The webcomics blog about webcomics

Fleen Book Corner: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World

Once upon a time, I didn’t have a favorite book designer, but that’s cool; I imagine almost everybody who’s ever lived didn’t know enough about book designers existing to have a favorite, and of those that remain, 99% just say Chip Kidd by reflex. But it was hard not to notice the work that Colleen AF Venable¹ did on the first hundred or so titles that :01 Books put out, and pretty soon I was paying close attention.

I remember complimenting her on the design of Anya’s Ghost and her face lighting up; much like the famous story of Chuck Jones and his artists stealing time from a Road Runner short to have enough animator-hours to make What’s Opera, Doc?, Venable had fought for the budget to give Anya’s Ghost both an embossing (sections of the cover sunken below the normal plane) and debossing (same deal, in reverse)², but couldn’t find a way to stretch the funds to include spot gloss.

I learned in that conversation that you can judge books by their covers, that the willingness of a publisher to spend money and design time reflects their confidence in the ability to earn back the expense, but also the degree to which they want to make it stand out because they believe that what’s inside is important. Which brings us to Brazen (book design by the very capable Danielle Ceccolini, who succeeded Venable at :01, with Chris Dickey).

:01 must think the world of Pénélope Bagieu’s latest, because the cover features embossing, debossing, locations of both kinds of bossing given spot gloss, and a rough (almost flocked) texture to the rest of the cover, all arranged in an unbelievably complex pattern that must have taken roughly forever to design, do test prints of, and finally approve. It’s a marvel.

And what the hell — the inside is more than worthy of the love lavished on the cover.

In her trademark style that sits midway between Kate Beaton and Larry Gonick, Bagieu tells the story of 29³ remarkable women who changed the world in large ways and small. Women that you possibly learned about before (Nellie Bly, inventor of investigative reporting; Josephine Baker, endless champion of equality; Temple Grandin, translator between the worlds of humans and animals), and some you might have known based on your personal interests (Hedy Lamarr, revered in my discipline for her invention of spread-spectrum signal encoding; The Shaggs, reluctant pop stars; Mae Jemison, who is so impossibly broad in her spectrum of interests and expertises that she’s normally reduced to the single word astronaut4).

Then there are the ones you’d never have know about, women who showed up every damn day and did the work to save a lighthouse (Giorgina Reid), run off invaders (Nzinga), hold a country together (Wu Zeitan), stop women dying in childbirth (Agnodice), and forcing a nation to come to peace (Leymah Gbowee). Betty Davis is sometimes remembered as one of Miles Davis’s second wife, but she was Beyonce and Rihanna thirty years before that was allowed (Jimi Hendrix knew how good she was, and Prince spent years trying to meet her). Jesselyn Radack fought the overreaches of the security state when the US government declared her an enemy, and continues fighting for transparency today. Sonita Alizadeh fled the fate of a trafficked marriage in Afghanistan to become an advocate against childhood marriage for girls — and a rap star.

Some died for what they believed in. Josephina van Gorkum married in defiance of the religious norms of nineteenth century Holland and built a tombstone to carry on her defiance after her death. Maria Teresa, Minerva, and Patria Mirabal, Las Miraposas, fought the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic until they were murdered on the orders of the dictator Trujillo. Katia Krafft (and her husband/scientific, Maurice) studied volcanoes up and close, codifying knowledge that has saved the lives of thousands, until they were killed in a lava flow in Japan.

The lover of modern art (Peggy Guggenheim) and the warband leader (Lozen), the athlete (Annette Kellerman, Cheryl Bridges) and the actress (Margaret Hamilton) are equally honored. No one’s story is more important than that of unashamed bearded lady Clémentine Delait, explorer Delia Akeley, cartoonist Tove Jansson, transgender trailblazer Christine Jorgenson, utopian Thérèse Clerc, revolutionary and suffragist Naziq al-Abid, or promoter of formal crime forensics Frances Glessner Lee.

And to back it all up, Bagieu provides a list of thirty more women — dancers, pirates, samurai, groupies, painters, poets, reporters, photographers, teachers, and more. I long to read her take on Aisha Bakari Gombi, Hunter of Antelopes and Boko Haram Militants, Laskarina Bouloulina, Admiral, Ship Builder, and Harem Liberator, and Margaret Hamilton (the other Margaret Hamilton, Computer Scientist of the Apollo Space Program5). I want to see what she’s got to say about Rosalind Franklin, Ching Shih, and Grace Hopper.

