The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Refuse To Believe This Is A Coincidence

In the week since I declared a return of the Six-F, I’ve had a gratifying response from readers (and friends of readers, and friends of friends of readers …) who have sent me their receipts from donating to The Trevor Project to support LGBTQ youth in crisis.

Thankfully, the week has seen a broad swath of society push back against the sloppy, steamy tweets of the man inexplicably elected to the presidency, and his pathetic little tantrum against some of the most vulnerable Americans seems to have stalled. I believe with all my heart that’s because people are willing to say No and back it up with the money to fight this unrelenting assholery.

Last time around, The Trevor Project saw US$305 in reader donations over two months, rounded up to US$500 for the match, because Round Numbers are good. This time, in only a week’s time, you donated US$420 — exactly one weedsworth, no way that’s a coincidence — which I will be rounding up to the classiest of all class money amounts: We lookin’ at a six hundo.

One other thing: I neglected this time to contact donors and get explicit directions on how to identify them in this post so I will only be using two names (one included explicit directions on how to be identified, the other self-identified on social media); the others are going to be listed by initials, but anybody that donated can contact me and I’ll update the list.

Thank you then, to (in no particular order) LP, DH, LB, MV, MC, Marian Call and her LA concertgoers, and Pierre Lebeaupin. The donation is being made in the name of Donald Trump, so that he can be sent a nice thank you card for sparking some good to offset the monumental damage that he’s done.

Spam of the day:

Visit the 20th Largest Island on Earth!

I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but that’s probably not how I would describe Ireland when spamming people with fake travel resources. Just sayin’.

August Already? That’s Unpossible!

Well, I guess time continues forward at a rate of one minute per minute after all. Today being the first of the month, let me remind you that you have until 11:59pm EDT tomorrow, 2 August 2017, to email me a copy of your donation receipt to The Trevor Project, which I will match. Last time we raised US$500 in matching funds (rounded up from US$305) and I’d like to exceed that if at all possible this time around.

As of now, we’re at US$360 in receipts sent. If I could make a suggestion? All of the super cool Kickstarts that you’re backing right now? Pick one, and donate an amount equal to just the shipping charge. If just one out of every ten of you did that, we’d be into the thousands of dollars and my budget for the next month will be happily blown. I know that Fleen readers are, in general, the sort of people that would make Mr Rogers proud and happy. I know you’ve got this.

  • I didn’t know how much I wanted a Jess Fink guest comic at Oh Joy, Sex Toy until I saw it. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as broadly as when I got to the panel that said, quote, SO you want to draw DOWNTOWN KISSES, followed by art tips to make oral sexytimes look better. Thanks, Jess, Erika, and Matt!
  • I confess, Chris Yates not boothing with Dumbrella for the comics shows the past couple of years means that I haven’t kept as close an eye on his Baffler! puzzles as I should. He just released a tranche of new ones, bringing the total number of brain-numbers up to three thousand, nine hundred and thirty-six. As Big Round Numbers tend to bring out Yates’s most extravagant work, look for the imminent Baffler! #4000 to feature about a dozen levels, multiple sub-puzzles, and a solving time measured in fortnights.
  • TCAF remains one of the very best shows on the continent, and it’s never too early to start planning for May 2018. News went out today by means of the Twitter machine that applications will be open starting Monday, 14 August, until the end of October. My experience? Lots more people want to exhibit than the Toronto Reference Library can accommodate, so get your applications in early is my advice. Sign up for their newsletter if you need a reminder to check out the process rules come Monday after next.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to make a bookstore run to pick up Abby Howard’s new dinosaur book, Dinosaur Empire!, which releases today. Heck, yeah.

Spam of the day:

Can’t see tiny buttons? Get a senior phone

I’ma tell you exactly what I told the Medicaid scammer that called yesterday, thinking me much older than I am: I can see a church by daylight. Besides, aren’t there enlarged button dialer apps for all the phones now?

Kicking, Starting, And Suchlike

How’s Thursday treating you? Good? Good. Let’s see what’s up with a Kickstart that wrapping next week, one that’s starting next week, and some good feels along the way.

  • Lucy Bellwood, distilled essence of enthusiasm and Adventure Cartoonist, is getting ready to wrap the campaign for 100 Demon Dialogues, and is rapidly closing in on doubling her US$25K goal¹. To celebrate, she’s holding a wrap party for backers on Monday evening, to coincide with the conclusion of funding:

    If you’re in Portland, OR, come along to the Base Camp Brewing Company outdoor patio next Monday, July 31st from 8-10pm for a group hangout. Base Camp is all-ages friendly till 10pm, so younger friends are welcome, and there are delicious food carts right outside for those who want to get dinner. I’ll bring the demon prototype so you can all discover just how soft he is (VERY SOFT) and maybe even some original art.

    “But wait,” I hear you cry. “I’M NOT IN PORTLAND.”

    Never fear! You can join us for the last 30 minutes of the campaign via a neat feature called Kickstarter Live. It’s an online video stream where you can tune in and join us at the party, ask questions, release glad cries of victory, and other stuff. That’ll go live at 9:30pm and last until the end of the campaign at 10.

    This link will take you to the live stream.

