The webcomics blog about webcomics

Extra Update: Jess Fink Speaks!

First, go read this. Then come back and enjoy the candor of Jess Fink regarding art, jerks, and her fists.

Fleen: Art is all about appropriation and reworking, but this is at least the — third? fourth? — fairly obvious direct copy of your work by different parties. What is it about your work that makes you such a high-profile target for these situations?

Fink: There is a great deal of difference in being inspired by a work and completely copying it. I’ve been inspired by a ton of artists and it’s reflected in my work I’m sure, but that is the outcome of living within the art community and growing up with it. After cookie loves milk got printed there was a swarm of food based shirts, peanut butter and jelly, ketchup and mustard and if they were inspired by my design it wouldn’t bother me.

I think the reason It’s been stolen so many times is that the art is fairly simple. I’m just playing around with the idea of cookies being good with milk, it’s something everyone understands. I’ve made other designs for Threadless that are much more illustrations rather than funny concepts and those never get ripped off (not that I’m daring anymore) because it’s a much more complex thing to copy. The thing with simple designs is that you can just take the idea and make art that is slightly different, that way they think no one will notice who they stole it from. Obviously I also can’t hold a copyright on the idea of cookies being good with milk, but I can take action against people who blatantly copy and even trace my designs.

Fleen: In a weird way, is it flattering that so many people want to copy your designs?

Fink: No! Haha. A lot of people ask this and it’s really not! Every time I get an email about some Cafe press store selling cookie loves milk rip-offs or a big name department store selling a trace or some shop in Hong Kong printing exact copies it just completely ruins my day. You don’t get paid an awful lot to make shirt designs so feeling like you are getting exploited is never fun. If it were just something similar someone made that they weren’t selling it would be a completely different story, but I know these places are making money off of something that is mine.

Fleen: This is a Threadless shirt design, and they hold the copyright to be defended. In a perfect world, what would they do now?

Fink: Well it might not be a perfect world but it might be a polite one at least! In the past when dealing with these situations Threadless has granted me the authority to take legal action myself.

Fleen: What would make it less likely for you to be targeted in this way?

Fink: I’m not really sure. Less jerks in the world? Science needs to find a way to see if a person is a jerk or not right when they are born! “It’s a girl! Oh…I’m sorry, it’s also a jerk.”

Honestly I think more people need to be aware of art theft and how often it happens and how wrong it is. There are people who just appropriate things without even thinking that it’s stealing. Someone once sent me a shirt with a panel from my comic, Chester 5000 on it. It was cut up in with a bunch of panels from other black and white comics. I would assume that the person who made the shirt just thought they were making a shirt covered in cut-outs from cartoons, not realizing that you can only use art from the public domain. I don’t think most people are actually taught what intellectual property means.

Fleen: What do you think drives people to engage in such blatant copying?

Fink: I think it’s just ignorance and in the case of Todd Goldman simply wanting to make a buck by any means possible. He churns out copy after copy of other people’s work, it’s the quantity over quality technique. He thinks, “If I make enough crap someone will buy at least one.” And at this point it’s really pretty disgusting since he knows he is blatantly ripping off hard working artists and he’s been involved in so many legal battles for it, it’s hard to imagine being such a nasty person.

Fleen: Todd Goldman has tossed lawsuit threats over copying accusations in the past. Do you feel that speaking truthfully about this — “situation” — puts you at any risk?

Fink: It’s always a little scary dealing with situations like these but I feel that I have enough evidence against Goldman that I can talk freely. His rip-offs of my work are far from coincidental since he actually offered me a job back in 2008, telling me he loved my Lil’ Soap and Cookie Loves Milk designs and then instead of giving me work apparently decided it was more profitable to just rip me off.

Fleen: How long before somebody starts passing off Chester or Time Traveling Jess as their work? How badly will you beat them?

Fink: SO HARD. I will beat them with all of my fists at once! And then Top Shelf will beat them too! Both books (Chester 5000 and We Can Fix It) are due out next year and honestly I’m excited but kind of scared to death!

