The webcomics blog about webcomics

Innnteresting

It was a slow day in webcomickry (and honestly, appears to still be), but that’s not to say that there’s nothing of import going on. I’m not one to follow YouTube stars, but there’s no denying that they can be an enormous force for good and ill¹, creativity and crazy.

And it looks like they’re unionizing.

Hank Green — who I gather is huge on the Tubes (as teh kidz might say), but I really only know him as the brother of YA author John Green — made an announcement on Twitter about a … I’m going to call it a manifesto-cum-call to action over on Medium:

There is no system for protecting creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let along the notoriously cut-throat entertainment industry. I’m ten years into this and I kinda can’t believe that there’s still no centralized organization representing creators.
So I’m creating one.

The Internet Creators Guild is positioning itself as part PR shop, part lobbying force, part informational clearinghouse, part mediation service, part I’m not sure what, since the stated goals are hard to argue with, but also kind of nebulous:

Here are some things we want the ICG to do

  1. Help the press talk intelligently about online video.
  2. Share stories and strategies from professional creators that will be available only to members.
  3. Increase transparency about what creators do and don’t receive from MCNs, advertisers, agencies, and managers.
  4. Act as a bridge between creators and platforms and advise platforms on how to best serve creators.
  5. Help to clarify the role of new products and developments in the world of internet creation.
  6. Share useful information on everything from dealing with stalkers to understanding your audience.
  7. Advise conferences and events (including VidCon) on how to create great conversations about internet creation.
  8. Foster diversity in online video content, including but not limited to language, age, race, gender, and economic opportunity.
  9. Provide case studies of successful strategies for community building and monetization.
  10. Provide and explain sample contracts for sponsors, managers, MCNs, merchandise, and agencies.
  11. Unify the voice of online creators to create change.

Here are some things the ICG WILL NOT DO

  1. The ICG can’t get into the game of picking and choosing what kind of content is or is not good for the world. That must be left up to individuals to decide because otherwise the ICG will become the internet morality police, which sounds like an awful job.
  2. Riling up angry mobs. The ICG is committed to working with all stakeholders. The ICG will amplify voices and it will take positions, but it will always strive to understand the complexity of these issues, explain them to members, and work with other stakeholders to move forward.
  3. Tech support. Not sure what’s wrong with Premiere? Your upload is taking forever? YouTube is down? That’s not our thing.

It’s not on the list, but I bet there’s a newsletter.

Green’s up front about the ICG being focused on video creators since that’s where he and his advisory board have experience (there’s people listed as board members, but apart from Green I couldn’t tell you who any of them are), but leaves the door open other people who make their living on the internet to join. It sounds like the sort of conversation that webcomics had about a decade ago, where the consensus was there really wasn’t anything for a bigger organization to do. Then again, I don’t recall any webcomickers willing to pony up US$50,000 in seed capital and hire an executive director. That part aside, it seems like a bigger-scope version of Webcomics Dot Com, down to the US$5/month membership fee.

And I can’t help making the parallel between ICG and WDC, because I’m not sure what an organization of this type will actually be able to accomplish, beyond the we’re a resource for people trying this and also there’s some discounts from vendors approach that Brad Guigar² has taken with WDC. I have a feeling it’s very similar to ideals that, say, the National Cartoonists Society started with, but which these days is best known for giving out some pretty spiffy awards at a pretty nifty drink-up. Given the video-creator-heavy nature of the governing body, I hope that the ICG does better making members from outside the founding cadre (webcomickers? bloggers? Esty crafters? indy authors? you can call almost anybody an internet creator³) feel welcome than some NCS oldtimers have done with dames and coloreds and those webcomics kids.

Since I don’t know anything about the vlogger community, I don’t know how the announcement is being greeted (but given that it’s YouTube, I’ll wager there’s at least ten angry videos posted about how it’s a conspiracy/plot to steal viewers/way to keep me from the success I deserve goddammit), and heck, I don’t know if there are conditions in that community that would make this endeavour especially necessary, but I can’t help but feel that Green’s looking at a vast pool of creators, a small percentage of whom can be said to be financially secure, and trying to bring them all to the same level — an aspiration that’s probably at odds with both Sturgeon’s Law and basic economics.

