The webcomics blog about webcomics

One Down, One Thousand Twenty-Five To Go

Things are much better than they were end of last week, thanks for asking. I managed to swing by the local Toys backwards-R Us to pre-buy some presents (being a grunkle is the best); I wished the staff well and told them that if I ever see a principal of Bain Captial, I’ma punch ’em in the neck. How was your weekend?

  • Octopus Pie starts its director’s commentary track today; if you want to see the original run, it starts here and ends here. Each strip contains a little button to click to get the retrospective discussion; you can read along without having to see it if that’s your preference.

    Strip 001 establishes the rhythms of the strip early on, and shows that Gran is not constrained by any of your storytelling cliches. Chekhov’s Gun be damned, that obnoxious dude and the pea wiggle never made another appearance in the ten-plus year run. Sure, we saw semi-recurring characters again, but not unremarked-upon nothings. Gran knows that life isn’t made up of that kind of coincidence.

    She knows a lot about how life works, atcherly, and that’s why Octopus Pie is so damn good. Read it again for the first time.

  • Reminder: tomorrow is the deadline for contributions to be included in the latest F-Six campaign. If you can’t make it to a march or rally on Saturday, toss a few bucks to support those that will, yeah?

Spam of the day:

Dirty Little Annuity Secrets Earn 7% now!

My dudes, the scams take one of three forms: sexy {barely legal | MILFy} [ethnic descriptor]s want to have sex with me; wealth beyond the dreams of Croesus can be mine; products and/or services for old people are available¹. Do not cross the streams, scammers! The financial scams are not sexy! The sexy scams do not involve Medicare supplement plans! The hip replacements do not offer unrealistic financial returns! Stay in your own damn lanes.

¹ Somebody out there put me on a list that indicates I’m 65+ years old and I get scam emails and calls for Medicare nonstop. Fuckers.

Murder Averted … For Now

But the — let us say challenges — that I was describing yesterday remain. I’ll leave you with this one comment that was added to yestreday’s post, but which was for some reason (honestly, can’t imagine why) as spam. We’ll be back with proper postings come Monday.

Spam of the day:

Hellow All I like pizza! :)

Dude, everybody likes pizza. You’re not special.

This Is Becoming More Frequent

Work crisis, etc. Possibly murder by the time it’s all done.

So please enjoy the news (I’ve been waiting to talk about this forever) that Ryan North has become — as near as I can tell — the first person to ever turn a t-shirt into a full-length book. Given that it teaches you how to bootstrap civilization at any time in the past, you might say that How To Invent Everything is no less than a full compendium of all human knowledge.

With pictures by Lucy Bellwood.

Pre-orders are available now, with the book releasing on 18 September.

Spam of the day:

Stop the IRS

It’s not a lot, but I get a bit of money back from them most years. If we stop them, I won’t get that money. Pass.

Quick Post And A Reminder

The reminder being, the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is active again, with we at Fleen matching any donations to either the Washington, DC or Parkland, Florida March For Our Lives. As today is the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting (and the disgraceful reaction — which is to say, almost none — on the part of state and national government) and the kids are walking out of school to keep us from letting this one slip away like all the others, it seemed a good time to remind y’all. You’ve got until 20 March to make me proud and, incidentally, cost me some money.

I don’t always remember to mention the efforts of the folks behind the Toronto Comics Anthology when they come up with a new edition, but my eyeballs happened to be in the right place today, so I’m pointing out that it’s anthology time, and that means the relevant Kickstarter campaign is underway. Osgoode As Gold features the collective skill of the Toronto comics community (which surely rivals Brooklyn or Portland as a hub for comickers), and as in previous years, looks like a terrific value for your pledge dollar.

It’s also got the logistics figured out like whoa, given that there’s an option to pledge for a physical copy and pick it up at TCAF, which means that these books will be in hand by May 12, or a mere six weeks from the end of the campaign. That only works if they’ve got everything ready to go, at the printer, just waiting on the check (or cheque, as Our Northern Friends would have it) to arrive before setting the presses in motion. It would be a shame to make all that work go wasted.

At the moment, the anthology sits at 45% of goal with sixteen and a half days to go; Kicktraq has them trended to clear the CA$15,000 target by a mere sixty four Canadian fun bucks, and the Kicktraq predictions this far out are always high. The FFF mk2 put them at CA$13.6K — 20.3K (but the low participation rate is low enough that the math isn’t very accurate), and the McDonald Ratio has them at CA$14.3K; what I am saying is that there is a need for a kick in the pants, because falling just barely short is a terrible fate.

There’s absolutely going to be something (multiple somethings!) in that anthology you’re going to love, and that’s worth CA$20 (about fifteen and a half American) for 220+ pages and 50 creators. Give it a look, and please do consider supporting it.

