy with my craft cocktail best buds, or hanging out by the fire pits with my friends from #ComicsCamp, I’ll be sure to let you know.

In other news, it’s been about two years since Dante Shepherd wrapped up Surviving The World, but there will never be a day when Shepherd’s real life alter ego, Professor Lucas Landherr, isn’t looking for ways to help others not merely survive, but thrive:

[G]iven the current Black Rights Matter protest, and JKR even further torpedoing her legacy yesterday with her transphobia (happy Pride, by the way), this comic seems like it meets the current moment well enough.

When STW ended, we made a book of the best 300 comics. You can buy the PDF of the book right now, and all sales are going to go to support Black Lives Matter, and foodbanks in need because of the coronavirus. And there’s more. You can also buy all the videos ever made for STW, including many that were not openly shared, and all sales are also going to the same causes.

If you’ve ever wondered what a chemical engineer doing a velociraptor impression looks like, let’s just say it’s enough to make Randall Munroe break into a sweat.


SM20 Countdown for 11 June 2020:
1
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¹ If there’s not such a mechanism, I’d urge creators to start working out something similar for themselves.

² On the other hand, some may run more smoothly without the crowd; I’m thinking here about the annual Best/Worst Manga panel, when the crowd goes full howler monkey when told their favorite it Not Good, Actually.

³ Reminder: if you had badges for SDCC 2020, you can either roll them over for the same days in 2021, or get a refund. Refund requests are good until 1 July, after that your badge will transfer automatically.

Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, Reed!Pop apparently still thinks that people will congregate in large numbers for EmCity a month later, which … I just … no.

A Bit Of Joy In This Craptacular World

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

They were, from the top:

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

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

Things that stood out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SM20 Countdown for 8 June 2020:
4

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

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

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

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

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

A Little Normality; I’ll Take It

It took all day to find a story that didn’t make me want to despair, but the Eisner nominating committee came through with this year’s nominations. Let’s talk webcomics and indie comics presence, which we’ve seen spreading way outside the two official (and increasingly nebulous) web-adjacent categories. As they’ve been out for less than an hour as I write this, it’s going to be initial impressions, and we’ll go back and revisit in future as warranted.

First thing I noticed: The web is where you find short comics; the five nominees for Best Short Story are dominated by established web properties (Matt Inman at The Oatmeal, Miriam Libicki at The Nib) and places that include comics, but are general-audience magazines (Mira Jacob in Believer, Emma Hunsinger in The New Yorker). Only one of the nominees is in an actual comic comic, Ebony Flowers (Promising New Talent, 2019 Ignatzen) for Hot Comb, which was all over best of lists for last year and which is my pick to take the category.

Second thing I noticed: The category for Best Single Issue/One-Shot is entirely indie producers, with Zainab Akhtar’s Shortbox taking two of the five (Minotäar, by Lissa Treiman and Sobek by James Stokoe). The others are Coin-Op No. 8: Infatuation, by Peter and Maria Hoey, The Freak, by Matt Lesniewski, and Our Favorite Thing Is My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, where the ubiquitous-in-2019 Emil Ferris told a few last stories about My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Gotta give this one to Treiman or Stokoe, as those are the two I saw last year and they’re both great.

Third Thing I Noticed: The competition in Best Publication For Kids is going to be fierce. It’s got Raina’s latest, of course, but also last year’s Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (the dude’s a machine), New Kid by Jerry Craft, This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews, Akissi: More Tales of Mischief, by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin, and The Wolf in Underpants, by Wilfrid Lupano, Mayana Itoïz, and Paul Cauuet. Haven’t seen the last one, but the others are all excellent and I do not envy the judges their task.

Fourth Thing I Noticed: The repeat nominees have been cleaning up earlier awards (particularly the Ignatz last fall), with Hot Comb also nomindated in Best Publication For Teens, alongside Kiss Number 8 (Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T Crenshaw, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, (Tamaki again, and Steve Pugh), and Penny Nichols (MK Reed, Greg Means, and Matt Wiegle). For the record, I absolutely could not choose between Kiss and Laura Dean, both of which I adore. Also, one may note that Venable appears as the model of a character in MK Reed’s The Cute Girl Network because excellent people feed off each other’s creativity.

Fifth Thing I Noticed: Comics types not only feed off each other creatively, they sometimes become a hive mind. Best Humour Publication include Sobek and Minotaär, Death Wins A Goldfish (Brian Rea) and The Way Of The Househusband, Vol 1¹ (Kousuke Oono, translated by Sheldon Drzka), but also two very handsome hardcovers by a couple of dudes that last time I saw them, were throwing Stan Lee impressions at each other at warp speed — David Malki ! (Friends You Can Ride On), and Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett (Anatomy Of Authors). David, Dave, love you guys, but I can’t choose between you. I’ll have to give it to Househusband to preserve our friendships.

