The webcomics blog about webcomics

Thanks On A Quiet Day

I don’t know if it’s because yesterday was Canada Day and Canadians are still dealing with the aftermath of their celebrations, or because tomorrow is the observation of Independence Day and Americans are getting a head start on their celebrations, or because San Diego preview night is less than a week away, but it is dead out there today.

(Actually, I do know why it’s dead out there today. It’s combo of:

  • The news that Sonia Manzano¹, aka Maria from Sesame Street has announced that she’s retiring from the show after 44 years and we’re all preoccupied with thinking how much she influenced our lives while feeling bad for future generations that won’t get the same experience. Also, what about Luis? Oh my glob are they going to split up? Is Maria going to die? Next it’ll be Bob that goes away and they may as well pack up the set, I can’t even.
  • The fact that my internet is hell of acting up today, with certain sites — minor sites, like Gmail — intermittently refusing to load, while the work laptop is just fine when it’s on VPN and the phone is just fine when it’s on cell data. Yep, this one’s on you, Verizon, and since your phone process makes it basically unpossible toa actually reach a human being (much less one that knows how to actually fix things), I’ll just have to ride this one out and I hate you².)

So let’s look at some things coming up a bit later in the month, yeah? They’re both at the Cartoon Art Museum because good on them keeping up the programming while simultaneously prepping for their involuntary move of location.

First up, Thursday, 16 July from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, CAM will be holding a master class in Comic Book Storytelling, conducted by Alan Gordon (who’s worked on some indie comics called Fantastic Four and Captain America). It’s going to set you back US$50 (US$40 if you’re a CAM member) and will teach you scripting and storyboarding.

And then a couple weeks later, from 27 July (that’s a Monday) to 31 July (Friday), you can send the late pre-snotty stage kids (call it 10 – 14) with intermediate art skills to Cartoon Boot Camp, each day from 11:00am to 1:00pm³. This session is on Constructing Comics, and will teach the full set of skills: developing a story, rough layouts, illustrating, and creating a final comic. They’ll look at different formats (comic book, comic strip, manga) and create an original during the week. This one costs US$135 (US$100 for members) and includes basic materials, but feel free to send your sprogs with their own sketchbooks and tools.

Both classes are at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission Street in San Francisco, which I must stress is a great space. If you possibly can, take the opportunity to check it out before it has to pack up for new digs. Oh, and if you’re going to be at SDCC next week, be sure to drop by the Cartoon Art Museum booth (#1930) and toss ’em a few bucks drop by to see curator Andrew Farago at one of the panels he’ll be moderating (Comic Strips in the Modern Era on Friday; Working Together: Writers and Artists and Kids’ Comics on Saturday). Feel free to thank him for the great work the museum’s done, too.

Oh, and remind me to drop a note of thanks to Sonia Manzano for teaching me to count to ten in Spanish when I was wee. My favorite number is still ocho.


Spam of the day:

Gut Bacteria Responsible for 170 Digestive Disorders — Go here to eliminate toxic gut bacteria and eliminate digestive problems in 2 minutes a day

You know what else my gut bacteria are responsible for? Keeping me alive. I think I’ll maybe not take your snake oil and maybe die as a result, thanks though!

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¹ How did I not know until today that she was in Death Wish with Jeff Goldblum? Kids, do not go exploring her complete filmography unless your parents are around, okay?

²That you refers to the incompetent human being that Verizon won’t let me reach, not you personally. You’re lovely.

³ Actually, the reservation page says it’s until 2:00pm, not 1:00pm. Better check what time you need to be there to pick up your kid so you don’t get done for abandonment or something similarly stupid.

Good News All Around

Man, before we even get to the fact that it’s Canada Day and wish well to all our friends north of the border¹, there’s so many things to be happy about. I can’t even decide which would be most important, so I’m just going to hit these in chronological order.

  • In the past few days (call it a month or so on the early end), I’ve received packages full of joy from three separate Kickstarts: Evan Dahm’s lovely illustrated edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (now available via TopatoCo), Jon Rosenberg’s long-delayed² Goats book four, and Zach Weinersmith and Boulet’s Augie and the Green Knight, all of which are more beautiful than could have been hoped. Thanks for those, guys!

