The webcomics blog about webcomics

For Those Wondering, I Made It To Juneau

But I am very, very tired.

But I am also very, very happy with all the people I am meeting/reconnecting with.

And, if you should ever get the chance to talk film with Kazu Kibuishi, you should do that.

Food and sleep now.

By Way Of Reminder

The chief — perhaps only drawback of the Alaska Robotics Minicon and Camp Weekend Extravapalooza in (duh) Alaska is that Alaska is very far away from my beloved New Jersey, and thus requires long travel days to get there and back. I shouldn’t complain too much about my pre-7:00am departure tomorrow; my return flight from Juneau features a departure time of (meaning I must be at the airport, luggage checked, through security, and seated prior to) five friggin’ thirty in the morning. That’s gonna hurt, but it’s not for another week.

  • Let this serve as a reminder, then, that over the next week I’ll be in transit for significant parts of three days, and in a place with no network for three more¹. And as long as we’re reminding things, let me remind you that the giveaway of a copy of DRIVE: Act One by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett — a US$50 value, if there are any left over after fulfillment; US$25 in softcover once they go up in the store — is still ongoing.

    To enter the giveaway, send an email with the subject GIMME BOOK to me (that would be gary) who has an account at the name of this here website, which is a dot-com. Entries are due by 30 April, and I’ll pick a winner at random after that.

  • And as long as we’re throwing out reminders, let this serve as the periodic reminder that the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco is closer every day to the time when they open up dedicated gallery and education space again. In the meantime, they continue their programs and involvement in the cultural life of San Francisco, with the latest announcement regarding their participation in the annual Queer Comics Expo:

    The fourth annual Queer Comics Expo will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 July, from 11:00am to 5:00pm at the SOMArts Cultural Center. This year’s QCE will be expanding exhibition space and programming², and will serve as a part of the Queer Cultural Center’s annual National Queer Arts Festival.

    Those interested in exhibiting, volunteering, or presenting programs at QCE, the application is here. You’ll be part of a San Francisco tradition, and help raise funds for CAM at the same time.

Spams of the day:
Gonna clear out the spambox before I head out, so that I’m not overwhelmed when I get back.

Someone may have ran a background check on you
This single nightly routine is killing you slowly and silently
Bags Lovers: 12 Hours To Save
Melania …
Pure Colon Detox

Oh no, they’re gonna find that dead guy in Reno; we humans call that sleep; this is a bunch of fancy designer purses and not laptop-protecting backpacks you guys are way off in your choice of topic; nnnnnope; and no way in hell I’m enabling images on that one. Thanks for playing!

¹ Y’all behave while I’m gone.

² The increased space means the programming tracks are approximately doubling over previous years.

Gonna Be Weird For Ten Days Or So

See I’m about to go camping in the woods with bears weirdos a whole bunch of creative people (and totally bears), which is going to make things here at Fleen a little irregular for a bit starting middle of next week. In the past when away, I’ve scheduled Best of Fleen posts, but you know what? Y’all approximate grownups, and you can manage without me for a bit. So here’s what’s going to happen from next week:

Wednesday will likely be brief, due to last-minute around-running. Thursday will largely be taken up with travel from New Jersey to Juneau. Friday will be helping with school & library visits, Saturday will be the actual one-day con, followed immediately by woods, s’mores, and no electronic signals of any kind until sometime the following Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday will be travel and recovery. But expect a mountain of posts after that about what wildly creative people (both in and out of comic) are up to. Kindly try not to have any huge news in or around webcomics while I’m gone and try not to let the world end. Deal? Deal.

In the meantime, I’ll note that Alaska is similar to Canada in many ways, and Canada (the whole damn country) has announced the latest nominees for Canada’s most prestigious comics recognition, the Doug Wright Awards (well, probably tied with the Joe Shuster Awards). Winners will be announced (as is custom) at TCAF in four weeks, and will be blessedly limited to three well-curated categories plus one hall of fame.

The Best Book Award, presented for the best book published in Canada (in English), will go to one or more of Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown, Big Kids by Michael DeForge, Burt’s Way Home by John Martz, The Envelope Manufacturer by Chris Oliveros, and Bird in a Cage by Rebecca Roher. The Doug Wright Spotlight Award, presented to a Canadian cartoonist deserving of wider recognition, will go to one or more of Jessica Campbell, GG, Nathan Jurevicius, Laura Ķeniņš, Brie Moreno, and Steve Wolfhard.

