The webcomics blog about webcomics

Things To Look Forward To

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m late. Let’s do this.

  • Evan Dahm’s got me convinced that I’ll need a copy of his Moby-Dick Illustrated. His first chapter illustration has the feel of a woodcut crossed with an engraving, and a brooding, heavy quality that pervades the atmosphere in the same way that lightness and hope suffused his Wonderful Wizard of Oz drawings. I never had much desire to read Moby-Dick, but if it inspired work like this, I’ll need to give it a fair try.
  • MoCCA Fest will be having a dedicated lounge for special sponsor Wacom, all day both days of the show. You’ll be abe to see (and play with!) Wacom’s various products, and there will be five demos spread across the two days from a variety of well-known artists.
  • Abby Howard started her webcomicking with a vaguely autobio strip, broke through to a wider audience on Strip Search, and parlayed that into a hell of big Kickstart for The Last Halloween, which continues to delight and startle. She’s turning full circle back to that vaguely autobio¹ strip and Junior Scientist Power Hour will collect the best strips since its launch into a 200 page book, provided the funding goal is reached oh who am I kidding, it’s Abby, people love Abby, she’s going to crush this.

    Since it’s not an every-strip-reprint project, I can only hope that my personal favorites of her strips — Sadness Brownies, Creepy Dog — will be included. An added bonus in some tiers will be Junior Paleontologist Power Hour, which could be an expanded version of the early strip of the same name, the more recent five-part maxi-series How To Dig Up Dinosaurs, or some combo platter of the two. Regardless, I’m in, because Abby loves dinosaurs makes good comics about them.

Spam of the day:

This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a rezder entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I waas almost moved to start myy own blolg (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantaetic

Sir or Madam, I believe that you may not be perceiving reality as it actually is. Please check that you are in a safe space, and call for medical assistance.

¹ Does anybody believe that 80s Tom Hanks really lives in a hole in her bedroom? Actually, now that I think of it, it is entirely possible.

Minions, I Am Disappointed

Okay, there’s still a day left to cost me and Dave Kellett some money. If it wouldn’t be unethical as hell, I’d bid the damn thing up to somewhere in the US$500+ range. In fact, let’s make this game a little more interesting: I pledged to match the purchase price of this piece up to US$500. If this is what it takes to spur some of you to get in the spirit of things (only full cast of Drive watercolor in existence, people!), I’m going to change the terms of my pledge:

I, Gary Tyrrell, will match the selling price of Dave’s piece as a donation to Team Cul de Sac up to US$1000, and with a minimum of US$500 in any case

You can’t afford to bid on a piece that might cost you multiple hundreds of dollars? Pledge a donation — however small — in the comments. You’ll get a reward beyond measure: official mensch¹ status, as declared by Richard Thompson himself.

  • One of the things that I’ve observed with interest over the past few years is the (slow, but growing) adoption of writer’s rooms in webcomics. You could say that there’s an element of it at Cyanide & Happiness where it’s easy to imagine one of the lads bouncing an idea off another of them, but I think primarily it’s individual efforts. Anyplace you get a writer/artist partnership, there’s certainly give-and-take there.

    But I think you could probably trace proper writer’s rooms to the Pacific Northwest where (as often happens) you find Scott Kurtz at the center of experiments in webcomics. The Trenches started as an explicit writerly collaboration between Kurtz and the established duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins; along with the artist changes, the writer’s room reduced to a singular voice: that of Strip Searchmonaut Ty Halley. While he may have withdrawn from one writer’s room, Kurtz was busy building up another as Dylan Meconis² joined him on writing duties on PvP.

    Crucially, I think the fact that Meconis creates comics so very different from Kurtz is a strength of this particular partnership. While Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins undoubtedly work well together they have similar strip approaches (gag-oriented, videogame and pop culture focii) and that limits the number of additional viewpoints that can be brought to bear on the final product. One might wish to compare with the writer’s room that was put together for the now-shuttered NAMCO High, featuring a bunch of creators of different ages and backgrounds (although there was a tendency for them to presently live in Brookklyn).