She’s got other stories that she wants to tell for now, some will probably be biography again (like her stellar California Dreaming) and some fiction (like her equally stellar Exquisite Corpse); I’ll read everything she puts on paper and suggest you do as well. Only do me a favor — don’t skip the last story in the book, a brief two-pager about a girl born in Paris in 1982, who dreamed about selling her drawings and becoming Queen of America. She’s doing quite well on the first, and if the second is out of reach, she’s living a pretty cool life in New York City, listening to rock music, drawing what she wants to, and playing drums just because. I think she’s going to go places.

Brazen releases tomorrow, 6 March, and Pénélope Bagieu will be marking the occasion with an eight-city book tour. Fleen thanks Gina Gagliano — who has a staff to help her now! — for the review copy provided.

Spam of the day:

Is Your Wife Getting Calls Late at Night?

Dear dudes who are spamming me about a creepy phone spying app, if anybody woke my wife with a late-night call they had better be dying or she will kill them for interrupting her sleep. So, no.

¹ AF being her actual middle initials, and not the internet-born linguistic intensifier.

² The cover of the book is a tactile delight.

³ As recently noted, one entry was left out of the North American edition due to a need to keep the book YA-friendly.

4 She also is (or has been) a chemical engineer, physician, speaker of Russian and Swahili, student of sub-Sarahan politics and dance, Peace Corp medical officer, CDC vaccine researcher, science camp director, sci-fi geek, guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation, college professor, poker shark, and LEGO minifig in the Women of NASA set I have.

5 Who is also a LEGO minifig.

A List Of Things For You

  • You may recall that Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson (hereinafter, Becky and Frank; anybody caught using the portmanteau Frecky will be beaten) have a new collection of their Capture Creatures comic out now, and will be doing a launch event tomorrow in suburban LA. But did you know that they’ve expanded the art series?

    Capture Creatures was (obvs) based on the 151 original Pokémon, and Dreistadt did 151 paintings of the 151 creatures. Of course, there are waaaay more Pokémon these days, and Becky & Frank decided what’s good for Nintendo is good for them. Thus, earlier this week they revealed Capture Creature #152, joined since by #153, #154, and #155. I’d keep an eye on their Tumblr and the Capture Creatures tag if you don’t want to miss out.

  • We at Fleen have been big fans of Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan’s ongoing exploration of all thing human sexuality, Oh Joy, Sex Toy. More than just a review of happy-making devices, it’s presented scads of terribly useful (and more important, truthful) information about what human sexuality is like; for waaaay too many there no organized sex education in their personal experience, and as such Moen & Nolan may be one of the better resources they have to answer questions like What’s going on? Am I normal? Why is this happening? What do I do now? And now it’s getting a little easier:

    Oh my gosh you guys, we have some AMAZING news to share with you. We’ve been keeping it hush-hush but now that ECCC is hitting (which we’re working – check out the info here!), both Limerence Press and OJST are finally able to talk about it! We are making a PURELY SEX EDUCATION OJST COLLECTION! It’s called DRAWN TO SEX!!!!

    No jack-off sleeves. No subjective lube comparisons. No reviews of porn sites¹. This is all about the facts, and as Nolan says, dad jokes. Some of those facts will be biological in nature (ex: contraception methods, anatomical development), some will be about paraphilias or identities (ex: furries, the gender spectrum), some will be about practices that enhance sexual pleasure (ex: piercing, pegging); you can get a sense of it by browsing the comics that are tagged as educational.

    As with their prior collections, Drawn To Sex will Kickstart then be placed into wide distribution by Limerence Press; look for the funding campaign in mid-May.

  • Speaking of education, schools, and crowdfunding, the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back on. There’s kids out there that want nothing more than for nobody else to join their club — school shooting survivor — and have had to reset the counter on the big __ DAYS SINCE THE LAST SCHOOL SHOOTING tote board three times in three days.

    They’re calling BS on the idea that we can’t do anything about this. They’re right. Between now and 20 March, I will match your donations to either the funding campaigns for the national March For Our Lives in DC, or the local march in Parkland, Florida; I’m setting an initial cap of US$5000, but I’ll go higher if you show me that you care about this. Get giving.

    Oh, and one other thing — attempts to argue the necessity or futility of gun control in the comments will be met with extreme prejudice. My house, my rules. Go peddle your murdertoy fondling fetish elsewhere.

Spam of the day:

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This spam I received today probably overlaps with the Drawn To Sex table of contents to at significant degree.

