The webcomics blog about webcomics

One Project Done, New Project Starting

Business model just starting, business model just wrapped up. Let’s get digging.

  • Know what I love? Kickstarter post-mortems. I can’t get enough of people sharing how a campaign went, and especially talking about how finances measured up (or out, or whatever ever direction finances are measured in). The latest one comes courtesy of David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc, arbiter of image quality standards and part-time Mr Bean impersonator), who spent a longer than average (and more expensive than usual) time last year putting together the first print collection of his comics.

    Since Morgan-Mar works in LEGO-brand construction sets and minifigs, he had to consult with lawyers to figure out if printing a book made up of photos of LEGO things he built would possibly raise the ire of the Danish brickmongers before he even got to the usual book parts of making a book. Conclusion: maybe, but if they did sue him, he’d be able to mount a credible defense (whatever that might cost).

    Not quite as reassuring as Heck no, they’d never be able to touch you!, but good enough to get started! And, in fact, if not for the more than three thousand Aussie fun bucks, he would have lost only AU$260.21 on the endeavour. With the legal fees — well, ouch. But one thing not included in the breakdown is how many books over the Kickstarter rewards were printed, and thus may make a dent in the debits column as they sell in future.

    But the good news is, he notes in the post-mortem that he intends to print more books, and considerable costs are one-offs, making what would otherwise be a pricey hobby a less pricey — or even slightly remunerative — hobby instead. And in case you missed out on the Kickstart and wanted to help Morgan-Mar reduce the loss he took to provide you, his loyal readers, with what you always said you wanted, the book’s available at TopatoCo¹.

  • I’ve mentioned Douglas Wilson on this page previously; he’s a cartoonist and animator from Manchester, England, UK, and work’s pretty damn good. He’s looking to shift a character — Jack Astro — that’s he’s been working into animated shorts for about five years into a longform story, and the first part of that went live yesterday. Take ‘er away, Doug:

    Jack Astro is a test pilot for the experimental Singularity Drive program. After sending a duplicate version of Jack and his ship to multiple galaxies in the universe – the drive scattered across space. He must reassemble the lost pieces before the drive re-activates to send him home. Doug is currently writing and drawing a 130 page comic which will update twice a month in 5 page vertical scrolling chunks of story on his website

    Patreon backers will receive PDF downloads of each issue of the comic as he completes them so they can read the story in larger chunks (first issue is 33 pages) instead of waiting for the story to unfold on the website.

    More precisely, Patreons at the $1 level get access to that first block of story, and if you aren’t on Patreon you can also obtain it via Gumroad for £1.50 (along with the Jack Astro shorts & earlier works as pay-what-you-want). Wilson kindly sent along a copy of issue 1 for me to peruse, and I enjoyed it — it’s well worth an entry-level Patreon pledge or cost of a cup of coffee (not even the fancy coffee, just the regular kind).

Spam of the day:

Magnificent things from you, guy

Spelled my name wrong.

¹ Just sayin’. Also, if Morgan-Mar received 100% of the cost of the books (which won’t be the case — TopatoCo’s providing warehousing and handling services, and gets paid for them), a mere eight books would erase the non-legal loss (which is reasonable, as the legal costs will apply to future books). If you wanted to bring him all the way up to zero loss (which also means making nothing on considerable personal effort), it’ll take just about exactly 100 books (AU$3560.21 lost, US$27 or AU$35.57 per book at today’s exchange rate).

And Here We Are Again, Friday

I don’t know about you, but I’m just about ready for the weekend. Let’s boogie.

  • For the life of me, I can’t figure out how Reed!Pop could buy Emerald City Comicon (and, not coincidentally, the services of showrunner team Jim & Andrea Demonakos) and still have their two opposite-coast major comics shows (that would be EmCity and New York Comic Con) be polar opposites when it comes to indie- and webcomics. EmCity, in case you didn’t know, has essentially eclipsed San Diego as the big attendance show that webcomics flocks to, and NYCC is inhospitable to the very same crowd. Most perplexing.

