The webcomics blog about webcomics

At This Rate, They Won’t See Punching Or Boat Explosions

Okay, let me be clear for a moment– change purely for the sake of change isn’t a good thing. Change purely for the sake of change is why I work for a corporation that, approximately every 18 months, reorganizes itself from top to bottom, leaving tens of thousands of people in dozens of countries unsure sure of exactly who they work for or what the purpose of their organization is, for no good reason whatsoever¹. The work is something I’m very skilled at and enjoy, the salary and benefits are good, and the checks don’t bounce is literally the extent of why I work there, because there is no broader sense of mission or purpose that will be retained 18 months from now and I’ve opted out of even trying to pretend to care².

But change that improves upon the stale or inappropriate, that updates the old in favor of something better? That’s necessary; it’s why every five years, there are new protocols for CPR, as we figure out with empirical evidence what works and what doesn’t, stop doing things that are harmful, and iterate our way to practices that are better.

All of which is to say, it’s been two weeks since we learned that Mark Trail has a new dad, and today’s the day that the strip switches to new creator Jules Rivera (the latest in editor Tea Fougner’s webcomics-originating strip-assumers). The regular readers of Mark Trail were largely caught unawares, judging by the comments section under today’s strip, and it is hilarious.

All of these hidebound folks lamenting that the strip won’t look anachronistic any longer, decrying that it’ll now be written and drawn by a woman (gasp!) of color (double gasp!!), and therefore suck and they’re quitting right now.

They don’t know what they’re going to be missing:

The opening story arc has no less than five boat explosions.

If that’s their idea of ruination, I’m sorry they hate fun.

Which is all the more hilarious because so many of them specifically cited boat explosions as one of the things that make Old School Mark Trail awesome that will obviously never happen again³. But I guess when you demand comic strips never change4, you miss out on a lot of stuff.

Speaking of never changing, I have a feeling that the diehard Trail-heads would be be upset about anything that allows things they like to be enjoyed by somebody new because scarcity means value? I’m thinking now about a very neat idea that a friend pointed me towards the same day I learned about the imminent Apocalypse Mark Trail transition, one aims to make comics more accessible.

ComicA11y comes from Aussie designer/illustrator/developer Paul Spencer, and is designed to make comic strips open to people with various challenges. Actually, let me rephrase that; as Scott McCloud once put it, all of us have cognitive limits when reading, whether we fit into a traditional model of disability or not, and ComicA11y is designed to reduce the burden of reading comics, because while they may be simple enough for you or me to read, that doesn’t mean they’re equally easy for somebody else.

So let’s enhance comics. Spencer’s starting list includes:

  • Resizable text; of all the adaptations found on comic websites, this is the most likely to have some kind of inclusion (probably within the browser), along with responsive design for the viewing device.
  • The native font can be substituted with a simpler one that features more easily-discerned letter shapes (notably, mixed case instead of all uppercase; take that Brad Guigar!5).
  • A closed caption mode prints the text for the strip below the panels, one balloon at a time. With each new caption, a headshot of the speaker is shown, and the speaker themself is highlighted in the strip to stand out from the background. Having text outside the image means that screen readers can see it.
  • High contrast mode strips out the color, leaving sharp black and white, with extraneous background details suppressed.
  • The strip can switch between horizontal and vertical layouts.
  • A large number of languages are provided for translation, with or without the captioning; support for both left-to-right and right-to-left languages is included.
  • Crucially, behind the scenes there’s support for HTML5 markups that tie into various assistive technologies.

Spencer is still looking at further improvements, including the ability to work with unalike panel sizes, connected speech bubbles, and ways to incorporate all of these features without impeding the creators. That last is probably the most important, in that all of these enhancements will rely on the willingness of creators to do extra work. Christopher Baldwin, for example, includes an audio narration of each Spacetrawler strip, and kudos to him for doing so.

But even when an accessibility feature is easy to use, how many people will use it? Do you include alt-text captions on images in your Tweets for screen readers for the visually impaired? I do so about two time out of three, if I’m being honest.

