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Prime Minister Winston Cuddles

Two quick thoughts, today:

1.) This new tall format for strips has been a really fun stretch. There’s a lot more room to play with. Today’s toy packaging, for example, just wouldn’t be possible in a standard horizontal strip.

2.) It was an embarrassment of riches as to which S.O.B. Churchill quote to use, today. Might I just direct you to this strip, for example?

Skitter ‘n Nosh

Just wanted to share this fantastic fan-art from Robin Dempsey, of Skitter and Nosh. I find it fantasatic.

Drive Timeline

I’m sure most folks will want to talk about The Vinn’s encyclopedia entry, but I also wanted to throw this out there: I’ve been updating my personal timeline for the Drive universe, and thought it might be fun to share it with you. There might be a few things, below, that haven’t come up in the strip yet! I can’t recall.

Speaking of which: If you spot anything you think I have *wrong* on this timeline, or any key dates I’ve missed, do let me know!

1870 First Veetan ships begin venturing into space
1980 Renegade pre-Maker’s ship has catastrophic accident
2081 Veetan ship comes into contact with a Continuum ship
2258 Conrado finds the Continuum ship
2273 First human contact with Veetans
2291 First human contact with Tesskans/Fillipods. There are skirmishes in and around Tesskil, but it mostly ends there for the Empire… as it will take Tesskans 80 years to get to Earth.
2331 First human contact with The Vinn
2332-2334 Human-Vinn War
2350 “The Rebellion” begins in the Outer Colonies
2365 The Tres Primos begin the campaign against the Empire
2379 The first Tesskan near-light-drive ships begin entering human space
2380-2383 Human-Tesskan War
2384 First Imperial contact with the Continuum
2384 Machito re-christened as a military scout ship
2386 Taneel takes command of the battle cruiser Sevillana
2392-2398 Nosh stuck in Moscow for six years
2398 Nosh joins Captain Taneel’s crew
2400 Fernando joins Captain Taneel’s crew
2401 Emperor Manuel Jose Cruz murdered. Nosh taken into custody. Captain Taneel relieved of command of Sevillana. Skitter wakes up in prison.


Two seconds of soap-boxin’:

1.) Perhaps take a few moments to learn about how SOPA and PIPA work. Here is a good start.

2.) Print and mail letters to your state’s senators and representatives, urging them not to support this. Physical mail is harder to ignore than email. It piles up. It has to be put into those 1930’s-looking satchels labelled “MAIL”. You can find representatives’ addresses here and senators’ addresses here.

3.) Call your senators and representatives on the phone and urge them not to support the bills. See above links for phone numbers or click here to get a quick list of representatives based on where you live.

The Vinn

And with the introduction of The Vinn, the final piece of the story appears. More on them next week! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Original Sheldon Art: Readin’ the Funnies

Heads up for Sheldon art lovers! I’m putting a nifty piece of Sheldon Original Art up for grabs, called “Readin’ the Funnies.” It’s Sheldon, Flaco, and Arthur reading comics in the paper, on their phone, and on their laptop.

It’s drawn in lightfast, archival inks on acid-free, vellum Bristol stock. The cardstock measures 14″ x 5.5″ inches, while the drawn image is roughly 13″ x 3″ inches. I’m starting the bidding at one penny, as I’d rather leave it up to you to decide what it’s worth. And shipping is free within the US! So if you’re interested, head over and throw your hat into the ring!

Hugo Nominations

Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary informs me that the Hugo Award nominations are now open, and that Drive is eligible.

Specifically, Drive’s 2011 story-arc “The Tesskan Revolt” is eligible in the Best Graphic Story category. It starts here and ends ends here.

(You’re eligible to nominate things if you were a member at the 2011 WorldCon in Reno, or if you pre-purchase a membership for 2012 WorldCon in Chicago before January 31st. And you have until March 11th to do so.)

NCS Webcomics Award

Yesterday, the National Cartoonist Society announced the creation of a new division award: For best online comic strip. Essentially, a division award for webcomics.

Let’s start with the positives: It’s a great first step, in acknowledging a whole fleet of talented, professional cartoonists who are making their living in a non-traditional way. It’s an acknowledgement that things are changing…and that great, great work is being done online. And it’s to NCS President Tom Richmond’s huge credit that he’s taking the bull by the horns and trying to institute change, as there remains a very strong institutional bias in the NCS towards the newspaper world. I’m sure he’s getting grief for instituting the change. Cartoonists, like all human beings, are pretty good at complainin’.

But it should be remembered that awards don’t really matter. They don’t. No award is life-changing, and no award makes you a better artist. You don’t wake up the next day, after an award, and find that all your artistic insecurities or over-confidences have disappeared. You’re the same artist, doing the same work, the next morning. But they are nice to get, and they are nice to give out. It’s a kind thing to acknowledge hard work and late nights and the artistic drive to get better and better. That’s a good thing. And in that vein, I’m happy to see this first step taken.

But it’s just a first step. It’s not perfect. And there will be complaints and bumps in the road along the way. Even I had complaints!

Tom kindly called me a few weeks back, to get my input on the award, and I was happy to chime in. My one big suggestion was (and is) to make it format-focused, and completely ignore distribution systems or business models. Have Penny Arcade compete with Cul de Sac for best comic strip. Put Achewood up against Pearls Before Swine. In my mind, this is the better path…both because:
A.) Distribution models shouldn’t matter, at the end of the day. HBO *should* compete with NBC for awards, even though one is paid content and the other ad-supported, and
B.) Distribution models themselves are changing almost year-over-year at this point, so why constantly chase those delineations? And
C.) It just seems a better way to go, to compare apples-to-apples by format. Have all comics strips compete against all comic strips, the editorial cartoons against the editorial cartoons, and the single-panels against single-panels. Otherwise, we separate comics into two parallel worlds, one online, and one in print. It’s like setting up separate music awards for “Best Album (on Vinyl)” and “Best Album (on CD).

But ultimately, the NCS took this as a first step, and I can accept it. Support it, in fact. I’ve worked in enough big organizations to know it’s hard to turn a large ship. Things like this don’t change overnight, and this will be a good dip of the toe into new waters. I imagine subsequent years will find more changes in how it’s structured, especially as the NCS experiences a generational change. Ultimately, I think we’ll have awards based on format and genre, like I suggested above…and in the meantime I’ll just accept that it’ll take a few years to get there.

So! To summarize: A good first step. Imperfect, and there’ll be complainin’ from all sides…but a good first step. And I support it.

– Dave

PS: I won’t be submitting Sheldon or Drive for nomination, by the way. Having given the NCS board my input on the new division award, I think it’s only best I sit this one out. There are far more worthy strips, anyway. So it’s not like I’m falling on my sword over here.

It’s mah birfday!

Guys, I’m gettin’ old. It’s official. Friday’s my birthday. Ain’t a youngin’ no mores. I realized over Christmas that my metabolism has slowed down big time in the last two years….so in a very cliched fashion I’m back in the gym. Feels good, though. A week in and I’m already feelin’ better. So maybe the birthday is a good reminder to take better care of myself.

Anyway, in lieu of birthday gifts, maybe treat yourself to a Sheldon book. Not only do you get a great book…it’s also a nice way of helping an artist make a living doin’ what they’re doin’….and hot diggety that’s the nicest birthday gift of all.

Submitted Without Comment…

…Something curious floating through space.

Be it a fish-stick, perhaps? Be it a *salted* fish-stick?

Enquiring minds want to know.