The webcomics blog about webcomics

Love, In All Its Myriad Forms

Love is in the air. I know they say it’s a Spring thing, but I’m declaring it to be in the air today.

  • It’s hard to believe that it was ten year ago that Rosemary Mosco got the news. It’s not hard to believe that she was a stupendous badass in the face of cancer¹, and every time one of these milestone comics has been posted, the net joy in the world has gone up. Congrats to Rosemary, congrats to Randall, and tell your friends you love them just because.
  • Erika Moen has, as this page has mentioned in the past, been one of the bravest, most generous folks in the world, sharing for all to see what it’s like in her life and especially in her brain; every time she talks about mental health, other people get the chance to recognize what in the lives could be better. She has absolutely, definitely saved people from misery and death.

    And today she’s done just as big a service for everybody — neurotypical and aneurotypical alike — by discussing frankly, empathetically, and above all truthfully something that we’ll pretty much all experience. Today’s Oh Joy, Sex Toy (the remit for discussion of which is surprisingly broad) is about heartbreak. Gettin’ dumped. Splitsville. Singletown, population: You.

    More importantly, she talks about how so much of that pain comes from people not knowing what love really means, having the wrong expectations, and having to figure it all out on their own; it’s been that way since time immemorial, but it seems like just expecting everybody to go through the unpleasant aspects before they grow into their final selves and realistic love is maybe suboptimal? But Moen’s got some choice advice (plus a promised trip to The Bouncy House Of Sexuality, the absolute finest metaphor to hit OJST since the Anal Safety Snails) and we can all be grateful for her insight and willingness to share.

  • And sometimes love means hot, hot gettin’ it on. For those in the mood for said on-gettin’, Iron Circus Comics is running a Kickstart for the latest Smut Peddler anthology, this based on history times and subtitled Sordid Past. Unsurprisingly, it funded in an hour, and presently sits just south of 300% of the US$20,000 goal. Short campaign this time, just 17 more days to back the project, so that will likely shift the FFF mk2 numbers downwards from their present prediction of US$110K – US$165K². Plus, Yuko Ota’s cover is spectacular. Get on this one while the gettin’s good.

Spam of the day:

Mailbox is running out of data storage. All incoming messages will be blocked until you upgrade.

Oh no, my Fleen mailbox is running out of storage and everything will be blocked — including your bullshit spam — unless I click on an actual executable you’ve sent me. Let’s absolutely do that right now, no possible downside there.

¹ FUCK cancer.

² Which, if met, will make for some nice creator bonuses.

Ever Wonder What A Harvey Award Looks Like?

I like the different color treatments, high polish vs patina. It's neat.

Gene Luen Yang has an answer for you, as the two he scored last month have apparently arrived in the mail. Gotta say, it’s a much better likeness than the Eisner globe is of Will Eisner.

Speaking of Yang, he’s going to be half of the latest iteration of :01 Books’s current online hangout series for these isolated times. They’ve been running Comics Creators Getting Coffee about monthly since August as an extension of their Comics Relief online events, but I just realized that I hadn’t written about them.

More to the point, I haven’t really thought about them, because when the first one was announced (with editor Calista Brill and creator Kiku Hughes), I saw the bit that said Instagram Live and immediately tuned out because I’m not on The Grams. Since then, there have been talks between Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter with editor Kiara Valdez, and Brill and Lisa Brown. Me not being on The Grams isn’t a reason to not talk about these, though, so this is me informing you that Yang will be talking with Sloane Leong, next Wednesday at noon EST, on the :01 Instagram account.

And, uh, let me know what they say, on account of no account, and also day job. Thanks.

Spam of the day:

Coca-Cola Award (£2,000,000.00)

In Russian? Really? Do you not realize that I know the history of American cola-flavored caffeinated soda beverages wrt the Soviet Union? That Eisenhower was personal friends with a Red Army marshal that he got so hooked on Coke that Ike had to convince the Coca-Cola company to produce a version of their bottlecaps with red stars instead of their usual swoopy logo?

