The webcomics blog about webcomics

How’s The Schadenfreude Going For Everybody?

When the histories of this time and place are written, I’m not sure that anything will embody the utterly fruitless flailing of the Trump Administration as calling a Very Important Press Conference starring Insider Goon #1 (Rudy Giuliani) in the parking lot of a lawn service next to a dildo store and across the street from a crematorium, during the middle of which the press all left because the race was called for Biden.

And all of us, I think, want to know what the story is behind Four Seasons Total Landscaping, accidental venue for maybe the saddest, most pathetic outburst in four years of increasingly sad and pathetic behavior. Did Rudy know a guy who knew a guy? Did — and I believe this with all my heart — the campaign think they were contacting the Four Seasons hotel and end up booking the wrong Four Seasons by accident? Did they think we wouldn’t notice that the entire thing took place between a fire extinguisher and a hose?

I want the oral history of this fiasco, the podcast series, the dissertation of what the hell actually led to this parking lot on the edge of Philadelphia, but in the meantime I have a new favorite shirt. Friend of Fleen Shing Yin Khor spent some time Saturday night gettin’ tipsy and designing a tribute shirt for Four Seasons Total Landscaping with everybody’s favorite orange nightmare, Gritty, prominently featured.

For about 24 hours, the shirt was up for sale at Threadless, with the intent of maybe sending five hundo to the campaigns of Democrats Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia Senate runoffs, as well as to the Stacey Abrams-led Fair Fight, which has done so much to counter voter suppression and gerrymandering in Georgia.

That was the plan, but like everything else about 2020, reality had its own ideas:


1. We raised $28k+!!
2. This is now a tax problem for me!
3. Please be patient as I sort accounting, and wait 2 weeks for Threadless to actually send/transfer money.
4. Here are my max contribution receipts for the Senate runoff campaigns.
5. Shirt comes down at 2pm PST.

Khor maxed out the allowable contributions under election law to a campaign per election cycle for both Ossoff and Warnock, and will be sending the remainder presently. For a few hours, there was only a tote bag at the Threadless link (benefiting National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network), because you gotta have a product there to leave a message saying the shirt are down, because wrangling finances is not Khor’s job and they have better things to do.

And then, a few hours later after convos with Threadless, the shirt was back:

SHIRTS ARE BACK! I will be working directly with Threadless to get money directly to voting charities(the ones mentioned earlier)!! However, I am still refusing to offer shirts on black, out of respect for the beautiful oranges of Gritty’s fur. Thank you.

Get yours here, and remember: any designs on Etsy or elsewhere (all of the ones I’ve seen being considerably more expensive than Khor’s versions) are knockoffs by lowlifes that need to be reported.

And let it never be said that we at Fleen don’t step up, so the Fleen Fight For Fungible Futures Fund is back in business. I will match all donations to Fair Fight up to US$1000 between now and when I get my shirt in the mail (damn right I ordered one). This is the one time you should accept the USPS being a little slow.

Spread the word, email or post your receipts, cost me some money, and let’s put McConnell out of his godsdamned office.

Spam of the day:

Bear Grillz shared a new online system for earning!

I think they’re trying to make me think of Bear Grylls, but instead they’re making me think of a bear that grills, or possibly a bear with grillz. That last one is frankly terrifying, but a bear that grills is awful close to something that Ryan North and Erica Henderson shared with us and is thoroughly awesome.

Even More Disturbing This Time Around

Everybody get caught up on sleep last night? Feeling a little more calm? Actually bemused by how fruitless the attempted ratfucking of the election is? Cheeto Mussolini never did hire very good lawyers, since good lawyers want to get paid. Anyway, quick bit of webcomics for you.

Spam of the day:

The Biggest Indicator Of Illness: How to Monitor Blood Oxygen.

Okay, a) pulse oximeters are like twenty bucks; I have one in my trauma bag. b) They don’t work reliably on COVID patients, reading SpO2 levels that are incompatible with life, much less a patient having a conversation with you. Something in the novel coronavirus changes blood chemistry, and the calibration logic of oximeters gets thrown off. So peddle your bullshit elsewhere.

Sic Transit Gloria Fredi

There’s been a shoe waiting to drop for nearly as long as I’ve been writing this page; two months into my internet opinion-mongering, Randy Milholland took a hard turn on his most sympathetic character and set up making his most cantankerous character into the new most sympathetic character.

