The webcomics blog about webcomics

MICE? Nice

This weekend is the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, one of the increasingly-common, increasingly well-attended, increasingly relevant, free (or near-free) comics shows that goes by Expo or Festival. MICE, as always, will be held on the campus of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, at University Hall, adjacent to the Porter Square T stop.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Lesley; Cambridge is across the river from Boston, and as we all know, Boston isn’t a big college town.

MICE has done a nice job of attracting webcomickers and webcomicker-alikes, and this weekend you’ll be able to meet the likes of Vera Brosgol, Tillie Walden, Tony Cliff and Rosemary Mosco (all of whom are Special Guests and will be in the main atrium).

In the exhibit hall, you’ll find Abby Howard (H94), Alex Graudins (H88), Nate Powell (E128), Jean Wei (A42), John Green (E115), Blue Delliquanti (H95), Jon Chad (D09), Josh Neufeld (D19), KC Green (D16), Christine Larsen (B86), Wendy Xu (A57), Dan Nott (B65), Zack Giallongo (E117), , Dirk Tiede (E122), Eric Colossal (E139), and Anne and Jerzy Drozd (E118).

A few clarifications: Ben Hatke was scheduled to appear, but had to cancel; George O’Connor will be at table H102, not George O’Connor; Nicholas Offerman will be at table D20, not Nicholas Offerman; the Center For Cartoon Studies will be at table E137; Matt Lubchansky will be repping The Nib at table H89; and it is entirely possible that Lucy Bellwood will be lured away from table E116 by boats. Shelli Paroline would be a notable local absence, except for the part where she’s the co-director of the show, and thus has no time to promote herself; if you see her at rest for ten seconds, be sure to thank her.

By the way, tables starting with an A are in the atrium, B tables are in the Bechdel Room, D tables in the Doucet Hall, and H tables in the Hernandez Room, all on the upper floor. The lower level is where you’ll find the E tables in the Eisner Level, as well as the Cartoonarium (where artists will be doing demos all weekend). Panels are upstairs in the amphitheater, workshops downstairs in the Eliot and Lesley Rooms, with the schedule here.

MICE show hours are a nicely humane 10:00am to 6:00pm tomorrow, 20 October, and 11:00am to 5:00pm Sunday, 21 October. MICE is free and open to the public.


Spam of the day:

Find Love With a Beautiful Russian Woman

And yet, you advertise yourself as Ukraine Dating Agency, not recognizing that Ukrainians and Russians are not the same. Curious.

Tuesday Miscellany

Howard Tayler¹ has launched a Kickstarter for two — two! — books and has inadvertently run a sociological experiment. The campaign is for the 14th and 15th story arcs/print collections of Schlock Mercenary, Broken Wind and Delegates And Delegation respectively. Schlock Mercenary is famously One Big Story, and so a question occurred to me:

Given that the campaign is for two separate books, and that Tayler’s readers would logically want to read both of them before book 16 releases sometime next year, would anybody opt for just one book?

As of this writing (some eight hours after launch and 64% of funding goal achieved), the answer appears to be a resounding now. Out of 398 backers, exactly zero have backed either the tier for your choice of one book (PDF form) or your choice of one book (print form). There’s three people backing at the US$1 tier, which gets you nothing² but nobody wants just one. That’s some reader buy-in right there.

Tayler’s also done something very smart with this campaign. There have been lots of Kickstarts where early birds get the same reward at a lesser price as a reward for backing at the start of the campaign; Tayler — or more likely, his wife Sandra, who wrangles fulfillment — has inverted the idea by offering tiers of rewards spread out over a period of months. PDFs get sent in December, unsketched books in February, and sketched books in three batches of 400 each, in March, April, and May.

Tayler’s dealt with the possibility of damaging his drawing hand by sketching too many books in too short a time by a) limiting how many books may require sketches, and b) spreading them out; fifteen sketches a day over three months is a hell of a lot more reasonable than trying to do a thousand in a single burst of shipping over two weekends or so. Smartly done, Mrs & Mr Evil Twin! Smartly done.

