The webcomics blog about webcomics

Thankful

So you’ve got Post-Thankful Fatigue Syndrome? Welling up with all the rage that only a holiday-season trip to the vicinity of The Mall can instill? Just be glad that you’ve got it easier that Arthur, King of Time and Space creator Paul Gadzikowski, who had cause to tweet in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day:

In the hospital with a heart attack. Not gonna die. More later.

Gadzikowski was able to provide more information about ten hours later, and as these things go, it turned out about as well as could be hoped for:

Had a heart attack Wednesday night. Caught it fast so effects are minimal, but it’s still a lifechanger.

Looks like I’m getting sprung from here today [Friday 25 Nov]. Not going back to work till December 5 at the earliest.

Being a webcomicker, Gadzikowski had his eye on the important priorities:

One thing this spate of adversity has taught me: keep your webcomic on a buffer.

The uncharitable might note that AKOTAS has been on a sketch-based story hiatus since the vicinity of the summer solstice, but look at that archive: updates every damn day, up to and after the infarction. I call that dedication and we at Fleen salute Gadzikowski and wish him a speedy return to normal life.

Let’s consider some things that would melt the icy displeasure of even the most PTFS-afflicated among us:

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¹ Electric Jamesaloo.

Scenes From The Class Struggle At The Javits Center

NYCC was a low-key, short-duration affair for me this year; other commitments kept me from being there the full weekend, but hey — anytime I can spend shooting the breeze with Brad Guigar about ladies and their disturbing cosplay¹, that’s a good time².

  • Speaking of eyeballs, I got some great news from Magnolia Porter about Monster Pulse. “Speaking of” because I led off by telling her how much I’ve enjoyed the current chapter (The Eyeball Kid), and how well she’s nailed the character of the eponymous Kid — he comes across all strong, ruthless, doing whatever he must to survive, but show him a plate of chicken nuggets and he’s just a kid again. Perfect. The good news was that Monster Pulse will run for the next couple of years — no end in sight, which means I get to enjoy this one for a good long time.
  • Similarly, Evan Dahm let me know that the nearly 200 pages of Vattu posted so far are the tip of the iceberg — we’re still getting setup, the story has so many place to go, and will be both “the largest story [Dahm] has ever told” and require “more than 1000 pages”. Hopefully, we’ll get printed versions along the way, because I’m not sure if I could wait another 800 pages (at three a week, or more than five years) to give him money in exchange for this story. Especially since he was kind enough to give me a copy of the Vattu: The First Day mini, which I would point you to in his store, only it’s not there. Look, just give the guy money, okay?
  • Speaking of talking with creative types and ongoing stories, Jim Zubkavich seemed to get a lot of attention (and well deserved) for various Skullkickers developments, but I was happy to talk to him about Makeshift Miracle. Interesting development — book 1 of the remastered series will pretty much follow the story of the original webcomic/print collection, but after that he sees the story will diverge. Look for an interview with the esteemed Mr Zub in the coming weeks.
  • Most interesting talk I had of the weekend was probably with Jon Brence, Ogeeku cofounder and SMBC Theater regular. Zach Weiner was there, too, but he had a nasty case of biological colonization going on and his voice was just terrible and I didn’t want to stress it. Anywho, Brence was able to give me some good news about the forthcoming sci-fi web series — new equipment has been obtained, shooting planned out, and principal photography will complete pretty quickly. There’s going to be a lost of post-production though; this project will feature lots and lots of CGI, the better to find new and interesting ways to destroy James Ashby in space³. Speaking of, James’s new video series with Marque Williams on cheap eating? Check it out if you haven’t yet.
  • I was able to have nice long talks with my friends from Dumbrella, which is actually good and bad. Good for me, bad that long talks means that there weren’t people interrupting to engage in fan interactions and commerce, due to the vagaries of floor layout. Dumbrella were given space against the back wall, behind a major Marvel comics installation, which provided a near-perpetual knot of people that were difficult to break through. Dedicated fans found their way back, but casual floor-walkers probably looked at the congestion and went the other way. One person who was able to break through the knot was Cory Doctorow, but I’m told that he wasn’t wearing the goggles and cape. Booo.
  • Things learned: Meredith Gran is working on a project with Frank ‘n’ Becky that is going to make many of you go Oooo! Chris Yates continues to make a name for himself in the world of handmade wooden puzzle aficionados, who appear to develop intense loyalties to the few skilled individuals that can do what he does. Jon Rosenberg’s twin sons (Team Babies) have beaten all conceivable odds and turned out adorable; nevertheless, children are expensive (what with wanting to be fed and clothed and all), so do Jon a favor and buy some of his stuff.
  • Purchases that I was lucky enough to make: The Anime Club, Amazing Everything, O No Sashimi (except mine is red).
  • Finally, I didn’t get to track down or talk to Ramón Pérez but that’s okay, because soon Kukuburi will be back, so very, very back.

