The webcomics blog about webcomics

Clever Students And News of Dessinatrices

This may be my professional bias talking, or my innate sense that engineering is the most fun you can have in the physical and mental worlds simultaneously, but there may be nobody taking comics into more exciting directions than Lucas Landherr¹ of Surviving The World. As has been mentioned on this page more than once, Landherr has been making comics (with a variety of artists) to explain the trickier concepts in his discipline (that would be Chemical Engineering²), and of late he’s been inspiring his students to do the same.

As a class project last semester, his students produced new ways of explaining key bits o’ esoteric knowledge, ranging from their own comics (on convection, or heat transfer, or heat exchangers) to video (on heat transfer, or on heat transfer but with a Queen song³). It’s cool stuff, and I get the feeling in that last video that I’ve seen some of the tics that Professor Landherr exhibits in class, and I definitely fear — nearly 30 years distant from my own graduation — to ever take a class with Professor Satvat, judging by how often he shows up in these projects.

From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin:

These ladies had messages to express with their comics in 2017, and you can bet they will persist in 2018.

Our thanks, as always, to FSFCPL for keeping us up on Gallic comics happenings.


Spam of the day:

Hi Gary,
I saw you tweeting about reading and I thought I’d check out your website. I really like it. Looks like Gary has come a long way!

Not only has Gary come a long way, everything’s coming up Milhouse Gary!

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¹ Alter-ego of mild-mannered chalkboard enthusiast Dante Shepherd.

² Which, as a proud Electrical Engineer, I might concede almost involves more difficulty and scholarship than my own chosen field.

³ Very cool thing I noticed — judging from the clock on the wall in the lecture portion of the video, the Landherr-spoofing scene was done with few (if any) reshoots.

4 If you need a refresher, these are comics specifically designed to be read by scrolling on a smartphone screen; they are a big deal (not to mention big business (French-only)) in Japan and South Korea.

New Year’s Stretch Goals

Get ’em while they’re hot.

  • So Gordon McAlpin went and made a Multiplex short (the funding of which was mentioned in the beforetimes), and before we get to that, can I commend him on one thing? The Kickstarter in question launched on 9 April; between that day and when the campaign finished on 8 May, McAlpin posted more than two dozen updates on the project. Since completion of the campaign, he’s dropped more than sixty progress reports. That degree of communication with backers is worth noting and emulating. Okay, back to where we were.

    Judging from the topic lines of the updates (most of which are backer-only), the short is done, seeing as how certain backers go the early-access link a couple days before Christmas. Hooray, project successful, all done, right? Nah, that’d be boring. The campaign was just to get the first short done; now it’s time to release the short wide, get shopped around the festival cicruit, and maybe make more. A very modest US$2000 (you read that right, two stinkin’ grand) will:

    [H]elp fund the film festival run, digital release, and promotion of the Multiplex 10 short film, in hopes of reaching the widest possible audience. Although the Multiplex 10 short film stands on its own, it was conceived as a pilot for a series, and reaching a wide audience will give us the best possible chance of producing more Multiplex 10 videos.

    [O]ffer a physical copy of the short for existing (and new) backers who want them, and to sell at conventions, screenings, and other venues. And …

    [I]f we can raise significantly more than the base goal, we can fund additional 2–3 minute Multiplex 10 webisodes, to be released free online. These webisodes will feature Kurt and Jason (and possibly some other familiar faces) talking about a then-current movie or facet of movie culture

    As of this writing, there’s 11 hours left and the campaign has passed the second stretch goal (US$4K), meaning that the USB cards the short will be sold on are 4GB instead of 2GB, and the first webisode will be made. At US$5K, the USB doubles to 8GB, at US$7K a second webisode gets added; at US$8K the USB doubles again to 16GB, and at US$10K a third webisode is produced. If you want to see any of these things happen, now’s the time.

  • It’s less than a month since we noted the up-wrapping and comprehensive collection-printing of Plume;; it’s got another week to go on its crowdfunding and is approaching double its US$25K goal. Today, K Lynn Smith announced that since all the financial stretch goals have been met, there will be one more based on backer count.

