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Fleen Book Corner: Be Prepared

The last time Vera Brosgol wrote a graphic novel, I had this to say:

I could go on for another 1000 words and still not address these adequately, so let’s just finish up with the facts: Anya’s Ghost goes on sale on 7 June. It is 224 pages long, was written and drawn by Vera Brosgol, and is the best comics work of 2011.

That was just about exactly seven years ago, and if there’s one thing you can say about Brosgol, she’s consistent. Her new autobio-graphic novel from :01 Books (who I thank for the review copy), Be Prepared, goes on sale 24 April. It is 256 pages long, and is the best comics work of 2018. I’ll qualify that with a so far this time, because quite frankly the graphic novel game has gotten so much stronger in the past seven years, and we’ve got books from top flight creators on the way. More about the book below, with spoilers aplenty.

Vera just wants to fit in, like any other nine (almost ten!) year old girl, but she doesn’t. She’s too different, too poor, too Russian. The rules of fitting in are pretty clear (sleepover parties with Carvel ice cream cakes and stuffed-crust pizza), but the execution just isn’t quite there (cake from the Russian bakery, pizza with crusts tragically devoid of stuff) and so she sits on the periphery of grade school social circles, drawing and wondering where she’ll fit in. Most of all, all the other kids clear out for summer camp, leaving Vera and her brother Phil the only kids in town.

Until she learned about a camp where she’d surely fit in — a camp for Russian expat kids and their kids, a camp that understands the mysteries of Slavic language (they keep chiding her to not use English), a camp that knows about the Orthodox ritual, a camp full of kids just like her.

Except even when you’re with the kids you’re just like, snotty teenage girls are still snotty, open-air latrines full of spiders are still disgusting, and boys — from eight to eighteen — are still infuriatingly immature and gross. It’s going to be a long two weeks.

Did I say two? On the day that she’s supposed to come home, Mom has news: she’s got an important job interview, and if Vera and Phil can hang in there another two weeks, it could mean a job that she’s been working towards ever since they came to America; the sort that could keep them from being too poor (but Vera knows she’ll still be too different and too Russian). It’s a huge sacrifice for a nine year old, staying where the other kids hate you and the counselors don’t understand and you have to poop in a hole.

It’s even more painful when she realizes that in some ways, she’s been picking up the mean girl lessons too well; Vera catches herself in some incidences of casual cruelty, shocked at herself. It’s cringey and painful in exactly the right way, like all realizations that make us better people. It accompanies the occasion of making a friend, of rising above the disdain of snotty teen girls, and finding a way to get back at the boys¹. The remainder of camp gets lighter (even if you have to poop in a hole), and the prospect of returning the next year becomes less horrifying — but still not as appealing as the idea of a hike around the park at home, where they have toilets.

I’m certain that when the book launches next week (and sees its premiere at the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con in Juneau, next Saturday), Brosgol will have plenty to talk to kids about. The experiences she writes about are so true, so universal (and so, so funny) that they’re going to declare her a kindred soul. Every kid that finds themselves on the outs, awkward, unsure, hiding behind their glasses, will find themselves in this book, and find a bit of hopefulness for the future.

Because by the end of the book, she’s getting the hang of it just a bit. Maybe her first friend is at Russian camp and lives far away, but she’s a friend. And if she can figure out how to navigate mean girls at Russian camp, she can figure out how to do it back in Albany! She’s finally — finally — starting to feel at home in America, if not yet American.

But to be Russian is to suffer, and there’s one more upheaval in store as the book winds down; Vera didn’t fit in in the upstate suburbs, she didn’t fit in at Russian camp, and now she’ll have the opportunity to reset and not fit in someplace completely new. There’s a natural hook for a sequel in the closing pages, and I just hope it doesn’t take seven years for it to come to fruition.

But if it does? I’ll have a spot on the bookshelves waiting for it — like young Vera, I have learned to Be Prepared.

Be Prepared goes on sale Tuesday, 24 April, at bookstores everywhere.