Sixth Thing I Noticed: Aside from individual stories at The Nib getting all sorts of nominations all over comics awards for the past several years, the print magazine is starting to get notice; issues 2 through 4 (Matt Bors and about five dozen other people) are collectively nominated for Best Anthology.

Seventh Thing I Noticed: If you put together a few zillion pages of comics in a half dozen years, you’re gonna get really good at it; if you were already really good when you started, you’re going to get amazing. Tillie Walden scored three nominations for the magnificent Are You Listening?, for Best Graphic Album — New, Best Writer/Artist, and Best Lettering. I cannot say enough good things about that book, it’s entirely remarkable. And since we’re here, we should note that Raina, Jacob, and Stokoe are also nominated for Best Writer/Artist. That’s gonna be a tough category.

Eighth Thing I Noticed: Original graphic novels sharpen your chops like nobody’s business. Best Writer includes Tamaki again, alongside Reed and Means.

There’s more, I know I’ve missed stuff but it’s getting late and I need to post this. I also know I haven’t talked about the Digital and Webcomic categories because once again I can’t figure out the distinction, but we’ll come back and do that after I’ve had more time to digest.

As a reminder, all comics industry professionals are eligible to vote on the Eisners; results will be announced in July at a time to be announced.


SM20 Countdown for 4 June 2020:
8

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¹ About the meanest member of the yakuza, who gives it up to keep house for his wife.

All Of This Makes Perfect Sense

Sometimes, things are just rational, from Point A to about Point K with no deviations or sidetracks. They just make sense.

Which is not to say that sometimes those straight tracks are good, mind you. The news of the Flame Con 2020 cancellation is unsurprising, entirely expected, and the right call. We’ll note that we are now seeing events punted to next year in the same timeframe as — or even after — the rescheduled EmCity, and I remain somewhat perplexed that Reed!Pop haven’t called it yet. Doubly so, given that Seattle was the first COVID-19 hotspot in the country, and they well know the consequences of a new wave of cases.

Likewise, it sucks that it looks like we’ll get a hiatus of Irregular Webcomic in the next couple of weeks, as David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) had a mishap in the kitchen and wound up with ten stitches in his hand, but that’s a completely understandable outcome. Also completely understandable: requiring your society to provide for medical care, such that Morgan-Mar was able to go to the Emergency Department, get treated for the immediate condition, and return the next morning for surgery to repair the damage to his hand. Oh, wait, I meant completely understandable except to residents of the USA because Freedom.

But at least sometimes, the sense-making things are also good; very, very good. Case in point, Randy Milholland is one of the premiere scholars of both Disney Duck comics and the work of EC Segar. The former is undergoing a renewal of interest thanks to the DuckTales revival, but Uncle Randy can tell you — in detail — about the original Carl Barks comics that inspired so much of what you see in half-hour episodes. Ever want to know the full story of the intra-family dynamics of the Duck and McDuck families? Milholland has you covered.

The latter has been pretty irrelevant for a while, but something interesting happened starting last year — King Features editor Tea Fougner, whose responsibilities include Popeye (for Segar invented the character of Popeye as part of Thimble Theater), convinced the syndicate to let a bunch of today’s cartoonists take a whack at the sailor man’s exploits with Sunday strips, and they were great¹.

Because Fougner is good at their job, Milholland was among those creating strips, and he dug down deep into the Popeye lore. An Oyl family reunion? A history of Popeye and the now-forgotten kids he had in his care? Love it.

And because Fougner is very, very good at their job, Milholland is getting a run of daily-updating strips for the next three weeks at Popeye’s Cartoon Club. As I told Fougner once, Milholland on Popeye is the second biggest no-brainer in comics (Milholland on the Duck comics is the first, but I think that Disney might not go for that), and I encourage everybody to read and provide feedback on the strips.

Like ’em, add comments to ’em², give King Features every possible reason to do the logical thing and keep bringing Milholland back. Bonus points as the strips will surely enrage the small-minded by delving into such canon topics as Popeye’s documented history of cross-dressing and gender ambiguity.


Spam of the day:

As a patent inspector, he discovered something that will take the electricity world and change it forever.

Look, I don’t want to over-generalize, but patent inspectors don’t have a great track record. They are frequently tasked with examining bogus inventions outside their area of technical expertise, fail to appreciate prior art, and are required to put far too little time in. The likelihood that one of them found something that would change the electricity world is zero. Signed, an electrical engineer who really disliked the power generation part of his education but still got an A in that class.

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¹ All of them were great, but the one I keep going back to was Shaenon Garrity and Andrew Farrago having Popeye live in a garbage can and go swimmin’ with bare naked wimmin.

² We really need more places where’s it’s acceptable — nay, expected — to use Popeye words. Disgustipating is such a great word.

This Is Gonna Be Quick, Got A Space Launch To Watch

Hoo boy, I hope that Elon Musk cares more about astronauts using his rocket, capsule, and spacesuits than he cares about people building his cars. I mean, when I say his let us not fall into the trap of thinking that he personally came up with anything beyond a napkin scribble that says People go up WHOOSH and Step 3: I AM MARS KING; a whole host of very smart people made the stuff that’s about to be used.