I’m giving the ICG a 50-50 chance of making it to the end of year three, just because any new entrepreneurial project faces those odds. But if the likes of Ryan Sohmer or whatever Robert Khoo’s next thing join up? Then the sky’s the limit.


Spam of the day:

Join the Hustle, Build Some Muscle

If that’s not a Crossfit pitch, it should be.

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¹ Don’t forget the three most terrifying words in English: YouTube comments section.

² Obligatory disclaimer: he’s dreamy.

³ If the majority of your business is creating content, you can be a member. is how it’s worded in the launch announcement.

Oh My

For the three of you that hadn’t heard, Robert Khoo¹ resigned from the presidency of Penny Arcade yesterday; from other reports, it appears to be effective 15 July. I seem to recall that he’s part of the trustee structure for Child’s Play, and that he holds at 10% ownership stake in Penny Arcade Industries; no word yet on whether those have changed. Fleen contacted Khoo for and interview which he politely declined.

It has been some time since I sat in a Vegas buffet after the Reuben Awards and asked Robert what he was going to do when all the challenges of Penny Arcade were solved and he was just grinding in repetition — tropical beach with fruity drinks? High speed motorsports? A line of vanity soups?

I don’t know, he said. Probably catch up with all the games I don’t have time to play now. My suspicion is that we will learn what he’s up to next exactly when he feels like letting us know; that guy always knows how to play three moves ahead of the rest of us. If I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s got plans to run a venture capital-style business serving the games industry as a whole … either that, or secret volcano lair and demands made of the Security Council.

In other news:

  • We at Fleen are big fans of Vera Brosgol, since the old Return To Sender days [NB: only access that site via Wayback Machine, not directly], through Anya’s Ghost, one of our favorite books ever. She’s just had her next three books announced (scroll down, and it is me or does Publishers Weekly use subheads that sound eerily like Hollywood press?) through :01 Books and their sister imprint, Roaring Brook Press.

    Roaring Brook will be up first, with Leave Me Alone!, a picture book about a grandmother’s search for a little quiet, due out on 13 September; a second picture book will follow (presently untitled and no release date). :01 gets their shot with Be Prepared, a middle-grade graphic novel about summer camp, based on Brosgol’s own experiences; again, no release date as yet. I’m going to go out on a limb and pre-announce that these will be terrific.

  • Speaking of :01 sister imprints: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux will be publishing Compass South, the eagerly-awaited next graphic novel from Hope Larson (words) and Rebecca Mock (pictures) in about, oh, two weeks. The invaluable Oliver Sava at The AV Club has a six-page preview and brief overview today. Go look at it, it’s very pretty and I’m already hooked on the story.

Spam of the day:

Asian Women Online — Am I Your Dream Love?

That’s refreshingly straightforward for spam, but still ain’t clicking.

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¹ Robert is.

Ready To Punch Mike In His Noncorporeal Face

So I’m undergoing mandatory training in how not to destroy my company by secretly renegotiating contracts behind the backs of the executive sales staff; the fact that I don’t ever have anything to do with contracts doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the fact that I must listen to Virtual Compliance Officer Mike drone on in his somnolent, emotionless, monotone vocoder as he reads material at me. Let’s see what’s up with webcomics before I open a vein.


Spam of the day:

MY LAST RESPONSE

Jeeze, I hope so. You’ve been after me with your attempts to 419 me for months, Mr. Wang Zhiqiang working with Wing Lung Bank Hong Kong. Get bent.

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¹ Seriously, she wasn’t even born until after I’d finished my sophomore year of college. Stop being so damn young, incredibly skilled people that are achieving more than I ever have.

Preparations

Quick programming note: my plan right now is to post smaller, mostly-text pieces from the show throughout the day; I’ve got a new ultra-light, ultra-fast laptop with a keyboard action that lets me type fast, but it sucks down battery like a motherscratcher so we’ll have to see how it goes. In any event, photos will most likely have to wait until the plentiful hotel wifi becomes available at the end of the day.

