The webcomics blog about webcomics

News On A Tuesday

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip; after the booze and pizza and crazy bread, Beef and Ray make the long trip home from Wasco to 62 Achewood Court. After getting zero (Beef) or a minor fraction of 8.504 lbs (Ray) of solids across three days in the Acres, I imagine Our Heroes gorged themselves heartily. I would guess that decision was pretty contributory to Beef’s ultimate reflection on what The Fight meant¹.

Things are happening today, my friends. Things!

  • Firstly, and I expect that you all know this by now but I would be remiss, but Homestuck updated for the first time since July last night. Woo!
  • Secondly, the much-anticipated Kickstart for Irregular Webcomic’s first print collection hit in the early-morning hours (if you’re in the Western hemisphere, at least). Some twelve hours later it’s just shy of 19% of the way to goal, with 29 and a half days to go. One notable thing to point out is that although IW creator David Morgan-Mar (PhD, LEGO®©™etc and semi-pro Mr Bean impersonator) is Australian, the book is being handled by the folks at Make That Thing in *hampton, MA, USA, which leads to the ironically awful situation that Morgan-Mar needs to charge some $31 (Australian) to ship books to his fans across town.

    This is such a terrible thing that he’s actually set the shipping costs for “rest of the world” (basically everyplace that isn’t US/Canada) to AU$28, meaning he’s going to take a loss of AU$3 (about US$2.25) for each order back to his own country. To make up for this, he’s introduced a special backer tier for US/Canada fans only (about 80% of his readership) that adds one slim Aussie Fun Buck to the regular price of the book reward:

    THE BOOK+POSTAGE GOODWILL (US/Canada only): A copy of the print collection book + a PDF digital copy. The extra dollar is your goodwill to help offset postage costs for non-North American buyers.

    I’m pleased to note that as of this writing, 22 US/Canada backers have opted to kick in the extra Australian dollar (about 75 cents, US; 1 buck, Canada) to help subsidize purchasers elsewhere. Nicely done, all.

  • Thirdly, today is the launch day for the first two of First Second’s new line of educational graphic novels, namely Science Comics: Dinsoaurs, Fossils and Feathers and Science Comics: Coral Reefs, Cities of the Ocean. When I got my review copies in the mail a while back (the usual voluminous thanks to Gina Gagliano at :01 Books), the attached info sheet said they would be releasing in April, but that was subsequently moved up and caught me by surprise.

    Thus I’ve not read Coral Reefs to the degree that would allow a proper review, but I can talk about it generally. It’s by Maris Wicks, and it’s about marine biology (which happens to be her day job and all) and it’s got the same effortlessly informative style as her previous Primates and the recent Human Body Theater. It’s great.

    But of course I’ve read Dinosaurs more thoroughly. It’s about dinosaurs, people, and I firmly adhere to Charlie It’s always a good day for dinosaur news! Pierce’s dictum regarding the terrible lizards: Dinosaurs existed then to make us happy today.

    It’s by MK Reed and Joe Flood, who previously collaborated on :01’s The Cute Girl Network (which was about dating in Brooklyn among the underemployed and undermotivated — it’s a hoot and a half). It’s pitched directly at kids just starting their serious independent learning about dinosaurs (say, 10 years old), and as such there were a few things that may need to be explained to the younger reader to avoid confusion.

    1. Nonlinearity; kids may not be aware of the device that says Oh hey, that thing we told you before? Not so much in telling a story. There are end notes (without indications in the text that notes exist, which actually simplifies things — they can go back and re-read the sections that get elaborated on) and a recurring motif that works well after you notice it: every once in a while there’s a page that talks about what was known at a particular point in time from the POV of that point in time². It’s really neat, but kids may need some coaching to put themselves not just in somebody else’s brain, but at a different point in history to appreciate what’s being presented.
    2. Editing oversights; at one point, the classic explanation of the two divisions of dinosaurs by hip type — the “bird hipped” ornithischians and the “lizard hipped” saurischians — is illustrated in classic fashion by pointing out the pubis bone pointing backwards (ornithischians) or downwards (saurischians). To make it clearer, a sample pelvis is shown, with the pubis in yellow for the saurischia and green for the ornithischia.

      Then, on the next page, the bones are drawn in place on a variety of dinosaurs with the colors reversed. The ornithischians suddenly get a yellow pubis and the saurischians green, which caused me to stop reading to figure out why I was confused. There’s also a bit of text late in the book that’s supposed to say that dinosaurs lived 250 – 65 million years ago, but actually says 25,065 million years ago. Whoops.

