The webcomics blog about webcomics

New Year, New Stuff

Or at least, some of it will be new to you. Onwards!

  • It’s been a considerable time since the heyday of Webcomics Weekly¹, and the logistics of wrangling four people — when there are kids and other time demands — means we won’t ever get that back. Brad Guigar’s had conversations with movers and/or shakers via his own Kickstarts and Webcomics Dot Com, and he’s been talking to Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett somewhat regularly lately² (especially in/around Patreon’s troubles), and it’s clear they’ve got the bug again.

    Thus, a new Patreon and a new podcast very much in the mold of Webcomics Weekly:

    Welcome to the ComicLab Podcast, the new show about makin’ comics, and makin’ a living from comics.

    If you loved Webcomics Weekly, you’re gonna love this show: It’s half shop-talk, half how-to, and half friendship. WE SQUEEZED IN THREE HALVES.

    Everything launched yesterday, and they appear to have gone from three Patreon supporters to 29 in the past 24 hours; if you want to draw extrapolations, by the end of the month their supporter count will either be 728 (assuming they add 26 each day), or 24,254,780,439,831,450 times the population of the Earth (assuming they grow by 8 1/3 times every day), or maybe predictions are garbage. In any event, give ‘er a listen, and leave plenty of time for laugh breaks.

  • Meredith Gran has been keeping a bit of a low profile since Octopus Pie wound up (and there’s not a day I don’t think back on how good it was, start to finish), and we knew she was working on a videogame, but things are starting to kick into gear:

    the game I’m working on is called Perfect Tides, and I’m going to start rolling out social media stuff until KS fundraising begins in January! until then you can follow @perfect_tides for news + tidbits

    PT is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, an introspective teen adventure with the mechanics of a classic adventure game. to me they are a perfect fit! I hope you will think so too

    Kickstarter this month, y’all! And hoo boy, Sierra point-and-click games were things I spent waaaay too much time on in my younger days. This could be dangerous.

Okay, not actually new to 2018; in fact, this report from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has been hanging about since last week, but I was lazy during the holiday break. Some of what he talks about has been going one for some time, and some of it is pretty much outdated by now, but you know what? It’s all good.

  • We at Fleen always enjoy efforts to help English readers better understand French. Especially when they come from Boulet, who has been publishing thematic guides to French expressions and idioms to his Twitter feed: everything around kissing, drinking, butts .. or cucul la praline or vachement.
  • Speaking of Boulet, also do not miss his advent calendar of mythical creatures.
  • And speaking of France and butts, there appears to be a new French-language webcartoonist on the block; usually we would not relay the news of a newly created webcomic, but we’ve been told this Jeph Jacques guy is kind of a big deal in the States (despite the French-sounding name), so his French-language efforts should be worth keeping an eye on …

Yeah, that was pretty much all out of date. That’s all me. Thanks for your patience, FSFCPL!

Spam of the day:

Child Predator Risk Warning

Gaaahhh, okay, if you must alleviate sleepless nights by checking on sex offenders in your area, please understand you don’t need to pay a service for this information. Every state’s got a public, official list, and the feds incorporate all of those (plus DC, territories, and Indian Country) in one free website. Save your money.

¹ Remember, the greatest Webcomics Weekly of all time was very nearly the last that adhered to an even vaguely weekly timeframe. Pretty soon after, it was every other month, then annual, then even less frequent. And it was damn near seven years ago!

² Meanwhile, Kris Straub is busy podding and vidding around areas other than webcomics, and Scott Kurtz has been more concerned with the intersection of the business of new media and the broad whole of art.

Oh Cruel Fate, Oh Light That Is Now Gone From Us

I think we can all agree that one of the rare high points of 2017 was Anthony Clark’s Wizard A Day Series. He’d done themed drawings in Januaries past, but this year, he just kept going, and going. From New Year Wizard (001) to Farewell Wizard (365), every day another wizard¹ appeared in the greatest Twitter thread of all time.

And though we are now left with a gaping void in life, Clark being all wizarded out, we may take comfort from the fact that there is a Wizard Index, any of which may be ordered as a 30cm x 30cm print. More than one person has asked Clark to make a book of the 365 2017 Wizards, and should he decide to do so, I will be giving him as much money as he requires.

So in one respect, 2018 is already crappier than 2017, since there are no more daily wizards, but … wait, what’s this? A Cowboy And/Or Sheriff, listed as Number 1, Bananas? A new series of daily joy in an otherwise gaping void of despair?

