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.

Before The Holiday Rush

Hey. So I have to travel I-95 — aka Satan’s Own Highway — alter this afternoon, the Friday before a long weekend. This is gonna be brief.

SPX has revealed its programming slate, and it appears to be the usual (i.e.: high on quality, low on quantity). Each day will feature two rooms of programming, one with events on the hour, the other with events on the half hour, from midday on. Highlights include:

Have a heck of a weekend, Statesians. Maybe I’ll see you on Monday, maybe not.


Spam of the day:

Download Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Movie.

I wouldn’t watch that shit with your eyes, my friend; I ain’t gonna watch it with mine.

______________
¹ Make comics while queer.

It’s Changing Faster Than I Can Adapt! Soon It Will Achieve True Intelligence!

TopatoCon, that is. For starters, there’s more names on the exhibitor’s page — I noticed Kevin Budnick, Gillian Goerz, Jonathan Griffiths, Phil Kahn, and Stacey King in addition to the previoiusly-announced guest below the cut — and there’s news of a pre-con concert!

TopatoCon proudly presents:
THE DOUBLECLICKS
FEATURING MOLLY LEWIS

To kick off our convention weekend, we’ve invited some of our favorite musicians to play a concert that’s open to the public!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

8 p.m., Doors open at 7:30
Academy of Music Theatre
274 Main St
Northampton, MA 01060
TICKETS

$15 General
$12 Students

Purchase at the box office, by telephone at (413) 584-9032, ext. 105, or click here to order online.

Reminder: this is before the con even starts, and you’re entertained; further, those that have never seen The Doubleclicks or Molly Lewis before can sample their (considerable) talents and have the opportunity to meet them the next day (although Lewis isn’t listed on the exhibitor site yet, I doubt she’s getting out of town immediately after the show) and buy all their stuff. That’s at least a win-win, possiby a win-win-win-win.

In other news there’s a pair of comics that tell stories about being in comics. The first is from Maki Naro, and tells of his righteous irritation at yet another “contest” for illustration/comics pros that amounted to spec work; he actually submitted it to the contest-holders in question, which I think is brilliant and laudable. The other is from Faith Erin Hicks (h/t: Heidi Mac at The Beat), and tells of how you can only break into comics by knowing the secret handshake and living in a big city oh wait no, that’s not how it works. Both of them are worth your time.


Spam of the day:

You are requested to claim your pending commission
payout in the amount of $7,302.29 earned since
you registered for our programme.

Best regards,

“Ashley”

Bite me, “Gary”

(more…)

Multiple Media

There are a couple of offshoots of webcomickry in other realms of expression that caught my eye today, plus the list of SPX exhibitors is live. Let’s go down the list, shall we?


Spam of the day:

In days gone by, should you stood a bankruptcy or even a foreclosure, getting approved with an car finance was like pulling teeth

Days gone by? Are we talking like the pre-lidocaine era?

________________
¹ Oh please, oh please, let ASW recurring character Ryan North be part of this play!

Now With More Drifters

The fine folks behind the next great webcomics-centric convention (that would be Holly and Sara) released a bit more information, including an updated exhibitor list, information on where to stay, and transportation options. Let’s dive in.

On the Exhibitor page I spy a few new names, including Z Akhmetova, Lex Cornell, Shelby Cragg, M Dean, Sarah Tacey, and Jim Zub. There are some corrections as well, with the former Skullmandible now listed as Cohen Edenfield (Skullmandible), and Kori Michele as Kori Michele Handwerker. Also, Jeph Jacques has confirmed that he will be there after all. Compare to the previous exhibitor list, which is below the cut.

Also, the hotel listings and directions are now up, the latter of which includes something that I’ve never seen before: a con-provided rideshare forum, so that if you happen to be passing by one of the airports or rail stations, you can maybe pick somebody up for a cut of gas money and tolls.

Naturally, one should take all possible precautions in utilizing this method of transit, as this discussion between showrunner Sara McHenry and exhibitor Dante Shepherd shows:

So far two TopatoCon exhibitors have signed up on the attendee rideshare spreadsheet. Working with cartoonists is fun and cool always

Will I have to mention that my truck does not have AC and I like to stop to give drifters rides too if I sign the list

I think that’s an assumed level of risk.

(Dunno if I’d trust that Shepherd guy if I were you — he claims to have a pseudonym to separate his comics from his academic career, but how much do we really know about him?)

Still to come: programming, events, and fun things to do in town. Stay tuned to this page for information as it become available.


Spam of the day:

Protect Your Deck from Winter,

As soon as I get a deck, I promise to get back to you so we can protect it from winter in the middle of August.