The Pigskin Peters Award, presented for the best experimental, unconventional or avant-garde comic, will go to one or more of Carpet Sweeper Tales by Julie Doucet, Draw Blood by Ron Hotz, Garbage by Matthew Reichertz, After Land by Chris Taylor, and The Palace of Champions by Henriette Valium. The inductee into the Giants of the North Canadian cartoonist hall of fame, is cartoonist and comics journalist Katherine Collins. Seemingly every other nominee¹ was published by Conundrum Press, Drawn & Quarterly or Koyama Press, highlighting the importance of small, editorial vision-driven presses.

Fleen wishes the best to all the nominees, and we’ll be back in a month to reveal the winners.

Spam of the day:

Save on your interstate move – free quote

After the last move I made — which was a year and a half before I started this blog — I swore to never move again, and that was less than 30 km distance. If I ever have to move interstate, kill me.

¹ It was actually 10 out of 16, which is even more impressive. The remaining work was self-published, or run via Floating World Comics or via the Latvian comics anthology kuš!

Various Things To Feel Good About

Last night was EMS night and there was a vehicle fire — we’re talking about the entire front end of a minivan fully involved before the firefighters dumped half an engine’s tank full of water (call it 1400 liters) and a goodly amount of foam on it — which affected the paved driveway it sat on, the vinyl siding of the house it was next to, both the car and the siding next door, and some overhead power lines. Quick knockdown, but today everything still tastes like plastic. How’s your day going?

  • Jeph Jacques, he of so many nicknames that it’s not worth trying to keep up with them all, has launched the pre-orders (let’s face it, this is just a formality on the way to funding) for Questionable Content book 6 (aka strips 1500 to 1799. Given the huge readership for QC, there’s a fairly high goal (US$55,000), which will be enough to stock the book for the foreseeable future in the store; at about eight hours in, just under 480 backers have put Jacques just under 33% of the way to goal; I expect to see that number creep up as people leave work and return home and pledge.

    Overfunding will result in the first three books (still in print in the older 23cm x 28cm trim size) reprinted at the current, small size (13cm x 18cm), so that those of you that purchased the first five books and are desperate to have them all line up on the shelf just so (or maybe never bought the first three) can have a matching set. For once, my obsessive completist attitude is under control and I will prevent myself from such a purchase. For once.

  • But the bigger news over Kickstarter way is the announcement of seven Thought Leaders, creators who between them cover the wide gamut of Kickstarter creative areas, and have run a total of 26 projects backed by 35,347 people for a total of US$3,010,897. And one of them is webcomics own C Spike Trotman, continuing her run on 2017 being the Year of Spike.

    It also probably explains her tweet last week about never doing SDCC on her dime again, given that KS will be likely sending her to top-tier shows to do panels (heck, she’s on any reputable Kickstarter panel of any show she’s at already). Additionally, she’ll be answering questions on Campus, Kickstarter’s message board for project-running advice. Add in all the ICC books seeing wider exposure (not to mention the new edition of Poorcraft, updated for 2017 realities). Oh, and another one of the Thought Leaders, comics fans? Hope Nicholson. Seems like somebody over at Kickstarter likes the words+pictures.

  • Speaking of the words+pictures, the fifth annual Cartoonist Studio Prizes (a joint venture of the Slate Book Review and the enter for Cartoon Studies have been awarded. As in past years, two prizes of US$1000 have been awarded, one to a print comic and one to a webcomic. Print honors go to Eleanor Davis for Libby’s Dad, and webcomic honors to Christina Tran for On Beauty. Both are more than worthy winners in standout fields¹.

    Should I point out that the nominees were majority women, as were both winners this year, and 50% of the winners across five years? I believe I should. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the future of comics rests on the shoulders of women — both those making comics and those reading them — and the sooner they take over the entire damn industry, the better.

Spam of the day:

Wohin ja hier gegen das Talent

Google Translate assures me this means Where, then, against the talent which I dunno, means something in some context or other. Pretty weak sauce for my spam filters, if you ask me.

