The webcomics blog about webcomics

Nearly Upon Us

Hey folks, a quick note before we get started. Something’s come up in my life that is going to be taking a lot of mental cycles for a while. I’m going to likely be a bit less verbose than normal until it gets worked out. Nothing bad, just … big. Thanks for your understanding.


Spam of the day:

Dive into the ocean and your swimshorts suddenly change color! These swimshorts ara AMAZING!

The ocean? You mean where fish poop? No thank you.

SDCC 2021 Programming@Home

Well here we are, about three weeks into July, and San Diego Comic Con is again not happening in person. Given what was known back in the spring when CCI organizers needed to make a call, it was the right decision. Given what is happening now with more contagious variants of COVID spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated¹, it’s a damn good thing they made the decision that they made. So it’s online for SDCC again, with a full list of participating exhibitors (whatever that means; it wasn’t too clearly defined last year) releasing on Thursday, to coincide with the first full day of programming.

Speaking of, let’s look at what’s coming to a video stream near you. Like last year, these panels appear to have been entirely pre-recorded and will premiere at the date/time given (all times PDT). Also, I’ll note that thing appear bit sparser than last year², in that a slate of in-person programming was well in development by the time lockdowns started; looks like they just started with less this year.

Thursday

Teaching And Learning With Comics
3:00pm — 4:00pm

Not just another panel on the educational potential of comics, but a panel on the educational potential of comics featuring Kelly Sue Deconnick and Matt Fraction, which ought to be real good. Joining them in the discussion will be Peter Carlson (Green Dot Public Schools), Susan Kirtley (Portland State University), and Antero Garcia (Stanford University).

Friday
ComiXology Presents The 33rd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards
7:00pm–9:00pm

Last year, as I recall, it was just about an hour start to finish on the prerecorded announcement of winners. Certainly nobody’s agitating for a return to four-plus hour marathons, but two hours seems like it could allow things to breathe a little better. Phil Lamarr returns for hosting duties, along with Sergio Aragonés presenting this year’s Hall of Fame inductees.

Saturday

Launching Your First Kickstarter
11:00am — noon

Seems like something called almost exactly this is on deck every year, and weirdly it never features the same folks twice. This one gets props for including Kickstarter’s director of comics outreach, Oriana Leckert, and some prominent cartoonists who’ve used Kickstarter of late: Tina Horn, Eric Powell, Afua Richardson, and the irreplaceable Jeff Smith, along with the director of brand, editorial (not 100% sure what that means) for Skybound Entertainment, Arune Singh.

Keenspot Turns 21! Ninjas & Robots–Junior High Horrors–The D Ward Spotlight
1:00pm — 2:00pm

This is how you know it’s a weird year. Keenspot always gets programmed late in the day on Sunday, almost at the very end of SDCC, but this year they’re in the middle of Saturday. Weird. Anyway, it’s still Keenspot, probably not going to look very different from the previous 20 iterations.

First You March—Then You Run-Celebrating Congressman John Lewis’ Legacy
4:00pm — 5:00pm

It’s been a year since we lost John Lewis, and six years since he cosplayed as his younger self and led a march of young folks at the San Diego Convention Center; you can’t get a costume more authentic than the same damn coat you wore when you were nearly beaten to death on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday for the audacity of wanting to vote.

Of course, Congressman Lewis’s March trilogy is a masterpiece and though he has left us, he and his collaborators were well into the creation of the sequel: Run, which starts the story of Lewis’s quest for elected office. Author (and onetime Lewis legislative aide) Andrew Aydin and co-illustrator L Fury will be joined by Lewis’s nephew, LA County firefighter Anthony Dixon, moderated by professor Qiana Whitted.

Given everything that’s going on in the country today, this is probably the most important panel of the weekend. Tune in, and then call every elected official that depends on your vote and demand that they spend as much time and effort as necessary to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Sunday

Comics Made Me Who I Am Today: Kids Graphic Novelists and Their Influences
11:00am — noon

Ooooh, there’s some good folks on this one: Nidhi Chanani (whose newest graphic novel, Jukebox, will be getting a review here soon), Jerry Craft, Betsy Peterschmidt, Dana Simpson, and Judd Winick (Hilo) in discussion with Cartoon Art museum curator Andrew Farago. Bet there’s a lot of happiness in this one.

The Adventure Zone And Bubble: Podcasts To Comics
noon — 1:00pm

Yeah, yeah, McElroys, got it. Bubble was a wickedly smart podcast, and the bits of the graphic novel adaptation I’ve seen — with art by the stellar Tony Cliff — hint at a really good adaptation. Not a straight copy but telling the story in the way best suited to a different medium. Cliff will be there along with Bubble creator Jordan Morris and adapter Sarah Morgan; from the TAZ side you’ve got Travis and Griffin McElroy and illustrator Carey Pietsch (it’s been a delight watching her grow on the series), and they’re all wrangled by Alison Wilgus, who edited both projects and thus maybe knows more about adapting podcasts to graphic novels than anybody else.

