The webcomics blog about webcomics

Stay With Me On This

We’re about to get philosophical up in this business, verging on straight-up nostalgia.

So I went out to a comic book store last night after work; everything on my pull list is waiting for me when I get back home tomorrow, but sometimes you find something that you didn’t know you were looking for. Last night, that something was noticed on the way out of the shop (Ssalefish Comics & Toys, btw), where a poster adorned the side of a rack next to the door.

A poster from the 2007 American barnstorming tour by Liz Greenfield in support of Stuff Sucks, whose onetime-website is now a clickbait Tumblr. For those of you too young to remember Ms Greenfield (aka the John Cusack of webcomics, seen in the photo here), the first six pages of Stuff Sucks can be seen here, her more recent webcomic, Swallow, was discussed at that photo page, and you can of course trawl the Wayback Machine up to 2009 or so.

Which got me to thinking about comics that are essentially lost to time — Return To Sender (safe to Wayback to 2005 or so), Skirting Danger¹ (stopped updating half a year before this blog launched), and more — ephemera remembered by those of us that loved the work, oftentimes early enough that the creators don’t necessarily feel any great affections for it.

Which has me wondering if there’s a place in webcomics for something like the Internet Archive, but focused — keeping webcomics in a safe place against the possibility of computer crashes or database corruptions or lapsed domains or evil, evil scammers. There’s moral, legal, and ethical considerations, but I’d love to be able to read through Stuff Sucks again, easily, in its original context.

Yes, I have the CD jewelbox²-insert-sized Stuff Sucks print comics (heck, I’m still carrying the iPod Nano with the Stuff Sucks wrap on it), but what about Return to Sender? Or Skirting Danger? I am talking here about comics that disappeared ten years ago and when I stop remembering them, it’ll be like they won’t have existed at all.

Except RPG World; there will always be one person that asks Ian Jones-Quartey about it at a Steven Universe³ panel and strengthen his resolve to never go back to it. In a way, it’s immortal.


Spam of the day:

A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism. — Chicago Daily Tribune

I choose to believe that the Trib is talking about me, so thanks for that.

________________
¹ Fun fact — back in the day, I browsed to Skirting Danger while it was in that space between hiatus and retired and saw that the domain had expired. I gave the registrar ten bucks and renewed it in Meredith’s name because I liked it.

² Ask your parents.

³ And because I haven’t specifically mentioned it — how great was that last burst of episodes at the end of Season One? So great.

Oversight

It occurs to me that while I mentioned programming at the upcoming MoCCA Fest t’other day, I neglected to make mention of the special guests that will be there. Obviously, Scott McCloud and Raina Telgemeier will be there, what with their spotlight panels being discussed, but there are loads of others.

(For those wondering who is going to be at EmCity, which kicks off tomorrow, the answer is: everybody. Every person in webcomics is gonna be there.)

Joining Telgemeier and McCloud as special guests will be Aline Kominsky-Crumb: painter, cartoonist, collaborator with husband R. MoCCA has also always made a concerted effort to bring cartoonists (both guests and exhibitors) in from overseas (remember the year of the Swedes?), and continues the tradition this year. The emphasis this year is on French-speaking countries, from when come:

  • Pénélope Bagieu (known for comic bloggery and her collaborations with Joann Sfar and Boulet)
  • DoubleBob (whose pencil-centric style has found a home in Belgium, in contrast to the ligne claire style)
  • Annie Goetzinger (with a career of longform work, especially graphic novels dealing with societal and historical issues)
  • Ilan Manouach (whose experimental comics are a part of a larger creative output, including music and publishing)
  • Anne-Françoise Rouche (founder/director of an arts center catering to the mentally handicapped)
  • Barbara Stok (the token non-French guest; she’s from Holland and known for humorous autobio as well as a comic biography of Van Gogh)

Several of the international guests are touring in support of their first translated-into-English work, so it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor in following talent that new to those of us that don’t speak French, Dutch, or the Belgian variations on French and Dutch.

MoCCA Fest runs Saturday and Sunday, 11 and 12 April, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. See you there.