Fleen thanks Ms Fink for her time and openness, and reiterates that Mr Goldman has been invited to respond via his representatives, but has not done so yet. Spread the word and do what you can, my minions.

News You Can Ews

News and such. You know the deal.

  • Item! We have word of new names to add to our MoCCA Fest 2017 exhibitor page and one bit of additional information. The first new exhibitor will be the exquisite Jess Fink, who tells us she’ll be at the Top Shelf table (A101 & 2) on Saturday, starting at 2:00pm. The second new exhibitor will be Mike Holmes, who will be debuting his newest collaboration with Gene Yang, the third book in the Secret Coders series¹. Mike will be at table J278 B, alongside his show wife (and, incidentally, wife wife) Meredith Gran.
  • Item! Speaking of Meredith Gran, this is your occasional reminder that Octopus Pie continues to get better with every damn update, and the story mechanic of having a party for protagonist Eve Ning in honor of her job catching fire is brilliant. The strip may be on the glidepath to wrapping up, but by glob we’ll get to see all the old faces one last time. Whether it’s semi-recurring characters or formerly major characters that we haven’t seen for-damn-ever, everybody will get their threads wrapped up.

    Case in point: the desparkled America Jones, onetime throwaway villain, now sublimating her evil tendencies with roller derby and Nazi punching², making her just another one of the weird people in Eve’s orbit. I’ve come to believe that we’ll see the pea-wiggle guy, Mr Pedals, and Olly’s nephew before everything concludes. And you know what? I am one thousand percent okay with that. If Gran wants to drag out the conclusion of this strip so that we find out what’s up with the ducks or James, I am ready and willing to read those strips.

    Okay, maybe not James. That guy’s a dick.

  • Item! Via the twitterfeed of “Uncle” Randy Milholland,news of a Kickstart you may want to check out:

    So @TheOnlyTrout has a Kickstarter. He’s a good guy who works hard on his comics. Please consider backing it.

    I missed this, so thanks to Randy for letting us all know; John Troutman’s been doing webcomics for as long as I can remember, and always produces projects that are unlike anything else you’ll find out there. The campaign in question is to print a collecton of The Gospel Of Carol, which is the story of Jesus’s twin sister, the one that got left out of all the Gospels because … well, you know. She does all the work, He gets all the credit.

    There’s 25 days to go and Troutman’s not quite halfway to the exceedingly modest US$3000 goal (with additional gospels and epistles as stretch goals, up to US$6000). Look, you’re not going to find a more redeeming (yet heretical) comic out there, so give Carol a look, yeah?

Spam of the day:


Your crappy attempts at identity theft (with your non-Roman characters designed to evade keyword matching) might actually work better if you included the near-porn photos your promise. Just a thought.

¹ If I remember correctly, Yang told me once Secret Coders will run 5 or 6 books. Certainly, book 3 ends on a cliffhanger (thanks, as always, to Gina Gagliano at :01 Books for the advance copy).

² I realize that Nazi punching is a 2017 thing but honestly? It would not have been out of place in America Jones’s character back in 2008 when we first met her.

Probably The Last Preview Post Before The Day

In case you’d forgotten, we’re just about a week out from MoCCA Fest 2017, and there’s more exhibitor information up than previously. I gave a skim down the list and in addition to familiar names, I saw creators that I’m not familiar with, but whose little avatar-sized teaser images makes me want to see more. Let’s run ’em down.

On the returning front, you’ve got Ken Wong’s Origami Comics (table F217), Bill Roundy’s Bar Scrawl (a personal favorite, next door at F218), Evan Dahm’s illustrated stories and adaptations (D143 A, no indication of who’s in B), Dean Haspiel’s long career (A103 B), Josh Neufeld’s nonfiction (next door at A104), Julia Gfrörer’s unsettlements (F206), Lucy Bellwood’s nautical wonders (on the exhibitor page, but table not listed), Carey Pietsch’s ever-expanding oeuvre (D145), and Meredith Gran’s soon-concluding magnum opus (J278 B, along with Mike Holmes). Many of them have relationships with the quality publishers that will be showing including Top Shelf (A101 & 2; Jess Fink will be there Saturday afternoon), :01 Books (E157 & 8), and Fantagraphics (C135-8).

