The webcomics blog about webcomics

A Day Late And Zero Dollars Short

Friday was also spent underneath all of the weather, but I’m back today to update you on the just-concluded latest F-Six fund drive¹.

I challenged you to donate to the Kidlit Says No Kids In Cages campaign; they sought to raise US$42,000, got it in less than 24 hours, and continue to raise money. Thanks to you, we’re part of the push towards US$200,000.

In no particular order, then, thanks to:

  • Erik Johnson
  • Daniel Mosier
  • Ben Cordes
  • Molly Knox Ostertag
  • Ursula Venon
  • Mx Roo Khan
  • And those who either did not provide a name for acknowledgment, or wished to remain anonymous

Matched amounts ranged from US$10 to US$1000. Every contribution was equally appreciated.

In all, you sent along receipts for US$1721.50; I saw enough people posting the link and I contributed messages that I fully believe our goal of US$2000 was met so I rounded up to that nice, round number. Beneficiaries of KSNKIC are The Florence Project, RAICES, Women’s Refugee Commission, Kids In Need Of Defense, Al Otro Lado, and the ACLU.

The attempts at dehumanization will continue, and we will continue to push back because we don’t suck. If you didn’t get in on the match, it’s not too late — KSNKIC will keep raising money until every child stolen from their family is reunited, and when the act of seeking asylum is no longer criminalized.

So, for a while then.

But for this weekend, know that we did something. Take a deep breath, have a cookie or two (anybody that gave that’s in my corner of New Jersey, I got Thin Mints with your name on ’em), rest for a moment. The fight will need us again soon enough.

Spam of the day:
I swear, this is real.


Oh, you do not even realize how bad you fucked up. This one is going to shame your descendants, yea, unto the generations. Great-grandpa Chudley sure was an idiot, wasn’t he, Mom? the children will ask. Yes, dear will come the answer, that’s why we have to be extra good people, to erase the stain.

¹ As always, thanks to longtime reader Mx Roo Khan for suggesting the name.

Picked Up Some Kind Of Canadian Plague

Going back to sleep. No post today.

Encouraging News

I love the word (and its variations) encouraging, the root of which goes back to the French coeur, or heart. Enheartend, heartening, my heart is supported.

Since yesterday, you’ve been sending your receipts to the Kidlit campaign to stop the kidnapping of refugee children. It looks like today Screamy Orange Shitmonger will be shifting things so that kids will be detained with their parents, which still no. This is not how you treat people seeking asylum, so keep sending your receipts because I’m matching until the end of the week.

The fight will continue past the end of the week, naturally, and will until we change the national leadership for people that have operating consciences. But we’re fighting, and forcing retreats, and giving no rest to the wicked.

We’ll see if my optimism holds up as I head to the airport in a few hours and return to the States, and it’s revealed how a professional white guy¹ fares at the border.

In the meantime, awesome people abound in the world of webcomics, not the least being Katie Lane². She sent me something ‘tother day that you may be interested in:

I just released my first class on Skillshare! It’s all about the parts of a contract that tend to have the most problems and what you can do to fix them.

As noted previously, there are few things that creators should do more for themselves than to get skilled enough in reading contracts that they can fix things that are in their ability to be fixed, and to recognize things that require the help of a lawyer. Lane’s all about sharing the knowledge so that you can do the bits that are in your ability rather than asking you to pay her money to do the simple stuff — and there’s nothing she likes more than digging through contracts, so this is actually a sacrifice on her part.

You can access the class via this link; if you’re not a Skillshare member, you’ll be able access the class and get 2 months of Skillshare membership for free (for which Lane will receive a referral fee). Got time for a little professional education? Jump in.

Spam of the day:


There is so much going on here, I almost want to click the link. Apparently, there’s a Japanese Dolly Parton, or maybe June Carter Cash? I’m boggling a little.

¹ Which is to say, a white guy who works as a professional, not somebody whose profession is white guy.

² Light-ning Law-yer!!

F-Six, Checking In

The Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back on.

I’m sure you saw the announcement; it’s been several times in my twitterfeed, but let’s go with the one from Ryan North, who (as a giant of a man) cannot be denied:

Our goal is to raise $42,000 for legal defense and support for separated children and their families. I just donated, and you can too: …

Good news: ActBlue reports the US$42,000 goal was hit in under 24 hours. The site is still live. Send me (that would be gary) at this-here website, which is a dot-com your receipt for any amount¹, by the end of the week, and I’ll match the first US$2000. I’m giving away a lot of money these days. Gonna keep doing so, until we prevail.