Spam of the day:

93 Mouth-Watering Quick Easy Recipes at a Whooping 66% discount!

I’m not sure if you mean a whopping discount (as discounts typically do not whoop, but honestly — do they whopp?), but that’s actually the lesser of my concerns. What exactly is being discounted? The recipes themselves? The watering mouths? Enquiring minds want to know!

Squirrels, Man. Friggin’ Squirrels

Let’s find some things to talk about that don’t involve the little fluff-tailed bastards.

  • Apropos of it always being a good time to keep an eye on the current goings-on around George, this note from George Rohac:

    Huh, wasn’t even paying attention – Crowdfunding Projects I’ve advised or worked on cracked 10,000,000 cumulative total.

    That would be ten million dollars, in case it wasn’t clear … United States cash money dollars. Perhaps more impressively, George has shepherded (by my count) some 30 projects to successful completion, as he is a man who brooks no nonsense, a man before whom logistical roadblocks evaporate, a man who considers reward fulfillment at the promised to time to late, and reward fulfillment a month prior to promised time to be on time. I would very much like to see George and Spike combine their powers to produce a Kickstarter guide that incorporates wisdom from the both of them¹.

  • Apropos of the fact that art thieves suck, Gemma Correll reports that multiple retailers have nothing better to do than steal her designs. This is a repeating story, one I can’t even run every time it crops us because it crops up so damn frequently, but this is the first time I’ve noticed Correll getting hosed and I am more than willing to call out the likes of Yes Style [no link, they suck] and Light In The Box [ditto]. Actually, no, let me provide one link for each of them: Yes Style’s CEO can be reached here, and Light In The Box’s investor relations officer² can be reached here. Be polite, but make your irritation known.
  • Apropos of the fact that his Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation is on the verge of shipping³, news of the start of Evan Dahm’s next classic illustration project starting imminently:

    Moby-Dick illustrations start on April 1 http://mobydickillustrated.tumblr.com/

    I kind of want Dahm to become a one-man, latter-day Classics Illustrated shop. I want a shelf full of handsome hardcovers of the greats of literature, with the exception that if he decides to illustrate The Great Gatsby I will opt out because I hate, hate, hate that book.


Spam of the day:

A Newly Released NASA Study Details Exactly How to Kill from All Types of Diabetes

I suspect that you do not know what NASA does, or hope that I do not. Either way, screw you.

_______________
¹ Then again, I don’t want George to lose his powers by sharing them too widely. There’s a fine balance to be followed here.

² Because I can’t find another way to contact them unless you have an order number, the cowards.

³ Not due until May 2015; cf: George, above.

Welp, No Comic Con For Me, Maybe Ever Again

I didn’t enter today’s hotel rodeo because I still have received no assurance that I’d be let in the front door¹ and hell if I’m spending the money to get out to San Diego and not get in; let’s focus on shows that answer their damn email.

  • EmCity happens later this week, and there’s a plethora of webomicky programming going on. Of particular note, you may find Spike, Destroyer of All That Oppose Her on four panels:

    MY 4 ECCC PANELS: Running a Comics Anthology- Fri, 1:10 Adult Comics- Fri, 6:50 Non-Compliant- Fri, 5:00 Discussing Diversity- Sun, 3:50

    The one on Adult Comics will also feature Leia Weatherington and the invaluable Hurricane Erika and Blue Delliquanti

  • And for those that want to learn some of the best tips for making your way in the waters of business, superlawyer to the creative community Katie Lane will have a series of appearances: building up your legal toolkit, on the role of the artist in this electronic world (with Gene Ambaum, Pat Race, and Nadia Kayyali), and how to negotiate like a murderous acrobatic spy. If you aspire to destroy all those that oppose you (and truthfully, who doesn’t?), that last panel is a good place to start.
  • After you’re done bein’ all adult and all lawyerly, there’s a screening of STRIPPED Friday at 6:00pm in Hall A, with a Q&A featuring Danielle Corsetto, Kris Straub, Dylan Meconis, and the very sexy Brad Guigar (we appear to have looped back around to the adult portion of the show, if you know what I mean).
  • Not to be outdone, MoCCA Fest released their programming schedule for this year’s show, with a Q&A with Scott McCloud and another with Raina Telgemeier being the two standouts to my eye. Given its size, MoCCA only does a dozen programs, only two at a given time, so you can see a significant fraction of the offering if you’re determined to do so. Reminder: the programming is not at the main venue (Center 548), but rather about 2 blocks away at the High Line Hotel; see the map on the programming page.

