The webcomics blog about webcomics

On Reflection, It Makes Perfect Sense

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: There were three, then there were two, and Rudy Cava had some dark shit in his past. All hail the pissed man with goals.

Longtime Friend o’ Fleen and shadowy mystery man Eben Burgoon has been on a bit of a tear recently; we mentioned that he put up a Kickstart for the latest volume of his kill-’em-all comic series, The B-Squad, unfortunately the same day as the Cyanide & Happiness folks put up their megasuccessful card game’s campaign¹. But now that the oxygen is coming back into the room, we can see that B-Squad Volume 2 is a bit shy of goal (that is to say, 45% with nine days to go), and direct people to check it out. Burgoon was kind enough to send a copy of Volume 1 over to the Fleenplex and it’s a hoot. A hoot and a half, even, with cruel twists of fate dictated by literal throws of the die².

Burgoon’s been here before — closing days, goal looking iffy — and he’s always regrouped, replanned, and readjusted to reality, and it’s made him a better creator. He’s also too smart to have just one creative venture define him. Which is why he’s now got a signature beer:

The beer itself is a blonde ale brewed with Sacramento wildflower honey. BEE-SQUAD! SEE! It is all connected!

It’s brewed with California grown barley and blend of 2 hops. It’s a slight twist on their previous blonde ale, but to me it sounds ridiculously & dangerously drinkable at 7.0% alcohol and I certainly intend to leave many an expended pint full bee-hind! [emphasis original; puns unfortunate]

Why has no other webcomic had a signature booze before? Those of you in Sacramento on Saturday the 19th of March (coincidentally the end date for the Kickstarter) will have a chance to ask Burgoon, label designer Sean Sutter, and the brewmasters of New Helvetia Brewing Company in person, as they’ll be having a combination end-of-Kickstarter launch-of-beer party from 3:00pm to 8:00pm. Fun goes down at New Helvetia, 1730 Broadway in Sacto, and fun it will be if the book funds out.

If not, it’ll be a hell of a fun wake, and Burgoon will get up Monday to find the next way to bring his creations to life. Adaptability + booze is pretty much what indie and webcomics are all about.


Spam of the day:

LEGAL NOTICE: You may be entitled to settlement from implantable-mesh

Fun fact: my wife has worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for pretty much her entire career, and so I know that implantable meshes are commonly used for breast augmentation. I haven’t ever had either of those, so I suspect that the authors of this spam may not, contrary to their claims, have actually tailored the message to my unique situation.

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¹ Joking Hazard by name, and I use the term megasuccessful in a precise sense, as it closed earlier today having raised 3.246 US megadollars, or roughly double the midpoint of what the FFFmk2 predicted. Well done, lads.

² There’s a double meaning there; the character whose number comes up on the die will die. If one of them perishes in some kind of industrial die-cutting machine, it’ll become a triple meaning.

Busy Day

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: No strip; Beef is undoubtedly deciding who among the gathering hordes will be invited to roll with Son of Rodney.

So much going on, I barely know where to start. Let’s just go in the order of when I scribbled notes to myself.

  • Longtime Friend o’ Fleen Eben Burgoon started in [web]comickry with spy spoof Eben07, then moved onto action-adventure spoof B-Squad (and, almost uniquely among creators, managed to repurpose a failed Kickstart into success with the first volume). He’s back with more weird deconstruction of the ragtag-team concept as B-Squad volume 2 launched on the ‘starter yesterday. I was going to write about it yesterday, but honestly when C&H dropped their immediately megasuccessful card game¹ on the world, any other new Kickstart was just gonna be overshadowed and so I pushed back a day.

    And B-Squad didn’t deserve that, so here we are today. One day in, 38 to go, sitting at about 16% of goal, as Burgoon pairs up with five artists to tell five stories and also deal with the worst writing constraint in history: each story, at least one character is going to kick it, as determined by a die roll that Burgoon must then adapt to. They say that writing is about killing your darlings, but what if you put work and love into a character and then the die says they gotta, well, die? Help make it all a bit less painful for Burgoon by at least making financially worthwhile for the creators to deal with the challenge and heartbreak.

