The webcomics blog about webcomics

One Down, One Thousand Twenty-Five To Go

Things are much better than they were end of last week, thanks for asking. I managed to swing by the local Toys backwards-R Us to pre-buy some presents (being a grunkle is the best); I wished the staff well and told them that if I ever see a principal of Bain Captial, I’ma punch ’em in the neck. How was your weekend?

  • Octopus Pie starts its director’s commentary track today; if you want to see the original run, it starts here and ends here. Each strip contains a little button to click to get the retrospective discussion; you can read along without having to see it if that’s your preference.

    Strip 001 establishes the rhythms of the strip early on, and shows that Gran is not constrained by any of your storytelling cliches. Chekhov’s Gun be damned, that obnoxious dude and the pea wiggle never made another appearance in the ten-plus year run. Sure, we saw semi-recurring characters again, but not unremarked-upon nothings. Gran knows that life isn’t made up of that kind of coincidence.

    She knows a lot about how life works, atcherly, and that’s why Octopus Pie is so damn good. Read it again for the first time.

  • Reminder: tomorrow is the deadline for contributions to be included in the latest F-Six campaign. If you can’t make it to a march or rally on Saturday, toss a few bucks to support those that will, yeah?

Spam of the day:

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¹ Somebody out there put me on a list that indicates I’m 65+ years old and I get scam emails and calls for Medicare nonstop. Fuckers.

Quick Post And A Reminder

The reminder being, the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is active again, with we at Fleen matching any donations to either the Washington, DC or Parkland, Florida March For Our Lives. As today is the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting (and the disgraceful reaction — which is to say, almost none — on the part of state and national government) and the kids are walking out of school to keep us from letting this one slip away like all the others, it seemed a good time to remind y’all. You’ve got until 20 March to make me proud and, incidentally, cost me some money.


I don’t always remember to mention the efforts of the folks behind the Toronto Comics Anthology when they come up with a new edition, but my eyeballs happened to be in the right place today, so I’m pointing out that it’s anthology time, and that means the relevant Kickstarter campaign is underway. Osgoode As Gold features the collective skill of the Toronto comics community (which surely rivals Brooklyn or Portland as a hub for comickers), and as in previous years, looks like a terrific value for your pledge dollar.

It’s also got the logistics figured out like whoa, given that there’s an option to pledge for a physical copy and pick it up at TCAF, which means that these books will be in hand by May 12, or a mere six weeks from the end of the campaign. That only works if they’ve got everything ready to go, at the printer, just waiting on the check (or cheque, as Our Northern Friends would have it) to arrive before setting the presses in motion. It would be a shame to make all that work go wasted.

At the moment, the anthology sits at 45% of goal with sixteen and a half days to go; Kicktraq has them trended to clear the CA$15,000 target by a mere sixty four Canadian fun bucks, and the Kicktraq predictions this far out are always high. The FFF mk2 put them at CA$13.6K — 20.3K (but the low participation rate is low enough that the math isn’t very accurate), and the McDonald Ratio has them at CA$14.3K; what I am saying is that there is a need for a kick in the pants, because falling just barely short is a terrible fate.

There’s absolutely going to be something (multiple somethings!) in that anthology you’re going to love, and that’s worth CA$20 (about fifteen and a half American) for 220+ pages and 50 creators. Give it a look, and please do consider supporting it.


Spam of the day:

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This Is The Best Story In Forever

Let’s just jump to the heart of it:

When I was a kid I wanted to be a pro baseball player or comic artist. I chose the 2nd option and never thought the roads could somehow meet! On Aug 19th, the @Mariners will celebrate Amulet Day. Enjoy a day at the ballpark and get a T-shirt! Link here: http://www.mariners.com/amulet

That, of course, is Kazu Kibuishi, who is one of the most accomplished (and simultaneously most fundamentally decent) folks in comics, and who is a damn rockstar to middle grades librarians and their patrons. The Amulet series has been a favorite here at the Fleenplex ever since book one (ten years! It’s been more than ten years!), and the anticipation for book 8 (of 9) is at a fever pitch in classrooms and libraries across the nation — 25 September, classrooms and libraries, that’s when you’ll get it¹.

