Leeds Is Very, Very Large, You See



Hey, remember this? Yeah, it was a bit more than I’d anticipated. The fix wound up over-aggressively discarding emails and some stuff that should have come to me was swept up with the flood of spam and destroyed. Good news is the spam flood is now under control, and testing shows that the email address works again.

The bad news is I’m not sure how much I missed in there. I figured out today from clues elsewhere that Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh have launched a new Kickstart for a new “Leeds-sized” (that would be 9″ x 11.5″, which is a good deal larger than the trim size of almost anything else you’re getting) edition of the most recently completed Barbarous chapter.

Readers of this page will recall that Barbarous is great, that Chapter 5 is where the story really kicked in with a bunch of threads¹ coming together to create a very compelling whole. And now that Barbarous is back with the start of Season 2/Chapter 6, this is the perfect time to get the last one into print.

As of this writing, Ananth & Yuko are sitting a few bucks under US$25K (of a US$18K goal), about a day into the four week campaign; they’re actually higher on backers and total amount today over yesterday. The FFF mk2 says they’re on track for US$64K to US$96K which is entirely typical for their projects.

Even better, with Chapter 5 marking the end of the first story arc of Barbarous, Yuko & Ananth are offering the previous four print collections and a slipcover to put ’em in which would be really, really pretty on your shelf. They’re also offering a limited number of original pages (half of them are gone, get on that if you want ’em) at the ridiculously low price of US$250 for Chapter 5 + extras, or US$310 for the entire Season 1 (uh, those are gone). These are valuing a Yuko Ota original page at less than US$200, which is frankly ludicrous. Got them money? Jump on that.

One quick note — the delivery time on this campaign is approximately a year from now, what with printing schedules being thrown into chaos by the once and future pandemic, and with Ananth & Yuko having their business affairs run by George, I would imagine this date was chosen to be very, very conservative; recall that George has a track record of delivering backer rewards sometimes months early.

Even so, that’s far enough in the future that it’s impossible to predict what shipping costs will be like, so the campaign is not charging shipping at this time. You’ll pay that when it’s time to ship, so keep in mind that sometime in 2022 you’ll have to cough up for that.

Okay, that’s it. Webcomics pretty much don’t get better than whatever Yuko & Ananth are teamed up on. Get in on this now, or wait until conventions come back and maybe get a copy then. You’re better off getting now.

Spam of the day:

This year turned out to be very difficult. But we have optimized and reduced the cost of our products! It is almost impossible to find prices lower than ours, the sale is at the cost price level. Watch and be surprised by our super low prices

Your obvious scam might actually be slightly more plausible if you actually mentioned what your alleged products are.

¹ If you’re a Barbarous reader, I’m so sorry. If not, trust me, that was hilarious/groanworthy.

Fleen Book Corner: Bubble



This book review is a bit different than most that we at Fleen run, and so I’m going to do something I pretty much never do — I’m going to tell you that we are pretty much entirely spoiler free. There’s less spoilage here than you’d get reading the blurbs in the book flaps.

Now that’s out of the way, I want to start out here by saying that if you haven’t listened to the Maximum Fun podcast Bubble, you should do that. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s got a lot to say about unfettered capitalism and the gig economy, the voice acting is great (particularly Tavi Gevinson’s narration), and MaxFun are the audio equivalent of webcomics — they even do their merch via TopatoCo.

That said, if you listen to Bubble and then give a read to the graphic novel Bubble (story by Jordan Morris — creator of the podcast — and Sarah Morgan, with Tony Cliff on art and adaptation, and Natalie Riess providing colors), you’re not going to think it’s the same story. There’s so much missing! Characters, subplots, even the famed Laser Dong¹. It’s so very different.

And that’s okay.

Because this isn’t Bubble the podcast, it’s Bubble the graphic novel, and some things won’t fit with the page count that has to be worked with, and some things won’t work in another medium. There’s a reason why Cliff isn’t credited just for art, but for adapting one kind of story into another kind.

We don’t have tolerance for adaptation, collectively, a lot of the time. There’s a reason why I maintain that the only good Harry Potter movie is #3, because they gave it to a director with a personal vision and style and let him do a movie that was not just a straight recitation of the book. Those first two movies? You could practically hear the studio execs screaming at Chris Columbus to make the movies exactly like the books, don’t screw this up, there are billions at stake here, give the kids what they want. And he did, and they were okay, but only okay. Literalism in adaptation is creative death.

