The webcomics blog about webcomics

Sloppy Weekend Coming Up

I’m talking about weather. Wintry mix and such. Get your minds out of the gutter Anyways, I’ve got preparations to make, so just a quick thing for you today.

Shing Yin Khor is many things: comics artist, sculptor, installation artist, space gnome, and expert in Paul Bunyan muffler men, just off the top of my head. And she illustrates the most amazing critters in the most delicate of watercolors. We’re here about those today. She’s Kickstarting a postcard book as a MAKE 100 project¹, with 20 gorgeous, heavy postcards for US$20 Or bump up to US$25 and she’ll gift wrap it. Her wrapping is a work of art in itself, and likely to include other cool stuff.

Okay, that weather is going to hit a pretty large swath o’ the country. so stay warm and dry, ‘kay? See you Monday.


Spam of the day:

You still have not received your prize in the category of super Like the year 2018
January 24, 2019 the gain burns [translated from Russian]

Given that your email account seemed to promise a cabana in Tulum, this is quite the pitch.

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¹ Sorta. Some of the rewards are limited to 100, others there are plenty to be had.

Thursday Things

Hey, how’s it going? I’ve taken to keeping a half-full bottle of gin on my desk¹. On the theory that it may help your day to get better, here’s some things to examine and/or plan for!

  • Today! Kevin Sonney is a magnificent dude; programmer and Linuxbender extraordinaire, tatted and bekilted con security heavyweight, and certified Disney Princess to whom critters flock. He’s also a persistent podcaster, mostly with wife Ursula Vernon — they cohost Kevin And Ursula Eat Cheap and consume things no mortal should; he is the voice of Reverend Mord on The Hidden Almanac.

    Right now, though, we’re focusing on Productivity Alchemy, which is about — stripped to its most basic — Getting Your Shit Together And Getting Shit Done. It is, ironically, the sort of thing that would paralyze me, as I am definitely the sort of person that would hopscotch from solution to solution, method to method, tool to tool, and obsessively chase achievement badges. My productivity works in fits and starts, and a lot of it looks like Ignoring The Issue At Hand from a distance, but it works for me². Which is to say, Sonney’s probably a lot smarter than me on every aspect of productivity as he’s put a hell of a lot of thought into it, and I’m more intuitive and decidedly nonanalytical about my methods.

    But sometimes I have to beak my own rule to see what’s on Sonney’s mind, and today is one of those days. He’s talking to Howard Tayler — my evil twin — about his approach to keeping life together, and dropping refs to the likes of Jennie Breeden’s The Devil’s Panties, KB SPangler’s A Girl And Her Fed, and Randy Milholland’s Something*Positive. It’s a fun, informative listen and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • Future! For those whose personal productivity includes future planning, and who also live in the Bay Area, the Cartoon Art Museum wants to help you sort out what to do with the kids this summer:

    Cartoon Camp is filled with active creative engagement for older kids and teens who are avid artists enjoying drawing and are looking to build skills. All materials are provided. Find discounts, details and sign up opportunities for museum members on the registration links. Register before camp sessions fill up!

    Classes are designed for the 10-15 year old set with a bit of experience under their belts, with a choice of three week-long sessions. You can do skill-building in the mornings with Mark Simmons, afternoons of group work and studio time with Ellis Kim, or full days to experience both (bring lunch, it’s not provided). There’s also a couple of drawing excursions to local scenic spots.

    Sessions run the week of 17 to 21 June, 24 ot 28 June, or 29 July to 2 August.; morning sessions run 9:00am to 12:30pm and afternoons 1:45pm to 5:15pm. CAM members get 10% off the US$300 tuition (full days are US$550); reserve now before slots fill up.


Spam of the day:

View live security camera feed from your phone

This is advance notice: If I ever give any indication that I have allowed any Internet Of Things™ or “Smart” appliances into my home, that is a sure sign that I have been replace by a pod person, and you should set “me” on fire at the first opportunity.

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¹ Okay, it’s one of those airline bottles on account of my exit-row seat home from Dallas t’other night entitled me to a free drink and that was all I wanted at the time. But still! Hard bitten journalising going on here!

² All the seeming off-goofing is my brain arranging itself into a Cave so I can hit the Zone. Lots of people achieve their Zone via external tools, but mine are on the inside.

It’s Been A Day

An air trip that was going suspiciously well ran into some snags on the back end, which got me home Too Damn Late. Then today, the local gas company’s ongoing maintenance & upgrade cycle hit my house, necessitating a turn-off of the magical hydrocarbon that makes things like heat and hot showers possible. What I’m saying is I could use some good news today. Luckily, several excellent people have stepped up.