Comic-Con@Home is listed as running 23-25 July, and that’s when they have pretty full days of programming, but there’s actually panels as early as Wednesday the 21st. See the programming page for more info.


Spam of the day:

We have a surprise for Netflix Customers You’re on our List You have been selected to participate Response Needed Notice: Wholesale Survey Offer expiring soon! You have been selected to get an exclusive reward! To qualify for this special offer , simply complete our 30-second marketing survey about your shopping experiences.

I don’t have a Netflix account and there’s no way in hell I’m clicking your thing.

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¹ Making up something like 99% of the current infections, and closer to 99.6% of serious illness/hospitalizations. I was almost used to taking patients to the ED and not seeing signs about which rooms were subject to special isolation precautions, and now they’re popping up again — and I’m in a state with a pretty high rate of total population vaccinated, an even higher rate of 12-and-up vaccinated, and pushing 90% of seniors vaccinated. We’re not taking in the very elderly for COVID any more; it’s people in their 30s and 40s who are otherwise healthy. Get your godsdamned shots, people.

² Want to know how I know it’s a different process? The long-runnning and much beloved Best & Worst Manga panel is missing! Maybe somebody decided it just doesn’t work without a live audience of howler monkeys with opinions (it totally works without them).

The Programming Is Not As Heavy As Usual

The world is slowly returning to in-person experiences; granted, the word world is doing some heavy lifting there, as COVID-19 decides to create new waves in various parts of the world. Some have not yet had the chance to vaccinate, and others steadfastly refuse to do so, which is an idiocy I will never understand. As long as I live, that will never make any godsdamned sense.

But in places where it’s safe¹, comics fans are again gathering. Or, in the case of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, bandes dessinées fans. Here, then, is his report from this year’s Lyon BD festival.

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I can’t remember who said it at the table outside the café where we had gathered at the invitation of Shetty Saturday afternoon, but I think it best captures the feeling on how Lyon BD took place in 2021.

I had this feeling from the outset of the professional day Friday (which I did attend this year): besides the area where artists could present publishers their projects and portfolio for feedback (or more), it was pretty much a one-track conference, far from where the main event would take place (so no access to exhibitions, in particular). No need to even switch rooms between two events! So following the program that day was a no-brainer; in fact, the only challenge of the day was finding a place in the vicinity that would sell me food to go without forcing me to go inside where diners were exchanging their gross lung air².

There was some more to do for the main event, Saturday and Sunday, but even then there was no place for improvisation. Indeed, when I bought my ticket, I had to choose right away (this was printed as part of it) in which 5-hour-long time slot I would be allowed into the festival main space: I wouldn’t be allowed in at ay other time (I chose Sunday afternoon). Moreover, I also had to choose right away which events I would be able to attend, and the attendance cap prevented me from registering to some I was interested in.

So, yeah, the organizers took their job seriously.

As for the official parts, there were some, but mostly exhibitions: no LGBTI+ comics event, for instance. However, all signings occurred as official events, in bookshops, outside the festival main space.

So while I was still busy for most of Saturday and Sunday morning visiting exhibitions and the like, for once I had time to stop a bit and enjoy the renovated Place des Terreaux (which I had never seen in it usual state: neither in renovations nor covered with tents) around beers with Shetty and crew.

In the end, unfortunately, not much that intersected with online and indie comics. Except for one theme: comics in Africa, which were the subject of a few roundtables. Here is what I learned, in no particular order:

  • For much of the local public, comics are these outreach/teaching aid pamphlets from NGOs that these distribute for free, so it is hard to convince potential customers that comics are worth paying for.
  • While the vision of subsaharan Africa as shithole countries is ignorant and based on debunked stereotypes, there are some challenges to producing there: notably, some creators are taking advantage of the phenomenal advances in smartphones to directly create on these devices, which allows them to create even during the power outages, whether planned or unplanned, that are common occurrences in some parts of the continent.
  • In French-speaking Africa, in particular, the public gets inundated with media coming from France such that it is sometimes hard to develop local channels. Moreover, that means local creators have to challenge the ideals these French-based media convey, aesthetic ideals in particular.
  • Representation, as everywhere else, matters; one creator in particular mentioned that if she had to be the one creating stories about people like her, then by golly, she was going to do it herself.
  • And it’s not just about what people physically look like. The same creator mentioned being influenced by one of these rare creators of comics she had access to who can and do draw credible afrodescendant characters, anatomically speaking: neither color-swapped white people nor fat-lipped caricatures. But she was surprised to learn of this creator being white, and that led her to look for the unique perspective she could bring as a black woman creator.
  • Comics publishers based in France and Belgium have started showing interest in comics from Africa, but have only published them for the local market and not brought them to Europe so far. Even then, there is still pent-up offer, and some creators there are turning to crowdfunding in order to self-publish. In fact, there was a general agreement in the need to build up skills in the whole of the book chain so as to reduce dependence on established actors.
  • Black Panther has not such much ushered a new wave of afrofuturism than brought it to the mainstream, with many viewers looking for more after that, which means they can discover creators who were doing that all along, such as Reine Dibussi.
  • Since bound books are considered expensive, fan ‘zines have found some success, and some conventions have sprung up, even if they look more like North American comic cons than European comics festivals given how audiovisual media has been more able to penetrate local households (cosplay was mentioned as being a big thing there).

