The webcomics blog about webcomics

How Long Until The Stage Adaptation?

Hey, did you see the news? You probably saw the news. The news is good:

Steven Universe The Movie ?…? is a musical!!!? Featuring all NEW songs by @rebeccasugar in collaboration with @chancetherapper @EstelleDarlings @PattiLuPone @UzoAduba @SoGallant @aimeemann and more! #stevenuniversethemovie #stevenuniverse #cartoonnetwork

Steven Universe: The Movie, readers will recall, was announced at SDCC last July, with your humble hack webcomics pseudojournalist nailing an interview with lead character designer Becky Dreistadt minutes after the announcement. Since then, we’ve seen huge amounts of Steven lore — Homeworld, White Diamond, the healing of the corrupted gems on Earth, what could have served as a finale for the series.

Rumors have swirled about the movie — it takes place after a time jump, it takes place immediately after the season 5 wrapup, it’ll be the last of Steven Universe — but little definitive until the announcement:

  • It’s a musical! With music-heavy episodes like Mr Greg under their belts, and with the Crewniverse only getting better at songwriting, I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am. Delightedly so.
  • Artists collaborating with Rebecca Sugar include Aimee Mann (Opal’s back!) and Chance the Rapper, and the guy who dropped tight rhymes as Eff-Nocka is a co-executive producer.
  • It’s not the end of the show.

Apart from that, who knows? Me, I’m holding out for a time skip of sufficient duration that we find out if Steven inherits Greg’s hairline or not. Oh, and apparently we’ll get physical media — DVD, soundtrack (probably including vinyl) — by end of the year. It’s a good year to be a Steven Universe fan, and we’re all lucky to have Rebecca Sugar’s vision¹ of what a kinder world looks like. We’ll undoubtedly learn more in about a month at this year’s SDCC Steven Universe panel.

Spam of the day:

hotty Desire Fleen: The Awkward Christmas Dinner Of Our Obligation To Existence

I think they’re trying to say that a hotty (possibly plural hotties) desire Fleen? I mean, it’s a website, so I’m not sure what that would look like?

¹ Speaking of, this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest — where classic Ghibli movies are simulcast to local theaters in both dubbed and subtitled versions — will be premiering Whisper Of The Heart‘s first major North American theatrical release on 1 (dub) and 2 (sub) July, with a special introduction by Rebecca Sugar. Details on which theaters are participating in the simulcast and advanced ticket sales here.

Subsequent releases this season include Kiki’s Delivery Service (late July), My Neighbor Totoro (late August), The Secret World Of Arriety (late September), Spirited Away (late October, spooooky), Princess Mononoke (late November), and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (mid December).

This Looks A Little Different

I’m presuming you saw this from Matt Inman yesterday:

I am happy to announce that I am in development on my own animated feature for Illumination.
In short: I got a movie deal.

The good news: I’m making a movie and it’s going to be very funny.

The bad news: these things take years to make and it is an all-consuming task. This means I will no longer be working on The Oatmeal full time.

With that, Inman joins a pretty sizable list of web- and indie comics to get a Hollywood deal: You Damn Kid, Odd Jobs, Last Blood, Agnes Quill, The New Kid, Delilah Dirk, Castle Hangnail, and big kahuha build-a-franchise titles like Bone and Amulet.

Thing to keep in mind? Some of those deals go back a dozen years or more and by my count, the number of webcomic-originating properties that have made it to screen (large or small) so far¹ is one: Axe Cop, with Nimona having a release date in 2021. But this is a little bit different.

Because the movie isn’t The Oatmeal; the deal isn’t for the IP, it’s for Inman. He gets to make a movie with a studio that’s … well, they aren’t the top of the animation hierarchy, but they aren’t nobodies, either². Think about how Noelle Stevenson got the opportunity to make She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power, and has managed to get two full seasons released since Nimona was optioned, and has time for two or three more before it will release.

But also think about how nothing exists until it actually exists and all sorts of things may happen between now and a hypothetical release date that cause production to be abandoned, or the end product to be shelved. A’course, Illumination doesn’t have the resources to make movies that won’t be released. If they don’t release Untitled Matt Inman Project it’s because something went badly wrong rather than they just decided not to put it out in the world. You’d pretty much have to be the dominant, near-monopoly power-player of the entertainment industry to have the resources to do that.