And now he gets to have an entire professional baseball game dedicated to him. I’ll be honest, because I know just a little bit about what that’s like², I can pretty well predict that Kibuishi will be outwardly calm and collected (because he pretty much always is), but inwardly? He’s going to be just as excited as all his fans are when they get the chance to meet him.

Amulet Day with the Seattle Mariners (vs the LA Dodgers) will be Sunday, 19 August; game time is 1:10pm, with tickets purchased by 17 August (5:00pm local time) good for a special Amulet t-shirt when you bring your stub to section 339 by the end of the third inning. Get your tickets here and be sure to enter the promo code AMULET so you’ll be seated with all the other Amulet fans.


Update to the latest F-Six campaign: We’re at US$100 of donations to be matched. You’ve got just under two weeks to help send a message about gun control.


Spam of the day:

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¹ Sometime around dawn on the 26th, the demands to know when book 9 will be out will waft far and wide o’er this great land.

² The local minor league team had a game dedicated to my EMS agency one Saturday night; we got cheered when we assembled on the edge of the field by maybe 2000 people and it was kind of thrilling.

Kicking Off Awards Season

The thing about comics these days is, the division between webcomcis and just comics is pretty much notional. Creators shift between the two distribution media, and the sorts of stories that work well in one are increasingly found in the other. Nothing reflects this as much as the annual Cartoonist Studio Prize (now in its sixth incarnation) from Slate and the Center For Cartoon Studies.

From the beginning, it’s been a simple arrangement: ten nominees for the best print comic of the prior year, ten for the best webcomic, notable connoisseurs acting as a panel to select the contenders. Even more than past years, the CSP for 2017 reveals that the most interesting comics are being done by women; eight of the print nominees and half of the webcomics nominees are women.

This year’s nominees for best print comic are:
The Academic Hour by Keren Katz, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Boundless by Jillian Tamaki, Breath, Plucked from Heaven (collected in Elements: Fire) by Shivana Sookdeo, Gaylord Phoenix No. 7 by Edie Fake, Language Barrier by Hannah K. Lee, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, One More Year by Simon Hanselmann, Tenements, Towers & Trash by Julia Wertz, and You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis. One may note that the Elements anthology is shot through with webcomickers, that Julia Wertz made her mark with her autobio webcomics, and Tamaki is no stranger either.

The nominees for best webcomic of the year are:
A Fire Story by Brian Fies, Agents Of The Realm by Mildred Louis, A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance by Ted Closson, Leaving Richard’s Valley by Michael DeForge, Neighbors by Christina Tran, The Price of Acceptance by Sarah Winifred Searle, Reported Missing by Eleri Harris, Somebody Told Me by Jesse England, Whose Free Speech? by Ben Passmore, and Wonderlust by Diana Nock. I may note that The Nib continues to be recognized for the general excellence of its work in what can generally be called editorial/reportage comics, with four of the ten nominees (Closson’s, Searle’s, Harris’s, and Passmore’s) originating there.

I’m notoriously bad at predictions, but what the heck? There’s not a weak contender on the list, and several are already recognized as sitting at the top of various best-of lists. Over in the print world I’m going to nock out Davis only because she won the category last year; Tamaki, Hanselmann, and Ferris have been the recipients of a lot of attention for the past year, and Wertz’s collection is more recent but was eagerly anticipated. I’m guessing one of those four takes it.

On the webcomics side I’m eliminating Tran because she also won the category last year, then it gets a lot more difficult. Fies and DeForge are longtime respected creators, Closson’s work is both enlightening and enragingly current, and there may be nobody expressing the frustrations of Being Black In America as well as Passmore. Louis is delivering a great story twice a week for years, which is a longevity and sheer volume not present in a lot of the nominees.

