The webcomics blog about webcomics

Limited Time Offers

I hate to rush you, what with this being the busy time of year for so many people, but there’s a couple of things you really can’t sleep on.

  • So we’re down to the final week of both Angela Melick’s Kickstart to print the final two volumes of Wasted Talent, and Angela Melick’s weekly autobio webcomic, Wasted Talent. In fact, we’re now at the next to last strip, with The Big Finish hitting next Monday, 5 December.

    One side effect of the strip wrapping is that Melick has decided that continuing to ship merch and books for a discontinued project is not how she wants to spend her copious free time, and so her store will be shutting down:

    The print edition books that are kickstarting now will NOT be available online for sale later on. I will no longer be traveling regularly to conventions to sell print edition books. I will still make convention appearances, but these appearances will be infrequent and selective, and the number of print books I bring will be very limited.

    No definite date for the store shutdown, but it largely doesn’t matter — if she’s not putting the new books in the store, the time to get them is now, via the Kickstarter campaign (which, by-the-bye, is currently sitting at 153% of goal, and stretched to the point where I’ll get a slipcase box for my previous books, so thanks for that). Get them now if you ever intended to get them, and honestly? Given how book 3 ended, books 4 and 5 form a reasonably complete story.

  • Another temporary sale event is going on, but this is more in the sense of a pop-up vending rather than the wrap-up of an ongoing enterprise. David Malki ! is using Kickstarter as a straight storefront for his annual calendrical offering — the tenth! — of odd “facts” and odder holidays. Given that these only come up once a year and start their usefulness on 1 January, the campaign is super short: it will run only another six days, for a total of 14 days.

    Other Malkidian wonders are also up for sale at his permanent store, including holiday-[in]appropriate cards and the ever-fun multipurpose cards; given the number of checkboxes on the latter, you can give the same card to just about anybody for just about any reason¹.


Spam of the day:

They are looking for sex now!

Forgive me for my cynicism, but I don’t actually believe that (given the photo attached) a lesser Kardashian sister is attempting through your alleged dating site to have squishytimes with me. Just a hunch.

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¹ Seriously, though. Just one card covers thanks for everything from a commemorative plate of Commander Riker to sex acts, with the duration of thanks lasting from fleeting until the end of all things.

Doing Good

So the questions have been coming, and I’m getting ready to announce the structure of my matching-gifts against totalitarianism (better name needed), but in the meantime literally more people than I can count are doing similar things. Let’s do a rundown:

There are more, more than I can keep up with. It’s trying times, but we’re holding the line and will continue to do so. These organizations are established, scrappy fighters, and are going to shove a full dose of be a goddamn human and not a monster, you dicks where it’ll do the most good. I am proud of our weird little community.


Spam of the day:

[not in English]

I’m certain that it’s completely a coincidence that the amount of Russian-language spam I’ve received since the election has exploded.

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¹ Obligatory disclaimer: I loves me some Digger. You just know that wombats don’t put up with any fascist nonsense; they meet oppression with pragmatism and pickaxes. Remember Tunnel Seventeen!

Been An Expensive Day On Kickstarter

First it was chiming in on the Chocolate Milk Cuties vs Spaghetti Sweeties debate. Then I, shamed by a young member of my EMS crew who has turned the quiet times of Duty Night into Boardgame Funtimes, finally got on the Bears vs Babies bandwagon. And in the past little while, for the first time in my Kickstarter career, I managed to be Supporter Number One for a campaign that both delights and saddens me.

Jam vs Not Wanting To Do A Weekly, Hand Drawn, Hand Colored Comic Anymore¹ has gone live, wherein we learn that Angela Melick — mechanical engineer and webcomicker par excellence — is funding both books four and five of her long-running diary comic (today’s update is #787, minus a few guest strips while getting married/going on her honeymoon), and simultaneously announcing the Wasted Talent will wrap in four weeks. There will be two updates this week (check back on Wednesday) and each week between now and then that’ll be it. Strip #795 (if I have my count right) will be the last one in book five, and Melick will retire from this phase of her cartooning career.