Okay:

  • Shing Yin Khor on Muffler Men, one of their passions in life. Looks to be the first of a series of graphic columns on the cultural weirdness of America.
  • Hot on the heels of the revival of Tuca & Bertie, Lisa Hanawalt let us know that she’s got a solo show at Gallery Nucleus on 13 June, and this time it’s personal virtual. Sign up for online previews of the work to be shown at the exhibition page and good luck grabbing some good stuff.
  • We knew it was gonna happen: CXC 2020 will not have any in-person component due to the risks of the novel coronavirus. They’d put out a survey earlier to get a feel for what people wanted from this iteration and while people want to talk comics, it’s clear that comics are not worth the risk to life that will still be hanging over all of us in October.

    Exhibitors will be invited back to the next CXC, and fees will be refunded. Somewhere in the great beyond, Tom Spurgeon is shouting into the void that you don’t need him there personally to have the show because he wanted everybody to experience as many comics as possible.

    Stay the fuck home, everybody. Wear a damn mask, everybody. Wash your friggin’ hands, everybody.

Update: Launch scrubbed due to weather rules. Bob and Doug will not Take Off, eh.


Spam of the day:

Cops say brutal new tool is too powerful for most men (get yours here)

Read the fucking room you violence-worshiping bastards.

Apropos Of Nothing …

… but I need to mention again that Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are a godsdamned delight and I don’t know anybody else that could start a comic with anxiety over the looming menace of COVID-19 and immediately transition to butt toys. Read their comic and buy their books, you cowards.

In other, non-buttcentric news:

It’s been a while since we talked about folks that don’t do webcomics, but who do do independent creations on the internet, and it’s time the reset the counter. The Doubleclicks (siblings Aubrey Turner and Laser Malena-Webber) make wonderfully nerdy music and Kickstart equally wonderful projects. When not Kickstarting, they still make nerdy projects to keep in touch with their audience and they’ve got a doozy on both the wonderful and nerdy scales for the Isolation Times:

We made a new music video. Together! In one place!

For our song DIMETRODON. From a thousand miles away — we went to a museum, danced in a square … all in the video game Animal Crossing.

It was a ton of fun. And we are debuting it RIGHT NOW!!!

Now, on the off chance you’re not familiar with Dimetrodon, understand that the original music video for the song was pretty damn amazing, so there are some big, clawfooted shoes to fill here, but the new one does just great. But yeah, buncha folks have made cute videos in Animal Crossing, so is there more?

Oh, but of course there is:

Speaking of Animal Crossing… our incredible friend Jules just opened up a queer bookshop and cafe inside this video game (WILD) and invited us to do a concert there.

So on THURSDAY — at 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern — we are performing live, inside Animal Crossing, and streaming it on YouTube — with our friend Molly Lewis! The whole thing is free to watch, and we’ll be encouraging donations to a charity that supports trans folx in financial need.

The concert will be here, and I remind you of a crucial piece of math: anything involving Molly Lewis is automatically 38% cooler than it would be ordinarily.

Are we done yet? Not yet, Sparky:

PPS — if you play Animal Crossing and have reliable internet, you can be maybe in the studio audience for our show! reply to this email and let me know if you’re interested!!

I’m not gonna share that email address, as it goes to those that have subscribed to Doubleclick emails (via purchases, Kickstart backing, or merely signing up) and it wouldn’t be right for those folks to maybe get crowded out. Guess you should sign up in advance of the next cool thing that they do, huh?

Finally, I would like you to know one more thing:

You may know that Laser is a Kickstarter coach. We wanted to let you know that they made a FOURTEEN WEEK How-To-Crowdfund class and they’re launching it RIGHT NOW!

Here are three pieces of information.

  1. Laser has raised $1 million for independent artists, consulted for folks including Jonathan Coulton and the Presidents of the United States of America, and worked on book, music, game, and film projects.
  2. Crowdfunding pledges are NOT GOING DOWN during this time — and crowdfunding is just the goshdarn best way to get your art made and connect with your audience. (half of that is opinion, but it is TRUE OPINION).
  3. You can get 50% off (yeah, that’s half) of Laser’s step-by-step audience-building and crowdfunding class until May 31, because you are a doubleclicks email list person. the code is THANKYOU

Okay, that’s a separate email, but it seemed like at least some of you might benefit from it; unlike the first communication, this one explicitly included permission to share the discount code, so go nuts. Laser’s super smart and you can only get better at your next crowdfunding unless you’re like, George or Spike¹.


Spam of the day:

Hey – I’m working with a company that is looking for sites that have content relating to clothing and I came across yours. Any chance you’d be open to hearing about a way you could link to a merchant and make money in the case someone clicks on the link and purchases something?

Is that a dig at webcomics creators being nothing but t-shirt sellers? You’re about a dozen years late with that shit, Rob A if that is your name.

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¹ All the best crowdfunders have single names.