But Eleri Harris’s six-part examination of a murder investigation/conviction in Tasmania, one to which she has a personal connection, one that may be the result of bungled police work — it’s unique. It’s Serial season one in comics form. I don’t get a say, but it’s my pick.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize awards will be announced on 31 March; winners receive US$1000 (which, frankly, more comics prizes should emulate … a fancy trophy — or brick — is nice, but so is sweet, sweet untraceable cash).


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A List Of Things For You

  • You may recall that Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson (hereinafter, Becky and Frank; anybody caught using the portmanteau Frecky will be beaten) have a new collection of their Capture Creatures comic out now, and will be doing a launch event tomorrow in suburban LA. But did you know that they’ve expanded the art series?

    Capture Creatures was (obvs) based on the 151 original Pokémon, and Dreistadt did 151 paintings of the 151 creatures. Of course, there are waaaay more Pokémon these days, and Becky & Frank decided what’s good for Nintendo is good for them. Thus, earlier this week they revealed Capture Creature #152, joined since by #153, #154, and #155. I’d keep an eye on their Tumblr and the Capture Creatures tag if you don’t want to miss out.

  • We at Fleen have been big fans of Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan’s ongoing exploration of all thing human sexuality, Oh Joy, Sex Toy. More than just a review of happy-making devices, it’s presented scads of terribly useful (and more important, truthful) information about what human sexuality is like; for waaaay too many there no organized sex education in their personal experience, and as such Moen & Nolan may be one of the better resources they have to answer questions like What’s going on? Am I normal? Why is this happening? What do I do now? And now it’s getting a little easier:

    Oh my gosh you guys, we have some AMAZING news to share with you. We’ve been keeping it hush-hush but now that ECCC is hitting (which we’re working – check out the info here!), both Limerence Press and OJST are finally able to talk about it! We are making a PURELY SEX EDUCATION OJST COLLECTION! It’s called DRAWN TO SEX!!!!

    No jack-off sleeves. No subjective lube comparisons. No reviews of porn sites¹. This is all about the facts, and as Nolan says, dad jokes. Some of those facts will be biological in nature (ex: contraception methods, anatomical development), some will be about paraphilias or identities (ex: furries, the gender spectrum), some will be about practices that enhance sexual pleasure (ex: piercing, pegging); you can get a sense of it by browsing the comics that are tagged as educational.

    As with their prior collections, Drawn To Sex will Kickstart then be placed into wide distribution by Limerence Press; look for the funding campaign in mid-May.

  • Speaking of education, schools, and crowdfunding, the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back on. There’s kids out there that want nothing more than for nobody else to join their club — school shooting survivor — and have had to reset the counter on the big __ DAYS SINCE THE LAST SCHOOL SHOOTING tote board three times in three days.

    They’re calling BS on the idea that we can’t do anything about this. They’re right. Between now and 20 March, I will match your donations to either the funding campaigns for the national March For Our Lives in DC, or the local march in Parkland, Florida; I’m setting an initial cap of US$5000, but I’ll go higher if you show me that you care about this. Get giving.

    Oh, and one other thing — attempts to argue the necessity or futility of gun control in the comments will be met with extreme prejudice. My house, my rules. Go peddle your murdertoy fondling fetish elsewhere.


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This spam I received today probably overlaps with the Drawn To Sex table of contents to at significant degree.

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¹ But I’ll bet my bottom² dollar that there will be Anal Safety Snails³.

² See what I did there?

³ Fun fact: Moen has admitted that when she first named the Anal Safety Snails, she didn’t realize the acronym would be ASS.

To Be Cleaned Up Later EmCity Panel Preview

Panel programming at ECCC, which starts in about two hours as I write this, is extensive. I’m getting a non-formatted version of today’s events up now, which will be cleaned up and added to with content from later days, just so it’s available.

I, uh, might have forgotten there are no days between 28 February and 1 March this year.


Thursday Programming
Great Graphic Novels for Kids
10:15am — 11:15am, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 2

Vera Brosgol, Melanie Gillman, and Shelli Paroline repping webcomics, Gene Ambaum repping webcomics and libraries, and Mairgrhead Scott along to up the awesome quotient.