    Wish I could be there; attendees, please alternately berate and kindly pet the demon plush for me.

  • Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett hasn’t had a Sheldon book out for a while, but that’s about to change. Over the past, I dunno, year and a half, two years, he’s been doing one-off strips of wildlife anatomy, as seen here in the latest iteration. He’s got dozens of these now, and he’s about to launch a Kicker to make a book out of ’em come Tuesday morning. So basically, party with Bellwood and wake up with Kellett.

    I’ve seen some of the Kickstarter video, and some of the process pages — the entire thing is going to look like the sort of very serious scientific treatise that they would release about a hundred years ago before they really knew how things worked. I once went through a chemistry text that my grandfather had saved from high schoolwhere much of the Periodic Table was missing and they spoke about the new a-tom-ic theories with trepidation. It’ll be like that, only with anachronistic references to guacamole and Grindr. It’s gonna be a hoot.

Spam of the day:

*_*Refinance Today and Save!*_*

Dude, my credit score is like 849. You want me to refi, you’re gonna have to offer me negative 2.3% interest.

¹ The FFFmk2 would place her about US$70K +/- 14K, or US$56K – 84K; I think the likelihood is that she’ll fall into that range once the top-up purchases via Backerkit kick in. For example, I intend to supplement my Fancy Pants Package (that’s what it’s called) with another five or so copies of the book, for gifting.

I Think Paul Will Understand

There’s so much going on that’s infuriating me today, and I want to talk about webcomics, I want to share news about stuff that will bring people joy, but I’ve also got to take today to take a stand. So quickly, then:

Paul Southworth has been a favorite of all of us here at Fleen for years and through multiple comics — the lost and lamented Ugly Hill (even the Wayback Machine is unable to provide a good run of that strip), the first half of Not Invented Here, and the intermittent (and very funny) Lake Gary. The latter has (as of Monday) returned with a Patreon behind it, and a message from the creator this morning:

I’ve never done anything like this before and I feel weird about it! Very much appreciate any and all contributions to my dumb comics :)

It also feels weird and wrong to announce or enjoy ANYTHING when the US is rotting from the inside but there’s no good time to do it anymore

I have a tendency to veer into darkness and soapboxing, but my mission statement with this project is “Keep it light, weird and funny.”

Because that’s what *I* need right now.

I’m sectioning off this ONE space for silliness. Use the other 99.9% of your week to call your representatives and beg for your lives. <3

Go read Lake Gary, and with reference to the other 99.9% of your time …

This morning Donald Trump engaged in an unconscionable attack on transgender members of the US military (and, by framing their existence as both other and unnecessary, every other trans person in existence). Thankfully, his authoritarian pronouncement is seeing fairly immediate and unambiguous pushback from even the most right-wing members of the Senate, and inchoate gibberings do not change the law of the land. He can neither govern by diktat nor by tweet.

So while the policies of the military (and the status of trans members of the same) may be unchanged for the moment, the attack will likely provoke members of his cult to engage in similar behavior, and will make the lives of trans folks even harder than they already are.

Fuck that, and fuck him.

I’m declaring a revival of the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund. Last time around, the Six-F raised US$500 for The Trevor Project, and in response to this atrocity we’re matching donations again.

Send me a screenshot of your donation receipt to The Trevor Project by 11:59pm EDT on 2 August 2017 (that’s a little more than a week from now) and I will match it. Any amount helps — in the last go-around, I matched single contributions to various causes ranging from US$10 to more than US$1000. Give a single dollar and I’ll match it. Give six hundo¹ and I’ll match it. Spread the word, let your friends know, cost me some money.

And since that steaming shitgibbon cares about nothing but himself, let’s let him know precisely how unloved he is.

Spam of the day:

The Dirty Sex Secret No Girl Will Ever Tell You …

But you’re telling me, Jessica. Are you betraying the secret?

¹ Reminder: Six hundred dollars is class money.

Joy And Sadness

Comics is the best thing ever, and comics will break your heart, sometimes in the same moment. On Sunday morning, I met up with Pat Race and we went to see if we could get into the Art of Steven Universe panel. Thanks to exhibitor credentials we were there mere minutes after the crowds were let in, and the line was already five times longer than could be accomodated. Bang at 10:00am, Rebecca Sugar and Ian Jones-Quartey arrived at the room, flanked by three enormous dudes in black suits and earpieces. They entered the room to a roar of welcome.

But in that five second window, Jones-Quartey and I locked eyes and nodded. In the past he’s been kind enough to drop by the Dumbrella booth to tell me about what happened in panels that I couldn’t get into, and I met Sugar for the first time years ago when they chose the booth as a meeting point. That couldn’t happen anymore, at least not until there’s a new fantastically popular thing that people move onto; setting foot on the floor of the show that they’ve attended for so long would immediately cause a stampede and people would almost certainly get hurt. Success has cut them off from a place they called their own; that necessary isolation will pass eventually, hopefully in a gentle landing rather than a crash, but in the meantime there’s got to be a tinge of sadness there¹.

