The webcomics blog about webcomics

Aarne-Thompson Class #130: Karl Kerschl on Fairy Tale Comics

Karl Kerschl is pretty much universally praised for his comics art — from superhero work for the major publishers to videogame tie-ins, to the critically-acclaimed, Eisner-winning The Abominable Charles Christopher — and is constantly in demand for various projects. The latest of those will see release next week in the form of Fairy Tale Comics from :01 Books, edited by Chris Duffy and with a couple-dozen of the greatest talents in comics contributing. Kerschl was kind enough to take time away from his newborn daughter to talk about how he almost passed on Fairy Tale Comics, a shift from his usual artistic style, and the stories that grab us.

Fleen: When Chris Duffy invited you to be a part of Fairy Tale Comics, what made you decide to contribute?
Kerschl: I wasn’t going to, initially. I really liked the concept but I was extremely busy and I think I actually turned him down. Chris eventually badgered me into it by extending the deadline. I like Chris a lot and it’s really hard for me to say no to things, even when I probably should.

Fleen: What was it about fairy tales that intrigued you? Something made it different than, say, a miniseries tied to a videogame.
Kerschl: Fairy tales have always resonated with me; the structure of them and the lyrical quality. It’s much closer to my heart than working on traditional superhero/action stuff. And I also really liked that they’re open to so much interpretation. You can read the same fairy tale told by a dozen different people and they all differ in some way — some quite drastically — as they’re retold over the years. That’s one of the fun side-effects of an oral tradition, I guess. So it was an interesting challenge to try to adapt one with my own spin and contemporary sensibilities.


Post Con Post

Got a lot of stuff at SDCC this year, all of it readable (I’m usually good for at least one toy, but not this year); I spread it out for the customary photo, which my dog decided to crash. For the record, he was here in New Jersey the entire week. In case any of you want to know what’s good, let’s do a survey:

  • On the left hand side, the Stan Sakai tribute book and the hardcover collection of 47 Ronin (on which Sakai supplied the art); the former is new, the latter’s been out since March, but I hadn’t been able to find a copy anywhere so yay. Sakai is one of the great treasures of comics, and if you haven’t been reading his work all along, you could do far worse than to read the standalone story of the loyal retainers of the Asano Clan.
  • Top center you’ve got the two cheats: In Real Life and To Be Or Not To Be. My copy of TBONTB is nearly a year old, but the key word is nearly; my copy came in the mail just after SDCC ’13, and thus I missed the opportunity to get contributors to sign it. I brought it this year, and now have 19 of the 69 contributors; this one may take a few more cons. A copy of In Real Life by Jen Wang and Cory Doctorow was offered to me at the :01 Books booth, but I suspected I’d have a copy waiting for me when I got home and so it was.
  • Continuing clockwise, we get the latest Bravest Warriors and the last issue of Midas Flesh, both of which are excellent (Midas #8 is the Ryan Northiest story that there ever could be), and for both of which I offer my profound thanks to the folks at BOOM!, in that they actually sell their comics at their booth.
  • I see now that I could have composed the placement of items a little better to keep similar things together, but oh well. We have the previously-mentioned Penultimate Quest by Lars Brown and Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Africa Edition, edited by Kel McDonald, both of which I devoured on the plane. Penultimate dares to ask the question Why are we invading this same dungeon day after day and why doesn’t time pass? from the perspective of a character in that situation. It’s a ballsy thing to decide that Valhalla gets kind of old when it might be your eternal reward; it’s ballsier for Brown to end the book on a cliffhanger, with resolution to come in volume 2.

    Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of damn good stories in Cautionary, ranging in their treatment and degree of fidelity to source material. Also unsurprisingly, the standout was Carla Speed McNeil’s story of why Frog and Snake don’t play together; no other story captured the sense of timelessness, the speech rhythms of griot, and drop-dead gorgeous art that precisely matched the needs of the tale to quite the same degree. Then again, if you’re producing a story that isn’t quite as assured as one by McNeil, you’re doing pretty damn well.