  • The ongoing endeavour that is trying to figure out who the heck gets a table at SPX hits a significant date soon; the curated portion of the floor is being allocated, and soon the showrunners will know exactly how many spots will go into the table lottery. Want to exhibit but not specifically invited? Check it:

    On February 12, 2016, the lottery registration will become available and the lottery registration period will last between February 12 and February 26, 2016.

    The lottery registration will take place through a web page on the SPXPO.com website. We will provide basic instructions on this page that can also be viewed in the FAQ section below.

    Each lottery registrant will receive an e-mail containing their own randomly generated 6-digit number that you will receive within 48 hours of registering for the lottery.

    Once the lottery registration period is completed on February 26, 2016, we will have a digital coin flipper to determine whether we sort the random numbers by ascending or descending order. The lottery registrant list will then be sorted by random number according to the coin flip, and those tables above the capacity threshold will be selected to exhibit at SPX 2016. The order of the tables below the capacity threshold will determine the wait list. [emphasis original]

    Got that? Friday is the day to start looking at the website for lottery applications. This is a much better system than the frantic rush to apply that SPX used before the lottery system, meaning that timestamps and postmarks and checks received don’t determine who gets in. Two weeks, same chance whenever you apply, and hope to see you in September.

  • For those wondering, Queen of Comictopia Raina Telgemeier has topped off a recent move back to San Francisco with the release of the fourth of her newly-colored Baby Sitters Club adaptations and whaddaya know, it’s entered the New York Times Best Seller List in its first week. In slot #1. With five other books (Smile, Drama, Sisters, and two other BSC volumes) in slots 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9. Okay, book purchasers, let’s get that last BSC book on the list so that Telgemeier can have 70% of it to herself (until Ghosts comes out and she hits 80%). It’s her world, comics, we may as well acknowledge it.
  • The Nib, lost to a reorg at Medium, has pretty much been Matt Bors’s singular focus for the past eight months or so. First it was the Kickstart to reprint the best of the site, and much of the time since has been dedicated to finding a new home for editorial cartooning on the web that pays. Good news dropping this morning, then:

    First Look Media today announced that they have partnered with award winning cartoonist Matt Bors on his irreverent comics publication, The Nib. Formerly part of the online platform Medium, The Nib will re-launch this summer through First Look Media as an independent daily publication and online newsletter.

    Great news, in fact, but why do I recognize that name, First Look Media?

    Bors will remain editor of The Nib as it joins First Look Media’s family of media properties including The Intercept, reported.ly, and Field of Vision.

    Ohhhh, right, The Intercept — that’s Greg Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the people that brought Edward Snowden’s leaks to light. Damn, this is going to be a match made in heaven, with adversarial journalism committed in both words and pictures. It’ll have been a year spent Nibless, but before long we’re going to have voices back that we haven’t seen as much lately, in one place, both delighting and enraging me, and (most importantly) getting paid. That’ll do, Matt. That’ll do.


Spam of the day:

say hello to these naughty and wild milfs

Why, for the love of all that you might find holy, why would you send me a spam trying to intrigue me on a sexual basis and then write that spam in ficking Comic Sans?

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¹ As of this writing, above US$400K on a US$10K goal, with more than 8700 backers. The FFFmk2 predicts a final funding in the US$1.5million (plus or minus call it US$300K) range, which would be frankly insane if not for the example of Exploding Kittens last year.

The Value Of Art

Although the best rule one can follow on the internet is Never Read The Comments, I find it for somewhat obvious reasons useful to go through those at this site. The post from Tuesday of this week attracted some comments that caught my eye, not only for their length, but for the mention of something that’s been on my mind a fair bit. Responding to my commentary on his latest Kickstarter, the probable cover identity that self-identifies as Eben Burgoon discussed his logic for resubmitting an initially-unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign; here’s the important part:

I really fundamentally looked over the Kickstarter last time and rethought my plan of attack. The main thing –- hire Lauren as the artist and do so with my own pocket money so that my goal was far more reachable. She’s an incredible talent, deserves to be paid for her hard work, and if I am going to ask the internet for money to help see this work to it’s end –- I sure as hell better pony up too.

The Lauren referred to would be Lauren Monardo, a colleague via the Brainfood Comics project, and creator of several comics that aren’t really accessible on the web right now¹. Monardo’s credentials (which are excellent) aren’t the point here — the important part is the bit about deserves to be paid for her hard work and I sure as hell better pony up too.