I was lucky enough to spend time with both Meredith Gran and John Allison at various times over the show; one just wrapped a long-running acclaimed webcomic, and the other is in the process of wrapping up an even longer-running acclaimed series of webcomics. There were plenty of tinges to go around as they spoke about what’s next, but since I didn’t explicitly get them on the record, I’ll wait for them to share their news themselves. I will say that Allison seems adamant: when the Tacklefordverse ends later this year, it’ll be all-Desmond, all the time, in every medium known to present or future science. I predict in ten years the largest booth on the floor will be from the Desmondland division of DesCo. All hail Desmond.

And then it was done and we made our ways apart — pixelsmiths and mad toymakers, semireputable cardgame mongers, various teens, itinerant musicians, Alaskans, Brooklynites, Texans, Canadians, booth monkeys, voice actors, cartoonists, and other dregs of society. My people. They’ll convene again at various times and places, and the tinges will continue, each success extracting its price, nothing ever being entirely good or entirely bad². Godspeed, you crazy creators and fans. Get where you’re going safely.

Stuff Got:
Nidhi Chanani very kindly gifted me with a copy of her latest art collection, and Shing Yin Khor a small print of a cordless drill from her Shop Class series. We had not met before and she is rad. Oh, and Pat Race went and stood in the line for the Steven Universe 7″ soundtrack and gave me one. Pat’s the best.

In addition to Joy and Sadness up there, Team Zissou were rocking it; I didn’t ask if they had the Speedos or not.

Spam of the day:

china pregnant women are already contending last Olympic ice hockey

Ohhhhh … kay.

¹ Later that day I recalled how Sugar has said that Steven Universe‘s Beach City is based on the seaside town her family would vacation at when growing up. I have no doubt that it would be impossible for her to wander the boardwalk and beach these days; it would take hours or less for word to spread and the fans to descend.

² Except for the squeals of delight from the Monster Milk booth when fans of Dream Daddy realized that Nate MacDonald was the announcer from the game. When he boomed DATE THAT DAD at one point, the joy was infectious.

It’s Never Too Pink

The parenthetical was Raina’s doing. When the pitch came to do a panel called Read Like A Girl: Middle-Grade Fiction For Girls, she wasn’t having any of the gendering of stories. Why is it that girls are expected to bea ble to read and enjoy books with boys as protagonists, but books with a girl in the lead are only for girls? She insisted that that title incorporate boys, and that the topic of the panel not be stories for girls.

Read Like A Girl: Middle-Grade Fiction For Girls (And Boys) took place in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the top floor of the San Diego Central Library; Brigid Alverson (of many, many things), my fellow pixel-stained wretch, was moderating.

Raina Telgemeier (queen of the fourth grade), Victoria Jamieson (Rollergirl, the forthcoming All’s Faire In Middle School), Molly Ostertag (Strong Female Protagonist, the forthcoming The Witch Boy), Nidhi Chanani (the forthcoming Pashmina), and Jenni Holm (Babymouse, Sunny) were the panel. The optics of having all women at the front of the room talking about girls reading was quickly and efficiently squashed — as Chanani put it later, It’s a book, it doesn’t have a gender.

[Editor’s note on presentation: italics like that last line represent as direct a quote as I was able to manage while transcribing in real time; plain text indicates that I am expressing the gist of what the speaker said, but it’s a paraphrase.)

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself; that discussion actually came up in the middle of the hour, but the all-genders inclusive nature of the panel was apparent from the beginning, so I’ve brought it forward. Let’s rewind to the start. Alverson opened by talking about growing up partially in the UK; the chief difference being that in the US, there were no comics for girls¹ but in the UK there were. Furthermore, all the best comics being done now are by (and if you have to assign a gender, for) women. So what did the panelists grow up reading?

Raina:² It was comic strips, all by dudes, then For Better Or For Worse leapt off the page and grabbed me.
Jamieson: Same as Raina; I didn’t read a comics as a kid, but I read a lot of books; I was missing realistic stories in comics, but I found those kinds of stories in prose. I read a lot of Ramona.
Ostertag: I didn’t know about comics other than strips, but I read so many books; the fantasy genre had a lot of female authors and characters that didn’t exist in comics. I felt like Superhero comics are not for girls, there’s not good female representation, I should not go there.

Chanani: It was all newspaper comics. The Garfield books were the most used books in the house.
Holm: I’m the middle of five kids, all the others are boys, so there were a lot of comics in our house. Dad had old collections of Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, there were all the Peanuts collections. I also read a lot of classic superhero Marvel and DC; growing up house of all boys, I figured I could do everything they could do, but in comics there was no female equivalent of Peter Parker who had clothes on. I couldn’t find characters I could relate to.

Alverson: The others read newspaper strips, but Jenni you and I read comics.
Holm: The person I most related to was Swamp Thing: not a boy, not a girl, just a swamp.
Ostertag: Looking at comic books, I felt even as a kid it was not for me. It was all very male gazey and put me off wanting to be involved. It wasn’t aggressive, there was just nothing there for me.

Alverson then asked why the panelists are all making comics (when they had little good representation to tell them that they could), rather than writing prose.
Raina: I don’t know how to words. [laughter] I started making comics when I was ten; I started reading them at nine, then my fingers wouldn’t stop. I don’t know how to make stories without pictures. We didn’t have emoji when I was growing up, we had to find ways to express things in pictures.
Chanani: I’m not closed to writing prose sometimes, but comics works for what I want to make. I make art, I grew up reading prose, maybe I’ll do an illustrated book.

