The webcomics blog about webcomics

Excellent News Heading Into The Weekend

Because you can never have too much John Allison, whether it involves the extended/extensive Tackleford continuity, or his other projects, two bits of recent news caught my eye and make me happy.

First, from BOOM! Studios associate editor Jasmine Amiri, word that Giant Days, Allison’s side-story of Dark Esther at university, has been extended from six issues to twelve, with a new combo edition of the first two issues to catch up late arrivals. This is particularly good news because Giant Days issue #3 is recently out, and the third issue is often the make-or-break point.

Issue #1, people buy that¹; issue #2, they’re still deciding if they’re going to keep buying it or not; issue #3 is where the drop-off is going to occur, if it occurs, and maybe there’s no issue #4 and up. It’s a scary place to be, even when you’re doing a miniseries rather than an ongoing².

On the other hand, it’s also where limited or miniseries get extended, or converted to ongoing — if memory serves, Lumberjanes and Samurai Jack both got their runs bumped up off the back of issue #3. If another couple issues of Giant Days show solid numbers and growth and BOOM! wants to pay Allison (and artist Lissa Treiman) a fair price to keep it going, I’ll be the happiest geek with a Wednesday pull-list.

Then Allison had to go and make me even happier:

I’m reprinting Murder She Writes, just re-read it while proofing. Not to sound conceited, but that was a nice piece of work.

Murder She Writes was one of the “in-between” stories that Allison used to break up the long story arcs of Bad Machinery; they tended to be very silly, very Shelley-centric, very good, and very absent from the archives once they went to print. The fact that it’s getting a reprint gives me hope of someday seeing a comprehensive omnibus collection of the in-betweens and latter-day Bobbins strips, basically because I am a huge completist and will make room on my shelves for the totality of Allison’s oeuvre³.

Okay, Friday afternoon — enjoy the crap out of your weekends, people, or I’ll be forced to shove Giant Days into your brain until you do.


Spam of the day:

The company founded in 1985, has total assets of RMB1.52 billion, occupies a total area of 800,000 square meters, and employs 3,000 staff members, including 98 senior engineers and technicians and 319 mid-level engineers and technicians.

That is oddly specific information about your company; too bad you never told me what they do with all that money, space, and expertise.

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¹ If only because speculator types are hedging their bets that in 20 years, they might be sitting on the equivalent of Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, or Amazing Fantasy #15 and cash that sucker in for a million dollars.

² If you aren’t reading Carla Speed McNeil & Alex de Campi’s No Mercy, what the hell is wrong with you? If this gets cancelled from low sales and I don’t see the end of the story, I’m taking vengeance on all of you bozos.

³ Also, somebody at Marvel should pay Allison to do a She-Hulk/old-school rollerskates-armor Iron Man team-up to get racked next to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl; you know it would be the best comic book ever.

What I Love About This Community

Webcomics is a relatively small group of people trying their best to live a creative life, most of whom will spend a significant time flirting with poverty (or at least under-earning compared to their age cohort); this is a situation that is tailor-made for adopting a zero sum game mentality that says If I can undermine that guy over there, keep him from making a couple sales, maybe I can get his booth space at SuperMegaConOrama. Maybe that will make him give up and go back to the day job. Maybe I can sweep him his audience then and by this time next year I won’t have as much trouble making rent.

And yet that doesn’t happen. Every day, I see acts small (What was the name of that Photoshop brush you used? Did you know you can do this, it saves me a mountain of time. Hey everybody, I just discovered this great new comic, go check it out!) to huge (I will pay my artists bonuses above what I’ve already paid them. Here is what I’ve learned about making it as a creator, so you don’t have to learn the lessons over a decade like I did.) to potentially life-changing (I will fund scholarships for my future competition.) fly around the webcomicsosphere like it ain’t no thang. As a rule, creators keep an eye out for each other and want everybody to succeed.

And sometimes, that out-kept eye requires a bit of digging so as to prevent colleagues from falling into a hole. Enter David Malki !, webcomicker, filmmaker, pilot, firearms technician, woodworker, game creator, author, editor, darling of the Maker community, podcaster, and (in context of today’s discussion) financial canary in the coalmine:

This has bugged me for a long time. I’ve received Bank of America merchant-service promotions in the mail; I’ve gotten phone calls about it; and I’ve even had firsthand experience dealing with it, on behalf of other businesses.