    I’m bringing this up because for anybody that’s considering a writer’s room, finding that balance of different experiences is probably one of the most crucial elements for success, but historically it’s something that’s been elusive. The traditional venue for writer’s rooms has been TV comedy, and much has been written in the past about how those rooms tend to be dominated by white dudes, often from Ivy League colleges, and viciously under-representative of women and minorities.

    And all of that is by way of pointing out a discussion that anybody considering a writing partnership (whether in a room or not) will probably want to listen to: as I write this sentence, WNYC midday host Leonard Lopate is introducing the author of a new book on comedy writing to discuss writer’s rooms at places like SNL, Letterman, and The Onion. You can listen to the interview here, and we can discover together what makes a good writer’s room (or perhaps the discussion follows some other track, but it’ll probably still be enlightening).

  • Skin Horse, by Shaenon Garrity and C Jeffrey Wells, is in an odd semi-hiatus right now. Those of you paying attention may have noted that Garrity is (as of this writing), hugely pregnant and not intending to do a daily strip whilst dealing with the immediate aftermath of presenting a small human child to the world³.

    Having wrapped up a storyline on Saturday, she announced that she was done drawing comics for a while on Sunday, and the next storyline (a catch-up-with-peripheral-characters melange, to feature a variety of guest artists) started on Monday. And if my eye does not fool me, Garrity even provided the art for the first vignette herself (or somebody out there has her style down cold), easing us into a summer of random fun, with Wells undoubtedly shifting plot and pacing to best match the fill-in artists.

    And in one of those weird coincidences, today’s strip features an offhand reference to an obscure cryptid known as The Hodag, which by a peculiar corincidence just happens to be one of the critters mentioned in an endnote of Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell, to wit:

    In 1893, the Rhinelander Daily News reported the discovery of the corpse of a hideous creature with huge claws and a spiked tail. It’s discoverer, local land surveyor Eugene Shpher, called it the hodag, then claimed to have caught a live one in 1896. Shortly after, he displayed it at the First Oneida County Fair. He stood by the veracity of his claims until the Smithsonian Institution announced it would travel to Wisconsin to inspect the evidence, after which he promptly recanted. This ridiculous hoax is now the official symbol Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is pretty great.

    The more you know!

  • The last time David Malki ! thought up a game, it turned into a half million dollar Kickstarter and a year-plus process of production and fulfillment. This time, he’s just decided to put the damn thing up in a post and let you play without going down the path that leads to things like livestock and international shipping incidents.

Spam of the day:

Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!

Yeah, that’ll happen. My suggestion is that to avoid future trauma to unsuspecting and blameless hermit crabs, you seal your daughter in a barrel, with a small opening to pass in food and water.

¹ For those of you that didn’t grow up someplace where you got off from school for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, being a mensch is a good thing.

² About whom it is literally impossible to say too many good things.

³ With, it should be noted, the assistance of husband and Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago.

Baerly Awaek

3am EMT calls, I will never — eight years into this game — get used to you. Particularly not 3am working structure fires. Doubly particularly not 3am working structure fires where I also get rained on while also getting swarmed by flying ants that are attracted to all the bright lights. Hey, people that smoke carelessly and pitch your still-burning butts into the bushes next to your front porch? Next time wait another 45 minutes and the rain will obviate the need to get my ass out of bed¹.

  • Kickstarter wrap-ups: a month ago I noted the launched of the book-kickers for Strong Female Protagonist and Evil, Inc Volume 8 wherein I noted that the former looked like a fast success and the latter an outlier. Looking at the daily data, SFP followed the standard curve of strong start, long tail, and trend upward in the closing days; EIv8, on the other hand, was much wobblier, and featured both zero-dollar and negative-dollar days before finishing strongly.

    Accordingly, the FFF was pretty on-mark for SFP (actual: US$60,974; predicted: $US63,000 +/- US$21,000, just about precisely in the middle of the range), but EIv8 was predicted to run US$7.5K (under goal) to US$15K, and finished with US$15,150 (outside the range). I think the key difference was the just over 200 backers for EIv8 vs nearly 2000 for SFP; as I’ve mentioned previously, sample sizes of less than 500 are pretty much useless, so I think the FFF will have to be modified². We will make this into a science yet!