    But, since EmCity is next week and all, how about a rundown of who you’ll find there? I love the maps that people create to show where they’ll be (although they’re a bit rarer this year than past), but even without the maps we can give you a list of who’s gonna be there (in no particular order, and we quote):

    Pat Race and the Alaska Robotics crew (booth 204, including Marian Call, whose new album dropped today and is awesome and she’ll have shows concurrent with EmCity); Sohmer, Unca Lar, and the Blind Ferret folks (booth 110); (Brad Guigar (booth R5); Danielle Corsetto and Randy Milholland (booth 1413); Jennie Breeden (booth 1322); all of the miscellaneous Explosm weirdos (booth 828); and Kaja & Phil Foglio (booth 118).

    There’s a hefty delegation from Helioscope (formerly Periscope) (booths H1 through 16 inclusive, to be occupied by Aaron McConnell, Aud Koch, Ben Dewey, Brian Wolf, Bridget Underwood, Cat Farris, Dan Schkade, Lucy Bellwood, Lukas Ketner, Ron Chan, Ron Randall, Roxy Polk, Steve Lieber, Tadd Galusha, Terry Blas, and Zach Fischer).

    Want more? How about Spike Trotman, Blue Delliquanti, Takneka Stotts, and Amanda Lafrenais (together at booth 212); Jake Richmond (booth X4); Molly “Jakface” Nemecek (booth Q3); the ubiquitous Jim Zub (booth V3); Kate Leth (booth J6); Kazu Kibuishi (booth K1); Lars Brown and David McGuire (booth Z1); Ngozi Ukazu and Tessa Stone (booth M9); and Pascalle Lepas (booth P16).

    We’re still not done (even allowing for the fact that I probably missed a bunch of people), consider that you’ll also find Dave Kellett (booth 1116); Der-shing Helmer (booth K6); Matt Inman (booth 410); Tony Breed and Lonnie Mann (booth M10); and Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh (booth M10).

    Finally, you gots the creatorpaloozas that will be the :01 Books (booth 1602) and TopatoCo (booth 1102) contingents. The former will include Box Brown, Gene Luen Yang, Matthew Loux, MK Reed, Pénélope Bagieu; the latter is bringing Jeph Jacques, Sam Logan, David Malki !, Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Alina Pete, Tyson Hesse, Becky Dreistadt, Matt Lubchansky, Abby Howard, Catie Donnelly, and Brandon Bird.

    Emerald City Comicon runs from Thursday 2 March to Sunday 5 March 2017 in Seattle.

  • For those that can’t make it to the upper-left corner of the country, may I suggest curling up with a good podcast? Owne Dunne may be back to hiatusland with You Damn Kid, but that doesn’t mean that he’s idle. Dunne’s always done a stack of projects simultaneously, one of which was the webcomic parody of old-fashioned, hard-boiled cops, Banion.

    Of late, Banion has been audio-enhanced for your listening pleasure, and is now downloadable from Google Play and iTunes. Dunne’s at his best when he takes a classic form (the childhood memoir, the Dragnet style cop, the British prestige drama) and knocks it 47.3° to the side, which pretty much describes Banion, The Podcast

Spam of the day:

A Better Way to Inflate Everything

Nnnnooope. Not going near that one.

From Europe, And The Blurring Of Creative Boundaries

One of the great advantages we at Fleen have is the continued willingness of Pierre Lebeaupin — our esteemed Senior French Correspondent — to keep an eye on the French indie/web comics scene (and, more broadly, that of Europe in general) and share his insights with us. And while we at Fleen welcome contributions from anybody who can provide passably-constructed thoughts that don’t take a mountain of editing, the rest of you have a lot of catching up to do before you get to be as good as Lebeaupin is.

We’ll take a gander at his latest look at the relationship between French webcomickers and French Youtubers, but there’s another item to mention first.

  • As noted in the past, dashing chalkboard provacateur Dante Shepherd has unmasked himself as mild-mannered professor of Chemical Engineering Lucas Landherr, although he has kept his nom du webcomics for the STEM-themed Science The World series.

