The webcomics blog about webcomics

Being A Chronicle Of The End Times

Sunday is always a weird day at San Diego Comic Con; the crowd is trying to decide on last minute purchases, the vendors can see the end coming but then have to do tear-down (and here’s a little trade secret for you — the larger booths can’t start until the carpet’s taken up, and there’s a lot of carpet) and throw everything on pallets. The good news is that by the time you’re done, there’s not much of a line at any of the restaurants. The best news is that the day earlier Eben Burgoon of Eben07 and B-Squad¹ gifted me a bottle of the honey blonde ale that was brewed to tie in with the publication of B-Squad volume 2 which was opened approximately 12 seconds after the show ended and sustained the crew of several booths through teardown. It was pretty tasty!

But before you get to teardown (and I swear, some year somebody’s going to get caught in the giant layers of clingfilm used to hold everything together on the pallet; I swear it almost happened to me twice) there’s still a mostly-full day of the show. I managed to see the YA panel, which was held in a large room but attracted a surprisingly — disappointingly, actually — small crowd, considering the talent on the riser (from left): Sierra Hahn moderating; Hope Larson; Raina Telgemeier; Cecil Castellucci, James Dashner, and Brenden Fletcher.

Bios: Hahn is senior editor at BOOM! (a somewhat recent transplant from Dark Horse, and not responsible for the crappy contracts they offer; creators that I speak to about BOOM! generally have good things to say about the editorial side); Larson and Telgemeier should need no introduction if you read this page; Castellucci wrote for DC’s now-dead Minx line for YA girls, and more recently a Star Wars tie-in about Leia and Shade, The Changing Girl for Vertigo; Dashner doesn’t write comics (yet), but is the author of the wildly popular Maze Runner series (now a motion picture franchise) as well as other YA book series; Fletcher is the cowriter of Gotham Academy and the revived Batgirl.

A quick word of praise for Hahn here as we begin; the panel could have easily turned into a slog where the moderator throws out a question and each panelist answers it; rinse; repeat. But midway through the first period of questioning, Castellucci asked a question of her fellow panelists and Hahn backed the heck off, letting the conversation take on its own life. After that, about three times she threw out new feeder questions and stood back to let them develop organically; it’s a very difficult thing to moderate with a light hand, I could see that Hahn had prepared a lot of questions and she very smartly adapted to the situation. It was the best moderating job I saw all week.

That initial question was about what it is in YA that unique attracts readers, which became a discussion of influences. Larson’s first experiences with comics were Tintin, Asterix, and other adventure stories, and Compass South is a love letter to the genre; Telgemeier has shifted away from autobio/realism with Ghosts, citing Miyazaki as her biggest influence. Castellucci noted the irony of telling the story of a YA character in Shade within the structure of mature-readers imprint, contrasting with her next project (a girl in 1932 riding the rails with hobos) and recalling the influence of reading My Cancer Year in high school. Grief is what she gets as something that’s uniquely expressible in comics, saying I write prose, but sometimes there are no words to say what I want, and then I turn to comics.

Dashner’s not written comics, but loves what pictures can add to storytelling, being particularly satisfied with some tie-ins to the movie version of Maze Runner. Fletcher said that he would be cribbing answers from others — Tintin, etc — but that Miyazaki (and in particular, Totoro) changed my life when I was falling down a hole of ’90s dudebro comics. Totoro hit my reset button and I thought that was who I am, that’s the storytelling I was to express when I grow up. He tied that ability to influence a younger reader into the idea that his run on Batgirl was mandated to be written for an audience of 21 – 28 year olds — sex, party times, woo — but at the first con after the first issue came out, a 10 year old girl dressed as Batgirl came up to get it signed and that was it: the creative team bucked their instructions and We aged it down. Gotham Academy was always in the space for my 10 year old niece, but we shifted Batgirl to be closer to that same space.

This was about the point that Castellucci shifted the conversation, asking what appealed to the others about YA. She found it compelling because the characters are raw and figuring out who they are, and that was what she always wanted to write. Larson noted it’s what comes most natural to her, and doesn’t understand why YA is looked down on; eople that look down on YA suck at writing it, she opined. Dashner jumped in to tell the story of a friend who was told by a Very Important Person In Publishing that her YA writing was really good, so she might now be good enough to write for adults.

Telgemeier held forth on the idea that YA as a category didn’t really exist when she was growing up, that you went from Baby Sitters Club straight to VC Andrews (or possibly Stephen King); her introduction to the idea of YA was discovering Lynda Barry at the age of 12. There followed a general discussion of what counts as YA and why, despite the fact that good YA has always had a significant older readership (and 60%+ of the market is women over the age of 30), the term all ages isn’t helpful. All ages is code for inoffensive, as Larson pointed out. But at the same time, comics publishers don’t always know what to do with it. Fletcher related how Gotham Academy was ignored in the direct market because it had two teen girls on the cover so they figured it was for kids. Librarians asked him where to shelve it — in the children’s section, or teen/YA?

Hahn fed that point by noting that libraries and bookstores will have to have a YA shelving concept so you don’t put Vertigo books next to those appropriate for kids. Fletcher lamented that Barnes & Noble has Gotham Academy next to Batman (alphabetically, wedged in by Gotham Central, which, yeesh, serious disconnect), but Lumberjanes is in YA, so where will the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover go?