  • Speaking of books, two months ago I was hoping that Minna Sundberg could find somebody to distribute her very large print collection of A Red Tail’s Dream from this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It’ll still be an expensive (and worth every penny, it’s gorgeous inside) book, but the shipping could hopefully be reduced. Ask and ye shall receive:

    A note to possible book wanters in the USA though: Hiveworks (that comic thing I’m part of) is in the process of opening up a collective online store for all the member comics, and you will be able to buy signed copies of “A Redtail’s Dream” from over there instead. Since it’s based in the US, the delivery time will be just a few days instead of a few weeks, and it’s also possible that it might be a little bit cheaper. The aimed launch date is sometime late next month, so if you’re on the fence of buying a copy or still saving up it might be worth waiting for that. :3 *End info*

    This particular book-wanter is glad he didn’t wait because that would have been months more of book wanting instead of book having, but the possibility of buying stuff from Sundberg as well as (oh, let’s see) the aforementioned Corsetto and Moen, Jim Zub, a stack of Strip Searchmonauts, David Willis, Ronnie Filyaw, Mary Cagle, Diana Nock, Jamie Noguchi, David McGuire, Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, Bill Ellis and Dani O’Brien, and many, many more from one place with one shipping charge? Enticing.

Spam of the day:

Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website? My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would certainly benefit from some of the information you present here.

I hate to nit-pick, but it appears that your “blog” is devoted to shilling knockoffs of designer sunglasses. So sure, quote away!

¹ I must be sleep-deprived — I’m not usually loopy enough to use words like obviate.

² For those that care, the current Fleen Funding Formula is to take the Kicktraq trend figure at the 24-30 hour mark, and predict that the final number will be between 1/6 and 1/3 of that predicted value (or, put another way, PV/4 +/- PV/12). I think for FFF mark 2, I’ll tighten up the range a bit: make it PV/4 +/- PV/20, but only for campaigns that show at least 200 backers in that initial period. For lesser backer counts, I think the formulas break down and won’t be reliable.

We’ll see tomorrow how this works against the Oh Joy, Sex Toy (original prediction: US$97.5 +/- US$32.5K; FFFmk2: US$97.5K +/- US$19.5K) and Slingshot Across America (original prediction: not made, but would have been US$52.5K +/- US$17.5K; FFFmk2: US$52.5K +/- US$10.5K).

Oh, Canada Redux


As of this writing, STRIPPED is sitting at #2 on the iTunes Canada Documentary charts¹ which is good and all, but not good enough. Back and the end of the 18th century, political scientists figured the next nation to escalate to world domination would not be the United States; the 20th century, they declared, would be The Canadian Century. Alas, Canada did not come to dominate the world in that century, but there is still time in the 21st. Drive STRIPPED to #1 Canada! Then surpass your large, heavily-armed, somewhat rude southern neighbors and find a way to take STRIPPED to #0. That’ll show us!

And when you’ve done so, perhaps you’ll find some time to attend VanCAF, one of the newer crop of TCAF-emulating, modest-scale, community-involving, public-space-inhabiting, no-entry-fee comics festivals. As a bonus, VanCAF is the brainchild of onetime Tower of Babel² writer Shannon Campbell.

Only in its third year, VanCAF has attracted a wide swath of (mostly west of the Continental Divide) comics talent, including a decent chunk of Pacific Daylight webcomickers. One may, for example, find Special Guests like Natasha Allegri, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Tony Cliff, Ed Brisson, Aaron Diaz³, Madeleine Flores, Tyson Hesse, Jeph Jacques, and Kris Straub4.

Exhibitors (who are not necessarily special guests, but are still special in our hearts) include the likes of Kory Bing, Lars Brown, Erin Burt, Blue Delliquanti, Amy T Falcone6, Hazel & Bell, Kathleen Jacques7, Steve LeCouillard, Kel McDonald, David McGuire, Angela Melick, Alina Pete, Doug Savage, Katie & Steve Shanahan, and Anise Shaw.

