The webcomics blog about webcomics

Let’s End The Week On Some Good News

Hey, remember when I said I was gonna give away an awesome graphic novel, way back at the end of summer? And remember around Labo[u]r Day, when alert reader Erik won? It took a while to get him his book (there was a move involved, and a new baby, plus the general fuckery with the Postal Service), but Erik emailed me last night to say that he got the book and took the smiling photo that was the cost of entry. Erik says:

Thanks again, both for the book and for the impetus to get off my tush and subscribe to The Nib.

My work here is done. Everybody feel good for Erik!

Spam of the day:

A recent charge attempt requires your attention

Oh my, that sounds serious,, I am certain to click on the completely harmless buttons you have included in your email, or even the links to the American Express website which mysteriously appear to redirect to Thanks for looking out for me!

PS: I don’t have an American Express card so maybe try a little harder then next time you attempt a crime, jackass.

Corporations Are Not Your Friend; Corporations Are Never Your Friend

For those wondering if I’m still employed, I did not tell a VP-level executive that everybody working for them is fucking around and needs to be replaced by somebody willing to do their godsdamned jobs.

I did say it a director-level executive, who was impressed by the receipts I brought, most especially the logged trouble ticket (it’s got an 8-digit ID number, but we’ll call it “A”) that directed responders to a second ticket (we’ll call this one “B”), that was in turn redirected to a third ticket (yep, “C”), that finally instructed people that further updates and actions should be logged back to ticket A. I may have used the words Möbius clown shoes to describe the situation.

I am far too jaded to assume anything will be fixed anytime soon, but I at least have an acknowledgment that customer-impacting things were fucked for months in precisely the way I’ve been saying they were fucked and if you think that isn’t going right on top of any future responses I have to write to HR, then you don’t know how willing I am to keep a paper trail that proves my point for decades if necessary. I have saved correspondence from a cable company that no longer exists, admitting that they fucked up because they didn’t manage to cash my checks for more than a year (finding out they wouldn’t be honored by the bank) after I’d called them numerous times to ask them to please take my money. That was sixteen years ago and I reread it from time to time to bask in the warm glow it gives me.

Now let’s talk about a corporation for which I have considerably more disdain than my employers¹ — Disney. I’ve never been a Disney fan (Pixar selling out to them was a sad day for me), but their latest bullshit has shocked even me. I trust you’ve seen this:

Disney’s argument is that they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. In other words, they believe they have the right to publish work, but are not obligated to pay the writer no matter what the contract says. If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States. All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company.

If you didn’t read the whole thing, that’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America president Mary Robinette Kowal on the situation that legendary SFF writer Alan Dean Foster has found himself in. Through their purchases of Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, Disney owns the rights to several of Foster’s books, and for years now has neither paid him royalties nor provided royalty statements because FUCK YOU, WE’RE THE MOUSE, THAT’S WHY.

This is, simply put, a whole lotta bullshit. Disney won’t even talk to Foster and his representatives unless they sign an NDA first, which is unbelievably bullshit. So this is your notice that if you have anything to do with any entity owned or operated by Disney, they are stating by their actions that they don’t think you should be paid and cannot be trusted to honor contracts they sign.

And, while I am not a lawyer, if you are working with any entity not owned or operated by Disney, they might buy them out in the future and try this utterly risible bullshit on you, too, so maybe your next contract should have an explicit Disney clause in there. Something along the lines of if your contract is ever acquired by Disney, they have 30 days to either immediately affirm — in writing, naturally — their obligations under the existing contract to you, or release your IP back to you with a kill fee equal to the previous five years of royalties or US$100,000, whichever is greater.

Oh, and on the off chance that you have licensed anything from Disney, there are lawyers on the sosh-meeds offering pro bono services for you to sell your license to a friend who can then use the Disney stuff without paying for it because hey — they started this bullshit, somebody ought to feed some of it back to them.