    1000 backers means that the book plate used for signing the omnibus edition (alas, the earlier single volumes don’t qualify) will have a fancy spot gloss added to it; this is not something I’ve seen anybody do before, and it’s a neat idea. Spot gloss and other fancy treatments get added to the covers of books, but this is a fancification that’s like a secret between creator and fan.

    Okay, that’s probably stretching the point a bit, but it’s a neat idea, and it may drive backers to up their pledges if they weren’t getting the omnibus, so it’s a smart way for Smith to push upsells. As of this writing, there are 903 backers and a bit more than six and a half days. Let’s see if that count can go up by 11% in a week.


Spam of the day:

IT Degrees with SE

Okay, gotta ask — what in the world is SE? Because I’m being offered IT degrees with it, nursing degrees with it, local hot wives not getting enough sex from their husbands with it, knockoff Viagra with it, and credit scores with it. Whatever SE it, it’s very flexible.

New Year, New Stuff

Or at least, some of it will be new to you. Onwards!

  • It’s been a considerable time since the heyday of Webcomics Weekly¹, and the logistics of wrangling four people — when there are kids and other time demands — means we won’t ever get that back. Brad Guigar’s had conversations with movers and/or shakers via his own Kickstarts and Webcomics Dot Com, and he’s been talking to Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett somewhat regularly lately² (especially in/around Patreon’s troubles), and it’s clear they’ve got the bug again.

    Thus, a new Patreon and a new podcast very much in the mold of Webcomics Weekly:

    Welcome to the ComicLab Podcast, the new show about makin’ comics, and makin’ a living from comics.

    If you loved Webcomics Weekly, you’re gonna love this show: It’s half shop-talk, half how-to, and half friendship. WE SQUEEZED IN THREE HALVES.

    Everything launched yesterday, and they appear to have gone from three Patreon supporters to 29 in the past 24 hours; if you want to draw extrapolations, by the end of the month their supporter count will either be 728 (assuming they add 26 each day), or 24,254,780,439,831,450 times the population of the Earth (assuming they grow by 8 1/3 times every day), or maybe predictions are garbage. In any event, give ‘er a listen, and leave plenty of time for laugh breaks.

  • Meredith Gran has been keeping a bit of a low profile since Octopus Pie wound up (and there’s not a day I don’t think back on how good it was, start to finish), and we knew she was working on a videogame, but things are starting to kick into gear:

    the game I’m working on is called Perfect Tides, and I’m going to start rolling out social media stuff until KS fundraising begins in January! until then you can follow @perfect_tides for news + tidbits

    PT is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, an introspective teen adventure with the mechanics of a classic adventure game. to me they are a perfect fit! I hope you will think so too

    Kickstarter this month, y’all! And hoo boy, Sierra point-and-click games were things I spent waaaay too much time on in my younger days. This could be dangerous.

Okay, not actually new to 2018; in fact, this report from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has been hanging about since last week, but I was lazy during the holiday break. Some of what he talks about has been going one for some time, and some of it is pretty much outdated by now, but you know what? It’s all good.

  • We at Fleen always enjoy efforts to help English readers better understand French. Especially when they come from Boulet, who has been publishing thematic guides to French expressions and idioms to his Twitter feed: everything around kissing, drinking, butts .. or cucul la praline or vachement.
  • Speaking of Boulet, also do not miss his advent calendar of mythical creatures.
  • And speaking of France and butts, there appears to be a new French-language webcartoonist on the block; usually we would not relay the news of a newly created webcomic, but we’ve been told this Jeph Jacques guy is kind of a big deal in the States (despite the French-sounding name), so his French-language efforts should be worth keeping an eye on …

Yeah, that was pretty much all out of date. That’s all me. Thanks for your patience, FSFCPL!


Spam of the day:

Child Predator Risk Warning

Gaaahhh, okay, if you must alleviate sleepless nights by checking on sex offenders in your area, please understand you don’t need to pay a service for this information. Every state’s got a public, official list, and the feds incorporate all of those (plus DC, territories, and Indian Country) in one free website. Save your money.