She’s got more stories in her — she’s shared work on them in the past — and we’ll see her create more in the future, but it won’t be on a weekly schedule. We’ll miss Jam and Trevor, psycho squirrels and psycho engineers, bikes and corgis and swords and Vancouver, but we’ll still get the humanity and humo[u]r that infuse her work, no matter what those stories are.

It’s been two years since her last book released, covering the strip up until the 2009-2010 timeframe, which is about the last time I saw her), so there’s pent-up demand and six years of strips to print; this probably explains why before her Kickstarter launch announcement was cold people were rushing to pledge. As of this writing she has 43 backers and US$4094 in pledges, which is easily explained when you realize all but seven of them have pledged high enough to get a limited reward². I’ve not seen a per-backer pledge average of US$95 in … actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. And it’s not for doo-dads and fancy bits, it’s for books (signed or personalized) and art (prints, and for up to five lucky people, originals); okay, yeah, there’s a cloisonne pin and a magnet, but I think the other backers are thinking as I am — that’s nice, but give me the pictures and words.

To what degree? How about this — just before I started writing this post I realized that I’d pledged for both new books signed, but not personalized like my earlier WT books, so I upped my pledge. And just before writing this sentence I realized that the top tier featured three original WT pages in the bundle and upped it again. There is no further upping possible, that is how much I love Melick’s work (and Jam, if you’re reading and will allow requests for original pages, the moustachethemed strips are pretty cool).

If you aren’t convinced, check out what I’ve said about Melick’s comicking previously; her comics are that good, and if that’s not enough to impress you, she can both build a robot to kick your ass, and teach the robot enough longsword fighting to kick your ass even more effectively. She and her comics are a delight, and you should check them out.

Oh, and in the time it took me to write and edit the last few paragraphs, she’s up to 53 backers, US$5452 pledges, US$102.87 backer average, and the top tier is gone. As well, last night the Cloudscape Comics Collective of British Columbia (of which Melick is a member) was recognized with a Joe Shuster Award last night (the Gene Day Award for self-publishers) Jam, you can’t see it from three time zones away, but I’m generally facing in the direction of Vancouver and tossing a snappy right-hand rule salute in your direction. You rock.


Spam of the day:
None. Melick’s engineering prowess has scared the spammers off.

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¹ Not its actual name, but come on! Things come in threes, and we’d already established the vs theme.

² Which starts at CDN$65/US$48, and goes to CDN$350/US$261.

This Day … This Day

Where to start? With the hotel that didn’t supply all of the lightbulbs it should have, more than one towel, and a working phone? With the gig assignment that sent me to the wrong office? With my laptop, which decided that it’s still the ’90s and wifi is not a thing? With my voice, which is rapidly decreasing? I think that KB “Otter” Spangler hit the nail on the head re: today earlier this morning. So despite some genuinely encouraging news, I’ve only got enough bandwidth (mental and TCP/IP) to go brief. As it so happens, we’re heading to Kickstarter and staying there today.

  • Firstly, followup on Letters From Lucardo (cf: here), which hit goal in half a day and is now sitting at 150% about two days in. Not bad for a largely-unknown Scandinavian creator making a first book, but then again Iron Circus has a reputation of delivering quality smut on time. so there’s that. The Fleen Funding Factor (Mark II) predicts Lucardo will finish up at US$45K +/- $9K, with a personal expectation that it’ll go up in subsequent volumes.
  • Secondly, Tessa Stone (who partnered with Ananth Hirsch on Buzz! and Is This What You Wanted, has launched a Kickstarter for the first volume of her own webcomic, Not Drunk Enough. The semimythical George is shepherding the project, so full confidence that things will run properly. It’s not quite old enough for the FFF mk2, but it is at 58% of its US$17.5K goal, so that’s okay.
  • Lastly, a dream (?) team of creators/professional reprobates is seeking to raise US$69,420¹ to release a pay-what-you-can Full Motion Video game based on the work of Dr Chuck Tingle. All buckaroos and others opposed to demonic forces are encouraged to investigate >deep breath< Kickstarted In The Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure for the opportunity to spread a little joy to people whose lives are sorely lacking in (quoting now) Unicorn Butt Cops, the unexpected juxtaposition of disparate concepts (for instance: pirate, ghost, and bigfoot), and the absurd treated as the mundane. With hot, hot, butts (butts technically optional):

