The webcomics blog about webcomics

In Your Copious Free Time

John Keogh has been one of the most detailed (and simultaneously disturbing) webcomickers ever since the days of Lucid TV (which now exists only in the memories of those that followed the adventures in Jim Belushi Memorial Hospital). Every once in a while he pops up with an insanely detailed poster or album cover or tranche of comics. There is little warning when this happens; he just says Comics and there they are.

Spam of the day:

Factor clearly utilized..

What kind of factor? What kind of utilization?
Ohhhhh, boner pills. Gotcha.

¹ With bonus points for the New Yorker universal caption.

² With callback to Orange Julius Secret Menu Password = “Fucked Up Julius” Orange Julius Double Secret Menu Password = “Dark Julius … Strange, Painful Julius”.

³ Heh, “bone”.

Hey. You. You’re Doing Okay.

Today’s post is brought to you by the idea that it’s gonna be okay. There is so much hate and stupidity in the world, but on Saturday I met a six week old kid that was absolutely adorable while I was riding in an elevator and he doesn’t know that there is all that hate and stupidity. With luck, we’ll make it a good deal less so by the time he can tell the difference.

  • On the list of difference makers: George Rohac, or as he is known in these parts, George. Not many people get to be mononymic — your Madonnas, your Barbras, your Beyoncés — and her at Fleen only two people have earned that status¹, and only one of them could post a tweet to a survey that asked for my real name, address, birthday, and a whole squatload more info, and I’d fill it out.

    It’s part brand research, part effort to understand people better, part feedback on how he (that would be George) can be a better person. It caused a lot of thinking on my part, and I don’t doubt it will do the same for you. Give George some info, you know he’ll do something amazing with it. It’s the least you can do — it’s his birthday².

  • One of the most important things that George ever did, bee-tee-dubs, was share a video about his challenges with mental illness; it’s not available any longer, but you can read what I wrote about it at the time. It was a hell of a lot less common, five-plus years ago, to make these kinds of public declarations. It let a lot of people know that they aren’t alone; this message is particularly important in the creative community, which seems to have more than its share of people shouting down the lies that their brains tell them.

    Every share of this nature — and here’s the latest I’ve seen — increases the chances that somebody else gets the help they need³. Help can mean a lot of things, and the webcomics community does an inordinate job of helping the creators they follow. Whether it’s sticking with creators during involuntary hiatuses, or readers coming together to increase support so that creators can take care of their families, I think there’s another benefit at play.

    For each person that we know (or “know”, in the sense that we know their work) and help, the thought pattern grows — why just these people? Why not everybody? It’s making the selfish and exploitative stand out as outliers as we do what we can. It’s a hopeful thing, to think we can turn that desire to help into permanent, structural mechanisms that will keep health crises from bankrupting entire families. I’m usually far more cynical than this, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  • And in case you’re worried about what your future brings, young people, Matt Boyd and Ian McConville have a thought for you today. And if it’s still a dread day for you, consider: after doing far better in his surgery last November than expected, Jon Rosenberg’s son Alec was told he didn’t need followup surgery the day before his birthday no less, and his dad is able to get comickin’ again. New SFAM, folks, with Jon at his Jonnest. If his curmudgeonly ways don’t make you smile today, wait until the next strip. He’ll definitely get you then.

Spam of the day:

My Name is Mr.Thomas Phaahla and I am writing to Introduce you and your Company to the Asia Pacific Investment Pte Ltd.(APIP) Debt/Loan Funding Platform.

Dude, you managed to spell your purported name three different ways. Try harder.

¹ After first reference so that any newbies have context. The other is Raina Telgemeier

² Just in case you were worried, George is the person least likely to demand a birthday present that turns him into a twisted shell of himself, warped by greed and evil, and tied up in the doom of the world. Second lest likely would be, I dunno, Mr Rogers or Dolly Parton.

³ Not to mention the very key effect of normalizing treatment. As a tweet I saw over the weekend said, If you don’t have enough artisinal, handmade neurotransmitters, store-bought is fine.