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¹ Remember, the greatest Webcomics Weekly of all time was very nearly the last that adhered to an even vaguely weekly timeframe. Pretty soon after, it was every other month, then annual, then even less frequent. And it was damn near seven years ago!

² Meanwhile, Kris Straub is busy podding and vidding around areas other than webcomics, and Scott Kurtz has been more concerned with the intersection of the business of new media and the broad whole of art.

Good News Just Bustin’ Out Everywhere

I’m not even talking about the gears of justice grinding finely today, I’m talking about webcomicker news. To the Newsmobile!

  • Readers of this page may recall that I have a high opinion of Hope Larson and have for some considerable time. Today, something that I asked her about last year is one step closer to an answer, as it turns out that Goldie Vance is getting a big-screen treatment, from Kerry Washington and Rashida Jones, no less:

    The project, being designed as a potential family-film franchise at Fox, will be based on the graphic novel series, created by writer Hope Larson (who’s also created graphic novels of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and DC’s Batgirl) and artist Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker) and published by Boom! Studios.

    Jones will adapt and direct the film version, which Washington will produce under her Simpson Street production company banner, which is overseen by Pilar Savone. Also producing are Ross Richie and Stephen Christy for Boom! Studios. Boom!’s Adam Yoelin will co-produce. Daria Cercek and Jon Wu will oversee for Fox.

    Here’s hoping (har, har) that BOOM! getting the Hollywood money payday means that they can stop nickel-and-diming their creators, and also that Larson and Williams are getting nice chunks of change from the deal¹. We at Fleen are obligated to remind everybody that Hollywood moves slowly, and there’s no guarantee that Goldie will see the screen anytime soon (or even at all), but it’s a nice recognition of a great story.

  • Speaking of good news, thanks to GeekDad for finding out what Ben Hatke will be up to for the next while:

    First up, next fall (2018), First Second will be releasing a Zita the Spacegirl box set! It will combine all three bestselling Zita graphic novels into one volume–plus an all-new poster! Seriously, if you haven’t yet jumped on the Zita bandwagon, you’re missing out.

    Second, the following fall (2019) will see the release of the third Mighty Jack graphic novel. The third entry in the series will be a big crossover spectacular wherein Jack and Lily team up with none other than … Zita the Spacegirl (and her friends) for the adventure of a lifetime. This is the big one!

    We at Fleen are on record as digging both the Zita and Jack series, and I was hopeful that the post-credits reveal at the end of Mighty Jack And The Goblin King meant that we might see a crossover, but it was ambiguous enough that I wasn’t banking on it.

    The only thing is, Hatke’s a machine; by my count he’s done more than one book a year at :01 (three Zita, two Jack, Nobody Likes A Goblin, Little Robot, Julia’s House For Lost Creatures, plus four books illustrated for other authors), and while the box set next year is exciting, it doesn’t require a year’s work. I suspect we’ll see at least one more book between now and the Zita/Jack crossover, which I am eagerly awaiting already.

  • The one thing I get every year at this time? The Wondermark calendar. I love that thing, year after year. David Malki ! dropped the news all low-key that this year’s version is up for order, so if you require a means to tell the passage of time in the coming year, grab a calendar and stand, or just a set of calendar refills, over at the Dry Goodsery. You’ll be glad you did. I mean, I’m glad that I did, and that’s the same thing, right?

Spam of the day:

Heya! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to
all your posts! Keep up the great work!

An iPhone 4, “scat_female”? I think you’re a little behind the times.

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¹ I’ll put it another way; since Goldie Vance is creator-owned, Larson damn well better be getting the lion’s share on the deal.

Can I Claim To Have Been Blackout Drunk?

May all the angels and ministers of grace forgive me, I have backed a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff book. Welp, I guess I have between now and April 2018 to do as much good as possible before that thing shows up and I lose all sanity. Again.