Castellucci wonders if people who want their comic books not just for kids, dammit! are willfully ignoring the YA section and how that might prevent people from picking up a book they might like. Larson wryly observed that those readers won’t pick up a book with a non-powered teen girl on the cover anyway, so there’s no harm in putting it in a YA section. Dashner wasn’t sure — he said that his books, and others like the Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Divergent series, and plenty others wouldn’t sell nearly as well without adult readers. It’s also the case that several of those series were issued with serious, adult-style covers to provide the ability for grownups to read them in stealth mode.

There’s always a point in a panel like this where the discussion turns to the value of comics in getting kids to read and it followed the usual path, but there was an observation from Catellucci I hadn’t heard before. She works as a literacy volunteer in LA public schools and started a reading club. One girl brought in Larson’s graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time and spent all year on it. She loved that book, and later when Castellucci showed a page from Mercury her hand shot up and she asked Is that Hope Larson? It hadn’t occurred to her the idea of having a favorite author who does different kinds of stories. She proselytized that book, shared it with all her friends, and then wanted to make comics herself. Kids that love comics make and share comics, which is the crux of Catellucci’s point. There’s an enthusiasm that even the most eager readers of prose don’t have.

(This was followed by Fletcher telling how his 10 year old niece fell in love with Gotham Academy, which he basically wrote for her. She shares them, she begged to go to a comics creation camp that was aimed at older kids, and on a visit she gave him a copy her first comic. That destroyed me. She’s doing fanart of my characters and I burst into tears.)

The other thing that usually comes up in YA discussions is deciding what’s appropriate for inclusion, and again there were a pair of unique points I hadn’t heard before. Castellucci pointed out you could aim a comic for a particular age (say, 10), and there are kids that age reading far above that level, and kids reading far below; reading ability really spreads out in age cohorts, but they may all be reading the same comic, so finding a way to keep language, sex, or violence “age appropriate” is almost impossible.

Telgemeier pointed out that comics are a challenge in that showing something has more impact than writing about it, even for the same audience; she’s so far been unable to get any character having a period into her books (all of which star teenage girls), but thinks it might be possible soon. Fletcher pointed out the advantage to comics is you can treat danger in different ways; Batgirl might be beating people up, but the Gotham Academy kids are more likely to run until they’re in a kind of environmental danger (collapsing floor, possibility of a fall, etc). In Batgirl there’s an acknowledgment that things like drinking or sex exist, but since it’s aged down now, you can cut away without showing. You’re not ignoring it, it’s not imposed, it’s just what feels right.

A short while later, it was time for the Kickstarter panel, which at long last bows to reality and includes on the dias George friggin’ Rohac, along with Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press and Kel McDonald of Sorcery 101, along with Jamie Turner from Kickstarter (from left: Turner, McDonald, George, Nicholson). Interestingly, Turner introduced the panel by noting how many projects they’ve each run: 5 for himself, 9 for McDonald, 6 for Nicholson, and an estimated 50 for George.

The first third or so of the panel was taken up by a sort of Kickstarter 101 which in an ideal world shouldn’t have been necessary, but given the number of people in the audience who had indicated they planned on doing a Kickstart at some point, and who were frantically taking notes and photographing the projection screen, it was wanted by the majority of the viewers. Some numbers, then: comics represent about 4000 of Kickstarter’s 108,000 successful projects, with a funding rate of about 55% (versus 40% for the site as a whole). This means that George himself has run approximately 1.25% of all comics projects in Kickstarter history, yikes.

The most valuable part of the panel was the first thing Turner said: although he titled the panel Kickstarter Secrets Revealed in order to get it approved, there are no secrets. It’s all in the tutorial material that Kickstarter makes available: have an original project, communicate with your backers, have a good video, make sure you can explain what’s compelling, bring an audience with you. Prep before the project, complete with cushion for unexpected situations (McDonald calls it The Screwup Fund and budgets in US$2000; Rohac calls it The Unexpected Situations Fund and allots 12.5% on top of however much he thinks the project will require). Keep close track of expenses, expect postal rates to go up by the time you have to deliver rewards, and as Nicholson emphasized, If you don’t want to think about shipping [in the planning stage], don’t offer physical rewards.

Other rules of thumb:

  • From McDonald: expect to get 1/3 of your total take in the first three days; if that’s not going to get you to goal, re-evaluate what you’re doing and know that you still have time to correct course.
  • From Rohac: Don’t set the goal of the project to do your absolute Platonic ideal of a book; look at one that’s simpler and cheaper, and if you hit funding make the idea version a stretch goal.
  • From Nicholson: Don’t neglect to include both time and expense of shipping from the printer to you — people have been crippled in the past by unexpected multi-month, multiple-thousands-of-dollars delays and expenses.
  • From everybody: the glut of offers you get from companies that want to charge you to promote your Kickstarter will do absolutely nothing for you.

