The webcomics blog about webcomics

Happy Nineaversary, Fleen

For those that keep track of such things, today marks the last day of the ninth consecutive year of wondering what could possibly be defamatory; tomorrow will be the start of Year Ten. When all is said and done, on the day that this page turns out the light and puts the chairs up on the tables, I will be proud of one thing: we didn’t pull down the Purple Pussy story or any of its related reporting. Still, given the choice, I’d rather have not been threatened with a potentially ruinous lawsuit by a jumped-up millionaire with delusions of grandeur.

At this point I think it’s safe to say that (lawerly bluster aside) there never was anything defamatory towards Todd Goldman vis-a-vis his habit of selling art that was remarkably identical to that of other artists, and also that the United States needs a federal anti-SLAPP statute. To those of you that offered your support at the time and since — from the comfort of friendship to acts of defiantly mirroring pages out of the reach of US court orders¹ — I remain grateful. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: webcomics has given me the best friends in explored space.

Spam of the day:

thingCHARGER Use THIS To Charge Your Devices Without Cables or Outlets

Without cables or outlets? Do you pull the electrical fluid from the very aether? I say! [insert photo of jowly man with muttonchops and a HARUMPH epxression]

¹ As performed by William George, or The William G as his nom de webcomics; he did a much-missed (by me, at least) webcomic called Bang Barstal at the now-shuttered Graphic Smash². Living in South Korea (or sometimes Canada), Mr G would have been able to thumb his nose at attempts of Goldman to make him take down his mirrors.

² This is why the Wayback Machine exists; hopefully some traces of Bang — the love child of Mojo Nixon and Kevin Matchstick — exist there still. He was too good for this world.

Bang, I mean. Pretty sure that William G is exactly as good as this world requires and not a bit more or less.

Oh Glob, No

Tom Siddell, you perfect bastard, how could you do this to us?

Let me back up. Siddell has done three print side-stories to Gunnerkrigg Court’s main story — Annie In The Forest: Part One, Annie In The Forest: Part Two, and Traveller: A Story From Beyond The Walls — the first two of which have for some time also been available for free viewing online.

Today, Traveller joined the Annies, in both English and Galician¹, at the Extras page.

Okay, no spoilers, but it’s a heartbreaker and Tom Siddell is bad and mean and bad some moreyou made Paz cry, you son of a bitch.

(Siddell is actually a very nice guy without a mean bone in his body and the story both works on multiple levels and is structured well; I bear him no ill will, but damn it’s dusty in here.)

With that preparation, please read and enjoy Traveller² and if you like it, please remember that he’s given you something for free that other people paid for, and maybe drop him a few bob? And if you need something cheerier after having your guts ripped out and stomped on the pavement (>ahem<), maybe enjoy this fine Nedroid Comic shared earlier today by Anthony Clark; it ends on a positive note!³ Now get outside and enjoy the weekend.


Spam of the day:

And they passed the night in a crockery-jar who had a little curl this ball was her favorite plaything

I received this from Glenda. I ain’t want to go out and be Glenda’s acid guide! On the plus side, Achewood is back with the first Fuck You Friday of 2016.

¹ The story concerns Paz and her visit home from the Court, and Galician is her native tongue; I’m told it’s linguistically sort of midway between Castilian (that is to say, formal) Spanish and Portuguese.

² Enjoy may not be the most accurate word, but you get the idea.

³ Or at least as positive as Reginald is going to manage.

Things And More Things

I think we’re lacking a unifying theme today; let’s just mention stuffs that caught my eye.

  • Christopher Butcher — manager of one of the best comic shops on the planet, importer of otherwise-unknown Japanese creators and creations, showrunner of TCAF, self-confessed Canadian, and all-around stellar gentleman — has a treat for us. Not being content with having one kick-ass show poster for this year’s TCAF (by the always delightful Kate Beaton¹), Butcher has announced a second kick-ass show poster by Kazu Kibuishi. Like much of Kibuishi’s work, it’s a mix of Moebius and Miyazaki and it’s gorgeous.

