The webcomics blog about webcomics

Is Every Lady I Saw At SDCC Bringing News Today? Maybe!

Okay, nothing from Marian Call, Hope Larson, or Kate Beaton, and I did meet Marguerite Sauvage, but still. Let’s go with the theme when it suggests itself.

  • Where are you going to be between week after next and early November? Because you will want to coordinate your place-being with that of Raina Telgemeier as she does her nationwide book tour in support of Ghosts. As it turns out, I’m going to be in Minneapolis the same time Raina is, and I hope to catch up with her there (bearing in mind that the grind of a book tour is, if anything, even greater than the grind of a show, when we already don’t get enough time to talk)¹.

    Please note that these events are ticketed, and each venue has its own rules, which you should review. Also, I’m hearing that some of the venues are already sold out (or nearly so), so if there’s a Telgemeier fan of your acquaintance² you may want to grab tickets now and work out logistics later.

  • Brigid Alverson is one of my favorite people; she’s been doing the [web]comics journalism thing longer (and better) than I have, and as her day job is in local government, we always get to talk about the logistics of emergency services when we run into each other. And that’s pretty much the deal — no matter how many times we say We should make definite plans for SDCC, we always seem to bump into each other at random on the show floor, without fail. She’s got a new interview with John Allison on Oni Press’s plans to do a second reprint format of Allison’s Bad Machinery.

    Now I love me my big, floppy, oversize landscape format Bad Machinery collections, so I’m glad to see that Oni will keep producing them. But the newer, smaller trim size (about 15×23 cm) will certainly be easier to drop into a bag or read in transit, and the cover that Allison shared for the new volume one is gorgeous. I’m not going to buy them all again, but for those that didn’t get in on the large format, the new trim size will be available from March 2017, at a lower price point. Everybody wins.

  • Cathy Leamy and I met for the first time in the hallway outside Kate Beaton’s spotlight panel; I recognized her name, but didn’t remember at the time that she’d been mentioned her on the blog before, back when Anne Thalheimer was contributing. Circles inside circles, man.

    Anyhoo, Leamy (as you may recall) does comics that do medical education, so I was happy to see the RSS feed go ping! as she dropped a new one on us, explaining perhaps the single most mystifying, aggravating question in all of modern medicine: Why is the doctor always late for my damn appointment? Short answer: people.

    Longer answer: life is full of friction, because people. It’s a nice explainer, with plenty of acknowledgment of frustration on both sides of the issue, which will hopefully will lead its readers to have a bit more patience, do their best to help keep doctors on schedule, and make appointments early in the day before it all goes straight to Hades.

Spam of the day:

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I think you might have mixed up the parameters in your spam-personalization code. One scam at a time, please!

¹ I probably won’t be able to get from the work gig to the event in time, and if space is tight I don’t want to keep one of Raina’s younger readers; I’ll try to meet up with her for dinner and reviving adult beverages after.

² My wife told me this morning, I read your copy of Ghosts, it was so good; she’s got excellent taste.

Things You Want To Check Out

It’s unusually busy for a Wednesday. Here are some things you may want to observe in the near term.

Today! Okay, we’ve all pulled the odd all-nighter and felt like crap the next day, but do any of us know what real sleep deprivation is like? Unless you’ve been through elite military training (some kind of special forces, or SERE), the answer’s probably no … and even your SOCOM operators might shudder at the thought of 205 consecutive hours — eight and a half days — without sleep.

The story of four guys (of course it’s guys) that did exactly that in service to a medical experiment in the early ’60s (of course it was the ’60s … it would never pass ethical review today) to determine if enough lost sleep would turn a person permanently psychotic is brought to us by Olivia Walch over at The Nib today.

I want to make sure you didn’t miss the word permanently in that last sentence, and I wonder if the investigators were prepared to deal with a subject that wound up permanently damaged.¹ It’s equally fascinating and terrifying, and it’s made me want to trawl all of Walch’s comics … they aren’t all about deranged science experiments, but some are about math, so I’ll take it.

Today! Mary Cagle brings the sequential part of her diary comic, Let’s Speak English! (an account of the 2.5 years she spent in Japan, as an English language classroom assistant in a series of elementary schools) to an end. There may be other strips, but this is the conclusion of the time to return to the States story arc that began here, and progressed through tearful, sometimes painful goodbyes.

