The webcomics blog about webcomics

Trust Me: Keeping Up With An Interview In Real Time Is Difficult

Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin was tasked to attend the Quai de Bulles BD festival and report back. Please enjoy the approximately 2700 words he filed, which is beastly amount of work.

Just like last year, I had a great time at Quai des Bulles chatting with creators, visiting exhibitions, attending panels, and of course buying comics (Akileos did have the French edition of Stand Still, Stay Silent book one for instance), but the most interesting event was definitely this interview of Laurel which is transcribed at the end of the post: she had not signed her comics in France in the last 6 years, and so was eagerly expected.

I was able to chat with her at her booth on Sunday, and it had gone well: she and Adrien already knew they had made back their expenses, and she was glad to meet readers in this fashion again; she is not stopping, as she has more festivals planned even just this year.

One note: the meetup occurred on Friday, and this year the festival occurred outside of school holidays, so the auditorium was filled with school children (most about 10, some in the 14-15 range) which made for a very nice ambiance. Seriously.

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[Editor’s note: FSFCPL has produced an account of the interview, but this should not be taken as a series of literal quotations. For starters, Laurel and Adrien should not be taken to referring to themselves in the third person.]

Present were Laurel and Adrien Duermael, interviewed by Arnaud Wassmer.

What is Laurel doing today?
Laurel: She has always wanted to do comics, and when blogs started appearing, she put online what she considered a kind of diary. It took off, and accumulated a community as it went on. She claims to have the first blog BD (French-language comics blog) as she started it in 2003, after which she was joined by Boulet, Mélaka, Maliki, etc.

What was her initial intent?
Laurel: First of all, her pen name comes from Laureline, her actual surname (which itself comes from Valérian comics). These days Internet and the web enable young newcomers to start out from wherever they are, without the need to enter an artist studio. She taught herself (she did not pursue studies beyond the Baccalauréat [Author’s note: equivalent of the A-levels/high school diploma]), and she wanted to do it from her childhood reads.

What kind of stories doe she tell? Why autobio?
Laurel: It’s not because she’s self-centered; since she started out with a blog, she fed it with daily life stories, and that continued into her books: the characters were already ready, and she could more readily count on her community to buy them.

Adrien: As time goes on, you fall more easily into an observer role, ready to take note of relevant situations.

Laurel: It doubles as a way to be able to recount these stories to their own children, when they will be older.

So the children are taken along in the ride. How to set the limit between what you can tell and what is too intimate, and in a related question, how much storytelling versus literal telling is put in the stories?
Laurel: Everything is true. But the matter of making the children uncomfortable? Good question … At the same time, they tell very ordinary things about them (doing the dishes, school grades), nothing really intimate, even the story of expecting her second child that she’s telling has nothing specially revealing.

Doesn’t she risk fanning jealousy between her children?
Laurel: Her eldest Cerise does have her own book series …

What about the animals?
Adrien: Squirrels were often used to for narration, especially to tell of negative events, express messages, that sort of thing.

Laurel: Indeed, to have the squirrels complain while telling what happened is a good storytelling technique.

Laurel is drawing on a tablet these days. Why?
Laurel: She worked for 10 years on paper, even when she put colors digitally back then she did it with a mouse… But when she started working on video games, she had to switch to a graphic tablet for productivity reasons: games need tons of assets, and drawing on a tablet avoids having to scan the original, clean the lines digitally, etc.

Nevertheless, it did require her 6 months to get used to the graphic tablet, then 6 more months to be really comfortable with it. The material (texture, etc.) is not the same, and you have additional latency before the stroke appears as well as an air gap; and that is without mentioning technical parameters to worry about such as file resolution. She does however appreciate the possibility to cancel: she often retries the same stroke 10 times in order to get a clean one.

Adrien: Cerise is more comfortable with tablets than Laurel is.

What are her graphical influences?
She was influenced by Pénélope Bagieu, also by games such as Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on Nintendo DS; for the last 6-7 years she has had her own style.

Which is very expressive.
Adrien: Indeed, and for the messages of Comme Convenu, this is very useful to convey them, like for animation.

Laurel: Nevertheless, she considers that part of her work to be in line with French-Belgian comics traditions.

Here we see some panels before inking.
Laurel: One important part of the panels is their size: at the beginning Comme Convenu was not designed for a book, but they instead considered going for a mobile app, and therefore every panel was the size of a mobile phone screen, with 4 of them fitting an iPad screen. Then they did a book with that layout.

Adrien: The application never saw the light of the day, and it was easier to design that way than to design pages for A4, then try and cram them in a phone screen.

But does this change the way you tell the story, how to think in term of story rhythm?
Laurel: She tried to think in terms of multiples of 4 panels, and then on a larger scale to have breaks on the story fall on Fridays.

Adrien: Though it is a single story.

Laurel: Indeed, so the breaks were sometimes cliffhangers to get readers to return the week after…

Why then publish on paper?
Laurel: She wasn’t even sure at the start whether she would get to complete it or not, but with readers coming in and comments, she was encouraged especially as it provided her with an outlet next to her difficult day job; it was nevertheless taking her 6 hours of work per page. When she proposed it to publishers, she was proposed 8000€ [Author’s note: of advances, though that is often the only thing creators earn these days) for 3 years of work: there was no way she was going to accept that.