    And, as it turns out, Butcher’s plans originally called for a third show poster, but Fate intervened:

    Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts our friend Chip Zdarsky won’t be able to produce a planned third poster for TCAF this year.

    This is either a tragedy or a lucky break, or possibly both simultaneously.

  • Fresh off of this year’s Emerald City Comicon, some advice for newbie exhibitors from Dylan Meconis, who only wants the best for you. In this case, handy advice about how to set up your table so that people will want to give you money, in one handy diagram. On any other day, Meconis’s pictogrpahic would have been the header image for the day, but Kibuishi has to take that crown today. For your convenience, we have it here for your clicking pleasure; I’ve been around a lot of booths in my day, but the standing mat is always something I forget² about, so it’s helpful even to non-newbies. Thank you, Dylan!
  • From the Pingback Desk, we at Fleen see that Morgan Wick has his own take on Homestuck’s up-wrapping, one that is significantly different from ours. Hardly a surprise in that Wick set out to do what perhaps no other writer on webcomics has done: follow and review Homestuck, as long as that would take. I can’t speak to the mind of Homestucks (the uberfans) on the ending of Homestuck (the cultural object) with anything near the authority that Wicks can, as he followed the story through twists, turns, fits, and starts; he has a distinctly different perspective on the meaning of the story — and especially the ending — will have for the long-time reader.

    I can say that it will definitely be remembered as a formative influence on those long-time readers (you pretty much can’t pull down a hefty fraction of a million words and not have it rub off on you), whether they were satisfied with the ending or no. For those now in their teens or early twenties who followed along, it will certainly be as influential as the original Star Wars trilogy was for me³.

    I can also say that Wicks’s assertions notwithstanding, I am neither from Highgarden nor a manufacturer of replicants. Tyrrell has two Rs, dammit!

  • Is Randall Munroe the first webcomicker to get name-dropped by the President of the United States? Certainly the first one to do so in person at the friggin’ White House, during remarks about the annual White House Science Fair. Completely and utterly without any sarcasm — Thanks, Obama!

Spam of the day:

Wireless Security Cameras

Would those be the same wireless security cameras whose Internet of Things chips are so insecure that there are websites that now let you stream images of the inside of other people’s homes any time you want? Pass.

¹ Chronicler of her mom, dad, ponies, and babies, and nemesis of stupid superheroine costumes.

² Your convention center will likely have a concrete floor, and even those with carpeting will not have very thick cushioning underneath.

³ Or, let’s be honest, WKRP in Cincinnati; the Thanksgiving episode is probably the single most important half-hour of culture in my life.


It’s finally happened. After seven years (exactly) and seven acts, Andrew Hussie has brought Homestuck to an end.

It’s an ending with a sincere, hopeful tone; more characters than I could name without a scoresheet find themselves in a new world, building a new community to replace the destruction that has preceded. It started on the 1901st page of MS Paint Adventures, and wrapped up 8127 pages later, many of them comprising extensive video, music, interaction, or just a mountain of text¹. It’s been meticulously planned (in the blogpost below today’s finish, Hussie notes that the Act Seven animation was storyboarded four years ago and required a year of work).

And the end result is much more than a creation myth about kids in houses (Hussie’s description); it’s beyond my ability to say exactly what it is in the amount of space available to me here. It probably requires an annotated reader’s guide (cf: another dense, heavily-populated, extensively-recursive story that benefits from such) to provide page-by-page, reference-by-reference help to those who aren’t able to devote months of continuous reading and can’t quite remember what happened a thousand or so pages back². I suspect that anybody that’s able to compile such (and it would pretty much have to be the work of a single POV, not an ever-changing wiki) could submit it as a graduate thesis.

This isn’t the end of MS Paint Adventures; it may not even be the end of Homestuck; Hussie notes:

[O]ne more thing. If you’re curious about whether there will be anything resembling an epilogue to this ending, yes, I’ve been thinking about that for some time. It’ll take a while to produce though, whatever specific form it ends up taking. Working on Collide took months, and came right down to the wire. I’ve got more time now though obviously. But that said, I’m not in a huge hurry at this point. Keep an eye out here for developments. There should be plenty of other news in coming months too.

