The webcomics blog about webcomics

Because It’s Always A Good Day For FSFCPL

When Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin gets to thinking about what distinguishes the French webcomics scene from that in other countries, I say Yes, please!. Please enjoy his latest thoughts without further adieu.

In my contributions so far for Fleen, I never felt the need to make a general introduction as to how webcomics in the French language work, because there is no need to: they are comics on the web, only in French (the web being divided more along language lines than around country borders). That is everything that is needed as a starting point to further know about them.

But when you get familiar with them, it is obvious that many cultural norms developed differently here, compared with English-language webcomics. Some of these differences are in fact inherited from French-Belgian comics traditions in general, such as the common use of pseudonyms by comics creators; but most interesting are those differences that are specific to webcomics, which I am going to present today.

  • No ads
    Boulet’s distaste for ads, and his refusal to feature any on his site, is well documented (French-only, though it is clear enough even without the text). But he is not an exception: almost none of the webcomics I have linked to so far (Maliki, Comme Convenu, A Cup of Tim, Jo, Professeur Moustache, etc.) have any ads either, and the sole case I could find in French webcomics is a single leaderboard at the top of Pénélope Bagieu’s site; otherwise, they at most feature internal ads, like the comics hosted on lapin.org. This is unexpected when coming from English-language webcomics, where ads are standard.

    The implication is that, by and large, creators do not use the comic’s availability on the web as a revenue source, but purely as a display window to lead the reader to support them in other ways, such as through book collections, merchandising, patronage, commissions, hiring opportunities, etc.: most French webcomic authors practice at least one of these.

  • They don’t use webcomic templates
    Most of the time, webcartoonists from the French-Belgian tradition start with a base blog engine, only their blog posts are images or mostly images rather than text; WordPress+Comicpress is almost unknown around these parts. As time goes on, they either keep that system, or move on to a fully custom solution, with designs that are generally minimalist, especially as they don’t need to feature ads, which contrasts with the generally heavy designs of webcomic sites in the English web.
  • No schedule
    Granted, having a set posting schedule is no longer seen as mandatory in English-language webcomics, with notable webcomics (Octopus Pie, in particular) renouncing a posting schedule; but a large majority of them still follow one. In French, most of them don’t: the norm is not to have any set schedule, with many well-respected webcomics having never had one. I only know of Comme Convenu and Maliki to currently adhere to any schedule.
  • More reliance on social networks
    Having no schedule means it is harder to make readers get into the habit of checking the site in a regular fashion, so except for those readers who use RSS, French readers follow webcomics by subscribing to the social media feeds of their favorite comics. This means that around here social media subscriptions represent a large portion of a webcomic’s regular audience, and pushing updates to the social networks (and ensuring they do reach readers) is of great importance to creators.

    Moreover, since French webcartoonists do not make any ad revenue from their sites, some don’t hesitate to post the full updates along with the links on social networks: Comme Convenu (Twitter) and Commit Strip (Twitter) do so, for instance. And a few have openly floated the idea of only posting on social networks, like Marc Dubuisson, though for now he still posts to his site as well (a site is still more practical to browse the archives, for instance).

  • Dominated by autobio
    As previously discussed when introducing Jo, the overwhelming genre in French webcomics is autobio, possibly enhanced (with a smattering of “political commentary” strips here and there); you could consider them to be blogs that are drawn rather than being written. I am not going to offer theories on why this is the case, at least not yet; I will just note that the field is still relatively young when compared to webcomics in general: almost no French-language webcomic existed prior to 2004, and diversification from the genre the local pioneers started around is a slow process, even if we can now see the first examples of this diversification.
  • No appearance schedule
    Time for full disclosure: this is a matter that directly affects this pseudojournalism hobby, and if French creators were to adopt this custom, it would make my planning of which events to attend much easier. With that in mind …

    If you look at the site for a French webcomic, you won’t find any appearance schedule (Maliki being a notable exception; may they be blessed for the next 1000 generations). It’s not that the creators always stay at home, never to meet readers: if they are published, they do go and attend conventions and shows, but only advertise those when the date is close, on social media. It would be presumptuous of me to explain why this is the case; I will just note that creators have limited involvement with their convention appearances, which are planned by their publishers (e.g. the booth is always in the publisher’s name), and creators go with these plans.