Burgoon’s regard for his artist made me happy, particularly because I’ve spent entirely too much time reading Ryan Estrada’s For Exposure twitterfeed and watching his dramatic re-creations of people that don’t think artists should be paid. Hopefully (although in truth, I hold out very little hope for this), the bozos who have provided Estrada with so much material will look at Burgoon’s example and realize that their pathological short-sightedness is not the only way to approach making comics.

  • Speaking of art having value, there are times when you can get away with not paying a creative collaborator — when said collaborator finds value in something other than up-front cash², or volunteers to work for free, or is dead and the work is out of copyright. That last one doesn’t come up too much, but may do in the not-too-distant future.

    Evan Dahm (whose work you should be familiar with, seeing as he’s put a few thousand pages of it out there for you to enjoy for free) has of late been noodling around with images inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; that would be the original Wizard, the novel by L Frank Baum, adapted a few million times³ since it was first published in the dawning days of the twentieth century.

    Many people have taken their artistic whacks at the Oz milieu since W W Denslow’s original illustrations, notably the work being done presently by Skottie Young for the Baum novel adaptations being published by Marvel. Dahm isn’t talking about doing a sketchbook though, or an adaptation; he’s thinking bigger:

    My name is Evan Dahm and I would like to illustrate and publish an edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was published in 1900 and is now in the public domain. I like it a lot and I think I can illustrate it in a way that works with the story and has a visual character that’s distinct from other interpretations.

    I can’t recall anything like this happening previously. There was an edition of Huckleberry Finn with racist language softened a few years back (which prompted an emulation with the n-word replaced with robot), and there have been some pretty beautiful comics editions of classic works (Kipling seems to be a favorite there), but I can’t recall somebody producing a new edition of a prose work to do their own spin on illustrations.

    And what illustrations! Dahm’s new Baum-sketchbook Tumblsite is full of promise as he starts what will likely be a lengthy project; he’s set ground rules for himself that guarantee that it’ll be years before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum with illustrations by Evan Dahm sees print. However long the wait, I’m ready to grab a copy.

  • Also speaking of art having value, here’s an emergency commission announcement from Dean Trippe. whose MacBook had a crisis and requires replacement as soon as possible. If you like Trippe’s meld of clean line and capes, he’s declared an impromptu convention complete with bargain pricing for superheroic inked drawings. DeanCon lasts through the weekend, so get your requests in now while you can.

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¹ The Slightly Askew Adventures of Inspector Ham & Eggs leads to a dead page, the Brainfood Comics page has a bunch of unreadable symbol placeholders and a Call of Duty 2 ad, and may be somebody squatting on Monardo’s former domain.

² Possibly an ownership stake.

³ Sadly, a Google search for “wizard of oz” puts Baum’s novel (the first of 14 in the Oz series) sixth behind various references to the 1939 film, although some of those are because one of three surviving Munchkin actors died at the age of 89.

Ephemeral

As noted last week, A Softer World launched a Kickstarter campaign and released their 999th update, leaving everybody (or at least me) wondering what Emily and Joey would cook up for strip #1000.

Wonder no more.

What initially appeared (to me, at least) as a double-size update has been growing over the past few hours:

We are updating the 1000th comic all day! It’s like a story! A whole big STORY! *passes out* PS KICKSTARTER

As of this writing, it’s eleven rows tall, and each time another strip is added the alt-text changes with it. I suspect that there may be meaning — even a parallel story — there, all those yellow pop-ups will be lost in time, like tears in rain

  • There’s been a foofaraw in the writerly corners of blogistan for a couple of days, as a posting credited to the VP of the Horror Writers Association (and on the HWA Los Angeles chapter blog) purported to divide the world into professional writers and — gasp! — hobbyists, and succeeded mostly in pissing off a great number of professional writers. As is often the case, I find the John Scalzi (who is not the only writer I follow that scored only 1/10 on the quiz, far below the 8/10 necessary for validation) may have put it best:

    Here’s the actual quiz for knowing whether you are a pro writer or not:

    1. Are you getting paid to write?

    If the answer here is “yes,” then congratulations, you’re a professional writer!

