The webcomics blog about webcomics

We Go Home Now, John Bigboot! Home Is Where You Decorate Your Crush Wall!

Bigboo.

  • Because I work in New York, I was able to obtain a copy of this article on paper, and will forthwith be framing that sumbitch and keeping hard by Fleen’s Action News Desk. Clearly, I have approached all of my hack webcomics pseudojournalism completely wrong, and in future this bastion of reportage will be my model. I will no longer ask webcomickers about their work, their inspirations, or how they hope to inspire or interact with their readers. From now on, the emphasis is on how much they love the gossip¹.

    Readers of this page may recall that Dave Kellett (that would be the creator of Sheldon and Drive, not Dave Kellett, Osteopath) was invited back in October to give a talk at Ohio State University’s triennial Festival of Cartoon Art, and did so in response to a talk that Bill Watterson had given at the same conference 21 years earlier. It’s taken a while, but Kellett’s talk is now available on the Youtubes in five parts. The most important thing established: Kellett’s crush is Watterson, given that he returned repeatedly to a photo of Watterson at the drawing desk, turning the projector of the auditorium into his own public crush wall. Adorable!

    In other news, Scott C has produced visual documentation (and it is now mine, sitting on my desk in my home) of notroious partiers Mister Banzai and Mister New Jersey gossiping with and mutually crushing on a pair of Red Lectroids; clearly one is John Whorfin, but who could the other canoodler be? Not John Bigbooté, since he has no glasses. Our inside sources say it may be John O’Conner, John Gomez, John Yaya, John Littlejohn, or even — gaspJohn Smallberries.

    Okay, I can’t actually keep up the tone any longer — it makes my brain hurt. It’s a bit difficult to put the info from the website, but I believe every member of Pizza Island is going to be a featured guest at the MoCCA Fest in four weeks, Dave Kellett’s talk was erudite and funny, and Scott C rules. That is all.

  • It’s been a long, long time since we first laid eyes on Nate Simpson’s comics work; back then it was apparently (judging by file names) called Waldo then, and now it’s known as Nonplayer. The writing’s a bit tighter, the art as gorgeous as it ever was, and it’ll be hitting the comic shops next month. Check ‘er out.
  • Got a tweet yesterday (from J Baird, of the Create a Comic Project), reproduced here in its entirety:

    @fleenguy Here’s a news item: Lulu has released its API. You can publish to your own site with them solely as a backend. It’s free! #luluapi

    It took a bit of digging from there, since the main Lulu site didn’t have mention of this that I could find, but here’s what I know so far (via the Lulu Developer Portal):

    The Lulu Publication API allows individuals and publishers to use the Lulu backend to publish print-on-demand and electronic books programatically. Upload and publish books in any format (paperback, hardcover, eBook), get free ISBNs (or assign your own), sell on Lulu.com, Apple’s iBookstore, and other leading retail channels.

    Interesting. There’s quite a lot of technical documentation, but as I don’t have a developer’s account (nor have need of one), I suspect that there are subtleties that I’m as yet unaware of. Fingers crossed that we get a good FAQ-style summary of the API’s features, but it looks like e-books can be done perhaps more simply than they were before this release. Not everybody wants to go to the trouble of producing their own in various formats, naturally, but right now I don’t have enough info to tell you more than interesting. Maybe very interesting?

  • Speaking of interesting, may I refer you to a link? Why yes, I believe I may. Your guess is as good as mine, but 26 April at 10:00pm EDT is when I’m going to try very hard to be near a computer.

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¹ Jesus Tapdancing Christ.

Upcoming Events

But first, a quick note. In my discussion Al’Rashad yesterday, I mentioned author Chris Bird a good deal, and did not give enough credit to the artist, Davinder Brar; Bird has pointed out my omission. In my defense, it’s much easier to find information on Davinder Brar, pharmaceutical executive, than it is to find Davinder Brar, comics artist. It appears that Brar’s work is mostly available at his deviantART account, and that Al’Rashad may be his first publicly-discoverable comics work. In which case — holy crap, this is pretty accomplished stuff for what constitutes a rookie outing. Fleen regrets the oversight.

Various places you might want to go, starring various people you may be interested int:

  • J Baird, having just passed the fourth anniversary of the Create A Comic Project, is busy putting polish on a presentation — South By Southwest Interactive 2011 have invited him for a solo talk in March on interactive comics and math education:

    As a teaching tool, comics are inherently well suited for patterns, geometric shapes, and visual representations of data. They can be a form of stealth teaching — engaging students to think creatively about mathematics, helping instill intrinsic motivation and improving long-term retention…. Navigating the symbolic language of math is a known barrier for many students. Current research into how the brain translates concepts and similarities suggests that comics provide a pathway for alleviating this barrier through the very nature of being “sequential art.” By traversing through each of these stages, a holistic picture of comics’ place in the development of advanced math pedagogical techniques becomes clear.