Also some guy named Sam that just gets in because he’s sleeping with the showrunner. Scandal!

But apart from that lack of judgment, Campbell has done great things in only a few years, and from my mind two things stand out as the greatest:

  1. VanCAF is in a reasonably-sized space, so floor maps and booth numbers aren’t needed to make sure you find your favorite creators (but there’s still one provided).
  2. Every single one of those creators up there? Campbell clearly included a link to their website so I didn’t have to hunt them down. She’s gettin’ a high-five from me next time I see her.

We didn’t even mention the programming, or the fact that Campbell’s got a food cart coming to set up immediately off the showfloor. If you’re anywhere within reach of the northern Pacific ocean this weekend, VanCAF is the place to be.

¹ DÉPOUILLÉ est assis à #2 sur les graphiques documentaires du iTunes Canada.

² That link will still be good for a while, then it will pass the way of all things.

³ Professional dapper gentleman, Tolkien scholar par excellence, and Latin Art-Throb.

4 Professional handsome man, I don’t know about his knowledge of Tolkien, and he ain’t Latin, but he’s dreamy. Like, Brad Guigar5 dreamy.

5 Ladies.

6 Twitter has it that Ms T Falcone’s fellow Strip Searchmonaut and roomie Abby Howard will be wandering the halls as an attendee.

7 No relation.

This Might Be A Record

Yeah, yesterday sucked, but at least somebody will get something useful out of it. Better today, thanks for asking, but still a little behind so this will be brief.

Strip Search alum Amy T Falcone, formerly of Citation Needed and Cardigan Weather, has launched her latest comics, Clique Refresh:

You might hear a faint buzzing in your ears right now. No, that’s not your tinnitus acting up, that’s just me screaming at the top of my lungs. Thank you to everyone who backed the Kickstarter, helped me in the creation process, or kept me motivated to push through with this project. I couldn’t be more excited to tell a story about Internet friendship, growing up, establishing oneself in a new city…

Hmmm, that last bit sounds a little autobiographical; granted, Cardigan Weather was a journal comic, but sometimes the works of fiction are more true than those of nonfiction. Sometimes. In any event, Ms T Falcone has a lot of comics chops, and she has the redoubtable Mary Cagle on colors.

But what really caught my eye is the fact that on the very day of launch, Clique Refresh is already a member of Hiveworks, which until now has been partnering with established comics. Granted, a Stripmonaut matched up with one of the hottest colorists-for-hire¹ in webcomics is a pretty sure bet. With updates coming Tuesdays and Fridays, it shouldn’t take too long to see how Clique Refresh develops as both a story and an eyeball-attracting machine.

¹ Cagle is in the same league as the very prolific Anthony Clark and Ed Ryzowski.

Expansion And Contraction

Changes coming down the pike, Clem, and hard to say where they’re gonna lead.

  • Let’s not bury the lede — Jerry Holkins posted a rather startling news update on Friday afternoon, of which the key point was:

    But I don’t think I want to “grow my business” anymore; I sort of want to do the opposite. And I’m tired, sick to death, of saying “Maybe Someday” when it comes to the things we really want to make. So, we’re not going to do that anymore. The next year is going to be a pretty big one, one of the biggest yet; it’s the year the previous fifteen have been leading up to in the literal sense but also in other ways. I think they’re going to be “big years” from now on, frankly. And it hurts pretty bad, but I don’t know where PATV as a “channel” for third party shows and The Penny Arcade Report fit into that. We’ll be shutting those things down at the end of this year.

    It may just be a sign that webcomics qua webcomics has finally gotten to an age where something like a fundamental shift of direction can take place and be noticed; plenty of creators make strategic shifts every other month¹, but they affect far fewer people or have fewer visible effects. For an enterprise like Penny Arcade to make such a shift² for essentially philosophical reasons — I suspect it’s not the last we’ll see, but probably also it’ll be a while before another such appears.

