The webcomics blog about webcomics

Countdown To SPX

For those who were intrigued by the early descriptions of SPX panels, I should note that the programming schedule is now posted, with speakers including Jillian Tamaki, Eleanor Davis, Tillie Walden, Gene Yang, Keith Knight, and Shannon Wheeler.

Of those, Tamaki and Walden will have book debuts; it’s not listed on the site as a debut, but the English-language edition of Alex Alice’s Castle In The Stars: The Space Race of 1869¹ is on Tuesday and I say that’s close enough.

And then, of course, there are the many, many exhibitors who’ll be in the Marriott Bethesda North ballroom; in roughly geographic order, you should keep an eye out for:

Green Zone
Top Shelf (wall 64 to 67), Iron Circus Comics (wall 72 and 73), Kel McDonald (wall 74), Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota with George Rohac (wall 81), Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert (wall 82), Ru Xu (wall 91A).

Blue Zone
Drawn & Quarterly (wall 1 to 4), Miss Lasko-Gross (table H10A), Whit Taylor (table H14B), Tony Breed (table I3B), Ross Nover (table I10), Natasha Petrovic (table J6), Adam Aylard, David Yoder, Joey Weiser, and Drew Weing, Eleanor Davis (tables K12 to 14), Cartozia Tales (table K8), Lucy Bellwood (table K9), Retrofit Comics (tables L2 and 3), Nilah Magruder (table L6), Shan Murphy (table L10B), Koyama Press (tables M1 and 2), Dustin Harbin (table M4), Carla Speed McNeil (table M7A), Sophie Yanow (table M12A), Toronto Comics Art Festival (table M14), MK Reed (table N1), Gemma Correll (table N2), Sophie Goldstein (N13B), Ed Luce (N14), Fantagraphics (wall 56 to 61).

Red Zone
School of Visual Arts (wall 7 to 8), Colleen Frakes (table B5), former Fleen scribe Anne Thalheimer (table B6A), Liz Pulido (table B8), Zach Morrison (table B11), Jamie Noguchi (table B9), Barry Deutsch (table C13), 2dcloud (tables D1 and 2), Evan Dahm (table D8), Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson (table D9), Penina Gal (table D13), Carolyn Belefski (table E4A), Carolyn Nowak (table E6), Carey Pietsch (table E7A), Natalie Riess (table E7B), The New York Review Of Books (table E13B), Liz Prince (table E14A), Falynn Koch and Tucker Waugh (table E14B), Rebecca Mock (table F3A), The Center For Cartoon Studies (table F4), NBM Comics (tables G1 and 2), Tillie Walden (table G3), Alex and Lindsay Small-Butera (table G4), Kori Michele Handwerker and Melanie Gillman (table G5), Adhouse Books (wall 53 to 55).

Yellow Zone
Sara & Tom McHenry (wall 25), Jess Fink and Eric Colossal (wall 28), Danielle Corsetto (wall 29), TopatoCo² (wall 31 to 33), The Nib (wall 34), Meredith Gran and Mike Holmes (wall 35A), Out Of Step Arts³ (wall 44 to 46).

The Small Press Expo runs on Saturday 16 September (11:00am to 7:00pm) and Sunday 17 September (noon to 6:00pm). Admission at the door is US$10 on Sunday, US$15 on Saturday, and US$20 for the weekend.

Spam of the day:

Search for the best gas cards Compare for the best features

What features? You put money on the card, you give it to somebody, they get that much gas. Done.

¹ Imagine a Miyazaki story with a male protagonist, set in Jules Verne’s Europe, against a backdrop of Prussia’s quest to unify all the German states under their banners (and the threat of an unstoppable fleet of near-space ships as the Romantic period wound down and the Belle Epoque got underway; also, Mad King Ludwig is in it).

It’s a lushly-painted story with a tight story that will be concluded in a second volume; the hdardcover itself is in the dimensions of a children’s book, but clocks in at 60 pages of gorgeous bandes dessinées. Get it for the airship fan you know.

² Including Kate Leth and Abby Howard

³ Including Andrew MacLean, Paul Maybury, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, and Neil Bramlette.

Valuable Resources

Here’s some fine folks that want to help you make your life in the creative end of things just a bit easier. They’re great.

  • Katie Lane¹ reported t’other day that her How To Read A Contract free e-course got an overwhelming response from fine people such as yourself. So overwhelming, in fact, that it broke the email system she’s using to deliver the lessons. It took a day or so to resolve, but the emails are going out now, and Lesson One is a counterintuitive doozy.

