The webcomics blog about webcomics

As Expected, The Sawdust Bear Is Awesome

You know, when I get a bit down, I can always count on Shing Yin Khor to do something awesome and give me hope in humanity — or possibly gnomity — again. Along with seeing people share their playthroughs of A Mending on social media¹ and wondering how many stories have been birthed as a result, I’ve been thinking back on their intent to make this experience as broadly available as possible.

Experience because everybody I’ve shared it with regards it as more than a game. It’s an invitation to creativity, a tutorial in storybuilding, and an act of self-examination all wrapped in the guise of a game. But it’s the broadly part that I wanted to talk about. Readers may recall that when A Mending was Kickstarting, we at Fleen wrote about Khor’s determination to make it both an open-source framework for the story prompts that others might devise, and especially in acknowledging that they might not see all the barriers that could prevent individuals from being able to participate:

I’m creating two $1500 grants for people who would like to adapt A Mending for wider accessibility. One grant is focused on visual accessibility, the other on range-of-motion accessibility. These grants come with a free commercial license, so they can take 100% of profits from work they choose to make commercially available (I will only need attribution). The non-exclusive commercial license includes my art, writing and game design work. What does this mean? Maybe it’s someone selling raised versions of the cloth map in high contrast colors. Maybe it’s porting the game to Roll 20. Maybe a website that produces randomized voiceovers for all the cards. I don’t really know but I’d like to find out too! [emphasis original]

Not only that, but Khor decided that they would license the game framework to whoever came up with those accessibility modifications, so that the modded versions would be sold for profit. It’s been a busy time getting the A Mending kits out to backers², so it’s only now that they have been able to take a look at those grants. From a backers-only update³ to the campaign:

I initially wanted to offer two accessibility grants of [US]$1500 each to two people or groups working on improving accessibility on my game, A Mending. However, instead of creating an formal application process (which in this particular instance, feels like it might be more gate-keepy than useful), I have decided to simply put aside [US]$3000 to properly compensate people working on accessibility issues if they choose to work on a more accessible version of A Mending, which can include smaller targeted projects. I will write more about this soon, but if you’ve been thinking about ways A Mending could be more accessible, and would like to work on that, let me know — I’d like to pay you.

Proposals(these do not need to be formal) can be emailed directly to me(shingkhor who has an account at the Google-hosted mail, a dot-com); please include your budget/pay-rate and an outline of what you might want to make or do.

If you are an independent designer and would like to self-fund a more accessible version of A Mending, and only need a commercial license to make money on your version, email me. The license will allow you to produce a commercial version of the game with your accessibility changes, whether digital or physical. If you would like to produce a non-commercial version of the game, you can already do so under its current license. [emphasis mine]

I suspect that more people will make more things this way than in the original two grants model. And more people making more things will benefit exponentially more people who otherwise would have missed out.

Khor tells me they will be making a more public announcement once A Mending is widely available, although that may be some weeks away. If you have ideas, contact them at the email given above.


Spam of the day:

After years of providing professional blog writing and other copy material, I have recently launched my own site. My mission is to write engaging blog posts to help start ups and small businesses build credibility, providing quality and value, at an affordable level.

Dude, I don’t get paid for this, you think I’m going to pay you to write a generic post that has nothing to do with webcomics?

Okay, even more nothing than one of mine?

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¹ Yes, I included myself twice. Deal.

² As to be expected, with more than 2500 due physical rewards.

³ I emailed Khor for permission to quote and share, and they graciously agreed.

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

In conjunction with this page’s longstanding contention that almost anything can be a webcomic¹ today we are not talking about words + pictures in the traditional sense, but about stories that lead to amusement and joy in this month of both Pride and re-emergence, in the multimedia sense. Which is to say, The Doubleclicks are throwing a concert.

Pride time, baby, and this time we’re prouder than ever!

Hi would you like to see a bunch of amazing LGBTQ+ people sing songs and have fun in one big show?

Great news, we are producing such a show on June 12. ROARING RAINBOW is a dream come true, a joyful day of queer pride, and a benefit show for excellent organizations who do valuable work for trans youth, all produced and hosted by the Doubleclicks. Please help us support trans kids at this big powerful giant show!

