The webcomics blog about webcomics

Kicking, Starting, And Suchlike

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

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

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

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

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

    This link will take you to the live stream.

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

*_*Refinance Today and Save!*_*

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

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

I Think Paul Will Understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck that, and fuck him.

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

The Dirty Sex Secret No Girl Will Ever Tell You …

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

¹ Reminder: Six hundred dollars is class money.

Joy And Sadness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

china pregnant women are already contending last Olympic ice hockey

Ohhhhh … kay.

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

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

It’s Never Too Pink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

³ Smile 2: Smile Harder?

Heading To The Airport, Not Springing For Inflight WiFi

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

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

Joy In Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

Find vehicle tracking devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Miscellany And The Eisners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

Unique True Wireless Earbuds With Amazing Sound

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

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

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

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

And In Other News Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spam of the day:

Don’t wait – Further Your Education at Liberty University

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

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

Behind The Scenes

You should know these names: Butcher, Siegel, Watters, Pelham, Hererra.

Something about my engineer’s view of the world makes me fascinated by all the things you don’t see on the surface of things; I want to know how things are constructed and how all the construction fits together. Thus, Pat Race and I made our way up to the panel rooms for the Editing Comics panel moderated by Chris Butcher. You may recall that about a month ago (that is, long after the panel was set for inclusion at the show) Butcher left his longtime position running The Beguiling and took a new job with VIZ as an editor, which made for an interesting (if initially unanticipated) dynamic at the front of the the room; he would have the opportunity to ask some of the best editors in the history of comics how they do their work such that (and I’m quoting here), I will take all your best information and then crush you.

[Self-editor’s note: when I italicize a passage of text like that, it’s as direct a quote as I was able to type in realtime; when left plain, I am paraphrasing the gist of what the speaker said.]

Fleen extends its condolences to the future crushees, people with distinguished careers to this point, who will shortly find themselves bereft of all they once held dear in their careers. In the meantime, though, they were awfully collegial and welcoming towards Butcher; they brought examples of their work and processes, and were generous in sharing how they approach their jobs. From right to left in the photo above, they are:

  • Robin Hererra, Oni Press
  • Cassandra Pehlham, Graphix/Scholastic
  • Shannon Watters BOOM
  • Mark Siegel, :01 Books

… all of whom came to editing via different routes. Hererra interned at Oni for a summer, then was an administrative assistant for a year before joining the editorial ranks; Oni is the only place she’s worked. Pelham worked a summer fellowship with Scholastic for three years that shifted towards graphic work in the third year. Siegel founded :01 in 2005 (within the much larger environment of Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan/Holtzbrink) to be a publishing house for authors rather than franchises¹, with broad themes and age categories. Watters started at BOOM in 2010 as an assistant editor, ran the KABOOM (licensed) line for a time, and now runs the creator-owned BOOM Box imprint.

They spoke for a while on the camaraderie in comics; Butcher noted that he’s friends with lots of folks, but now that he’s going to be in an editing role and competing with the to a degree, was worried that would have to end. It was nice to learn that wasn’t the case, everybody’s been very nice and welcoming in the community so far. He threw out an invitation to talk about the network editors have with each other:

Watters: There’s a special relationship, you understand this very specific thing you do that most people in comics don’t understand.
Pelham: It’s a small community, and we’re competitive but also supportive of each other. We’re cheering for others because a win for one of your books is a win for comics in general, for reading, and for kids. The most competition is at an auction, when you might be bidding against each other to acquire a book that’s been offered to several houses.
Herrera: But it’s a solitary kind of work. The most I’ve been able to talk to other editors is when I go to SCAD on Editor’s Day for portfolio review. At the end of the day you get out exhausted, but we talk. And they hold it at this old mansion with a giant porch, and there’s bourbon …

Butcher had each of them choose several books they’ve worked on and talk about how they edited each; the key takeaway from this discussion is that no two books, no two creators need to be handled the same way. Herrera opened with three books that featured three entirely different processes, and noted at Oni there are just editors, not story editors or copy editors, or other kinds of specialization; any project could require any of the kinds of skill.