Does it make a difference in the story if it is published online or traditionally?
Adrien: Regardless, it is important for them that this story was published on paper in the end, as he saw multiple video games he worked on virtually disappear (no physical artifact remaining) when they were pulled from sale: here something concrete will remain. But it makes a difference for it to have been prepublished on an interactive medium, such as the ability to be reacting to feedback when continuing the story (as well as fixing typos).

Is she feeling pressure from comments? How to take them into account without compromising her work? Are they mostly positive or negative?
Laurel: Most commenters mean well, but sometimes she is not clear, and in one occasion she took a lot of heat and tried to address that by inserting a new page … which got heated comments as well, with much less justification this time. She realized that people demand because they like the feeling of being in control, without it being necessarily justified. She trusts Adrien to tell her when she ought to change something or if commenters are out of it. Twitter is sort of an additional comment stream, but on it people may not necessarily realize they are telling her something that 50 other people are telling her about already: it is not harassment per se, but a close equivalent.

Why did you move to California?
Laurel: Adrien is a software developer. In many aspects when developing applications it is better to be on location to meet Apple, Google, etc. So they uprooted their whole life and left with Cerise in tow.

Adrien: One advantage is that he previously went on holidays there; nevertheless when they started the business while still in France, and they would deal with the European offices of Apple for instance, as a result their apps would be promoted in France, but not worldwide. Coming to California was also important for them to meet other businesses in the same sector.

Laurel: It really is a super area, she had the feeling of being in a series.

How did the environment influence storytelling?
Laurel: Among other ways, she met with people from Pixar, and their work influenced her drawing style, more so than the move from paper to graphic tablet; she was also able to meet U.S. comics creators, go to conventions, and in general open herself to many different aspects of the local culture.

Adrien: He noticed there an important tradition of “artisanal” graphical expression, such as in burger restaurant menus, or lettering in coffee shops.

It was not exactly smooth sailing, hence the origin of Comme Convenu.
Laurel: They had a work visa, meaning if they were fired, they couldn’t stay, and they did not have the means to move back to France, plus they did not want Cerise to have to move again just after settling in. As a result they ended up having to unquestioningly obey their boss, Joffrey. They are not holding a grudge these days, but they suffered a lot at the time, especially when Cerise was involved, as a result this story had to come out. At the time they thought that, besides making an app out of it, it could allow their partners to see their side of the story and perhaps make them go off their backs, but that did not work.

Adrien: When Comme Convenu started they were really at their lowest anguish point.

Laurel: They were very protective of Cerise, as a result this story is also a way to tell her about these events in a time-shifted fashion.

Why use comics?
Laurel: It is the way she expresses herself. And when publishers showed interest but only proposed her insignificant revenues, she went: I’m going to show them how I can do it by myself.

Adrien: They had heard of Kickstarter, so given the ridiculous sums offered by publishers, they thought they had nothing to lose by going with crowdfunding, so they went with it. They were going to go with Kickstarter when Ulule took notice of them and proposed their platform, which had some benefits but in particular that of being oriented toward the French-speaking market for instance.

Could you elaborate on the crowdfunding concept for our audience?
Laurel: So you put your project up on the Internet on a platform such as Kickstarter or Ulule. You must have something to show already, and you’re asking people to chip in. They asked for 9000€ (US$10,300 then) which would have allowed them to print the book (which would have cost US$15,000) using an additional loan, and if that sum is reached the book is printed.

For the second campaign it is claimed the goal was reached in 6 minutes.
Laurel: Having a promo video helps a lot for promoting the crowdfunding, she doesn’t like doing them at all but it worked. The first campaign collected more than 8000 pledges for as many copies of the book, much more than she would have been able to do with traditional publishing. She is not throwing them any stone, but there they are.

Here the audience can see her with the printer.
Laurel: It was a California company, Global PSD, recommended by another French-American creator. She tried to get involved every step of the way, and she managed to have goodies (stickers, etc.) put along with the books.

And here the audience can see pallets and boxes of books being opened …
Laurel: They had 800 books shipped to their home in order to sign them, and they assembled the bundles of goodies by hand, including Cerise.

And they went with crowdfunding again for the second book.
Laurel: That allowed them to keep owning all the rights to the book and use them as they like later, for instance for a digital edition. They own everything.

Adrien: As a team, they own everything. While for her other comics books, they ended up seeing them on apps without being told about it.

And now everyone can read it.
Laurel: They wanted it to be available for everyone on the Internet, people in the audience can go read the 500 pages right now if they want.

Now the audience can see some of the pages from the book …
Adrien: Their cat, Brume, is indeed useful here to materialize the question they were asking themselves: why were they allowing themselves to get exploited?

Now they are back in France. What’s next?
Laurel: Right now she is telling her experience of expecting a baby (and side stories) in California.

Adrien: First it deals with the adventures in a video game studio, then with expecting a baby, but in fact it is larger than that.

What is Adrien’s opinion on his drawn double?
Adrien: I do see myself in him, well OK I’m less scrawny, but in all seriousness I find myself well drawn. In that story we are together, after a few more years have passed I would like to read it again.

[Adrien exits stage left. Now the public is allowed to ask questions.]

Will she do comics in a different style?
For now she sticks to what she is doing, but she previously did about 15 books: classic Cerise books for instance. When she will be done with her current project, in about 3 years, she will see.