We have gathered the Internet’s favorite queer icons in one place for this banefit concert of epic proportions. Join the Doubleclicks, Rebecca Sugar (creator of Steven Universe), Sydnee McElroy, Rileigh and Teylor Smirl (Still Buffering), Crys Matthews, and SO MANY MORE for a joyful online concert to benefit trans youth.

Check out tickets, extremely cute hats, and so many fun things right now! [emphases original]

That via an email from Laser Malena-Webber, the non-cello half of the sibling duo that wears feelings and nerdery on their sleeves and reminds us that it is okay to be/have those things. Laser and (Doubleclicks cello half) Aubrey Turner are together in the same place at the same time for the first time since the Before Times, and godsdammit, if they’re gonna be this happy they’re gonna make sure you have the opportunity as well.

So starting at 5:00pm EDT this Saturday, 12 June, at your computer or other internet-enabled device, you’ll get to join in with a bunch of rad folks in support of Trans Families and the National Center For Transgender Equality. All are welcome². My guess is that if you’re reading this page, you’re already a fan of at least a couple of the folks on the bill.

Tickets start at US$5.00 for the concert, US$20 for the concert + aftershow + prize package raffle, and go up to US$100 for sponsorship credit, swag, better chances in the raffle, and the satisfaction of making good things happen for other people. Good things like upping the contributions to the beneficiaries, and also subsidizing some zero-cost tickets (by request) to folks that unfortunately find even five bucks a burden. For those unable to attend, there’s some pretty sweet merch on the RR page as well, just scroll down past the tickets.

Okay, thunderstorm’s about to roll in and the power is flickering a little, so let’s wrap it up here. Whether you make it to the show or not, try to spend Saturday afternoon/evening/morning/whenever it might be wherever you might be being a little extra joyful on behalf of those who surely could use some joy in their lives. And in the words of Laser, Rarrr.


Spam of the day:

fleen.com is King but social proof is Queen, and the lady rules the house!

What.

That’s too nonsensical, spammers. What else you got for me today?

Padre, a real life Angel Whisperer, has been communicating with Angels since he was just a child.

Unless Padre has been communicating with Old Testament Final Fantasy Boss Monster-type angels, not interested. And if he has been, my condolences to Angel for being a gibbering wreck.

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¹ To quote me, Homestar*Runner is a webcomic.

² I don’t want to speak for Aubrey, Laser, et. al., but I’m gonna take a guess that if any terves want to pony up the ticket price and mind their manners and not be complete dickbags about other people being trans in the world, you’ll get to enjoy the show as well.

I also am gonna take a guess that people inclined to tervishness find fun and joy experienced by and in supoprt of trans and gender non-conforming folks to be like kryptonite³ and so they won’t be around.

³ Or possibly like Oz witches find buckets of water. Choose your preferred metaphor, they’re all equivalent.

Good Question, And A Reminder For All Of Us

Received in the Fleen mailbag from reader Alexander Rogers yesterday:

I had a webcomic question that I figured you would be well placed to answer. I recently read about an upcoming Jennifer Lopez / Owen Wilson movie called Marry Me, which is based on a webcomic by Bobby Crosby. (Apparently this webcomic started in 2005.) Universal Pictures has announced a release date of February 2022, and principal photography was all done in 2019.

Assuming this picture gets released, and assuming the Nimona film is (very sadly) never brought to light, would this mean that Marry Me would be the first film to be based on a webcomic?

Excellent question, Alexander! Couple of things to get out of the way before we tackle the substance of your query. First, we should note that, prolific as he his, Bobby Crosby is not the only person involved in the creation of Marry Me; due credit should be given as well to the the artist, Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar.

Secondly, the film adaptation of Nimona — which was as close to complete as you can get — was killed by those rat bastard cowards at Disney earlier this year and has as much chance of ever seeing daylight as Let’s Get Francis¹.

Thirdly, and for our purposes here today most importantly, we have to broaden our viewpoints beyond equating webcomics with [North] American (or possibly English-language) webcomics, as the two are not equivalent.

In this respect, we at Fleen are lucky to have a pair of resources to bring us wider perspectives²: Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin and the invaluable Ryan Estrada. The former could tell of comics creators who’ve worked in the milieu of BD web alongside print, and have seen work adapted to film: Joséphine, The Rabbi’s Cat, The Big Bad Fox³, and numerous others. But maybe not what you were looking for, since they aren’t directly taken from webcomics.