She edited Space Battle Lunchtime (and continues to do so) from its pitch, ran all edits from start to finish, and gets to nudge creator Natalie Reiss in needed directions from time to time, relying on a very experienced creator’s abilities. By contrast, Ted Naifeh pitched Night’s Dominion with two issues already done; it’s a very different process when there’s little to no development of concept, story arc, and so forth. Finally, Oyster War by Ben Towle came in fully complete; Hererra made a few specific changes, then thorough copy edit, but a penciled-and-inked book is too late to do major structural changes on. Since SBL was the book that went through the most development with Herrera, she showed a lot of process: cover treatments, thumbnailed scripts and pages, Reiss’s writing style that lacks the cinematic approach many take in comic writing (but it works for her).

Butcher interrupted to ask the panel about an observation he’d had. Creators are reading fewer comics themselves these days, and does this translate to editors? Do they read fewer due to time or to avoid accidental influences? The answer was a pretty solid no, as the panelists are all enthusiastic (and wide-ranging) readers.

Siegel: I read fewer comics and more prose, but things pop up that I’ll get enthused about.
Watters: I read graphic novels more than single issues (there was a lot of head-nodding at this point).
Herrera: Since starting at Oni, I read more manga which we don’t publish; there’s no chance I’ll ever work with that creator, which lets me read and admire the work.
Siegel: Younger creators, I often try to get them to read wider than their favorite zone. I’ll recommend a book on writing, or nonfiction relevant to their project. A lot of times, they’re still moving out of being fans and into being authors, and I don’t think you can be both. I think you have to leave fan behind to be a creator. And of course they can have blind spots, so I’ll say Try some Stephen King to learn about pacing ….

Returning to process, Pelham talked about editing not just different projects differently, but different creators with different approaches. For example, the different approaches she takes with Raina Telgemeier and Kazu Kibuishi have less to do with their subject matter and more to do with how each does their best work. Raina tends to do full thumbnails, Kazu works straight to final art with little drafting or sketching.

Butcher’s next discussion point had to do with the craft of editing: when comics and graphic novels started breaking out of the direct market and into the traditional publishing houses, people didn’t know how to edit comics as comics. He noted some of earliest editors at the major houses were from children’s books, because they had a history of working with had words and art. Pelham noted that she did start editing in prose, but realized comics were my passion, that I wanted to lean into. During her third summer fellowship she moved to the Graphix end of Scholastic; like many, in college she read first graphic novel (Persepolis) and found it life-changing. Part of what was surprising in learning about editing comics was how my title was an editor-track job title, but I found myself also learning to be an art director.

Siegel dug the most into how the graphic novel sausage is made; given the :01 doesn’t do single issues, he focused on whole books as the unit of production and story, and the traditional publishing process starting from the pitch. He had a pretty detailed discussion about how a lot of people try to pitch graphic novels that come from Hollywood or animation, and are used to doing in-person presentational pitches, trying to sell a project on personal charisma, and that’s not how books work. They’ll say, we want to set up a meeting and I say no, I’d rather not meet you at all. It doesn’t matter what happens in that the pitch meeting, all that matters is what’s on the page. In the book world, you need to send a presentation and it either works on the page or it doesn’t.

To that end, Siegel also tries to be very open about the process; People outside the business have a hard time seeing what actually goes on in the publishing world; it’s not what you see in the bookstore. Authors really have no idea what we do. With :01, we try to open the curtain and reveal what happens. [Marketing director] Gina [Gagliano] posts a lot of stuff on our blog, a lot that seems obvious, so creators understand what we do in publishing and marketing. … It helps them to understand so we’re partnered … with us, your agent, the designer, the production people are all your allies in making that book.

Back to pitches: sometimes they’re a few pages typed up, describing story, characters, what the book is going to accomplish, and then editor and writer can find an artist to pair up on the project. Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor came in as a presentation package, almost the Hollywood-style approach that Siegel said to avoid (McCloud is an unusual case, he said in an understated manner). Normally, it’s a few finished pages, character description, some script, enough to have the shape of the project and have a conversation with creator. The next stage is scripting. He sahred a sample of a Gene Yang book (looked like Boxers to me) which featured the traditional typed dialog and page thumbnails. Siegel pointed out that this approach shows the creator is Thinking in both words & pictures at the same time. Sometimes you get something that works or doesn’t in words, then the art comes in and it doesn’t work or it does.. The thumbs let the editor see in a very small size — each page about the size of a postage stamp — how a scene will play out, meaning you can sometimes spot a problem and fix it before the art progresses too far, but mostly it’s at the pencils stage that you fix problems with story or scene setting.