Speaking of which, Kazu Kibuishi may or may not ever see an Amulet adaptation (or franchise) hit the big screen, but he’s made a movie. You’ve never seen Let’s Get Francis and you never will, because while Disney paid him to conceive and direct it, they also chose to scrap it. We at Fleen are cautiously optimistic that Inman will enjoy the next several years, but the best laid plans, etc.

In the meantime, there won’t be many comics from him as he shifts to a very different kind of creative endeavour. My money’s on him succeeding (at least on the things he’s got under his control), as it was revealed that he’s been doing creative consulting for Illumination for the past year and a half, including punch-up on the just released The Secret Life Of Pets 2. He’s not going in cold, and I think in three to five years he’ll have made something he’s proud of.

Spam of the day:

Live Chat with Asian Women

I think you got your generation scripts scrambled, Spammy. You shift from promising me access to beautiful Asian women to instead pointing me to Hot Russian Ladies (who may or may not be Desperate Girls) in the space of two lines. Pick an unfortunate mail-order bride ethnic sterotype and stick to it!

¹ I’m not counting things made directly for the web, meaning that various projects related to PvP, Cyanide & Happiness, SMBC, and Automata. The standard here is that a big company pays you for the rights to make something from your story, and they bear the costs of making it and distributing it.

² I’m speaking here about longevity and creative reputation; Illumination have, thanks to owning the Minions, made on-the-order-of billion dollar grosses on four of their ten releases so far. They don’t have the legacy of Disney, the technical and gonzo creative skill of Pixar, or the legendary mystique of Ghibli. They also don’t have the cookie-cutter sameness of Dreamworks, or the mercenary laziness of Blue Sky and Sony Animation³.

³ Which both show signs of improving as they break their past patterns. Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, was friggin’ brilliant and Blue Sky are making Nimona.

News With Caveats

More book reviews in the immediate future, friends, but I wanted to take a moment to catch up on some things that have happened in the recent weeks that I had previously missed. In no particular order, then:

  • Know who’s cool? Lucy Bellwood. Like, adventuring around the world cool, has a better haircut than you cool, and teaming up with Scott McCloud to explain some tech stuff¹ cool. In this case, the tech stuff is federated learning, and the comic (story by Bellwood & McCloud, art by Bellwood) will bring you up to speed.

    In case you’re wondering about working for a giant behemoth that’s completely abandoned all pretense of having Don’t be evil as a guiding principle, may I remind you that Google has an enormous budget for things of this nature, and I sincerely hope that Bellwood and McCloud were given the equivalent of a dump truck full o’ money for their work on the comic.

  • I mentioned the winners of the NCS division awards for webcomics² on Sunday but did I mention the latest Johnny Wander Kickstart? On Twitter, yeah, but not here so let’s talk about it now. Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh are Kickstarting a book of previously-uncollected (and new!) comics on the theme of travel in this, the tenth year of Johnny’s wandering. It’ll be great.

    In case you’re wondering how much you want to deal with Kickstarter given the news about the company not accepting a proposed union, may I remind you this is what’s happened when unions were proposed in all cases in the history of unionization except maybe three? Yeah, I had expectations of Kickstarter-the-public-benefit-corporation being better than this, but all this means is that the next stage of labor law gets followed: there’s a vote, and if the employees vote for a union they have to recognize it.

    Honestly, I think it’s just the reflexive distrust of anything other than rugged self-made mandom³ that is the hallmark of anybody that’s temperamentally suited to be a tech executive. The vote’ll happen, my money’s on it passes, and then the entire damn industry has a reckoning to face. And even at their worst, KS not embracing a union wholeheartedly will still damage comics creators a couple order of magnitude less than the shitshow aftermath of the Oni/Lion Forge let’s be movie producers together wankfest merger.

  • Now that the Canadian {T | Van}CAFs are behind us, I’m thinking of things happening in about eight weeks in San Diego. Way too many people and way too much stuff, but I should point out that webcomicky types like Randall Munroe, Katie O’Neill, Carey Pietsch, and Ursula Vernon will be present as guests of the con.

    In case you’re wondering how I’m going to find an area of concern that balances out the news just to keep up the pattern, I’m not. These folks are great and you should read their stuff and let them know they rock.