In addition to ease of use, ComicA11y (and whatever similar solutions may be developed) need ubiquity and an expectation on the part of the audience needs to get back to the creators that this is expected. They need to hear that if a comic is made for you, it needs to be made for as many other people as possible. Any ideas on that, or features, or improvements, Spencer’s email is at the bottom of the ComicA11y page, and he’s inviting feedback. Here’s hoping he gets some that’s really good, and he gets further in his goals of making comics available to everybody.

Even sticks in the mud that ragequit Mark Trail before the boatsplosions.


Spam of the day:

Dial Vision Glasses are unique glasses with adjustable lenses designed to correct vision issues on an as needed basis.
It is easy to adjust the individual lenses using the control knob.

Or — and try to follow me because this is a little complicated — I could go to the drugstore where they have a waide variety of eyeglasses with various levels of magnification for about seven bucks a pair, which is what people do if they don’t have more complex problems (like my astigmatism) that require specific lens shapes. You’ve invented a pair of head-mounted, open-frame, low-power binoculars.

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¹ Aside from the obvious, which is to settle feuds at the senior executive level and make it impossible for anybody to take responsibility for anything that happened in a line of reporting that no longer exists, duh.

² Fortunately, approximately 94% of all the very important mandatory all-hands teleconferences that are meant to obfuscate what’s going on happen during times when I’m teaching and thus can’t attend, oh darn.

³ While not a daily reader, I think I’ve paid close enough attention to Mark Trail over the past 20 years to notice two, maybe three boat explosions in that time. When something exciting happens that infrequently, I guess you cling to it. Curiously, none of the commenters is worried about a lack of Mark Trail punching a bad guy so hard he loses his facial hair.

4 Another commenter mourns that Heart Of The City sucks now, which it curiously started to do when taken over by a Black woman.

5 You know I love you, Brad.

That’s Today!

Stepping away from webcomics for a day; if you saw my tweet over the weekend, you know that I’m deep into multiple books and review are forthcoming. Also, work tech is failing today and robbing me of nearly all free time and also the will to live.

So I’ll just point out that it’s 21 September, and that means Demi Adejuyigbe has released his annual video celebrating this fact and it is a socially-distanced delight of impeccable timing.

It includes has an appeal at the end that I feel Fleen folks are amenable to¹ — to ensure there’s another video next year, Adejuyigbe is asking for US$50K to be raised for a collection of action groups serving BIPOC, trans, and the unhoused across the country. You can give at sept21st.com but maybe hold off a day or two, as the high response is, uh, throttling the funding site (as of this writing, 3 hours and five minutes after launch, he’s 95% of the way to goal).

And, as a bonus, he’ll do another video if funding hits US$69,420 because One Sexweed is a good amount.


Spam of the day:

I wanted to ask a question about your business and the credit card processing fees you pay every month. You shouldn’t be paying 1.5% to 2.5% in Credit Card Processing Fees anymore. New laws are on your side.

I pay negative a zillion percent on credit card processing fees and if you want my business, you’ll have to agree to rebates of 157% on every charge I put through. My business is valuable, and you’ll make up the costs in volume!

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¹ Also a good doggo.

Gamecomics? Comicgames!

Tie-ins, at the very least. Let’s see what’s up.

  • There have been numerous adaptations of Girl Genius (by Professor and Professoressa Foglio) into other media over the years — novelizations, radio dramas, card games — and they’ve expanded to a new frontier now with vidyagames. Girl Genius: Adventures In Castle Heterodyne takes its inspiration from the Castle Heterodyne mega-arc (running roughly from here to here, or about six years of comics), which gives a whole lotta room to play.

    The game itself is made by Rain Games of Norway, who appear to have a track record making games of this sort, but not crowdfunding — this is their first Kickstarter campaign. Goal is set at a reasonable US$200K, but they’ve got stretch goals reaching improbably as high as one million dollars which … I don’t think I’ve ever seen stretch goals go as high as five times base funding and actually be met.

    There’s a huge ask, so the FFF mk2 may not work so well — the trend held really steady for the first couple of days then dropped hard, giving a prediction of about US$135K-200K, which puts goal at the upper end of the range. The McDonald Ratio is predicting about US$150K total, which is worrisomely low.