    But I know some creators who are itching to booth in independence from their publishers, especially when currently they have to split their appearance time between the multiple houses which publish them, so this may change sooner rather than later…

Something that strikes me as I’m reading FSFCPL’s observations now for the third time, is how much his first four points mirror what Brad Guigar describes as his personal new reality over at Webcomics.com [subscription, with occasional free posts]. He’s rethinking a bunch of the prime directives of webcomics, a number of which parallel how the French have apparently always done things. With Guigar’s recently announced discontinuation of convention appearances, you have something pretty close to the sixth point as well.

I believe that this may merit some close consideration on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks once again to FSFCPL for his analysis, and for much food for thought.


Spam of the day:

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You might want to run that claim by our new Attorney General, who’s hot on restarting the drug war.

Full Of Lebeaupinesque Goodness

I know you’ve been anxiously waiting since I announced it yesterday, so let’s give it up for Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin!

It’s all about crowdfunding today.

First, Laurel launched the campaign for the second (and final) volume of Comme Convenu. No FFF estimate, because:

  • I missed the 24 hour mark and
  • The beginning was so explosive (reportedly being funded in minutes) that from the look of things it would have predicted a 200-300% campaign-over-campaign increase, which while it remains possible, I don’t feel confident predicting at this time.

Nevertheless, at US$308,796 with 15 days left (2998% of goal) at press time, the campaign is well on track to blow away the total of the previous one: $294,666. [Editor’s note: Lebeaupin submitted his piece well prior to press time, and so his prediction has become self-evidently fulfilled.]

Given the imminent launch of the new campaign, Laurel wrote a retrospective of the first one, with a number of interesting production tidbits. In particular, while most books were directly sent from the printer to the France-based distributor she hired, she also had 1000 books be sent to her in the U.S. so that she could sign 700 of them, then send those to the distributor in France by plane. It is one aspect she intends to avoid for the second volume, where she will sign on a separate sheet.

Laurel also took this opportunity to remind us about an explainer on crowdfunding she drew just prior to the first campaign. Nothing long-time Fleen readers are unaware of, but one aspect she mentions is in fact specific to Ulule and KissKissBankBank: for those, pledges are in fact debited at the time of the pledge (though not remitted to the creator yet), and refunded if the project later fails to meet its goal. This is different from the system used by Kickstarter for instance, where at that time the pledger only provides a temporary authorization for an amount to be debited, and nothing gets debited if the project fails.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks: for instance, in the latter case the payment method might have become invalid by the time the campaign ends, which means Kickstarter has to message the pledger for him to provide an updated payment method and allow him some time to do so (it happened to me once when my credit card expired); this in turn impacts when Kickstarter is able to wire the funds to the creator.

And on the occasion of the new campaign, Laurel has been featured, along with Maliki, by France’s oldest extant newspaper, Le Figaro, in an article about crowdfunding of comics in France (also available on the web)¹. Chloé Woitier knows the subject, her article avoids the tired Comics on the web! Without a publisher! Who knew? trope and is very informative, even if unsurprising to someone in the field.

The article does warn, supported in that by a quote from Maliki, that newcomers still can’t use crowdfunding to go around publishers when starting out, as both her and Laurel’s successes are undoubtedly related to the existing reader base they accumulated from their long-running comic blogs (during which they were supported by publishing contracts, related or not, or another job). But if this correspondent might add: how long until sequential art students are made to maintain a webcomic as part of their curriculum, and thus are able to start their career with an existing reader base? Not long, I’d wager.

And in completely unrelated news, Team Maliki just moved to a new house with proper studio space. A move less protracted, but just as entertaining as Jam’s Office Saga.

As always, Fleen salutes FSFCPL and thanks him for his rigor and attention to detail.


Spam of the day:

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Firstly, got plenty of hair, thanks. Secondly didn’t realize there was more than one Daya.

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¹ Preceded by another article (web-only) in the tech section, focusing on the other side of the picture of Silicon Valley that Laurel tells about in Comme Convenu.

To The Rescue, Like The Boss He Is

So this week, I’m teaching a full five-day class in four days (read: 10+ hour days), in a basement (read: no cell signal), hooked up to a highly-restrictive guest wifi account (read: no webcomics). I am arriving at the client before the sun is up, and gonna be exhausted by the time the day is done. This would ordinarily be a recipe for no content, but these are not ordinary times.