So let us look to the other side of the globe, and South Korea; webcomics are a much, much bigger deal there than we can comprehend, occupying a niche convergent with manhwa and fully equivalent to the manga industry in Japan. There are so many webcomics that hit widespread popular consciousness off the major aggregators that movies are inevitable; in fact, Estrada gave us a list of 13 of them more than seven years ago; heck, Estrada tells us right at the beginning that Kangfull is a Korean webcomic artist who has had just as many film adaptations of his work as JK Rowling.

Fleen doesn’t have correspondents in Japan or China, and doubtless there are webtoon aggregators in each country sending comics to movies, but I was able to find two after a short search: Nigakute Amai from Japan, and Go Away, Mr Tumor from China (the latter chosen as China’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film consideration at the 2015 Oscars).

But let’s restrict ourselves to what I think the intended scope of your question was, given that you wrote to an English-language site in the US: will Marry Me be the first adaptation of an English-language webcomic making it to theatrical release? There’s Polar, based on the webcomic of the same name, but it was released by Netflix via streaming. So despite starring Mads Mikkelsen, I’m going to disqualify it.

But the answer is still no, because the movie of We Bare Bears was released as a simulcast to North American theaters a couple of months before it released to TV. The movie, naturally, was adapted from the TV show, which was in turn based on creator Daniel Chong’s original webcomic, The Three Bare Bears. Not a direct leap from webcomics to the movie screen, but I think the lineage is undeniable. Crosby & Mokhtar are following on a path blazed by Chong.


Spam of the day:

I handle influencer relations for LeggingsHut. Great to meet you! I stumbled across your account and thought your content would be perfect for us.

and

Our team operates an extremely popular bra and intimate wear blog. We’ve had a few of our avid readers mention your site recently, so I took a look and I’m happy to say that I was really impressed! I’m interested in a possible article exchange between both of our sites as I am sure it will strongly benefit our sites in terms traffic.

I’m not sure which of these two, independently-sent spams is more implausible and/or desperate. My guess is that you don’t even know who Cora Harrington is, you fakers.

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¹ IMDB doesn’t even have a listing for Nimona anymore; it existed as late as two weeks after Blue Sky was axed, but has since been memory-holed.

² And even so, we could use more. Live in a part of the world with webcomics and nobody talking about them? Get in touch!

³ From the work of, respectively, Pénélope Bagieu, Joann Sfar, and Bejamin Renner.

4 I was able to find one Japanese webtoon-format manga adapted to live action: , and I’ll wager there are others.

More Amazing Books, Some As Soon As Now

I mean, assuming you have a local bookstore or comics shop that doesn’t rely on Diamond, who are objectively bad at their jobs; my shop is having much better luck with alternate distributors of graphic novels, but old orders in Diamond may show up at literally any time and they’ll demand payment despite being a year or more late¹ and I don’t want to subject my shop to that.

Where was I? Oh, yes, some more books that are about to drop as part of Fleen’s Awesome Books Coming Out Soon Week. Let’s dive in.

  • To be fair, I can’t blame Diamond for the year-plus delay in Carla Speed McNeil’s latest Finder volume, Chase The Lady; that was (largely) COVID that pushed back release by a few months, then multiple years, before settling in on the next couple of weeks. It started as part of the Dark Horse’s Dark Horse Presents anthology series, 8 or so pages at a time; then DHP folded about a year and a half later, and McNeil had to finish it on her own, in between paying projects on account of what should have been a reprint collection suddenly became a more than 50% original graphic novel.

    Comics is complicated, y’all. But what’s not complicated are the facts that a) McNeil’s work reads even better in big chunks, and b) she remains one of the best depicters of the human form, in all its variety. You can read entire character histories in her wordless panels, just from body posture and especially facial expression. She has this one trick where the space around the eyes becomes tight that makes me want to find something to hide behind, because shit is about to go down². Chase The Lady hits comic shops on Wednesday next week (that would be 26 May) and the book trade two weeks later (8 June). It’s going to be great.