In other news:

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent is still on hiatus, but has a teaser image up for the start of the second adventure, and the first three pages will post on Monday.
  • Johnny Wander is back with the start of Barbarous Chapter 4!
  • Christopher Hastings and Branson Reese have been getting asked everything about Draculagate. It’s a hoot.
  • The ongoing and continuous fetishization of Harley Quinn doesn’t really make sense to me³. Okay, maybe the only original character of the past three decades that’s really stuck around in comics and bled into the broader culture, but still don’t entirely get it. However, I do trust the fairly unerring instincts of Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago, and he’s seen fit to write up a book on the art and history of Dr Quinzel, and CAM’s having a reception/talk about the same.

    It’s next Tuesday, the 23rd, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. CAM members get in free, US$10 for nonmembers, but a 50% discount if you come in costume. The Cartoon Art Museum, in case you’d forgotten, is at 781 Beach Street, part of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.


Spam of the day:

Prepare for a Hurricane Browse Portable Generator Choices

Got one after Irene, thanks. But that photo you’re running is of a power output panel of a generator that’s “portable” in the sense that it’s permanently mounted to its own trailer bed along with a 2000 liter diesel fuel tank. I ain’t trying to run an office building over here.

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¹ Evil twin, etc.

² But gets you in on the eventual Backerkit add-ons … which includes all previous books in the series.

³ Which is not to say that I didn’t laugh out loud back in ’92 in her debut episode when The Joker, lamenting that finally killing a guy he’d been tormenting meant he’d need to find a new hobby, prompted Harley to chirp Macramé’s nice.

Noteworthy

Three things. One’s going to hurt.

  • Saturday! John Allison, your British friend if you don’t have another one, has reached a milestone that damn few creators have:

    On Saturday it’s 20 years, since I put my first comic online. I’ve written/written and drawn approx:
    1200pp Giant Days
    1200pp Bad Machinery
    1800pp assorted Scary Go Round/minis
    132pp By Night
    1000pp Bobbins

    They weren’t all winners but I’ve tried my best.

    Aside from that 132 pages of By Night (available one Wednesday a month from BOOM! Studios, courtesy of your favorite local comic shop), that’s about 5200 pages of delightful weirdness in the Tackleverse, a single, sprawling story matched only by the most dedicated veterans (8700 pages of Lone Wolf And Cub over 28 volumes; I’m guessing about 5500 pages of its spiritual successor, Usagi Yojimbo), the most insane (6000 pages of Cerebus over 300 issues), or David Willis (I’m not sure even he knows how many pages of Walkyverse comics there are).

    More importantly: Allison is one of about three creators¹ that continually gets better; issue after issue, I love Giant Days more and more. Give By Night more than its intended 12-issue run and I’m certain I’d say the same. Even more importantly, the vast majority of those stories are free for you to read, right now. If you start now, you can probably be jussst caught up in time for the shindig on Saturday, if you don’t eat, sleep, or attend to other bodily imperatives. Get crackin’.

  • Before long, there’s likely going to be a fourth name on the always gets better list, and you’ll know who it is from three words:

    Sluggo is lit.

    The news hit like a cannonball yesterday: Olivia Jaimes is coming to CXC next weekend, and we have Tom “The Spurge” Spurgeon to thank for it:

    Jaimes will participate in one public panel on Sunday at 3:30 PM, and a pair of non-public events designed to mark the historical moment of the cartoonist’s initial success. Cell phones and recording devices will be collected at the door of Jaimes’ Sunday event and returned to their owners afterwards.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such subterfuge, or perhaps skullduggery in comics before. Exciting! Do give Ms Jaimes my regards, and remember: whoever decides to blow her anonymity will go to the Special Hell.

  • It was not quite two years ago that Kate Beaton first shared the news with us: her sister Becky, a year older and fixture in Kate’s entire life, had cancer. She fought, and she got better, until she didn’t. She fought the metastasis, fought for life, and until the end she fought the indifference and disregard of the medical establishment.