In other news: after failing at the last round in previous years, Chris Ware won the Grand Prix at Angoulême — the only event left of the planned, then scrapped, summer edition of the comics festival.

And Iron Circus has announced having obtained the English publishing rights for Cy’s Radium Girls (previous coverage), with a release planned for 2022. The creator only commented: Who is proud? ME.), while the publisher let us know this came as a result of their presence in the 2020 edition of the Angoulême comics festival.

So, if any comics publishers are reading me, could I suggest that they … get there? January 27th to 30th, 2022). Chris Ware will be president. You can land at Charles de Gaulle, then take a high-speed train directly to Angoulême. Do it.

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As ever, we at Fleen thank FSFCPL for his endeavours on behalf of our readers. He’s a good dude.


Spam of the day:

Mining farm for Chia coin

Unless the farming results in a coin base upon which grows actual Chiapet style chia, not interested.

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¹ And, tragically, many places where it is not — looking at you, Missouri. When you’re done with your little muh freedom temper tantrum and your healthcare professionals are so traumatized at how you chose to abuse them that they leave and never return, I am going to be hard pressed to have sympathy. On behalf of my colleagues, fuck you.

² I believe that FSFCPL is here using gross in the English sense of disgusting rather than the French sense of large, although honestly it works either way. — Ed.

Drawin’ Doggos!

On the one hand, I hear that Donald Rumsfeld is dead, which means that Death is walking his shots ever closer to Kissinger. On the other hand, it is hot as balls out, miserably so. On balance, I’ll call it a net positive. Let’s move on.

Remember about five-six weeks back and how the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is hosting a retrospective of dog-themed cartoons? There’s been some events added to The Dog Show for next weekend that you might want to look at:

  • Saturday, 10 July at 2:00pm EDT, Nomi Kane will be hosting an online seminar on pooch drawing. What are the basics of cartoon dogs? What details can be added to make your best friend’s doodle different from all other best friend doodles? If you’ve got a computer and an hour, you can find out! Have paper and pencil ready, and families are urged to attend together, with advance registration required (hit the link).
  • Sunday, 11 July from 1:00pm – 4:00pm EDT, if you’re in Columbus, you can come down to The Billy, where Hilary Frambes will be doing sidewalk chalk art of very good dogs (who are welcome if on leash). Register here so they have an idea of how many folks to expect, and if you’re outside, The Billy’s galleries will be open until 5:00pm, just saying.

    The rain date is Saturday, 17 July, same dog-time, same dog-sidewalk (yeah, okay, that sounded better in my head).

Oh, and because the folks at The Billy want everybody to be able to participate, a reminder: If you require an accommodation such as live captioning¹ or interpretation², please email libevents, which is an account at the Ohio State University, a doteducational institution, as soon as possible. Requests made less than a week in advance will be more difficult to meet, although they’ll make every effort; if you give them enough notice, you’re pretty much assured of the assistance you require.


Spam of the day:

Hi there are many girls here https://[nope!].co/fN5R

As of 1 December 2020, there are approximately 488 people in a square kilometer in New Jersey³, 23.5% of which are under the age of 18, and 51.3% of which are women. There are many girls everywhere I look, and that’s without clicking on your virus-riddled link.

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¹ More for the Zoom event, you can’t really caption somebody drawing on the sidewalk.

² I imagine they’d be able to work that for either event.

³ Which is also home to more scientists and engineers per square kilometer than anyplace else in the world. In your face, rest of the planet!

I Don’t Want To Say That I Have A Nemesis, Per Se …

But on the other hand, I’m not saying I don’t have nemesis, either.

See, it all comes back to Ryan Estrada, comicker, language demystifier, raconteur, [radio] drama impressario, shamer of cheapskates, and oh yes, Eisner nominee in the inaugural year of the Best Graphic Memoir category (alongside wife Kim Hyun Sook and artist Ko Hyung-Ju) for Banned Book Club. It’s the last item we’re concerned with today.

Estrada is doing something you don’t always see — openly posting on the sosh meeds about who can vote in the Eisners and imploring folks who can to vote for Banned Book Club, and he’s doing it for the best reason of all:

Spite.