  • Know who really thinks about the worlds that he creates? Evan Dahm. It’s not enough to have various people of various species interacting, he’s got to think about their language, their alphabet, their religion, their societal mores, their history, their ethics, and their motivations for empire. The literally thousands of pages of Overside stories will make that apparent in a hot minute, but if you’re looking for a place to jump on? A place without all of that interconnection? A place that you could share with a younger reader? 2019’s Island Book is a terrific primer.

    And, starting today, Island Book: The Infinite Land returns us to that world of ocean, of distinct cultures, and opens everything a bit wider. I compared Island Book to The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in my review, and from the description of the second story, I think the comparison is even more apt: into this world of islands he’s dropped a continent. A land, vast and possibly unlimited, calling out to peoples that have only known small specks of dry land and seemingly endless water.

    The followup books to TWWOO were about all those other corners of Oz and other fairy-lands, each one upending the previous established order and at times setting friends at cross purposes. Sola and her friends made their lands safe from the Monster in their first journey onto the oceans, but can their friendship survive the gift of an infinite land, ripe for the taking by whoever gets their first and can keep it?

    There’s a way through that will be true to the characters and their motivations that isn’t too terrible, and many that will end in disaster; I can’t wait to see how Dahm weaves his way to that one (likely only mostly) happy outcome.

  • Received in the mail today: the latest keepsake game from Shing Yin Khor, A Mending, of which we have spoken previously. I suspect I will share as little of my playthrough here as I did of Khor’s previous keepsake game with Jeeyon Shim, Field Guide To Memory, as I expect it will take me to similarly personal-reflective places and (occasional evidence to the contrary) there are some things I just keep to myself.

    And to be received on 15 June (if fortune favors us): Khor’s latest graphic novel, The Legend Of Auntie Po. There are some things you need to know about Khor, if you haven’t noted the pieces that have run here over the years: they have thought a great deal about their Chinese ancestry and the immigrant experience, and they love giant prefab statues in the middle of nowhere like nobody’s business. Many of these statues are of Muffler Men.

    The Muffler Men statues are, of course, derived from Paul Bunyan statues, and thus Khor is also deeply invested in the legends and folklore about the giant lumberjack and his enormous blue ox. Those legends and other parts of Americana were invented in work camps — lumber camps, railway camps, mining camps; a great deal of immigrants worked them, from the Scandinavians and Cornishmen of the Upper Midwest, to the African diaspora and Hispanic earlycomers across the prairie and deserts, to the Chinese everywhere accessible from the Pacific.

    And thus: Paul Bunyan reimagined by a 13 year old girl named Mei (already a nonperson in this land, thanks to the first immigration laws America would ever pass, designed specifically to extract labor from Asians and then discard them) in a Nevada logging camp. Po Pan Yan — Auntie Po — is a Chinese matriarch, an adaptation of young American myth, made familiar by casting it in the mold of the much older Chinese myths, and an example of maybe the only part of the story Americans tell themselves that could be true: come here and carve out your place. You’ll make America yours, we’ll (grudgingly, more often than not) make you part of us³.

    The meaning of America is myth, and anybody can adapt myths to find their way. Give it a few decades for The Legend Of Auntie Po to become a much-loved classic and looking back, we’ll decide that Auntie Po always was there in the lumber camps and railway camps and mining camps. We tell ourselves myths to make sense of reality, but often as not the myth becomes the basis of the reality we build.


Spam of the day:

STOP SENDING ME YOUR NUDES! Hi, plz stop messaging me in whatsapp ! why you sending me your photosf

Like I’d send nudes via Whatsapp. First of all, it’s Facebook-owned and I don’t have anything to do with Facebook. Secondly, I wouldn’t send you photos. I’d commission original artwork from a variety of my cartoonist friends and provide those in a tasteful frame. Nice try, scammer, but you really missed the mark on this one.

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¹ I wish I were kidding.

² She also does smug, insufferable teens that will make you want to build a machine that allows you to slap a fictional character. Find a copy of the No Mercy trades (Alex de Campi, words, Jenn Manley Lee, colors) if you don’t believe me.

³ Most likely starting with food, although we’ll probably never stop trying to Whitesplain it back to you.

Want To Be A Better Person? Give Him A Read And/Or Listen

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my purchases of comics was waiting until the March trilogy was complete, as it gave me the chance to purchase all three at once from Nate Powell at MoCCA, and tell him how much his work meant to me. It was a quiet moment at the table, nobody else looking to buy or talk for about ten minutes, and the respect that Powell had for his creative partners Andrew Aydin and Congressman¹ John Lewis suffused the entire conversation.