    With her sisters and Becky’s fiance, Kate’s written a remembrance of Becky that will make you furious. It details the delays she had in her initial diagnosis, delays that cost her time, delays that cost her options. Even worse, as an immediately-post-treatment patient when things started not feeling right, her oncologists disregarded her reports² and delayed recognizing that her cancer had spread; I’m no doctor, but I’m absolutely willing to believe that between the first set of doctors and the second, they cost Becky her life.

    Becky’s plan for the rest of her life was to advocate for cancer patients, to teach them how to manage doctors that disregard them, to share her hard-won knowledge; thanks to doctors that don’t listen to patients — particularly women, particularly young, seemingly healthy women — she never got the chance. So Kate, and her sisters, and Becky’s fiance have done this bit of it for her. I won’t be surprised to see more of it in the future.

    Becky’s beyond all but our memory, but let that memory drive you. She can’t advocate for patients to their doctors, but it’s something we can do for her. I hope you never have to, that an ugly diagnosis and a painful fight never comes for your and yours. But should it come, think of Becky, dig down deep, and let those doctors know that you aren’t going to allow them to be indifferent.


Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share the page with Becky.

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¹ Ryan North on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is another, and while Meredith Gran isn’t doing a regular strip now, she definitely falls into the category.

For reference, Stan Sakai is not one of the three, because there is no better he can get. He’s reached the pinnacle of the form.

² I have never wanted to slap another living human as much as when I read Becky’s first doctor was so bad, a year later their medical license was suspended, and that she was never able to obtain her records from that time.

Then, a scant six paragraphs later, when she was trying to get her oncologists to pay attention to a leg swollen with what would prove to be more cancer, one of them added a note in her file: Rebecca continues to be paranoid. I hope those words hang on the conscience of that dismissive alleged professional for the rest of their life.

A Finer World

Because when it comes down to it, there’s people out there trying to improve things, and we can all help in our own way.

  • It took about two weeks, but there it is — the fundraising site that lets all of us get in on the defense of eleven creators (and one small publisher) from the SLAPP brought by Cody Pickrodt. When it started making the rounds of social media yesterday, I saw one of the principals say that of the US$20,000 given by SPX so far, fully 15 grand has already been spent on lawyers. It was enough to provide a response and avoid a default judgment, but not enough to make a proper fight of it.

    But US$46,320 (as of this writing)? That’s enough to make a quick-payoff-seeking lawyer think twice about opportunity costs and marginal gains. It’s not enough for a protracted legal contest, but it’s enough to alter the math for the opposing side. Those of you heading to SPX this weekend, I’m sure there will be donation buckets around. Got leftover singles after making your purchases? Better to give ’em to the cause than to let them get sweaty and crumpled in your pocket¹. I won’t be able to join you at the show², but I’ve donated and I invite you to join me in that.

  • Meanwhile, you know how you can hang out with friends for upwards of a week at a time and know that they’re working on something, but they don’t let on exactly what? Rich Stevens and Jason Alderman have more than one secret project cooking, but one is no longer secret. Behold: a 50-state (plus DC) map of the country with voting information for each provided in comic form.

    Choose a state from the drop-down, or just hover over to see which of your favorite comics artists worked on which political territory. Read, get a wry chuckle (hopefully) or a dry, bitter laugh to keep away the screaming (all too often), then follow the links to check your registration and make plans to friggin’ vote.


Spam of the day:

How 71-year-old Kevin Cured His ED

Why.

Just, why?
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¹ Mostly directed at dudes, since ladies are often not given the courtesy of pockets. Also, ew.

² I was gonna say Tell ____ I said hi and give a list of folks who are gonna be there, but then I realized that it would basically be the entire exhibitor list. So whoever³ you see, tell them I said hi, and I’m sorry I can’t be there.

³ Okay, fine, say hi to MollyAbbyHollyMeredithKCShingYukoMakiMikeEvanAnanthSaraBrittColleenAnneBenJamieGeorgeWhitCareyRonKoryFrankGaleTanekaDer-shingBeckyBenKatMKDrewDustinCarlaLonnieSpikeCartaMagnoliaSophieGinaNgoziOthermollyAlexTomJessEricDanielleChrisKateMattOthermattRosemaryOtherchrisMonicaAmandaBlueandGeorge.