On the not familiar to me yet list (and that’s not a bad place to be — I’ve discovered a new favorite creator at MoCCA) are the likes of Alisa Harris (table assignment not listed), Amanda Tolentino (F221 & 2), Leland Goodman (E175), Reneé Park (D150), Emily and The Yea Girls¹ (collectively, Yan Gabriella, Erica De Chavez and Angeli Rafer, with special guest Emily Dahl, F210), and Sean Dillon (H249). Given that I was just deciding to click on a name or not based on single images, I can’t really tell you much about the work of any of these creators, but I find it interesting that all but one are women. McCloud’s prediction that the comics industry would be majority female by 2024 continues to be exceedingly conservative.

MoCCA Fest runs Saturday and Sunday, 1-2 April, from 11:00am to 6:00pm at the Metropolitan West event space, West 46th between 11th & 12th. Admission is five dollars, a bargain at twice the price.

Spam of the day:

Get your FREE Hiring Risk Score

I’m not hiring anybody, thanks. And if I were, it would be the extremely competent-seeming women in your ad, and not the techbros that they appear to be interviewing. Those dudes need to go away and learn some body language that doesn’t indicate complete and utter contempt for women.

¹ More artists collectives should have names that sound like touring musicians. If they don’t do at least two encores after the main set, I’ll be disappointed.

² That would be Sean Dillon; before you ask, Leland is normally a male name, but Goodman uses she in her bio and that settles it.

On Horny Werewolf Day, No Less

Oh, that’s not what you call it? Internet Jesus was the first person I ever saw to point out that Saint Valentine’s Day was originally a Roman celebration of blood, werewolves, and sex called Lupercalia; they’ve got cards and everything. ANYway, if you’re into the modern interpretation of sexytimes without the blood and werewolves, read on.

Because webcomics (and even webcomics collections) often don’t make it into traditional distribution channels, it is sometimes months or even years before a long-since-available webcomic collection makes it to comics shops, or regular bookstores¹. Case in point: I’ve had my copy of Chester 5000: Isabelle And George by Jess Fink for months now (and it’s been in her TopatoCo store for nearly as long), but even with Top Shelf Comix behind the book, it’s lagged getting into the stores.

Until now:

Chester 5000: Isabelle & George comes out in stores & on Amazon tomorrow, VALENTINES DAY!! ? ? ? …

Not sure if those heart emoji are going to come through or not. They’re cute, so I hope they do. [Editor’s note: they didn’t.]

Anyway, if you haven’t read Isabelle And George, it’s mostly a prequel to Chester 5000. That is, it tells the story before Chester 5000, then there’s a tiny bit in the middle that recaps the events of the earlier book, then adds a coda to the now-expanded cast and all their various combinations of friendship, love, and hot, hot Victorian boning down (with or without robots).

But seriously, though — even though both Chester books are definitely (defiantly, even!) adults-only, there’s a sweetness to them, a sense of empathy towards the characters that is utterly charming as well as pulse-quickening; Fink is unparalleled in her ability to make us care about her characters as people, and to be happy for their joys and orgasms.

Get a copy for the love of your life and let it inspire you towards feats of horny werewolfdom. Don’t give it to your kids (even though, being largely wordless², it’s an easy story to follow), and probably don’t give it to your mom. Your cool aunt, though, the one that your parents vaguely warn you about, but who takes you ballooning over river gorges? She’ll love it.

Spam of the day:


Gosh, @SeXXXyChikk69, thanks for the offer, but did you really mean Call Oof Booty? The Oof makes it sound less fun and more like moving furniture, you know, like Oof, this damn sofa is heavy, gonna be sore tomorrow.