Doing Good 1: Hey, remember that talk that Kelly and Zach Weinersmith gave at the Strand Bookstore, which was recorded by C-SPAN? It was broadcast this past Sunday, and that means it’s now available for streaming at the C-SPAN site. Round about the 42:30 mark, I achieve a lifelong dream and get identified in a transcript as Unidentified Speaker.

Doing Good 2: I’m going to reiterate my call for all of you to purchase Shing Yin Khor’s Small Stories. It’s a slim, small volume — almost Moleskine cahier size — with Khor’s delicate watercolors perfectly reproduced, though ten stories of anger, redemption, hope, silliness, and magic. Some of them are heartbreaking¹, some are uplifting, some are both at the same time. She’s collected some of her best work from the past few years, and you will not find a better use of twelve bucks than this

Doing good 3: Looking to get some sweet, sweet webcomics merch for the upcoming Solstice-adjacent holiday(s)? Keep in mind that you can’t wait until the night before and expect to get stuff the next morning … Amazon may be working on direct teleportation via quantum entanglement, but your favorite webcomicker needs lead time. Also, sleep.

As a most optimistic guess, the TopatoCo shipping times calendar for Aught-Seventeen is probably representative of what the most on-the-ball creators can do. Probably want to order at least 4-5 days earlier for a lot of single-person operations, though.


Spam of the day:

Young cute blonde looking to cheat on my BF this weekend

Oh no, what if I am her BF? This is just like the pina coloda song.

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¹ On par with Trigger Warning: Breakfast, which was originally published anonymously, but which Khor has recently claimed.

Oh Good Glob, There Goes My Sanity

[Header image below the cut to contain the horror]

Hussie, Green, and (motherfucking) Dril collaborating on a Sweet Bro & Hella Jeff project? I just got over the flashbacks from the last one.

(more…)

Audio, Video, Smart People

Want to see smart people talking about stuff? Time to follow some links, folks.

  • First up, Brad Guigar¹ took the time to talk to Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett as part of his Webcomics Confidential webcast series [Webcomics Dot Com subscription required]; for longtime readers of this page, it was a hearkening back to the glory days of what he learned at the recently-held PatreCon 2017. The conference was invite-only, and while there are some talks from last year’s iteration publicly available (and the same will probably happen eventually for PC17), there’s not really an effective way to learn everything that happened without talking to somebody that attended.

    Guigar and Kellett’s discussion is a dense hour of key points about how to use Patreon to its best effect, and if you’re on Patreon there’s undoubtedly good info for you here. It’s well worth tossing Guigar five bucks for a 30 day trial to have a listen and take notes. I will give you one nugget though — there’s a killer discussion of whether it’s better to set up your Patreon to run per month or per update.

  • Hey, remember when Kelly and Zach Weinersmith talked at Strand Bookstore and C-SPAN recorded it? That was great. It wasn’t known at the time when C-SPAN would be running the talk, but now it is:

    This Sunday at 7pm ET scientist Kelly Weinersmith and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith report on future technologies

    That would be Sunday, 12 November. C-SPAN is on your cable lineup in that block of channels you don’t usually visit. or will likely be here sometime after the broadcast premiere. You’ll learn about how supermarket snickerdoodles will enable the hilarious robot apocalypse, space elevators, why quantum computing will never get a popular explainer, and Crypt-Keeper wasps all of which will be worth your time.


Spam of the day:
We are offering this to you because you are a registered member of the comic community.
Okay, I mock down here, but I want to be serious for a minute.

This disclaimer was at the bottom of an email imploring me to support a Kickstarter that recently concluded (it was sent approximately halfway through the successful campaign).

I’m not mentioning its name and I’m never going to mention it, because this? This was done wrong. You got my email from a list I’m on because I hold press credentials for SDCC; it’s meant for sending news and announcements.

While it’s acceptable to indicate that you’re running a Kickstarter, a press release is not the same as the give-us-money appeal that you send to your audience. People wanting to let me know about your thing, don’t do this.

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¹ A sexy, sexy man.