It’s been an enlightening, sometimes myth-deflating time following Mary-sensei as she navigated a very foreign culture and all the memorable bits therein. Let’s all thank Cagle for her efforts and encourage her to do her best forever!²

In One Week! Jim Zub’s latest creator-owned comic, Glitterbomb, releases its first issue to comic shops; I talked about it (mostly his artist, Djibril Morissette-Phan, in my SDCC interview with Zub … he is super good at art, you guys), but didn’t tell you much about the book beyond the descriptor Chtonic horror, so let’s remedy that a bit.

It’s a satire of Hollywood. With elder demons, bloody death, and a mid-30s actress who’s not quite good enough to avoid being discarded because she’s no longer 24. It’s about the need for fame, how our society is evolved to deliver it, and what happens when we don’t achieve our dreams.

The first issue doesn’t have anybody acting in a particularly malevolent manner (at least, nobody human), but does feature some really thought-provoking (and guts-spraying) situations about what happens when the desperation to be loved (personally, by the public with their attention) overcomes our social conditioning. It does all of that by page two.

If you’ve ever wondered what will happen to the entire Kardashian clan when the public collectively decides not to pay attention to them any longer, pray (if you’re the praying type) it’s more like Norma Desmond and less like Glitterbomb.

Some Point In The Not Too Distant Future! The Joe Shuster Award nominations (Les nominés pour le prix Joe Shuster 2016) are out, and webcomicky types are all over the place. Names like Fletchter, Immonen (Kathryn), North, Zdarsky, Lemire, Belanger, Immonen (Stuart), Staples, Stewart, DeForge, Tamaki, Chmakova, and Soo are to be found across all categories.

I’ve said to before and I’ll say it again: Canada has the greatest density of comics talent to population of anyplace in the Western Hemisphere, and possibly the world. The Shuster Awards will be presented at a time and venue to be announced, in Fall 2016.

Spam of the day:

Get a free tactical headlamp with an adjustable focusing beam!

Dudes, headlamps are about the nerdiest thing ever, why do you think it’s the key element of Frontalot’s stage persona? You’re just overcompensating your nerdshame by trying to convince me yours is tactical. Show me it’ll hold up to the rigors of a week of mud, rain, sleep deprivation, and explosions, then you can call it tactical.

(Says the guy who actually went and bought these because oh glob, so cool … but I am actually an EMT who has crawled into half-crushed cars, so it’s only half pathetic.)

¹ For a payout of US$250-$400; somewhere in the US$1800-$2800 today, adjusting for inflation, according to this calculator.

² Insert image of small Japanese children all shouting Ganbatte! in unison.

Just Watch The Video

Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett put up the Kickstarter for the Drive chapter one collection around midnight Easterly Time, and as of this writing (call it a bit less than fifteen hours in), he’s above US$24K of the US$35K goal. Looking good on the stretch goals (which I’m told will include the Tales of the Drive anthology stories, from the likes of Dylan Meconis, Ryan North & Tony Cliff, Zach Weinersmith, Christopher Hastings & Anthony Clark, and Evan Dahm), looking like I have to clear space on my shelves, etc. Two things I wanted to talk about beyond the fact this is a cool Kickstarter.

  • No, three. Three things. Because first, I note that three people have taken advantage of the top reward tier (US$500), which includes the complete eight book Sheldon library, various Drive tchotchkes, and one of the few pages of original art Drive art (the strip has been produced digitally since very nearly the start). It’s a bargain, and quite frankly underprices the Drive art.
  • Second, I want to note that LArDK pulled a sneaky launch on the campaign, as there are two reward tiers that he apparently tipped off his Patreon supporters to yesterday, as they were only good on that day. Basically, they got a shot to grab the US$65 tier for US$50 or the $US90 tier for US$75, and a total of 240 people did. Now consider the momentum you get from letting your most ardent fans — the ones giving you money every month — an early shot at a bargain for one day only.

    The FOMO is strong, the campaign goes widely public more than halfway to goal (as of right now, there are 362 backers, meaning two thirds of the backers are from the early access period), and you get to screw with my formulas for predicting final tally all at the same time. Curse you, Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett! But seriously — this was a masterful stroke of leveraging an existing support base.

