The webcomics blog about webcomics

Short Answer, No; Longer Answer, A Little

It was yesterday afternoon when C Spike Trotman — who is on top of things to the degree that I suspect she has a hidden neural jack someplace — tweeted the alarm:

…wait did patreon just ban porn

There’s a flurry of discussion, which I’ll let you examine; suffice it to say that on first read, This Seemed Bad:

Fuck, more than a few people just went from +$10k a month in steady income to NOTHING if this is true. How do you not puke yourself to death

My initial suspicion anytime something porn related gets the heave-ho is that the credit card companies and/or PayPal are at the heart of it, but the vagueness around Patreon’s move seemed disturbing. Fortunately, there are people in the community one may rely upon to explain things with insight and careful analysis, and in the intersection of webcomics and business systems, we have George.

His report was based on primary documents from Patreon and a bit of informed suspicion. This is good stuff, so I’m quoting at length:

Okay gonna talk about the changes to patreon stuff real quick since I see a lot of people losing their minds…

Let’s start with links to their community post – https://patreonhq.com/checking-in-on-our-commitments-to-creators-about-trust-and-safety-8793a53c3cae … and then the guidelines – https://t.co/CrQjy2JNMy

This has been the looming threat as its use as a webcam sub service started growing – https://t.co/ZznhyDk3Xw

The problem doesn’t come down to prudish attitudes, it comes down to credit card processors, and they most certainly finally cracked down.

So to go back to patreon in particular – the language they use in their updated guidelines is clear by way of wink and nudge.

If you’re an artist there’s a few full nos – “glorification of sexual violence which includes bestiality, rape, and child exploitation”

If you were selling cam subs or modeling shots – you are out of luck. This is actually similar to Kickstarter’s policy. Art ok? ppl no.

So yeah, if you’re drawing smut, flag your patreon adult, keep it all patrons only, & don’t cross the few guides.

And if you cry vague… They’re more specific than kickstarter’s which just say “pornographic content” period. https://www.kickstarter.com/rules/prohibited?ref=rules …

And that hasn’t stopped a whole wave of people from running anthologies, graphic novels, and other books and pins and what have you on it.

Which makes it sound much more like Patreon got rid of people who were less using the platform as a creative funding mechanism, and more for a straight payment processor to get around restrictions from the financial industry. This reading is much closer to Patreon got rid of people stretching rules to the breaking point specifically so it could keep the people well in-bounds.

But is it a danger? I asked Brad Guigar, who as we all know has been making a tidy living from the smut-friendly corners of Patreon for some time now. Here’s what he said on the record:

Patreon’s rules disallowing things like incest, rape, bestiality, and child exploitation don’t really effect [sic] me. My stuff doesn’t go into those areas. The bigger takeaway, for me, was Patreon seems to be taking great pains to accommodate folks who are creating adult content. And that’s huge.

At least, for now. Because a couple of days after I spoke to Guigar about his experiences with Patreon and the cartoon naughties (and goodness, that was just about exactly two years ago!), the world reminded us that nothing is static with respect to how much respect adult content can get in payment channels. To somewhat self-indulgently quote myself from that piece:

We think of webcomics has having evaded gatekeepers, and on a content/editorial basis, it absolutely has. But in trying to make that independent effort a proper business, one must engage in a system that is entirely one-sided. Run afoul of one person at Chase or Bank of America and you’re frozen out; they’ll never take on a major corporate creator of inferior smut (cable and dish companies make a lot of damn money off of naughty pay-per-view; so does every hotel chain other than Hilton, who are weaning themselves off the grumble flicks), but they’ll freeze out anybody that attracts enough attention from a loud enough pressure group.

… With the continued concentration of information services into the hands of fewer and fewer providers, the possibility of getting strong-armed by somebody that doesn’t like your personal aesthetic is something we’re going to have to be increasingly cognizant of. [emphasis original]

Which is why the real lesson of Patreon’s moves yesterday is not the panic we saw in some quarters, or even the modest optimism of Rohac and Guigar: it’s the recognition that Patreon’s support of adult content is 99.44% good for now, but that could change drastically at any time.