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¹ Specifically, one young lady that didn’t seem to be dressed as anything particular at all (or at least, we didn’t pick up the reference), but whose eyes were completely black. Pupil, iris, sclera, the whole thing, inky black. “Nice contacts,” I told her. “What contacts?” she replied. “I’ll rephrase,” I countered, “If those aren’t contact lenses, I’m calling an ambulance for you, because whatever could be causing that couldn’t possibly be good.” She laughed and didn’t die, so I guess that’s okay.

² Yes, yes, I know. We’re wild, self-destructive party animals. Tell the cops to bring the riot squad, there’s no controlling me ‘n’ Brad. Mostly Brad.

³ I suggested spaghettification in a black hole, but I’ll settle for explosive decompression.

Slackers Rewarded, Exchange High-Fives

Some time back we noted that the merry troublemakers at SMBC Theater were trying to Kickstart a new web series with an actual budget. A few days back they made their goal five times over, leading to the wherewithal to make an online entertainment comparable to a broadcast TV show, only with dirty jokes and explosions¹. Supporters are receiving fabulous prized including DVDs, art, books, and promotional video², but those that couldn’t bestir themselves to give get rewarded, too.

Yesterday, the SMBC Theatricians put the entirety of their first DVD, SMBC Theater Goes To Hell, on YouTube for your streaming pleasure. Granted, it was previously available for ten bucks plus shipping or pay-what-you-want on torrent (which may as well be free), but this is completely free free. There’s a lesson here that Zach, James³, Kelly, Angel, JP, Jennifer, Chason, Laura, Jon, Betsy, and all of the others that have worked very hard on SMBC Theater for you to learn.

And that lesson is, If you’re cheap and lazy you will be rewarded for it. We at Fleen would like to thank SMBC Theater for being our personal enablers since 2009. Except for James — he knows why.

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¹ We at Fleen only hope that the majority of explosions will be directed at James Ashby, history’s greatest villain.

² Sadly, nobody claimed the top reward, their very own SEX ROBOT.

³ Recently promoted, now history’s greatest super villain.

Meme-ification Complete

It might be that Carly is doing essentially fan comics of her own shared creation (using a Beatonesque strip format), it might be because everybody and their dog are taking turns drawing the Strong Female Characters™, usually tagged on Twitter as #strongfemales, or because there’s now a suggested tagline for the SFCs that sums up everything about mainstream superhero comics, or maybe just because there’s now a Tumblr dedicated to Susan, Georgia, and Queen. Mostly it’s because every new person that sees the phenomenon gets caught up in it and grabs others to say Check this out, you’ll love it. Also, because Chris Sims has the right idea.

  • In other things I noticed on Twitter that don’t have to do with Strong Female Characters™, I noticed a brief-yet-telling exchange between Christopher Butcher and Jim Zubkavich:

    It’s kind of amazing how little interaction the webcomics half of my twitter feed has with the “mainstream comics” half, and vice versa.