The audience didn’t appear to fully take in the lessons, though. They wanted to know about things like changing SEC rules that allow crowdfunding to be used for investment (Turner: moot point because KS is ideologically opposed to the idea; Rohac: if you think keeping track of shipping is a headache, imagine trying to keep track of who is owed what share of equity in your business), what the benefit of paid promotions/advertising is (Rohac: you will convert so few it’s not worth it; McDonald: you can promote to your audience, who are most likely to support you, for free; Nicholson: does sometimes do Facebook ad buys because Facebook is a donut-stealing mobster), exactly what format the video should be (all: whatever you want, just make one), how much prep to do before launch (all: as much as humanly possible, then some more), and the most effective promotions channels (all: Twitter, existing audience channels). You know, questions the answers to which are embedded in all the previous advice.

The questions weren’t about How do I determine if my audience is large enough to support a project? or What percentage of them will actually give me money?; instead they revealed the still too-common attitude that Kickstarter is a game that can be approached algorithmically, and if you have the cheat codes you will get All The Money. The answer remains what it always has been: hone your craft, grow your audience, make stuff, then crowdfund. You never could do it in reverse, and you won’t be able to in the future. The Magic Money Machine was always a myth.

Creators who gave me books or significantly discounted them at some point during the week because they all rock and are The Best:
Kate Beaton (King Baby), Raina Telgemeier (Ghosts), Jeff Smith (BONE Coda), Dave Kellett (Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M Schulz).

Cosplay was a bit thinner on Sunday, but I did see a pretty impressive Rescue² but the most ambitious cosplay of the entire show was the woman who dressed as the entirety of Middle Earth.

¹ Tagline: Like Suicide Squad, but funnier.

² In recent Marvel continuity, Pepper Potts has her own Iron Man-style armor, and you can tell from the distinct design of the chest reactor it’s not just a gender-swapped Tony Stark. I have no idea how I know this.

SDCC 2016 Programming, Part Two

Saturday, oh Saturday, the day where hopes go to die in San Diego. Sunday, the day where the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, except for those that have to wait to bring their cars around to the docks for load-out. Before we get to those, let’s make a quick visit to a pair of Fridays.

First, last Friday, C Spike Trotman¹ announced her latest forthcoming publication, this Sarah W Searle is bringing her Sparks from serialization at Filthy Figments {NSFW, depending on your W]. Second, this coming Friday, when Kel McDonald finds out if the second and final Sorcery 101 omnibus funds or not. I’m kind of astonished how many established creators are having trouble making funding on their Kickstarts, and McDonald’s sitting on a projected 97% final funding, so this is literally make or break time.

Okay, onward and conward, and as always, let us know what we overlooked.

Saturday Programming

Once Upon A Time: Teaching Fables, Fairy Tales, And Myths With Comics And Graphic Novels
10:00am — 11:00am, Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

The aforementioned Ms McDonald will be talking about fantastical tales for a library-centric crowd, along with Chris Duffy, Alexis Fajardo, Ben Hatke, and Trina Robbins, with moderator Tracy Edmunds, MA Ed.

Spotlight On Kate Beaton
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 5AB

This will be my first chance to tell Kate Beaton in person how much my niece loves The Princess And The Pony. Hint: a lot.

Comic Book Law School 303: New Revelations
10:30pm — 12:00pm, 30CDE

Part three, which bee-tee-dubs is qualified for continuing education credits for lawyers. This one’s on complex issues of copyright and trademark.

Spotlight On William Gibson
11:30pm — 12:30pm, Room 24ABC

Appropriate, since we seem to be living in one of his cyberpunk dystopias at the moment.

Spotlight On Jeff Smith
12:30pm — 1:30pm, Room 8

Jeff Smith is the opposite of a dystopia. Let’s all go and have some fun and ignore stupid, stupid [fill in horrible person type here]s.

The Kids Comics Revolution
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 29AB

Best panel ever? Emily Carroll, John Patrick Green, Noelle Stevenson, G. Willow Wilson, and Gene Luen Yang.

Spotlight On Noelle Stevenson
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 23ABC

Because she’s a shark, AAAAHHH.

Buckaroo Banzai: Getting The Band Back Together
5:30pm — 6:30pm, Room 8

Holy crap: Perfect Tommy, Pinky Caruthers, Scooter Lindley, and Rugsucker will be on stage together.

Sunday Programming

Historical Comics
1:00pm — 2:00pm, Room 28DE

Kate Beaton, Chester Brown, and Derf Backderf in conversation with Calvin Reid. Hopefully to contain Nemeses.

YA? Why Not? The Importance Of Teen And Young Adult Comics
1:00pm — 2:0pam, Room 24ABC

Going to be tough to decide where to be this hour — Kate down the hall, Hope Larson, Raina Telgemeier, Cecil Castellucci, and Brenden Fletcher over here at the same time.

Spotlight On Emily Carroll
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 4

It’ll be the spooktaculariest room all weekend for an hour.

Kickstarter Secrets Revealed
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 4

At last, they finally admitted that if you’re gonna do a how-to on Kickstarter, you got to get goddammned George Rohac there. Also the afivementioned Kel McDonald, Hope Nicholson, and Kickstarter’s comics outreach lead, Jamie Turner.

Markiplier Comics & More: Keenspot/Red Giant 2016
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 7AB

The annual Keenspot panel, pretty much closing out the programming for the year.

Spam of the day:

Make $7,682/month from home

a. That’s a supiciously specific number. b. Who’s to say that I don’t already?

¹ C Spike Trotman. Trotman, Spike, Trotman!

No? Fine.