  • In between Brown and McDonald’s gifts is the first issue of Terry Moore’s SIP Kids, bringing characters from his justly-acclaimed Strangers In Paradise together as Peanuts-age children. It’s hilarious and you should get it even if you never read Strangers; you’ll get more out of it if you’re familiar with Moore’s work, but it stands marvelously on its own.
  • In the center, you’ve got Jim Zub’s most recent Skullkickers issue (I had trouble finding it previously) and Jeff Smith’s first print issue of his webcomic Tüki Save the Humans. Typing their names in such close proximity makes me want to see those two dudes collaborate on something someday. Oh man, that would be awesome.

Oh, and my hotel clerk gave me these, which was very generous given that I hear there’s a trade in them on eBay.

Spam of the day:

Kale qualities valuable nutrients and minerals which inturn deliver the idea a phenomenal program cleansing as well as a facial skin regenerator.

In the words of the inimitable Helen Rosner, My safe word is STOP MAKING SEX REFERENCES ABOUT KALE.


They’ve been considered since time immemorial, by every culture that encountered them, as the craftiest, trickiest, least trustworthy of all living things¹; born deceivers, masters of untruths and illusions, foxes manage to deal with their reputation via the simple expedient of not really giving a shit what you think of them. They define reality on their own terms, and screw you if you don’t like it². It’s possible that they grow out of it eventually, and it’s only the very young of their kind that are responsible for the popular image of wreaking havoc (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not).

  • So imagine how devastating it must be to love one of them. Not merely be manipulated into falling for a fox, but to truly, deeply, madly love one. What would you do to keep that most capricious of creatures yours and yours alone? Terrible things, things that would never have occurred to you otherwise, things that leave a hole in your soul, and perhaps the world around you. Things — and this is the worst part — things that the fox doesn’t make you do, but things that you decided to do on your own. Things with consequences.

    Nobody understands the delicate balance of the world, and the consequences that come about from disturbing it too greatly — like Emily Carroll. Her fairy tales, whether they take place in the far-off long-ago or the here-and-now, show us the menace, the darkness that comes of wanting things too much, acting too rashly, and giving in to your worst impulses.

    The fox at the heart of The Hole The Fox Did Make (released today and stop whatever you are doing right goddamn now and go read it) is barely a presence; in his absence — in the aftermath of loving a fox — there are consequences a’plenty, and lessons to be learned. Chief among them: when a fox whispers in your ears with honeyed words, don’t pay too much heed, for foxes are capricious and care little for the pain they leave in their wake.

  • You know who will never listen to the honeyed words of foxes? Bunnies. Know who draws a lot of bunnies these days? Dave Roman. And finally, Dave Roman pointed me to a tweet this morning by Eric Orchard that is relevant to the idea of foxes:

    Fox & Duck, my new webcomic is now up!

    There’s not much to Fox & Duck so far — a header and first-chapter splash illustration, a first page that leaves a marvelous, moody impression of dark magics (but not too dark), perhaps a curse or two. The fox and the duck haven’t made any appearances yet, but it appears that this fox is doing his best to get the duck back to a normal ducky state, wherein he doesn’t breathe fire or have devil horns. That would be reasonably un-foxlike behavior, and I for one am intrigued by this heterodox idea of what foxes are, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

  • Okay, I’m really stretching the theme for the day, but don’t you think that Boulet looks a little like a fox? That red hair, and artists are all tricky, and I’d like to think that foxes have a French accent. Anyway, Boulet’s got a great little video talking about Augie and the Green Knight, with an even faster version of the sped-up watercolor video from the other day. Oh, and like all foxes, Boulet has a fib or two, but he gets caught out rather too easily to be a good fox. I’m torn as to whether or not I should encourage him to practice that or not.

Spam of the day:

Can’t find any. I think a fox stole it. So, uh, thanks I guess.
¹ Although I would argue that squirrels are definitely the biggest assholes in the forest animal métier.

² Trenchant, dry observation about how they are perhaps the perfect symbol for eponymous “news” organization.