    Okay, that’s Scalzi in snippy mode; he made an even better point a bit further down:

    The problem with [HWA VP’s]² quiz is that it confuses process for end result. Her quiz is about process, and presumably her process — what she thinks is necessary for one to do in order to produce the work that create the end result of making money as a writer. But process isn’t end result, otherwise in this case I wouldn’t be a professional writer, which I clearly and obviously am.

    Confusing process and result here is not a good thing. It confuses writers who are hungry to know what “being professional” means. The things [HWA VP] describes can lead to being a pro writer, but it’s not the only path, or a guaranteed one, not by a long shot. In this respect this quiz defeats its own purpose — it offers no indication about whether one actually is a professional writer, only whether one has jumped through the process hoops that one single writer believes are important to become a pro. [emphasis original]

    This thought of process vs status has been on my mind a fair bit; I don’t think that I’m letting any cats out of any bags to say that Brad Guigar asked me to do a first read on The Webcomics Handbook³, and I find it suffused with a tone of Topic A: Okay, here’s how I do it, and this works for me; you may find a variation on this that works better, or a way that’s completely different and that’s cool. What matters is what you produce. and how few absolutes there are. Maybe Guigar should send a copy care of the HWA.

  • Speaking of what you produce, readers may recall that international mystery man Eben Burgoon of Eben 07 launched a Kickstart for a side project called B-Squad back in December, one which didn’t fund very well, and was ultimately unsuccessful. Like others before him, Burgoon has opted to resubmit the B-Squad, a technique that is rarely successful.4

    Unlike those others before him, Burgoon is capable of learning from his mistakes: he’s redone his project scope (reducing a US$8000 goal to US$3000), tinkered with his stretch goals, and borrowed successful ideas from other projects (case in point: challenge coins). As a result, he’s much more likely to succeed the second time around.

    In a domain where success is too often assumed to be inevitable, it’s natural for Kickstart campaign owners to look towards successes as things to emulate. These might be your own previous projects (such as Bill Barnes, Paul Southworth, and Jeff Zugale funding the second Not Invented here collection), or they may rely on accumulated name recognition and goodwill (say, Tavis Maiden taking a boost from Strip Search to launch a new strip, much like his fellow Artists have done). It’s rare to see somebody adjust approaches after a stumble rather than just have a hissy fit5 about it. Here’s hoping that Burgoon is the start of a trend.

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¹ Rutger Hauer is the man.

² I’ve taken the name because it’s pretty obvious in the posting, and because I suspect that the VP in question is taking a fair amount of shit today for the pretty significant overreach in the original article. I just don’t feel like piling on right now, as I’m presuming that the mistake was one of execution and not intent. Should reports come about that no, the execution matched the intent that that’s actually the viewpoint being promulgated, I may reconsider this notion.

³ Spoiler alert: it’s very good.

4 No names, but seriously I’ve seen Kickstarts that failed to raise even ten bucks resubmitted with nothing changed expecting a different result.

5 Again, no names, but remember the guy whose project failed to fund and he changed the video into an obscenity-laden screed about how the world didn’t deserve his genius ideas? That was great.

New Beginnings

We’re less than eighteen hours into 2013 where I am, and already things are off to a fast start.

  • Firstly, more news of Strip Search has come to light, including details I couldn’t get Robert Khoo to divulge if his (or, more likely, my) life depended on it. Maki [Edit to add: I’ve discovered that Maki is not uni-named, and is more fully known as Maki Naro; Fleen regrets the deviation from our usual naming conventions], from Sci-ənce dropped news that he was a participant, that production took place in December, and that the other eleven creators vying for the top prize were Lexxy Douglass, Amy Falcone, Ty Halley, Alex Hobbs, Abby Howard, Monica Ray, Katie Rice, Mackenzie Schubert, Nick Trujillo, and “Hurricane” Erika Moen.

    [Edit to add: Missed one! I took my list from Naro’s posting, and did not notice that there were only ten names listed rather than eleven; Naro initially omitted Tavis Maiden, and I missed his name on Lexxy Douglass’s post. Mr Maiden helpfully contacted me via Twitter to point out the oversight; Fleen regrets the error.]