¹ And mad props to C Spike Trotman, as Iron Circus’s distro deal means a whole lot more webcomics gonna make it to a whole lot more store a whole lot quicker. My Monster Boyfriend made to the trade last week, concurrent with its initial release; Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here never would have made it into shops widely without the deal, and is now playing distro catch-up.

² Seriously, the only wordless story that’s easier to follow would be one of Andy Runton’s Owly books. C5K: I&G would make Owly and Wormy hell of blush but they’d seriously be happy for all involved.

Don’t look at me like that. Find any cluster of comickers in the bar on a convention night, and they’re drawing their characters getting up to shenanigans. I seen some things that Owly and Jellaby have done that’ll turn your hair white.

[Demanding] Answers On A Postcard

Obligatory non-political content for those that came for such: the SPX exhibitor lottery is now open, and not terribly changed from the last couple of years except for a simplified process for randomly selecting the winners. Good luck to all, and see you in September.

So. Postcards. Maybe not the best way to communicate your desires with your elected representatives (that would be talking to them in person at a town hall or in their constituent office, although a lot of them seem to be ducking that route presently), but one with some unique advantages. Consider:

  • It’s a physical artifact that can’t be ignored. It’s there in front of a member of staff and has to be dealt with.
  • Ever since that asshole mailed anthrax around in 2001, all Congressional mail goes to a special facility for x-raying/opening away from legislative offices; postcards can’t hide anything and breeze through the process. Heck, if it’s going to a local office, it probably gets delivered directly without any delays.
  • Being open to the world carries a message: here is what I believe and I’m saying it in public; additionally, the design side carries its own message to the many hands (postal workers, political staffers) who can’t help but see an eye-catching design.
  • They’re cheap, and while long distance call charges are no longer a thing (ask your parents, kids), don’t forget to factor in the time you spend on hold or with a busy signal.
  • For those with anxiety issues, no human stranger to deal with.

But a lot of your basic commercial postcards are not gonna convey that message you really want to send, right¹?

So it’s a good thing that webomickers are stepping up and providing designs. Some are download-and-print-yourself, at least one set is going to be for sale at cost (more on that in a minute), and because Congress apparently still uses fax machines, there’s even a handy item for that particular channel. Let’s dive in:

  • From Jess Fink, a super-classy floral design with lots of small symbolic cues: Change! Courage! Compassion! Overcoming hardship! Peace!
  • From Howard Tayler (disclaimer: my evil twin), a rather fiestier design that demands attention, in two color variations. He even gives a suggestion as to where you can get ’em printed².
  • From KB Spangler (disclaimer: my good friend, and I wrote the foreword for one of her books), a series of wallpapers and icons free for download prompted the thought of printing up postcards and selling at cost; this is not a new thing for Spangler, who regularly gives away the PDF version of her books to readers that can’t afford the purchase price. Also a thing: Spangler’s readers regularly buy multiple copies of her books so that she can afford to give away the excess copies in this manner; in that vein, I promised to pay for 100 people to receive postcards.

    Before I could pull my budget Soros act, however, Spangler announced that an anonymous benefactor paid for the print run, so everybody can buy them for the cost of shipping. For those of you with cash-flow issues, that cost will be literally zero, because I sent Spangler the costs of envelopes, postage, and postcard stamps. Order ’em and they’ll arrive pre-stamped for your constituent-communication convenience.

  • From Shing Yin Khor, two offerings: for those that prefer to be completely unambiguous about your feelings, fuck-you postcards³; for those that need a bit more immediacy that the postal system offers, a similarly-themed fax template for crappy Senators.

Lots of options to choose from, and more coming every day. May I suggest that you follow the lead of people noted in this Teen Vogue story that are addressing their postcards to President Bannon? I’m pretty sure I heard that the actual president* thinks that’s a great joke.

Spam of the day:

Dunkin Donuts Stuff

I wonder if they use the word Stuff as equivalent to the Stuf in the ubiquitous Double-Stuf Oreos? Like, there’s just some vat somewhere of the filling they stuff into the various filled donuts? And that’s what they want to shill to me? Ick.