The Common Thread? Homestar*Runner

But Gary, I hear you cry, if you’re talking about Homestar*Runner, why do you have a picture of Grover at the top of the post? Bear with me. It will all relate by the end.

  • Readers of this page will recall that I have, at various times, declared Homestar*Runner to be a webcomic, originally in the context of a discussion I was privileged to lead at Comics Camp this past April. Said discussion and declaration were sketchnoted by Jason Alderman.

    Alderman’s on my brain because of a tweet I saw earlier today; if you are lucky enough to be in Pittsburgh now-ish, and lucky enough to work (as does Alderman) in the support and design of museums, then you (like he) might just be attending the Museum Computer Network 2017 conference. And just maybe you were lucky enough to attend Alderman’s presentation (recently wrapped up as I write this) on how to make sketchnotes.

    It’s something that I want him to teach me someday, something that I think would make a really cool 27-part series here at Fleen, just as soon as I can convince him to create something so extensive for free. Or maybe one of the times he does one of these talks, I’ll get him to record it and post a link.

  • But getting back to H*R, my point was that webcomics need not be ink on paper (or pixels on tablet), it can be anything that tells a story with a point of view, a direct relationship between creator(s) and audience, and the likelihood of collaboration. It can have sound and motion¹, but it has to have them for a reason; the creepy-ass blinky eyes of late-era FOOB² aren’t a reason. But used correctly, they can set a mood and serve a story, and that’s the other part of what I wanted to point you at today.

    I met Mike Grover at Comics Camp, and today he’s released the first chapter of a new limited-animation, looping soundtrack comic called Deeply Dave, and damn if it doesn’t do all the things you can do with webcomics that you can’t do with just comics. Grover provides the option to read it without the AV enhancements, and it’ll be a book eventually.

    For now, the repetitive motion brings more than a bit of depth³ and atmosphere to the story (especially considering the use of red and blue accents, reminiscent of the colors decoded by old style 3D glasses), making each panel appear to have far more going on that it would otherwise.

    The jittery images (think Squigglevision™) add a sense of menace to the presumptive Big Bad (the white circle eyes and heavy silhouette body remind me of the God Warriors from Nausicaä). The music is echoing, and distant — exactly the mood you want to convey the enormity of an ocean that does not care about you and could kill you at any time. Turn it down to just above the level of audibility for maximum effect.

    Grover may only be using the animation and music as a means of promotion, but I hope that he has the time to keep at it through each of the subsequent chapters. They’re super effective.

There you go: Camp, sketchnotes, Homestar*Runner, Gover, it all ties together. Now go forth and find your own weird coincidences in the world.


Spam of the day:

Today only: something SCARY GOOD

For the record, this spam did not get sent on Halloween Day, but rather five days after. Considering it purported to be a Pandora ad (although not from anything resembling Pandora.com) for spooky Halloween music, they really pooched this attempt to get me to click on totally innocuous links.

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¹ As opposed to Sound And Motion

² Which may not show up in the linked strip, but trust me — they were a horrorshow.

³ That is such a great joke and you don’t even get it unless you read the comic, so go read it already.

End Of An Era

It’s been a long, long time since Providence blessed us with a running gag of this nature. Many, many years ago, a young lad (goodness, still in high school) named Ian Jones-Quartey did a damn fun webcomic called RPG World. Then one day, he stopped. People asked him about it a great deal at conventions and on panels after he transitioned to his animation career, where he’s worked on series like The Venture Brothers, Steven Universe, and OK KO! Let’s Be Heroes. He joked that every time somebody asked him about when RPG World was coming back, he would delay its return by a month.

I abused that promise, eventually offering a bounty of a dollar for anybody that would ask him, watching the expected return get pushed later and later. Alas, all good things, etc:

here’s the final RPG World comic from OK KO! more info: https://tmblr.co/Zgt2lx2QfJJZR

Here’s the most important bits of the very interesting, very satisfying story behind the comic:

A recent episode of my show OK KO!, A Hero’s Fate is a fully-absorbed finale of my old comic RPG World. RPG World was a comic that I made when I was a teenager(Starting in August 2000). A lot of people ended up liking the comic and I was a little too young to take that fact seriously. I never finished the comic’s story because… I was a flighty teenager and I ended up going to animation school.