Spam of the day:

{Well | Prince | Genoa | Lucca | arenow |justfamily | estates | Buonapartes | ButIarn | youifyou | tellme | thatthis | meanswar | ifyoustill | trytodefend | theinfamies | andhorrors | perpetrated | bythat | Antichrist | really | believe | heisAntichrist | willhave | nothing | moreto | dowith | youandyou | arenolonger | myfriend | nolongermy | faithful | slaveas | youcall | yourself | Buthow | doyoudo |

And that’s in the From: field of the email header. I leave it to your imagination how the body of the message progressed.

¹ One may recall a day ten and a half years ago when the world was introduced to the Chrome browser by McCloud.

² Requisite disclaimer: I am part of the nominating/judging process for these awards.

³ Baaaarrrrrfff.

Camp 2019, Until Next Year

And then #ComicsCamp was all done until next year; breakfast on Tuesday followed by an all-hands closeout session, followed by packing up and clearing out. Most everybody that attends is on a midday flight from Juneau to Seattle, and then onwards. Some few people will be on flights around 6:30 or 8:00pm, and a handfull of unfortunates¹ won’t fly out until 5:40am on Wednesday, generally because we’re making our way east across three or four time zones.

Those that need to be on the bus get their stuff together and say goodbye and help clean and pack up common resources until they have to leave. The dozen or so leftovers and locals stay until noon or so, sweeping and cleaning the main lodge and bathrooms, mopping the kitchen and packing out leftover food. By 1:00pm we’re checking into our hotel for the last night, and making plans for lunch and hang-outs in town.

The thing about 78 awesome people in close proximity is it can sometimes be hard to interact without a constantly-shifting population of participants, and a desire to pull ever more people in — it’s the usual convention Who’s going to dinner? problem writ somewhat smaller. But with a half-dozen people at The Rookery for lunch, or maybe ten at In Bocca Al Lupo for dinner (divided into tables of four), it’s easier to have a small conversation².

Thus, questions that have nothing to do with comics or creative careers come to the fore: If you won the fuck-off huge Powerball jackpot, where are you going first? If you were stuck on a desert island, what three books would you take? What one movie prop would you like more than any other?³.

Also, beers, and an invitation back to Rob & Pagan’s place to catch that week’s Game Of Thrones — the battle at Winterfell, y’all — with a big screen and an Aperol Spritz closed to hand. If you ever have the opportunity to watch like your fifth GOT episode ever in a room full of enthusiasts and then have to go back to your hotel and immediately pack up your stuff to squeeze in 4.5 hours of sleep for a 4:00am taxi, I encourage it.

Coincidentally, as I was wrapping up this year’s Camp recap, Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett shared his recollections of Camp, in the form of the latest Comic Lab podcast. I think that the infectious joy in his voice (which is hard to convey with words on the screen) is matched only by the infectious nature of his Ursaphobic Stan Lee impression (ditto). If I have to hear it in my brain until I die, so do you.

¹ Hi, how ya doin’?

² Or to share tater tots with those whose lunch order tragically does not include them.

³ My answers:

  • Portland, to make legal arrangements with Katie Lane so I don’t fuck up my life
  • The Great Outdoor Fight, the collected Digger, and the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf.
  • The dress jacket work by Kenneth Branagh in his version of Much Ado About Nothing, which set off a lengthy discussion of the various versions of that play between me and Molly Muldoon, leaving Tillie Walden thoroughly bemused that we each knew so much of the text by heart.

    That Molly, though — she’s got opinions on Claudio (which I thoroughly agree with).


I mean, three stories, each of which demands that it get to set the image at the top of the post. I suppose I could just make three posts, but I am a lazy, lazy man. So it’s three in one.


I Think This Means Five Card Nancy Needs A Rules Addendum

Does anybody at this point doubt that Olivia Jaimes is the best thing to happen to the comics page since at least Richard Thompson’s Cul De Sac, which lasted too short a time.