    3. Art trumping facts; The very first page of the book contains the caption For 165 million years, dinosaurs walked the Earth, with herds of ceratopsians, hadrosaurs, some non-specific sauropods, and a couple of large carnosaurs out looking for snacks. Overhead, some pterosaurs float lazily. So far, so good.

      The next two pages are the splash pages, with captions that read And flew. And swam., with a very active scene of aerial and aquatic beasties. There’s pterosaurs, archelons, plesiosaurs, icthyosaurs, mosasaurs, none of which are dinosaurs, argh (look ’em up).

      Yes, this is me being pedantic, and yes, they walk back and let the reader known that long dead + reptile-looking does not always equal dinosaur, and yes, the overall theme of the book is about how we have spent a few hundred years learning what dinosaurs were by replacing earlier conceptions with newer ideas.

      But if you’re going to be working in an educational context, you can’t make this big a mischaracterization in the opening pages because the kids will eat you alive for this kind of mistake³.

    All of which just means you’ll have to explain literary devices and editing and artistic choices to the kids that read this book. They’ll get it, kids are smart. Use it as a way to bring up the fact that we’re constantly learning and correcting ourselves, such as when we all had to learn that there were no Brontosaurs, only Apatosaurs. Except for this note on the last story page of the book:

    A lengthy reexamination of the different species of Apatosaurus lead researchers to conclude that there were enough differences to make Brontosaurus its own genus again, weeks before this book was due at the printer.

    Fact: Brontosaurus is now MK and Joe’s least favorite dinosaur.

    None of which is any reason not to run out and get this book immediately. It gives props to a series of early dinoscholars who have traditionally been overlooked (especially women), rightly notes that Richard Own was a complete dick to everybody, and handles the frankly hilarious topic of dinopoops with exactly the dignity and gravity they deserve.

    Plus feathers everywhere. Cool.

Spam of the day:

Science Proves Biblical-Cure – Atheists Stunned

This particular atheist will be stunned when the Bible gets the value of pi more accurate than three. No wonder Solomon had to import architects from Tyre to build his palace.

¹ I ain’t pooped in five days. Excuse a man.

² I’ll have to quote some to make it clear:

In the year 1800 …
The Earth is 6006 years old.
Dinosaurs are known as monsters.
They lived a few thousand years ago.
They disappeared because of Noah’s flood.
There are no examples of dinosaurs living at this time.
We are certain about all of this.

In the year 1854 …
The Earth is 400,000 years old.
Dinosaurs are known as extinct reptiles.
They lived a hundreds of thousands years ago.
They disappeared for unknown reasons.
There are no examples of dinosaurs living today.
We are certain about all of this.

In the year 1920 …
The Earth is as much as 400 million years old.
Dinosaurs are known as extinct reptiles.
They lived 3 million years ago.
They disappeared because they lost the survival of the fittest.
There are no examples of dinosaurs living today.
We are certain about all this.

³ I still remember standing in the dinosaur halls of the Royal Ontario Museum close to 25 years ago when a small girl came tearing around the corner and stopped dead to look at a model looming over us. She was maybe six years old, absolutely adorable, and her mother asked What’s that one, honey? Is it a plant eater?

She shot back with all the conviction in the world Mom, it’s a Parasaurolophus. She was right, and her pronunciation was dead on. If today she’s reading Dinosuars to her six year old, she’s going to stop on pages 2 and 3 and have the same argh moment I did.

Europe And Rather Too Many Em Dashes

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: Uncle George, and we discover that although Ray dug down deep to find he truly was Blood of Champion, he was ready to bribe his way out of the Fight the minute it became necessary (or at least attempt to). Ray contains multitudes.

We’re heading east today, to the continent of universal health care — that would be most of the rest of the world, Gary — and borderless borders — a contradiction in terms! — and ancient wines, beers, and cheeses¹. Europe!

  • Our first stop is in France, cradle of so many of the arts (comics not the least of them) and home of Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin. One may recall that about a month ago I mentioned that Stela — the new mobile comics delivery platform — was getting a lot of attention and precisely zero release on Android, so I wasn’t able to offer up anything resembling a review.

    But! FSFCPL is in the iDevice fold, and Stela has recently released a French version, and he’s shared some thoughts on it for you. Key takeaway points:

    [O]nce you use it it becomes clear Stela’s purpose is to publish comics that embrace the 5 centimeters (that’s about 2 inches, for the metrically-challenged) width of today’s smartphone screens.

    That’s good, but Lebeaupin notes that Stela is really designed for handsets; viewing comics on an iPad means the comics are just scaled up, which makes for funnily huge lettering.