Spam of the day:

Want to earn potentially explosive returns from Bitcoin in 2018?

My dudes, if I wanted to gamble I’d go to Vegas, and I’m too good at math to gamble. Hashtag: CRAEFUL.

Oh hell yes dogg right

It is a Fleen Stylebook requirement that titles be rendered with initial capitals in all circumstances, excepting circumstances where it would violate personal pronouns; for example, if we had cause to reference writer bell hooks, we would utilize her preferred lack of capitals.

The only other exception is what we at Fleen refer to as the Roast Beef Rule, wherein quotes of Roast Beef Kazenzakis will follow his typical orthography; if there was a way to make the title font 11% smaller today, I would. Today’s title is not only a direct quote from Mr Kazenzakis, it also links directly to one thing I’m going to tell you, and neatly describes my emotional state regarding the other.

  • The latter first: Meredith Gran announced earlier today that from Monday next (that would be the 19th of March), Octopus Pie will be rerunning daily with author’s commentary. Given what’s likely to be a lot of heads-down work on Perfect Tides, time when we might not see a lot of visible work from Ms Gran, this is welcome news. Even better, we get to fall in love with Octopie again (and for some of you lucky people, for the first time).

    By my count, there are the equivalent of 1026 pages to Octopus Pie, although many of them are meant to be seen all at once; let’s be conservative and say that you will probably get 900 updates (give or take) out of the reruns. That gives us daily Octopie until roughly [American] Labor Day in 2020; we’ll be able to ride out the statutory length of the Trump/Pence administration¹ with the daily example of Eve, Hanna, and the weirdest parts of Brooklyn in your 20s as our coping buddies. You always knew exactly what we’d need, Mer.

  • The former second: Roast Beef is, naturally, the heart and soul of Achewood, and there is Achewood news from creator Chris Onstad:

    Every few years, I ask for a little donation to help cover Achewood server costs. Thank you sincerely for your support! To give:

    The archives are voluminous, and judging solely by my own frequent trips, subject to enormous traffic even today, some 15 months after the most recent (and potentially last) update. I’d say that as long as we can dip back in to relive a particularly favorite bit of Achewood nostalgia, Onstad’s more than earned the occasional couple of bucks.

    As a thank you, Onstad invites all who donate to go wild with the downloading of whatever you like from the PDF library. If that’s not your deal, may I suggest making a purchase from the gallery? It was my good fortune to be able to snatch up the portrait of Ramses Luther Smuckles before someone else did … it’s more beautiful in person than you can imagine. There’s plenty of original art, and gorgeous silkscreens for your perusal. The store works, too.

Spam of the day:

Did Jesus “Heal the Masses” Using Specialized Medical Marijuana Oils

I’ma go out on a limb and say no.

¹ Although with any luck, we’ll be well down the line of succession by then.

Fresh Visions

I’ve got a plane to catch in a couple of hours, so we’re keeping this brief (yet, as always, meaningful).

  • John Allison, as all right-thinking folk know, writes fabulous stories. The Tackleverse that started with Bobbins and continues through Bad Machinery (all found via, with a branching off into Giant Days (found in your local comics shop) are exquisitely written. Whether drawing himself or paired up with the right collaborator, Allison’s mastery of character and farcical situations is second to none. So what to do when you’ve gone office comedy, bizarre slice of life, mystery kids, and college years stories?

    How about branching off into a new, unrelated setting for new characters and a new story type?

    Coming in June, Allison will write — and Christine Larsen will draw — By Night, a 12-issue miniseries (then again, Giant Days started as a miniseries as well), which he describes as combin[ing] my love of Fringe, The X-Files, Jon Ronson documentaries and long reads about the collapse of post-industrial Western society over at CBR. I’m going to preemptively call this one a must-buy, and we’ll all find out exactly how good it is on the 13th of June.

  • Gotta go back most of a year for this one: Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett gifted us with a copy of the hardcover of Drive volume 1, which I had already purchased via Kickstarter. Having a spare copy, I decided to give it away to one lucky reader, who turned out to be Mario, from Lisboa, Portugal. Off I mailed it, with the obligatory joke (ho, ho!) about it disappearing into the depths of Customs.

    I think you know what happens next. The book made it to Portugal in a matter of days, sat around in Customs waiting for Mario to come claim it (who was supposed to intuit this fact through the aether), and was then returned to me some five months later. Mario and I corresponded and I offered to try again, but he very graciously suggested he look into the relevant postal policies before resubmitting the book to the tender mercies of systems beyond the ken of mere mortals. Having been at that for some time, he’s come a conclusion:

    It’s not worth another attempt. He suggested I try to sell it to try to recover some of the money you have lost with the shipping or maybe gift it to someone else, or donate it to a library, whatever you feel is the best option, which I find to be pretty generous on his part.