Spam of the day:

Some things are better left to the professionals

I was afraid to see what kind of pornspam this was, and relieved to see it’s actually for Terminix pest control.

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¹ Which required the development of sweet ninja skills. Nine year old (almost ten!) Vera is so cool.

In Your Copious Free Time

John Keogh has been one of the most detailed (and simultaneously disturbing) webcomickers ever since the days of Lucid TV (which now exists only in the memories of those that followed the adventures in Jim Belushi Memorial Hospital). Every once in a while he pops up with an insanely detailed poster or album cover or tranche of comics. There is little warning when this happens; he just says Comics and there they are.


Spam of the day:

Factor clearly utilized..

What kind of factor? What kind of utilization?
Ohhhhh, boner pills. Gotcha.

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¹ With bonus points for the New Yorker universal caption.

² With callback to Orange Julius Secret Menu Password = “Fucked Up Julius” Orange Julius Double Secret Menu Password = “Dark Julius … Strange, Painful Julius”.

³ Heh, “bone”.

Because It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning

This was going to be a post about the megathread that David Malki ! did on Twitter end of last week, about the benefits of incorporation for self-employed types come tax time. Of course, end of last week was too late for anybody to get in on the tax benefits for this year’s filings, but see the title.

Then he went and turned the 70-plus tweets into a nice writeup, and that was even better. Planning for next year, get on that now I was going to say. Don’t let I’m so sick of taxes, I’ll do it in a couple of months tendencies keep you from getting this done. Make it a to-do item for May! But about three hours ago something bigger popped up. Suitably enough, it also deals with looking at the long term.

Lagies and jenglefenz, allow me to introduce you to Ascend Comics.

Ascend is a new publishing company, courtesy of Der-shing Helmer and Taneka Stotts, dedicated to the proposition that comics are created by all sorts of people, and if you don’t look like the folks that have traditionally been published by the comics world, that doesn’t mean you aren’t making some damn good comics. Not getting where you know you could be? Well, if there’s one thing that Spike Trotman taught us, it’s that you can build a publishing company up into a force of nature if you commit to bringing new voices and new kinds of stories to print. Also, that if you Kickstart anthologies, you can find those voices before anybody else snaps them up.

Ascend is starting off with an impressive bench, too: the Elements anthology (for stories by POC creators, edited by Stotts), The Meek and Mare Internum (webcomics by Helmer), and the Alloy anthology (for stories by mixed-race creators, edited by Helmer and Kiku Hughes, with an assist by Stotts).

At the heart of it, though, is the mutual respect and hard work of Helmer and Stotts; read their respective launch announcements and tell me they aren’t both going to work as hard for each other (and whoever else comes along for the ride), and that’s where the planning comes in.

Ascend is brand new; right now, it’s a platform for two creators and their works, but look at the mission statement right there in their logotype:

DEDICATED TO UPLIFTING THE DIVERSE VOICES THAT INSPIRE US

Iron Circus started as a way for Spike to make her comics projects, and then here and there she picked up a story for reprint, or an original, or the first of a series. With anthologies under their belts, Stotts and Helmer will have a roster of creators whose works (and work habits) they know; give ’em enough time to find their feet, give them one or two projects to show what they can do in this new structure, and I’ll bet you Five Dollars American Cash Money that they start following the path that Iron Circus blazed¹. Got a story that you think would be a good fit for Ascend? I’m gonna say start polishing your craft now so you’re ready when they make the inevitable announcement down the line.

Better yet, since Iron Circus has shown that distribution works for independent creators and publishers, Ascend will find it a less onerous process to get to that point themselves. It’ll be even easier for the next company after (and so on, until somebody screws the pooch very badly and the business of comics community gets cautious again; that won’t be Ascend, it’ll be somebody with less time in the game and fewer hard-won skills). So if you’re at a slightly differently inclined, or have done the work that Spike, Stotts, and Helmer have done, start planning for what your company is going to look like, and decide what’s going to set you apart from those that are already there.