Jaimes has spent a lot of the last couple of weeks providing a metareferential look at the nature of art and fame, which I thought was capped by yesterday’s title panel. Then today’s strip dropped and one of the key defining characteristics of Ernie Bushmiller’s creation came in for some scrutiny and revision. Namely, the three rocks:

Nancy is Plato’s playground. Ernie Bushmiller didn’t draw A tree, A house, A car. Oh, no. Ernie Bushmiller drew THE tree, THE house, THE car. Much has been made of the “three rocks.” Art Spiegelman (following Bill Griffith—another Bushmiller aficionado) explained to his SVA students how a drawing of three rocks in a background scene was Ernie’s way of showing us there were some rocks in the background. It was always three. Why? Because two rocks wouldn’t be “some rocks.” Two rocks would be a pair of rocks. And four rocks was unacceptable because four rocks would indicate “some rocks” but it would be one rock more than was necessary to convey the idea of “some rocks.”

Bravo, Ms Jaimes, and may Nancy never want for rocks again.


I Hope He Got Some Tickets For The Gig, Too

Besides being a fabulous comedian, hilarious and heartfelt [voice] actor, and all-around terrific human, Patton Oswalt has done yeoman’s work in promoting artists whose work he loves, and doing so in a direct and effective manner: he pays them to make art for him. Particularly, every couple of shows when he’s on the road will feature a different show poster, and you don’t usually see the same artists repeated.

Just released over the weekend, a three-show stand in November features the work of Mike Holmes. It’s a far cry from Secret Coders (now out in boxed set) or his Mikenesses series, but it’s unmistakably Holmes — loose, energetic, lighthearted, joyous.

If you’re in Northern New Jersey, Baltimore, or Indianpolis in early November, I bet you can grab one when the stagehands are swapping out the displays. And if you aren’t, Oswalt promised a link to get the poster in his store soon, so keep your eyes open for that.


Randall Munroe’s Got A Toy Running Again

You might have seen the picture above when browsing to today’s xkcd, as I keep Javascript off in my daily browser (Opera), only breaking out the supplemental browser with JS enabled (Vivaldi) when the circumstances warrant. It keeps things fast, cuts down on ad tracking, and robs malware of a common infection vector. But when Randall Munroe says you need Javascript, buddy, you need Javascript.

Being foolish and forgetting everything I know about Munroe when he’s feeling creative and/or ornery enough to do a nonstandard comic, I figured that I might be treated with something like a personal tourney of 16 emoji to vote on, with probably some statistical measures about how many people agreed with my final winner, or my final four, or even my entire bracket.

Nope. Munroe appears to have included pert-near every damn Unicode emoji, with what appears to be a ten-level deep competition, a stagering 1024 emoji, which looks like this (compact) and this (enormous). No idea when it’ll be done, but if each of the matchups (512 in the 1st round, 256 in the 2nd, 128 in the 3rd, 64 in the 4th, 32 in the 5th, 16 in the 6th, 8 in the 7th, 4 in the 8th, 2 in the 9th, and finally 1 in the 10th) allows you just five seconds to make your decision, it would require nearly an hour and a half¹ to determine a winner, and that’s if just if each match only appeared to the world once.

Knowing Munroe’s appreciation of statistical significance, I’m guessing he will be waiting until each match has cycled through multiple times before declaring first-round winners. As of this writing, the bracket doesn’t appear to have any emoji moving into the second round, so I’d say come back no sooner than Wednesday’s update for the results. As for how he worked the seeding? That would probably take every remaining post in April if he felt like getting into all of his logic. I’m here for it.

Spam of the day:

Narrator : And so it came to pass on Christmas Day, that the human race did cease to exist. But even then, the Master had no concept of his role in greater events. For this was far more than humanity’s end! This was the day upon which the whole of creation would change forever!

Got to say, if you’re going to try to entice me into a ForEx scam, quoting Rassilon (as played by Timothy Dalton) is at least going to get my attention.

¹ 1023 matchups * 5 seconds per matchup / 60 seconds per minute = 85.25 minutes.

Thursday Things

Hey, how’s it going? I’ve taken to keeping a half-full bottle of gin on my desk¹. On the theory that it may help your day to get better, here’s some things to examine and/or plan for!

  • Today! Kevin Sonney is a magnificent dude; programmer and Linuxbender extraordinaire, tatted and bekilted con security heavyweight, and certified Disney Princess to whom critters flock. He’s also a persistent podcaster, mostly with wife Ursula Vernon — they cohost Kevin And Ursula Eat Cheap and consume things no mortal should; he is the voice of Reverend Mord on The Hidden Almanac.