Nor will it ever be the end of the endless side-stories, fanworks, shipping, cosplay, and love that have been a constant for those who have taken Homestuck to heart; multiple internet and IRL subcultures will likely look back to this story as their own foundational myth. It’s been a long time coming, but at long last Hussie can let one of those other ideas out of his brain for a while and the rest of us can start over again from the start. Somewhere in there, reading the binary coding of each page in the correct order, you’ll find all the secrets of creation.

Spam of the day:

Red Robin Appreciators Notice: Lunch for 5 on us awaits. For: gary tyrrell More details at site.

You have mistaken me for Erika Moen. She’s all about Red Robin.

¹ To provide a single example, since the return from the most recent hiatus on 28 March, Hussie has added 168 pages and 27 minutes of animation.

² Personally, I read approximately the first two years of Homestuck through over the course of about ten days, but then life intervened and I was able to read small chunks only sporadically. Such an extensive story doesn’t reward such an approach, particularly when it’s prone to lengthy asides from what might be deemed the main narrative. I’m pretty much unfamiliar with anything past the introduction of the trolls as actual trolls. I know, I know, that’s when it started getting really good.

Just Trust Me, Okay?

Heya. I’ve got two things for you today, one of which is obviously on-message for this page, one of which is not obviously so but I promise is at least tangentially related. Promise.

  • First up, we at Fleen have watched the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (aka MICE, aka MICExpo, aka MassMICE) for a number of years from afar; by reputation it is doing a fine job of upholding the low- to zero-cost, public-facing, comics-oriented Expo tradition (cf: TCAF, SPX, VanCaf, MoCCA Fest, etc) from the campus of Lesley University in Cambridge¹, MA. They always attract a good crowd, the scale and pace of the show is humane, and yesterday they announced the open application period for tables:

    Want to show at MICE 2016? Our Exhibitor Application is open May 1-18! Send us your comics!

    Individual rates go as low as $60, with a discount for students! But that last bit of the tweet, the Send us your comics bit is important; MICE will be reviewing the work of its vendors to try maintain a balance of new work, new creators, local flavor, and variety:

    While we welcome all to apply and wish we could host all of you, space for seasoned exhibitors (those who have already tabled at MICE several times) will likely be determined by lottery. Thank you for understanding that while interest in MICE grows, our available space stays the same.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a show with an emphasis on the new to this degree before; the larger shows are almost completely driven by grandfathered booth owners and I think that this approach just might make the big shows more interesting and fresh-feeling. It really shows an emphasis not just on comics, but on making the show have the greatest appeal and attraction for the attendees. Doubly so, given that the show is free to attend.

  • Secondly, from the science desk, it was announced earlier today that a group of influential Smart People (including Drs Hawking and Jemison) have proposed a project that would send spacecraft² to Alpha Centauri on a mission that would complete potentially within my lifetime. This sort of thing will cost money, so it’s a good thing they’ve got a Rich Guy willing to pony up US$100 million:

    [Financier Yuri] Milner is backing the $100 million R&D program necessary to get this to work. Existing technology won’t do; New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft we’ve ever launched, and it would take 78,000 years to get to any of the stars in Alpha Centauri, a nearby three-star system. The plutonium in its power systems alone weighs 11kg and would require staggering amounts of energy to accelerate to the necessary speeds.

    Instead, Breakthrough Starshot plans to build what’s essentially a spacecraft on a chip, which Milner called a nanocraft. A gram-scale wafer will include “cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment.”

    Each device would cost roughly the same as a high-end smartphone to make, allowing a massive number to be sent on the journey, providing some significant redundancy. Milner held up an early prototype during the announcement.

    Propulsion will be outsourced to a facility on Earth. The small spacecraft will be equipped with a light sail, and a phased array of lasers in the 100GW range will provide the sail with enough push to get the craft moving at roughly 20 percent the speed of light in just a matter of minutes. [emphasis mine]

    Let’s repeat that last bit: humans are proposing that we build a swarm of tiny robots with solar sails, accelerate them to 0.2c, and throw them at our nearest interstellar neighbors. Alpha Centauri is a bit under 4.2 light years away; at 0.2c, we’re talking about a stunningly fast 21 years. Allow another 4 years for any signals to return and it’s 25 years to find out what the neighborhood of another star looks like.