Is she considering doing prose?
No, she needs to draw; writing is a very different job, but it is true that Diglee and Maliki are managing it.

She worked with Adrien for recollecting their memories of the story, did she do the same with Cerise?
Yes, Cerise was able to show her viewpoint at the end of Comme Convenu.

Were scenes changed or interpreted differently?
The names were changed, that’s it, but of course there are exaggerations, such as the size of a spider, but the dialogs occurred as shown.

How much time did they stay in California?
Five years, they would have stayed but could not renew their visas, now they are located near Vannes as Adrien has family nearby.

Do they intend to make video games in the future?
They do have projects to that end, they love developing games. They are proud of making games without ads, interesting, pretty, and out of people who download them there are people who appreciate that and allow one to make a living out of it.

What takes the most time, the scenario or the drawing stage? Would you consider you would need help on the scenario side or the drawing side?
Before she did draw scenarios from others. What she finds the hardest is dialogs and the process of dividing the scenario into pages and panels; however sketching and inking she feels are faster and more pleasant, and she can do so while watching series anyway. However, she has to watch against losing concentration because of social networks. She would rather work with a scenarist.

Would she like living in the U.S. again?
She would love to; her two youngest were born in the U.S., so they could claim citizenship when the time comes, but it is harder and harder to come, lately her immigration applications were solid but rejected anyway, she is not entertaining too many illusions. They will be able to come the U.S. for holidays already.

What games did she work on?
With the warning that they may or may not be online any more: Grub, which is a kind of snake by tilting the phone, and Greedy Grub, which is a village management game. They recovered the rights to them and are preparing a release, including on Android.

Thanks as always to FSFCPL for his unerring sense of interesting stories and creators in the intersection of BD and webcomics.


Spam of the day:

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It’s a flashlight. And what kind of threats do you think astronauts are facing that they need the flashlight that’s more powerful than knives and guns?

A Less-Disturbing Encore

I think I speak for all of us when I say that yesterday’s post from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin was a tough read. Along the same lines, I invite you to consider how much more difficult it must have been for FSFCPL to research and write it; as such, I think we’ve all earned a palate-cleanser. Please enjoy the following submission from Our Man In France on the intersection of two media that seem to have a lot of overlap these days.

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On the menu: using comics to promote a video game, using a video game to promote comics, and having a comics creator illustrate and tell the story for a video game … using comics of course.

  • While it has been known for some time that webcartoonists Thorn and Meredith Gran have been working on their respective point-and-click adventure games, you might not have known illustrator Pins has been working on his own called tiny and Tall: Gleipnir, which is now out.

    The story? Fenrir, the wolf son of Loki, is devouring everything on its path and the Gods of Asgard have to react before it ends up devouring the whole world; however, no chains have proved capable of keeping Fenrir down, so they commission two blacksmiths, the titular tiny and Tall, to come up with restraints that can restrain the unrestrainable. Easy. Follows a number of hijinks as the protagonists have to first locate the recipe, then the improbable ingredients necessary to accomplish this quest.

    The game works like the point and click adventure games of old, with you needing to solve various puzzles using found objects and your wits. And if you get stuck, no matter: clicking your partner will provide you with information necessary to proceed. But where the game shines is with its humor, especially in its writing: overenthusiastic tiny contrasts well with fatalistic Tall, desperate of ever seeing the project to completion (but duty-bound to try, at least).

    Pins even felt the need to introduce us to the characters ahead of the game’s release through comic strips released online … we can now safely say that the promotional effort went slightly out of hand, as not only did he do more than 200 strips (this is strip 81 of the second book), but he even managed to release a collection of the 130 first strips, published by Lapin, before the game even came out; and his humor hits home just as well in comics as it does in the game.

    tiny and Tall: Gleipnir Part One is available through Steam on PC and Mac for 14.99€; this review is based on the Mac version of the game.

  • Raphaël Beuchot, on the other hand, first set out to create strips around music in a project called Medley; and it is in order to promote the recently-released collection that he came up with an online game called Backstage.

    The premise? You’re running a concert hall, and you need to raise its standing enough that celebrity DJ Acier Fulgur (Steel Lightning) will consent to producing himself in it. But that will only happen if you successfully manage your concert hall day after day after day … and here, success entails satisfying the needs of the bands that produce themselves in your hall: their scene equipment needs, their food and drink needs, but also their (legal) drug needs or smoking implement needs. All that on a deadline. And that is even without mentioning the occasional agitator to dispatch with security, or the occasional inebriated person to put in a lateral security position….

    The gameplay does not have a lot of depth (though is not necessarily a bad thing), and you can complete the game in about one hour, but what I find most interesting with Backstage is that, while it is not a music game, its gameplay is well integrated with the theme of the musical scene: the bands you get at first are hesitant to ask for food when they do so, then quickly you will get requests that turn out to need nothing, nevermind, until in the late game where these prestigious bands complain that they even need to request that seafood be brought to them.

    And new elements are introduced in a piecemeal fashion, but you can’t help but notice that French singers get introduced at the same time as the folk guitar gets added to your available scene instruments … and as Xanax gets added to your pharma kit. In short, the gameplay builds on the theme to keep you on your toes (I once got a request from a punk band to give their dog four bottles of beer!), which prevents the game from feeling repetitive, and helps give sense to the game … well, except for that one band where the instruments included both autotune and accordion. I’m still scratching my head over that one.