So, this is a small-business public service announcement! Don’t believe that guarantee. Or anything, really. Don’t believe anything, ever. [emphasis original]

You really want to follow that link, if you’ve ever thought I need to get an account to take credit cards for my creative business; Malki ! has systematically taken apart the offer made by (in this case) Bank of America (I’m sure other large banks offer similarly bad arrangements) for a merchant charge account and a lease on a credit card swiper. Short version: Sign up with them and you will pay far more than you would with, say, Square, and will be locked into an equipment lease for years, racking up thousands of dollars of excess fees and costs, with little to no recourse to get out. This is honestly the sort of warning that could keep somebody from failing in an on-the-edge business (or make failure less painful and protracted). It’s not something that he ever had to share once he’d satisfied himself as to the relative merits of BoA’s offer¹; that he did share it was an act of generosity and community that should be acknowledged.

And seriously — go read it and then understand that behind every offer that a powerful oliogarchic company makes to you, there lives the potential for this kind of screw-job. Read the contract, understand the terms, get the assurances from the smiling, slick sales-type in writing and notarized. As was observed on this page seven years and a day ago:

I was once challenged for saying, [A]ll contracts are inherently about ensuring that — if needed — you can cut the other guy’s heart out and he’s legally obligated to provide the blade.

Don’t be on the receiving end of that blade.


Spam of the day:

brandsecretーブランドシークレット

In case you were wondering, the string of katakana just says “brandsecret” again. But bonus points for sending me spam with a link to, and I quote, idrinkleadpaint.com. Which is apparently a legit site that ran a Kickstarter a couple years back. Ain’t no way I’m clicking through to see what the deal there is.

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¹ Which is to say, you suffer from having too much money and want to give some to a very rich corporation.

Things To See And/Or Do

It’s a bit of a roundup today, folks.


Spam of the day:
Okay not quoting from this one. Unlike the PR email I got yesterday that was wildly inappropriate for this blog, I got an email that was relevant, but put me off for a different reason. Namely, the subject line was A desperate attempt to get your eyeballs on my shameless self-promotion.

Don’t do that. Not the self-promotion part, not the shameless part, but the desperate part. You shouldn’t be desperate to get my attention — you have something that you want me to cover? Let me know. I’ll cover it, or I won’t, but anybody that you want to pay attention to your work can smell desperation (even when you don’t state it outright) from 1.61km away, and it’s not an attractive smell. Being desperate to get my attention is like telling somebody This is my work but it sucks, I’m terrible. STOP DOING THAT.

I am not naming the person(s) that sent my that email. I’ll cover them in the coming days/weeks, or I won’t, and if I do I won’t ever say that they’re the offender(s) in this situation. I’m not going to hold this subject line against them, I’ll cover them (or not) based on the quality and newsworthiness of what I find … but seriously, don’t do that.

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¹ Dylan Meconis is going to be on my coast and I’m going to miss seeing her! This is killing me.

² Who is in the middle of this list instead of the end, thanks to SENYC listing creators by first name.

³ Dylan Meconis and Katie Lane are going to be on my coast and I’m going to miss seeing them! I’m already dead.

Retirements, Returns, And Launches

It’s been odd, the past half-week or so: The Nib has been quiet, with no comics more recent than three or four days, a sad echo of what was the best congregator of editorial comics, story comics, confessional comics, comics journalism, and just plain comics¹ that we’ve seen come down the pike for a good long time. And they paid. We knew the end was coming, but it’s still disturbing to see the final week’s entries getting older. There was a new comic from (once and possibly still) site editor Matt Bors today, but it wasn’t his usual editorial work, more a randomized snark.

In a way, it’s a perfect companion to the new focus that Nib overlords at Medium want — more social, less contextual, more likely to be shared and digested in a quick bite than require some time and thought. Said overlords changed their minds about what they wanted from The Nib once, maybe they’ll change them again — or at least decide to take a hands-off approach to Bors’s editorial vision. Maybe he can get the band back together. Maybe it wasn’t just a fleeting moment that we’ll never have again. At least they went out with sharp elbows and some of their best work even as the lights were being turned off.