These are times that feature Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who always finds interesting stuff to talk about, and sends it to me at my least-likely-to-post times. Tell us about state of webcomics live performance events in the European Theatre, FSFCPL:

Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a talk organized by the SOFIA at the Maison de la Poésie, which was about the ways cartooning can be put on stage; to talk on the matter, Boulet and Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne¹ were interviewed by Paul Satis.

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware of events of this kind in comic conventions, most notably the Super Art Fight format created by Jamie Noguchi [Editor’s note: I believe that Ross Nover also deserves mention here], and such events are a regular occurrence in French comic festivals. Photos were shown of such an event a few years back of a format where cartoonists were costumed, in tribute to wrestling competitions, and where Boulet was a contestant (and he remarked that, just like wrestling, the refereeing was rigged).

However, most of the time these events do not conform to a particular format; in fact, Boulet was critical of these festivals that just put two cartoonists in front of one or two easel pads on a stand as a cheap way to create an event, and he added he did not like participating to such “battles” in general, or to similar “challenges” (e.g. quick successive drawings based on a surprise theme) because of the inability to build up towards a goal.

The same went for events where he had to improvise live based on, say, the music the band played: he mentioned having barely settled on what he was going to draw and started it when the mood of the music changed, leaving him always catching up to it and not providing an experience that made sense to the public. He still does live drawing in festivals, but he plans in advance the scene and only the actual drawing is performed live; no improv.

Montaigne mentioned that, unrelated to the challenge of improvisation, there was the matter of some artists having styles that were less suited than others for the exercise, in particular for artists who always rely on an initial sketch; this made Boulet and her sought-after artists for such events, as both can whip up expressive drawings in no time at all. She also mentioned feeling a duty to show up for such events whenever she could, so as to provide representation for female cartoonists for the people this could inspire in the audience.

Boulet then introduced the “drawn music performance” format he performs with band Inglenook. When Lyon BD festival initially asked him whether he could come up with an event combining music and live drawing, he contacted this band who he knew beforehand to see how this could be done.

He mentioned the biggest challenge was to come up with scenes than could each be drawn in the 3-4 minutes of a typical song: the band plays its songs like it would for any other performance, and he adapts to them, a bit like an additional band player who would play with a graphic tablet and a stylus instead of a violin and bow. He based his drawings on the song lyrics — or how he understands them, anyway, as they are often very symbolic. So as to provide some variation, they alternate songs where he draws with songs where he plays a prerecorded animation.

The talk was followed by a full performance of this “drawn music”. I found it pretty enjoyable; without giving too much away (it’s a kind of “you had to be there”-style event anyway), besides the songs where Boulet actually draws, there are others where an animation is being played where lines progressively appear and end up building a scene which feels much like when he draws, only that some light animation (e.g. red scribbles evoking a flame) occur, and lines progressively disappear at the end of each scene before the next scene starts (this also allows having a few scenes for a song, rather than a single one).

And for other songs a completely different “animation” style is used. Lastly, some songs are accompanied with a speed draw, which I found a bit odd: I am used to watching speed drawings set to music on the web, so I ended up paying more attention to the drawing than to the song, which may not be the aim here.

If you want to attend such a performance, I do not know where or when this will happen next, though your best bet would be Lyon BD, in June.

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¹ Disappointingly deprived by nature of any facial hair in real life, much like our favorite mechanical engineer

As always, thanks to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin for his reporting and analysis; as a special bonus treat, we’ll have another post this week regarding the latest on European webcomics crowdfunding. It’s a good’un.


Spam of the day:

Lost Navajo remedy found to reverse hearing loss

So, I’m confused — is “Chief Running Water” (ick … just ick) the “retired NASA engineer” who discovered the lost Navajo remedy? And if not, why is white dude in possession of more Navajo lore than any actual Navajo? It’s the implausible mixed with the irredeemably racist in one horrible, horrible spam. Good jorb!

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² Fun fact that FSFCPL could not have known — as a result of supporting Angela Melick’s final Wasted Talent Kickstarter (whose books you non-backers can still obtain until 15 April!), I am (or will be, once shipping happens) the owner of the original of that particular comic. I know! Terrifyingly appropriate!

Gaaahhhh, So Busy

Thankfully, when all seems bleak, a hero appears to save the day!

I am speaking, of course, of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who dropped me an email chock-full of info about this year’s Angoulême Festival. Take it away, FSFCPL!