    Please note that due to limited space in the panel rooms, the Q&A sessions on Saturday require a reservation which you can get by “purchasing” a free ticket. Yeah, it’s a pain to sign up for an account, but Raina! Scott! Worth it.


Spam of the day:

Hi, my name is Pauline and I am the marketing manager

Nnnnnnope!

_______________
¹ If I didn’t earn back my press status this year, SDCC, just bloody tell me. Don’t not tell me by your own announced deadline and then refuse to respond to my enquiries for three damn months.

Okay, Client Site Gig Is Kicking My Ass

Tech issues, connectivity issues, book issues, logistics issues. It is a perfect Monday, so this is going to be quick:

Okay, back to my ass-kicking; that is, getting my ass kicked, not engaging in the kicking myself.


Spam of the day:
My life is spam today.

Last Weekend In September

As promised, I spoke to Holly Rowland, fancy lady and TopatoCo Vice President of Kicking Your Ass about the upcoming TopatoCon. The following is not an interview with precise quotes, but reflects the conversation we had.

On why she wants to run a con:

In part, it comes from the fact that it’s been nearly five years since New England Webcomics Weekend was last held; in part, it comes from going to a bunch of different conventions and making an internal wishlist of all the things you want to see in one place. Sometimes that’s a balancing act: you don’t want to be on panels, but you don’t want an absence of programming; you don’t want just comics, but you don’t want a huge pop-culture extravaganza either.

TopatoCo’s creators are at the center of a Venn diagram of a bunch of different things — comics, music, podcasting, books, comedy, film making, game design — and it’s a good time to find a show that embraces all of those things, along with the sense of camaraderie you get from something like MaxFunCon.

On how that fits in with the curated exhibitor selection:

Rowland and her fellow showrunners (Sara McHenry of Make That Thing and Rich Stevens of … everything, really) want to keep the feel of the show consistent; curating means that they can balance the number of comics artists with those that create streaming content, or podcast, or make music. Finding a messload of creators that do multiples of those things (I’m definitely thinking that Kris Straub should get in contact with Rowland) would be the dream.

On why now, instead of last year or next year?

Verbatim answer: Because my business coach yelled at me. She was talking about her big dream, what kind of show she’d like to see, and he kept saying Go. Go do that. Don’t wait, it’ll make you happy.

On the size and scope of the show:

In part due to the available space in part to keep the first year¹ from getting out of hand, there will be a limit of 70 exhibitors and 2000 tickets sold. But those limits will allow for some interesting choices — for example, there won’t just be a tabletop gaming area, there will be a tabletop gaming area where you play with the game’s designers and there will be table service that will bring you beer and chicken fingers.

I’ve never used a standout color for text on this blog in going on ten year but I had to; with that single decision, Rowland has invented a model that every other show will try to emulate because goddamn is that brilliant.

On when we get logistic details:

Exhibitor applications will be opened up on Monday, 23 March, and run for a month. When the curation process is done, the exhibitors will be announced along with venue details. However, we can share that TopatoCon will be held in a hotel with conference center capabilities, and two nearby hotels are also going to have room blocks available.

The first day of the event (Friday, 25 September) will be out-of-hotel, with various community-type events while setup is wrangled. Saturday and Sunday will each be $20/day; the organizers have opted against weekend passes, as they want to give as many people as possible the ability to attend. Too often shows have seen multiday passes go to somebody that only uses it part of the time, so this approach is designed to make people think about when they’ll actually be there. To help make it easier to attend, passes will be transferable.

On big names attending:

Nothing to share yet, but she’s got big dreams. Oh yes, she does.

Fleen thanks Ms Rowland for taking the time to answer our questions, and for continuing to kick asses.