I’m not the only one making matches or doing fundraising! For example, since I started writing this, Molly Ostertag announced that’s she’s making available three personalized copies of The Witch Boy with three original pieces of art, with proceeds going to Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. You can’t get any of them though, because they went in about 20 minutes. I’m counting her $400 as the first matching donation, so we’re already well on our way.

And for the sake of all that is good, make some noise. Do not let the current administration of racist sociopaths decide for the rest of us that their policy of imprisoning children (how long before they’re put to work, I wonder? I hear work sets you free …) is a thing that’s acceptable in any fashion.

As long as we’re making plans, those of you that attend San Diego Comic Con next month may have another means of support and direct action. Pat Race noted that there’s an ICE child detention center (I hated having to type those words) in San Diego, and he’s making enquiries to determine if there’s some way for creators to come and engage the kids with art and comics.

It’s been noted that there’s a risk that engaging in this fashion may normalize the practice, but you know what? I think having eyes on the inside, belonging to ordinary people, has tremendous value. I can’t teach art or speak Spanish, but I will provide witness if given the chance. Fill out the contact form if you’re willing to help, should this turn out to be a possibility.

Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share this day.

¹ Along with how you’d like to be credited, or if you’d prefer to be anonymous.

Weekend Fun

Know who loves comics? Dads. It’s true! And as it turns out, there’s a couple of comics-related things you can do with your (or as a) Dad, on opposite sides of the country! Choose whichever is closest to you!

  • On the Left Coast, our friends at the Cartoon Art Museum are so invested in your Dad having a good time, they’re offering him free admission:

    The Cartoon Art Museum is offering free admission to all fathers for Father’s Day weekend with paid admission for their child or grandchild. Visit us at 781 Beach Street on Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17, 2018 and enjoy our current exhibitions.

    Those current exhibitions include a look at the MARCH trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, and Jen Wang’s latest, The Prince And The Dressmaker (with which I had considerable concerns, but read it and decide for yourself).

  • On the Eastside, Danielle Corsetto Heavy Book Tour starts at Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse tomorrow, with a Q&A at noon and signing until 4:00pm. She’ll be spending the rest of the weekend and the early part of next week in transit and sharpening up her Laser Tag skills in anticipation of the Albany signing on Tuesday, with special guests Jess Fink and Eric Colossal¹.

    The mayhem starts at 6:30pm at Zero Gravity FuntimeLaserPlace, 1240 Central Avenue, and will run you US$17 for up to three games of laser tag, plus the usual signing stuff.


    They need at least 22 people signed up (with a maximum of 30) and there are presently 14. You must RSVP so they know they have enough to make the venue happy, and you only have until tomorrow to do so. Hudson Valley folks, this is your moment to shine. Do not make Danielle haul those big-ass books all the way to Albany and then not get to shoot you with a laser.

Side note: Monday may not have a post; I have to travel for work, and as this one will involve a visit to Our Neighbo[u]rs To The North, and since Screamy Orange Grandpa is shitting all over Canada these days, I may be some time at Customs & Immigration.

Hopefully, relations between our countries do not deteriorate to the point that I needs be held as an enemy national … and if so, let me remind our gracious Canadian friends that I know The Toronto Man-Mountain and he can personally vouch for my good character. Thank you.

Spam of the day:

Hey sexy, its Christy Mack!! I added some topless photos just for you on Instagram

I don’t know if the photos in this email are or are not of Christy Mack, but they are not topless. Also, doesn’t IG pretty much ban topless pictures? Try harder, spammers.

¹ Whom I accidentally left out of my previous mention of the event.

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.

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.

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.


Okay, neither of these things we’re about to talk about are directly related to webcomics per se, but they are both adjacent enough that we ought to discuss.

  • So it seems that Ubisoft (who are a videogame studio but that’s all I can tell you about them … I don’t know what games they make¹, or if they good/suck) are making a videogame. That’s cool. And this particular one has room for a lot of random art to be included — background elements like graffiti, snippits of song, etc. So far, so good.

    It’s also the case that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the actor that makes everything he’s in better than it would be otherwise, has a company/movement/Creative Commonsish platform called HitRECord that is designed to get people making stuff, then paid for making stuff. In a way, it’s a matchmaker service, but instead of a traditional agency where you work with specific clients, it’s got a userbase that uploads stuff, then gets paid by people who use it. I’m oversimplifying drastically here, but I think you get the gist.