    Webcomic folk aren’t even curious about the strange comiXology troops scouting the blasted barren lands of Pay-For-Contentia. :)

    I do find that odd, yeah.

    After the rapprochement between the web and mainstream wings of comicdom at this year’s Reuben Awards, it is a little unusual to not have seen that conversation continuing in the weeks since. Then again, I meet somebody new, it takes a while for the conversation (without booze) to get to be spontaneous. I’m guessing this is a bit of inertia until everybody figures out who everybody else is online and continues that conversation. Hoping so, anyway.

  • Let’s end on one of my favorite sources of laugh-chuckles: SMBC Theater and the casual collection of reprobates found there; it takes a certain kind of comedic fearlessness to have no hesitation whatsoever in regularly presenting yourself as a completely horrible person, and yet everybody I’ve met in conjunction with the SMBC shorts is a really nice person¹. The bad news is that there will be fewer SMBC Theater shorts for the time being — one a month instead of the customary one a week.

    The good news is that it’s because the SMBC Theatricians will be spending their time working up an ongoing webseries with higher production values; Zach and James explain it all here². Naturally, this is the sort of undertaking that requires a more substantial budget that the SMBC troupe have had to work with in the past, leading to the traditional Kickstarter campaign.

    Short form: your contribution over the next six weeks means the possibility that next year you get to see James Ashby blown up in outer space. Please give generously, as it is entirely possible that this is the only way to destroy him³.

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¹ Except James; I’ve re-evaluated my earlier position and decided that he would totally kill me at the first opportunity.

² Warning: contains James. Do not believe anything this man tells you, he is pure evil.

³ Either that, or nuke his site from orbit, but that’s got some messy collateral effects I’d prefer to avoid.

Live From New York

New York Comic Con happened over the weekend; there was good stuff (such as God-given right of New Yorkers to have food delivered straight to their tables on the show floor — are you listening, San Diego?) and less-good stuff. Of the less-good stuff, some would have been out of the control of con staff (such as construction scaffolding in the Javits Center that cut the show floor in half, requiring narrow, easily-blocked tunnels for foot transit), and some within the con staff’s purview (such as Artist Alley’s posted map listing creators by seat number instead of by name).

In other words, it was upwards of 100,000 people in a compact area for a period of time (and hey, 100,000 people, what was with some of you dropping your garbage on the floors at will, you suck), and probably went about as well as could be expected (okay, I did see one surly-looking dude in the custody of the NYPD by the escalators, but at least nobody got stabbed).

I did a lot of walking around the show floor for pretty much all of Saturday (although that was nearly impossible for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon), saw a bunch of creators, engaged in commerce, and caught two relevant panels. Here’s the short version while the longer discussion is getting prepped.

  • Books, Books, Books
    Dave McElfatrick, newly welcome to these shores, and his Cyanide & Happiness cohorts (Rob DenBlyker and Matt Melvin; Kris Wilson didn’t make it) watched 450 books sell out by Saturday afternoon.

    Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars In Brooklyn‘s cover art was used for the design of a pretty hefty percentage of the attendee badges. Looked great.

    Some guy apparently now will be releasing his books through some fancy-pants big comics company (congratulations, Chris Hastings!).

    Picked up KC Green’s The Blood Cloud, Anthony Clark’s Beartato and the Secret of the Mystery, Evan Dahm’s Rice Boy and Order of Tales books 1 & 2, and Colleen Venable’s Guinea PIg 2: And Then There Were Gnomes. I was gifted with a copy of Dahm’s mini, Waiting In Surya/The Tethered Isle, and Chris Eliopolous’s Misery Loves Sherman. About 7kg worth in all, and my back is still protesting hauling it all around.