    Best news: most of these creators aren’t known to me, so I can now get exposed to new talent. Even bester news: the three whose work I am familiar with are really damn good, which gives me confidence in the other nine. Specifically, I’ve had my eye on Douglass’s¹ art blog since she was featured on PA: The Series going through the hiring process; Rice has been tearing it up at Dumm Comics for going on five years, and Moen is basically an unstoppable force of nature. My already-high level of anticipation for SS just went through the roof.

    One last thought — I’m really hoping that Maki didn’t speak out of turn (it is mere days since Khoo wasn’t willing to tell when production took place or who was involved) and as he (Maki) rightly observes:

    Khoo is a very kind, friendly, and utterly terrifying man

    I kid, I kid, Douglass also disclosed her involvement today, but she didn’t make a show of terror so she doesn’t have as good a pull quote. Obviously, the NDA period is over — or Maki and Douglass are dangerously overconfident, not realizing that their doom is nigh.

  • Speaking of fast starts, Ryan Estrada has launched the second iteration of The Whole Story (six months after the first), this time on Kickstarter. Since the launch at midnight EST, TWS: Winter 2013 has exceeded the extremely modest US$2500 goal, which had the entire purpose of reimbursing Estrada for the out-of-pocket costs that he fronted to creators and translators; everything that comes in from this point will be split among the creators (of which Estrada is one, meaning he gets a share, but not the entire total going forward).

    Moving TWS to Kickstarter from its earlier distribution site makes sense — it’s easiest to just set the “pay what you want” model to a minimum of a buck, and to add bonus content by exceeding the average amount paid in the prior incarnation, than it is to adjust those pricing structures on the fly. Having a set period of time for the campaign creates a scarcity that wouldn’t exist otherwise for electronic content.

    And holy jeeze, there’s a lot of previously-released and brand-new content available, including KC Green’s latest story comic at the pay-what-you-want level; the bonus level (a paltry thirteen American dollars) includes almost 200 pages of Ryan Andrews comics that bore themselves into your soul and don’t let go plus Green’s magnum opus, The Anime Club. At this point, just call The Whole Story the e-book equivalent of Benign Kingdom.

  • Finishing up on the Kickstarter front, at the beginning of December we at Fleen mentioned a Kickstarter from longtime mystery man Eben Burgoon for a project called B-Squad, wherein characters will be killed off by the roll of a die and replaced by others waiting in the wings. Burgoon’s project is four days from completion, and I’m particularly interested in its progress, because it’s the first test of something I learned back in October.

    Some may recall how I shared some information from Kickstarter Director of Community Cindy Au, at the B9 panel at NYCC; specifically, the magic inflection point appears to be 1/3 of goal. If you reach 1/3, you’re extremely likely to succeed, and if you fail, you very likely didn’t approach even 1/3 of goal. As of this writing, Burgoon’s B-Squad is at 39% of goal, with four days to go.

    The projects I’ve had my eyes on since I learned of Au’s thumb-rule haven’t hung around the 1/3 mark for more than a few minutes before racing ahead to success, so I’m curious to see what happens here — a big push to get support and a slide over the line before the campaign closes? Or a statistical outlier? Dare we, as Kickstarter attention-payers, turn Ms Au’s prediction on its head? That could cause the laws of Kickstarter physics to start to fail and create a tear in the fabric of crowdfunding-spacetime, the likes of which not even the ghost of Ryan North could navigate. I’m just saying, if Kickstarter eats itself, we only have ourselves to blame.

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¹ That’s entirely too many “s”es.²

² So is that.³

³ And Guigar.

Too Much For A Friday

Seriously, people — all kinds of mid-week days I’m scrambling for content, and then this gets dumped on me all at once? Do none of you want a weekend?

  • Hired! Jim Zub may be the smartest guy working in comics, and working every angle of them — publishing licensed work, writing original creator-owned comics, writing revived videogame IP, and thinking very hard about everything he does. To that we can now add writing for DC, as Jim Zub is taking over Birds of Prey. It’s a pretty high-profile gig, as BoP is regarded as a well-written book (having a long legacy of Gail Simone as chief wordsmith), and not just an IP-parking exercise in stasis. Here’s hoping that he can keep up all his own projects while still working for the bigs; nobody deserves success for all his hard work more, but I confess that I’m more interested in the things that are uniquely Zub than things dreamt up by somebody else getting a Zub spin. The first one is just … Zubbier? Zubesque? Zublike¹, I guess.
  • Kickstarted! How did I miss this? Girl Genius is doing a videogame, and with two weeks left in the Kickstarter, they’re up over 500% of goal. More interestingly (since GG fans are pretty rabid and any project related to Agatha Heterodyne was going to be supported to the point of success), this is the first time I’ve seen what appears to be a new cultural evolution of Kickstarter projects, in the form of the Kicking It Forward pledge.

