The webcomics blog about webcomics

Toronto In The Spring

Everybody knows that TCAF is one of the highlights of the comics event year, and this year is going to be no exception. They just announced their first tranche of Featured Guests¹ for 2019, and hoo boy is it a lineup of considerable talent.

The first names to catch my eye were Lucy Knisley (whose Kid Gloves I’m presently reading, and which I’ll have a review of in the near future) and Emily Carroll (whose work is always spooky in the best way, just under-your-skin-and-crawling-around dread instead of obvious jump scares). But if you’re talking about scares, there’s maybe one person more associated with horror comics than any other in the world, and that’s Junji Ito. And wouldn’t you know it, TCAF has convinced Ito to make his first North American visit, as well as to design three show posters.

The names kept rolling: Ben Passmore (whose Your Black Friend should be required reading for everybody in America age 14 and up) and Ezra Claytan Daniels, creative partners on the upcoming graphic novel BTTM FDRS, as well as indie comic legends Bill Griffith and Seth.

There’s also a stack of names that are new to me, which is great because I get to learn about their work: Inés Estrada, Gord Hill, Anders Nilsen, Brian Selznik, Vivek Shraya, Ness Lee, and Mark Alan Stamaty.

And because this is TCAF, this is just the beginning; they have yet to mention their other non-North American guests, YA guests, and Kids guests.

TCAF 2019 returns to the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street in The Big Smoke on Saturday, 11 May (9:00am to 5:00pm) and Sunday, 12 May (10:00am to 5:00pm), with a week of exhibits, performances, readings, workshops, parties, and general celebrations of the comic arts leading up to the show. As in past years, look for panel sessions to spill out to various venues around the TRL, and as always, the show is free to attend.


Spam of the day:

Expand Your Wi-Fi Coverage – 300Mbps Wi-Fi Range Extender

Gary, surely the spammers that sent you this aren’t expecting you to believe that they can sell you a gizmo that will make your data into your house faster? Reader, that is exactly what they promise. Hook up their dealie and my fairly pathetic 7Mbps DSL will suddenly be 300Mbps. Yes, they think we’re that stupid.

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¹ I know that URL says 2018, but it’s this year’s guests, promise.

All Stations: Command Terminated, Apparatus To Remain In Place

A moment of your time please, for reflection on the achievements of Opportunity, who was meant to operate on the surface of Mars for 90 sols and instead continued for fifteen years, until the announcement today. With batteries well past the point of being able to sustain system requirements, and no response to communications for an extended period of time, NASA called it today. The mission is done.

Some day, humans will expand our permanent presence to the Moon and Mars; when that happens, I hope that significant bits of history like Spirit and Opportunity and the Apollo landing sites are not turned into equivalent of national parks, their artifacts removed to some museum or other. I hope they build domes over them but leave out the atmosphere, keeping them inviolate and preserved as they are forever¹. Put a half-meter diameter hemisphere of plexi over the entire rambling 45km you traveled, let us get close but never obscure a single tread-mark.

It’s cold where you are, and dark, and very far from where you were born. You showed us every meter in stunning detail and we thank you.


Spam of the day:

[BREAKING NEWS] NASA is Freaking Out Over This ultimate free energy

YOU KEEP NASA’S NAME OUT OF YOUR FILTHY, LYING MOUTH.

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¹ Or at least until the Sun swells in its death throes in a few billion years, obliterating these rocks where we spawned.

With More Information To Come

I had some reservations about today’s topic because there’s tantalizingly little information public, and I couldn’t find any more that what I’m about to share with you — and believe me, I went digging for every possible public avenue. But if there’s one thing that comics are uniquely suited towards, it’s teaching — and some of you are going to want to consider attending an upcoming (but at the moment, mysterious) event. I’ve got some inquiries out there now, and I’ll be sure to update with any additional details that present themselves.