    >ahem< Fuck, yes.

    Now, for the webcomics connection — I first saw this story because Jeph Jacques pointed it out and immediately wondered about conspiracy angles:

    “Freeman Dyson, for his part, emphasized that the space between here and Alpha Centauri isn’t empty” HMMMMMM

    Jacques, of course, knows exactly what’s out there: chatty, occasionally snippy robots. And now we’ll finally be able to prove it!

Spam of the day:

Get Burial Life Insurance Options Now

Is this some kind of weird threat?

¹ Our Fair City. RIP, Tommy.

² Very, very tiny, gram-scale spacecraft, but hundreds of them.

Monday Briefing

Multiple things to point you towards today; let’s get right to it.

  • So when I met Rosemary Valero-O’Connell last weekend at MoCCA Fest she told me that she was working on captial-S Stuff that wasn’t announced yet so she couldn’t talk about it. Fair enough, I figured it would be a couple months before we heard, at least not until she was closer to done with the Lumberjanes/Gotham Central crossover.

    Nope! Friday, word came down that she’s going to be illustrating a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki for :01 Books, so that’s basically the best of everything in one bundle. It won’t be until 2018 that we get to see Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, but Valero-O’Connell was kind enough to share two pages on Twitter today. Note to self: do not die or become blind before this book releases.

  • John Allison has hinted that part of the reason for running neoBobbins strips for the next couple of months is time management; what with writing Giant Days and daily cartooning and working up new pages for the Bad Machinery books, he’s got to be pretty busy. He’s just added a fourth channel to get his cartooning goodness, this time for people that weren’t likely to have seen him other places — GoComics:

    From today, Bad Machinery is running at @gocomics – I think about 1/4 of the pages running there will be new to you.

    Which is to say, he puts a lot of redrawn/bridging art into the books (check out his tweets on the subject of prepping book 6, The Case Of The Fire Inside), so if you’ve not given him money for those, you get to see the new art now. You’re welcome.

  • A month ago we saw the nominees for the 2016 Cartoonist Studio Prize (a joint effort of the Center for Cartoon Studies and Slate magazine), and today we see that the winners have been announced. As in prior years, there are two categories: Best Print Comic and Best Web Comic, ten nominees per category, and lots of strong work in both.

    The winners get US$1000 cash money, and presumably a nice card, which will be inscribed with the names of (respectively) Carol Tyler (for Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father; Fantagraphics) and Boulet (for I Want To Believe). Fun fact: Boulet has been nominated all four years of the CSP’s existence, but considering the past winners were Winston Rowntree, Noelle Stevenson, and Emily Carroll, he’s in damn good company.

  • From the twitterfeed of Melanie Gillman, word of a new anthology looking for submissions:

    Here’s a comics anthology about bad online dating experiences that’s looking for submissions:

    The application is here, and I’m extremely grateful that I’ve been married since before online dating was a thing, just saying.

  • A little exercise in visualization because math. Personally, I prefer The Dot And The Line if only because it ends on an exquisitely terrible pun.

Spam of the day:

From Dr. David Katz

Sorry, bud. There’s only room for one Dr Katz in my life.

A Periodic Reminder

Namely, that the vagaries of San Francisco real estate aside, the Cartoon Art Museum is very much a going concern, and permanent home or no, they are Doing Stuff. Quite a bit of Stuff in the coming weeks, in fact. Let’s take a look.

At this pace, there will not be a block or cultural institution in San Francisco that hasn’t done something in conjunction with CAM, and given that comics and cartoons are among the most widely distributed of the arts, that’s appropriate. Drop by either or both events, enjoy yourself, and when you see the donation jar that’s funding a new home for CAM, be generous.

Spam of the day:

Millions Already Awarded – You May Qualify

Oh gosh, is this about something that may have affected me like faulty brakes or a dangerous furnace? Oh. Vaginal mesh implants. Yeah, no, don’t got one o’ them.

