The webcomics blog about webcomics

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?

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.


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.

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).

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
  • HOSTAGE by Guy Delisle
  • KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings
  • MONSTRESS by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
  • ROUGHNECK by Jeff Lemire
  • SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone
  • SPINNING by Tillie Walden
  • THE FLINSTONES by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh

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 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.

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.

Ups And Downs And Ups Again

Those who follow me on the tweetmachine know that I’m in San Diego, and it’s weird. I can walk into a restaurant in the Gaslamp and just sit at a table! Streets have people on the sidewalks, but not throngs! People are walking their dogs on patches of green adjacent to Harbor Drive, instead of there being enormous installations of Nerd Shit! It is, in a word, Paradise.

  • But we all know that Paradise is flawed, that hideous maldesigns cause it to be lost. In this case, I’m here a week too early:

    SAN DIEGO: I’m appearing at the incredible San Diego Maritime Museum (YES THE ONE WITH ALL THE BOATS) next Thursday, 8/16! Come hear me talk about boat comics ON AN ACTUAL BOAT. Free signing in the gift shop 6-7pm, then a lecture inside the museum! AAAAA. …

    Lucy Bellwood is bringing her 100 Demon Dialogues tour to this town next Thursday, and it’s on a boat and I won’t be here, what the crap.

    If you haven’t had the pleasure of a Lucy Bellwood talk, you owe it to yourself to attend; if you haven’t been around Lucy Bellwood on a boat, I recommend you get from 100+ SPF sunblock, or possibly one of those airport firefighter suits because she is going to be incandescing with excitement, y’all. Fun starts at 6:00pm, runs until 9:00pm, and will take place at 1492 N Harbor Drive¹. Signing first in the gift shop (until 7:00pm), then a talk about Bellwood’s nautical adventures from 7:15pm on a boat (museum admission required).

  • It’s an up-and-down time for Lucas Landherr these days. His good, good dog (they’re all good dogs) died, which sucks; his daughters have never known a time without Westley², so I imagine it’s been a sad time around the Landherr homestead.

    Then scant days later, he got recognized by the professional society of Chemical Engineers for what he’s done to make ChemE education more effective; specifically, he’s the recipient of their 2018 Award for Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education:

    Prof Landherr has had the opportunity to work with student and professional artists to write a comic on teaching pedagogy for Chemical Engineering Education. This initiative is an opportunity to further work with the medium for broader instructional purposes.

    In addition, Prof Landherr’s work with Crash Course, in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios, has helped influence how engineering topics can be taught through another unique visual media. Prof Landherr has been working as the engineering consultant of the “Crash Course: Engineering” series that covers fields and topics throughout all of the main branches of engineering.

    For those keeping track at home, the American Institute Of Chemical Engineers also named him to their 35 Under 35 list last year, he was recognized for teaching in 2016 by the American Society For Engineering Education, and he’s taken a number of named awards at Northeastern for education innovation and teaching.

    And I bet he’d trade any of them for another snuffle from Westley. Well done, Dr Landherr, best wishes to your family in this time of loss.

Spam of the day:

Please activate your new Gumtree account

Not be be confused with Gumroad, Gumtree is apparently the UK version of Craigslist; I’ve known for some time there’s at least one Gary Tyrrell in the UK who thinks my email address is his, and Gumtree really wants him to confirm the account he signed up for. Either that, or Russian spammers have just supplied his email address (that is to say, mine) along with an “account name” that’s a combo platter of Cyrillic letters and a URL that there’s no way in hell I’m clicking, in an attempt to hijack a legit merchant to send their links past some (but not all) spam filters. Either way, please figure out that your email is not mine, UK Gary Tyrrell

¹ Pro tip, about three blocks south, at Broadway on the water? Great taco stand.

² Westley Landherr is also known as German, faithful labcoat-wearing hound of Dante Shepherd.

And We’re Back

Doing better, thanks for asking. I’m going to do some catch-up to clear some items that are timely, and we’ll return to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin and the second part of his look at Japan Expo Paris.

  • Item! Jon Rosenberg is many things — a webcomics pioneer, cranky dude, connoisseur of office supplies, father of three, and owner of my soul. He’s been running webcomics endeavours since 1997 and for much of that time, it’s been a one-person deal.