    That is very consistent with the strips of Medley, which don’t always deal with music per se, but always at least refer to it while using it to comment on critics, journalists, campaigning political parties, or just music consumers.

    Backstage is available for free (with ads inserted for Medley at appropriate times) and is playable directly on your browser, including mobile ones; it was reviewed on Safari on the Mac¹.

  • Finally, it is time for me to swap my French correspondent hat for my Apple devices correspondent hat to bring you the news of Factory Hiro, with art and story by KC Green. What makes this (more) relevant for Fleen is that part of that story is told as in-game comics cutscenes, in which we learn that the titular Hiro is responsible for an assembly line, the gameplay being to manually manage routing of incoming components and combination of these components to create finished products. Can you run your assembly line fast enough to make your quota in time for the end of the work day, without screwing up and loading the delivery truck with garbage?

    What does that have to do with my Apple devices correspondent hat? Factory Hiro is actually a remake of a classic 90s Mac game called Factory: The Industrial Devolution which finally makes it available on modern platforms, including tablets where its point and click — now touch — interface really shines. Make sure to give it a try.

    Factory Hiro is available on PC and Mac through Steam, and on iOS and Android through their respective app stores (I got it for 3.49€ on the French iOS App Store; pricing will depend on your region); it was reviewed on an iPad Air 2 running iOS 11.4.1.


Spam of the day:

Im Regina, im single with no kid….I am a great self-sufficient lady who has achieved a lot in her life. I am a starting swimsuit designer which is taking the time to get second education. I am studying interior design. I love working on myself, and self-improvement. I spend most of my time in the USA, and came to visit my family in ontairo states for a few months every year. My documents have been figured out. I am looking for pure love, and beautiful relationship.

Regina, I think that just maybe you’re trying a little too hard here.

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¹ FSFCPL sent along a clarification that Backstage is only available in French, but you don’t need a lot of vocabulary to successfully play it. This may or may not be a comment on the language skills of musicians.

Back In The Saddle

Wow, that was a busy week. I’ve got pretty much no idea what’s been happening in [web]comics across the last seven days (except for the news that Raina Telgemeier announced her next two books, because that got reported everywhere).

Enter the secret weapon of the beleaguered webcomics opinionmonger and any right-thinking blogger’s best friend: Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who dropped a reminder of my impending mortality and a thoughtful piece about an (at best) unsavory happening in French comics on the same day. The former is linked in the last sentence, the latter begins below.

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Before I begin, I must mention there is a language warning for explicit sexual language in this post. Onwards …

Is it possible to be so disgusted with a creator’s behavior that you’re considering foregoing their creations entirely, even those without relationship to the matter at hand? [Editor’s note: Yes. This was definitely answered by Cerebus #186 when Dave Sim went batshit insane, and has only repeatedly doubled down on his misogyny ever since. He is one of the most creative letterers that’s ever lived, and it is impossible to separate the creator — pre-batshittery or not — from the work.]

I have recently been made aware of a new release from Bastien Vivès (who you may remember from Last Man): it is a comic book called Petit Paul which is pornographic, explicitly so even: prominent warning on the cover, in a collection called Porn’pop dedicated to pornographic content, etc. This by itself would not be cause for alarm or even disapproval in the Fleenplex — if it were, we would never have made mention of Slipshine or Smut Peddler, for instance.

The issue (and the reason I have been made aware of that work), however, is that the eponymous protagonist is depicted to be about ten years old.

Let us take aspects one at a time. First, is it actually pornographic, or is the pornography warning just a way to avoid issues down the line for the publisher; and in a related matter, can we distinguish this from pedopornography trial cases where we can’t even know whether this is innocent child nudity? We can answer both questions thanks to Actualitté, who describes the depicted acts¹: not only does the titular Paul have an enormous penis, but he is in erection for most of the book, and he is shown ejaculating on multiple occasions; moreover at some point his female teacher is inflicting a [sic] cunnilingus upon him, for the next sequence Paul’s pants are torn open under pressure from his erection. To hide Paul, only one solution: penetration. Once again without really consulting him, and later on more sexual acts, all involving little Paul.

Nevertheless, that still leaves open possibilities for defense, and some have attempted: what if this is so ludicrous that this ends up being purely parody? But the creator himself has weakened if not foreclosed on these avenues in an interview with the Huffington Post where he is quoted as stating:

Le HuffPost: So you think that comic can be arousing?

Bastien Vivès: I made do with kinks that arouse me personally. […] If it is not arousing, I hope readers will at least get a laugh out of it.

This quote, regardless of the contents of the book, is what caused general reactions of disgust; in particular, Tanx, keeping on her theme of skepticism as to whether the artist can be separated from his creation (the bubbles read: You must separate the artist from the person, erm, well, but then … along which way do you cut?), wrote a reaction to clearly state her stance, which is that she is not invoking state censorship, but rather expressing disgust as to Vivés’ attitude, and that vile ideas can and should be fought with criticism; and that such criticism, even widespread and vigorous, is not censorship. Many creators found Tanx’s words to express their position better than they themselves could.

