The webcomics blog about webcomics

As Was Promised In The Before Times

Brandon Bird is many things — an artist who follow weird drives and cravings wherever they lead, the finest portrayer of late American culture’s one agreed-upon touchstone, and mad pelter of mini marshmallows¹. And, as was promised via the medium of a Kickstarter campaign completed last October, he has caused to be birthed into this sinful world, like unto a new savior, a Jerry Orbach Art Car:

I suspect that if Jerry Orbach were alive today to see the car, he’d probably treat it with the same sort of amused bafflement that he held for the coloring book. Amused bafflement is a pretty pleasant emotional cocktail, if you think about it.

That’s from the Jalopnik story from last Friday, where the news broke; you should go check it out for the photos and also a sweet quote from Bird about what Jerry Orbach meant to him and his artistic development. The JOAC is not complete save for some sweet rims (Jalopnik is taking suggestions), and there’s still no word if the horn plays the Law & Order doink-doink sound, but come on … one simply does not raise twenty grand, more or less, to build a Jerry Orbach Art Car and leave out the doink-doink sound.

It’s a holiday — THE holiday, even — here in the States tomorrow. I may or may not post. In the meantime, be well, try not to blow off anything vital with fireworks, and definitely see you on Wednesday.


Spam of the day:

Looking for a Checking Account with the Right Features for You?

Already got one. And since you’re the same people sending me other come-ons, I also do not need security cameras, senior apartment living communities, rehab options, my oil changed, or sexy Asian singles. Thanks.

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¹ You, uh, had to be there.

Clearing The Spam Folder

It’s not that there’s nothing going on in the Wide, Wide World o’ Webcomics¹, but we are in a momentary summertime lull before SDCC² and the rest of the major con busy season. I mean, I could point you towards the updated tour dates for Meredith Gran³ and Mike Holmes — in fact, I think I will — but there’s only so much of your time I can occupy there. Or you could take five minutes to watch the second episode of animation from The Nib, that works.

Done? Okay, let’s make fun of spammers and see what crops up between now and tomorrow.


Spams of the day:

Bonus! $350 after your first 150 rides driving with Lyft!

Figuring that any ride will take the drive a minimum of 15 minutes (from notification until drop-off), US$350 for 37.5 hours labor, or less than US$10/hour. Minus gas, insurance, and the rest? I think you actually come out negative on this deal.

Some DNA testing can be done from home

I did one of those home DNA spit tests once, on account of being adopted, I was sick of telling my doctor I didn’t know if there was a family history of various diseases. Still don’t know, but I am reliably informed that there’s a 68% change that I’m obese based on my genes. I am a super-skinny dude. I’m starting to regret not doing what I seriously thought of doing at the time, which was to let my dog drool into the collection tube just to watch the lab freak out.

[New SMS] You Received a Glance from Gelya (from Kazan, Russia)

I have received roughly thirty-seven variations of this spam with different combos of name and Russian city. Apparently, Russian mail-order brides really dig me.

Confirm Your Account with us

This one’s great — a big graphic that says ACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT in block letters, not even bothering to make up a lie about which account or with what company. Balls nasty.

Garytyrrell 2 messages marked as unread disobeys

Oh, no, the Facebook account I don’t have is threatening me for leaving messages unread.

Vital to Your Wellness: Good Dental Health

Not to brag, but I just went to the dentist on Saturday and she told me my hygiene was excellent. I like my dentist, she is quick and painless.

Juicy Couture Tracksuits

Nnnnooope.

Knives that are too large are very impractical and tremendously difficult to control. Ecclesiastes 12:17 (The Message) Old King Solomon said it all

King Solomon used swords; I don’t think he was overly concerned with a knife being too large.

I’ll immediately snatch your rss as I can’t in finding your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognise so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

I think I just got sexually harassed.

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¹ There’s not a good visual for the agony of defeat in webcomics, so please accept the original instead.

² Programming details coming soon!

³ Octopus Pie volume 5 (final!) out now!

Annnd, Behind At Work. Awesome.