Holm: I think I’m the only one on the panel that can’t draw. I suckered my brother into drawing for me and that’s how you make comics. [laughter]
Jamieson: I’m here because of Raina; until I read Smile I never said yes this is something I could do, these are the stories I could tell. It gave me the permission to do things.
Raina: When I first saw your comics I wondered how have we not known each other our entire lives.
Ostertag: Comics are so wonderful to create; you can just flip it open and the heart of the story is there. When I got into it, I didn’t consider the industry, I just wanted to make them.

There was a great followup to Jamieson’s point at this time; the kinds of stories the panelists create didn’t exist for girls when they were each growing; they didn’t exist for boys until recently either.
Alverson: Raina, you’re kind of the prototype. How did you come up with Smile, what was your Smile?

Raina: For Better Or For Worse, BONE, Lynda Barry, the Optic Nerve comics by Adrian Tomine … all these different sources, but it led me to making something that was entirely me. I just knew I had this story, I needed to tell it, I’m a cartoonist, I’m doing this. I thought I was just going to run short stories on Girlamatic, but I decided to do a page a week and tell this longform story. I was telling a story about my dental work, but my readers were really interested in my friends, my relationship with my parents, and their interests really informed the direction of the story. The relationships are what make the kids relate to the story. I think all of us on the panel are writing about relationships.

Alverson: That’s something that did exist in prose, but not comics. All the good comics right now, the interesting ones, are by and for women. That raises the question in the title [Editor’s note — told you we’d get back to it], what about the boys? The cliche is that boys won’t read comics about girls, is that true?

Raina: There’s so much discrimination about what boys will read and what girls will read.
Jamieson: You asked where are the comics for boys, but they’re here. I have boys read the books, I know boys read the books, I go to school visits and they tell me they love them. Much like Calvin And Hobbes was about a boy but not for boys, I think our stuff is the same. Parents have the stereotype that you put a girl on the cover my son won’t read it but as soon as the kid gets their hands on it, they read it.

Chanani: It’s a book, it doesn’t have a gender, so why are we assigning a gender to something that doesn’t need it? Let the kids pick what they want to read. The gatekeepers have to step away, the kids don’t care.
Holm: Babymouse is very pink. What happened was we created Babymouse specifically for girls, but this was 2005, so we were boldly going for the girls, and our own prejudices assumed it was too much pink for the boys, but the boys do not care. I think sometimes the parents have problems, but I think Babymouse is pretty genderbendy; she sometimes sees herself as a boy mouse.
Ostertag: When I made [The Witch Boy], I made it about a boy wants to do what all the women in his family do: he wants to be a witch. I think girls have a lot of role models that tell them they can cross gender norms, be tomboyish, but I don’t think boys get to be more feminine, kind, emotionally aware. I think we need more books about sensitive boys and to destigmatize that.

Alverson: One of the things about children’s books is there are themes you see over and over again, but you each bring something different to it. There’s always a tension between the universal theme and what makes it specific. Can you talk about what sets your book apart?

Ostertag: It gets down the characters, who they end up being. I love to make stories with a point, then you develop it and the characters become more than somebody there to illustrate a point. It becomes a place you want to go and stay in.
Alverson: So basically making a really cool world.
Jamieson: That’s maybe where I start too. I was playing roller derby and loved it, wanted to share that. Same with the new book; I worked the Renaissance Faire in high school, and I wanted to create a world that readers would want to be in and never leave.

Raina: I do the exact opposite. It started with Oh braces, that sucks, but then kids know they suck and it becomes about finding ways to show kids they’re not alone.
Holm: I’m very nostalgic, and wanted to show the nostalgia for my 70s childhood, but also wanted to hang out with people I love. So the grandfather in Sunnys Side Up is based on my grandfather and the book is about having the best summer vacation hanging out in the retirement community in Florida with all old people. I’ve always been obsessed with that approach.

Chanani: I grew up with a variety of information and influences about India; I was born there, but came here when I was four months old. I wanted to put in all the ideas and history and culture of the India I wish I’d grown up in. Growing up here I internalized all those Feed The Children ads and everybody in them is malnourished and everything is terrible. In reality it’s all of those things, the good and bad. In the color pages I put all the things I love about India.

Alverson: Some of the books I loved when I was growing up, the Little House books for example, haven’t held up at all. How do you add a visual aspect to keep things universal, or do you care somebody will read this in 30 years and it’ll be dated?

Ostertag: I read very old books when I was a kid, things that were not contemporary, and they still resonated for me. Comics you can read quickly, but still go back and read for detail. I put a fidget spinner in my book and it’ll be dated before it’s out but I don’t care.
Raina: Kids don’t write, adults do. The book is already a generation or two removed from the reader. The feelings people have don’t change over generations. As far as the look of a graphic novel, will the look be dated, well, I’m writing memoir, and this is what it was like.