As for me, I tend to agree with Tanx. In particular, I remained unconvinced by other defenses of Vivès: Gilles Juan for Slate, for instance, sees a double standard between the reaction to the obviously illegal sexual acts depicted there and that for other illegal acts such as murders depicted in movies and comics, for which we do not even bat an eye; but beyond the initial objections (it is much harder to shoot a sex scene without actually performing it than it is to shoot a murder scene without actually performing it, so the distance in case of a depicted sex scene is necessarily reduced by a lot), there is the major objection that, through his ambiguous attitude, Vivés is allowing vile people to gather, and potentially organize themselves, around his work.

As far as I am concerned, this is the criterion for my utter disapproval; it is not a matter of needing writing talent in order to cover “edgy” subjects (though that may help), or even a matter of this work making it more likely for pedophiles to act out on their impulses, this is a matter of making sure the work cannot realistically be (mis)interpreted as validating ideas that must not come back to the surface; and Vivès has completely failed this part of his responsibilities as a creator.

But I am willing to hear everyone’s good faith takes on the matter.

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Fleen thanks FSFCPL for spending more time on this than we would ever have asked.


Spam of the day:

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¹ Which is fortunate as I sure as heck was not going to fork over any money to find out for myself.

I Don’t Know How He Does It

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

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

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

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

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

But last year I came to two realizations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spam of the day:

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

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

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

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

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

A Moment Of Respite, Courtesy Of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin

The latest atrocity has struck, and in the interests of not devolving into a gibbering puddle of rage, we hack webcomics pseudojournalists will not be trying to find meaning in the meaningless. We will, however, take a moment to name those actual journalists who were lost for the crime of truth-telling, earning enmity of powerful and the petty, both equally unhinged.

  • Rob Hiaasen
  • Wendi Winters
  • Gerald Fischman
  • John McNamara
  • Rebecca Smith

Remember their names. And yes, nitpickers, Smith worked in sales. Doesn’t matter.

And now, so that something can make sense, we turn the post over to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who lives in a society where weapons laws are not a godsdamned disgrace.

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Today, we are going to look at a creator without equivalent among crowdfunded creators in the French-speaking world.

For more than one year now, Yatuu has been working independently of any publisher, substituting publisher advances with revenue from her Tipeee page, that she manages like a recurring, monthly crowdfunding campaign just like Team Maliki does (complete with illustration available as an ex-libris that changes from month to month).

But, while encouraged towards going that way by Team Maliki itself, she is not doing it for the exact same reasons. The current overproduction crisis in French bandes dessinées, while it hurts the revenues of individual creators, does mean it is relatively easy to get published … in general. But as Yatuu explains in her Doubts (French-only, but pretty expressive), when she tried to present her latest project to a publisher, an heroic fantasy saga, he was OK to go with it … in one volume.

And even getting to start a multi-volume series is no guarantee either, as she relates the story of a fellow creator who had to cut short her story with an improvised ending in volume 3, as there would be no volume 4: the publisher wouldn’t approve it. Without this being an isolated case. Quick aside: while I try not to eavesdrop in comics festivals, I can confirm I have heard this kind of conversation between creators and readers on multiple occasions

Of course, money is an issue too: she observed that it was only after about five years as a professional that she finally earned out on a book and started getting royalty checks; meaning that while in theory creators are only paid by royalties, nowadays royalties are earned so slowly that creators end up making a living solely on advances which are rarely completely recouped, making a mockery of the system.

So she said: screw that. She is going to make her project as she wants it developed, and only readers will get to decide if it keeps going or not … in practice, by contributing to her Tipeee: If they keep doing so, she will have the funding to work on it.

This project, Erika et les princes en détresse (French only, though the title really needs no translation) is interesting in itself; it keeps exploring her favorite themes of gender and gender expectations, but this time in a completely fictional, fantasy setting (with all the world building that implies) rather than the fictionalized setting of junior high in Sasha or the autobio stories of Pas mon genre (untranslatable play between “Not My Gender” and “Not My Style”).

This is all the more risky as there is no punchline at the end of updates, no self-contained story: it is only rewarding in the long run; while other such French-language online comics exist, she was the first to try and make a living with such a story. Not to mention she’s had doubts and hesitations along the way: for instance in the middle of the story she decided to switch to (almost) black and white updates, because she was not satisfied with how fast she could draw the story compared to how far ahead she was thinking about it.

But what is most interesting to me is her behind-the-scenes updates where she gives a frank, raw look at her doubts and fears and anxieties, reminiscent of our favorite mechanical engineer; here for instance for the process of deciding to crowdfund the paper collection. Furthermore, we can see on another occasion that she had to overcome internalized inhibitions about it being “dirty” to discuss money with readers.

Personally, her materializing her character Erika to give her a kick in the ass to get moving speaks to me; anyone who think I am spontaneously outgoing or organized or eager to get around to recontact people (for a promised interview, for accreditation, etc.) is sorely mistaken … but the Ideal of Pseudojournalism keeps me going.

In short, she is definitely worth keeping an eye on (maybe one day I’ll convince her to have her work be translated¹). The first collection of Erika et les princes en détresse is now funding on Ulule](https://fr.ulule.com/erika-tome1/) for a few hours still, if you are interested.

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Many thanks to FSFCPL, and for those that either want to work on their French, or just like helping creators out, Yatuu’s Tipeee may be found here, and will accept your largesse even after the close of the Ulule campaign.