Spam of the day:

michael kors online shopping outlet

Michael Kors is a bitchy, ambulatory tangerine². Put him in room with John Boehner (ugggh) and Guy Fieri (the human cheese-fry) and you will have all the most unfortunate personal-style decisions ever made in one place.

________________
¹ With the plan that TopatoCon will become an annual event, assuming nothing disastrous happens.

² Which, let’s be honest, is why I loved him on Project Runway; nobody is as creative in their dressing-down of the defiantly egotastic as Kors. But man, he’s got to cut back on the tanner.

Only One Story Today (And, Most Likely, Tomorrow)

So maybe a week-ten days ago, TopatoCo Vice President of Kicking Your Ass Holly Rowland put a tweet out into the aether that caught my eye with its mysteriousness:

Are you a TopatoCo creator? You just got a SUPER RAD EMAIL, my friend.

I was wondering what was up with that, given the immediate enthusiastic responses that it gathered¹; the medium being Twitter and the participants being webcomickers there was discussion of ASCII dicks, but mostly enthusiastic agreement to something the rest of us were not privy to.

I suspect that we now know what was in that email:

Twitter buddies, would you like to know a secret? Look at this; http://www.topatocon.com/

At the time that the news broke I was giving a tour of an ambulance to a troop of Daisy Scouts², but my reaction when I found out was spontaneous and heartfelt. For everybody that’s missed the magic of those two New England Webcomics Weekends of March 2009 and November 2010 and wondered if the magic could ever strike again, it appears that the answer is yes:

Announcing the first TopatoCon. We’re putting together some of the best people in comics, podcasting, indie gaming and music.

In addition to our 70 exhibitors that we’re collecting from all over the internet, we’re going to have three programming tracks: we’ll have live podcasts, TED-style talks about comics and culture, and premium workshops where attendees can learn a hands-on skill. Plus! Tabletop gaming, nightly events, and more!

We’ve had a bit more information since then: exhibitor applications open up on Monday, it’s being run by the folks at TopatoCo (duh), probably with an assist from Rich Stevens because nothing happens in that town without his say-so. Given the depth of their involvement in NEWWs 1 & 2, I have no doubt that this show is going to run like friggin’ clockwork, because they know how to make shit happen. Since there are fewer than 60 TopatoCo creators to fill 70 exhibitor slots, we’ll see at least some creators from outside the TopatoCo family. Past that, it’s all speculation at this point.

But! We’ll know more tomorrow, because in a few hours I’ll be talking with Holly and getting as much info from her as I can so that we can all start making plans. In complete and utter honesty, the very first thing I did when I got to work today was put in for vacation time; you cannot keep me away from this event and I very much want to see you there.


Spam of the day:

3, see text.Rhamphotrygon Sundevall, 1872

When I saw this (in a spam shilling for a cheat-on-your-spouse website) I thought that Rhamphotrygon sounded like a relative of Rhamphorhynchus but it turns out it’s a genus of Tyrant Flycatchers, which sounds pretty bad-ass. Not as bad-ass as pterosaurs, but I’ll take it.

_______________
¹ My best guess at the time: TopatoCo had prevailed upon the IRS to declare that all monies made via their webcomics merchateria had been declared “a public good” and thus subject to a tax rate of minus 47% and they were all getting enormous checks from the feds.

² Adorable, but slightly exhausting.

Again With Toronto

I got more comments on the post last week where I mused on the lack of a single, highly-visible song with which one might reference the grand T-Dot than any other recent topic. And here we are again with the news coming from that noblest of cities.

  • To start with, you got your Chris Butcher, retailer, showrunner, relentless promoter and lover of comics and those that make them, and real-life counterpart to the best character in Scott Pilgrim’s world. He’s been a major force in Toronto becoming a center for the comic arts, and it seems that scarcely a week goes by that he doesn’t get to announce something cool. Today, it’s the TCAF pop-up shop in the Toronto Reference Library, launched for the most recent year-end holiday season, with the promise of converting to an ongoing retail endeavour. Today, that conversion comes true:

    The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is thrilled to announce that its festival shop is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Located inside Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge Street, we’re pleased to announce that the shop has been newly rebranded as Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop (with a spiffy new logo design by illustrator Chip Zdarsky), and the store will continue bringing the very best of comics, graphic novels, art, design objects and book culture merchandise to Toronto.