Know what else is awesome? One of the greatest, most enabling guys in [web]comics, Christopher Butcher, is getting a new job. He’s been great at managing one of the best comics shops in North America, and he founded one of the great comics shows in the world. Now he gets to hunt out new talent in North America and Japan, and Publishers Weekly has the story:

Chris Butcher, longtime manager of The Beguiling comics bookstore and founder and artistic director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, is leaving The Beguiling and has been named a consulting editor-at-large for Viz Media.

In this new consulting role for Viz Media, Butcher will scout acquisitions and new talent and new publishing projects, while splitting his time between North America and Japan. In addition Butcher will also scout for original non-Japanese comics projects.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer, more qualified guy. Congratulations to Butcher, and to Viz for recognizing skill when they see it.

In other news:

There’s, uh, not a lot extra to say about any of those. Enjoy ’em.


Spam of the day:

Search free coupons for toilet paper discounts

How much toilet paper do you think I use?

Pretty, Pretty, And Noooooo

Let’s take them each in turn, shall we?

  • Pretty! The Perry Bible Followship may only update very occasionally, but it would be a mistake to ever count Nicholas Gurewitch out; he’s always got something intriguing cooking in his brainmeats, and just the other day we saw the most recent creation reach fruition.

    Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little Death is an Edward Goreyesque book, mostly silent, about a Death working through things with his¹ shrink. Readers with long memories may recall that this book was the subject of a Kickstarter ’bout two and a half years back², which was to have been fulfilled ’bout two years ago.

    Better late than never, though, and given the detail in the art, I can see how 48 pages worth could take longer than anticipated. US$25, limit one per person, domestic orders only for the moment, please. If you missed out on the Kickstart, this is your chance to get a copy (not as fancy as the Kickstarter version, but you haven’t been waiting for years, so suck it up).

  • Pretty! The Nib has gone through a lot since its launch: key player in the current iterations of This Is Fine and Pepe The Frog³, critically-acclaimed book (and calendar) publisher, a slew of awards for its contributors, and the odd hiatus or two. Latest adventure: an animated series, the first episode of which dropped today. Four comics by Jen Sorensen (Trump and various Sergeis in the Oval Office with the nuclear football), editor Matt Bors (snotty know-it-all and how not to get shot for being black), and associate editor Matt Lubchansky (where Trump’s hairpiece comes from … it ain’t pretty) round out this iteration, with more to come. I know I said Pretty! up top, but you know what? close ups of Donald Trump in cartoon form are kind of horrifying, which is probably the point. Well done, The Nib.
  • Noooooo! Okay, if you are not current on Stand Still, Stay Silent, maybe go away and get caught up. Minna Sundberg has never been sentimental about her post-apocalyptic story … the characters who’ve stepped into the Silent World have succeeded so far on dumb luck as much as anything, and even the people that conceived of their mission figured it was a longshot that would end up killing everybody involved. Heck, the prologue started by killing nearly everybody except five small casts of characters, along with the majority of the world; post-apocalypse was never going to be a cheery place.

    But Tuuri is so cheerful, so calmly competent, and it’s been so many strips from her possible contamination that it looked like she’d be … not okay, probably go back home and have occasional nightmares forever, but not this. Kitty can tell she’s infected and halfway to horribly mutated. The signs are there. She can hear the voices of the horrors as they reach out to claim her.

    The best scientists left in the known world have spent 75 years trying to come up with a treatment or vaccine, to no avail. Barring a miracle from the realm of gods and spirits, we’ve reached the point in the zombie movie where the protagonists have to kill their friend. It’s terrible, and the terror we feel reading is earned honestly instead of a cheap twist. It’s great storytelling and I hate it simultaneously. Go as peacefully as you can in the face of this abomination, Tuuri. We’ll miss you.


Spam of the day:

This chic style chameleon will go from elegant to edgy with a simple outfit swap. All prices reflect additional savings. This offer is not retroactive.