The time to start brainstorming the backup plan to Patreon is now, before the disaster strikes. Maybe it never does, in which case hooray. Maybe you draw a line in the sand that says If these ____ changes occur, that’s when I start to transition to _____. Maybe you see the writing on the wall and get in on another channel (partially or fully) well in advance. Revisit your analysis (when you file quarterly taxes is probably a good time) and don’t let external decisions make you go from income to no income without a backup plan.

Do it for the children.


Spam of the day:

Prevent anymore memory loss with these simple steps

The accompanying photo appears to be somebody fondling a beef heart, which is honestly less worrying that what I figured would be involved. These sort of things usually involve horrors like shoving coffee grounds up your urethra or whatever.

Starting To Understand TopatoCo A Little Better

Particularly, the bit that says:

Customs policies vary wildly and unpredictably from country to country. You should contact your local customs office for further information; please do not complain to us as we have little to no control over your government’s policies (for now). Customs clearance procedures can sometimes create delivery delays beyond what we originally estimate.

At least, I think that’s the relevant passage. One may recall that waaaay back in May, thanks to the generosity of Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, I was able to give away a copy of the gorgeous first hardcover collection of DRIVE. The winner, a person named Mario, happens to hail from Portugal, which meant that the arrival of the package would happen potentially never. Today, it was delivered.

To my doorstep.

That’s it up at the top of the page¹. I think the stickers on the box mean that it sat at Portuguese customs until they got tired of looking at it/decided not to deliver it, and it was sent back across the ocean to me. Thanks for not stealing it, Portuguese customs/mail officials, that was very nice of you! Suggestions as to what I should do with it are now being cheerfully accepted, but I think that I am not going to try shipping it across the planet again. Mario, and I’m sorry that you didn’t get the book, sorry that it cost US$22.50, 162 days, and probably 15 hours total flight time to end up back where it started. I tried hard.

  • I try hard, by coincidence, is how Ryan North signed my copy of Happy Dog the Happy Dog, along with a little hand-drawn doodle of T-Rex. It’s adorable. It’s also a segue, as I note that today is the birthday of Ryan North, and also of John Allison. Webcomics is lucky to have two such excellent gentlemen in it, and we at Fleen wish to offer the very best returns of the day to Messers Allison and North, with the expectations of many more to come.
  • Speaking of happy dogs, the fine folks at :01 Books have sent me a copy of the latest addition to their Science Comics series, Dogs: From Predator To Protector by Andy Hirsch.

    It’s a great read, and it’s a heck of a way to teach tweens (and up) not only about pooches, but a goodly amount of evolution and genetics — we’re talking meiosis, DNA base pairs, Punnett squares, alleles, and dominance, people. Darwin’s in there, but he actually is less of a focus than Gregor Mendel and Dmitry Belyaev.

    Add into that a good discussion of dog senses, dog behavior, and dog BALL! BALL! BALL! communication modes, and you’ve got a pretty excellent primer into what’s probably the second-greatest thing accomplished by humanity as a whole³. Dogs is available at bookstores everywhere on Tuesday, 31 October.


Spam of the day:

GRAND_FUCK_AUTO It doesn’t get more fun than this – Play Now

I don’t even want to know.

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¹ At last, I think it is — I haven’t opened the box to see if maybe it’s half a blender instead².

² I checked, not a blender. In fact, it is a copy of the DRIVE hardcover, in perfect condition.

³ I still give the #1 slot to the eradication of smallpox.

Let’s Get Squeaky

It’s time again for MICE — the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, held at University Hall of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA — and that means there’s gonna be indie/webcomickers in attendance. Let’s see what’s up.

First of all, there some really cool programming to see. On Saturday, you’ve got:

  • Braden Lamb teaching a workshop on comic making, from 11:00am to noon (Lesley Room)
  • Cathy Leamy talking about comics and medicine, also from 11:00am to noon (amphitheater)
  • Dirk Tiede talking character and pacing, from 12:30pm to 1:30 pm (Lesley Room)
  • The Iron Cartoonist competition will feature contestants like Abby Howard and judges like Mark Siegel, also from 12:30pm to 1:30pm (amphitheater)
  • Kazu Kibuishi running a workshop on comic creation, from 2:30pm to 3:30pm (Lunder Arts Center)
  • Evan Dahm moderates a discussion on worldbuilding, from 5:00pm to 6:00pm (amphitheater)

And then on Sunday, you’ve got:

  • Melanie Gillman, Blue Dellaquanti, and others discussing, from 11:30amm to noon:30pm (amphitheater)
  • Jason Shiga talking about interactive comics, from noon to 1:00pm (Eliot Room)
  • Whit Taylor will be among those discussing the intersection of the personal and political in comics, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm (amphitheater)
  • Sophie Yanow will be talking about autobio comics, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm (Eliot Room)

Bonus: every session will have ASL interpretation available!