Jamieson: Hopefully, that won’t distract them too much, the truth of the characters will be what they focus on.
Ostertag: Kids read a lot of fantasy, and reading that they have to acclimate to a world that’s not what they grew up in. It’s the same for looking at things from another time.
Chanani: The idea that you can make something truly timeless is impossible, something will always stick out. Better to just focus on the characters.

Alverson: Lightning Round! What are you reading now that you really like for children?
Raina: Archie is like therapy.
Jamieson: Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder.
Ostertag: The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore.
Chanani: Ghost by Jason Reynolds.
Holm: I’m totally inappropriate, I read romance.
Ostertag: Do you read a lot of things outside the genre? Me too.
Raina: Wolf In The Snow by Matthew Cordell.

Alverson: When I was a kid, books all came in series. When you look at your books, do you think about what the next book is going to be, do you want to move in a new direction, or do you want to stay with the characters for three books?
Chanani: The only thing that gets me through the art is that next book. Writing that next book in my head gets me through the painful moments of drawing. It’s a really nice escape, and gives me a lot of time to live with those characters.
Ostertag: I do an ongoing webcomic, so that’s a really long story, it’s going to take a long time to get to the end. Having a self-contained story in a book is a nice break for me.

Jamieson: I feel like when I’m writing a book I’m in it for twelve hours a day and when I’m done I have this awful empty void in me. It’s really hard to move on to the next book. I’m reticent to do sequels right away, but maybe in the future.
Raina: People just immediately wanted Smile 2³, but I don’t have another braces story, then I realized what they wanted was the characters of me and family. I really can’t go past the age of 14, 15, 16, so it’s hard to go back to that period again and again and reiterate again.

From the floor: In your own lives, how do you try to flip the script and get out of the one note of gender cliche?
Ostertag: I try to be hyperaware of tropes; gender and fiction is something I’m really aware of, and I try to constantly examine why you choose to gender a character a certain way, then I flip it. The reader can’t expect that if a character is visually feminine they should act feminine. You can make a book where people come away with a more nuanced view of gender.
Chanani: I was committed to making all these strong women in my book, I did all this pre-writing that won’t make it into the book, all their backstories, all this detail. But what I failed to do was to write anything about the men in the book and my editor said it might be nice if one of them was kind of nice and had something to balance their flaws. Because I absorbed so many one-dimesional characters that were women and I was fighting that, I had to be told I was doing that to the men.

From the floor: Do you have any advice about helping students create their own things that resonate with them? Any really vivid spark moments ?
Holm: I think kids are very visual now. Writers get writers block, so what I’ve started to do is look at my kids and their book reports, and I say let’s doodle it out, anything you want, just stick figures, sit with that for a little bit. When you can visually see the beginning, middle, and end, it helps you write and takes some of the pressure off from where they want every word to be perfect. Just give them scrap paper.
Ostertag: I started with a message and moral, scenes and settings I wanted to draw, then built the story around that. There’s an incredible amount of creativity in fanfiction, you can find inspiration anywhere.
Jamieson: As an exercise in schools, we sent a two minute timer and I wrote I REMEMBER at the top of a sheet of paper, and they just call out anything. After a couple of those, you have ideas you can start.
Raina: I do the same thing, prompt them with WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

From the floor: When you set out to write these books are they geared to middle grades? When you write them is that the intent or getting the story out and then seeing if it fits?
Jamieson: It’s easy for me because I have a four year old and an eleven year old. I can think as an eleven year old, how I was as an eleven year old.
Holm: Don’t worry about the words, just write it, they can look it up. There’s this thing called a dictionary.

[Editor’s note: Like I said when listing out the panels for the show there was a lot of smart in this room. Oh, and because it would have taken too long to put the entire context in, you get one completely contextless quote from Jenni Holm that brought the room down: I think it’s strep, maybe!]

¹ Alverson and I are not that far apart in age; had she been of reading age a decade earlier, she would have found comics aimed at girls. Remember that folks like Kirby did romance comics until they started dying off and thus he had to reinvent the superhero genre to keep working.

² And a reminder about the Fleen Manual Of Style: when referred to by one name, Raina Telgemeier is styled Raina, not Telgemeier.

³ Smile 2: Smile Harder?

Heading To The Airport, Not Springing For Inflight WiFi

And the hotel cut of my WiFi before checkout, what the hell?

Big posts to finish out the SDCC reporting coming in the next few days. As always, should anything happen to me as a result of air travel, avenge my blood.

Joy In Comics

At the end of show hours I thought this was going to be a short post, but … well, you’ll see.

Saturday was commerce, commerce, and more commerce, to the point that I didn’t really get off the floor and and only had one good (albeit brief) circuit away from the booth. The Cards Against Humanity folks that have shared the Dumbrella booth have nearly sold their stock through and during the days closeout told us they want Andy and Rich to expand beyond their half of the booth so that they (CAH) can point their (CAH again) customers at their (Rich & Andy this time) stuff and hopefully sell a lot of it.

At the end of a show that is grinding and tiring, to take an approach other than Welp, guess we can pack up early and beat the rush, bye! is fundamentally generous; the game may be self-described as for horrible people but the people behind it are stellar. Thank you, Trin, Tom, Julia, Joe, and I know I’m forgetting other names because it’s early and I was up late.

