Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category.

SOON: I’m coming to Denver; Seattle; and the Bay Area!

It’s nearly time again for me to start showing up in random cities across the country!

AnomalyCon 2016

THIS WEEKEND, I’m honored to be a guest of AnomalyCon in Denver! 

AnomalyCon was formed by members of the Colorado Steampunk community, but embraces all Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction in its programming.

Our mission is to provide a safe, fun, and creative educational entertainment space for geeks and fans that represents the intersectionality and diversity of experience in our local community and the world.

AnomalyCon will be held March 25–27 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

I’ll be signing and sketching in the dealer room, and I’m also on panels every day! On Sunday in particular I’ll be presenting both “True Stuff from Old Books” and “The Making of Wondermark.”

This will be my first convention appearance in Denver and I’ll be very excited to see you there!!

Emerald City Comicon 2016

April 7–10, I’m returning to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle!

I’ll be in the TopatoCo booth (#1102), on the skybridge that connects the convention center with the hotel. Look for the only place that’s flooded with wonderful natural light, and I’ll be there!!

This year, I’ll be tabling right next to my old pal Kris Straub! All the usual signing, sketches, and pleasant chitchat rules apply. No panels this year, sadly — just 100% hardcore behind-the-table action.

Maker Faire 2016

May 20–22, I’m returning to Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA!

Once again I’ll be in the Bazaar Tent, tucked off behind the fire-breathing pipe organ and the killer robot spider.

LATER IN THE YEAR: I’m heading back to Comic-Con in San Diego and Gen Con in Indy; and, I’m debating going to Kansas City for Worldcon. (Not 100% decided on that one yet.)

NOT ON THE DOCKET THIS YEAR: WonderCon; MoCCA; TCAF; VanCAF; and probably SPX.

I’m thinking of going back to MoCCA next year, though, perhaps? I hear it got fun again, after they moved it back into a regular building instead of the Lexington Ave Heatstroke Dungeon. Keep me posted, anyone who goes this year!

 

“Ransom!” – A Wondermark short story

it's not JUST about birds

Here is a 14-page Wondermark story I wrote in 2008, called “Ransom!”

It was originally created for the Dark Horse Presents anthology series, and ran online as part of some sort of Dark Horse–Myspace combo promotional thing. I have a link to the Myspace page in my comic archive, but a few people have pointed out that the link no longer resolves to anything.

I never thought my dumb little website would outlast Myspace, but, well, here we are.

Each of my Wondermark book collections contains, in addition to a bunch of comic strips, one longer-form story like this one. “Ransom!” is in Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death, which came out in 2009!

(It is, I hasten to add,  still a very good book with lots of fun things in it, and you should feel free to pick up a copy of it, or any of its peers, if you like.)

Read all of “Ransom! A Wondermark Tale”

11 More Articles Well Worth Your Time

Here is (what I believe is) another Extensive List Of Articles (Arguably) Well Worth Your Time!

When I read something interesting that I think you might like to see as well, I leave it open in my Instapaper queue. It’s been a while since I made a post like this, so now there’s a huge bramble-bush of links in there, growing and multiplying.

Below, find a few afternoons’ worth of reading for you, of a variety of things on a variety of topics. The only quality they share is that I found reading them worth the time it took to do so.

Oh, and I’ll also say, none of these articles are about presidential politics, I promise. I’ll save those for a whole separate list.

(Previous reading lists here and here.)

Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt (NPR) Note: this story has a version in audio format, as well. Listening is recommended, if you can.

When NPR reported Bob Ebeling’s story on the 30th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, hundreds of listeners and readers expressed distress and sympathy in letters and emails…

“It’s going to blow up,” a distraught and defeated Ebeling told his wife, Darlene, when he arrived home that night.

And it did, 73 seconds after liftoff. Seven astronauts died. Cold weather and an O-ring failure were blamed, and Ebeling carried three decades of guilt.

“That was one of the mistakes God made,” Ebeling, now 89, told me three weeks ago at his home in Brigham City, Utah. “He shouldn’t have picked me for that job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.’ ”

Jim Sides listened to the NPR story in his car in Jacksonville, N.C.

“When I heard he carried a burden of guilt for 30 years, it broke my heart,” Sides, an engineer, says. “And I just sat there in the car in the parking lot and cried.”

Stop Trying To Be Creative (FiveThirtyEight)

In one experiment a bipedal robot programmed to walk farther and farther actually ended up walking less far than one that simply was programmed to do something novel again and again, Stanley writes.