    Again, this isn’t the sort of project that the predictions were trained on, so we’ll have to see, but with 6 days down and 24 to go, the project sits at 31% of goal at present, and video games are both notoriously expensive, and have a tendency to run over both time and budget. We’ll have to see.

  • By contrast, paper-based games are quicker and cheaper to develop, and oftentimes the creator of a comic is deep into a particular game, which helps. Enter: Jim Zub, who’s already got a dedicated Skullkickers“>Skullkickers tabletop game in development, but who also decided to mark the 10th anniversary of the comic by releasing the first new Skullkickers story in five years inside a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure book.

    Skullkickers: Caster Bastards And The Great Grotesque¹ will feature a 30 page story and 60 page adventure campaign, featuring new spells, game mechanics, magic items, and monsters, adaptable to whatever game you’re currently playing.

    As I may have mentioned previously, I haven’t played D&D since it was called Advanced D&D waaaay back in my college days — before 2nd edition was a thing — and I’m heartily tempted to get this because a) Skullkickers is hilarious, and b) the love that’s pouring out of the game portion of this book is apparent even through the distance of the internet.

    Zub’s been writing official D&D comics for a couple a’ years now, and went so far as to shave his head to better get into character for a live game last year. He’s mentioned multiple times that his course in life was irretrievably set from discovering D&D at the age of 8, so when he tells me that he’s picked out some top-notch game designers to make the playable part of this as good as it can be? It’s gonna be good.

    And, as an added incentive, the crowdfunding/fulfillment parts are being run by George, who mentioned casually he is approaching his 100th crowdfunding project managed, so I think he just might have a handle on how to keep everybody on track. Just a hunch. It’s a little early to apply the FFF mk2 math, but somewhere around a day in, they’re at 64% of the CA$22.3K (or US$16,843) goal with 23 days to go, so I think this one’s gonna fund. In case you were wondering, only one of the top tier reward (where, among other things, you appear as a wizard character in Caster Bastards) remains as of this writing.


Spam of the day:

Hello! I saw you the other day and I really liked you. I live in a neighboring yard, alone) let’s meet at my place?

This town’s ordinances don’t even allow dogs to live in yards, they have to have access to the house. Besides, I know my neighbors and none of them speak Russian like you do.

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¹ I’m sure the similarity of that title to Hamster Huey And The Gooey Kablooie is mere coincidence.

Happy Fake Labor Day

What’s that? You didn’t know how this isn’t the real day to celebrate working folks, the one that’s celebrated around the world? Fortunately, The Nib has you covered, with a timely rerun from two years ago by Sam Wallman.

So in honor of the holiday (not that we can really tell the difference, as today is functionally March 192nd), this is going to be short post, letting you know about the winner of the Fleen Free Graphic Novel Giveaway. We took at look at the responses¹ and from them randomly picked Erik, who wrote:

I’ve been meaning to subscribe to The Nib for quite a while, and this is exactly the push over the line I’ve been needing. Regardless of whether I win a book, I’m subscribing now, for the foreseeable future given the level of content. And if by some chance my name gets pulled, I’d love the George Takei memoir – he’s been a superb role model for how to turn celebrity into positive social energy.

Everybody feel good for Erik! Once They Called Us Enemy gets delivered, there will be a selfie that we’ll run here.

Oh, and as a quick reminder, today is the premiere of Elinor Wonders Why; you can look up broadcast times for your local PBS station at PBS.org and clicking on the link for TV Schedules, which should take you to your local PBS station; for those of you in the NYC metro area, Channel 13 has it at 10:30am and 1:30pm.

That’s it, everybody; enjoy the day, read about the history of the labor movement or other attempts at progress and justice, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.


Spam of the day:

Hey, great site. Are you guys still open? I’m reaching out businesses who need more customers right away. Here’s how we can increase the visitors to your business immediately

Reply to spam of the day:

If I were any more open, I’d be the Goatse guy!

I swear I actually replied to the email with this. I am both proud and not proud of this.

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¹ Since we posted the contest, we at Fleen have become aware of an irregular email issue where some senders (but not all, and even those that are affected aren’t affected all the time) are getting errors that the domain fleen.com doesn’t exist. I spent some time with tech support today and it’s a nameserver issue, the resolution to which will take another day or two to spread. If you got bounced on your entry, I’m very sorry and better luck next time we give something away.