Spam of the day:

I have a project that I would like to execute with you. This is going to favour two of us. Kindly confirm your willingness to partner with me so that I can furnish you with full details of the project.

I’m sorry, attempts to swindle money from me are only accepted between the hours of 11:43am and 11:44am, on alternate Thursdays in months with an “r” in them, and only when accompanied by the appropriate form 27b-stroke-6. Please take your proposal, and the associated forms, fold them until they are all sharp corners, and insert them into your excretory passage of choice. We’ll be along to assist you approximately never.

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¹The name of her squire may be significant in English, though. It would certainly match her description.

Okay, Is There At Least A Translation For “Clark Kent”?

Hey, you! Are you just sitting on the couch, wishing you knew what happened at Lyon BD? Of course you are, because Fleen readers have a deep and abiding appreciation for webcomics from all corners of the globe, but especially for those where Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin can provide us with insight and analysis. In which case, we’ve got a treat for you today.

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French language comics festivals come in many sizes and shapes: in a huge convention center (though that is mostly the purview of anime cons) or in the premises of a business school, in the vicinity of Paris or many hours of travel away (to say nothing of those taking place outside Europe), centered around anime or around bandes dessinées (with sometimes some U.S. comics on the side), with excellent programming and exhibitions or with none at all, only creators, etc. Some of which I even went to since my last con report in Saint-Malo.

But Lyon BD is easily my favorite. They allow significant space for independent creators and publishers, treat attendees and exhibitors well (as well as hack webcomics pseudojournalists — yes, against all reason they again provided me with press credentials), have a good balance of scale and intimacy, feature very interesting exhibitions, etc. And it was a pleasure to come back after last year.

I do not have as much to report on this year, though: how can you beat the presence of Scott McCloud as a source of interest for Fleen readers? Still, I was able to gather a number of interesting tidbits.

  • The setup was improved from last year, with the tent on the place des Terreaux not only covering more surface (among other reasons because the fountain at the center of the plaza was no longer covered by scaffolding), but also having air conditioning! I know, not the most environmentally-friendly improvement, but when you’re wearing a Superman T-shirt, white shirt, and blue suit in order to cosplay Clark Kent, you selfishly welcome it.
  • Saturday morning had Pénélope Bagieu)¹ give a talk on her activities in the form of an interview in a small auditorium under the tent. Not much on what she’s currently working on except that it is for younger audiences than what she is used to, but she came back to Brazen, and one interesting tidbit is that she relied on written sources even for the women featured who are still alive today, and avoided going directly to them, so as to avoid making sort of “official biographies”; she has had some reactions from them now, especially after the English-language edition came out, mostly them being honored of being represented. However she had little choice when it came to Sonia Alizadeh given Bagieu had little information on her, so Bagieu contacted her to fill in the blanks; and as a result Bagieu did get some pushback on some aspects of the finished work, mostly how her mother is represented, and that Bagieu had to take into account.

    Later on, a member of the public asked if she had found what she was looking for in the U.S. (she has been living in Brooklyn for the last three years or so), and she answered that it had allowed her to get out of her routine and find renewed interest in her craft for instance; working on Brazen came naturally as soon as she was installed. She is also getting inspired by local architecture (including escape stairs), though whenever she comes back to France she does keep an appreciation for French architecture. Lastly, she is keeping contact with the local indie scene, which is widely more active than it is in France.

    After that interview, she was signing for most of the festival. You would think that with the last volume of Culottées having come out more than one year ago, and the omnibus in 2017, more than six months ago, pressure would have abated somewhat … but you would be wrong. Her line was packed with people clutching their copy of Culottées for most of the festival, with mostly women waiting in line, I must unfortunately report. Guys, if Gary and I enjoyed it, you can too.

  • An updated version of the Hero-ine-s exhibition was on display for the festival, now featuring pieces from international creators: it was updated and translated in English for the purposes of the Lakes Comic Art Festival in October 2018 (and will also show for the first time at Cumbria University in May). It was great to see an additional perspective on this matter, and I particularly appreciated some of the pieces; try and catch it if you’re remotely near the Cumbria area at that time. It will also remain all June in the Comédie Odéon in Lyon.

    I was even able to catch writer JC Deveney, creator of the exhibition, between two events, and while nothing more is confirmed yet, he told me the plans that are afoot in this area. Oh, yes, Plans Are Afoot.

  • In a meetup with Guillaume Long, who has been creating a blog BD about cooking called A Boire et à Manger that now has three collections published and a fourth one coming, not to mention a few spinoffs, I learned that his book will come out in English; it will be called, surprisingly enough To Drink And To Eat, but it will also have an all-new cover, which I unfortunately cannot show you … but I have seen it, and it is great. I do not know the publisher, but I would not be surprised for it to be First Second. We at Fleen will be sure to keep you informed.
  • Sunday morning, it was Boulet’s turn to be interviewed (this time by Paul Satis) in the auditorium about his numerous projects. First, the latest tome of Notes, numbered 11, which came out pretty much because he had reached the required number of pages published on the blog … except he miscounted, so once he realized he scrambled to fill in the 50 or so missing pages, allowing him to cement the theme of the blog: his brain is an asshole. Which in turn allowed him to expand on themes such as neurosciences, etc. He remarked that while most people, including artists, are frustrated artists (of another art when it comes to artists, obviously), he considers himself a frustrated scientist; he could very well have followed STEM studies, but that would have meant no longer studying drawing so that was a dealbreaker for him.