It’s Like Saturday In San Diego In Here

Okay, it was Saturday, but Hell’s Kitchen by the Intrepid in a early April is a far cry from SDCC. Mark Siegel of :01 Books was the one that drew the comparison (at least, I think that’s what he said; as I’ve mentioned previously, he is a soft-spoken man and it was noisy), and he’d know.

He’d best get used to Saturday at San Diego bumping up a notch or two, as they’ll be doing in-booth events this year with various McElroys to celebrate the launch of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins at San Diego, and that fandom is tenacious¹. Hardcore fandom is something I haven’t seen at MoCCA Fest since, I dunno, the last time Kate Beaton was there?

  • In addition to running a rapidly-expanding empire, Siegel was previewing his own work as well; the 5 Worlds series debuted last year about a month after MoCCA, and this year book two will do the same. I complimented Siegel on the unexpected turn at the end of Book 1 (let’s say that it’s unusual to have the I am your father-level reveal at the start of your five-part saga instead of at the two-thirds mark to set up the end); I wondered how you keep building on a situation like that. He’s got a plan, though, and we’ll see how it turns out on 8 May.
  • Meanwhile, :01’s executive editor Callista Brill was more than happy to talk about the process of ramping up new people, of releasing twice as many books as two years ago², and making sure things don’t get missed. We talked about my concerns regarding The Prince And The Dressmaker and she confirmed what I’d suspected — writer/artist Jen Wang had no idea about the history of Leopold II and the editorial pass missed it.

    It’ll be addressed in future printings, but I want to acknowledge that Brill didn’t try to underplay or deny the mistake; they made it, they own, they’re fixing it in future printings, and it’s still likely that very, very few people would have ever noticed it. Some things you do because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of how much it could fly under the radar. Everybody over there is good people.

  • Good people work with good people, too. Be Prepared from Vera Brosgol debuts in a few weeks, everybody’s excited for Island Book by Evan Dahm (not tabling for the first time in forever) and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (which Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is illustrating for Mariko Tamaki’s words), not to mention the long-awaited Zita The Spacegirl/Might Jack crossover from Ben Hatke.

    And in addition to those? Nearly 30 more books between now and the end of calendar year 2018. All Summer Long by Hope Larson, the final Hidden City book by Faith Erin Hicks, the third Delilah Dirk from Tony Cliff, four Science Comics books, On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, two more Cucumber Quest books from Gigi DG, sequels to The Spill Zone and Walker Bean and Margo Maloo, a true tale of the Rwandan genocide, the wrap-up of the Secret Coders series … it’s going to be a busy time, so clear some space on your shelves.

  • And since we mentioned Valero-O’Connell, she’s been busy for the last two years, which was where she picked up the Laura Dean job; she’s got her own graphic novels to come after (the first being an expansion of her thesis comic, Black Sun Rising), she sold out of her absolutely breathtaking mini from Zainab Akhtar’s Shortbox curation, What Is Left³. It’s been a wild ride since she was wearing bobcat-jaw earrings and trying to get college done. She was unbelievably skilled that day I first met her, she’s gotten better in the time since, and she’s only going to keep improving. I can’t wait to see what she’s like in ten years.

And somewhere on the floor, there’s the next Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, the next Carey Pietsch, the next George O’Conner, Rebecca Mock, the next Leguizamo, Neufeld, Powell, Hernandez … probably the next Ngozi Ukazu, to be honest, as the women creators behind the table are definitely outnumbering the dudes, and the white faces are not the overwhelming majority anymore. The future of comics — creators and readers both — is more female, more brown, more queer, more different than it’s ever been before, and it’s about godsdamned time.

See you there next spring. I’ll be the guy with the moustache.

Spams of the day:



Meet Hottest Russian Beauties

These are from different spam factories, but they have remarkably similar schticks. Apparently, if you are a {Russian | Asian} mail-order bride and are 24 years old, you like dancing and having Pets [sic]; if you’re 26, you like sport and sprits [sic]; if you’re 29 you like workout and shopping [again, sic]. Oh, and you’re definitely named Salome, Nana, Karina, or Victoria. It’s like there’s a template out there that gets chesty stock photos stuck into it.