I’ve mentioned Jason Alderman on this page before, and not only is he an enthusiastic, wonderful guy, he’s local. When he says So there’s this really good place that’ll take us a little while to walk to but we won’t have to cross with the nerd herd coming out of the convention center and we’ll probably get great food in us while the rest of the showgoers are still an hour from being seated at The Cheesecake Factory, you listen to him. There was a great meal and I’m not telling you where or everybody will get wise to his insider’s knowledge.

But as I approached the counter to give my order, the young woman looked at my collar and saw the Mutant Pride pin that I’ve been wearing this week on my shirt’s right collar¹. Her eyes lit up, then welled up just a little and she told me how much she loved it and wanted to know where to I got it. I pointed at Rich and said He designed it and started to mention his site and then figured it was still early on a Saturday night, she’s in the middle of nightly rush, she’ll never remember a URL or lose anything I might scribble a barely legible reference on and what the crap, there are still hundreds of them back in the booth.

So I unpinned it and handed it to her and her hands flew to her mouth and I legit thought she was going to faint. An entire silent story played out on her face, about what both halves of that pin meant to her personally; she’d been through her own version of hated and despised by a world that fears her, and one day she discovered mutants and they made her feel less alone.

Now she was in the shadow of the building where a tribute to the medium that made her feel a bit more whole was going on and she’s working a restaurant job that probably doesn’t allow her time to actually make the brief journey into the convention center and a skinny middle aged dude with a ridiculous moustache is giving her a badge that represents her. She told me it was the greatest day of her life; I believed her². I pulled Rich up the her register and I know he had more of his Pride stuff in his pockets that made its way across the order counter.

There it is — beyond the hassle and the scope and the seeming focus on everything except comics, a connection got made³ and somebody’s day got better. It’s tempting to read too much into this one brief experience, but it honestly reminded me that my view on capital-l Life is pretty incrementalist in nature; small changes and individual effort, when there’s enough of them and over a long enough period of time, make big differences.

I’d rather rely on ten (or a thousand or a million) people doing one small good thing than hope that a single powerful person does something big and good, if only because it’s harder to lose the hearts of ten (or a thousand or a million) people than it is to be disappointed by one4. Here’s hoping I’m still holding onto this sunny weltanschauung at the end of the day.

Things To See On Sunday: I’m about to head to the convention center, hook up with Pat Race, and check out the Art Of Steven Universe panel at 10:00. Find your own way there, I don’t want to get squeezed out.

Stuff To Get: Whatever’s on sale. But I have to tell you about what’s in the image up top. On the left is the Scott C triceratops pin, and on the right is further proof that I have the best friends in known space. Andy Bell has a new line of blind-boxed keychain danglers, little food characters. He opened up most of a case to find the one he based on me so he could give it to me. I’ve shown up in comics before, but this is the first time an artist has rendered me in 3D form. That little moustache-sporting toast is the coolest thing ever.

Cosplay: Bob and Linda remain popular (this guy had H Jon Benjamin’s habit of starting Bob’s sentences with Uh down to a science), Snape was excellent, and Larry & Gert from Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland were killing it (for every possible value of it; I’m pretty sure there was a trail of corpses). The best photo I got all day was of our own Ferocious J with Wendy-as-Harley Quinn (he has a passion for Wendy’s), but that was not the best cosplay of the day.

I didn’t get a photo, but there was a group of five people dressed up as The Avengers done as fast food mascots, and it was glorious. Fortunately, J did hand me his phone, so I present to you Hashtag McVengers. Seriously, follow the hashtag, because no detail was too small. The wings on the side of Captain KFC’s helmet were chicken wings. The Mighty Ronald’s McMjölnir was a thing of beauty. Black Wendy told me they’d been a group of Mr Meeseeks on Friday and couldn’t get ten feet without being stopped; on Saturday, they couldn’t get five. Today, they’re supposed to be an Archer group and I wager it will be top notch.

Spam of the day:

Find vehicle tracking devices

I think they’re offering me a device that finds other devices that in turn track vehicles.

¹ I’ve been wearing last year’s Pride Of The Resistance pin on my fleece for the past year, but for Con I’ve worn it on the left collar.

² Thinking back on it, that statement is both wonderful and awful.

³ And later, walking back to the hotel through the Gaslamp waaaay too late, another one got made. This involved helping a weaving-hard couple out for Party Times across the street when they lost forward momentum. He was dressed sharp and had slicked-back hair and Erik Estrada teeth. She had heels too tall for her current state and a dress that left little to the imagination. They were both maybe 25, 26.

She said I was cute5 and I asked But isn’t your boyfriend jealous now? She shot him a look and said He hasn’t locked it down yet, showing a ringless left hand. I shot him a look and said Dude. He protested She’s been listening to that Rihanna song too much!

A heartbeat’s pause, then I asked her Did he just say Rihanna? and she Mmm-hmmed me. I said You can do better and she Mmm-hmmed me again. I removed his arm from her shoulder, put her arm on mine for balance and told him Sorry, I have to help her find somebody that knows the difference between Rihanna and Beyonce. He shouted Wait, I meant Beyonce! How do you [middle aged guy, all looking like a Ben Folds fan] know about Beyonce? I looked at her and said He didn’t and she Mmm-hmmed a third time. There on the streetcorner we made him promise that the ring would be obtained this week and I showed him the proper technique for getting down on one knee.

