The webcomics blog about webcomics

Festival Friday

The header image is apropos of nothing, except that Kendra Wells has been killing it at The Nib lately, and that there’s something refreshingly hilarious about a pop song called Obstruct My Justice.

It’s spring time (the snow from the Nor’easter two days back is melting and everything!) and that means comics festival time. In case you hadn’t seen, both MoCCA Fest and TCAF have new information up for your perusal.

  • First up: MoCCA (7 and 8 April, at the Metropolitan West event space, next to the Intrepid Museum) has schedules of events (which will take place a skant two blocks away, at the Ink 48 hotel), with six panels on Saturday and six more on Sunday.

    The big draws look to be the retrospective on creating March with co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Saturday at 3:30pm in the Garamond Room), the Jaime Hernandez spotlight (Sunday at 12:30pm, Garamond Room), and the Mike Mignola Q&A (3:30pm, Garamond again). It’s not like what’s happening in the Helvetica Room is bad, it’s just these three caught my eye.

    Oh, and I’m not sure if I mentioned that featured guests for MoCCA, but they include webcomicker Rebecca Mock (who also designed the badges this year) and The Nib cartoonist Ann Telnaes (who also draws for other places, like The Washington Post). Exhibitors that caught my eye include Alisa Harris (A119 A), Carey Pietsch (H255), Christian Blaza (H264), Corey Chrapuch (H230), Josh Neufeld (I270 A), Julia Gfrörer (E183 A), Ken Wong (G242), Laura Ķeniņš (E179), Madeline Zuluaga (F231), Pénélope Bagieu (no table listed, but I’ll bet she’s hanging out with the cool folks at :01 Books, E162), Priya Huq (H263 B), Robyn Chapman (E170), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (J286), and Sara Varon (D155 B). Did I miss anybody? Let me know!

  • For those not all festival’ed out, TCAF will run 12 and 13 May, centered on the Toronto Reference Library, but spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood for a event that’s become more and more citywide. They’ve also done us the favor of putting all their exhibitors on one fast-loading page. However, the fast-loading page doesn’t allow you to click links into new tabs or copy link addresses, so there’s no quick way of including websites for folks. I know, but you think I have these all memorized?

    Anyways, you’ll see Lucy Bellwood, Boum, Tony Breed, Vera Brosgol, Emily Carroll, Cecil Castellucci, Danielle Corsetto, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Melanie Gillman, Sophie Goldstein, KC Green, Nicholas Gurewitch, Kori Michele Handwerker, Dustin Harbin, Myisha Haynes, Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota, Abby Howard, C Spike Trotman, Jeph Jacques, Shing Yin Khor, Hope Larson, Kel McDonald, Sara & Tom McHenry, Rebecca Mock, Sfé Monster, Molly Ostertag, Ben Passmore, Katie Shanahan, Whit Taylor, Jen Wang, Ron Wimberly, and the zubiquitous Jim Zub. You should be able to find their sites pretty easily.

Spam of the day:

Congratulations, You’ve Been Considered for Inclusion…

They still do Who’s Who type scams? Man, that takes me back. I remember getting actual postcards back in like high school talking about the importance of being listed in such a prestigious personal branding vehicle. Got some sour news for you, Jack — you weren’t getting my US$39.95¹ back then, you ain’t getting squat from me now.

¹ US$95.74 in constant dollars.

Kicking, Starting

I am cautiously optimistic that all the of frozen water I cleared away from my house will be the last we get this season; much of it is melting away as we speak, which makes me wonder what the point of it all was.

Anyway, let’s talk Kickstarter, and not for the reason that appears to be all over subtwitter¹. Rather, let’s see how Kickstarters can/should be run from people with a history of running them well.

  • First up, the irrepressible Lucy Bellwood² is presently in Denmark teaching various things, including the effective use of Kickstarter; by a peculiar corinsidence, this came just as notices of shipment were going out for Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues campaign, bang on time.

    Bellwood, being the community contribution maniac that she is, has also kept a live Google spreadsheet showing all the finances on this project so that all can learn from her hard-won experience. And since looking at a spreadsheet isn’t enough to learn all of her secrets, her talk is here, where over the course of an hour she talks about community-building, reward design, budgeting, and outreach — plus some important information about wizards and how they can totally heck up your whole deal. If you don’t want your whole deal hecked up, give it a careful watch or five.

  • Brad Guigar is utterly predictable in a couple of respects: he will burst out laughing like his life depends upon it, and his Kickstarts follow a definite pattern. Namely, he takes a year’s worth of strips, pitches a reasonable number of tiers to his fans, gets 1.5x to 2.5x overfunding, prints ’em up, and does fulfillment on time between two and four months later (shorter for stock items, longer for personalized). Guys, when it comes to Kickstarter, boring is good; you know exactly what you’re going to get from him.