Falling on the ground and flailing your legs doesn’t look much like walking, but it’s a good way to learn to oscillate, and oscillation is the most effective motion for walking. If you lock your objectives strictly on walking, you won’t hit that oscillation stepping stone.

Stanley calls this the “objective paradox” — as soon as you create an objective, you ruin your ability to reach it.

She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’ (NY Times)

Since I started writing about women and science, my female colleagues have been moved to share their stories with me; my inbox is an inadvertent clearinghouse for unsolicited love notes. Sexual harassment in science generally starts like this: A woman (she is a student, a technician, a professor) gets an email and notices that the subject line is a bit off: “I need to tell you,” or “my feelings.” The opening lines refer to the altered physical and mental state of the author: “It’s late and I can’t sleep” is a favorite, though “Maybe it’s the three glasses of cognac” is popular as well.

The author goes on to tell her that she is special in some way, that his passion is an unfamiliar feeling that she has awakened in him, the important suggestion being that she has brought this upon herself. He will speak of her as an object with “shiny hair” or “sparkling eyes” — testing the waters before commenting upon the more private parts of her body. Surprisingly, he often acknowledges that he is doing something inappropriate.

How David Beats Goliath (The New Yorker)

Ranadivé was puzzled by the way Americans played basketball. He is from Mumbai. He grew up with cricket and soccer. He would never forget the first time he saw a basketball game. He thought it was mindless…

It was as if there were a kind of conspiracy in the basketball world about the way the game ought to be played, and Ranadivé thought that that conspiracy had the effect of widening the gap between good teams and weak teams. Good teams, after all, had players who were tall and could dribble and shoot well; they could crisply execute their carefully prepared plays in their opponent’s end. Why, then, did weak teams play in a way that made it easy for good teams to do the very things that made them so good?…

The Turks simply did not think that their opponent would be mad enough to come at them from the desert. This was Lawrence’s great insight. David can beat Goliath by substituting effort for ability—and substituting effort for ability turns out to be a winning formula for underdogs in all walks of life, including little blond-haired girls on the basketball court.

Bang Bang Sanity (Stonekettle Station)

Laws against theft and murder don’t stop theft and murder, they give society legal options when theft and murder occur.

Saying new gun laws won’t end gun violence is a non sequitur. Of course gun laws won’t end gun violence.

Laws don’t stop crime, however, what well written laws do is to put responsibility where it belongs – on the criminal.

Well written laws are about pragmatism.

For example, we all know that laws against drinking and driving won’t stop drunk driving, but they weren’t intended to. We know it’s going to happen. People are going to drink and drive and kill themselves and each other. We know we can’t eliminate it completely. That’s the pragmatism part.

Instead, drunk driving laws were intended to do two things, 1) give us legal recourse as a society, 2) make us responsible for our antisocial behavior – which in turn leads over time to a change in culture…

We need gun laws that give society legal recourse by making each gun owner/user personally accountable for their own actions.

For Love and Honor: Hollis Frampton to Donald Richie (Letters of Note)

In December of 1972, Donald Richie, then film curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, wrote to artist Hollis Frampton and suggested that they organise a retrospective of his work at this most prestigious of museums.

To an artist of any standing, this would be a tempting offer; however, Frampton took issue with one particular line in the proposal, a single detail of Richie’s which rendered the suggestion entirely unattractive: “It is all for love and honor and no money is included at all…”

Unwilling to work without financial reward, Frampton responded at length with a rousing letter, reprinted below in full, that has since become legendary in the art world for reasons which are plain to see.

Lawyering Is About Service, Not Self-Actualization (Popehat)

People traditionally recognized as being in need of social justice are also the people in most dire need of competent legal representation.

When they have a few days to contest an eviction or they’ve been arrested and may lose their job, they don’t need someone who is exquisitely prepared to explain and denounce the racist and oppressive structures that led to their unfortunate predicament.

They need someone who knows what he or she is doing. They need someone who knows all of the petty substantive and procedural rules of landlord-tenant law and how the local court actually operates.

They need someone who can swiftly assess whether an arrest or interrogation was unlawful and formulate a plausible and effective plan for dealing with it.

They need someone who knows how to get things into evidence in court even under pressure on their feet when the judge is being difficult and the opposing counsel is making nonsensical objections. They need a grubby little practitioner.

When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages (Toronto Star)

Before he crunched his numbers, the consensus among his fellow air force researchers was that the vast majority of pilots would be within the average range on most dimensions. After all, these pilots had already been pre-selected because they appeared to be average sized. (If you were, say, six foot seven, you would never have been recruited in the first place.) The scientists also expected that a sizable number of pilots would be within the average range on all 10 dimensions. But even Daniels was stunned when he tabulated the actual number.