  • Third, everybody that actually knows how to run a good Kickstarter (i.e.: not anybody that spams you promising a successful campaign for a usurious service fee) will tell you that a good, to-the-point video is a key part of the campaign. Of course, LArDK has provided one (it’s hilarious, and at 82 seconds in length, gets the point across efficiently), but that’s a given. And it’s super unfair.

    Not everybody trying to Kickstart their thing made a feature film (and a fine looking one at that) and has experienced Hollywood types (director/cinematographer, film editor) at their beck and call. Everybody else that ever makes a Kickstarter video from today forward has to up their game because LArDK just went and blew the curve for you. Email your complaints to

Spam of the day:

The DRIVE Kickstarter is finally here! YOU GUYS I’M VERY EXCITED THIS IS VERY EXCITING http://

We get it, Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett, you’re excited about your book.

Busy Monday

Where to start? How about here, because it’s always good to see a fresh Paul Southworth comic, and not because of any name-related preferential treatment. Please enjoy the return (after about two years) of Lake Gary.

  • Know what’s got a damn-near universal, gut-level meaning to anybody that grew up in the US and swaths of Canada? Sears. It’s just that place with everything, not too exciting, tools right next to teen clothing because why not? And a place that ubiquitous, that mundane, was inevitably going to attract the attention of the 21 Century’s visual depictor of ubiquity, Brandon Bird.

    He launched his Sears Project three years back, Kickstarting a cross-country trip to visit as many Sears locations as possible, to paint representations of them, to capture the Searsness of modern American life.

    And now comes the next stage of Searsification:

    p.s. do you guys know about my Sears event?

    On Tuesday, 13 September (already established as the most important release day in webcomics), Bird will be doing the most mundane thing you could do after a trip to chronicle mundanity: he’ll be giving a slide show:

    It’s been three years since I embarked on a dangerous quest to document all the Sears stores in the land and in honor of that anniversary I’m hosting a little event next month. Enjoy a slideshow, Sears-themed refreshments, and Q & A with myself and co-Sears tripper Erin Pearce about just what it was like to live on the road in search of Sears. Get a peek at upcoming Sears art and learn what’s next for the Sears project. (Seating is limited, so if you know for sure you can make it and want to reserve a seat, rsvp to brandonbird [at sign]

    That’ll be the 13th, 8:00pm, at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles (on Alvarado, right near Sunset Boulevard).

  • I don’t know if you noticed the Kickstarter for an indie videogame about the feral dogs of Moscow’s subways, but it’s now got two links to webcomics. As a result of unlocking achievements, they’ve unlocked a particular real-life dog as a playable character: Reginald Barkley, loyal pooch of Kean Soo. And last night it was announced that you can also play as KC Green’s Question Hound, which seems appropriate given it’s a game that involves both dogs and fire.

    At least, you may be able to, as Russian Subway Dogs is only about 40% of the way to goal with 23 days to go. There’s other dogs to unlock, though, and for a Canadian outfit, developer Spooky Squid Games would be foolish to not try to entice us with Ryan North’s dog, Chompsky AKA The Dog Who Was Stuck In A Hole With Ryan That Time.

    Let me be clear that I don’t know that they want to include Chompsky, or that either North or Chompsky would be willing to be included, but come on — what is a subway but a very fancy hole?

  • Speaking of Green and Question Hound, looks like the long tail is ticking up slightly. In any other campaign, pulling in US$3-6K per day in the final week would be really damn impressive; when you’ve got a first day’s take of US$165K, it kind of gets lost in the vertical scale. Just under four days left to go, maybe ending in the vicinity of US$450K? Neat.

Spam of the day:

My So-Called Life won acclaim for its honest treatment of the issues facing adolescents in the mid-1990’s.

Don’t start. Angela should have gone with Brian Krakow because Jordan Catalano was a dick, and was played by the single most full-of-himself actor in history this side of Shia Labeouf.

In Which I Go On About Achewood For A While

Because when you get a callback across more than a decade, you pay attention¹.