Or that later, Eisenhower’s vice president (and history’s yard waste) Richard Nixon undermined Coke’s private supply for the senior army officers in the USSR because he had once been a staff lawyer for Pepsi and was a close personal friend of Pepsi’s president, and they arranged for Pepsi to be the first Western mass-market brand to get a foothold behind the Iron Curtain?

Or that after the fall of the Soviet Union and the cratering of the ruble, Russia was so addicted to Pepsi that they traded twenty decommissioned warships for US$3 billion worth of fizzy sugar water, briefly rendering PepsiCo the sixth largest navy in the world? They had 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate, and a destroyer!

So yeah, you want me to fall for this scam in Russian, it fucking better be a fake Pepsi Award, not Coke.

How’s The Schadenfreude Going For Everybody?

When the histories of this time and place are written, I’m not sure that anything will embody the utterly fruitless flailing of the Trump Administration as calling a Very Important Press Conference starring Insider Goon #1 (Rudy Giuliani) in the parking lot of a lawn service next to a dildo store and across the street from a crematorium, during the middle of which the press all left because the race was called for Biden.

And all of us, I think, want to know what the story is behind Four Seasons Total Landscaping, accidental venue for maybe the saddest, most pathetic outburst in four years of increasingly sad and pathetic behavior. Did Rudy know a guy who knew a guy? Did — and I believe this with all my heart — the campaign think they were contacting the Four Seasons hotel and end up booking the wrong Four Seasons by accident? Did they think we wouldn’t notice that the entire thing took place between a fire extinguisher and a hose?

I want the oral history of this fiasco, the podcast series, the dissertation of what the hell actually led to this parking lot on the edge of Philadelphia, but in the meantime I have a new favorite shirt. Friend of Fleen Shing Yin Khor spent some time Saturday night gettin’ tipsy and designing a tribute shirt for Four Seasons Total Landscaping with everybody’s favorite orange nightmare, Gritty, prominently featured.

For about 24 hours, the shirt was up for sale at Threadless, with the intent of maybe sending five hundo to the campaigns of Democrats Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia Senate runoffs, as well as to the Stacey Abrams-led Fair Fight, which has done so much to counter voter suppression and gerrymandering in Georgia.

That was the plan, but like everything else about 2020, reality had its own ideas:


1. We raised $28k+!!
2. This is now a tax problem for me!
3. Please be patient as I sort accounting, and wait 2 weeks for Threadless to actually send/transfer money.
4. Here are my max contribution receipts for the Senate runoff campaigns.
5. Shirt comes down at 2pm PST.

Khor maxed out the allowable contributions under election law to a campaign per election cycle for both Ossoff and Warnock, and will be sending the remainder presently. For a few hours, there was only a tote bag at the Threadless link (benefiting National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network), because you gotta have a product there to leave a message saying the shirt are down, because wrangling finances is not Khor’s job and they have better things to do.

And then, a few hours later after convos with Threadless, the shirt was back:

SHIRTS ARE BACK! I will be working directly with Threadless to get money directly to voting charities(the ones mentioned earlier)!! However, I am still refusing to offer shirts on black, out of respect for the beautiful oranges of Gritty’s fur. Thank you.

Get yours here, and remember: any designs on Etsy or elsewhere (all of the ones I’ve seen being considerably more expensive than Khor’s versions) are knockoffs by lowlifes that need to be reported.

And let it never be said that we at Fleen don’t step up, so the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back in business. I will match all donations to Fair Fight up to US$1000 between now and when I get my shirt in the mail (damn right I ordered one). This is the one time you should accept the USPS being a little slow.

Spread the word, email or post your receipts, cost me some money, and let’s put McConnell out of his godsdamned office.

Spam of the day:

Bear Grillz shared a new online system for earning!

I think they’re trying to make me think of Bear Grylls, but instead they’re making me think of a bear that grills, or possibly a bear with grillz. That last one is frankly terrifying, but a bear that grills is awful close to something that Ryan North and Erica Henderson shared with us and is thoroughly awesome.