In addition to the folks already mentioned, creators present¹ will include Alexander Danner, Alison Wilgus, Kori Michele, Luke Howard (B), Luke Howard (J), Maki Naro, Matt Lubchansky, Penina Gal, Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell, and Zack Giallongo. And, since it’s in her neighborhood and all, I imagine my good friend Brigid Alverson will be wandering the floor and committing acts of journalism. Tell her I said hi!

Best of all, MICE falls squarely into the expo/festival model of show, and all events are free and open to the public; doors are open 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturday, and 11:00am to 5:00pm on Sunday. Cambridge is well-served by public transit, with the Porter Square MTA stop maybe 100 meters up Massachusetts Avenue.

They’ve also got one of the most well thought-out anti-harassment codes I’ve ever seen, with staff members trained in Bystander Intervention. I hope that it’s not needed, but it’s great to see a staff that knows not just what they’re supposed to do, but how to do so in a manner that doesn’t make the initial offense worse. Bravo.


Spam of the day:

I am Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar Hafez al-Assad of Syria

Yeah, no.

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¹ And, speaking purely from a selfish POV, many thanks to the MICE organizers for placing the exhibitors in a simple alphabetical list, with pictures, names, affiliations, and clickable links to their websites on a simple HTML page. No pop-ups, no pages you have to click through to in order to verify who you’re talking about, just plain info in plain sight. Thank you.

Great News From All Around

But before we get to the newsy type deals, allow me to offer props to Randall Munroe for today’s xkcd, wherein he anticipated my critique in the alt-text. Of course Munroe knew about the Great Boston Molasses Flood, as famously catalogued by Milk and Cheese. Of course. It’s comforting, in a way, to have it proved that you are not cleverer (or at least more well-versed in obscure historical trivia) than Randall Munroe.

  • Soonish debuted yesterday, and although I don’t have my copy yet (it will be coming soonish in fulfillment of Zach Weinermsith’s Kickstarter Gold project), I’m eagerly counting down the days. Not just until I get to read the book in physical form, but also to see Kelly and Zach Weinersmith on their book tour next Monday evening; it’s been years since I’ve seen Zach, so this’ll be fun.

    Also fun: hearing Weinersmith & Weinersmith get five minutes of precious airtime on the nation’s premiere daily economic issues program, Marketplace. It brought into relief how much of technology is really dependent on finding an economic niche it can exploit, which did not occur to me when I had the chance to read through a late pre-final copy of the book last year.

    Give it a listen, get your copy of Soonish, and don’t forget to use the entire situation spice up your sex life: The Marketplace Interview — listen to the mellifluous voice of Kai Ryssdal through your radio, touch him on the penis.

  • As of this writing, we’re about 2.5 hours out from the end of the Kickstarter for the omnibus edition of Girls With Slingshots, which has been running for the past month. Apart from giving us a new case study to re-evaluate the validity of the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II and the McDonald Ratio, it’s significant for a couple of other reasons:

    This is why anybody in indie/webcomics with their head screwed on straight is listening to Spike; it’s why Kickstarter basically adopted her as an evangelist¹. And we’re up more than US$3000 in the time it took me to do the math in the footnotes.

  • One of these days, I want to be so accomplished that when I change jobs, it makes the industry press; then again, when it comes to webcomics hack pseudojournalism, I pretty much am the industry press, so I guess I’ll let you know.