¹ As it was, a giveaway of a few dozen galleys signed by artist Carey Pietsch caused an aisle-clogging knot easily equivalent to that a day earlier for the Check, Please! giveaway. A’course, Ngozi Ukazu wasn’t at MoCCA and so that crowd dispersed rapidly.

² Granted, they’ve got about three times the staff, but getting them up to speed means that the extra hands can actually be a detriment until they find their feet. Also, they were viciously overworked before the expansion, and the up-staffing means that they are now merely overworked in the ordinary sense. Some day, they may get down to non-crazy-person levels of work:hours in the day.

³ I made a point of putting a copy in front of comics power agent Judy Hansen, and rumor has it Mike Mignola had effusive praise for it.

Comics Includes Everybody

Everybody loves comics. Everybody can make comics, to whatever degree they feel they can either produce words + pictures themselves, or to find somebody that can help them.

  • Case in point, right near the first floor entrance of MoCCA Fest, acclaimed actor, playwright, monologuist, and Eisner nominee John Leguizamo had a table, talkin’ comics and taking pictures with people. In another context, he would have been an object of intense scrutiny and mobbing, but here he was just another vendor, albeit one with somewhat higher name recognition. I am confident in my judgment that there were far bigger throngs a little ways down the room a little while :01 Books was giving out galleys of volume 1 of Check, Please! (due for release in September). Anybody can find a topic that people will want to read in comics.
  • Case in point, also right near the first entrance, George O’Connor had his table, and I spent some time in my annual ritual of nerding out over greek myths, particularly in the context of his latest Olympians book, Hermes (a review copy of which I recently received from Gina Gagliano & company over at :01). I loved this book, I told O’Connor. Hermes is a dick, and we laughed, but also spent time talking about how this book got to do the near-impossible — give Hera (long-suffering wife of Zeus, and famed persecutor of his various lovers) a sense of humor¹.

    He was also glad to learn I’d laughed at the the dick jokes he got past his editors (the first of which is on page one). Somewhere, a young kid is reading the legends of Hermes and those are flying right over their head; someday they’re going to realize what was happening in those panels and laugh their head off. There’s always something extra in comics.

  • Case in point: not far from O’Connor, not far from Leguizamo, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin were tabling with various comics but especially the three books (or box set, if you prefer) of March. A goodly chunk of Powell’s original pages were on display in the second floor art gallery as well, from March and from The Silence Of Our Friends (an earlier story of the civil rights era). It was an honor to tell Powell how important March is, and how much I’m looking forward to the next series, Run. In comics, there’s always the opportunity to convey a message.
  • Case in point: on Sunday morning, I found Josh Neufeld with his various collections of docu-comics; I complimented him on his collaboration with Brooke Gladstone, The Influencing Machine. I noticed that an older work of his, Terms Of Service (about privacy in the age of digital behemoths), a co-publication with Al-Jazeera America, was on the table.

    It’s unusually relevant just now, and I was happy to pick up a copy. While he was sketching in it, I mentioned that I had a Gladstone-crocheted hat², and he was happy to see it, as he’d never seen one before. In comics, there’s always a connection between people you hadn’t anticipated.

  • Case in point, on Sunday morning, the National Cartoonists Society booth was manned by Ed Steckley, and I introduced myself as one of the contributors to the nominating process for the webcomics awards. He was charming and very thankful for the effort (he oversees a lot of the process for all of the division awards each year, so he knows how much work goes into it).

    As it turns out, the awards nominations were announced later that day³; it’s a lot of work that Steckley went to (plus the webcomics constributing committee, plus various chapters working to help with logistics), but it’s worth it, because everybody loves comics.

Spam of the day:


This came from Erika and on first glance I thought Huh, Erika Moen is slacking on the consent a bit, but then I realized that was stupid and saw it was from Erika S, where the S stands for sucks, or spammer.