You Know How Fiction Can Illuminate Truths About Reality?

Got a couple of things to mention today, starting with a prime example of how science fiction and fantasy are ultimately always about the society you live in now. Let’s just say you don’t need to know 1200+ strips of complex (somtimes very complex) plot to get how the latest update of Order Of The Stick could apply to all kinds of situations today. Well done, Rich Burlew.

Readers may recall that :01 Books have had a couple of con-like virtual events under the title of Comics Relief, the first in April and the second in June be sure to check out the replays of the sessions — the various process events are interesting from a craft perspective, and the three that involve :01 creative director Mark Siegel are a masterclass in how to conduct an interview that flows like a conversation.

Readers may also recall how this page has discussed the impact that :01 Books has had on comics beyond its own backlist of authors, on account of :01 alumni have gone on to other publishers and imprints and how Siegel’s vision of what comics could be is now essentially the mission statement for the entire industry.

Finally, readers had damn well better recall that one of those alumni is Gina Gagliano, a woman not only tasked with launching a new graphic novel imprint in a too-brief timeframe, but also with a debut season beset by a worldwide pandemic. Okay, that last bit wasn’t planned, but she’s got to deal with it all the same. Gagliano knows you have to roll with the punches, and if there’s not been a third Comics Relief in a while now, she’s just gonna have to pitch in with something similar:

Random House Graphic is announcing an exciting kickoff to the fall season with “Falling for Graphic Novels,” a series of virtual events in September hosted by five indie bookstores across the United States.

The panels will feature Random House Graphic’s creators and allow attendees to discover and virtually visit new stores around the country. Each panel will focus on a theme in kids and YA comics, allowing readers to immerse themselves in stories of magic and heroes, queer and diverse representation, and even an interactive art class.

The celebration will give attendees an in-depth look at this exciting medium that continues to grow in popularity and show the power and breadth of visual storytelling. The series begins Wednesday, September 2, with a new event each week.

The five events will be:

Click on any of the five titles to go to the reservations page.

There are some great names in there, but I’m particularly interested in the first one because Oliver Sava is one of the very best writers about comics working today. The LGBTQ+ session also looks great, but I’ll have to catch whatever replay is available, as Tuesday is EMT duty night. And did you notice Gagliano’s old boss is a panelist on the last session? Siegel doesn’t just publish graphic novels, he makes them, and the Five Worlds series has been at Penguin Random House since before RHG was formed as a single gathering point.

I was going to talk about one thing more today, but I think I’ll let it sit until tomorrow; it’s getting late to hit Publish and also I want another day to absorb before I’m ready to talk about Shing Yin Khor’s latest meditation in comics form.


Spam of the day:

I have been waiting for you since to contact me regarding your winning amount of US$2, 100, 000.00 (Two Million One Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) loaded on your ATM Visa Card which we discussed. We are duly interred switched, therefore you can make withdrawal in any location of ATM Machine Center Cash point of your choice in any part of the world and the maximum you can withdraw a day is $5,000 US Dollar.

A good, old fashioned 419 scam? That takes me back.

A Little Holeboxing Day Joy

As I trust you all remember, yesterday was Holemas, the day that we commemorate Ryan North getting stuck in a hole. In fact, yesterday was the 5th Holemas, the original adventure having taken place in 2015. And if yesterday was Holemas, that makes today Holeboxing Day, when the mighty give gifts to the meek.

And who — who, I ask you — is mightier than Strong Bad? Nobody, that’s who. And since it is long-standing doctrine in these parts the Homestar*Runner is a webcomic, I wanted to tell you about something the estimable Mr Bad has coming up, along with some friends of his.

One of the side effects of the Oh Glob, We’re Going To Be Like This Forever Thanks To Incompetent Federal Behavior pandemic is that live shows pretty much don’t exist, unless you’re Smash Mouth and you feel like doing your damndest to to Sturgis, South Dakota into the latest contact-tracing nexus. It’s a tough thing, relying on people that will pay you to be in the same space at the same time as you, but some internet-centric musicians have been doing remote concertlike events for some time, and I’m not saying that COVIDtimes are good times for them, but they’re at least a bit ahead of the curve in figuring out how to ply their trade.