    In the meantime, this opens up questions about the future of Blamimations and other Scott & Kris-type productions, not to mention current and future productions from LRR, Mega64, and some pretty damn skilled game journalists. I’d guess that the PATV banner will now be focused solely on what happens inside the walls (so to speak) of Penny Arcade Industries, and that future iterations of Strip Search are no less likely than they were before, but at this point we’ll have to see.

    I would quibble with Holkins on one point though, and that’s that he still will be building his business, but less by incorporating the creations of others, and more by expanding the offerings of his own.

    But it’s time to start making good on some of the promises we’ve made in our work. Recognizing that things like the Pins or The New Kid or Daughters of the Eyrewood or Thornwatch or The Lookouts or Automata deserve every ounce of our resources. Novels and albums, too – all these things that got put off in the interests of Empire. Essentially, we’ve decided to be Penny Arcade.

    This refocusing of effort casts certain decisions in a new light — the expansion of PAX to a third event (and what I’ve interpreted as hints that there may be more in the future), the handing-off of art and writing duties on The Trenches … Holkins gives every impression of having built up his sandbox and now wanting to get to play in it again. I wonder how long he’ll get to before the Empire starts to raise its head again.

  • The scope and scale are entirely different, but I can’t help but see parallels in the appeal made by Jon Rosenberg today — he wants to be able to direct more of his energies to the creation of comics, but instead of having too much business to attend to, it’s the unique challenges of children³ and family. The world is in some degree cyclical in its nature, and webcomics is not different in that respect — the Patreon system that Rosenberg is now banking his creative career on is reminiscent of the public broadcasting-model approaches that webcomics returns to on occasion.

    Someday, the pendulum will swing the other way again, and maybe it won’t be necessary. For now, though — if you like his work (and I’m too lazy to type out the obligatory disclaimer re: me and Jon again, but you can read it here), a very small amount of money will make it possible for that work to continue.

  • The AV Club, who I think of as being rather trustworthy when it comes to cultural recommendations, is writing about its favorite books of the year today, and in among your Thomases Pynchon and Davids Foster Wallace, one may find a couple of entries from our weird little corner of the cultural conversation. Allie Brosh’s collection of Hyperbole and a Half and the second volume of Machine of Death are both called out as among the year’s best. Well done Ms Brosh, and everybody at MoD.

¹ Indeed, that agility is one of the great advantages of being an independent creator, where the distance from see an opportunity to decide on a plan of attack to make it happen to all done can be measured in hours. that

² And not in response to a crisis or failure, which is how things of this sort normally go in the business world.

³ And Jon didn’t bring it up, but I will: his situation isn’t helped by the fact that his twin sons (happy and healthy today, thank whatever you thank in these situations) entered the world sooner than would be optimal, after an extraordinarily risky pregnancy. No father on the planet could have been prouder than Jon when the son he was told might never walk on his own did exactly that.

However, these triumphs came at a time when the system for the delivery of healthcare in this country — both to get those boys born, and the extensive needs for physical therapy since — is structured in such a way as to make a situation like this financially ruinous. I don’t know the particulars, but I suspect that if you looked around everything you could see within a 50 meter radius taken together probably doesn’t have as high a dollar value as the medical bills Jon’s family have racked up.

So understand, Jon’s not trying to make comics under the usual constraints of family; he’s trying to make comics under the usual constraints of family and medical debt that likely reaches seven figures, and after more than two years of that unique financial burden, is finally asking for help.

Some Quality Chills For You Today

All Hallows’ Eve approaches, and comics are well into the spirit. You can choose from disturbing with a funny undercurrent or just damn disturbing; make your heart stout and fear the darkness as little as you can manage.