Kickstarts, On A Wednesday

There’s an audacious set of Kickstarts going on with contributions from the webcomics community, both running for just shy of a month, and with the potential to fill your shelves with lots and lots of women-centered work. Let’s dig in.

  • Naturally, we start with the latest on the Smut Peddler Double Header, which we noted yesterday was still too young to qualify for a spin on the Fleen Funding Formula, Mark II¹. We’re remedying that now, and as of this writing, the FFFmk2 gives SPDH an expected final total of US$162.5K +/- 32.5K, or a range of US$130K – 195K. Given that the last Smut Peddler did about US$185K and that this prediction is probably a bit of an underestimate², I’d look for a number on the high end of that range.

    Also of note: the per-backer total of $US42.81 is significantly higher (so far) than that of either of the prior two Smut Peddler projects (5709 backers @ US$32.45 for the 2014 edition, 2291 @ US$36.27 in 2012); if the 1472 backers that exist now merely hold onto the per-backer ratio (and I’d expect them to do so, as the low-priced early bird packages are all long gone, and the high-priced special art packages are yet to be added), meeting only the backer count of the 2012 edition puts the Double Header over US$152; if they reach the backer count of 2014, you’re looking at nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

  • And on the just-launched end of things, a new anthology project, 1001 Knights seeks to create three hardcover volumes, each about 250 pages, with a total of 1001 original characters, who are people-positive with feminist overtones. It’s going to take more than 250 creators to pull this one off, and US$70,000 of which (as of this writing, which is not quite the same time as the writing of the last item³ — I can’t type infinitely fast people!) some US$15,000 has been raised in the couple of hours since launch.

    The webcomics-related creators that have their name associated with the project (a full list of which may be found here) include Aatmaja Pandya, Allison Strejlau, Carey Pietsch, Darryl Ayo, Isabel Melan&ccecil;on, Jordan Witt, Kori Michele Handwerker, Leisl Adams, Molly Ostertag, Ryan North, Sara Winifred Searle, Scott Wegener, Shannon Wright, Steven Sugar, and literally hundreds more.

    Wrangling this many creators and contributions is an enormous task, so I’m pleased to see a couple of things in the campaign that make me confident it won’t collapse into a never-fulfilled fiasco:

    We’ve held off on kickstarting until we we had nearly everything in hand. We’re working with Breadpig to make sure all costs are accounted for and to make sure fulfillment of rewards will be as efficient as possible. We’ve also got the job narrowed down to 3 printers.

    Not having to wait to get art in is going to be huge factor in meeting the promised (and honestly, very aggressive) delivery date of July 2016. But working with Breadpig means that they get the services of George, about whom I once said Problems see George, and wisely decide to be elsewhere. It’s still going to be a near thing to get the books laid out, to the chosen printer, proofed, printed, and transported before fulfillment can begin, but Breadpig have a history of meeting or beating delivery dates, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

    It all depends on meeting goal, though, so if you’ve got room on your shelves for between one and three hardcovers that look to be substantial and handsome, check out 1001 Knights.

Spam of the day:

Checkout the latest Engagement Rings

I’ve been married for more than 20 years, dipshit. Try harder.

¹ As a reminder, the FFFmk2 states you take the Trend value of a project at the 24-30 hour mark from Kicktraq and call that PV. The range at close will be PV/4 +/- PV/20, but has only shown to be valid for project with at least 200 backers at calculation time.

² The SPDH launched at 9:00pm EST Monday night so we’re actually at about 36 hours now, and the Kicktraq trend chart is angling downwards at this time.

³ And I just went back during the proofing pass on this post, and it’s now up to more than US$17,000, which because Kicktraq only updates totals once an hour, I can tell you is up from less than US$11,000 in 49 minutes.

Attention, Dudes

And we’ll get to those things, but before we talk about the other items — before you’re allowed to scroll down, and no cheating because I’ll know — all dudes¹ are required to follow this link and read what’s there. No commenting on this topic is allowed, dudes; if you feel an overwhelming compulsion to say something, let it be some variation on Thank you, Julia Wertz, I think I understand better now. Because goddammit, there is way too much garbage person behavior going around and we all need to do better.
NB: Wertz’s site has been getting hammered, so if you can’t get through, try Tumblr.

  • It’s becoming an annual tradition with me that I see the inimitable Scott C at New York Comic Con and buy his latest book; this year will be no exception as the new Great Showdowns collection released today. Pick one up from Mr C in Artists Alley (table N5) if you’re going to be at NYCC, or from your nearest purveyor of quality amusements if not.
  • Speaking of comics in print (and also e-publishing), Jim Zub² is back with the latest of his self-evaluations of the world of the creator-owned comics bid’ness, this time with an analysis of the sales of Wayward (presently between story arcs) to date. I really like the discussion of how Wayward is doing in trade sales, as Zub gave me the short version when we spoke at TopatoCon:

    Image showed a lot of faith in Wayward and printed enough copies of trade paperback #1 for two years. We sold half of the inventory in the first five months.

    He also notes how the recent conclusion of Skullkickers brings a new dimension to future sales analyses — how an entirely finished series continues, or tails off, or becomes backlisted. Nobody works harder to put out amazingly good comics than Zub, and nobody thinks more about how to do all aspects of the business better. Keep an eye on future installments of his tutorials, they are beyond value and he’s giving them away for free.