    For those keeping track at home, this brings my Kickstarter backing record to 49 projects, of which 1 was designated “no reward”, 36 fulfilled, 5 are due for future delivery, 3 are late less than a month (it’s the first, after all), 3 are in the vicinity of a year late (two for what I consider to be good reasons, one I’m mentally writing off) and 1 partially fulfilled three years back for a project that’s gone tits-up. Call it 36/44 success rate, or 81%, which I expect to bump up by the end of the month, and again by end of summer.

  • Meanwhile, yesterday David Willis started dropping hints of a new comic which hinted at the future erosion of his famous buffer. Then he dropped the proverbial other shoe:

    So on May 27, as I was trying to preregister for BotCon through my phone because our damned Time Warner wifi was having outages AGAIN, Maggie got back from the doctor, noted that there was, in fact, an Ultrasound due that visit despite our expectations, and then handed me this little printout, saying, “Here’s a picture of our baby.”

    And after pausing a bit, she pulled out another little printout and said, “And here’s a picture of our other baby.”

    It’s Twins! David and Maggie become at least the third webcomic couple to bring twins to bear³; previous twin-having webcomickers Jon Rosenberg and Ryan Sohmer were at press time reportedly pointing vaguely in Willis’s direction and laughing hysterically that at least they got to practice on single kids before having to learn how to be parents to twins before weeping uncontrollably. I think that means Welcome to our totally fun club!

    We at Fleen congratulate Willis on his impending great fortune, and are calling for predictions as to how far his buffer will slip. We’re taking 85 days in the pool.

  • But the news that will resonate outside our community hit after things wrapped up on the east coast; reports were seen (first in Deadline, later in other corners) that both Kris Straub and Jeff Smith have new Hollywood deals. Straub’s case is perhaps further along, as it was announced that Max Landis will be producing a horror anthology for SyFy, the first season of which will be Candle Cove. Straub has struggled in the past to be recognized as the author of this particularly unsettling piece of fiction, with occasional claims that the short story was in fact true from people who are overly credulous, misremembering their own childhoods, or possibly both.

    Meanwhile, a production firm named a vet of AMC to head up their TV unit, and one of the first projects that’s being examined is an adaptation of Smith’s RASL. A story that mixes art thievery, dimension hopping, Nikola Tesla, and existential horror, RASL is about as different a followup to BONE as could be imagined. It would be a while before we see it hit the screen, but in tapping RASL and Candle Cove for adaptation, it appears that the entertainment complex is showing a willingness to explore wholly original ideas and has an idea of who might be a good source for them.

    Which got me to thinking what webcomics would make a good TV series. Achewood or Wonderella could absolutely rule on [Adult Swim], A Girl and Her Fed could do well on a basic cable channel with experience in showrunning (say, A&E or AMC), and I’m convinced that the Henson Workshop people could do something really good with Monster Pulse. I’m not sure how far we are from effects being able to do justice to any of Overside stories, but Skin Horse maybe could be made to work. Any other ideas? Leave ’em in the comments.


Spam of the day:

cheater detox

I know those words, but can’t figure out they mean together.

_______________
¹ AKA future ruthless overlords.

² The campaign for which coincided with, more or less, a high-risk pregnancy and birth of special-needs twins, who have defied every possible odd to be happy, healthy, distressingly clever young men. Well done, Team Babies!

³ It appears having a long-running webcomic must now be added to the contributing factors for having twins, such as being a twin yourself.

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.

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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.

Sick Day

Will post when I’m able, and thank you for your understanding.

This Was A Good Day

One of those days where the happy just comes pouring out of people. I think that Andy Bell summed it up nicely:

Webcomics happenings and dramas and such can wait until Monday, along with a discussion of the webcomics-related panels at SDCC (Thursday’s and Friday’s schedules are posted; by Monday we should have everything ready for dissection).

In the meantime, hug somebody you love and be glad that today we’re all a little more equal.

Milestones, Goodbyes, And Neat Things Coming Down The Pike

We’re in that lull before the sudden rush to San Diego; the Thursday programming was just announced, and we’ll dig through that (along with Friday – Sunday) looking for interesting sessions to recommend in the coming days. In the meantime, here’s some other news.