The 2017 edition of the FIBD in Angoulême took place last week, and as always it has served as the venue for a number of announcements, some of which do involve the various indie creators we focus on here.

But first, it is good to note that contrary to last year no incident or polemic or injustice to speak of was reported¹, and so let me take the opportunity to congratulate Cosey for his Grand Prix. Cosey is from Switzerland, and this is as good a time as any to recognize the contributions from Swiss authors to the sequential art, such as, I don’t know, creating it in the first place.

On to the announcements!


¹As for our friend Bondoux (actual friendship not included), I must confess I still haven’t wrapped my head around the structure of the various Angoulême committees so I can’t tell you whether he was demoted or anything, but he hasn’t been seen putting his foot in his mouth, so that at least is an improvement.

He included a footnote! That, my friends, is how you get your stuff published here. And also, I must learn more about this Professeur Moustache. Oh, yes, I must.


Spam of the day:

TRUMP: How Americans like you can make money online ($7,197/month)

That is an oddly specific number, but I have no problem believing that he makes a mere seven grand a month (or $86,364 annually). That guy ain’t no billionaire. When he dies and the companies have to be split, his kids are gonna owe into their fourth or fifth reincarnations (most of which, judging by their current behavior, will be as poo bugs).

In Which My High School French Skills Were Not Fully Assed

In case you didn’t read the alt-text in yesterday’s post header¹, I played speculative games about the meaning of culottées. The closest to smart in that digression was the start, where I noted that Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin would have to check me. And check me he did, in the comments:

There is a double meaning, in that « avoir du culot » indeed means “having some nerve”, so culotté -> cheeky, but there is also the meaning of « culotté » meaning “wearing breeches”, something which women were traditionally not allowed to do; the breaking of such expectations is very much in the theme of the series.

Which is to say, I’m an American native English speaker, and I can count it a massive success if I can recall enough of a different language to obtain any two of {train ticket | hotel room | food and booze}. My logic was maybe 30% correct, which is more correct than I had any right being. I’m just chasing past foreign-language glory².

As always, our thanks to FSFCPL for taking the time to correct my egregious inaccuracies without actually using the word dumbass. And now, it’s really nice out on Friday afternoon and I’m going to enjoy it. See you on Monday for the countdown to {doom | salvation}.


Spam of the day:

I see your website needs some unique content. Writing manually is time consuming

You don’t know the half of it. When Jon Rosenberg browbeat convinced me to start this blog, I argued about how long the writing would take. He mocked me, insisting I could knock out 300 – 400 words over lunch without a problem.

Joke’s on him — now I often knock out 700-1000 words over lunch. If I ever figure out how many words I’ve knocked out on this site over the past nearly eleven years, all unpaid, I’m going to be less than fully pleased. In conclusion: Jon, you stole my youth.

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¹ For your convenience:

I’ll have to have FSFCPL check me on this, but I’m pretty sure that the title is a pun. Culottes are short pants (a class signifier in the revolution), culo is “ass”, and culottees could slide along the axis of buttcheeks -> cheeky -> impertinent or ambitious or impolite, with the second “e” at the end making it more feminine. Possibly not too far off the recent phenomenon of “Nasty Women”.

² At a screening of Night On Earth some 25 years ago, I was the only person in the theater to laugh at a joke in the Paris segment³, which was entirely in French. A pair of drunken businessmen demand to know where their cab driver is from and he replies Ivoirean, indicating he’s from Ivory Coast — Côte d’Ivoire.

One of the passengers starts laughing uproariously, shouting Il voire rien, that’s why he drives so badly! He’s blind!. Il voire rien means, literally He sees nothing. Later, the cabbie picks up a blind woman; Jim Jarmusch is all about the thematic unity, yo.

³ Everybody laughed nonstop at the Rome segment, missing probably 2/3 of the jokes because it was an improvised tour de force by Roberto Benigni before his career crawled up his own ass and became a parody of itself.