    But today, that distinction belongs to three colleagues at Workman Publishing who are hopping ship to Macmillan to start a new imprint in the children’s book group; they include publisher Daniel Nayeri, editorial director Nathalie Le Du, and art director Collen AF Venable — onetime designer at :01 Books (the majority of their entire catalog still designed by Venable, despite her being gone for three years), one time Fluff In Brooklyn webcomicker, and force of nature in book design.

    Being an art director recognized by the publishing industry for the revolutionary things you’re doing for kid books is great. Getting in on the ground floor of a new imprint, able to put your philosophies into practice as guiding principles? Even better.

    The as-yet unnamed new imprint is, I’m confident, going to do amazing things. And, in one of those cases of things coming full circle, Venable will now be returning to Macmillan, which is the parent company of :01, and doubtless see her old co-conspirators around the halls. Congrats to her and her esteemed colleagues, and I can’t wait to see what they do.

Oh, and with 86 minutes to go? GWS is above US$256,000. Yowza.


Spam of the day:

Bouquets for less bucks

No offense, guys, but the visual design of the graphics in this spam is very mid-80s, and reminds me of a newspaper ad I saw back in college for a luv-ya bookay. It was painful.

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¹ And let’s consider that of the seven Kickstarter Thought Leaders, there are as of today 35 projects to their names (one of which was unsuccessful), raising a total of approximately² US$3.7 million.

Spike’s responsible for more than US$1 million of that, and 14 of 35 projects. She’s the second-most successful of the creators, beaten only by a three-project design shop (representing two of the seven) that raises US$300K to US$700K on beautiful, pricey art objects.

² Approximately because the GWS campaign is still open, and two of the other Thought Leaders are reported in foreign currencies.

There’s A Double Meaning In That

Middle age, is a weighty phrase — it can mean that extended time of your life when you see perhaps fewer days ahead than behind, and definitely feel the bleh aspects of keeping a human body working. Side effects may include increased torpor and or stamina-lack, baldness, and desperate displays of how youthful and cool you are¹. Or it could refer to that broad swath of time between the general decline of accomplished empire, and the resurgent renaissance as society gets its learning on again.

Or it can refer to the intersection of the two, vis-a-vis the webcomic of the same name by Steve Conley². Conley was kind enough to send me a copy of the first print collection of The Middle Age (30 or so strips plus bonuses) — a slim, squarebound volume, it occupies the middle ground between mini-comic and a printed-overseas-year’s-worth collection. If you’re looking for an introduction to a comic that you don’t now, it’s the perfect balance of economy (of cash and time) and ephemerality, the sort of thing that’s perfectly supported by Patreons.

And it was a necessary introduction, on account of The Middle Age escaped my notice until Conley emailed to ask if I’d be at SPX; there’s a lot of webcomics out there, and even a longtime creator starting one can escape my notice more easily than I’d like to admit. And I admit it, because doing so lets me make up for my oversight; this is a fun comic.

The nominal hero (Sir Quimp of Grawlix) and the nominal MacGuffin (Maledicta! The Blade of Woe!) are pretty quickly reversed in roles — Maledicta runs circles around Quimp, berating the largely well-meaning but hapless knight at every turn, and taking control of his body when unconscious to deal out truly horrifying amounts of death. It’s gotta sting for Quimp to be reduced to bit player in his own life by an inanimate (but evil and intelligent) chunk of metal, but it’s also perfectly in character.

But for me, the inversion (clever), the pacing (brisk), the gags (full of earned funny) aren’t what grabbed me about The Middle Age; it’s the language. Grawlix isn’t a nonsense word (well, it is, but it has a meaning); it’s the spiral symbol in word balloons that represents naughty words … and Quimp’s speech is full of grawlix after he meets Maledicta.

Then there’s that name: maledicta, I am assured by Google, translates from Latin as malicious. But break it down a little — male means poorly, badly; dicta means called but is not far removed from dictum (saying, speech, something said). It’s just this side of bad + words, which of course are disguised by grawlix. Ironically, Maledicta doesn’t utter so much as one naughty word in Book One, while Quimp is reduced to it on multiple occasions as they meet, establish their respective stories, and head off (at the end of the book) to the town of Gaffe.

I am beginning to sense a theme³.

Those wishing to explore said theme further, the second book is currently in pre-orders, shipping in the next two weeks or so. For those even more impatient to revel in the word games, Conley updates The Middle Age on Mondays.


