Boing Boing 

Foxtrot takes a swipe at the DMCA

Today, Foxtrot (easily the geekiest of the mainstream comic strips) took a great little swipe at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the notorious 1998 US Copyright law that makes it illegal to break DRM. Link (Thanks, Kim!)

Painted gaming miniatures

Today in my series of photos from my travels: a collection of painted underwear-pervert miniatures on a game-dealer's table at last year's ComicCon in San Diego. I love painting miniatures -- when I was a teenaged D&D player, it was my absolute top favorite part of the game. I ruined more shirts, tables and carpets with my hobby! There's a great gaming shop in Covent Garden, The Orc's Nest (awesome name, too!) where they always have a window-full of painted intricate miniatures, usually on sale for just a little more than the unassembled, unpainted versions (and charmingly, the finished ones are glued to tuppence coins as bases). I've never guessed, but I've always just assumed that the reason that these finished pieces -- which must have hours of labour in them -- are available for just a pound or two more than the unfinished ones is that the painter is an obsessive like I was, whose living and working space is completely jammed with painted minis, leaving quick sales as the only way to practice the hobby without drowning in figs. Link

Update Whoops! I stand corrected! These are "HeroClix" miniatures and they come pre-painted. Man -- stop playing tabletop games for twenty years and they get all pre-packaged on ya!

Scribbly doodleblog

Local Girl's Day in Pictures has a delightful blog format -- the author scribbles notes and doodles about her day and uploads them as images, turning them into posts. I don't know that I've ever seen a blog quite like it. Link (Thanks, Caroline!)

Action figure modder and his creations

Today on in my series of photos from my travels: this action figure modder and some of his creations, following a panel at the San Diego Comic Book Convention last July. The action figure modders were amazing -- real scientist hackers, full of trivia about the best way to manage different kinds of plastics and so on. Plus, they made beautiful stuff (here's more shots from the panel). Link

HOWTO Make a Captain America shield out of a BBQ grill

This Instructables teaches you how to make a nifty round Captain America shield out of a barbecue grill (ironically, the grill is probably made in China!). Link (Thanks, Amy!)

xkcd on the writer's strike: I miss Jon Stewart

Today's xkcd webcomic nails the writer's strike in one: I don't miss sitcoms, but I can barely parse the presidential nomination campaigns without Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. Those cats should break their Viacom contracts, do a startup and start webcasting -- they'd make a mint. Link

See also: Daily Show writer explains writers' strike -- if digital content isn't worth anything, how come Viacom is suing YouTube for $1 billion?

Cutaways of Fantastic Four's Baxter Building


Arglebargle! lovingly compiled a bunch of cutaway drawings of the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building.

One of the great things about the Fantastic Four comics was all the super-nutty Kirby gizmos and gadgets. Crazy stuff --like James Bond gear on steroids and acid! And talk about high maintenance... the team needed enough space for a Fantasti-car, a Pogo Plane, a Fantasti-Copter, a Private Passenger ICBM, an Observatory, an entrance to the negative zone, a computer room, a chemical lab, a photo analysis lab, a projection room, a gymnasium, trophy room and living quarters (just to name a few).

Peanuts banana-milk popcorn in Tokyo

Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels: Snoopy and Lucy Banana Milk-flavored popcorn, for sale at the giant Peanuts store across the street from the Harajuku train station in Tokyo. Link

Neil Gaiman helps fan propose to girlfriend through book inscription

Jason wanted to propose creatively to his girlfriend, Maui. So he conspired with comix legend, sf writer and all-round mensch Neil Gaiman: when Neil spoke in the Philippines, they would attend and Maui would queue up for a signature afterward. When she reached Neil, he would write "Will you marry Jason?" on the inside of her book and hand it back to her, and romance would ensue.

It worked flawlessly (see the video). Maui was delighted and surprised, Jason got down on one knee, the crowd applauded and Neil sat there, grinning like a maniac.

How lovely!

...and Maui actually failed to notice Neil's dedication because she was so starstruck. It took him about three times to actually get her to read the darn thing.

Maui (squealing, closing the book): Thanks!!!

Neil: Aren't you going to read what I wrote? You have to read it..

Maui (opening the book, shrugging, then closing it again): Thanks!!!

Me: You have to read the dedication...

And she bent over to give Neil a kiss, STILL not noticing what was going on.

Neil: You really have to read this...

When she did (FINALLY!)...