Back In The Saddle

Well, that turned out to be less disastrous that it could have (in that the bill was about 10% of the bad outcome, but still greater than most people could throw together on short notice — I’m lucky to have the ability to keep an emergency repairs slush fund without too much sacrifice), but required a bunch of time and it’s still not quite done. Missed a bunch of stuff while I was gone, too:

On the other hand, I am around to catch some timely things, like:

  • The incomparable Hope Larson (comics maestra, ice cream maker extraordinaire, and caterpillar wrangler to the stars) has found enough time in her schedule (between Batgirl and her next book, out sometime in 2018) to resume Solo¹, or the news that after fifteen years, 4500 strips, and one-and-a-half creative teams, Unshelved is coming to an end next month.
  • There’s also word of a benefit for the Cartoon Art Museum (reminder: they’ve been sleeping on the couches of other museums for a while now, and could really use some help getting back to a place of their own) next month, featuring cast members of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra:

    Go behind the scenes of The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender with special guests voice actors Janet Varney, John Michael Higgins, Mindy Sterling, Dante Basco and Avatar: Legacy illustrator Dan Parsons. Cosplay highly encouraged! All ages welcome.

    The event will be 19 November, starting at 7:00pm, at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco. General admission tickets at US$28, with premium tickets (which get you an autograph from each special guest) for US$38, with CAM members receiving a 10% discount. Tickets can be purchased via the Friends For Benefits website and are likely going to go fast.

And, as promised:

Team Maliki has just unveiled the first self-published Maliki collection, and to the surprise of absolutely no one they have launched a preorder [French version] for it on a crowdfunding platform called Ulule [English version]. One aspect which stands out is the use of “books” rather than “sum collected” to define stretch goals.

Gary here. That’s a new one on me — I’m going to have to think about how it differs from regular currency-based stretch goals, but it could allow a project with multiple forms of a book (PDF, softcover, hardcover, limited edition, retailer discount multi-packs) to count equally towards stretch goals. Interesting.

[T]here is some precedent for a French comics campaign of this scale, which in fact may be a daunting yardstick to be compared to; I couldn’t cover it at the time, as it was before I took up the mantle of Fleen Senior French Correspondent in January of this year, so this is the ideal opportunity to introduce it as background …

Laurel [Duermael, athough she’s mononymic in her work], while French, lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, and works there as an illustrator, mostly for Docker. She maintains a comics blog about her life there. Don’t be misled by her seemingly happy style, as she can deal serious blows, whether it is to cover her experience (French-only) dealing with the French consulate in San Francisco, or to excoriate (French-only) French magazine Biba and Little Market for a “competition” that amounted to providing illustration work for little more than exposure (and you know what they say about exposure).

Her blog is currently taken up by a story (only in French so far) titled Comme Convenu [As Agreed] which is inspired by her experience starting out in the Bay Area in a video game startup. Around this time last year, she launched a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule as a preorder for printing the first volume, with a goal of €9167.

It ended up funding in about one hour. After about one day, it was already 800% funded. It ended up funding at 2,860%² (no, this is not a typo). And remember, the story and book are only available in French, so this couldn’t have been tapping in the established English-speaking comics crowdfunding audience.

Of course, Maliki: Blog does not need to reach the same kind of total amount to be considered a success, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up overfunding in a similar fashion.

At present, Maliki: Blog has pledges for 3414 books (on a goal of 1000); as those are spread out across three different quality levels (Classic, Collector, Super Collector), it’s hard to say how much money it represents, but if everybody only opted for the lowest tier, that would be nearly €70,000³. With just over two weeks left to go, Maliki seems like as not to hit €100K.


Spam of the day:

Mighty Dolly

Okay, so they’re pretending to sell me industrial warehouse equipment for moving heavy loads but you know what? If they told me that their dolly product was named Parton, I’d click on the link because Dolly Parton rules.

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¹ I really dig Solo; it’s her most adult (in the sense of acknowledging that being an adult can suck sometimes) and melancholy work to date, I think. In case you were wondering, no Karl Lagerfeld here.

² That would be in excess of a quarter-million Euro. If I have my exchange rates correct, that would have been just shy of US$300,000.

³ Conversely, if they all opted for Super Collector, it would be over €170K; just a €100K margin of uncertainty, no big. Oh, and as of this writing, €1 is a buck-eleven (US$1.1139 to be exact, which there’s no point in being since it’s gonna float).

Places To Examine Your Conscience

Some of these will concern you, some will grab at your sense of empathy, some will intrigue; basically we’re all over the place today.

  • I’m very interested to see what the unintended consequences of a new law in California concerning the sales of autographs/autographed memorabilia will do to the major comics shows. Via the twitterfeed of author Amy Stewart, a new law (presumably intended to keep people from buying fake autographs/tchotchkes for big bucks) will require any signed item (think books and art) costing more than five damn dollars (think: everything) to come with a certificate of authenticity with a seven year retention requirement.