Instead Of Reading What My Dumb Ass Has To Say Today

Make sure that you (and people you know) have voted. We have to bury that fucker.

Then start making a list of what we’re going to demand of the next administration. Doesn’t matter who wins, there’s things that need to stop, things that need to be reversed, things that need to be made that never were before. Today’s the end of voting, but it’s just the start of what needs to happen.

Spam of the day:

A group of scientists have put their heads together and figured out a quick way to REGROW GUMS OVERNIGHT… They created a mineral dust which you just have to sprinkle over your toothpaste before brushing your teeth… This video clearly shows how you can restore your gums literally overnight.

Oh, this isn’t gonna turn into The Blob at all. [eyeroll emoji]

Hey, How Are You Today?

Me? Okay, I guess. I mean, I found out that work has apparently decided that we’re all using Microsoft Teams now, which is an abomination against all that is good and holy, and which decided to mark me as “Available for your DMs and chat, send ’em over any time you like!!!” despite the fact that I’m always teaching and not available, and which won’t let me log out or quit.

Seriously. I log out or quit, and it friggin’ re-launches and re-logs in, which brings my computer down to a crawl. Let’s try to find something that does not suck from every pore of its being; I’m thinking … webcomics.

It’s more than a little shame that work decided that today was the day to inflict pain, as today is one of the great holidays of Webcomickia, being as it marks — jointly and severally — the births of both John Allison and Ryan North. I thought I might put some birthday-apprope photos up top, but wouldn’t you know it? The internet is replete with photos of Ryan North — some even fully clothed! — but relatively few of John Allison. Doing a search produced the preview shown above, where I think we can quote Sesame Street and hum One of these things is not like the others, as one of the photos is John Allison, debonair chronicler of weird goings-on, and the other three are a different, lesser John Allison, onetime head of the Cato Institute.

There are no photos of lesser Ryans North; all other Ryans North have hidden themselves away from the extreme handsomeness and also Chompsky. Happys Birthday to Messers Allison and North; both of you produce better comics every time one comes out, and that is a rare skill.

In other news:

  • David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) has been throwing himself into Irregular Webcomic and his myriad other creative endeavours since his (mostly controlled, but still a big shift after a lengthy period of association) dejobbing¹, and has taken the next step — he had a store where you could get his (honestly, excellent) photographs, but sometimes you just gotta go where everybody else is:

    As part of my ongoing attempt to start a photography business so that I can avoid going back to working for The Man, I have opened an Etsy shop, selling greeting cards featuring prints of my wildlife and landscape photography. I ship worldwide. If you’d like to support me, and get some cool greeting cards, please check it out, and maybe mention to your friends and family.

    Speaking of cool greeting cards, my friend with whom I toyed with an art scammer, Hollis Kitchin? Awesome greeting cards and prints at her art shop, including some gorgeous new floral designs. If you need cards, please consider these two fine folks from opposite corners of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Speaking of Comics Camp, which is where I know Hollis from, another Camper has a new book announcement. Readers may recall that my primary complaint about Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina was the :01 Books should have given her about three dozen more pages to let the story and characters breathe a little more. I don’t want to say they definitely listened to me, but I will note that her next book has had its official cover reveal and pre-order announcement over at The Beat, and if you follow the link to the Macmillan page, it appears this time they gave her four dozen more pages to play with.

    Jukebox features more Indian young women as protagonists, more time travel, more family history searching … everything in Chanani’s wheelhouse, and anchored by her adorably inviting style. Get ready for discussions of music history (Sister Rosetta Tharpe!) and poetic waxing on the merits of vinyl², both of which are making my old college DJ habits start to rouse and demand to be fed. Jukebox releases from :01 on 22 June, 2021.

Spam of the day:

It looks like an ordinary survival tool you’d see at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop – but it’s not.It’s been updated with a tiny military technology that makes a 300-pound meth-fueled man lose control of all bodily functions in seconds.

So what, you finally found the Brown Note?