  • Met up with all of the above, plus Zach Weiner and the SMBC Theater Crüe (including James Ashby, JP and Jenny Nickel, and Kelly Weinersmith), Karl Kerschl & Cameron Stewart (whose Sin Titulo will — fingers crossed — be seeing book form in about a year), Brad Guigar and Scott Kurtz, Ryan Sohmer, Lar DeSouza and the rest of the Blind Ferret mob, Rosscott, Mohammad “Hawk” Haque, Jon Rosenberg, Sam Brown, Andy Bell, Kean Soo, Andrew Hussie, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson (who showed me an absolutely gorgeous, as-yet unused guest strip for Anders Loves Maria), Chris Butcher, Magnolia Porter, Tom Siddell, and I know I’m forgetting others, sorry.
  • Met a really nice guy named Matt Lubchansky, who’s doing a pretty nifty and relatively new webcomic called The Adam — it’s about a guy that’s mildly (but insufficiently) super-powered and unable to make it as a crimefigher, so he slides into a more backward dimension (ours) to pursue heroics. Good hook, really enjoying it so far.
  • Speaking of Matts, Jen Babcock pointed me to the doings of Matt. Murray, one-time President and Executive Director of MoCCA, current principal of Sequential Arts Collective, and the world’s premiere Smurfologist. Seems that since he doesn’t have to keep comics fans from dying in a fire any longer, Mr Murray is working on a definitive scholarly book on said Smurfs. Innn-teresting.
  • Panel Discussion 1
    Rob DenBlyker had the SMBC Theaterites on a panel, asking them various questions about their process (they all do everything), their inner furries (James is a panda, JP a monkey, Jenny a grizzly, Kelly a nematode, and Zach wants us all to know the correct term is fursona), who has to paint James red for his turns as the Devil (whoever’s around; the first time it was Kelly & Zach, in a trailer at a fish research facility, aka “Kelly’s job”), and future plans (there has been a broadcast pilot shot; the second DVD is due in a couple of months; there will be animation alongside live action in the future).

    Quote of the Session: Asked from the floor about how much money the SMBC Theater actors/crew get paid, snorts of derisive laughter followed, until Jenny remarked, Your laughter is all the payment we need (cue more laughter).

    Quote of the Session runner-up: Asked from the floor how he comes up with something new every day for the comic, Zach explained that he reads widely, and If you steal from a dead person, it’s like creating.

  • Panel Discussion 2
    The Guigar/Kurtz/Roberts discussion on Digital vs Print got off to a slightly late start (the previous panel finished on time, but attendees mobbed speaker Dr Michio Kaku) and turned out to be less about any kind of vs, and more about Okay, here’s where we are, where do we go next?, and was a very productive talk. There’s a lot to edit down from that talk (hopefully by tomorrow), but let me leave you with a teaser from Guigar:

    Originally this session was supposed to be between print and web. My conceit has always been not print vs web, but corporate vs independent. Print has always been about generating business through a corporate structure, where webcomics is independent. Now the question is, what’s going to replace webcomics? Do [iPod-style] app comics replace webcomics, and does that mean a return to the corporate side from the independent side?

  • Not at NYCC
    Latin Art-throb Aaron Diaz updated his comic art blog with an absolutely stellar discussion of the importance of silhouette. This one’s mandatory reading, kids.

Is It SMBC Day Already?

Zach Weiner (or is it “Weinersmith” yet?) dropped his 2000th update of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal with a discussion of pure Plotonium. But then I saw his SMBC Theater cohort JP Nickel (I think he’s particularly funny matched up against James Ashby in this short) dropping an intriguing piece of news:

@smbctheater will have its own panel at NYC ComicCon in October! @ZachWeiner @jsandlinashby @FuSchmu The Mrs. & I will be speaking!

NYCC’s programming & panel schedule isn’t set to go live until tomorrow (curses!), but when it does, you should find the time & location of the SMBCfest here. Don’t let the fact that nearly every character in the SMBC Theater shorts is a horrible, horrible person — I’ve met a bunch of them and they’re only one level of horrible at most.