    It might be that people at SDCC next year are forced into the charade of selling books/prints/whatever and making the person who bought it then come back for a separate signature. It may be that the “signed & sketched” price variant is actually illegal. It may mean that California-residing creators can no longer supply pre-signed merch to stores (think Raina Telgemeier and the signed copies that bookstores have of Ghosts … they’ll have to dump stock yesterday or risk sanctions that I don’t know how to determine under California’s Civil Code).

    Okay, the summary of the bill indicates that the person signing things is exempt, but resellers appear not to be. Raina can sign a book without recordkeeping, but any comic shop or bookstore with a signed by the author! sticker on books is potentially screwed. California creators/vendors, your thoughts please.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a dispatch regarding a Kickstarter that’s burning up the webcomics category in two languages:

    Commit Strip, the strip about the daily life of coders, has launched a Kickstarter for their new book collection, and their first in English, at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/commitstrip/commitstrip-rise-of-the-coders-a-book-about-the-fu. And about 24 hours in they [had] already blown past twice their (admittedly modest) goal. Note that, much like the Last Man campaign, they have rewards in multiple languages but had to set up a separate page for the French description of the campaign as Kickstarter does not support campaigns in multiple languages.

    That last bit surprises me. I wonder if KS would object if you just had a bunch of text in more than one language, or set up support alternating languages but with identical price points and rewards. Certainly that would be a pain; I wonder what our friends to the bilingual north think about this particular feature lack.

  • We’ve spoken here at Fleen about Something Terrible, and the burden that Dean Trippe has taken upon himself, because the key thing about being Batman is, you don’t want any other people to have to be Batman. Your trauma defined your adulthood, but you can use that to help others not become as I Am The Night as you wound up; for Trippe, it means making himself available¹ to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse and creating his own impromptu Bat-Family, meeting and offering solace to one person at a time.

    But there’s more people out there than you can meet one at a time that need him, so Trippe’s gone the media route. Last Friday saw the launch of the Something Terrible podcast, hosted by Trippe and no doubt finding its own direction for future episodes. Trippe calls it a mission², I call it a most unfortunately necessary public service that I absolutely will not be listening to; I’m not burying my head in the sand, but in order to keep myself where I need to be to help when necessary³, I need to deal with trauma-bearing people individually, in person, as the need arises. I can’t go seeking them out.

    But those on the other side of the equation, who don’t have my luxury of distancing themselves? Who need Batman to avoid becoming Batman? The Something Terrible podcast is going to be a godsend. Here’s hoping you never have to subscribe.


Spam of the day:

Search For Baby Shower Gifts Options

The one part of the patriarchy and general male privilege that I will gleefully engage in is the general pass I get for baby showers. I know that makes me a terrible feminist, but this is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the stake. PS: Benedick rules.

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¹ I suspect, on occasion, to his own detriment. Dean, there’s a reason that they tell you to secure your own mask before helping others — if you aren’t well and whole, you can’t be of assistance to them, no matter how much they need it. Don’t overdo it, please.

² A very Batman-like approach to it, I must say.

³ Occasional reminder: I am an active Emergency Medical Technician.

Please Send Me The Photo When You Do

Oh, Ryan North, you lovable (and enormous) scamp, you know that somebody is now going to take this suggestion from T-Rex completely to heart, and very possibly to upper arm. I love it.

Know what else I love? The uncanny ability of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin to somehow just know when I’m going to be tight on time (today because of an impending flight and a rental car with a dead battery) and to drop some sweet bande desinée information, for your edification¹.

A while back, he introduced us to Maliki, which is both a magical-realist² (as all the best ones are) autobio webcomic and the quasipseudonymous creator of same, in the context of monetizing with the Eurofunding site Tipeee. Today, he sends an interview with Maliki about how the funding is going some three months in; note that the interview was conducted in French via email, and translated by Lebeaupin.

Take it away, FSFCPL!

Fleen: Hello Maliki, and congratulations on your successful Tipeee campaign. It was one thing for it to start high, but now in the third month it doesn’t appear to be really dropping off so far. Were you expecting this?