¹ Hermes himself is yet another of Zeus’s bastards, but this one she likes. He kills off Argus, the hundred-eyed guardsman of Io (one of Zeus’s previous conquests and currently on Hera’s shit list) and she muses Zeus was smart to send Hermes to do this. I just can’t stay mad at that guy.

² Which she offers up as premiums during pubic radio pledge weeks. It’s great hat, and Neufeld needs to get Galdstone to make him one.

³ In Online Comics — Short Form, you have Gemma Correll, Lonnie Milsap, and Mike Norton. In Online Comics — Long Form, you have John Allison, Vince Dorse, and Ru Xu. Also, Tillie Walden is nominated in Graphic Novels for Spinning.

My preference (NB: I’m not a voter) for Short Form would be Correll, and Dorse has won in Long Form previously, so I’d prefer Xu or Allison there. But honestly, it’s a good set of nominations. The awards will be given out Memorial Day weekend at the NCS annual confab, this year in Philadelphia.

Equal Parts Exhilarating And Traumatizing

That was :01 Books executive editor Callista Brill on working with … well, I’ll tell you some day. It was pretty damn hilarious at the time.

The time being the 2018 MoCCA Festival, where many things happened. I’m going to discuss them in no particular order, as befits my state of mind when overwhelmed by many, many excellent comics.

  • Thing: There were multiple schools boothing on the floor, but this is the first year I recall see a high school program. You can tell that they don’t really know what stories they want to tell yet, since it was mostly tracings of Yuri On Ice or Scott Pilgrim, but you can also sense the potential. Some of them will be good.

    Some are out of high school and finding their voices — a young lady named Tara Sunil Thomas had small clay figures in terraria, and they reminded me so much of some of Andy Bell’s work that I mentioned it to her. She hadn’t heard of him, but loved his stuff when we Googled it. Making connections is where it’s at.

  • Thing: That photo up top is an idea so brilliant that I’m surprised I’ve never seen it done before — a Moebius comic, a continuous infinite story told by Pain Pals¹. There was also a second amazing physical comic, a sort of folded-paper fortune teller, except this ones was a continuously-rotatable torus (similar to this but not quite) that was a comic of a food chain — small water critters (rotate inside out) eaten by fish (rotate) eaten by bear (rotate) dying and decomposing and running back into water. I was beautiful, delicate, and I saw it and then never could find it again on the floor. If you know what I’m talking about, please point me in the correct direction.
  • Thing: Speaking of unusual presentations, that’s one of the forms that gets recognized in the MoCCA Awards; the jury this year included Ananth Hirsh, and we talked about the immense pool of submissions that he had to consider careful. He linked the winners of the four awards categories (Single Image, Short Form, Long Form, Special Format) in his twitterfeed today, which also serves as a primer of neat work from neat creators.
  • Thing: It’s amazing the connections that exist in cartooning. I made a point of seeking out Alisa Harris, who after my preview list was published I discovered would be attending Comics Camp this year. Turns out that she went to school with Raina Telgemeier and is friends with Rebecca Mock who in turn was one of my cabinmates at Camp last year. Small damn world.

    While wandering by to talk to Mock about the postcards at her booth², I ran into her, Hirsh, Kazu Kibuishi (who was wandering the floor for a few hours), Amy Kim Kibuishi (whom I’d never met before), and Ayo (who we congratulated for being hated by all the right non-entities in comics).

    It was also at this time that I discovered that at one point at Camp, while asleep, Kibuishi dislodged a spider that was apparently descending towards my face, knocking it to the floor, where Mock stepped on it. I had no idea! I’m not especially arachnophobic, but now I owe Mock a spider-stepping.

And that brings us back around to the first point and connections again. There’s much more to tell, but we’ll tell it in the coming days.

Spam of the day:

Brain Zone Date

You’re trying to get me to give you money for the privilege of traveling to a quote-conference-unquote about the blockchain that is unironically describing as quote-celebrity keynote speakers-unquote John McAfee (onetime computing pioneer gone batshit paranoid conspiracy theorist) and Frank Abagnale (onetime federal prisoner famed for his widespread forgery and con games, upon whom the movie Catch Me If You Can was based).