¹ Alternately, the 64th, 6766th, 7524th, 3182nd, 5776th, 28th, or 105th year of (respectively) the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the Assyrian calendar, the Byzantine calendar, the Discordian calendar, the Hebrew calendar, the Heisei era, or the life of the Eternal President of a batshit crazy hermit nation/personality cult. Calendars are weird, man.

Never Knew I’d Care About Image Expo

Because while I buy a couple of their books, it’s not like I have a vested emotional interest in the publisher. But a whole bunch of webcomics types had things to say at their industry announce-fest yesterday, and that’s hard to ignore.

  • First up: the team that revived Batgirl for DC (Brendan Fletcher, Babs Tarr, and Sin Titulo creator Cameron Stewart) wrapped up their contributions to DC with issue #50 yesterday. About the time it was hitting the shelves, they were announcing that the band was not breaking up, but rather jumping to a label that will let them be them. Thus: Motor Crush, a balls-out action SF story with the requisite murky secrets.
  • Next: Karl Kerschl recently wrapped up art duties on Gotham Academy, but he’ll be teaming up with lifelong friend Brendan Fletcher to produce Isola, set in a fantasy world with intrigue and revenge and plans within plans¹. Interestingly, Stewart & Kerschl are old studiomates, coming off Bat-books, and both cited DC not letting them engage in all their artistic tendencies as a reason to go to Image, with its creator-driven ethos. Seeing these two incredibly skilled creators (with creative partners that they click with) is going to be a kick.
  • Jim Zub is the epitome of a busy guy, and with Skullkickers wrapped up and Wayward between story arcs for the moment, and with his takes on Thunderbolts and Ravenloft not due for a couple weeks, I guess he’s got a spare minute in his day because he also announced a new creator-owned series. Glitterbomb will be an exploration of fame and how it works, through the lens of otherworldly, demonic horrors.

    The entire famous-for-being-famous industry is fundamentally parasitic, so it’s not a huge leap for supernatural beasties to want to get in on the whole scam; this is the first horror project I can recall from Zub, and should do nicely to replace Rachel Rising on my pull list, seeing as how it’s about to wrap up.

  • The most significant thing, though, was not about a book being launched; it was about a new initiative to groom talent in the comics industry, with both a monetary grant and mentoring from established, successful comics folk. It’s called Creators For Creators and the founding personnel are named near the bottom of the page; it’s an A-list of Image talent and one creator that (to my knowledge) hasn’t worked with Image²: C Spike Trotman, whose cartooning is less frequent than it was because she’s too busy running her own publishing company and facilitating careers for other creators.

    It makes perfect sense to see Spike on that list; there’s probably nobody in webcomics that’s provided as much direct payment to as many different creators as she has. It’s also no surprise that Iron Circus is presented as the equal of Image Comics in one critical benefit of the CFC grant:

    The recipient has total control over how and where they choose to publish their work once it is completed, whether they choose to submit it to a creator-owned publisher or release it themselves in any format. Iron Circus Comics and Image Comics have both pledged to support the recipient by publishing their work, if the recipient so chooses. No matter their choice, the recipient retains all rights to their work.

    The full criteria for the CFC grant will be released on 1 May, along with applications for the first grant cycle; the page doesn’t indicate how often the application process will open up (given that the US30,000 grant is meant to support a creator to make an original work³ over the course of a year, I’d guess annually) or how the grant will sustain its funding for future years, but then again the entire endeavour is only about 24 hours old at this point. All I know is if they’re taking contributions for the grant, I’d be willing to kick in; I hope to see a CFC corner at the Image booth at shows with a donation jar set up.

  • And one last item that has nothing to do with Image: Irregular Webcomic creator David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc) will be doing a Reddit AMA in /r/comics “tomorrow”; I put that in quotes because it may not be Friday depending on where you live. It’ll be 11:00pm GMT, 7:00pm EDT, and 9:00am on Saturday for Morgan-Mar himself, home in sunny Sydney, New South Wales, Straya. Be sure to ask him about the Kickstarter campaign for the first IW print collection (just shy of 50% funded, with just shy of three weeks to go).