So, the University of Massachusetts Medical School is apparently doing a comics event. The sole mention of it so far is from the New England Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, which appears to be an endeavour of the National Institutes of Health. There’s nothing at the NNLM/NER webpage and nothing at the UMass Med School web page, but we can tell some things:

  • The address given, 55 Lake Ave North Worcester, MA 01655 appears to be for the UMass Memorial Medical Center, which is the first of the entities so listed to have an upcoming events listing.
  • Nothing for the date given, 10 April, though.
  • Despite the graphic elements shown in the announcement, it doesn’t appear that the likes of Cece Bell, Raina Telgemeier, Brian Fies, or Roz Chast will be there — I’m assuming that they’re there because the comics in question all deal with health, death, and dying.
  • But Maki Naro, science communicator via the medium of comics since small times, will be there.
  • Despite the name, New England Graphic Medicine ComicCon looks like it will be more an academic event than a con, if only based on the sponsoring organizations. Look for formal talks, not tabling creators.
  • So maybe don’t show up in cosplay as your favorite communicable disease; in fact, it may not be open to the public at all, what with it being daytime in the middle of the week.

But I have people that read this page that likely are the intended audience, whether they use comics in a STEM academic setting (hello, Danteluke Landherr-Shepherd), those who use comics as part of medical outreach and education specifically (hello, Cathy Leamy), not to mention librarians of alls trips (particularly academic librarians).

If this sounds like a good way to spend a Wednesday, you might want to start working your professional networks. In the meantime, I’ll let you know what responses I get. With any luck, we’ll be able to get one or more of the folks that attend to tell us what they taught and/or learned.


Spam of the day:

System simple growth well-being running USA by the developer from NASA – specifically made it possible a lot of young people receive impressive amounts!

Curiously, this spam came in both bad English (as seen above) and original Russian text. When Google translated, this section reads:

Simple income system developed in Japan, scientists from NASA – really helped many people to raise little money!

The differences in wording aside, I find the shift from the USA to Japan to be weird. But mostly, I take it as a reminder to watch the Super Karate Monkey Death Car episode of News Radio again. Stephen Root is a treasure.

A Little Better, Thanks For Asking

I mean, the dog’s keeping me company so that’s all right, but I could use another 18 hours or so of sleep. Yet your insatiable desire for webcomics and webcomics-adjacent news demands my consciousness, damn you.

  • Speaking of dogs and under the weather, I need to mention Andy Runton for a moment. It is established, scientific fact that Runton is the sweetest guy on the planet, and also that he has spent significant effort in the past helping others through their medical challenges. See those watercolors he did to raise money for neurofibromatosis? They feature his pooches. One of whom, Gable, is doing poorly:

    … Gable stopped using his back legs. We rushed him back to the specialist and I’m so glad we did. Gable needed emergency surgery to help his back. He suffered something called IVDD, losing multiple discs in his spine.

    He made it through surgery and even recovered most of his ability to walk over the next 3 months. Unfortunately he suffered another injury to his spine on February 2nd. Nothing major happened. He just didn’t want to stand up when it was time for bed. We were hoping he just needed some pain meds but he needed a second back surgery.

    Andy’s an independent cartoonist; the Owly books have been out of print for a shamefully long time, and although Scholastic is reissuing them (in color!) and following the existing five with a new sixth book¹, that doesn’t even start until next year. So maybe help the sweetest guy as he’s doing right by an adorable pupper? I’m in and I hope you join me.

  • Speaking of sweet things, did you know that at the Ig Nobel prize ceremony, there is a small girl named Miss Sweetie Poo who will — if an acceptance speech goes on too long — repeatedly declare Please stop, I’m bored at the laureates? Because there is. And this has what, exactly to do with webcomics?

    Enter Zach Weinersmith, and his Bad Ad-Hoc Hypothesis Festival in London, on 16 March:

    Brought together at Imperial College for the first time on the same date — the London stop of the Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show, and the London Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses.