    Fascinating stuff. And before anybody in the back row starts snickering “pedgogical” refers to the study of teaching and the process of teaching. Perverts. But back to Austin; using the “webcomics” tag in the handy-dandy panel search tool doesn’t turn up any other presentations at SxSWI, but that hasn’t stopped Rosscott of The System from participating in a panel on image manipulation without Photoshop. Anybody else from the community going to be there that I missed?

  • It’s sold out, but tonight is the Child’s Play Charity Dinner/Auction, when the cream of gamerdom gets all fancy-dressed and drops major bucks towards charity. Given that this year’s Child’s Play was up over US$750,000 a week ago, the total will in all likelihood eclipse a cool million by this time tomorrow, and almost certainly surpass last year’s US$1.2 million.
  • Speaking of Austin, local comic shop Dragon’s Lair will be hosting Webcomics Rampage this weekend. Last year’s event got good reviews from the creators and fans who attended, and no reason to think that this year will be any different. The fun runs 10am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday, with a veritable plethora of webcomickers in attendance. If nothing else, you’ll have Randy Milholland and Danielle Corsetto in the same place, and that’s always good, wholesome fun.
  • Advance planning: inspired by today’s opening of San Diego’s Exhibitor Room Requestarama, it looks like the next con after the Rampage is likely Arisia, in a month or so in Boston; Shaenon Garrity will be Webcomic Guest of Honor. Then I don’t think there’s much on deck until Em-City, with its numerous webcomicky guests and exhibitors. Enjoy the break, everybody; it might be cold, but at least it’s relaxing.

A Little Kate Beaton

For reals, there is almost nothing guaranteed to make me smile as much as Kate Beaton’s take on Wonder Woman. And with it comes the news that she’ll be contributing to Marvel’s Strange Tales II anthology. Let’s see what else is coming up, shall we?

  • Otakon is coming up, oh, tomorrowish, and lots of webcomics folk will be involved. On the Official Guest List we find Clarine Harp, anime voice actress & producer, and the real life counterpart to Something*Positive’s Aubrey. In San Diego, I met the real life version of Jason (also in that strip), found him charming, affable and pretty much like strip Jason, so draw your own conclusions. Randy Milholland tells me that his readers sometimes approach Ms Harp very politely, utter some kind words, and back away without making eye contact, possibly in fear of their lives. I want to see that happen in person some day.
  • J Baird of the Create a Comic Project also sends along a list of webcomics-related programming events at Otakon, including two he’s running on manga-making and the use of comics in literacy. Full details after the cut. Lots of webomickers in the Artists Alley, as well (and even some that will be squatting boothspace with others); tell ‘em I said hi.
  • Here’s a name that long-time readers may recall: Øyvind Thorsby; creator of the nearly 600-installment Hitmen for Destiny, which upended the notion that art is necessary to a webcomic with its weird, compelling story. Thorsby is back with a new webcomic — onewhich features neither three-and-a-half dimensional fight scenes (click forward for about a dozen strips) nor throat-inflation fetishism (at least, not that we get to see) — called Lies, Sisters, and Wives. It’s a complete story in 34 strips, and it reminds me of nothing so much as a French bedroom farce — think Feydeau’s A Flea In Her Ear with enormous heads.

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Meditations On The Value Of Emails Received

Masking added to avoid ruining the joke.

Quick item #1, because I’m required to: today’s moustache vs moustache webcomics battle! If Angela Melick actually did what she portrays in that second link, I just fell in love a little.

Quick item #2, because sometimes we like to watch stuff happening: video of Ryan North being smart at last month’s ACM conference vs video of the Tweet Me Harder dudes live on stage in Hollywood.

  • Okay, so the deal is this — on the internet, you’re constantly bombarded with calls of “watch this” and “this is great”, particularly when you (as we at Fleen do) ask for people to send you notifications of stuff. Unfortunately, whatever the field of endeavour, most of it isn’t very good (c.f.: Sturgeon’s Revelation). What to do?

    Find voices that you consistently trust and mentally assign them a heavier weighting when trying to decide if what they recommend is worth following up on; note that this model neatly demonstrates a paradox in Information Theory that posits that a frequently wrong source actually conveys more information than one that’s sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

    For example, a movie reviewer in a newspaper that I used to subscribe to I trusted to consistently have her head up her ass; thus I could take her pans as hearty recommendations for my time and movie dollar, and her raves as a signal to avoid at all costs.