    For a course on How To Read A Contract, it seems a little weird to start by saying don’t read the contract yet; however, readers that are familiar with Lane may recall that her chief objective in contracts is to reach a place of mutual understanding. The key to that is to first understand yourself and what you want the contract to reflect. So before you read it, think hard on what it is you want to see in the contract — what terms, what guarantees, what understanding.

    Only after you have that worked out do you have the framework to evaluate if the contract reflects what you want the agreement to be. Then you’re in a position to say This is not going to work for me, where do we go from here? Focusing on the language of the contract too soon means you’re already dealing solely on the terms and conditions that whoever wrote the contract considers important, which may not address everything you find to be important. It’s a neat way to look at things, and I’m guessing that the next lessons will build on it.

  • On a related note, those that follow the small press that serves independent creators will be familiar with Koyama Press and its founder, Annie Koyama. She’s got her own opinions on how creators need to develop business skills and the ability to evaluate contracts and proposals; to help them protect themselves, she’s looking to hold a Toronto-area workshop along those lines:

    I’d like to gauge interest in holding a 2 hour workshop with a pro at KP headquarters to teach artists some of these basics. A full course is taught at OCADU and Sheridan College so if you are enrolled in those courses, this is not for you.

    It would be a one time thing unless there was a ton of interest to follow up with other topics. Probably to occur in late fall.

    Preference would be given to KP published artists initially but anyone is invited to attend.

    If there is enough interest, say ten people, Koyama Press would subsidize the cost and the artists could attend free of charge. If more than ten people wanted to attend, I’d look at repeating the event later.

    If interested, please comment here and send me an quick email at: anne at koyamapress dot-com. Thanks!

    The comment here bit refers to the Facebook posting, where she’s posted in the past hour that there’s definitely enough interest and the workshop will take place. But! All communications about the workshop and logistics will be email-only, so if you want to attend be sure to drop her a line. Anybody that attends, do let the rest of us know how it goes.

  • Hey, you know who’s great? Lucy Bellwood (Adventure Cartoonist!), that’s who. I don’t know if you followed her artist’s residency in Iceland on Twitter earlier this month, but there were many majestic vistas featured, and more than a few really lovely paintings that she shared². But consider: a berth on a tall ship (or even a modern research vessel) may only offer a very small space for stowage and personal belongings; trekking across the blasted heath of Iceland, you ain’t carrying a full Cintiq rig with you (and there’s no place to plug it in if you did).

    So how art? Today, she’s done a writeup of how she manages to go to the far ends of the land and water and get all of the visual sketching and painting and such done; it’s at her Patreon, but it’s open for anybody to read:

    There’s a lot of bluster around asking artists about their tools. On the one hand, newer artists can become needlessly hung up on shortcuts, prying into artists’ toolkits to try and find the Magic Paintbrush that will grant them the power they desire. (Bad news: it doesn’t exist.) On the other hand, asking about people’s tools is a GREAT way to discover new materials and techniques.

    When I think about tools I picked up because artists I admire used them (Windsor and Newton Series 7 No. 2 Sable Brushes, Pentel Pocketbrush, etc.) I realize that they were neat to learn from, but ultimately didn’t stick around. When I found something that really worked for my tendencies and preferences (Kuretake’s felt-tip brush pen, for example) it felt right. However, like choosing a college major or a life path, that rightness is generally only attainable after a LOT of experimentation! [emphasis original]

    Her conclusion: trial and error is how you put together your travel art kit, but she’s helpfully included hers. It’s pretty compact! I’m guessing that all the stuff she’s included is super-neat for artists to ooh and ahh over, but I’m not qualified to judge. I can tell, though, that the tone of the post is pretty identical to when I talk about emergency kits with fellow EMTs and we have Opinions; whatever the tools of your trade, there’s always that discussion to have.

    Oh, and in case you think that your art isn’t good enough, regardless of the kit/tools/travel/whatever? She’s got you covered there. Punch your inner demons in the face when self-doubt strikes.

Current fundraising for Houston total: US$150
Come on, people! We’ve stalled since yesterday.

Spam of the day:

We are ready to offer a free accomplishment of written work hoping for further cooperation and honest feedback about our service.

Here’s my feedback: I have no idea what you’re trying to say by offer a free accomplishment of written work. I will not be buying the writing services of people who cannot write clearly.

¹ Light-ning Law-yer!! I need to write a macro to set up that footnote automatically.

² There were also boats.

New Projects

The thing about webcomics and webcomicky people? Always doing new stuff. Let’s see what some longtime creators are up to.