There’s a certain calm — almost a rationality — that hangs over San Diego the day before Preview Night. It’s a time when you can touch down at the airport, hop a hotel shuttle, check in, drop your bags, walk ten blocks to the Convention Center and meet Rich Stevens who has your badge¹ in the space of 57 minutes. By this time tomorrow it will not be possible to cross the train tracks and get to the show floor in less than 57 minutes². It’s a time when you can unload a pallet of, say, Android toy four-packs and make a Jenga-style pyramid taller than a man. It’s a time when plans of pre-show donut runs seem plausible³ and not a cruel joke as exhaustion causes you to sleep as late as possible before dashing to the convention center.

And it was a day that, oddly, the management of San Diego Comic Con sent a very interesting email to at least registered members of the press; I don’t know if all attendees got it, but they probably should have. There’s the usual stuff about not allowing carts on the show floor, the fact that fixed recording equipment isn’t allowed, and that prior permission is needed for commercial filming. But a few things stood out that seem to apply to more than just the press crowd:

  • The general prohibition on recording during clips and footage in panels has expanded to mention Google Glass; if you have prescription Glass, you must swap them for another pair of glasses while footage is shown.
  • There’s a recommendation for interviewees (not interviewers; remember, this went to press, so I wonder if it was copy/pasted from an email that went out to everybody) to not sign interview releases until after the interview is done, which should give some leverage for people confronted by the sort of jerk “media” that seem to pop up at every show.
  • There’s an explicit communication of the anti-harassment policy; SDCC has come under criticism for not having made this policy available, so if this was (as I suspect) taken from a communication to all attendees, it represents a welcome (if late) improvement. For the record, the policy reads:

    Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy.

    Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a Comic-Con staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner. If your safety is at risk and you need immediate assistance you may also use a white house phone and dial 5911.

    Security may be contacted by visiting our Show Office in Lobby C. A Comic-Con staff member will be in the office during public hours.

    It’s still pretty weak given its reliance on weasel words like common sense (Emerald City has been held up as a good example of what you want your harassment policy to be like, for both clearly identifying unacceptable behavior and describing their obligation to keep all attendees, staff, guests, and exhibitors feel safe), but it’s still the most publicized instance of the policy I can recall seeing in my years of attending and covering SDCC. So yay, I guess.

Shortly, the real work of show prep will begin; boxes that were pulled inside booth perimeters will be unpacked, banners will be unfurled, people that you see once a year4 will trade labor, and scissors, and duct tape. As I write this, it’s less than eleven hours until the full force of CON descends, and may glob have mercy on those empty spaces where our souls are supposed to be.

Spam of the day:

Rational picking firms(For example mister Spock in significantly music finest travel collections) Wish sound judgement to set the standard of their wl weighed choices such as. Individuals be placed remote this shock of their own behavior as well as, go on a heli idea of the problem.

Hey! Leave Spock out of your crap, all right?

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¹ Your mileage may vary; it’s unlikely that in your particular case Rich would have your badge, but then again the man is a goddamn miracle worker.

² I exaggerate but slightly; there are signs on the exterior of the convention center — which I did not notice in past years — that inform people from the opening of the doors it may take 20 minutes to clear the lobby area and enter the show floor or make it upstairs to panel rooms.

³ I am not in my usual hotel which is four blocks from the convention center and one block from my preferred breakfast place, with the to-go breakfast burritos. But I noticed last night that my usual hotel has three enormous construction cranes in the immediate vicinity — like on the same block — so maybe that’s not a problem. I am also at the further border of the Gaslamp, away from the loudest party spots; this has a certain appeal now that I am old and need my sleep.

4 Like Brian Sunter, merch-wrangler extraordinaire for the Penny Arcade Imperium. As the PA and Dumbrella booths face each other, Brian and I have spent years giving each other regular register-monkey nods during lulls in the crowd. I particularly associate Sunter with this show as I met him on the floor during prep some years back, about a week after he was hired in Robert Khoo’s first public cattle-call job announcement/decimation hiring process. If the tweet earlier this week about PA possibly abandoning SDCC for PAX South in future years comes true, I’ll miss seeing him.