But above all, start planning. Whatever move you’re going to make — tax wise, working with a publisher, becoming a publisher, whatever — it’s not going to just all in your lap. Want it to work to your favor? Figure out how to get there from where you are now. Fortune favors the bold rather less than it favors the well-prepared.


Spam of the day:

Jenny — Satisfy her like never before (no body)

Oh man, the disembodied, uploaded computer consciousnesses are getting in on the pornspam game. I got this one five times in the past eighteen hours.

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¹ I see them as running parallel paths rather than competitors. It’s gonna be a bunch more indie publishing concerns seeking out new creators and stories before they start getting in each other’s way and threatening each other’s lunch.

Hey. You. You’re Doing Okay.

Today’s post is brought to you by the idea that it’s gonna be okay. There is so much hate and stupidity in the world, but on Saturday I met a six week old kid that was absolutely adorable while I was riding in an elevator and he doesn’t know that there is all that hate and stupidity. With luck, we’ll make it a good deal less so by the time he can tell the difference.

  • On the list of difference makers: George Rohac, or as he is known in these parts, George. Not many people get to be mononymic — your Madonnas, your Barbras, your Beyoncés — and her at Fleen only two people have earned that status¹, and only one of them could post a tweet to a survey that asked for my real name, address, birthday, and a whole squatload more info, and I’d fill it out.

    It’s part brand research, part effort to understand people better, part feedback on how he (that would be George) can be a better person. It caused a lot of thinking on my part, and I don’t doubt it will do the same for you. Give George some info, you know he’ll do something amazing with it. It’s the least you can do — it’s his birthday².

  • One of the most important things that George ever did, bee-tee-dubs, was share a video about his challenges with mental illness; it’s not available any longer, but you can read what I wrote about it at the time. It was a hell of a lot less common, five-plus years ago, to make these kinds of public declarations. It let a lot of people know that they aren’t alone; this message is particularly important in the creative community, which seems to have more than its share of people shouting down the lies that their brains tell them.

    Every share of this nature — and here’s the latest I’ve seen — increases the chances that somebody else gets the help they need³. Help can mean a lot of things, and the webcomics community does an inordinate job of helping the creators they follow. Whether it’s sticking with creators during involuntary hiatuses, or readers coming together to increase support so that creators can take care of their families, I think there’s another benefit at play.

    For each person that we know (or “know”, in the sense that we know their work) and help, the thought pattern grows — why just these people? Why not everybody? It’s making the selfish and exploitative stand out as outliers as we do what we can. It’s a hopeful thing, to think we can turn that desire to help into permanent, structural mechanisms that will keep health crises from bankrupting entire families. I’m usually far more cynical than this, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  • And in case you’re worried about what your future brings, young people, Matt Boyd and Ian McConville have a thought for you today. And if it’s still a dread day for you, consider: after doing far better in his surgery last November than expected, Jon Rosenberg’s son Alec was told he didn’t need followup surgery the day before his birthday no less, and his dad is able to get comickin’ again. New SFAM, folks, with Jon at his Jonnest. If his curmudgeonly ways don’t make you smile today, wait until the next strip. He’ll definitely get you then.

Spam of the day:

My Name is Mr.Thomas Phaahla and I am writing to Introduce you and your Company to the Asia Pacific Investment Pte Ltd.(APIP) Debt/Loan Funding Platform.

Dude, you managed to spell your purported name three different ways. Try harder.

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¹ After first reference so that any newbies have context. The other is Raina Telgemeier

² Just in case you were worried, George is the person least likely to demand a birthday present that turns him into a twisted shell of himself, warped by greed and evil, and tied up in the doom of the world. Second lest likely would be, I dunno, Mr Rogers or Dolly Parton.

³ Not to mention the very key effect of normalizing treatment. As a tweet I saw over the weekend said, If you don’t have enough artisinal, handmade neurotransmitters, store-bought is fine.

Friday Roundup

Friday. Friday! And one where it appears Spring may finally be here, no take-backs, at long last, and you know what that means. Mailbag roundup!