For nearly fifteen years, Fred MacIntire has been living life as best he could, having had more than his share of tragedy. Wait for me. Won’t be long now, he promised, and in the moment he meant it. He’s had his ups and downs since then, and he was asymptomatic for so long that I forgot he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before Faye died. The symptoms hit hard, cruelly hard, and if lately he’d seemed more physically frail, he also seemed more present.

And here’s the thing: that magnificent, cranky, generous, sarcastic, big-hearted guy loved Halloween his whole life, even when others were determined to ruin it for him. He forgot about how much he loved it last year, maybe, but this year he was back in fine spirits.

Davan’s once again proving to be exactly his father’s son¹ with his reaction, and the days ahead promise to be full of grief (Davan’s depression has been hitting hard lately) and the secret relief that caregivers have when their charges are finally freed of their pains. Secret relief, and unwarranted shame for feeling relieved.

Gods damn you, Randy Milholland, for making us all cry; I know that this was the plan, it was always the plan, you don’t do things by impulse in Something*Positive². This one hurts, but it’s an honest hurt because you made Fred real as anybody we know in our own lives³. I don’t know if he got to hand out any candy, but you let Fred see one more Halloween, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share space with Fred MacIntire. Requiescat in pace.

¹ No matter how much they both would have argued the point, and both been secretly grateful for their similarities.

² Except for spite, when supposed readers make demands of you and you swear to do the opposite forever — which promises I wholeheartedly believe.

³ Plus, you’ve written before about your mom being irked at you killing her off in the strip; may as well get some equal time in with your dad.

I Just Realized That There’s A Double Meaning To The Title

I mean, I should have realized, the map of the world that showed up waaaay back¹ when, where we realized that it was the body of God and the towns Abigail and Daniel visited, they were running up the spine. It’s not just that Abigail is BACK from the dead, she’s literally been crawling up somebody’s BACK.

I’d link pages but …

<!DOCTYPE html>

At the moment, that snippet of code you see above is the whole of BACK, so if you’re looking for the latest of KC Green and Anthony Clark’s story, Green’s got you set over at Tumblr.

Yes, this is a short post, but I wanted to mention the Tumblr, and also to have a spot to put spam, because the other post today doesn’t get spam.

Spam of the day:

Enter for your chance to have your Mortgage Paid

<voice = "Adrian Veidt">
Pay off my mortgage? I paid it off thirty-five days ago.

Thirty-seven, actually. Mortgage got sold to a sucky company and I decided with the interest rates on savings being so much lower than rates on my mortgage, it was time to dip into reserves and just put that sumbitch to bed. It took sixteen years and five months, but I’m out of debt.

¹ So to speak.

Instead Of Reading What My Dumb Ass Has To Say Today

Make sure that you (and people you know) have voted. We have to bury that fucker.

Then start making a list of what we’re going to demand of the next administration. Doesn’t matter who wins, there’s things that need to stop, things that need to be reversed, things that need to be made that never were before. Today’s the end of voting, but it’s just the start of what needs to happen.

Spam of the day:

A group of scientists have put their heads together and figured out a quick way to REGROW GUMS OVERNIGHT… They created a mineral dust which you just have to sprinkle over your toothpaste before brushing your teeth… This video clearly shows how you can restore your gums literally overnight.

Oh, this isn’t gonna turn into The Blob at all. [eyeroll emoji]

Things That Stretch The Definition Of Comics

And, in case you’re new here, that’s an entirely positive development.

  • You gotta hand it to Ryan Estrada, things just sort of happen to him. It’s an open question if he naturally intuits situations where things are more likely to happen, or if (as I’ve always maintained) he is some form of natural chaos generator function, causing weird situations to coalesce about him in places where they ordinarily would not occur.

    As far as the Estradian Weirdness scale goes, hiking in the woods in Korea and coming across an art installation/comic book you can wander inside is pretty low scoring, but neat nonetheless:

    In just 9 pages, it tells of the war, the refugees building the city, the locals thriving by embracing nature, and gentrification taking that away.

    But this story takes @scottmccloud‘s lessons about the real story happening in the space between panels to the extreme.