  • Item! Jamie Noguchi has been away from Yellow Peril for a while, thanks to the demands of a young human in his household and the freelancer’s life. We got some really cool George Takei biocomics out of the hiatus, so that’s okay. And it appears that behind the scenes, Noguchi has been working on something related to his one true love.

    I speak, naturally, of tokusatsu, the Japanese entertainment genre featuring rubbersuit monsters and overly dramatic young people saving the world with giant robots, karate, motorbikes, and possibly Spider-man. Noguchi knows his way around tokusatsu, with a series of videos explaining what’s up with the various Rider- and Ranger-type series.

    And the new project? Well, we have to wait another week or so:

    Alright! There we go! And starting September 1, you’ll see what this dumb thing is all about! #tokutember

    I suspect this will be better than the time a pair of puppets slap-fought each other in a train-themed Ranger series.

  • Item! Meredith Gran may have wrapped Octopus Pie but that doesn’t mean she’s idle. What would you most like to see from her? If you said a point and click adventure game, it’s your lucky day:

    a few weeks ago I started working on a point + click adventure game, my first attempt at such a thing. it’s going to be my next project!

    it’s so nebulous right now that I’m having trouble formally announcing things. I’m not fundraising at this time – just developing

    but I will be updating patreon soon with info about it. at this time I’m really just looking for a sustained income so I can focus on it

  • Item! Not only is Vera Brosgol’s new book about to drop, it appears her last graphic novel — the stellar Anya’s Ghost — is going to get the screen treatment:

    Soooo here’s a thing!

    The quoted treat leads to a Deadline Hollywood story about the production of the feature film, with shooting set to begin later this year. Everybody feel good for Vera, and wave to her as she sets off for a life of Hollywood glamour.

  • Item! Any day that Anthony Clark posts pretty much anything — a comic, a sketch, a picture of a cool dog he met that day — is, by definition, better than a day without Anthony Clark posting anything. What with his wizard-a-day series for 2017 (posted today: #235, Badminton Wizard), there’s been plenty of days better than there otherwise would have been in an otherwise terrible year. And if any of those wizards particularly catches your fancy, but you don’t want to scroll back through a lengthy Twitter thread, there’s now a Wizard Gallery! And you can buy prints of your favorite wizards through TopatoCo!

Spam of the day:

Isabella (91) Don’t Miss To Checkout My~Private~Profile, Hot Photos Inside

It’s possible that the (91) is just indicating that this is the 91st Isabella to send me an allegedly sexy spam, but it’s also possible that (91) is meant to be an age, which makes the similar spam from Leanna (3) especially icky.

August Already? That’s Unpossible!

Well, I guess time continues forward at a rate of one minute per minute after all. Today being the first of the month, let me remind you that you have until 11:59pm EDT tomorrow, 2 August 2017, to email me a copy of your donation receipt to The Trevor Project, which I will match. Last time we raised US$500 in matching funds (rounded up from US$305) and I’d like to exceed that if at all possible this time around.

As of now, we’re at US$360 in receipts sent. If I could make a suggestion? All of the super cool Kickstarts that you’re backing right now? Pick one, and donate an amount equal to just the shipping charge. If just one out of every ten of you did that, we’d be into the thousands of dollars and my budget for the next month will be happily blown. I know that Fleen readers are, in general, the sort of people that would make Mr Rogers proud and happy. I know you’ve got this.

  • I didn’t know how much I wanted a Jess Fink guest comic at Oh Joy, Sex Toy until I saw it. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled as broadly as when I got to the panel that said, quote, SO you want to draw DOWNTOWN KISSES, followed by art tips to make oral sexytimes look better. Thanks, Jess, Erika, and Matt!
  • I confess, Chris Yates not boothing with Dumbrella for the comics shows the past couple of years means that I haven’t kept as close an eye on his Baffler! puzzles as I should. He just released a tranche of new ones, bringing the total number of brain-numbers up to three thousand, nine hundred and thirty-six. As Big Round Numbers tend to bring out Yates’s most extravagant work, look for the imminent Baffler! #4000 to feature about a dozen levels, multiple sub-puzzles, and a solving time measured in fortnights.
  • TCAF remains one of the very best shows on the continent, and it’s never too early to start planning for May 2018. News went out today by means of the Twitter machine that applications will be open starting Monday, 14 August, until the end of October. My experience? Lots more people want to exhibit than the Toronto Reference Library can accommodate, so get your applications in early is my advice. Sign up for their newsletter if you need a reminder to check out the process rules come Monday after next.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to make a bookstore run to pick up Abby Howard’s new dinosaur book, Dinosaur Empire!, which releases today. Heck, yeah.