  • I don’t know what’s more impressive — that Dante Shepherd has personally done 2500 fumetti at Surviving the World (plus guest strips & such), that he’s done twenty-two separate strips on the topic of creeping people out, or that he’s managed all that, two children, multiple cross-state moves, an academic career, an alter ego, and a PhD while looking like he’s still young enough to need to be carded. Congratulations, Dante, and please keep your human experimentation on your side of the fence.
  • It’s been a while since we mentioned Shaenon Garrity, Radness Queen of the East Bay and Surrounding Environs and one third of the Nexus of All Webcomics Realities¹. Much like Stan Sakai, who quietly knocks it out of the park with each new issue of Usagi Yojimbo, to the point where it’s barely worth mentioning, Garrity and her co-creator C Jeffrey Wells continue to kill it on Skin Horse; she’ll also get back to Monster of the Week eventually, maintains a near-lethal concentration of weaponized tiki in her backyard, and is raising up a small human being.

    She also edits and writes about manga, but alas that last one is somewhat coming to an end:

    It falls upon my bowed shoulders to announce the news: House of 1,000 Manga is ending. After five years of weekly columns, the time has come to move on. Among other things, we’re kind of running out of manga. We have a lot of manga-related articles planned for the future, and I’ll continue writing for Anime News Network, but this column is retiring after years of service.

    Dammit, I love House of 1000 Manga; I don’t read it week-to-week, but in enormous binges when my defense are low and I need to absorb vast amounts of batshit insanity, because just as Garrity writes about sincere pinnacles of art and craft, she also digs down deep into the weird stuff, glob love her. Drop her a note to thank her and Ho1KM collaborator Jason Thompson, won’t you?

  • Via Heidi Mac: SPX has announced its first guests, and it’s no surprise that conquering-the-world-just-now creators like Kate Beaton (Step Aside, Pops! will be releasing just about exactly as SPX is under way) and Noelle Stevenson are in the first tranche, along with Luke Pearson. If the female:male ratio of the guests remains consistent with this first announcement, maybe Pearson can be on a panel about what it’s like to be a male creator in comics.

Spam of the day:

We are reaching out to you today because based on your location we have new positions available.The current positions are filling up fast and have a base pay of $6.5k/month.

Now wait a second, Sparky — your subject line said the pay was $2K to $3K a month; it may be a while since I’ve done any higher mathematics, but I seem to recall that $6.5K is not in that 2 to 3 range.

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¹ The other two thirds are Ryan North and George.

I’m Actually Torn Between Pinnacle And Cradle

And that’s it. As quickly as it zoomed across the sky –spreading wonder, and mayhem, providing counterpoint to philosophical arguments, and landing in faces both undeserved and richly so — #buttrocket has left us behind. Jeph Jacques has picked up his normal storyline, with nary a mention of the petabyte of porn carried by 2015-TAYLER-AWESOME. Goodbye, #buttrocket, may you find a worthy place to deposit your payload¹; you were perhaps too good for this world.


Speaking of too good for this world, the news broke too late for me to write about it yesterday, but Brandon Bird has crafted no less than the pinnacle — nay, the apotheosis — of art. I speak, naturally, of a series of thirteen oil paintings of Shia LaBeouf encompassing all of his regenerations.

Pack it up, world. Museums, try your best to get the eleven paintings still out of the hands of private collectors, in the hopes that someday all thirteen may be presented together as time, fate, and the universe intend. Those of you without the wherewithal to purchase an original can still get signed prints, or get the entire series of in one glorious bolus of Shia LaBeoufosity. Get it now. Do it for the children.


Spam of the day:
I was going to include one, but the contents of my spam folder now reads Shia LaBeouf over and over for about ten thousand lines. Creepy.

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¹ So to speak.

Thank Glob QC Guest Week Is Almost Over, We’re Running Out Of Room For #buttrocket

You know what I like best about these guest strips? The fact that even those that ran initially without #buttrocket¹ were quickly amended to include #buttrocket, and they legitimately make the strips funnier. Today’s strip by Veronica Vera of Bittersweet Candy Bowl gets extra points for dealing with Garbage Person Ted from Jeph’s Tumblr. Thanks for that, Veronica, and also for continuing the unbroken tale of hilarity passed to you by KB Spangler, Zach Weinersmith, Christopher Baldwin, David Willis, Megan McKay, and Danielle Corsetto.

And oh my goodness, so many other things to talk about today.