Enter: The Doubleclicks, nerdy musicians par excellence. They’ve been running shows everywhere from straight YouTube to inside Animal Crossing for a bit now, and they’re ready to bring a bunch of their nerdiest friends together for a big ol’ show of music and comedy on Saturday, 22 August at 6:00pm PDT/9:00pm EDT:

Join Internet musicians Jonathan Coulton, the Doubleclicks, Nur-D and Molly Lewis for an evening of music, comedy and love, with lots of special guests including: Hal Lublin (Thrilling Adventure Hour, Nightvale), Danielle Radford (SyFy’s Great Debate), Strongbad (Homestarrunner), Zach Reino (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Kim Evey (The Guild), and SO MANY MORE, with sketches written by Kayla Cagan (Piper Perish) and produced by Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure Hour)!

It’s like one of those big variety shows at conventions with lots of cameos and funny bits, except it’s in your house, and it’s very very very well-organized, because we’re running it.

That from the email that Los Dobles Clics sent me because I give them money in exchange for their albums, but also on their website. Due to the number of folks performing, it won’t be a tip jar kind of situation, it’ll be a ticketed event, moreso because the show is a benefit for MacArthur Project and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief — proceeds will be used to obtain food, medicine, shelter, hygiene supplies, and other needs of LA denizens without homes.

Getting your ticket now means you’ll get an email with the link for the livestream (which will be replayble until Sunday, 6 September at midnight EDT) instead of waiting for a possibly over-busy website at showtime. Tickets are US$6.50, with an option to make an additional donation of any amount on top.

And because you’d like to know who all is on the bill, in addition to amazing superstar headliner Strong Bad and special guests The Doubleclicks, you’ll also have Jonathan Coulton, Nur-D, Molly Lewis, Amy Dallen, Aydrea Walden, Hal Lublin, Lexie Grace, Danielle Radford, Kim Evey, The Library Bards, Mary Robinette Kowal, Paul and Storm, and Zach Reino, in an extravaganza written by Laser Malena-Weber and Kayla Cagan.

Honestly, it’s a little too much entertainment for the cost of a fancy coffee and two-thirds of a pastry to go with it. It’s not like it’ll sell out, but get your tickets ahead of time anyway; when they see how much they’ve raised for the cause, the performers will put that much more love into the show.


Spam of the day:

We’ve developed the bots to act as salespeople in order to generate a consistent source of quality leads. They’re not only outperforming a typical sales persons workload by the equivalent of ten times, but they also drive down lead costs by a phenomenal amount.

This was sent to me because I’m the listed tech contact for my EMS agency’s website. I’m half-tempted to see if their bots can actually generate more sick and injured people and if they can, to get them shut down because it’ll be the friggin’ robot apocalypse.

A Small Point Of Followup

We mentioned Elinor Wonders Why, the new PBS animated show for kids — I’ma say 4-5 years old, based on the preview episode I watched; the press release said 3-5, but the 3 year olds I know have the attention spans of drosophila¹ — the other day, and wanted to mention just a couple of items in followup.

  • Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson are not only credited as Created by in the opening credits, but are also listed as Executive Producers and writers of the theme song. This is probably the greatest amount of showrunning ever performed by a pair of STEM PhDs in entertainment history.
  • Judging from the cast page at IMDB, the kid characters are voiced by actual kid actors.
  • An episode about butterflies was written by Rosemary Mosco, who is also pleased about the number of bugs and lizards in the show that she worked into the show. Mosco is exactly the person you want to share a love of nature and how it works with anybody of any age.

Get your favorite preschooler, check your local listings, and tune in for some all-ages science and nature learnin’ starting Monday, 7 September.


Spam of the day:

80 keto dessert recipes (free today)

I suppose this could be more nonsensical. It could be a promise of 80 paleo dessert recipes.

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¹ If the show manages to work drosophila into the show, I will be mightily impressed.