They aren’t all super deep and meaningful and probably neither of them remember it this morning, but this particular connection was friggin’ hilarious for at least two of us. I really hope Supertight Minidress Lady and Perfect Smile Dude make it work. Those crazy kids deserve it.

4 Case in point: I’m going to make you wait longer for the writeup of the Read Like A Girl panel on Friday because it’s not bashed into shape yet.

5 She was very drunk, but possibly she’s just spent the last couple days binging on Dream Daddy for the previous couple of days. What the heck, I’m dad age. Actually, that would be perfect reason for her otherwise inexplicable compliment, on account of I was talking with Dream Daddy director/lead developer Tyler Hutchison earlier that day about the wave of Tumblrteen hate directed at his team for making them wait a whole six days to get a game that had only been announced a month ago. OMG, they’ve waited forevvvvv-her-her-her it’s so unfair.

Hey, Tumblrteens, that was me mocking your distress. Hutchison was actually very appreciative that you were so passionate about his game.

Friday Miscellany And The Eisners

Let’s just jump to the big news, yeah? Big Awards went to Ryan North and Erica Henderson for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Best Publication For Teens), to Chip Zdarsky and Henderson / North and Derek Charm for Jughead (Best Humor Publication, which I am retitling Best Humour Publication in honor of Zdarsky and North), and to Raina Telgemeier for Ghosts (Best Publication For Kids 9-12).

Additionally, Jason Shiga’s Demon took the Best Graphic Album-Reprint award, and the somewhat confusing split between Best Digital Comic and Best Webcomic were decided in favor (respectively) of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover for Bandette and Anne Szabla for Bird Boy, which are strong choices. I’m pretty sure that everybody except Charm and Szabla has taken the spinny globe trophy before, but it’s still got to be a hell of a thrill to be told whose company you are in. Some relevant photos here.

  • But that was all at the end of a long day; it started with the cash drawer in the Dumbrella register sitting just a little to high and preventing the drawer from opening, for a period of about 20 minutes at the start of the show. While the number of transactions requiring cash is way down compared to prior years, it’s still something you’ve got to be able to do. It was eventually resolved with the aid of two people, one multitool, a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, and gravity. The offender was found to be — oh, betrayal so foul! — a Sharpie. Worse, one of those fake-ass retractable finetip Sharpies. It was removed (and, I believe, ritually destroyed) and then all was well again.
  • The floor didn’t have much hold on me yesterday; I was out to the San Diego Central Library to catch the Read Like A Girl: Middle-Grade Fiction For Girls (And Boys), about which much more later when I have time¹; it’s probably going to be as long as the editing panel writeup, and that was damn near 2700 words.

    From the panel, I made my way straight into the Gaslamp, where Marian Call picked me up in her cross-country tourmobile so that we could make our way out to Santee, where I was providing light assistance (mostly merch-monkeying) for her show with Seth Boyer. The venue was a long, low, sprawling Unitarian-Universalist fellowship, where I’m told that Call’s Something Fierce has been played on Sunday mornings to give the members an idea of what the show would be like.

    I am being completely truthful here: if the Methodists had played Marian Call on Sunday mornings when I was a kid, I might still believe in the Abrahamic god.

    The audience were mostly from the fellowship, and were uniformly polite, earnest, courteous, humble, and filled with gentility. They’re Unitarians, so there were defiant prints in the foyer, the We The People series by Shepard Fairey and We The Resilient by Ernesto Yerena; like many churches, the members skewed older. They were enthusiastic, and have had Call and Boyer play for them before, and will again. Since the show last night was like number four out of seventy², there’s an excellent chance you will be able to catch her between now and November, when she finally returns home to a well-deserved rest.

  • We returned back to the Con precincts and met up with a crowd that had taken over a fire pit at the Marriott — Pat Race and Aaron Suring, others from Juneau who were down to see the nerds, Scott C hung out for a while. But the highlight of the night — maybe of the show — came as I was getting a drink at a bar inside. I happened to glance to my left and see a graying³, ponytailed dude drawing.

    I recognized the style and without thinking said Adam Warren? He startled slightly and said Yes? Then I told him I’d been reading his stuff since 1988 and always liked it, and that my only problem with his work on Empowered is that it doesn’t come out often enough. He thanked me, I told him I wouldn’t take up any more of his time, and then I bought his next drink because godsdammit, he’s earned it.

  • Oh, and my wife texted me from the East Coast to say that Raina and Mark Siegel were featured in a story on this morning’s Weekend Edition; audio will be posted later today, but for now just check out the fourth grade teacher that simply states The queen of my classroom is Raina Telgemeier.

Things To See On Saturday:
The BOOM panel with John Allison is at 12:30 in Room 24ABC, and Cartoon Art Musuem curator Andrew Farago talks to the likes of Gemma Correll and Melanie Gillman at 1:30 in Room 8. Box Brown’s undoubtedly wrestling-heavy spotlight is at 3:00 in Room 4.