Or at least comeuppance:

Time’s running out to register to vote!
You may wonder why I’m so insistent.

Well, a middle schooler named Jerry told me I couldn’t win an Eisner.

It was on the zoom in front of everybody.

Now my whole 6th grade ESL class is following the Eisners to see if Jerry was right.[Fearful face emoji] [Face with open mouth and cold sweat emoji] [emphasis mine]

Oh you did not, JERRY. You did not tell a man who has been thrown from a train, wandered through a drug war, dragged his ass up Kilimanjaro, lit himself on fire twice¹, and slept on a public bench in a gosh-darned typhoon that he is incapable of anything.

Especially not when such a man is unfailingly generous to you, JERRY:

Jerry is actually the cool, smart kind kid in class so he’s not trying to be a jerk he just DOESN’T BELIEVE IN ME.

I stand by my assessment of Jerry and encourage everybody that is eligible to vote in the Eisners to vote for Banned Book Club, so that Jerry can get his head right. Do it for Ryan, Hyun Sook, and Hung-Ju. Do it because Banned Book Club truly deserves both the nomination and the award. Do it to prove a middle school kid wrong and in so doing, strike back at every Jerry that’s not believed in you when he should, as well as everybody in middle school who was so damn certain about something while being so damn wrong.

Do it for spite. Do it so that I, a grown man, do not need to have a nemesis that is in middle school².

If you make, publish, edit, or sell comics, or if you are an academic or librarian that works with comics, you are eligible to cast a ballot for the Eisners until 30 June.


Spam of the day:

Give with Crypto Currency? Why Yes! We are adding it!

This from what purports to be a Christian crowdfunding site, making the claim that they’re emailing me because of my past contributions to somebody raising money to assuage their hurt feelings that they can’t be utter shits towards everybody that isn’t their exact flavor of white supremacist evangelical without getting some mild rebuke for their actions. Or, as they have it, being persecuted. I am very tempted to respond with a hearty Hail, Satan! instead of sending them to the spamhole and reporting them for phishing.

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¹ So far.

² Correctly identified in an old Life In Hell strip as existing only to separate out kids in their maximally snotty years, both to protect the younger kids they would torment ceaselessly, and to spare them from the high schoolers doling out beatings they would so richly deserve. Matt Groening had your number in like 1987 when YOUR PARENTS were in middle school, JERRY.

That’s A Lot Of Folks

It’s comics awards season again, and as yet unanswered questions regarding their security and disclosure obligations aside, there’s quite a lot to be excited about with respect to the Eisner nominations this year. The list is simply rife with current, former, and adjacent-to webcomics folks. Let’s dig in:

  • Best Single Issue is, to my mind, one of the big ones; it reflects a distillation of all the various crafts of comics into a relatively compact, standalone unit, and says that this is one of the best of the year. Ben Passmore, whose work is on the norms-challenging end of the spectrum, is nominated for Sports Is Hell
  • Best Continuing Series has two different Chip Zdarsky titles up for consideration: Daredevil, and Stillwater, the latter of which is a co-creation with Ramón Pérez. Yes, I do believe Kukuburi will return one day. I should also note that Stan Sakai is nominated for Usagi Yojimbo, which remains the epitome of a single creator’s vision across the decades and epitomizes the spirit of webcomics if not the distribution medium. It’s also one of those titles — like Octopus Pie, Giant Days, or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to name three — that just gets better every single issue (or story arc) and if you don’t read it you damn well should.
  • Best Publication For Early Readers (Up To Age 8) I wanted to note that RH Graphic, who launched under the worst possible circumstances last year, have garnered their first nomination for Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song. They’ve got another a bit further down, and to see that level of quality right out of the gate? Honestly, I think it’s entirely in character for the team that Gina Gagliano put together. Welcome to the critical recognition tier, RH Graphic!
  • Best Publication For Kids (Ages 9-12) I really enjoyed Go With The Flow (Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann) and Snapdragon (Kat Leyh) — both from :01 Books, who are a perennial powerhouse in this category — but must also note how very, very much I loved Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru’s Superman Smashes The Klan and damn if I wouldn’t be delighted if a book about an immigrant punching literal klansmen and Nazis in their stupid klansmen and Nazi faces didn’t take this one.

    Particularly in this time of Asian Americans being attacked to satisfy the petty hatreds of the small and vindictive. Put this book in the hands of every kid and adult that loves comics because gods damn Yang just gets Superman, and Gurihiru draws Lois Lane better than she’s ever been drawn before.

  • Best Publication For Teens (Ages 13-17) I thought that the second Check, Please! collection (the invaluable Ngozi Ukazu) maybe didn’t have to be set in an age-specific category and probably should be in one of the best book categories, but you know what? They’re kind of chaotic in their requirements, and designating this a teens title means more people will put a story of acceptance in the hands of young folk, so that’s all right.