¹ Particular respect to Representative John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, who were nominated for March: Book 3. This may be the only time they don’t win their respective fields this year.

Coming Soon To A Phone Screen Near You

One of those endings/beginnings days, you know?

  • Gordon McAlpin¹ has been in the webcomic game as long as anybody, putting together a just about exactly 1200 strip archvie over (by a peculiar corinsidence) just about exactly 12 years over Multiplex way. It’s been, to no small degree (and I mean this sincerely and without any malice whatsoever) the webcomics equivalent of For Better Or For Worse

    That is, it’s let characters age and grow and drift apart and come back together and sometimes leave never to return, with both the good and the venal prevailing at times, but always centered on the (in McAlpin’s case, improvised) family at the center². And, like FBOFW, there is an end to such stories, even though we know the characters will go on. Through nine books, McAlpin has let his love of movies and his characters show in equal measure … and when you’ve got that much love to give, why not have a tenth book?

    Multiplex (the webcomic) may have scrolled all the way to the end of the credits today, but there’s a teaser that comes after; Multiplex 10 (the animated short, and perhaps trailer for more animation) will be part prequel, part reboot, and, I’m guessing, all awesome. But while webcomics are easy to put together and toss out on the web to find an audience, animation of any quality is hell of work, and not the sort of thing you can dash off in the spare hours of the day. Enter Kickstarter, and the crowdfunding campaign for MUX10, which went live a bit more than 12 hours ago and is presently a bit more than a third of the way to its US$15,000 goal.

    There’s rewards and an impressive list of collaborators at the campaign, but what I’m most impressed by is the fact that overfunding will go not to stretch goals, but into making a better film … and possibly even more episodes. Give ‘er a look, and if you’ve ever enjoyed Multiplex during its original theatrical run, consider tossing McAlpin a buck or two, yeah?

  • Speaking of things finishing and restarting in other forms, this is your periodic reminder that our friends at the Cartoon Art Musuem are nearing their end of their time in the wilderness, and preparing to open in their new (hopefully permanent, but who can say with San Francisco real estate?) location. If you live in the Bay Area and wanted to tell CAM what a good job they’re doing you have a chance next weekend at the Silicon Valley Comic Con at the San Jose Convention Center, 21 – 23 April. As far as I can determine, it’s the only comic convention presented by The Woz, the ur-geek to whom all owe allegiance.

Spam of the day:

Expose someones past with this simple tool


¹ AKA The Nicknameless, having once been my sporting bet nemesis, but that was resolved long ago.

² Also in McAlpin’s case, there’s no requirement that you only ever marry the creepy dude you met in high school, the one with absolutely nothing to recommend him, and who brought moustachery into disrepute. Screw you forever, Anthony.

Congratulations To All The Nominees

I was reflected last week at the Goatsiversary party that given distance, a shift in work location, and general business, I haven’t seen Jon Rosenberg but half a dozen times since a tuxedo-clad weekend in Las Vegas five damn years ago when the National Cartoonists Society first recognized webcomics.

I’ve had the honor to participate in the (ever evolving) process of presenting nominees to the NCS membership for consideration; given that many of them don’t really understand the world of webcomics, this is a similar process that other divisions (notably, animation) undergo — a panel of experts makes recommendations to filter out the less worthy.

The NCS Awards for 2017 announced their nominees today, and I wanted to list ’em here. While I’m only involved in the process of webcomics (short form and long form), there are nominees in other divisions that are of interest to we here at Fleen, and I’m gonna mention ’em.

Online Comics — Short Form

Online Comics — Long Form

Some thoughts: I will acknowledge that no slate of nominees will ever perfectly reflect my preferences¹. Heck, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with three nominees and only three, or to choose between a perfect three if I could come up with them. While there are things I would see on the lists if I could, there’s nothing here that isn’t entirely worthy, and nothing here that I wouldn’t (were I a member of the NCS) vote for myself on any given day. I’m thrilled to see Ruben (appropriate name) Bolling’s Trump strips from The Nib, and if I might have preferred some other long form stories, I’m thrilled to see Gran recognized for the third time in the very short history of the awards.