  • Speaking of NYCC, the exhibitor list is pretty complete, and webcomics are pretty well represented, from ACT-I-VATE to Webcomics Dot Com.
  • The Friends of Lulu awards make a return this year (to be given out at the Long Beach Comic Con Halloween weekend), and public voting is now open. I thought I’d mention it because the Lulu awards do something that you don’t usually see: rather than throw webcomics into a single catch-all category (which can find creations wildly different in scope, subject, and tone treated as comparable), they’re distributed throughout the list. Thus, you have webcomics contending for recognitions as wide as Best Female Character, Lulu of the Year, and the Kim Yale Award for Most Talented Newcomer.
  • Welcome back to Randy Milholland who had a nasty sore throat that made his drawing elbow lock up. No, really. It’s so improbable and unlikely, it could only happen to a webcomicker; at least we may get some good Life With Rippy strips out of it.
  • Finally, we at Fleen have been known to refer to certain members of our community by nicknames; one perennial usage has exploited the fact that Dresden Codak‘s creator shares a name with a Mexican singer/actor, thus making Aaron Diaz webcomics’ own Latin Heartthrob. Today, however, he is re-christened as ALP creator Bernie Hou made the logical leap and observed that Diaz is actually our Latin Art-throb. >slow clap< Well done, sir. Well done.

A Very Happy Thursday To @ryanqnorth And @jennipoos

Could it possibly be too early to congratulate Ryan North and Jenn Klug on their upcoming (this weekend) nuptials? No, it could not possibly. In fact, Ryan is such a large man, I suspect that each year will require several days of congratulations on either side of the actual date to adequately express ones appreciation of said marriage. Happy first night of RyanAndJennyMas, everybody.

Also, there will be rad Dinosaur Comics guest strips for a while, such as the above standout by John Allison.

  • Breaking news! David Malki ! and Dave Kellett, in accordance with ancient Dave Law (and that community service thing they got slapped with) are raising money for 826 Valencia‘s Los Angeles chapter, 826LA. They are doing so by competing in a spelling bee that allows teams to cheat based on how much money they raise. I’ll let Mr Malki ! explain:

    [I]t takes place August 14 in Santa Monica, CA. Keith, Dave Kellett and I are on a team called “The Sweaty Hams,” because we are all men and, well, sometimes things happen. We’re somewhat late-comers to the fundraising game, so we are trying to raise pledges to buy “cheats” so we can be competitive in the event!

    Cheats include passing on a difficult word, buying immunity after spelling a word wrong, swapping places with another team member, and other non-officially-endorsed-by-the-American-Spelling-Association deviousnesses. (See how I used a word that’s probably not in their official lexicon?) We only get cheats — and thus, a fighting chance against the other teams with loads of cheats — if we raise money! 826LA is a volunteer-based organization that helps kids in a number of remarkable and wonderful ways. Will you please help our team with a donation?

    The event is less than two weeks away and thanks to rudderless team leadership we are entering the fundraising race way at the back of the pack. PLEASE DO NOT LET US FAIL IN THIS

    AS WE DO MOST EVERYTHING ELSE [emphasis original]

    Guys, I’m going to be honest here. Neither David nor Dave is necessarily “down” enough with your arbitrary “rules” to spell words “correctly” and if they bomb at this competition it will look bad for webcomics as a whole. They are going to need all the help they can get to keep from embarrassing you personally; even getting a simple one-letter hint costs a hundred smackers, and something tells me they’re going to rely on the Invent-A-Word ploy ($1500 each) a lot. A couple bucks now could save a lot of heartache later.

  • New Octopus Pie after Meredith Gran’s book-tour hiatus, and even better — there will be more every Monday-Wednesday-Friday! Also, her studiomate (and Latin Heartthrob) Aaron Diaz has the results of the Dresden Codak Reenactment Contest, meaning it’s been a hell of a productive time at Dunning-Kreger Solutions, Ltd.