Spam of the day:

Can’t see tiny buttons? Get a senior phone

I’ma tell you exactly what I told the Medicaid scammer that called yesterday, thinking me much older than I am: I can see a church by daylight. Besides, aren’t there enlarged button dialer apps for all the phones now?

Joy In Comics

At the end of show hours I thought this was going to be a short post, but … well, you’ll see.

Saturday was commerce, commerce, and more commerce, to the point that I didn’t really get off the floor and and only had one good (albeit brief) circuit away from the booth. The Cards Against Humanity folks that have shared the Dumbrella booth have nearly sold their stock through and during the days closeout told us they want Andy and Rich to expand beyond their half of the booth so that they (CAH) can point their (CAH again) customers at their (Rich & Andy this time) stuff and hopefully sell a lot of it.

At the end of a show that is grinding and tiring, to take an approach other than Welp, guess we can pack up early and beat the rush, bye! is fundamentally generous; the game may be self-described as for horrible people but the people behind it are stellar. Thank you, Trin, Tom, Julia, Joe, and I know I’m forgetting other names because it’s early and I was up late.

I’ve mentioned Jason Alderman on this page before, and not only is he an enthusiastic, wonderful guy, he’s local. When he says So there’s this really good place that’ll take us a little while to walk to but we won’t have to cross with the nerd herd coming out of the convention center and we’ll probably get great food in us while the rest of the showgoers are still an hour from being seated at The Cheesecake Factory, you listen to him. There was a great meal and I’m not telling you where or everybody will get wise to his insider’s knowledge.

But as I approached the counter to give my order, the young woman looked at my collar and saw the Mutant Pride pin that I’ve been wearing this week on my shirt’s right collar¹. Her eyes lit up, then welled up just a little and she told me how much she loved it and wanted to know where to I got it. I pointed at Rich and said He designed it and started to mention his site and then figured it was still early on a Saturday night, she’s in the middle of nightly rush, she’ll never remember a URL or lose anything I might scribble a barely legible reference on and what the crap, there are still hundreds of them back in the booth.

So I unpinned it and handed it to her and her hands flew to her mouth and I legit thought she was going to faint. An entire silent story played out on her face, about what both halves of that pin meant to her personally; she’d been through her own version of hated and despised by a world that fears her, and one day she discovered mutants and they made her feel less alone.

Now she was in the shadow of the building where a tribute to the medium that made her feel a bit more whole was going on and she’s working a restaurant job that probably doesn’t allow her time to actually make the brief journey into the convention center and a skinny middle aged dude with a ridiculous moustache is giving her a badge that represents her. She told me it was the greatest day of her life; I believed her². I pulled Rich up the her register and I know he had more of his Pride stuff in his pockets that made its way across the order counter.

There it is — beyond the hassle and the scope and the seeming focus on everything except comics, a connection got made³ and somebody’s day got better. It’s tempting to read too much into this one brief experience, but it honestly reminded me that my view on capital-l Life is pretty incrementalist in nature; small changes and individual effort, when there’s enough of them and over a long enough period of time, make big differences.

I’d rather rely on ten (or a thousand or a million) people doing one small good thing than hope that a single powerful person does something big and good, if only because it’s harder to lose the hearts of ten (or a thousand or a million) people than it is to be disappointed by one4. Here’s hoping I’m still holding onto this sunny weltanschauung at the end of the day.

Things To See On Sunday: I’m about to head to the convention center, hook up with Pat Race, and check out the Art Of Steven Universe panel at 10:00. Find your own way there, I don’t want to get squeezed out.

Stuff To Get: Whatever’s on sale. But I have to tell you about what’s in the image up top. On the left is the Scott C triceratops pin, and on the right is further proof that I have the best friends in known space. Andy Bell has a new line of blind-boxed keychain danglers, little food characters. He opened up most of a case to find the one he based on me so he could give it to me. I’ve shown up in comics before, but this is the first time an artist has rendered me in 3D form. That little moustache-sporting toast is the coolest thing ever.

Cosplay: Bob and Linda remain popular (this guy had H Jon Benjamin’s habit of starting Bob’s sentences with Uh down to a science), Snape was excellent, and Larry & Gert from Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland were killing it (for every possible value of it; I’m pretty sure there was a trail of corpses). The best photo I got all day was of our own Ferocious J with Wendy-as-Harley Quinn (he has a passion for Wendy’s), but that was not the best cosplay of the day.