    Right now, though, we’re focusing on Productivity Alchemy, which is about — stripped to its most basic — Getting Your Shit Together And Getting Shit Done. It is, ironically, the sort of thing that would paralyze me, as I am definitely the sort of person that would hopscotch from solution to solution, method to method, tool to tool, and obsessively chase achievement badges. My productivity works in fits and starts, and a lot of it looks like Ignoring The Issue At Hand from a distance, but it works for me². Which is to say, Sonney’s probably a lot smarter than me on every aspect of productivity as he’s put a hell of a lot of thought into it, and I’m more intuitive and decidedly nonanalytical about my methods.

    But sometimes I have to beak my own rule to see what’s on Sonney’s mind, and today is one of those days. He’s talking to Howard Tayler — my evil twin — about his approach to keeping life together, and dropping refs to the likes of Jennie Breeden’s The Devil’s Panties, KB SPangler’s A Girl And Her Fed, and Randy Milholland’s Something*Positive. It’s a fun, informative listen and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • Future! For those whose personal productivity includes future planning, and who also live in the Bay Area, the Cartoon Art Museum wants to help you sort out what to do with the kids this summer:

    Cartoon Camp is filled with active creative engagement for older kids and teens who are avid artists enjoying drawing and are looking to build skills. All materials are provided. Find discounts, details and sign up opportunities for museum members on the registration links. Register before camp sessions fill up!

    Classes are designed for the 10-15 year old set with a bit of experience under their belts, with a choice of three week-long sessions. You can do skill-building in the mornings with Mark Simmons, afternoons of group work and studio time with Ellis Kim, or full days to experience both (bring lunch, it’s not provided). There’s also a couple of drawing excursions to local scenic spots.

    Sessions run the week of 17 to 21 June, 24 ot 28 June, or 29 July to 2 August.; morning sessions run 9:00am to 12:30pm and afternoons 1:45pm to 5:15pm. CAM members get 10% off the US$300 tuition (full days are US$550); reserve now before slots fill up.

Spam of the day:

View live security camera feed from your phone

This is advance notice: If I ever give any indication that I have allowed any Internet Of Things™ or “Smart” appliances into my home, that is a sure sign that I have been replace by a pod person, and you should set “me” on fire at the first opportunity.

¹ Okay, it’s one of those airline bottles on account of my exit-row seat home from Dallas t’other night entitled me to a free drink and that was all I wanted at the time. But still! Hard bitten journalising going on here!

² All the seeming off-goofing is my brain arranging itself into a Cave so I can hit the Zone. Lots of people achieve their Zone via external tools, but mine are on the inside.

If Homestar And 17776 Are Webcomics, So Is This

That is to say, both deeply weird Flash cartoons of the early Aughts and deeply weird space probe/football fanfic are idiosyncratic, personal creations made for the internet, marked by a sense of collaboration/accessibility with the audience, which makes them essentially webcomics, so say we all.

Webcomics as a concept, stretching past the literal definition of comics on the internet¹, can incorporate anything creative that probably won’t pass the muster of a publisher/editor, but which can find a niche of similar weirdos when thrown into the wilds.

Which is to say, Jonathan Coulton has always been a webcomicker, albeit one that worked primarily in words+sounds instead of words+pictures. No music publisher would have ever done something like Thing A Week, which means no music publisher would ever have made available a song about a very cool NPR morning host, fractal math, Leonard Nimoy’s late-70s paranormal-bait syndicated TV show, or (tangentially) Ferocious J². Heck, the guy partnered with Matt Fraction to do a graphic novel to accompany his last album.

(And, since JoCo has collaborated with MC Frontalot, you have a direct link to songs about Achewood, Wigu, and Indie Rock Pete.)

And what, I ask you, is more webcomics than doing a giant passion project that no sane publisher would get within 3.048 meters of, throwing it up on Kickstarter, and finding that a bunch of weirdos are into it?

My new album is called Some Guys, and it’s a collection of soft rock songs from the 70’s that sound exactly like the originals.

Our approach was more, what if we put these guys in a time machine and brought them into this studio and recorded them here today? What would that sound like? And what if we hired real horns and real strings? How much would that cost? A LOT! But would it sound delicious and make us giddy, like we had discovered an amazing secret or invented a new magic trick? Yes, it would. The end result is that these songs sound exactly like you expect them to, but they’re also different and new in an alternate universe sort of way.

