The webcomics blog about webcomics

Whoooo Wants Pizza?

If you didn’t say Me! Me!, you’re very possibly a liar, or perhaps didn’t hear me correctly. Pizza, people!

If you got a hankering for art to meet politics to meet good deeds, then Shing Yin Khor is somebody you want to pay attention to. I mean, also because they produce heartbreakingly beautiful comics that are painful in their truths, wield tools with aplomb, are actively working to bring capitalism to heel, and are small enough to fit in your pocket.

But set all that aside for the moment; when Khor sees people with less, people in need of protection, plans get made and people wrangled in order to make uplifting art for the purpose of helping because godsdammit, somebody’s got to. On a couple of occasions now, pizza-themed art — some of which is patently and wonderfully ridiculous — has been made and auctioned off to support Food Forward LA, which strives to both reduce food waste and reduce hunger. The third iteration of Project Pizza will run on Saturday:

From 10AM to 10PM join artists Shing Yin Khor and Eron Rauch as they host a draw-a-thon featuring a dozen of their talented friends making art and jamming their faces full of pizza.

Grab a slice (one random drawing), a whole pie (10), or even a party pack (30) to share with friends and co-workers. Preorders open December 12th, and we sell out every year, so stop back by to secure your slices!

You can check out a list of artists expected to participate in the live event, and also some of the art that’s been constructed by remote friends and sent in. A full list of participants is at the Project Pizza page, below the pre-order links. It’s not possible to request particular artists, but at the US$100 support level, they’ll try to direct at least one piece by a favorite artist to you. Also, the first 20 folks to send in a hundo or more get a tiny sculpted pizza. And on the off chance you don’t need one or more tiny pizza arts in your home, they’re taking tips as well — that money goes direct to FFLA without the work of shipping you anything.

Look, I know it’s an expensive time of year, that people got crap jobs and little extra money but consider: ten bucks means 45+ kilos of being saved and distributed. The last event raised more than US$4600, and the goal this year is an even five grand, or fifty tons of food. Just think about it, okay? Oh, and if the you-gotta-have-a-PayPal-account thing is a problem for you, here’s FFLA’s direct donations page; you might not get a tiny pizza, but you’ll help a bunch of people not be hungry, and that tastes great.

Spam of the day:

Now ANYONE Can Learn Piano or Keyboard

I dunno. If my mother (lifelong pianist and church organist) couldn’t manage to teach me, I don’t think your revolutionary, spam-based method will succeed.

Well, Heck. Who Needs Both Kidneys Anyway?

So there’s this thing that the Cartoon Art Museum does in alternate years, where they decide on a cartoonist, get a bunch of other cartoonists to do tribute art, then auction it all off as a fundraiser. It’s cool for fans of the tribute-makers, fans of the tributee, fans of comics in general.

This year’s auction is a tribute to Bill Watterson.

Here’s the deal:

Without a more specific date (I’d argue we’re well into the middle of December), your best bet is to follow CAM on social media, or park yourself on the eBay page if you want a shot at things. Or, given that a lot of this work is going to go for serious coin, maybe set an alarm for March and check out the exhibition catalog when it drops.

Spam of the day:

Weird Fruit Burns fat 1,828% faster!

1. That is a suspiciously precise number.
2. The weight loss industrial complex, like being in trouble, is a fake idea.

¹ That site requires Flash, in this the gods-damned year 2019.

² No web presence that I can find.

³ One may recall that it was a Sunday, printed half-page size thanks to Watterson’s contract demanding space (in return for which he offered the very best monsters, dinosaurs, and mayhem), on the last day of 1995. I remember it like it was yesterday.


Know what we need more of? Science.

  • Readers of this page know that, whatever else may be true, Rosemary Mosco of Bird And Moon is one hell of a naturalist, a terrific explainer of all things biological (particularly snakes, birds, and butterflies), a walking compendium of knowledge ranging from identifying what’s in owl barf to climate change.

    And for those of you that can’t get enough of her¹, you’ll have a shot at an in-person event in just about five weeks:

    This is going to be amazing. I’m taking part in a @scifri event on Jan 16 in Boston! Come see a video about my comics (and my interrupting pet birds), chat with folks including the amazing @mariswicks, and check out a ton of art and science collaborations.