¹ The fact that that story is nearly two years old shows you what a country with a functioning safety net — notably, a national healthcare system — means for somebody taking a flyer at a creative career. It means the luxury of time, the luxury to try, the luxury to fail and not worry that it will cost you your life just because you’re no longer making corporate research PhD Aussie Fun Bucks.

² I’m not apologizing for that.


As has been noted in the past, there are certain folks within the webcomics ambit that have closely-aligned significant dates; Ryan North and John Allison, for example, share a birthdate, and I am a co-birthdayist with Jon Rosenberg. Dylan Meconis and her wife, Katie Lane¹, have two birthdays and an anniversary on three consecutive days.

And today, the 6th of October, one may find celebrations of the birth of Ananth Hirshbon vivant, man about town, possessor of the best poker face in history — and also eight years since the awesome wedding² of Holly Jeffrey Rowland.

Today is also the day that we found out who the 2020 MacArthur Fellows are (no [web]comics folks this year, but still a stunning cross-disciplinary collection of people representing the breadth of human endeavours) and the winners of the Harvey Awards, which will be formally presented by streaming ceremony on Friday evening, in conjunction with virtual NYCC.

  • The Book Of The Year and Best Children Or Young Adult Book went to Gene Yang for Dragon Hoops and Superman Smashes The Klan, respectively; the latter is shared with Gurihiru as the artists. The former was up against the likes of Lynda Barry and Tillie Walden’s Are You Listening? (one of my favorite books of the past year), along with Chris Ware, Eleanor Davis, and more.

    The latter was an even more impressive win, as Yang was competing against himself (Dragon Hoops being double-nominated), Guts, Stargazing, and Almost American Girl. It’s pretty unheard of to go against Raina with a Raina-alike book and then defeat both of them with the cheeriest story about stomping Nazis ever. Also, although I never got back to Books 2 and 3 of SSTK, let me say that Yang not only gets Superman better than anybody in the past couple of decades, his Lois Lane is perfect.

  • Digital Book Of The Year went to The Nib which I’m not sure is a book in the way the other nominees were, but certainly well-deserved. Matt Bors and his co-conspirators do amazing work, five days a week.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to check back in on the Ringo Awards, due to be announced in a few weeks. It’s finally acknowledged (as near as I can tell, the announcement about two hours after I last wrote about it) that Baltimore Comic Con ain’t happening in person, and the awards will be streamed from the virtual BCC. So, glad to see sanity prevailing.

Spam of the day:

Alison Wethering wrote: Hey, great site! Have you thought about adding a video in response to COVID-19?

I believe that I am firmly on the record that my response to COVID is Isolate and wear a mask, or stay the fuck away from me forever, you plague rats.

¹ Light-ning Law-yer!!

² No cake at this shindig, there was an ice cream truck complete with Choco Tacos.

I Am Feeling Called Out

I mean, this is me, right? Kathy Peterson — pardon me, Doctor Kathy Peterson, who like me has spent non-comics time for the past forever dealing with COVID-19 as part of the duct-tape-and-chewing-gum monstrosity that is the American healthcare system, not that I have opinions¹ — has specifically written this comic about me. Is this what negging feels like, because I have an odd urge to do what she says so she’ll pay attention and be nicer to me. But seriously, nice promo job&sup2, and everybody go check out Kidnapped By Gnomes’s election hullabaloo.

In other news, Halloween is a’comin’, or likely not if we’re being responsible, and that leaves a whole bunch of questions up in the air for what happens in a few weeks. My state/town haven’t made any pronouncement about trick or treating, but I’m deeply divided. On the one hand, I’m never the house that stiff kids with crappy candy. On the other, kids are ambulatory disease vectors, and the thought of opening my door to them — no matter how masked all are — gives me the heebie-jeebies and the jibblies.

I could put a bowl out and tell kids to take one, but I don’t want to have a bunch of hands pawing through and acting as an infective conduit, even if the emphasis isn’t really on fomites these days. And I don’t know that I’m ambitious enough to build a candy chute or zipline. Probably I’ll tape a bunch of individual candy to the fence that leads to my front door with a sign that says Take One, Be Safe, Happy Halloween.