    [Please note that the logo mentioned does not feature even one set of genitals.]

    Page & Panel already has author events planned for tonight (for Toronto anthology comic Monstrosity 2), 30 March (Carson Ellis), and 1 April (Jim Zub), as well as exclusive merch from local creators like Kate Beaton¹ and John Martz. Congrats to everybody at TCAF and TRL for making this happen.

  • Staying in Hogtown and speaking of Jim Zub, everybody knows that like every week is Jim Zub week down at the comics shop, but there’s a special coinciding of Zub-owned comics coming next week. 25 March is when we’ll see the release of both the first issue of the last Skulllkickers (aka the series that really launched Zub’s current career trajectory) story arc, and the first issue of the second Wayward (aka the series that took all the hard work that Zub’s put in since Skullkickers #1 and bumped it up even higher) story arc, along with the trade paperback of the first Wayward trade collection. While it seems the dude’s got comics coming out all the damn time, I’m declaring next Wednesday to be Zubday.
  • And rounding out our tour of The Big Smoke, Ryan North² has some news for us today regarding the interactive game version of To Be Or Not To Be:

    DID YOU KNOW:

    There’s now an Android and iOS version of this game, out THIS VERY DAY??

    Yesssssss it is a FACT

    I believe that this means that every single possible vector for distributing North’s CYOA version of Hamlet is now covered. If you don’t own at least one, there is something distinctly wrong with you.


Spam of the day:

Going time for the furnishings shop in Gloucester example

I am utterly unable to parse what this was meant to convey.

_______________
¹ Speaking of whom, Beaton is back in The Queen City after her book-promotion trip to Germany which she has comic-chronicled here and here. They aren’t trip-home-to-see-the-family comics, but if you’ve ever wondered about medieval German torture devices designed to wreck your butthole at 9:00am on a Sunday morning — and I sincerely hope that you have — then these will be right up your alley.

So to speak.

² AKA The Toronto Man-Mountain, AKA He Who Has Returned, AKA Lord of Castle North.

Revisits And Continuations

I wonder which is better -- Cub sauce on everything, or room temperature cocoa.

Lots of things getting back into the swing today. Good times, good times.

  • First of all, I don’t wish to get up any hopes, but it appears that there is a new content page at Broodhollow¹, following a chapter title page last week. It’s been a long hiatus, what with Kris Straub welcoming a small alive human into his life and designing the book 2 Kickstarter and in his copious free time making all kinds of other media.

    There’s a million ideas inside of Straub, all demanding to be brought into the world in some form or another, but I suspect that Broodhollow is the one that he will look back on as the most personal and closest to his heart … and the jokes on the new page ain’t bad either. Welcome back to West Virginia’s most eccentric town; hope you decide to set and stay a while.

  • Likewise, I don’t want anybody getting too excited, but in the past week we’ve seen as many updates to the long-paused Misery Loves Sherman as we’ve seen in the past four years. I know that Chris Eliopoulos has been busy, what with lettering every other comic book on the stands, as well as writing and illustrating them². Creating a webcomic takes time and he’s a man with little enough of it, but it’d be good to see Sherman & company back on the regular.
  • Sort of a relaunch, sort of not: Samantha Leriche-Gionet, known professionally as Boum, has been chronicling her life at Boumeries for more than four years now (if you haven’t read it, it’ll make you think of American Elf), and three years back she did a print graphic novel, La Petite Révolution. Starting today, she’s serializing Révolution online in the original French and also translated for the first time into English; A Small Revolution will update Tuesdays and Thursdays, with five pages up today to get you started.