  • Okay, Molly Ostertag actually made her announcement yesterday, but I’m still happy today so it count: there will be a third book in her The Witch Boy/The Hidden Witch¹ series:

    I’m very excited to announce THE MIDWINTER WITCH – the third graphic novel in the Witch Boy series² and a continuation of the adventures of Aster, Charlie, Ariel, and Sedge! Preorder link below, this will be in stores everywhere 11/5/2019 ?? www.amazon.com/Midwinter-Witc …

    A few thoughts:

    1. Ostertag is a machine; three books released at one-year intervals? That’s an enormous amount of work to sneak in around her animation day job.
    2. I want all of the Witch Boy stories she has kicking around her in head; I want to have to dedicate an entire shelf to the world that Aster, Charlie, and the others inhabit.
    3. To the extent that it doesn’t kill her because see #1.
    4. That cover is gorgeous and heavy with portents. Heavy, I tells ya!

    Start making your Halloween-season plans³ now; come the frost, there’ll be a new witch in town.

  • One may recall that it’s been a long time since The Abominable Charles Christopher has updated regularly; creator Karl Kerschl has been busy on print comics that pay nowish, whereas Charles Christopher holds the promise of a gorgeous book (and the income that would attach) at some nebulous point the future. One must support oneself and family, after all.

    But there have been two updates on two adjacent weeks and that is a blessing. The impetus may come from challenges in Kerschl’s life, in which case they’re more for his benefit than ours.

    Which is entirely as it should be. As much as I want to see all these characters again, none of that matters worth a damn compared to Kerchl’s well-being. I will celebrate and love each of these strips when they come, and if there’s never another I’ll be grateful for those we’ve had so far. Be well, Karl, and thanks for sharing when you can.

  • Comics can tell stories in ways that other media just can’t. Today’s proof of concept comes from The Guardian, and in a brief (but very, very heartfelt) read, lays bare challenges and failures of the medical system in Britain. Not what you normally think of — budgets, services, cutbacks — but how doctors are trained, what toxicity is perpetuated and reinforced, and how it impacts patient care not in a quantifiable rating, but as human beings.

    Read Healing Alone and realize that the systemic flaws described here are damn near universal. Argue for a better, more humane system of training physicians, and we’ll get a better more humane system of care for all of us.


Spam of the day:

#1 erection killer

Friend, I am pretty confident saying that I do not wish to purchase your product and/or service.

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¹ I’m not sure the series has a name, so until I learn otherwise I’m thinking of it as the Aster series, as Aster’s the foundational character.

² That didn’t last long. Okay, it’s the Witch Boy series.

³ Note to self: consider carving a pumpkin with some of the symbols for the magic names of things. Maybe ask Ostertag what the name of the pumpkin is.

Flight To Take, Airport Delays Expected

Post is poned. See you tomorrow.

Gosh, Wouldja Look At That

I believe that by this time, I have made the case that Larry Gonick is a national treasure. His use of comics to educate (across seemingly all fields of knowledge) is unparalleled, and if you are not familiar with the three volumes of The Cartoon History Of The Universe¹, you need to remedy that.

You may recall the word last month that Gonick was selling originals; you may also recall that he and I corresponded, seeing as how some of the few thousand pages he’s drawn in his career dealt with Claude Shannon, who I may have mentioned once or twice.

It’s done. The Shannon pages from The Cartoon Guide To Computer Science (sadly out of print) are now mine. They are installed on the wall over my desk, where I can feel the spirit of a playful polymath encourage me to look at problems that are interesting and solve them to the extent that the effort is both meaningful and fun.

Should you have some topic that Gonick has expounded upon that is near and dear to your heart, I encourage you to contact the man, as he is making his work available for exceedingly reasonable prices. If I were to win one of the fuck-you huge lottery jackpots this week, I’d make him an offer just to get his entire archive into Jenny Robb’s hands and loving care.

But not my three Shannon pages. Those will be going to the Electrical Engineering department at my alma mater


Spam of the day:

I have for you a quantity of new customers . you need?

I do not. Thanks for asking.

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¹ The first of which was — no kidding — edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis.

A Pair Of Delights To Lead You Into The Weekend

You might not realize that a pair of occasionally-updating webcomics updated today, but some of us still believe in the power of RSS and saw the notifications.