  • Spam of the day:

    4 Ways to Avoid Running Out of Money During Retirement

    I’m going to guess — and this is only a guess — that the chief way that the investment advisor who sent this would recommend is to not spend all your money on frivolous things like food and shelter and healthcare. Die when you are no longer contributory to society, elder scum!

    ¹ Bonus: one of the characters gets turned into a tiger, meaning Kerschl will be drawing animals in motion, at rest, and in conflict. It’s not Charles Christopher, but it’ll do.

    ² To be perfectly clear, the name list also included the invaluable David Brothers; he’s written extensively on comics and works for Image as a branding manager, but isn’t a creator himself. I’d guess that he did a significant amount of the logistics and coordination work around setting up CFC.

    ³ I am already anticipating the whiny ragetears of newbies who are offended that the CFC jury couldn’t perceive the obvious genius of their new concept, The Adventures of EscherGirl in Slutland.

Mostly MoCCA, Part Three

Good news for indy and webcomics creators, as TopatoCon 2016 will be free to attend and the NCS Division Awards released their nominations. Two of the three nominations for Comic Books are Giant Days (Max Sarin, although the image that they’re using is a Lissa Tremain cover) and Squirrel Girl (Erica Henderson), and the two online categories are full of excellent choices. Namely, Drive (Dave Kellett), The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo (Drew Weing), and Octopus Pie (Meredith Gran, her second nod) for Long Form, and Bouletcorp (Boulet), Kevin and Kell (Bill Holbrook), and Sheldon (Dave Kellett, again) for Short Form. Gonna be some tough choices to make as the NCS membership looks over their ballots.

The rest of this post is about one person I met at MoCCA Fest, and how you’ll want to keep your eye on her work.

At the start, it was the earrings¹. Large, white, vaguely dangerous-looking at first glance. Definitely lethal at second glance, and nervous-making despite the endlessly cheerful demeanor of the wearer. I asked what they were, and she told me — perhaps a little too cheerfully — Bobcat jaws! Like, actual fang-sporting jaws of actual bobcats, the better to destroy her enemies if she has any, which I seriously doubt.

Since I was there I glanced over her table, and as I mentioned before, I stopped when I looked at an open minicomic, the pages of which I immediately recognized. It was If Only Once, If Only For A Little While, open to the second and third pages. I remembered it because at the time I thought the character designs were reminiscent of Adachi Mitsuru’s Cross Game or (dating myself here) Matsumoto Izumi’s Kimagure Orange Road (which, coincidentally, is now finally being translated into English).

I always found their faces to be expressive with an absolute minimum of detail, and the same strengths showed here; it’s like the artist found that diagram in Understanding Comics that shows the continuum of faces, from photorealistic to circle/dots/line and picked out a spot just over the line into the cartoony end and said Here. These are the faces that suit this story.

There’s also the staging of those two pages (seriously, go look at them), particularly with the coiled dragon mural and that one, mostly black panel on page three. They draw your eye in and make you visually circle around that central bit of text: An awful truth is still the truth.

Combined with the bit dialogue at the end of page two (Nothing that exciting would ever happen here), the reader is entirely engaged in the story and primed for — perhaps dreading — the revelations to come. And that’s before you notice the POV shifts and camera angles and distances in the individual panels, each serving exactly the purpose needed in establishing mood and story. Did I mention the skill at which she draws the drape and folds of clothing? Because she gets how cloth works on human bodies. I’ve seen this before, but I know I haven’t given you money for it I said; We need to fix that.

And that was when I met Rosemary Valero-O’Connell.

Details came up quickly — she’s a student at MCAD, getting ready to graduate in the coming weeks; she’s been doing comics for about three years, and oh yeah — she’s also working on her comic book debut, which just so happens to be the much-anticipated Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover. I asked how on earth she’d scored that gig as her first comic book work and with all the sincerity in the world she said I got really lucky.

And that was when I decided I needed to know Rosemary Valero-O’Connell much better.