    These are comics that are native to that world: the panels are only as wide as the screen (nary a vertical gutter in sight) and can only extend vertically, but they can do so as much as desired because they are read by vertical scrolling. A panel may not necessarily fit on a screen (at least on an iPhone 5/5S/SE; I haven’t checked on the larger models)! An iPhone 5 screenful is a common size, but most of these comics have widely varying panels sizes, and anyway have conversations for instance that extend over multiple screenfuls: they don’t follow a pattern of identically-sized pages. The result is a very fluid flow and a reading experience that is meant to be fast. [emphasis mine]

    Bolded because I think that’s probably the most important selling point of Stela, however it should be balanced against another discovery:

    [I]mages are loaded dynamically and present a spinner if your scroll too fast before they have had time to load, as is traditional in iPhone apps: prioritize the flow, even if that means betraying some implementation realitie

    And some of the decisions (both technical and economic) are a bit bewildering:

    The comics are updated chapter by chapter (which make for checkpoints as well); the economic model is that the first chapter of each story is free, and you can get a subscription (using Apple’s in-app subscription system) to read after that. It is a single subscription global to the app, not per-series, so it works a bit like an anthology series. Comics are always loaded from the network, which bothers me a little: there is no way to preload while on WiFi to avoid eating into your phone data allotment, and no way to read at all if you are off the network. iPod Touches exist, you know. [emphasis mine]

    And depending on your inclination, those might be the dealbreakers right there — let your subscription lapse and you have nothing to show for it — as you’re only given access to what you’re reading right now. Stela is less a comics app than a comics rental platform; those that like to own their media (digital or otherwise), take note. And as always, thanks to FSFCPL for his review.

  • A bit futher east and north then, to the land of sauna and tango and linguistic anomalies — I’m speaking naturally of Finland — and Minna Sundberg. We at Fleen have been big fans of Ms Sundberg’s since we saw the crowdfunding campaign for the very pretty book of her first comic, and that regard has only grown since she launched her ongoing magnum opus, Stand Still, Stay Silent. Readers of this page will recall the fact that SSSS took the NCS Division Award for Online Comics — Long Form last May.

    And she’s been cranking out between three and five full pages a week (along with the odd interchapter hiatus of ten days or so) 879 days since November of 2013 — 500 pages in total as of today — making her one of the most productive cartoonists working right now. A page of comics written, penciled, inked, colored, and lettered in less than two days for nearly two and a half years? Sundberg is an unstoppable comics machine, and shows every sign of reaching Sergio Aragonés levels of speed and skill while still in her mid-20s. I can’t wait to see what she’s like in another decade.

    Happy Big Round Number Day, Ms Sundberg. Your work is great and you should feel great.

Spam of the day:


Damn it, I told you people I neither need nor want breast implants!

Dental Implants You Can Afford

Oh. I’d say Never mind but I don’t need dental implants either. Gots all ma teeths, don’t need fangs or tusks or anything like that.

¹ Now we’re talking.

Countdown To MoCCA Fest ’16

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip; we may imagine Beef and Ray tearing down the road, not yet able to form words.

MoCCA Fest is next weekend, and I’ll be seeing you there, yes? For those who’ve missed the new, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Festival (presented by the Society of Illustrators) is off tow its third venue in as many years (and its fourth overall), but the SoI folks know how to put on a show and I suspect this one will be as good as the last few, which keep getting subtly better. We’ve seen news about the venue, the show poster, the Guests of Honor, and the programming, so let’s talk about exhibitors that will be there. As usual, I’ve probably missed a few, so let me know of any necessary corrections.

  • Time was, MoCCA attracted an exhibitor pool that was heavily concentrated on New York (particularly Brookyln), with a lot of indie and webcartoonists in the mix; longtimers include the likes of Evan Dahm (table I276), Dean Haspiel (A112), Josh Neufeld (same), and Sylvan Migdal (H261, who I must have met at maybe the second MoCCA Fest ever).
  • A lot of the original cohort has come and gone, but there are newer indie and webcartoonists (many of them from Brooklyn) who’ll be there, including Rachel Dukes (I268), Jenn Jordan (H261), Aatmaja Pandya (F214), Carey Pietsch (F207), and Alison Wilgus (G231). Heck, some of their generation have become bona fide superstars like the omnipresent Noelle Stevenson (C135).
  • Also present since small times have been a strong mix of publishers — Abrams Books (G235/236), Fantagraphics (C136-139), :01 Books (D144), Pantheon (E158/159) — and institutions — Center for Cartoon Studies (E174/175), Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (E160-163), Parsons (J283/284), SVA (A118/119), Syracuse University (E166/167) — dedicated to the craft and perpetuation of comics.
  • And one of my favorite parts of MoCCA Fest has been its turnover; there’s always somebody new showing up, with stuff that looks interesting that I haven’t seen before. This year I’ll particularly be on the lookout for Olga Andreyeva (J291), Azure (D146), Alisa Harris (G231), and Ken Wong (I266). I would be remiss if I didn’t note that this list (and the one up above of the newer generation of Brooklynites and allies) is overwhelmingly made up of women; I suspect it will not be too many years before a show like this one has to have a panel that asks what it’s like to be a dude making comics.