Powell will forever be associated with March² — rightly so — but he’s done plenty of work on his own for years. For those that need a quick primer, you can find a exploration of how fashion (in the sense of what we want our clothes to convey about us) ties into toxic masculinity and fascism, or maybe a look at people for whom global warming is neither abstract nor in the future. There’s a strong tendency towards thoughtful consideration of complex issues, and a sense of seeking justice in Powell’s work, and all of it resonates with emotional heft, not least because of his tendency towards abstract, implied panel gutters (check out the page previews here, here or here, you’ll see what I mean immediately).

And with a new collection of comics essays³, Powell is talking about his work, the message he wants to share, and the world he wants to see. Save It For Later is the book of the month at The Nib (buy it from them and you’ll get a signed bookplate, while they last), and they’ve got a talk with Powell up at their YouTube channel. Also: Powell in conversation with Eleanor Davis (courtesy of Politics & Prose), and an upcoming Q&A with the Monroe County [Indiana] Public Library on Sunday, 16 May at 2:00pm EDT (register here).

That ten minutes that I spent talking with Powell was an experience that I still think back on — it’s the sort of conversation that makes you want to think hard about things and make decisions that will bend the arc of your life in directions that benefit others. Check out the interviews he’s done, sign up for the session in ten days, and see if it doesn’t lead you in some new directions (which may or may not involve good trouble).


Spam of the day:

Scientists at the Dental Study Institute in New Jersey have quickly run some tests and CONFIRMED the mixture is legit and that it indeed eliminates cavities in a very short time. [emphasis original]

There is no “Dental Study Institute” in New Jersey. There is a Dental Studies Institute, but they don’t have scientists; they are an instructional company that teaches dental practice personnel required continuing education courses. The only test they’re running is on the students, to determine if they learned enough about herpes to get their 5 CEUs.

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¹ And strong contender for Greatest Living American Of The Past Century, alongside Mr Rogers and Dolly Parton.

² And, undoubtedly, Run once it releases.

³ I’m still waiting for my copy, which is also your occasional reminder that Diamond’s entire comics distribution business is extraordinarily craptacular.

Yep, It’s Been A Week

Didn’t get to posting yesterday, after a couple of days of really reduced faith in humanity. I also was pretty careful about getting separating the spam from actual comments in the pending queue, but please drop me a note if you tried to chime in and don’t see your words.

And this is as good a time as any to note that there may be a future irregular posting schedule until the whole hosting thing gets sorted. Once Jon and I find a better vendor and the switch is in the works, I’ll let you know.

That’s all I got for you right now. If you’ve got a favorite creator, drop them a line, buy something (not an NFT, dammit) from them, tell somebody who would also like their work. I’ve done my best over the past decade and half to take a stance of promoting and uplifting work that I liked rather than chewing on what I didn’t, and I’d like to encourage all of you to do likewise.

Deep breaths. We’ll find a better place together, one with plenty of makeouts and animals in hats.

EMERGENCY ADDENDUM
As I was finishing the Spam of the day entry, I heard the intro to the noontime call-in show on my local NPR station and it turns out that Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan will be talking about Let’s Talk About It in the next little bit (it is presently 12:14pm EDT on 26 March 2021). You can listen to the stream here, and the replay will eventually be here.


Spam of the day:

Buy Scannable Fake ID – Premium Fake IDs Buy our premium fake IDs with the best security elements. All of our fake ID comes with Scannable features & guaranteed to pass under UV.

This reminds me of the dude two colleges over who was convinced he could have a side business in fake IDs. He painted a wall in his dorm room to resemble an Indiana driver’s license; the customer stood in front, he took a picture, shrunk it down, and laminated it. It looked like shit and wouldn’t fool anybody checking IDs unless they were coked out of their gourd on fine Bolivian flake. I am 1000% certain, however, that they were more plausible than whatever you’re trying to pass off here.

A New Kind Of Storytelling Spawns New Clauses In The Social Contract

A week back, I wrote about a new kind of collaborative storytelling, in the form of a game from Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor that involves prompts to dredge through one’s memories and craft a story from them. There are things created (journal entries, letters) to go along with the experiences, and at a sufficient pledge level on the Kickstarter, physical artifacts and ephemera.