    Both shows will take place in the Great Hall of Imperial College, in the Sherfield Building (number 20 on this map). The Ig Nobel show will start at 15:00 (doors open from 14:00) and will finish by 17:00. There will then be an intermission. BAHFest will start at 19:00, (doors open from 18:00) and will finish by 21:00. After the show, the bar downstairs from the venue will be open for attendees, and there will be a book signing with several of our judges and speakers. Books can be bought in advance when checking-out through Eventbrite, and a limited number will be available to buy on the day.

    Tickets at this link ranging £9 (one show only, student) to £80 (both shows, plus dinner with both sets of performers between the shows), with Imperial College students able to purchase tickets through their student union. If you’ll be in Blighty at the time, get tickets — there will be laugh-chuckles aplenty.


Spam of the day:

THE “ASSAULT BAG” IS YOUR EVERYDAY TACTICAL BACKPACK – GET 1 FREE!

This might have gone over better if you hadn’t sent it the same day that McSweeney’s posted this.

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¹ Runton told me about this last year at Comics Camp, but I promised not to reveal it before the official announcement. Somehow, I neglected to write about it here, which is deeply embarrassing.

Valentimes Are Nigh; Cue The Horny Werewolves

Always remember: Valentine’s Day is a Christian corruption of a pagan festival involving werewolves, blood and fucking. So wish people a happy Horny Werewolf Day and see what happens.

Oh, Internet Jesus, are you ever at a loss for words? Let’s see what webcomics has in store for Horny Werewolf Day.

  • If you’re going to keep the Horny in Horny Werewolf Day, you could do far worse than keeping an eye on Oh Joy, Sex Toy, where chroniclers of all things sexy Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are dealingn with the efforts of working on two books by sharing the love:

    Next week we’ve got another cute porny guest comic (I know right, a lot of horny ones in a row, just in time for Valentines — it’s just how it turned out I swear)

    And then just after they’ve got a signing of Drawn To Sex at the Seattle outpost of Babeland:

    Meet illustrators and authors Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan as they talk about sex and the first installment of their educational book series, Drawn to Sex: The Basics.

    Erika and Matthew have spent years learning, talking, and creating informative comics about all aspects of sex. Using comics, jokes, and frank communication, they’re here to demystify the world of sex and answer your questions—including ones you might not even know you had! Enjoy complimentary bubbly, 10% off shopping and a chance to win a copy of their new book.

    That’s Friday, 15 February, from 7:00pm to 8:00pm, at 707 East Pike Street in Seattle.

  • You know where you might find actual horny werewolves? In the Iron Circus anthology of sexy times plus beasties, My Monster Boyfriend, that’s where! And if you don’t have a copy handy, you can get one on sales between now and HWD. From IC Supremo C Spike Trotman:

    Happy February, everybody! It’s time for a Valentine’s Day sale! From now until February 15th, we’re offering 25% off cover price on all our romance and erotica titles!
    Just use coupon code JewelledDynamo at check out, and the discount will be applied to all applicable items in your cart.

    Applicable titles are Crossplay, Iris and Angel: Two, The Less Than Epic Adventures Of TJ And Amal, Five Years Ago And Three Thousand Miles Away, Kung Fu Hustlers, Whisper Grass, Letters For Lucardo, Smut Peddler: 2012 Edition, Smut Peddler: 2014 Edition, Smut Peddler Presents: My Monster Boyfriend, and Yes, Roya.

    You can find all of them in the NSFW section of the Iron Circus Store, along with How To Smoke A Weed (not romance/erotica) and Iris And Angel: One (listed at zero dollars for the PDF, so how much of a discount do you want?).


Spam of the day:

This official President DONALD J. TRUMP COMMEMORATIVE COIN

Nope. Stopping you right there. Today’s post is a celebration of horniness, not antihorniness. Shoo.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

New stuff arriving, old stuff going away, and a new direction or two. Oh and apropos of nothing, the people that make IT infrastructure decisions for my employer are sociopaths that have no regard for their end users¹. But let’s focus on webcomics!