I’m also taking it as a sign that the NCS membership (which skews old, white, and male) is changing considering that OMG Check Please is nominated — it’s a strip about gay college hockey players created by a young Nigerian-American woman — and is about as far from the experience of the old guard members as you can get. Change and progress come slow sometimes, but sometimes they leap and bound. I’ll also note that of the Online nominees, four of the six are by women, which is entirely representative of who’s doing good work these days. Now, in other parts of the ballot:

Magazine Feature/Illustration
Jon Adams is nominated; he did the stellar Chief O’Brien At Work webcomics.

Comic Books
Giant Days Max Sarin and Liz Flemming nominated for art; a day after the Tackleford Shakeup, it’s encouraging to see John Allison’s most whimsical work recognized. Stan Sakai also got nominated for Usagi Yojimbo, which is basically the book you want to lose to if you gotta lose.

Editorial Cartoons
Bolling again, and also Jen Sorenson for her work at The Nib, which is top-notch. Matt Bors, et. al., have turned The Nib into a powerhouse of editorial and reportorial cartooning in a remarkably short period of time.

Graphic Novels
Amazingly, Ghosts is not on the list. Can’t fault a slate that includes Rick Geary, Bryan Talbot, and Jules Feiffer, but I wouldn’t want to be the person that forget to send in copies of Raina’s latest.

The NCS Awards will be presented in Portland, Oregon on 27 May. Fleen wishes best of luck to all the nominees.

Spam of the day:

British Bank Branch [text entirely in Cyrillic]

Yes, you are entirely a branch of a bank in Britain. I completely believe you.

¹ Someday when I am dying and no longer fear the wrath of NCS enforcers² over breaking my promise of confidentiality, I’ll write a tell-all about all the comics I nominated that never made it to the ballot. I believe it will provide a revealing look at what my brain processes were like from the age of 45 or so onwards.

² You ever see former NCS President (and driving force in the establishment of the online division awards) Tom Richmond? Guy could bench-press a Buick. His individual biceps weigh more than I do.

Cool Things At MoCCA Fest 2017

So many people have written about MoCCA Fest 2017, I’m just going to mention some things that I enjoyed hearing/hearing about/discussing. No particular order.

  • Meredith Gran tells me that she’s got 15-20 story pages of OctoPie left to go; everybody is getting wrapped up but concedes that there will be minor characters whose arcs aren’t completely finished; given sufficient desire, she said she could spend another year working all of those resolutions. Somewhat similarly, she’s still deciding on what her next project will be. Me, I want Manuel the cat, Olly’s snotty nephew, and the Rock Lobster to fight crime together in New Orleans.
  • Gene Yang, Damian Duffy, Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and Jonathan W Gray had a hell of smart discussion about the need for diversity in comics to start the programming track. Ironically, this came one day after the Marvel pronouncement about diverse characters not selling, and they were having very little of that claim. Bonus points to Duffy; when Gray threw out an open question about how to make comics more diverse, he replied Well, as the white male, let me solve that racism for you … to big (if slightly knowing) laughs.

    Yang, by the way, is the consummate professional; we spoke very briefly at SDCC last summer and he both recognized me and asked how I was doing when we caught each other’s eyes. I asked him what it’s like being an Official Genius and he noted I still have to do the dishes. I told him to try using his Ambassador For Young Peoples Literature credentials — they must surely offer some kind of diplomatic immunity from sink-based chores.

  • George O’Connor and I spoke at decent length about our love of Greek myths; I’m constantly impressed by his ability to take stories that are fundamentally dark, filled with horrific punishments and hubris and death, and make them accessible (without losing that edge of menace) to young readers. He replied that he started reading them at that age (drawn in by the idea of monsters; his design for the hecatonchires as fractal horrors is really inspired) and he turned out okay.

    He’s done some deep dives into the entire corpus of the mythic tradition, too; there’s thousands of variations and contradictions, cobbled together across a millennium or so of varying oral cultic traditions, and he’s trying to come up with a single narrative structure that reconciles them all.

    You can see his approach to getting all the different stories to line up in how the tone of characters has shifted. The first book had avenging young badass Zeus; the most recent volumes have him more harried and put-upon by the responsibilities of running a very fractious family. He’s managed to bring these deities down to a human level¹, which I expect to lead to great things in the next volume — Hermes has become, over the last few books, a smartass verging on bro with a side of complete dick. It’s gonna be hilarious.