  • Book! Kate Beaton, who is BEST, has been kind enough to share some process sketches with us, allowing us to see the evolution of Princess Pinecone (the titular princess of The Princess and the Pony, arriving at bookstores everywhere in one week). I love everything about this.
  • Also Book! Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh have announced the Kickstarter for their concluded-online (starts here), coming-to-print OGN, Lucky Penny. This puzzled me a bit when I heard the news this morning, as I thought that Lucky Penny was going to be published by Oni Press, and for them to have to self-publish would be a significant change.

    Turns out, Oni is still publishing Lucky Penny, so why a Kickstarter? Yuko and Ananth have anticipated your question and have an answer for you:

    We’ve increasingly found that the people who support us online and via Kickstarter are wildly different from those who would pick up our book in a store or buy from Amazon — and it’s those people (you!) who allow us to make a living. So we’re running this campaign to fund OUR copies of the book to sell direct to you, our fans!

    If this campaign doesn’t succeed we don’t get to make our personal copies. The book will still be available via your favorite local bookseller or comic shop come March 2016, but we won’t have personal copies for sale at conventions.

    I like this for a couple of reasons — one, transparency is always good; and two, I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of publisher/self-publish hybrid before, and I’m always interested in seeing new business techniques. Also three, backing the creators gets you extras that you couldn’t get from the publisher — thanks in the book, extra swag, and you’ll get your copies before the stores do As I write this sentence, the Lucky Penny Kickstarter is sitting just below US$12,000, or about 68% of its (very modest) US$17,500 goal.

  • Still Book! Raina Telgemeier continues to dominate the trade, what with taking the Favorite Cartooist and Favorite Nonfiction Graphic Novel categories at the Kids Read Comics Awards over the weekend, in addition to the Béd&eacure;lys Jeunesse Award in Quebec, in addition to the little matter of three straight years on the New York Times Bestseller List, including a clean sweep of the top four positions. Please tell me again how girls don’t read/understand/make comics. Please.
  • Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett! There’s a new announcement from LARDK about the second creator to contribute to his Tales of the Drive series: Fleen fave Dylan Meconis! And this time we have a story blurb — Nosh’s origin! And Christopher Hastings was kind enough to tell me the basic plot of his TftD contribution:

    Hmm, it’s so tough to comment without spoiling … it’s kind of a cross between Alien and this thing: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080116142805.htm

    And funny!

    I’m glad he stuck in the funny part, because parasite stories are otherwise horrifying.

  • Return! Reptilis Rex, y’all. It’s back.

Spam of the day:

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_______________
¹ If you can imagine such a thing.

Last Men

So hands up if you like insane fight-tournament manga — everything from Dragonball to Yakitate!! Japan¹, where the plucky [young/orphan or semiorphan] hero survives against all odds and the individual fights consist of endless posing and mystic mumbo-jumbo, for hundreds and hundreds of pages (or entire seasons of the tie-in TV series).

Yeah, Last Man ain’t like that.

It’s taken from the model of the insane fight-tournament manga, but the creators are French; the visual designs are halfway between manga and ligne claire, and our POV character isn’t the plucky kid, it’s the ne’er do well from out of town that shows up and grabs the plucky kid for the tournament because the rules say he needs a partner and there’s nobody else around.

That’s Richard; he doesn’t know squat about the town he’s landed in, the nature of the tournament, or the local fighting style; he just heard there’s a tournament and he wants in for his own reasons. He appears to be a man out of time, referencing modern (technological) items that fly over the heads of the pseudo-middle ages locals. And the first time he sees an opponent start to marshal his mystic energies with endless posing, Richard calmly decks him to the shock and consternation of all present. It’s just Not Done!

Furthermore, the story moves fast; in Book One (The Stranger), Richard shows up, partners with young Adrian, puts the moves on Adrian’s mom, and makes it all the way to the quarterfinals. Book Two (The Royal Cup, out tomorrow) continues where the first left off and ends on a cliffhanger indicating that the tournament was not the important part of the story — and that Adrian’s mom is more worldly than she ever let on. Books Three and later will presumably alter the insane fight-tournament manga model further, as that little town and the all-important tournament recede in the rear-view mirrors of a pair of motorcycles² heading out to a world that Richard knows better but which is as mysterious to Adrian … and us. It’s a great read.