    It’s going to be a tough decision for the voters, though, because Gene Yang is nominated again for Dragon Hoops, and it’s a spectacularly good book. Plus you have Displacement by Kiku Hughes and A Map To The Sun by Sloane Leong … all of which are from :01 Books. When you have four of the six nominees in a category, you’re doing something right.

  • Best Reality Based Work features Dragon Hoops again, and as the jury noted that there were a large number of memoirs in publication last year, they added a new category to contain them. Dragon Hoops could have gone there, but it was a genre-stretching work that played with the nature of comics and (auto-)biography, so probably just as well that they didn’t.

    But you know who did get nominated in the inaugural year of Best Graphic Memoir? Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, and Ko Hyung-Ju for Banned Book Club, which I believe is the first nomination of completely original work for Iron Circus. It’s almost like Spike Trotman’s got a good eye for great stories.

  • Best Adaptation From Another Medium Yang takes his second nomination for Superman Smashes The Klan, as the story was originally told as a radio serial back in the 1940s. He’s joined by Ryan North and Albert Monteys for their adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five which I still haven’t read because Diamond is still not filling new orders, even as it gets foreign language releases around the globe. Get it together, Diamond!
  • Best Writer includes another nod for Zdarsky for his work on Stillwater, as well as Matt Fraction for both the conclusion of Sex Criminals and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (which was wonderfully weird and funny).
  • Best Writer/Artist Remember that I said RH Graphic had another nomination this year? Trung Le Nguyen is here (for The Magic Fish ) alongside such prominent names as Junji Ito, Pascal Jousselin, Craig Thompson, Adrian Tomine, and Gene Luen Yang for Dragon Hoops. That’s five nominations for two books if I’ve got my sums right, which seems as dominant a performance as I can ever recall for one person at the Eisners in one year.
  • Best Cover Artist has a second nod for Ramón Pérez for Stillwater, which is nice.
  • Best Academic/Scholarly Work threw me a surprise, as it would be hard to find a book more in tune with the sensibilities of this page than Webcomics by Sean Kleefeld. Sean’s a really smart guy, and if I can ever get my hands on a copy — the academic titles don’t get anywhere near as wide a print run as the entertainment titles — I suspect I’m going to love it. We’ve been way overdue for a good scholarly look at webcomics, particularly since the first one was a) too early, and b) less scholarly and more anecdotal.
  • Best Digital Comic and Best Webcomic remain, as always, mysterious to me. It is worth noting that half of the nominations in the former are from Europe Comics and list translators in the credits; looking beyond North America is an encouraging trend and I hope it continues. In the latter, I’ll note that four of the six nominations are at aggregator sites (Webtoon Factory, Tapas, Webtoon) or Instagram.

    So I wanted to call out Alec Longstreth’s Isle Of Elsi and Steve Conley’s The Middle Age for maintaining the webcomics tradition of having your own damn website, if it’s just a domain that redirects elsewhere, because … well, lots of reasons. Mostly so that the work stands on its own rather than because an eyeballs-maximizing site chooses to elevate it, but also so that if things go wrong you can get your work the hell away from a bad partner and keep it running in a way you control. To me, that’s the central ethos of webomics.

Now then, after last year’s (still insufficiently explained) voting fiasco, there’s a new, two-step process: prospective voters¹ apply for ballot access at https://form.jotform.com/211246268258054; those approved will receive an invitation to fill out their ballot by 30 June. Results will be announced online in conjunction with Comic-Con@Home 2021.

I do not have at this time reason to either trust or distrust the process, so my recommendation last year that voting was not secure does not hold for this year, but I suppose we’ll all find out together if they manage to screw the pooch again.


Spam of the day:

In fact, this oil is the reason Croatian women look 20 years younger than they actually are: And today, you can discover how to remove 18 years of wrinkles without spending a fortune.

That is … oddly specific. Are Croatian women generally so reputed?

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¹ Defined as comics professionals: creators, publishers, retailers, and educator/academics or librarians focusing on comics.

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

In conjunction with this page’s longstanding contention that almost anything can be a webcomic¹ today we are not talking about words + pictures in the traditional sense, but about stories that lead to amusement and joy in this month of both Pride and re-emergence, in the multimedia sense. Which is to say, The Doubleclicks are throwing a concert.

Pride time, baby, and this time we’re prouder than ever!

Hi would you like to see a bunch of amazing LGBTQ+ people sing songs and have fun in one big show?

Great news, we are producing such a show on June 12. ROARING RAINBOW is a dream come true, a joyful day of queer pride, and a benefit show for excellent organizations who do valuable work for trans youth, all produced and hosted by the Doubleclicks. Please help us support trans kids at this big powerful giant show!

We have gathered the Internet’s favorite queer icons in one place for this banefit concert of epic proportions. Join the Doubleclicks, Rebecca Sugar (creator of Steven Universe), Sydnee McElroy, Rileigh and Teylor Smirl (Still Buffering), Crys Matthews, and SO MANY MORE for a joyful online concert to benefit trans youth.