I’ve largely completed my SDCC acquired media binge. Selected two-sentence reviews follow:

  • Flight 7: Prepare to have your mind blown as Michel Gagné’s Rex folds back on itself recursively, with captions connecting to the next part of the story, found in Flight 2. The rest is simply wonderful, with Kazu Kibuishi adhering most closely to the now largely-forgotten theme suggested by the series title.
  • Family Man: Dylan Meconis is very, very good with the art, very, very complete with the footnotes, and very, very evil to leave us on the cliffhanger she did. Give her your attention and money.
  • SMBC Theater Goes To Hell: This DVD collection of sketches goes out of its way to convince me that Zach Weiner and James Ashby are the rudest, foulest, and generally worst people in the world, and succeeds. So I guess that’s good for them?
  • Koko Be Good Not actually obtained in San Diego because Gina Gagliano assured me a complimentary review copy would be waiting for me at home and it was. Jen Wang’s story of finding out that what you think you want isn’t always what you really want has been haunting me, and is easily the best thing I’ve read since Tracy White’s How I Made It To Eighteen; highest recommendation, obtain on day-of-release if you enjoy things that are awesome.
  • Edit to clarify: the SMBC Theater DVD was given to me by the creators, and to add previously-missed links.

Ah, Feeling Human Again

SDCC wears more heavily on my aged, stooped body every year, so please forgive the lateness of this post; it’s also going to be a big one, to cover my travel tomorrow, and then I can see about actually reading webcomics again. I’ve fallen a bit behind in the last five days.

  • First up, news from Zach Weiner, who was at his booth with fellow SMBC Theater principal James Ashby. It was a bit odd meeting Ashby, as he’s specialized in playing some monumentally unlikeable characters on SMBCT, and I found him to be affable, funny, and not at all somebody who would kill me at the first opportunity. Probably.

    Weiner and Ashby presented me with a copy of SMBCT’s first DVD compilation, and it looks like an hour and a half of pure, distilled fun. I can’t say for certain, since the netbook that I’m travelling with has no optical drive, but it’s getting watched at the first opportunity. Weiner also shared the news that one of his previous projects (Captain Excelsior, with Chris Jones on art) is getting a book release via IDW — look for it in October, or heck, just pre-order it now.

  • Speaking of pre-orders, I bumped into Ben Costa of Shi Long Pang, who was kind enough to gift me with a copy of his brand new (you can still pre-order, actually) first book. All I can say is hoo, the Xeric grant gives you a lot of options when it comes to printing your book. It’s got a gorgeous, solid visual appeal, the colors are vibrant or subtle as required, and the paper stock is thick and satisfying. It even smells good. This is going to require a leisurely read to provide a more worthwhile review, but for almost 200 pages, full color, in hardcover? $20 is a steal.
  • Speaking of new print ventures, Ryan Sohmer had some interesting news about his first non-comedy comics work. BOOM! Studios will be publishing a Sohmer-penned, Jean Diaz-drawn 6-issue series (with the possibility of ongoing) called Messiah. Sohmer described it as the story of an ordinary guy called by God to be the new messiah — but not the first one. Turns out, God’s been calling messiahs for millenia, but gives them free will to redeem and save the world or not. Capitalizing on Diaz’s work with Mark Waid on Incorruptible, Waid may end up editing Messiah, which would just slightly be a good thing.
  • Speaking of good things, Jeff Zugale came by to talk about some of his projects, and has said that there are discussions for a print/poster release of The Greatest Painting In The History of Art.
  • The Webcomics Lightning Round panel produced a lot of information in a very brief timeframe; to keep this page from bogging down, the “transcript” (it’s not a word-for-word of what was said at the panel, but it’s as close as I can make it) is below the cut, and it’s a long ‘un. Groundrules: Brad Guigar, Robert Khoo and Scott Kurtz were given 20 seconds to answer each question, with no repeat answers — if one panelist agreed in essence with another, he just said so and moved on. Answer durations were enforced by Airhornsworman official timekeeper Erika Greco (PA designer extraordinaire), who cut off the panelists with an insistent WOOOP if their actual answer went on too long.