    Short form: people running Kickstarters promise to dedicate no less than 5% of the profits from their campaigns (after costs and fulfillment of their own projects; we’re talking actual profit here, not gross proceeds) to supporting other Kickstarters from other project teams in the future. This is a terrific idea, and puts me in mind of something I saw on Twitter the other day (heck if I can remember who tweeted it originally, sorry); in a nutshell, it was an opinion that people running Kickstarters who have a track record of backing other projects are more likely to see support (at least, from the twitterer in question) than somebody who’s first interaction with the platform is to ask for money. Kickstarter is a terrific tool, a key part of business plans for independent creators of all kinds, but having it be a real community may be where its full potential gets unleashed. I’m very excited by these developments.

  • Unmasked! Search the archives of this page for Eben07 or Burgoon and you’ll find many references to a shadowy operative, a peerless spy-type agent and the webcomic he’s produced for a half-decade, and now he’s just gone and made himself all public and every-damn-thing. Eben Burgoon has Kickstarted a new project about an underfunded set of misfit mercenaries sent on deniable missions with a reality-show twist: every mission, somebody will be eliminated, leading to lots of funerals. The B-Squad, as it’s called, sounds like a hoot, so do give a look, yes?
  • Speaking of! Kickstarters for the last time today: Ryan North is up over US$275,000 for TBONTB:ACFABRNAAWST, which means mini-plush Yorick skulls. Something tells me that Ryan North may be in the mood to celebrate come Monday, 17 December for the Third Annual Beguiling/Dinosaur Comics Holiday Party with fun and good times and Ryan and Kate and Joey and a Secret Santa and booze. The party starts at 7:30pm and goes until whenever Paupers Pub is tired of the shirtlessness (Ryan), tomfoolery (Joey), and knife fights (Kate). You’re on your own for bail money.

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¹ Insert your own Being Jim Zubkavich joke here. Zubkavich, Zubkavich? Zubkavich. Zub.

Zub Don’t Shiv

The rumo[u]rs are making the rounds regarding Jim Zub’s Skullkickers #17, available tomorrow in fine comic shops everywhere; actually, I’m not sure you can call it a “rumo[u]r”, when you come right out and say it in the solicitation:

Somebody DIES! Or, everyone DIES! There’s lots of DYING! Oh man, it’s some kind of DEATH-fest goin’ around. It’s all epic and brutal and a major character DIES so you better order a ho-jillion copies. No, seriously, someone DIES. Big DEADING in the house. Also: The end of our incredible third story arc. Sweet.

I would have put some emphasis in there, but I think it’s pretty apparent that the takeaway is “major character dies”. Now this being comics, death is a temporary condition, the result of an imaginary story or retconned immediately so that you can have drama but still put things back the way they were. But not if you name is Zub, Sparky. There’s a for-real shocking conclusion, a cliffhanger, and a stack of questions that amount to How the hell is he going to keep the story going for another three arcs after that? Do not doubt the Zub, he will find a way.

(more…)

How Was Your Weekend? We Made Cookies!

Getting back into the swing of work, a bit behind, so perhaps you’ll forgive me if I point you towards some things that I’ve noticed over the last little bit and forgo the more thinky things like the Harvey nominations?