Gag, Running, Etc

If there’s one thing that we at Fleen enjoy, it’s a running gag. There’s Ryan North and the running gag that gets revisited every 1000 strips. There’s the Final Fate Of RPG World, which was a running gag before this blog launched in 2005. There was the majesty that was #buttrocket, and our habit here at Fleen of both excessive footnoting and an unrepentant man-crush on Brad Guigar¹.

But I can’t recall anybody taking something so pedestrian, so quotidian as a garden-variety Wondermark bit of random weirdness and spinning it into endless variations on a theme. Gentle readers, I invite you to consider the many variations of Check out my sick elephant!

Sick as in diseased, an emphasis on checking out, sick as in sick humor, sick as in gravely ill², sick as an excuse to work on the multiple meanings of trunk, sick as in falling apart, and a three-fer involving a previously sick elephant that becomes a thicc elephant, and finally provides a dad-joke inversion that I will not dignify with a transcription.

Responding to my fascination/horror at this strip, Wondermark creator David Malki ! promised/threatened more. Should you see him this weekend at XOXO Fest in Portland³, please convey to him my heartiest congratulations/condemnation.


Spam of the day:

We found your next girlfriend today, she is sexy, naughty, pretty and she made a very sexy video message that you need to watch.

So wait, she’s thin but not too thin, has a big rack, hips but not baby-having hips, and is sexy but not in a slutty way?

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¹ He’s dreamy.

² Gravely, I see what you did there.

³ Other webcomics types in attendance or at least walking around: the aforementioned North, Lucy Bellwood, Shing Yin Khor, Erika Moen, Blue Delliquanti, Taneka Stotts, Graham Annable, Lisa Hanawalt, Matt Furie, and MariNaomi.

Numerous other webcomicky (or at least webcomics-adjacent) folk will be across town at Rose City Comic Con, including Matt Bors, Molly Muldoon, Barry Deutsch, Jennie Breeden, Indigo Kelleigh, Kel McDonald, Kerstin La Cross, Kory Bing, Rebecca Hicks, Lucas Elliott, various members of Helioscope and artists associated with Nucleus, for some reason the US Navy, and Katie Lane.

Celebrating Canadianess In Comics

One may recall the nominees for the 2018 Joe Shuster Awards (discussed here), along with the general appreciation of we at Fleen for an awards program that is blessed brief — the entire slate consists of Writer / Scénariste, Cover Artist / Dessinateur Couvertures, Artist / Dessinateur, Cartoonist / Auteur, Webcomics Creator / Créateur de Bandes Dessinées Web, the Gene Day Award (Self-Publishers) / Prix Gene Day (Auto-éditeurs) (in both Single Creator/Creative Team and Anthology formats), the Harry Kremer Award (Retailers) / Prix Harry Kremer (Détaillants), the Dragon Award (Comics for Kids) / Le Prix Dragon (Bandes Dessinées pour Enfants), and the The TM Maple Award / Prix TM Maple (for achievements outside the creative/retail communities).

Eleven categories, done. It’s more than the three categories of the Doug Wright Awards, but a hell of a lot less than the thirty-damn-one categories (plus Hall Of Fame) of the Eisners.

Back in May, we noted the inclusion of Jim Zub, Stuart Immonen, Rámon Pérez, and Jillian Tamaki — all current or past webcomickers — in non-webecomics categories; Zub won for Writer / Scénariste, Immonen for Artist / Dessinateur (which precluded Pérez), and Tamaki lost to Jeff Lemire, which is no shame.

That’s a pretty good representation in the non-web categories, and moreso when you consider Cover Artist / Dessinateur Couvertures went to Djibril Morissette-Phan, Zub’s collaborator on Glitterbomb. Webcomics Creator / Créateur de Bandes Dessinées Web went to Gisele Lagace and David Lumsdon for Ménage à 3.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m just mentioning this now, when the Shusters were due to be awarded at the Montreal Comic Con about two months ago, and the answer is the awards were delayed to give the juries more time. Heck, the Dragon Award nominees weren’t even announced until a couple of days after the planned presentation date.