    Because here, the space between panels is an actual hike through the very nature that brings the characters joy, with glimpses through the trees of the very village it takes place in.

    I have never seen anything like it and I am so happy to have stumbled upon it.

    In case you don’t have your copy of Understanding Comics handy, it’s chapter 3 (Blood In The Gutter, p60 in my 1994 Harper reprinting of the Kitchen Sink edition) where McCloud talks about how much story happens in the gutters, and the various kinds of transitions that take you from one panel to the next¹. It’s a terrifyingly creative way to tell the story of a place, and I’m glad that the artist was found by Estrada’s wife, Kim Hyung Sook, and that she could be told of how much enjoyment her work brought to Estrada’s followers.

  • While I’m not sure if Estrada is a catalyst for weirdness or merely wanders into it at a greater than normal rate, I have no such illusions regarding Shing Yin Khor; they don’t wait to find or provoke weirdness, they seek it out and when necessary, create it. Consider the multiple road trips in search of muffler men, or the dragging of the Center For Otherworld Science into our reality via a multimedia AR mystery, or perhaps just deciding to give the 12 foot Home Depot skeleton they brought home a proper axe for Halloween. For Khor, that’s just a random Wednesday.

    So I am very excited that Khor has decided to team up with game designer Jeeyon Shim to create … let’s just quote the whole thing:

    [Sparkles] ANNOUNCEMENT! [Sparkles]²

    Shing Yin Khor (@sawdustbear) and I are co-designing The Field Guide To Memory, an interactive journaling game about legacy, wonder, and cryptids. Launching on KS this winter!

    Keep an eye on the hashtag #FieldGuideToMemory and follow our accounts for more!

    The weirdness creator cannot be stopped by pandemic or quarantine, they only become stronger. But is it, as I implied in the title, a thing that stretches the definition of comics, or something merely wildly creative and somewhat comics-adjacent? Given that the story panels will in some cases be 3D objects and the gutters human emotion and experience, I’m gonna call it comics. If it’s not, maybe we need to expand the definition.

Spam of the day:

Hi, I was just taking a look at your site and filled out your feedback form. The feedback page on your site sends you these messages via email which is why you’re reading my message right now right? That’s half the battle with any type of online ad, making people actually READ your message and I did that just now with you! If you have something you would like to promote to millions of websites via their contact forms in the US or to any country worldwide send me a quick note now, I can even focus on particular niches and my pricing is super low.

So you want me to pay you to annoy other people the same way you’re annoying me right now by abusing the site that I provide? No. Fuck off.

¹ Given Estrada’s description, I’d say it was mostly Type 4, scene-to-scene transitions. Which, given McCloud’s analysis, is more likely to occur in Asian comics than Western comics.

² That’s how it showed up in my copy of the tweet’s text. Okay, I added the brackets, but it really did say Sparkles to represent the emoji.

A Few Words On The Barbarous Side Stories As We Wait For A Million Shoes To Drop

I trust that you all know by now how very good Barbarous by Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh is; I mean, I’ve written about it enough in the past.

With the recent conclusion of Chapter Five/Season One, Hirsh and Ota have turned art duties over to friends for a series of four- or five-page short stories, which have multiple reasons to recommend them:

  • Ota and Hirsh have focused on long form stories for so long, it’s easy to forget how well they can haul you in with a handful of pages. Don’t believe me? I have two words for you, friend: PONY. COP.
  • So far, two of the three have focused on Cecilia, the eponymous Girl With The Skeleton Hand, who’s been a background character in Barbarous, but hasn’t had a starring turn for nearly a decade. There’s stuff going on with Cecilia (capital-S Stuff, even), she’s got more history and authority than she’s letting on. As much as they want to tell us about Cee, I want to read.
  • The art! Befitting folks who’ve been doing [web]comics forever, Hirsh and Ota have some very skilled friends. Case in point: today’s installment from Magnolia Porter Siddell has all the round, cartoony characters she does so well, but that fourth panel where the kindly old ghosts sudden go dark, practically merging into one monstrous face? That sudden shift in tone (where the art finally catches up with the text) and then back to sunshine and rainbows? That’s some godsdamned poetry right there.

Spam of the day:

Our lingerie and sex toy affiliate program will enable you to display our banners on your website and when someone clicks on these banners or affiliate links and purchases sex toys or lingerie products from our store, you will earn a handsome commission.