No, never mind. I have to admit it’s a pretty good gag, especially if the wizards were all a long con just so he could make this joke land.

Spam of the day:

Find a SENIOR LIVING solution!

Okay, bonus points for actually pitching this as a means for me to find assisted living for my parents, rather than for myself. Weirdly, since I actually turned 50, spam implying that I’m of AARP age has disappeared from my inbox.

¹ And frequently, more than one — considering the likes of Double Wizard (002), Star Wizard (019), Nest Wizard (026) were all in January — as multiple wizards sometimes showed up. Clark estimates he actually drew 645 wizards all told. Imagine if there had been a Fractal Wizard!

Holiday Dead Time Starts Now

It’s a few hours until I see a Star War, so I’m avoiding the internet and its attendant spoilers like the plague; there didn’t seem to be much going on anyway, and will be progressively less from here until the end of the year. I’ll be updating as see news worth sharing, but otherwise, I’m not going to wrack my brains looking for crumbs of content that nobody’s gonna read anyway.

Have a festive Solstice-adjacent celebration of your choice. Irregular postings until … let’s say 3 January.

Almost The Last Day Of Work This Year, And I Am Swamped

Sorry for being late. Let’s just drop one thing in and call it a day.

Lucy Bellwood — comics artist, tall-ship sailor, and human enthusiasm engine — has been keeping an eye on the devastating fires in southern California, not least because she grew up in Ojai (which has been devastated) and her family still lives there. At least, their house escaped the first approach of the fires, but they’ve been forced away while the hazards persist.

Thus, today’s announcement:

Today I’m releasing three new card designs to benefit #ThomasFire victims in my hometown. Read more here: …

Drilling down:

Here’s the first of three postcards I designed for a Thomas Fire relief effort fundraiser I’m co-organizing at Bart’s Books of Ojai this Saturday. Ojai is famous for its Pink Moment, a symphony of light and landscape that paints the Topa Topa mountain range in gorgeous colors every day at sunset.

We’ll have blank postcards with this design and several others for people to color, as well as readings from myself, co-organizer Sarah Mirk, and many other local creators. If you’re in the Ventura County area and want to come out on Saturday, December 23rd from 4-7pm we’d love to see you there.

If you can’t make the fundraiser, but want to contribute from afar: all colored designs are available for purchase as greeting cards in my print shop! Click here to shop. [emphasis original]

Sarah Mirk, I should note, did a heartbreaking comic at The Nib the other day (with art from Andy Warner) about what people took with them when they fled the fire. I’ve been in the position that Bellwood’s in — family in the path of disaster, not knowing for a time where they were or what was left behind — and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. If you want to pick up some rad art for a great cause, here’s your chance.

Spam of the day:

IT Degrees – Check Out Programs Today

You are … yikes, twenty-seven years late on this entirely legitimate offer.

Wherein You May Come Out Ahead With Free American Cash Money

Time to get Caught Up, just in time for whichever holiday you celebrate! Some of this is new, some of this was getting ready to be mentioned when the whole Patreon category four shitstorm blew in. In any event, I hope you enjoy.

  • Longtime reader Mark V sent along an email pointing out something I’d have missed otherwise: an interesting post by Andrew Plotkin about … well, a lot of things. Firstly, Plotkin is the programmer that helped Jason Shiga come up with an interactive version of Meanwhile¹.

    Meanwhile, in case you’re forgotten, starred the childhood version of Jimmy from Demon, and was a pick-a-path adventure so complex that it required the invention of a new computer language to keep all the branching paths straight. If you’ve never seen it, you’d have eight or ten story paths you could follow on any page, leading to a colored thumb-tab on the side of the page, leading to the next page without requiring printed instructions like GO TO PAGE 37. It was a work of art. It also lent itself to computer-based implementations like whoa.

    Now that we know who, let’s talk about the what; Plotkin talks about starting a new job, about his many creative projects, and about all the insanely cool things he has/is/will be/wants to resume worked/working on. He’s exactly who we want to be out there, making neat stuff. And he spends a good deal of the post talking about the tax bill coming up for a vote in the Senate tonight, and how it pretty much guarantees there will be no more independent creatives like him in the new tax regime.

    If you love comics, love games, love art, do remember this (those of you in the US) and make it just one more reason that you make sure you register to vote and then fucking vote out the vultures that admit they’re only in power to benefit their donors.