  • Speaking of comics in e-publishing, Meredith Gran worked her tail off in the weeks leading up to her own wedding to put together a new mini comic, and now that she has the opportunity to breathe again, it’s up on Gumroad. Backstory! Hanna! Character development! Only five bucks! Go get it!
  • Still with the comics, Steve Troop decided to embrace the madness of 24 Hour Comics (which you can read now, or on the Melonpool site from Saturday), and Randy Milholland has decided to jump into the Patreon pool with both feet. You can find him on the Patreon site as choochoobear (naturally), and he has gathered a modest (but generous) following in the hours since.
  • Finally, one may note that today is the birthday of Ananth Hirsh — storyteller, fashion icon, gentleman about town — and known kingmaker George Rohac is already angling to make this a more Ananthariffic world:

    It is @ananthymous’s birthday, which means he is one year closer to his ultimate run for presidency.

    I, for one, welcome his inevitable cruel (but fair) tyranny.

Spam of the day:

Get Bigger Breasts without Surgery! $15 Off

Well done, spammers, determining that I was well and truly sick of offers to buy boner pills. However, I don’t really think I need bigger, firmer breasts, with or without surgery, so … yeah.

¹ Sadly, there is no need for ladies to do so, as they already know everything there.

² Never play against this man in We Didn’t Playtest This At All, it’ll end in tears. For that matter, don’t play him at Skull either, as he will attempt to set up residence inside your brain and likely succeed.

SDCC 2015 Panel Preview

Okay! This is a bit late, seeing as how SDCC 2015 preview night¹ is a week from tomorrow and all, but the whole unable to sit upright thing yesterday put a crimp in our posting plans. Mea culpa, and let’s do this. As usual, this is a list of programs and panels in/around SDCC that I think will be of interest to the readers of this page.

Special Program For Those In Town Early

An Evening With Raina Telgemeier
TUESDAY 6:00pm — 7:00pm, San Diego Central Library

The appeal of this panel should be self-evident.

Each Day Starting Thursday

The Cartoon Art Museum will be holding its annual Sketch-a-Thon at booth #1930, with top-flight creative talent putting in one hour shifts and sketching for a suggested US$10 donation. See the booth for daily schedules.

Thursday Programming

Comic Book Law School 101: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
10:30am — 12:00pm, 30CDE

The first of three sessions on making creators sound less like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about re: matters of law, copyright, and so forth. Go to all of them.

Breaking into Comics Right Now
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 28DE

Go for the very clever people on this panel — Charlie Chu of Oni, Gina Gagliano of :01 Books, Matt Gagnon of BOOM! Studios, Ed Brisson, Sam Humpries, and Jim Zub in the moderator’s chair.

Comics for Impact: STEM Education
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library

I’m of two minds about this one; on the one hand it’s got Jorge Cham (PhD) and others from the world of academia, but on the other it lacks Dante Shepherd/Lucas Landsherr, who is as we speak working off a grant to produce comics for STEM education. It’s also got Alan Gershenfeld of E-Line Media, who are the people that bought out all of Joey Manley’s sites/expertise and then never did anything with them in the webcomics sphere again. I suspect it will be about 85% really good and about 15% faintly infuriating.

First Second: What’s in a Page?
1:30pm — 2:30pm, Room 4

:01 honcho Mark Siegel talking with :01 authors Scott McCloud, Gene Luen Yang, Rafael Rosado, and Aron Steinke. Not optional.

Sergio & Mark Show
3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

Year after year I recommend this, and year after year do you go? Why you gotta make me feel neglected here? Sergio and Mark are comics’ great storytellers (that is, telling stories about comics and those that make comics, occasionally in the form of comics).

Comic-Con How-To: Art Theft Law: Prevention, Protection Prosecution
4:30pm — 6:00pm, Room 2

Sad to say, this is an important one. Learn how to make art thieves cry.

Comics Journalism: It’s About Ethics in Comics Journalism
6:30pm — 7:30pm, Room 24ABC

Guh, I hate that title, but Heidi Mac’s on the panel and she’s always good.

Artists as Brand: Rise of the Artist Entrepreneur
7:30pm — 8:30pm, Room 8

Oddly, there are no webcomics types on this panel — Spike anybody? Brad Guigar (who teaches a class on this)? David Malki !? — but I’d be interested in hearing what they’ve got to say.

Webcomics Advocates and the Webcomics Gathering
8:30pm — 9:30pm, Room 4

Key point: the hosts will, quote, will give any webcomic creators in the audience 30 seconds to promote their comic to the crowd, end quote.

Friday Programming

Spotlight on Scott McCloud
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 9

I’m trusting that it’s only the earliness of the hour that put this panel in one of the modest-sized rooms. Last year McCloud interviewed Gene Luen Yang for his spotlight; this year Yang returns the favor.

Comic Book Law School 202: Selling the Sizzle
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 30CDE

Marketing, licenses, transfers of rights, and everything you need to know so that somebody else doesn’t end up owning your house.

Cartoon Network: Adventure Time and Steven Universe
11:00am – 12:00pm, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Start lining up now; the Indigo Ballroom is the new Hall H. Ian Jones-Quartey and Rebecca Sugar will be there (hi, guys!), along with Estelle (Garnet is the best), Zach Callison (Steven), Jeremy Shada (Finn), John DiMaggio (Jake), Olivia Olson (Marceline), and Adam Muto (co-executive producer for AT). Too short a time for so much awesome.