  • Lucy Bellwood was my first stop of the morning, and we spoke about tying Turk’s head knots, about whether or not the US Coast Guard training vessel USS Eagle counts as a tall ship (Bellwood: It totally does), and about the Riso demo station that was set up at the far end of the hall. I always flatter myself that I have a feeling of what autobio comickers are like before I meet them, but in Bellwood’s case that intuition was pretty much dead on. She’s a woman that loves the open water, lines in her hand, sheets filled with wind above her head.
  • Brigid Alverson always make vague plans to meet up at shows we’ll both be at, and never follow through. This is never a problem, because we invariably bump into each other at some point and get caught up then. This time it was coming out of the diversity panel, and we spent a pleasant hour having lunch at the hotel bar, with Johanna Draper Carlson joining us. Less talk about comics, more about other stuff. If you ever meet Alverson, ask her to tell you her One Time It Was My Job To Keep Stephen Hawking Happy For A Couple Of Days At A Conference story. It’s great.
  • By the time we got back to the show floor from MoCCA, it had become a wall-to-wall sea of humanity; it was wonderful to see so many people there to search out new comics, but man! I made it back to Evan Dahm&rsquo’s table and managed to introduce him to Mark Siegel (his editor at :01 Books; they’d never met face to face); I have a suspicion that Dahm’s forthcoming Island Book (due early 2019) will be but the first of his collaborations with :01; they’re a perfect fit together.

    As I noted to Siegel, they have a full slate of books with tween or early teen girl protagonists who have adventures!, but they aren’t aimed at girl readers. They’re just aimed at kids of a certain age, and it’s a hell of a valuable thing for boys to read Zita The Spacegirl, or Time Museum, or Space Scouts, and see heroes that don’t look just like them. And what’s Island Book about? A tween or preteen girl (or equivalent, since we aren’t talking about humans here) protagonist that has adventures. Why should kids get all the girl heroes?

  • There was also a big push at the :01 table for the second Nameless City book from Faith Erin Hicks (The Stone Heart, and hey, look at that: tween or early teen girl co-protagonist that has adventures); today is its book birthday, and also the announcement that the trilogy will become an animated series. We’ll give that the full attention it deserves tomorrow.
  • Sadly, the crowd prevented me from making it back to aisle H, and a print that I saw early in the day and had wanted to purchase. It’s by a young woman named Olga Andreyeva, and it was the result of an accidental pigment spill that she turned into something really unique and beautiful. The rest of her portfolio is great, but the sort of thing that others are doing — videogame-inspired art of great imagination and technical skill, but familiar.

    Eve is spare, conveys a sense of frozen time, and delivers an emotional wallop. It’s absolutely the best thing I saw on the floor this year, and I’m very sorry I didn’t get back to purchase it. Hopefully a few of you go take a look at it (not to mention the rest of her portfolio) and Andreyeva gets more than just my missed sale out of it.

Spam of the day:

This new kitty litter is like having a veterinarian check daily! IT AUTOMATICALLY TURNS DIFFERENT COLORS BASED ON PREVENTABLE HEALTH ISSUES!

On the Top Ten List of things I want to do ever, checking out rainbow-colored magic kitty litter appears approximately zero times.

¹ Not that any religion has ever invented gods that really behaved better than their worshippers.

MoCCA 2017 Will Have To Wait

That’s because things that are more time-sensitive than MoCCA Fest 2017 recaps happened since last we spoke.

Okay, one tidbit from MoCCA, but mostly because it’ll make FSFCPL happy. Thanks to the good graces of :01 Books editor Mark Siegel I was very briefly introduced to the marvelous Pénélope Bagieu, who was promoting her newest book. Siegel shared :01 will be publishing an English omnibus of her two-volume collection, Les Culottées. The American edition will be titled Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World (available March 2018), and :01 is pretty much her American publisher going forward. Now if they can just get Boulet’s Notes series, I can die happy.

Spam of the day:

Our team works hard everyday to ensure that we are providing the best possible service for all our customers.
Cordially, Derek Customer Service Representative, Slut Roulette

Man, Derek’s got the best business card ever.