As I mentioned, I saw a lot of student work at MoCCA, and talked to a fair number of students; some were reticent, some outgoing, all were starry-eyed and optimistic about their forthcoming fabulous careers in comics, except one. Valero-O’Connell was cautious and hopeful and well aware that the comics business is not a meritocracy or even particularly fair. She knows that the deadlines and page rates may border on science fiction², she knows that the business end is capricious and even cruel. She’s ridiculously grounded and ready to do a huge amount of grinding work to establish herself.

And that was when I resolved to follow Rosemary Valero-O’Connell very closely.

It shouldn’t be too hard; in addition to LJ/GA³, I noticed that she did the cover to the new Steven Universe original graphic novel that releases today (co-written by show producer Ian Jones-Quartey, no less). She mentioned that she has projects in the pipeline that she can’t talk about just yet. She is, I hope, working on stories of her own, because I want to read them and see them where they belong — on the shelves of stores, gathering the sorts of notice and acclaim that Raina Telgemeier and Hope Larson and Noelle Stevenson are getting.

And that is why you want to pay attention to Rosemary Valero-O’Connell; she’s seriously skilled today, and she’s only going to get better.

Spam of the day:

The Gene Simmons Company

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope. Gene Simmons achieved permanent Garbage Person status on 4 February 2002.

¹ I should note that the earrings had competition for coolest jewelry of the show; not long after entering the hall I noticed a black, metallic, sculptural necklace on a woman and complimented her on it. The more I looked at it (with her permission, don’t want to be creepy) the more it looked familiar. That looks like a benzene ring I said, indicating the central element, but I don’t know what the things hanging off it are. It’s dopamine she told me, so at least I can still identify benzene. Pretty sure this was it if you want one of your own.

² At one point I begged her to spend some time this week reading everything Katie Lane has written on work made for hire, and to please never undervalue her skills. She knows, and thankfully she’s got an agent looking out for her. And hell if she didn’t luck into the Impossible Thing with this LJ/GA gig — an underpaid (it’s mostly Boom! wrangling the story, so it’s definitely underpaid) WMFH gig where the exposure (reminder, kids: people die of exposure) is actually significantly valuable. This story is going to put her on a lot of people’s radar.

³ To be honest, I’d planned on dropping both Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy because I found the original creative teams to be more to my tastes than the current creative teams; I’ll be holding out at least through the six issues now.

Mostly MoCCA, Part Two

Yes, there are other things to mention, such as the news that TCAF announced another six guests (including Gene Luen Yang), and Christopher Hastings is getting another Marvel miniseries. Those are good bits of news, go revel in their newness.

  • Probably nobody on the floor of MoCCA Fest has had as precipitous an upward trajectory as Noelle Stevenson; I first met her two years back when Lumberjanes #1 was fresh on the shelves and Nimona was not yet nominated for the National Book Award or optioned for the big screen. I asked her how she follows all of that up and she mentioned she has a book in development with HarperCollins called Four Wizards¹, as well as a second project she can’t talk about yet. I told her something I told a number of creators — I can’t wait to see what she’s doing in five year, ten years, because she’s just getting better.
  • Despite the presence of a booth helper with a name tag reading Gina Gagliano, the beating heart of :01 Books (and the woman who sends me enough review copies to drown an average-size ten year old) was repping the imprint in Houston during MoCCA weekend; no matter, as the booth was in the good hands of Danielle Ceccolini.

    Ms Ceccolini came on board in 2014 to replace departing book designer Colleen AF Venable; print lead times being what they are, it’s only been in the last six months or so that I’ve seen Ceccolini’s name in :01’s offerings, so we’re just starting to get a sense of how strong her designs are (especially given that a number of her designs have been on continuing series — such as The Olympians or Glorkian Warrior — that had an established look and feel).

    Case in point: Faith Erin Hick’s The Nameless City (out today), which sports an absolutely gorgeous design to go with the engaging story. If you ever wanted to read a graphic novel (for, let’s say, tweens and up) that reminds you of all the best parts of Jeff Smith, Hayao Miyazaki, Gene Yang, and Kazu Kibuishi in one book, this is the one for you. Or rather, the first of three for you, since it’s a planned trilogy.