    Today, Goats Amalgamated Industries doubles in size, as a new employee (or, more likely, a new boss) joins up. Amy Rosenberg is — apart from the questionable judgment necessary to marry Jon — a skilled designer and artist in her own right, and has been doing yeowoman’s work these past dozen years, working a corporate¹ job to keep the insurance that one must have when one has kids — particularly one with medical challenges. But Alec is a whole lot better now, and Amy’s metaphorically flipped corporate America the double bird, quitting her job and joining Jon in running the comics stuff, including clearing an extensive backlog of Kickstarter and Patreon rewards.

    It’s a risk. It’s an act of supreme optimism. It’s a move in service of art and humor and light-heartedness at a time when we desperately need all three. It’s possible to support Rosenberg, Rosenberg, Rosenberg, Rosenberg, and Rosenberg, LLC, through Patreon, assuming Patreon is working today.

  • Item! Zach Weinersmith, in accordance with prophecy (and his threats/promises of the past couple of weeks) launches a new comic today, along with co-writer Greg Weiner (his brother, and an actual political science professor) and artist Dennis Culver. It’s an explainer of how American government works, and it’s called Laws and Sausages.

    L&S launches today, with four multi-page episodes (on Separation Of Powers in two parts, Impeachment, and How To Communicate With Your Elected Officials), and it’s already got a sub-reddit².

  • Item! Chris Hallbeck has been running something very unusual at Maximumble for the past two weeks or so — an ongoing storyline (never happens) about people with actual recognizable character faces (really never happens). And now it’s spun off to its own site, and we’ll get the continuing adventures of Pebble And Wren a novice monster kicked out of the cave by their parents, and the little girl they’re supposed to haunt (her dad thinks having an under-bed monster is traditional). It’s hell of cute.
  • Item! Steven Conley launched a Kickstarter for a hardcover collection of The Middle Age. That was last week, just as things were interrupting life, so sorry that you’re late finding out, but on the bright side, Conley’s made goal in the meantime, so it’s less hope the campaign funds and more pre-order at this point. Bonus!

    The collection will include the first three chapters, two of which are available in print form already, the third in digital collection. What, you want print? That’s what the Kickstart’s for — three chapters, 100-odd pages, full color, shipping in October.

  • Item! Another new book, but this one you’ll have to wait for. Next year, Evan Dahm will have Island Book coming from :01 Books, and some time after that, a new book from Iron Circus. It’s about Christ’s decent into Hell, based on Gospels both apocryphal and canonical, deconstructed to get to meat of the matter. The Harrowing Of Hell is being worked on now, and features the cartooniest stigmata you’ve ever seen. Follow Dahm on Twitter to keep appraised.

Spam of the day:

This important expiration notification notifies you about the expiration notice of your domain registration for search engine optimization submission. If you fail to complete your domain name registration search engine optimization service by the expiration date, may result in the cancellation of this search engine optimization domain name notification notice.

You’re trying to fool me into thinking that my domain is expiring, and if I don’t give you money it will result in … you no longer notifying me you want me to give you money? Oh, screw you, scammers.

¹ Read: soul-destroying.

² Wait, don’t Zach and Greg have a brother that’s recently the CTO at Reddit?

I Don’t Know How He Does It

They're counting down to 2019, if you want to get tickets.

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, that is. There’s … stuff … going on here, and my mind is anywhere but webcomics at the moment. But FSFCPL sent an unlooked-for post — the first of two! — and so we all get to read along.


It took me some time to understand that Souillon¹ was on to something.

What struck me when I started paying attention to his signings, in order to consider going, is that he overwhelmingly favors anime cons, and generally shuns “traditional” French comics festivals. This is not merely because of his new independent status: the pattern was the same when his erstwhile publisher, Ankama, was housing him for signings (these days he either booths independently or is hosted by a bookshop).

He has his reasons, of course, of which I’d rather not speak instead of him; but I considered him an isolated case and so did not pay much attention to anime cons in general.