Trying to figure out if there’s anything in the world I want less than knockoff handbags allegedly designed by a sarcastic human tangerine

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¹ Based on the description; personally, I think that capital-d Death transcends the biological concepts of gender, but that may be one of the things a personification of a primal and eternal force needs to work out with their shrink.

² Disclaimer: I had to go look it up, it was so long ago.

³ Respectively, no, it’s not, and he’s dead, Jim.

Before They Get Away From Me

It seems that you enjoyed Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebaupin’s writeup of Day 1 at Lyon BD las week, at least as much as he enjoyed writing it; FSFCPL has further contributions of Days 2 and 3 at Lyon BD, but I’m going to make you wait a little for them. Last Friday’s congressional bid news¹ bumped some other stories that I think are still relevant and which I don’t want to get stale. So let’s see what we would have talked about on Friday had Pete Sessions not picked up a challenger.

  • We’ve mentioned Pénélope Bagieu more than once here at Fleen, including news of her biocomic series of remarkable women (Les Culott&ecaute;es) being acquired by :01 Books, to be published as Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World. It’s under that name that we’ll find some spectacular news from Variety:

    Penelope [sic] Bagieu’s Feminist Graphic Novel ‘Brazen’ Set For Animated TV Series

    Penelope [sic] Bagieu’s daringly feminist graphic novel “Brazen” (“Culottées”) which portrays bold and rebellious women around the world, is being turned into an animated TV series by a pair of French production banners, Agat films & Cie and Silex Films.

    Developed into 30 episodes of three minutes each, “Brazen” will explore the lives of 30 women such as Nellie Bly, Mae Jemison, Josephine Baker and Naziq al-Abid.

    Sarah Saidan, an Iranian filmmaker who studied at France’s prestigious animation school La Poudriere, is on board to direct the series that will air on Gaul’s public broadcaster France Televisions.

    Here’s hoping that some channel will follow :01’s lead and bring the animated shorts to English-speaking shores.

  • Hard to believe, but yesterday was but one month to the day since the Taptastic TOS shitshow got noticed and rapidly walked back; one of the bright spots to come out of said shitshow was the commentary of IP lawyer Akiva Cohen, who contributed some much needed expertise and a healthy dose of reality to the discussion. Cohen took some time out end of last week to drop some new wisdom under the hashtag #WebcomicsLawSchool, with the day’s lesson being on that perpetual source of misunderstanding, copyright registration:

    OK. Time for #WebcomicsLawSchool. This week’s topic, Copyright Registration: When, why, & how?

    [Side note: the best thing about that thread is the phrase This week’s topic, as Cohen is dropping knowledge on the regular. Did you know this? I didn’t know this. That’s why I’m talking about it, so you’ll know this and keep your eyes out for more. As always, keep in mind that Cohen’s advice is general and while he is a lawyer, he’s not your lawyer unless you pay him to be, in which case he’s not talking about your business in public. Okay, back to the smart guy stuff.]

    First thing to know: You don’t need to *register* your copyright to *have* a copyright #WebcomicsLawSchool

    As soon as you “fix” your creative work in a tangible form – get it out of your head and on paper, performed, etc.

    You have a copyright in that work. Nobody can take it without permission; if they do, you can sue them.

    Well, sort of. Because “you can sue them” is one of the primary reasons to actually *register* your copyright

    Until your copyright is registered with the US Copyright Office, you cannot file a copyright lawsuit in Federal Court.

    And that’s the key idea, the one that in my experience tends to be misunderstood more than anything else in copyright law — copyright is automatic, but there are hoops to jump through to preserve your legal options².

    Those hoops are well-established, and your job is to go through the #WebcomicsLawSchool history to see what more Coehn has to say, because that’s where the thread ends — his kid was doing something adorable, and that outweighs giving free legal advice to the internet.

    Hint: it starts here. Bookmark the hashtag, keep an eye on the posts, they’re really helpful.


Spam of the day:

What is the easiest way to quit smoking?

Simple. Pay me one million dollars, I’ll quit all the smoking you want me to.