I didn’t get a photo, but there was a group of five people dressed up as The Avengers done as fast food mascots, and it was glorious. Fortunately, J did hand me his phone, so I present to you Hashtag McVengers. Seriously, follow the hashtag, because no detail was too small. The wings on the side of Captain KFC’s helmet were chicken wings. The Mighty Ronald’s McMjölnir was a thing of beauty. Black Wendy told me they’d been a group of Mr Meeseeks on Friday and couldn’t get ten feet without being stopped; on Saturday, they couldn’t get five. Today, they’re supposed to be an Archer group and I wager it will be top notch.

Spam of the day:

Find vehicle tracking devices

I think they’re offering me a device that finds other devices that in turn track vehicles.

¹ I’ve been wearing last year’s Pride Of The Resistance pin on my fleece for the past year, but for Con I’ve worn it on the left collar.

² Thinking back on it, that statement is both wonderful and awful.

³ And later, walking back to the hotel through the Gaslamp waaaay too late, another one got made. This involved helping a weaving-hard couple out for Party Times across the street when they lost forward momentum. He was dressed sharp and had slicked-back hair and Erik Estrada teeth. She had heels too tall for her current state and a dress that left little to the imagination. They were both maybe 25, 26.

She said I was cute5 and I asked But isn’t your boyfriend jealous now? She shot him a look and said He hasn’t locked it down yet, showing a ringless left hand. I shot him a look and said Dude. He protested She’s been listening to that Rihanna song too much!

A heartbeat’s pause, then I asked her Did he just say Rihanna? and she Mmm-hmmed me. I said You can do better and she Mmm-hmmed me again. I removed his arm from her shoulder, put her arm on mine for balance and told him Sorry, I have to help her find somebody that knows the difference between Rihanna and Beyonce. He shouted Wait, I meant Beyonce! How do you [middle aged guy, all looking like a Ben Folds fan] know about Beyonce? I looked at her and said He didn’t and she Mmm-hmmed a third time. There on the streetcorner we made him promise that the ring would be obtained this week and I showed him the proper technique for getting down on one knee.

They aren’t all super deep and meaningful and probably neither of them remember it this morning, but this particular connection was friggin’ hilarious for at least two of us. I really hope Supertight Minidress Lady and Perfect Smile Dude make it work. Those crazy kids deserve it.

4 Case in point: I’m going to make you wait longer for the writeup of the Read Like A Girl panel on Friday because it’s not bashed into shape yet.

5 She was very drunk, but possibly she’s just spent the last couple days binging on Dream Daddy for the previous couple of days. What the heck, I’m dad age. Actually, that would be perfect reason for her otherwise inexplicable compliment, on account of I was talking with Dream Daddy director/lead developer Tyler Hutchison earlier that day about the wave of Tumblrteen hate directed at his team for making them wait a whole six days to get a game that had only been announced a month ago. OMG, they’ve waited forevvvvv-her-her-her it’s so unfair.

Hey, Tumblrteens, that was me mocking your distress. Hutchison was actually very appreciative that you were so passionate about his game.

Deep Bench

Did I just accidentally use a softball term? I think I did.

  • One may recall that, oh, two months back or so, NPR Books asked for input as to what comics people should be reading as part of a summer reading list. More than 7000 entries were submitted, and an expert panel¹ (revealed yesterday to include webcomics own Spike) broke that mass down to a list of 100 comics. Not the best, not the most well-known², but a wide list of comics works; having a familiarity with a good chunk of them means that you’ve got a handle on the art from (although dominantly as expressed by American/Canadian creators; there were not a huge number of manga on the list, and even fewer Eurocomics).

    And, as noted a couple months back, they gave webcomics a seat at the table — nineteen of the even 100 entries on the list are explicitly identified as webcomics, with more items listed in other categories that originated as webcomics, or are created by people that came up from webcomics, or which are web/indie in their essential nature. Here, then, are the webcomics (and webcomics-alikes) that mass agreement and expert opinion think you ought to be reading:

    John Allison’s Tackleverse comics, the editorial stylings of The Nib, Wondermark, Hark! A Vagrant, Homestuck, As The Crow Flies, Oh Joy, Sex Toy (!), Stand Still, Stay Silent, Check, Please!, Gunnerkrigg Court, Kill Six Billion Demons, O Human Star, The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ And Amal, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Vattu. It would be hard to disagree with any of them.