LGBTQ Graphic Novels: Book Talks
12:45pm — 1:45pm, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 2

Between them, Ngozi Ukazu, Blue Delliquanti, and Jen Wang have some of the most different presentations of LGBTQ characters and stories. Listen to what they’ve got to tell you.

How To Run an Anthology and Not Screw It Up
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 604

Kel McDonald, Spike Trotman, Der-shing Helmer, Melanie Gilman, and Isabelle Melançon have been involved in more anthology pages than you. They are your anthology Yoda. Hey, have you noticed that there’s a clear majority of women on these panels that tell you what the future will be like? There’s a reason for that.

The World of Webcomics: How to Make Art (and Money) on the Internet
1:30pm — 2:30p, TCC L3 — Room 5

A real Sophie’s Choice here, but at least ECCC has webcomics panels done by people who do webcomics. Yuko & Ananth, Tess Stone, Erika Moen, Ari Yarwood, Sarah Graley.

Doing a Great Graphic Novel Program at Your Library
1:45pm — 2:45pm, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 1

I never knew Sophie had three kids. Vera Brosgol again with MK Reed, and Dawn Rutherford. Lotta great programming at the library.

Cyanide & Happiness Waste Your Time
4:00pm — 5:00pm, WSCC 611

There may be dick jokes. Dave McElfatrick and Kris Wilson.

First Second Books: The Decade in Graphic Novels
4:30pm — 5:30pm, Seattle Public Library Microsoft Auditorium

Mark Siegel has built a small empire of the best in graphic literature. Dude knows what’s up.


Friday through Sunday to come.

Friday Programming
My First Graphic Novel: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Publishing
11:00am — noon, TCC L3 — Room 5

Nilah Magruder, Ru Xu, Robin Herrera, Nidhi Chanani, and more talk about what they learned about making that first graphic novel. I bet there’s a learning curve.

Speak: The Graphic Novel
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 603 — Writers Block Presented by PRH

It’s the story of adaptation, as the YA novel gets the graphic novel treatment; includes author Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrator Emily Carroll, and all-around smart person Laura Hudson.

How To Be a Con Artist — Making a Living Doing What You Love
1:30pm — 2:30pm, TCC L3 — Room 1

Look, I don’t want to say that cons eat the weak and leave destruction in their wake, but more than one creator has been broken by them; if you want to learn the lessons before that happens, listen to some crowd-hardened veterans like Shing Yin Khor, Jessica Hebert, and Kory Bing. No conventional¹ weapon can kill them.

Kid’s Comics!
2:45pm — 3:45pm, WSCC 604

Vera Brosgol! Nidhi Chanani! Robin Robinson! MK Reed! Jen Wang! All ages is where it’s at, man.

Gender Identity: Understanding Through Art
4:00pm — 5:00pm, WSCC 604

Jen Wang can just hang out in the room between sessions, because she’ll be here to talk about gender diversity, as represented in comics. This reaches those desperately in need of seeing people like themselves, and serves to educate those with no experience as to what the challenges (and rewards!) of the gender spectrum are like. She’ll be joined by
Melanie Gillman, Gina Gagliano (the secret heart of :01 Books), and more.

Boats and Boners: A Fireside Chat with Lucy Bellwood and Erika Moen
6:15pm — 7:15pm, TCC L3 — Room 2

This will be exactly what it says. Hurricane Erika is a force of nature, Lucy Bellwood (adventure cartoonist!) can weather any storm. But maybe don’t bring your kids to this one? Because where Moen goes, there are boners. Hella boners.


Saturday Programming
2 Updates A Week: Structuring Narrative for Webcomics
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 3A

This is not a topic I’ve seen given panel time before. I’d love to see what Megan Lavey-Heaton, Audrey Redpath, Isabelle Melançon, and Myisha Haynes have to say.