Thursday Items Of Note

I have this notion in the back of my mind that if I were to examine the nearly eight years of posts on this page, the vast majority of miscellaneous-topic updates would fall on Thursdays. It seems that webcomics, much like Dentarthurdent¹, can’t get the hang of Thursdays, at least not enough to focus on one thing.

  • Let me first offer hearty kongratulations to Karl Kerschl and his lovely wife Amy on the occasion of their family growing by one:

    No comic today. Just had a baby girl.

    The undoubtedly adorable and perfect daughter took longer showing up from when she was first expected, and this may keep Kerschl from having the time to update us on Kharles Khristopher and the denizens of the Kedar Forest for some time; please note that I willl fight any man-jack that says this is a problem. In the meantime, let’s all send the best of wishes towards Montréal and hope the little one gives her parents that most precious gift of a full night’s sleep very, very soon.

  • Speaking of Kerschl, one of the things that he’s probably too busy to do right now (and again, this is only right and proper) is talk to a hack webcomics pseudojournalist about his participation in the :01 Books anthology, Fairy Tale Comics. :01 wonder-editor Gina Gagliano has wrangled a bunch of comics-blogger types to talk to a bunch of the FTC contributors, and I was lucky enough to draw Kerschl’s name. The timing of little ones, though — we’ve been unable to set a time to talk, and so it’s not terribly likely at this point that I’ll be able to make good on my contribution to the cause next Tuesday as planned.

    There’s still lots of conversations that will be taking place, though, and you can see the entire blog tour itinerary here. Rest assured, as soon as Kerschl is able to spare the time I will be talking to him, if only because the fairy tale he presented² is one of my very favorites. Then again given how many fairy tales have animals as central characters, and how well Kerschl draws animals, he could do a killer job on just about any fever dream Jakob and Wilhelm had.

  • Speaking of books, I mentioned one to you on Tuesday without a permalink because some creators can’t bother to keep their news items linkable, Otter³. Fortunately, said book is now purchasable, which means I can point you to something better than a news item: a store. Please note that for the same price you’d get a mass-market paperback in the local shop, K Brooke “Otter” Spangler will autograph and sketch in your copy, and if you asked her to sketch a Sharktopus, she will be very happy4.
  • Still speaking of books, Brad Guigar (webcomics’ own Most Interesting Man In The World and Old Spice Guy merged into one sexy, sexy, package) reports that his successor volume to How To Make Webcomics is now pretty much entirely in the hands of the pre-order via Kickstarter crowd. In the interests of full disclosure, I did an early read and thorough commenting on The Webcomics Handbook, and as such I won’t be reviewing it here as I did HTMW. I will tell you, though, that it’s very, very good, and if you get a chance to buy a physical copy from Guigar after the Kickstarter rewards go out next month, you definitely should.

¹ No link; if you need that one explained to you, your parents and society have badly mismanaged your cultural education and you’ve got some self-study to do.

² The Musicians of Bremen, although I think he could also have done a bang-up job on The Boy Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Is (a version of which also in FTC), Hans My Hedgehog, or The Solider and Death (neither in FTC, darnit).

³ God. <eyeroll>

4 Please note that it was not me that requested the Sharktopus sketch. Also note that as more Sharktopus requests come in, she is less likely to want to marry the requester, particularly considering that she is already married. Also-also please do not typo Sharktopus in your request, as Otter is just feisty enough to sketch out a shartopus if that’s what you spelled.

The End Of A Very Bad, No Good, Horrible Week

But even here there must be some encouraging news, yes? Yes.

  • Encouraging News The First: Lucy Knisley’s latest book, the absolutely stellar Relish, has made the New York Times graphic novel bestseller list, debuting at #8. For reference, that puts Knisley above Batman¹.
  • Encouraging News The Second: Sometimes I’m shocked about what I look back and find that I haven’t written about on this page — particularly when I’m convinced that I did at some point. For example, PostScript, by brothers Graham and Neal Moogk-Soulis, which deals with what happens to fairy tales after the happily ever after part². Five years they’ve been at this, and I haven’t mentioned them until now? Bad hack webcomics pseudojournalist!

