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Comic book explains why the Transpacific Partnership serves no one but the ultra-rich

In 2012 I reviewed Economix, a terrific cartoon history of economics by Michael Goodwin and illustrated by Dan E. Burr. (After reading it, I bought a few copies of the book to give as gifts.)

Today, Michael emailed to let me know that he and Dan have posted an excellent and free 27-page online comic called The Transpacific Partnership and "Free Trade," which describes how the negotiated-in-secret treaty is a "global coup that's disabling our democracies and replacing them with multinationals and Wall Street," and is making the US "police state more extensive, more restrictive, and global."

XKCD's "Frequency" - using blinking GIFs to visualize the relative frequency of the momentous and trivial

In Frequency, the latest XKCD cartoon, Randall Munroe has assembled a grid of animated GIFs representing various events in the universe, each keyed to blink in the frequency in which they occur in reality. As with the best of Munroe's work, it's a mix of the trenchant and the silly, and the juxtapositions are smart and provocative. There's real genius in putting "50,000 plastic bottles are produced" and "50,000 plastic bottles are recycled" next to each other, the former blinking much more often than the latter -- but the best part is "A Sagittarius named Amelia drinks a soda," just above them, mixing up the alarming and the humorous.

The other juxtapositions are just as delicious -- one birth/one death; China builds a car/Japan builds a car/Germany builds a car/US builds a car/someone else builds a car; someone buys "To Kill a Mockingbird"/someone's cat kills a mockingbird -- and so on. This being XKCD, you can be sure that Munroe has an absurdly well-thought-through process for establishing and documenting his numbers, too.

The tool-tip notes that he wanted to include pitch-drops in the chart, but "it turns out the gif format has some issues with decade-long loops." Frequency (via IO9)

Autobiographical comic about a belly dancer in Egypt

Luna of Cairo is an excellent comic written by a woman who works as a belly dancer on a riverboat in Cairo. She gets frequently harassed by men (once a couple of young men sprayed tear gas at her and her friend," just for fun"). Crime is rampant, too ("daily fights, kidnappings, muggings, rapes, murders, and rising sectarian violence). Yet she stays because she loves to belly dance. It's illustrated by Leela Corman.

In 2008, Luna left New York City on a Fulbright scholarship to write a book about dance in Egypt. She holds a master's in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a B.A. in journalism and political science. She is fluent in Egyptian Arabic, Spanish and English.
Luna of Cairo (Thanks, Jeff!)

Kickstarting a kid-friendly steampunk graphic novel

Thom writes, "When our Kickstarter for a kid-friendly steampunk comic was 'kicktrolled' last November, the Internet quickly came to our rescue. And while we ultimately cancelled that project for fear of a repeat incident, we're back with a new campaign for a graphic novel of our webcomic -- and a possible way to make 'Crimson Rhen of the True North' happen!"

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Paperback of Sailor Twain announced, read a 14-page excerpt

I reviewed Sailor Twain, Mark Siegel's amazing graphic novel about the mermaid of the Hudson River, back when it came out in 2012. The paperback has just been announced, slated for publication on March 4. Tor.com has a 14-page excerpt from the book up today. Here's my original review:

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Dan Goldman's Red Light Properties: realtors who specialize in exorcising haunted houses

Back in 2011, I reviewed Dan Goldman's excellent indie comic Red Light Properties, which has now been picked up for mass publication by the good folks at IDW. Here's what I wrote then:

Dan Goldman's Red Light Properties is a serial webcomic about a Florida real-estate brokerage that specializes in exorcising haunted houses and then listing them for cheap. Goldman (who created the fantastic 08 graphic novel) takes a somewhat lighthearted premise and uses it as contrast to make the fundamental spookiness of his stories stand out in stark relief. Goldman's ghost stories made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, while the bawdy slapstick interludes served only to lure me into dropping my guard for the next scare. Highly recommended.

Goldman's earlier work includes 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail, a gorgeous and engrossing history of the 2008 elections, and Shooting War, a trenchant commentary on war photography in the Internet age. As with Red Light Properties, both books blend photography, xerography, computer graphics and illustration in a style that's reminiscent of Dave Gibbons and Cameron Stewart and really jumps off the page.