  • First up, Strip Search runner-up Abby Howard will be giving us Halloween all year long with the ongoing, longform The Last Halloween, but today’s fourth installment is where things get seriously spooky. The world is coming apart, respected author/punter/pundit Chris Kluwe meets his end, and Mona must deal with crappy candy and no TV. It’s a perfect treading of the line between seriously scary and hilarious, and it’s only going to get scarier and hilariouser¹ from here.
  • Nextly, Emily Carroll may have actually met the Devil at a crossroads and asked for the ability to see into souls to discover what is more than terrifying, but disturbing on an existential level, and then to portray those disturbances in moody, atmospheric, fuzzy visuals. Not fuzzy in sense of low resolution², but fuzzy in the sense of a dream half-remembered, or a dream so real that as it fades it feels like something you know is true is fading away and taking a part of you with it. She taps deep into the primitive part of the brain, the part that knows that there are men of bad intent and worse in the dark, the part that knows that in the places away from the purifying sun, other laws hold, will you or no.

    Carroll’s latest is possibly her most disturbing yet, a slow descent into possibly madness (or possibly perfect clarity) tinged with body horror. Somewhere, around the corner from a crossroads, the Devil is carefully reading his copy of a contract looking for an exit clause and hoping against hope that Carroll never decides to portray what would scare the ruler of Hell.

  • Lastly, Randy Milholland’s series The Last Trick-or-Treaters (found in the Rhymes With Witch archives) has seen nearly 30 watercolor paintings presented at Halloweentime each year since 2011. Some are … I don’t know if I want to say lighthearted, but at least the menace was inverted or muted, or carried a sense of deserved comeuppance. Some have highlighted bravery and loyalty in the face of the unspeakable. But the latest set have ramped up the sense of innocents seduced into malevolence, and they are his best so far. Milholland’s made some mention of plans to collect TLT-o-T in print so keep your eyes open for that.

¹ Shut up, it is too a word.

² And certainly not in the sense of the adorable little kitties and puppies with their fuzzy ears and OMG SO ADORBS. Those kitties and puppies still rule, though.

Today In Website Adventures

The spam filter is getting far less of a workout ever since I set topics more than 30 days old to be locked; if perchance you come across an old post that you really want to comment on, drop me a line¹ and I’ll see what I can do.

In one of those perfect storm confluences of independent forces², a bunch of projects launched today:

  • If you’re a Maki Naro Kickstarter backer, you now have access to Sufficiently Remarkable; everybody else will get to see the deal in four weeks.
  • If you’re a Brad Guigar Kickstarter backer, you now have access to the first of his Webcomics Movers And Shakers interview podcasts, this one with Webcomics Impressario At Large George Rohac; everybody else will get access to the recording at some point in the future.
  • No backer requirements this time; sometime today the long-awaited, Strip Search-wining Camp Weedonwantcha by the irrepressible Katie Rice will go live. Hooray!
  • Adding yet another a tip to the proverbial iceberg, Ryan Estrada announced that in addition to all the comics he does, all the comics done by others that he publishes, all the work in exposing the lie that is the promise of exposure in lieu of payment, the adventure videos, live stagings of Choose Your Own Hamlet, and just generally living in a foreign land (whose non-Roman script he’s taught a squajillion people how to read), he is now the non-union Korean equivalent of Ira Glass:

    Super exciting news! I’m now the host of People & Places, a short weekly radio show on Busan eFM!

    I knew all that podcasting experience would amount to something! I pitched and developed it myself, and the goal is to make it the Busan, South Korea equivalent of This American Life, filled with stories that make the audience laugh, cry, think or swear. My first episode airs wednesday morning, during drive time!

    You know, in his copious free time.

  • If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Estrada had a time machine and had gone back in time after having thoroughly internalized John Allison’s just-released contribution at 10 Rules for Drawing Comics, especially #5:

    Allow yourself to be bored. There are a million ways to distract yourself today. Turn your phone off when you go out, give yourself time to let your mind wander. That’s when a lot of the best work gets done. Computer games aren’t productive. Checking Twitter/email/Tumblr every three minutes to see if anything has happened isn’t productive. It’s counter-productive. You’re wasting your limited lifespan.

    Not the “being bored” part (I don’t think Estrada is biologically capable of it), but the sense of doing lots of different things, so that creativity doesn’t get clogged up. While we’re on the topic, you should take a few minutes and read all the other entries at 10 Rules, especially considering there’s only ten entries so far.