First up, The Perry Bible Fellowship and a very good dog (despite what some in the panel might say).

Next up, a 22 page behemoth from Abby Howard at The Last Halloween; Howard’s spent a lot of time the past couple of year on her excellent Earth Before Us series of educational graphic novels (the third of which should drop in summer — Age Of Horns, people!), but you know that the monster-overrun TLH is where her heart yearns to be. We get a lot of backstory and worldbuilding in this one, and progress towards the next chapter, which may or may not take us back to Mona and whoever else survived Book 1. Go check it out!

And now, the weekend.


Spam of the day:

Take 57 lucky days of the year
Take +1 happiest day of week
The formula, which activates the luck 30 hours

Is this one of those deals where you do the math on your calculator and the answer is 5318008?

Oh, This Looks Good

Before we get to the Good Thing in the title, I wanted to mention an Auxiliary Good Thing. That is to say, the second issue of The Nib in print is reaching mailboxes — such as mine, today — and it looks great. If you want a copy of this issue, on the theme of Family, you can either go back in time and back the Kickstarter, or you can take out a supporting membership.

Both options give you a choice of digital or print, but let me assure you that like the Death issue from September, Family is beautifully designed, on weighty, satisfying paper and has a considerable odor from the many inks¹ used in its construction.

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Okay, the main Good Thing: Word’s been going around for the past few days about how the Eric Carle Museum Of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, would be running an exhibition on the history of the graphic novel. Out Of The Box: The Graphic Novel Comes Of Age² opens on !0 Febrary and will run until 26 May, and will feature the work of Vera Brosgol, Catia Chien, Geoffrey Hayes, Gene Luen Yang, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hope Larson, Matt Phelan, David Small, Raina Telgemeier, and Sara Varon.

But wait! There’s more.

The night before (that would be 9 February), there’s an opening reception from 5:00pm-7:00pm, with guest curator Leonard S. Marcus Brosgol, Chien, Krosoczka, Phelan, Telgemeier, and Varon expected to be in attendance. There’s a talk with the same folks the next day (10th again) at 11:00am to officially open the exhibition.

If you want to attend these special events, you need to RSVP, via one of two different methods. For the reception, contact Jenny Darling Stasinos at 413-559-6310 or jennys [at] carlemuseum [dot] org; for the gallery talk, RSVP at 413-559-6336 or info [at] carlemuseum [dot] org. Reservations open today, and run through Monday, 4 February.

Now here’s the kicker — both of those events are for Carle Museum members. If you aren’t one, now’s the time to join. Please note that Amherst is in the middle of one of the greatest concentrations of web/indie comics creators on the continent³, the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, home to Northampton, Easthampton, TopatoCo, Eastworks, the very sexy R Stevens, and at least one creator of Ninja Turtles, so if you’re going you may as well wander around and try to spot background locations from Questionable Content.

It’s not like those folks keep storefronts you can wander into, but if you bump into one on the street, they’d probably appreciate it if you told them I love your work, please accept three dollars cash from me a tip and I promise I will leave you alone and not be a creepy stalker.


Spam of the day:

As Seen On TV + 1 Month FREE!

One of the great improvements in Gmail lately is that images do not automatically load in spam. As there’s no text in this email, only pictures, I literally have no idea what they’re trying to scam me with. It’s awesome.

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¹ I pity the youth of today, who never received a fresh-from-the-ditto machine quiz in junior high, the purplish ink still stinky and damp, making all your penciled answers smudge and tear. Wait, no, the opposite of that, those things were terrible.

² No direct link; at present, that’s on the upcoming exhibitions page, and will presumably shift to the current exhibitions page, and eventually the past exhibitions page.

³ Other loci include Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area, Toronto, Brooklyn, and White River Junction.

If Homestar And 17776 Are Webcomics, So Is This

That is to say, both deeply weird Flash cartoons of the early Aughts and deeply weird space probe/football fanfic are idiosyncratic, personal creations made for the internet, marked by a sense of collaboration/accessibility with the audience, which makes them essentially webcomics, so say we all.

Webcomics as a concept, stretching past the literal definition of comics on the internet¹, can incorporate anything creative that probably won’t pass the muster of a publisher/editor, but which can find a niche of similar weirdos when thrown into the wilds.

Which is to say, Jonathan Coulton has always been a webcomicker, albeit one that worked primarily in words+sounds instead of words+pictures. No music publisher would have ever done something like Thing A Week, which means no music publisher would ever have made available a song about a very cool NPR morning host, fractal math, Leonard Nimoy’s late-70s paranormal-bait syndicated TV show, or (tangentially) Ferocious J². Heck, the guy partnered with Matt Fraction to do a graphic novel to accompany his last album.

