The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Am Not The First To Try This But I Am The Strongest

Hey. There’s something I could have thematically included in yesterday’s post, but

A: I didn’t want it to get overwhelmed in by everything else in the post on account of it deserves room to breathe, and

2: I can give you a more complete report because the thing was incomplete when I was posting yesterday.

Y’all, Shing Yin Khor¹ is a freakin’ genius, and slightly evil. They’ve been doing a distributed mystery for Patreon supporters, with physical artifact clues sent to different people, having them share experience and discoveries to determine what happened out past Portal 12.

Let me back up.

This is The Center For Otherworld Science, a comic about explorers who travel through portals to other universes to document the flora, fauna (often the same), and physical world there. It starts off as an excuse for Khor to draw their absolutely gorgeous unearthly critters, and turns pretty rapidly into a meditation on human worth and ethics.

This is the start of a mystery that Khor constructed, complete with correspondence, newspaper excerpts, and physical artifacts regarding the disappearance of a scientist and an engineer at the CFOS. Alexis was on the survey team that went through Portal 12, out to the safety boundary; Alexis was extremely sassy. Alexis and her fiance Jo seemed to be up to something before Alexis went past the safety boundary and disappeared, presumably dying.

Through official statements and memoranda on CFOS letterhead, the contents of Alexis’s desk, and samples returned from Portal 12, it quickly becomes apparent that this was no ordinary disappearance/death. After Jo also disappeared, their sister began to suspect that something was up. Strange rocks were found and made their way to Alexis’s ex, to researchers at the CFOS, or were found by family and friends.

Khor actually sent these to Patreonistas — field notes with blacklight ink; rocks with USB drives secreted inside; books that were really safes, with clues locked inside. There’s audio and video of the world beyond Portal 12, bits and pieces going to any given supporter, but none of them got all of the artifacts.

To create a fictional world, to create a mystery, and then to create all of the (mostly nonnative to this universe) physical objects to add layers of creepy verisimilitude to that mystery? That’s the work of somebody who is both genius-level creative and in all honesty somewhat more than slightly evil.

Read through the whole thing, and understand: you could be part of one of these at any time, if you decide to support Khor on Patreon. Just sayin’.

Spam of the day:

We get Rid of your Timeshare Contract

Wowsers. How bad do timeshares suck that there’s a population of scammers out there to prey on people desperate to get away from the first set of scammers that sold them the timeshare in the first place?

¹ Seen yesterday messing with a Deadpool figure; told you I could have mentioned it yesterday.

SDCC 2020 Programming@Home

It’s gonna be a weird year for SDCC programming. There’s no Sergio ‘n’ Mark panel! And in a year that would seemingly require the Tell Us What We Can Do Better session on Sunday afternoon has none. And every session starts at the top of the hour, when they could be staggered easily?

But there’s lots of what appear to be pre-recorded media launches, so there’s that. I’m looking at things that interest me, many of which are at the same time, but which will probably be much easier to bounce between if one turns out to be a dud — no standing at the back of the room after you walk halfway across San Diego, and the library/school/YA panels aren’t a (granted, very pleasant) 20 minute walk away at the library.

Let’s dig in.


Comics In The Classroom Ask Me Anything: Pick The Brains Of Teachers, Administrators, Creators, And Publishers
3:00pm — 4:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Appears to be pre-recorded rather than live; high school teachers from around the country posed questions to Ronnell Whittaker (teacher), Lucy Knisley, Jason Walz, and Lisa Wu (consultant and former teacher). Doesn’t appear to have a publisher?

Teaching And Learning With Comics
3:00pm — 4:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Reps of public schools, state universities, and private universities talking with Ebony Flowers, David Walker, and Brian Michael Bendis.

New Kids Comics From Eisner Award Publishers
5:00pm — 6:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

It’s got Jerry Craft and Faith Erin Hicks, that’s reason enough before you add in Robin Ha, Derick Brooks, and Jonathan Hill; moderated by YALSA’s Candice Mack. This one looks like a must-see.


Web Comics: Saving The Entertainment Industry, Four Panels At A Time
11:00am — noon, SDCC or YouTube

Maybe you don’t look for solutions to saving an industry, maybe webcomics can be their own thing? And it’s not a good sign that one of the panelists has website listed that doesn’t seem to exist, and when it did exist didn’t seem to have anything to do with comics.