    Anyways, Los Bros Moogk-Soulis are celebrating with a site redesign and a fifth print collection, and debuting it next weekend at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. Oh, and comics; many, many fine comics. Should you see Neal and Graham on the wide prairie next weekend, give ‘em a big high-five and strongly consider picking up their books; there’s some good stuff in there.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better now. Let’s hope that all the crap that’s been foisted on us this week sees fit to stay there as we move forward together.

¹ Also the still-there-after-56-weeks Smile by Raina Telgemeier, hanging in at #10. I’m not sure that book will ever fall off the list.

² Not that happily ever after is how fairy tales always end; my favorite is the Polish ending that I recently learned about, where the storyteller states … and I was there too, and we drank mead and wine.

Because Nothing’s Better Than A Weiner Dog Wearing Dapper Clothes

Those of you that follow Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson in their various endeavours may know that they’re in the midst of a continent-hopping trip that took them from their home base in LA to New York, London, the Low Countries, Germany, Austria, and they still have parts of Europe and then Japan to go¹. Those of you that follow them may also know that Becky paints about 300 of her watercolor/gouache paintings a year, which makes for a challenge when so much of your life is taken up with travel, conventions, and suchlike. So it’s good to know that even on vacation, when the muse strikes Becky’s gonna paint the everloving heck out of that muse, and it’s going to be awesome. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the sketchbooks and notebooks full of words and pictures that they’re presently filling will make for one hell of a travel story and I can’t wait to see it.

  • Speaking of paintings, I just learned of an art show that I had to share with you. Way back in the long-ago, there was a wonderful webcomic called Patches by the equally wonderful Kelly Vivanco, which went on hiatus at roughly the same time that Vivanco started producing moody, dreamy, whimsical-on-the-verge-of-disturbing paintings².

    If you find yourself in the Greater Los Angeles area on Saturday, you may want to head to Culver City, as Vivanco will be opening the latest solo exhibition of her paintings at Thinkspace, which is found at 6009 Washington Boulevard. The opening reception (read: snacks and booze) runs from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, and the show itself will be up for three weeks.

  • Anybody have an eBay account and a sense of justice? Firstly, observe Mary Cagle’s really wonderful Kiwi Blitz, say this page right here, and note the young lady with the hat and the artificial leg. Secondly, this eBay offering, which features a suspiciously similar young lady with a hat and an artificial leg for sale, and which is not offered up by Mary Cagle. Next up, the Report Item page, which requires an eBay account, and where one can (I imagine) notify eBay that Mr or Ms Vinylcustom is violating the rights of an independent creator. Remember the rules, kids: be factual, and be polite.
  • Kickstarter roundup: TBONTB:ACFABRNAAWST is just over a week into its campaign and closing in on US$200 large³, the Johnny Wander bookstarter needs to think up more stretch goals for its last four days, as it’s blown past the last one. Also, I saw that Neil Gaiman retweeted the Kickstarter twitterfeed, and I said to myself, Self, that sounds familiar:

    The beautiful blue businesswoman Gabrielle explodes from Claire’s toilet and informs her she’s pregnant with the new Messiah.

    And indeed it was, which is how I learned that Sister Claire has a Kickstarter going to print the first eight chapters (or roughly 200 pages) of relentlessly cute and just the right amount of blasphemous webcomickry for your reading pleasure. I see that creator Elena Barbarich (or Yamino, if you prefer) has reached about the 86% mark in about three days, meaning she’s statistically certain to make goal4 and surpass it. Oh, and obligatory disclaimer: Ms Barbarich, like seemingly half the kids I know in webcomics these days (cf: Gibson, Dreistadt) went to college with my niece, so there’s that.

¹ Even better, they managed to hop across the Hudson while in New York and visit me and my wife, on account of they are awesome people.

² They’ve always reminded me of fairy tales, at the moment just before everything starts to go seriously wrong.