  • New Stuff: GeorgeMister Rohac, if you’re nasty — knows more than one or maybe no dudes in a million about the logistics and business of getting stuff made and managing projects with respect to the independent creative professional. He’s gathered up a lot of his accumulated wisdom in one easy-to-read Google Doc and shared it publicly because he loves you. There’s more to come, but even if another word is never added, there’s seven pages of goodness there including names of vendors that he’s used so as to save you flailing about. George is a national treasure.
  • Old Stuff: There’s little in webcomics with the depth and breadth of worldbuilding and interconnectedness to match John Allison’s Tackleverse. From 1998 on, Allison’s been giving us stories of the mundane and the weird, across a variety of aesthetic styles, predominantly solo but also partnering with top-notch artistic talent (particularly on the Giant Days comics from BOOM!, issue 47 of which is out this week, and which gets better month after month). Alas, there are only so many hours in a day, and that means Things Are Going To Change. Specifically, the return to the beginning of the Tacklfordillion is coming to a close:

    Sorry to say, this is the last comic of the current run. I’m about to start work on a (completely new, non-SGR) print project that I will be writing and drawing, which means new webcomics are off the cards for the forseeable future. I have plans for more Bobbins stories following on from this, but I don’t know when I’ll be back, so your best bet is to subscribe to the mailing list for updates.

    You can subscribe on the comic page linked above, or you can read his Tinyletter missives by following his Twitterfeed, or you can go old school and hit the RSS. Things may be to be continued for the moment, but I wager they’ll be back.

  • New Direction: There is probably no longer-running, more consistent webcomicker who has never even tried to make comics a career than David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc), he of many comics. Specifically, his employer has prompted him to make a leap after 16+ years:

    My employer has informed me that my job is being declared redundant. My last day of paid employment is 4 March. I’m looking at this as an opportunity rather than a setback. My plan is to take about 6 months off work, and spend the equivalent of full-time working hours doing creative things — making comics, writing, photography, making videos, etc. — and ramping up my efforts to market them and try to make a living income off them. If after 6 months I feel comfortable that I can make enough from my creative work, then I will continue — if not, then it’ll be time to look for another job.

    As part of this effort, I’ve already moved Irregular Webcomic! from 4-a-week to a slightly more “full time” schedule of new comics on Monday-Friday. Coming soon there will be announcements of new projects that I’ll be ramping up over the next few weeks. Importantly, if this is to continue, I’ll be looking for your support. I’ll be pushing Patreon as a way to support me, producing merchandise for sale, and may also consider some other things like Google Ads.

    [That newsbox doesn’t appear to have a permalink, but for now it’s on the main page of Irregular Webcomic, if you scroll down.]

    There is probably nobody that approaches creativity with such enthusiastic abandon as Morgan-Mar; he gets an idea for a comic, he jumps in with both feet, and does it until it reaches a natural ending point or maybe never. And he doesn’t make it easy on himself — comics that require constructing and re-constructing LEGO sets, with 18 interlocking story threads? Learning to draw and doing a weekly comic as a way to measure his skill progress? He’s living proof that it’s not a lack of ideas that holds back creation, it’s a lack of time to act on the ideas.

    I recommend you make the time worthwhile. He’s got his two (so far) books up at TopatoCo’s Internet Thingporium, and there will be more to come. You’ve got six months to convince him to let all those ideas run riot, or he goes back to Dayjoblandia, and there actually are going to be positions open for a PhD astrophysicist that’s involved in the international standards for digital photography. He can go back to meetings and conferences like that, people. Don’t let him slip through your fingers.

  • Miscellaneous: Lucas Landherr (the mild-mannered college professor and alter ego of deranged chalkvenger Dante Shepherd) is 36 years old today. Also a PhD, he’s establishing new modes of using comics in STEM education, and also turning chemical engineering exams into a means to channel his inner Gonzo The Great. He’s also just one of the best people. Everybody wish him a happy birthday because damn, dude deserves it.

Spam of the day:

Give your dog’s mouth the attention it deserves with DogDentist and save a TON of money in vet bills.