    The main character is young, a street-dwelling orphan, and deceptively cute. I suspect that she is going to surprise everybody — in both the uprising and the oppressive dictatorship — with her determination to make things change, and woe betide those that underestimate her. Never forget: revolutions are where the old scores get settled. For me, I think I’ll read the English and French pages side-by-side, see how much I can make out from context. I’m a long way from studying French in high school³, but there are so many good comics in French, brushing up can only be a good thing.


Spam of the day:

Hello to every , because I am in fact keen of reading this blog’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries fastidious data.

I have achieved the pinnacle of hack webcomics pseudojournalizing. Did Eric Burns-White ever get complimented for the fastidiousness of his data? I think not. Suck it, every other webcomics blog!

________________
¹ That one menu tells you more about the town and the place/time it occupies than any three pages of text could. Bravo.

² Not to mention dealing with what must be more-than-infrequent confusion over the fact that there is another Chris Eliopoulos working in comics. I mean, there are other Gary Tyrrells in the world, but none of them are in the field of hack webcomics pseudojournalism.

³ Although, more than 20 years after studying or speaking it, I retained enough to conduct Eurailpass redemptions with a ticket agent in Brussels, and also to achieve my basic standard for functionality in a language: I was able to obtain a room for the night, a meal, and a beer.

Big Damn Number

On his income taxes on the line where it says to enter your occupation, I hope that Jeffrey Rowland puts down internet merchandise mogul.

  • Speaking of moguls of all sorts, you know what they need to keep their air of dapper superciliousness? A Monocle. Know where you can get a supply of monocles? From Zach Weinersmith. As I write this, the campaign to bring single-use monocles to the world is fivehours old and less than US$100 from its goal. If you think that it’s a joke, well, that’s where you’re right, but if you think it’s a scam or fake, allow me to share proof with you that these exist. Thank you to Weinersmith et. al.¹ for gifting me with this indispensible bit of dapperment; I await only an occasion when I must exhibit extreme surprise to deploy it for its intended purpose.
  • Speaking of Kickstarters, I would like to mention that my very favorite webcomic for reading in book-length chunks — Gastrophobia — has launched its latest campaign for its latest book-lenth chunk (which is to say, a book). Gastrophobia volume 3: Best At Winning, Worst At Love has been fundraising over the weekend and currently sits at an inexplicably paltry 75 backers, although they have pushed creator David McGuire up to some 40% of goal. The strip is great fun, McGuire knows how to both build a damn good story and fulfill merch on a timely basis, and there’s nothing that should be keeping you from dropping the dough to pick up this book. Make with the clicky, already.
  • Never bet against Ryan Estrada. Whether it’s setting out to provide guest strips for every webcomic, teach the world to read Korean and Russian in fifteen minutes, or wrangle eighteen different creators to tell one story from six different viewpoints based on an experience from his time running an Indian call center, Estrada takes on seemingly impossible tasks with aplomb.

    The aplombed tasque du jour is the one about the call center, as he’s launched Broken Telephone launched today as his newest serialized webcomic at Broken-Telephone.com, and it launched with what I believe is the largest initial buffer on record. Namely, the full year-long story is queued and ready to go on a daily basis. Estrada was kind enough to send me a review copy, which I have only just begun to read; what I have seen, however, is really good and plays to the strengths of his various artists, so be sure to check it out.

  • It appears that the results of the SPX table lottery have gone out, and while there’s no list of who got in yet, there’s a lot of mention on the Twitters and such from people that didn’t. It’ll be interesting to compare the list of last year’s exhibitors (archived here) against the final list of who made it in. It looks like SPX has become a victim of its own success, with a desire to bring in new talent and meet demand for tables — but when your process is designed in such a way that it finds a way to not include such rarely seen on these shores talent as John Allison, it’s time to look at how well you’re balancing your priorities.

Spam of the day:

A friend of mine got off dialysis (stage 5 CKD) and healed his kidney.

You’re lying or fooling yourself. Go hang out with your flouride-decrying, homeopathy-loving, anti-vaxx friends, and keep your crackpottery out of here before I get some on my shoes.

________________
¹ Which group, regrettably, includes the nefarious James Ashby, aka History’s Greatest Monster. And he gets the girl to “accompany him to the opera” in the promotional film! Boo, hiss!