Butcher added that he always thought these stamp sized thumbnails were just about proving to the editor that you were working, but Siegel has the opinion that the thumbnail stage is the the hardest mental work, because it’s where you’re pulling out the story. The execution (pencils, inks, color) is actually simpler (but naturally, more labor intensive and time-consuming). Watters described thumbs as the skeleton you’re throwing the meat on, and Siegel as the first conversation with the creator. You’re not talking about dialog, it’s about the large structure of the story. He demonstrated that by showing scribbled-up thumbs from Nidhi Chanani’s forthcoming Pashmina and remarked that he’d get on Skype and have a conversation about how the story is structured.
Watters: I like doing dialog passes on Skype.
Siegel: It’s good testing dialog out loud.
Butcher: It’s not like how people imagine comics with the old Marvel bullpen, everybody in one room. You could be working with people across the country or across the world.

Pencils and inks follow, which are a monumental amount of work, so you have to catch problems early before all that work goes in; the worst thing is having to make corrections at the end of the process. Siegel noted that one issue of people working on long graphic novels is that of stamina, mental fatigue, mental breakdowns, there’s a much higher casualty rate than working in prose. For that reason, I’ve evolved a process and become a better editor for it, as soon as we pass the architectural stage, I invite the authors to send in small batches. I don’t keep them waiting [for feedback/direction], it does marvels for morale.

Watters brought a series of different projects with different approaches, noting that at BOOM Box things come to in differently — Backstagers came to as a full idea but Goldie Vance was a completely different process. I hit up Hope [Larson], and said I really want to to a teen detective book, I know you have time in your schedule, it’s already greenlit because I trust you. You own it, let’s work together to develop something. Sometimes the pitch is complete, sometimes I develop the pitch with them. It’s produceresque.

Butcher had one last big question of his own before opening to the floor: when you acquire a project, when you start that process, do you represent the creator’s interest to the publisher or vice versa. Whose side are you on? Siegel asked if he could start the response² and then was pretty emphatic: Both. You’re the punching bag in the middle, and you can get bashed from both sides [all noddingin agreement]
Pelham: Even if it’s not an editorial issue!
Siegel: You’re kind of forced at times into a diplomatic relationship. Sometimes you’re forced to choose and that puts an editor to the test. Sometimes the pressure’s from great big corporations, you have to make a decision and it’s hard. But something I learned from an editor I respect a lot [note: I didn’t catch the name, sorry], is that if you have to choose between the company and the author, you try to go with the author.

From the floor: I’m freelancing as an editor now. How do I make editing a full time job?
Pelham: Have a website.
Watters: Communicate with others and have relationships.
Hererra: Edit pitches as well as whole projects.
Butcher: Sometimes houses will have a pitch they don’t have editors to manage and will go looking for freelancers.
Watters: Sometimes creators have editors they want to work with, and will bring you in on their project.

From the floor: I took a prose editing class last semester, how do I practice comics editing?
Butcher: Read a lot of comics.
Hererra: Read manga; it’s read in reverse and that actually teaches a lot about story structure.
Watters: I took McCloud’s Understanding Comics and read it with comics I liked and thought worked, and figured out why they worked.
Butcher: I worked with creators with great editors, so I could see the process.

From the floor: I’m a freelance editor, I have a script I want produced. Do I go to company with script, script and a few pages, or the whole thing drawn?
Watters: Put together a pitch document.
Hererra: Have a few pages to look at.
Floor: Not a whole book?
Seigel: Right, unless you’re the greatest creator ever, you can’t bring in a complete book.

From the floor: How do I give notes on the whole story arc, not just details?
Siegel: You can practice that, but there is a craft. It’s still Is a character shallow, is this cliche? There’s nothing wrong with starting from a cliche, but it’s bad to land on one.
Pelham: Break it down: character, plot, theme, story; see if it all works before the art gets added.
Butcher: It’s macro/micro — the whole project works, then break it down. Story works, then thumbnails, then pages, then panels. Don’t start at the smallest scale and work up.