Shaenon Garrity In Conversation With Andrew Farago
2:00pm — 3:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Now these two folks, they know webcomics. Also manga, museum operations, tiki culture, and all of each other’s secrets, seeing as how they’ve been married for more than a decade. I hope that Shaenon Garrity gets invited back as a featured guest next year seeing as how this one’s a bust, but at least she gets her spotlight panel.

The Adventure Zone: Petals To The Metal Graphic Novel
2:00pm — 3:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Indispensible for Mcelfans, as Clint, Travis, and Griffin sit down to talk with artist Carey Pietsch about the third (and presumably not last) Adventure Zone adaptation. Moderated by Satine Phoenix.


Raina And Robin In Conversation
11:00am — noon, SDCC or YouTube

That would be Robin Ha, and Raina is, of course, Raina. Want to learn how to do memoir in comics? Watch this.

History Goes Graphic
noon — 1:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

I expected this one to involve folks from :01 Books, what with the launch of their history and civic engagement lines, but nope. However, let’s be clear: there’s nothing to be disappointed by here, as the panel features Fred Van Lente, Tom Scioli, David Walker, Mikki Kendall, and Malaka Gharib, moderated by Kaitlin Ketchum.

The 32nd Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards
7:00pm — 8:00pm, no links provided

Yeah, I don’t know what it means either, but no functional links associated with the Eisners? Par for the course this year. Interesting that they only blocked out an hour, which I guess means no acceptance speeches and it’s all a pre-recorded list o’ names from host Phil LaMarr
Edit to add: Links are now provided for SDCC and YouTube.


Diversity And Comics: Why Inclusion And Visibility Matter
noon — 1:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

For the sake of the panelists, I hope that this one is pre-recorded and that comments are disabled, because the C*micsg*te CHUDs are going to be mortally offended that this exists and nobody needs that shit. But kudos to whoever wrote the description because they included the websites for the panelists — John Jennings, Frederick Aldama, Christina ‘Steenz’ Stewart, Chelsea ‘Ché’ Grayson, David Walker (making his third appearance in this post), and Stanford Carpenter, who between them have three Eisners and two more nominations¹ — and thus saved me the time of hunting them down.
Edit to add: In fact, I was so astonished by those time-saving links that I initially forgot to include them. Fixed!

Best And Worst Manga of 2020
3:00pm — 4:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Speaking of times to disable comments, as I previously noted, the howler monkeys won’t get to shout abuse at the panel, at least not in a way that they have to hear. This may form a decent precedent for future iterations. With Brigid Alverson, Justin Stroman, Morgana Santilli, Eva Volin, Megan Peters, Rob McMonigal, and Deb Aoki.


Inspired By Real Life: The True Stories Behind Graphic Novels
2:00pm — 3:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

Nate Powell is going to be there and if the entire thing turns into a remembrance of John Lewis, well, I’m okay with that and I imagine it wouldn’t annoy Van Jensen, Scott Chantler, or moderator Diana Pho too much either.

LGBTQ Comics And Popular Media For Young People
2:00pm — 3:00pm, SDCC or YouTube

I think I might just set up two monitors on two computers and double up during this timeslot. Moderator Cort Lane talks with Gina Gagliano, Trungles, Alex Sanchez, Noelle Stevenson, Mariko Tamaki, Brittney Williams, and Michael Vogel.

Keenspot 20th Annual Comic-Con Panel: Pandemic Edition
3:00pm — 4:00pm, SDCC or YouTube
You can’t keep a good tradition down, and Keenspot closing things out on Sunday afternoon is certainly a tradition. This year’s giveaway will be digital, naturally.

Spam of the day:

How To Get Paid For What You Already know

I do that every day. It’s called a job.

¹ Take that, C*micsg*te CHUDs.

I Really Hope They Aren’t Charging Exhibitors For Inclusion

Hi. Some stuff has been going on since we at Fleen have been away. Let’s try to ease back into it.