    All this is a fancy way of saying, sometimes a voice cuts through the noise and the recommendation is sufficient on its face. Case in point, Evan Dahm wrote to me recently, and I’m taking the following recommendation pretty seriously because his work is impeccably good:

    Liz Baillie, who has been publishing minicomics for years, has just recently started publishing her comic Freewheel as a webcomic.

    There isn’t much online yet, but I’ve read the first few chapters as they were originally published as minicomics and it is a very interesting, surreal comic.

    That’s all I needed; I was unfamiliar with Ms Baille’s minicomic work, but three pages in, I am intrigued and ready for more.

  • John Baird’s been busy with the Create A Comic Project; let’s let him tell you the news:

    On November 6, 9, and 11th, the Create a Comic Project gave its first series of academic presentations! The first was at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE) on Friday and the others were at the 137th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), both held in Philadelphia, PA.

    The presentations — two 15-minute talks and a 40-minute round table discussion — covered background information about the Create a Comic Project and two of its educational outreach efforts in the past year, which were conducted in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. The roundtable had health professionals join in with a participatory demonstration of the comic project in action!

    As part of the presentations, Baird acknowledged a number of webcomics for their support of the project, along with the Guest Strip Project as an example of large-scale (and international) collaboration. Take a minute to scan one or two of those links, and 10 or 15 to look at something that you’re not familiar with; there almost certainly something you’ll like in there.

  • Sometimes, email has just a hint of Yay, me!; sometimes it’s because you’ve perfected your life’s work, sometimes just because you went further with something than maybe you guessed when you started, and are still going strong. From Chris Flick:

    Friday Nov. 13, 2009 marks my Two Year Anniversary of doing Capes & Babes. Technically, my two year anniversary is REALLY November 12th, but that falls on a Thursday so I have to wait one extra day for my 2 year anniversary (damn those Monday, Wednesday & Friday schedules!).

    Also, I have collected the first 200 strips (see a pattern here?) of Capes & Babes in a 165 page TPB called You Can’t Print Flick.

    Warning to anybody that buys Flick’s book — it is my understanding that Brad Guigar, well-known paronomasiac, wrote the introduction. Tread carefully.

So … Much … News

This is the best satellite image of your target we have. Memorize and burn.
Where to start?

  • Perhaps with the almost-overlooked PC Weenies anniversary? Turns out that you won’t be able to see those first efforts, since the current site only goes back to the retooling of January Aught-Eight, but there it is: Krishna Sadasivam’s been using the same characters to poke fun at kohm-puu-tars since October 1998, which is about 93 years in internet time.
  • The long wait for new Erfworld strips is finally coming to a close; as of this writing, the site is down (presumably for retooling), but expect to see the new “book” start soon, with a new artist, and a new model: twenty-five pages equals a book, short texty interludes between books; by that model, “Book One” was actually about six books worth (and, coincidentally, will be available from Giant In The Playground early next year in dead-tree form).
  • APE happened, and the news was joyous as a sizeable portion of the TopatoCo roster (including all of the ruling junta) plopped themselves in a limo and toasted, Here’s to stumbling ass-backwards into good decisions. Big Apple Comic Con also happened, and the news was decidedly more mixed, with none of the major comics publishers present, one of the two “biggest” draws (Gary Coleman) not showing (that building-super job must have kept him too busy) and the show’s management announcing that next year, BACC will take place the same dates as New York Comic Con (which has made a pretty good name for itself in only four iterations). So, webcomickers — NYCC or BACC, and why?
  • Tweeted this AM: Templar, AZ books to be distributed by Last Gasp, which ought to make them available anywhere that artcomix are to be found. Whoa.
  • John Baird of Create A Comic Project (oft-featured in these pages) sends word of interest to all New York City area comickers of all stripes:

    LearnPlay is looking to bring a series of speakers to Teachers College at Columbia University to speak on the combination of comics and education. The monthly speaker series starts in November and will go through April.

    LearnPlay is TC’s student organization for the research and development of educational games and activities, including comic making. If you’re interested, please contact LearnPlay’s president, John Baird, at jlb2226 at columbia dot edu.

    Okay, everybody else who is not in charge of multiple educational/outreach programs for kids? You’re officially slackers now. Baird’s the man.