    Which, in the case of his latest print collection, is exactly what I just mentioned, along with the added bonus of smut. Guigar’s got fans of his teens-and-up strip, and fans of his (ahem) late-night Cinemax Patreon tiers, and for the first time he’s providing for both in one campaign (instead of the whole thing being adults-only, there are a couple of tiers that include the cartoon sexytimes, with most being safer to leave out on the coffee table around family).

    Boring, but with suddenly revealed sizzle is the pitch for more porn movies than you can think of because it works. I anticipate that the Guigar Sons College Fund is going to benefit mightily from BBWSRS for the foreseeable future.

  • Howard Tayler³, on the other hand, swings wildly in his Kickstarts; not in the BBWSRS sense, but in the sense that he’ll do alternating quick turnaround, narrowly focused campaigns, complex, ever-growing campaigns with long fulfillment times, then back to simple. The books come as the chapters dictate (and are planned out well in advance, at this point).

    Every once in a while, he’ll throw in a simple project, but mix it up so he doesn’t get bored. Case in point: his first new shirt designs in some time, which is running with a unique stretch goal model. Reaching the US$25,000 figure (US$10K over goal) unlocked a shirt design that everybody was going to want. Reaching a total of 1500 shirts ordered allows everybody at the three shirt bundle tier (US$60) to choose a fourth shirt for free.

    But please notice that there are five designs, and if the total orders reach 3000 shirts, people will be able to add on additional shirts for US$15 instead of US$20. Everything about the stretch goals increases value for the backers while simultaneously incentivizing them to give Tayler more money. It’s a thing of beauty where everybody (but especially Tayler’s bank balance) wins. Writing the adventures of money-maximizing borderline sociopaths must be inspirational, as Tayler’s got the money maximizing part down cold; here’s hoping he leaves the lessons learned there.

  • Kel McDonald (for whom the McDonald Ratio is named) has done every kind of Kickstart under the sun — print collections (simple reprints to multivolume omnibus editions), anthologies, pins, done-in-one stories, and more. Of late, she’s been working around digital-only projects, which simplify the crap out of fulfillment. Got a story to tell? Write it up, get a team of seasoned comics pros to edit, draw, and color it, and have it in everybody’s hands in 60 days or so. It would be a mistake to think that McDonald couldn’t make good on any campaign, what with a baker’s dozen under her belt, but with the help of Roxy Polk, Kara Leopard, and Whitney Cogar, it’s pretty much a slam dunk.

Spam of the day:

Easy care suits: Wear. Wash. Repeat.

Why is this the subject line for a spam full of pictures and links to knock-off jewelry?

¹ For the record, I’m far away from the corners of Webcomickia where all of this went down and don’t know any of the principals, but people I know and trust have Opinions and yeah — been a while since we had a mess like this. And it seems risky for Kickstarter to have offered a 22 year old a job in charge of stuff without an unimpeachably solid record of managing people and processes (which pretty much no 22 year old has, so …).

² Adventure Cartoonist!!

³ Evil twin, etc.

Battening All The Hatches I Can Find

See that up there? That’s the most useful forecast product in the weather game — the 48 hour, hour-by-hour breakdown of what’s happening in your neighborhood, from the National Weather Service. They’re not hyping numbers to get you to tune in and they don’t have bozos in logo parkas out in the slop for live updates on the eights. They measure success not by eyeballs, but by how accurate they are.

If you’re curious how it’s gonna be for wherever you are, go here, punch in your ZIP code, and scroll down to hourly weather forecast graph. Personally, it’s gonna be a bear around here, and so if I don’t post in a timely fashion, please forgive me in advance.

As for today, it’s the 20th, and I’ll admit that this iteration of the F-Six hasn’t gathered the attention that previous ones did¹, but still thanks to Ben Cordes and anonymous, there will be US$100 donated to the DC March For Our Lives, and another US$100 to the Parkland March For Our Lives. On a day when there was another godsdamned school shooting, it seems the very least that we can do.

Spam of the day:

Xeophin is currently undertaking a cryptocurrency raise to restructure our company and undertake the first Biotech ICO powered by Blockchain.

Got news for you, Bunky: your blockchain don’t mean shit with respect to finding new drugs, and as somebody who’s had rheumatoid arthritis kill people near to me, I’m insulted that you’re implying your scam initial coin offering has anything to do with treating that hideous disease. Fuck off.

¹ In fact, it’s been a decline with each new charity campaign — I get it, and I’m not mad.

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.