On second thought, Abagnale is probably the perfect face for this event. Hint: if you can’t decide who the sucker is….

¹ The question remains as to how one is meant to display/keep such a thing. Darryl Ayo suggested hanging it from the ceiling and I’m not sure there’s a better solution.

² She supplied pre-stamped postcards, pens, a place to write, and issues of political interest; showgoers wrote out messages to elected officials & Mock mailed ’em en masse because civic engagement is to be encouraged.

First Nice Day Of The Season

First day in weeks that I’m wrapping up a work gig that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out, too. I think that Earth Humans call this a good mood. The only thing to mar it is that this weekend when I head into MoCCA, one crucial experience will be missing. See, whatever the comics show, without planning or arrangement, and absolutely without fail, Brigid Alverson and I will bump into each other at some point. This encounter then usually expands to include Johanna Draper Carlson and/or Heidi Mac.

This weekend, they’re all in Chicago for C2E2, dammit.

I mean, it’s a big show, and the Diamond Retailers Summit is happening adjacent, and if you’re interested in the print comics world it absolutely makes sense to make that your show this weekend instead of trekking to Manhattan. But I’m going to miss my local municipality infrastructure management discussion buddy¹.

Also in Chicago for C2E2? C Spike Trotman, although to be fair that’s in part because it’s literally down the road from her house. Spike’s become kind of inseparable from discussions of comics in Chicagoland — she’s the dominant publisher of graphic fiction and nonfiction in the city, and a force of nature in the not owned by enormous media conglomerates wing of comics.

One of her hometown papers (that would be the Chicago Tribune, or is that Troncbune? has done a series of stories about C2E2 in its daily free paper, Red Eye, and a feature on Spike is part of the coverage. The story’s not new to anybody that’s been following webcomics for the past decade or so, but there are a lot of people out there that aren’t described that way.

Some of them are discovering Spike and Iron Circus for the first time.

Some of them are considering making comics for the first time.

Some of them are realizing that being browner, queerer, less cis-male than the vast majority of comics creators have been need not be a bar to their participation.

Spike’s absolutely changed up publishing, and she’s going to continue to do so. If you’re in Chicago and see her, you’d do well to listen to what she’s got to say.

And if you see Brigid, tell her I said hi.

Spam of the day:


While I do have (and have since I was about six … not due to trauma, but due to inner-ear baro-sensitivity) a mild case of tinnitus (it’s only noticeable in absolutely silent conditions, and quieter than the sound of running a hand through my hair), I almost didn’t recognize that was what was being referenced. Spelled that way, I thought I was reading the name of a character in the next Star Wars movie.

¹ Alverson’s day job is in local government, and as such she’s got an interest in emergency services. My volunteer time is as an EMT, and as such I’ve got an interest in local government. By the second or third iced tea, we’re redesigning entire systems of governance.

Kickin’ 2: Electric Crowdfundaloo

There were some pretty nifty Kickstarts that launched yesterday or the day before, and since new ones keep cropping up I figured it’s time to do a roundup. Let’s get started.

  • Alexis Sugden does comics that are widely varied; I first noticed her name at The Nib as the illustrator of a story about gastric reduction surgery. After I looked up her name, I recognized a previous story at The Nib about gender and body image, It’s All For The Breast. What I hadn’t twigged on was that was a greatly condensed version of a story that she’s been telling weekly since 2016.

    And now she’s going to put it all into a single print volume, which requires the absolute lowest Kickstarter goal I’ve ever seen: CA$950, or US$736. Remarkably (because this is a hell of interesting project, and the book is more than 100 pages, for the low, low price of CA$15 (unsketched) or CA$20 (sketched)¹), it’s not quite hit goal in the first 50 or so hours, but it’s about to.

    This looks like one of the most interesting autobio comics you’re going to read this year, so take a look at the sample pages at the project page — just the page with Bowie forcing Young Alexis to reconsider notions of gender is worth the price of admission by itself.