While watching my dog stagger around tripping balls after getting anesthetized for dental treatment is hilarious, it’s really much simpler to brush her teeth. Plus, her toothpaste tastes like chicken!

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¹ Did I say that out loud?

Day Of Delights

Hey, everybody! It’s February 1st, and you all know what that means — it’s Saint Groundhog’s Day Eve! Okay, it’s also Hourly Comic Day and we’ll get to that presently.

  • Today is also-also the day that KC Green wraps He Is A Good Boy after 300+ multipage updates of spiral time and inner journeys. Crange may not be a good boy (he’s certainly not the greatest god-damn boy you’ll ever meet), he’s kind of a dick and pretty much inertia personified. But after seeing all the variations, all the Crange, all the Emersons, all the quantum-variant versions of himself, he found a way to start over with some peace, a way to exit the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth, which I’m pretty sure makes him a buddha.

    The big finish starts here. If it’s too weird for you, maybe check out a recent one-shot at The Nib wherein a squirrel gets his comeuppance. None of those acorns are Crange. At least, they probably aren’t.

  • Right! Hourly Comic Day! You know the drill, you make a comic that expresses what you did in each hour of the day, ideally within that hour. There’s more of them out there today than a reasonable person can count, but I’ll get you started with ones that I particularly enjoyed: Tony Breed, Carly Monardo, Jeph Jacques, Jean Wei, Haley Boros, Meredith Gran, Colleen Frakes, Abby Howard, Dean Trippe, Christopher Baldwin, Shing Yin Khor, and Lucas Landherr are all on Twitter; Danielle Corsetto opted for Instagram, and there’s a zillion on Tumblr (I’m not on Tumblr).

    But for my money, the best single hourly comic was the first posting from Magnolia Porter, because her comic for 6-7am doubles as that you ten years ago vs you today thing that was going around two weeks back. Oh, and happy day after your birthday, Mags; you rock.


Spam of the day:

Never eat THIS after 7:00 pm (triggers heart attack)

Man, now I’m going to be all paranoid when it’s time to shift the clocks. Does the heart attack food know about Daylight Savings? Or time zones?

Two Things

First, for many, many people reading this, stay warm. It is dangerous out there.

Second, a bunch of creators you follow live in areas that are deadly cold right now. Many more live places that are merely a hell of a lot colder than they should be, even if those places are not imminent hazards. Which means that i a couple weeks, they’re going to be getting utility bills that cover this period of frigid temperatures.

And you’re going to be seeing things like Uh, got my heating bill and it’s about triple what a normal month would be. Here’s {stuff in my store | commissions open | a pay-my-bill sale | my Patreon | my Ko-Fi | whatever} all over the damn place.

If you can afford it, help ’em out. It’s not a matter of poor planning when what’s hit this week is literally unprecedented, and do you want your favorite creators being able to create, or scrambling to keep the lights on in late February? Thought so.

Again — stay warm. Less than two months to the equinox.


Spam of the day:

– Welcome Gary, Need a Tax Debt Hero?

Oh great, it’s tax scam season¹.

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¹ Said in the same tone of voice that Lily Tomlin used in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse when she muttered. Oh great, it’s Liv. That line killed me.

Devils And Details

The American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards have beenhanded out, and Fleen wishes to extend congratulations to all the winners. Of interest to readers of this page, Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please!: #Hockey is one of five finalists for the William C Morris YA Debut Award; over at YALSA’s Award For Excellence In Nonfiction, three of the five finalists carry the text written and illustrated by on the cover, indicating the unique ability of comics to convey complex stories.

Now, a quick bit of quibbling: the Morris award is presented to a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature, and Ukazu produced three self-published books prior to C,P:#H, which is itself a compilation of her first two self-published books¹. It’s a bit discouraging that the books don’t “count” until an imprint associated with one of the big publishing corporations gets a hold of it².