And for a guy on his first Kickstart, JoCo’s apparently learned from his predecessors pretty well:


Some Guys (seriously, go see the album cover, and read the writeup about the album cover, and especially watch the video — the clips that JoCo included sound exactly friggin’ like the originals, which is somewhat cognitively dissonant³, but in a wonderful way, and the message in the text crawls is inspiring) was announced at 10:00am EST, and as of this writing it’s over US$49,500 (on a US$20K goal).

The record is made, this is effectively a pre-order and a way to pay for physical versions (CD, vinyl) for those that don’t want digital downloads; it’s a zero-risk project if you’re looking for something wonderful, fun, soft, and cheering.

Spam of the day

You still have not taken the prize in the category Like the year 2018
15 0.1 2019 super prize is canceled

Aw, man, I really wanted super prize.

¹ Since pretty much everything is on the internet even if emotionally it’s designed for another space.

² As seen here, in requisite tin foil hat.

³ I am reminded of the very first live event for This American Life, where the stage band (consisting largely of John & John from TMBG) went out of their way to reproduce song snippets that were heavily used on TAL in those early years. Not putting a TMBG spin on them, mind you, trying to make them sound indistinguishable from the actual songs, rather than just drop the original clip into the staged readings They didn’t attempt Perpetuum Mobile by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but can’t really blame them — it takes about 15 musicians playing in I think 7 different time signatures.

Things To Check Out

Well I mean I would bet basically one dude or maybe none in a million from the vast Fleen audience is unaware that Noelle Stevenson’s take on She-Ra debuts at Netflix today, so I’m not sure why you’re reading this instead of binging. From here, I can tell you two spoiler-free things:

  1. It’s cool that the closest thing to costume cut-outs are on characters that appear to be dudes; no boob windows here!
  2. It appears that episode 8 (Princess Prom) is going to be cameoriffic. Keep your eyes peeled for awesome people in animated form.

That keening sound you hear in the distance, ever so faint? That’s either the whiny manbabies who are upset that these characters are no longer designed for the male gaze¹, or my new dog when she perceives and insufficient amount of attention is being paid to her².

The much louder cheering sound is a mix of adult animation fans seeing something well-made and entertaining, and younger kids seeing something aimed at them that broadens their perception of who can be a protagonist — shapes, sizes, skin tones, and apparent genders are are broad enough that kids who didn’t get to see themselves as the hero now have a chance to. Bravo.

In other news:

  • We mentioned comiXology’s move into creator-owned stories back around SDCC, and how they’d tapped a series of webcomics creators to help launch the new comiXology Originals endeavour. One that looks particularly promising is The Stone King by Kel McDonald and Tyler Crook. I had a chance to read issue #1 before its debut tomorrow³. The story’s a little Moebius, the art is a little early Finder crossed with War Child-era Grendel. If you’ve got a comiXology account, I strongly recommend checking this out.
  • Ever since Goats celebrated 20 years of comics last year, we’ve been in the territory where more and more webcomics (and/or webcomickers) of a similar vintage would be meeting the mark. The Walkyverse hit 20 about five months after the Goatsiverse, and Penny Arcade will roll over the two decade odometer on Sunday, with a retrospective up at the site.

    PvP actually cleared the Big Two-Oh back in May without much fanfare; the actual day didn’t have even an oblique reference in the strip, unless you count that obvious 20-sided die in panel two. And now, it’s clear there was a reason for the earlier quietude.

    Scott Kurtz is doing a comprehensive reprint of the entire damn thing. Oh, sure, you can get a single hardcover with 200-odd pages of the best PvP strips (plus Kurtz’s Wedlock and Elementary, the former of which hasn’t been seen in forever and which I still maintain is his most promising work) for US$50. Or you can admit you’re a completist and get the strips not in the 20th anniversary volume. That’s nine damn hardcovers, every single strip, 2500+ pages, for US$200 which is kind of a bargain.

    I mean, it’s not spare change, but US$50 is an eminently reasonable price for a 200-ish page color hardcover, and by rights nine of them should come to US$450. Oh, plus whatever it costs you when you go to the doctor for painkillers after you throw your back out lifting the box they came in, because it comes to more than 22 frggin’ kilos.