Or, wherever I am, I could spent the time between now and All Hallow’s Eve with the Cartoon Art Museum Scrawl-O-Ween challenge:

This spook-tacular challenge fundraiser features 31 talented cartoonists illustrating 31 Halloween-themed drawing prompts all throughout October!

Featured artists include Jamaica Dyer, Brian Fies, Brad Rader, Andy Ristaino, Sam Viviano, and Judd Winick, but ALL cartoonists of all skill levels are invited to participate! Use the hashtag #scrawloween and join us on Twitter at @cartoonart and on Instagram and Facebook at @cartoonartmuseum to join in the fun!

They did say fundraiser, you’ll note. Each drawing from one of the participating artists will be available as a high-res download for US$five bucks, or US$100 for all 31. Original artwork will be auctioned off on the CAM E-bay page at the end of the month, and CAM will give a on individual museum membership away each day to one person selected from those using the #scrawloween hashtag to post their drawings on the sosh-meeds. For those wanting to participate, the prompts are:

 01 Cat   02 Cobweb   03 Werewolf 
 04 Ghost   05 Demon   06 Wizard 
 07 Mask   08 Monster   09 Fear 
 10 Vampire   11 Mirror   12 Haunted 
 13 Midnight   14 B-Movie   15 Cauldron 
 16 Shadow   17 Howl   18 Tarantula 
 19 Spirit   20 Eerie   21 Mad Scientist 
 22 Horror Host   23 Phantom   24 Goon 
 25 Alien   26 Goblin   27 Pumpkin 
 28 Witch   29 Tombstone   30 Strange 
31 Trick Or Treat

Happy drawing, and good scares, everybody.

Spam of the day:

When I was 18 I was a raging bull-man? I’d wake up with a hose solid enough to put out a small garbage fire?now I’m like halfway there on a normal day.

No shit, this spam comes to me with a return address of Alexander.Jones@[redacted] and you cannot convince me it’s not the Alex Jones. I can absolutely see that belligerent, bellowing, unhinged nutjob being deeply obsessed with his actual, personal hose.

¹ Namely, if you don’t stay the hell home and wear the fucking mask, you are a godsdamned ignorant, irresponsible, reckless asshole who is trying to murder me and everybody I love, thank you, I will not be taking questions at this time.

² Because the last thing I need is another by-the-numbers press release that came straight out of the boilerplate factory.

Watching The CXC Kickoff Reception

Updates to this post as things occur.

  • There will be a CXC 2021, and the goal is to have a named award memorializing Tom Spurgeon to present then.
  • Jerzy Drozd, interim director, speaks really naturally to Zoom; it doesn’t feel like he’s separated by time and space, it feels like he’s in the room with you.
  • Transformative Work award for changing the industry to Nate Power, Andrew Aydin, and the late Rep John Lewis. Powell accepted the award, accompanied by his cat, looking like a small version of the lions in front of the main branch NYC Public Library.
  • Master Cartoonist award for significant & sustained contribution to Diane Newman.
  • Emerging Talent award is usually presented on the floor with Jeff Smith & Vijaya Iyer surprising the recipient with a giant novelty check (and a real one). This year it goes to Gabby Metzler with a surprise Zoom, holding up her check for US$7500 cash money, which was a joyous moment.
  • Locher Award For Political Cartoons (for younger cartoonists) presented by AAEC to Tom Coute (runner up) and Catherine Gong (winner). Judges were Pia Guerra, Keith Knight, and Jen Sorensen.
  • Jenny Robb and Caitlin McGurk had some tech issues and said what were probably great world but couldn’t be heard for most of their introduction to Tom Gammill greeting the session from the Ernie Bushmiller Museum (in his house). Bushmiller says Wash your hands!
  • Non-trademark violating Pictionary-alike! Keith Knight, Kate Beaton, Fábio Moon, and Jeff Smith playing Paper Charades for speed drawing fun amusements, and the audience trying to guess what they were drawing. Fun!
  • There was a tour of the vaults with Jenny and Caitlin, with special guests along the way.
  • Garry Trudeau made a gift of 75+ Pogo strips to the Billy Ireland.
  • I have to go walk my dog, so I’ma miss a chunk here. It’s being recorded and you’ll be able to catch it on the YouTube channel.
  • Bill Watterson talked about Richard Thompson and Cul de Sac.