Near as I can tell, San Diego Comic Con has still not, institutionally, recognized what a fiasco the Eisner voting data leak was. My hiatus coincided just about perfectly with the deadline I gave CCI’s Communications & Strategy office to respond on the record, a deadline which was blown, and an office that still has not deigned to reply.

But they are talking plenty about what’s going on for Comic-Con@Home, complete with a schedule of panels. We’ll come up with a (likely very brief) list of what looks most interesting and run that tomorrow, so you can make plans to connect to sessions starting on Wednesday afternoon¹.

There will also be some sort of live virtual exhibit hall running from Wednesday through Sunday, but not many details as to what that means. Here’s the gist:

You’ll find company listings, exclusive products for sale, promotional links, and a whole lot more. The Exhibit Hall will be available for all five days of the convention.

That sounds almost like what I was advocating for back in June:

[I]f you could come up with something that lets an attendee produce a verifiable payment, then talk with a creator for five minutes while watching merch get personalized, you’d have something replicating the experience and providing a value-add for so many people who’ve watched their income tank this year.

Related question: is there a mechanism that provides for con exclusives, something that gives people a chance at their favorite variant stuff but keeping eBay churners from snapping everything up?

That being said, creators I’ve seen who are promising interaction with people during the SDCC dates, including the ability to watch your purchases get personalized, don’t seem to be pointing people towards the SDCC site. Case in point: Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett is doing instant-send Zoom links² if you make purchases during specific hours (1 hour pre-dinner on Wednesday night, 1 hour midday on Thursday and Friday, and four hours in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday; all times PDT).

Jeff Smith is taking pre-orders and scheduling times for visible sketching via Facebook Live, which it looks like anybody can watch. And that’s about it, actually. I haven’t found anybody else replicating the fan interaction experience at a distance, which makes me think that SDCC hasn’t devised and destributed a mechanism, leaving exhibitors to work it out themselves.

In non-quasievent news:

  • Achewood has gone full academic: please enjoy a video conference presentation on Achewood and views on masculinity by Ken Alba of Boston University. It’s an intriguing, well-supported thesis, and apart from the abstract’s characterization of xkcd³, there’s pretty much nothing to disagree with here.
  • Oglaf, book 3. The strip keeps getting funnier and ruder from week to week, and your order at Tier 4 and up will contain many stickers and multiple KS-exclusive Sithrak tracts because Stretch Goals. I love the (previous editions here) and when I win the lottery I’m going to buy a few zillion of those and leave them in the bathrooms of every highway rest stop I can find.

Spam of the day:

Strangest Japanese “sex” practice

Oh spammers, how I missed you.

No, wait, the complete opposite of that. And may I say, those scare quotes are doing a lot of work.

¹ Presumably, San Diego time, which is GMT-7.

² Watch the video if you want to see LArDK’s adorable weiner dog, Ollie, doing adorable things.

³ In which Achewood is contrasted with, quote, XKCD, Penny Arcade, and the other ‘manly’ webcomics of the aughts, which just confused the hell out of me. That description is Just Sick as Hell in a way that not even a 3-cell D Maglite can compensate for.

One Cheer For Today

Woo, Thursday. Woo.

  • Hmmm, he said, in his role as both computer professional and hack webcomics pseudojournalist, that’s interesting. That, of course, being the news that the Eisner voting had been extended (tweet from a 2019 nominee, who was contacted by the Eisner folks). I’ve seen reports (near as I can tell right now, all deleted) that there was a security issue with the voting database, and that voters were being urged to check that their ballots had the correct choices listed. I’ve also just been by the site, which says voting is now closed. I’m … not feeling great about this, y’all.
  • Longtime readers of this page may recall that of all the people that Fleen encourages you to dislike and never support, top of the list is James Ashby, aka History’s Greatest Monster. So I particularly want to warn you (so you don’t accidentally end up entangled with HGM) that Ashby is running a Kickstart right now to revive a YouTube series from years ago, which taught people how to cook with just the cheap ingredients that could be had, things that could produce a mountain of leftovers and be dressed up various ways in their re-presentations.

    It was called Hand To Mouth, and it featured the infinitely patient Marque Franklin-Williams, trying desperately to keep HGM from … well, being HGM while simultaneously making potentially sucky food suck less. It ran for three seasons, and Ashby is now back seeking to make a fourth; Franklin-Williams has moved onto other projects but has given his blessing to Season Four¹.

