The webcomics blog about webcomics

A New Kind Of Storytelling Spawns New Clauses In The Social Contract

A week back, I wrote about a new kind of collaborative storytelling, in the form of a game from Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor that involves prompts to dredge through one’s memories and craft a story from them. There are things created (journal entries, letters) to go along with the experiences, and at a sufficient pledge level on the Kickstarter, physical artifacts and ephemera.

In the time since The Field Guide To Memory launched its email playthrough (there will be a full set of prompts sent to Kickstarter backers as a PDF), both Shim and Khor have launched new campaigns in this new category that now has a name: a keepsake game.

Shim’s funding The Last Will And Testament Of Gideon Blythe (I saw the launch too late to get in on the limited physical rewards, dammit), and Khor yesterday launched A Mending, which has an embroidery mechanic. We’re going to talk about the latter today, not because it’s any more interesting than TLWATOGB or the game mechanic is more interesting, but because of a pair of secret stretch goals that Khor revealed after the funding level they had in mind was crossed¹.

A new kind of game/story/experience needs new kinds of ideas associated with it, and Khor’s given us two. The first isn’t too unheard of, but the second is something really special. From the Kickstarter update:

I’ll be releasing art template files for A Mending under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license so you can design/make your own cards and maps. Of course, you can make your own maps and cards for personal use and adapt the game however you like anyway, but template files will make it a lot easier if you would like to maintain some visual consistency. You can also distribute the things/expansions/files you make, albeit non-commercially (totally fine if you want to direct people to your tip jar, though). These files will be released close to the start of fulfillment, likely in late April. [emphasis original]

There’s a real tendency among creators, one that is entirely logical and proper, to view their creations as How This Thing Should Be. There may be adaptations into other media which they are or are not involved in, but once something’s done and released, it’s kind of cast in concrete. Khor is explicitly recognizing that a story that is as much prompts for the audience to fill in as it is structure will never be cast in concrete; the story of A Mending will have as many (or more) variations as there are people who read/play/experience it, and they are acknowledging that it’s not a sole creation.

That idea of my thing isn’t just my thing is even bigger in the second reveal:

I’m creating two $1500 grants for people who would like to adapt A Mending for wider accessibility. One grant is focused on visual accessibility, the other on range-of-motion accessibility. These grants come with a free commercial license, so they can take 100% of profits from work they choose to make commercially available (I will only need attribution). The non-exclusive commercial license includes my art, writing and game design work. What does this mean? Maybe it’s someone selling raised versions of the cloth map in high contrast colors. Maybe it’s porting the game to Roll 20. Maybe a website that produces randomized voiceovers for all the cards. I don’t really know but I’d like to find out too! [emphasis original]

What distinguishes Khor’s announcement from so many previous nods towards accessibility is a) it’s not members of a group that need accommodation having to come as ask for it, and b) it need not be done on a volunteer basis. The allow others to profit from their adaptation part is unique enough; the grant is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented.

I have never seen a creator so explicitly say I have made a thing that is what I want to see in the world but recognize that I can’t predict all the ways that my version of it may preclude others from enjoying it. I want to not only invite you to modify it in ways that I can’t think of and allow you to profit from it, I will pay you to do so.

We’ve talked about the unique nature of comics and how they are read enough times here at Fleen. On a few occasions we’ve mentioned accessibility, but there’s not been a huge exploration of accessibility around comics as a medium; I think it’s just been decided that if you haven’t got sufficient vision, you’re out of luck. Given that the game will have more than just a reading component, but also tactile/motor control components, there are potentially many ways that A Mending could be made more widely accessible². No one person could conceive of them all, but if a crowd could come together to make the initial form of A Mending, why not a crowd of suggestions as to how it could be better?