    Satis asked him about the Inside-Out-like people living in his head, and Boulet related they had saved his bottom on multiple occasions. In fact, his mishap in Your Comment Here did not receive the standard “autobio dramatization” process, it happened pretty much as is (with some details changed), and he finds the process fascinating.

    Another aspect of the notes that are now on paper that was raised is his adventures in Los Angeles, in which he now lives part of the year to be with his girlfriend, who works for Disney. Interestingly (particularly in parallel with Bagieu’s talk), while in France he lives at odd hours, with him rising after noon, and crashing sometimes as late as 4 AM, in Los Angeles he plays the perfect homemaker, taking breakfast with his girlfriend and waving her as She goes to work, and then, since he’s up, he might as well be working, so he does. But he’s always eager to come back to France.

    He went on to mention his other projects: Infinity 8 (synopsis by Lewis Trondheim, remainder of the writing and drawings by him), Bolchoi Arena (written by him, drawn by Aseyn), his Instagram monsters, which he generally draws live on his Twitch channel and where he also answers questions from the audience during the process, and the Octopus collection he edits, with the last book from the initially announced lineup having come out just a few weeks earlier.

  • By the time the festival ended, I was able to catch up with online comics creators Janine, creator of said book, Marc Dubuisson, Pins, Paka, Shyle Zalewsky, and Karensac.

    And just like last year, the festival ended with the sight of Boulet’s mile-long signing line. Shetty Shet, fellow blog BD aficionado on Twitter, was courageous enough to wait in this line, but I wasn’t, so I left, though not without waving her good luck, confident that the Lyon BD people and I will meet back next year …

P.S.: In related news, Bagieu, Boulet, and Cy are present in this year’s edition of the nearby Annecy animation festival this week, the latter two to provide comics coverage of the event, just like last year, and the former both for the animated version of the Culottées and as a jury member for the end of studies shorts awards.


Spam of the day:

Club Access LocalMILFsMHP Ad-Partner

This email purports to be from a 23 year old woman. We are on the cusp of MILF and Barely Legal converging into the same state.

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¹ Who, by the way, drew the poster for this year’s edition; it was not only all over town, but got declined into a bunch of exceedingly cute merch.

It’s Apparently Vocabulary Day At Fleen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spam of the day:

Discrete, Beautiful, Women Waiting For You

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

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

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

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

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

How Does He Do It?

By he, I naturally mean Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who sent along an unlooked-for update on what’s happening in France, on a day where I’m being subjected to thundersnow. Wet, heavy, needs-to-be-cleared gods-damned thundersnow. Thundersnow that has already caused Pénélope Bagieu’s book tour appearance in Philadelphia tonight to cancel. In other words, he has anticipated my hour of need and delivered unto us an interesting occurrence (and subsequent lessons learned) from Le Monde du Bandes Dessinées Web. Onwards …

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What can you do when you’ve committed yourself to fai[re] un truc de fou (do[ing] something crazy) in a stretch goal?

You probably remember our coverage of the launch of Maliki’s Tipeee campaign and our followup interview, and it’s been going strong ever since.

One interesting aspect is that, given that Tipeee enables one-off contributions, this means each month is the start of a new crowdfunding campaign; of course, it does not reset to zero at the start of the month, rather at the amount of recurring contributions, but otherwise each month is different from the next: the illustrated print changes from month to month, which results in the total at the end of the month fluctuating, sometimes dipping to about 9000 €, but generally reaching the 10,000 € stretch goal, and once reaching up to about 13,000 €.

For January, the illustration Maliki unveiled was not only of a fan-favorite character, but was also the counterpart of an illustration created a few years ago; and while I am not up to date on my Maliki lore, I believe they represent an important event in the backstory of these characters.

As soon as the illustration was unveiled, the counters went crazy. Starting from about 8700 € at the time, the total quickly reached the 10,000 € stretch goal, and then after a few more hours went over the previous record. But it did not stop there. Remember from the interview the mention of the ludicrous stretch goal, the one that was never meant to be reached?

It was cleared (at 15,000 €) with time to spare, and the total ended up at 17,000 €.

While the description of that stretch goal varied before, for the last few months it had simply read je fais un truc de fou (I do something crazy). And now it was as if the contributors had collectively dared Maliki OK, now do something crazy. Oh no.

Understandably, Team Maliki asked for a bit of time in order to come up with something suitably crazy, even taking suggestions from contributors. And last week, they eventually unveiled it in a special broadcast¹: they are going to sponsor an animal shelter called le radeau des animaux through various means: immediate contributions so that they may complete their facilities, but also ongoing money support, illustration work (e.g.: visual identity), etc.

I think we can draw a few lessons here:

  • To borrow from C Spike Trotman, doing fan art may provide short term success², but building up your IP will result in readers supporting you more in the ways that eventually matter.
  • Stretch goals end up building on each other: that month the 10,000 € stretch goal was for getting the previous illustration in the diptych along with the new one at no additional cost, which made subscribing to the cheetah pledge level (where you get that month’s illustration) an even more attractive option, resulting in more contributions coming. In fact, there being a new illustration for the month is itself a stretch goal, though at 5000 €, it is reached every month.
  • This all went down during the same day (31st of January), in eight hours, from about 16:00 to 23:59 CET. When you have a good connection with your audience, support can come very fast.
  • Do not tempt fate in a crowdfunding campaign, because you never know how far contributors will go and make you live up to your commitments.