_______________
¹ Which, due to a fortuitous bit of timing, I believe we were the first to report on; I happened to see Rob DenBleyker’s tweetnouncement about two minutes after it went live, and we had our story up about ten minutes later. Fastest typing of my blogging career.

² And no, the “poor man’s copyright” of mailing yourself a copy to prove creation date doesn’t count.

That’s Why They Call It ‘Work’ And Not ‘Fun’

Thanks to a frustrating, blinkered, blind adherence to arbitrary rules on the part of various IT types¹ that make it impossible for me to do my job² , possibly of possibly my entire career, has struck me today. How bad? I actually spent a good ten minutes this morning calculating whether or not I’d be beaten by Security if I pitched my laptop out a third floor window and screamed YOU CAN BILL ME (laced with appropriate profanity, naturally) in front of horrified customers.

So, Monday.

But I’ll not leave you wanting. By coincidence, today’s classic episode of You Damn Kid (which will eventually permalink here, unless I miss my guess) neatly parallels my feelings today, substituting for the titular Kid’s Dad. I don’t want to be an old man, much less the Old Man, but there you go. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Owen Dunne has a placeholder on the front page of YDK that promises

YDK TV
Starts Monday, June 12!

… which would be today. Nothing yet, but still quite a few hours left in the day.

And while we’re waiting to see what Dunne has cooked up, let’s also whet your appetite for a fresh field report from Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, who spent the weekend at Lyon BD:

I did get to meet authors and glean interesting info from them, to visit expos, to attend panels, etc. Oh, and I managed to ask Scott McCloud a few questions, too.

Oh, good — glad those two go to meet. Better mood, more news tomorrow.


Spam of the day:

Je demande pardon qu’est intervenu … Chez moi la situation semblable. On peut examiner.

Good to know that French spam has as little regard for sensical reading as English spam.

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¹ And I work in IT! Hey, IT guys making my life miserable — there’s a reason why we’re hated, and it has to do with you not even helping your colleagues. Jerks.

² While simultaneously putting me in violation of other rules for not doing my job.

The Day Kind Of Got Away From Me

Thursdays, man. Thursdays.

But I would feel absolutely terrible if I didn’t at least point you to some very good news for Molly Ostertag; we’ve mentioned the recent Kickstart for the second volume of Strong Female Protagonist and also the release of Shattered Warrior, two projects on which she ably handles art duties.

But Ostertag doesn’t get to tell a story visually as well as she does — even when written by another — unless she’s a hell of a strong story composer herself. Getting to write as well as illustrate a full graphic novel was just a matter of time, with Scholastic doing the honors in publishing the upcoming The Witch Boy (on, appropriately enough, Halloween Day). I haven’t seen an advanced copy or anything, but I’m pretty damn confident that it’s going to be great.

I’m not alone. Seems the development team at Fox Animation has similar opinions:

Fox Animation has preemptively picked up the feature film rights to The Witch Boy, an upcoming graphic novel by Molly Knox Ostertag.

[The] Witch Boy centers on 13-year-old Aster, whose family raises all their girls to be witches and boys to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. The boy hasn’t shifted, and he’s fascinated by witchery. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help … but as a witch. With the help of a non-conforming friend, Aster will have to find the courage to save his family while also be true to himself.

I’m not sure what I’m more delighted by — that the gender metaphor will resonate in a bunch of 8 to 12 year olds, that the rights were obtained this early, or that it’s Ostertag’s solo debut. I’ve said it about other creators and it applies here as well: as good as Ostertag is in her mid-20s, I can’t wait to see how damn good she’ll be in her mid-30s. There are going to be some gods-damned amazing comics dropping every friggin’ week by the time Scott McCloud’s target year for a female majority in comics — creators and readers — arrives¹.

We’ll include the obligatory disclaimer that rights/options/etc don’t mean that anything will happen quickly (or at all)², but you know what? Fox had to write Ostertag a check. Her name recognition just went up, meaning that her next publishing contract negotiation just tilted a bit more in her favor. She wins, we get to read The Witch Boy no matter what, and it’s a sunny day out. I’m declaring victory and going out to walk my dog.