Zero.

Out of 4,063 pilots, not a single airman fit within the average range on all 10 dimensions. One pilot might have a longer-than-average arm length, but a shorter-than-average leg length. Another pilot might have a big chest but small hips. Even more astonishing, Daniels discovered that if you picked out just three of the ten dimensions of size — say, neck circumference, thigh circumference and wrist circumference — less than 3.5 per cent of pilots would be average sized on all three dimensions. Daniels’s findings were clear and incontrovertible. There was no such thing as an average pilot. If you’ve designed a cockpit to fit the average pilot, you’ve actually designed it to fit no one.

My Wife and I Are (Both) Pregnant (New York Magazine)

Emily: Exactly three weeks after we found out I was pregnant Kate called me at work and was like, “Guess what?” I fell off my chair. I was sitting on the floor, alternating between laughing hysterically and hyperventilating and crying. It was so overwhelming.

Kate: We were like, “Oh my God, we just overshot this. We can’t live in a one-bedroom apartment with two babies!”…

Emily: I really loved being pregnant. It was very easy for me. I felt good, I was very happy. I didn’t have any issues at all besides the fact that my feet grew so much that I had no shoes. Everything has been very easy for me and nothing has been easy for her. I’ve really had to try to not feel bad about that because I don’t want to feel sorry for her. It’s not that I don’t have sympathy, of course I feel deeply for her, but I didn’t want that emotion to be a part of either of our pregnancies. And I didn’t want to not have a great pregnancy because I felt bad about it.

Kate: The pro and con of having your wife, another woman, go through pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in tandem with you is that you can’t help but compare.

Star Wars Is a Postmodern Masterpiece (Slate)

Star Wars is a Western. Star Wars is a samurai movie. Star Wars is a space opera. Star Wars is a war film. Star Wars is a fairy tale.

A Jedi craves not such narrow interpretations. In fact, Star Wars­­­—the original 1977 film that started it all—is all these things. It’s a pastiche, as mashed-up and hyper-referential as any movie from Quentin Tarantino. It takes the blasters of Flash Gordon and puts them in the low-slung holsters of John Ford’s gunslingers. It takes Kurosawa’s samurai masters and sends them to Rick’s Café Américain from Casablanca. It takes the plot of The Hidden Fortress, pours it into Joseph Campbell’s mythological mold, and tops it all off with the climax from The Dam Busters. Blending the high with the low, all while wearing its influences on its sleeve, Star Wars is pretty much the epitome of a postmodernist film.

Best of Luck: A brief introduction to death (The Awl)

The last thing I remember before the cardioversion was the anesthesiologist saying, “This is only going to take a second, but you do not want to be awake to feel it.” When I came to, my heart was back to a normal rhythm and there was an electrode burn on my sternum about the size and shape of a deck of cards. It lingered for weeks, scabbing over and itching and reminding me of the time they powered me down.

Lots of stuff for you here! Some creativity, some inspiration, some death, some life.

Next roundup post, some time in the future: ALL POLITICS, ALL THE TIME. Go ahead and delete your bookmark now, I guess, or else pour yourself a fifth and have it ready.

Hand-painted flapper girl workouts

flap them wings baby

The Fashion Institute of Technology blog recently posted a series of pages from a 1920s fitness club manual:

The publication La Culture Physique de la Femme Elégante is an exquisitely rare and beautiful testament to these early days of the widespread promotion of fitness for women.  It was issued as a folio containing twelve pochoir plates on board depicting women in a variety of calisthenic poses.

The illustrations, by fashion illustration icon Germaine-Paule Joumard, are absolutely gorgeous.

Pochoir was a pre-lithography printmaking technique involving the hand-application of gouache paint in stenciled patterns. It was often used as a high-end way to reproduce (and was a perfect fit for) the bold shapes that were the hallmark of Art Deco illustration.

Check out the entire set — a full dozen of these full-color windows into a cheery, bright, pre-Pilates world — at the FIT blog or on the Slate Vault.

Wondermark & Machine of Death anniversary sales, PLUS: Earn the Library Ace cast card!

THREE BIG TOPICS IN THIS POST:

I. Wondermark book super sale!!
II. Machine of Death anniversary sale!!
III. How to claim the new “Library Ace” cast card, for free!

BOOK 'EM

This year (come April) will mark THIRTEEN YEARS of me posting Wondermark comics on this website. This website is nearly in EIGHTH GRADE. It will soon be learning ALGEBRA.