I have a feeling that keepsake games will be taking off as a category any day now; others will see what Shim and Khor have done, and try to create something that instills as much feeling in their own audience (others still will make slapped-togther crap to try to cash in). Some will be spare, some rife with stuff, and different genres of story will evolve. Will there be another 5-to-6 figure funding of a little game that takes an hour or two to play? Only to the degree that there are wildly original thinkers, people whose brain is (to quote Rich Stevens) the only place that bakes that cookie³. Audiences will be following (and I’m about to get fancy here) the auteur, just to see what they crank out now.

And the very smartest ones will be like Khor, finding ways to enrich the values of their creations by giving up control and ownership, and seeking out others to remix each new project’s DNA.

The Last Will And Testament Of Gideon Blythe is funding for another seven days, and is presently approaching eight times its US$1800 goal. A Mending has 21 days to go and cleared US$80K in the time it took me to write everything since footnote 1; the limited-edition everything-provided tiers (just go read the descriptions; they’re a hoot) are long gone, but more than 1000 people have backed at the levels that provide physical game assets. If you want to see what Khor and Shim are like when they combine their creative abilities, search Twitter for #FieldGuideToMemory.


Spam of the day:

The best fake id maker in the market for over 15 years

Neat trick linking ScamAdvisor and other sites to purportedly show how good your fake IDs are, but with links that actually redirect to your site. Sneaky. In any event, where the hell do you think anybody is going right now that they’d need a fake ID?

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¹ For the record, the campaign reached its US$12,000 target in about 17 minutes, and the limited tiers were claimed within an hour. The secret threshold for the secret stretch goals was US$60,000 — five times goal — and Khor sent out the update last night. As of this writing, A Mending sits just under US$80,000 in pledges.

² My immediate thought was around issues of fine motor control.

³ Nine years on and I still think about that quote at least once a month, although I frequently misremember Stevens as having said it at SDCC or Splat!.

There’s Something I Never Considered

A while back, faithful Fleen follower Mark V pointed me to a series of Kickstarter things that he thought I might find interesting. It’s not a [web]comic Kickstarter, it’s a game Kickstarter, but there’s a webcomic connection — the creator (by name of Michael Prescott) sprinkled a comic through the campaign updates to demonstrate aspects of the game, which I thought was a clever idea (start with Update #3 and work your way forward; not all updates have comic entries).

There was also a lessons learned post from the start of 2020, the sort of thing you’d find from a posting or conference presentation by your Spikes, your Lasers Webber, or Bradleys Guigar. Good solid advice, but the sort of thing you might find in other channels.

But the real meat of Mr V’s pointers was a posting from this month on Kickstarter math that was presumed to my cup of tea — you were right on that one, Mark; I love this stuff — and inside was an argument that I’ve never seen made around Kickstarter campaigns. It’s probably more common in the [baord]game space than the [web]comics space, as it involves sunk costs in a way that doesn’t necessarily come up in webcomics, but I still wanted to talk about it.

The way everybody thinks of Kickstarts is How much money do I need to make it to break-even, and preferably profit?. You’ve got a project that will cost (summarizing here) US$10,000 of your time to make, with a unit price of US$30 (what the backer pays), a unit cost of US$20 (what it costs you to produce and ship), and a margin of US$10. The break even point is 1000 orders — US$30,000 raised, US$20,000 in your costs, US$10,000 left over that offsets the US$10,000 of your time, meaning a total profit of zero. Order number 1001 and every order after nets you ten bucks.

Simple. Everybody does these calculations. The goal is US$30,000 or more; any less, you don’t make the thing because you’ll lose money.

But this example does something unique. What if you’ve already put in US$5000 of time in figuring out the Kickstarter, and know that once it goes up you’ll have to spend another US$5000 worth of time to finish your design. Where do you set the pricing? The simple answer is US$30K like before, but there’s a more complex answer:

You’ve already put in that US$5K of work; if you fail to fund at US$30K, you’re not zero in the hole, you’re at a US$5K loss. It may be possible to set the goal lower so that you do the project and yes, lose money, but lose less than if it doesn’t fund.