    The latest project that HitRECord is working with is the Ubisoft videogame, and there’s a US$50,000 pot of money that will be divided by all the users whose stuff gets selected to be in the videogame. It’s also set off a lot of alarm bells that this is spec work, and I’m honestly a little divided about that.

    As we know, spec work sucks — thanks to Maki Naro for making it so easy to share why it sucks — as it’s a situation you spend a bunch of time creating a thing for no money, hoping it gets picked up. Depending on the terms of the spec deal (which may be structured as a “contest”), the people who are dangling the prospect of getting paid (or worse, exposure) may end up owning your stuff whether you get paid or not. And Ubisoft certainly has the money to pay people for work instead of crowdsourcing in this fashion.

    But I’m not 100% certain this is that. As near as I can tell, nobody has to submit new work — you have something hanging around your HitRECord account you can submit it and maybe it gets chosen, maybe you get paid. That appears to be the key model for HitRECord — people go browsing for something they need in a marketplace, buy the bits they like. Say you want music behind a Kickstarter video and want to be ethical about it, you find a clip somebody’s recorded and license its use.

    It looks to me like this particular situation is a more directed version of that marketplace model. Now if Ubisoft has their art directors look over a zillion things to mine for ideas and use them for unpaid inspiration (and I’d never put such a stunt past a large media company), that’s absolutely evil. But partnering with HitRECord to have a specific channel, with a specific budget, one for which HitRECord appears to be forgoing its usual 50/50 revenue sharing, I think that’s on this side of the acceptable line.

    Again, I have dug deep into the terms & conditions. If Ubisoft say that all submissions must be original, never used elsewhere previously, and if not selected can’t be used elsewhere later, that’s no good. But if already-completed work can be submitted, or not chosen submissions immediately returned to the HitRECord venue for sale to others, I’m inclined to think this is potentially not-evil (I know, low bar). I also think the pushback directed at Gordon-Levitt personally is misdirected — if the situation is spec work, that’s on Ubisoft². I’m perfectly happy to have a discussion in the comments, so have at it.

  • Now, if we’re talking about not giving away labor in unpaid situations, it’ll definitely be useful if the labor that you don’t give away is also not horrifically underpriced. We’ve all heard the horror stories of somebody that, say, wanted 32 full-color illustrations for a children’s book and generously offered US$200. Not US$200 per illo, two hundred dollars total. As in six bucks per full-color illustration. Yeah, no. Don’t agree to that.

    But what constitutes a fair price? For the past several years, the fine folks behind Creator Resource have been collecting tools for the comics freelancer, and they’re currently gathering input into what page rates get paid. Who’s good, who’s a nightmare cheapskate, who makes you fight to get paid? This is ground that’s previously been covered by Fair Page Rates (with surveys covering 2015 and 2016), but they seem not to have surveyed for 2017.

    So the questions asked by Creator Resource won’t necessarily track 100% with those asked in prior years by Fair Page Rates, but some imperfect data is better than none. The survey for 2017 page rates is here, and we’ll be sure to share the results when they get released.

Spam of the day:

Diabites destroyer
Peter’s a 53-year-old diabetic man who almost died after suffering a “diabetic coma.” But after adding THIS backyard “weed” to his spice rack, he not only lost an impressive 41 lbs in just 29 days.

41 pounds in 29 days? Wait, don’t tell me: “diabites”-related gangrene necessitated the amputation of both feet and the removal of a kidney, right?

¹ Which is to say, they don’t make any of the games I care about: Half Life/Portal, particularly goofy Team Fortress II stuff, Civilization/Alpha Centauri. Everything else is largely background noise to me.

² Unless everybody that’s mad also thinks that HitRECord is an unethical undertaking when it’s not working with Ubisoft; as near as I can tell, it’s a more directed version of Patreon.

Schlockiversary And Other Things Of Note

Happy Strippiversary to my Evil Twin. I see you’re celebrating in the traditional manner: reconfiguring the websserver so that leaving off the “www” part means you don’t get the site. Still, eighteen years and 6574 strips is nothing to sneer at. And the art’s gotten better, too! You may have taken away the “first” navigation button, but I will pull out strip #1 every year, so that people understand the raw value of sticking with it.

Now, things that happened in The Before Times that I’m just getting to:

  • The winner of the Be Prepared giveaway has been chosen, and it’s Steven from St Paul, Minnesota. Book coming your way as soon as I can get to the post office, Steven.
  • Shing Yin Khor is many things: comics artist, installation artist, constructor of awesome haunted houses, space mechanic/hobo, and decrier of capitalism. Come to San Diego Comic Con (holy crud, less than six weeks out) and she’ll have certain stuff for you only if you have something suitable to barter with:

    Can’t wait to launch my Space Gnome Mercantile TRADE ONLY merch at SDCC. In 2018, the space gnome will trade for:
    1. A cool rock
    2. A story about your favourite roadside statue
    3. A handmade ceramic vessel
    4. A compliment, in iambic pentameter or limerick.

