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Sketchbook: In the Cards

Sketchbook: In the Cards published on 1 Comment on Sketchbook: In the Cards

Now that the book is funded — time to get a look at some of the (non-exclusive) bonus art from Leif & Thorn volume 5!

The Neineikura system versus giant-size playing cards. Kallie is marking a corner, Kiki wants to build a house of cards, Atarangi just wants everything neatly back in its box where it belongs.

on Deviantart | on Tumblr

Five Recs: Books to Get Kids Into Webcomics

Five Recs: Books to Get Kids Into Webcomics published on 2 Comments on Five Recs: Books to Get Kids Into Webcomics

Turning young readers loose on the whole unfiltered internet is…not always the greatest idea. If there’s a kid in your life that you want to indoctrinate into webcomics, here are a couple family-friendly options to start them with.

If you buy the paperback versions, even better! You get all the fun content of the comics, with no danger of clicking a dodgy banner ad.

The Tea Dragon Society: Soft picture-book-style fantasy about two retired-adventurer husbands, their shop full of cuddly pet-sized dragons, and two girls who make friends there.

The art is enchanting, the friendships are adorable, and the tea dragons will make you want plushies. Multi-Eisner winner, and well-deserved.

Check, Please!: A video-blogging, stress-baking, figure-skating champion finds himself a little out-of-place on…the college hockey team. Lots of wholesome sitcom humor, and cute m/m romance.

In spite of its intense fandom with plenty of adult-content fic, the actual comic here is downright chaste. Which earned it some criticism, perhaps not unfairly (you get a sense the author intended to make it steamier at one point, then pulled back). But it does make the series a good fit for this list.

Cucumber Quest: Two adorable bunny children, living in a fantasy world where every setting has an adorable theme, get sent on a quest to save the world. Using the power of magic, friendship, swordfighting, and catchphrases from their favorite magical-girl shows.

…This series got through several books’ worth of subquests before going on indefinite hiatus, so it’s also a way to introduce young readers to the downsides of webcomics.

Softies: The Earth gets blown up, and young survivor Kay gets swept up by a space-junk collector just in time — she couldn’t hold her breath for much longer.

Charming sci-fi comedy. It’s not clear if we’ll ever find out why the planet exploded. Co-starring some alien pets that will, again, make you want plushies.

Breaking Cat News: Intrepid cat reporters bring you the latest headlines, from all the news that matters to cats!

…Seriously, that’s it, that’s the whole strip. The artist has a perfect eye for capturing Cat Shenanigans, the watercolors give it a classy handcrafted touch, and a good time is had by all.

A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.

Have a favorite kid-friendly webcomic that isn’t on this list? Got a request for a future rec theme? Drop a comment and share!

Vampire Sunset

Voting for the exclusive Volume 5 mini-print

Voting for the exclusive Volume 5 mini-print published on 3 Comments on Voting for the exclusive Volume 5 mini-print

Time to do the poll for the Leif & Thorn Volume 5 campaign: Which art should I use for the exclusive mini-print that goes in every book?

As usual, don’t worry about the exact sizes — they’re all high-res enough for these prints, and I’ll adjust them to look good at the right dimensions. Just focus on picking your favorite(s).

The poll will remain open until the Kickstarter fundraising deadline (November 4), and you can vote for your top 2 choices:

Which illustration do you want on the mini-print with Leif & Thorn Volume 5? (Choose up to 2)
  • Three for joy 28%, 36 votes
    36 votes 28%
    36 votes - 28% of all votes
  • Starry Anniversary 24%, 31 vote
    31 vote 24%
    31 vote - 24% of all votes
  • Midnight Windows 15%, 20 votes
    20 votes 15%
    20 votes - 15% of all votes
  • Ceannic Kicks 15%, 19 votes
    19 votes 15%
    19 votes - 15% of all votes
  • Heartsword Lineup 15%, 19 votes
    19 votes 15%
    19 votes - 15% of all votes
  • Vampire Sunset 4%, 5 votes
    5 votes 4%
    5 votes - 4% of all votes
Total Votes: 130
Voters: 78
14 October, 2022 - 4 November, 2022
Voting is closed
© Kama

Launch time for Volume 5: Lockdown Edition

Launch time for Volume 5: Lockdown Edition published on 3 Comments on Launch time for Volume 5: Lockdown Edition

Leif & Thorn Volume 5: Snow Drops is finally available for preorder!