Check out tickets, extremely cute hats, and so many fun things right now! [emphases original]

That via an email from Laser Malena-Webber, the non-cello half of the sibling duo that wears feelings and nerdery on their sleeves and reminds us that it is okay to be/have those things. Laser and (Doubleclicks cello half) Aubrey Turner are together in the same place at the same time for the first time since the Before Times, and godsdammit, if they’re gonna be this happy they’re gonna make sure you have the opportunity as well.

So starting at 5:00pm EDT this Saturday, 12 June, at your computer or other internet-enabled device, you’ll get to join in with a bunch of rad folks in support of Trans Families and the National Center For Transgender Equality. All are welcome². My guess is that if you’re reading this page, you’re already a fan of at least a couple of the folks on the bill.

Tickets start at US$5.00 for the concert, US$20 for the concert + aftershow + prize package raffle, and go up to US$100 for sponsorship credit, swag, better chances in the raffle, and the satisfaction of making good things happen for other people. Good things like upping the contributions to the beneficiaries, and also subsidizing some zero-cost tickets (by request) to folks that unfortunately find even five bucks a burden. For those unable to attend, there’s some pretty sweet merch on the RR page as well, just scroll down past the tickets.

Okay, thunderstorm’s about to roll in and the power is flickering a little, so let’s wrap it up here. Whether you make it to the show or not, try to spend Saturday afternoon/evening/morning/whenever it might be wherever you might be being a little extra joyful on behalf of those who surely could use some joy in their lives. And in the words of Laser, Rarrr.


Spam of the day:

fleen.com is King but social proof is Queen, and the lady rules the house!

What.

That’s too nonsensical, spammers. What else you got for me today?

Padre, a real life Angel Whisperer, has been communicating with Angels since he was just a child.

Unless Padre has been communicating with Old Testament Final Fantasy Boss Monster-type angels, not interested. And if he has been, my condolences to Angel for being a gibbering wreck.

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¹ To quote me, Homestar*Runner is a webcomic.

² I don’t want to speak for Aubrey, Laser, et. al., but I’m gonna take a guess that if any terves want to pony up the ticket price and mind their manners and not be complete dickbags about other people being trans in the world, you’ll get to enjoy the show as well.

I also am gonna take a guess that people inclined to tervishness find fun and joy experienced by and in supoprt of trans and gender non-conforming folks to be like kryptonite³ and so they won’t be around.

³ Or possibly like Oz witches find buckets of water. Choose your preferred metaphor, they’re all equivalent.

I Have Definite Thoughts On Folks Who Should Be On The Short List

Hey, y’all. How ya doing? Good? Good. It’s a drizzly day and there’s a very lazy hound somewhat noisily snoring and it’s giving everything here a more than slightly soporific character. Let us converse for some little while and then have a nap.

  • Yesterday, I pointed out a pair of comics-centric events that are taking very different approaches to the (hopefully, persisting) post-pandemic reality. From Massachusetts, an outdoor, spaced-out event; from Long Island, an indoors event that doesn’t so much as mention health protections and shows lots of photos of crowded-together folks.

    Given that New York City formed the centerpoint of the pandemic in this country through its devastating first wave, you’d have thought that a place just the other side of JFK would be more mindful but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

    So how would something larger than Mini-MICE go about an event in the latter half of 2021 while taking due care? Glad you asked, Sparky. Let’s take a look at what CXC has on deck for October:

    CXC 2021 will feature a mix of online & in person events! Our Vendor Exhibitor Expo will be held virtually over Discord, but some festival events will be in person at partner venues in Columbus, OH. Details: https://cartooncrossroadscolumbus.org/?cat=8

    (& check out the poster art by Gabby Metzler!)

    Drilling down into the show website gives us some details:

    CXC 2021 will mark a return to some in-person events following a show that was all online in 2020. Some events will be online only, and several of the in-person events also will be broadcast online. CXC will follow the city of Columbus’s health guidelines and the recommendations of its programming sponsors when determining any necessary precautions.

    We will have more information in the coming months about which events will be in person and how to attend, and how to view online events. Follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) or check our website (cartooncrossroadscolumbus.org) for the latest.

    Good start — acknowledge the fact that things will change in the coming months, set out a model that likely can be made good on even if progress towards reopening stalls, indicate where more information can be obtained. Furthermore:

    One online event will be the CXC Expo, a part of CXC in which creators sell their work to the public. Similar to last year, the CXC Expo will be held online through CXC’s website and Discord Server. We are eager to return to an in-person Expo in 2022.