    The latest in the series (the tenth, in fact) covers the topic of gene therapy, and is unique in that it’s the first where he’s taken a back seat in creative terms. Previously he’s written scripts and gotten various artists to illustrate; this time, he’s editing the script of one of his students (Zoe Simonson), which was illustrated by another (Monica Keszler).

    The reason I wanted to mention this strip (aside from the fact it released on Chemical Engineering Day … nice try Shepherd, tell me what part of a two-story fractional distillation column gene therapy relates to) is that Keszler (who illustrated a previous comic on refrigeration cycles), is well fascinating. She’s doing a co-op in Germany right now (there’s your European connection), and in addition to studying Chemical Engineering¹, she’s an accomplished digital artist taking a minor in animation. That’s impressive as hell, and I thought you should know.

Okay, take it away, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin:

  • After covering the happenings of French webcartooning for a while, I began to notice a pattern: Youtubers were often involved together with webcartoonists, and in a way that I don’t see with English [language] creators, at least not as much.

    You may have seen it a bit through some of my previous contributions, first when Maliki started her ongoing crowdfunding site and in the process of doing so, explicitly credited Youtubers for trailblazing in the popular consciousness the notion that you can make a living from your passion projects; and second when an equal number of Youtubers and webcartoonists were involved in Editions Delcourt’s new collection, Octopus.

    But this is only the tip of the iceberg: for instance, following a number of them on Twitter I often see them in conversation with one another; and thinking about it, I can recall a number of other interactions that really tell a connection between webcartoonists and a subset of Youtubers.

    The most significant one is between Cyprien Iov (usually just Cyprien) and Paka. With 10 million people subscribing to his humor videos, Cyprien is one of the most popular independent video creators in the French web; and Paka has been writing and drawing his webcomic for more than 11 years and 2000 strips², so he has been around. So it was no small event when they released a comic book together a few years back, Roger Et Ses Humains, with Cyprien writing and Paka drawing.

    But this phenomenon is not limited to humor. For instance, Patrick Baud’s channel presents weird, unlikely, but true stories of scientific research, encounters, exploration, etc. And when he published a book of such anecdotes, who did he call to illustrate them? That’s right, webcartoonists such as Marion “Professeur Moustache” Montaigne, Boulet, and a few others. Octopus, as we’ve seen, is another instance of these interactions in the same area of scientific vulgarization.

    Some events also involve the two together: for instance, Boulet is a recurring participant to the Nuit Originale shows of Thomas Hercouët; and to a lesser extent, we have Yves Bigerel’s intervention in La Veillée.

    And that is without mentioning creators who do both, such as Les Kassos (which I’m told are blocked in the US, unfortunately³) where Bigerel is a writer, or Lays Farra, who creates both L’Eclaireuse and C’est Pas Sourcé.

    More generally, it appears that a number of webcartoonists and Youtubers are figuring out at the same time how to thrive as independents, whether it be through publishing books or crowdfunding or other means, and are in this together, one way or another. So I expect such collaborations and links to only increase in the future.

Gary again. The trend that FSFCPL has identified specifically in French webcomickers/Youtubers is analogous to a tendency I see generally in modern creative life — namely, that the limits to how one makes a creative life are falling at the same time that the boundaries between creative avenues blur.

The perfect example being the day I left work in Midtown Manhattan and happened to see an enormous billboard in Times Square drawn by a webcomicker, advertising a stage show featuring an internet nerd-music band, a writer/former teen actor, and a goofball that builds things (and frequently blows them up) to celebrate the scientific method.

The only thing they have in common is that they really liked each other’s work, so why not collaborate across every artistic boundary possible? Why not have a circle of people that do Cool Things that incorporates a radio host, a NASA flight director, a webcomicker who happened to write a book that became a blockbuster movie, and an astronaut (who, if not the poet they keep telling us we should send up, is pretty damn close4)? Why, in my youth, did writers only ever seem to socialize with writers, musicians with musicians5, actors with actors? Why shouldn’t Chemical Engineers and comics artists be working together?

No good reason that I can see. Thanks for reminding us, FSFCPL.