    Originally (at least partly) webcomics, but tagged under different categories, you’ve got Nimona, Through The Woods, Megahex (Graphic Novels); Finder³ (Series Comics); Dykes To Watch Out For (Newspaper Strips, although it’s at least as much a webcomic); American Born Chinese (All Ages — not that age appropriateness alters the ability of a story to fall in one of the genre/topic categories). You also had once-and-future webcomickers Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), and Ryan North (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). In all, better than a quarter of this stab at a canon is webcomics or webcomics-releated.

    There will be plenty to disagree with, naturally (no Achewood, Octopus Pie, or Drive?), but that’s why canons exist — to be argued over, refined, resolved, agreed upon, and rejected all over again. It’s a good start, though, and there’s almost certainly plenty for you to discover (on a fast skim, I appear to have read 53 of the 100 suggestions).

  • Also not on the list, for the piddling reason that it’s not technically published yet: a print collection of 100 Demon Dialogues by Lucy Bellwood (Adventure Cartoonist!), which project wrapped up about two hours ago (as of this writing), and which Kickstarter launched shortly after.

    It’s been a terrific project to watch over the past three months or so — Bellwood has been dealing with the voice in her head (he’s a jerk) that tells her what she can’t do by forcing the little bugger into conversation. We’ve all got that demon, reminding us of our failures and telling us not to bother, and remembering that fact is a pretty good way to rob them of the power they have over us.

    The book is going to be gorgeous, the demon plushes are going to be great, and you want to get in on this. At the (again, as I write this) 1 hour 45 minute mark, Bellwood’s at just under 38% of goal, but kindly do not sleep on this. The campaign will run less than three weeks, and if you miss it your little jerk demon will certainly tell you that you screwed up.

    And if nothing else, the video is priceless. I need to know who does the demon voice because it’s perfect.

Spam of the day:

Confirmation Needed: $100 Kroger Gifts Inside

I don’t believe there is a Kroger (or as we said in my Midwestern college days, kro-zhay, ’cause it’s obviously French) grocery store within a 5-6 hour drive. Maybe next time try to bait me with a fake coupon that wouldn’t be essentially impossible for me to use?

¹ Somewhere, heads are exploding over the fact that four of the panelists are women. Sources close to the explosions were quoted as saying Girls are icky and get their cooties on my funnybooks.

² But which inevitably includes Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Persepolis, Maus, Jimmy Corrigan, A Contract With God, and Action Comics #1

³ Finder’s been both, so this one is arguable.

Looking Like A Two Post Kind Of Day

So Kickstarter just dropped an interesting project for the first few weeks of summer:

Now through July 31, a group of over 65 exceptional artists, designers, musicians, and makers will be back on Kickstarter, putting new spins on ideas from their past projects.

They’re calling it Kickstarter Gold, and there’s an impressive array of projects already live (43 as of this writing), including such webcomickers as Zach Weinersmith (a new Science Abridged book to match the previous Holy Bible Abridged), K. Lynn (a new edition of Plume), Ryan North (I quote: SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN’ SHARK… and/or other stories), and Scott Kurtz (previous Table Titans stuff, with a focus on a previously-missed stretch goal).

Let’s just say it’s been a future-expensive morning (which, considering that it’s commemoration of US$1 billion in pledges) and leave it at at that. Kickstarter Gold runs through 31 July, with various projects concluding funding before then.

We At Fleen Are Ignoring #Comeyday

Because there must be things going on that are more cheerful than the death of the American institutions of self-governance. Perhaps our neighbor to the north can help.

  • Oh my goodness, has anybody told Kate Beaton about this yet?

    There may be volleyball and Val Kilmer in Top Gun sequel

    This is the best news. Nobody, and I mean nobody, appreciates beach volleyball like Kate.

  • Speaking of Kate Beaton, word came yesterday that she and a bunch of other (all Canadian, at least for now) comics artists are getting a new line of beautiful new prints from Toronto’s Papergirl Press. The Pushpin launched with more than a dozen artists, existing art and new originals, nearly 50 different pieces in all. Prices range from US$15¹ (for 5 x 7² King Baby designs) up to US$150 for a poster-sized screen-printed artists proof of a Michael Cho Batman design³.

    The creators represented by Pushpin (from [web]comics you have your Ryans North, your Chips Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod, Jeff Lemire, Johnnie Christmas, and Valentine DeLandro; illustrators include Chloe Cushman, Christian Northeast, Dani Crosby, Julia Breckenreid, Sarah Lazarovic, and Jay Dart aka Granduncle Jiggs) have all been enthusiastic on the sosh-meeds about how thrilled they are with the new endeavour, so it’s fair to say that unless Pushpin becomes sudden so popular that they can’t keep up (or Canada Post decided to mutilate all the packages in shipping), your choice of Fine Art For Your Walls should bring you pleasure.