    The very nature of the Tingleverse is The Rawest of Graphic Sensualities, but players who aren’t down with visual depictions of sexual content needn’t fear. While we’re working with video and real actors (the cast will most certainly SURPRISE and AMAZE you), there won’t be explicit footage of people taking a trip to bonetown. Our salacious scenes are literary in nature and read aloud by talented performers, intended to pound the most sexual of your organs … Your imagination.

    We’re also including a Kitten Mode, where sexual situations will be replaced by footage of kittens playing. If you wish, you may also engage Kitten Mode on its own, just to watch some kittens playing, because why not.

    Or, in case you are called to explain the project in an elevator pitch-style quick sentence, the developers have provided one for you: Our exquisitely handcrafted smut puts the anal in artisanal.

    No stretch goals (overfunding will just result in a prettier game), but higher reward tiers will allow the backer to be involved in the game². Go, give, and may whatever spiritual or supernatural power you believe in recognize your virtue and buckaroo nature³.


Spam of the day:

D? you care about dental hygiene?

Yes. That’s why I go to the dentist, who takes care of my teeth. Oh, sorry, was this not a rhetorical question?

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¹ An amount also known as one sexweed.

² Obligatory disclaimer: this may involve visual or verbal depictions of the backer being subjected to literary poundings in heart, brain, AND butt.

³ Buckarooness? Buckarooality?

Whoops, Time Got Away From Me

And you know what? I’m not apologizing at all. I’m finally (mostly) over that bug that felled me earlier in the week, and one of my favorite creators surprised me with a new draft of her next book, and a trip to IKEA means that a long-delayed plan for the house — like since we moved in twelve and a half years ago delayed — is finally underway.

So you get two short bits today, and then I can start figuring out how to put some IKEA stuff together.

Thing The First: Bears vs Babies is as we speak pushing US$978,000 in funding and more than 26,000 backers. At this point in its campaign, Exploding Kittens was closer to US$2 million but you know what? Matthew Inman and Elan Lee have had a year and a half of Kicktstarter hacking experience. Forget setting records, this is one to watch to see what kind of mischief they get up to. It’s a case study¹.

Thing The Second: Howard Tayler — evil twin to the stars — has announced his latest challenge coin is open for pre-orders. No color, no enamel, no epoxy, just a hunk of brass that will get worn from a lifetime of wear in your pocket, and some wisdom (both that which is inscribed originally, and that earned as it gets said wear). To wit:

Maxim 70: Failure is not an option. It is mandatory. The option is whether or not to let failure be the last thing you do.

Rest in peace, Kaff Tagon; I don’t think Howard’s gonna reboot the universe to un-kill you a second time.


Spam of the day:

I hope that someone find the same sociable as I am. Be sure to answer. Are always here site

Well, that’s a step up from the usual level of English in Russian pornsite spam; usually, it’s so far off English that it’s Portuguese.

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¹ First thing to learn: how far off are the Fleen Funding Formula (Mark II) and the McDonald Ratio when you’ve got such a motherscratching oversized response? The FFF mk2 has BvB predicted at US$3.75 +/- 0.75 million dollars, which is a hell of a margin of error.

Game Day

Whooo, not 100% but feeling much better than yesterday. I credit sixteen hours sleep and the invaluable healing powers of Roberto, courtesy of the equally invaluable Helen Rosner. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

  • Games seem to be the recurring theme today, with the Exploding Kittens crew launching a new game on the Kickstarter a few hours back, and sitting on (as of this writing, but rapidly changing so I’ll revisit just before I hit publish) about 8600 backers and US$315,000 in pledges so far.

    Not only that, but today Amazon delivered something I’d forgotten I’d ordered — the first Exploding Kittens expansion set, Imploding Kittens, which has some new cards, some new play mechanics, and a human-sized Cone of Shame that you have to wear if you forget whose turn it is next. Whatever Elan Lee, Matt Inman, and Shane Small are drinking, I want some.