  • Jim Zub, I’m of the opinion, can write any kind of comic story he sets his mind to. We’re nearing the wrap-up of the big, months-long, weekly Avengers story he co-wrote, and that means it’s time to build up excitement for his next project. Not satisfied with taking on a major IP, not satisfied with partnering with well-known, best-seller co-authors, he’s decided the appropriate challenge is to meld together two major IPs and partner up with a world-renowned author:

    Pat Rothfuss (New York Times Best-Selling author of The Kingkiller Chronicles), Troy Little (multiple Eisner-nominated cartoonist), and [Zub] are unleashing a love letter to gaming glory and nihilistic dimension hopping with RICK AND MORTY VS DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, a 4-issue mini-series launching in August.

    Dear glob, that’s more nerderies in one spot than I can count and they’re launching it at GenCon. Normally in these situations, you’d be able to tell which author was taking which part of the story; Zub’s the big D&D comics author, but Rothfuss is famous for sword&sorcery work as well, so they’ve both got that part covered. Then again, Zub’s hilarious, and so is Rothfuss, so there’s no clear delineation. Honestly, the only thing that surprised me is that Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig aren’t in on this thing.

  • Ryan Estrada’s gotten some traction out of his account calling out bad attempts to screw artists, For Exposure, and by traction I mean abusive emails and death threats from people who are mad about being called out, even though he never reveals their names. Of course, he’s got the love and gratitude of the creative community for calling out this crap, so that’s good. And now he’s got a wider audience than a couple days ago, because the BBC decided to send him some love:

    Creative industries are already cutthroat and budding artists often leap at the chance to get their work in front of as many people as possible.

    “I was very confused as a young artist,” [Estrada] says. “I had all of these people telling me that they were just small companies, so they couldn’t afford to pay me, but could offer me exposure so that big companies would want to hire me.”

    Many told him that he was lucky to be getting the opportunity at all.

    “I realized that I had to be my own advocate for my work, and figure out a way to make a living.”

    The Twitter account struck a chord with creatives around the world. Since he opened the account five years ago, it has grown to over 167,000 followers.

    Even better, Format Magazine contacted Estrada about his ongoing project (five years and counting), and they commissioned Emmie Tsumura, to do imaginary portraits of some of the most egregious time-and-art leeches. She produced a gallery collection last year. Heck if I remember seeing anything about it. But the BBC noticed it, and now we all get to enjoy. Even better, this means that an artist got paid for something that arose out of For Exposure. First time for everything.

Okay, almost the weekend. Enjoy the heck out of it.


Spam of the day:
But I have big titties and fuck the shit out of you. try me
I’m trying to figure out which missing word(s) will make that whole offer a little less creepy. Not succeeding.

Welcome Return, New Directions

It’s always nice to see new stuff from people. Nice, I tell you!

  • One of the nicest, happiest, sunniest bodies of work in all of webcomics is that of Scott C — everything he does has smiles. It doesn’t matter how dark the subject, it turns into a visit to the Mr Rogers version in his hands.

    He’s been busy with various projects of late, but he’s back with a new Great Showdown and a goal of updates twice a week. Match it up with a new general website and it’s a banner day for Scott C fans.

  • Know who’s always trying something new? Spike. We know her pattern by now — find the best comics creators — sexytimes, themed anthologies, specific books deserving wide-distro reprint — and Kickstart ’em until they glow. It works, every damn time. No need to stir things up.

    Except not stirring things up is boring, and Spike doesn’t do boring.

    The next Iron Circus book will not be comics, but an art collection. It’s an English-language debut by a Japanese illustrator with a body of work that hits a particular niche hard (which will delight some and cause others to shy away), an unusually high KS goal (US$40,000), and a mere fifteen days to raise it. We’re closing in on 12 days left and it’s raised 47%, and I have no idea how to evaluate this one on the usual math.

    There’s maybe enough backers for the FFF mk2 to come in¹, but I’ve never used the math on so short a campaign; I’m not sure the McDonald Ratio would work on something so brief², either. If the Fleen Funding Formula (Mark II) holds true, the 24-30 hour mark trend value of about US$125K gives a prediction of US$25K – 37.5K, which is below goal. But 47%+ in not quite three days would give a prediction closer to US$56K, comfortably over goal. I suspect that we’ve found a new boundary on when the FFF mk2 can be reliably used.