It’s been a chaotic month over here. I hadn’t even finished the project video when I went ahead and launched the campaign. (The video’s up now! If you watch it, turn on the English-language captions — you’ll probably need them.)

The “print a single short run of a new book” cost keeps going up…but we’re still 59% funded in the first 24 hours, so I’m not worried.

ETA: and, 48 hours in, we landed Kickstarter’s Project We Love badge!

Go back the campaign, if you haven’t already — if you missed Volumes 1-4, you can get the whole backlist in a single order — and let’s add some cyan-blue to this lovely palette on your shelves.

(Hat tip to regular backer Strontium for taking this lovely photo!)

Volumes 1-4
Volume 5 project preview

Coming in October: Leif & Thorn Volume 5!

Coming in October: Leif & Thorn Volume 5! published on 2 Comments on Coming in October: Leif & Thorn Volume 5!

The next Leif & Thorn crowdfunding campaign is coming!

We’re launching in October, a little later than usual.

(…It’s a winter-themed book, so I guess we could push it to December, but I’m not waiting that long.)

Pixelated teaser for the cover of Volume 5

As usual, the comics for this book are 100% drawn already, so that wasn’t the hold-up. It was about checking out this year’s explosion of new Crowdfunding Platform Contenders.

A bunch of them look really good! Trouble is, they’re all (a) not quite up-to-speed in terms of features, or (b) doing a limited campaign schedule that’s already booked through 2023. And I’m not exactly Hiveworks or Iron Circus, big enough to just independently platform myself.

If Kickstarter had made any progress on their Definitely Still Happening Mystery Blockchain Project, I might take a hardline stance on avoiding them, no matter what project delays it caused…

But it’s been 10 solid months of nothing! So.

We’re doing Kickstarter for Volume 5. Keep an eye out for the project preview link, it’ll be dropping here soon.

(No guarantees what we’re doing for the next campaign. Give them another year to develop, who knows where all these platforms will be?)

Five Recs: Gag-A-Day and Slice-Of-Life Webcomics

Five Recs: Gag-A-Day and Slice-Of-Life Webcomics published on No Comments on Five Recs: Gag-A-Day and Slice-Of-Life Webcomics

Doing a short-and-sweet post this month!

No long-running plots to keep track of. No deep character struggles to worry about. Just some fun comics where you can order them on Bookshop, pick them up, read a few strips at a time, then put them down and go to the beach.

A Man And His Cat: Sweet old widower is the only person who wants to adopt the ugliest kitten at the pet shop.

Originally published as a webcomic, before getting so wildly popular that it got licensed by a manga publisher. And it was a good deal.

Hark! A Vagrant: Snappy jokes on whatever topics the artist is into this week, from historical weirdos to Victorian literature.

Even if you’ve never read the comic iself, you’ve almost definitely seen it memed somewhere. Do the phrases “I had fun once. It was awful” or “Ooh, Mr. Darcy” ring a bell? Yeah, that’s this.

Sarah’s Scribbles: Pure unfiltered essence of #relatable.

Cute one-off gags about little everyday moments, like playing with your pets, being on the internet too much, and lying awake thinking about a dumb thing you said in middle school.

Hyperbole and a Half: Another book about relatable slice-of-life millennial struggles. Part of this is personal essays (the funny kind), but it has enough comics that I’m including it anyway.

It’s also another series that you’ve probably seen in memes, even if you’ve never read the original. “Clean ALL THE THINGS” is from this one.