  • Continuing, yesterday saw the launch on Steam of Rose Of Winter, a visual novel written by Monster Pulse creator Magnolia Porter. Visual Novels aren’t my thing — I think it’s generational as much as anything — but if they were I’d be all over this, because Porter’s one hell of a writer. Given that the reviews all mention story/characters/writing (not to mention the fact that they’re 100% positive), I’ma go out on a limb and say that my confidence is well-placed.
  • Continuing again, today saw Howard Tayler¹ finding some of his words incorporated into a game — namely the highly-anticipated sixth installment in the Civilization series — as the illustrative quote for the Mercenaries achievement in the tech tree, as read by Sean Bean. I’ve been trying to keep my distance from news about Civ VI, largely out of a sense of self-preservation (I have spent way too many hours playing every installment, and also the excellent Alpha Centauri), but now I’m all in.

    Speaking of Tayler and games, the equally highly-anticipated Schlock Mercenary role playing game is into content crunch time, and the somewhat delayed print collection of the in-universe 70 Maxims Of Highly Effective Mercenaries has finally got a release date.

    A big chunk of the delay was Tayler thinking that the visuals were not up to snuff, but having seen the high-res PDF of the book released to backers this week, I’ma go out on a second limb and say that his concerns were unfounded. Not only does it look good, but the extra layer of story and character that it reveals is hugely satisfying to longtime readers². Once the delivery of physical books is made to backers of the Kickstart, pick one up.

Update: approximately 11,800 backers, US$435,000. It’s changing as I’m typing.


Spam of the day:

32???autiful Girls Riding Bikes You’d Want To Own

The construction of that particular subject line doesn’t make it clear if the implication is I’d like to own the bikes or the girls. In either case, ew.

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¹ My evil twin, and the best one you could ever hope to have.

² It appears that the first time I wrote about Tayler was sometime in the first month of updates of this website, more than a decade back.

Hither, Tither, Yon

We’re going to be going in several different directions today; best strap in now while you can.

  • This has been a stinker of a year, top to bottom (and I fear we haven’t hit bottom yet), so I think we all deserve a little cheering up. Today marks the release of the King Baby Plush, based on Kate Beaton’s book of the same name. Just lookit that chubby face and try to keep a bad mood — it’s basically not possible.
  • Motionographer, which dedicates itself to issues of interest to designers, animators, and storytellers of all stripes (at least, according to their About page) has a nice Q&A up today with Katie Lane (lawyer to the indie comics community and possibly also you) on the topic of protecting your work from being ripped off. She starts off damn smart in delineating the situation we’re in:

    I don’t think that every use of visual art on social media is a misuse, though, at least not in terms of copyright law. But because of the way social media has enhanced our ability to communicate visually, when we start creating art, we’re doing so with those social media skills as part of our vocabulary.

    And because on social media we use art, it’s understandable that some of us use art when we create. For me “using” is different from “referencing”. When we “use” art, we keep it largely intact; details might change, but the art is still recognizable in what we create. When we “reference” art, the art influences and informs how we create; a transformation takes place so that the original and our work are different.

    I think how we communicate on social media is part of why you see the rise in swiping, but I don’t think it’s the cause.

    The cause, in my opinion, is not being mindful of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

    and gets altogether smarter from there. Want to know about when the drop the legal hammer? Or what to consider before filing a DMCA takedown? Or even how to prevent rip-offs in the first place? Read it.

  • For those going to Thought Bubble in a few weeks, I wish to share the session that you most want to see:

    OFFICIALLY CROWNED! Come see me talk to @ryanqnorth and @EricaFails on Sunday afternoon at @ThoughtBubbleUK

    Details here, that’s John Allison talking with Erica Henderson and Ryan North about Squirrel Girl on Sunday 6 November in the News Room, Royal Armouries (Fourth Floor), from 1:10pm to 2:00pm.


Spam of the day:

Sure makes you thankful when your house is behaving itself though right? It doesn’t take a lot for problems to occur that’s for sure.