    So let’s say that if you like psychosexual³ visuals that have never been seen before in North America, now’s your time to get in on that. And if this doesn’t make goal (something about those words doesn’t make sense), we might discover Iron Circus trying something new again — because something tells me Spike isn’t going to let this book not be published, even if she has to front the money herself.


Spam of the day:

Sexually Explicit: gary tyrrell, Congrats, You’ve been approved – 84 new girls available jnjoh

Man, I must be really out of date with my sexually explicit habits and such. I don’t think I’ve ever jnjoh with even one girl, much less 84. I’m lame.

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¹ Emphasis on maybe; there’s an odd bump upwards on day 2 (probably because it launched late at night and day one was only a few hours long).

² Kel McDonald’s own campaigns tend to the 45-60 duration.

³ Or possibly “disturbing”; potayto, potahto.

It’s Like Saturday In San Diego In Here

Okay, it was Saturday, but Hell’s Kitchen by the Intrepid in a early April is a far cry from SDCC. Mark Siegel of :01 Books was the one that drew the comparison (at least, I think that’s what he said; as I’ve mentioned previously, he is a soft-spoken man and it was noisy), and he’d know.

He’d best get used to Saturday at San Diego bumping up a notch or two, as they’ll be doing in-booth events this year with various McElroys to celebrate the launch of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins at San Diego, and that fandom is tenacious¹. Hardcore fandom is something I haven’t seen at MoCCA Fest since, I dunno, the last time Kate Beaton was there?

  • In addition to running a rapidly-expanding empire, Siegel was previewing his own work as well; the 5 Worlds series debuted last year about a month after MoCCA, and this year book two will do the same. I complimented Siegel on the unexpected turn at the end of Book 1 (let’s say that it’s unusual to have the I am your father-level reveal at the start of your five-part saga instead of at the two-thirds mark to set up the end); I wondered how you keep building on a situation like that. He’s got a plan, though, and we’ll see how it turns out on 8 May.
  • Meanwhile, :01’s executive editor Callista Brill was more than happy to talk about the process of ramping up new people, of releasing twice as many books as two years ago², and making sure things don’t get missed. We talked about my concerns regarding The Prince And The Dressmaker and she confirmed what I’d suspected — writer/artist Jen Wang had no idea about the history of Leopold II and the editorial pass missed it.

    It’ll be addressed in future printings, but I want to acknowledge that Brill didn’t try to underplay or deny the mistake; they made it, they own, they’re fixing it in future printings, and it’s still likely that very, very few people would have ever noticed it. Some things you do because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of how much it could fly under the radar. Everybody over there is good people.

  • Good people work with good people, too. Be Prepared from Vera Brosgol debuts in a few weeks, everybody’s excited for Island Book by Evan Dahm (not tabling for the first time in forever) and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (which Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is illustrating for Mariko Tamaki’s words), not to mention the long-awaited Zita The Spacegirl/Might Jack crossover from Ben Hatke.

    And in addition to those? Nearly 30 more books between now and the end of calendar year 2018. All Summer Long by Hope Larson, the final Hidden City book by Faith Erin Hicks, the third Delilah Dirk from Tony Cliff, four Science Comics books, On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, two more Cucumber Quest books from Gigi DG, sequels to The Spill Zone and Walker Bean and Margo Maloo, a true tale of the Rwandan genocide, the wrap-up of the Secret Coders series … it’s going to be a busy time, so clear some space on your shelves.

  • And since we mentioned Valero-O’Connell, she’s been busy for the last two years, which was where she picked up the Laura Dean job; she’s got her own graphic novels to come after (the first being an expansion of her thesis comic, Black Sun Rising), she sold out of her absolutely breathtaking mini from Zainab Akhtar’s Shortbox curation, What Is Left³. It’s been a wild ride since she was wearing bobcat-jaw earrings and trying to get college done. She was unbelievably skilled that day I first met her, she’s gotten better in the time since, and she’s only going to keep improving. I can’t wait to see what she’s like in ten years.