Lastly, for any that have energy left over after a first day that’s likely to be packed full, SoI are sponsoring an afterparty/awards ceremony from 7:00pm to 11:00pm on Saturday night, although you need to be an exhibitor, volunteer, Guest of Honor, or otherwise VIP to get in. Fun starts with free beer from Flying Dog Brewery until it runs out (cash bar afterwards) and a small plates buffet; the MoCCA Fest Awards of Excellence ceremony starts at 8:00pm.

Keep in mind that the SoI dates from a time when a skilled trade like illustrators could purchase a fancy-ass building for their headquarters, and they’ve got a century’s worth of neat stuff on display. If you can go, I’d encourage you to do so; if you can’t, I’ll see you on the floor.

Spam of the day:

topkitchenremodeling Gorgeous Kitchens – Check it out.

No comment.

Anno Mirabilis

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: The Fight is done, The Acres are ruined. There will either be no winner in 2006, or co-winners; the Ruling Body has had their rules upended along with their infrastructure. All that is left is a rapidly receding plume of smoke in a rearview mirror.

We’re nearly there. We’re nearly finished. There is only the travel home and the hero’s welcome and the wind down; except there was no wind down.

Something changed in Chris Onstad after The Great Outdoor Fight; he’d been on a hot streak of classic stories for a couple of years, but the Fight was a different thing altogether, and any of the stories came after would have ranked with the very best of the strip but for their immediate predecessor. Let’s break it down:

  • The Great Outdoor Fight — 11 Jan to 30 March; 43 strips
  • One intercalary strip on 3 April

  • The Couch Saga (incuding Ebay Platinum Reserve) — 5 April to 16 May; 21 strips
  • One intercalary strip on 17 May

  • Magic Underpants — 18 May to 7 June; 10 strips plus 2 pages from Beef’s zine
  • The Badass Games — 8 June to 23 June; 8 strips

That’s a pretty much unbroken string of six months of stone fucks (as Ray would say), and then got followed up with the introduction of the Mexican Magical Realism Camera which came back two months later to propel:

  • Ray’s Mexican Magical Realism Adventure — 21 September to 25 October; 17 strips, plus 4 unrelated strips sprinkled in

And then at the end of the year, you get:

  • Mr Band — 11 December to 22 January; 21 strips, plus one unrelated

That’s the better part of a year of sheer brilliance, a run that wouldn’t be matched again (although a year and a half later you did get Cornelius’s New Laptop followed by Greeting Cards For Guys followed by Beef And Molly’s Wedding).

Those 120 strips made Achewood a deeper, weirder place, laying down ideas that have persisted for the ensuing decade. Until the Fight, high points were shorter arcs or single strips (I’m looking at you, The Bead Shop), or scattered over time (Beef Goes To The Moon ran from June to September of 2002, but was interspersed with many unrelated strips).

Not that Achewood was a fallow strip before the Fight, or after Mr Band, but this was the period when everything was firing on all cylinders and five years worth of excellence got crammed into one year. It was the best, weirdest time, and though we could see that something was changing even as it was happening, it’s only with the distance of years that we can see how much changed.

Without Achewood in January 2006 to January 2007, a lost of subsequent webcomics just don’t happen; the fact that Fight itself contains approximately as many strips as the entire run of Achewood for the past five years should serve to tell us only one thing: we were incredibly lucky to get that story and the year that followed it. And if every subsequent day has not always lived up to the new tradition, we will always have those 43 morsels of perfection.

Plus, and I don’t know if you noticed, but Ray ripped a guy’s face off.

Spam of the day:


Best regards,
Cedric Atizado

That was oddly efficient.

Books, Books, Books

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: In case you were wondering what happens when metals kiss and fuel turns lively, Ray and Beef are ready to demonstrate for you. One hopes that all the dudes (you know it’s dudes) up in Tower One got away without too much hurt, but honestly that is what they get for thinking Beef would just stand around with his butt on the back of his body.

Let’s talk about some books, shall we?

  • Since we spoke yesterday, Girl Genius: The City of Lightning has funded out and I will not be offering a prediction on its total. For one, while it met the criteria for the FFFmk2, that calculation would have placed GG:TCOL somewhere around US$95K +/- 19K and the book is already over the lower bound of that range as of this writing.