What is your favourite product from Peaches and Screams UK valentines day playwear collection?

You want Erika & Matt, but they have standards and I think you’ll have to do better than you are now to earn a spot with them.

I Paid To Use This Cartoon

It’s just too perfect — you’ll see the relevance by the time you get to the bottom of the post, promise — and it’s a tenet of this page that cartoonists get paid, particularly when the cartoonist has a link right next to the cartoon that tells you exactly how to pay them. In case you were wondering, if I were using the cartoon to talk about the cartoonist’s work, that would be Fair Use, but I’m not, so it’s only right to pony up the £5.

I read two comic updates today that couldn’t be more different, but somehow … somehow they touch on the same theme. Small creatures confronting very large creatures — large enough and advanced enough to be gods in comparison to the small. Two comics that are approaching the end of their respective runs, both of which are exploring the nature of the reality of creation (Creation?), and one’s place within the company of great powers.

On the one hand, today’s page of Kill Six Billion Demons starts what will possibly be the Last War There Ever Is, as the Gods of the Seven-Part World vie and Alison, a human thrown into their midst, begins to question (not for the first time, but maybe the last) what she thought she knew of her universe¹. She’s been thrown into a world in turmoil, manipulated at every turn by innumerable factions, with the end of everything crashing towards her and a pivotal role to play that nobody’s quite explained to her.

On the other hand (and don’t laugh), today’s pages of BACK starts what will possibly be the last struggle there ever will be between an unnamed (and until now, unseen) human and a bug. Judging from the last few pages, it’s looking like this bug is actually Agnes, a cowgirl that has been in a communion with the God of this very singular world (a world that exists entirely on the God’s body), and she’s questioning (not for the first time, but maybe the last) what she thought she knew of her universe². She’s been thrown into a world in turmoil, manipulated at every turn by innumerable factions, with the end of everything crashing towards her and pivotal role to play that nobody’s quite explained to her.

You could hardly have two more different comics (BACK being played mostly for laughs, KSBD being played for awesome in the original sense of inspiring awe, the slack-jawed disbelief that what you’re seeing is actually happening), two more disparate vehicles for exploring the metaphysical and eschatological, but that’s comics for you. And the thing is, they’re both succeeding at that exploration wildly, as a pair of nobody-asked-them-if-they-wanted-to-be heroines learn about the prisons the world creates, the ones we create for ourselves, and the costs of tearing them down.

Anyway, I read the latest pages of each today, and the parallels just wouldn’t stop asserting themselves. If you’re not familiar with one or the other, now would be a decent time to check them out and let me know if what I’m seeing is actually a thing, or if I’m just chasing non-existent connections.

Spam of the day:

Help me please. The coronavirus left without money. Send some bitcoin money.

I am all broken up to hear that the coronavirus left without money, but I am not sending you bitcoin so the coronavirus can have money. That’s just stupid.

¹ There’s more than one, after all. 777,777 to be exact.

² Which, in this case, appears to be the body of a singular enormous humanoid; Agnes and all the other characters have been more or less human, but with very spindly limbs and sometimes too many of them, so it appears they were bugs all along. I’m not sure if KC Green (who write BACK and drew today’s update) had let Anthony Clark (who’s drawn the previous 299 updates and whose aesthetic is all over the character designs) in on this twist, but the buggish nature of pretty much all the characters seems to suggest he did.

Octopus Pie Redux

It was more than three years ago that Octopus Pie ended, a little more than ten years after it started.

For the past three and a half years, Octopie has been rerunning all 1026 strips, close enough to one a day as makes no matter, with Meredith Gran’s commentary about where she was emotionally and professionally as each strip was done. It’s fascinating to see not only how they reflected her own outlook on life, but also her critiques of her own past work, and what she reveals about the craft of putting the strip together.

And now it’s done for a second time; the archives are there, both the original and the commentary track versions, in case you want to read them again, but you’ll be going solo this time.