  • But because we, as a species, retain the ability to look past imminent doom towards a somewhat distant future and make plans, please know that MoCCA Fest 2018 applications are now up over at the Society of Illustrators site. The deadline is 31 December, so a little less than two weeks. MoCCA Fest will take place 7 & 8 April, returning to the Metropolitan West events space, hard by the USS Intrepid on the west side of Mahnattan.

    It’s a bit off the beaten track, but there’s good food and snacks at Met West, it’s only $5 per day to get in, and the panel venue remains the swanky Ink 48 hotel around the corner. I’ve been to every MoCCA Fest that there’s been, and I’ve covered every one for the years Fleen has been in existence, so I’ll be sure to see you there.

  • Another Kickstarter fulfilled — this time, Anatomy Of Animals by Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett — another chance for those of you that didn’t get in on the campaign to get caught up. And unusually for a Kickstarter that’s just finishing up shipping, AOA is already in Kellett’s store, and may I point out for less than I paid for it during the crowdfunding campaign?

    Yup, it appears that I have subsidized latecomers, as it cost me US$30 + S/H for my copy, and LArDK is now selling them for US$29.99. A sucker is me, right? Well, okay, I did get a spiffy stretch goal in the form of a Gandalf Airlines fridge magnet, so I guess I’ll let Kellett off the hook this time. But there’s something I want you to do for me:

    LArDK included a flyer in the box, with a coupon code for the Drive book on one side² and an advert for the Sheldon Store on the other side; you can see it in the photo up top. But what’s that? Computer, zoom and enhance!

    Announcing now: show me proof that you tried to order Crisco, lettuce, or a 40-lb tub of Ovaltine from Kellett’s store, and I will give you a dollar; on the Crisco, that’s a 21 cent profit, my friend.

Spam of the day:

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

Everything is, in fact, coming up Gary.

¹ Launching on Steam in a month’s time.

² Not sharing that code; it’s not up to me to give y’all a 30% discount.

You Can Tell The Measure Of A Man By The Enemies He Attracts

Not to mention the calibre of their attacks on him; in this case you have on the one hand Ryan Estrada, world traveler, bon vivant, endless creators of [web]comics, films, podcasts, radio drama, nonradio drama approximately legitimate theater, and all-around cool guy.

On the other hand, a bunch of whiny you’re oppressing me by trying to be a professional artist instead of giving me what I want for free and anyway it’s totally simple and I could do better than that but I don’t wanna chuds.

Estrada has been holding this mindset up to general ridicule for several years now via the For Exposure Twitter account, where he is scrupulously careful to attack the behavior, not the person. Everybody that demands art for free and berates artists for (gasp!) wanting money for little things like groceries and rent has their message shared, but carefully anonymized; Estrada doesn’t want the internet mob to form, and has stated he’ll close down For Exposure should that happen.

I think he might be reconsidering the policy:

The person(s) behind the scraper site, perhaps not appreciating the irony in asking for money to fulfill the holy mission of punishing artists that ask for money in exchange for their labor, has/have proved to be unreasonable; creators that attempt to follow legal processes to assert control over their copyrighted material find their emails posted for griefers to spam for months. Lacking anything better to do, they’ve decided that Estrada is the World’s Worst Person¹ and subject to their most withering insult.

Ah, yes. Cuck. The opprobrium of choice for GamerGaters, pseudoironic alt-righters, and outright white supremacists. I suspect that Estrada is so cut to the quick that he has retreated to a closest in shame, wondering why his wife prefers those specimens of obvious genetic quality to him.

Oh, no, wait, he’s working with PayPal to get their accounts suspended. It’ll be a game of Whack-a-Dipshit, but once it happens, others will join in. There will always be somebody pissed off enough in future to make a complaint to the financial providers, and the malefactors may learn the hard way that getting a PayPal account revoked for being a massive internet jerk carries over into other parts of their existence. Plenty of legit creators have had their PayPal accounts frozen or seized outright because of overzealous policies that misconstrue freelancing with nefarious endeavours; I can’t wait to see what happens when people are found to be engaging in fraudulent behavior.

And because Estrada deserves far better than to be associated with these bottom dwellers, let’s end on a positive note. As mentioned previously, Estrada and his wife Kim Hyun Sook are writing a graphic novel (to be illustrated by @kevin9143, whose actual human name I am not able to locate) about her experience defying South Korea’s military dictatorship by reading banned books.