Let’s say you can’t get 1000 orders, but you can get 800; that’s US$24K and US$10K in your time, US$16K in production costs, a total of US$26K so you lost two grand. That’s a disaster! But if you don’t fund, if you never do the project at all, you’re out five grand. It’s a loss, but it’s better than holding out for break even. Prescott’s argument is that you shouldn’t set the Kickstarter to compensate all costs, but rather to compensate the sunk costs before you launch the campaign. You might not make a profit, but you won’t be any worse off than if you didn’t do anything.

The reason that this doesn’t necessarily map one-to-one to [web]comics Kickstarts is that the sunk costs aren’t going to occur in the same way — most creators don’t make a comic every day for a year in preparation to launch a Kickstarter to print it and get nothing in return; they did that because they were updating their site, selling ads or other merch, and the print run is a secondary sale of what they’ve already been paid for. By contrast, the game space can demand significant, project-specific work to get to a point where you can determine if the project is viable going forward (say, a demo to gauge interest or practicality).

If you’re not making money on the pre-campaign work, you probably need to do a campaign that’s specifically designed to pay you to make the comic and pay for physical production (not many creators have the track record to support that kind of prepay). Either that, or consider that your real goal needs to not just pay for the print run, but to compensate you for the work you’ve already done in which case, yeah — consider the reduced-loss target for funding rather than full break even.

Anyway, this is a very short summary of Prescott’s points, which I find well-presented and persuasive. Give them a read before you do your next Kickstarter plan, and thanks to Mark V for pointing me towards the analysis.


Spam of the day:

It is with sad regret to inform you [nope] is shutting down. Any group of databases listed below is $49 or $149 for all 16 databases in this one time offer. LinkedIn Database, USA B2B Companies Database, Forex South Africa, Forex Australia, Forex UK [that’s enough of that]

So you collected a metric squatload of email addresses and account names and want me to buy them so I can spam them? Can’t imagine why people don’t want to do business with you.

ALL CAPS

Yeah, hi, typing this around trying to get to my appointment for a COVID vaccine. Sorry it if goes up late (not sorry)

  • Fans of BACK have been watching KC Green and Anthony Clark’s weird, oddly heartfelt drama about an undead cowgirl, an innocent druid, and the end of the world, barreling towards a conclusion, and then at the end of December a hiatus was announced — Give us a couple of weeks to get the end of the story all lined up, they said, we really want to stick the landing. Given that a weekly update is typically two or more pages full of creative mayhem, Clark and Green are entitled to as much time as they need to get it all set. But how long before BACK was back?

    As of yesterday’s update, we have an answer:

    BACK
    THE EPILOGUE
    will begin Feb 17th 2021
    regular updates will
    occur until it’s over.
    Every Wednesday

    Hooray!

  • In case you were wondering, TCAF has announced that 2021 will be virtual, but being freed of a physical time/place, they’ve expanded out to a full week of programming. Want in? The time to apply is until 3 March, and you can do so here, but note:

    TCAF’s new exhibition website is being made in partnership with Canzine (the festival of zines) and the Toronto Hand Eye Society. Zinesters and indie video game creators will be among the 600 virtual exhibitors in May!

    Applicants will have the choice to apply for TCAF, Canzine OR Comics x Games. Accepted exhibitors will have a customizable online shop page where they can upload up to 5 items for sale. After TCAF, exhibitors will send all sold items to a warehouse, where orders will be bundled and shipped off to shoppers. This process is to help save exhibitors and visitors excess transaction and shipping fees. Options will be available to see additional products.

    That sounds an awful lot like what I was wondering if SDCC would do for its exhibitors last year. Interesting that the free festival managed to pull it off and not the massive nonprofit corporation.