Here’s part of what I wrote when Gran finished the strip:

Because what Meredith Gran accomplished over ten years and 1026 pages of pure magic was a master class in comics, their ability to tell any damn kind of story you want to, and especially to provide a playground for your characters. Eve Ning isn’t who she was back in strip one; neither is Hanna, or Marek, or Will. Jane and Marigold, Julie and Park, Larry and Puget Sean and America frickin’ Jones, all of them — they didn’t exist in a timeless, changeless story setting. By fits and starts, on camera and off, they lived and breathed, cried and loved and hated and indifferented.

And that is why future comics creators will have to look back on Octopus Pie as a work to be studied, understood, its lessons incorporated. Meredith Gran showed what it’s like to do a better strip every single damn day, to imbue characters with personality and growth (especially off camera), and to show what an ever-changing whirlwind life is as people come and go, grow and wane in their presence.

There have been other projects along the way, of course — for pretty much all of the time since the reruns began, she’s been working on her videogame and also raising her son; for a period of time, she did quick comics to document her gardening (on occasion, the two intersected). Valerie Halla’s colors made significant contributions the the mood of damn near every strip in the last quarter of the comic’s run¹.

Goodbye, Everest Ning. I wonder how much you’ve changed in the three years that we haven’t seen your life chronicled, or how it may change in the remaining forever that we’ll be apart. But we’ll always have that ten years (plus three) that you let us in. And whatever Meredith Gran makes next, and next after that, I’m sure we’ll love just as much.

Spam of the day:

[Gov’t Plans] Why Preppers are Now Enemy #1 Food stockpiles banned! At a time like this!?!

None of what you just said is real. I get that you gotta hustle, and gotta have a scam, but you are indulging paranoid fantasies in fragile people, many of whom are armed and will act on those fantasies in an outward fashion on those that you tell them are the enemy. Kindly fuck off until there is no further off to fuck, then fuck off some more.

¹ Following on Sloan Leong’s establishment of a color palette some dozens of strips prior. Not to mention the color and animation lent by Lacey Micallef a little more than halfway through the run and Gran’s own early contribution to color: Sparkle Butt².

² Having, as I do, copies of the self-published first three collections of Octopus Pie — slim 70-90 page, Creative Commons-sporting floppy books — I get to look at hand-colored-and-glittered Sparkle Butt whenever I like. You can get the remaining non-Image books here, and the Image editions can be ordered wherever you buy books or comics.

In Memoriam Samuel Paty

From Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, cartoons and the aftermath of the power they hold.


In the French equivalents of Junior High and High School, history, geography, and civics are taught under the same hours in the timetable by the same teachers. For historical reasons, they are known as history and geography teachers.

Samuel Paty was one of them.

So while I don’t know what he was like, I know about his discipline from other teachers I know better. The ones I had in Junior High and High School, of course. Fabrice Erre, too. But the first one in my mind has and always will be my own father (who is retired by now).

For instance, when Emmanuel Macron in his eulogy (Samuel Paty was honored with a national funeral, as well as the Légion d’Honneur in the academics section, and his son was made a ward of the state) told us his home was filled with books, I don’t know if they included comics, but I otherwise couldn’t help but think of my own childhood home, filled with all kinds of books. And among them, comics were not necessarily the least relevant ones for history and geography, even if that was not always to their credit: infamously, the various editions of Tintin au Congo are often used to illustrate the attitude from Europeans of the time towards colonization.

But we did not need that eulogy, or knowledge of the curriculum, to know that Samuel Paty knew the power of a cartoon. We do know that because, while I don’t want to get too much into the ongoing inquiry¹, a few days earlier he was sued by a parent who objected to Samuel Paty using Muhammad caricatures as an illustration of free speech as part of his civics class, and as a a result police had deposed Samuel Paty, who defended his use of the caricatures; not as part of a state mandate (the teachers wouldn’t stand for it, and shouldn’t), but as part of his academic freedom. In fact, while the wording is in dispute, we know he warned of the content and excused students who were unwilling to view it.

In the hours following the murder, it was thought to be a random terror attack. We know now it was anything but random.

As Emmanuel Macron said, we will keep discovering, we will keep inquiring, and we will keep fighting for freedom and reason. #JeSuisSamuel too.


As always, our thanks to FSFCPL for his thoughts. Take care of each other.

Spam of the day:
Spammers don’t get to share this day.

¹ To give you an idea, the trial for the Charlie Hebdo and related terrorist murders of January 2015 has only recently opened and is still ongoing.