Happier notes:

  • If ever somebody doesn’t get why Oh Joy, Sex Toy [Not Safe If Your Work Is Insufficiently Awesome] is wonderful, show them today’s strip. I don’t know if I’m more in love with Erika’s description of the doodad² or the illustration of the pokébattle³ at the end, which she has seen to provide a mostly SFW version of at her twitterfeed. I don’t need a device that tracks how I’m doing my Kegel exercises, but thanks to this comic, I kind of want one.
  • Speaking of things I didn’t realize I wanted: of all the webcomickers that have drifted away from my daily attention, probably none has been so neglected as Marc Ellerby, creator of the long-wrapped Ellerbisms. I don’t know what it is — I like Ellerby’s work a whole lot, but if I don’t actively pay attention to him, he just slips off my radar for embarrassingly long intervals. The upside to this is I sometimes find in my absence, he’s completed entire works of comics that I get to enjoy all at once.

    Or maybe I’m lucky enough to catch a retweet of an announcement, such as this morning when Ellerby let us know that Gumroad has pay what you want pricing for Ellerbisms and Chloe Noonan. Ellerby’s Gumroad store is here and there I learn — holy crap! — that Ellerby is also illustrating for the Ricky & Morty comic book (makes sense — his style is right up the R&M alley). So go give him some attention and — more importantly — money.

  • I am behind on the news that Lumberjanes is being made into a movie; I could claim that I wanted to wait a couple of days to see if there would be any women assigned to the early creative effort, like pairing up with (or replacing) the screenwriter, but nothing since the news broke last week. That’s not really it, though — I saw the news last week and inexplicably didn’t write about it. Anyway. Lumberjanes is great, and if somebody on the inside can confirm something that I’ve been wondering about since the news hit — do Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters get paid as a result of the rights sale, or just BOOM!? — then all will be well (assuming I get the answer I want, namely, yes, the ladies are cashing big checks of screw this! money).

Spam of the day:
No quote, but a story. I got an email from a PR firm (bad start) that obviously just sent out a blast to every blog it could find regardless of relevance (gettin’ worse), asking me to consider covering the story of a 72 year old opera singer who is recording her first album and has only eight days left on her Kickstarter to reach funding. But the thing that tells me that this PR flack that I’m not going to name is very bad at her job is the fact that she didn’t include a goddamn link to the goddamn Kickstarter.

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¹ Man, I’m gonna miss having Gemma Correll delivered straight to my brain.

² A FitBit for your ClitBits.

³ Of course it’s Squirtle. I see what you did there, Erika.

I Come To Praise A Softer World, Not To Bury It

Because it’s not a person, there’s no body to bury … and if it were, it’d be the type of person to claw its way out of the grave and snack on the mourners at the funeral for maximum surprise. Joey and Emily are just spontaneous like that.

So here we stand: after one thousand two hundred and forty-three perfect little pillows of hope/despair, melancholy/sanguinity, sexiness/moresexiness, Emily Horne and Joey Comeau leave behind the project that has brought them some measure of internet fame, some measure of internet wealth¹, and critical adoration. Tomorrow’s going to be a less weird place, knowing that they aren’t conspiring together to put exactly the right words and photos together for maximum discomfort, disturbance, and serenity².

Instead, tomorrow they’ll be conspiring together to come up with exactly the right mix of comics for their retrospective collection, Anatomy of Melancholy, the Kickstarter for which will be open for another three hours or so (as I write this). At present, the campaign sits at a hair over US$230,000 which is a good 25 grand higher than the FFFmk2 predicted; it appears that they never added a stretch goal that amounted to We get to choose the good ramen for once, which personally I would have loved to have seen. It’s never good when a Kickstart fails to meet its obligations to backers, but if ever two people were perfectly suited to take a quarter-mil (minus fees) on the lam and never be heard from again, I’d say it’s Joey and Emily. It would be perfect.

But alas, everybody is gonna get exactly what they paid for, and Horne & Comeau will hopefully make a modest profit, but never enough to make up for the dozen years of toil and privation. Thanks for sharing what was inside you, I’m sincerely sorry it didn’t make you rich and famous, and remember — when faking your own death to make off with the money, the secret is to cut all ties with friends and family³. Just sayin’.