  • Hey, remember when it looked like the UK VAT was going to screw over absolutely everybody selling low value items into Great Britain and Northern Ireland? As a guy who has customers in the UK, Brad Guigar¹ looked into the situation and found out that Her Majesty’s tax folks have set a fairly high bar for the outside-the-UK vendors to clear before they become responsible for collecting.

    Unless you’re selling more than £85,000 per year to UK customers, you don’t have to make the arrangements (the privilege for registering to collect and remit VAT was reported to be £1000+ per year, so whew, lucky break). Your customers will have to pay VAT at a 20% rate for goods up to £135, but it’s not on you to manage what they do. Full details behind the paywall at Webcomics Dot Com.


Spam of the day:
Yeah, nah, my arm’s starting to hurt already. Time to hydrate and take it easy, tomorrow’s maybe gonna be rough.

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¹ He is a sexy, sexy man. Total DILF material.

Carrying On As Best We Can

Before we get started, I believe that birthday Version 1.0 release anniversary wishes are in order to everybody’s favorite robot pal, R Stevens. Selfless and giving entity that he is, he’s celebrated with a great new pin design in limited quantities that ships for free starting tomorrow. Fuzzy nightmare pals forever!

  • I got my copy of The Nib’s latest print collection, Greetings From The Wasteland in the mail today, and it’s great. For starters, the collection of political cartoons is in large part arranged by creator, so all of your Pia Guerra cartoons are together, all the Gemma Corrells, all the Kendra Wellses, etc.

    Sadly, there wasn’t enough space to dedicate to the entire story of the future wasteland cartoons of editor Matt Bors — there would have been no room for anybody else — which, if arranged in the correct order, form a single, coherent story¹. But that’s hardly a surprise, given that they had four years of daily cartoons from dozens of cartoonists (15 of which get featured sections) to curate and only 200 pages to play with. Get yours now.

  • We are facing down the second year of disrupted in-person events, but if there’s one thing comics-as-a-community has gotten good at, it’s finding ways to shift to virtual gatherings. Thus, the Cartoon Art Museum would like you to know that uncontrolled pandemic² or no, there will be some form of Queer Comics Expo and some way to announce the annual Prism Awards:

    Awards will be presented to comic works by queer authors and works that promote the growing body of diverse, powerful, innovative, positive or challenging representations of LGBTQAI+ characters in fiction or nonfiction comics. The goal of the Awards is to recognize, promote and celebrate diversity and excellence in the field of queer comics.

    The Queer Comics Expo launched as an annual event in 2014 as a celebration of queer culture and to promote diverse queer representation in comics, animation, and other great ways to tell our stories. QCE also serves as a fundraiser for San Francisco’’s Cartoon Art Museum. This year the event will take place May 15-16, 2021. Applications to participate as a creator or presenter for 2021 are OPEN until Monday, March 15, 2021 and will be NOTIFIED by Thursday, April 15, 2021.

    You can submit for both the QCE and the Prisms by browsing to cartoonart.org/qcexpo. Submissions for the Prisms are open until 28 February, with finalists announced at QCE (15-16 May) and winners announced over the summer. Categories include Best Short Form Comic, Best Webcomic, Best Comic From A Small To Midsize Press, Best Comic From A Mainstream Publisher, Best Comic Anthology, and Best Comic For Young Readers (new category).

    Category-specific requirements vary, but in general all submissions must have been first published in calendar year 2020, be in English, and have prominent LGBTQAI+ themes or be a strong allegory to the queer experience. See the entry form for more details.


Spam of the day:

This professor plugged his house to Earth’s core… that can harvest the power of Earth’s core making him 100% energy independent.

Yeah, I don’t have the patience to explain the concept of “electrical ground” to this spamming asshole, but I attended nerd schools — as an undergrad and grad — for six years specifically to learn that the Earth is where electricity goes to die.

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¹ Really, Bors said it himself. Two comics more recent than the book provide the bookends. By the way, their names are Gorm and Tinsel.