The thing about Achewood being Onstad can take almost any potentially nonsensical throwaway line and go back to it whenever he likes. When, last Friday, we saw the spectacle of Todd preparing to yell BALLS louder than anybody in history, it could have been a simple bit of weirdness, and the admonition in the last panel to tune in next week (that would be today) for the conclusion didn’t necessarily mean anything.

But then there was the alt-text last week: Todd first set this challenge to himself when my 11-year old daughter was zero. And there it was: a strip from August of 2005 when Todd declared his intentions. Was there any intention at the time on Onstad’s part to ever revist? Likely not — Todd’s been pestering Ray in this manner about forever, and things either go spinning in a completely unforeseen direction (compare the very nearly identical posing and annoyance on the part of Ray six months later, at the start of what history would record as the start of The Great Outdoor Fight) or just drop.

This time, though — Onstad couldn’t have put together the spectacle of Todd’s attempt eleven years ago; even in the aftermath of The Great Outdoor Fight it wouldn’t have felt right. It wasn’t until 2009 and the The New Kings of Sapphic Erotica (starting here, before merging into The Lash of Thanatos) that the sense of complete over-the-top showbiz² is there.

It’s not just the commonality of the J Vincent J Lemoni Arena, it’s not just the surreal randomness (then: identical elephant costumes; now: color commentary from Paul Stanley of KISS) it’s the sense of unquestioned hype. Of course this is the sort of thing that would require a round-the-clock media blitz. Of course it ends the only way it possibly could for Todd (failure, followed by light corpse disrespect, and another punch in his Frequent Diers Card). Of course there’s a callback to the soft-tissue injury motif of eleven years ago.

And of course — because it’s Todd — we don’t know if the final panel declaration of THE END, INC. NO MORAL means this is actually the end any more than last week’s foresaw a second installment. We may follow Todd to his latest afterlife, we may spin in some unseen direction. Point is, it’s been a while since there was a real story arc — the last one being Téodor’s interrupted interlude with Penny — and with a pretty solid calendar year-to-date of weekly updates under his belt, Onstad just might be feeling it enough to share with us³.

In any event, we got to see Todd’s inspirational shirt again, and that makes it all pretty much the opposite of a Fuck You Friday.

Spam of the day:

Find free coupons for toilet paper discounts click here.

How much toilet paper do you think I use that the offer of discount coupons is enough to get me to click?

¹ Just pretend when you were young, a teacher told you to pay attention and you took it to heart.

² Not to be confused with Showbiz.

³ Of course, the possibility exists that what he wants to share with us invovled a Bead Shop.

Why Is It Always Thursdays?

It’s always Thursdays when there’s nothing going on — absolutely nothing is happening today.

So yeah, I think we’ve scientifically established that absolutely nothing is going on today. Try back tomorrow, maybe there will be something more.

Spam of the day:

If you have a dog, you must see this!

I have a dog that’s a total goofball, why would I want to see anything else?

¹ Where the Rainbow Alliance pins were a particular hit, with people buying them ten at a time. It’s the only non-book thing I’ve gone out of my way to obtain from a con in about forever, and it’s really quite handsome. Get ’em now before the C&D!

² If there’s going to be a big push in funding it’s going to kick off between now and Monday … although the huge interest in this one at the beginning means this might be the first webcomics megasuccess that just tapered off funding at the end instead of jumping upwards. This is honestly the flattest, most asymptotic long tail I’ve ever seen.

Launch Dates

Okay, one of them’s really a pre-announcement of when a hiatus will wrap, but let’s go with it.

  • Ryan Estrada has, for the past forever, been hard at work on Big Data. He announced the project on this page back in April, he started a Kickstarter a few days later to determine how much to release, and he’s been heads-down ever since putting the polish on.

    And now we have a premiere date. The internet radio play about the Caper of the Century and the Keys to the Internet will start releasing on Tuesday, 13 September (the same days as a few other things; it’s going to be a great day for those of us of certain sensibilities); Kickstarter backers will get all nine episodes at once, the rest of us will have to persevere through cliffhangers and plot twists.