Spam of the day:

Bizarre Cure Destroys Toe & Nail Fungus

Well, now that I know it’s bizarre, I guess I’ll keep the fungus!

¹ Which I will grudgingly allow might be as difficult a discipline as my own, beloved Electrical Engineering.

² The only reason I haven’t introduced it by now is that it is 99% corny, untranslatable puns; don’t expect an English version any time soon …

³ Editor’s note: I was able to click through a sampling of the videos in this channel; I can’t say that they’re all available, or will remain so, but they don’t appear to be uniformly blocked at this moment.

4 Also: possessor of the most magnificent moustache of modern times. Respect.

5 To be fair, musicians also associated a lot with supermodels, although the latter now seem to be more likely to be found around athletes.

Because Everything Is Political

There’s nothing in Art that’s not political, pretty much by definition. Art shows us what life is like, or what it could/should be like, and how we got to where we are and how we get to where we could/should be are all things that must be decided across the entirety of a population. I bring up this thought because of something that came out of the imperial mouthpiece on Coruscant:

People “don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers.” — Kellyanne Conway

Oh, it is on now. Because as I happened to be talking with Christopher Hastings about on Friday night, what Rebecca Sugar, Ian Jones-Quartey¹, and the rest of the Steven Crewniverse have accomplished is nothing less than a story about how to be a better, more rounded, more empathetic person. It’s precisely what people should want their kids looking at, even if don’t realize Steven’s moms are genderless magic space rocks and not lesbians, come on.

Steven Universe. Adventure Time. We Bare Bears. Ghosts. Goldie Vance. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. And lots more comics and cartoons and graphic novels, with what in common? They’re fairly dripping with empathy; they go out of their way for their protagonists to find ways to try to understand whoever is in opposition to them², and when it comes to fighting? It’s a last resort, one done out of obligation rather than joy³. This is exactly what anybody should want their kids looking at, learning, becoming. Or as Saladin Ahmed put it:

this is true. a bunch is not enough. my kids deserve nothing less than a *battalion* of cartoon lesbian mothers.

Well said. Oh, and a reminder that the next Steven Bomb hits next week; let’s all watch it and do our best to live up to its ideals.

Spam of the day:

gary.tyrrell Your Eyeshadow gift is waiting!

I doubt that, but bonus points for the “keeping your eye on the ball” pun.

¹ Yes, yes, Ian’s no longer working on the show; he was all over the development of SU and he’s a pretty damn complete walking embodiment of the show’s best instincts so I’m listing him.

² Then again, sometimes you gotta punch a Nazi. There’s no saving or understanding the corrupted, only protecting the rest of the world.

³ And in Steven’s case, when realizing that there is a form of death involved, and that even imprisonment is damaging to foes? Traumatic fear about becoming a bad person. But I bet even Steven would be pretty okay with punching a Nazi.

Two Days To Go And Looking To The Future

  • It’s the start of the year, and that means one of the things to do is look back at the last year. Specifically, the folks behind last year’s Fair Page Rates survey are back with a solicitation to see what rates were like in 2016. The 2016 survey is open to working comics pros and will be very interesting to compare against the results of the 2015 survey. Remember, this is a page rate, so no mistaking per-project bonus structures (as I did) or advances for page rates if you’re submitting data!
  • 2016 also saw a lot of references to KC Green’s most famous comic, not least being a response to this year from Green himself. But I think none of them have approached the melancholy of both of Green’s cartoons as a brief browser game by Nick Kaman. It’s actually two months old and I’m not sure how I missed it until now, but I did so I’ma talk about it now.

    Go play This Is Fine (assuming your browser is HTML5 compatible) and harness that feeling of optimism mixed with a horrific situation that can only be dealt with a little at a time. Maybe an extremely localized fine is all any of us can achieve in the near term; it may be a hell of a long time until things are better than This Is Fine. It’s going to be a significant struggle to resist the loss of gains that have been made towards a more equal society. I don’t really have an uplifting conclusion here … it’s going to hurt, but at least we get a head start while the firestarter in chief takes off the weekend after the hard work of being sworn in. I’m betting we can get significantly under his skin in two and a half days.