And somewhere on the floor, there’s the next Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, the next Carey Pietsch, the next George O’Conner, Rebecca Mock, the next Leguizamo, Neufeld, Powell, Hernandez … probably the next Ngozi Ukazu, to be honest, as the women creators behind the table are definitely outnumbering the dudes, and the white faces are not the overwhelming majority anymore. The future of comics — creators and readers both — is more female, more brown, more queer, more different than it’s ever been before, and it’s about godsdamned time.

See you there next spring. I’ll be the guy with the moustache.


Spams of the day:

ASIAN LOVE IS WAITING FOR YOU

~and~

Meet Hottest Russian Beauties

These are from different spam factories, but they have remarkably similar schticks. Apparently, if you are a {Russian | Asian} mail-order bride and are 24 years old, you like dancing and having Pets [sic]; if you’re 26, you like sport and sprits [sic]; if you’re 29 you like workout and shopping [again, sic]. Oh, and you’re definitely named Salome, Nana, Karina, or Victoria. It’s like there’s a template out there that gets chesty stock photos stuck into it.

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¹ As it was, a giveaway of a few dozen galleys signed by artist Carey Pietsch caused an aisle-clogging knot easily equivalent to that a day earlier for the Check, Please! giveaway. A’course, Ngozi Ukazu wasn’t at MoCCA and so that crowd dispersed rapidly.

² Granted, they’ve got about three times the staff, but getting them up to speed means that the extra hands can actually be a detriment until they find their feet. Also, they were viciously overworked before the expansion, and the up-staffing means that they are now merely overworked in the ordinary sense. Some day, they may get down to non-crazy-person levels of work:hours in the day.

³ I made a point of putting a copy in front of comics power agent Judy Hansen, and rumor has it Mike Mignola had effusive praise for it.

Comics Includes Everybody

Everybody loves comics. Everybody can make comics, to whatever degree they feel they can either produce words + pictures themselves, or to find somebody that can help them.

  • Case in point, right near the first floor entrance of MoCCA Fest, acclaimed actor, playwright, monologuist, and Eisner nominee John Leguizamo had a table, talkin’ comics and taking pictures with people. In another context, he would have been an object of intense scrutiny and mobbing, but here he was just another vendor, albeit one with somewhat higher name recognition. I am confident in my judgment that there were far bigger throngs a little ways down the room a little while :01 Books was giving out galleys of volume 1 of Check, Please! (due for release in September). Anybody can find a topic that people will want to read in comics.
  • Case in point, also right near the first entrance, George O’Connor had his table, and I spent some time in my annual ritual of nerding out over greek myths, particularly in the context of his latest Olympians book, Hermes (a review copy of which I recently received from Gina Gagliano & company over at :01). I loved this book, I told O’Connor. Hermes is a dick, and we laughed, but also spent time talking about how this book got to do the near-impossible — give Hera (long-suffering wife of Zeus, and famed persecutor of his various lovers) a sense of humor¹.

    He was also glad to learn I’d laughed at the the dick jokes he got past his editors (the first of which is on page one). Somewhere, a young kid is reading the legends of Hermes and those are flying right over their head; someday they’re going to realize what was happening in those panels and laugh their head off. There’s always something extra in comics.

  • Case in point: not far from O’Connor, not far from Leguizamo, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin were tabling with various comics but especially the three books (or box set, if you prefer) of March. A goodly chunk of Powell’s original pages were on display in the second floor art gallery as well, from March and from The Silence Of Our Friends (an earlier story of the civil rights era). It was an honor to tell Powell how important March is, and how much I’m looking forward to the next series, Run. In comics, there’s always the opportunity to convey a message.
  • Case in point: on Sunday morning, I found Josh Neufeld with his various collections of docu-comics; I complimented him on his collaboration with Brooke Gladstone, The Influencing Machine. I noticed that an older work of his, Terms Of Service (about privacy in the age of digital behemoths), a co-publication with Al-Jazeera America, was on the table.