Because I Thought You Should See It, And Not Buried Behind My Verbosity Below

Robert Khoo on what PA want to accomplish with the Diversity Hub & Lounge.

tl;dr: It’s being headed up by one of the founders of GaymerX.

Contributing To A Robust Discussion (With A Side Of Paychecks)

You know, Matt Bors is a damn good cartoonist; I don’t agree with his take on everything, but I like that he’s got a clear POV, a rational, consistent approach, and a habit of kicking up rather than down. I read his stuff and react in about equal measure with

  • Heh — you tell ’em Matt
  • Huh — I never thought of it that way
  • Feh — you’re crazy, Bors

Voiceless fricatives aside, that’s a pretty ideal mix of reactions when dealing with political cartooning. However, I think that Bors may be even better as a cartooning curator/editor, a task he’s had at Cartoon Movement [edit to clarify: Bors is no longer with Cartoon Movement although at the time of this writing he was still listed on the masthead], and more recently at Medium, where he edits comics under the heading of The Nib. Since taking the reins at The Nib in September, he’s been collecting talent and enticing more than a few webcomickers with the opportunity to stretch themselves by playing to a new audience and get exposure paid for their skills. He was kind enough to describe how things are going over at The Nib for me:

Medium hired me as a full time cartoonist and editor in September and I launched The Nib, a collection for political cartoons, comics journalism, non-fiction, and humor in general. I’m going for an eclectic mix and I’m pulling in web cartoonists and people from all over the print world. That means a funny strip by John Martz, a journalistic comic from Susie Cagle, or a comic by Bill Roundy about dating gay men with vaginas.

I’ve been publishing original cartoons from the likes of Rich Stevens, Zach Weiner, Liza Donnelly of The New Yorker, and Brian McFadden of the New York Times. Rich is bi-weekly and Weiner is doing an original cartoon once a month. Scott Bateman is doing charts. Wendy MacNaughton is doing some work for me as is Jen Sorensen.

Josh Neufeld is doing a series on a family bouncing back from Hurricane Sandy. Sarah Glidden’s going to be contributing. Canadian conservative political cartoonist JJ McCullough is doing sprawling op-ed cartoons. Molly Crabapple published an illustrated report of her time covering Guantanamo Bay. Shannon Wheeler, Tom Tomorrow, and Ted Rall are involved. I’m talking to more than a dozen others about contributing.

Asked about working with web-types, Bors said:

I love getting cartoonists to stretch out and do something a bit outside of their normal workload. The strip Rich did on Penny Arcade came about through some back and forth we had about their job listing controversy. We’re always spitballing about topics and I try to just direct his bottomless energy reserves into the best possible comics.

More on that job listing controversy in a moment. Back to Matt:

I have a regular stable of contributors now and that will only be expanding in 2014. I have a substantial budget to do this and you’ll be seeing other names you recognize in coming months.

That’s the most important part to me — not just that comics are being seen as an essential part of a website that’s aiming to be a place for conversation — but that they’re valued enough to pay the creators. Here’s hoping that it becomes the start of a trend online and revives the idea of paying for cartoons in print. Thanks to Matt Bors for taking the time to answer our questions.

Okay, about that job listing. I’ll confess, I’m a bit surprised that this one came in for a fairly large wave o’ comments, considering that previous Penny Arcade job solicitations haven’t, and (to my reading, at least), they’ve all presented the idea that working at PA will involve a hell of a lot of work. It’s maybe because this job is more clearly delineatable into different job functions; many of the criticisms I’ve seen have been in terms of If it’s four jobs, why aren’t you hiring four people?

But honestly, it’s probably more because of the combo of these two lines:

We’re terrible at work-life balance. Although work is pretty much your life, we do our absolute best to make sure that work is as awesome as possible so you at least enjoy each and every day here.

and

Annual Salary: Negotiable, but you should know up front we’re not a terribly money-motivated group. We’re more likely to spend less money on salary and invest that on making your day-to-day life at work better.