    If, for some reason, you think that HGM should be trusted with what you put in your body, I suppose I can’t stop you from helping to fund the project, but I would suggest seeing some kind of therapist. I suppose, in the best of all possible world, HGM might be so inept in his evil that he might accidentally provide useful, helpful information to people who need it. I mean, anything’s possible, including the outside chance that James Ashby might not be History’s Greatest Monster.


Spam of the day:

Get your Hemp Infused Coffee Here

I use neither cannabis products nor coffee products.

¹ Alternately, if he can keep Ashby busy on Season Four, at least he won’t have time to get up to any other reprehensible behavior for a while.

Doing Better

Y’know, I’ve missed an awful lot of comic news these days, simply because the volume on social media exceeds my ability to keep up with it. When I get to open Twitter, I’m not reading from where I left off to the present to catch up; I’m scanning what’s immediately in front of me and skipping over entire swathes. Finding the new story is entirely hit or miss if I’m not tagged.

Last night, I happened to open Twitter directly on a story du jour, this one about a creep whose whisper network is finally speaking out loud; the volume of discussion vs my time was such that I’m sure I haven’t seen all of it. Cameron Stewart [no link] did the fairly brilliant (if sporadic) Sin Titulo [no link, although see below], I met him back around 2007 or 8, I bought an original or two from him at MoCCAs past, and we would talk webcomics once or twice a year at shows until, I dunno? 2013? Before he got the Batgirl gig. From multiple people willing to go on the record, he was a sex pest towards much younger women, and arguably grooming teens for later sexual relationships.

I’m not getting into arguments as to whether or not he did anything illegal or if hitting on comics fans (as opposed to up and coming creators) by leveraging his status in the field obstructs new careers while they’re getting started. We’re also not having those arguments on this page — have them elsewhere. His behavior was predatory, and if it was a guy in his 30s in a van hanging around the high school, I think fewer people would be reluctant to call our his behavior. But it wasn’t, it was a respected creator using his position at cons to cultivate relationships not with women he sought out, but with ones he could get alone.

I’ve reached a point in life where I don’t have any compunctions about calling out shitty behavior, or demanding the people I associate with not engage in established patterns of shitty behavior. He hadn’t posted anything on Twitter in about forever that I recall (and his account was locked when I looked this morning), but I’ve unfollowed. His work exists, but I’m no longer promoting it¹. It’s not really a very high bar to clear that you don’t willingly associate with shitty people, or tell people that are perhaps thinking about engaging in shitty behavior that they have to do better.

There are too many people out there doing better, doing too much good work, to waste time on those that can’t be bothered to not be a garbage person. I doubt I’ll have cause to speak of him again, and would like to spend the rest of today talking about some of those folks that find ways to do better².

  • Jim Zub is the opposite of an obstruction to new creators; I’ve remarked on this page that his habit of sharing information, best practices, and data from his own creator-owned career has had the effect of making up-and-coming creators more effective and more likely to succeed in their careers, which is arguably against Zub’s interests. If those newbies that he’s coaching become runaway successes, they might take jobs (or comic-buying dollars) that might have gone to Zub instead, and he doesn’t have a problem with that. He wants to succeed in comics, but not by pulling up the ladder behind him. If somebody grows past him, he’ll be thrilled because he’ll get to read awesome new comics.

    Which is why it’s heartening to see him score a success off his first creator-owned comic series³, Skullkickers:

    Copernicus Studios Inc is proud to announce a development deal to adapt the SKULLKICKERS comic series written by Zub and illustrated by Edwin Huang and Chris Stevens into an animated action-adventure series for adults.

    The rest is out of the press release stylebook that talks about Zub, talks about the studio, makes reference to why adult animated makes sense from a market perspective, then has the artificially enthusiastic quote at the end. I’m not sure why press releases feel the need to format themselves in such a way as to invite — nay, demand — a businessperson exclaiming It’s time to kick some skulls!, but there are entire B-school marketing curricula that train people to do that. Anyway, Zub’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to Adult Swim or whoever featuring a pair (sometimes trio) of reprobates that take apart every fantasy trope and cliche.