  • Finally, not sure how I missed it last week, but the episode of Bullseye that features the very funny and fascinating Nick Offerman also has a really nice discussion with Brandon Bird about The Day He Became An Artist (Bird starts at about the 42 minute mark ).

    Bird’s out visiting Sears stores at the moment or I’m sure he’d have more to say about it; probably the least surprising aspect of this whole bit is that Bird and Bullseye host Jesse Thorn know each other from college. Creative, interesting people just seem to eventually overlap, circles of friends merging with ever-broader circles of friends, to the point that it would be weird if two people from completely different communities didn’t know each other.

    Anyway, it’s a really good listen, and you will likely enjoy it.

¹ That would be at gary who maintains a point of contact at this here website, which exists in the dot-com TLD.

² And you do not need to remind me that a year ago, we were staring down the barrel of Superstorm Sandy, which took some time to return from. I got off far luckier than many (and everybody’s circumstances were unique), but I’m still taking a moment on the eve to send good thoughts to those that are still rebuilding their homes, businesses, and lives.

There And Back Again, With Speed

I’m not sure what was more unusual — that the closest thing I have to a home-town convention got covered (due to Work and Family circumstances) in about half of a Saturday, or that the Javits Center’s renovations have cleared off the main show floor to the extent that such was possible for me to do.

Having learned my lesson last year re: the impossibility of swimming against the tide to Artists Alley, I arrived good and early on Saturday morning, my press badge in hand and my Twitter account credentials resolutely un-registered. Early enough, in fact, that the possible chokepoints where you had to physically touch your badge to a reader to enter or exit the grounds weren’t very chokepointy at all, but I wasn’t entering or exiting with large swells of people.

  • A few minutes after 10 they let us into Artists Alley were I immediately made my way to the table of Scott C. to purchase the second Great Showdowns collection¹, which came with an amazing sketch of Mr The Frog and an amusing story as to why Mr C. always thinks of me as Doug.
  • A short while later I was making the acquaintance of Maki Naro, Strip Search veteran and PopSci cartoonist without portfolio. This was a casual visit rather than a formal interview, and so I can tell you that Naro’s got some good-looking stuff ready to drop in the near term, and I’ll be talking more about that once it does. For now, I’ll merely say that his beard was as magnificent as I suspected. Also, his Hippie Love Commune compatriot, Mackenzie Schubert, was busy with somebody every time Naro and I had a conversational lull until such time as I had to leave the AA floor, so I apologize that I didn’t get a chance to talk with him also. Next time!
  • I was initially disappointed that the redoubtable Jim Zub wasn’t at his AA table, but on a hunch I dropped into the orbit of the ShiftyLook booth, waiting for an on-stage interview. I believe I mentioned previously that the forthcoming Samurai Jack comic by Zub looks great, and I shared this opinion with him; he replied with some good news: the five-issue mini has already been extended to a ten-issue run. So when Jack launches later this month, do me a personal solid and buy it, and keep buying it, because good numbers at the start of the run could be what convinces IDW to change things to “ongoing” status.

    Before leaving, I mentioned to Zub that more than anybody else I know in web-/creator owned-/freelance comics, he’s succeeded in making himself the brand, as opposed to any particular project he works on. People that have never heard of Skullkickers will read Samurai Jack, others will read his Lil’ Red Sonja oneshot, or Makeshift Miracle, of ShiftyLook projects … a lot of them will take a leap of faith and try out one of his different projects because he’s done such a good job at transferring fan interests from one to another. Hold that thought, it’ll be recurring.

  • Moving a few aisles over to the BOOM! booth, I ran into Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya, waiting to start their signing for Adventure Time: Candy Capers. Speaking of creator-as-brand — they’ve moved from autobio into licensed work-for-hire, as well as original graphic novels (like Lucky Penny, serializing now at JW), along with other projects. It’s not easy to move from such close association with a project that is literally about your own life into being well-regarded in lots of different spheres, but they’re well on their way.