In the meantime, my determination to never pay Disney tax² is redoubled, and I will be avoiding their properties even more determinedly in the future. Not sure I buy anything that flows back to Disney except the occasional Marvel comic, so ought to be pretty easy.

Spam of the day:

Make the best espresso of your life

I don’t drink coffee. Is this some kind of weird sex thing?

¹ Who at least don’t try to convince me to love them. The pay is good, the check are on time and don’t bounce, and that is that absolute extent of the slack I give to them. My immediate manager I would follow into a wall of flame because she’s gone to bat for me on numerous occasions, but the entire org chart above her? Strangers that I work for, not some kind of feel-good “family”.

² I swear, half of my decision to not have kids involved never wanting to give the Disney corporation money.

Just Me?

You ever spend hours clenching your jaw into a rictus smile because you are on the verge of telling paying customers that they should find something better to spend their money on than products that you are attempting to teach, on account of your employer can’t manage to make their own shit work for half an hour at a time in an environment that is designed and built to showcase them?

I am finding the mantra I need the insurance, I need the insurance, I need the insurance¹ to be helpful in this regard, but I am also dangerously close to telling people further up the reporting structure that they are sabotaging my ability to do my job and to either get out of the godsdamned way or else fuck off into the ocean, their choice.

As I have already submitted student comments reading If my systems failed this much I’d be fired and Glad to know I’m not the only one that can’t keep [product] running, they already think that I have an attitude problem, so I’m actually not sure speaking up would make anything worse.

This particular issue has been building for quite a while — see every missed post of the past nine months because of euphemistically-described tech issues at work — and I’m ready to burn things down as long as I take some of them with me². We’ll talk about webcomics tomorrow assuming I still have a job and haven’t taken up day drinking.

Spam of the day:

I work for Editorial PR based here in London. We have a client that is potentially looking for coverage on your site. I am currently working on a rolling 25-day budget so if you could come back as soon as possible with your terms of business it would be appreciated.

My response:

I don’t take advertising, and if you push a client at me and I cover them, the story will run under a 72-pt headline reading THIS GUY PAID ME TO RUN THIS STORY.

Rates start at US$12,782 per 500 words or fraction thereof.

No reply, curiously.

¹ Note for overseas readers: in America, if you are not employed, you are not considered worthy of medical care and will be left to die from preventable causes, or otherwise to die poor because you spent all your money in previous attempts to not die.

Because freedom.

² For context: I finally got a response from the responsible parties assuring me that they are very interested in observing the failures that occur every Wednesday in this particular class like clockwork, just give us the details and we’ll be there to see for ourselves what you’ve been describing for most of a year.

That email was sent on Monday morning at 5:00am. I replied by 10:00am with the necessary details, only to get an autoresponse that my email won’t be read because they’re on vacation until Thursday.

No jury would convict me.

Love, In All Its Myriad Forms

Love is in the air. I know they say it’s a Spring thing, but I’m declaring it to be in the air today.

  • It’s hard to believe that it was ten year ago that Rosemary Mosco got the news. It’s not hard to believe that she was a stupendous badass in the face of cancer¹, and every time one of these milestone comics has been posted, the net joy in the world has gone up. Congrats to Rosemary, congrats to Randall, and tell your friends you love them just because.
  • Erika Moen has, as this page has mentioned in the past, been one of the bravest, most generous folks in the world, sharing for all to see what it’s like in her life and especially in her brain; every time she talks about mental health, other people get the chance to recognize what in the lives could be better. She has absolutely, definitely saved people from misery and death.

    And today she’s done just as big a service for everybody — neurotypical and aneurotypical alike — by discussing frankly, empathetically, and above all truthfully something that we’ll pretty much all experience. Today’s Oh Joy, Sex Toy (the remit for discussion of which is surprisingly broad) is about heartbreak. Gettin’ dumped. Splitsville. Singletown, population: You.