    Just for the uninitiated, @scifri would be Science Friday, the long-running NPR show which — among other public services — broadcasts the annual IgNobel Prize ceremony. Ira Flatow has hosted the show since its inception, and he’s been an entertaining, effective communicator of Science Stuff ever since the early Newton’s Apple days. Yes, I watched it from the premiere episode. Yes, I am old.

    I expect that readers of this page are already familiar with Maris Wicks.

    Anyways, the event that Mosco’s so rightly excited about would be the Science Friday Create Curiosity Fair, to be held in the pubic space of NPR member station WBUR, on 16 January 2020 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. The event is all ages, general admission US$10, kids under 12 free with registration. In addition to Mosco and Wicks, you’ll have folks from the Harvard Museum of Natural History², the New England Aquarium³, and other sciencey types from the region.

  • Speaking of the IgNobel Prizes (and we were, just about two paragraphs due up), did you know that one IgNobel laureate has also won a Nobel Prize? It’s true! There was a levitating frog involved!

    Unsurprisingly, it’s a white dude, which fact would also not surprise you if you’ve read the latest from Maki Naro (cartoonist, science communicator, and Best At Drawing Totoro) and Matthew Francis (physicist, science writer, bowler hat enthusiast, and author — with illustrations by Naro — of Who Owns An Asteroid?) on why women are systematically excluded from the science Nobels.

    It’s a good read, one that’ll make you mad. And if anybody says Well, chicks just ain’t good at science, ask them whose notes Watson and Crick cribbed from and who discovered pulsars. I could go on, but honestly, this hypothetical I’m just a believer in merit and ability bozo hasn’t heard of Watson, Crick, or pulsars, so screw that dude (of course it’s a dude).

Spam of the day:

Keep yourself AND your wine warm this winter 15 bottels of our AMAZING Holiday wines

So this appeal from “Thanksgiving Wines” (which arrived four days ago) is apparently that rare wine merchant that believes in keeping their bottels [sic] warm, which will only accelerate the march to vinegar. Try again.

¹ And how could you, really?

² They got dinosaurs.

³ They got squid.

You Don’t Have To Be In Central Jersey

Stepping back from webcomics for a moment; got family coming in for the weekend, because of the very personal nature of the relationship we have with arthritis¹. When I first met my wife, she was newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; her mother had dealt with it for more than 40 years at that point, and noticed the symptoms quickly. Thanks to having been treated from an early stage, she’s largely in good shape, but that can vary from day to day.

My mother in law, though — it was not physically possible for me to make my hands assume the shape that hers were stuck in. Think claws and you aren’t too far off. She dealt with it for most of her life, and the constellation of similar autoimmune diseases that accompany it. She ultimately wound up with one a/i condition that slowly degraded her lung function and eventually killed her.

But in her last ten years? Until the last one, when moving without portable oxygen got to be too much? She spent a bunch of Decembers here in New Jersey for the local iteration of the Arthritis Foundation’s annual 5K run/walk fundraiser. At more than 80 she did that course, accompanied at one time or another by most of her eight kids. My wife’s been adult honoree twice, and despite the December cold not being the best thing for her joints, has been out there each year, for her mom and herself.

If you’re anywhere near Central New Jersey, you can participate in this year’s event; it’s on Sunday. If you’re nowhere near, there are literally dozens of AF runs this weekend, probably some of which are near you.

Or you can give to my wife’s team², as she (and her oldest brother and her younger twin sister) make their way in public to remember their mom and try to make sure that nobody else in the future has to deal with the same struggles. I’ll be part of the EMS standby, as usual. If you come by, say hi! Anybody that helps us to remember Welma Pierce gets a free high five.

Non-spam of the day:

The Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run is the original festive race for charity. 100% of your registration fee and fundraising go to a great cause!

Damn straight.

¹ There are several kinds, broadly classifiable as You used your body too hard when you were young and now you’re paying for it (osteoarthritis) vs Autoimmune disease of the joints (rheumatoid arthritis). We are discussing the latter.

² And some of you have, in response to tweets I’ve sent out. I see you, and I appreciate it more than you can ever know.

Breaking News Of The Happiest Sort

From Ian Jones-Quartey, About eight minutes ago as I write this:

Hey so @rebeccasugar and I have been a couple for 12 years … and yesterday we got married! To each other!