¹ But I’ll bet my bottom² dollar that there will be Anal Safety Snails³.

² See what I did there?

³ Fun fact: Moen has admitted that when she first named the Anal Safety Snails, she didn’t realize the acronym would be ASS.

To Be Cleaned Up Later EmCity Panel Preview

Panel programming at ECCC, which starts in about two hours as I write this, is extensive. I’m getting a non-formatted version of today’s events up now, which will be cleaned up and added to with content from later days, just so it’s available.

I, uh, might have forgotten there are no days between 28 February and 1 March this year.

Thursday Programming
Great Graphic Novels for Kids
10:15am — 11:15am, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 2

Vera Brosgol, Melanie Gillman, and Shelli Paroline repping webcomics, Gene Ambaum repping webcomics and libraries, and Mairgrhead Scott along to up the awesome quotient.

LGBTQ Graphic Novels: Book Talks
12:45pm — 1:45pm, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 2

Between them, Ngozi Ukazu, Blue Delliquanti, and Jen Wang have some of the most different presentations of LGBTQ characters and stories. Listen to what they’ve got to tell you.

How To Run an Anthology and Not Screw It Up
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 604

Kel McDonald, Spike Trotman, Der-shing Helmer, Melanie Gilman, and Isabelle Melançon have been involved in more anthology pages than you. They are your anthology Yoda. Hey, have you noticed that there’s a clear majority of women on these panels that tell you what the future will be like? There’s a reason for that.

The World of Webcomics: How to Make Art (and Money) on the Internet
1:30pm — 2:30p, TCC L3 — Room 5

A real Sophie’s Choice here, but at least ECCC has webcomics panels done by people who do webcomics. Yuko & Ananth, Tess Stone, Erika Moen, Ari Yarwood, Sarah Graley.

Doing a Great Graphic Novel Program at Your Library
1:45pm — 2:45pm, Seattle Public Library Level 4 — Room 1

I never knew Sophie had three kids. Vera Brosgol again with MK Reed, and Dawn Rutherford. Lotta great programming at the library.

Cyanide & Happiness Waste Your Time
4:00pm — 5:00pm, WSCC 611

There may be dick jokes. Dave McElfatrick and Kris Wilson.

First Second Books: The Decade in Graphic Novels
4:30pm — 5:30pm, Seattle Public Library Microsoft Auditorium

Mark Siegel has built a small empire of the best in graphic literature. Dude knows what’s up.

Friday through Sunday to come.

Friday Programming
My First Graphic Novel: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Publishing
11:00am — noon, TCC L3 — Room 5

Nilah Magruder, Ru Xu, Robin Herrera, Nidhi Chanani, and more talk about what they learned about making that first graphic novel. I bet there’s a learning curve.

Speak: The Graphic Novel
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 603 — Writers Block Presented by PRH

It’s the story of adaptation, as the YA novel gets the graphic novel treatment; includes author Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrator Emily Carroll, and all-around smart person Laura Hudson.

How To Be a Con Artist — Making a Living Doing What You Love
1:30pm — 2:30pm, TCC L3 — Room 1

Look, I don’t want to say that cons eat the weak and leave destruction in their wake, but more than one creator has been broken by them; if you want to learn the lessons before that happens, listen to some crowd-hardened veterans like Shing Yin Khor, Jessica Hebert, and Kory Bing. No conventional¹ weapon can kill them.

Kid’s Comics!
2:45pm — 3:45pm, WSCC 604

Vera Brosgol! Nidhi Chanani! Robin Robinson! MK Reed! Jen Wang! All ages is where it’s at, man.

Gender Identity: Understanding Through Art
4:00pm — 5:00pm, WSCC 604

Jen Wang can just hang out in the room between sessions, because she’ll be here to talk about gender diversity, as represented in comics. This reaches those desperately in need of seeing people like themselves, and serves to educate those with no experience as to what the challenges (and rewards!) of the gender spectrum are like. She’ll be joined by
Melanie Gillman, Gina Gagliano (the secret heart of :01 Books), and more.

Boats and Boners: A Fireside Chat with Lucy Bellwood and Erika Moen
6:15pm — 7:15pm, TCC L3 — Room 2

This will be exactly what it says. Hurricane Erika is a force of nature, Lucy Bellwood (adventure cartoonist!) can weather any storm. But maybe don’t bring your kids to this one? Because where Moen goes, there are boners. Hella boners.