    The PvP Definitive Edition 20th Anniversary Collection Kickstart runs for another 24 days, and by the FFF mk2 can expect to raise US$92K-138K (the midpoint of that range is about 153% of the US$75K goal). One potentially important factor: due to the relatively high price points on all rewards (US$10 for 1 PDF, US$45 for all 9 PDFs, physical rewards from US$50 to US$2000), this is going to be a relatively low backer campaign (as of this writing, the amount pledged per backer averages a staggering US$141!), and campaigns with fewer than about 200 backers on the first day (Kurtz had 90) are notoriously hard to fit to the prediction model.

    The McDonald ratio (hey, there’s Kel again) is probably a better predictor and it says US$108K. We’ll all find out together in a bit less than a month, and I for one am intensely curious to find out how many superfans out there are willing to engage in this degree of purchase.

Spam of this day:

At launch, the service includes comic titles such as, ‘Give My Regards To Black Jack’, ‘Vanguard Princess’, ‘Danity Kane’, ‘God Drug’, ‘Soul Ascendance’, original animation videos such as ‘Demian’, ‘Break Ups’, ‘Short Age’, the official soundtrack to the video game ‘Vanguard Princess’, and the award-winning feature-length animated film ‘Padak’ among others.

I wouldn’t even have mentioned this one except for two magic words: Dannity Kane. Because now I get to point you again to the one of the best editorial cartoons of the year: Reality Star’s Son Allegedly Had Affair With Reality Star by Kendra Wells. It never fails to make me giggle.

¹ That’s pretty much their entire argument — if they can’t see copious titties in the kids cartoon, it’s devoid of worth and a dire insult.

² So same thing, really.

³ And dropping new issues on New Comic Day? Smart. Getting the readers to accept these are just another form of comics is going to drive readership, I’m sure.

For Your Pachydermic Consideration

Check out my sick elephant!
My! Check out that sick elephant!
Check out my thicc elephant!!
Sick out my check elephant.
Chekhov, my Elle sycophant! (1423)
Check out … Mice! Ick; Aleph Hunt.
Shrek out my Chick Hell event!
Che gout! My sequel affront! (1426)
Check out shy MacOlaf aunt. (1427)
Check out t’my C Kelley Fund. (1428)
“Shaquille if ent? My check is out!”
Chuck, out my Shaquille event.
“Chuck ’em” Isaac Elephant.
“Check out my schtick, LA!” vent […]
“Check it — buy six elephants.”
Chuck, add my sick elephant.


Check out my Sikh olive vint!
Check out my sheikh/caliph hunt!
Check out my slick ‘L’-glyph font!
Schick cowed my sect colophon!
Check outside — McAuliffe fan!
Checks outbuy soft eloquence.
Chuck out my alley-found stick!!
Hell out my Czech sickle fount!
Chekhov’s mighty sick of all of it!
Checked out, Mike Seagal, I found!
Chekhov’s — MY! — sitch, elephants!
Chekhov! Nice schtick! Hella fun!
Check out my icky skelephant!

… and still three more parts in The Elephant Of Surprise, (which started its 10-part epic in comic number 1427).

Assumning that three more strips are all that remain, that will mean that 23 strips — roughly a quarter of Wondermark’s annual output — will have been devoted to this one running gag. Considering that there have been 28 subsquent variations on the initial repeated phrase¹, I’d say that my flippant prediction that David Malki ! would both a) produce at least 26 variants; and b) rename his strip to Checkoutmysickelephantmark is on its way to coming true.

And I suspect that in Malki !’s appearance on the latest Jordan, Jesse, Go! with Jordan Morris and Jesse Thorn features at least one stealth elephant, sick or not. Thorn and Bullseye² sent over a camera to make a video of Malki !’s workplace, and I’ve been watching it obsessively, trying to figure out where the elephant in the room is. I know it’s there somewhere! I just have to connect all these strings on this corkboard and I’ll find it. Oh yes, I will.

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¹ Plus one more on Twitter.

² Malki ! is well-acquainted with Thorn, having been a repeat participant/presenter at MaxFunCon, a previous guest on Jordan, Jesse, Go!, and a previous interviewee on The Sound Of Young America³ (the original name of Bullseye).