  • In that spirit, here is your daily reminder that I’ve established the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund and pledged up to US$10,000 towards organizations that will fight to maintain the progress made by marginalized groups as the American Experiment moves (in fits and starts and somewhat haphazardly) towards the ideals promised to We, The People. If you have given any money since Election Day to any of:

    American Civil Liberties Union
    Brennan Center for Justice
    Campaign Zero
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    International Rescue Committee
    NAACP Legal Defense Fund
    National Resources Defense Council
    Planned Parenthood
    Pro Publica
    Sacred Stone Camp’s GoFundMe
    Syrian Civil Defense aka The White Helmets
    The Trevor Project

    (this includes creators that ran their own directed fundraisers), then get in contact (gary, who blogs at this here website which is a dot com). Let me know how much you gave (receipt images help), which group(s) you gave to, and how you’d like to be acknowledged (full name, part of your name, or anonymous). Stay informed, stay mad, stay in contact with your elected representatives, and stay safe.

Spam of the day:

Es la respuesta de valor

Todas mis respuestas son respuestas de valor.

Last Post Of 2016, Mostly In Pictures

[Edited for clarity: Originally, the Takei/Noguchi story appeared immediately below the Diesel Sweeties story. It was pointed out that having a comic dealing with celebrity death before images of a beloved (but elderly) celebrity could cause a mistaken (and panicky) impression.]

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles is hosting an exhibit on the life of George Takei, and Yellow Peril creator Jamie Noguchi is doing both the show poster, and a bio comic book that will be given away to museum visitors. Neat!

I think we can all agree that Rich Stevens (as is so often the case) has the right of it.

Vermont’s first cartoon laureate, James Kochalka, gets the spotlight treatment, courtesy of Vermont’s public television network.

Mary Cagle’s Kickstart to print Let’s Speak English continues to tromp all over the place, and having met the basic stretch goals, Cagle announced a goal without limits. For reachig US$25,000, five copies of the book would be donated to libraries; since that goal’s been left in the dust, Cagle announced another copy will go to another library for each additional thousand bucks raised.

At present, that puts her at 17 copies. According to the FFF mk2, she’s on track for a finish of US$104-156K, and the McDonald Ratio puts her in the realm of US$103K; in either case, it looks like 80 to 100 libraries are getting free books, y’all.

And that’s it; normally we make fun of a spammer down here, but I’m giving them the day off.

We’ll be back in the new year, talking about webcomics, the people who make them, the people who read them, and whatever the hell else we feel like talking about. One last reminder: I’m matching donations to a series of good causes, so if you’ve donated (or dedicated sales of your stuff) to any of those organizations listed below the cut, drop me a line.

The Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund will close for the year on the 20th of January, so let me know about your giving before the vulgar talking yam¹ takes the oath of office. 2017 probably has no inclination of being any better than 2016, so we’ll just have to kick its butt until it settles down and friggin’ behaves.

¹ Hat tip to Charlie Pierce, shit-kicker and hell-raiser extraordinaire.

Time To Get Outta Dodge

There is a very large holiday party being set up outside the classroom here at VeryLargeSoftCorp — balloons being filled with our precious stocks of helium, garbage bins being wrapped in festive mylar and foil, dance floors and bars being installed everywhere. Seriously, the reception desk outside my classroom is now stocked with mixers and garnish fruit (sadly, the booze doesn’t arrive until later). I, however, will not be hanging out here until 6:00pm when the party starts, getting blind drunk, then driving home for several hours as a hazard to myself and all around me. Since everybody’s gone home to get ready for the big drink-up (the taxis and Ubers are prebooked in bulk, no worries), let’s finish this and I can hit the road.

  • In case you missed it the other day, Gene Luen Yang (MacArthur Fellow and Library of Congress ambassador) did a TEDx talk recently (it’s a TED Talk, but not at the official fancy-pants conference) on why comics belong in the classroom. It’s good. Go watch it because dang, as of right now there’s only 594 views and a couple of them are me.
  • The Cartoon Art Museum continues its partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora in this, the ever-dwindling time before it gets its own space again. Continuing the Third Thursdays tradition of San Francisco museums, next week (that would be the 15th, which is naturally a Thursday) will see an evening of storytelling in conjunction with MOAD’s current exhibit Where is Here.