Saturday Programming
2 Updates A Week: Structuring Narrative for Webcomics
1:30pm — 2:30pm, WSCC 3A

This is not a topic I’ve seen given panel time before. I’d love to see what Megan Lavey-Heaton, Audrey Redpath, Isabelle Melançon, and Myisha Haynes have to say.

Sunday Programming
The Lost in Wikipedia Game Show!
3:45pm — 4:45pm, TCC L3 — Room 3

I’m just going to quote the description on this one:

Ever fallen down a Wikipedia hole? Clicking from article to article until you forget where you came from? Come watch us trap our panelists deep within the Wiki web and make them race to navigate their way back out to freedom.

Contestants Dylan Meconis, Trin Garritano, James L Sutter, and Dave Kellett are some of the most wickedly funny people I know (well, I don’t know Sutter, but the others certainly are), and host by David Malki ! is possibly the only person that could wrangle them simultaneously. Still around on Sunday afternoon? Have some laugh-chuckles before teardown.

Spam of the day:

[translated from Russian] Your payment is processed Get additional information

Okay, somebody told the Russian Mafia that Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy philanthropist who gave away a shit-ton of money, and therefore would it incline me to trust them with my identity if they claimed to be him in this email. Unfortunately, they forgot to mention that his name isn’t spelled Carnagie, and that he’s been dead for nearly 99 years. Zombie Andrew Carnagie wants to eat my wallet along with my brains.

¹ I’m so sorry.

Better Late Than Never

The Emerald City Comic Con kicks off tomorrow (with Thursday a full day for the first time, and long days on the show floor); the question hanging in the air is how everybody’s large-but-not-too-large, still comics-centric comic show will do now that founder Jim Demonakos is no longer associated and Reed POP is fully in charge. There were grumbles last year, and this year could be make or break for the show’s reputation as friendly to all corners of [web]comics.

But still, hard to argue when your Comic Guests contain the likes of Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota, Erica Henderson, Jim Zub, Kate Leth, Unca Ryan and Unca Lar, Lucy Bellwood, Melanie Gillman, Ngozi Ukazu, Ryan North, Taneka Stotts, and Tess Stone (and more comics people listed under Literary Guests, like Emily Carroll, Jen Wang, Kazu Kibuishi, and Vera Brosgol). True, there’s 180 invited comics guests (and a hundred-plus Literary and Entertainment guests), but that’s still a pretty good chunk of representation. More than you’d get at any other four-day major show, at least.

For the most part, those guests will be found in the Artists Alley, along with the likes of Ben Costa, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline¹, the gang from Helioscope (your Bellswood, your Meconii, and all the rest of their artistic cohort), Jakface McGee, K Lynn Smith, Ru Xu, Der-Shing Helmer, Tee Franklin, Tom Parkinson-Morgan (aka Abbadon), and Trungles.

Over on the main floor, you’ll be able to catch up with Pat, Aaron, and the rest of the Alaska Robotics² crew (booth 204), Kel McDonald (booth 208), the Cyanide & Happiness crowd (booth 722), Nidhi Chanani (booth 409), Los Professores Foglio (booth 118), Hiveworks (booth 1502), Iron Circus Comics (book 212), Uncas Lar & Sohmer and their merry band of quasireprobates (booth 110), Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett (booth 1116), and the various associates of TopatoCo (which this time around will include Jeph Jacques, Sam Logan, David Malki !, Danielle Corsetto, Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan, Alina Pete, Abby Howard, Catie Donnelly, Tyson Hesse, and Brandon Bird, all on the luxurious skybridge).

All told, it’s more webcomickers in closer proximity than at SDCC or any other large con. They’re well represented in the programming tracks, too, which we’ll make mention of tomorrow.

Confidential to MG: Congratulations! This is going to be great.

Spam of the day:

Upgrade to a Balance Transfer Credit Card

I believe we dispensed with this nonsense yesterday, but I confess your company name caught my eye. NoseRoseMedia is a new player in the sphere of consumer credit, but no doubt poised for great things.

¹ Speaking of, did everybody see the announcement that the Adventure Time comic series is coming to an end with issue #75? And that past contributors — like original writer Ryan North, original artists Paroline & Lamb, and North’s successor Christopher Hastings — are coming back for that final issue, in a get the band back together type deal? Because that’s happening.

² Pat, Aaron, and the rest are awesome people! If you are an awesome person in comics, you should go talk to them, particularly about Comics Camp, which is for awesome people. Many of the people mentioned on this page will be there. There will also be s’mores.