Spam of the day:

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR FAVORITE TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX INSPIRED GIFTS

What.

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¹ I, by contrast, have a full and lush head of hair, am vigorous, and have always been this cool and relevant. Why, yes, I am about to turn 50, thank you.

² Whose Astounding Space Thrills I was enjoying back in the Dawn Age of webcomics, some 20 years back. Which might make both Conley and me middle aged if not rapidly approaching decrepit.

³ Previous wielders of Maledicta include Gwaethbfnl the Unpronounceable and Lord Snitbag the Poorly Named. And just to pile on, a Google search tells me that quimp(s) are graphical elements in a maledicta balloon to represent obscenities, resembling the planet Saturn (which kettle-shaped Quimp kind of does).

The same reference calls out jarns and nittles, but definitions are sadly lacking, but Quimp’s surcoat contains an embroidered design with all the curseword symbols represented.

Fleen Book Corner: Pashmina

A few obligatories as we get started. One, I spent some time during NYCC having a really nice dinner and conversation with Nidhi Chanani; the book didn’t come up apart from Hooray! It’s out! I need to pick up a copy! Two, there will be spoilers ahead.

I’ve been waiting for Nidhi Chanani’s debut graphic novel, Pashmina, since it was first mentioned on the upcoming season lists from :01 Books about a year ago. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with Chanani, and I’ve been even more interested in seeing what she’d come up with when given the opportunity to tell a story.

She’s better known as a illustrator, but it’s clear she’s got stories in her — case in point, check out these two. There’s a moment presented, but you know that Chanani knows what brought those two to this point in time, and where they’re going from here. I suspect that frozen moments from stories similar to Pashmina have been snapshotted in her illustrations, and now we get to see the instants that lead up to them and the ones that come after.

Priyanka (or Pri, when she’s trying to downplay her sense of being different) is a typical SoCal teen, or at least she wants to be; she has to navigate the usual terrible high school experiences¹ and lack of confidence (Pri draws comics enough to have a favorite pen, whose absence will provoke minor panic — one of many touches I suspect are autobiographical²) that come with the age. Most keenly, she feels only half served by her Indian heritage (specifically that of Kolkata, which is in Bengal, in the northeastern corner of India), what with her single mother being unwilling to talk about India, her father, or what brought her to America in the first place.

She knows Indian food is great, and having aunties and uncles that love her is a perk, but believing in intercessionary gods is a bit much to ask when she doesn’t have a sense of India. Mom tells her India is poor and dirty and unimportant and she’s never going back, and that’s all there is to it; this provokes all the hellbent curiosity of any teen that’s told It’s not important for you to know that.

That’s when she finds the magic pashmina in her mother’s luggage, the one that transports her to India, of a sort. It’s all fabulous architecture, warm waters, amazing food, beautiful vistas, and she has animal sidekicks that are very certain that everything is brightly perfect. It’s the Disney version (although closer to Epcot than It’s A Small World) where any unpleasantness is carefully excised and tucked away out of sight … except for that one shadow that seems to follow her around. Pay no attention to, it’s not important, everything is great here her animal sidekicks insist in a perfect inversion of her mother’s dismissal of anything positive about India.

When the time comes to visit the aunt and uncle she’s never met, Pri finds in short order that her sidekicks are right, and her mother is right, and there’s a patriarchal overcast on the entire society that’s leaving her confused. Worse, the pashmina doesn’t work for her anymore. She wanted to be in India and she’s there and so the candy-colored version isn’t necessary, but the mystery of where the pashmina came from and how it got its power becomes a priority.

It’s at this point, three quarters of the way through, that the story really starts to come together. Pri’s journey isn’t just about learning her personal history, it’s about learning the sweep of the history and society she comes from — why her mother fled India, how girls are undervalued and exploited, the possibility of making things better.

She gets the information she sought, but she finds that wisdom and happy endings don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The veil that falls from her eyes looses her voice, though — the pashmina shows possibilities, and Pri (or Priyanka, as she’s starting to prefer) can tell stories that tell of choices. Even the intercessionary gods that you don’t really believe in need storytellers.