    The exhibit is about travel and the places we inhabit, and participants will get the opportunity to make “place cards”, where they write and draw about somewhere meaningful to them. It’s free and open to the public, running from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, and includes admission to MOAD’s various exhibitions (address: 685 Mission Street). You’ll even get wristbands good for Third Thursday events as neighborhood bars and restaurants.

Okay, gotta jet. Have a great weekend, see you back on Monday.

Spam of the day:

One Trick to a Great Christmas

AUUUGH!, cried Charlie Brown. Not only is Christmas too commercial, now even Santa is clickbaiting!

Round ‘Em Up

We’re kinda all over the place today.

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that Anthony “Nedroid” Clark is a better person that you, or I, or anybody else; he sees what is going on in this sinful world and he shares that vision with clarity and (at his harshest) gentle poking. So when his Tumblr comic on How To Cut A Pizza from some years back was apparently lifted wholesale by somebody working for Little Caesar’s, he asked (very politely, I thought) for an explanation:

    Hey @littlecaesars, what’s the deal with ripping off my comic?

    (Had it been me, there would have been egregious use of swear words and a request for corporate counsel’s contact info.)

    That was close to 20 hours ago; a little later, I attempted to get a comment from Little Caesar’s through the same Twitter account¹, to no avail. I see that since then, they have spent quite a bit of time with people who have complaints about not getting their orders for upwards of half an hour, but no comment on Clark’s concerns. I sent another tweet a bit more than an hour ago, and have similarly received no response.

    You know where this is going.

    Little Caesar’s does have a feedback form for customers with general concerns; I’m not a customer (I don’t think I’ve bought a pizza from them in more than 20 years²), but I suspect some of you may be. If you’ve bought anything from them in the recent past (I leave that to your determination), maybe use the form to send a polite inquiry (include links) as to their clearly unlicensed use of Mr Clark’s cartoon, with an encouragement that they reach out to him and find a mutually satisfactory path forward. Do it for the children.

  • How about something cheerier? Ryan Estrada’s Big Data (written and produced by Estrada, starring Estrada and a whole damn bunch of other people³) is the sort of guy that can’t stop giving. Comics. Guest comics. Podcasts. Video. The guy is addicted to making stuff and then giving it to you for free (sometimes a while after people who have paid for it get it, but it pretty much always shows up for free). And he’s continuing that tradition with an extra Big Data tale, Zer0 Kn1ghts Before Christmas (aka The Big Data Christmas Special).

    And if that’s not enough of a present, I noticed for the first time at the bottom of the episodes page for Big Data (in the minisodes section, or Little Data) something that wasn’t there the last time I browsed by:

    Here’s a selection of minisodes to listen to until season 2, Bigger Data premieres!

    I think that’s what they call a stealth launch; considering that Big Data concluded on The End Of The Internet As We Know It, I’m intrigued as to how he can bring everything back from the brink. I’m hoping it’s just Oh hey guys, should I throw the switch on the backup? and then everything works again. Alas, As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create and I suspect there will be a few more twists and turns; all the better for us, but unfortunate for his characters. Keep an ear out for Bigger Data and we can all find out together.

Spam of the day:

Open Enrollment is Here! Change Your Plan Before It’s Too Late!

Wait, has open enrollment? Who’da thunk it?

¹ For the record, their website’s Contact Us/For the media page is a series of PR stories and no actual contact info.

² Ah, heck, I’m not fooling anybody. Feedback sent.

³ Asked by me how the heck he got the likes of Jemaine Clement, Paul F Tompkins, Felicia Day, and Cecil Baldwin to be in his audio play, Estrada responded, I asked, and I paid them.

WordPress Acting All Pokey; Let’s Get This Down Quickly Just In Case

How’s December treating you so far? Me, I’m glad that this absolute kidney stone of a year¹ is coming finally to an end, and also that it appears not to have claimed Buzz Aldrin as it was threatening to do. You’ll have to do better than that to get Buzz, 2016!