I’ve seen more than one critique zeroing in on the salary description; if PA runs three trade shows and sells all that merch, why aren’t they paying their people more? Good question, and if you’re the four-function unicorn that could actually fill the job, definitely one that you should ask in salary negotiation. However, as a privately-held company that doesn’t release financials, none of us has any idea how much profit PA derives from the various iterations of PAX¹ or how much margin they make on all that merch. We do know that they carry headcount that is not only not profit-making for the company, but dedicated towards an entirely non-revenue-generating endeavour.

And, this morning, we have information from the guy whose departure in the next couple of months prompted the job opening in the first place. Kenneth Kuan² shared his perspectives on being the Penny Arcade IT Department, and he doesn’t come across as exploited or burned out. There’s going to be a special mix of job skills and temperament that will be able to fill this job, and my suspicion is that person would take the job at almost any pay scale that didn’t require food stamps.

As Kuan points out, different people have different motivations for their work; case in point, while I like my job very much, it’s definitely work and there is a threshold salary below which I wouldn’t be willing to do it. When it comes to blogging, I’m not paid at all and motivated by less tangible things³. When it comes to my work as a volunteer EMT, I’m not only not paid, I drop a significant sum of dosh each year for the privilege of helping the needy (and the abusive drunks, but let’s not go there) (please let’s not go there, I’m riding tonight).

None of which is to say that the PA job posting is off-limits for commentary; Mike and Jerry have built a career around throwing grief where they think it’s deserved, and in the process become both Major Players and Public Figures. That status that makes them legit objects of criticism and/or ridicule, as the situation warrants.

I don’t imagine they’re losing any sleep over this discussion. However (and this applies as well to political cartoonering, bringing us full circle), criticisms and ridicule are always more effective when they’re about what somebody has verifiably done, as opposed to what they are assumed to have done. My gut feeling is that this time, the balance of the critiques are falling towards the latter end of the spectrum.

Now that I’ve doubtless managed to infuriate everybody on all sides of the issue, have a happy Thanksgiving (if you’re in the US) or Thursday (everywhere else) tomorrow. I’ll see you on Friday, provided my blood-pie level doesn’t have me in a coma.

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¹ I’ve worked for various corporations that put on trade shows, exhibitions, conventions, conferences, and the like, and they never turned a profit on such events. The hotels, conference space, event planners — all the external show-running partners — did, but the actual subject of the show would be damn lucky to break even. Point being, none of us knows whether “Three PAXes” appears in the PA ledgers in black ink or red.

² Whom I met briefly in January; nice guy.

³ It’s probably closest to my motivation for spending half my college life on the radio, which I regarded as an opportunity to inflict my musical tastes on (theoretical) listeners in a very modest radius.

Change-Ups And No-Brainers And Some Damn Big Numbers

Dang, that's pretty.

Some things go exactly as you expect; anybody could have told you when PAXEast registrations went live today, the tickets site (and the hotels site, for that matter) were gonna get hammered like the Obamacare site on launch day. Seems to have sorted itself out, in the sense that much of the registration and hotel inventory are now spoken for. Have fun in Boston, y’all.

  • One thing that’s been pretty much constant for a really long damn time is that every morning, there will be a new update at Sinfest. Love it or hate it (or, given that it’s about five different strips in one, love parts and hate other parts), Tatsuya Ishida’s strip is something you can practically set your watch by — checking the archive, the last break in the daily schedule I can find was the several weeks long gap between 14 June and 10 July of 2006. More than 2600 days in an unbroken streak followed until today.

    Not that Ishida (who is quiet and not well-known in webcomics circles) owes us an update or anything — it’s just that when a long-established pattern suddenly changes, it sure as hell catches your eye. Fleen hopes that all is well with Ishida and thanks him for all of the free comics to date, and appreciates him in advance for any that he creates in the future.

  • More than seven years of an update streak is a pretty big number, and here’s another: 1,254,120, which readers may recall as the number of United Sates Dollars raised by Rich Burlew in his record-shattering Kickstarter campaign last year¹. I’m bringing Burlew and his campaign up because he emailed me regarding The Lando Effect (as described by Rich Stevens yesterday) and declaring it the reason that said Kickstart became such a huge success:

    I just wanted to point out that the Lando Effect that you mentioned in yesterday’s column is exactly what powered my Kickstarter project. The initial pitch included a bonus digital story about the history of a secondary character, and also allowed three backers to buy additional stories about any character they chose that would then be distributed to all backers. As the drive went on, I added more side stories with each goal hit … So, yeah, it absolutely does work, as long as your audience is invested in the series as a whole and the chosen character is compelling enough in their main story appearances to pique interest.