But last year I came to two realizations:

  • Festival goers for traditional French comics festivals are really centered around netting these signed copies from their favorite creators; there is not that much demand for discovery or curiosity there. It would be presumptuous of me to try and explain this phenomenon; I will just note that, since French comics are traditionally very well distributed, it seems the main role left for festivals to fulfill was to allow the public to actually meet the creators, which are presumed as being already known.
  • It’s important for online creators to be discovered, obviously. And being rediscovered — that is, being noticed by passersby as being the creator of art these passersby first saw online — can be an important part of that. Case in point: last year I went on a lark to a comics festival of LGBTQ+ creators, and once there I noticed Shyle Zalewski was there, which I had not expected (well, not that they aren’t LGBTQ+, but I had not followed them enough to notice any announcement that they’d be there).

So while I skipped them in 2017, I thought it important that I attend anime cons in 2018, because creators can benefit from exhibiting there way beyond simply catching the eyeballs of otaku using their manga-like style: attendees are much more likely to be simply travelling the aisles looking for something new, and while I described some French comics festivals as being big, anime cons are bigger (allowing more affordable table space for creators) and have higher attendance (allowing better changes for rediscovery, statistically speaking) by an order of magnitude, on average.

And Japan Expo Paris is probably the biggest (about 120,000 m² [meters squared, not a footnote], not counting the halls dedicated solely to line management) and most attended anime con in France². But by itself that does not mean much: earlier this year I went to Made In Asia in Brussels, and while that took up more than 50,000 m², I did not find any comics content to discover. And with these conventions, Japan Expo Paris included, you cannot really count on the programming or exhibitions to compensate.

Japan Expo Paris, however, was a bounty. Not only did I see SoSkuld, Pellichi, and other creators with a manga-like style³ that you would spontaneously associate with such a convention, but I also saw Jackpot, creator of Jo, whose style is definitely closer to traditional bandes dessinnées; and this was all the more valuable to meet her as she had to get away from social media (I missed Jo writer Soyouz, who was not present on Saturday). So the chance meeting aspect was definitely there.

Plus, since there was no line of people waiting for a signing, we were able to chat for a bit: for her as well attending Japan Expo Paris was a snap decision, without much of a commitment (Jo’s readers have no particular expectation of seeing the creators at Japan Expo Paris), to see how it would go, and she indeed appreciated the occasion to meet readers who’d just happen to be there and recognize her work.

I came back at the end of the day to check out her booth and ask how the day had gone, and it had obviously gone well, at least better than she planned for, as she had run out of some books (Saturday being usually the biggest day).

While other creators confirmed the impression, for it to happen to Jo shows these anime cons are now much more than places for selling manga, anime DVDs, and messenger bags to people who grew up with anime (though they are that, too): they are general pop culture conventions; and much like crowdfunding is providing comics creators an alternative for financing their creations, such conventions are providing them an alternative for meeting their readers. These conventions have in recent years been colonized by Youtubers for this very reason, and it is and will be interesting to see independent comics creators doing the same.


Thanks again to FSFCPL. We’ll run the second part of his adventures at Japan Expo Paris once it clears Blog Customs.

Spam of the day:

Sorry to see you unsubscribe! Just so you’re aware, unsubscribing removes you from our global PR list for all clients. If you’ll allow us, we can customize your subscription settings to specific topics so that you receive news only that you care about.

See this? This is from a PR flack that’s sent stuff to me that I don’t care about for years. They finally — after uncounted messages being sent to the spam folder — included an unsubscribe option and then this happened.

Don’t do this. Unsubscribe means you don’t talk to me any further, and it pissed me off enough that I complained to MailChimp, to find out if this was a violation of their TOS (it is).

Fun fact: the PR flack in question was using fake MailChimp headers and badging and isn’t actually one of their customers! So this is going to serve as notice: if I get anything further from you, I’m naming and shaming. In the meantime, bugger off.

¹ Since Maliki does not deign show up to conventions and other public events, for the purposes of this report we will treat the creator of Maliki’s webcomic as being Souillon.

² For instance, I anecdotally met a Peridot when I reached the train station next to my home to embark on my journey to Japan Expo Paris. Not unusual to meet con goers ahead of the con itself you say? Except we were at least (depending on train choices) two connections away from the train to get to the Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte … so I think it’s fair to say Japan Expo Paris draws quite a crowd.

³ One of which will be the subject of the next post.

For Those Keeping Track At Home

Fleen’s coverage of SDCC 2018 is now finished. We put up 8645 words during the show, and another 7539 in the week since it wrapped up. If you want to read it all, you can click here, scroll back until you hit A Busier Preview Night Than One Would Have Expected, and start reading.