In the time since The Field Guide To Memory launched its email playthrough (there will be a full set of prompts sent to Kickstarter backers as a PDF), both Shim and Khor have launched new campaigns in this new category that now has a name: a keepsake game.

Shim’s funding The Last Will And Testament Of Gideon Blythe (I saw the launch too late to get in on the limited physical rewards, dammit), and Khor yesterday launched A Mending, which has an embroidery mechanic. We’re going to talk about the latter today, not because it’s any more interesting than TLWATOGB or the game mechanic is more interesting, but because of a pair of secret stretch goals that Khor revealed after the funding level they had in mind was crossed¹.

A new kind of game/story/experience needs new kinds of ideas associated with it, and Khor’s given us two. The first isn’t too unheard of, but the second is something really special. From the Kickstarter update:

I’ll be releasing art template files for A Mending under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license so you can design/make your own cards and maps. Of course, you can make your own maps and cards for personal use and adapt the game however you like anyway, but template files will make it a lot easier if you would like to maintain some visual consistency. You can also distribute the things/expansions/files you make, albeit non-commercially (totally fine if you want to direct people to your tip jar, though). These files will be released close to the start of fulfillment, likely in late April. [emphasis original]

There’s a real tendency among creators, one that is entirely logical and proper, to view their creations as How This Thing Should Be. There may be adaptations into other media which they are or are not involved in, but once something’s done and released, it’s kind of cast in concrete. Khor is explicitly recognizing that a story that is as much prompts for the audience to fill in as it is structure will never be cast in concrete; the story of A Mending will have as many (or more) variations as there are people who read/play/experience it, and they are acknowledging that it’s not a sole creation.

That idea of my thing isn’t just my thing is even bigger in the second reveal:

I’m creating two $1500 grants for people who would like to adapt A Mending for wider accessibility. One grant is focused on visual accessibility, the other on range-of-motion accessibility. These grants come with a free commercial license, so they can take 100% of profits from work they choose to make commercially available (I will only need attribution). The non-exclusive commercial license includes my art, writing and game design work. What does this mean? Maybe it’s someone selling raised versions of the cloth map in high contrast colors. Maybe it’s porting the game to Roll 20. Maybe a website that produces randomized voiceovers for all the cards. I don’t really know but I’d like to find out too! [emphasis original]

What distinguishes Khor’s announcement from so many previous nods towards accessibility is a) it’s not members of a group that need accommodation having to come as ask for it, and b) it need not be done on a volunteer basis. The allow others to profit from their adaptation part is unique enough; the grant is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented.

I have never seen a creator so explicitly say I have made a thing that is what I want to see in the world but recognize that I can’t predict all the ways that my version of it may preclude others from enjoying it. I want to not only invite you to modify it in ways that I can’t think of and allow you to profit from it, I will pay you to do so.

We’ve talked about the unique nature of comics and how they are read enough times here at Fleen. On a few occasions we’ve mentioned accessibility, but there’s not been a huge exploration of accessibility around comics as a medium; I think it’s just been decided that if you haven’t got sufficient vision, you’re out of luck. Given that the game will have more than just a reading component, but also tactile/motor control components, there are potentially many ways that A Mending could be made more widely accessible². No one person could conceive of them all, but if a crowd could come together to make the initial form of A Mending, why not a crowd of suggestions as to how it could be better?

I have a feeling that keepsake games will be taking off as a category any day now; others will see what Shim and Khor have done, and try to create something that instills as much feeling in their own audience (others still will make slapped-togther crap to try to cash in). Some will be spare, some rife with stuff, and different genres of story will evolve. Will there be another 5-to-6 figure funding of a little game that takes an hour or two to play? Only to the degree that there are wildly original thinkers, people whose brain is (to quote Rich Stevens) the only place that bakes that cookie³. Audiences will be following (and I’m about to get fancy here) the auteur, just to see what they crank out now.

And the very smartest ones will be like Khor, finding ways to enrich the values of their creations by giving up control and ownership, and seeking out others to remix each new project’s DNA.