    I’m not going to sell it, and I’m not going to run another giveaway on this particular book — it’s got the scent of my home now, and it will undoubtedly try to return, like one of those dog-and-cat pairings you see in the movies about returning home after great journeys. But I will be donating it to my local library (under Mario’s name, naturally), so that it can be seen by many people and they can grow to love the story as much as we do.

    So do me a favor, everybody — give Mario a quick nod of appreciation, maybe a hat-tip in the general direction of Portugal, and be glad that webcomics breeds such kind-hearted people. Take that, Universal Postal Union! And read Drive, it’s really good.

Spam of the day:

Toenail Fungus Code

Of all the emails I’ve ever received — spam or otherwise — where I NOPEd on clicking the link that says Display images below, this is the very NOPEiest. Nope, nope, nope, nnnnnoooope.

This Is The Best Story In Forever

Let’s just jump to the heart of it:

When I was a kid I wanted to be a pro baseball player or comic artist. I chose the 2nd option and never thought the roads could somehow meet! On Aug 19th, the @Mariners will celebrate Amulet Day. Enjoy a day at the ballpark and get a T-shirt! Link here:

That, of course, is Kazu Kibuishi, who is one of the most accomplished (and simultaneously most fundamentally decent) folks in comics, and who is a damn rockstar to middle grades librarians and their patrons. The Amulet series has been a favorite here at the Fleenplex ever since book one (ten years! It’s been more than ten years!), and the anticipation for book 8 (of 9) is at a fever pitch in classrooms and libraries across the nation — 25 September, classrooms and libraries, that’s when you’ll get it¹.

And now he gets to have an entire professional baseball game dedicated to him. I’ll be honest, because I know just a little bit about what that’s like², I can pretty well predict that Kibuishi will be outwardly calm and collected (because he pretty much always is), but inwardly? He’s going to be just as excited as all his fans are when they get the chance to meet him.

Amulet Day with the Seattle Mariners (vs the LA Dodgers) will be Sunday, 19 August; game time is 1:10pm, with tickets purchased by 17 August (5:00pm local time) good for a special Amulet t-shirt when you bring your stub to section 339 by the end of the third inning. Get your tickets here and be sure to enter the promo code AMULET so you’ll be seated with all the other Amulet fans.

Update to the latest F-Six campaign: We’re at US$100 of donations to be matched. You’ve got just under two weeks to help send a message about gun control.

Spam of the day:

Fans Love You

You know who else loves me? Ladies.

¹ Sometime around dawn on the 26th, the demands to know when book 9 will be out will waft far and wide o’er this great land.

² The local minor league team had a game dedicated to my EMS agency one Saturday night; we got cheered when we assembled on the edge of the field by maybe 2000 people and it was kind of thrilling.

Both Sides!

So there’s room in this world for disagreement about what policies should be implemented, what ideas are best, and everybody agrees that all viewpoints are equally valid, right?

Yeah, no. There’s stuff out there with only one side that has anything resembling rational reality attached to it, and any other sides filled with arrant bullshit.

Case in point: on the one hand, you have the collection of white supremacists, would-be fascists, bigots, small-minded turdmongers, intellectually inbred CHUDs, and sterling examples of human evolution that make up the so-called alt-right. They’re wrong. Whatever it is they’re talking about, they’re wrong. On the off chance that they are, in some particular case, in a narrow technical sense, not wrong, it is certain that they are using that momentary blip of not-wrongness to argue something worthy of contempt in bad faith, with the sole goal of moving the Overton Window.

On the other hand, you have Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog.

Furie’s run afoul of dipshit brigade’s re-appropriation of Pepe to stand in for their hateful message for some time. He tried to disavow them, he tried to ignore them, he killed off Pepe to prevent his misuse, he did his best to reclaim Pepe’s innocence. Finally, out of fucks to give, he struck back at their monetization of Pepe in service to their hateful message and got himself a lawyer.

The first to fall was a onetime public school principal self-publishing an anti-Muslim children’s book with a knockoff Pepe. C&Ds went out to a purported studly guy who rambles incoherently from his in-law’s pool house/basement when not running from his own words on NPR, a very punchable Nazi, and various online vendors of infringing t-shirts.

Now he’s taking on the Big Gun, the sine qua non of batshittery and conspiracy theory shouting:

The lawsuit pinpoints one poster in particular as a source of copyright infringement. The poster features Pepe alongside InfoWars founder Alex Jones, President Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, Matt Drudge, Roger Stone and others with the text “MAGA,” short for Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Furie, represented by attorney Rebecca Girolamo at Wilmer Cutler, says he didn’t authorize such use of Pepe. He alleges the poster is being sold by InfoWars in its online store.