Oglaf: A sequence of mostly-unrelated absurdist gags in an over-the-top fantasy world.

…they are mostly sex gags. Don’t buy this as a gift for a small child. But as long as “a lot of cartoon nudity” doesn’t put you off, you’ll have fun with it.

(And I’ll do “appropriate comics to buy as gifts for a small child” next month.)

A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.

Have a favorite gag-a-day webcomic that isn’t on this list? Drop a comment and share!

Five Recs: Webcomics with Fantasy/Superhero/Gaming Parody Settings

Five Recs: Webcomics with Fantasy/Superhero/Gaming Parody Settings published on 10 Comments on Five Recs: Webcomics with Fantasy/Superhero/Gaming Parody Settings

It’s Pride Month, which sounds like the perfect time to do a reclist of LGBT+ webcomics, the only problem is…most of the comics I like have LGBT+ characters! It doesn’t exactly narrow things down.

Take this list. All five of these comics have some gay stuff going on, and it’s not even the theme. I just wanted to rec some books about “superhero-type settings, but make them deconstructions.”

Empowered: Sexy superhero sendup. Emp wants to join the Superhomeys, but they won’t vote her in because her powerset is too embarrassing. It’s an almost-invincible alien super-suit! Its one weakness is…bondage.

There’s already canon F/F in the secondary cast, and I’m pretty sure the main characters (our heroine, her supervillain-grunt-for-hire boyfriend, and her hard-drinking ninja BFF) are headed for an M/F/F Emp Has Two Hands situation.

Sleepless Domain: In this city, magical girls are a known thing, with all the worldbuilding (good and bad) that implies.

Teams get merchandise and sponsorship deals! There’s a school with special hours to account for how they’re up all night fighting monsters! Adult ex-magical-girls can become therapists for the next generation! And boy, are they going to need it.

Telling you “which girls start dating” or “which girl is trans” would be spoilery, so let me just say that they’re in there.

Order of the Stick: Adventuring party of stick figures is out to kill the lich, gets wrapped up in a world-saving quest against a monster drawn only as a scribble. They fight with magic, teamwork (sort of), and jabs at D&D’s sillier mechanics. Or, well, jabs at most of D&D’s mechanics.

Main cast mostly gets M/F romances, but the background couples have a good mix. And there’s a whole population of gender-ambiguous elves with gender-ambiguous spouses who have a hard time IDing any other species by gender, which is fun.

Homestuck: Four online friends from around the world log in to play a new game. Turns out it warps reality. Then, after we’re done sending up all kinds of weird and over-complicated video-game mechanics, it destroys the Earth, and the only way for the kids to get a new home planet is to win the game.

Also, the alien troll kids who lost the previous session are alternately helping, pestering, and hate-flirting with them. Awkward.

Strong Female Protagonist: Another superhero send-up, this time with a super-strong invulnerable ex-hero. She’s trying to have a normal college life without being overwhelmed by the lingering trauma of teenage heroics. You can guess how that goes.

The artist is married to ND Stevenson, showrunner of the She-Ra reboot…and if you’ve watched that, let’s just say some of this will hit awfully familiar. (In a good way.) Especially if you’re a Catra fan.

A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.

Have a favorite parody/deconstruction webcomic that isn’t on this list? Got a request for themes I should rec in future months? Drop a comment and share!

Five Recs: Webcomics with Cool and Elaborate Worldbuilding

Five Recs: Webcomics with Cool and Elaborate Worldbuilding published on 3 Comments on Five Recs: Webcomics with Cool and Elaborate Worldbuilding

Since webcomics aren’t limited by traditional genre categories, marketing demands, or editorial feedback, you can do all kinds of wild things with the worldbuilding. (The only catch is, you have to be able to draw it.)

Here are some comics that take full advantage.