The Last Will And Testament Of Gideon Blythe is funding for another seven days, and is presently approaching eight times its US$1800 goal. A Mending has 21 days to go and cleared US$80K in the time it took me to write everything since footnote 1; the limited-edition everything-provided tiers (just go read the descriptions; they’re a hoot) are long gone, but more than 1000 people have backed at the levels that provide physical game assets. If you want to see what Khor and Shim are like when they combine their creative abilities, search Twitter for #FieldGuideToMemory.


Spam of the day:

The best fake id maker in the market for over 15 years

Neat trick linking ScamAdvisor and other sites to purportedly show how good your fake IDs are, but with links that actually redirect to your site. Sneaky. In any event, where the hell do you think anybody is going right now that they’d need a fake ID?

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¹ For the record, the campaign reached its US$12,000 target in about 17 minutes, and the limited tiers were claimed within an hour. The secret threshold for the secret stretch goals was US$60,000 — five times goal — and Khor sent out the update last night. As of this writing, A Mending sits just under US$80,000 in pledges.

² My immediate thought was around issues of fine motor control.

³ Nine years on and I still think about that quote at least once a month, although I frequently misremember Stevens as having said it at SDCC or Splat!.

This Little Girl Is Five Today

She was such a skittish, skinny little thing when we got her around two and a half years old, having spent her entire life not more than six months in any one place with any particular people. It took her a while to relax around us and let her goofball personality show from behind the veil of stubborn stoicism. Right now, she’s napping in a sunny patch and waiting for the work day to be done so she can collect her due allocation of skritches and get her walkies in. So that’s all right.

Oh, right, webcomics.

  • Subscribers to The Nib, the folks that get the magazine 3-4 times a year, you’re going to want to check your email and maybe your spam folder. They’ve sent you a message that you get to give away one copy of The Nib’s Pandemic issue (in print form, no less!) to somebody that you think would appreciate it. The instructions are in the email that went out to you this morning; me, most of the people I know are already subscribers or contributors to The Nib, so I’m not sure who to give it to.

    Let’s do a contest, then. Send me an email with the subject FREE MAGAZINE to me (that would be gary) at the name of this-here website (fleen), which is a dot-com, and I’ll choose one of you at random to get the issue, a US$15 value and probably the best done by the lauded group of contributors. Let’s make the deadline … 11:59pm MST on Sunday, 28 February, the last moment before my evil twin sees his birthday skipped over because he’s a Leap Year Baby.

    You have to make yourself a promise, though — if you enter the giveaway, you have to ask yourself if you should be a subscriber, or at least buy some stuff from The Nib’s retail operation to help support their mission — to find the best cartoonists in the world and pay them properly for their best work.

  • I wrote a while back about Shing Yin Khor and Jeeyon Shim were Kickstarting an interactive game, with prompts to be delivered by email (and physical ephemera sent to high-tier backers), under the title of A Field Guide To Memory. I hadn’t mentioned that the Kickstarter overfunded, that other creators were brought in (and paid!) to enrich the story, and that gameplay had started.

    With today’s email, we’re about two-thirds of the way through a deeply personal, deeply weird, and somewhat unsettling tale, wherein you adopt the persona of a scientific researcher whose mentor — cryptid field evolutionary scientist Elizabeth Lee — has been declared dead after going missing five years ago on a research trip. I have, for the past two and a half weeks, found myself bound up in my personal history with a woman that I never met, who never existed, who may or may not have definitively proved the existence of Dipodomys antilocapra, the Pronghorned Desert Rat.

    I have dug up memories of my own life and that of my in-game equivalent (who is looking for the evolutionary descendants of pterosaurs — they’re out there still, dammit, just like the coelacanth!) and at times been unable to separate them. The game has you write letters and journal entries, keep field notes related to Dr Lee’s work, research animal track patterns and bird calls, dredge up anger and betrayal, and possibly mentor members of the Little Citizen Scientists Club. I will not tell you how to play the game, as it’s highly individualized and therefore there is no right way to play, but I will say this: if given the opportunity, if you are in future days passed a PDF of gameplay prompts (or even physical artifacts like D. antilocapra antler casts) and you come across an email address?