Thanks to Gina Gagliano at :01 Books, we were able to send some questions to the creators of Last Man — Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, and Balak — and are happy to bring their answers to you now.

Fleen: What was the motivation to do a manga-style tournament story in a European-style visual approach?

Last Men:
We wanted to make a big, epic adventure with action, humor and drama. The three of us love the manga format and storytelling, and it’s the most appropriate one to do that kind of story. You can take the time to focus on the characters, say close to them, while creating a big universe. And about the European art syle, well, being European certainly has something to do with it, but … our art is naturally at the crossroad of many influences, Japanese, French, American, etc., since we love artists and comics from different origins. Actually, we often sum up Last Man up as the exact kind of comic book that made us want to pick up a pencil and start to draw when we were kids.

Fleen: Richard is a fish out of water — the locals don’t know about bikes or cigarettes, he doesn’t know about their system of magic or the rules of the tournament. Is he from a far place, a far time, or a far reality?

Last Men: We wouldn’t spoil too much here, but yes, he’s not from the neighborhood. You won’t have to wait very long to find out more about Richard’s past. [Editor’s note: the previews of Book Three, due out in the fall, indicate we’ll learn quite a bit; like I said, this is moving at lightspeed compared to equivalent manga.]

Fleen: [Local tournament impressario] Lord Cudna hints at the tournament having a larger purpose — does it have a place in the magical system of the realm, or does he just take things too seriously?

Last Men: Kind of both. The tournament is really important in King’s Valley, and in later books we will learn more about where the schools and the tournament come from. It’s all fun and games for now, but things are gonna get a little bit ugly….

Fleen: [Adrian’s mom] Marianne recognizes Richard as foreign, but she isn’t shocked by his ways like the other townspeople; is she (or perhaps the missing Mr Velba) from somewhere similar to Richard, or is she just very adaptable?

Last Men: Haha, yes! Marianne is a woman full of surprises! Let’s say that she knows way more things than Richard, or even her own son think she knows.

Fleen: Following up: the little kingdom appears to be static, with little changing from year to year, and even the people staying the same: Gregorio is a jerk, Elorna is a caretaker, Master Jansen’s full of himself, Vlad is sickly, the same champions vie in the tournament every year, which itself is based more on ritual than anything else. But the Velbas change before our eyes — how much of this is because of who they are (where she’s from, how she’s raised Adrian), and how much because Richard is a catalyst for them?

Last Men: Richard is certainly the game changer here. All of his actions are gonna leave marks on Marianne and Adrian, but on every other person in King’s Valley and beyond as well. Elorna, Gregoria, Jansen and everybody who’s gonna cross Richard’s path … they won’t be the same, for better or for worse.

Our thanks to Gina Gagliano at :01, to Balak, Sanlaville, and Vives, and to everybody that helped bring Last Man to these shores. You can read more about the series (and Book Two, go get it) at the other entries of Last Man Blog Tour, which continues tomorrow at Graphic Policy.

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¹ Or even sports manga; if you haven’t read Cross Game you really should, but a single baseball half-inning can take dozens of pages. Then again, other games slip by between panels.

² In a pseudo-middle ages setting, whaaaa?

#buttrocket, How Could I Ever Have Doubted You?

Special bonus Sunday post to reflect momentous happenings over at QC’s Guest Week-Plus-A-Couple-Of-Days. As noted in this space yesterday, Friday’s strip, initially #buttrocketless, was amended to incorporate #buttrocket. Then Jeph went and ran another guest strip today, this one by the incomparable Danielle Corsetto, with a callback to Goopy Kitty and every-damn-thing.

Also #buttrocket.

The entire saga may be observed by reading the contributions of Corsetto and her #buttrockety siblings (KB Spangler, Zach Weinersmith, Christopher Baldwin, David Willis, and Megan McKay by clicking here and then clicking forward.

Jaqcues says that there are still guest strips to run, with QC returning to his hands on Wednesday. Will there be #buttrocket in those strips? Maybe. Will Jacques break out #buttrocket as an easter egg in his own strips going forward? Oh glob I hope so. We’ll all find out together.

Note: as tomorrow is the scheduled blog tour entry for The Last Man (also discussed on Friday), if there is another #buttrocket sighting, it will get its own post so as not to detract. Thank you, and good evening.