The webcomics blog about webcomics

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.

NYCC 2K13: Webcomics On The Floor

So the floor plan for NYCC 2013 is out and do you see what I see? Or rather, what I don’t see? The hazardous-to-life-and-sanity construction zone running east-west through the Javits Center is gone, praise be to whatever you find praiseworthy¹. That means that we can tell you who is webcomics-like that’s gonna be there, and where you can find ‘em. As in past years, the people that you’re going to want to see are in several clusters, including Artists Alley, and aisles 900, 1300, 1600, and 2200. Also, there’s a couple of gonzo you’ve got to be kidding booth choices way the heck over in the 300-400 zone that I’m including for giggles. Let’s check ‘em out.

Artists Alley

As was the case last year, Artists Alley is in the North Pavilion of the Javits, accessible via a roughly two block long passageway from the north end of the main convention center. It is my most sincere wish that the showrunners have learned how to funnel people into and out of the convention center without making it impossible to navigate to the North Pavilion². Unfortunately, the AA map requires a zoom of 650%+ to get to the point of legible table numbers, so I won’t be marking those up the diagram. Nevertheless you may here find Ramón Pérez (K10), Jim Zub & Edwin Huang (H6), Katie Cook (C10), and Strip Search hippie love commune survivors Katie Rice, Maki Naro, and Mackenzie Schubert (V5, V6, V7). Also, plentiful ATMs and natural light, yay.

Main Floor
Since we were just in the North Pavilion, let’s start from the north, high-numbered end of the main show floor (on the right side of the image) and progress southward.

The 2200 Aisle is our first cluster of interest, where we’ll find comic strip publisher Andrews McMeel (booth 2219), occasional show home of Matthew Inman. A little deeper into the hall and you’ll get :01 Books (booth 2237), Blind Ferret (booth 2246), and Cyanide & Happiness (booth 2247). For those playing at home, that’s two high-traffic booths directly across the from each other; fortunately, they’re also on a main travel aisle.

Continuing south, there’s a quick jog to the front of the hall for ShiftyLook (booth 1620), which is probably your best show of catching up with random webcomickers who aren’t at their own booths or tables. Three aisles over, you can find Boom! Studios (another possible place to find random webcomickers, at booth 1344), and 1977 The Comic creator Byron Wilkins (booth 1367).

A few more aisles along, you’ll get The First Law Of Mad Science (booth 972) close by the deserving-of-your-support Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (booth 965). A bit thin on webcomickers this year, I’ll grant, offset somewhat by the largest contingent of webcomickers as invited guests of the show that I can recall.

Oh, and for anybody looking to get away from comics entirely, keep heading south until you hit the 300-400 zone and there you will find both Brooklyn Bewery (booth 427), which I sorta get as there is a panel on comics and beer on Friday, and the Embassy of Spain Trade Commission (booth 341), which I don’t get at all. But I am going to go and ask why the Spanish love comics.

¹ I’m chuckin’ around praise today like it’s going out of style.

² Or perhaps I should say dangerous, to the point that I never made it there last year, despite hearing that it was very nice.

Catching Up On Random Things

A couple of things happened that people have been kind enough to email me about, and I figure I could share those with you. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Sure it would.

  • The accolades keep rolling in for Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints, which has been included in consideration for the National Book Award (where it is the only graphic novel this year). This is the longlist, the finalists have yet to be determined, but Yang’s got a proven track record, considering that American Born Chinese was an NBA finalist in 2006. Not only that, but if my search skills are correct, ABCwas the last graphic novel to get an NBA nod, and Mr Yang also appears to be the only repeat nominee in the Young Adult category in that time. Interesting.
  • New York Comic Con is fast approaching and I’ll be keeping an eye on webcomicky goings-on from the show floor again this year; programming has appeared on the NYCC website, with all four days populated as of this writing. As usual, watch out for last-minute changes, and as others have noted, there are some interesting scheduling conflicts:

    @NY_Comic_Con has programmed @KodanshaUSA‘s panel against @shonenjump‘s, & the @FUNimation+Kodansha panel against @yenpress. Nice.

    And the Funimation and Vertical panels are also at the same time! Yay!

    I’ll do a thorough schedule-trawl and let you know what happens in webcomics world on the floor; if nothing else, you can meet/greet Maki Naro, Katie Rice, and Mac Schubert of Strip Search in the Artists Alley, as a result of having won reward challenge #4.

  • Speaking of big-city cons, Pittsburgh Comic Con kicks off a week from Friday, and you know who will be there, at the booth of Official Fleen-Approved Cool Place The Toonseum? Caroll Spinney. If you don’t recognize that name, perhaps you recognize his work in the personages of Mr Bird or Mr The Grouch? It’s Pittsburgh for crying out loud, the hometown of Mr Rogers, so take a cue from him and do the neighborly thing: if you’re at PCC, drop by the Toonseum booth and thank Spinney for his contributions to the world. If you don’t, I’m not mad, but I will be disappointed in you.
  • Speaking of museums and the weekend of the 28th, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will be participating in the Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live event:

    The Smithsonian magazine Museum Day is a nationwide event and offers free admission to any visitor and one guest with a Museum Day Live! Ticket to a participating museum or cultural institution.

    Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Last year’s event drew over 400,000 participants, and this year’s event expects record-high participation.

    The Museum Day Live! Ticket is available to download now at Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! Ticket will gain free entrance for themselves and one guest at participating venues for one day only.

    For those that don’t happen to be in San Francisco on the 28th, there will be plenty of other venues participating, so grab your tickets now (one per household, per email address, more information on the tickets page).