    Secondly, look at the daily data: steady, high funding for three days (in both dollars and backers), then BAM. Fourth day is significantly up in terms of both, before the fifth day (presently ongoing) looks like the first three. It’s not following the usual pattern of high initial response, long tail, and (presumably) a spike up in the last few days.

    The fourth day data may be explained by the fact that the Foglios sent out a notice of this KS to backers of the last one yesterday … three days into the campaign. They have a history of soft launching and not laying on the promotion for a couple of days, and damn if it doesn’t work for them.

    The per-backer dollar figure is right in line with the last two Girl Genius books, the lesser of which managed more than twice as many backers as TCOL has so far; with 20 days to go and no signs yet of a drop off, look for this one to at least double from its current totals.

  • I don’t believe that I mentioned that I got my copies of Lucky Penny (Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh) and Junior Scientist Power Hour: Volume One (Abby Howard) in the past little while, in fulfillment of their respective Kickstarts. Each is exactly as promised, and better than reading online.

    In the case of Lucky Penny, important plot points are much easier to catch when they are 15 minutes back in reading time, rather than months ago at two pages per week. In the case of JSPH, it’s a matter of editorial pruning, and the fact that maybe my favorite Abby Howard strip¹ is right at the beginning of the book and easy to find.

    Both are highly recommended; look for Lucky Penny at your nearest comic book store or book books store, and maybe Howard will put JSPH in her store at some point in the future so you don’t need to feel like a chump if you missed out on backing the project.

  • I’m not certain how I missed this one², but I see that the most charmingly cynical (or cynically charming) comic on the webs is getting ready to print its first collection:

    YES, that’s correct! Me and Anthony are gettin the first volume of BACK ready for ya. Cover done by our best boy John Keogh @tomselleck69

    The first book contains the entirety of the prologue to chapter 4. It’s almost 200 pages! It’s crazy! We also got letterer Britt Wilson to letter each chapter title, only seen in the archives on the site. Book also contains a bunch of sketches from Anthony AND myself (KC) from before the story began to little notes about characters or pages I’d send to Anthony.

    That, naturally, is the voice of KC Green, speaking for himself and Anthony Clark about BACK, which all right-thinking folk know is damn terrific. The announcement, by the way, is not a call for funding — the books are already at the printer, and with luck with premiere at TCAF in seven weeks time, and then on the TopatoCo Merchateria, HECK OF YES.

  • And a bare two weeks after TCAF will be the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo — CAKE for short — and there we should see the debut of Evan Dahm’s second volume of Vattu³ as well as a very Dahmian deck of playing cards. I suspect that both will be found in Dahm’s TopatoCo Boutiquery shortly thereafter.

Spam of the day:

Make Your Phone Your New Fax Machine

You think that I have a need for a fax machine in 2016? That’s so cute.

¹ Of course, I have a greyhound who does this, which may explain how Spoons on a quest through the Ass Realm is somehow only my second favorite.

² Actually, I do — I overlooked the link on the comic page (which only updates once a week), which links to a Tumblr, which is not a platform I subscribe to. Thus, it would be easy to miss for two weeks but that’s still on me.

³ And bang on time; estimated delivery on the book was listed as May, and CAKE is in May.

Review, Preview, Recap, And Commerce

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: I think it rests in the heart of every person — some deeply, some closer to the surface — the desire (if not always the opportunity, or the inclination) to make the metals kiss and the fuel turn lively. This time it is Ray that has the plan, and he has set Beef down and pointed him in the direction of victory.

  • There’s probably no indie creator with as recognizable a style that can be put to as many different contexts as Sophie Goldstein. Her artwork is slightly cartoony, and in the bright, colorful expression that you had in Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell you got the world’s cutest Apocalypse with a subtle, existential melancholy underneath. The environmental degradation of The Oven made use of her tendencies towards stark iamges.

    Her sense of blocky color is at its most Kochalkaesque in The Good Wife, providing a startling contrast with the body horror of the plot. Comics as different as Strands and Coyote clearly come from the same artist — and the very cynical undercurrent of the stories from the same writer — but have very different feels. Everything she does is at once the same and different.

    And most same and different of them all is House of Women, the first part of which garnered Goldstein an Ignatz Award in 2014, and the second part of which has been recently released in Goldstein’s store She was kind enough to send me a PDF copy recently and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

    Because that same style — that simple, clear style, no more lines than are absolutely necessary — is working overtime in House of Women, tackling such themes as colonization, homogenization, appropriation, gender (the males we see may as well be separate species from their corresponding females), and the breakdown of a sororal religious order as women lose the roles they chose for themselves (maiden, mother, and crone are there, but so is a fourth, a combination of the other three) and find themselves at odds.