  • For starters, we’re coming up on the opening of We Love Webcomics at Doublepunch Gallery in San Francisco. It’ll feature the works of incredibly, almost stupidly talented people. Quite frankly, it would be worthwhile to attend if it featured no more than three random Showdowns, any two Rebecca Clement whimsies, and Natasha Allegri’s tribute to Snooki. As it turns out, I have no special knowledge that any of those things will be present, but then again, you could substitute just about anything by Campbell, Clement and Allegri and have it rock, not to mention the work of Furuichi, Green, Jonathan, and more. Those in the westerly climes, do check it out for us, yes?
  • Late-breaking realization #37: by not attending SDCC this year, I am missing out on obvious purchasing opportunities. Under normal circumstances I’d be picking up copies of the new Chainsawsuit, Starslip, Scenes From A Multiverse, Penny Arcade, Super Stupor, Drive, and Flight collections. Just the shipping on all of these books is almost enough to justify the flight and hotel costs for the week¹. That’s not even considering that I wouldn’t be able to pick up the newest Schlock Mercenary and Digger books, since Tayler and Vernon won’t be there either. Gonna be an expensive July….
  • Doing me the favor of not having a new book that needs purchasing, the ever-mysterious E Burgoon passed some information to us² regarding some of his(?) recent semi-covert activities. Of greatest interest is the fact that Burgoon has worked a deal with the seemingly-legitimate front organization friendly local comic shop, Empire’s Comics Vault in Sacramento, to offer seminars designed to bring more artists and writers to webcomickry. It’s possible that there may even be video of the first of these for your edification and/or viewing pleasure in the near future.

Okay. Going slightly off script here for a moment; I think that I’ve calmed down enough to approach this rationally and not go on the written equivalent of a tower-based shooting spree. A few hours ago I read this:

[Blog] : One chapter ends, another begins… http://www.mindpollution.org/2011/07/05/one-chapter-ends-another-begins/

… which lead to the unwelcome news that Rick Marshall, consummate comics reportage pro and relentless booster of webcomics, has been let go from this position at MTV Splash Page (no link, because screw them). Rick’s way too much of a gentleman to see this as anything but an opportunity to explore new projects, but I’m not. I’m going to say that MTV are foolish for not realizing what a resource they had (Rick’s Rolodex is deep and broad, and his interviews revealed a knowledge of comics to match); keeping him on a blog with the too-narrow focus of comics-meets-movies-and-TV was understandable when that was all that MTV had in the way of comics coverage, but not asking him to helm their dedicated comics blog (MTV Geek; again, no link because still screw them) was shortsighted in the extreme³.

So, if you’re looking for somebody that exemplifies journalistic best practices and has a deep and abiding love of comics and all they do, drop Rick a line — he makes the rest of us that dabble in banging out copy look bad, while making the medium, its creators, and fans look very, very good. Anybody that’s lucky enough to snatch him up will be lucky to have his talents working on their behalf.

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¹ It is very, very expensive to ship to the Fleenplex.

² Via the traditional dead-drop, as befits his(?) strict adherence to the best practices of tradecraft.

³ Which should not be construed as a criticism of anybody that MTV did invite in to work on MTV Geek. There’s some good work being done over there, but I think you’ll forgive me if I decline to read it in future.

Mysterious Payloads

The rumor and innuendo swirling about was damn near impenetrable. Suddenly, a mysterious message appeared in my inbox, promising shadowy secrets in webcomics, and for once it didn’t come from Eben Burgoon. Who could the beardy figure in that photograph be? The possibilities are endless, although the filename — prof_smith — offered tantalizing possibilities, but nothing concrete. Then I just read the email and it was all obvious:

[W]e’re making a PHD movie! — Jorge

Yeah, probably shoulda just read the damn thing first ‘stead-a getting all worked up. Jorge Cham (for it was he that sent the not-very-mysterious email) tells us that it’s not yet decided how/when/where the movie rolls out, but if they went to the trouble to find a guy that’s such a dead ringer for Professor Smith, I’m guessing that the project is planned well enough to see completion on time, under budget, and without any hint of procrastination. Jorge would never procrastinate. Besides, if you look closely enough at the picture, there are playback controls, so I’m betting a significant chunk of the film is “in the can”, as they say in Hollywood (or Hollllywood as Bullwinkle tells us is correct, with “three or four Ls”).

Now, the only question is if Cham plays the (thus-far nameless) POV character in the movie.

In other news:

  • New books have been announced by Rich Burlew and Paul Taylor. They would be, respectively, the special-to-Dragon-magazine monthly strips that ran outside of regular Order of the Stick continuity, and the post we-kicked-the-calendar-machine’s-ass strips from Wapsi Squre. For good measure, Burlew will be donating $1 per copy of Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales bought or pre-ordered this month to the Japanese Red Cross for earthquake and tsunami relief.
  • Per The Beat, the nominations for the Stumptown Awards have been announced, to be held on 16-17 April in conjunction with the Stumptown Comics Festival in Portland “Stumptown” Oregon¹.