    Between that deal, the numerous Yang offerings each year (including the Secret Coders series with Mike Holmes, second volume due soon), and the Science Comics line, it seems like :01 is on track for a good deal more ambitious a release schedule than their recent history of 18 – 22 books a year. It’s a hell of a lot of work for four people, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that they need more hands to keep their well-deserved reputation for quality.

  • Ken Wong was somebody I’d intended to go see on the floor, as the description of his origami comics — comics where the physical, three-dimensional presentation becomes part of the story — intrigued the hell out of me. As it turned out, I walked by his table somehow not noticing the enormous ORIGAMI COMICS banner, but my eye was caught by the cover of what turned out to be the single nerdiest comic I’ve ever read: Bonetti’s Defense — I Know Something You Don’t Know About Swordplay In The Princess Bride. It’s exactly what it says on the cover: a picking-apart of the slight dialogue (and careful choreography) of the epic duel between Inigo Montoya and the Man In Black on top of the Cliffs of Insanity.

    Drawing on what I’d always assumed to be throwaway names (in the screenplay and the original book), Wong finds the historical Bonetti, Capo Ferro, Thibault, and Agrippa and talks about why their teachings are appropriate to the scene in question. And because anything nerdy that you’re nerding out over can never have too much nerding, he finds likely historical referents for fencing masters McBone, Sainct, MacPherson, and Morozzo. Wong even figures out who the most probable inspiration for the Dread Pirate Roberts was.

    It’s not necessary to read Bonetti’s Defense to enjoy everybody’s favorite movie², but it gives a sense of satisfaction to realize how much William Goldman, Rob Reiner, swordmaster Bob Anderson, and everybody else cared to make things right even if only one guy in Brooklyn would ever realize how right they were.

  • Not far from Wong’s table, I did the I was going to look for you and didn’t realize you were here and something on the table caught my eye deal a second time, when I came across Azure. In this case, the catch-my-eye factor was provided by a stack of onesies with dinosaurs on them.

    I’m very sorry to say that I can’t find a link on Azure’s site for these because they are adorable and my gosh, did I just have a grand-nephew born like ten days ago? I believe I did, and young Collin is going to be well-equipped with a dinosaur onesie and small prints with dinosaurs on them because you can never start a love affair with dinosaurs too early.

  • There were students everywhere. I saw tables either officially representing schools, or filled with students who came from particular schools but not in an official capacity, including (but likely not limited to) Parsons, FIT, Pratt, SVA, Syracuse, CCS, Moore, and at least one high school club.

    The students themselves ran the gamut from shy and retiring to immensely outgoing; from art student chic to lacking even one piercing or visible tattoo; their work fell into every conceivable genre and style, from I’m mostly inspired by what’s on Crunchyroll this month but haven’t quite figured out anatomy yet to a noir mystery starring snails³.

    But there was one (from the far lands of Minneapolis) that stood out from her contemporaries; her work had an assurance, a confidence that I wouldn’t have expected from one so young (and who had only been doing comics for about three years). One whose work I realized I had seen before and (foolishly) had not bookmarked at the time. One who has Big Things happening in the immediate future, and whose future work I am looking forward to as much as Noelle Stevenson’s, one who I think is going to make as big a splash in the industry as Stevenson, Hicks, Telgemeier, or Larson.

    But I’m over 1000 words as it is, so come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about Rosemary Valero-O’Connell.

Spam of the day:

Diffuse threats with this recently released technology

You mean I should make them ever less and less concentrated, until they are spread over such a large volume as to be indetectable? Or given the rather rah-rah tactical machismo of your imagery, did you mean defuse? Either way, it’s just a damn flashlight, bunky.

¹ Or possibly 4 Wizards, or For Wizards; it was noisy and I didn’t ask her to spell it.

² Oh hush, you know it is.

³ The same creator’s other works were all shiny and sparkly, which prompted me to suggest that to my knowledge, nobody has yet combined noir story structures with the Lisa Frank aesthetic and she should get right on that.