    At first it seems to have a dim view of the titular Women — they land on a planet with the express purpose of capital-c Civilizing the poor, benighted, unenlightened, stupid natives for the benefit of their Empire — blundering about, sure of the rightness of their cause. The local advance agent — a male from Back Home, but alien in his own way — seems to be more in tune with the local planet and its natives, but he’s exploitative in his own way.

    The Women, in turn, are motivated by such noble impulses as Seeking Knowledge, Duty, Sacrifice, and Kindness, but not all those impulses turn out to be benevolent. Meanwhile, their notions of What Is Right clash against the implacable reality of biology on their alien world to tragic ends.

    Everybody’s convinced that they’re doing the best most sensible thing possible in whatever circumstances present themselves, and that’s the cause of all the troubles — nobody’s asking Do you need help? when Here’s what you need to do is available as an alternative. There’s greater tragedy coming in Part III, no doubt, and while some of it is beyond anybody’s control, a great deal is down to thinking that frontiers and other cultures are things to be messed about with. It’s an affecting, lingering read.

  • For those of you that missed the news, the newest Girl Genius book collection — The City of Lightning¹ — has gone up for pre-order on Kickstarter; as of this writing, more than 800 backers have contributed in the past three days, bringing the project to bout 75% of its US$70,000 goal. Which, granted, it a heck of a lot of money, but Kaja & Phil Foglio put together heck of beautiful books, on heavy paper, with eye-popping color (by Cheyenne Wright) on every page, and plenty of extras. Given that they historically see 3000-4000 backers, expect this one to go to the 2.5x to 3x funding level over the next three weeks.

    And look, this is the fifteenth Girl Genius collection², plus all the other print collections that the Foglios have done over the past couple decades, so they know this game. The art will be done (the strips in question ran from January to November of last year), the production work will be submitted on time, and the finished product will be in your (my) hands on time in July. The only reason not to pledge now is because you expect to see Professoressa & Professor Foglio some time after July and want the visceral thrill of handing them money in person. Me, my luggage is gonna be full enough at San Diego, so I’m pledgin’ now.m There, I just pledged.

  • If I were to name one person that I never would have met but for this blog, one person who I cannot imagine at this date being absent from my life, it would be KB “Otter” Spangler of A Girl And Her Fed. I discovered her strip in the summer of 2006 and got hooked pretty instantly; one AGAHF collection³, four tie-in novels, multiple minicomics, several terroristic threats against my person and sanity, numerous Thin Mints, and one trampling by her bear-sized dog later, Spangler and I are great friends.

    Oh yeah, her comic and her novels are stronger than ever. So there’s nothing for it but a retrospective:

    The comic will be ten years old in April! What better time to start releasing the archives on tumblr with occasional snide remarks?

    Keep in mind that Spangler’s art has come a long way in ten years, and that she’s done multiple passes at old strips to improve the art from its original state, but that her redos stop just shy of 100 strips in so pretty quickly we’ll be back to the no-eyes style that I still think of fondly (albeit with occasional snide remarks of my own). S’gonna be fun.

  • Oh, and did I mention up top that it’s Sophie Goldstein’s birthday today? And that to celebrate, she’s letting original pages from The Oven go for US$85 each, domestic shipping included? It’s her first sale of originals in years, so check out what’s still up for grabs before you miss out.

Spam of the day:

While we don’t know what the smitten Instagram star will wear on her big day

I know, I know, context is for the weak, but trust me — that sentence made absolutely zero additional sense in context.

¹ You didn’t think sparks were going to stop at mere Light, did you?

² In fact, there is a backer level that will get you all fifteen books if you’ve slacked off until now.

³ Disclaimer: I wrote the foreword.


This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: Ray shows surprising ingenuity in a moment of crisis, takes action, and surprises the hell out of Beef (who until now has been the master planner and anticipator of every possible outcome). We are all surprised.

We have mentioned on this page, some few times, that The Nib will be returning from the dead and taking up residence in the First Look Media family (home of The Intercept, amongst other sites). Nib generalissimo Matt Bors has managed to re-obtain the services of Eleri Harris Matt Lubchansky to help on the editorial side, and they’d like to get your pitches even if you aren’t named Matt:

We’re looking to publish the absolute best journalism, political satire and non-fiction comics, ones that grapple with the big issues of the day and the ones that haven’t been given enough attention?—?subjects that could benefit from coverage in comics form and touch on politics and culture in interesting ways.

Take a look back at the sort of work that The Nib published before its hiatus, and you’ll have an idea of what they’re looking for now: meticulous reporting that evokes righteous outrage; voices speaking on topics normally whispered because tradition and etiquette have demanded it; facts that you never learned in school; history as it’s happening; debunking of myths that kill.