If there’s a place for improvement in Pashmina, it’s that the last quarter of the book runs at a much faster pace than all that came before it. The earlier portions of the story felt organic and lived-in, and the tail end seemed abrupt by comparison. It would have benefited from Pri being able to slow down and take in all the strangeness at the same pace she took in smaller challenges in familiar surroundings.

Then again, when the worst I can say of a book is that I wish it had another three dozen pages to spend on its protagonist, you’re doing pretty damn well, and debut stories aren’t given the resources of proven creators. I expect that Chanani’s next book will reflect an increase in confidence from the market and the pages that will come with it. After all, her art features a lot of characters waiting to share their stories, and her readers have a world of choices to be shown.


Spam of the day:

Regal Comfort 6 Piece Sheet Set

Wow, a choice of colors and sizes? Where else could I possible get that? Oh yeah, everywhere.

_______________
¹ The mean, pretty, blonde girl at least only craps on Pri because she considers her poor, not for being brown.

² Pri was born just after her mom came to America, Chanani just before her family emigrated; they’re similar enough in their experiences except Chanani’s old enough not to have had an iPod as a teen.

Atlantic Traversals

Let’s finish up the week with a word from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin. He starts with a bit of news, digresses into the fine points of French IP law, and bring it back around to the potential for better access in the future. Take it away, FSFCPL!

Last week, Maliki became an internationally published comic series. Indeed, on October 5th Ediciones Babylon¹ released Maliki: Blog in Spain in Spanish …

… I sense you are disappointed.

It is clear that we at Fleen would be most thrilled to cover the news of Maliki being published stateside, but sometimes events don’t happen in any expected or logical order: contacted about the genesis of this project, Team Maliki stated that [t]he publisher stumbled upon Maliki, then the Maliki BLOG, and simply contacted [them] to know if [they] would be OK for a Spanish version. In other words, an opportunity they were happy with presented itself, and they took it.

It is, nevertheless, an important development, and a first: the first time a French webcomic is published outside a French-speaking country without having first gone through a traditional publisher for the French edition. This means Team Maliki directly manages their international rights, no middleman.

Financially, it matters, but less than you’d think: even when a publisher manages the international rights and sublicenses them to foreign publishers, royalties have to be paid to the author whichever the edition, by French law. For instance, the rightsholders for Astérix once successfully sued their French publisher who played fast and loose with this rule for foreign editions, and given the international reach of Astérix, I can not even begin to imagine what the damages must have been like.

However, when it comes to control, especially creative and quality control, it changes everything: French creators often have very limited control over foreign editions, with sometimes disappointing results. But if there is one thing we know about webcartoonists, it is that they insist on being in control, and Team Maliki were in a position to make sure it was a product they could be proud of. Moreover, they were able to seed a Spanish version of their site with translations provided by the publisher, and while only a sampling is present at the moment, all the infrastructure is in place to produce them all: note the third flag that appeared for e.g. The Creepy Old Guy.

But the most important lesson is this: it can be made to work out. There is no reason for foreign publishers not to treat directly with creators who still have all their rights, and the latter will usually be more than happy to have someone else handle promotion in a market unknown to them as well as translation (not everyone can summon a translation dream team out of their communities, at least not for every language): the proof is in the pudding.

As always, we are grateful to FSFCPL for keeping us up on the development in bandes dessinées web, and hope that this prompts some of our stateside publishers to look to creators on the continent when next trawling for good reprint projects.


Pourriel du jour:

Irina Shayk is without question heating up the summer season on the quilt pertaining to saying!

Translation: they can manage it for a webcomic or graphic novel, at least try with the spams, yes?

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¹ Who, incidentally, also publish Lucky Penny in Spain, including a nice interview with Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh (English version at the bottom of the page).

I Missed What?

Okay, I didn’t really miss it, but with the travel and all, this is the first chance I’ve had to write about the fact that Homestuck is getting an annotated print treatment from Viz:

Viz had some interesting announcements at their NYCC panel. And this is the biggest: a new print edition of Homestuck, Andrew Hussie’s cult webcomic/interactive experience. The strip has already had print collections from Hussie, but the new editions will be very extensive, with animated content rendered as frames on the printed page. And commentary on EVERY page by Hussie.