  • The annual Retrofit Comics Kicker has arrived, and with it the opportunity to support twelve new graphic novels. There’s something there for everybody, from 64 page books to more than 200 pages; some are B&W, some full color, some limited; pracerange from US$8 to $25, with plenty of tiers that include these 12 books, plus extensive collections from the Retrofit backlist.
  • David “Damn You,” Willis has set up the campaign for the seventh (!) Dumbing Of Age collection, which is essentially the most foolproof thing you can ever back on Kickstarter. He announces the Kicker and the stretch goals, his fans back the Kicker and stretch goals, he produces the books and stretch goals, people get the books and stretch goals. You can set your watch (or at least your calendar) by it.
  • Not a Kickstarter but Heidi Mac at The Beat — she always seems to get this story first, year after year — reports that the Center for Cartoon Studies and Slate have announced the winners of this year’s Cartoonist Studio Prize. For reference, the nominees were announced about a month ago, and the winners are Keren Katz for print comics, and Michael DeForge for webcomics.

    In addition to the honor of recognition, Katz and DeForge each get a cool thousand bucks American cash money, which is the only thing better than a six hundo.

Spam of the day:

Unfortunately, I hadn’t experience of technological background, that’s when I thought of my close friend Sasha Petrichenko who is currently working as a software developer and engineer for NASA space exploration.

Just because your dude works for NASA doesn’t mean he knows squat about investing strategies. Trust me, I know people at NASA, and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to be a rocket scientist.

¹ US$11.62 or US$15.50, respectively, at Kickstarter’s exchange rate.

Holy Crap, Watterson

We are going to talk about some cool things today, but could anything be cooler than watching Bill Freakin’ Watterson return to the Sunday comics page, even just for one day? We’ve seen him draw in the slightly recent past with the poster for STRIPPED, but to see Calvin again, to see Watterson dinosaurs again, to see something even better than the legendary Tyrannosaurus Rexes in F-14s¹ ², and to see him playing with Opus the gosh-danged penguin.

With a Trump joke.

Look, if it turns out that Breathed just got Watterson to okay the use of Calvin, but that he didn’t draw the lil’ guy again, don’t tell me. Breathed’s done C&H references for a couple of April Foolses now, but the earlier ones didn’t have that spark, that hint of Wattersonian goodness. We all need to find joy where we can.

  • Speaking of finding joy, please enjoy Pénélope Bagieu on the effect of a participation trophy that she didn’t know was a participation trophy, leading to a lifetime of assuming she could do stuff. Which means, naturally, that she can.

    The Teddy Bear Effect is a pure delight. Go read it in anticipation of meeting Ms Bagieu at MoCCA this weekend and telling her how hard she rocks³.

  • On any other day, this photo would be up top, but you know how it goes. Just a few books that have shown up here at the Fleenplex — Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues is a delight through and through, and I’ll have to work up proper reviews for the tenth (!) book in The Olympians by George O’Connor (I say this every time, but this one’s my new favorite) and the first graphic novel from Vera Brosgol since Anya’s Ghost (thanks to :01 Books for the latter two books).

    Suffice it to say that I’ll be carting Brosgol’s and Bellwood’s books (I, uh, got five copies of 100DD so I could give ’em away to people that need them) out to Juneau and Comics Camp later this month, so I can get them signed. I’ll be coming home with more copies of Be Prepared as well, as I’ve got nieces who will love it and they can’t have my copy, it’s mine.

    But what’s the large book taking up all the space? Oh, nothing, just the first college text ever to talk about the entire history of illustration from cave paintings to Cintiqs. Years ago, the lead editor went looking for somebody to write 500 words on webcomics and Scott McCloud sent her my way.

    It was remarkably hard to get down that far, not lose sight of what a big topic was being addressed, and still sound like me (special thanks to KB Spangler, who smacked me upside the head about the latter point; that’s why she’s an excellent editor and you should hire her). But there it is, years later. My essay got split up and folded into a series of digital illustration topics, and my name might have gotten left off the contributor’s list, but it’s totally in the errata and will be in the next edition!

    Look, like I said above, we need to find joy, etc, and I personally look forward to a job interview in the unspecified future and some tech recruiter asks about the line on my CV that says I contributed to History Of Illustration. This is completely a thing and I’m taking joy from it.