    In case you didn’t have a reason to believe Stevens, Burlew has given you one-point-two million more reasons, and also ascribes to the “side story” model the success of his print collections that pre-date the Kickstart. Just don’t ignore his last line, which we’ll repeat here with a little emphasis added:

    So, yeah, it absolutely does work, as long as your audience is invested in the series as a whole and the chosen character is compelling enough in their main story appearances to pique interest.

    Also, try not to have near-career-ending injuries at any time; if you find yourself on the cusp of having a near-career-ending injury, just imagine Burlew standing a meter or so in front of you, sadly but firmly shaking his head and silently mouthing the word No.

  • Finally, it’s Wednesday, and that means it’s Charles Christopher day², and for those of you that have always wondered Hey, Karl Kerschl lives in Montréal, when will we be able to read Charles Christopher in French?, the answer is Real damn soon now, Sparky:

    The first volume of The Abominable Charles Christopher has been translated for the French market by my pals at Studio Lounak! It’s their first publication and it’s a beautiful hardcover volume with a spot-gloss on the lettering.

    It’s available through a number of retailers and you can buy it now from werehouse.ca, which also stocks my other books, as well as books by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Cameron Stewart.

    This is the first of many such volumes, and hopefully more translations!

    Given how non-culturally-specific TACC is, I’m not surprised at all to see that Kerschl’s pushing for translations — there’s a world of people who would read these gorgeous, heartfelt comics in other languages, and I hope that they spread the word far and wide in their respective linguistic communities. My French is extremely spotty³ so I think I’ll give this one a miss, even though it comes with an exclusive bookplate that looks pretty gorgeous.

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¹ Which resulted in a creative-production and fulfillment job that would send most rational people into a fetal ball o’ panic, and give rise to serious thoughts of taking the money and fleeing to a country without an extradition treaty. Burlew continues to make progress (hampered as he was not only by the scope and scale, but also by a near-career-ending injury 13 months ago) and has set the standard for communicating progress made on the many aspects of fulfillment via his brilliantly-designed Workometer.

² Also weekly computer maintenance day, but maybe that’s just me?

³ When traveling, I count myself lucky if I can use the local language to get a train ticket, a hotel room, and a beer. I’ve managed that so far in Czech, French, Dutch, and Japanese, but I only “studied” one of those for four years in high school. Oh, and when I speak French, I have a tendency to drift into other languages, including on one particularly embarrassing occasion outside of Antwerp, tlhIngan Hol.

Man, Getting Old Sucks

This was supposed to be a day of catching up on things, and instead it’s a day of nursing a spine that’s determined to insist that it is the boss of me. Ow. Let’s see what some young’uns with presumably good backs are up to.

  • As previously noted, it was a weekend with several important cons, at least of one — PAX Prime — which is still going on. As anticipated last week, word came regarding the new artist of The Trenches, and it turns out to be Strip Search alumna Monica Ray¹; congrats to Dan Stefanidis who emailed me on Tuesday with a guess that the line weights and color palette reminded him of Ms Ray’s work.

    Continuing their habit of throwing projects to people who don’t end up working in-house (cf: the Penny Arcade Personality Pins, as drawn by Tavis Maiden, whose Kickstarter is down to its final two days), not only will Monica Ray be drawing The Trenches, she’ll find fellow Artist Ty Halley on writing duties.

    Given the trend in the ten weeks or so since Katie Rice was declared the winner², it appears that nobody lost that first season, except those of us who were looking forward to the traps. Certainly not audience- and crew-favorite Cool Guy “Nick” Trujillo who took the opportunity of the Artist Reunion panel at PAX Prime to propose to his girlfriend and simultaneously raised the bar for all future PAX-related proposals.