It’s unfortunate that the logistics got away from the committee, but given a choice between a rushed (and potentially crappy) awards and one that was deliberated upon, they chose the latter; I can’t blame them for that. Thus, the announcement went up today, and the winners have been notified. I guess they’ll get the physical components in the mail?

Fleen congratulates all of the winners, and notes again that the Canadian comics awards have pretty much universally avoided weak or lame nominees, so just being nominated really is an honor.


Spam of the day:

It Couldn’t Be Easier To Learn Piano

As my mother, the lifelong pianist and organist might tell you, I am uniquely un-teachable at the piano.

Some Good News In A Bad Situation

So one of the terrible things going on in comics is a little less terrible today. If you’re not up on the Cody Pickrodt situation, it involves a dozen or so well-respected indie comickers being sued for defamation in what I would characterize as a totally bullshit move¹. Since word got out, the respondents have been scrambling to meet court deadlines to make their arguments (or lose by default), and the thing about court cases? They can be ruinously expensive even if you completely and utterly win.

To get started with a process that will consume your life, potentially for years, it requires you to have five figures of American Cash Money on hand. If you know any indie comickers with that kind of cash, congratulate them for me.

From the beginning, there was a great deal of activity on the sosh meeds, asking, suggesting, and in some cases demanding that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund do something to assist; they’re in comics, they need legal defense, QED. But the CBLDF’s charter — and full disclosure here, in my past I’ve spent a lot of time working their booth at shows, and was once offered a staff position — deals purely with issues of censorship. Strategic lawsuits meant to harass and silence critics aren’t government (or large corporate) action, and therefore outside the limit of their charter.

And here’s something I can tell you from my time in volunteer EMS — changing a non-profit’s charter is a non-trivial task. Like, carefully worded legal documents and court filings and reviews of your non-profit’s tax status degrees of non-trivial. I mention this because some of the people wanting the CBLDF to Do Something weren’t interested in these details. That’s fine; it’s been a rough couple of weeks for everybody on the receiving end of the lawsuit and everybody who wants the best outcome for them² and patience can be stretched in times of stress.

There were indications that things were happening — principals in the case making remarks that they were consulting with the CBLDF, the CBLDF saying that they couldn’t make public announcements yet. Which, when you’re on the receiving end of a defamation suit, turns out to be the best thing you can do: keep quiet, huddle with your lawyer, don’t try to fight by getting things riled up.

Turns out, they can talk about it now:

Small Press Expo announced today that it will immediately make available $20,000 and also launch a legal aid fundraising vehicle to support members of the SPX community who are currently facing a defamation lawsuit. The fundraising vehicle, administered by SPX, and created in consultation with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will be established for the purposes of defraying the cost of legal representation for the eleven members of the independent comics community named as defendants in the ongoing lawsuit.

SPX is seeding the immediately needed monies with a $10,000 donation. Additionally, SPX will forego its annual $10,000 donation it had planned to give to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for 2018, instead redirecting those resources — with the full encouragement of the CBLDF Board of Directors — to serve the legal defense of our community members in their moment of need. SPX has already made this initial $20,000 available to the defendants, to ensure their access to appropriate legal counsel as quickly as possible.

In the next few weeks, SPX will establish the ongoing legal aid fundraising vehicle for the public to help cover the costs of the defendants in this case. The CBLDF will continue to provide legal and fundraising consulting to the defendants in this case, as they have since becoming aware of the lawsuit.

The group of 11 defendants has put together a statement for this announcement:

“As artists, writers, art educators, comics critics, and small independent publishers, many of whom rely on freelance work to pay our bills, a lawsuit like this is going to put an enormous financial strain on all of us. Simply put, we can’t afford to fight this without help. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community, and are especially grateful for the generosity of SPX to provide us with financial assistance. We also appreciate efforts by the CBLDF and other institutions and individuals who have provided additional fundraising support and legal advice.”