Scott C and The Great Showdowns: Super Happy Hollywood
2:00pm — 3:00pm, Room 29AB

I understand that Mr C will have a limited supply of the third Great Showdowns collection with him in San Diego.

Spotlight on Katie Cook
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 32AB

Gonna just quote from the description because it pretty much says everything you need to know: Katie will be doing a rapid-fire Q&A with the audience while taking audience suggestions for drawings that she’ll be doing live on stage. Be on hand for what promises to be a fun hour of discussion, drawing, cats, and Katie!

How to Crowdfund
3:00pm — 4:30pm, Room 2

Every year they have some variation on this panel, and every year they neglect to invite George Rohac, Spike, anybody from Breadpig, Make That Thing, or any of the post-crowdfunding info services like AFter The Crowd or BackerKit. Get smarter, panel committee!

Spotlight on Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
4:00pm — 5:00pm, Room 29AB

It’s been a heck of a year for the Tamaki cousins, and it ain’t over yet.

In Your Own Time: Webcomics on Your Own Schedule
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 29AB

Longtime comics pro-gone-webcomicker Mark Waid, webcomickers turned dead-tree-bestsellers Allie Brosh, Matt Inman, and Lora Innes. I really wish I could see this one.

Orphan Black: BBC America Official Panel
5:45pm — 6:45pm, Room 6BCF

I am mentioning this so that Rich Stevens knows where to send a case of his cleverest t-shirt.

Saturday Programming

Comic Book Law School 303: And Another Thing
10:30am — 12:00pm, Room 30CDE

Advanced topics; if you want to argue fair use or parody without being completely wrong, you need this session. To make use of this session, you really should have attended the previous sessions.

Working Together: Writers and Artists
11:00am — 12:00pm, Room 28DE

Yeah, it’s still early on post-Eisners Saturday morning, but look at the panelists: the Tamakis, Kelly Sue Deconnick & Steve Lieber, Asaf Hauka & Boaz Lavie (of :01’s The Divine), moderated by Andrew Farago. Listen to everything they say and do things they way they say it.

Spotlight on Allie Brosh
1:30pm — 2:30pm, Room 24ABC

In conversation with Felicia Day, with a focus on Brosh’s next book (Solutions & Other Problems, coming in October and hopefully including her dogs).

Camp Out with Lumberjanes!
2015 3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

Oh man, I love Lumberjanes, you guys.

HBO Presents the Comic-Con International Masquerade
8:30pm — 11:30pm, Ballroom 20 (ticketed) with overflow in Room 5AB, Room 6, and the Sails Pavilion

Hosted, as always, by Phil & Kaja Foglio.

Sunday Programming

Spotlight on Jeff Smith
11:00am — 12:00pm, Room 4

Jeff Smith is the best. Tell him I said hi.

Spotlight on Matthew Inman
12:00pm — 1:00pm, Room 28DE

Cats, dogs, a goddamned Tesla museum, and very likely Exploding Kittens, seeing as how the game should be shipping while SDCC is going on.

Spotlight on Raina Telgemeier
1:45pm — 2:45pm, Room 5AB

Raina Telgemeier is practically a publishing category of her own; she’ll be talking to Jenni Holm of Babymouse about career, her influence on building up an entire new generation of comics readers, and hopefully a sneak preview of her next book.

Chip Zdarsky: A Life
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 7AB

Dear glob I wish I could see this. Brimp on, Chip!

Markiplier and Red Giant Celebrate Keenspot’s 15th Anniversary
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 4

Keenspot will not have a panel at SDCC about the time that the sun goes cold.

Whew! That’s quite a lot! As always, please let me know if I missed anything.

Spam of the day:

H?ow d?o you d?o ass punisher

Gotta say, that’s the first time I’ve ever been called ass punisher. I’m a little disturbed by it.

¹ Which I will not be attending, as they still haven’t told me if my press credentials were approved or not. Given the invites I keep getting for things like accredited-press-only interview pools, I’m guessing they were approved but that’s only a guess.

And not to throw shade or anything, but I applied online for press access to NYCC on Saturday and got approval yesterday, a full three weeks before the promised response date. Point: ReedPOP.


There are towering institutions in the realm of {indy | web}comics and allied forces of creativity; we’ll note some goings-on with three of them today.

  • The ToonSeum has been a part of the rebirth of Pittsburgh’s arts district, as well as honoring the legacy of a wide swath of the comics arts. It takes a lot to keep an organization like that running, so if you’re in Western PA, consider dropping by their annual fundraiser, Ka-Blam!, on 25 April at the Teamsters Temple Banquet Hall in Lawrenceville.

    In keeping with a mission that honors not just cartoons but also its hometown, this year’s Ka-Blam! theme is Pittsburgh Characters, meaning prominent Pittsburghers (Pittsburghians? Pittsburgundians? Pittsburghasques?) will be honored, meaning you can watch people remember the greatest human of the recent common era: Mister Rogers.