The idea of debut and first-time is frequently stretched at awards time in all sorts of media (including all over the place in books, music, movies, and comics), and I don’t mean that Ukazu should have been excluded — it’s just I’d like to see acknowledgment that the work was just as good when people did it on their own as when it went through the editorial departments of some very large companies. Congratulations to everybody that got good news out of Seattle this morning — you’re going good work.

Speaking of good work, please keep an eye on Abby Howard at Twitter this week — she’s doing a series of demon drawings, with originals up for sale at Etsy. Howard, of course, draws the hell (so to speak) out of spooky stuff, and she starts things off with a stellar rendition of The Adversary. I expect things will be suitably scarifying for the rest of the week³.


Spam of the day:

in the the video above you will find 2 new ways to make your PACKAGE look BIGGER and last longer In the 12 hrs we are deleting it!

I think they’re saying that they’re going to delete the video, not my package, but you never know.

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¹ Okay, third one is shipping soon.

² Unlike, say, American Born Chinese or SMILE, which existed in printed form as minicomics prior to their book book publication, Ukazu had actual gosh-darned books out there and for sale. Only thing is that they may not have had an ISBN and bar code.

³ Depending on your view of domestic animals, she may have done so just an hour later

For Those Planning Ahead

There seems to be just a little light at the end of the tunnel, the smallest indication that we as a society will start occupying normal processes again, instead of the whims of a mad would-be king. The sort of thing that means that just maybe we can make some plans without worrying that the ground shifts again by tomorrow. Please Snidely Whiplash totally got busted and didn’t even have time to put on Morning Dress before getting perp-walked.

For those that like that sense of civilization and will be in the Bay Area, the Cartoon Art Museum has some events coming up you may want to check out:

  • Jo Morra was born in Uruguay in the 1870s, came to America, and spent his career creating illustrations, comic strips, paintings, sculpture, photographs, maps, and books. CAM will be supplementing the currently-running exhibition, The Life And Times Of Jo Mora (27 October 2018 – 28 April 2019) with a special presentation on Saturday, 23 February.

    Jo Mora At The Cartoon Art Museum And Beyond will see Peter Hiller (author of the Mora’s upcoming biography and curator of the Jo Mora Trust) talking about the exhibition and Mora’s body of work. The talk runs from 6:30pm to 8:00pm, and costs US$8 (advance purchase) or US$10 (at the door), with CAM members admitted free with RSVP.

  • The following weekend, CAM’s monthly visiting artist program, Cartoonist IRL, welcomes Svetlana Chmakova (Crush, Brave, Awkward, and other books about the middle grade experience, plus a dozen other works of note). Q&A and signing with Chmakova are free with museum admission and will run from 1:00pm to 2:30pm on Sunday, 3 March. Chmakova’s appearance is part of CAM’s contributions to San Francisco Comics Fest (with more to be announced) and Will Eisner Week 2019.

One of the news-related links up top is to the twitterfeed of KB Spangler of A Girl And Her Fed; she livetweets administration press events so you don’t have to watch/listen. By coincidence, the first time I mentioned CAM this year, I had sad reason to mention Spangler — her enormous goof of a dog has cancer.

Today, in and around the larger world’s stupidity, she had an update about said goof, and it’s not great¹. So this is your reminder — Spangler has not posted a fundraiser and is not asking for money. But if you have ever heard me rave about her writing and somehow resisted the siren call, this would be an excellent time to check out her store, which is full of words.

If you want to jump into something that’s entirely self-contained and audaciously ambitious, may I suggest Stoneskin? It’s a cracker of a Sci-Fi story about sufficiently-advanced technology that appears to be magic, how the galaxy has crushes on teenagers, and also the importance of supply chains to a star-spanning civilization. You’ve never read anything like it.


Spam of the day:

Jimmymup wrote:

The rest is Chinese characters, but can we just focus on that account name for a second? Jimmymup sounds like somebody was really disappointed that their kid James was not born with wires attached to his arms.

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¹ Full disclosure: the same cancer killed both of my dogs, who due to age and challenges from their dog racing careers, would likely not have tolerated amputation well. I am rooting for this guy to knock cancer on its ass.