Bubble (comic form) works as a graphic novel because it was designed to be one, not a transliteration of a podcast. It’s different, and either version of the story may be your favorite, and either version may seem to be lacking in comparison. That’s okay, too, because the version you prefer is still there, waiting for you to go back to it at your leisure².

And that’s what’s key here — Morris and Morgan have brought a story that if you aren’t familiar with the podcast version, stands on its own with no problems. Cliff has constructed terrific character designs, and his environments³ and action scenes are easily the equal of anything from his Delilah Dirk series. Riess brings an aggressive normality to the color palette of Fairhaven, then kicks it into otherworldly colors during fights and time in the monster-infested Brush.

Anybody looking for an older-teens-and-up romp should pick up Bubble, but as one annoyed looking father in the story says when told that his gig workers had a pretty fun conversation about cum, Well, that’s inappropriate. We have kids. That’s actually pretty typical of the tone, so you can calibrate the ages of who you want to give the book to from that exchange.

Spam of the day:

A memory storage solution is increasingly necessary for our devices, and PhotoSave gives us everything we need. This memory pen allows us to store files from any device.

You are describing a thumb drive. You can get them at the checkout lane in the supermarket.

¹ It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it was a key enough part of the story that MaxFun made a pin.

² Alan Moore, once asked if he was upset about a movie version ruining of one of his stories pointed to the bookshelf and remarked that the story was still there.

³ Including dead-on logos for soulless corporate offerings and some really clever visual gags.

Well, That Sucked



Administrative note:

I had to disable the main email account (that would be Gary) for this here domain, because it was getting swamped with spam. Like, turn my back for ten minutes and another 20 making it through. I think I’ve adjusted settings sufficiently to allow it to receive again, but I also had to purge a literal thousand spams so if you sent something and it didn’t get through, try again.

Sorry about that, we’ll try to get back to regular stuff tomorrow.




Small things I found amusing today.

  • Readers of this page know that I dig everything Erika ‘n’ Matt do over at Oh Joy, Sex Toy, but of late I’ve come to have a particular appreciation for one part of their work. The reviews are still helpful, the guest comics about the wide range of human experience still valuable and enlightening, their educational work still invaluable.

    But lately they’ve been absolutely killing it on the funny, and I am so here for it. No prize for guessing who the mysterious contributor to today’s comic is, for surely that disguise is impenetrable¹.

  • Irony of ironies, Ryan Estrada was actually banned with respect to Banned Book Club, in a manner of speaking. Tell us the story, Ryan:

    I just learned the National Library of Korea, the 76 year old fortress that protects 800 year old foundational documents of Korean history through multiple dynasties, also has [a copy of ]Banned Book Club.

    And it’s two blocks from the last leg of my bike trail route.

    Guess where I’m going?

    I’ll be almost 500 miles and almost zero showers into the trip at that point, so I proooobably won’t introduce myself this time around.

    Got a stack of these ready to slip into any books I spot in the wild.

    But it was not to be:

    Wow, I’m not allowed in the National Library. Need an appointment, and can’t get one without my passport. Amazing. I didn’t realize this place was so locked down. Our silly book’s protected like a national treasure (There’s no treasure map on the back)

    Wow, wait, this means I was banned by the Korean government from reading Banned Book Club* this is the best day of my life.

    *because I wasn’t carrying my ID

Spam of the day:

Do you want to be on the first page (or even first place) of Google search results (not to mention paid ads)? Moreover, by paying only $20 per month.

Already there, thanks.

¹ Ahem.

Fleen Book Corner: My Own World



Mike Holmes has been doing a lot of work in comics, from illustrating graphic adaptations of Tui Sutherland’s Wings Of Fire series to collaborating with Gene Luen Yang on the six-part Secret Coders graphic novel/programming primers. But he hasn’t yet done a full story of his own, until now.

Holmes has produced one of the most affecting portal fantasy stories I’ve ever read in My Own World; as is common the story type, the hero (a not terribly bad off but disaffected youth) finds a way into a fabulous world away from his problems. You’ve seen it a million times before, the Narnia series being the ur-example.