¹ Although I do like the idea I saw of sending postcards featuring various National Parks, particularly those associated with various unofficial Twitterfeeds.

² I had some postcards printed a while back and can also recommend PsPrint; they’re fast and do quality work.

³ I would pay serious bucks if Onstad surfaced long enough to offer Fuck You Friday postcards.

“As Long As He Brings Us Profiteroles”

You had to be there, but trust me, it was hilarious.

Spam of the day:

Belize Real Estate — Amazing Investment Properties: Now Available

Do I look like a self-deluded dickhead on House Hunters International that is demanding a 4000 square foot center-hall McMansion with all the mod-cons for US$75,000 in an overseas location? Because I assure you, I am an entirely different dickhead.

Considerably Better Today, Thanks

I’m in a much better mood, and things have happened that allow me to write considerably more than I would have otherwise. Let’s do this.

Recent Past! Yesterday marked eighteen damn years of Jerkcity, which I freely admit is a bit too unstructured for me, but for which I will always be grateful because it was my introduction to Rands, who in real life has taught me more than I can recall about the industry I work in, the people that inhabit it, and how to interact with them. Also, bags and pens. He’s smart like that.

Past, Present and Future! Josh Fruhlinger wrote a book which I enjoyed a great deal, and he has very kindly opened the metaphorical kimono to share data regarding it. The Enthusiast was funded via Kickstarter, and Fruhlinger has done a detailed post on how the money got spent, which anybody considering a crowdfunded project should consider to be a valuable look at what to expect. Read carefully and absorb.

Today! One year ago, Ryan North did the most Ryan North thing possible when he got stuck in a hole and got out by treating it as a text adventure game with all of Twitter as the controlling player. It’s well known that there are no holidays in August, with some countries resorting to making up arbitrary “bank holidays” to make the month less suicidally depressing, so may I suggest that from now on, 18 August¹ be known as Northole Day? We can celebrate by walking our dogs with umbrellas and seeking out holes. Somebody tell David Malki ! to include it in the list of holiday’s for next year’s perpetual calendar.

Also Today! I got my copy of Chester 5000 XYV: Isabelle & George. I will never not love Jess Fink for her ability to mix together real emotion, real pretty pictures, and really hot, hot sexytimes in one story. I think I understand the whole Stucky thing now.

Next Month! It’s just four weeks until SPX rolls around (sadly, I won’t be able to make it, as it will fall in the middle of back-to-back weeks where work sends me to Minnesota), and the Ignatz Awards nominees have been announced. I first saw the slate over at Comics Worth Reading, so props to Johanna Draper Carlson for being on the story early.

What I found especially interesting is the jury members: Tony Breed, Summer Pierre, Keiler Roberts, C Spike Trotman, and JT Most²; There’s a lot of web-first art from these creators, and unsurprisingly the category for Outstanding Online Comic is super strong:

That’s an impressively wide range of styles, topics, and presentations, and really no bad choices there.

Other nominees that hail from the wide world o’ webcomics include Melanie Gillman (As The Crow Flies) for Outstanding Comic; Jason Shiga (Demon) and Keiler Robert (Powdered Milk), and various contributors to the Isaac Cates-edited Cartozia Tales for Outstanding Series; Lisa Hanawalt (Hot Dog Taste Test) for Outstanding Graphic Novel; Kate Beaton (Step Aside, Pops), and various contributors to the Sfé R Monster & Taneka Stotts-edited Beyond: The Queer Sci Fi and Fantasy Anthology for Outstanding Anthology Or Collection.

Uniquely, the Ignatzes (Ignatzen?) are voted on by the attendees of SPX, with the votes quickly tallied between end of exhibit hours and the start of the awards ceremony on Saturday, 17 September. Best of luck to all the nominees.

Spam of the day:

30??nimals Surprised By Their Owners Coming Home Sooner

Cute, but why is the same address in Romania sending me pictures of animals, pictures of Asian women, pictures of beautiful vistas, and pictures of “unbelievable fails”?