(And, since JoCo has collaborated with MC Frontalot, you have a direct link to songs about Achewood, Wigu, and Indie Rock Pete.)

And what, I ask you, is more webcomics than doing a giant passion project that no sane publisher would get within 3.048 meters of, throwing it up on Kickstarter, and finding that a bunch of weirdos are into it?

My new album is called Some Guys, and it’s a collection of soft rock songs from the 70’s that sound exactly like the originals.

Our approach was more, what if we put these guys in a time machine and brought them into this studio and recorded them here today? What would that sound like? And what if we hired real horns and real strings? How much would that cost? A LOT! But would it sound delicious and make us giddy, like we had discovered an amazing secret or invented a new magic trick? Yes, it would. The end result is that these songs sound exactly like you expect them to, but they’re also different and new in an alternate universe sort of way.

And for a guy on his first Kickstart, JoCo’s apparently learned from his predecessors pretty well:

STRETCH GOALS
No.

Some Guys (seriously, go see the album cover, and read the writeup about the album cover, and especially watch the video — the clips that JoCo included sound exactly friggin’ like the originals, which is somewhat cognitively dissonant³, but in a wonderful way, and the message in the text crawls is inspiring) was announced at 10:00am EST, and as of this writing it’s over US$49,500 (on a US$20K goal).

The record is made, this is effectively a pre-order and a way to pay for physical versions (CD, vinyl) for those that don’t want digital downloads; it’s a zero-risk project if you’re looking for something wonderful, fun, soft, and cheering.


Spam of the day

You still have not taken the prize in the category Like the year 2018
15 0.1 2019 super prize is canceled

Aw, man, I really wanted super prize.

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¹ Since pretty much everything is on the internet even if emotionally it’s designed for another space.

² As seen here, in requisite tin foil hat.

³ I am reminded of the very first live event for This American Life, where the stage band (consisting largely of John & John from TMBG) went out of their way to reproduce song snippets that were heavily used on TAL in those early years. Not putting a TMBG spin on them, mind you, trying to make them sound indistinguishable from the actual songs, rather than just drop the original clip into the staged readings They didn’t attempt Perpetuum Mobile by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but can’t really blame them — it takes about 15 musicians playing in I think 7 different time signatures.

Attention: Smackeroos

I see this and for some reason I think back to the old Life In Hell strip with the punchline "It is unwise to annoy cartoonists."

Following up on the various calls for entries yesterday, there’s at least two more awards programs that incorporate webcomics in a thoughtful manner, and you may want to consider them.

  • The Cartoonist Studio Prize from Slate and the Center For Cartoon Studies is back for its seventh iteration, and the call for entries is open until 31 January. The CSP is fairly unique in a couple of regards — it has only two categories (Print Comic Of The Year and Web Comic Of The Year), it produces shortlists of ten works in each category, and in lieu of a statue it presents each winner with one thousand American cash smackeroos — and has remarkably few barriers to consideration.

    The work must have been first published (or translated into English) in calendar year 2018, online for the web entries. That’s it. Form, genre, topic, length, intended audience age, and all other artificial criteria are not considered. The only real restriction is that current faculty and students of CCS are ineligible.

    Got a print comic you want to submit? The form is here [PDF]. Did your work on the web? You’re gonna go here instead. The shortlists will be announced in March, and winners in April.

  • Also open for your entries, the Prism Awards are presented by Prism Comics, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the Queer Comics Expo¹ annually, recognizing awesome comics by queer creators/addressing queer characters and topics. There will be awards granted for Best Short Form Comic, Best Webcomic, Best Comic From A Small To Midsize Press, Best Comic From A Mainstream Publisher, and Best Comic Anthology.

    Submissions must cover work made (or first published) in calendar year 2018, and not previously submitted for the award². Nominees will be announced at the Queer Comics Expo (dates TBA, but April) and awarded at SDCC in July.

    While we’re here, the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant (which is for two thousand American cash smackeroos) is also accepting submissions, with comics of all forms and media considered

    [F]irst and foremost by artistic merit, followed by concerns such as financial need, proposal presentation, and the project’s contribution to the LGBT community. The judges also lean towards projects that are more fully realized — we want to see many pages of sequential art, rather than an idea with sketches. The Queer Press Grant is awarded to an amateur artist who hasn’t yet gotten a mainstream publisher. They are reviewed by the Prism Board, past recipients of the Grant and Prism’s Advisory Board

    The Prism Awards submission guidelines may be found here, and entries are due by 15 February. The Prism Comics Queer Press Grant process is described here, and will take submissions until 1 March.