Make no mistake, the fact that this went out today, just before everybody knocks off for the long weekend, is a message. It reads We’ve got 20 large right now and if you make us, there will be donation boxes around SPX in two weeks. We can answer your suit and we can fight for as long as you want to keep this shit up. The (frankly ridiculous) US$2.5 million that Pickrodt was demanding was a bluff — a terrifying one to be on the receiving end of, to be clear — designed to force the defendants to settle (and, probably, abase themselves in public).

His lawyer has to be considering the costs of continuing forward, given that it’s now going to be a fight instead of a hostage situation. It could have been a quick set of scary letters and a ruinous (but less than 2-point-five mil) payment leading to an easy contingency fee, but now it’s going to be procedures and hearings and depositions and a trial and no guarantee of a win at all, much less one that offsets time and expense. The chances that the suit gets withdrawn just went way the fuck up.

And either way — Pickrodt goes away or he chooses to press on — there’s going to be a fund, and a fundraising structure, that exists when this is all done. This is exactly how the CBLDF was formed, out of the impromptu fund that was created to defend Friendly Frank’s, which made permanent to deal with similar situations in the future. The specificity of the CBLDF’s charter may have prevented them from directly acting in this case, but I’ll bet you a dollar that some of their consultation is on how a more permanent structure can be built.

It’s a baptism of fire for the CBLDF’s new Board President, Christina Merkler, who was literally announced today earlier today. It’s also damn welcome news at a time when things could have turned out very badly for eleven people. And if (when?) that comic book civil defense fund gets established, don’t forget to give.


Spam of the day:

Tim Horton wrote:Hey Jonathan,

Not Jonathan, but I love your Timbits.

I’m the advertising partnerships manager at JvPartnersNow. We would like to advertise some of our Family & Lifestyle related clients on your blog.

Disregard.

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¹ This is an expression of my opinion. Come at me, SLAPPy.

² Which is basically everybody except Pickrodt and some brigading sockpuppets.

Ignatz 2018 And Also Fleen Book Minicorner

First up, the nominations hit in the last hour or so, and Fleen congratulates not only the nominees for Outstanding Online Comic, but also the web-type folks who are peppered throughout the other categories. OOC first, then:

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal (originally on Instagram, now most easily read on Webtoon), The Wolves Outside by Jesse England, A Fire Story by Brian Fies, Lara Croft Was My Family by Carta Monir, and A Part of Me is Still Unknown by Meg O’Shea. I’m not familiar with England’s work, and I know I’ve read Dhaliwal’s but don’t recall all the details; I remember reading Fies’s, Monir’s, and O’Shea’s and am pleased to see them here.

Other nominations of note include Say It With Noodles: On Learning To Speak The Language Of Food by the Sawdust Bear/Space Gnome/Paul Bunyan fetishist, Shing Yin Khor (for Outstanding Minicomic and How The Best Hunter In The Village Met Her Death by Molly Ostertag (who is having such a good year) for Outstanding Story, both of which appeared online originally, but which will be available from their respective creators at SPX on 15-16 September at the Bethesda North Marriott.

Right, books:

  • If you’ve got a kid in the house, they undoubtedly know Gene Yang already; if they’re even a little geeky, they’ve probably been reading the Secret Coders series by Yang (words) and Mike Holmes (pictures), which wraps up with its sixth installment in a few weeks.

    Along the way they’ve followed the story of Hopper, Eni (whose name turns out to be … no, no, you’ll just have to wait) and Josh as they’ve learned some fairly sophisticated programming in LOGO¹, solved a mystery, and dealt with … let us say a romance of many dimensions. Highly recommended for the budding problems solver in your orbit, and since book 6 (Monsters & Modules) doesn’t drop until 2 October, you’ve got time for them to make their way through the first five books².