¹ No shifting to a Monday or Friday for a long weekend, it has to fall on the 18th.

² I’m not familiar with Most and I’m finding it impossible to Google them, as all the responses refer to Justin Timberlake and headlines like Is this JT’s most awesome video ever?.

It’s sort of like how the one person I’d be interested is finding from high school, my old physical lab partner, is un-Googleable, because her name closely matches the nickname of an old aircraft carrier and all matches are for sailor reunions. Her sister is also un-Googleable, as her name matches too closely with DC superhero Robin. They’ve achieved the dream: no digital footprint thanks to a favorable signal-to-noise ratio.

Steps Forward And Back

Is it just me, or is every improvement accompanied by a disappointment? Let’s get the bad news out of the way and move onto the good after.

  • As was linked in a tweet yesterday, from the good folks at TopatoCo:

    With regret, we must announce that TopatoCon 2 is canceled. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to present the convention we hoped for, and we have decided that the best choice is to cancel the event completely.

    We do not make this decision lightly, and rest assured that we are as disappointed as you are. Thank you for your interest in TopatoCon.

    Well, dammit. I was really looking forward to my trip up to *hampton in October, to see the many quality folks who’d be exhibiting, to get into more liquor-based mischief. TopatoCo is a small company — pretty much the epitome of the small business that fuels the economy and which politics fetishizes — as is the Eastworks venue, and the slightest bit of bad luck could make things prohibitively complex and/or expensive for them to carry on with their plans.

    I know for a fact that this would have been a hell of a hard decision, particularly this far into the planning process; we at Fleen thank everybody at TopatoCo and TopatoCon for their considerable work, and if you think a little thing like canceling the show is enough to keep me from driving north that weekend, you’ve got another think coming. I’ll be there, and I’m ready to buy meals/booze for the best damn people in webcomics.

  • It’s pretty much a given that new means of communicating will live or die by how easy it is to get porn on them¹. But in the modern world, moral squeamishness on the part of payment processors² and various funding platforms, along with legitimate economic concerns, makes the business of adult content difficult to realize at time. You can produce tasteful, non-harmful, quality erotica material and have no way to distribute it (and no way to get paid even if you can distribute it). Which is why the announcement (as first noted via the always tied-in and porn-savvy Brad Guigar) from Patreon yesterday is pretty damn important:

    Patreon’s announcement — in an e-mail to creators — that it will once again be able to offer its users to use Paypal to pledge to NSFW creators is a huge victory for the crowdfunding service. Patreon had to remove Paypal functionality for creators who were offering NSFW content after Paypal threatened to stop all payments to Patreon.

    [A]dult websites face annual fees of upwards of about $500 — as well as higher processing fees — from credit-card processors. They’re considered high-risk merchants. And when Paypal found out there was NSFW content on Patreon, they made the move to classify the crowdfunding service as “high risk.”

    From Patreon:

    After many long discussions we were able to convince PayPal, or more specifically their subsidiary Braintree, that Adult Content creators on Patreon are not a serious risk. Our content policy, and the nature of subscription payments, means that Adult Content creators on Patreon are less risky than most creators making adult content. We also have a very diverse mix of content types, so even if our Adult Content creators are higher risk than other types of creators, Patreon as a whole is less risky.

    We are very happy about this victory, but the payment industry does not provide much transparency around payments for adult content. As a company we are not happy with this lack of transparency since it impacts the livelihoods of Adult Content creators. We will continue to work towards more certainty around these issues, but for now we feel that the benefit of allowing PayPal payments for Adult Content creators outweighs any hypothetical risk that it may change in the future.”

    And those risks are so, so malleable. Don’t tell me that something like TJ and Amal doesn’t get more scrutiny for involving two dudes than something that doesn’t existentially offend would-be child-protectors³ to the same degree.