Link, Video Link

iCommons auction - win an early copy of Little Brother!

iCommons, the international Creative Commons project, is holding a fundraiser to support the work it's doing in more than 80 countries to create local versions of the CC licenses and promote their use locally. I've donated a bunch of stuff, including a signed, rare, pre-press copy of my forthcoming novel Little Brother, which won't be published until May 2008. As a bonus, the winning bidder also receives a signed copy of the IDW comic adaptation of my story Anda's Game!

Little Brother is a young adult novel about hacker kids who fight to bring the Bill of Rights back to America after the War on Terror turns San Francisco into a police state -- a kind of Ferris Bueller meets Neuromancer story. It's my biggest book to date -- complete with a national book tour! Link

See also:
Holy crap, I love the cover of my next book!
Cory's Little Brother reading
Sam Kieth cover for comic of Cory's Anda's Game

Presidential candidate Ron Paul picks his fave superhero

ComicMix asked presidential candidate Ron Paul to pick his favorite superhero. He (or more likely, one of his younger staffers) picked Paul Pope's "Berlin Batman."
Picture 6-39 "My favorite comic book superhero is Baruch Wane, otherwise known as Batman, in The Batman Chronicles. "The Berlin Batman," #11 in the series by Paul Pope, details Batman's attempts to rescue the confiscated works of persecuted Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, from Nazi Party hands.

“Batman's assistant Robin writes in the memoirs, "[Mises] was an advocate of individual liberty, free speech, and free thinking... and so, should I add, the Berlin Batman." Batman, a Jew in hiding in Nazi Austria, was willing to risk his life for the sake of the promulgation of freedom, and I find this to be super-heroic."


O Canada! The Canadian DMCA version of the national anthem

Today on the nerdy comic-strip User Friendly -- a new version of the Canadian national anthem, in honour of the terrible proposal for a Canadian version of the US DMCA, a copyright law that has led to 20,000 lawsuits against music fans, terrible damage to innovation and free speech, all without paying artists or preventing infringement. Link (Thanks, Bruce!)

See also:
Canadian DMCA introduced
CANADIANS! Tomorrow is your best chance to fight the Canadian DMCA! Event in Calgary, national phone-in Canada's DMCA won't get any consumer rights added to it for a decade Facebook group for fighting Canada's DMCA growing fast Ranting hand-puppet tackles Canada's DMCA HOWTO Fight Canada's coming DMCA copyright law
Canada's coming DMCA will be the worst copyright yet
Canadian DMCA: how it might have happened
CBC radio show needs your input for question with Minister responsible for Canadian DMCA Canadian Industry Minister refuses to defend Canadian DMCA in public

A Herbie comic for you to enjoy

Again With the Comics presents an early-1960's comic books story about one of the weirdest and most intriguing super-heroes ever, Herbie, the Fat Fury. This 9-page story is called “Professor Flipdome’s Screwy Machine.”


Herbie was the creation of ACG editor Richard E. Hughes, writing under the pseudonym Shane O’Shea, and first appeared in Forbidden Worlds #73, December 1958. The plump lump went on to star in his own series and eventually took on a costumed identity, the Fat Fury. Costume or no, Herbie was one of the most omni-powered beings in comics history, meeting any and all challenges with an unflappable, deadpan cool and his bottomless arsenal of specialty lollipops. The stories were whimsical, madcap, and unabashedly silly, and this one is no exception. From giant menacing flowers, to strap-on bee butts, to tiny micro-world duplicates, this comic has more crazy ideas than a Grant Morrison clone farm, and all in nine pages. Link

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund benefit, NYC Dec 10

JahFurry sez, "Rushkoff, Paul Pope, Moby, Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld, Nick Bertozzi, Molly Crabapple, Dan Goldman, JahFurry and more team-up on Monday night in NYC to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at a member party benefitting the Fund, with live art jam, badass music by Avi Bortnick, sketches books and special prints for sale, make killer holiday gifts!" Link (Thanks, JahFurry!)

Good comics-related stuff from Buenaventura Press

Picture 5-44Buenaventura Press, the wonderful comic book publisher, just sent me their newsletter and it's full of nifty gift ideas.

Shown here, from left to right: UnInked: Painting, Sculpture, and Graphic Work by Five Contemporary Cartoonists, edited by Chris Ware; Private Stash: A Pin-Up Girl Portfolio by 20 Cartoonists, and the SOF'BOY Tote Bag ver. 2003 by Archer Prewitt.