(more…)

Exhibitorpalooza

The TopatoCon exhibitor list grows by leaps and bounds! When last we spoke of such things, it looked like this:

KC Green
Jeph Jacques
Jess Fink
Tom Siddell
Rosemary Mosco
Kate Leth
Anthony Clark
Christopher Hastings
Danielle Corsetto
David Malki !
Dante Shepherd
Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson
Michael Rapa
Mildred Louis
Sara Goetter
Jon Rosenberg
Karla Pacheco
RJ Lake
Spike
Allison Shabet
Lauren Jordan
Joshua AC Newman
Magnolia Porter
Alison Wilgus
Shoona Browning
Randy Millholland
Brian Lee
Skullmandible
David Willis
Kori Michele
Hannah McGill
Blue Delliquanti
Evan Dahm
Molly Ostertag

And thanks to the list that’s been posted at TopatoCon’s Internet Information Center, we may add to the list:

Amazing Super Powers, Kory Bing, Boston Comics Roundtable, Tony Breed, Cardboard Fortress Games, Eric Colossal, Matt Cummings, Megan Nicole Dong, Catie Donnelly, The Doubleclicks, G Town Games LLC, Games By Play Date, Erin Gladstone, John Green, Tyson Hesse, How To Win At Everything (Daniel Kibblesmith & Sam Weiner), Kitfox Games, Amanda Lafrenais, Braden Lamb, Matt Lubchansky, Ira Marcks, Kel McDonald, David McGuire, Tom McHenry, Maki Naro, Nerdcore Medical, Cole Ott, Aatmaja Pandya, Amanda Scurti, Sarah Winifred Searle, Small Beer Press, Sarah Sobole, Space Whale , Spriteborne, Olivia Stephens, Jordan Witt, and Jessi Zabarsky (whew!).

Sadly, we appear to have lost some exhibitors from the list. Rosemary Mosco reports that she’ll be attending, but not tabling. Jeph Jacques isn’t on the new list, and TopatoCon falls right in the midst of the time that he reports he’ll be moving to Canada, and so it may be too uncertain to promise an appearance. I’m sure that there are other missing names, but as my previous list was sequential-by-announcement and the new one is alphabetical, maybe it’s best that you double-check yourself.

In other TopatoCon news, the venue has changed to allow more attendees, and the show will now be taking place at the venerable Eastworks, site of the much-loved NEWW and NEWW2 shows in 2009 and 2010. Hotel/ticket information will be coming soon, and the showrunners have released a code of conduct that lays out a zero-tolerance policy for:

… offensive comments (related to a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, disability, or religion), stalking, unwanted photography or recording, unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention, and disruption of events. In general, the polite and courteous method is to err on the side of caution. If you feel you may be making someone uncomfortable, end your interaction with them. No one owes you their time or attention (and you don’t owe anyone yours), so be cool. [emphasis added]

I bolded that part because it seems necessary to remind the Sea Lions out there that the world does not, in fact, revolve around their obsessive needs to talk you to death. Hooray!


Spam of the day:

????????????????SEO,???????

You know, just waving about your hands and saying SEO is not how that actually works. Maybe in the LARP of website management, but not in the real world.

For Those Not In San Diego

Weirdly, not everything to do with comics and webcomickers centers on southern California; here, then, is a list of comics-related things that have nothing to do with SDCC.

  • For example, those of you in New England will find that the showrunners of ConnectiCon scheduled directly against SDCC. CTCon had a reputation as a webcomic-friendly show for a while there, but their guest list doesn’t seem to reflect webcomics as a category this year — webcomickers are lumped into the Online Media category, which at least puts the creators of webcomics like Sister Claire, Dueling Analogs, The System, or Bittersweet Candy Bowl on par with, say, George Takei.

    They don’t, however, put links to sites in their guest lists. They also seem to think that Jamie Noguchi is going to be there when he appears to be opposite the Dumbrella booth. On the other hand, CTCon is hosting Super Art Fight and that’s always stupidly fun.

  • For those of you a little further west and north of Connecticut — that is to say, Schenectady, New York — may find yourself at the Schenectady County Public Library-sponsored Electric City Comic Con, which is small-scale, a first effort, free to attend, and features the incomparably awesome Jess Fink and Chris Giarrusso. Libraries are great.
  • Further west (a lot further west) — San Francisco this time — the California College of the Arts is hosting a series of events in association with their MFA in Comics program. Mike Mignola was there last Friday, Spike Trotman will be there tomorrow (along with an opening reception), Paul Madonna will be there next Friday … it’s a whole Friday thing. Lectures start at 6:00pm, and are free to the public at the Timken Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth Street in the city of Saint Francis.
  • Okay, fine, SDCC. Nobody from webcomics appears to have made any sacrifices to the blood god yet, setup appears to have been conducted in good order, Rich Stevens appears to have the product of the show, and Jon Rosenberg appears to be enjoying himself.