  • Meanwhile, David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator) reached today the end of his webcomic recaps of Old School Trek episodes, Planet of Hats. Or, more properly, reached it again; he finished up the recaps of Star Trek’s run with Turnabout Intruder (ick) back in January. Then he did the end-of-season recap¹ a week later, and gave us a final splash page at the end of the month.

    Then two months later he started all over again with the mid-70s animated series, the 22 episodes of which are what actually finished today. In case you aren’t old enough to have watch the animated Star Trek on Saturday mornings when you were a kid, it was pretty dire, but on average no worse than the third season of the live action show¹.

    And much like a Peter Jackson trilogy, Morgan-Mar had at least one more ending in store for us: although it will be the new year before it happens, he will be tackling the six movies that feature the original Star Trek cast, so we can look forward to the highs of Wrath of Khan and the lows of the execrable The Final Frontier, so that’s all right.

    As of this writing, it appears that Generations is being classified as a nu-Trek film, but who knows? Drop enough in his Patreon on the condition that he recap Darmok or Yesterday’s Enterprise or The Inner Light and I’d bet he’d come around. Even better, give him enough that he’s obligated to make it through all of TNG and DS9 — I’d love to read his take on In The Pale Moonlight or Far Beyond The Stars or even just highlights of Bashir’s bromances with O’Brien and Garak³.

    The thing is, point your RSS readers — it’s still a thing! — at the feed address and see you all on 4 January 2017. You can spend the time until then reading his first Irregular Webcomic print collection, which is being received by backers as we speak.

Spam of the day:


The hell you will. I’m never moving again.

¹ Hey, if you’re going to borrow a strip’s format from Shaenon Garrity, you include the season recap pages, because they are insane and great.

² Or most of the first season and a half of Next Generation (basically, everything pre-Borg) for that matter. It remains an indisputable fact that only DS9 hit the ground running and stayed there.

³ Shippers, start your engines.

Things That Caught My Eye Today

Evan Dahm started running illustrations from his forthcoming edition of Moby-Dick about 17 months back, and in that time he’s given us gorgeous art, styled like woodcut illos, heavy and dark and brooding, things of substance and weight. The white of the page is wrestled into submission, the slivers that exist here and there acting as contrast and accent rather than the space to contain the black. They’ve all been beautiful to look at (and you can see the full set at the Tumblr), but today’s art tops them all. No part of the book’s text that Dahm chose to accent with this drawing can be omitted and still give full context and power, so here it is:

Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Sperm Whale thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more. In those moments, the torn, enraged waves he shakes off, seem his mane; in some cases, this breaching is his act of defiance.

“There she breaches! there she breaches!” was the cry, as in his immeasurable bravadoes the White Whale tossed himself salmon-like to Heaven. So suddenly seen in the blue plain of the sea, and relieved against the still bluer margin of the sky, the spray that he raised, for the moment, intolerably glittered and glared like a glacier; and stood there gradually fading and fading away from its first sparkling intensity, to the dim mistiness of an advancing shower in a vale.

“Aye, breach your last to the sun, Moby Dick!” cried Ahab, “thy hour and thy harpoon are at hand!—Down! down all of ye, but one man at the fore. The boats!—stand by!”

I want more than just an illustrated Moby-Dick from Dahm; somehow, somebody make is so that Patrick Stewart reads these textual excerpts as an audio accompaniment.

The other things I saw today were pretty good, too.

  • If you make your living by submitting invoices, then you should already know who Katie Lane is; she’s asking for information today, in the form of a brief, two question survey:

    If you have to invoice clients to get paid, I’d appreciate your feedback on two quick questions I have:

    The answers she gathers will be used to help construct a course she’ll be delivering come October, aimed at how to draft invoices that will make clients want to pay. I’m assuming this is more subtle than having the invoice stapled to a guy named Rocko The Knucklebreaker, but honestly I’m not sure what could be as effective as him. I guess we’ll have to give Lane her feedback, let her design the course to answer her audience’s most pressing concerns, and then attend to find out what’s to be done. I’ll keep Rocko on speed dial, just in case.

  • I mention now (in accordance with longstanding blog policy) that Kate Beaton is the best, and point those of you that may not have had the occasion yet to experience her bestness in person towards a forthcoming event wherein you may sample some of her bestosity. The National Book Festival, put on by the Library of Congress, is kind of a big deal. And in keeping with a mission to bring the most interesting people in literature together regardless of petty distinctions like national origin, the NBF people have prevailed upon Beaton to leave Nova Scotia and travel to Washington DC to talk about King Baby on 24 September.