Oh, hooray! I only met Rebecca Sugar once (at another wedding, as it turns out), but I’ve followed Ian’s work since he was in high school, and known him since his SVA days. He’s a sweet guy, and Sugar is widely and justly known for creating one of the most humane stories of modern times, making countless kids feel like the world is for them, too. Be happy for them, and remember that Steven Universe Future debuts on Cartoon Network in two days.

And because I need to have more than just breaking news in this post, let me note that Gemma Correll is getting an Emerging Artist Showcase at the Cartoon Art Musuem, from 20 December until 29 March. It’ll feature a collection of Correll’s favorite cartoons, including material from The Nib. I first saw her work when The Nib launched, and I’ve been a fan ever since. It says something about how much her sensibilities match mine that, without knowing of my preference for her work, my wife gave me a birthday day last year that was illustrated by Correll. If you don’t know her work, check it out.

Okay, back to being deliriously happy for the bestest young animators in the world. Y’all have a magnificent day.

Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share the day with Rebecca and Ian.

Endings And Goodbyes

It’s been more than two weeks now that we’ve been without Tom Spurgeon, and it feels almost unfair that the Earth continues to revolve just as it always has. True to form, The Spurge left directions that he would not have a funeral, but rather a memorial celebration, and in the best possible place for it:

In lieu of a funeral service, a public memorial for Tom Spurgeon will be held in Columbus, Ohio at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on Saturday, Dec 14th.

That message has been up at The Billy’s site for a week/ten days now, but yesterday further details were released:

Updated information on @comicsreporter December 14 memorial service at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: …

The memorial will be from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, with refreshments to start, formal remarks for an hour, and an open forum for people to say what he meant to them; the Billy will be open its usual 1:00pm to 7:00pm Saturday hours. I decided over the weekend that I would go — the one time Tom and I spoke face to face he told me I had to come to Columbus, see the Library, dig into Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, and it seems the least I can do is accept the invitation.

For those that may be traveling to the Columbus area, Cartoon Books publisher and all-around wonderful human Vijaya Iyer offered some advice:

For out of towners coming to Tom Spurgeon’s @comicsreporter memorial service on December 14, I would like to recommend staying in the Short North just south of the OSU campus. The Joseph, Moxy and The Graduate are all good choices.

The Short North, I’ve discovered, is the Columbus arts and entertainment district, north of downtown and about two miles from TBICLM. Thankfully, OSU’s football season will end on December 7th, so it will be possible to obtain hotel rooms within 100 miles of campus.

If where you are in the world (geographically and economically) makes it possible for you to attend the service, I’d like to encourage you to do so. I suspect it’s going to be a lot sad, but interspersed with some real joy and laughter, because you basically can’t think of The Spurge without feeling his love for comics and just about everybody associated with them.

Speaking personally, I’ve found it a bit hard to get quite as enthused about webcomics for the past few weeks, and I think having a chance to say goodbye to Tom, to see the community that coalesced around him, will help ease that weight a bit. Maybe. Maybe not. Mourning is hard, especially in this age of deep connections — or what passes for them — with people that we may not actually know well.

Another ending that I’m contemplating today: Magnolia Porter announced what readers may have suspected, given how the story was going: Monster Pulse is ending sooner rather than later. It’ll be nine years, more or less, by the time it wraps up, pretty much all of Porter’s post-college life, and a time of tremendous growth for her comics career and skills.

I started following her on Bobwhite all those years ago, but Monster Pulse is what convinced me that she was the real deal — it was easy for me to follow a strip about finding yourself in college (a strip that, in many ways, anticipated Giant Days), but I had no experience of or love for the Pokemons or Digimons, and she pulled me in and made me want to follow her YA quasi-body horror story about personal monsters without a nostalgia hook. I’m sad to see it go, but glad she got to tell the story she wanted on her terms. Good job, Mags.

Spam of the day:

I came across your website and just wanted to reach out to see if you’re hiring?

Sure, we’re hiring. We pay nothing, we promise no exposure, and you have to best all existing contributors in a test of skill to prove your worthiness. The first test will, naturally, be conducted in French.