    More importantly, she talks about how so much of that pain comes from people not knowing what love really means, having the wrong expectations, and having to figure it all out on their own; it’s been that way since time immemorial, but it seems like just expecting everybody to go through the unpleasant aspects before they grow into their final selves and realistic love is maybe suboptimal? But Moen’s got some choice advice (plus a promised trip to The Bouncy House Of Sexuality, the absolute finest metaphor to hit OJST since the Anal Safety Snails) and we can all be grateful for her insight and willingness to share.

  • And sometimes love means hot, hot gettin’ it on. For those in the mood for said on-gettin’, Iron Circus Comics is running a Kickstart for the latest Smut Peddler anthology, this based on history times and subtitled Sordid Past. Unsurprisingly, it funded in an hour, and presently sits just south of 300% of the US$20,000 goal. Short campaign this time, just 17 more days to back the project, so that will likely shift the FFF mk2 numbers downwards from their present prediction of US$110K – US$165K². Plus, Yuko Ota’s cover is spectacular. Get on this one while the gettin’s good.

Spam of the day:

Mailbox is running out of data storage. All incoming messages will be blocked until you upgrade.

Oh no, my Fleen mailbox is running out of storage and everything will be blocked — including your bullshit spam — unless I click on an actual executable you’ve sent me. Let’s absolutely do that right now, no possible downside there.

¹ FUCK cancer.

² Which, if met, will make for some nice creator bonuses.

An Act Of Stunning Generosity

There’s something about when people who have a bit of fame share a little insignificant bit about themselves and you can see from 1.609 km off that it comes from a place of narcissism. The share is too neat, to designed to elicit a specific emotional response, usually something along the lines of See, I’m just like you and now you love me more.

But there’s something entirely different about when people who have a bit of fame and also howler-monkey detractors and share something about themselves that you just know will set those monkeys a-howling but they do it anyway because it’s something that’s true, something they have to get out¹, and it’s an act of stunning generosity because that vulnerability they share can reach out to somebody who’s likewise vulnerable and tell them You think you’re messed up but see, I’m just the same and I’m okay (or gonna be okay) and that means you’re okay, too.

I have mentioned before that I am incredibly lucky to be both neurotypical and utterly in line with society’s expectations of my assigned-at-birth gender, which removes a shedload of obstacles in life. I am likewise incredibly lucky to know people who weren’t so lucky on either or both scores, and who’ve been generous enough to share their experience of finding ways — sometimes by fits and starts — of being kinda okay with who they are, then fully accepting of who they are, and hopefully arriving in a place of loving who they are. I’m a better person because of everybody that didn’t fit into societal or neurochemical norms and doesn’t let the world deny them who they are.

I’m likewise grateful to the medium of [web]comics for helping so many creators come to realizations of who they are; I’m thinking particularly of a panel discussion at last year’s Queers & Comics Conference where a creator related the story of a reader saying that their comic made them realize they were trans and the creator’s reaction was Huh. HUH. as the lightbulb went off in their own head. Looking around the panel and the room, there were more than a few nodding in agreement.

All of which is to say that one of the most nuanced, empathetic, stunningly generous creators we have, Noelle Stevenson, shared her latest truth over the weekend in the form of a 35 page pay-what-you-like meditation in comic form called The Weight Of Them at Gumroad. Whatever you’re doing right now, take the time to download it and read it; like all their projects, you’re a different person than you were when you started. It’s a gift to pull another into your head and see what life is like from behind your eyes, and Stevenson’s among the very best we have at it.

Spam of the day:
Y’know what? Nope. Spammers don’t get to ruin the mood today.

¹ And, too often, because if they don’t share, the howler monkeys will scream all the louder. There’s no satisfying the toxic elements of a fandom.

Ever Wonder What A Harvey Award Looks Like?

I like the different color treatments, high polish vs patina. It's neat.