  • Speaking of those younger creators who hit the stratosphere in terms of critical and popular success, you’d be hard pressed to find one with as meteoric a rise as Tillie Walden. In my review of her spectacular Are You Listening?, I wrote:

    There is a moment when I open a Tillie Walden book when I pause, knowing that there’s a very high chance that what I’m about to read will take up residence in my brain for an extended period of time until I am changed by the experience.

    I pause not because I am reluctant, but because I’ll never again have that moment of anticipation when I have an entire new Tillie Walden story to look forward to.

    So to say that I love her comics is a bit of an understatement. I also know that Walden’s comics are possibly not a thing we’ll get to enjoy indefinitely; musing on how Are You Listening? wouldn’t be out of place as a career-capping masterwork after 50 years of comics making:

    Given how Tillie Walden threw herself into skating to the exclusion of all else for ten years or so before shifting to comics, it might well be the capstone of her comics career if she decides it’s time to shift again. It would be a tragedy to have no more comics from Walden, except for the fact that whichever next artistic endeavour she threw herself into would surely be as assured and captivating as this one.

    I’m not saying that Walden is leaving comics behind, but she’s spent a good deal of the past year or so illustrating a tarot deck, and she’s now part of a comics-adjacent-but-not-comics project that could take her career in a new direction:

    entering the world of picture books with @edhunsinger

    More precisely, Walden and Emma Hunsinger (Eisner nominee this year for How To Draw A Horse in The New Yorker, which was really amazing — even more amazing is for a young woman to break into the ranks of New Yorker cartoon regulars) are partnered up on My Parents Won’t Stop Talking:

    The co-authored, co-illustrated book, which marks Walden’s picture book debut and Hunsinger’s publishing debut, stars siblings whose trip to the park is waylaid by a torturously slow but wildly imaginative wait, as their endlessly with the neighbors.

    And whee-doggies, the world of picture books seems to have different economics than the world of comics, as Roaring Brook Press (sister imprint to :01 Books) bought MPWST for a euphemistically large six figures.

    We at Fleen offer the heartiest congratulations to Hunsinger and Walden. I’ll need to clear space next to The Princess And The Pony, King Baby, Leave Me Alone!, The Little Guys, and the soon-to-be-released Let’s Get Sleepy by fall of next year.

Spam of the day:

How to shrink your swollen prostate naturally (sleep better, normal pee, better sex)

Wow. Just went looking for the big ol’ spammer mark profile list that reads “Dudes over 50”, didn’t you?

¹ He’s no longer linked on the suggested comics list, but for more than being shitty. When I clicked on Sin Titulo’s link earlier today prior to removing it, I found that it’s been replaced by a Japanese language site offering Perfect Bridal Dress [sic], so you couldn’t follow the link even if I wanted to point you towards it. I suppose it’s still at the Wayback Machine, but I ain’t providing a shortcut.

² And may entropy grant that more people whose work and company I’ve enjoyed don’t turn out to be shitty people in future. Giving up their company and their art isn’t the issue — it’s that even a handful is too damn many.

³ Or perhaps, series of miniseries; there were multiple four-issue arcs, each separated by a single issue of short stories.

I Feel The Need For Some Every Moves

I note that time and circumstance has combined for me to not post anything of substance the last couple of Fridays.

I also note that I am frequently telling other folks in These Times — right now, we are all From Circumstances — that one must practice self-care.

I have decided to combine these two notes. Until the news is less horrific and more comics-y, I am going to be cutting the Friday posts down to something minimal and doing my best to step away from [gestures] yeah, this. I trust you’ll understand this new tradition.

But before I go, listen to the first six and a half minutes or so of the newest Comic Lab if you want to know why I have been gently rebuffing my wife’s suggestion that YouTube has self-haircut tutorials. Then listen to the rest ’cause Cat Farris is the guest and she’s awesome.

Spam of the day:

In your e-mail address I had booked a ticket to participate in the drawing of Russian Lotto. Use the ticket and take part in the draw can be the link or the same.

Yeah, no.