    “It’s a challenge to plan in our ever changing health and safety environment. We appreciate the flexibility of our guests, presenting partners, donors and audience as we balance our desire for in-person events with proper protocols,” said Jerzy Drozd, CXC’s interim executive director. [emphasis original]

    Further acknowledgement of reality, a nice outreach to everybody with a stake, and a clear assumption of responsibility right from the top¹.

    Additionally, CXC announced its first tranche of guests (Chris Samnee, Victoria Jamieson, Lewis Trondheim, Shary Flenniken) and a new award named for Spurgeon:

    This year’s festival also will mark the debut of the Tom Spurgeon Award, named after CXC’s founding executive director, which will be awarded to someone who is not primarily a cartoonist and whose support of cartoonists and cartoon art enhanced the field in a lasting and measurable way.

    … The award, suggested by Tom’s family, will be a way to honor an individual who has made substantial contributions to the field but is not primarily a cartoonist.

    “The breadth and depth of Tom’s experiences as a journalist, comics historian, and reporter make him the ideal model for an award celebrating the contributions of non-cartoonists to the field,” said Lucy Shelton Caswell, founding curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University and a co-founder of CXC. [emphasis original]

  • Speaking of people that enhance the field in lasting ways, readers may recall that we at Fleen are deeply interested in the production work that goes into comics, particularly of the editorial variety. So it was with particular interest that we noted a rather unique manuscript being newly offered:

    MAKE YOUR COMICS leaner/meaner/faster/cleaner!
    FILTH & GRAMMAR: The Comic Book Editor’s Secret Handbook.
    Click thru to sign up for more info [various emoji]
    https://kickstarter.com/projects/sxbond/filth-and-grammar

    Better believe I signed up for notification. Bond is a legend in editing circles, and everybody that edits comics (or wants to edit them, or wants to edit them better) should be grabbing a copy while they can. So should everybody that writes about comics, and — somewhat counterintuitively — everybody that makes comics.

    Making comics and editing comics are completely different skills, but understanding what the editor is doing and why they do it? That can only lead a creator to make better comics. If nothing else, it’ll hopefully convince creators that editing your own stuff lies somewhere between impractical and impossible². I suspect that in very short order, Filth & Grammar will belong on every shelf right next to Understanding Comics.


Spam of the day:

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the “DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon” in the first quarter of 2022, with the company accepting the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as payment. Doge has gone up 1161% since early April this year. If you want to be part of this history moment, you can buy Doge coin at Binance here (biggest crypto exchange in the world).

For reference, this was sent five hours after Elon Musk announced that Tesla was getting out of the crypto space.

Elon Musk intends to distribute 25,000 bitcoins. Today I sent 3 Bitcoins to Tesla and received 6 Bitcoins back !!! Bitcoins are returned doubled. The company’s website keeps statistics in real time, who sent and received how many bitcoins in double the amount.
… and this one was sent the day after. Scammers apparently think that crypto enthusiasts are very, very stupid; given that they believe in magic math based on nothing that can be used to purchase upwards of seven different legal goods and/or services at the costs of crippling computer supply chains and hastening the end of human viability on the planet, I am forced in this circumstance to conclude that the scammers are correct.

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¹ Speaking of which, let’s acknowledge the stellar job that Jerzy Drozd did stepping into the suddenly-empty shoes of the dearly missed Tom Spurgeon, and managing the sudden shift to a pandemic-restricted form from practically day one on the job. If CXC doesn’t keep him on in a permanent capacity, every comics event in the world should be competing to obtain his services.

² Says the guy who self-edits … but when I’ve been asked to write particularly important stuff for others, damn right I’ve sought the opinion of editors I trust. The feedback I received on one occasion caused me to completely discard what I had previously considered to be 95% of the way to final and start over in a radically different direction. It made for a radically better piece, for reasons that made sense when I was done but which I couldn’t see at the beginning because — say it with me — you can’t edit your own stuff.

And With Our Shifting Tides, Events

Actual events, in public, with people, although let us note that some are being more responsible than others.

You have on the one hand, a community event held in the great state of West Virginia, featuring artists and artisans of all sorts at the Shenandoah Planing Mill in Charles Town on Saturday, 12 June. Among the studio tour artists will be webcomics own Danielle Corsetto, who was the one that first tipped me to the fun. I should note that this is not a comics-specific, comics-centric, or even comics-featuring event; it’s pretty much Corsetto that will be repping the words + pictures crowd, but come on! Iron forging! Log sawing! Leashed friendly dogs welcome! If you’re in the vicinity, it’ll be a hoot, possibly a hoot and a half.

But if you’re looking for something that’s comics-featuring, comics-centric, even comics-specific, look no further than Mini-MICE; from the folks that bring you the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (normally held mid-Octoberish at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA¹) will be going outdoors in the Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge on the last weekend of August (that would be the 28the and 29th) with 30 comics folks given tables each of the two days; to maximize those able to exhibit, it will be a different cohort on each of the two days.