What I Want For My Birthday

Hey. It’s the day before (American) Thanksgiving and I have things to do and also it is my birthday. This means that it is also the birthday of Jon Rosenberg, the guy that got me to launch this damn site in the first place and still hosts it.

At like the second Pub Night I attended we discovered our co-birthday status, albeit with six years between us. Next year we’ll be a combined 100 years old! You’d be doing me a favor if you considered doing your shopping for whatever gift-proximate solstice holiday(s) you observe over at Jon’s Product Emporium. He and the multiple smallish replicants in his home that he is legally obligated to feed will thank you, as will I.

And if you’re not in the mood or economic state for commerce of that nature, please enjoy these updates from Jonsgivings Past, and may you always have the luck to remain on List 3B.

Spam of the day:
Nope. Spammers don’t get to share Jon’s/My day.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Randy

Nearly done with November, which means we’re nearly done with this kidney stone of a year. Let’s get to it.

  • We’re into one of those birthday-rich times of year in webcomics, today being the day that one may, if one wishes, offer glad betidings to Randall J “Uncle Randy” Milholland, aka The Nicest Guy In Webcomics.

    I’m serious — Milholland is the absolutely nicest guy who attracts the absolute most terrible people, which results in consequences. Look, being the nicest guy in the world doesn’t mean you have to let people shit on you. Niceness is not synonymous with being a doormat.

    Anyway, in addition to birthday wishes, and sincere hopes that his toddler daughter goes easy on him, today is the day of the year that I remind you that Milholland is also one of the best writers in webcomics, with a knack for creating characters we really care about (even the ones we really hate sometimes), characters that live and breathe and change, because none of us is who we were half a lifetime ago.

    Also, the characters are terribly funny, frequently in horrible ways. Thanks for all you do, Uncle Randy, and if your next instance of not letting people shit on you means you need a place to lie low for a bit, or maybe stash a body, you’ve got my number.

  • In other news today, Mike Maihack has some of the good variety to share. Maihack’s Cleopatra In Space series (which we’ve discussed before but which I don’t think I’ve ever done a review of — suffice it to say it’s five great books for the all-ages reader in your life, with a sixth on the way) has been a delightful read, with a strong sense of design aesthetics, and a compelling heroine, supporting cast, and Big Bag. Not to mention cats. So many cats.

    So it’s a surprise that the obvious wasn’t announced until today — Cleo is making the leap to the small screen:

    So yeah. This is a thing. A pretty exciting thing.…

    Asian premier tonight. Stay tuned for more information about the series in the US and around the world!

    #CleopatraInSpace #dreamworksanimation

    For now, Cleopatra In Space will be available in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, the Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Judging from the still in the story, Cleo’s friends Akila and Brian made the jump to the show, although Akila’s apparently gone from human with robot arm to fish-person with robot arm.

    Weirdly, to my eye the designs of the faces and the cats seem to have been complicated a bit from Maihack’s originals, where things are normally simplified for animation to reduce the production efforts; they look good, though. We’ll probably hear more about the series in the coming weeks, but for now it’s all very exciting for Maihack. We at Fleen congratulate him, and look forward to Cleo & friends making the leap to the US market.

Spam of the day:

I’m talking about people like this “CRAZY” nurse who discovered one of the biggest secrets of the mankind… It’s the same device that was used with great success by the US navy to propel their ships for millions of miles… without any fuel… and that big energy fat cats almost started another war for… just to hide it from the public.

Roping nurses (widely regarded as the most respected and trusted of professions) into your free energy bullshit is a new approach, I’ll give you that.

Some Few Items Of Interest

I had my top story of the day all laid out, full of righteous indignation ‘n’ such, and it got knocked out of the first slot by something more important. Partly because it’s a happy story instead of an enraging one. Partly because it’s something you can act on instead of something where we’re basically forced to be passive. But mostly because it’s #ComicsCamp:

Hi. Applications for our Comics Camp are now open!

That from Pat Race of Alaska Robotics, Camp Dad and guttersnipe most profane. You best believe my application is in, and there’s more than one of you I’ve spoken to this year about the necessity of you applying to come to Juneau next April. There’s s’mores, and boardgames, and music, and amazing food, and Northern Lights, confirmed guests, and an intentional community that will energize you for the year. There’s also financial aid offered if you’re unable to afford the costs. If you’re not sure if #ComicsCamp is for you¹, here’s some words² to help you decide.