² Seriously, people, stay the fuck home, wear a mask, and make people that you know who won’t do those things feel your wrath until they decide to stop killing the rest of us.

Gonna Be A Bunch Of Quick Hits From Here On Out, I Suspect

It’s December! How in the crap-hell did that happen?

Anyways, you can celebrate the incipient end of this dumpster fire of a year¹ with any of the following sources of delight and joy.

  • There have been magnetic comic sets before, but how many of them have involved little tiny magnets reading Balrog, Klingon or Fudgies? I submit: None.

    None, that is, until Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett decided to get into the game. Behold: the Sheldon magnetic make a comic set, which is up for preorder and if the stars align will make it to your US address in time for Yule. Everybody else, invent a holiday in January.

    I just have one question, LArDK: can I make a comic that refers to Fatty Chunklins? If not, I think you owe us an explanation.

  • You must needs acquire every one! John Allison has launched the Advent season with a series of collectible stamps which may be redeemed for fabulous merchandise.

    I think perhaps kids these may not ever have experienced the thrill of getting S&H Green Stamps, and carefully counting how many were pasted on each page of your collection book, wondering where you could get just eleven more so you could could get that fabulous rolling typewriter table. Uh, not that I’m old enough to have done that².

    Anyway, now you can get in on the stamp-collection and redemption fun:

    You’ll be able to trade in your stamps at branches of Rumbelows, Woolworths and Woolco across the United Kingdom (excepting the Channel Islands).

    BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

    • Green stamps have a multiplier of 1.1x when redeemed at weekends.
    • Collect ten red stamps to enjoy a secret multiplier bonus at participating shops. If in doubt, ask the manager.
    • Rumbelows Hi-Fi Club members get a 50 point bonus on production of your membership pennant.
  • Last but not least, Happy Twentieth Strippaversary to Little Gamers. It’s an infinitely weirder world than when LG premiered in the far-flung past of THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND, and anybody that keeps a comic going for most of 15 years, gets sporadic, then comes back? Props.

Spam of the day:

Tact Machete Knife – Full Tang Blade 60% off

Is a tact machete what you use to cut through your prose and make it blunter and ruder? I think we could use with fewer of those, actually.

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¹ As I was typing that sentence, I heard Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered refer to, and I quote, a godawful year.

² I totally did and that typewriter got me through college. Word processors weren’t always a thing, kids these days.

It’s … It’s So Beautiful

Hooray! My Four Seasons Total Landscaping shirt from the drunken recesses of Shing Yin Khor’s celebratory id has arrived, and that means I am giving a chunk o’ money to Fair Fight, which Stacey Abrams founded to combat voter suppression in the state of Georgia. I promised to match donations up to US$1000 and … okay, I get it. It’s been a long four years and you’re tapped out. It wasn’t much that I got informed of, but I like nice round numbers, so I rounded my contribution up to five hundo.

And now, let’s talk webcomics.

  • Molly Ostertag remains one of the finest writer/artists we have in comics, and I am very much looking forward to her next book. While I was sad that the Witch Boy series has concluded, it told the story that Ostertag wanted to tell, and I know well that she’s got many more stories in her. Thus, my excitement yesterday when I saw a cosplay photo of a character from the cover of Ostertag’s next book. The excitement that drives people to invest in a story, knowing it’ll speak to them, based on the creator’s track record? That’s intoxicating and joyful.

    And it reminded me that I didn’t mention Ostertag’s next book when it was announced over the summer on account of [gestures] everything. So look for The Girl From The Sea on 1 June 2021, hopefully when we’ll all be able to walk into bookstores freely again.

  • It was not quite two weeks ago that I noted that one of Jim Zub’s typically strong creator-owned stories was hopping from Amazon’s clutches comiXology to print, but he didn’t let me know at that time that he was about to launch a second chapter to that selfsame story. Which he did. Today:

    STONE STAR Season 2 Begins!
    Last year, Max Dunbar and I launched a new creator-owned series as part of ComiXology Originals and now we’re back for Season 2 of the series.