Which raises some questions:

  • How will these be different from the previously-published TopatoCo¹ collections?
  • What kind of production challenges will have to be met, particularly in the later acts of the story, where animations/music sometimes went on for 12 – 15 minutes?
  • Is this happening too late? Homestuck was the fandom that grew crazy big, but which has definitely faded from view.
  • Will this include Sweet Bro And Hella Jeff? I’m not sure the existing edition can be improved upon in any fashion.

It’s that third question that keeps coming back to me. The time for this was a year and a half ago, when Homestuck was concluding (or, even better, for the printing to have begun in earnest during one of the long hiatuses, and for it to have been well underway at the time of the big finish). A comprehensive program like this needed to be in place in the era when Jeffrey Rowland could lead a parade of literally hundreds of Homestucks across the floor of San Diego Comic Con; they would have dropped the cash to pre-order the entire run without thinking about it.

But, publishing being publishing, the announcement is that in April, a full two years after the strip wrapped, the first two chapters of Homestuck will hit print in a combined volume. Which, by my count of pages in the archive, amounts to a bit less than 10% of the full run — so how long before the War And Peace of the 21st century is concluded in print?

Like I said, a lot of questions, but it appears that Viz believes they’re in it for the long haul — http://homestuck.com now exists as a clearinghouse of all things Homestuck, and if you look at the very bottom of the page, it reads

© 2017 Homestuck & VIZ Media

Joint ventures, man. Takes forever to wind those things down, especially when they’re building new stuff:

WPG [What Pumpkin Games, publisher of Hiveswap] and Homestuck, Inc. (Homestuck) also announced a strategic partnership with VIZ Media to develop a comprehensive array of additional entertainment content and licensed merchandise based on the HOMESTUCK universe, including both the original web comic and the HIVESWAP game series.

Viz is banking Homestuck never going away, and becoming a perpetual IP. And hell, if any webcomic can do it, the weird little story that could will be the one that does.


Spam of the day:
This is too long, I have to show you a screenshot:

And that, kids, is why you set your email client to disallow HTML emails.

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¹ Which have author’s notes on each page, but the first two of the three volumes are sold out.

Quick Notes Before I Travel

Today’s a travel day, the next two days are a tight-turnaround client gig, so posting may be brief or absent. Do try to muddle on.

I missed most of a story as it was blowing up, but I’m pretty well caught up today; here are some base facts to get started from:

First, Zainab Akhtar is one of the best writers in comics, period. She runs a site that’s like this on in that it’s an individual effort, and unlike it in that she gets well-deserved Eisner nominations. Also, I’ve never had to step back from public commentary because the combination of being a woman, brown, and Muslim made comics writing an invitation to abuse. Also, I do not have a Patreon that you should definitely support. She is smart, incisive, and sees things from perspectives that would never occur to me. She’s on my list of people I need to meet to thank in person for her work.

Second, the Lakes International Comics Art Festival is about to happen in the Lakes District of the UK. We at Fleen mentioned it in reference to a partnership with TCAF, but that was the extent of my real awareness of the show, until late last week.

Akhtar made an observation on Twitter about the guest lineup at Lakes — it’s overwhelmingly white (about 85%, by my count). Not news, she noted that fact years ago. The Lakes Twitter account responded by blocking, then unblocking Akhtar, and somewhere in there somebody with access to the account unleashed a pretty vile attack on her which appears to have been deleted, but screenshots are forever¹.

What the person(s) in charge of the Lakes Twitter account don’t seem to understand is that when you represent an organization, criticisms are not personal; responding as an organization requires finesse and care and actually listening to criticisms and answering them calmly. Responding with attacks doesn’t win you points, and will almost certainly damage your brand. And if you continue to treat an institutional critique like a personal attack (it wasn’t) and act like you’re still fourteen years old, you create a reputational damage that can kill your event.

This morning, John Allison announced that he is withdrawing from participating in LICAF (as of this writing, he is still listed on the guest page); I don’t imagine they’ll be able to get him back in the future. It’s a principled stand, and one that will likely cost Allison economically (and possibly the esteem of terrible people, but I don’t think he cares about that part too much; this is just one reason why he’s a great person). I’m expecting to see more guests pull out between now and Friday, which is going to keep the story going and may kill the Festival as long as it remains under its current leadership.