³ It helps if you read that in the voice of Rodney Dangerfield when he shouts Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!

4 Fun fact I learned at the B9 panel at NYCC this year: Cindy Au (Director of Community for Kickstarter) shared some statistical information that included the number 1/3. Projects that fail typically do not get anywhere near goal, and almost never make it even 1/3 of the way to goal; projects that make it to 1/3 of goal almost always go on to meet or exceed goal. Neat!

The Toronto Man-Mountain: Proof!

Didn’t spend a whole lot of time at NYCC yesterday for the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-noon-til-nine-pm Preview Day, just long enough to touch base with the Benign Kingdom table (the new B9.5 hardcovers are absolutely gorgeous, as are the TKT hardcovers — I’m going to have some very welcome packages arrive at the Fleenplex in the coming weeks), say howdy to Zach Weiner (he’s selling disposable monocles!), pick up a copy of the new book from Matthew Inman (I unfortunately didn’t have time to discuss the purchase of the future Tesla Museum grounds at anything resembling full length), bump fists with the Most Handsome Man In Comics, and have two slightly longer conversations. Saturday will be hanging with creators day. As to those conversations:

  • So, yep, you may have already seen the announcement that Chris Hastings, Anthony Clark, and Cardboard Cutout Ryan North made yesterday on behalf of ShiftyLook: they’ll be doing an ongoing webcomic based on Galaga, of all things. The problem being, Galaga doesn’t really lend itself to a story so much.

    Enter Ryan North, Human Giant (that picture up top? the cardboard cutout is life sized¹). He’s constructed a storyline around two teenage girls (who Chris Hastings tells me he was very glad he got to design not as your typical comics version of “teenage girls”, namely, “undiscovered Playmates” … they will be actual person-type girls) who manage to take salvaged bits of alien tech (which look an awful lot like giant pixels) and build spaceships in their backyard to defend the Earth.

    The launch date for the new comic is officially (and cheerfully, may I note) described as The Future!, so keep your eyes on this page for further information. In the meantime I’m going to go out on a limb and say that three established, talented creators with a history of tearing it up when working together are going to deliver a great series. I’m also going to go out on a separate limb and add how thrilled I am about all the creators whose work I love that are getting work on different properties, expanding their name recognition, and establishing themselves as talent beyond their core audiences.

    I love Dr McNinja as much as any man alive (and maybe more than most), but some day Hastings will have told the last story he wants to tell about the good doctor and his friendly staff, and I want him to have an income when that day comes. A diverse set of projects (such as ShiftyLook and all the Adventure Time spinoffs²) and a reputation for meeting deadlines make that future day all the brighter.

  • Speaking of diversity of projects, Kel McDonald found me yesterday to drop some news. On the heels of Cautionary Fables & Fairy Tales hitting general availability, she’s making plans for the next anthology. Okay, sequel to a popular item, no big deal, but McDonald is looking at doing something new — the next CF&FT abandons the familiar ground of Grimm, Andersen, et. al., and will have as its theme African stories, which have never gotten a wide purchase in our popular culture.

    Even better, McDonald reports that in addition to returning creators from volume 1, she’s got a commitment from Dylan Meconis (who knows her way around a fairy tale or two). If that weren’t ambition enough for you, the plans are to take a continental approach and have each subsequent volume focus on a different tectonic landmass (volume 3 will most likely tackle Asia). Taking things to their logical conclusion, Kel and I brainstormed an approach for an Antarctic story³.

    If you want to take a shot at inclusion, you’ve got time to put together your best work — McDonald is allowing a solid year before the stories are due, and the Kickstarter to pay for book production will go up in October of 2013. Naturally, she’ll be working on plenty of other things in the meantime, but we’ll just have to wait until she’s ready to announce ‘em.

  • Side note: while on the floor, I was approached by a very nice young lady (and I’m very sorry, I didn’t get your name, I suck) in a Big Gay Ice Cream (try the Salty Pimp, it’s amazing) t-shirt who wanted to let me know when the Big Damn Homestuck Photo Ops would be. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to them (I’m not at the show today, and on Saturday it’ll conflict with the B9 panel), but I did promise to help spread the word.