  • And another book, one that you can read, I’ma say in the next week, week and a half. Longtime readers of this page know that I am fully, 100% in the tank for KB “Otter” Spangler’s A Girl And Her Fed, and particularly the associated novels. I mentioned AGAHF last week, in conjunction with a turning point in the story, and Spangler’s got more to say on the topic today (I’m linking to the crosspost at her writing blog, because the comic’s newsposts don’t have permalinks), and especially about the book in question:

    In fact, the next Hope Blackwell book comes out this week! It’s the story of what happened after Thomas Paine showed up in Mare’s kitchen and told her about the Afterlife. There are chupacabras.

    I’m not naming the novel in question because Spangler hasn’t released the title publicly, but she did let me read an advance copy and if you are a fan of words, you’ll find something here to love. Yes, monsters, and yes what happens when a nun with very proper sensibilities butts head with an ADHD-afflicted narrator with a potty mouth. There’s odd bits of history that really happened, and the most intelligent person in the world is an asshole for shits and giggles, and trustfund ghost-hunter wannabes.

    But mostly it’s a story about trauma. About the hurts — some physical, some not — that we shove down and try to forget, and how they come screaming back to the surface when our defenses are down. You can laugh and deflect and delay, but trauma finds a way. You have to grow through it, and Spangler’s subjected her characters to more growth — kicking and screaming, in most cases — than anybody this side of Randy Milholland or Meredith Gran.

    Spangler doesn’t always have a lot of sympathy for her characters, but there’s empathy in spades. She specializes in damaged, quasi-terrible people doing the right thing despite the costs, people who have no fucks left to give but plenty of damns³. Plus, we send each other Sharktopuses. Anybody that you can send a Sharktopus to is by definition a quality person.

    Title To Be Revealed: A Hope Blackwell Novel releases sometime this week, maybe next — there’s cover artwork to be finished, final passes on the various e-book encodings to do, all the last minute stuff. When it’s out, you can find it on Spangler’s book page for a ridiculously reasonable sum, and I’m sure she’ll make mention in her tweets.


Spam of the day:

Dear Gary, You are invited to attend Passionflix’s World Premiere of New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg’s Driven series [date redacted]. [In attendance will be] Tosca Musk ?(Passionflix co-founder, director), Maye Musk (COVERGIRL® supermodel)

Not really my beat, but FYI, that director and supermodel in attendance? They are, respectively, Elon Musk’s sister and mom. I just found that interesting.

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¹ And really, it’s less about the coding language and more about learning to think in a problem-solving manner. The language could have been entirely made up and it would have had just as much impact.

² As always, thanks to the fine folks at :01 Books for the review copy.

³ Hat tip for that turn of phrase to Helen Rosner, whose brilliance at Twitter is surpassed only by her brilliance at The New Yorker.

Gary Invictus

Left: Gary Tyrrell; right: Gary Tyrrell. Everywhere else: Gary Tyrrell. All is Gary Tyrrell. GARY TYRRELL IS.

This post has almost nothing to do with webcomics. Almost, mind you. We spoke about comics at one point during lunch, which if either of us were seeking to deduct the cost of the meal on our taxes, would have surely satisfied the relevant requirement.

I get ahead of myself, though. That picture up above is of Garies Tyrrell. Longtime readers of this page may recall the Garies t-shirt discovered by Evan Dahm, Yuko Ota, and Ananth Hirsh, and the wisdom derived from it. You may even remember Evan Dahm wearing the Garies t-shirt in direct proximity to myself at New England Webcomics Weekend 2, making for even more Garies.

But today, I had to distinct pleasure of having lunch with the gentleman seen above, who m I had never previously met in person. His name is Gary Tyrrell, which he both spells (that’s rare) and pronounces (even rarer) the same way I do. There are others out there, other Garies², but to date this is the greatest concentration of Garies in general (and Garies Tyrrell¹ in particular) yet seen. Only if Dahm could have been persuaded to lend me the shirt could there have been more Garies, but I was afraid to try. Some things are Not Meant To Be.

And the best thing about there being another Gary, one who is approximately my age (at least, we attended college in the same decade), who also trained as an engineer, who also is on the record as liking beer and being from the East Coast, from a family of six children, and nerdy by nature? Google confusion. It’s been some time since I had to apply for a job, but when the next prospective employer goes to look for either of us, they won’t know if it’s Gary Tyrrell or Gary Tyrrell that they found. Sweet, sweet plausible deniability.