Stuff To Get:
Man, I dunno. I could kind of go for a sandwich.

I saw this Batgirl and told her I was going to send it to Hope Larson and she squealed. Larson texted, and I quote, Yesss! She looks great. There were a lot of Bob-and-Linda combos on the floor, these being the best two I saw; Cards Against Humanity consigliere Trin was, coincidentally, dressed as Tina and was at the booth at the right time for one group photo (she also mentioned that her own parents were coming to the show dressed as Bob and Linda and I cannot wait to see those photos). And on the Crystal Gem front, there was a really good first-look Pearl, although she and I agreed we need to see more leather jacket wearing badass Pearl cosplay.

Spam of the day:

Unique True Wireless Earbuds With Amazing Sound

Man, I can’t keep buds in when they’ve got cords on them. This is a blatant attempt to get me to have an earbud subscription.

¹ My rough transcript of the panel discussion runs 117 lines and I’ve got an early start today after a very late night.

² Maybe more? Email Call and tell her you can get a dozen people together and she’ll pretty much add a show within an hour or two of wherever you live if it’s at all practical.

³ We are actually about the same age and I have no illusions about what is happening upstairs.

And In Other News Thursday

The thing about the floor at Comic Con is that you will run into people; people you know, people you’re meeting for the first time, and sometimes those meetings just happen. Case in point: after the editing panel, I was making my way back to the floor with Chris Butcher when I remarked that — unusually — I had reached midday on Thursday without yet running into a single McCloud. At that very moment I looked up from the escalator we were on to the escalator we had just been on and locked eyes with Scott McCloud. When we all reached the lower there were greetings and up-catchings and McCloud shared some of the process he’s working through.

If you hadn’t known, his next book (from the sounds of its scope, it may have to be more than one) will be on Everything To Do With Visual Communications — type design to signage to nonverbal to everything Edward Tufte has spent four books on. It’ll be one part Tufte, one part McCloud, one part Bringhurst, one part advertising design, one part the visual vocabulary of complex systems (think circuit design or architectural renderings), one part emoji, one part Burke, one part billboard design, and several parts that I can’t even remember at the moment.

And because McCloud is McCloud he’s digging deep and widely into many different areas of study, figuring that it takes at minimum a 10:1 ratio of what you need to know:what you can present on the page — not just because you need to know how all the stuff you aren’t talking about works, but so that you understand the stuff you are talking about works so thoroughly that you can condense and simplify for a nonspecialist audience. He expressed a general amazement that the likes of Zach Weinersmith and Randall Munroe do this on the regular.

And once he was done with process, he talked about things that he’s really grooving on at the moment and I told him that when I wrote about our conversation it would just read McCloud was smart at me for ten minutes. What the Understanding/Reinventing/Making Comics trilogy did specifically for comics, this is going to do for how we as humans communicate with our eyes. It’s going to be beautiful, just as soon as he can stop finding interesting little asides that suddenly demand 40 pages of indulgence, which is honestly the best kind of problem to have.

  • Hey, everybody that hates paying for overly-expensive hotel wifi: Ask Ryan North for his secret method for getting that charge waived. It’s not my story to tell because it really requires a certain ineffable Ryan Northness to properly express; it also may not work for anybody that’s not as tall, handsome, Canadian, or Ryanesque, but I’m surely going to try it next time I travel.
  • It’s been years that I’ve been coming to this thing, and the best part of any day on the show floor is always pointing people at work they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, or getting to introduce people to other people.

    Cases in point: I spoke to a woman who’d just bought a stack of books from Evan Dahm on the strength of a friend’s recommendation; she explained that she’s just now getting into comics. I told her to check out Augie And The Green Knight and BONE and made her promise to come back if she needed more to read. I was able (with the help of his able assistant Beth) to pitch Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett on the idea of getting Ursula Vernon to do a Tales From The Drive short story, and to introduce Pat Race to Becky & Frank. Connections, people, it’s all about connections.

Things To See On Friday:
The San Diego Central Library is calling me for Handling Challenges: Bans And Challenges To Comics and Read Like a Girl: Middle-Grade Fiction for Girls (and Boys), at noon and 1:00pm respectively. LArDK will be talking Drive at 9:00pm (whaaaat) in Room 9, and Marian Call and Seth Boyer are playing in Santee at 7:00pm.

Stuff To Get:
Oh man, there’s a Steven Universe 7″ vinyl that’s up for sale at the Cartoon Network booth.

In addition to everybody’s favorite gem pairing¹ up there, you’ve got Steven rocking the shield. And when you can get a cosplayer to really get into character, you run with that; I prompted this young lady portraying Joy with Puppies! and Bing Bong’s gone! and she killed ’em both.

Spam of the day:

Don’t wait – Further Your Education at Liberty University

You mean the place founded by Jerry Falwell and currently run by Jerry Falwell Jr explicitly as a training ground for the lawyerly shocktroops for the movement Conservatives that want the US to be a Christofascist playground? Yeah, no.

¹ Okay, I’m lying; we all know everybody’s favorite pairing is Garnet. I did see two different amazing Sapphires on the floor, but couldn’t get photos without obstructing the aisle from hell to breakfast, so you’ll just have to imagine.