    Best believe I’m brushing up on my poetic forms and keeping my eyes peeled for rocks.

  • Kerstin La Cross, adventure cartoonist, has a habit of walking far places with her stuff on her back, scaling high peaks, traversing low valleys, and then sharing what the experience was like with those of us who appreciate The Great Outdoors just fine as long as we can do our appreciating from The Great Indoors. Her newest recounting is an autobio treatment of a 100 mile (161 km) hike took with their husband, and it’s a brave piece of self-examination.

    It took all of three strips to get to the point where they have to portray the most humble-making thing that any of us can experience — getting deservedly smacked upside the head with the ol’ cluebat. It’s a hell of a cold open, and determining how they got to that point is just getting started. Buckle up and be prepared to keep up — there’s rocky times ahead.

  • Is there anything C Spike Trotman can’t do? Aside from being listed as one of the upcoming creators in ComiXology’s new foray into original, creator-owned stories, she’s got Iron Circus’s 17th damn Kickstart going, one that funded out in the customary few hours, and which is headed for US$40K-60K according to the FFF mk2¹.
  • Hey, remember the Multiplex animated short? It’s on Amazon Prime.
  • Hey, remember KC Green and Anthony Clark? They have a double treat for us tomorrow. In addition to the weekly dose of BACK goodness (and it’s been very good lately), they partnered up on an issue of Invader Zim from Oni, releasing this week.
  • Danielle Corsetto’s Big Ass Heavy Book Tour kicks off in Philly this weekend (I may try to hop down for that one) before exploring the Northeast and Canada. Highlight: next Tuesday in Albany, the tour will feature LASER TAG WITH JESS FINK if enough people reserve spots. I’m going to be in Ottawa, or hell of yes I’d be there.

Spam of the day:

Look inside! New Credit Card may be available here.

That shit doesn’t work when you send me an actual envelope, it’s not going to work with a friggin’ email.

¹ By the Iron Circus model, there’s a US$5/page pay bump for every US$5K over goal, so between 4 and 8 bumps, or another US$20-40 per page on top of the already-earned page rate.

A Lesser World

I had a lot to talk about today, after last week kept me from posting, and I will do that tomorrow, but today is for another topic. It’s one that, in retrospect, seems obvious, and more on that in a moment.

Project Wonderful is shutting down.

I actually had some advance notice, but when The Toronto Man-Mountain politely asks you to keep something embargoed, you do that. He is an infinitely kindly man, but not one to be gainsayed. So I’ve had some time to think about this.

It’s been apparent to anybody that pays attention to PW ad boxes that the average asking price has been steadily declining for years now; you can’t keep a service that involves people keeping it running on declining revenue indefinitely. And there were humans behind PW, which was a big part of the promise: they kept bad actors out of the service, which was a big part of its value.

But the garbage ads and the pop-ups and pop-unders and auto playing video and scams and JavaScript payloads that pull in virii and scamware came to dominate internet advertising, leading to an entirely rational profusion of adblockers. But adblockers can’t discriminate between garbage ads and PW, so fewer people see them which depresses the asking price and eventually makes the entire service untenable.

Ryan North (and others, but let’s let them decide if they want their names shared or not) gave us a service that put a lot of money into a lot of pockets, and yeah, he took a cut, but nowhere near as much as he could have. He achieved that most vaunted of internet superlatives: he disrupted the entire model of internet advertising, and he did it in a way that didn’t exploit the crap out of anybody. I’m pretty sure there’s a balance in the tens of dollars in Fleen’s PW account, which I do not intend to withdraw; I consider it a tip for North’s service to the community for the past dozen years and more.

Something new may replace Project Wonderful in a similarly non-exploitative manner, but I’m not holding my breath. Instead, let’s take a moment to marvel that we had something as useful, as benign, for as long as we did. Thank you, Ryan North; thank you, Project Wonderful. You lived up to your name.

Spam of the day:

Your Application Is Ready For Submission, baary

It’s Gary. G-A-R-Y.

Last Minute Trip Got Dropped On Me

I’ll be in the air most of the day, and no idea if I’ll have network access at the client this week. Updates as possible.