And, because Matt, Eleri, and Matt were too polite to say in that post: they pay. Get opinionated, get irritated, don’t forget to be funny. And because Bors, Harris, and Lubchansky¹ are serious about having a wide variety of points of view, they’ll no doubt be including work from people that drive you (or at least me) up the wall and make you wonder Couldn’t they have written that check to somebody not worthless?


Because as much as creators like _______ and _________² piss me the hell off, I’m glad to see them on The Nib and hate-read them. It keeps me sharp to pick apart crappy arguments. It challenges me to make my own beliefs more logically coherent and truer to reality. And, as a friend of mine pointed out years ago when Pat Fucking Buchanan was running for president, it’s better to have your opponents in plain sight where you can keep an eye on them³ instead of letting them fester in the dark, unminded and up to who knows what.

Did I mention that they pay? Because they pay. Read the entire call so you know what they’re looking for and don’t waste their time, then contact them with pitches at thenib, which may be found at firstlook, a damn fine .organization.

Also, let me recommend that Matt Inman to do something in the vein of his Trump Armband for The Nib, because damn.

Spam of the day:

Lost in a tangle of bodies, two bad things happened to Arizona in the Pac 12 semifinals

I don’t know what any of that means, but it sounds hot.

¹ Not a law firm, but maybe it should be.

² No names, I’m trying to stay positive here, but assume that I hate whoever you hate and we’ll be besties.

³ Which is why I am — and you’ll never hear me use these words in any other context — grateful for Donald Trump’s current run for the White House. Because he is dragging out into the light a lot of people I should be keeping an eye on, most of whom work for him. And because if we want to have a better world, we need to keep an eye on those who would fracture it for their own short-term self-interest.

Special Sunday Posting Because Damn

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: The Jeeps.

Ray faces an impossible situation, and forced to choose between beating Beef to the point of crippling him and facing his own death, he chooses defiance. This is the spark of greatness that was in him all along, and we have no idea if he can make good on it, or if he will live down to his approved cowardice. But for now, the ruling body (which is still in lowercase, note) had better watch its collective ass.

Weekend Calling

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip, leading to the mother of all pregnant pauses.

And with it, the possibility of friggin’ snow. Let’s just do this while we still have the illusion of an approaching spring.

  • From Nilah Magruder, an eagle-eyed catch of a chance for webcomickers to get some notice in the broader pop culture:

    Hey webcomic creators send your webcomics to @RichcBarrett so he can review them for Mental Floss.

    In reference to a plea from the comics writer for Mental Floss:

    I wish more people would send me links to the cool webcomics they make so I can write about them. I’ve gotten bad about finding them myself.

    Webcomic creators just don’t do as much PR as they should I guess.

    I’m getting lots of great responses about this. Lots of webcomics to check out. Keep them coming.

    Tweeted last night that I wish webcomic creators would promote their comics to me so I can write about them. Woke up to a deluge of links.

    I used to be good at seeking out webcomics myself but it gets hard finding time as I’m getting tons of other types of comics sent my way.

    Webcomics are such a deep and varied world of comics. It’s hard even for me, much less a casual reader, to know where to even look.

    Thanks for kickstarting the response, Ms Magruder! You can see her next weekend at WonderCon in LA, Artists Alley table G-26.

  • Speaking of Kickstarting, two new webcomics fundraisers went up earlier to today: Tony Breed is looking to fund the first collection of Muddler’s Beat (it’s so good you guys) with the assistance of the fine folks at Make That Thing, and Brad Guigar is funding the ninth Evil, Inc collection (if my math is correct, he’ll have another three to go before he hits the recent reboot, so keep room clear on your shelves).

    They’re both just into the low tens of backers and about 10% to the their respective goals, but please note that Breed is only granting himself a two week window to fundraise, so there’s a bit more urgency there. Put ’em over the top, won’t you?

Spam of the day:


Are you saying I’ve got one of those alien implants? Cause I sure don’t have any other kind.

Making Things Better

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history:




He does not have time for your mush, and will hush you if need be. This strip, and particularly the last line, has stayed with me more than any other part of the Achewood canon, and possibly more than any other comic I’ve ever read¹. It doesn’t get much better than this.

  • You may have seen the announcement that the Harvey Awards are now open for nominations, with comics professionals being asked to suggest up to five nominees per category, as is the way of their people. Melanie Gillman stole a place in my heart with a wonderful suggestion for those of you in position to nominate:

    If you’re a comics pro, a good thing you can do today is nominate webcomics in categories other than just webcomics: …

    We almost never talk about how often webcomics artists are also top-notch writers & letterers & inkers & colorists, but we SHOULD.