And this is just the tip of the dead-tree berg at the Buenaventura Press shop! Link

Spider Jerusalem cosplayer

This cosplayer at PenguiCon (the open source/science fiction convention held just outside of Detroit each year) is getting ready to attend the masquerade dressed as Spider Jerusalem, the heavily tattooed hero of Warren Ellis's seminal comic series Transmetropolitan. He and his assistant are drawing in the tatts with a Sharpie pen -- and doing a fine job of it.

(Another in the ongoing series of interesting stuff I take pictures of while out and about)

Link, All ten volumes of Transmetropolitan on Amazon

See also:
Transmetropolitan #1 as a free download
I come to praise Transmetropolitan

Donald Duck, copyright maximalist

Branko sez,
A reader of the FOK blog noticed that a comic in the Dutch "Donald Duck" magazine is a bit too close for comfort to the rhetoric typically spouted by the local (Disney-sponsored) MPAA office, Brein. In a story that sees Donald Duck trying to sell illegal copies of a music CD, only to be thwarted in the end by Scrooge McDuck, the nephews explain their reasons for wanting to buy the expensive (30 dollar!), non-pirated CD: "But that's not fair! This CD is COPYRIGHTED! If nobody would buy CDs anymore, the record companies and artists would become beggars!"

Considering that the record company is owned by Scrooge McDuck, and considering typical industry practice, you have to wonder if the artists aren't already beggars. Meanwhile, Donald Duck's editor-in-chief has stated that the tone of voice of this particular comic is indeed atypical for the magazine, but has also denied any Brein involvement.

Link (Thanks, Branko!)

MPAA's University wiretapping product taken down for violating copyright

The MPAA's "University Toolkit" (a piece of monitoring software that universities are being asked to install on their networks to spy on students' communications) has been taken down, due to copyright violations. The Toolkit is based on the GPL-licensed Xubuntu operating system (a flavor of Linux). The GPL requires anyone who makes a program based on GPL'ed code has to release the source code for their program and license it under the GPL. The MPAA refused multiple requests to provide the sources for their spyware, so an Ubuntu developer sent a DMCA notice to the MPAA's ISP and demanded that the material be taken down as infringing. Link (Thanks, Victor!)

Demented Xmas compilation mixes from Suburban Sprawl

Suburban Sprawl's Christmas compilation albums feature demented, kick-ass remixes of holiday favorite that range from the sweet (Zach Curd's hauntingly harmonic "Deck the Halls") to the bonkers (Scott and Brad Allen's Tom-Waits-ish take on "Christmas Don't Be Late"). All free, DRM-free, and of dubious legality. Link

Universal Music CEO's fears illustrated in funny webcomic

The latest installment of the Hijinks Ensue webcomic dramatises the now-infamous Wired interview with Universal Music CEO Doug Morris in which the scared old man claimed that the record industry had been unable to respond to Napster because they don't understand technology and are too naive to hire a technologist to explain it to them because in their ignorance, they wouldn't be able to tell if s/he was lying. Link (Thanks, Emily!)

See also:
Universal Music CEO: Record industry can't tell when geeks are lying to us about technology Universal Music CEO: iPod owners are thieves

xkcd: The malware aquarium

Today on the marvellous geek webcomic xkcd, a great idea for a nerdy alternative to an aquarium: a collection of virtual Windows machines connected to the net without any firewalls, infected with every conceivable virus, a seething pit of virtual life. This would make a killer product -- a great Christmas present that could run on older, slower hardware. The breeders would have to tend them carefully to ensure that they catch a really interesting collection of malware, though. Link

See also:
XKCD creator in Wired; reappearance of blog-goggles in today's strip
Scary MBR-nuking program inspired by XKCD geeky webcomic
Ninjas attack Richard Stallman, reenacting xkcd comic
Cory Doctorow cosplayers at the XKCD picnic
Xkcd fans bring chess-sets on roller-coasters
Where LOLCats come from
Ironic Internet malapropism grid
Geeky comic about chess and roller-coasters
Nerd humor about Katamari Damacy
Sarcastic comic about computational linguistics (and emo kids)
Funny map of online communities in the style of a D&D map
Geeky comic strip uses Cory as the punchline
Bloggin' 'bout my generation

Popeye, a real photograph and the comics anthologized

Popeyephotog Jacob at Fantagraphics spotted a lovely vintage portrait of, er, the real Popeye. Fantagraphics is now publishing beautiful oversized hardcover anthologies of the entire run of Popeye comic strips. Volume 1, titled "I Yam What I Yam," and Volume 2, titled "Well Blow Me Down!" are currently available.
Link to the full Popeye photo, Link to buy Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam", Link to buy Popeye Vol. 2: "Well Blow Me Down!"