More Webcomics About Trees And Food

Man, what a great album. It’s got nothing to do with our roundup of great webcomcis du jour, necessarily, but since when have I needed an excuse to go off on a tangent before?

  • Trees: Maki Naro teams up with writer/editor Eryn Brown to produce a comic about what we know regarding forests, trees, and their role in climate. As it turns out, not a lot! Beliefs about what happens when you chop down trees (it gets hotter, or maybe colder) have been around since the pre-Enlightenment days, and prominent thinkers like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson¹, and David Hume have (much like T-Rex²) had opinions.

    The nascent sciences of meteorology and Forestry argued it over for decades, and modern climate science sees different effects in different circumstances. Turns out questions that revolve around three trillion things over a third of the planet’s land mass are complicated. Then again, that’s the fun of science — there’s always something new to learn.

  • Food: Shing Yin Khor has a comic at Catapult that talks about how we speak with food, communicate our emotions with food, find our worth (to others and ourselves) with food; as the tagline says, I have forgotten how to speak two languages. But I have learned this one. It is, like all of Khor’s work, intensely personal, beautifully, delicately illustrated, and demanding of multiple, leisurely readings.

    Take your time with it, let it settle over you, see what half-remembered whiffs of grandmotherly kitchens tickle the upper edges of your nasal passages, where olfactory senses are processed by a bit of your brain that’s not tucked safe behind your skull. When we breathe in aromas, we are experiencing the outside world in direct, chemical contact with the outside world; little wonder it sparks memory like nothing else. Read it, then take a while away, then read it again. You’ll come away know more about both Khor and yourself.

  • Tangentially food: KC Green and Anthony Clark deliver one of the best, most satisfying longform webcomics each Wednesday, and they’re ready to put together the second print collection. The Kickstarter for BACK Book 2 is up now, a little less than 10% of the way to its US$20,000 goal and a very simple plan: Books as PDFs, books on paper (new one or both), bookplate is you desire, five books for retailers, and only one extra: a cool pin of a can of beans (there, food, like I promised). Pound for pound, nobody delivers a purer, more satisfying webcomics experience than Anthony and KC, so do go pick up your copy.
  • Tangentially trees and food: the invaluable Gemma Correll guides us through a series of charms that will help you deal with the low points of modern life. Online trolls, spam, fake news, and bad Tinder dates all get their due; the charm to deal with unsolicited dick pics features a hot dog on a thorn branch, so there’s the trees and food. I particularly like the wards against clickbait (beads, feathers, and improperly-removed USB sticks, worn around the neck), carpal tunnel (a mouse — the alive kind — bound with cables and black ribbon, placed on they keyboard at night) and eye strain (an infusion of avocado oil, rose quartz, and googly eyes, taken 3 times daily). Find your modern curse and get to banishing.

Spam of the day:

You may be approved for a credit line of up too $1,000

Dudes, my credit is so good, unsolicited offers have to promise negative interest rates just to get my attention.

¹ Naturalist Hugh Williamson didn’t think much of Jefferson’s data on weather patterns, seeing as how it consisted of Afk a bunch of Old Dudef if it’f Warmer or Colder than Ufed it to Be.

² Speaking of T-Rex, he makes an appearance in the first panel as the history of trees is explored, from the Carboniferous Period to the present day. He’s looking dapper in his feathers!

If You’re Surprised, You Haven’t Been Paying Attention

The word came yesterday, from C Spike Trotman, about the latest significant accomplishment from Iron Circus Comics:

And the hits just keep coming! Iron Circus’ edition of @evandahm’s Rice Boy scores a starred review in @PublishersWkly!

Firstly, anybody that’s read Dahm’s Rice Boy (and his Order Of Tales, and his Vattu) shouldn’t be surprised, because Dahm is a master storyteller with an entirely unique sense of worldbuilding, as well as a master draftsman. His characters — human and otherwise — have weight … in the sense of their physicality, as well as in the emotional sense. For one of the most respected sources of book review to refer to Rice Boy as an epic of grand ambition, startling choices, and sterling heart makes perfect sense; they only needed to be aware of the book and to have a copy of it in front of them.