Spam of the day:

Bosley Special Anniversary Offer

Seriously, hair replacement? I need hair replacement less than I need to drop 26 pounds for bikini season. The only spam I’ve gotten that’s more wrong-headed was the one with the return address Racy Ukrainian Girls and the subject line Russian Girls are Pursuing Western Bachelors, Communicate Free Today Only. Russians and Urkainians are not the same, idiots!

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¹ That is, minimal, but neither of them starved to death or died of exposure.

² Except for the fact that they hit a stretch goal and will do five comics randomly over the next year.

³ I know Ryan says he can keep your secret, but he’ll slip up. Safer to just disappear.

On A Sunny Friday, Followups From Yesterday

  • Alison Wilgus, one of the new invitees to TopatoCon, was kind enough to drop a comment on yesterday’s post to let us know that there are still more new invitees to TopatoCon that we at Fleen missed.

    Aatmaja Pandya, Maki Naro, Matt Lubchansky, and Olivia Stephens are added to the list, the full version of which sits below the cut. Thanks for the info, Alison!

  • Also yesterday, TopatoCon invitee Dante Shepherd¹ let us know that his second great creative work, one that’s been under development for most of the past year, has launched:

    Holy hark. I’m a Dad. Again.

    Hey, world! Meet Torpedo! She’s 6lb 7oz and she’s utterly awesome.

    My ChemE dept just sent out an announcement that the baby arrived. They announced that her name truly is “Torpedo”. So that’s delightful.

    Torpedo, welcome to the world. It’s kind of loud and noisy and bright right now, but that’ll settle down soon enough. It’s also kind of stupid and cruel at times, but I think that if you follow your dad’s lead, it’ll become less so; if everybody followed your dad’s lead, it’d be cleared up before you’re old enough to read this. In any event, it’s the best world we have right now, and the only one we can offer you, so we’ll try not to mess it up too bad before we turn it over to you.

    Best of luck to you and your big sister Cannonball (senior henchman); she’ll help you learn your way around the important things in life, like your dad’s lab coat, his Red Sox cap, the junior faculty, and the chalkboard in the spooky basement. Remember not to eat the chalk, no matter how delicious it looks. Try to give your parents the occasional full night’s sleep and they’ll love you more than you ever thought possible.

    Oh, and maybe give your dad a break at feeding time? He’s not as tasty and nutritious as you might have hoped.

    Torpedo and mother The Swede are reportedly doing well; best wishes to everybody at STW Headquarters.


Spam of the day:

It is no secret that a boost in confidence and having a positive self-image can contribute to a woman’s over all well being but the majority of women do not have cosmetic surgery for anyone other than themselves.

Are … are you negging me?

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¹ A pseudonym for mild-mannered professor of chemical engineering Bruce Wayne.

(more…)

TopatoCon! And Also Less Good News Frowny Face

We’ll do good news first, okay?


Spam of the day:

If you are to lazy to write unique articles everyday you should search in google for:

Yes, that’s it — tell the guy that’s written maybe 2500 articles over nine and a half years that’s he’s lazy. I’m sure to buy your product and/or service!

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¹ And may Glob have mercy on that place where a soul would be in a regular person.

No Wasted Words

This is something that I’ve resisted writing for a while; I wanted to hold off and look at the work in question as a whole, but it’s become increasingly difficult as the story progresses and gets stronger and more revealing as it does. I’m probably jumping the gun a little, but today is when I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. And with that out of the way, I suppose I should tell you what the heck I’m on about.

I’ve written several times before that Meredith Gran was doing the best work of her career on Octopus Pie, and I meant it every time; I’ll go so far as to say that she’s the one of the few creators with a long-running comic that hasn’t hit a rut or plateau — she’s been on a long, improving arc, punctuated by bursts where she ups her game to an astonishing degree. Remarkably, each of those bursts takes a different approach.

She’s previously dropped in story arcs that played with the overall plot and progression of Octopie; she’s done arcs that played with the form of the comic. What she’s doing in the latest storyline (which starts here and which rewards a familiarity with the characters but which will still entice the first-time reader) trumps everything she’s done before.