³ I asked Malki ! once how long the original interview with Thorn was, that was cut down to the approximately 26 minutes that was broadcast. He told me that there wasn’t a longer original to be cut, that everything pretty much went to air as it was recorded.

This is because Jesse Thorn is one of the best interviewers alive and really knows how to structure a conversation, but also because David Malki ! is an easy conversationalist, one that makes this kind of interview easy. Check out these slick gentlemens.

Had To Share

Nothing earth-shattering today, just a few random thoughts before I win the big lottery jackpot tonight and celebrate by getting better friends, a better hobby, and maybe a helicopter. Tuesdays, right?

  • Dante-Lucas Landshepherdherr is many things — a wizard with chalk, a labcoat fashion plate, an award-winning educator, a YouTube personality enabler, and occasionally a webcomicker. Yeah, yeah, his webcomic wrapped up earlier this year, but he’s got a book coming out, which is what I wanted to mention.

    Landshepherdherr made an update — a public one, let me hasten to add — to the book’s Kickstarter campaign, noting that everything’s off the printer, and sharing the front and back covers. It’s the latter that I wanted to share with you:

    Every good book has a quote on the back, so here is an actual quote from an end-of-semester student evaluation the author received from an anonymous student:

    At the beginning of the semester, he acted like he was supreme ruler of the universe. Over time, he got better.

    [transcribed from image]

    This is possibly from back when the Landherr and Shepherd identities were not quite so commonly associated by the general public, but regardless: kudos, amusingly-bitchy ChemE student! You made it through 20+ years of life encountering nobody horrible if you found Dr Landherr to be grandiose or self-important; I hope that streak continues. Also, please be aware that the man had deadly aim with an eraser and now that you are no longer his student, you are fair game. When the EMTs find you covered in an irregular layer of calcium carbonate, I’m certain that he will have an ironclad alibi¹.

  • Not as recent — in fact, it’s a little old at this point — is the episode of ComicLab that Kazu Kibuishi guested on. Kibuishi is, of course, the creator of the Amulet series, Daisy Kutter, and Copper, as well as being the driving force behind the Flight anthology series. He’s one of the most erudite, thoughtful people in comics, and the entire podcast is great listening from start to finish.

    But the part that’s stuck with more for a couple of weeks now was a description of his process (which you’ll find starting about the 31:28 mark); it explains a lot about how Kibuishi regards the concept of story, as well as why he seems to take a relatively long time to put a book together. Short form is, he has a very malleable approach to ordering of plot elements. Kibuishi works up sequences and scenes that he wants to tell, completely independently from each other, then arranges them in the books. It’s a nonlinear approach to storytelling that I don’t think anybody else uses².

    He’s had the advantage of telling a story that’s largely episodic, with different groups of characters in different places, so switching back and forth makes sense, but it also allows an unusual degree of flexibility; he mentioned later in the discussion that a reader questions prompted — relatively lately — the need to answer a question about the story that became the opening scene of Supernova. And honestly, I can see it in retrospect — that scene could have occurred at any point from about the middle of Book 5 to the end of Book 8 (and possibly into the not-yet-released Book 9), but he shifted things around and decided that the start of Book 8 was where it had the biggest impact.

    The thing is, if he hadn’t talked about it, you wouldn’t have known it. The great skill isn’t in an unusual approach, it’s in designing these sequences with entrances and exits that allow them to be slotted wherever they have the biggest impact; the story as a whole reads smoothly from start to finish. It’s not a means of storytelling, it’s a tool that he finds helpful to produce those stories with a maximum degree of flexibility³. It’s also probably the most subtle, master-level tool in the toolbox, so maybe don’t try to shift your approach without a hell of a lot of practice? Just a thought.

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¹ I’m not saying that Landherr is Batman or anything, but who has an alter-ego except righters of wrongs who are also The Night?

² Although in the production of The Sculptor, Scott McCloud did talk about working on the book in chunks of 40-50 pages, that being his unit of production. It’s not really a story that would allow for swapping around those chunks, however.

³ See our discussion of graphic novel editing from last year to appreciate the process most publishers will want to see a full story in rough form and work out plot details before moving onto pencils. Kibuishi could make a shift the week before returning final pages without disrupting the book!