Spam of the day:

Hi – I came across your website fleen.com and I wanted to see if you have 3-5 minutes to see if I can reduce your payment processing fees? Please feel free to call or email me at 866.303.2558 opt.1

Got some time to kill? Call this guy and waste some of his time.

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¹ Their official site is a Tumblr, and what with the stupidity over there, it may be locked as violating guidelines since anything and everything (but especially LGBTQ everythings and anythings) are being tagged as violating the TOS.

² That seems an odd requirement, but policies of this nature are typically reactive, so somebody out there is apparently doing work in one year, publishing in another, and trying to resubmit for the award again? Lame.

Getting In While The Getting’s Good

Hey there everybody, how’s the first full week of the year treating you? Good, good. Gonna mention some things you might want to get in on in the immediate term.

Entries! Got a couple of things that are looking for entries at the moment!

  • The Eisners have just placed their call for entries, and it appears that one of this year’s judges is an adorable corgi, so that’s good. The rules [PDF] for webcomics/digital comics are slightly clarified, with digital defined as published online in 2018 and webcomic as long-form stories published online in 2018. I’m not sure what the line for long-form is, but that’s okay — the Eisners never have been sure either. Entries close 15 March.
  • While we’re talking awards, the NCS has also announced its call for entries for the division awards. As in past years, online comics are divided into short form (think gag panels or strips) and long form (ongoing story), and there’s a new online animation category this year. Please note that the online comics require regular updates, whereas online animation may be a one-shot. It’s a tight turnaround for your entries — they’re due by next Tuesday, 15 January.
  • Not an award (at least, not yet), but Iron Circus Supreme Leader For Life C Spike Trotman is celebrating the arrival of FTL Y’All in mailboxes around the world with a call for the next anthology:

    Iron Circus’ latest anthology project has been REVEALED.
    YOU DIED: An Anthology of the Afterlife! Submissions open FEBRUARY 1ST!
    Get the details HERE. https://ironcircus.com/you-died

    Let me save some of you some trouble and vicious mocking from Spike: read the submission rules. Seriously, she gets enough of these that if you decide to send something without following the guidelines, it goes out and if you bitch about her not accepting your brilliant jewel, she’ll inflict emotional damage on you for being an idiot.

    There’s enough folk out there that can follow directions to get that US$50/page rate (plus Iron Circus’s bonus structure) and the ability to buy copies for resale at a 50% discount that she doesn’t need to deal with somebody that can’t read and will only waste her time.

Comics! So about nine months ago, Nancy went from a moribund comic strip that primarily functioned as a vehicle for its current artist to draw Aunt Fritzi spank-bank style to the most vital comic since Cul De Sac or even Calvin & Hobbes; Olivia Jaimes is a genius¹. And credit where credit’s due, Universal Feature Syndicate/Andrews McMeel is approaching the revivification of moribund strips in a big, exciting way.

Click on the link for yesterday’s update of Alley-Oop and you’ll get a strip that actually ran in 2013, ending on a cliffhanger. Follow the link for today’s update of Alley-Oop and it’s one panel and an entire creative team later — it’s the promised relaunch with writing by Joey Allison Sayers and art by Jonathan Lemon, a pair of webcomickers who show every promise of being able to do for the Oopster what Jaimes did for Nancy. I’m calling it now: Alley-Oop is (or will be) lit.

Too many people slept on the Nancy creator shift; now is your chance to get in on what looks like a back to the very beginnings reboot of Alley-Oop (it’s strongly implied that most of the strip’s 86 year history was — like Bobby Ewing in the shower — just a dream). Plus it looks like Lemon signs his work with a little lemon with a face on it, and I declare this to be ACCEPTABLE.


Spam of the day:

Me now can last at least 2. 5 hrs and leave their partners please Watch this amazing 2 minute trick that ‘Kills’ ED, leavings your girl satisfied

I am not sure which language the person who wrote this original spoke, but I bet they don’t speak it very well.

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¹ Note to self — set odds on Jaimes a) being nominated for the NCS newspaper strip division award, b) winning it, and c) taking the Reuben Award itself, further cementing Stephan Pastis as the Susan Lucci of the cartooning world.