Pourriel du jour:

http://enjoy.phonefurry.com

At the risk of kinkshaming, nnnnnoooooppppe.

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¹ The broadcast also included live watercolor drawings, live play of antique games, and Maine Coon licking action³, so that readers could get something, too.

² Though I have to admit to sometimes buying one of their fan art illustrations. What can I say, I am weak.

³ Gary here; get your minds out of the gutter, people. Also, FSFCPL informs me the cats are at 2:08:41 in the video

It Is A Pleasure To Be Back

Last week was … buhhh. Let us not speak of last week, but rather move forward.¹ Catching up on news is the order of the day.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a pointer to a story I would have otherwise missed; The Beat has a terrific interview with Pénélope Bagieu, so good that I’m not even mad to discover that Heidi Mac has gone and added her own French-speaking contributor. The interview mostly concerns the soon-to-be-published Brazen (née Culottées), a review of which will be forthcoming here at Fleen.

    Most fascinating was the discussion of the edits that are made to the list of accomplished ladies in different countries, including the fact that the US edition (by :01 Books) omits the story of Indian bandit queen Phoolan Devi. The reason given is need for the book to be YA, which required removing mentions of rape from Devi’s story, which removed much of the impetus for her career of banditry². Lots of good stuff, so go read Bagieu’s talk with Philippe Leblanc.

  • From C Spike Trotman, news that the new, Iron Circus edition of Evan Dahm’s Rice Boy is now available in the world (indeed, reports on the wubs indicate people are finding it in stores). Dahm’s first story from the very strange these are alien peoples and cultures, not humans with one feature distinctly different world of Overside are some of the best mythmaking and worldbuilding to be found in any medium, and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, get on that right now. Punch up those sales numbers and maybe we’ll see more ICC-published Overside stories.
  • From Steve Hamaker, designer, colorist, and all-around stellar comicker³, news that the second print volume of his webcomic, Plox, is now Kickstarting. Plox, if you’re not a reader, is definitely one of those stories that does better in big chunks that twice a week, so if you’ve been holding off, now’s the time to jump in.

    The campaign has an unusually low backer count for the funds raised so far (he’s just over 51% in the first week of a 30 day campaign), low enough that it’s outside the range where the FFF mk2 works well. The McDonald Ratio does pretty well in these situations, though, and it calls for Plox volume 2 to collect about US$11.7K, which is comfortably over the US$8K goal. The other piece of good news is that the backer averages are a full US$70, primarily because a significant number of people are pledging at the US$150 level for a cameo. You cannot beat super-fans.


Spam of the day:

Patron Initial Coin Offering

Oh, well I’m sure to trust this digital Ponzi scheme because I’m assured it’s on a whitelist.

Actually, I kinda do trust them because their logo is a moustache. Don’t judge me.

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¹ Not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

² Although the story of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee has a similar inclusion of repeated spousal rapes, which were just as much an impetus for her career of social work, justice for women, and rehabilitation of child soldiers. Then again Gbowee was a grown woman and Devi was ten years old.

³ Seriously, have you seen the list of people he collaborates with? Jeff Smith, Terry Moore, Judd Winick, the Flight folks, Scott Kurtz … the list goes on and on.

Clever Students And News of Dessinatrices

This may be my professional bias talking, or my innate sense that engineering is the most fun you can have in the physical and mental worlds simultaneously, but there may be nobody taking comics into more exciting directions than Lucas Landherr¹ of Surviving The World. As has been mentioned on this page more than once, Landherr has been making comics (with a variety of artists) to explain the trickier concepts in his discipline (that would be Chemical Engineering²), and of late he’s been inspiring his students to do the same.

As a class project last semester, his students produced new ways of explaining key bits o’ esoteric knowledge, ranging from their own comics (on convection, or heat transfer, or heat exchangers) to video (on heat transfer, or on heat transfer but with a Queen song³). It’s cool stuff, and I get the feeling in that last video that I’ve seen some of the tics that Professor Landherr exhibits in class, and I definitely fear — nearly 30 years distant from my own graduation — to ever take a class with Professor Satvat, judging by how often he shows up in these projects.

From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin:

These ladies had messages to express with their comics in 2017, and you can bet they will persist in 2018.

Our thanks, as always, to FSFCPL for keeping us up on Gallic comics happenings.


Spam of the day:

Hi Gary,
I saw you tweeting about reading and I thought I’d check out your website. I really like it. Looks like Gary has come a long way!

Not only has Gary come a long way, everything’s coming up Milhouse Gary!

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¹ Alter-ego of mild-mannered chalkboard enthusiast Dante Shepherd.

² Which, as a proud Electrical Engineer, I might concede almost involves more difficulty and scholarship than my own chosen field.

³ Very cool thing I noticed — judging from the clock on the wall in the lecture portion of the video, the Landherr-spoofing scene was done with few (if any) reshoots.

4 If you need a refresher, these are comics specifically designed to be read by scrolling on a smartphone screen; they are a big deal (not to mention big business (French-only)) in Japan and South Korea.