Gene Luen Yang has an answer for you, as the two he scored last month have apparently arrived in the mail. Gotta say, it’s a much better likeness than the Eisner globe is of Will Eisner.

Speaking of Yang, he’s going to be half of the latest iteration of :01 Books’s current online hangout series for these isolated times. They’ve been running Comics Creators Getting Coffee about monthly since August as an extension of their Comics Relief online events, but I just realized that I hadn’t written about them.

More to the point, I haven’t really thought about them, because when the first one was announced (with editor Calista Brill and creator Kiku Hughes), I saw the bit that said Instagram Live and immediately tuned out because I’m not on The Grams. Since then, there have been talks between Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter with editor Kiara Valdez, and Brill and Lisa Brown. Me not being on The Grams isn’t a reason to not talk about these, though, so this is me informing you that Yang will be talking with Sloane Leong, next Wednesday at noon EST, on the :01 Instagram account.

And, uh, let me know what they say, on account of no account, and also day job. Thanks.

Spam of the day:

Coca-Cola Award (£2,000,000.00)

In Russian? Really? Do you not realize that I know the history of American cola-flavored caffeinated soda beverages wrt the Soviet Union? That Eisenhower was personal friends with a Red Army marshal that he got so hooked on Coke that Ike had to convince the Coca-Cola company to produce a version of their bottlecaps with red stars instead of their usual swoopy logo?

Or that later, Eisenhower’s vice president (and history’s yard waste) Richard Nixon undermined Coke’s private supply for the senior army officers in the USSR because he had once been a staff lawyer for Pepsi and was a close personal friend of Pepsi’s president, and they arranged for Pepsi to be the first Western mass-market brand to get a foothold behind the Iron Curtain?

Or that after the fall of the Soviet Union and the cratering of the ruble, Russia was so addicted to Pepsi that they traded twenty decommissioned warships for US$3 billion worth of fizzy sugar water, briefly rendering PepsiCo the sixth largest navy in the world? They had 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate, and a destroyer!

So yeah, you want me to fall for this scam in Russian, it fucking better be a fake Pepsi Award, not Coke.

Wednesday Is Zubday

I mean, Jim Zub is one of the more omnipresent writers of comics in the biz these days, with some Wednesdays seeing as many as four Zub titles dropping simultaneously. Even better, the guy who’s made a career out of being able to write in any genre, for any publisher, on time, slotting into whatever line-wide crossover or editorial mandate is going on, and setting up the big name who’s eventually going to be brought onboard to replace him with a solid story foundation and plot hooks is working his way up to major titles. You know, things like Avengers.

But his heart will always be in his own stories. Okay, his own stories and Conan, because Zub knows what is best in life, but for the purposes of our discussion right now, his own stories. One of those own stories dropped via comiXology about 18 months back, and it was pretty damn good.

Thing about comiXology is that you don’t really own comics, you rent them for as long as Amazon figures you should be able to, and to keep reading them in that timeframe you have to keep giving Amazon money. I prefer physical media that can’t be memory-holed unless Bezos comes over to my house¹.

And whaddaya know, that pretty damn good story will be getting a physical release after all:

Stone Star volume 1, the Space Fantasy book I did with @JimZub, Espen Grundetjern, & @MarshallDillon for @comiXology, is getting published for print by @DarkHorseComics in 2021!

That from Max Dunbar, who had lineart chores on Stone Star to Zub’s words, Espen Grundetjern’s colors, and Marshall Dillion’s letters. It’s a story I wholeheartedly recommended before, and do so again now that you can actually pay for a permanent copy.

And because Zub’s never got just one bit of news to share, allow me to point out that he’s got some pure prose available for you, too:

I’m thrilled to announce that From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is now available from your favorite bookshop or online outlet. I’m one of 40 authors who contributed a short story showcasing how characters beyond the main cast see and feel about events that take place in that wonderful Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Every author involved in this special project has waved initial payment and royalties so that all proceeds can go to First Book — a leading nonprofit providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch, Penguin Random House is donating $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm will donate 100,000 children’s books — valued at $1,000,000 — to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education.