And that’s it for today. Nothing else going on in webcomics, nope. Aaaaaaabsolutely nothing. Move along, and don’t bother to click on that completely non-descript link that leads nowhere.

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It’s August And That Means Book Party In The Hills

I hope that Dave Kellett‘s got a good bouncer on for the latest Sheldon launch this weekend, or the celebutantes and MTV refugees will be swarming out of the woodwork for anything that resembles a free drink and attention. If you go and you see Paris, tell her to freakin’ eat something, already.

  • Speaking of celebrations, couple of round numbers to note: 1000, 2000, and 2500 strips were each recently passed by (respectively) Theater Hopper, Least I Could Do, and Goats (no celebratory strip, so I chose a recent one at random).
  • New schedules abound! Well, one new schedule at least:

    Hello With Cheese just got 500% Cheesier!

    After starting as a Monday-only strip in January, Hello With Cheese is changing to a 5-days-a-week comic, starting this week. Enjoy the cheesiness!

    My inner math geek compels me to point out that for HWC to get 500% cheesier, it would have to go from one update a week (100% cheesy) to a schedule with 500% more cheese, or six updates a week, so really it’s only a 400% cheesiness increase. My inner everything-except-math-geek compels me to apologize for the math pedantry. In any event, please enjoy a webcomic with hitherto-unknown levels of cheesiness, such that the Kraft people are expressing interest and alarm.

  • Let’s wrap on something uplifting, shall we? J. Baird of the Create a Comic Project (oft-featured in these pages) sends word of an article about CCP’s panel at the recently-concluded Otakon, as well as an eyewitness blogpost from said ‘kon (warning: cosplay).

Today, He Might Have Come To The Conclusion That One Useless Man Is Called A Blogger

Can you feel the America-ness?

  • Melting pot: Tails has recently relaunched as a webcomic; written and illustrated by Ethan Young, it was a 3 issue print comic that originally debuted in late 2005, detailing the semi-autobiographical misadventures of Ethan, a young, quirky Asian vegan living with his parents while struggling to become a cartoonist. The web version features an updated and re-edited version of the original story, along with new stories.
  • Freedom: Comico was one of the original upstart comics publishers back in the 80s; in its day, it published a lot of comics by creators that are today well-known talents (most notably, Matt Wagner’s MAGE and Grendel). Then they went away. But now former Comico partners and publishers, Bill Cucinotta and Gerry Giovinco are taking another shot at the whole crazy game, utilizing the free and open spaces of the web.

    CO2 Comics is structured less like a traditional webcomics collective, more like a dead-tree publisher, and appears to clearly treat updates as placeholders on the way to print publication but still — very interesting. And any website that can get me fresh Bernie Mirault? That’s worth a look.

  • Commerce: Jimbo (I think I’m genetically predisposed to like anybody that actually goes by “Jimbo”) Hillin’s Wireheads is ramping up for San Diego, complete with a new book at Lulu and a promise of much swag available in return for your banknotes at the convention.
  • Public service: J Baird of the Create A Comic Project is rolling into Otakon in a couple of weeks, and will be running sessions on Make A Manga! (room: Workshop 2). First session runs Friday the 17th from 4:00 to 6:00pm and the second on Saturday the 18th from noon to 2:00pm. Baird’s bringing along creators Kittyhawk and Erin Ptah, and would welcome the participation of any webcomickers who happen to be around.

Big Things A-Brewin’

If this were not so awesome, I might feel slightly put upon that I have to talk about Kate Beaton again for like the third day in a row. Awww, who am I kidding? I ♥ Kate Beaton, and soon I will have to ♥ Kate Beaton, published author:

I’ve been working on a book! You guys only asked for one a million times or so. Good news, it will go to the printers soon, and my guess is that we can expect it around May. Hooray! If I am wrong, Jeffrey‘s gonna give me the stink eye for making promises!

Now I want a t-shirt like her younger self wears that says BOAT! only mine will say BOOK!

  • New England Webcomics Weekend kicks off this weekend, and the schedule of events is up. Holy crap, you guys — screenings of MC Frontalot tour documentary film Nerdcore Rising! Charity auction! Panels! Webcomics Weekly live on stage! Gallery show! BOOZE!! [PDF]
  • A little bit down the road from New England Webcomics Weekend (about 4800 km and two weeks), Emerald City Comicon kicks offin Seattle, and if you fail to meet any webcomickers at NEWW, good chance you’ll see them in the Pacific Northwest.

    Alice Bentley (friend to webcomics everywhere, erstwhile Studio Foglio minion-at-large, and current grad student) has compiled a pert-near comprehensive list of webcomickers expected to make their way to the City by the Sound. Tell ‘em I said hi.