    The National Book Festival is free and open to the public (with the exception of some high-popularity events, which require ticketing, but still free), taking place at the Washington Convention Center; Beaton will be part of the Children programming track, from noon to 12:30pm, with a signing from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Between that and SPX happening just a week before (the exhibitor list isn’t up yet, but given her history of being there and her Ignatz nomination this year, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet she’ll be there), the Mid-Atlantic region has never had a better chance to drink in the bestitivity.

  • Okay, so I know that Zach Weinersmith uses a repertory company approach to his characters, with certain designs in recurring roles (or, more precisely, to play certain types of roles; he’s like Tezuka that way). But how did it take me until today to realize that the big, philosophical (one might even say navel gazing) discussions always go to the same two kids? Way to make me see patterns in the world, Weinersmith!

    I really should have been able to predict it, given that the same system was used in the SMBC Theater shorts, where it was well established that James Ashby is the worst person ever. Thought you could make us forget by keeping a low profile, didn’t you, Ashby? Well forget it! We at Fleen know you are history’s greatest villain¹, and we will never let go our vigilance, so watch it.

Spam of the day:

You are like one of those “denialist”s. Your comments about the internet are so contradictory to what is happening in the real world that I feel sorry for you. The world is changing. I hope it changes so that there is less stealing in our world.

The link to this went to a Tumblr dedicated 100% to high quality photos of lingerie-clad women’s butts, so I don’t think he (of course it’s a dude) is actually mad at me for something I did here at the blog.

I will note that it appears said butt photos are not by the dude in question, but taken with minimal attribution from around the internet. Oh, irony.

¹ Need proof? Google search for james ashby and all you get is a cop convicted of murder. Okay, he doesn’t look anything like the James Ashby we’re talking about, but that’s just what he wants you to think.

Monday Miscellany Returns, Sales, And The Fleen Book Corner

I see from the permanlink generator in WordPress that this would have been the third time I’ve used the same title, so time for a rewording!

  • Today marks the long-awaited return of Spacetrawler, and Christopher Baldwin’s off to a great start, mixing some tragedy, some backstory, and a pefectly-paced payoff gag. Welcome back, crew of the IA Starbanger GOB Spacetrawler, we’ve missed you. And in a related note, the run on Anna Galactic was miscalculated and runs another three strips, hooray! Even better, the Kickstart to print Anna Galactic has cleared the 50% mark with more than three weeks to go.
  • [C] Spike [Trotman] has a problem — a mishap over the weekend resulted in a busted Cintiq, depriving her of the very lifesblood of a modern cartoonist’s career. When unexpected expenses come your way, there’s only one thing to do: sell your employee’s organs declare a sudden sale, and Spike’s opted to do so by putting slightly knocked-around copies of Iron Circus books on discount and offer up the savings to you.

    Held off on getting a copy of Smut Peddler and worried you’d missed your shot? If you’re willing to put up with some flaws that don’t affect the reading experience at all, now’s your chance to remedy your oversight and get Spike back to comickin’.

  • I missed a couple of books when I was talking about the excellent fall release season last week: 13 September has another must-read book dropping, The Creepy Case Files Of Margo Maloo, a collection of the first 100 or so pages of the Drew Weing webcomic of the same name. And 6 September sees the latest from Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack; both are from :01 Books, with review copies kindly provided by Gina Gagliano.

    What I found interesting about them is they’re both stories about young boys discovering a world of monsters and creepy thing, both partnering up with a more competent girl of about the same age. In Margo Maloo’s case, it’s played more for laughs and the occasional lighthearted creepiness, as evidenced by the fact that the titular heroine isn’t a monster fighter or monster slayer — she’s a monster mediator.

    She know what’s under the bed is a person (granted, a ten foot tall person with enormous teeth and horns, but a person nonetheless) with just as much right to the closet as the kid who lives in the room. She finds the compromises and solutions without too much drama — possibly because in the past she brought the drama hard. The monsters are terrified of her, as are kids with sense.