Sunday Programming
The Lost in Wikipedia Game Show!
3:45pm — 4:45pm, TCC L3 — Room 3

I’m just going to quote the description on this one:

Ever fallen down a Wikipedia hole? Clicking from article to article until you forget where you came from? Come watch us trap our panelists deep within the Wiki web and make them race to navigate their way back out to freedom.

Contestants Dylan Meconis, Trin Garritano, James L Sutter, and Dave Kellett are some of the most wickedly funny people I know (well, I don’t know Sutter, but the others certainly are), and host by David Malki ! is possibly the only person that could wrangle them simultaneously. Still around on Sunday afternoon? Have some laugh-chuckles before teardown.


Spam of the day:

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¹ I’m so sorry.

Better Late Than Never

The Emerald City Comic Con kicks off tomorrow (with Thursday a full day for the first time, and long days on the show floor); the question hanging in the air is how everybody’s large-but-not-too-large, still comics-centric comic show will do now that founder Jim Demonakos is no longer associated and Reed POP is fully in charge. There were grumbles last year, and this year could be make or break for the show’s reputation as friendly to all corners of [web]comics.

But still, hard to argue when your Comic Guests contain the likes of Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota, Erica Henderson, Jim Zub, Kate Leth, Unca Ryan and Unca Lar, Lucy Bellwood, Melanie Gillman, Ngozi Ukazu, Ryan North, Taneka Stotts, and Tess Stone (and more comics people listed under Literary Guests, like Emily Carroll, Jen Wang, Kazu Kibuishi, and Vera Brosgol). True, there’s 180 invited comics guests (and a hundred-plus Literary and Entertainment guests), but that’s still a pretty good chunk of representation. More than you’d get at any other four-day major show, at least.

For the most part, those guests will be found in the Artists Alley, along with the likes of Ben Costa, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline¹, the gang from Helioscope (your Bellswood, your Meconii, and all the rest of their artistic cohort), Jakface McGee, K Lynn Smith, Ru Xu, Der-Shing Helmer, Tee Franklin, Tom Parkinson-Morgan (aka Abbadon), and Trungles.

Over on the main floor, you’ll be able to catch up with Pat, Aaron, and the rest of the Alaska Robotics² crew (booth 204), Kel McDonald (booth 208), the Cyanide & Happiness crowd (booth 722), Nidhi Chanani (booth 409), Los Professores Foglio (booth 118), Hiveworks (booth 1502), Iron Circus Comics (book 212), Uncas Lar & Sohmer and their merry band of quasireprobates (booth 110), Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett (booth 1116), and the various associates of TopatoCo (which this time around will include Jeph Jacques, Sam Logan, David Malki !, Danielle Corsetto, Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan, Alina Pete, Abby Howard, Catie Donnelly, Tyson Hesse, and Brandon Bird, all on the luxurious skybridge).

All told, it’s more webcomickers in closer proximity than at SDCC or any other large con. They’re well represented in the programming tracks, too, which we’ll make mention of tomorrow.

Confidential to MG: Congratulations! This is going to be great.


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¹ Speaking of, did everybody see the announcement that the Adventure Time comic series is coming to an end with issue #75? And that past contributors — like original writer Ryan North, original artists Paroline & Lamb, and North’s successor Christopher Hastings — are coming back for that final issue, in a get the band back together type deal? Because that’s happening.

² Pat, Aaron, and the rest are awesome people! If you are an awesome person in comics, you should go talk to them, particularly about Comics Camp, which is for awesome people. Many of the people mentioned on this page will be there. There will also be s’mores.

Smiles All The Way

If there is anybody more universally beloved in [web]comics than Raina Telgemeier, I don’t know who that would be. Like, maybe the reincarnation of Mr Rogers was magically soul-bound to Caroll Spinney and then spent a couple of decades mentoring Malala Yousafzi in panel composition and storytelling, you be getting close … and Raina would be cheerleading her the whole way. She’s pretty awesome is what I’m saying, and may have said so one or two times in the past.