As with so many things, The Onion had it right, and more than two decades ago: Disney being one of the few remaining corporations sucks ass for a bunch of reasons. It was end of the summer that we found out that pretty much every Fox-affiliated movie in development has been canceled, and Fox’s movie library is being memory-holed, and now some of the animated features that had been presumably unaffected have been pushed back.

Specifically, Nimona, godsdammit:

Nimona, the Blue Sky Studios feature based on Noelle Stevenson’s comic and directed by Patrick Osborne (Disney’s Feast), has been delayed over 10 months, from March 5, 2021, to January 14, 2022. Prior to Disney’s takeover, Fox had announced a Nimona release date of February 14, 2020.

That original release date means that Nimona is essentially done, ready, in the can and releasable. But it’s being pushed back so that various Disney/Pixar movies (including at least two that don’t even have titles yet) can go first. Because Disney is fundamentally hostile to anything it doesn’t own in its entirety. Because today is Mickey Mouse’s birthday and copyright will continue to be extended until the heat death of the fucking universe before Disney will ever see the cartoon rodent presented or shown in any way that doesn’t make them all the money. Because owning Star Wars, Marvel, The Simpsons, Pixar, and every other damn thing is never enough.

And we still don’t have seasons four and five of The Muppet Show released.

Fortunately, Nimona is going nowhere. You can buy a copy today, at least until Harper Collins (which is owned by News Corp, which is Fox) gets bought by Disney and they suppress it because somebody else dared to make it. We’re about fifteen years away from owning non-Disney media or stories of any kind is declared a crime; I’m prepared to circulate the samizdat as we speak.

Spam of the day:

Do THIS When A Gun Is Pointed At Your Head

If your secret isn’t cry and wet yourself, you’re lying.

¹ It is.

² About 35,000 words, to be exact.

There Were Giants In The Earth In Those Days

We are coming up on 15 years here at Fleen, more than 4000 posts, maybe a million and a half words, and there’s times when I still feel like a brand new hobbyist. In that time there have been people that do what I do for real who have encouraged me, linked to me, directed others to me, on those occasions that warranted it let me know that I had my head up my ass, told me what I was doing was worthwhile, and generally treated me like a peer. People like Scott McCloud, Heidi MacDonald, Dirk Deppey, Brigid Alverson, Johanna Draper Carlson.

Tom Spurgeon.

For as long as I’ve been aware that there was such a thing as writing about comics, Tom Spurgeon was the name that came to mind. His knowledge of the medium was encyclopedic, his love of comics was infectious, and the regard in which seemingly everybody in comics held him (and which he reciprocated) was boundless. Every time I caught a backlink from The Comics Reporter felt like getting a gold star, and him thinking me knowledgeable enough to pick my brains one day (and being kind enough to make me look smart) was a personal high point.

I could never get over the fact that I’m slightly older than him, because it seemed like he must have been one of those old grey eminences to have done everything he’d done, to know everybody and everything he knew, and to have had so damn much fun at it.

He never found comics to be a chore. He never shied away from a situation that absolutely needed another 250 words to get the idea across; he never hesitated to let a post consist solely of one perfect panel and a caption. He wrote prolifically, with great insight and affection for comics and the people that made them. He did his absolute damndest to build a world where not only comics would be seen as capital-A Art, but that the people that made them would be treated well by the mechanisms we’ve allowed ourselves to publish them.

We only met in person for the first time this past July; I fanboyed a little and he was gracious. We didn’t know each other well, and I’ll always regret that I’ll never have the chance to change that. But I suspect that he’d get a kick out something that ran through my head so I’ll share it now:

Last night I learned that he was dead — as I imagine most of us did — from a tweet that started We lost Tom Spurgeon today and I swear to you, my first thought was How? Guy’s like six-three, no way you can misplace him. The thought that I would ever live in a post-Spurge world took a little time to sink in.

We won’t be without his words, thanks to Karen Green and her colleagues, but after the scheduled updates stop the world of comics will be a little smaller — there’s one less giant it needs to make room for.

See you in the funny pages, Tom.

Spammers don’t get to share the day with The Spurge.