    They didn’t even mention at the time (because it wouldn’t be announced for a few more hours) their involvement on the NAMCO High game (previously mentioned with respect to the involvement of Andrew Hussie back in San Diego). Because that announcement? Involves a significant chunk of webcomics. Hussie is now identified as Creative Director, Panagariya as Head Writer, with a writer’s room including Magnolia Porter and Brian Clevinger, and character design/animations from Ota, R Stevens, JN Wiedle, Ashley Davis, and Geneva Hodgson, with more contributors to be revealed. Kudos to Ota and Panagariya for keeping to the terms of the NDA, and congrats to everybody else for getting to work with so many creative people at once².

  • This is getting a bit long, so I’ll bring you the fun quotes from the Kate Beaton, Chris Hastings, and Ryan North panel on life Beyond the Webcomic tomorrow, but I will leave you with one choice bit now. Beaton has projects she’s working on, so many that she can’t talk about, but she announced one of them at the panel: a 32 page illustrated children’s book for Scholastic, featuring a certain pony that you may recognize; in fact, the panel was the very earliest that Beaton could announce the deal, as her agent (Seth Fishman, who moderated) handed her the contract to sign as she was sharing the news. That’s what you call immediacy in the internet age.

¹ Bonus fun: this book contains the Showdown from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which hangs on my wall.

² I wasn’t going to get NAMCO High, but if Magnolia Porter is writing character/dialog for high school students? I’m there.

On Rapdity And The Word Dentata (Look It Up)

Sometimes things happen quickly. Time from noted SF author John Scalzi tweeting about being referred to as a mangina to noted fantasy author Seanan McGuire deciding that sounds more like a kaiju than an insult: 2 minutes. Time from that to noted SF author/webcomicker Howard Tayler¹ to throw a little fuel on the fire of there needing to be a mangina kaiju illustration: 8 minutes. Time from that to noted webcomicker and thriller/pulp author K Brooke “Otter” Spangler² to take up the stylus and get to artin’: 2 minutes.

And a mere 69³ minutes later (which included research), the kaiju in question was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. From offhand complaint to brain-melting horror: 81 minutes. Not to mention Tayler’s later upping of the ante (complete with robo-tighty-whities), and a short while ago the unveiling of the inevitable battle between the two by webcomicker Kasey Gibbs. We live in a weird, weird world, my friends.

  • Hey, you know how Godzilla — or Gojira, if you prefer — was the first of the kaiju, and how he’s basically a great big dinosaur? Okay, radioactive and otherwise informed by movie logic but a dinosaur nonetheless. Dinosaurs have power, and dinosaurs don’t have to do what parents and teachers say, and this is a fundamental truth that every child knows.

    None moreso that Allie Brosh who has illustrated to great effect exactly what happens when you let a child become a dinosaur and it escalates to an entirely out-of-control state with awesome and fearful speed. What I love about Brosh’s (too infrequent, but I’ll gladly take what I can get) missives on childhood is how truthfully they capture the state of being a child; children can be little sociopaths (in the clinical sense of the word) and she doesn’t shy from that fact.

  • Coming soon! Katie Rice announced a start date for her Strip Search-winning new webcomic, Camp Weedonwantcha, on Monday 28 October.
  • Not to be outdone, fellow Strip Search finalist Abby Howard has already released the first two installments of The Last Halloween to Kickstarter backers (no, I’m not sharing my link with you, that’s what you get for not backing when you had the chance), which were described as “three weeks early”, so we should be getting the launch of TLH in a week.
  • Also not to be outdone, final Strip Search finalist Maki Naro is dropping hints that his new webcomic, Sufficiently Remarkable, is gettin’ close. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that when I track Mr Naro down in the NYCC Artists Alley next weekend, we will have some SuRe to discuss (and since he’ll be sitting next to Ms Rice, I’m certain that CW will also come up). Also please note that I am not a betting man. In any event, this month will most likely go down in history as The Great Strip Search Launchening Of October Aught-Thirteen, yaaaay.

¹ My evil twin.

² Disclaimer: a personal friend, and curiously the only one mentioned so far without at least one Hugo Award; get on that, Hugo nominating committee!

³ It’s a coincidence, grow up.