Without ever once tipping her hand, she’s showing us how breakups work from multiple perspectives; she’s letting us hear the words (and not many of them, more on that in a bit) that come out of their mouths, but their body language¹ tells us when those words are false. We see the lies that these characters tell themselves and each other, we see them stripped down to their innermost cores, and there’s not a wrong beat or misstep along the way as the focus of the story shifts from Eve to Hanna to Will to Aimee. Everything that happens is smooth and organic and (in retrospect) inevitable.

And quiet. The words are perfect, the words are true, but the real revelations come in the silent panels, or the ones where the words are tiny and unimportant. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that partway through this storyline Gran made the decision to use social media in a different way — her day is quieter, and her comic is quieter, and every word has weight. I can’t find a single one that isn’t entirely necessary.

As Eve and Hanna and the presently absent (maybe permanently) Marek and Will and Marigold and all the other characters age out of their twenties, the exaggerated nature of their reality (overturned cars and evil skaters and escapes out windows and exploding lairs of evil geniuses and rock lobsters and renfaire misadventures and, and, and) is getting sanded down in the face of … reality? adulthood? There’s a palpable sense of change and maturation, that things can’t stay the way they have been. There’s a feeling that you can’t stay the way you were in your twenties, not unless you want to wake up one day and suddenly you’re fifty and have turned into Olly.

There’s a feeling of a stage of life — the one that comic keys on — coming to an end, and with it our time with the characters. I’ll miss them terribly, but in a period of time where Gran said she’s been working on layout and drawing, and when her writing has broken through to the next level, I can only imagine what her next project will look like when she can unleash those skills on something open and new and unrestrained. It’s a sad time in the Brooklyn of Octopus Pie, but it’s a great time to be reading Meredith Gran.

And tomorrow? Next month? Next year, and the years after that? They’re going to be even greater.

By happy coincidence, somebody else was in a pensive mood today; if you haven’t read Ryan North’s incredibly moving essay on A Softer World and his friendship with Emily Horne & Joey Comeau, now would be the time to do that.


Spam of the day:

Don’t continue putting off your lifestyle change.

Unlike Dentarthurdent, I am not having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle. It’s pretty good in fact, but thanks I guess?

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¹ Weirdly, it reminds me of Fury Road; I read a description online (and I’m sorry, I neglected to note who said it; if you know, please share!) that given the dearth of dialogue, Fury Road amounted to the loudest silent movie ever made. The emphasis on showing, the use of language to the degree required and not one syllable more, resulting in clarity of motivation … that’s what I’m getting at.

Birthdayapalooza

  • Every year, I resolve to remember the cluster of webcomicker birthdays that occurs at the end of May; since I’m already well into the missed the start and try to remember next year, bozo phase, I’ll point out that today is the co-birthday of Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, as if they could be any more adorable together. Additionally, it is Becky Dreistadt’s birthday, yesterday was Holly Rowland’s, and about three-four days back was Jeffrey Rowland’s¹.

    So happy [recent, in some cases] births-day, Jeffrey, Holly, Raina, Dave, and Becky! You are all awesome people.

  • Speaking of birthdays, I think I’ve got the upcoming birthdays of my youngest niece and nephew covered; I received over the weekend my copies (one to keep, one to give away) of Evan Dahm’s² Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation, and with any luck the next couple of weeks will bring my copies (one to keep, one to give away) of Zach Weinersmith and Boulet’s³ Augie and the Green Knight.

    Here is my question: given those two books, which would you give to the younger sister, and which to the older brother? I’m leaning towards Oz for the older brother (as he’s just about old enough to read it for himself) and Augie for the younger sister (as she’d need either one read to her, and Augie’s such a kick-ass hero and it’s never too early to start that habit in nieces).

    I imagine that they’ll both end up reading (or having read to them) both books, I’m just wondering if anybody out there who’s maybe read the PDF backer copy of Augie or Oz has a definite idea of age ranges. Help me out, peoples, and make a couple of little kid birthdays happier.


Spam of the day:

Shed 25lbs of bellyfat for bikini season,

You really sent this to the wrong person; to get rid of 25 pounds from my abdomen, you’d have to remove at least four major organs.