    If you want to witness the power of what Andrew Hussie has unleashed, it’ll be at 4:13pm today and Saturday, on the second floor, around the corner from the coat check. Look for the candy corn horns and watch their numbers swell until you realize that you’re really glad that Hussie has decided to use his powers for good and not evil.

¹ Don’t believe me? Check out Ryan at stately TopatoCo Manor from last weekend. In fact, check out all the photos from the Greatest Wedding Ever, which are to be found here. My favorites, in no particular order:

² Speaking of Adventure Time, the not-yet-released AT videogame exists on a pair of handhelds at the ShiftyLook booth. Look for the giant Finn & Jake and find the table below their butts.

³ This is the story that the penguins tell: In the first days the Great Sky Penguin made a vast land of snow and ice, with lots of fish and leopard seals waaaaay the heck over there, and decreed we should walk back and forth from the nesting grounds. And that’s why we’re in this long line while our spouses are sitting on the eggs. The End.

New York People, Mark Your Calendars

While we all know that New York Comic Con opens later this week (Thursday for VIPs, pros, etc., Friday for everybody), and we at Fleen have mentioned some of the programming taking place, there will also be a variety of creators appearing and times and in places on the floor that you may wish to note.

  • First up, Scott C, who has a pair of panels, will be spending much of his time on the floor around publishers Titan (booth 832) and/or Insight (booth 1882), with signings on Friday and Saturday. Full details at Mr C’s website. Also moderating a panel on Friday evening, and sliding between Artist Alley (far north) and the ShiftyLook booth (far south, and more about them in just a bit): Jim Zub, the hardest-working man in comics. Seriously, if James Brown worked half as hard as Zub, he’d still be on stage despite having died in 2006.
  • No panels, but Meredith Gran will be tabling with First Law of Mad Science creators Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz (booth 2276); Gran won’t be at the show until Friday, but when she does, she will have (among other wares) copies of this week’s new issue of Marceline and the Scream Queens. Algebraic!
  • Easiest for people who aren’t going to NYCC to catch up with will be the parade of creators and announcements at the ShiftyLook Arcade O’ Fun (booth 3374), since they’re livestreaming much of the weekend. If you want to catch Anthony Clark, Christopher Hastings, and Cardboard Cutout Ryan North’s big announcement, that will be Thursday at 5:00pm. Given that it’s with ShiftyLook, and with ShiftyLook does old Japanese videogame properties, you can probably guess at the outlines of the project, but let me share this bit: It’s a major property, with maybe the highest name recognition of anything that SL has done so far.

    Considering the amazing job that North has been doing writing the Adventure Time comics, and given what an unstoppable lineart/coloring team Hastings and Clark form, I’m predicting that you will be pleased when the announcement drops. If that weren’t enough, Clark, Hastings, and CC North will have various signings, meet/greets, and interviews throughout the weekend, as well as an appearance with Gran at SVA (students/alumni only).

  • Know where else Clark will be? Over with his Benign Kingdom (booth 166) compatriots, which may include at various times Yuko Ota & Ananth Panagariya, Aaron Diaz¹, KC Green, Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson, Evan Dahm, and if fortune smiles on us all, George. Rumor has it that copies of B9.5 may be present for your obtaining.
  • Side note: KC Green, as previously mentioned, will also be spending time in Artist Alley with Kel McDonald (table J8). And hey, you know what else Green and McDonald have shared recently? Contributions in the Cautionary Fables & Fairy Tales anthology, which is now available for purchase by non-Kickstarter backers. Know what else is also now available for purchase by non-Kickstarter backers? The Spike-curated Smut Peddler, featuring quality it-on-getting as lovingly depicted by the cream (so to speak) of the crop of webcomickers.
  • Speaking of independently-created books that are getting a lot of good notices, know where McDonald, Spike, and other creators just might want to invest one copy of their books and about five bucks in shipping? How about the home base of a well-respected bunch of media junkies:

    Will you review my CD / book / movie / video game / poetry / pottery?
    Maybe. Probably not. But maybe. Please bear in mind that we’re presented with an enormous amount of material every day, so it’s simply impossible to respond to every item that crosses our desks, much less review it. Items for review consideration can be sent to The A.V. Club at our Chicago office (The Onion, 212 W. Superior St., Suite 200, Chicago, IL, 60654), but we absolutely cannot guarantee that anything you send us will be covered.