  • On the far side of the North American continent sits another institution that preserves, popularizes, teaches about, and studies the comic arts: the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It’s a very active place, with programs out the proverbial wazoo, including a particularly rich and lively cluster in the immediate future. This Sunday, 19 April, will be the monthly Sunday Storytime Hour (theme: bunnies!) from 11:00am to noon.

    A scant hour later at 1:00pm, there will be hosted demo of Mangaka: The Fast and Furious Game of Drawing Comics until 4:00pm. And in a few weeks on 7 May, CAM hosts their annual fundraiser/comedy showcase, Comics 4 Comix. On the off chance none of those programs suits your fancy, there’s still a whole museum to enjoy, with a current exhibition of the films of Cartoon Saloon.

  • Coming back to the Eastern Time Zone to finish, you have an institution that is unlike the other two; one that is interested in the art and creators of comics, but in the tangible approach of directly supporting them in their efforts (not to mention their ability to pay for things like rent and food). An institution that exists in a compact, moveable (indeed, in near perpetual motion) form that is responsible for facilitating more than ten million dollars of support directly to various creators.

    I speak, naturally, of George, who condensed from an aether of pure consciousness into our world of meat and sorrow on this day in the year of our greatest hope; who took on physical form to better help us; who causes reality to shift around himself to aid those who put forth the effort to better their skills and create good works. Let us honor him on this, the anniversary of his birth, with the traditional gifts of spreadsheets, cool glasses, friendship, and Big Gay Ice Cream. Happy Georgeday, everybody!

Spam of the day:

We have Excellent work from home Option , where you will get steady Income source here No Target No Limitation,

Curiously enough, I already have that, and from a company whose checks don’t bounce.

Squirrels, Man. Friggin’ Squirrels

Let’s find some things to talk about that don’t involve the little fluff-tailed bastards.

  • Apropos of it always being a good time to keep an eye on the current goings-on around George, this note from George Rohac:

    Huh, wasn’t even paying attention – Crowdfunding Projects I’ve advised or worked on cracked 10,000,000 cumulative total.

    That would be ten million dollars, in case it wasn’t clear … United States cash money dollars. Perhaps more impressively, George has shepherded (by my count) some 30 projects to successful completion, as he is a man who brooks no nonsense, a man before whom logistical roadblocks evaporate, a man who considers reward fulfillment at the promised to time to late, and reward fulfillment a month prior to promised time to be on time. I would very much like to see George and Spike combine their powers to produce a Kickstarter guide that incorporates wisdom from the both of them¹.

  • Apropos of the fact that art thieves suck, Gemma Correll reports that multiple retailers have nothing better to do than steal her designs. This is a repeating story, one I can’t even run every time it crops us because it crops up so damn frequently, but this is the first time I’ve noticed Correll getting hosed and I am more than willing to call out the likes of Yes Style [no link, they suck] and Light In The Box [ditto]. Actually, no, let me provide one link for each of them: Yes Style’s CEO can be reached here, and Light In The Box’s investor relations officer² can be reached here. Be polite, but make your irritation known.
  • Apropos of the fact that his Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation is on the verge of shipping³, news of the start of Evan Dahm’s next classic illustration project starting imminently:

    Moby-Dick illustrations start on April 1

    I kind of want Dahm to become a one-man, latter-day Classics Illustrated shop. I want a shelf full of handsome hardcovers of the greats of literature, with the exception that if he decides to illustrate The Great Gatsby I will opt out because I hate, hate, hate that book.

Spam of the day:

A Newly Released NASA Study Details Exactly How to Kill from All Types of Diabetes

I suspect that you do not know what NASA does, or hope that I do not. Either way, screw you.

¹ Then again, I don’t want George to lose his powers by sharing them too widely. There’s a fine balance to be followed here.

² Because I can’t find another way to contact them unless you have an order number, the cowards.

³ Not due until May 2015; cf: George, above.

I Knew There Was A Reason To Write Late Today

San Diego Comic Con programming started to drop today, with Thursday’s slate now available for your perusal. As usual, I’m listing out things that caught my eye; your mileage may vary.

Thursday Programming
Graphic Novel Programming at Your Library
10:00am — 11:00am, Room 23ABC

If you’ve been wanting to get your work into libraries, this is probably a good place to trawl for librarians.

Legends of TV Land
find it yourself

This is just to point out that Betty White now counts as valid topic for SDCC panel time. Look, I get it, she’s a treasure, but we’ve really jumped the sharknado on this one¹.

Under the Dome: Panel and Exclusive Sneak Preview
11:15am — 12:00pm, Ballroom 20

I am including this solely to make Jon Rosenberg’s head explode.

Welcome To Night Vale
12:00pm — 1:00pm, offsite

TopatoCo will be presenting a panel at the Geek and Sundry Lounge on 4th Ave in the Gaslamp, covering the secret history of one weird little town. As it’s offsite, no SDCC badge is needed.

Gene Luen Yang in Conversation with Scott McCloud
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 28DE

This is the first must-attend of the show for me. I’ve never met Yang, but I owe him many profuse thanks for his body of work.

NASA’s Next Giant Leap
3:00pm — 4:00pm, Room 6A

Okay, I’m not sure why Seth Green is moderating this one, but any panel with Buzz Frickn’ Aldrin and Bobak Frickin’ Ferdowsi² on it gets my attention. They may have undersized the room for this panel.