That’s a tall order for a single-person creative endeavour to pull off; hard enough to finance a run of books (with or without Kickstarter) and find room for them in your Brooklyn apartment before shipping them out (or more precisely, shipping them to the fine folks at TopatoCo) while simultaneously tracking publicity efforts and trying to work on multiple new stories at once. Few people have that combination of drive, confidence, and willingness to say Hey! Look at this! Just shut up and read it, then you can tell me how good it is. And when you do, be sure to remember the next time I put something in front of you.

Entire Spike; she’s been relentless in building up Iron Circus Comics on the basis first of quality (quality projects, quality collaborators), then quantity. She got the distribution deal that widened ICC’s scope. And now she’s placing books in libraries and in front of the most desirable eyes in the world of pocket reviews. Bookstores and libraries are going to order the snot out of the ICC edition of Rice Boy. It’s a small, small imprint in a big world right now, but ICC is in a spot similar to another small imprint in a big world a dozen years ago:

He laid out a plan that he expected to take a decade, to get comics into the literature end of things, to get them treated as worthy of study and their creators as respected voices. He saw that path as leading to literary awards and wondered how long it would take.

The he was Mark Siegel, and the plan was for :01 Books; you may recall that he beat his ten-year goal of being considered for literary awards (not comics awards, the regular pubishing world’s hoity-toity awards) by about eight and a half years, as American Born Chinese wound up shortlisted for the National Book Award. It’s not one of her goals to be in the awards circuit, but nevertheless I don’t think¹ it be a decade before Spike and one (or more!) of her associated creators are getting into fancy dress for a fancier dinner and the red carpet treatment.

Which is a long way of saying, Congrats Evan and Spike. You’ve more than earned it.

Spam of the day:

Be among the first 100 and be guided to Great Things in 2018 with your Free New Year Reading.

You sent an offer for a psychic reading on the 45th day of the year. That’s not really New Year territory. I’m forced to conclude that psychics, allegedly in tune with secrets of the ancients, are not able to use that 6000 year old technology known as Calendars. It’s like the first thing you go for in Civilization after Hunting and The Wheel. You’ll never defeat Gandhi playing like this.

¹ Spike’s got this quality I call the cheerfully mercenary outlook on life; she’s much more concerned with getting ICC to a self-sustaining point for herself and her contracted creators than in seeking the approval of others. The Academy could look down its nose all it want, as long as the libraries and bookstores keep ordering copies.

Smiles All The Way

If there is anybody more universally beloved in [web]comics than Raina Telgemeier, I don’t know who that would be. Like, maybe the reincarnation of Mr Rogers was magically soul-bound to Caroll Spinney and then spent a couple of decades mentoring Malala Yousafzi in panel composition and storytelling, you be getting close … and Raina would be cheerleading her the whole way. She’s pretty awesome is what I’m saying, and may have said so one or two times in the past.

I’m not alone in that opinion, as anybody that’s seen one of her public events can attest. She’ll be having a meet and greet at the Cartoon Art Museum, in conjunction with the closing of the months-long retrospective exhibit of her work at CAM (the exhibit that, in fact, was chosen to spearhead the relaunch of CAM after two years without their own gallery space).

Things start at 4:00pm on Saturday, 10 March, with a presentation and discussion of the exhibit, followed by a Q&A, then informal time to mingle and interact. To maximize the time for fans to get chat and get photos, there won’t be any signing (that keeps her stuck behind a table), but I bet she’d be fine with you holding up your copy of a favorite book in photos (signed copies will be available via advanced ticketing), or seeing your fanart.

As you might expect, demand will be pretty high for this event, even in her hometown of San Francisco; advance tickets are available at Guestlist for the immensely reasonable price of US$10 for adults, and US$4 (four bucks!) per kid. You can reserve your signed copies of her books on the same page.

And then two weeks later, SF fans will very possibly see her again, as she takes part in the San Francisco portion of the KidLit Marches For Kids. An outgrowth of the March For Our Lives/Never Again movement being led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the YA community is participating in the national day of demonstrations in favor of gun control. Details about the various marches can be found on Facebook.

This is what happens when you realize that some of the students that have (very quickly, with sorrowful determination) become activists were your readers just a few years ago.

This is what happens when you can’t escape the fact that some of their fallen friends were.

This is what happens when you don’t want that to happen ever again.

So keep an eye out for a local march and let kids worry about when the next book from their favorite author comes out, instead of how to stay alive on a Wednesday. Raina will thank you for it; she’s polite that way.

Spam of the day:

80% Off PANDORA Jewelry. So get, like, 60.

There is a certain logic to your position, but it does not resemble our Earth logic.