That from an email that Zub sent me yesterday, but if you want deets you can check out the tweet as well. Zub’s story is about Yoda’s reaction to a certain farmboy showing up in his swamp. Ever wonder if Yoda’s people have inverted syntax in their internal dialogue? Or if a 3rd-person narration can be written in Yodaspeak while still getting the point across clearly? Or if reading Yoda’s words will cause Frank Oz’s dulcet tones to resonate in your brainmeats? One way to find out, nerf herder.

Spam of the day:

Herb Hegmann, a 47-year-old father of 4, was close to giving up? He had struggled with tooth and gum decay for more than 7 years? He’d tried everything, but nothing worked?

It’s called flossing, Herb. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it works.

¹ And if he does come over to my house to memory-hole my comics, I have a greyhound that can sprint up to 70km/hour and who will aggressively get in his face to demand attention and petting.

I Would Consider It A Personal Favor

As I believe has been made clear on this page since the very beginning, Randy Milholland is a treasure and Something*Positive one of the best webcomics being made in this or any year. I know that we’ve all been wrapped up in the high emotional stakes of the last¹ few strips, but I’m here to remind you of something else:

Dude is a scholar of Popeye and his run on Popeye’s Cartoon Club was the most life that storied old sailor’s seen in decades. It would be the height of sense for King Features syndicate to bring him back on the strip full time, or at least have him do Sunday strips for the next forever. Lots of us said this during his run on Popeye’s Cartoon Club, and it seems we have the opportunity to say it again:

Hey, if you liked my Popeye strips, Comics Kingdom is doing a survey about which older comics to restart and Popeye is one of ’em. Consider for voting (and maybe mention my name and my Popeye strips. No, I have no shame)

That from Milholland at the top of S*P today, and it takes just about a minute to fill out the survey:

  1. If you could get more of one of your favorite classic King Features comics with new art and stories, would you choose:
    [Popeye is one of the choices, which also includes an “Other” choice you can type in]
  2. If there were one classic King Features comic you absolutely WOULD NOT want to see new comics for, it would be:
    [Same list as #1]
  3. What would be your feelings about seeing new comics for the following classic King Features characters?
    [Same list as #1, but rating each on a five point scale from Very Unhappy to Very Happy]
  4. Do you have any other thoughts about seeing a revival of any classic King Features comics?
    [Open response]

I answered, respectively, Other: Popeye, specifically with Randy Milholland; Other: I would want you to bring none of them back until after you’ve brought back Popeye with Randy Millholand; rated all neutral or better, but top marks for Popeye; and a long comment about how not only should they give Randy Popeye, they should also convince Disney to give them the license for a daily Duck comic and let Randy have that, too. The only thing Randy’s a deeper scholar of than Popeye is the history of Duckburg and the citizens thereof.

Fly, my pretties, and let King Features know your mind: you love great comics and want to see them spread. Also, because Randy promised that if he got to do more Popeye strips he’d let us know the name and deal of the Sea Hag’s intern, and she’s the best new comics character since Zonker Harris.

Spam of the day:

Good afternoon.. Here is a backing soundtrack we did for a client, just listen, maybe some track will suit your company as corporate music

I think you’re trying to pass off the work of an actual house music composer as a job you did for a client, Mr Obviously Fake Name. That’s … weird. Just to counter this, I’ll encourage folks who are into that sort of thing to look up VS Vladimiros on YouTube and maybe they’ll decide to give them the attention instead of you.

¹ In that one, we got an answer to my question — Fred did get to hand out candy on Halloween night, and for that I will always be grateful.

How’s The Schadenfreude Going For Everybody?