I don’t want to wait until April to celebrate, though — we just hit comic #1200, and that’s a nice round number.

So I’m doing a special book sale for THIRTEEN DAYS, where you can get any three of my books for eighteen dollars total! It’s the THREE-’TEEN sale. That’s a terrible name for a sale. It is no longer called that.

If you’ve been meaning to complete your book collection, now’s the best chance you’ll have for a while. If you haven’t picked up a Wondermark book before, what a great time to do so! I am very proud of all my books. You can read more about all the different titles here!

All eight of the books pictured above are included in the sale — four strip collections, two themed collections, a book of drawings, and a big thick novel. (The latter two are available digitally, as well.)

I hope you take this opportunity to fill a bookshelf, or a slab of giftwrap, with some cool books!

BUT! THAT’S NOT ALL…

what a KILLER deal

It’s ALSO the anniversary of Machine of Death!

The original Machine of Death comic appeared on Dinosaur Comics in December 2005.

And it was around this time of year in 2006 — a little while after the comic first ran — when Ryan, Matt, and I (along with some other folks on Ryan’s forum) first started talking about how cool it would be to put together a book of short stories.

That was ten years ago! Since then, we’ve put out two books and a card gameAnd you can grab any of them during this sale for JUST TEN BUCKS EACH.

The game normally retails for $35 (and the expansion set for $45), so this is a…killer deal. Get it? Because it’s called Machine of Death.

If you don’t know about Machine of Death yet, this video will summarize it for you in thirty seconds:

It’s pretty great stuff. (You can also get the MOD books digitally, if you prefer; or, here’s the entire first book in audio form as a free podcast.)

It would probably make more thematic sense to run this sale for ten days, but since the Wondermark sale is thirteen days long, we’ll call this one thirteen days as well.

You can even patronize both sales at the same time! They, and many other cool things, are all on offer together over in my TopatoCo shop.

OKAY NOW THERE’S ONE MORE THING

read all about it

Yesterday I introduced the Cast Card Subscription program, via Patreon, in which I will produce and send you a cool limited-edition plaque every single month.

In that post, I wrote “Moving forward, there will be other ways to get other Cast Cards, too” besides the subscription.

Like this, for example! Today, in addition to the Patreon subscription cards, I’m issuing a new “Library Ace” cast card, pictured above.

There are two ways you can get this card:

FIRST METHOD: If you own five or more Wondermark books, you are a Library Ace right now! You qualify to get one of these cards, for free, to commemorate your great achievement!

To claim your card, take a cool picture of your five (or more) Wondermark books. They can be any five from the picture above, or older ones that are now out of print. (I’m pretty sure I’ll recognize them.) I wanna see what you got, and show your collection to other people too!

Then: tweet your picture with #libraryace, and tag either @malki or @wondermarkfeed. (And make sure you’re following one or both of of those accounts, so I can DM you your claim instructions once I see your post!)

That’s it! Just take a picture of the books you already have, and share it with me. I’ll send you the cast card as a thank-you for being a cool person with good taste in books!

SECOND METHOD: If you don’t already have five Wondermark books, well, coincidentally we’re running a sale on books right now! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it recently.

If you happen to order books in this sale, and you end up with at least five books total — between the books you’re ordering, and any books you may already have at home — then congratulations, friend: you’re now a Library Ace!

You don’t have to wait until you get the books in the mail: feel free to forward me your TopatoCo order confirmation email (to dave at wondermark dot com) — and if you like, attach a picture to show any other books you’ve already got, so that everything adds up to at least five books overall.

When I get the email, I’ll share your picture on Twitter (if it’s super cool) and add you to the ACE STACK at once.

This promotion, like the others, will run for THIRTEEN DAYS! The sales, and the Library Ace claim period, will all end on MARCH 9. Beware the nines of March!!

…And of course, there are still a few days left to join the cast card subscription list in time to claim February’s Patreon-exclusive card. A few people have signed up so far, which is super great — I kinda like the idea that only those few people will get that month’s card, which makes that card super rare and thus extra cool for those folks!!

I love running sales like this when I can — I just want to get this stuff into your hands, and I know not everyone can afford to get all the things they might want right when they first come out. So I’m really happy to do discounts and promotions when I can, and I hope you take advantage of them! Hooray for books and cool books and enjoying books!!

Wondermark AND Machine of Death – Super Sales on TopatoCo

And don’t forget to tweet me your #libraryace picture!

i like making things that are shiny