On The One Hand, New Books; On The Other, Blatant Discrimination Towards Moustache-Americans

It’s a sad day when stereotypes raise their ugly heads in the world of webcomics. The saddest part being, they hurt those that hold those prejudices the most.

  • I speak, naturally, of Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett and his campaign to print not one, but two new Sheldon collections simultaneously. That’s a message that’s worth discussing, but unfortunately LArDK gets side-tracked into a shame spiral over his choice of facial hair. Moustaches are not just for quarrantine, LArDK, they’re for life. Let go of your hate, find enlightenment, and realize that in this (as in so very, very much) your wife is correct.

    As for the rest of you, I’m certain that if the campaign goes well, it’ll help LArDK to a better place, and let him come to embrace what is objectively one fine lookin’ ‘stache that he’s rocking¹. Fortunately, success looks pretty certain; as of this writing, the funding is north of 83% and pretty likely to pile up some stretch goal improvements².

    If you’re interested in some thick books (each is more than 200 pages, which a quick glance at my bookshelf means they’re 50% larger than the previously biggest Sheldon collections) to be delivered around December (just saying, you could knock down some holiday shopping now) at an eminently reasonable price³, you’ve got until 10 September to pony up.

    Do it for the moustaches.

  • In non-moustache news (we do that sometimes), have you seen that Jorge Cham has been working on a TV show? I hadn’t? I think the first he mentioned it was about a month ago, which I missed. Then about two weeks back, he mentioned that he’d talked to the Television Critics Association in advance of the premiere, which I also missed. Look, a lot happens on Twitter these days and I’m trying to moderate my doomscrolling, okay? The TCA tweet showed up in my feed today and now I’m caught up.

    A quick flip between Twitter accounts revealed the original May 2019 press release, from which we will now quote:

    Today, PBS KIDS announced the animated series ELINOR WONDERS WHY, set to premiere Labor Day 2020. ELINOR WONDERS WHY aims to encourage children to follow their curiosity, ask questions when they don’t understand and find answers using science inquiry skills. The main character Elinor, the most observant and curious bunny rabbit in Animal Town, will introduce kids ages 3-5 to science, nature and community through adventures with her friends. This new multiplatform series, created by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson and produced in partnership with Pipeline Studios, will debut nationwide on PBS stations, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms.

    So this is what Cham and his We Have No Idea co-author Daniel Whiteson have been up to — they’ve been players in the hurly-burly world of Hollywood, power players in the production of televised entertainment, a seamy industry that has line items for cocaine and hookers in its budgets. Oh, wait, it’s PBS Kids? Never mind, that’s an entirely different seamy industry that has line items for tote bags and googly eyes in its budgets.

    In all seriousness, Cham and Whiteson have spent the past forever spreading knowledge about the universe we live in, how it works, and why we know what we know (and, crucially, what we don’t know … yet). The character designs for Elinor Wonders Why are cute, the lessons are imparted in a gentle fashion (check out a preview episode here), and if they aren’t exactly dealing with the hard science facts of their book, they are teaching basics like how senses work and how animals and plants behave, as well as mentioning prominent scientists.

    More importantly, they’re teaching logical thinking and the idea that problems have solutions that can be solved; that last idea frequently escapes people far older than Elinor‘s target audience, so the sooner we get the idea into kids, the better.
    Elinor Wonders Why debuts on PBS Kids (and maybe your local PBS station, but they don’t all run the same programming) and online on 7 September.


Spam of the day:

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Those are … disturbingly specific.

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¹ No longer subject to tricks of the light that make him look like J Jonah Jameson, the moustache in question is well on its way to Hadfieldian proportions.

² Not going to do a FFF mk2 calculation, as LArDK does early notices to his Patreon backers, with special discount tiers available to them for the first 24 hours of funding, before opening things up to everybody else. Perfectly legit technique, but it throws off the math.

³ 400+ pages of print edition for US$45 (plus S+H) means less than 12 cents per page, and with an average of two strips per page, less than six cents per laugh-chuckle. Giving up just one a’ your five buck fancy coffee drinks means you get more than 83 punchlines.

Yeah, looks like I did math after all.

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?

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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.


Wednesday

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.


Thursday

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.


Friday

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.


Saturday

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.


Sunday

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.