Requisite disclaimer that I am not a lawyer, but this seems to be a fairly clear cut case of copyright infringement; there’s no transformation of Pepe in the image (seen here, at The AV Club), no use of him in a satirical fashion, or to comment on broader matters — he’s simply included because the MAGA crowd likes him. Given his less than successful record in the legal sphere, I’d think that Jones would not want to set himself up for another loss, but he doesn’t seem to have that degree of self-awareness. Jones responds here, but it’s not written and I don’t like you enough to watch an Alex Jones video.

Fleen wishes Furie the best of luck, and holds every confidence that if this does go to trial, Jones will find a way to disgrace himself again in spectacular fashion. Here’s hoping that any compensation Furie is owed will be paid in actual money, and not in leftover stock of overpriced, overhyped, weird-ass snake-oil.

Spam of the day:

2017 Solar Program Now Available in Your Area

Okay, 1) I received this on the 27th of February, so you’re a bit late for 2017, and 2) stay the hell out of my “area”.

How Does He Do It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think we can draw a few lessons here:

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

Pourriel du jour:

At the risk of kinkshaming, nnnnnoooooppppe.

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

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

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

Kicking Off Awards Season

The thing about comics these days is, the division between webcomcis and just comics is pretty much notional. Creators shift between the two distribution media, and the sorts of stories that work well in one are increasingly found in the other. Nothing reflects this as much as the annual Cartoonist Studio Prize (now in its sixth incarnation) from Slate and the Center For Cartoon Studies.

From the beginning, it’s been a simple arrangement: ten nominees for the best print comic of the prior year, ten for the best webcomic, notable connoisseurs acting as a panel to select the contenders. Even more than past years, the CSP for 2017 reveals that the most interesting comics are being done by women; eight of the print nominees and half of the webcomics nominees are women.

This year’s nominees for best print comic are:
The Academic Hour by Keren Katz, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Boundless by Jillian Tamaki, Breath, Plucked from Heaven (collected in Elements: Fire) by Shivana Sookdeo, Gaylord Phoenix No. 7 by Edie Fake, Language Barrier by Hannah K. Lee, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, One More Year by Simon Hanselmann, Tenements, Towers & Trash by Julia Wertz, and You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis. One may note that the Elements anthology is shot through with webcomickers, that Julia Wertz made her mark with her autobio webcomics, and Tamaki is no stranger either.

The nominees for best webcomic of the year are:
A Fire Story by Brian Fies, Agents Of The Realm by Mildred Louis, A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance by Ted Closson, Leaving Richard’s Valley by Michael DeForge, Neighbors by Christina Tran, The Price of Acceptance by Sarah Winifred Searle, Reported Missing by Eleri Harris, Somebody Told Me by Jesse England, Whose Free Speech? by Ben Passmore, and Wonderlust by Diana Nock. I may note that The Nib continues to be recognized for the general excellence of its work in what can generally be called editorial/reportage comics, with four of the ten nominees (Closson’s, Searle’s, Harris’s, and Passmore’s) originating there.

I’m notoriously bad at predictions, but what the heck? There’s not a weak contender on the list, and several are already recognized as sitting at the top of various best-of lists. Over in the print world I’m going to nock out Davis only because she won the category last year; Tamaki, Hanselmann, and Ferris have been the recipients of a lot of attention for the past year, and Wertz’s collection is more recent but was eagerly anticipated. I’m guessing one of those four takes it.

On the webcomics side I’m eliminating Tran because she also won the category last year, then it gets a lot more difficult. Fies and DeForge are longtime respected creators, Closson’s work is both enlightening and enragingly current, and there may be nobody expressing the frustrations of Being Black In America as well as Passmore. Louis is delivering a great story twice a week for years, which is a longevity and sheer volume not present in a lot of the nominees.

But Eleri Harris’s six-part examination of a murder investigation/conviction in Tasmania, one to which she has a personal connection, one that may be the result of bungled police work — it’s unique. It’s Serial season one in comics form. I don’t get a say, but it’s my pick.

The Cartoonist Studio Prize awards will be announced on 31 March; winners receive US$1000 (which, frankly, more comics prizes should emulate … a fancy trophy — or brick — is nice, but so is sweet, sweet untraceable cash).

Spam of the day:

Your Account Has Been Hacked Call Now
We Have Detected Unusual Activity With Your Gmail Account
From IP: Geo Location Found: Eastern Russia
If This Was Not You Please Call the Google Support Team
(Be at your computer)
1 855-321-5611

I see that Gmail support now sends its notifications from, four hours before the claimed unusual activity time, and to my presumably-compromised account, rather than the recovery email they have on record. It would be a shame if people called that number and wasted their time (I can’t any more; they hang up as soon as they see my number).