An Act Of Optimism

Something great happened in 2011; the folks behind Toronto’s The Beguiling (one of the great comic book shops in the English-speaking world) opened an extension store next door. It was, as far as anybody can tell, the first comic shop dedicated to children and likely remained so for the rest of its existence. Little Island Comics was an act of pure optimism; optimism that the comics industry could produce enough material suitable for kids to sustain a store in one of the priciest cities in the world.

Comics may not be for kids, as the now-cliche headline would tell us, but vast swathes of them haven’t been entirely appropriate for young readers for some time. Grimdarkgrittypouchcape comics were pretty dominant for a couple of decades there, but the big publishers manage to produce some stuff suitable for all ages, and the graphic novel trade has fallen over itself to provide more and more books each year¹. Damn good thing, too, or where will the grimdarkgrittypouchcape comics get their readers in the future, if kids don’t develop the habit today?

And it worked. Little Island was successful until it fell prey not to neglect, or disinterest, or lack of product; it was a casualty to gentrification that tore up a chunk of now-valuable Toronto real estate. The Beguiling managed to find new digs, but Little Island was lost.

Until now.

The Beguiling is pleased to announce the re-opening of Little Island Comics, the world’s first and only children’s comic shop! Offering the widest possible array of graphic novels, manga, and comics for people 12 years old and younger, Little Island celebrates its Grand Re-Opening during March Break 2018 with a slate of creator appearances, refreshments and activities.

Whoa, cool shop returns and refreshments? Give me the deets!

Little Island Comics re-opens in March next door to its parent shop The Beguiling’s newly expanded location at the top of Toronto’s vibrant Kensington Market neighborhood. As The Beguiling enters its fourth decade as North America’s premier comic book retailer, the move to College Street has allowed it to add a gallery and events space, which Little Island will share.

  • Next door to the Beguiling again? Check
  • Gallery and event space, so that LI’s famed comic-making classes, launches, and events can continue? Check
  • Same staff that previously served the all-ages comics lovers of Toronto and beyond? Check

Anything else we should know?

Little Island will offer a 20% discount on all in-print kids comics, picture books, and graphic novels throughout March Break (March 10-18, 2018) to encourage families to dig into graphic novels! The week will culminate in a Grand Re-Opening Party on Saturday, March 17th, with refreshments, drop-in activities, story time, and appearances by such creators as:

Scott Chantler, Naseem Hrab, Brian McLachlan, Ryan North, Kean Soo, Britt Wilson, Tory Woollcott, and more!

Times for the Grand Reopening to come, but I’d keep an eye on their website, Twitterfeed, and on Facebook.

Here’s to many more years on the Little Island; if you’re in (or visiting) Toronto, drop by and tell them we say hi, and wish them every success.

Spam of the day:


While I appreciate the Canadian content, spammers, this “men’s” doesn’t believe that you will actually be able to get me industrial-strength parkas that normally run near US$950 for US$140. Call me skeptical.

¹ Note to Marvel, DC, etc: they do this because they like money. Releasing a new Kazu Kibuishi or Raina Telgemeier book is a license to print money because kids love comics if you just give them a chance to.

We Are Very French Today

For example, :01 Books announced earlier today that the incomparable Pénélope Bagieu will be going on tour in support of Brazen starting on Tuesday, 6 March (coincidentally, launch day), and wending her way through eight cities in seven days.

And in a completely coincidental occurrence, Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin has thoughts creators and signings. Let’s see what he’s got to say.

As we saw the other day, the tradition in French comics festivals of free sketches ends up being hard on creators. Mind you, they are overall happy to come and greet readers and make them happy with a sketch, but given they are basically unpaid for the work (besides transportation and lodging) they provide under their host, they think of it a bit as a corv&eacutee, that is the duty of unpaid labor outside his fields that a peasant owed his feudal lord.

As a result, the idea has been spreading of late to have creators be paid when doing signings (French-only). Not by the recipient of the sketch: no one, least of all the creators themselves, seem to want that; when asked on the matter, Shyle Zalewski, who writes, draws, and self-publishes queer (and more) strips, and comes to festivals on their own stand, was clear: As a creator I’ve never been paid for signings and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind it happening, on the sole condition that it would be for the festival to pay. For instance having the readers pay for a sketch as it is sometimes the case in the US is unthinkable to me. Most creators seem to agree.