Maliki: We were expecting (or at least hoping) a positive response from our readers, but we weren’t expecting so big a success. We were also picturing a significant dropoff the following months, which has not occurred so far. So we’re cruising in uncharted waters!

Fleen: In fact, many of your tipers were not even registered on Tipeee before you opened your page; you provided an avatar pack on your page so that they wouldn’t remain with the default Tipeee avatar, for instance. Were there other consequences to so many people having your page as their first Tipeee experience? For instance, did you have to expend time at the beginning answering questions from tippers on how Tipeee works?

Maliki: Yes, since the concept is not widespread yet, we had to explain the differences, compared to classical crowdfunding in particular.

Fleen: Have you noticed pledges being cancelled just before the end of the month or other such anomalies? Such a ghost pledging phenomenon is a problem on some Patreons, for instance.

Maliki: We have only had a limited number of cancellations or payment failures. So far people appear to be willing to play by the rules, but I hope this question won’t give anyone ideas!

Fleen: Promise, it’ll remain between us :). On that subject, you provided a remarkable transparency effort by publishing the timetable of what a tipper can expect as rewards over the month when he supports and over the following one, after his tip has cleared.

Maliki: Thanks. That was really the goal. We want everything to be perfectly clear and for no one to be disappointed or get unpleasantly surprised.

Fleen: I noticed that at the start of each month the total starts lower and limited rewards are reset. How does it work? Does it mean you have to each month start over the recruitment of tippers past a certain pledge or reward level?

Maliki: On Tipeee people can choose between making a monthly contribution or a one-off one. At the end of each month, the counter is automatically reset, and only the people who have set up a monthly contribution remain. Over the course of the month, new one-off contributions are added, as well as newly set up monthly commitments.

As for limited rewards, monthly contributors keep their spot, while the spots previously taken by one-off contributions are freed … but they generally don’t stay that way for long. In a matter of minutes after the counters are reset, they’ve been taken over.

Fleen: I also noticed the stretch goals structure changing each month (bonus points, from a software developer, for making each level of July be the double of the previous one: 500€, 1000€, 2000€, etc.); it is standard to Tipeee or something you came up with yourself?

Maliki: We defined these goals ourselves, based on levels that felt coherent AND realistic (except for the last one which is a kind of ludicrous level since we know we won’t reach it). And yes, I imagine it’s my logical mind who liked to speak in term of doubles, even if we slightly changed it since then.

Fleen: The Tipeee rewards imply an additional workload for you and Becky. After almost three months, have you found your stride?

Maliki: Not yet! The most complicated is physical rewards (the artwork). For the Tipeee we had to set up a lot of things very quickly, like the radio, the chat, the questions and answers, the lottery broadcast, the mailings, the monthly ex-libris. All that added to the weekly strips and peripheral projects represent a significant workload, not to mention we had to set up a small legal entity to be able to receive the Tipeee income. In short, we still need to optimize all that, but it’s already better than when we started.

Fleen: “Independent Maliki” is a long-term project, and it’s still early a bit early to discuss outcomes. But did the Tipeee page already allow you to reduce your reliance on freelance work? I am referring for instance to the illustrations you sometimes provide for youth magazines (Okapi, Science et Vie Junior, etc.).

Maliki: Let’s say that even if I wanted to take on more freelance work, I couldn’t :) But anyway, that’s not what interests me most, I much prefer to work on my own universes thanks to Tipeee.

Fleen: What kind of feedback or reactions did you get from your fellow comics authors (and other comics professionals)?

Maliki: In the end I didn’t get a lot of reactions. Hearty support from some authors, publishers or booksellers, MANY questions … I think most of them are waiting to see how this is going to play out in the long run. At any rate, I know we are being watched in silence ;)

Fleen: And I have to ask: any plans for English-language collections?

Maliki: Unfortunately no … Previously published Maliki books likely never will. My publisher has been talking about it for years and it never happened. Anyway, I think it’s too late now and it wouldn’t be relevant to launch Maliki by starting with volume 1, without first recreating the phenomenon that occurred in France with comic blogs at the time. So, not possible.

With our first self-published collection, we could consider it. But there again, our English community on the blog is tiny, and we’d need quite a tsunami of new English-speaking visitors for it to be worth considering an English language collection. [Editor’s note: see concluding thoughts below.]