    Espen Grundetjern has brought his stunning colors once again and Marshall Dillon’s lettering continues to dazzle. Our creative team is having a ton of fun building out this world and setting the pieces into place for even more cool stuff to come.

    You can pick up Stone Star‘s entire first story arc at comiXology for two bucks, or grab the first issue of the second arc for three. Have at it.

  • Scott C jigsaw puzzles, Scott C jigsaw puzzles, Scott C jigsaw puzzles. On sale starting 1:00pm EST (GMT-5) Friday at the Scott C shop.

Spam of the day:

This brew is a powerful painkiller, without opiates, or addictive effects. Once used for everything, from painful toothaches to leg amputations…

The fact that you are trying to tell people to forage for whatever plant it is you’re basing this on is only slightly less astonishing that the fact that you’re expecting people to find a reason to imagine they’ll be amputating their own legs.

How’s The Schadenfreude Going For Everybody?


When the histories of this time and place are written, I’m not sure that anything will embody the utterly fruitless flailing of the Trump Administration as calling a Very Important Press Conference starring Insider Goon #1 (Rudy Giuliani) in the parking lot of a lawn service next to a dildo store and across the street from a crematorium, during the middle of which the press all left because the race was called for Biden.

And all of us, I think, want to know what the story is behind Four Seasons Total Landscaping, accidental venue for maybe the saddest, most pathetic outburst in four years of increasingly sad and pathetic behavior. Did Rudy know a guy who knew a guy? Did — and I believe this with all my heart — the campaign think they were contacting the Four Seasons hotel and end up booking the wrong Four Seasons by accident? Did they think we wouldn’t notice that the entire thing took place between a fire extinguisher and a hose?

I want the oral history of this fiasco, the podcast series, the dissertation of what the hell actually led to this parking lot on the edge of Philadelphia, but in the meantime I have a new favorite shirt. Friend of Fleen Shing Yin Khor spent some time Saturday night gettin’ tipsy and designing a tribute shirt for Four Seasons Total Landscaping with everybody’s favorite orange nightmare, Gritty, prominently featured.

For about 24 hours, the shirt was up for sale at Threadless, with the intent of maybe sending five hundo to the campaigns of Democrats Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia Senate runoffs, as well as to the Stacey Abrams-led Fair Fight, which has done so much to counter voter suppression and gerrymandering in Georgia.

That was the plan, but like everything else about 2020, reality had its own ideas:

tl,dr;

1. We raised $28k+!!
2. This is now a tax problem for me!
3. Please be patient as I sort accounting, and wait 2 weeks for Threadless to actually send/transfer money.
4. Here are my max contribution receipts for the Senate runoff campaigns.
5. Shirt comes down at 2pm PST.

Khor maxed out the allowable contributions under election law to a campaign per election cycle for both Ossoff and Warnock, and will be sending the remainder presently. For a few hours, there was only a tote bag at the Threadless link (benefiting National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network), because you gotta have a product there to leave a message saying the shirt are down, because wrangling finances is not Khor’s job and they have better things to do.

And then, a few hours later after convos with Threadless, the shirt was back:

SHIRTS ARE BACK! I will be working directly with Threadless to get money directly to voting charities(the ones mentioned earlier)!! However, I am still refusing to offer shirts on black, out of respect for the beautiful oranges of Gritty’s fur. Thank you.

Get yours here, and remember: any designs on Etsy or elsewhere (all of the ones I’ve seen being considerably more expensive than Khor’s versions) are knockoffs by lowlifes that need to be reported.

And let it never be said that we at Fleen don’t step up, so the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back in business. I will match all donations to Fair Fight up to US$1000 between now and when I get my shirt in the mail (damn right I ordered one). This is the one time you should accept the USPS being a little slow.