    The panel was held in a room with a posted capacity of 500, and was pretty much full up; however, it became apparent during the panel that a portion of the audience were camping out for a LOST panel that was being held next in the room. This earned multiple digressions onto the topic of LOST by Kurtz, each of which led to at least one forlorn LOSTie slinking out of the room, presumably upset by spoilers. That was awesome.

(more…)

Bunch O’ Stuff Today

That's the whole story right there.

There will be another post up later today (or possibly tomorrow), an interview with Chris Yates on the very exciting news that he’s sharing today. For now, there’s a couple of stories that deserve some examination and not to be put off any longer.

  • First of all, man nerds work fast when they put their minds to it. The XKCD Laotian school fundraising project resulted in success and a pretty damn inspiring dedication plaque from Randall Munroe:

    “Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato.

    This school is a gift from the readers of XKCD, an internet comic strip. The world is full of exciting things to discover. We hope you find some of them.

    That news is about a month old, and it should have been brought up before now; I couldn’t let it go any further in good conscience. Judging from the progress photos at the link, the school is likely done by now. Finished. Built. Ready to educate. Well done, all involved.

  • Second thing, and this deserves to be a much bigger story, in that it could literally save a life. Back in the Spring, Snowflakes launched, and it’s been a delight. Back on Monday, a flashback storyline began and it filled in a lot of color on one of the characters who’d been a little in the background since launch. But more important was the newsbox item on that day:

    For the next few months, we’re running a separate storyline for the American Heart Association, based on their “Be The Beat” program to promote heart health.

    You’ll still get Snowflakes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but two of those updates per week will be AHA strips.

    Let’s be perfectly clear, here: we are getting a tutorial on CPR in a webcomic and it’s fitting into the storyline.

    Allow me to share some things about CPR from the perspective of a guy who’s had occasion to use it. Disclaimer: This blog post is not an accredited AHA instruction and you need to go to class, okay? Okay. First off: When the heart goes kablooey, there’s no guarantee that it’s ever going to start up again. CPR by itself almost never results in a revival, and what’s important is getting a defibrillator to shock the heart back into proper working order. But even then, only about 70% of kablooies are shockable, and not all those that are will convert back to a non-kablooey rhythm, and every minute that goes by from onset to shock decreases the chances of success by about 10%.

    What CPR does is buy you time to get a defibrillator hooked up. And it’s easy. Easy enough that in a bad situation, a 911 dispatcher can coach you through it. But that takes time, and your form won’t be good, and you’ll tire too easily and then that time you’re buying starts to slip away again, so let’s take the time to learn it now. You’re all going to sign up for a class, but on the off chance you see somebody clutch their chest and slump to the ground on your way to the classroom, here’s what you do:

    Call 911. Make sure there’s no pulse — two fingers lightly against the outside of the Adam’s apple, and wait for a good 8 – 10 seconds. Got nothing? Open the patient’s shirt and make a fist. Place the heel of the fist on the breastbone, between the nipples, then wrap your other hand over the fist. Lock your elbows, and start pushing hard and fast.

    “Hard” means you’re pushing down about 1/3 of the body’s thickness. “Fast” means 100 compressions a minute; hum Stayin’ Alive or Another One Bites The Dust to get the rhythm right. If you haven’t had a class and don’t know how or when to breathe for your patient, don’t bother — just keep compressing (it’s likely in next year’s revisions of the CPR protocols, the whole rescue breathing thing will be dropped in favor of pure compressions anyway). Count out loud on each compression, so the rescuers who you called know how long you’ve been working.

    That’s it. Hard and fast. The class that you’re all signed up for now teaches you confidence (so you don’t hesitate), and how to use an automated external defibrillator, and different protocols for adults, children, infants, and newborns. It’ll teach you correct form so that your compressions are more effective (hell, I’ve held CPR certs since I was 20, and I didn’t know that my form was good until one day in the ER when a critical care tech told me that I was providing a strong femoral pulse from my compressions, while simultaneously not breaking any of the guy’s ribs) (don’t you worry about breaking ribs; if you hear popping sounds, keep compressing hard and fast).