Universal Music CEO: Record industry can't tell when geeks are lying to us about technology

Universal Music's CEO Doug Morris did a Wired interview in which the 68-year-old man said that he didn't really understand technology, that the record industry couldn't respond to Napster in 1999 because it didn't even have the in-house expertise to figure out whether a technologist was lying or not -- also, he compares his industry to a character from the comic strip Li'l Abner (which, New York magazine reminds us, stopped running in 1977).
"There's no one in the record industry that's a technologist," Morris explains. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person – anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me."

Link (via Michael Geist)

Looking back on 2007, part 1

For the next several weeks, I'm going to post my favorite entries from Boing Boing this year. Here are some from January 2007:


Video of many car crashes on icy Portland road (Welcome to a world without friction.)

Having low expectations makes you happier (Danes don't expect good things to happen to them, and when something good does happen, they're thrilled.)

Canadian spy coins a "mistake" (Defense Security Service unable to substantiate the claim that coins had eavesdropping bugs in them.)

Man tasered for wearing baseball cap at city council meeting (“It means more than just a hat,” he said. “It’s like my crown. It’s like asking a king to remove his crown.”)

Every issue of MAD on one DVD-ROM (That's over 600 issues -- 17,500 pages)

Walking Dead 7: The Calm Before -- compelling, pitiless zombie comic

I've written about Kirkman, Adlard and Rathburn's comic The Walking Dead here before, I know, but I've just finished the seventh collection in the series, "The Calm Before," and I now can't get to sleep. The energy of this zombie comic is just amazing -- relentless, pitiless in its insistence on drawing characters that we truly care about and then destroying them, hobbling them, putting them into situations that there's no answer to.

The survivors of the zombie uprising in The Calm Before try to build a life within the prison they've set up shop in, but they're too scarred by the horrors they've witnessed (and perpetrated) to ever really come to anything like normal. Plus there's the zombies outside the fence, and the possibility of sociopathic loonies from the next town over raiding them, and the impending baby, and the survivor's guilt that gnaws at them when the fighting stops...

It's the pacing, more than anything, the "things get worse" storytelling, that makes this series so freaking compelling that I find myself writing about it in the middle of the night rather than going to bed. It's the secret formula for dramatic tension: characters we careabout, trying intelligently to solve their problems, and ending up in worse trouble through no fault of their own. It's deceptively simple to describe, the devil to pull off, and here it is, in spades. Link to Volume 6, Link to Volume 5, Link to Volume 4, Link to Volume 3, Link to Volume 2, Link to Volume 1

See also:
Walking Dead: scary, engrossing zombie comic
Walking Dead volume six: scary zombie comic gets even better

Sardine in Outer Space: Cheerful anarchist comix for kids

Emmanuel Guilbert and Joann Sfar's wonderful series of children's comics "Sardine in Outer Space" recounts the icky, anarchistic adventures of Yellow Shoulder the Pirate and his space-crew of disobedient children who fight his arch-enemies, Supermuscleman and Doc Krok, two galactic baddies bent on brainwashing the Universe's orphans into being quiet, obedient, model children.

The storylines are wonderfully gross, chockablock with boogers and body fluids, and have many sly jokes for grownups who read these with their children. The space-themed adventures afford plenty of opportunity for absurdist humor (for example, the adventure of the baby rocket that's fallen out of its parents' nest), and the stories are refreshingly free of any moral or redeeming message, save that wild fun is its own reward.

At 100-or-so pages/volume, these are quick little reads, but they reward those who revisit them and pick up on the hidden gags and running jokes, and while they have a lot of heart, they're never maudlin or treacly. Highly recommended. Link to Sardine in Outer Space 1, Link to Sardine in Outer Space 2, Link to Sardine in Outer Space 3, Link to Sardine in Outer Space 4,

Dangers of WoW: 1960's anti-booze comic remixed

Here's an anonymously remixed 1960s "Dangers of ALcoholism" comic strip redone as a hilarious, profane, NSFW "Dangers of Warcraft" strip about the problems that really serious gamers face. Link (via Wonderland)

Update: Ethan sez, "The alcoholism strips referred to in your Dangers of World of Warcraft post come from here - with the majority of the art from the 'Jane's Husband Drinks Too Much' storyline. But more importantly, this WOW parody of the strips has literally gone around the world and has never been properly cited to its creator, username /enigmahfc' from the Something Awful forums. It's part of a larger group of parodies of the AA series, all quite funny, found here.