    What I found refreshing is that that Stumptown Award jury, in contrast to pretty much every other comics-related awards program — has essentially drawn no distinction between webcomics and not-webcomics. Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder: Voice (cf: here) looks to be the most-honored work, and it’s a web-to-print creation. But look at the multiple nominations for Emily Carroll’s His Face All Red, which is purely a webcomic.

    Carroll’s not up for Best Artist That Doesn’t Use Paper or Best Colorist That Works In Pixels, she’s up for Best Artist and Best Colorist, period. Heck, Ben Costa’s nomination for Best Colorist nod is listed as for Pang: The Wandering Shaolin Monk, but is that for the book or the webcomic? It doesn’t matter, and the Stumptown Awards are the first to really erase that distinction. Bravo.

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¹ Stumptown, Stumptown, Stumptown, smock!

The Only Thing More Interruptive Than A Snow Day

That would be trying to catch up everything at work the day after a snow day. Which is why I’m terribly behind on my reading (again), and will be dipping into the mailbag so as not to post nothing. If the Fimbulvetr continues, those of you with press releases will have a much better chance than usual to get them run.

  • Item! Friend to words-with-pictures everywhere and curator of the Cartoon Art Museum Andrew Farago (aka Prince Consort to the Radness Queen of the Greater Bay Area) would like very much for you to come to an event next month:

    San Francisco, CA: The Cartoon Art Museum welcomes celebrated cartoonists Aaron Renier and Jason Shiga on Thursday, February 17, 2011 as Renier celebrates the release of his new book, The Unsinkable Walker Bean, published by First Second Books and Shiga presents his innovative graphic novel Meanwhile, published by Abrams ComicArts. Please join Renier and Shiga at 7:00pm for a discussion of their latest books, followed by a signing in the museum’s bookstore. Copies of The Unsinkable Walker Bean and Meanwhile will be available for purchase onsite. Please call 415.227.8666, ext. 310 to reserve a copy. The suggested donation for this event is $5.

    If you didn’t read Meanwhile, go find a copy and leaf through it — it’s a pick-your-path comic so complex that new computer software had to be constructed from base theory in order to track all of the story paths. And Walker Bean was one of the standout books that First Second sent me last year, one that I’d recommend to reader that’s … let’s say eight and up. Fabulous stuff.

  • Item! Back in the Spring, when snow seemed far away, we spoke a bit about Flash interface comics (also about David Malki !‘s Big Paper conspiracy theory), and as such brought up Red Light Properties. Creator Dan Goldman has been hard at work, seeing as how he’s about to crank out his 250th update in just over a year; given that he has to construct interactive features into each update, that’s quite a accomplishment. If you haven’t read the story of a Miami real estate office run by a hallcinogen-boosted shaman, his broker ex-wife, and the“previously-haunted” homes that they flip, maybe you should.
  • Item! Speaking of Mr Malki !, everybody should read this. Doesn’t matter if you’re working on a webcomic, or any kind of creative endeavour. Just read it.
  • Item! Spy talk, cryptic remark, offhand reference to Eben07 by Eben Burgoon. Clancyesque, overblown description of clandestine meeting. Fake intelligence report on the wrap-up of the second chapter of the on-going series Operation: 3-Ring Bound. Mission instructions that Burgoon is expected to lie low for a two month hiatus to build up a buffer of comics and to obtain all possible information on his work in the meantime, perhaps by listening to the Full Disclosure podcast.

    Tip that known associate Lauren Monardo of Brainfood Comics (which succeeded with its Kickstart, woo!) is providing the variant cover to the new Eben07 book, now available for pre-order. Cut-off sentence evoking danger and disaster. Honestly, it all reads a bit like a semi-drunken pastiche of the far superior work of Department Head Rawlings¹.

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¹ REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS, EYES ONLY
Have planted rumor that previous leaked intelligence reports regarding subject: Burgoon were only meant as attempts at humor. Believe that this version of events will take root and become dominant. Continue operations as normal and initiate protocol omega.