    Just please, despite the name, do not affix these to your wall with actual pushpins. They deserve better than that.

Spam of the day:

28?Hot Girls and Their?Pets

Uh-huh. Let’s not.

¹ With the option to purchase in Canadian dollars or Euros as well.

² Or 12.7 x 17.8, if you prefer centimeters to inches)

³ This is a rare piece not produced by Pushpin, and limited to existing stock. The in-house items are all giclée on heavy cotton-rag paper.

Kickstarts. Must Be Tuesday

Things are racing to their logical conclusions (i.e.: overfunding) all over the damn place. Let’s have a looksee, shall we?

  • Howard Tayler¹ has been grinding out a hell of a complicated Kickstart for just about two years now. The fact that it’s about a year overdue on much of its deliverables² would ordinarily make the prospect of launching another Kickstart suicidal; crowdfunding backers will turn on you when they don’t get what they want. And yet, that appears to not be the case.

    For starters, Tayler and his production team have been communicating with their backers on a regular basis, identifying where work is being done, advising early about hiccups, delays, and the reality of scheduling. In the two years since the Planet Mercenary role-playing game campaign wrapped, there have been 55 updates (call it every other week) to keep backers in the loop. That honest outreach buys a hell of a lot of goodwill.

    The update four days ago let backers know that non-paper items needed for fulfillment are either on hand or arriving within the week, and paper items would be going to print. This puts reward assembly in the late June timeframe, and shipping completion (by my estimates, there are about 3300 backers that still need stuff shipped to them) in July.

    Expectation. Communication. Modified expectation. Happy backers. ‘Taint rocket surgery.

    And that’s why the same day that We’ve gone to print was shared (that would be yesterday), Tayler, et. al., were able to launch a second Kickstarter campaign, for a game master’s screen. This one hasn’t been buried by a host of Oh, this one’ll be a year late too for an important reason beyond the accumulated goodwill: it’s limited. Much like the challenge coin campaign, it’s for a single item, designwork done, limited reward tiers, simple stretch goals, and nearly immediate shipping — in this case, the screens will be shipped in July (possibly concurrent with the PM fulfillment; I can see a lot of backers of the game wanting the screen), and backers will have ’em in time for GenCon.

    And it’s working; we’re in Day Two of the 19 day campaign, with 85% of the US$19.4K goal in hand. More interestingly, as of this writing there’s a significant phenomenon in the reward tiers: 438 people have backed an early bird tier that gets you three big things and three little things (details aren’t important, work with me here) for US$20; 10 people have backed the non-early bird equivalent tier that gets you three big things and one little thing for US$25.

    Either Tayler’s backers aren’t good at reading (which is not characteristic of his demographic) or ten people just wanted to give him more money. That can’t be explained by short campaign lengths, simple reward structures, or short fulfillment times. That’s entirely down to goodwill, and it’s worth more than any six-figure campaign of the past³ or future4.

  • I’ve lost track of how many Kickstarts C Spike Trotman has run by now5, but in a lot of ways she runs hers the opposite of how Tayler runs his — there’s a template there, one that she follows every time, tinkering around the edges but not messing with success6. The latest project to get the Spike treatment went live last night, and about sixteen hours later is closing in on US$10K of its US$25K goal.

    As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman is about a queer, black teenage girl at an otherwise all-white Christian summer camp; if you’ve not read it, you can get a flavor of it from an autobio piece Gillman did in The Nib last year about her own experiences at Christian summer camp.

    It’s the sort of story that it’s hard to imagine finding a foothold at a publisher other than Iron Circus; queer themes, POC protagonist questioning faith, cast dominantly made up of teen girls, but no magical destiny or powers or adventure? All done in colored pencils, with whole pages given over to wordless (sometimes characterless) landscapes, as many as it takes to set the mood? It’s a damn good story, one that deserves to find an audience, and thanks to Gillman and Spike now it will.

    As The Crow Flies: Volume One will collect the first 270 pages of story (Gillman’s on page #286 now), which constitute approximately the first half of the story’s weeklong structure. Backers can get physical and PDF books, signed bookplates, and for the ridiculously low price of US$100, original story pages. There were commissions available, but they’re gone; but if you’re looking for a speaker, US$1000 (plus travel and lodging) gets you a visit from Gillman, a full day of instruction, and 20 copies of ATCFv1. At US$30K (only US$5K over goal), Gillman adds a side story to the book.