Apropos Of Nothing …

… but I need to mention again that Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are a godsdamned delight and I don’t know anybody else that could start a comic with anxiety over the looming menace of COVID-19 and immediately transition to butt toys. Read their comic and buy their books, you cowards.

In other, non-buttcentric news:

It’s been a while since we talked about folks that don’t do webcomics, but who do do independent creations on the internet, and it’s time the reset the counter. The Doubleclicks (siblings Aubrey Turner and Laser Malena-Webber) make wonderfully nerdy music and Kickstart equally wonderful projects. When not Kickstarting, they still make nerdy projects to keep in touch with their audience and they’ve got a doozy on both the wonderful and nerdy scales for the Isolation Times:

We made a new music video. Together! In one place!

For our song DIMETRODON. From a thousand miles away — we went to a museum, danced in a square … all in the video game Animal Crossing.

It was a ton of fun. And we are debuting it RIGHT NOW!!!

Now, on the off chance you’re not familiar with Dimetrodon, understand that the original music video for the song was pretty damn amazing, so there are some big, clawfooted shoes to fill here, but the new one does just great. But yeah, buncha folks have made cute videos in Animal Crossing, so is there more?

Oh, but of course there is:

Speaking of Animal Crossing… our incredible friend Jules just opened up a queer bookshop and cafe inside this video game (WILD) and invited us to do a concert there.

So on THURSDAY — at 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern — we are performing live, inside Animal Crossing, and streaming it on YouTube — with our friend Molly Lewis! The whole thing is free to watch, and we’ll be encouraging donations to a charity that supports trans folx in financial need.

The concert will be here, and I remind you of a crucial piece of math: anything involving Molly Lewis is automatically 38% cooler than it would be ordinarily.

Are we done yet? Not yet, Sparky:

PPS — if you play Animal Crossing and have reliable internet, you can be maybe in the studio audience for our show! reply to this email and let me know if you’re interested!!

I’m not gonna share that email address, as it goes to those that have subscribed to Doubleclick emails (via purchases, Kickstart backing, or merely signing up) and it wouldn’t be right for those folks to maybe get crowded out. Guess you should sign up in advance of the next cool thing that they do, huh?

Finally, I would like you to know one more thing:

You may know that Laser is a Kickstarter coach. We wanted to let you know that they made a FOURTEEN WEEK How-To-Crowdfund class and they’re launching it RIGHT NOW!

Here are three pieces of information.

  1. Laser has raised $1 million for independent artists, consulted for folks including Jonathan Coulton and the Presidents of the United States of America, and worked on book, music, game, and film projects.
  2. Crowdfunding pledges are NOT GOING DOWN during this time — and crowdfunding is just the goshdarn best way to get your art made and connect with your audience. (half of that is opinion, but it is TRUE OPINION).
  3. You can get 50% off (yeah, that’s half) of Laser’s step-by-step audience-building and crowdfunding class until May 31, because you are a doubleclicks email list person. the code is THANKYOU

Okay, that’s a separate email, but it seemed like at least some of you might benefit from it; unlike the first communication, this one explicitly included permission to share the discount code, so go nuts. Laser’s super smart and you can only get better at your next crowdfunding unless you’re like, George or Spike¹.

Spam of the day:

Hey – I’m working with a company that is looking for sites that have content relating to clothing and I came across yours. Any chance you’d be open to hearing about a way you could link to a merchant and make money in the case someone clicks on the link and purchases something?

Is that a dig at webcomics creators being nothing but t-shirt sellers? You’re about a dozen years late with that shit, Rob A if that is your name.

¹ All the best crowdfunders have single names.

Two Parts One And One Part Two

Some new things kicking off, and a very cool thing returning for another go.

  • If you’ve read Fleen ever, one indisputable fact will jump out at you: Ryan Estrada doesn’t do things by half measures. We’re on the eve of release of his new collaborative graphic novel, Banned Book Club (co-written by Estrada and his wife, Kim Hyun Sook; art by Ko Hyung-Ju), based on his wife’s experiences in the former South Korean military dictatorship. Not content to rest on any laurels (a mountain of glowing press, and continually-increasing pre-orders of the book count as laurels), Estrada decided to launch his latest project: a podcast of sorts.