Kill 6 Billion Demons: Sorority sister fights through the demon realm(s) to rescue her boyfriend. She’s not actually that into the boyfriend — in fact, she’ll hook up with a quirky, pointy demon lady along the way — but she’s the only human who even knows where she is, so it’s up to her.

Weird and involved monster/creature designs, absolutely amazing settings. I’ve saved so many pages because things like “long shot of a marketplace built in the stone head of a petrified dead god” make great inspiration.

The Hazards of Love: Queer teen who obviously never watched Madoka Magica makes a deal with a talking cat, gets stuck in a monster dimension, but this one doesn’t fight battles so much as “do housework for an evil shadow deer.” Their girlfriend starts to suspect something is up, but the only other beings in Queens who know what really happened are ghosts, so that’s going to be tough.

Bright World’s aesthetic comes from the Mexican ephemera the artist grew up with, which isn’t a flavor you see in a lot of webcomic settings. The online version is black-and-white — pick up the books to see it in color.

Devil’s Candy: Cute imp student makes a Frankenstein girl for a science project. Hijinks ensue.

No alternate human dimension in this one — it’s just a monster school, with cool goth architecture, fun culture clashes, and cute kids dealing with struggles like “as a mixed-species monster, how do I balance the expectations from both sides of my family?” and “how do I get my designs through this fashion show alive?”

Girl Genius: In a steampunk alternate Europe governed by mad scientists, Agatha learns she has massive talents as the heir to a brilliant family’s legacy, all suppressed for her protection. Until now.

An amazing study in payoffs for long-term setup — someone tries to invite Agatha to England around book 2 or 3, she accepts the invitation around book 20. (Which is when we find out London is a network of submarine domes, run by a giant shapeshifter.)

The Last Halloween: Trick-or-treating is canceled, the monsters are invading. To find out what’s going on (and, hopefully, how to fix it), Mona teams up with some other kids she assumes are just in their costumes already…

Only comic on this list that’s fully set in the Real World, since it explores how that world gets permanently changed. Always suspenseful, sometimes pretty gruesome, usually funny anyway.

A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.

This list was made for a request — got any suggestions for more themes I should do in the future? Or recs of your own, for a comic with cool worldbuilding that didn’t show up here? Drop a comment and share!

Five Recs: Throwback Webcomics of the 2000s

Five Recs: Throwback Webcomics of the 2000s published on 3 Comments on Five Recs: Throwback Webcomics of the 2000s

More Bookshop recs! This time, for webcomics I started reading more than a decade ago…and that have stood the test of time enough for me to keep recommending you buy the books.

It’s still a little dicey doing older recs, because time and social standards keep marching on. Sometimes you’ll get a joke about gender roles that wasn’t even malicious at the time, it just feels hopelessly backward a decade or two later. Other times you’ll get a Windows 95 reference. Those used to be funny, I promise.

I enjoyed these comics anyway! Here’s hoping some of you will too.

Webcomics I Read In The 2000s And Still Like

Bruno the Bandit: Sword and sorcery (and cell phones…and social satire) with a selfish mercenary and his put-upon microdragon sidekick. Their struggles include Lovecraftian horrors, fame vampires, and losing the TV remote.

Honestly, this is the series that most inspired the “off-color jokes that seem very dated” warning. But they usually come from characters that aren’t supposed to be guiding lights of moral clarity, and the comic’s best moments are timelessly on-point.

…it also has some surprisingly-direct inspiration for things I ended up putting in Leif & Thorn.

Dreamless: A romantic drama about two people on opposite sides of the world — he’s in Japan, she’s in the US — who see each other’s waking lives while they’re asleep. Then WWII breaks out.

The art in this one might not stand out in the modern-day webcomic scene, but when it launched? This level of painterly, realistic style — for an internet comic! — was kind of mind-blowing.

User Friendly: Misadventures of a bunch of geeks employed by a programming company. Like Dilbert, but in the good ways, not the “weird authorial MRA spiral” ways.