I’m not alone in that opinion, as anybody that’s seen one of her public events can attest. She’ll be having a meet and greet at the Cartoon Art Museum, in conjunction with the closing of the months-long retrospective exhibit of her work at CAM (the exhibit that, in fact, was chosen to spearhead the relaunch of CAM after two years without their own gallery space).

Things start at 4:00pm on Saturday, 10 March, with a presentation and discussion of the exhibit, followed by a Q&A, then informal time to mingle and interact. To maximize the time for fans to get chat and get photos, there won’t be any signing (that keeps her stuck behind a table), but I bet she’d be fine with you holding up your copy of a favorite book in photos (signed copies will be available via advanced ticketing), or seeing your fanart.

As you might expect, demand will be pretty high for this event, even in her hometown of San Francisco; advance tickets are available at Guestlist for the immensely reasonable price of US$10 for adults, and US$4 (four bucks!) per kid. You can reserve your signed copies of her books on the same page.

And then two weeks later, SF fans will very possibly see her again, as she takes part in the San Francisco portion of the KidLit Marches For Kids. An outgrowth of the March For Our Lives/Never Again movement being led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the YA community is participating in the national day of demonstrations in favor of gun control. Details about the various marches can be found on Facebook.

This is what happens when you realize that some of the students that have (very quickly, with sorrowful determination) become activists were your readers just a few years ago.

This is what happens when you can’t escape the fact that some of their fallen friends were.

This is what happens when you don’t want that to happen ever again.

So keep an eye out for a local march and let kids worry about when the next book from their favorite author comes out, instead of how to stay alive on a Wednesday. Raina will thank you for it; she’s polite that way.


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An Act Of Optimism

Something great happened in 2011; the folks behind Toronto’s The Beguiling (one of the great comic book shops in the English-speaking world) opened an extension store next door. It was, as far as anybody can tell, the first comic shop dedicated to children and likely remained so for the rest of its existence. Little Island Comics was an act of pure optimism; optimism that the comics industry could produce enough material suitable for kids to sustain a store in one of the priciest cities in the world.

Comics may not be for kids, as the now-cliche headline would tell us, but vast swathes of them haven’t been entirely appropriate for young readers for some time. Grimdarkgrittypouchcape comics were pretty dominant for a couple of decades there, but the big publishers manage to produce some stuff suitable for all ages, and the graphic novel trade has fallen over itself to provide more and more books each year¹. Damn good thing, too, or where will the grimdarkgrittypouchcape comics get their readers in the future, if kids don’t develop the habit today?

And it worked. Little Island was successful until it fell prey not to neglect, or disinterest, or lack of product; it was a casualty to gentrification that tore up a chunk of now-valuable Toronto real estate. The Beguiling managed to find new digs, but Little Island was lost.

Until now.

The Beguiling is pleased to announce the re-opening of Little Island Comics, the world’s first and only children’s comic shop! Offering the widest possible array of graphic novels, manga, and comics for people 12 years old and younger, Little Island celebrates its Grand Re-Opening during March Break 2018 with a slate of creator appearances, refreshments and activities.

Whoa, cool shop returns and refreshments? Give me the deets!

Little Island Comics re-opens in March next door to its parent shop The Beguiling’s newly expanded location at the top of Toronto’s vibrant Kensington Market neighborhood. As The Beguiling enters its fourth decade as North America’s premier comic book retailer, the move to College Street has allowed it to add a gallery and events space, which Little Island will share.

  • Next door to the Beguiling again? Check
  • Gallery and event space, so that LI’s famed comic-making classes, launches, and events can continue? Check
  • Same staff that previously served the all-ages comics lovers of Toronto and beyond? Check

Anything else we should know?

Little Island will offer a 20% discount on all in-print kids comics, picture books, and graphic novels throughout March Break (March 10-18, 2018) to encourage families to dig into graphic novels! The week will culminate in a Grand Re-Opening Party on Saturday, March 17th, with refreshments, drop-in activities, story time, and appearances by such creators as:

Scott Chantler, Naseem Hrab, Brian McLachlan, Ryan North, Kean Soo, Britt Wilson, Tory Woollcott, and more!