Man, Getting Old Sucks

This was supposed to be a day of catching up on things, and instead it’s a day of nursing a spine that’s determined to insist that it is the boss of me. Ow. Let’s see what some young’uns with presumably good backs are up to.

  • As previously noted, it was a weekend with several important cons, at least of one — PAX Prime — which is still going on. As anticipated last week, word came regarding the new artist of The Trenches, and it turns out to be Strip Search alumna Monica Ray¹; congrats to Dan Stefanidis who emailed me on Tuesday with a guess that the line weights and color palette reminded him of Ms Ray’s work.

    Continuing their habit of throwing projects to people who don’t end up working in-house (cf: the Penny Arcade Personality Pins, as drawn by Tavis Maiden, whose Kickstarter is down to its final two days), not only will Monica Ray be drawing The Trenches, she’ll find fellow Artist Ty Halley on writing duties.

    Given the trend in the ten weeks or so since Katie Rice was declared the winner², it appears that nobody lost that first season, except those of us who were looking forward to the traps. Certainly not audience- and crew-favorite Cool Guy “Nick” Trujillo who took the opportunity of the Artist Reunion panel at PAX Prime to propose to his girlfriend and simultaneously raised the bar for all future PAX-related proposals.

    In any event, Ray, Halley and Trujillo are all disgustingly young and presumably have backs that do not give them trouble, for which they should be grateful. Also, apropos of nothing, Strip Search Artist Abby Howard, who also just moved to Seattle, should know that thanks to a sketch she did at PAX this past weekend, I finally have found an image that I think is important enough to get tattooed on my body. Oh, Robertso dreamy.

  • Know who else is young and had a good weekend? Howard Tayler, born on the 29th of February, and thus between the 11th and 12th occurrences of his birthday. Last night, he failed to break his streak of winless nominations for the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story; he can take some solace from the fact that he is the only person to be nominated for this award every year since it was introduced in 2009³.

    Oh, and also from the Hugo that he won in the category of Best Related Work, for his part in the podcast series Writing Excuses.

    Now I’m speculating here (Tayler being my Evil Twin only gives me so much insight into his thought process), but I feel that this award might mean even more to him than Best Graphic Story; Tayler’s a pretty self-effacing guy and as much as Schlock Mercenary is where he made his bones, he’s grown to be more than a single-creation creator. He’s done both illustration and writing in the SF/gaming world, and Writing Excuses is all about providing advice and mentorship for future writers, and I just get the feeling that it’s where he might allow himself to feel a bit more pride.

    You done good, Howard; you’re the best nemesis I could hope for, and I’m thrilled that we’re not the sort of mismatched pair that annihilates each other if we come into contact. Assuming that we truly are opposites, I’m guessing that today’s discomfort means that your back is in stellar shape and I’ll let you have that one today. Tomorrow though — I’m expecting you to take your fair share of this stiffness.

¹ Her dinosaur/rollerskates comic was possibly my favorite piece of art produced in all of Strip Search season one, and you can get an absolutely beautiful print of the comic, cleaned up and reworked for color, is available from her store and you should get it.

² And who just started her year in residency at Penny Arcade, and who has already worked on the PA Presents Project Fairway Solitaire.

³ I’m not about to do a comprehensive search of Hugo history, but this may make Tayler the only person to be nominated every year of a permanent award’s existence. While there are some other repeats in new awards — such as Best Fancast, existing for two years, featuring a number of repeat nominees, and in fact won both years by the crew of SF Squeecast — the key there is new awards. Hugo rules, as I understand them, will require a vote after three iterations to determine if these awards become permanent.

This Week Never Stops

Dead water heater? Of course! Netbook bricking itself and requiring a Linux reinstall? Why not? But dammit, I’m going to tell you something today if it kills me¹.

  • For starters, it’s another three-con weekend for fans of webcomics; you have your choice of stalking meeting your favorite creators at Dragon*Con² in Atlanta, WorldCon 71 in the guise of LoneStarCon3³ in San Antonio, or PAX Prime4 in Seattle.

    At Dragon*Con you can see possibly the most aggressive cosplayers and sexytimes atmosphere of the annual con circuit — including the obligatory kilt blowing. At WorldCon you can see the Hugo Awards — or join the live stream — where Howard Tayler will either continue or break his streak as the Susan Lucci of the Best Graphic Story category. PAX Prime will feature the first reunion of Strip Search artists since the show revealed Katie Rice as the winner.

  • Assuming you need more than that, how about some hot, hot porn?

    Smut Peddler 2014 begins next week. Submission guidelines, invited line-up, deadline, and planned release date. Watch for it, folks.

    Countdown to quality, lady-friendly sexytimes? Starts now.

And I realize that I am tempting the metaphorical demons of fate itself by saying this, but I hope that tomorrow will be back to normal, just in time to slide into the long weekend here in the States. See you then.

¹ It very well may kill me.

² And with con co-founder/accused child molester Ed Kramer finally going to trial — and legally separated from the legal entity that owns D*C — a shadow that has hung over the show for some years is finally lifted.

³ Who had their own kerfuffle last week, as it was noticed that they were going to be showing the largely-unseen and deeply racist Disney film, Song of the South. Questions were raised as to what context the film would be shown (it can definitely be watched in the context of an artifact of its times, with a frank acknowledgement of how poisonous much of its content is to modern eyes), as well as whether or not the film could possibly be legally licensed (Disney does not want Song to be associated with their name and has kept it locked up in the vaults for decades). In any event, con organizers nixed that idea.

4 The tenth consecutive PAX, for those counting.