Originally the story wasn’t going to have any specific call-outs to the comic but the storyboard team for the episode, Ryann Shannon and Parker Simmons crafted a narrative around Hero and KO learning to value the people in their lives AND their heroic ambitions.

Ryann created an epilogue to the episode which showed Hero returning to comic form to finish his story. I felt very embarrassed by this but it made so much sense in the storyss context. I leaned into it and using her rough version as a guide, drew the full ending page myself. I rummaged thru my supplies and broke out the same set of pens I used to ink the comic with, and scanned it on my same old scanner.

The whole thing has ended up being very cathartic. Knowing that Hero and Cherry will live on in endless worldwide repeats of this episode is mindblowing.

The story of RPG World proper ended in the middle of the story in July of 2005, or just about six months before I started blogging. A series of short interludes followed. The last real update was in June of 2007. And the RPG World page at Keenspot now lists the page above as the final, canon update.

It’s done. The running gag that’s been a running gag since before I started blogging is done. OK KO! got a great episode, RPG World got a finish, and Jones-Quartey got to revisit the story that lil’ baby Ian cut his teeth on. All in all, not back for a Thursday, and more than twenty years earlier than expected.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m behind on my watching of OK KO! and I need to remedy that.


Spam of the day:

Fergies new trick to weight-loss!

I’m really not the person to be advertised to by invoking Fergie. I firmly agreed with Nathan Rabin when he described the Black Eyed Peas as essentially a four-person advertising agency flimsily masquerading as a pop group. Think of them as the distinguished firm of Hologram Man, Meth Lady, The Other Guy, and The Other Other Guy, Inc.

Hey Kids, What Day Is It? FSFCPLday!

Webcomics are, naturellement, a world-wide phenomenon; we at Fleen are pleased to bring you the latest news on the French webcomics scene, courtesy of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin.

  • Montpellier¹ might not seem like a big city, but it does house a vibrant comics community, of which at least Paka (corny, untranslatable puns, with some exceptions) and Fabrice Erre (the life of a history and geography teacher in high school) maintain webcomics. These are very much anchored in local life … which also means they are unlikely to ever be translated (corny puns don’t help, either).

    But earlier this year they have been (re-)joined by Yllya (a previous veteran of comic blogs), another Montpellier dweller, who tells us about her Happy Family and in particular their daughter .. Their troll, pizza-hating, job-threatening, just plain evil daughter. Not only are those are available in English for your reading pleasure, but you can see the author improving her English strip after strip, up to a point it will soon be flawless. Highly recommended.

  • Not only do Agat Films et Ex Nihilo produce the animated version of Tu Mourras Moins Bête (of which the second season has just started airing), they also unveiled a few images of their adaptation of Les Culottées on the occasion of the Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, and they seem to be doing a great work of adapting Pénélope Bagieu’s style. They are also there in order to look for foreign broadcasters; no word as yet on that front, but we at Fleen will be sure to keep you posted.

Many thanks to FSFCPL, and come back tomorrow for an analysis of the Girls With Slingshots omnibus Kickstart; we’re a little short of 24 hours (and thus outside the window to calculate the FFFmk2), but considering that (as of this writing) it’s sitting at US$97,824, I’m going to guess that the final total is: large.


Spam of the day:

Your 2017 Transunion, Equifax and Experian Credit-Scores as of Sep 16

Weird. In the aftermath of the Eqiufax breach, there’s plenty of disclaimers on the sites of Transunion, Equifax, and Experian about how they maintain credit histories, but do not themselves calculate credit scores, which are determined by outside algorithms. It’s almost like you don’t actually represent these bureaus and don’t know how they work. I’ll certainly give you all my personally identifying and financial information!

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¹ Full disclosure: you correspondent studied there for two years and has a number of relatives living in the area.