Laika: graphic novel tells the sweet and sad story of the first space-dog

Nick Abadzis's graphic novel "Laika" is a haunting, sweet biography of Laika, the first dog in space, who died five hours after she was launched on Sputnik II. Laika was a victim of the political vicissitudes of the Kruschev regime and its desire to push the propaganda war against the USA by elaborating on the triumph of Sputnik by launching a living organism into space.

The book walks a fine line between fancy and faithfulness to the historical facts of Laika's life, populated with exhaustively researched, fleshed-out characters who are charming, complex and frustrating. There's Sergei Pavlovich, the head of the program, whom we meet as he is walking out of one of Stalin's gulags, whence he had been banished in the great purges, and who becomes a driven monster, forever scarred by Siberia. There's Yelena Dubrovksy, the space medicine program's animal handler, who has a preternatural ability to connect with the space-dogs, but who is also a scientist and Party member who is clear-eyed in confronting their eventual fate. There's Oleg Gerogivitch, who runs space medicine, and who understands the realpolitik of working for a driven semi-madman like Pavlovich.

In addition, there's a host of fictionalized and fictional characters -- the families who interact with Laika as a puppy, the cruel dog-catchers, the spear-carriers and hangers on who conjure up a world of space madness, cruelty, noblesse and vision.

Abadzis's artistic style put me in mind of Tin Tin -- the little doggy with the curly tail didn't hurt -- a childlike, cartoony line that is nevertheless expressive and expansive. It nicely complements the subject matter, contributing much to the sweetness of the story, and serving as counterpoint to the exhaustive research. Link

Comics with Problems: "Captain Awareness"

Ethan Persoff, who archives "comics with problems," shares a new instructive gem with us -- "Captain Awareness." Ethan explains,

If you enjoyed Captain Al Cohol, the blond and blue eyed alcoholic alien sent to teach temperance to the Inuits -- or if you fell hard for Captain Veedee-O, whose journey to VD Claptrap left you wishing for a sequel that included Uranus - Then you will definitely enjoy the THIRD CAPTAIN added to Comics With Problems: Captain AWARENESS -- who teaches us what happens when Captain Al Cohol and Capt Veedee-O collide.

XKCD creator in Wired; reappearance of blog-goggles in today's strip

XKCD is my favorite geeky webcomic, and today there's a great profile of the comic and its creator, Randall Munroe, in Wired. Coincidentally, I make an appearance (in my persona as a hot-air- balloon- borne be-goggled, caped blogger) in today's strip (a fact that approximately 200 Boing Boing readers have written in to mention -- a partial list of the first several appears below!).
On that day, nearly a thousand xkcd fans from as far away as England and Canada converged on the park, bearing tape measures and Rubik's cubes. At the assigned minute, Munroe emerged and spoke.

"Maybe wanting something does make it real," he said as his fans cheered and fought duels with foam swords. The comic that spurred the gathering was enlarged and hung from a fence, and fans took turns contributing to a new last panel, where dreams can come true.

"I had someone write in and say that he'd been hanging out with this girl for a while, and then one day she just kissed him out of the blue," Munroe said. "Since then, they've been together. She told him later that she'd done it because she'd read a comic that suggested you take more chances. I think everyone needs to just relax a little bit. People do meet people."

Link to Wired profile of Randall Munroe, Link to today's strip, Link to photo of me in blog-goggs (Thanks, Zan, Brent, Macca, JK, Paul and Michael!)

See also:
Scary MBR-nuking program inspired by XKCD geeky webcomic
Ninjas attack Richard Stallman, reenacting xkcd comic
Cory Doctorow cosplayers at the XKCD picnic
Xkcd fans bring chess-sets on roller-coasters
Where LOLCats come from
Ironic Internet malapropism grid
Geeky comic about chess and roller-coasters
Nerd humor about Katamari Damacy
Sarcastic comic about computational linguistics (and emo kids)
Funny map of online communities in the style of a D&D map
Geeky comic strip uses Cory as the punchline
Bloggin' 'bout my generation