    Big deal, I hear you cry, everybody and their dog is startin’ a podcast during quarantimes. To which I reply, a) Estrada’s experience of quarantine is very different from yours and mine, as he and his wife live in Busan, South Korea, which has managed the pandemic better than probably anyplace else on the planet¹ and b) it’s not a podcast. It’s a series of radio plays based on the sequels to A Christmas Carol that Dickens wrote and the world promptly forgot about. Let’s let Estrada tell it himself:

    I’m the new writer/host/director of BeFM Drama!

    I’m turning Charles Dickens’ 22 weird forgotten Christmas Carol sequels into brand new radio plays for Korean radio. Not direct adaptations, but kinda like how Clueless is based on Emma.

    Please enjoy episode 1 of my new radio show!

    This one is about a man who has such a bad day that he wishes he didn’t exist. But he reconsiders his position when he’s tricked into believing he’s already dead.

    Yep, sounds weird. The Riverside Chimes is a bit under 20 minutes, and if you like it, there’s three more stories already posted to the Tubes. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, BeFM Drama has a few dozen audio adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and other classic English language short fiction for your listening pleasure.

  • Also kicking off, The Nib is partnering with Reveal, the investigative reporting project from The Center For Investigative Reporting; the new series is called In/Vulnerable, and it’s chronicling the ways that the COVID pandemic is hitting all layers of society, where billionaires are demanding everybody else go back to work with insufficient protections.

    Up today: the story of Manuel, a refugee from Cuba who’s been in prison humane and efficient temporary detention for more than a year, and is watching the threat of the virus creep closer. Whatever your views on immigration, you cannot possibly argue that fleeing a repressive government (it’s even one that Screamy Orange Racist Grandpa hates!) is a crime merits being thrown into inhumane conditions until a deadly disease kills you.

    And if you do argue that? Do me a favor and leave my page and never return. I make it a policy not to consort with sociopaths.

  • Lastly, the :01 Books virtual comics show, Comics Relief, has announced sign-ups for its second session:

    Comics fans, mark your calendars for Comics Relief: June 2020 on Saturday, 6/6 from 12pm-4pm ET! Click here to register for the next virtual :01 festival: #ComicsRelief

    Four sessions this time, with a discussion of space comics at noon EDT (Maris Wicks! Jim Ottaviani! Alison Wilgus!), a discussion of Maker Comics at 1:00pm (Falynn Koch! JP Coovert! Sarah Myer! Robyn Chapman!), a discussion of documentary comics at 2:00pm (Box Brown! Calista Brill!), and a talk about whatever’s on their minds at 3:00pm (Clint McElroy! Leuyun Pham! Mark Siegel!). Sign up at the link above, and I’ll see you in the conference on the 6th.

Spam of the day:

New project started to be available today, check it out [redacted].com/?renee

I’m including you because you listed out a series of porn genre terms, and one of them was tannie. Assuming this is a new genre based on, I dunno, well tanned people gettin’ it on, okay for giving people what they want I guess?

But if you managed to misspell the derogatory term for trans folks, then you get double my normal dose of contempt, which I assure you is both well merited and considerable.

¹ Which is what happens when your country demands competency from its leaders, and learned the lessons of the SARS outbreak and determined to never fail in pandemic response again.

What Day Is It Again?

Hey, have the days started to run together for you, rendering all sense of what’s a work day and what’s the weekend meaningless? Cool, cool … but I’ve got a work from home job and the weekend actually still has meaning for me and I am looking forward to this one like you wouldn’t believe. If the same is true for you, or if weekends are whenever you want them to be for the time being, doesn’t matter. I decree that tomorrow is the day for you to kick back and relax a bit. Here’s some info to help you plan what you might do.

Spam of the day:

Gwenith Paltrow and Kate Hudson have both taken selfies wearing the mask N95

Dude, don’t even. The only thing “Gwenith” ever takes selfies with is a fake-ass pseudoscience doodad — hello, jade vag egg! — that you can conveniently buy from the Goop store for the equivalent of two days labor at minimum wage. N95s ain’t got nearly enough woo to interest her.

¹ Reminder: today is Friday. Unless you’re reading this on a different day, in which case maybe it’s not. Look at your phone, it’ll tell you what day it is.