More of CXC this weekend.

This Friday, Friday, Friday

Okay, it was actually Sunday, but that’s not when things are happening and the alternative was … less good.

  • Friday is, of course, the start of CXC, the first without director Tom Spurgeon, and the first (not to mention hopefully last) that needs must be distanced. The guest list is deep and impressive (and features Fleen faves like Box Brown, Faith Erin Hicks, Shing Yin Khor, C Spike Trotman, Ben Hatke, Maris Wicks, and more).

    Exhibiting is going to be remote affair, but there’s so many good creators on the list, many of whom you’ll be able to catch during the programming. Okay, okay, the pre-keynote programming actually starts on Thursday the 1st, but the official start of the show is on Friday with a keynote speech by Gene Luen Yang (4:00pm EDT, details here) and a Jeff Smith-hosted opening reception at 5:00pm EDT (registration required)

    Other events to keep an eye on (all times EDT):

    All those registration links? That’s if you want to participate; you’ll get a personal (and traceable) Zoom link, which should help to keep griefers and Zoomboombers the hell away. All sessions (except for those designated adults only) will appear at the CXC stream, on Twitch, and YouTube, and I’ve barely scratched the surface on the interviews, workshops, how-tos, and Discord hangouts.

  • Speaking of both Friday and Spike, and heck also porn, the Kickstart (a short-run campaign, only 12 days start to finish) for Iron Circus’s latest quality pornographique ends on Friday. Patience & Esther by SW Searle is 280 pages of Edwardian erotic as the two title characters navigate feels, shifting mores, and — given that this is an Iron Circus NSFW title, I’m confident in saying some hot, hot gettin’ it on.

    If you’re on Spike’s mailing list for something other than all-ages titles? Check your inbox, ’cause you’ve probably been sent a link for the full first chapter, full of upstairs/downstairs class divisions, scene-setting, character backstory, and body positivity.

    Oh, and for anybody grumping about how Esther isn’t lily-white despite being in England, exactly what do you think happened to all of the unintended children of colonizers and the servant classes around the world? However many of them you think made it from the far-flung corners of the Empire back to Jolly Old, I guarantee you it was more, by an order of magnitude or three.

    Patience & Esther has currently raised US$32.2K (of a US$12K goal), and given the immense inrush of funding on day one and the short duration, has already demolished both the FFF mk2 (and the McDonald Ratio won’t help, as there’s simply not time to triple the initial funding period). Top funding level is a mere US$20 (plus shipping) for the physical book, so maybe get in on that? Y’only have a few more days to decide.

Spam of the day:

Nro Code:(o8983B) – Users Say Its Better Than Implants

Unless it’s the kind of implants that let me fight criminals (a cowardly, superstitious lot), not interested.

Today’s Choice

Give those three books another read or rush through a review that’s not completely informed yet.

Actually, it’s a slightly more involved choice than that — give those three books another read and put together the next missive in my campaign of stringing along an art scammer that targeted a friend. I’ve sent him an image of an example of my work, The Tenderness Of Memory Is A Balm Always, after which he replied to ask for more samples. Give it a click and scroll allll the way down and to the right to get to the deep emotional core of the piece. Trust me.

And I’d feel terrible if I didn’t have some information to share with you, so how about the news that Gallery Nucleus is currently running an artist highlight on Fleen Fave Becky Dreistadt? All of her work is 15% off until 15 October with code BU87WOEU. There’s some gorgeous work there for the collector who likes awesome things.

Spam of the day:

My name is Sam, and I work with companies to help them add (or change) live chat software on their websites.

That is a horrifying idea. Yuck.