Fleen: Lastly, a question closer to home, since one half of my family is from Nantes and I love Brittany. While your influences lie closer to Japan than to, say, the Pont-Aven School, have you considered taking advantage of being a “local artist”, for instance by trying to have your self-published books be regionally distributed if you can’t get France-wide distribution for them?

Maliki: The local artist is unfortunately not the status taken most seriously. Look at comic shows, regional authors are always consigned away in a corner … If my comic at least dealt with Britanny a lot, but it could take place mostly anywhere. Anyway, I am not necessarily looking to get distributed everywhere, but only by motivated booksellers. Other than that, it will occur through direct sales, by mail order.

Fleen: You’re obviously busy, so we will be leaving you to tend to your fans. Any last words?

Maliki: Thanks for covering us in English, you are the only ones who pay as much attention to our new independence venture so … THANKS!

Okay, minions, it’s clear what needs to happen — if you’ve been over to Maliki and like what you see, drop an email (or better yet, some remote coin) towards the site, and maybe we’ll get an English collection some day. Thanks to Pierre Lebeaupin for following up, and for his single-minded devotion to the idea that the French webcomics scene deserves coverage in English. I learn something cool every time he emails.


Spam of the day:

legal update on vaginal mesh implants

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nopers. Not touching this one.

______________
¹ Also, for a very light editing pass for English spellings and formatting.

² But not Mexican magical-realist.

Dispatches From Opposite Corners Of The Globe

Hey, it’s Friday. It’s hot and disgustingly humid, and it’s going to be a busy weekend before I have to fly off to Minnesota for a couple of weeks, but hey — imminent weekend all the same.

  • From the westerly climes, Fleen Offical Man of Mystery Eben Burgoon chimes in with a series of shows and a camp for aspiring comic creators. In case you were ever thinking of making a splash in web-/indie comics in northern California, you need to understand that Burgoon is the Man, and you can roll with him, but he better see some damn respect at the following:
  • From the land of fashion, revolution, cheese, and wine, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has a report on a most unusual webcomic, in that it appears to be entirely usual for this side of l’océan Atlantique:

    Today’s recommendation is for Jo. Jo owns a ranch in the Old West, and that’s where Alex was sent for her internship; but while some parts, like the hens, are “nothing special,” the ranch is a bit unusual and that attracts some unsavory types, as Alex is going to find out.

    Jo is remarkable for a couple of reasons. While in the French-speaking web «blog BDs» (comic blogs) dominate the form to the point of being almost synonymous there with webcomic, Jo is anything but: there is no author avatar, no autobio, no small stories, no fancy experiments. Instead, you get a solid, ongoing longform story.

    Second, Jo features an interesting localization mechanism: the comic is in French by default, but you can hover over the images to read the English version (you might have to wait for a few seconds for the English images to load, but they always do eventually load).

    Jo has just resumed from hiatus, and is so addictive you’ll barely notice time passing while you catch up on it. Go now while the water’s fine.

    I’ve been doing this how long, and never noticed that every single French webcomic I’ve ever seen is essentially an exaggerated autobio and the damn near universal (in English, at least) story strip never once came up? It was right in front of my face, and I never caught on. Once again, our thanks to FSFCPL for the recommendation, and for closing up a gaping hole in our knowledge.

    Regarding Jo, it’s pretty, it starts off with a literal bang, and if mousing over doesn’t kick in the English for you, click on the strip. The English translation, by the way, is very good, with only occasional awkward construction; Jo’s archive is 50 strips deep, so it’s the perfect time for a trawl. Oh, and if you weren’t sure if it was to your liking, consider the description from the About page, which starts:

    Jo est la cowgirl la plus badass de l’ouest

    I think you probably worked out the meaning.


Spam of the day:

Looking for a a guy — I like you girl. find out who she the IS. Write ner, S is not is waiting for you.

Sure thing, Samantha … or should I say, Amanda@whofarted.ru? I’ll get right on that.

Caution: Genius At Work

So, guess who came to work and left his laptop in the hotel room?

To be exceedingly fair to myself — more than I deserve, honestly — the latest security patches pushed by IT make it a very slow process to shut down. I started the shutdown, did some other things waiting for it to complete (can’t put a running laptop in the laptop bag, it’ll melt) and spaced on competing that key task. I’m not going to be able to post properly today — two fingered typing on a phone sucks for long texts — or at least not until far later. Mea culpable, I’ll try not to be so incredibly stupid tomorrow.