    In any event, Ray, Halley and Trujillo are all disgustingly young and presumably have backs that do not give them trouble, for which they should be grateful. Also, apropos of nothing, Strip Search Artist Abby Howard, who also just moved to Seattle, should know that thanks to a sketch she did at PAX this past weekend, I finally have found an image that I think is important enough to get tattooed on my body. Oh, Robertso dreamy.

  • Know who else is young and had a good weekend? Howard Tayler, born on the 29th of February, and thus between the 11th and 12th occurrences of his birthday. Last night, he failed to break his streak of winless nominations for the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story; he can take some solace from the fact that he is the only person to be nominated for this award every year since it was introduced in 2009³.

    Oh, and also from the Hugo that he won in the category of Best Related Work, for his part in the podcast series Writing Excuses.

    Now I’m speculating here (Tayler being my Evil Twin only gives me so much insight into his thought process), but I feel that this award might mean even more to him than Best Graphic Story; Tayler’s a pretty self-effacing guy and as much as Schlock Mercenary is where he made his bones, he’s grown to be more than a single-creation creator. He’s done both illustration and writing in the SF/gaming world, and Writing Excuses is all about providing advice and mentorship for future writers, and I just get the feeling that it’s where he might allow himself to feel a bit more pride.

    You done good, Howard; you’re the best nemesis I could hope for, and I’m thrilled that we’re not the sort of mismatched pair that annihilates each other if we come into contact. Assuming that we truly are opposites, I’m guessing that today’s discomfort means that your back is in stellar shape and I’ll let you have that one today. Tomorrow though — I’m expecting you to take your fair share of this stiffness.

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¹ Her dinosaur/rollerskates comic was possibly my favorite piece of art produced in all of Strip Search season one, and you can get an absolutely beautiful print of the comic, cleaned up and reworked for color, is available from her store and you should get it.

² And who just started her year in residency at Penny Arcade, and who has already worked on the PA Presents Project Fairway Solitaire.

³ I’m not about to do a comprehensive search of Hugo history, but this may make Tayler the only person to be nominated every year of a permanent award’s existence. While there are some other repeats in new awards — such as Best Fancast, existing for two years, featuring a number of repeat nominees, and in fact won both years by the crew of SF Squeecast — the key there is new awards. Hugo rules, as I understand them, will require a vote after three iterations to determine if these awards become permanent.

For Those Playing At Home

I have no idea what’s been going on in webcomics because of work issues; long story short, yesterday was an absolute horrorshow that kept me isolated from life¹. Randy Milholland could have gone on a naked bear hunt on the show floor of the Toronto Fan Expo and I wouldn’t have heard about it. So I’m writing off anything that happened Sunday or Monday, and making a real quick survey before I have to deal with the remainder of this gig and I see….

New, mysterious artist(s) at The Trenches replacing Mary Cagle? Robert Khoo acting all mysterious? It’s Tuesday, all right. Theories as to the mysterious new contributor’s identity in the comments, at least until Khoo decides to let us know. Probably an announcement will be made at PAX Prime this weekend or something, so it shouldn’t be long.

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¹ I was on-site at my client from 6:30am to 6:10pm, during which time I did not see the sun; I didn’t get a break until 1:30pm and I had a total of 25 minutes in which to eat (at the mysteriously-empty company cafeteria, which managed to give me a low-grade case of food poisoning). We’re now at least two hours behind in a two-day class because the technical environment was not what I was promised, and we don’t start until 1:00pm today just because. I’ve spent most of the time since end of class yesterday either sleeping or wishing I had some Judge Harlan’s Parts Unknown Tonic and flour water. This entire thing is sass in the main and I am ready to tear off somebody’s entire middle.

Talk Time With Tavis Two

Welcome back to Part Two of our talk with Tavis Maiden; yesterday we talked about his upcoming project, Tenko King, and how Kickstarter fit into his launch plans. Today we’ll be discussing how most people came to know him and his work, Strip Search, the nature of being around creative people, and how facial hair is critical to marital stability.

Fleen: Mind talking about Strip Search?
Maiden: Not at all.

Fleen: Looking back on it, what did you get from the show. In the sense of “If I hadn’t gone on the show I never would have ______ .”
Maiden: Swung for the fences. Strip Search taught me to swing for the fences.

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