A new Twitter account, Banned Book Clubs, will follow Estrada as he reads all the banned books she read back then and adding sassy commentary on them. So far: What Is History by EH Carr², The Iron Heel by Jack London, and Two Treatises Of Government by John Locke. Just the sort of thing any aspiring dictator would want to keep the populace from reading; not saying that there’s a pressing need for any USAians to start skimming, but maybe not the worst idea, either.

Spam of the day:


Pretty sure one of those women you’re promising I can date tonight is a Kardashian, and another is Denise Richards in the role of the worst Bond Girl ever, nuclear physicist Dr Christmas Jones. Try harder, scam-mongers.

¹ He’s not; I’d be willing to bet that in the competition for that title, Ryan will be coming in last, tied with Mr Rogers, Tom Hanks, and Mr Rogers again.

² Per Estrada: 22 people were arrested, beaten, tortured and imprisoned for reading this book in the Burim Book Club case.

Baking Today

Great, now I’ve got Fluffmodeus stuck in my head, and how the crap has it been nearly eleven years since that little bastard joined the cast at Something Positive? Speaking of which, Tuesday will mark sixteen years of horrible people growing and becoming … well, not necessarily less horrible, but more complete people.

And today marks (near enough anyways) twelve years of semi-abusive opinion-mongering on my part at this here page on the internets. Oh, I know the first dated post is from 5 December and today is the 15th; when Fleen launched, it had several posts in the archive and it was actually around the 14th that things went live. Heck if I can remember the actual day, but for some time now I’ve thought of it as the 15th.

So, thanks. I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of the very best people in the world thanks to this hobby — people that are going to legitimately be remembered a hundred years from now for their contributions to the culture, people that won’t make the same mark on history, but who will have my love and admiration for the sort of people they are, people that are just a godsdamned blast to hang around with.

I won’t pretend that I’m capable of throwing out a list of names off the top of my head¹; I read somewhere that the average person personally knows (or has known) 1200 or so people by first name by the time they reach my age, which is why it gets easier to find overlapping circles of friends-of-friends as you get older. At this point, I figure I’ve met at least 1000 quality people because of [web]comics and maybe three clunkers, which is one hell of a success ratio.

Monday will (in my head, at least) mark the beginning of Year Thirteen of blogging, and posting number 3231 (assuming nothing weird happens between now and then); my best guess is that represents somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million words, many of them in an order that makes sense. My typing’s a bit slower and more error-prone at speed than when I started, but I figure I’m good for at least another half-mil. Come on back, we’ll start that next step of the journey together.

No spam today. Today is ours.

¹ One name, though: Jon Rosenberg is responsible for me being here. Send the appropriate congratulations and/or threats to him.

Are There Other Things To Talk About? I Forget

In the aftermath of the Patreopocalypse, it’s a time to breathe deep, regroup, and then unleash hell on Congress to fix the FCC’s naked giveaway to the cable industry. Got a favorite organization suing the Feds? Kick ’em a few bucks.

And if you need a few bucks for the effort, it’s possible that Howard Tayler¹ has you covered:

Sandra and I are looking to engage the services of a designer for a new round of Schlock Mercenary t-shirts. This will be a work-for-hire project that pays a flat fee for each design, plus a slice of the purchase price for each shirt sold.

We want awesome designs that will work well with silk-screening, discharge printing, and other fabric-related technologies. Familiarity with Schlock Mercenary is not required, but is always kind of nice. For scheduling purposes, the bulk of the work will be done during January of 2018.

Applicants should email with samples of their work and a short resume that highlights experience in this space. A link to an online art portfolio is a plus. We’ll be accepting applications through December 30th, or until the position has been filled.

Get it? Covered? Like t-shirts cover you? No? Ears?

Look, just be glad that things are vaguely back to normal, at least for the time being. See you tomorrow.

Spam of the day:

her tunic she seems to have been modelled in pure silver by the godlike New York and Boston

Uh this appears to have little — if anything — to do with hot sexy women that want to have sex with me tonight. What gives?

¹ Evil twin, etc.

BOY Am I Glad I Checked Twitter Before Writing Today

I was going to point out all the Welp, still nothing from Patreon messages in the sosh-meeds, and then the word broke — Patreon, against all expectation, announced that they aren’t shifting the payment methods next week after all:

We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans. [emphasis original]

Thoughts in no particular order:

  • Man, that last sentence says volumes, doesn’t it? It really looks like Patreon fundamentally misunderstood its own platform/business/service/relationship with its users.
  • Along with a lot of supporters. Here’s hoping that creators can win them back.
  • This: I’m relieved Patreon won’t go through with that devastating change but still PISSED at how much damage was done to the livelihoods of so many artists. I am in crunch at work today so I can’t say more rn, will need to address this later.