Sorry, spammer, nothing left to do on my house right now that doesn’t involve spackle. Not enough broken for you to try to scam me on it.

Places To Examine Your Conscience

Some of these will concern you, some will grab at your sense of empathy, some will intrigue; basically we’re all over the place today.

  • I’m very interested to see what the unintended consequences of a new law in California concerning the sales of autographs/autographed memorabilia will do to the major comics shows. Via the twitterfeed of author Amy Stewart, a new law (presumably intended to keep people from buying fake autographs/tchotchkes for big bucks) will require any signed item (think books and art) costing more than five damn dollars (think: everything) to come with a certificate of authenticity with a seven year retention requirement.

    It might be that people at SDCC next year are forced into the charade of selling books/prints/whatever and making the person who bought it then come back for a separate signature. It may be that the “signed & sketched” price variant is actually illegal. It may mean that California-residing creators can no longer supply pre-signed merch to stores (think Raina Telgemeier and the signed copies that bookstores have of Ghosts … they’ll have to dump stock yesterday or risk sanctions that I don’t know how to determine under California’s Civil Code).

    Okay, the summary of the bill indicates that the person signing things is exempt, but resellers appear not to be. Raina can sign a book without recordkeeping, but any comic shop or bookstore with a signed by the author! sticker on books is potentially screwed. California creators/vendors, your thoughts please.

  • From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, a dispatch regarding a Kickstarter that’s burning up the webcomics category in two languages:

    Commit Strip, the strip about the daily life of coders, has launched a Kickstarter for their new book collection, and their first in English, at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/commitstrip/commitstrip-rise-of-the-coders-a-book-about-the-fu. And about 24 hours in they [had] already blown past twice their (admittedly modest) goal. Note that, much like the Last Man campaign, they have rewards in multiple languages but had to set up a separate page for the French description of the campaign as Kickstarter does not support campaigns in multiple languages.

    That last bit surprises me. I wonder if KS would object if you just had a bunch of text in more than one language, or set up support alternating languages but with identical price points and rewards. Certainly that would be a pain; I wonder what our friends to the bilingual north think about this particular feature lack.

  • We’ve spoken here at Fleen about Something Terrible, and the burden that Dean Trippe has taken upon himself, because the key thing about being Batman is, you don’t want any other people to have to be Batman. Your trauma defined your adulthood, but you can use that to help others not become as I Am The Night as you wound up; for Trippe, it means making himself available¹ to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse and creating his own impromptu Bat-Family, meeting and offering solace to one person at a time.

    But there’s more people out there than you can meet one at a time that need him, so Trippe’s gone the media route. Last Friday saw the launch of the Something Terrible podcast, hosted by Trippe and no doubt finding its own direction for future episodes. Trippe calls it a mission², I call it a most unfortunately necessary public service that I absolutely will not be listening to; I’m not burying my head in the sand, but in order to keep myself where I need to be to help when necessary³, I need to deal with trauma-bearing people individually, in person, as the need arises. I can’t go seeking them out.

    But those on the other side of the equation, who don’t have my luxury of distancing themselves? Who need Batman to avoid becoming Batman? The Something Terrible podcast is going to be a godsend. Here’s hoping you never have to subscribe.


Spam of the day:

Search For Baby Shower Gifts Options

The one part of the patriarchy and general male privilege that I will gleefully engage in is the general pass I get for baby showers. I know that makes me a terrible feminist, but this is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the stake. PS: Benedick rules.

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¹ I suspect, on occasion, to his own detriment. Dean, there’s a reason that they tell you to secure your own mask before helping others — if you aren’t well and whole, you can’t be of assistance to them, no matter how much they need it. Don’t overdo it, please.

² A very Batman-like approach to it, I must say.

³ Occasional reminder: I am an active Emergency Medical Technician.

Here Are Things You Should Do Today

Some days, there’s nothing but good news. Let’s be happy together.