    It’s unusually relevant just now, and I was happy to pick up a copy. While he was sketching in it, I mentioned that I had a Gladstone-crocheted hat², and he was happy to see it, as he’d never seen one before. In comics, there’s always a connection between people you hadn’t anticipated.

  • Case in point, on Sunday morning, the National Cartoonists Society booth was manned by Ed Steckley, and I introduced myself as one of the contributors to the nominating process for the webcomics awards. He was charming and very thankful for the effort (he oversees a lot of the process for all of the division awards each year, so he knows how much work goes into it).

    As it turns out, the awards nominations were announced later that day³; it’s a lot of work that Steckley went to (plus the webcomics constributing committee, plus various chapters working to help with logistics), but it’s worth it, because everybody loves comics.


Spam of the day:

OWN_HER_P*$$Y

This came from Erika and on first glance I thought Huh, Erika Moen is slacking on the consent a bit, but then I realized that was stupid and saw it was from Erika S, where the S stands for sucks, or spammer.

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¹ Hermes himself is yet another of Zeus’s bastards, but this one she likes. He kills off Argus, the hundred-eyed guardsman of Io (one of Zeus’s previous conquests and currently on Hera’s shit list) and she muses Zeus was smart to send Hermes to do this. I just can’t stay mad at that guy.

² Which she offers up as premiums during pubic radio pledge weeks. It’s great hat, and Neufeld needs to get Galdstone to make him one.

³ In Online Comics — Short Form, you have Gemma Correll, Lonnie Milsap, and Mike Norton. In Online Comics — Long Form, you have John Allison, Vince Dorse, and Ru Xu. Also, Tillie Walden is nominated in Graphic Novels for Spinning.

My preference (NB: I’m not a voter) for Short Form would be Correll, and Dorse has won in Long Form previously, so I’d prefer Xu or Allison there. But honestly, it’s a good set of nominations. The awards will be given out Memorial Day weekend at the NCS annual confab, this year in Philadelphia.

Equal Parts Exhilarating And Traumatizing

That was :01 Books executive editor Callista Brill on working with … well, I’ll tell you some day. It was pretty damn hilarious at the time.

The time being the 2018 MoCCA Festival, where many things happened. I’m going to discuss them in no particular order, as befits my state of mind when overwhelmed by many, many excellent comics.

  • Thing: There were multiple schools boothing on the floor, but this is the first year I recall see a high school program. You can tell that they don’t really know what stories they want to tell yet, since it was mostly tracings of Yuri On Ice or Scott Pilgrim, but you can also sense the potential. Some of them will be good.

    Some are out of high school and finding their voices — a young lady named Tara Sunil Thomas had small clay figures in terraria, and they reminded me so much of some of Andy Bell’s work that I mentioned it to her. She hadn’t heard of him, but loved his stuff when we Googled it. Making connections is where it’s at.

  • Thing: That photo up top is an idea so brilliant that I’m surprised I’ve never seen it done before — a Moebius comic, a continuous infinite story told by Pain Pals¹. There was also a second amazing physical comic, a sort of folded-paper fortune teller, except this ones was a continuously-rotatable torus (similar to this but not quite) that was a comic of a food chain — small water critters (rotate inside out) eaten by fish (rotate) eaten by bear (rotate) dying and decomposing and running back into water. I was beautiful, delicate, and I saw it and then never could find it again on the floor. If you know what I’m talking about, please point me in the correct direction.
  • Thing: Speaking of unusual presentations, that’s one of the forms that gets recognized in the MoCCA Awards; the jury this year included Ananth Hirsh, and we talked about the immense pool of submissions that he had to consider careful. He linked the winners of the four awards categories (Single Image, Short Form, Long Form, Special Format) in his twitterfeed today, which also serves as a primer of neat work from neat creators.
  • Thing: It’s amazing the connections that exist in cartooning. I made a point of seeking out Alisa Harris, who after my preview list was published I discovered would be attending Comics Camp this year. Turns out that she went to school with Raina Telgemeier and is friends with Rebecca Mock who in turn was one of my cabinmates at Camp last year. Small damn world.