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¹ Not so weird that such a cluster occurred; at one point in the past, there were three separate people (me being one of them) on my EMS agency with the same birthday; it’s just a matter of time until you get these coincidences and duplications.

Heck, some day I’m going to start a business with another Gary Tyrrell just so we can confuse people that call up the main phone line. Can I speak to Gary Tyrrell? Which one? The one that went to nerd school. Which one? The one that likes beer. Which one? The one that pronounces his last name like “Ferrell”. Which one? The trombone guy? Please hold for Mr Tyrrell.

² Who, by the by, yesterday started rerunning his seminal series Rice Boy with commentary over at Tumblr. Read it again for the first time!

³ Who, by the by, will be having his French-language books released in English, starting next April and continuing for the next half-dozen years or so. Goo news for those of us who can’t get enough Boulet.

Congratulations All Around

Since we spoke last, good news has come in from opposite sides of the country, and on this holiday (for those of you in the US, at least), I figured some good news would be just the thing.

  • Firstly, late Friday afternoon brought word that the Cartoon Art Museum has received a reprieve on their loss of location due to the kindness of their landlord (who have been working with CAM to resolve their rent issues longer than was generally known):

    The Cartoon Art Museum is delighted to announce that their month-to-month tenancy at 655 Mission Street has been extended through September 2015. Their current landlord, Brad Bernheim of Coast Counties Property Management, and Matthew Cuevas of Cappa & Graham, Inc., a San Francisco event management company, made this extension possible.

    … CAM’s lease was up a few years ago, and it has been functioning on a month-to-month since then. “We knew that we could not sustain our location as the economy skyrocketed and have been looking for a more long term space for a while,” says Executive Director, Summerlea Kashar.

    “I was really touched when Cappa and Graham came to me with the offer to help extend our current term in our location, even just for a few months. For all of the businesses that feel like the economy and the landlords have been pricing us out, it was heartwarming to hear that Matt and Brad were willing to support us,” remarked Kashar.

    Good news indeed, and from the sounds of it the landlords have gone out of their way to support CAM; the press release noted that their lease actually elapsed several years ago, and they had been accommodated¹ on month-to-month basis since. Congratulations to CAM for getting three months more for keep their collections and programs in the public eye before being forced into what will hopefully be a brief hiatus.

  • Meanwhile, on Saturday night in Washington, DC, the National Cartoonists Society’s 69th Annual Reuben Awards were given out, and while I wasn’t able to be there, Brigid Alverson was on hand to let us know about the awards as they were given out. Most relevant to this page, I for once saw the two nominees I was rooting for take the division awards for Online Comics — Short Form and Online Comics — Long Form.

    In the Short Form category, Danielle Corsetto won for Girls With Slingshots, and was on hand to receive the plaque. In the Long Form category, Minna Sundberg won for Stand Still, Stay Silent, and was in Finland instead of DC but that’s okay.

    I’ve mentioned my involvement in the NCS online comics division awards in the past; I’m not going to go into either the comics that were presented by the advisory committee to the jury for selection of the final three nominees, or which comics I specifically nominated, I will say this: Sundberg and Corsetto didn’t just win, they were selected to move onto the voting round against the best webcomics we could find, and then they captivated the electorate².

    To put it another way: an organization with a significant percentage of its membership in the 80+ age range chose the short form webcomic based on a lesbian wedding storyline and a long form webcomic where a major plot point is the divergence of Scandinavian languages. I don’t know about you, but to me that says that generational distance aside, cartoonists recognize great cartoonists.

    Congratulations, Danielle Corsetto and Minna Sundberg — I can’t wait to see what you each come up with tomorrow.


hi!,I love your writing so a lot! proportion we keep up a correspondence more about ykur post on AOL? I

This is probably going to sound terribly elitist of me, but I try not to have any correspondence on AOL.

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¹ So to speak.

² Each nominee’s work was represented by a selection of twelve strips — either sent along with their nomination paperwork, or compiled by a committee member that nominated them. I’ll share that of the comics I placed in nomination, I did my best to end on a cliffhanger, and I’m confident that I caused some archive binges.