The Sergio & Mark Show
3:30pm — 4:30pm, Room 8

The two most consistently amusing people in comics.

How to Kickstart Your Dream Like a Pro
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 25ABC

Spike, Ryan North, David Malki !, Zach Weinersmith, Aaron Diaz, and George Rohac are, inexplicably, not on this panel (indeed, half of them won’t be at the show). However, I’ll give a dollar to each one of them that attends the panel to kibitz from the floor.

Understanding Stories: The Making of a Graphic Novel
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Room 7AB

McCloud again; hopefully includes previews of The Sculptor.

Cartoon Hangover: Bee and PuppyCat and Friends
5:30pm — 6:30pm, Room 6A

Natasha Allegri, Becky & Frank, Madeleine Flores, Allyn Rachel and Kent Osborne (voices of Bee and Deckard), and others. Second must-attend of the show for me.

Indie Comics Marketing & PR 101
6:30pm — 7:30pm, Room 8

Panelists from comiXology, BOOM!, and Fantagraphics. Could be some very worthwhile info at this one.

Spam of the day:

As explained NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the biggest market of gravity is “the average location with the weight from the object.

This spam may actually tie with this one:

how much is 100 grams in tablespoons

… in terms of fundamentally misunderstanding how basic concepts like mass, volume, and gravity work. Going to ask me how much time twelve parsecs is next?

¹ Sharknado 2, naturally, has its own panel on Thursday because of course it does.

² Who, let’s be clear, oversaw the most audacious landing in space exploration history before his 33rd birthday. Respect, my brother engineer.

Today In Website Adventures

The spam filter is getting far less of a workout ever since I set topics more than 30 days old to be locked; if perchance you come across an old post that you really want to comment on, drop me a line¹ and I’ll see what I can do.

In one of those perfect storm confluences of independent forces², a bunch of projects launched today:

  • If you’re a Maki Naro Kickstarter backer, you now have access to Sufficiently Remarkable; everybody else will get to see the deal in four weeks.
  • If you’re a Brad Guigar Kickstarter backer, you now have access to the first of his Webcomics Movers And Shakers interview podcasts, this one with Webcomics Impressario At Large George Rohac; everybody else will get access to the recording at some point in the future.
  • No backer requirements this time; sometime today the long-awaited, Strip Search-wining Camp Weedonwantcha by the irrepressible Katie Rice will go live. Hooray!
  • Adding yet another a tip to the proverbial iceberg, Ryan Estrada announced that in addition to all the comics he does, all the comics done by others that he publishes, all the work in exposing the lie that is the promise of exposure in lieu of payment, the adventure videos, live stagings of Choose Your Own Hamlet, and just generally living in a foreign land (whose non-Roman script he’s taught a squajillion people how to read), he is now the non-union Korean equivalent of Ira Glass:

    Super exciting news! I’m now the host of People & Places, a short weekly radio show on Busan eFM!

    I knew all that podcasting experience would amount to something! I pitched and developed it myself, and the goal is to make it the Busan, South Korea equivalent of This American Life, filled with stories that make the audience laugh, cry, think or swear. My first episode airs wednesday morning, during drive time!

    You know, in his copious free time.

  • If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Estrada had a time machine and had gone back in time after having thoroughly internalized John Allison’s just-released contribution at 10 Rules for Drawing Comics, especially #5:

    Allow yourself to be bored. There are a million ways to distract yourself today. Turn your phone off when you go out, give yourself time to let your mind wander. That’s when a lot of the best work gets done. Computer games aren’t productive. Checking Twitter/email/Tumblr every three minutes to see if anything has happened isn’t productive. It’s counter-productive. You’re wasting your limited lifespan.

    Not the “being bored” part (I don’t think Estrada is biologically capable of it), but the sense of doing lots of different things, so that creativity doesn’t get clogged up. While we’re on the topic, you should take a few minutes and read all the other entries at 10 Rules, especially considering there’s only ten entries so far.

  • Finally, not sure how I missed it last week, but the episode of Bullseye that features the very funny and fascinating Nick Offerman also has a really nice discussion with Brandon Bird about The Day He Became An Artist (Bird starts at about the 42 minute mark ).

    Bird’s out visiting Sears stores at the moment or I’m sure he’d have more to say about it; probably the least surprising aspect of this whole bit is that Bird and Bullseye host Jesse Thorn know each other from college. Creative, interesting people just seem to eventually overlap, circles of friends merging with ever-broader circles of friends, to the point that it would be weird if two people from completely different communities didn’t know each other.

    Anyway, it’s a really good listen, and you will likely enjoy it.

¹ That would be at gary who maintains a point of contact at this here website, which exists in the dot-com TLD.

² And you do not need to remind me that a year ago, we were staring down the barrel of Superstorm Sandy, which took some time to return from. I got off far luckier than many (and everybody’s circumstances were unique), but I’m still taking a moment on the eve to send good thoughts to those that are still rebuilding their homes, businesses, and lives.

Quickly, Now

Before I have to clear out of here to make a Friday-afternoon flight.

¹ TopatoCo are the masters at this; I’d estimate they could be at least 30% larger than they are right now, but only by doing a crappier, less-fun-for-them job, which is something they are not willing to do. If every company took that as a model, the economy would be a lot stronger and going to a job that required pants wouldn’t suck so much.