Times for the Grand Reopening to come, but I’d keep an eye on their website, Twitterfeed, and on Facebook.

Here’s to many more years on the Little Island; if you’re in (or visiting) Toronto, drop by and tell them we say hi, and wish them every success.


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_______________
¹ Note to Marvel, DC, etc: they do this because they like money. Releasing a new Kazu Kibuishi or Raina Telgemeier book is a license to print money because kids love comics if you just give them a chance to.

We Are Very French Today

For example, :01 Books announced earlier today that the incomparable Pénélope Bagieu will be going on tour in support of Brazen starting on Tuesday, 6 March (coincidentally, launch day), and wending her way through eight cities in seven days.

And in a completely coincidental occurrence, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has thoughts creators and signings. Let’s see what he’s got to say.

As we saw the other day, the tradition in French comics festivals of free sketches ends up being hard on creators. Mind you, they are overall happy to come and greet readers and make them happy with a sketch, but given they are basically unpaid for the work (besides transportation and lodging) they provide under their host, they think of it a bit as a corv&eacutee, that is the duty of unpaid labor outside his fields that a peasant owed his feudal lord.

As a result, the idea has been spreading of late to have creators be paid when doing signings (French-only). Not by the recipient of the sketch: no one, least of all the creators themselves, seem to want that; when asked on the matter, Shyle Zalewski, who writes, draws, and self-publishes queer (and more) strips, and comes to festivals on their own stand, was clear: As a creator I’ve never been paid for signings and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind it happening, on the sole condition that it would be for the festival to pay. For instance having the readers pay for a sketch as it is sometimes the case in the US is unthinkable to me. Most creators seem to agree.

So while different variants of such a payment scheme are being thought up, the one that dominates would be for the host to pay the hosted creators more or less on the basis of the time spend. That would acknowledge the fact that creators are, if not performing, at least contributing to the animation of the stand as, well, animators. After all, it’s typically not just the reader who requested the sketch who gets to watch the sketch being drawn, but also the next two or three in line at least.

This is easier said than done, however. Publishers and festival organizers resist the idea, and with some justification to the extend that their financial equations are already hard to balance as it is: for instance publishers warn that if that was implemented, they would scale back their presence in festivals and only remain in ones where they are confident they will not lose money … leading Obion to the (not entirely serious) conclusion that, for lack of any other solution, impressionable young creators, too happy to sign in a prestigious location, will end up paying for the whole scheme (French-only).

This raises many more questions. For instance, as part of my pseudojournalistic activities I may very well wait in line for a signing for the sole purpose of having some access to the creator, without requesting a sketch, for instance for additional discussion after a lecture or panel. But if the creator is paid to animate the stand, would he still have time for discussion without sketching?

But while these questions deserve answers, they should not be a reason not to implement the idea. Not to mention some additional benefits would exist: worker protection would kick in for instance, making it easier to justify closing the signing activities at the scheduled time, etc. Overall, paying creators for their time would be fairer for everyone involved.

I find that the idea of paying creators (who, after all, are not creating when at a show) ties directly into the idea of Shows Not Being Worth It Sometimes; cf: C Spike Trotman and the ever-expanding ECCC:

Looking forward to ECCC, but not thrilled it’s getting longer and longer. Thursday will be a full day this year instead of a preview night. Too many comic cons are going for this size queen bigger-is-better thing, and it’s just exhausting.

One of the best cons I do all year is SPX, which is Saturday, Sunday, DONE. More days doesn’t automatically mean more money.

And I have shit to do! Longer cons means more days trying to run a publishing company from a hotel room, for me. Not ideal.

A big (but not the sole) motivator for ditching SDCC was it began swallowing a week of my life for diminishing returns. I genuinely hope ECCC doesn’t start going down that same road.

Guarantee some income? You’ll see more creators willing to brave the marathon shows. Thanks as always to FSFCPL for adding his cross-Atlantic perspective on what’s likely a universal dilemma.


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