    Also this: Now that @Patreon has rolled back the new billing policy, I will maintain all my pledges. My offer to help creators move and/or set up secondary streams of income still stands.

    Taken together, watch for creators to continue their exploration of other funding channels. Patreon’s no longer the only game in town.

  • The Washington Post wrote about the whole brouhaha, and interviewed Jeph Jacques. He got the phrase extremely boned into a fancy exemplar of serious journalism.
  • While the changes were absolutely necessary to Patreon’s nearterm viability, I’m not sure that this fixes the problem. In EMS, we talk about dealing with immediate life threats in the field, so we can deliver a still-alive patient to definitive care at the Emergency Department; there are no promises they ever make it out of the trauma bay or leave the hospital.

    Right now, Patreon is getting wheeled in and the team is ready to start working; they’ve made it to the hospital, but longterm survival is still up in the air. A lot of trust has been lost.

    But, as Miracle Max told us, there’s a big difference between dead and mostly dead. In the last couple of hours, Patreon’s managed to drag itself back to the better of those two conditions.

  • If all this is good news for you, please consider reinstating pledges that you may have canceled for creators whose work you love. They’re the ones in even more immediate peril than the Big P.

Unrelated, but it’s specific to today: love you, Ro.

Spam of the day:

Bingo! Your FREE Sample of Starbucks is ready to be claimed!

I don’t drink coffee.

Is It A Week Yet? Seems Like It’s Been A Week

Even when Patreon isn’t dropping news, they’ve cast a long shadow over webcomics for the past week (the last time I spent so many days on a single topic, it was the Great Todd Goldman Lawsuitapalooza of Aught-Seven). I’ll leave you to find the public posts of creators asking (begging?) for clarification from Jack Conte, Sam Yarn, et alia, which shouldn’t be too hard — just chuck a rock at your favorite social media platform and you’ll find some.

Instead, let me take a suggestion from Faithful Reader Robonun and point out that maybe not everybody has seen the good news: Randy Milholland — the absolute sweetest guy you could ever hope to meet — is gonna be a dad in the immediate future. On the one hand, that kid is going to have the coolest, most humane (but simultaneously profane) father possible. On the other hand, it’s Randy, so garbage people are out in force.

I don’t know what it is about him that makes terrible, terrible people of almost every self-identified, persecuted subgroup decide momentarily that Milholland is one of them, then discover that it was all projection on their part, then decide it’s an act of vile betrayal and determine he is the enemy of all that is good.

In this case, militant childfree types (who were already pissed that he brought kids into the strip, without making it clear that this is surely going to ruin the lives of anybody adjacent to the little carpet apes) have greeted the news that Milholland and his wife are expecting with all the grace and tact of a caffeine-crazed MRA/MAGA/GamerGate/incel/anime superfan/brony type¹ being told that somebody doesn’t like that thing they like.

Honestly, Randy does nothing to encourage terrible, terrible people, but they seek him out. I suppose we should be grateful, in that he draws all the detritus to himself, sparing the rest of us from their attention. He’s a human crap umbrella.

So assuming that you, by reading this page, are a rational person², and also assuming that you are able to recognize that other people do not have the desire to be exactly like you are and this does not invalidate their right to exist, and further assuming you get the laugh-chuckles from Milholland’s work, consider dropping him a note of congratulations, and encouraging him (as we at Fleen do) to take all the time he needs in this period of immense adjustment to a new mode of life. The comics are free, he owes us nothing, and we owe him at the least thanks.

Oh, and all four issues of his excellent superhero comic³, Super Stupor are now available for digital download. If you read these and don’t feel like Punchline is the greatest hero character of the 21st century, you and I will never understand each other. Just, uh, maybe don’t leave the comic around for any kids if you don’t want them to know about Mind’s Eye and his truth fucking power.

What? I said they were excellent, not that they were all-ages.

Spam of the day:

4 FreeViagara tablets with each order

Oh yeah? What if I’m ordering … I dunno, something very specific to kids? Whatever makes you sound horrible because man, you’re sounding sketchy as hell.

¹ Do I repeat myself? Very well, I repeat myself.

² Also? Very, very attractive.

³ It legitimately is my favorite cape comic except maybe Robinson’s Starman, Nextwave, Patton Oswalt’s Welcome To The Working Week, and issue 10 of All Star Superman.