    For everybody that’s out there trying to make something as literary as Chester 5000 or Smut Peddler, as educational as Oh Joy, Sex Toy, or just something that’s super hot, this is great news. For everybody that wants to read those things and support the creators, it’s even better.

Spam of the day:

Finish Your MBA In Under 2 Years. 100% Online & Accredited. Get Info.?

Assuming that I wanted to spend between one and two years becoming a computer and utter douchebag, why on earth would I click on a link that purports to be on behalf of a company in Chicago, but which offers me the opportunity to unsubscribe by contacting either an address in Samoa or a completely different address in Mississauga, Ontario? Make up your mind, identity thieves.

¹ Trust me on this, I spent most of a year looking at the evolution of large, distributed, networked systems, and this was the inescapable conclusion. Someday I will dig out and complete my master’s thesis on this topic, when I have no other demands on my time.

² No doubt enhanced by the heavy hand of various political officials. Everybody see how the Republican platform decided yesterday declared porn to be a national health crisis to be stamped out at all costs?

³ Also in that platform? A defense of anti-gay conversion therapy, for fuck’s sake.

Okay, Weird

Something’s going on with WordPress where I lose connection to the back end and editing functions, but the front end continues to show the site. And then it comes back without doing anything! So let’s be quick about this, and I hope you will appreciate how much work went into this one.

See, I owe Amazon an apology, as I was complaining t’other day about my copy of Romeo And/Or Juliet not being here on day of release, and now I’ve got it. Thanks, Amazon! It’s wacky and wonderful, and features many, many terrific artists and story ending illustrations. Author Ryan North’s sense of both complete absurdism and Shakespearean drama are intact, as he takes us through multiple plots, multiple story styles (I’m presently following along a noir pastische), and pulls in multiple plays for inspiration (said pastiche stars Rosalind from As You Like It, and there are short versions of Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even Midsummer’s play-in-a-play, Pyramus and Thisbe). There’s time travel, giant robots, sex-having, sweet fights, record-setting one-rep weightlifting, a cookie recipe, and even a nod to Back To The Future¹.

Sadly, the best thing we saw in To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure — where those illustrations were full page with the minor text associated with the story ending (usually grisly death) — is modified somewhat; the illos are mostly 1/3 page in size, with a continuous stream of text-illustration-next story point. As a result, RAOJ doesn’t have page numbers, it has passage numbers — a passage being a node in the story, ranging from a line or two to more than a page. Additionally, instead of the full-color glossy illustrations from TBONTBTITA, the papr stock is matte and the pictures are all combinations of black, white, and red. The changes do make the book less of a bicep-building than TBONTBTITA, though … that was one seriously heavy book.

But despite all of the good points, Romeo And/Or Juliet has one stunning flaw, one shared with To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, namely: the index of artists in the back of the book contains only an alphabetical listing, not a listing by passage (or page, in the earlier book) number. So when I came across a stunningly beautiful (or funny, or disturbing … ) illustration in my read-through, I’d sometimes recognize the artist by style, but more often not. Then I had to scan the index, looking for the passage (or page) number, to find it who it was.

Well, no more! Ryan North, I am calling you out for having a defective book, and furthermore I am doing something about it. Specifically, I have painstakingly transcribed the passage numbers and artist names and compiled them into a table (below the cut) that you may print and stick in your copy of RAOJ. I trust Mr North will prevail on his publishers to include information in future printings; with a clear typeface, you might be able to fit it on a promotional bookmark, but at the least you could “tip in” some pages in this and future North/Shakespeare collaborations.

It’s a minor thing, though — don’t let the lack of reverse-lookup prevent you from picking up Romeo And Or Juliet; it’s a brilliant job from a brilliant writer and nearly 100 brilliant artists. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to decide what to do in this game of rock-paper-scissors I seem to have found myself in.

Spam of the day:

Identity Issue PP-658-119-347

I believe that you are the PayPal Review Department exactly as much as I believe the South Asian-accented man who called himself Steve Martin on the phone yesterday really was calling from the Treasury Department².