Goldman is touring with Red Light Properties, and we have his tour schedule (which finishes with a stop at Mumbai Comic-Con!) as well as the first 28 pages of the new book after the jump.

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Win $1000 for your NSA Surveillance cartoon

From Global Voices Online: "The Web We Want invites cartoonists, creatives and artists to join The Day We Fight Back on February 11, 2014 by creating an original cartoon about online surveillance and the right to privacy. The cartoons should help increase awareness about the NSA and demand accountability for mass digital surveillance in a way that makes people want to click and share."

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Amulet: amazing, adventurous kids' graphic novels have everything to love


I am unquestionably late to the party on Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi's young adult graphic novel series that kicked off in 2008 and has so far been serialized in five fantastic books. That's OK: it's a big world and there's plenty to read in it, and getting to Amulet this late merely meant that I had five books to inhale in one long session, which is, frankly, an amazing experience.

Amulet tells the story of Emily, a young girl whose family moves to her great-grandfather's tumbledown mansion after her father's tragic death. Shortly after their arrival, Emily and her mother and younger brother Navin find themselves in a parallel dimension where Emily's destiny awaits. Emily is descended from a line of "Stonekeepers," who are charged with protecting the alien world from mysterious forces, aided by gemstones that give them mystical powers, but also threaten to destroy them.

The first five volumes of Amulet are something of a marvel.

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Oversized Krang belt-buckle


Etsy seller Christopher Genovese made this $190 KRANG belt-buckle that recreates the experience of being a mecha-suit used by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain. It's the perfect thing for holding your pants up on casual Fridays.

KRANG from TMNT oversized belt buckle (via Geekologie)

Creating a font from a classic comic

Typographer Nate Piekos describes how he created a 21st-century typeface from a 1980 issue of Elfquest—just in time to begin lettering the comic series’ conclusive installment.

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Secret Headquarters at LA Book Fair this weekend: meet Jordan Crane, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier and more!


Secret Headquarters, LA's finest comic store, is hosting a booth at the LA Book Fair this weekend, with a dynamite roster of previously unannounced comics creators for your meeting and squeeing pleasure. The full roster includes Jordan Crane, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Lisa Hanawalt and many more.

They're also debuting two new original publications at the fair, and will be displaying some of their ultra-rare stuff from the stores, including an original complete run of RAW.

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Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun!


Kevin C Pyle and Scott Cunningham's non-fiction, book-length comic Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun! is a marvellous and infuriating history of censorship, zero-tolerance, helicopter parenting, and the war on kids.

The comics form turns out to be just perfect for presenting this material. The book opens with a history of the fight over comics publishing in America, where the liar Frederic Wertham and his Seduction of the Innocents hoax led to a harsh regime of comics censorship, book banning, book burning, and decades of pseudoscientific vilification and dismissal of artists and the young people who loved their work. Presenting this story in a comics form only drives home how wrong Wertham and the Comics Code Authority were.

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Fantasy comics, ranked

Fables, Elfquest, Marvel's Conan and Neil Gaiman's Sandman are the best fantasy comics of all time, according to Comic Book Resources, whose list is bullshit without Groo. Rob 42

Announcing "In Real Life": graphic novel about gold farming, kids and games


Yesterday, FirstSecond formally announced the publication of In Real Life, a graphic novel about gaming and gold farming for young adults based on my award-winning story Anda's Game, adapted by Jen Wang, creator of the amazing graphic novel Koko Be Good. Jen did an incredible job with the adaptation.

Kotaku conducted a Q&A with Jen and me about the book and its themes, and lavishly illustrated it with art and panels from the book:

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One Soul: 18 interwoven lives in a graphic novel that pushes the boundaries

Ray Fawkes's One Soul is a moving, challenging and ambitious graphic novel that attempts -- with great success -- to do something genuinely new with the comics form, telling a story that literally could not be told in any other way. Each two-page spread in One Soul is split into 18 panels, and each of those panels tells the life story, from conception to death (and beyond) of a different person, in a different time and place.

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