Applications are open for Massachusetts residents until 28 June, who should be prepared to share new comics work, from 2020 to the present, and have comics be at least half of what you present on the table. The tables, due to distancing policies² will be 3 feet, under a 10 foot canopy, and are being subsidized by the Central Square Business Improvement District.

Restrictions that are presently in place³ mean that there won’t be any programming or live events, but what the heck — it’s gonna be free to attend, so head on over and check out new comics from local creators. Even if MICE is able to come back next year, it would be great to see Mini-MICE recur, and for other festival-type events to adopt a similar, open-air type approach in addition to their traditional presentations.

Contrast, if you would, with the announcement I got in the mail from a Long Island traditional comics show set for Hofstra University’s sports and event center the first weekend of August (that would be the 7th and 8th). As of this writing, there’s no acknowledgement of possible restrictions, nothing about distancing or mask requirements, zilch. I get that there’s uncertainty about what public events would look like in 2 months time, but every photo features large crowds in close proximity … it’s like the pandemic never happened, and I’d submit that’s the wrong message to send.

If this didn’t convince me that the organizers don’t have public health at the front of their minds, the fact that the one announced guest at this time is Dean Cain — who spent some of last summer mocking the idea of having to wear a mask on a plane — would lead me in that direction.

600,000 Americans are dead of COVID, and the deaths are still occurring; around the world, where vaccinations are nowhere near as widespread, things are getting distinctly worse. This pandemic won’t be over until things are safe for everybody, including those who’ve spent the past forever denying reality. To plan for an event is understandable. To make no attempt to change how things are done to a form that will at least acknowledge life was different in the summer of 2019 is just insulting.


Spam of the day:

Your bank account received a payment of $ 346000. Take your money urgently Your card has received a payment of $ 245000. Take your money

This from “michaelwof”, who’s been using a series of French and Belgian email accounts to try to convince me that FREE!! MONEY!!1! is coming my way if I just click on his links. Yeah, no.

_______________
¹ Home to more colleges and universities than you can shake a stick at, despite what Ian said in Spinal Tap.

² Which, let’s face, are likely to change.

³ Ibid.

There Are Still Amazing Books Dropping Soon, But Let’s Look At Something Else Today

The relaxation of restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated¹ means that centers of comics scholarship are beginning to make programs and exhibitions available again. The two premiere such institutions are the Cartoon Art Museum and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum; they’ve both been extraordinarily responsible about their re-openings², and each have things going on/coming up. Let’s talk.

  • Starting in Columbus, Ohio and The Billy, a new exhibit will open on 19 June and run through Halloween (coincidentally, the same timeframe as the second half of their Pogo retrospective), and it’s on a topic that is likely near and dear to your heart. The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons will be curated by comics historian and cartoonist Brian Walker.

    Before you get the idea that he’s a second-generation guy who only got a syndication gig with a zillion newspapers by inheriting it from dad³, I mean, he is, but he’s also a legit historian. I happened to be in Brussels when the Comics Art Museum was running an exhibition he curated on 100 years of American comic strips, and it was really good.

    He’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of newspaper strips, and if you’re going to do an exhibition on any particular topic drawing from that medium, he’s going to be one of the go-to experts to mount the show. Sure, the description talks about editorial cartoons, comic books, magazine gag strips, animation, and more — they’d be almost hilariously short-sighted to not include Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man, f’rinstance — but the show art clearly focuses on newspaper strips. Finally, Odie gets his chance to shine without that lasagna-swilling bastard stealing the spotlight.

  • And over in San Francisco, CAM is offering a free online event this Sunday, 4:00pm PDT, talking about the cartoon counterpart to dogs. Kitty Sweet Tooth: A Conversation with Abby Denson and Utomaru will bring Denson (writer) and Utomaru (artist) together to talk about their new graphic novel for younger readers (available everywhere from First Second).

    The online event will involve a reading, drawing demo, and more; registration for the online event is required but free, and those who purchase a copy of Kitty Sweet Tooth via the registration page will get a bookplate signed by Denson and Utomaru. In the meantime, check out Utomaru’s website (linked above) — the art hits the exact middle point between Harajuku street fashion, Hello Kitty, and Scott Pilgrim — bright, a little chunky, always something else to catch the eye, no matter how many times you look at it.


Spam of the day:

[moneybags emoji x 2] The approval was successful. Hello. Hired you on the Internet.

Those are some of the most terrifying words I’ve ever read.

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¹ And, in parts of the country, the more reckless relaxation of all restrictions.

² CAM is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays with capacity controls. The Billy is open by reservation on weekends (Museum part, but presently closed until 18 June) and by appointment for limited weekday hours (Library part).

³ He is a part of what Josh Fruhlinger has dubbed Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC in recognition of the fact that Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois) and Dik Browne (Hi & Lois, Hagar The Horrible) were close collaborators, a tradition that extends to their respective sons.