    Oh, and help me start a rumo[u]r. I say that this photo means that Jim Zub has been tapped to write a new Hello, Kitty ongoing. I have attempted to contact Mr Zub to confirm that this is what’s going on, and I have not received a denial, which I’m choosing to interpret as a confirmation. You heard it here first: Zub on Hello, Kitty, now with Japanese demons, skull-kicking, and awesome, awesome fight scenes … tell me you wouldn’t buy the crap out of that.


Spam of the day:

I do not know what you are saying

Shhh, shhh, just relax, you’ll be fine.

On A Sunny Friday, Followups From Yesterday

  • Alison Wilgus, one of the new invitees to TopatoCon, was kind enough to drop a comment on yesterday’s post to let us know that there are still more new invitees to TopatoCon that we at Fleen missed.

    Aatmaja Pandya, Maki Naro, Matt Lubchansky, and Olivia Stephens are added to the list, the full version of which sits below the cut. Thanks for the info, Alison!

  • Also yesterday, TopatoCon invitee Dante Shepherd¹ let us know that his second great creative work, one that’s been under development for most of the past year, has launched:

    Holy hark. I’m a Dad. Again.

    Hey, world! Meet Torpedo! She’s 6lb 7oz and she’s utterly awesome.

    My ChemE dept just sent out an announcement that the baby arrived. They announced that her name truly is “Torpedo”. So that’s delightful.

    Torpedo, welcome to the world. It’s kind of loud and noisy and bright right now, but that’ll settle down soon enough. It’s also kind of stupid and cruel at times, but I think that if you follow your dad’s lead, it’ll become less so; if everybody followed your dad’s lead, it’d be cleared up before you’re old enough to read this. In any event, it’s the best world we have right now, and the only one we can offer you, so we’ll try not to mess it up too bad before we turn it over to you.

    Best of luck to you and your big sister Cannonball (senior henchman); she’ll help you learn your way around the important things in life, like your dad’s lab coat, his Red Sox cap, the junior faculty, and the chalkboard in the spooky basement. Remember not to eat the chalk, no matter how delicious it looks. Try to give your parents the occasional full night’s sleep and they’ll love you more than you ever thought possible.

    Oh, and maybe give your dad a break at feeding time? He’s not as tasty and nutritious as you might have hoped.

    Torpedo and mother The Swede are reportedly doing well; best wishes to everybody at STW Headquarters.


Spam of the day:

It is no secret that a boost in confidence and having a positive self-image can contribute to a woman’s over all well being but the majority of women do not have cosmetic surgery for anyone other than themselves.

Are … are you negging me?

_______________
¹ A pseudonym for mild-mannered professor of chemical engineering Bruce Wayne.

(more…)

TopatoCon! And Also Less Good News Frowny Face

We’ll do good news first, okay?


Spam of the day:

If you are to lazy to write unique articles everyday you should search in google for:

Yes, that’s it — tell the guy that’s written maybe 2500 articles over nine and a half years that’s he’s lazy. I’m sure to buy your product and/or service!

______________
¹ And may Glob have mercy on that place where a soul would be in a regular person.

They Want What In How Many Days?

Answer: seven days of class material in five days. One may understand that I’ll be somewhat … brief this week.

  • New TopatoCon announcement du jour: Dante Shepherd, imitator of raptors¹, wielder of mallets, teacher of the young, record-holder for chalk concentration in the blood of an alive human. Be sure to shout Woo, Yankees! when you see him.
  • New Kickstarter for Girl Genius went up in the wee hours, already sitting at 155% of its US$60,000 goal and less than US$250 from its last stretch goal. Good thing too, as it’s only running for eleven days. Of perhaps equal interest is the fact that while this is the 14th (!) volume of Agatha Heterodyne’s adventures, Pr & Pr Foglio have created a story break to serve as a jumping-on point and renumbered back down to one — the better to not scare off new readers, presumably. We’ll see over the next few years if that worked in their favor but whatever — I cleared space on my bookshelves for up to 25 Girl Genius collections years ago.
  • It appears that the indications we had on Friday that the contact form isn’t working have been borne out — Steve Troop dropped into the comments to let us know that he also had a no-result experience. It’s on my list of things to do, but for the meantime I’ll put a note on the contact page. Thanks for letting me know.

Spam of the day:

Woman of Alien [emphasis original]

I’m not sure what this one is getting at? Are they trying to sell me alien women? Or do the aliens — perhaps from Mars? — need women? Help me out here.

_______________
¹ Now we need to have a Science And YOU! presentation at TopatoCon, where Shepherd can share the stage with Randall Munroe, who has a well-known fear of raptors; put Munroe on a treadmill with Shepherd hissing behind him, we can power the entire venue.

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