    They get a lot of stuff, but I imagine they get fewer comics than DVD screeners and music, so if you think you’re good enough to get noticed by the big leagues, take a shot. And what the hell: I don’t guarantee that anything sent to me will be covered either, and many, many more people read The AV Club² than read my little corner of the internets, and people still send me stuff.

¹ Site note: Diaz will no longer be referred to on this page as The Latin Art-Throb; rather, he will now on first reference be annotated as Tolkien Scholar Par Excellence.

² Many, many more.

Handy Visual Reference For You

So the Eisner nominees got announced the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the work that was recognized, along with unpleasantly surprised to see some of what was omitted. In other words, a completely typical year. Let’s start with the nominees for Best Digital Comic, which we will recall are:

[O]pen to any new, professionally produced long-form original comics work posted online in 2011. Webcomics must have a unique domain name or be part of a larger comics community to be considered. The work must be online-exclusive for a significant period prior to being collected in print form.

That would be represented this year by:

They are, respectively, a piece of comics journalism (16 pages), a serialized fantasy story (ongoing), a serialized adventure story (wrapped at 118 pages, second story forthcoming), a fairy tale from the POV of the participants (22 pages), and a macabre story reminiscent of Momotaro (5 infinite canvas installments, equivalent to approximately 100 pages). Bahrain is the only one new to me.

The nominees provide a nice glimpse into both the the strength and the weakness of the category — there’s an incredible variety of work, but it’s just as hard to decide what the requirement of “long-form” means. Serialized ongoing story? Check. Done-in-one? Check. Seemingly anything that’s not a continuity-light gag strip or single panels would qualify, but there’s still a conceptual difficulty in seeing works that are five to ten times longer than others in the same category. Still, if I have my questions about things that might have been nominated (top of my list: anything Emily Carroll did in 2011), it’s entirely down to preference; there’s nothing on this slate to be embarrassed about.

Speaking of missing, I understand that the nominations are mostly drawn from submissions sent in by the creators themselves (or their publishers), but I’m wondering about some things that were left out. While the submission policies don’t explicitly say that the judges can include overlooked works that weren’t submitted, I have to believe that such discretion wouldn’t be frowned upon either¹. All this to say, no nomination for Hark! A Vagrant for either Best Humor Publication or Best Graphic Album — Reprint? Kate Beaton was everywhere in 2011 (and deservedly so), inarguably one of the two or three biggest stories in comics², and likely the one that reached the most people outside our rather insular community. Her absence is baffling.

That being said, having been on the inside of an awards process this year — and having taken some lumps for it — I can say with certainty that I have much more sympathy for Jackie Estrada and the Eisner committee than at any prior point in my life. It’s an imperfect set of nominations, because no process for choosing and no people involved in that process can be perfect. I trust that everybody involved did the best they could with honest intentions. Nor could I be annoyed with any nominations list that includes the likes of Dave Kellett (for Best Humor Publication), Colleen AF Venable (Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12)), or Vera Brosgol³ (Best Publication for Young Adults (Ages 12-17)). Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees.

  • In other news, Brad Guigar has taken an idea and run it in a new direction. Rich Stevens messed around with releasing a month or so of Diesel Sweeties strips as an e-book (mostly to play around with iBooks Author), which Guigar is also doing right now with Evil, Inc., but with a twist. Brad’s download lets you see into the future. The entire month of April’s storyline (and please recall that today is only the sixth day of April) is packaged up and can be yours for a buck and a half.