Spread the word, email or post your receipts, cost me some money, and let’s put McConnell out of his godsdamned office.


Spam of the day:

Bear Grillz shared a new online system for earning!

I think they’re trying to make me think of Bear Grylls, but instead they’re making me think of a bear that grills, or possibly a bear with grillz. That last one is frankly terrifying, but a bear that grills is awful close to something that Ryan North and Erica Henderson shared with us and is thoroughly awesome.

Well, That’s Not Going To Complicate Things At All, He Said With A Grimace

I speak today of international tax regimes, and a Brexit-addled government in London that is determined to immiserate the residents of the UK. One may recall changes to value-added taxes in the UK in the past, the VATMOSS which eventually exempted small purchases and which was mostly addressed by services like Gumroad and everybody else? Well, they just hoped to fly under the radar of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

Yeah, got some bad news for you, person who sells anything to anybody in the UK:

This HMRC change to VAT on small imports is potentially hugely damaging to free trade and customer choice – article here https://t.co/zzybRFHScC summary below

That from Paul Lewis, a financial journalist in Blighty. The summary from his tweet was the image included above, but for screenreaders, here’s the important parts:

Anyone abroad who wants to sell a product in Britain will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs and pay VAT directly to the government. At present the seller merely has to fill in a customs declaration that the purchser pays the tax. Three other changes will come into effect. First, the VAT exemption for products worth less than £15 will come to an end.

I left out the second and third because they deal with EU-resident sellers with British customers and vice versa; I’m addressing the folks that are not part of the EU or UK, but regardless of where in the world you are, I’ll repeat that first line with some bolding this time: Anyone abroad who wants to sell a product in Britain will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs and pay VAT directly to the government.

So if you’re an indie creator with customers in the UK, I’d encourage you to encourage them to get any purchases sorted out now, with delivery dates well in advance of 1 January (who knows if the Customs officers will treat a package showing up on 2 January but in fulfillment of an order placed on 15 December as old rules or new rules). Either that, or get in business with Her Majesty’s Government, and be prepared to pay with time, money, and effort to get in (and stay in) compliance with the new regs¹.

I mean, you could try to ignore it, but something tells me that small merchants that don’t pay VAT are going to see their shipments refused for delivery² rather than a discreet eye turned to the side. At the very least, if you try to smuggle your stuff to customers via the post, you’ll possibly find yourself the subject of inquiries if you ever change planes at Heathrow.


Spam of the day:

Contact Benjamin Today and Discover the Difference a Professional Blog Writer Makes!

I sincerely doubt you can master the intricacies of Fleen House Style but sure — submit 3000 words on why working on spec is a bad idea and if I like it, maybe I’ll have some work for you in the future.

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¹ Hopefully we’ll get more information before or near to the first of the year if t-shirts and books from overseas becoming prohibitively complicated for sellers to process. Because that revocation of the £15 exemption is either a major-league a dick move, or Her Majesty’s Government needs every tuppence it can wrangle from the rest of the world as their economy gets Wrecksited. I’m seeing reports of EU vendors being told they have to pay HMR&C £1000 for the privilege of collecting and forwarding VAT and ha ha no, fuck that.

² Or worse, the purchaser never gets them, and the shipper never gets them back. Whether they end up in a landfill, on Ebay, or in some Customs officer’s home is open to speculation.

Hey, How Are You Today?

Me? Okay, I guess. I mean, I found out that work has apparently decided that we’re all using Microsoft Teams now, which is an abomination against all that is good and holy, and which decided to mark me as “Available for your DMs and chat, send ’em over any time you like!!!” despite the fact that I’m always teaching and not available, and which won’t let me log out or quit.

Seriously. I log out or quit, and it friggin’ re-launches and re-logs in, which brings my computer down to a crawl. Let’s try to find something that does not suck from every pore of its being; I’m thinking … webcomics.