    Neither this discussion, the calm voice on the other end of a panicked call to 911, nor Snowflakes is going to substitute for what you’ll get from class, but in a pinch any one of the three will be a damn sight better than nothing. Say it with me: Hard and fast. Hard and fast. Hard and fast.

    Now go sign up for that class (especially you parents out there — kids don’t have heart attacks, but there’s a bundle of nerves in the chest that if it gets smacked, there’s a one-in-a-zillion that it basically acts like the POWER OFF switch for the heart … it’s why you see Little League batters with big chest pads these days), and everybody thank the AHA and Snowflakes creators James Ashby, Chris Jones, and Zach Weiner for the Be The Beat miniseries.

Will We Ever See After-AfterCon?

In today’s breaking news, Legend of Bill creator Dave Reddick has joined (n the past hour or so) Blank Label Comics. For those not familiar with Reddick’s work, he assists Jim Davis on his strip about a large cat (dunno, don’t think that’s going anywhere), as well as working on various Star Trek-themed strips for Gene Roddenberry’s production company, a single-panel webcomic, and the aformentioned Aragonesque barbarian epic. Look for Legend of Bill to show up on the BLC front page shortly (and maybe at the same time, the code’ll get fixed so that Shortpacked! shows up again (unless … there’s something they’re not telling David Willis? Could this be a Dave-for-Dave swapout?).

Our main story today is what’s likely the last reminiscence of San Diego Aught-Nine: the AfterCon party on Saturday night, hosted by the Cyanide & Happiness gents, Zach Weiner‘s new sketch-comdey undertaking, and the superstars of nerdcore.

I’ll confess something here — I never really got it when a stand-up comedian included lengthy stints opening for music acts. Okay, maybe Sinatra I can see, but the number of people that’ve opened for high-energy, heavily-amplified, passionate-fanbase artists? I just always figured they enjoyed being told “You suck!” and “Gedoff the stage, we want ____ !” Turns out? Not so much.

The audience at The Casbah last Saturday was The Nerdcore Tribe — having missed much of the hip-hop revolution on generational grounds and having an untrained ear that’s not good at catching the verbal dance that characterizes your quality rappers (not that this is unique circumstance with me; I once had a really enlightening half-hour chat with Harvey Pekar about how to train my ear to really get jazz … he called me “man” and “cat”, of which I am very proud), I didn’t catch much of the lingual dexterity exhibited by YTCracker and MC Lars — but there ain’t nothing wrong with my eyes. The crowd was into it, completely absorbed, singing along and on ready to devolve into the joyous riot (no harm, no foul, lots of bumps and bruises) you get on the dance floor when the beat takes you over. If anybody would resent an interruption of their vibe for electronic funnybook cartoons and movies, it was them.

But funny is funny. Catching a short of the oh my God that’s horrible and funny I’m going to hell but I’ll be laughing all the way variety (such as The Sign or I Love Noodles), it doesn’t matter if it’s what you came to see or not. You’re into it. And longer pieces, with Weiner’s troupe of pranksters (including James Ashby, one of his collaborators on Snowflakes) work just as well when they’re as funny as Gateway Drug, LOL CAT, or the as-yet-not-online Ultimate Staring Contest. Even a projector failure (which must have made already-nervous hosts even nervouser … don’t worry guys, you broke every leg out there) couldn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm.

Lessons learned — I’m not too old to stand in a one-room small venue, beer in hand, listening to rappers. I do in fact know all the words to MC Frontalot‘s Livin’ At The Corner of Dude & Catastrophe and Diseases of Yore. The sense of humor that lets a creator sustain a webcomic is (for the right people) transferrable to other media and forms of expression. Beer bought for you by Zach Weiner is always extra-tasty. Many thanks to all the people who put together the show, so graciously invited me, and to the parents who worked so hard making the costumes.