  • Finally, J Baird of the Create a Comic Project reports some media appearances:

    Jami Lee Rosa of Carmine Magazine recently did an interview with me about the project. You can find it here.

    April’s issue of the Grand News Community Newspaper (published in New Haven, but no website, sadly) will feature a picture and “extended caption” about the 3rd annual Comic Making Tournament.

    Baird and the CCP do some good work — check out the interview, and if anybody in New Haven can grab/scan a copy of the magazine for the rest of us, that’d be cool.

There’s A Con Tomorrow, Still Lots To Do

Quickly now (and since I’m going to be busy all day tomorrow, let this serve as fair warning that you’ll be getting a canned update and if anything newsworthy breaks I’m sorry for not covering it).

  • Readers of Fleen will recognize the name John Baird as being the gentleman (in every sense of the word) behind The Create a Comic Project. He’d like you to know:

    [J]udges are needed! The Create a Comic Project is having it’s third annual Comic Making Tournament on Saturday, March 14, 2009. If you’re a comic artist who lives near New Haven, CT, please consider stopping by.

    Local media has been asked to cover the tournament, so you may get some free press out of it. At the very least, you’ll get the “Ooos” and “Aaahs” of several dozen enthusiastic kids.

    If you’re interested, send an email to createacomic at gmail dot com.

  • Anybody given this a test drive yet? Tyler Martin’s ComicPress plug-in for WordPress is practically the standard for webcomic sites, but there’s a new offering. Zachary Lewis went looking for a content management system that fit his needs, and wound up writing his own. SomeryC suports comments, news articles, an RSS feed, timed publishing (queueing) and in-browser uploading; it’s available for download here, is discussed here, and Lewis is looking for feedback/feature requests here.
  • Nudged to action by alert reader “L”:

    Hey, you haven’t posted about mezzacotta.net/postcard yet, in which David Morgan-Mar and co. have hit on the laziest webcomic concept ever. What? How can it be lazier than an algorithm that makes the comics for you? You’ll see.

    Indeed you will. From the Comments on a Postcard about page:

    The Guernsey Comics Collective became a cult hit in the late 1990s with their witty series Mango Chutney! In 1998, chief writer Billy Striker began to collect together various other ideas in order to start another strand of work. Painstakingly, the other members of the team began to assemble art, lettering, and design for the series, until they were ready to storm the world once more.

    Unfortunately, a fire broke out in the headquarters of the collective in mid 2001, and only one man escaped…. The only surviving legacy of this great creative work of the GCC is the “director’s commentary”, the notes and minutes carried by the publisher that would have marked a spectacular comeback.

    So, director’s commentary on a series of strips, but the actual strips themselves have been destroyed. And the commentary has actually been reconstructed not by the mezzacotta crew, but by a series of dedicated volunteers. Still, one can only wonder at the marvels the strips might once have shown.

Happy Estradarama 2008

And what do I find in my Inbox? Our very first guest strip, featuring our Masthead Guy. That’s right, it’s time for another Estradarama, which today features the following comics as of press time, in no particular order:

Please note that some of those may shift from their present linked addresses in the future. If last year was anything to go on, those 31 39 43 46 52 60 62 65 strips (plus two blogs, plus the empty strip, plus the comic book) are a bare fraction of what will make itself known by end of business today. But then there’s the mysterious 1/100 in the signature of all the strips. Could Estrada be attempting 100 guest strips in a single day?

And if you recall Estradarama 2007, you’ll remember that Ryan Estrada used the occasion to also launch the Cartoon Commune. This year, he announces the availability of a full comic book, written with John Baird of the Create a Comic Project, Create a Comic Project Presents: Climate Change. The 34 page book is available now through Lulu for the low, low price of $6.00 (or $0.50 for a download). Oh, and he drew a strip for the CCP, too.

Okay, you know the drill — let me know what I missed in the comments, I’ll add ‘em to the bullets above in groups of five, and we’ll do it all again next year. We all know I’ve missed a zillion strips, but I can’t spend all day hunting them down.

In completely unrelated news: non-Estrada shake-it-up strip at Octopie, and a good, old-fashioned bidding war for an original strip. Neat.

Updated to add: As several people have pointed out, Ryan Estrada has called the total at 70, but discovered he only had 69, so he did an extra strip of Aki Alliance to bring it up to 70, then VG Cats ran its strip from last year, so we’re going to call it 70 + a comic book as the official total. Which means that as of this writing, we’re still about 17 sightings short — get cracking, people!