Spam of the day:

Is Your Husband Getting Calls Day and Night?


¹ Leading to an excitable kid to exclaim This is so cool and a jaded tiger to mutter This is so stupid.

² None of which, as far as I know, were T-Rex, in that they didn’t appear to be shouting Frig! Frig! I don’t know how to fly! Friiiiiiiig!

³ Correct answer: So hard.

It’s Apparently Vocabulary Day At Fleen

If you’ve not yet read How The Best Hunter In The Village Met Her Death, get on that. It’s been occupying a large amount of my mental bandwidth with its Ostertagian goodness since yesterday¹, so I’m not sure how much I’d be able to talk about today. The fact that KC Green and Anthony Clark met goal on BACK Book 2 and thus need not destroy all you know and love might have been in my ability today, but maybe not.

So it’s a good thing that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has (as is his wont) sent along a dispatch from the further shores in my hour of need, without prompting. He’s a marvel.


There have been a few interesting developments in our ongoing coverage of creator activities in festivals. If you just tuned in, just know that comics creators never charge readers for sketches in French-language comics festivals or other meetups, and there is a growing movement that creators sketching be recognized as the main attraction of a comics festival, and as a result that creators be paid to provide this animation.

Now, it is important to realize that the current arrangement would be unfair to creators regardless of the context, but it is true that the recent challenges to this state of affairs indirectly come from the overproduction crisis affecting the industry, which results in the degradation of revenues comics creators do have (advances, royalties, etc.), threatening their livelihood. Add to that changes in taxation that, while affecting any kind of income for everyone, exacerbate their difficult situation, and, well, you have a recipe for unrest.

And that is the situation where the Salon du Livre de Paris found wise to go with Hey, how about we don’t necessarily pay creators for contributing to conferences, panels, or workshops?

The Salon du Livre de Paris², set up by Reed Exhibitions, a for-profit company, on behalf of the Syndicat National de l’Edition, a trade group of publishers, is most definitely a for-profit endeavor contrary to most comics festivals (e.g. to the best of my knowledge they do not make use of volunteer labor), so that skimpy attitude stung even more when participating creators found out about it when discussing it between themselves. Worse, some turned out to be paid for these contributions, but others not, with no discernible pattern.

So creators complained, very publicly, rallying around the hashtag #payetonauteur (pay your creator). While the Charte des Auteurs, representing child lit creators, relatively quickly obtained the guarantee child lit creators would be paid for their efforts, this of course left everyone else, so the campaign continued, with Emilie “Bulledop”, a booktuber, and other creators announcing they would not attend in the current conditions, and cartoonists such as Cy advocating the cause to the public and trying to rally support.

It’s not worth going too much over how the Salon de Livre de Paris justified their position (they tried to claim that creators would actually be promoting their own work through their contributions, therefore no pay), because after a few days of pressure … victory! They relented and announced all contributions from creators would be paid … except for signings; that part will remain a battle for another day.

And while the Salon du Livre de Paris is now over (creator revendications³ did show themselves, but it went smoothly overall), the struggle goes on, now to try and obtain better statutory protections, especially in the context of the incoming general reforms in France (e.g. unemployment, retirement, ongoing training, etc.). We have probably not seen the end of it.


Many thanks for FSFCPL, and is your mind as blown as mine by the bit at the end? Creators seeking legal protections against exploitative circumstances at shows? In the US, we can’t even get major publishers to not offer illegal internships. Thankfully, others understand that treating people well forms a pipeline for the skills you need to keep your business running (heck, I’m tempted to take a leave from my frustrating job and apply for that :01 Books internship myself).

Spam of the day:

Discrete, Beautiful, Women Waiting For You

Wait, you mean the Asian mail-order brides you’re advertising are distinct and separate individuals? Awesome, I’ve never really been into hive minds. Now, are they also careful and circumspect in their speech and actions, so as to avoid causing offense or gain advantage?

¹ Along with a narrowing from some late night EMS calls and not enough sleep in the past 24 hours.