¹ Whom I had never met before; we had a lovely bar-shout/chat, more discussion the next day, and will undoubtedly have more to discuss at the Alaska Robotics Comics Camp later this month.

² That reminds me: Otter, I spent some time at MoCCA talking with George O’Connor, and he’s going to be looking up Greek Key because he really liked your take on Helen. He’s also all-in on your next Hope Blackwell novel because I mentioned the magic word: chupacabra.

Gettin’ Ready For The Goatsiversary

No picture up here so it can be a surprise when you click on that first link.

Jon Rosenberg¹. The Peculier Pub. Tonight,from 6:00pm until closing, more than likely. Twenty years of cartoons, including a damn fine bit of ethical cartooning re: Barron Trump just today.

I’m bringing cake and taking photos. Hope to see you there.

Spam of the day:

Enlarge your breast with Miracle Bust. Click here

Mmmmmnope. Nope, nope, nope, nope.

¹ Obligatory disclaimer: Jon provides my hosting and we share a birthday. Thanks for the hosting, Jon, and remember: I’ll always be older and therefore suckier than you, youngster.

To Be In Toronto, In The Springtime

The thing about Chris Butcher is, is not only is he the nicest guy in comics (my liver will attest to his legendary generosity when proximal to a bar), not only has he helped run two of the greatest comics stores in the world (although one was recently closed by the forces of condo development), he is the driving force behind TCAF, which has become the destination for the serious side of comics.

Case in point: this year’s show (13 and 14 May 2017) will encompass three locations. The main events will return to the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street in Toronto), with satellite programming at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville (also the official show hotel, 90 Bloor Street East) and the Masonic Temple (which these days is a performance venue, 888 Yonge Street). If that weren’t enough there will also be an associated academic conference (The Canadian Society for the Study of Comics/La Sociéte canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée) on the 11th and 12th, and a day full of professional programming for librarians and educators also on the 12th.

Special guests will be coming from across Canada and the US, as well as from Italy, France, the [U]K, Croatia, Norway, Denmark, Japan, and Vietnam, with some 400 exhibitors turning the TRL into the coolest place in the Great White North for the weekend. Anniversary celebrations will be held for publishers Koyama Press (10 years), 2D Cloud (10 years) Image Comics (25 years), and NBM Publishing (40 years), along with a special pavilion of German comics and creators (which will continue with the biannual Comic-Salon Erlangen in Germany). And debuts! There will be book debuts from Canadians Jillian Tamaki, Guy Delisle, and Jeff Lemire, along with debuts of books about Canada from at least three (I lost count, to tell you the truth) international artists.

Did we mention that Butcher likes webcomickers? Webcomics types at the show will include Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Sarah Becan, Kory Bing, Hannah Blumenreich, Box Brown, Danielle Corsetto, Gemma Correll, Evan Dahm, Blue Delliquanti, Gigi DG, Meredith Gran, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Holmes, Amanda Lafrenais, Pascalle Lepas, Boum, Matt Lubchansky, Mike Maihack, Maki Naro, Diana Nock, Rosscott, Ryan North, Mad Rupert, Ngozi Ukazu, Ru Xu, Sophie Yanow, whoever TopatoCo brings, and the zubiquitous Jim Zub.

We haven’t even seen the programming tracks yet.

And for all of this, what treasure does Butcher demand of you? What prize is worth it to be around this much pure comicking goodness? Not one thin Canadian dime. As in all past iterations, TCAF is free and open to the public, so get yourself to the T-O the second week of May and get to wandering. Chris’ll be sure to say hi if he sees you.

Spam of the day:

We can write any paper on any subject within the tightest deadline.

Dude, I handled the non-nerd parts of my college career with aplomb. By this time tomorrow I can bang out 8 – 10 pages on anything from the parallels between Pseudolus and Animal House to why the most significant driver of the quick victory in the first Gulf War was not smart munitions or stealth, but improved communications technology¹. Why on earth would I pay you to do it?

¹ Also how All Quiet On The Western Front is essentially a precursor to yaoi fanfic, being composed mostly of gay porn. I actually wrote the beginning of that one and submitted it.