Thanks very much for your indulgence, and we’ll be back to topics that are more directly related to webcomics next week.


Spam of the day:

The lowest cost way to cool off this summer is right here. Enjoy cold air with a press of a button This weekend will have record high heat. This device will keep fresh and cool. VERY limited stock order yours now

An air conditioner. You’re describing an air conditioner. We’ve had them for 120 years (Carrier’s electrical units), and precursors for nearly 200 years (Faraday’s ammonia experiments), more than 250 years (Ben Franklin’s experiments), more than 1200 years (Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, who had water-driven fans and fountains), or nearly 2000 years (human-powered rotary fan A/C in the Han Dynasty).

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¹ Gary Tyrrells? Garies Tyrrells?

² Including a Gary Tyrrell in the UK whose car dealer sends me warranty information; a Gary Tyrrell in Ireland, where the vehicle registration authority sends me his renewal notices; a Gary Tyrrell in Australia, whose supermarket sends me coupons; a Gary Tyrrell in Scranton, whose business partners send me proposals and contracts; and a Gary Tyrrell in Southern California whose tire dealer sends me receipts. The Gary Tyrrell of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band trombone section (pictured above, right) is the only one who doesn’t think that my email address is his email address.

How The Heck Do You Deal With [Counts] 15 Nominees?

Presumably, everything will settle down in the next couple years?

This is just schizophrenic. And by this, of course, I mean the revamped Harvey Awards, which now have only six categories, but fifteen nominees in Book Of The Year:

  • BLACK HAMMER: SECRET ORIGINS by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart
  • BOUNDLESS by Jillian Tamaki
  • EVERYTHING IS FLAMMABLE by Gabrielle Bell
  • HOSTAGE by Guy Delisle
  • KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings
  • LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW by Katie Green
  • MONSTRESS by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
  • MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS by Emil Ferris
  • ROUGHNECK by Jeff Lemire
  • SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone
  • SPINNING by Tillie Walden
  • THE BEST WE COULD DO by Thi Bui
  • THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS WRONG by Mimi Pond
  • THE FLINSTONES by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
  • THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang

That’s one-shot memoirs, original graphic novels, creator-owned and IP-farming monthlies, original work and adaptations, all-ages and mature readers only, all mashed in together. Whoo boy, the old Harveys were a charlie foxtrot, but this one is going to be extra chunky.

Plus, any list that includes neither The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl nor Giant Days is immediately suspect.

Most of the Book Of The Year Nominees appear in other categories, which include Digital Book Of The Year, Best Children Or Young Adult Book (those are very different things, BTW), Best Adaptation From A Comic Book/Graphic Novel, Best Manga, and Best European Book. We’ll call out the Digital Book Of The Year nominees as relevant to Fleen’s readers:

Solid contenders, all. Likewise, Best Children Or Young Adult Book is a pretty consistent and self-similar set of nominees:

  • BRAVE by Svetlana Chmakova
  • REAL FRIENDS by Shannon Hale and LeUyeun Pham
  • SPINNING by Tillie Walden
  • THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang
  • THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY, by Katie O’Neill

We’ll see how it all shakes out. The Harvey Awards will be presented during New York Comic Con, 5 October. Voting is by industry professionals (Heidi Mac tells us that anybody receiving a Pro or Artist Alley badge for NYCC in 2016-2018 automatically qualifies to vote), with applications for pro status due … sometime soon? Their website doesn’t actually say, but get on that if you want to vote because it’s less than two months for them to get everything done.


Spam of the day:

Good chance just have been made to you

Having retired from Superman-inversion duties, Bizarro now composes spam text.

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¹ This is the title of the first collection of Check, Please! from :01 Books, due out soon, and not the name of the webcomic. I’m not sure what’s up with that.

² In their announcement the Harveys deadnamed Stone, who announced transition and a name change to Tess nearly a year ago. I mean, come on, it’s only his pinned tweet.