It’s more than a little shame that work decided that today was the day to inflict pain, as today is one of the great holidays of Webcomickia, being as it marks — jointly and severally — the births of both John Allison and Ryan North. I thought I might put some birthday-apprope photos up top, but wouldn’t you know it? The internet is replete with photos of Ryan North — some even fully clothed! — but relatively few of John Allison. Doing a search produced the preview shown above, where I think we can quote Sesame Street and hum One of these things is not like the others, as one of the photos is John Allison, debonair chronicler of weird goings-on, and the other three are a different, lesser John Allison, onetime head of the Cato Institute.

There are no photos of lesser Ryans North; all other Ryans North have hidden themselves away from the extreme handsomeness and also Chompsky. Happys Birthday to Messers Allison and North; both of you produce better comics every time one comes out, and that is a rare skill.

In other news:

  • David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) has been throwing himself into Irregular Webcomic and his myriad other creative endeavours since his (mostly controlled, but still a big shift after a lengthy period of association) dejobbing¹, and has taken the next step — he had a store where you could get his (honestly, excellent) photographs, but sometimes you just gotta go where everybody else is:

    As part of my ongoing attempt to start a photography business so that I can avoid going back to working for The Man, I have opened an Etsy shop, selling greeting cards featuring prints of my wildlife and landscape photography. I ship worldwide. If you’d like to support me, and get some cool greeting cards, please check it out, and maybe mention to your friends and family.

    Speaking of cool greeting cards, my friend with whom I toyed with an art scammer, Hollis Kitchin? Awesome greeting cards and prints at her art shop, including some gorgeous new floral designs. If you need cards, please consider these two fine folks from opposite corners of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Speaking of Comics Camp, which is where I know Hollis from, another Camper has a new book announcement. Readers may recall that my primary complaint about Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina was the :01 Books should have given her about three dozen more pages to let the story and characters breathe a little more. I don’t want to say they definitely listened to me, but I will note that her next book has had its official cover reveal and pre-order announcement over at The Beat, and if you follow the link to the Macmillan page, it appears this time they gave her four dozen more pages to play with.

    Jukebox features more Indian young women as protagonists, more time travel, more family history searching … everything in Chanani’s wheelhouse, and anchored by her adorably inviting style. Get ready for discussions of music history (Sister Rosetta Tharpe!) and poetic waxing on the merits of vinyl², both of which are making my old college DJ habits start to rouse and demand to be fed. Jukebox releases from :01 on 22 June, 2021.


Spam of the day:

It looks like an ordinary survival tool you’d see at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop – but it’s not.It’s been updated with a tiny military technology that makes a 300-pound meth-fueled man lose control of all bodily functions in seconds.

So what, you finally found the Brown Note?

_______________
¹ The fact that that story is nearly two years old shows you what a country with a functioning safety net — notably, a national healthcare system — means for somebody taking a flyer at a creative career. It means the luxury of time, the luxury to try, the luxury to fail and not worry that it will cost you your life just because you’re no longer making corporate research PhD Aussie Fun Bucks.

² I’m not apologizing for that.

Today’s Choice

Give those three books another read or rush through a review that’s not completely informed yet.

Actually, it’s a slightly more involved choice than that — give those three books another read and put together the next missive in my campaign of stringing along an art scammer that targeted a friend. I’ve sent him an image of an example of my work, The Tenderness Of Memory Is A Balm Always, after which he replied to ask for more samples. Give it a click and scroll allll the way down and to the right to get to the deep emotional core of the piece. Trust me.

And I’d feel terrible if I didn’t have some information to share with you, so how about the news that Gallery Nucleus is currently running an artist highlight on Fleen Fave Becky Dreistadt? All of her work is 15% off until 15 October with code BU87WOEU. There’s some gorgeous work there for the collector who likes awesome things.


Spam of the day:

My name is Sam, and I work with companies to help them add (or change) live chat software on their websites.

That is a horrifying idea. Yuck.