    It works. Send the email. The only thing that isn’t real, as near as I can tell, is the address shown for the Institute for Theoretical Evolutions in Bethesda, Maryland. The Pronghorned Desert Rat, the other cryptids, the bureaucrats keeping you from Dr Lee’s notes and artifacts, the letters from her students and colleagues and lovers? All real, every bit of it, even the parts that are fiction. Especially the parts that are fiction.

    If you’d like to learn more — and perhaps end up with more questions than answers — search the hashtag #FieldGuideToMemory. If nothing else, you’ll see some breathtaking photos of the very lovely artifacts that players are creating as we delve into mystery and self-revelation at a rate of one prompt per day for 20 days.

Okay, have a great rest of the day, and tell the doggo(s) in your life that they are very good dogs because they’re all very good dogs.


Spam of the day:

I tried to find you on google maps, but I couldn’t,

STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM MY HOUSE, YOU FREAK.

We All Knew It Was Coming

It’s still a load of crap. I speak, naturally, of the fact that Disney has killed off the Fox-affiliated Blue Sky animation studio, which had previously had all of its approaching-release movies delayed, of which one remained and will now be shelved rather than seen:

Blue Sky’s final movie, a fantasy story about a young shapeshifter called Nimona, will be left unfinished and will not be released.

Originally announced as an animated film in 2015, pushed back from a 2020 release date to 2021 six months before the pandemic, narrowly escaping the axe that fell in the Fox purchase, but getting pushed back to 2022, Nimona is now scrapped because we live in a monoculture and Disney will not have anything exist that does not bow to its view of the world.

They could have let Blue Sky finish its last production. They could have allowed a very different kind of young heroine. They could have just dumped it to streaming and made money — which, considering they’d already bought the entire damn studio and the production, would essentially have been free money — which you would think is the actual purpose of a corporation. But, I suppose, they don’t have the ancillary rights to merch and staright-to-video sequels and a Nimona character in the parks, so fuck sharing and getting 94% of the benefit.

Disney has their Way, their Method , their Version of how things are meant to be, and everything they build must conform to them or be ground down and erased. It is all or nothing for them.

I mourn for those who would have found a vision of themselves in an animated version, for all the nascent culture that is snuffed out so that the very rich can become very, very rich as we pay them for the privilege of becoming so.

But Nimona is still on my bookshelf, and hopefully Noelle Stevenson had a good agent and lawyer that included a rights reversion, and we may yet see Nimona on the big screen.

And like I mentioned a while back around the Disney screwing Alan Dean Foster story, if you sign a contract of any sort, it seems you need to include a Disney buys out whoever I am contracting with clause that reverts control of your brainchild to you. They want all or nothing? Let them have nothing.

And, because we can’t have nice things, Meredith Gran has had her Twitter account jacked by by a complete dickhole, who keeps changing the account name to avoid reporting. He (of course it’s a dude) is, as of this writing, going by the name @dazeywtf, which you should report as a hacked account and also ping @twittersafety on the matter, please and thank you.


Spam of the day
No spam, but I will say that I was writing that last paragraph when my computer blue-screened with no warning, and I gotta hand it to WordPress for preserving all but about a half-sentence of what I wrote despite me not having explicitly saved anything yet. Well done, WordPress.

Lubtacular

There were originally going to be more words in today’s post, but I’ve had to clear snow twice so far — 40 cm and counting of snowfall will do that — and will likely have to do so twice more again before it’s done. So you get some pointers and the assurance that I had many clever words on deck in my brain that just won’t come out now.

As you may have gathered from the title, our common thread today is new work from Matt Lubchansky — cartoonist, associate editor at The Nib, and international bon vivant — who was most recently mentioned on this page in association with their new original graphic novel¹ ’bout two weeks back. As well as being a prolific cartoonist in their own right, Lubchansky is also works with other comickers (web and otherwise) on group efforts and anthologies. Let’s see what’s on deck:


Spam of the day:

TruGreen lawn services We know you take pride in your lawn.

My lawn is a morass of divots thrown up by greyhound zoomies, and is currently buried under knee-deep snow. You’re high if you think pride comes within a half kilometer of this benighted patch of grass.

_______________
¹ Pre-orders still open!

² Who would like you to know that the events in their signature work, O Human Star, start in-story on 2 Feb 2021. Starting tomorrow, Delliquanti will be re-running OHS on their social media pages, one page per day, with commentary. Dive in if you haven’t previously.