When the histories of this time and place are written, I’m not sure that anything will embody the utterly fruitless flailing of the Trump Administration as calling a Very Important Press Conference starring Insider Goon #1 (Rudy Giuliani) in the parking lot of a lawn service next to a dildo store and across the street from a crematorium, during the middle of which the press all left because the race was called for Biden.

And all of us, I think, want to know what the story is behind Four Seasons Total Landscaping, accidental venue for maybe the saddest, most pathetic outburst in four years of increasingly sad and pathetic behavior. Did Rudy know a guy who knew a guy? Did — and I believe this with all my heart — the campaign think they were contacting the Four Seasons hotel and end up booking the wrong Four Seasons by accident? Did they think we wouldn’t notice that the entire thing took place between a fire extinguisher and a hose?

I want the oral history of this fiasco, the podcast series, the dissertation of what the hell actually led to this parking lot on the edge of Philadelphia, but in the meantime I have a new favorite shirt. Friend of Fleen Shing Yin Khor spent some time Saturday night gettin’ tipsy and designing a tribute shirt for Four Seasons Total Landscaping with everybody’s favorite orange nightmare, Gritty, prominently featured.

For about 24 hours, the shirt was up for sale at Threadless, with the intent of maybe sending five hundo to the campaigns of Democrats Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia Senate runoffs, as well as to the Stacey Abrams-led Fair Fight, which has done so much to counter voter suppression and gerrymandering in Georgia.

That was the plan, but like everything else about 2020, reality had its own ideas:


1. We raised $28k+!!
2. This is now a tax problem for me!
3. Please be patient as I sort accounting, and wait 2 weeks for Threadless to actually send/transfer money.
4. Here are my max contribution receipts for the Senate runoff campaigns.
5. Shirt comes down at 2pm PST.

Khor maxed out the allowable contributions under election law to a campaign per election cycle for both Ossoff and Warnock, and will be sending the remainder presently. For a few hours, there was only a tote bag at the Threadless link (benefiting National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network), because you gotta have a product there to leave a message saying the shirt are down, because wrangling finances is not Khor’s job and they have better things to do.

And then, a few hours later after convos with Threadless, the shirt was back:

SHIRTS ARE BACK! I will be working directly with Threadless to get money directly to voting charities(the ones mentioned earlier)!! However, I am still refusing to offer shirts on black, out of respect for the beautiful oranges of Gritty’s fur. Thank you.

Get yours here, and remember: any designs on Etsy or elsewhere (all of the ones I’ve seen being considerably more expensive than Khor’s versions) are knockoffs by lowlifes that need to be reported.

And let it never be said that we at Fleen don’t step up, so the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back in business. I will match all donations to Fair Fight up to US$1000 between now and when I get my shirt in the mail (damn right I ordered one). This is the one time you should accept the USPS being a little slow.

Spread the word, email or post your receipts, cost me some money, and let’s put McConnell out of his godsdamned office.

Spam of the day:

Bear Grillz shared a new online system for earning!

I think they’re trying to make me think of Bear Grylls, but instead they’re making me think of a bear that grills, or possibly a bear with grillz. That last one is frankly terrifying, but a bear that grills is awful close to something that Ryan North and Erica Henderson shared with us and is thoroughly awesome.

Even More Disturbing This Time Around

Everybody get caught up on sleep last night? Feeling a little more calm? Actually bemused by how fruitless the attempted ratfucking of the election is? Cheeto Mussolini never did hire very good lawyers, since good lawyers want to get paid. Anyway, quick bit of webcomics for you.

Spam of the day:

The Biggest Indicator Of Illness: How to Monitor Blood Oxygen.

Okay, a) pulse oximeters are like twenty bucks; I have one in my trauma bag. b) They don’t work reliably on COVID patients, reading SpO2 levels that are incompatible with life, much less a patient having a conversation with you. Something in the novel coronavirus changes blood chemistry, and the calibration logic of oximeters gets thrown off. So peddle your bullshit elsewhere.