¹ Or at least North’s obsession with the novelization of the movie.

² I called him to point out he is very bad at being a thief and he hung up on me. So I called back and got him again and continued my spiel. After five further discussions (sample statement from me: I can do this all day), he apparently decided he had to take a break and a woman picked up in his place. She said I was very rude and not to call their scam operation again or I would be in trouble. That was fun.


I Really Thought Somebody Had Died

Screencapped that for you, Jess.

When I first checked social media this morning I was surprised when Twitter told me I had 456 unread tweets; usually an overnight is good for fewer than 200, given the number of people I follow and their sleep patterns. 250 would be a lot for one night, above that indicates something stupid happening in a Republican presidential debate that I didn’t stay up for or somebody influential kicking it.

This time, however, it was down to one person — and if you’re gonna do a serious tweetstorm, this is the one to do. [C] Spike [Trotman] has been on top of the Rat Queens brouhaha¹ and last night during her typical small hours worktime decided on a course of action:

In light of Rat Queens disappointing everybody: Women/NB creators, tweet me w/links to your cool comics starring tuff gals. I’ll RT.

There was an immediate flood of responses and Spike made with the retweets, blowing up my timelines, pausing for a while to catch some sleep before resuming some hours later. I’d be hard pressed to estimate how many creators she retweeted, but I’d say probably in the vicinity of 200-300 before giving it a rest about eight hours later. Best of all? I recognized a mere handful of the comics that got the RT treatment (and by that I mean literally five), so there’s a lot of new comics to check out.

Probably most of them aren’t great, because most of everything isn’t great. But I’ll betcha there’s 20 to 50 in that grouping that damn good to excellent, just waiting for anybody that’s got the time to start collecting links. Anybody that’s really enterprising could Storify the list; do it for the children.

In other news:

  • My evil twin announced pre-orders on his next book open on Monday along with a deadline to provide shipping info for this last Kickstarter and another deadline to register for the chance to take a tropical cruise with him. If you can think of something better to do for a week in September than spend it on a ship with my evil twin, sipping on fruity drinks and learning about writing, I don’t know what it is.
  • Speaking of Kickstarts, Dante Shepherd² announced that he’s doing another page-a-day calendar for 2017, seeing as how the 2014 one was a success³. Kickstarter went up a couple hours ago, with the able help of TopatoCo and Make That Thing.
  • Heh, when I went by the MTT page to check on Shepherd’s calendar, it told me that Jess Fink’s second Chester 5000 collection will finish its funding round in 69 hours. Yes, I am perpetually twelve years old.
  • Finally, KC Green and Anthony Clark are making the best weekly-updating comic publishing today (BACK) and they are not the sort to screw around with pre-orders or crowdfunding. No! They are men of action and when they want to print a collection of their work they by Glob go out and print it and and pay John Keogh and Britt Wilson for enhancements to the book and then they sell it, financial risks be damned. As a result, you can now purchase a copy of BACK Book 1 from the web’s finest boutiquery so go do that.

Spam of the day:

Stunning waterfront property in Michigan’s majestic Upper Peninsula
Private setting with convenient location to ATV / snowmobile trails.

Translation: no roads, no utilities, you will die out here alone. Also, for a significant portion of the year, the Upper Peninsula is cold as fuck.

¹ Long story short — a comic about female empowerment had its original artist yanked from the book after a domestic violence arrest; other artists have since filled in. A hiatus announcement led to the current artist indicating she was removed from the book in favor of the original guy returning — meaning an abusive husband would again be drawing a book about women that don’t put up with shit, yikes.

On a personal note, literally two days before the news broke I picked up Rat Queens trade paperback one on the recommendation of my niece and loved it, having been unaware of the unsavory reputation of the original artist, and was planing on purchasing the second and third collections but now I’m not sure.

² Who is his own evil twin, or at least his own dark reflection. Which one is more like Batman?

³ He was kind enough to send me one — it took up so much space on my desk. This is not a tiny page-a-day, it has heft and also terrible jokes.