Spam of the day:

Club Access LocalMILFsMHP Ad-Partner

On the one hand, Nnnnnope. On the other hand, I’m kind of curious what MHP stands for.

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¹ 2024, according to McCloud. I’m on record that he was wildly pessimistic in thinking it would take that long, and pessimism is not a characteristic I normally ascribe to him.

² Given the current state of book challenges and censorship attempts, I can see a story about witchcraft and a boy wanting to engage in Girl Things will rile up the fundamentalist outrage machine. Bring it.

Five Things; No, Six


We’ll get the sixth one out of the way first.

  • I woke up today with one of my all time favorite Something*Positive strips at the forefront of my brain, and wanted to go read it again. Here it is — Lizard-Happy. Man, what a great little moment Randy Milholland wrote there. I’ve loved this strip since I first read it what, two or three years ago?

    Nope. More than seven. How the crap did this strip run more than seven years ago and it feels so much more recent? Pretty sure this is proof that time is accelerating, a situation for which the laws of physics make no allowance¹.

    The conclusion is clear: physics — mayhap the universe itself — is broken, and all is about to come crashing down. Time, space, mass, energy all coalescing into a monobloc and everything we’ve ever known or love erased not just from existence, but probably from ever having existed in the first place.

    Not sure how that happened, but it’s probably something one of Milholland’s very performative I used to be your fan until I found out [something completely irrelevant] type followers did, just to spite him². Either that, or I’m just older than I thought.³

  • Five things, then. Katie Lane4 dropped one hell of a resource on the creative community via twitterage earlier today:

    New Post!! 5 Things to Know Before You Sign Your Publishing Contract

    Which turns out to be the first of five topic-specific emails from an online training course that Lane is offering on understanding publishing contracts. The First Thing is this:

    In any publishing deal, you’re in charge. That’s because a publishing contract is you giving the publisher permission to use your work. They need permission and you’re the only one they can get it from.

    Man, I love that; no matter how a publisher may try to spin things to where you act out of fear, the lesson is that it’s not a failure to say no; it’s an inalienable right, and your ultimate protection. Key thoughts from Lane:

    Every term in the contract is a request:

    • May we have the right to make merchandise?
    • May we publish your book for a royalty that’s 10% of the cover price?
    • May we have the right to publish the next book you write?

    Just because they ask doesn’t automatically mean you have to say yes. With every request for permission in the contract, ask yourself:

    • Do I want to give them this permission?
    • Do I trust the publisher to use these rights effectively?
    • If I give the publisher my permission, and I don’t like the results, what options does the contract give me?

    [emphasis original]

    Much more, as the kids say, at the link. The Next Thing will be Only give them the permission they need, and can use, but if you want to see that, Lane requires you to do something. I’m not saying that she’s following the smack dealer model of first taste’s free, but to get Things Two through Five, you’ve got to sign up for the course. And if she is, she’s a pretty bad smack dealer, because the entire course is free. If you’ve ever signed a contract, may sign a contract in the future, or are possibly signing a contract right this very minute5, jump on that link and get smart.


Spam of the day:

Check out hotkate97
Kate posted naked pictures and selfies of herself so you can decide if she has the type of body that you would be willing to make love to. Her selfies and pics will be available for you to view until tomorrow morning around 10:15. Kate is allowing you to see her naked pics until tomorrow: Again, Kate is not wearing clothes in any of these pictures that she wants you to view.

Whoever is sending out emails for hotkate97 is more than a little desperate.

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¹ Trust me on this, I just read all about what time is.

² They flock to him, like nobody’s business. I think he needs to hand out more beatings, as a warning to others.

³ Nah, definitely the broken universe.

4 Light-ning LAW-yer!

5 To whatever degree the concepts of past, future, and present mean anything now that Milholland pissed off that used-to-be-reader and got spacetime all broken, that is.

Rad Ladies

There’s days when I have a lot to say, and there’s days when stories speak for themselves; today we’re in the latter category.