² Which covers prose books and children books in addition to comics.

Editor’s note: Reed Exhibitions (a division of RELX Group, formerly Reed Elsevier) is the parent company of Reed!Pop, who run NYCC and bought (and greatly changed) Emerald City Comic Con. Reed Exhibitions do a lot of trade shows worldwide, and their mastery of forms as diverse as the boat show or the home improvement show reveals that they try to treat their events according to a standard script. But comics are neither boats nor building contractors.

³ This is not only a French word, but apparently also an English word. Revendication: action of claiming back or recovering a rightful possession, according to the folks at Oxford. Learn something new every day! In this sense, I’d say it’s close remonstrances mixed with vindication — creators had to get a bit loud and noisity to make sure they weren’t ignored or run over.

Festival Friday

The header image is apropos of nothing, except that Kendra Wells has been killing it at The Nib lately, and that there’s something refreshingly hilarious about a pop song called Obstruct My Justice.

It’s spring time (the snow from the Nor’easter two days back is melting and everything!) and that means comics festival time. In case you hadn’t seen, both MoCCA Fest and TCAF have new information up for your perusal.

  • First up: MoCCA (7 and 8 April, at the Metropolitan West event space, next to the Intrepid Museum) has schedules of events (which will take place a skant two blocks away, at the Ink 48 hotel), with six panels on Saturday and six more on Sunday.

    The big draws look to be the retrospective on creating March with co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Saturday at 3:30pm in the Garamond Room), the Jaime Hernandez spotlight (Sunday at 12:30pm, Garamond Room), and the Mike Mignola Q&A (3:30pm, Garamond again). It’s not like what’s happening in the Helvetica Room is bad, it’s just these three caught my eye.

    Oh, and I’m not sure if I mentioned that featured guests for MoCCA, but they include webcomicker Rebecca Mock (who also designed the badges this year) and The Nib cartoonist Ann Telnaes (who also draws for other places, like The Washington Post). Exhibitors that caught my eye include Alisa Harris (A119 A), Carey Pietsch (H255), Christian Blaza (H264), Corey Chrapuch (H230), Josh Neufeld (I270 A), Julia Gfrörer (E183 A), Ken Wong (G242), Laura Ķeniņš (E179), Madeline Zuluaga (F231), Pénélope Bagieu (no table listed, but I’ll bet she’s hanging out with the cool folks at :01 Books, E162), Priya Huq (H263 B), Robyn Chapman (E170), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (J286), and Sara Varon (D155 B). Did I miss anybody? Let me know!

  • For those not all festival’ed out, TCAF will run 12 and 13 May, centered on the Toronto Reference Library, but spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood for a event that’s become more and more citywide. They’ve also done us the favor of putting all their exhibitors on one fast-loading page. However, the fast-loading page doesn’t allow you to click links into new tabs or copy link addresses, so there’s no quick way of including websites for folks. I know, but you think I have these all memorized?

    Anyways, you’ll see Lucy Bellwood, Boum, Tony Breed, Vera Brosgol, Emily Carroll, Cecil Castellucci, Danielle Corsetto, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Melanie Gillman, Sophie Goldstein, KC Green, Nicholas Gurewitch, Kori Michele Handwerker, Dustin Harbin, Myisha Haynes, Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota, Abby Howard, C Spike Trotman, Jeph Jacques, Shing Yin Khor, Hope Larson, Kel McDonald, Sara & Tom McHenry, Rebecca Mock, Sfé Monster, Molly Ostertag, Ben Passmore, Katie Shanahan, Whit Taylor, Jen Wang, Ron Wimberly, and the zubiquitous Jim Zub. You should be able to find their sites pretty easily.

Spam of the day:

Congratulations, You’ve Been Considered for Inclusion…

They still do Who’s Who type scams? Man, that takes me back. I remember getting actual postcards back in like high school talking about the importance of being listed in such a prestigious personal branding vehicle. Got some sour news for you, Jack — you weren’t getting my US$39.95¹ back then, you ain’t getting squat from me now.

¹ US$95.74 in constant dollars.