  • I don’t know if you saw this yesterday, but Hope Larson (who is one of like four creators¹ whose new project I will buy blind at the comic store) has given comic creators everywhere a gift:

    If you want to write comics but aren’t sure how to start, I’ve uploaded the script for Goldie Vance #1 (for free): https://gumroad.com/l/nPdQZ

    You’ve got a hankering to write comics, but aren’t sure how to make that work? Larson’s sharing a complete script, which you can compare against the final issue for like three bucks in the recent issues bins at your local comic shop (or event better, by pre-ordering the first trade, on account of once you read the first issue, you won’t want to stop). And she’s clear about something: this is not the way to write a comic, but it is a way to do so, and a pretty successful one at that, because Goldie Vance is a damn good book.

    There’s not a lot of creators that make it to a measure of accomplishment and see that the most important thing they can do in their careers is to make it easier for the next generation of creators to follow in their footsteps; if nothing else, making younger creators better is going to create competition in the future, so it’s an act of both confidence² and altruism together.

  • It is long standing policy at this blog that while many creators are great at what they do, or even unsurpassed at some particular aspect of comics, only one is best with no qualifiers. Kate Beaton is best, you guys. On the off chance I haven’t mentioned it enough recently, her second childrens book, King Baby, is out next Tuesday and now is your shot to pre-order it. It’s charming as hell, I have two copies on order so I can give them to my nieces who have each recently had their first kids (one back in March, one just a few weeks ago — instant cousins!) on account of they aren’t getting the copy that Kate gave me in San Diego because it’s mine.

    Today’s the best possible day to reinforce Beaton’s bestness with that pre-order, by the way, seeing as how today is her birthday. Do you love everything she’s given us, for free, for years and years now? Do you — as all right thinking folk do — know in your heart that nothing is better than Beaton’s comics about her visits home to see family, starring her Mom & Dad? Do you want her to be able to keep making these things? Well, people gotta eat, and since she steadfastly refuses to charge for the Momics, buying her books is the best insurance that she’ll keep delighting us — and again, I must stress this next bit — for free.

    Oh, and keep an eye on TopatoCo, on account of your Fat Pony Plush is about to get a friend. Even if your budget doesn’t allow even small purchases, at the least join with me now: Happy Birthday, Kate, and thank you. You are best.


Spam of the day:

Hi How are you? I must confess that you’re a nice looking gentle man in your Facebook picture.. Are you married?, Can we be friends?????

I’m fine. I don’t have a Facebook account so I fear you’re confusing me with somebody else, but thank you all the same. I am, thank you for asking. Sure, why not?

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¹ The others: Jim Zub, Carla Speed McNeil, Terry Moore. Coincidentally, like Larson, they tell very different stories — format, tone, topic, genre — from project to project.

² Besides, no matter how good the next generation gets at comics, they won’t match Larson at both comics and making ice cream. She’s a flavorbending madwoman.

So, Who’s Applying For SouthxSouth Lawn?

Having apparently enjoyed his time at SXSW, President Obama has decided to throw his own festival on Monday, 3 October; I’m guessing that webcomics could fit neatly into the Interactive track, but you’ve only got until 10 September (that’s a week from tomorrow) at 5:00pm EDT to get your application in. I know there’s people in our community that have been to Austin, so who’s going to DC?

  • My suggestion: get somebody out there to talk about Kickstarter/crowdfunding (George, Spike), and be sure to bring up KC Green’s This Is Fine plush which finished up today just under US$455K, or 13 times funded. Nicely done, KC, and good luck Make That Thing getting some 14,000 plushes to more than 12,700 backers.
  • Second suggestion: just put Onstad on stage talking about how to write a bunch of blogs in different voices, three of which updated today, just in time for the long weekend, hooray!

And that’s it — long weekend comin, which I will happen to spend on EMT duty, with tropical storm/hurricane Hermine heading this way. Stay dry, I’ll see you next week.


Spam of the day:

Congrats! Your FREE Starbucks Samples are Ready

I don’t drink coffee. I think you meant to send this to Rich Stevens. Try again.

Dr Nootropic — “Smart Drug” discovered: proven to double IQ and memory-retention

What did I just say? Rich is over thataway, dammit.