But protagonist Nathan isn’t in a world of fantasy beasts and people and great quests. In his realm there’s him and … not much else, really. Time doesn’t pass, others aren’t there, there’s a primordial goo he can shape into constructs or even facsimile life, but it’s basically all him. He’s not escaping to adventure, he’s escaping from the tedium and drudgery of not fitting in and (although he maybe doesn’t realize it) an incipient tragedy about to befall him. He has absolute mastery of everything that exists in his pocket universe — think hard-light Minecraft responding to his hands and thoughts — but there isn’t anybody there except him.

Before the actual magic, Holmes does maybe an even better job of portraying a different kind of magic — the everyday magic of a time a few decades ago when kids could roam as long as they were back when Mom said, there a trail through the woods might lead to a secret spot with gathered detritus to make it cool; Illicit fireworks or nudie mags a bonus. But secret hangouts in the woods only work if you’re there with friends and Nathan’s kind of short on those.

The tough kids and sorta-friends of his older brother, and the older brothers of his sorta-friends don’t really have time for him. His parents don’t really understand that setting him up on playdates doesn’t really work any more. And so he’s back to his own world, where everything stops except his hunger, leaving to make snack runs and return and heedless of the fact that he’s not where he’s supposed to be and returning anyway. There’s a sense of addiction to a place where reality is subject to whim that I don’t recall seeing before. Nathan’s not processing it in those terms from his POV, but it’s there.

And because Holmes is very, very good at storytelling, he’s not afraid to make Nathan a bit unpleasant, as surely almost all pre-teens are¹. He’s self-focused, worships his older brother (while ignoring Very Large Truths about him), and heedless of the feelings of others. Almost pure impulse and resentment at not getting to do what he wants to, Nathan rings true for anybody that remembers what they were like at nine or ten years old with an honest eye.

The escape has its cost once Nathan ends up back in the real world — the timeless time has to be paid for, and unpleasant truths he didn’t know (or tried to didn’t know) are still there. He can’t put them off, he can’t stop the wheeling of the world, he’s going to have to confront it and grow up.

My Own World is a deeply melancholy story, one best suited for readers that can look back on being Nathan’s age rather than actually being Nathan’s age. All of the awkwardness and discontent you remember feeling when much younger are brought to the fore and laid out for you to remember your own escapes into your own worlds, and how the things you sought to escape were still waiting for you when you returned.

My Own World is published by :01 Books, with words and pictures by Mike Holmes and color assists by Jason Fischer. It’s available wherever books and comics are found.

Spam of the day:

Are you sick of your marriage and feel stuck? It is time to do something about it. Times are very difficult admist the pandemic and sometime we need to try something different. Cryptocurrency is the biggest techological revolution since the internet. Do not miss out on this!

If you’re sick of your marriage, may I suggest either couples therapy or a divorce lawyer prior to crypto? They’ll be more useful.

¹ Teens bring their own unpleasantness to the table, but they aren’t the focus here.

Got A Little Something Special For You Today



Readers may recall that about a month ago we checked in on Doug Wilson — animator, comicker, and about to be Kickstarter — and his now-completed story, Jack Astro. I told you at that time that the campaign to print Jack Astro would go up in two days and to check it out. Some of you might have had some difficulty doing so, as Wilson explained to me:

I actually had to delay the kickstarter because of [reason]. Apologies for any confusion.

The Jack Astro Kickstart actually went up this past Monday, but the delay hasn’t hurt things — it funded in about six hours and is presently sitting around 250% of goal. Even better, to make up for the confusion, Wilson sent along an exclusive one-page comic he drew to promote the book (you can see it up top, or embiggen by clicking that last link), as well as a three-page section and process art.

Everybody thank Doug, and if you like what you see, you’ve got another 26 days to get in on the campaign.

Jack Astro: pages 136, 137, and 138.

Initial thumbnail. Pencils of the same pages.

Spam of the day:

Groß wrote: Reparaturklebeband. Ducttape. Breite: 50 mm. Dicke: 165 µ. Trägermaterial: Gewebeband. Klebstoff: HOT-Melt. Rot, weiss, schwarz € 0,40/Rolle.

I’m a little scared that I can make out at least three quarters of that. Don’t really need your red, white, or black 50m rolls of duct tape, though. Thanks?