    That’s it — simple, straightforward, the material is all produced and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the book layout is all done and just waiting for a number to be attached to the print run. Oh, and one other thing — this is only the second Iron Circus Kickstart of 2017; Spike’s gonna have plenty more for us before the year’s out.

Spam of the day:

Get up to $15,000 Overnight!

Yes, “ZippyLoan”, borrowing fifteen large from unknown persons in Nevada is absolutely something that does not make me think I’ll end up owing The Mob an extortionate interest rate and possibly a kneecap.

¹ Evil twin, etc.

² A major component, the 70 Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries books, has shipped, albeit about nine months late.

³ The challenge coins funded at US$155K, the PM RPG at US$349K.

4 By the FFF mk2, the game screens are heading for US$40K +/- 8K.

5 Eleven as of about 9:00pm EDT last night; number twelve is now live.

6 And for five measly bucks, she’ll tell you how to do it, too.

[Demanding] Answers On A Postcard

Obligatory non-political content for those that came for such: the SPX exhibitor lottery is now open, and not terribly changed from the last couple of years except for a simplified process for randomly selecting the winners. Good luck to all, and see you in September.

So. Postcards. Maybe not the best way to communicate your desires with your elected representatives (that would be talking to them in person at a town hall or in their constituent office, although a lot of them seem to be ducking that route presently), but one with some unique advantages. Consider:

  • It’s a physical artifact that can’t be ignored. It’s there in front of a member of staff and has to be dealt with.
  • Ever since that asshole mailed anthrax around in 2001, all Congressional mail goes to a special facility for x-raying/opening away from legislative offices; postcards can’t hide anything and breeze through the process. Heck, if it’s going to a local office, it probably gets delivered directly without any delays.
  • Being open to the world carries a message: here is what I believe and I’m saying it in public; additionally, the design side carries its own message to the many hands (postal workers, political staffers) who can’t help but see an eye-catching design.
  • They’re cheap, and while long distance call charges are no longer a thing (ask your parents, kids), don’t forget to factor in the time you spend on hold or with a busy signal.
  • For those with anxiety issues, no human stranger to deal with.

But a lot of your basic commercial postcards are not gonna convey that message you really want to send, right¹?

So it’s a good thing that webomickers are stepping up and providing designs. Some are download-and-print-yourself, at least one set is going to be for sale at cost (more on that in a minute), and because Congress apparently still uses fax machines, there’s even a handy item for that particular channel. Let’s dive in:

  • From Jess Fink, a super-classy floral design with lots of small symbolic cues: Change! Courage! Compassion! Overcoming hardship! Peace!
  • From Howard Tayler (disclaimer: my evil twin), a rather fiestier design that demands attention, in two color variations. He even gives a suggestion as to where you can get ’em printed².
  • From KB Spangler (disclaimer: my good friend, and I wrote the foreword for one of her books), a series of wallpapers and icons free for download prompted the thought of printing up postcards and selling at cost; this is not a new thing for Spangler, who regularly gives away the PDF version of her books to readers that can’t afford the purchase price. Also a thing: Spangler’s readers regularly buy multiple copies of her books so that she can afford to give away the excess copies in this manner; in that vein, I promised to pay for 100 people to receive postcards.

    Before I could pull my budget Soros act, however, Spangler announced that an anonymous benefactor paid for the print run, so everybody can buy them for the cost of shipping. For those of you with cash-flow issues, that cost will be literally zero, because I sent Spangler the costs of envelopes, postage, and postcard stamps. Order ’em and they’ll arrive pre-stamped for your constituent-communication convenience.

  • From Shing Yin Khor, two offerings: for those that prefer to be completely unambiguous about your feelings, fuck-you postcards³; for those that need a bit more immediacy that the postal system offers, a similarly-themed fax template for crappy Senators.

Lots of options to choose from, and more coming every day. May I suggest that you follow the lead of people noted in this Teen Vogue story that are addressing their postcards to President Bannon? I’m pretty sure I heard that the actual president* thinks that’s a great joke.

Spam of the day:

Dunkin Donuts Stuff

I wonder if they use the word Stuff as equivalent to the Stuf in the ubiquitous Double-Stuf Oreos? Like, there’s just some vat somewhere of the filling they stuff into the various filled donuts? And that’s what they want to shill to me? Ick.

¹ Although I do like the idea I saw of sending postcards featuring various National Parks, particularly those associated with various unofficial Twitterfeeds.

² I had some postcards printed a while back and can also recommend PsPrint; they’re fast and do quality work.

³ I would pay serious bucks if Onstad surfaced long enough to offer Fuck You Friday postcards.