Anyway. WordPress is acting up, so here’s a quick rundown:

  • You know whose ass 2016 can kiss, on account of she is unstoppable and undestroyable by conventional means? Spike Trotman, that’s whose. Back over the summer she announced what the next Iron Circus Comics anthology would be, and today she opened the call for submissions. Take ‘er away, Spike:

    The Tim’rous Beastie anthology project is now open for submissions. We’ll be accepting them between Dec 1st, 2016 and Jan 1st, 2017. The full list of anthology participants will be announced Jan 15th, except in the instance we receive more submissions than expected, in which case this may be extended 1 week to accommodate volume.

    This is an anthology by and for those of us who grew up inspired by Redwall, The Deptford Mice, Rats of NIMH, and other tales of brave and imperiled critters defying their size and place in the natural order. We want to not only channel that inspiration into the medium of comics, but to approach familiar themes with fresh eyes.

    Tim’rous Beastie will be a joint venture, with Amanda Lafrenais as Managing Editor and Iron Circus Comics publishing and distributing.


    • With Lafrenais acting as editor on this project, Spike is developing a farm team of creative partners that can be delegated to; this is important given that she’s got like a dozen and a half projects scheduled for the near- to mid-term, and is now coordinating national-scale distribution for ICC. It’s no longer a one-person enterprise over there in Chicago, and she’s building up the talent pool. Ten bucks says in ten years she’s running a company that publishes as many pages per annum as any of the second-tier comics publishers do today.
    • Creators already announced on Beastie include Evan Dahm, Abby Howard, and KC Green, hecka yeah.
    • If you’re going to submit for glob’s sake read the guidelines thoroughly; every time Spike announces an anthology, somebody or other doesn’t follow the rules then bitches at length about how they’re being discriminated against because blah, blah, blah. She’s gotta be sick of that shit by now, and I’ma go out on a limb and guess that anybody that doesn’t follow the rules will find their submission tossed without a moment’s regret.
  • Pat Race is tireless in his efforts to bring Art and Comics and Fun to his corner of the world (that would be Juneau, Alaska), and that trend continues tomorrow as his Alaska Robotics Gallery from tomorrow, as his new show (Postcards From Juneau by name) opens with the traditional cheese and crackers. Gallery hours are noon to 6:00pm local time, but I suspect that if you bring Pat a beer, he’ll hang out with you after closing for a while.
  • The XOXO Festival — celebrating independent creators of art, technology, society, etc; think TED without the multinational corporate approval — has done a nice job of posting video of its talks and presentations. A new one went up yesterday that’s well worth the half hour it’ll take to watch.

    David Rees has been many things: a webcomicker, one of the first to really dig deep on the War on Terror; an artisanal pencil sharpener; a TV host that celebrated the profundity of the everyday. He’s also an inveterate record-keeper, and in XOXO’s new video, he tells us about his new podcast with This American Life vet Starlee Kine and the economics of the creative life. Specifically, his personal economics, laid bare and transparent to a degree that would make the President-elect melt. There have been really useful peeks inside the monetary curtain from the likes of Dorothy Gambrell and Erika Moen/Matthew Nolan in the past, but the sheer breadth of what Rees shares makes it uniquely valuable. Go watch.

Spam of the day:

Should these be legal? The military recently released technology that is not available to the public.

Okay, one, it they released it then it’s available to the public. Think before you hit publish, people! Two, you’re talking about a friggin’ pair of sunglasses. It’s not exactly the realm of secret technology that could affect national security. Get a grip.

¹ Fun story — the oldest comic strip I can remember reading is a Doonesbury strip from late December sometime around 1978 or ’79. Mike and Zonker are talking about how bad life sucks and Mike notes that his his grandfather always said This too shall pass about bad times. He and Zonker agree to the sentiment and toast: To the worst of times! To a kidney stone of a year! as a boop-boop heavy disco song comes on the jukebox.

That punchline has stayed with me for near on 40 years now. Comics, everybody.

Been An Expensive Day On Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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