  • First up, Erika Moen — cartoonist, force of nature, hell of awesome — dropped some news on us yesterday [the story is SFW, but the side panel ads are probably not] … she’s headed to Sweden:

    Oh my gosh, I’m making my first trip out to Sweden!!! If you’re in the neighborhood, please come say hi to me at the Stockholm International Comics Festival this May 20 – 21!!!!

    Or the Stockholms Internationella Seriefestival; if you speak Swedish, hit up the link. If not, here’s the translation, which links to bits about the festival’s Small Press Expo (described as the “official sibling” of the annual event in Maryland), and details on the international guests.

    If I’m reading everything correctly, the SIS will take place at Stockholm’s Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, in Sweden’s only specialist library for comics, Serieteket (here, for those of you that like maps). Free admission, and I think the times are 11:00am to 5:00pm (CET, or GMT+2), on Saturday and Sunday (20 & 21 May).

  • On my way back from Comics Camp (start here, if you’ve forgotten, and work forward) I had a layover in Minneapolis, and thus was able to visit with Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell, about whom I’ve written lots over the past year or so. She mentioned that in addition to all the work she’s been doing since graduating last May, she’d been in talks with VICE News to do an interview about work/life balance and the financial end of a creative career. Turns out that it happened, and now you can see it.

    It’s a huge topic (things dealing with money — peripherally or directly — took up many hours at Camp), and not one where all the subtleties can be done in a few minutes. Heck if they didn’t do a damn good job laying out the boundaries of the issues, though.

    I found the most compelling part to be Vallero-O’Connell’s frank recognition that there’s a very fine line to tread, with both too many and too few jobs offering risks. Don’t have enough gigs, you don’t make money and you can’t pay your bills. Accept too many¹ and you risk spreading yourself too thin² or injury — meaning you can’t sustain the money and can’t pay your bills³.

    There’s no grand solution offered — not that there could be — but just acknowledging the challenges is tremendously valuable. Vallero-O’Connell is starting to get a handle on what the career looks like (not just for now, but as a sustainable effort over many years), and seeing her present the quandries and puzzle them out is going to help others find their balance quicker than they would otherwise. Give it a look.


Spam of the day:

KOHL’s: Antiquated Dept. Store…

Are … are you trying to get me to click on your fake KOHL’s gift card by negging them?

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¹ A constant temptation for freelancers, particularly those new to the game.

² Leading to substandard work or burnout.

³ Unspoken in the four minute run time: even if you accept the exact right amount of work, you can’t guarantee you actually get paid what you’re due on a prompt basis, meaning you can’t pay your bills. I’m sensing a theme to the freelancer’s life.

That Thing I Kept Alluding To Back In December? It’s Finally Happening

Scott McCloud sends the most interesting people to me. In this case, NPR’s National Arts Report, Neda Ulaby. Waaay back at the end of December, she wanted to talk to me about webcomics, particularly the successful Kickstarter of Ngozi Ukazu to print book two of Check, Please!.

So it was that I found myself downloading an app onto my phone that would record my half of an interview, and finding a quiet room without echoes to talk webcomics, self-publishing, creator ownership, and all the other hallmarks of our weird little community. Ms Ulaby and I spoke for about 15 minutes, she figured she might get four for the entire story, and would be talking to other people; I guessed I might get two good quotes in.

Then the current administration happened, and finding four minutes on a national radio network for a story about fictional gay hockey players took up the back burner position. I guessed the story was dead.

Until I got an email this afternoon. I am told that the story will run as part of All Things Considered today, but since local NPR stations run the program at different times and may chop out segments to do local inserts, I can’t tell you when it might run. Check that link tomorrow, you should be able to play it back. I’ve got ATC on in the background here at work, and am listening with bated breath.

So, yeah — that happened.

Update: Looks to be about the 48:00 or 50:00 mark in Hour One. Here’s the story link, on account of my local station cut away to a local story, dammit.

Update 2: The story hook that makes it relevant now? Ukazu’s debuting the book at TCAF this weekend. Go pick it up and congratulate her.