    Too right. You can’t tell me that Tom Siddell or Dave Kellett isn’t putting together a story as good as any in print, or that Boulet or Minna Sundberg isn’t cranking out art that is the equal of anybody else’s. The idea that webcomics should have a singular award based on distribution method is antiquated, and will only go away as creators make their way into the non-segregated categories. It’s been happening — slowly, in fits and starts — over the past few years, and it never hurts to make it a conscious thought in circumstances like these. Some day it won’t require conscious thought at all.

  • Pivoting to less happy thoughts, Ryan Pequin² shared the news the other night that his cousin is seriously ill and wishes to visit her grandmother. Fortunately, she lives in Canada, where healthcare is not viewed as something to be earned³, but even making care something other than financially ruinous doesn’t remove all challenges.

    So Ryan’s cousin Megan would like to introduce her sons to the great-grandmother they’ve never met; given the circumstances, it’s not hard to imagine it will also be the last chance for both women to say goodbye to each other. As Kate Beaton (who is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up) observed, we all need a little help, sometimes, for the important things . There’s a crowdfunding campaign, and it represents a very real way to make a significant difference in multiple lives.

  • Still on the serious topics, but one with a bit of hope. Jackie Wohlenhaus does a long-running webcomic about the employees of a media megastore called Between Failures that I don’t believe I’ve mentioned here on the page before, but which I catch up on in a binge about once a year or so. Short version (and this is not the topic for today so I’m not going to expand on this thought): the strip reminds me of a cross between Archie and Real Genius.

    That’s not what’s important right now; the topic for today is a situation that Wohlenhaus has found himself in (and he’s not the only member of the creative community that’s been in this circumstance), where he’s become an inpromptu acute-care counselor for members of his audience in moments of crisis:

    I need to talk about this. — I’ve talked more readers out of suicide than I care to talk about. I don’t…

    When creators have mentioned to me that they’re in this position, I always think how unfair it is — to be put on the spot by a stranger, with the implication (sometimes the outright stated fact) that if you don’t find a way to say exactly the right thing they will harm themselves. It’s one thing to do it with those that you know, it’s another when you’re trained for it and it’s your duty (and trust me, even then it sucks), but however much you’ve made an effort to reach out to your audience, to build up a community? It’s still a stranger.

    I’ve seen the emails that creators have gotten after they’ve decided to get help because of this example in that strip — those are great. But to reach out to somebody and say Because of your creative work I feel you’re the only one I can unburden myself to is deeply, deeply troubling. On the one hand, people in pain need help; this is uncontroversial. On the other hand, to burden somebody not trained or equipped to help, and who must bear the burden of guilt if they can’t help? That’s not something we should ask people to take on.

    I really need to know if other creators go through this, so I’m taking this blog post and setting it adrift on tumblr like a message in a bottle. Just message me with a story, or reblog, or whatever. I just really need to hear what other people do in these situations. You don’t need to draw comic, it can be anything, writing, music, just whatever you do that makes people reach out to you when they’re at their lowest point. For some reason I really need to know that I’m not the only person who goes through this with people.

    I’m not at liberty to name names, Jackie, but yes. Other creators go through this. Because you say in your posting that you know that you’ve failed to prevent readers from harming themselves, let me take this opportunity to ensure that you don’t become pulled down into your own sense of failure over that. It’s admirable that you do try to help others — to muddle through as you put it — but your first obligation is always to take care of yourself. There’s a reason why they tell you on airplanes to secure your own mask before assisting others. So if being the object of readers in crisis is wearing on you, please get help.

    As for everybody else — people who are hurting, and those that know people who are hurting, and those who are approached by people who are hurting — there are resources you should know about. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), with hearing-impaired help at 800-799-4889 (for TTY users) or this link (for interactive chat). also operates an MMS service; you just text START to 741-741. Those in other countries, check the International Association of Suicide Prevention and

    You don’t need to do it alone — on either side of the needing help conversation.

Spam of the day:


Well! I was going to chuck this in the trash considering I’ve already done my taxes, but I see you have a little emoji that says BANK and also a megacephalic lady in stripper heels who I presume is meant to be my personal banker, so I’m sold!

¹ Possible contenders: Don’t ask, don’t ask, no possible good will come of asking (which I say to myself on a regular basis, along with the occasional Oh, blood and shale), and Has a name! Name-Is-Ed! (which is seriously making me tear up here at work), both of which are from Ursula Vernon’s incomparable Digger.

² At this point I can’t be the only one thinking that our sole hope for salvation from Donald Trump and Trumpketeers is President Bird.

³ Can’t work because of your illness? Try not to be so unworthy in your next life.