Please note that a fair number of the confirmed guests are international, and regardless of how they feel about management’s behavior they may be contractually obliged to attend. Likewise, I don’t have any criticism for people who choose to attend LICAF this year (having made plans and arranged their lives and purchased passes), but I will be very interested to see how many of both groups are willing to return next year.

And the pushback isn’t limited to guests; at least one exhibitor has emailed the show to say that she’s withdrawing, and this is just as impportant. Lydia Wysocki paid for the privilege of tabling, and may or may not get her fee back. She’s offering to help the LICAF showrunners improve their ways, and I sincerely they (or, more likely, whoever comes in to try to salvage things next year) takes her up on it². We are way past the time when somebody says Hey, here is something that’s happened that you aren’t noticing and reacting dismissively can be accepted. Time for LICAF to grow up.


Spam of the day:

Book Your River Cruise Vacation

Well, they aren’t sending me a pitch that’s specifically calling me a senior citizen, so that’s something.

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¹ I was particularly puzzled by the claims that Akhtar has some kind of grudge against the show from 2014. Her 2014 writeup was largely positive, but she noted the overwhelmingly pale nature of the show and concluded it wasn’t for her. If that’s what the LICAF tweeter regards as a grudge, they are in desperate need of a fainting couch.

² In the meantime, follow her links and get familiar with her work.

Some Good News, Sorely Needed

So it’s nearly the weekend and who the hell knows what’s happening in the world at large (much less the world of [web]comics). Let’s focus on some happy thoughts.

  • Tillie Walden has been having a heck of time the past twelve months. At SPX last year she took two Ignatzen, then she launched her first webcomic, then the buzz started building for her debut graphic novel (which turned out to be brilliant), and she’s been guesting and paneling at seemingly every prestigious comics show in CY 2017. Not bad for having just turned 21.

    For those that thought said webcomic was great and also thought that there should be a way to reward Walden for it, your moment has come:

    We’re SO EXCITED to be publishing the amazing @TillieWalden’s graphic novel ON A SUNBEAM next year!

    Makes perfect sense; :01 Books are already Walden’s publisher on Spinning, and :01 head Mark Siegel is very open about wanting his imprint to be the sort of place that keeps the well-fitting creators around forever. And given the lead times on book production¹, this is an incredibly tight turnaround — no more than 15 months from now. I know of books at :01 that were announced last year for Fall of 2019.

    (And side note from the announcement embedded in the tweet: Seth Fishman — no relation to Desmond — is rapidly becoming one of the two or three most important people in the comics publishing world, representing some of the best in indie/webcomics³ in between writing his own books. Heck of a nice guy, too.)

    So congrats to Walden, congrats to :01, and congrats to everybody that will get to read On A Sunbeam on paper. The next 3 to 15 months can’t come quickly enough.

  • And for those looking forward seven months or so, applications for the 2018 iteration of VanCAF are now available. Saturday and Sunday, 19 and 20 May at the Roundhouse with guests TBA, but VanCAF has had one of the best exhibitor curations of recent years, so I’m entirely confident the lineup will be great.

    Applications are open until 31 October, and note that they give priority to comics artists (as opposed to illustrators/animators/other artists) with new works debuting at or around the show, who represent all the communities of Vancouver and around. PNW, this is one of your moments to shine.

Okay, I’m out for the weekend, and quick note that I’ll be traveling for work on Monday, so maybe no post. If you’re in Canada, Happy Thanksgiving.


Spam of the day:

Up to $100 Off and Free Shipping

This spam was for glasses and I’ll give ’em this — the image that they used is pretty much exactly the frame of my glasses, just in black instead of silver. Still think I’ll stick with my Warbys, though.

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¹ I’m pretty sure every time I’ve check the publication info on a book from :01, it’s indicated that it’s printed in Dongguan City, Guangdong province in China. Printing in China means there’s necessarily a boatload² of time taken up in shipping and customs before stateside distribution can begin.

² I’m so sorry.

³ Kate Beaton, Randall Munroe, the Weinersmiths, Abby Howard, Ryan North, and more.