So while different variants of such a payment scheme are being thought up, the one that dominates would be for the host to pay the hosted creators more or less on the basis of the time spend. That would acknowledge the fact that creators are, if not performing, at least contributing to the animation of the stand as, well, animators. After all, it’s typically not just the reader who requested the sketch who gets to watch the sketch being drawn, but also the next two or three in line at least.

This is easier said than done, however. Publishers and festival organizers resist the idea, and with some justification to the extend that their financial equations are already hard to balance as it is: for instance publishers warn that if that was implemented, they would scale back their presence in festivals and only remain in ones where they are confident they will not lose money … leading Obion to the (not entirely serious) conclusion that, for lack of any other solution, impressionable young creators, too happy to sign in a prestigious location, will end up paying for the whole scheme (French-only).

This raises many more questions. For instance, as part of my pseudojournalistic activities I may very well wait in line for a signing for the sole purpose of having some access to the creator, without requesting a sketch, for instance for additional discussion after a lecture or panel. But if the creator is paid to animate the stand, would he still have time for discussion without sketching?

But while these questions deserve answers, they should not be a reason not to implement the idea. Not to mention some additional benefits would exist: worker protection would kick in for instance, making it easier to justify closing the signing activities at the scheduled time, etc. Overall, paying creators for their time would be fairer for everyone involved.

I find that the idea of paying creators (who, after all, are not creating when at a show) ties directly into the idea of Shows Not Being Worth It Sometimes; cf: C Spike Trotman and the ever-expanding ECCC:

Looking forward to ECCC, but not thrilled it’s getting longer and longer. Thursday will be a full day this year instead of a preview night. Too many comic cons are going for this size queen bigger-is-better thing, and it’s just exhausting.

One of the best cons I do all year is SPX, which is Saturday, Sunday, DONE. More days doesn’t automatically mean more money.

And I have shit to do! Longer cons means more days trying to run a publishing company from a hotel room, for me. Not ideal.

A big (but not the sole) motivator for ditching SDCC was it began swallowing a week of my life for diminishing returns. I genuinely hope ECCC doesn’t start going down that same road.

Guarantee some income? You’ll see more creators willing to brave the marathon shows. Thanks as always to FSFCPL for adding his cross-Atlantic perspective on what’s likely a universal dilemma.

Spam of the day:

GAL-EVANTING WITH THE GIRLS!The perfect girls night out styles!

Your cutesy, intentional typo offends me.

Did I Say We Were Back? That Was Hubris

An entirely new work crisis has developed; the only good news is this one won’t steal time for me any later than tomorrow. As it stands, I have time to point you at something interesting, and then back to the crisis.

Rob Balder of Erfworld has bee cranking out a deep story with huge amounts of lore (and terrible, terrible in-jokes) for more’n ten years now. For most of that time, he’s been trying to find ways to pay for the strip’s art contributors and support himself via a non-sucky mechanism. Having finally had it with his ad networks pulling crap that is beneath contempt (pop-unders, sound, fake virus scams), Balder is trying something new. It’s kinda premised on being able to ride what’s likely fake money, but bonus points for a) trying something new; b) to keep crappy ads away from his users, and c) gamifying it.

He’s letting his reader voluntarily mine cryptocurrency:

It definitely worked in alpha. We mined enough Ethereum to be worth it. Not everybody’s computer could manage it, but nobody’s computer broke, and there’s no reason it should have. We learned some things that let us make a plan. Everybody who participated in the test got sent some goodies (thanks Renter, Bandaid, Danielle, Omnimancer & sdub!) and I created the Special: Digging badge for them:

There’s the gamification; Balder’s created a displayable badge within the forum structure at Erfworld, and if you mine Etherium for support of the site, you get the badge, and you get a random chance at other shinies you can show off. He’s got his users organized into teams, with bragging rights associated for the team that does more successfully. He’s got a trading mechanism set up. And a day into the beta, it appears to be working.

I’m deeply dubious that Balder can keep ahead of the crash points and the scams and the instability and rampant thievery that are endemic to cryptocurrency¹. I’m deeply troubled that the environmental overheads in crypto mining (as a whole) are causing measurable and accelerating damage to our commons (ie: Earth) and contributing to global climate change. I can’t fault him for trying, but I also can’t but help hope that he finds something better to meet his costs (and food, and rent) quickly.

Spam of the day:

Navigating the Next Phase of the Influencer Era

Shut up, shut up, shut up, I hate you douchecanoes.

¹ Although it is hilarious to watch the religiously-fervent cryptobros learn firsthand why financial regulatory schemes exist.