    While wandering by to talk to Mock about the postcards at her booth², I ran into her, Hirsh, Kazu Kibuishi (who was wandering the floor for a few hours), Amy Kim Kibuishi (whom I’d never met before), and Ayo (who we congratulated for being hated by all the right non-entities in comics).

    It was also at this time that I discovered that at one point at Camp, while asleep, Kibuishi dislodged a spider that was apparently descending towards my face, knocking it to the floor, where Mock stepped on it. I had no idea! I’m not especially arachnophobic, but now I owe Mock a spider-stepping.

And that brings us back around to the first point and connections again. There’s much more to tell, but we’ll tell it in the coming days.


Spam of the day:

Brain Zone Date

You’re trying to get me to give you money for the privilege of traveling to a quote-conference-unquote about the blockchain that is unironically describing as quote-celebrity keynote speakers-unquote John McAfee (onetime computing pioneer gone batshit paranoid conspiracy theorist) and Frank Abagnale (onetime federal prisoner famed for his widespread forgery and con games, upon whom the movie Catch Me If You Can was based).

On second thought, Abagnale is probably the perfect face for this event. Hint: if you can’t decide who the sucker is….

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¹ The question remains as to how one is meant to display/keep such a thing. Darryl Ayo suggested hanging it from the ceiling and I’m not sure there’s a better solution.

² She supplied pre-stamped postcards, pens, a place to write, and issues of political interest; showgoers wrote out messages to elected officials & Mock mailed ’em en masse because civic engagement is to be encouraged.

First Nice Day Of The Season

First day in weeks that I’m wrapping up a work gig that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out, too. I think that Earth Humans call this a good mood. The only thing to mar it is that this weekend when I head into MoCCA, one crucial experience will be missing. See, whatever the comics show, without planning or arrangement, and absolutely without fail, Brigid Alverson and I will bump into each other at some point. This encounter then usually expands to include Johanna Draper Carlson and/or Heidi Mac.

This weekend, they’re all in Chicago for C2E2, dammit.

I mean, it’s a big show, and the Diamond Retailers Summit is happening adjacent, and if you’re interested in the print comics world it absolutely makes sense to make that your show this weekend instead of trekking to Manhattan. But I’m going to miss my local municipality infrastructure management discussion buddy¹.

Also in Chicago for C2E2? C Spike Trotman, although to be fair that’s in part because it’s literally down the road from her house. Spike’s become kind of inseparable from discussions of comics in Chicagoland — she’s the dominant publisher of graphic fiction and nonfiction in the city, and a force of nature in the not owned by enormous media conglomerates wing of comics.

One of her hometown papers (that would be the Chicago Tribune, or is that Troncbune? has done a series of stories about C2E2 in its daily free paper, Red Eye, and a feature on Spike is part of the coverage. The story’s not new to anybody that’s been following webcomics for the past decade or so, but there are a lot of people out there that aren’t described that way.

Some of them are discovering Spike and Iron Circus for the first time.

Some of them are considering making comics for the first time.

Some of them are realizing that being browner, queerer, less cis-male than the vast majority of comics creators have been need not be a bar to their participation.

Spike’s absolutely changed up publishing, and she’s going to continue to do so. If you’re in Chicago and see her, you’d do well to listen to what she’s got to say.

And if you see Brigid, tell her I said hi.


Spam of the day:

TIN NITUS FIX

While I do have (and have since I was about six … not due to trauma, but due to inner-ear baro-sensitivity) a mild case of tinnitus (it’s only noticeable in absolutely silent conditions, and quieter than the sound of running a hand through my hair), I almost didn’t recognize that was what was being referenced. Spelled that way, I thought I was reading the name of a character in the next Star Wars movie.

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¹ Alverson’s day job is in local government, and as such she’s got an interest in emergency services. My volunteer time is as an EMT, and as such I’ve got an interest in local government. By the second or third iced tea, we’re redesigning entire systems of governance.