² Oh, and everybody that submits questions will be entered into a drawing for a free STACK O’ BOOKS, winner to be announced during the Q&A session (session #6, 4:00pm EDT). 13 years or older, resident of the US to win, good luck everybody.

Ups And Downs

I’m wondering if we’re starting to hit the end of Phase One of the coronavirus response. We still don’t have full distancing in all places (thanks, Republican governors!), and those of us that have been under restrictions for a couple weeks are hitting the it’s going to be how much longer? stage. Various notable people are being reported in critical condition or deceased because of COVID-19, new evidence how just how bad it’s going to get for the areas still in denial drop daily, and a concentrated, national response still hasn’t even started because of the insecure egotist in charge.

Things are about to get explosively bad in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia — and then everywhere else, hopefully not until we pass the peaks in the early-hit places. We’ll get there. We’ll find that what seems hard and isolating becomes doable (and those of us who’ve been doing it for a while will have it incumbent on us to help those that come behind). Practice helps (says the guy that had his first positive-screened patient over the weekend, and expects to get them regularly from here on out), but not as much as patience.

So. Deep breath. There’s some stuff here to take your mind off things for a bit, and an opportunity to help make something amazing, if it’s within your ability at the present time (which is absolutely not the ideal time). And, because we live in a crapsack reality, something that’s usually pretty bad has become downright terrible. Let’s start with that one and work our way up:

  • Diamond is a monopoly, and those are never a good idea. Having already decided it won’t receive/ship comics for the foreseeable future, it decided today that because it’s not got money coming in from comic stores — that would be the comic stores that Diamond’s already said won’t be getting the product they ordered — it’s not going to pay its suppliers for product they’ve already received and sold.

    It’s a neat tornado of shitty behavior: announce you’re not going to be sending stuff to your customers, which causes customers to not pay you to do nothing, which causes you to not have money coming in, so you decide to keep what money you’ve already got and not pay the vendors that supplied you in good faith. Whatever form the direct market takes when all of this is done, I sincerely hope this course of action is the death knell for the crappiest link in the comics chain and that multiple new companies arise and put Diamond in the dirt.

    Oh, yeah, they did the same to the games distribution vendors as well.

  • Couple weeks back we brought you news of Fredddave Kellett-Schroeder’s new interview series Kickstart, a project which got off to a comfortable start and then just sort of stalled. Don’t get me wrong — this funding curve would be great if it were depicting, say, a count of coronavirus infections¹, but it’s not where you want to be for a project funding. The FFF mk2 isn’t looking promising: US$64K-96K, with a goal of just under US$90K would be promising, except for one thing.

    The project was promoted to past backers of Stripped and other Kellett projects for 18 hours or so before the public reveal, and a good chunk of that day one total comes from the pre-announcement period. It’s a useful technique, but it throws off the funding formula, which relies on an organic launch. A better metric in this case would be the McDonald Ratio, which states that the first three days of funding equals one third of the total raised, or in this case about US$65K, well under goal. The dramatic dropoff from day two to day three, and the almost zero funding since² make this one a longshot.

    Which is a damn shame, because this series looks super interesting. There’s still time to turn things around, weirder things have happened, but it’s going to take a lot of people deciding they want this in the next nine days (days of uncertainty and economic stress nobody was considering back in early March). More likely, this is going to have to be shelved until a later time when people have spare money again. Just … if you have discretionary funds right now, give it some thought, okay?

  • Let’s end on some unalloyed good news. Aud Koch has shared her first week’s quarantine art, and it’s stunning. Go take a good long look and forget all of … this … for a while.

Spam of the day:
Got a call from “Mike” who claimed to be calling to reduce my electric bill, from a clearly audible boiler room. I told him You’re lying, you’re trying to steal from me while a plague is underway, and I hate you. Felt great.

¹ It bears a striking resemblance to the curve for South Korea, who have done everything in just about the complete opposite way that the US has. Never forget: both countries saw their first confirmed case on the same day. That being said, some of the worst-hit areas here in the US are starting to just maybe see a flattening in the curve and that’s good news. Don’t slack off now; hold the line and drive it down into the dirt.

² Including three days of negative funding. Ouch.