Honestly, I have no idea if this will be funny or relatable to new readers who weren’t around for the era of nerd culture it’s riffing on. But maybe it will! Give it a try, let me know.

Ozy and Millie: Two best friends, an introspective wolf and an energetic chaos-agent fox, have cute adventures. Some philosophy, some politics, one excellent dragon dad.

The artist got wildly popular later on for Phoebe And Her Unicorn. I wish that translated into more appreciation for her early work! It’s not like her skills were undercooked back when she drew this series — it absolutely shines.

Suburban Jungle: Furry sitcom adventures (with a dash of sci-fi) of model and would-be actress Tiffany Tiger, and her friends and colleagues around LA.

If you click with it, check out the sequel series too. (Maybe even check out the sequel if you don’t click with it! Same universe, but the artist tries new things.)

Reminder: A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.

Have a favorite classic webcomic that isn’t on this list? Got a request for a rec theme I should do next month? Drop a comment and share!

The paywalled content is not a glitch, I am trying to sell you things on purpose!

The paywalled content is not a glitch, I am trying to sell you things on purpose! published on 3 Comments on The paywalled content is not a glitch, I am trying to sell you things on purpose!

A belated FAQ for the Leif & Thorn: Off-Shoots bonus comics.

The current bonus arc involves paint swatches, overzealous fans, and a couple of familiar-looking home-wreckers. The next one will explore modified magic Roombas and the perils of United Islands ice cream sales.

After that? Haven’t decided yet. But I’m going to have fun with it.

Q. Why does Leif & Thorn have bonus comics that are only for paying supporters?

A. Capitalism.

Seriously, your artist has to cover the bills. That’s why I have ads on the site, why I sell books and other merchandise, and why I post exclusive content for supporters on Patreon.

None of these make a ton of profit! Which is why I’m always working on new things to sell, hoping to tempt readers who haven’t bought anything before, but who are interested in the new thing.

Leif & Thorn: Off-Shoots is the latest New Thing.

Q. Are you paywalling the entire comic/site/archive?

A. No. The only paywalled comics are the bonus comics that were exclusive when I posted them.

The main Leif & Thorn comic is still completely free to read, and I don’t plan on ever changing that.

Q. When do the Off-Shoots comics get posted?

A. Every other Wednesday! Since the start of 2022.

Off-Shoots comics are scheduled to go up at 10 PM (US Eastern time), which puts them on the front page of the site for 2 hours, before getting replaced by the regular Thursday comic.

Q. So the bonus comics are supposed to show up on the front page?

A. Well, yeah.

Look, I want readers to be excited and intrigued by the Off-Shoots comics. Kinda defeats the purpose if I don’t show you that they exist, you know?

Q. When a bonus comic is up, how do I find the regular comics?

A. Every Off-Shoots comic has links for “First in Regular Archives” and “Latest in Regular Archives” in the navigation!

You can also browse the main (free) comic archives on the Storyline Archive page, which is always linked in the main menu.

Q. If I only read regular Leif & Thorn, am I going to be missing essential plot stuff in the Off-Shoots comics?

A. No. I wouldn’t be that mean.

You’re going to be missing fun bonus storylines, with a spotlight on characters and settings that I don’t get to showcase in the main comic as much as I’d like to.

They have more of the same humor, worldbuilding, and fun character moments you already like in the regular Leif & Thorn comics! But they’re not plot-essential.

Q. What if I don’t pay to see the bonus comics online…but I do pay to get the Leif & Thorn books?

A. The Off-Shoots comics will be collected in the print volumes!

You’ll have to be patient, though. They won’t start appearing until at least Volume 6, and we haven’t even crowdfunded Volume 5 yet. ETA: The first print Off-Shoots arc will actually appear in Volume 5!

If you don’t want to wait, $5-and-up Patreon supporters get immediate access to the full archive of bonus comics, including the new ones as soon as they get posted.

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