    I’ve seen webcomics collections hit print with a few strips at the end still to run online, but I can’t recall such an example of sneak peak access before. Approximately 24 hours after announcing the deal, Guigar found the response strong enough that he’ll be repeating in May, and hints at further developments. For those wondering what he would do with all that extra time, Kicking his buffer in the ass appears to have been at the top of the list.

  • Jeph Jacques is heading to the entirely classy environs of Yale University on Thursday, 12 April, for a Master’s Tea, which (as noted previously) is a Big Damn Deal. Not noted in print previously — but believe me I noted the crap hell out of it privately — Yale does a really terrible job of providing any public information about said Teas. We’re six days out and the only schedule I can find only goes up to the 10th. There are many colleges at Yale, and this tea might not be held at Pierson, or maybe it will?

    Basically if you want to go, I’d advise hanging around the Pioneer Valley on Thursday morning until you see a large man with tats and piercings and a Great Pyrenees headed south towards New Haven, and follow him.

¹ The guidelines do say that the judges could add, modify, or delete entire categories (and it’s my understanding that happened this year), which to me is a much broader power than merely including additional works for consideration.

² NB: not just comic books.

³ I told you Anya’s Ghost was the best comics of the year. Also, disclaimer: stuff that I wrote appears in Kellett’s book.

Things That Happen Today, Or In About A Month. We’re Not Picky.

About now as I’m writing this, the last — hopefully not too frantic — polishes are being put on two corners of webcomics, each of which will lead to new and hopefully wonderful things. A third corner is polishing up something different, but we won’t be able to tell how shiny it gets for a while.

  • Firstly, this:

    Hi everyone. I quit my job today. I will be working on Gunnerkrigg full time now. There will be a proper announcement on Monday.

    Tom Siddell has made the leap into full time comickin’, and I believe all right-thinking folk will agree that he’s going to do very, very well. If absolutely nothing else comes of it (and much will), he won’t have to hold himself to doing three strips on the weekend before allowing himself to relax any longer. Best of luck, Tom, your comics are great and you should feel great.

  • Wondercon 2012 opens in a couple of hours, and anybody making the annual trip to San Francisco should first realize they’re in the wrong place, on account of it’s in Anaheim this year. Um, sorry ’bout that. Webcomicky people are to be found there in the small press and main floor area, including (but mostly likely not limited to:

    Small Press

    Table 11 Jimbo Hillin and the Wire-Heads crüe.
    Table 48 Evan “Overside” Dahm and Kel “Sorcery 101and also some fairy tales” McDonald.
    Table 49 Kory Bing, who does many things, as does Sfé Monster, along with Dave Shabet who mostly does Dead Winter.
    Table 51 Party Tymez with Ananth and Yuko and Becky and Frank and maybe you.
    Table 53 Ben Costa, Dean of Iron Crotch studies at Iron Crotch University¹.

    Main Floor

    Booth 452 More keen-ness than you can handle with Keenspot.
    Booth 504 The closest thing to functional adults in our community, Professors Foglio.
    Booth 615 A man haunted by a house move which is still in progress², Dave Kellett.
    Booth 617 Did somebody call for handsome men? Kris Straub and David Malki ! heed your cry.
    Booth 716 The poster children for Kids, Don’t Do That, Danielle Corsetto and Randy Milholland; give ‘em both a big ol’ kiss for me.

  • Are you the sort that wonders where you can spend your hard-earned entertainment dollar in a month or so? Simple! You should give it to Jorge Cham, who in return will send you The PhD Movie either via stream or DVD! The countdown timer on the movie page is, even as we speak, ticking forward at a rate of one second per second, towards that golden day (15 April) when you can enact this transaction. Yay!

¹ Since the Shi Long Pang books are published by Iron Crotch University Press, it follows that there would have to be an Iron Crotch University, right? I just want to know what their sports mascot is. I bet its nickname is “Rusty”.

² Prediction: if you ask him how the house move is going, he will likely be his answering with Buuuuhhhh.