From the floor: We have a pitch, I’m an artist, I have a writer, I’m trying to understand the relationship with the editor because I think I need one. Can I expect a publisher to help me out with others … finding inkers, colorists, can an editor help me with that?
Watters: Yeah, that’s production, if they buy the project at the stage you have it at, they’ll help you finish it. It’s all about expectations with the project at the acquisition stage.

[Self-editor’s note: And what none of them said but which is probably self-evident, you need an editor. Trust me, it’s an almost-impossible chore to editor yourself.]

¹ See our coverage of the :01 tenth anniversary panel last year for more on that theme; Siegel has succeeded at that goal admirably.

² One of the delights of this panel is that the panelists were considerate of each other — not speaking over, looking to others to prompt their input.

Storm, Calm, Etc

The story of Wednesday at Comic-Con can largely be recycled from year to year. The eerily empty halls, the slight bustle at registration through the first half of the day¹, the mostly orderly work of getting the booths in their desired configuration and seeing how the town itself transforms in the presence of nerds. One particular nerd near my hotel had enough fans in line early in the morning to wake me with their cheering from ten floors down.

This year’s photos come with an added frisson of danger, though, as there were repeated announcements throughout the day about how photos and videos were not allowed to be posted prior to opening the show floors and exhibitors that did so risked ejection, Comic-Con does not allow the taking photos of the exhibit hall at this time. Which, yeah, was roundly ignored and I daresay prompted a lot more photo and video taking than would have ordinarily occurred. So good one, Mysterious Voice². I’m sure that whoever decided this policy was certain it would result in a massive bolus of social media postings just as soon as the crowds were let in, resulting in a bump of publicity. Had that happened, I’m pretty sure all the cell data and wifi in the hall would have fallen over.

But snippy and unworkable media control policies aside, Wednesday during the day is great on the floor, because it’s your chance to get caught up with people that you won’t have a chance to talk to for the next four days³. You’ve got the big booths that take a practiced crew much of the day to put together, you’ve got the smaller ones people can roll into an hour beforehand and figure out where things will go. Everybody’s got their methods and somehow it all works out okay. In any event, it leads to awesome conversation and if you ever have the chance to chime in on a brainstorming session about what could happen in Squirrel Girl between Ryan North and Erica Henderson and get complimented that you really know your Squirrel Girl continuity, I recommend you do that.

Things To See On Thursday:
There’s a panel on editing comics moderated by the invaluable Chris Butcher at 1:30 in Room 4 that looks interesting. Before that, John Hodgman — raconteur, podcaster, author, actor, TopatoCo client, and arbiter of justice — will have a brief signing at 11:00am, in the Penguin Book Group booth complex. It’s listed as booth 1515, but has so many sub-booths that they are lettered A through at least G.

Stuff To Get:
Speaking of the Penguin booth complex, it’s where I picked up a neat promo item for Kelly & Zach Weinersmith’s Soonish, coming this October (and whose Kickstarter-access channel coincidentally wrapped yesterday; okay, that was really for the new book on the history of science (abridged), but you could get a copy of Soonish, which is probably why it raised over US$330K): origami paper and instructions to create a grumpy astronaut! Also in the photo: a ISPS Machito crew pin, gifted to me by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, and an absolutely genius design gifted to my by the very sexy Rich Stevens. Everybody that couldn’t get a Pride of the Resistance pin last year because they sold out, he’s got zillions this year.

This Hawkguy looked great, and that was before we noticed he was carrying a coffeepot. Rich Stevens was so taken with the look that he sent a picture to Matt Fraction who replied with, and I quote, BROOOOO.

Spam of the day:

Wanna Watch me?!?!?

Much as I appreciate professionally naked people, your abuse of the interrobang offends me.

¹ With most attendee badges being mailed these days, you don’t have the massive wave of humanity you used to get — it’s for those that had problems or for some reason opted against mail delivery.

² The lady that used to serve at the Voice of Comic-Con has apparently moved on in life; this dude has no sense of humor when he states There is no running on the exhibit floor (evidence to the contrary aside). And the volume is still too loud.

³ Intermixed with the regular over-amplified admonitions Exhibitors, return to your booths. Aisle traffic will delay the opening of the exhibit hall. These announcements start around 10:30am.