    In Jack’s case, he just wants to enjoy his summer, but a rare burst of responsiveness from his autistic sister Maddy drags him into a protector role — the garden they planted is full of magic — or maybe alien¹ — vegetation and there’s a dragon wandering about full of cryptic warnings and doubting that he’s a real Jack. Because he’s the one from all the stories: Jack and his beanstalk, Jack the giant-killer, Jack the house-builder, Jack who rules winter and Jack who is nimble.

    An early teens kid in the borderlands between the suburbs and the farms, with an overworked mom and withdrawn sister isn’t a hero — until Lilly from down the block (who swordfights in medieval recreations with her brothers) takes and interest in his challenges and adopts the role of teacher/coach. There’s some alien magic involved, but a lot of it comes simply of caring: Jack wants to impress Lilly (he likes her), take care of his sister (he doesn’t want to spend the summer taking care of her while Mom’s at work, but he still loves her), and not disappoint his mother (and also, if she finds out he grew a dragon she’s going to kill him).

    It’s a potent metaphor for growing up, particularly in the first Hatke male protagonist²; girls face different challenges navigating the throes of maturity (indeed, Lilly presents as the same physical age as Jack, but seems older, wiser, and more capable). The first of a series (but no word yet on when we can expect the next one; given that :01 announced it’s upping its output from 20 books/year to 40, I’d imagine not too far in the future), Mighty Jack ends on a cliffhanger and a promise as Jack gears up to defend his home and family. Darn beanstalk creatures didn’t think he was a Jack? He’ll show you a Jack.

Spam of the day:

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¹ Cameos from some lovable rogues out of Hatke’s Zita The Spacegirl series pretty much cement the alien interpretation.

² Per the dedication page, Hatke and his wife have five daughters, so it’s no surprise he’s spent so much of his career drawing kick-ass girls.

End Times A-Comin’

We as a society have obviously done something seriously wrong, in that the latest New York Times Best Seller List for graphic novels (paperback) shows only one title by Raina Telgemeier: Smile, in week #218, at slot number 9. It’s hard to argue with the top three slots being taken with the three volumes of March by Rep John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, or with Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese getting some love (ten years after release, but there was no NYTBSL for graphic novels ten years ago), but still&sup1!

Then again, Ghosts is due on 13 September, and the list starts ramping up a couple weeks before launch day (remember, it represents sales to the retail trade, and the list runs early — this week will be published on 28 August, but represents sales ending 13 August). What I am saying here is that we should expect to see a run on All Things Raina in about two weeks.

And in any event, the next six weeks or so is going to be a glorious time for webcomickers in print — the second volume of Secret Coders by Yang and Mike Holmes releases on 30 August; Ghosts will be joined on the 13th by Kate Beaton’s King Baby and Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World by Colleen AF Venable & Ruth Chan to form The Best Tuesday Ever.

Then a scant three weeks later we’ll see the first volume of Jason Shiga’s Demon on 4 October, and Box Brown’s Tetris a week later on the 11th. I’ll be reviewing as many of these as I can between now and release day(s)².

In the meantime, I’ll note that we’re halfway through the crowdfunding campaign for KC Green’s This Is Fine plush and looking at an astonishing 10,366 (as of this writing) backers and US$370,770 (ditto) in funding. This is more than 1000% of goal, and heading for a finish somewhere around 750 thousand damn dollars³. I can’t wait to see the bump that occurs in the last three to five days.

Spam of the day:

Are You METAL Enough to Take on the Heavy Metal Machines, Gary?! In case you missed the news, WE WANTED TO SCREAM IT INTO YOUR FACE WITH THE POWER OF 5000 DIESEL ENGINES! \m/


¹ Also contributing: the annual return of Persepolis, as various college classes that use it (also MAUS) stock up for the new academic year.

² Obligatory disclosure: Gina Gagliano at :01 Books sent me copies of Paths & Portals, Demon, and Tetris; Raina gave me an advance review copy of Ghosts, and Kate gave me a copy of King Baby. I still have to track down a copy of Mervin.

³ Using Kel McDonald’s rule of thumb: first three days equals one third of final total. Per Kicktraq, Green raise approximately US$265K in his first three days, yikes