Boing Boing

Paul Pope's Escapo reissue event to benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Cartoonist Paul Pope's 1999 graphic novel Escapo, is being re-issued as a special edition loaded with extras. To kick it off, the publisher is holding a live concert in New York on Saturdau April 19th with The Jim Jones Revue, with some proceeds going to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Originally released in B&W in 1999 and long out of print, Escapo was Pope's first serious massive body of work making a statement about the embrace of life: the tragedy, the love, the youth, and the energy. This new edition of Escapo is brought to new life with the talent of colorist Shay Plummer and award-winning designer Jim Pascoe, who fully redesigned the book in the French BD format. The book contains 50+ pages of bonus material, including a rare two-page alternate ending seen only in the French edition, sketchbook content by Pope, and a series of pin-ups by contributing artists such as: John Cassaday, Sam Hiti, Yuko Shimizu, Kostas Seremetis and Dean Haspiel. Escapo showcases Pope’s grand fluid style and masterful storytelling. The book follows the adventures of a circus escape artist who struggles to evade Death itself – and the equally powerful grip of unrequited love. Like a feverish mash-up of Fellini films, Heavy Metal magazine, and classic Jack Kirby comics, Escapo is an unforgettable tale from a boldly original voice in alternative comics.

Escapo Launch Event Concert with The Jim Jones Revue

Related: Erika Pope-Gusev (Paul's sister) is the director of the fort construction activity kit, Fort Magic (see my video about Fort Magic here). She just let me know that Fort Magic won the Dr. Toy Best Classic 2014 toy award for being exceptional in Creativity, Construction, Educational Skills and Activity Play for children, and that Fort Magic will be featured on Shark Tank this coming Friday April 18th, at 9pm. Looks like it's going to be a busy weekend for the Popes!






Massive haul of Daniel Pinkwater's brilliant, hilarious, life-changing books as $3 ebooks


Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.

The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).

Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.

Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.

What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado of Death and The Snarkout Boys & The Baconburg Horror comprise the canon.

Fat Men from Space is the greatest paen ever penned to sloppy cooking. If you can't get enough of Shopsin's in NYC, or find yourself throwing everything in a frying pan at 2AM, you need this book.

Then there's Chicago Days and Hoboken Nights, a memoir as a series of comic essays that tell the story of Pinkwater's boyhood, his training as an artist, his late-night hot-dogs, and the forces that made him into the towering force of literature that he is today.

There's so much more!

* TWO editions of the Hoboken Chicken Emergency: one with Jill Pinkwater's illustrations, the other with Daniel's original art

* The Last Guru

* The Magic Moscow

* Uncle Boris in the Yukon

* The Worms of Kukumlima

* Yobgorgle

* The Afterlife Diet

Many of these are books that I was originally only able to read through interlibrary loan and was only able to get for my own shelves through tireless used bookstore searching. The idea that you can have them all, for $3, is a testament to the idea that we are living in an age of wonders.






TOM THE DANCING BUG: No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Comic Strip

Be the first on your block to see Tom the Dancing Bug, by @RubenBolling, every week by joining the INNER HIVE!

"My only argument with Ruben B. here is his apologetic tone for asking you to pay money for early access to his very good comics -- that is to say, something that YOU LIKE AND WANT. DO NOT APOLOGIZE, RUBEN." -John Hodgman, Charter INNER HIVE member

Please click HERE for information.






Zombie Dice: eat brains, avoid shotguns

Zombies aren't known for their critical thinking skills, but in Zombie Dice, a fast-paced, risk-vs-reward dice-rolling game designed by Steve Jackson, you play a zombie who must balance its desire for human brains with its fear of getting blasted to necrotic bits by a shotgun.

The game comes with 13 specially marked dice. The dice have three kinds of markings: brains, shotgun blasts, and footprints. (Green dice have more brains, red dice have more shotgun blasts, yellow dice are in-between).

The rules are simple: two or more people can play. Everyone is a zombie. The dice represent humans. When it's your turn, pull three dice from the cardboard cup (without looking) and roll them. Set any brains to one side. Set any shotgun blasts to the other side. Footprints mean the human got away - keep those in front of you. Do you want to roll again? No problem. Just re-roll the footprints dice along with enough fresh dice from the cup so that you roll three dice. You can roll as many times as you like in an effort to eats lots of brains in your turn (my record is 11 juicy brains in one turn), but if you end up accumulating three shotgun blasts, you lose all your brain points for that turn and the next player-zombie gets its turn. When one player gets 13 points, play continues until the round is finished and whoever has the most points wins.

Roll #1: 2 footprints and 1 shotgun blast. Set the blast die to the side, draw one die from the cup and roll again.

Roll #2: 2 brains and 1 footprint. Set the brains to the side. You can end your turn now with 2 brain points or press your luck and roll again. I choose to roll again!

Roll #3: 2 footprints and 1 blast. Now I have 2 blasts. It is risky to roll again. But I'm a hungry, not-too-bright zombie so I choose to roll again.

Roll #3: 2 footprints and 1 blast. Argh! I've been killed by three shotgun blasts and my score for this turn is zero!

Over at my house, we are switching off between Tenzi (reviewed here) and Zombie Dice.

Zombie Dice $12






Resentment at techies might not be fair, but it's the future

Jack Halprin is a Google employee who bought a multi-unit dwelling in San Franscico and evicted the occupants. He's getting a roasting, as you can imagine. Here's Benjamin Wachs, writing as "Faux Jack Halprin" defending his decision. What I'm trying to say is that, in a free society, some people make better choices than others, and we reward those people with the homes of their vanquished enemies. Some people, for example, choose to be teachers, and spend their lives teaching other people's kids things that they can Google for free. Naturally, we pay them very little money -- so little that they're practically homeless already. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone even notices when I evict someone making under $150,000 a year. Honestly, how can you tell?

Then there are other people, like me, who make good decisions, becoming important parts of the companies that sponsor TED talks. Naturally, we pay these people what they're worth. Why am I so highly compensated? Well, if I weren't at the office every day, doing the work I do, the government wouldn't be nearly as good at spying on you.

The humor is brutal and crude in its villain-painting, but it's that last line that really stands out. The perception was the tech industry is a victim of domestic surveillance, but this perception has changed. Zuckerberg's affected outrage doesn't cut the mustard, whereas the "get with the program" nonchalance of hiring Condoleezza Rice just cuts.

To be seen as selfish, exacerbating a city's housing problems while abusing its public services, is one thing. But to be seen as the intelligence community's self-justifying handmaidens? If you're betting on public complacency and disinterest, it's worth remembering that this is a bet you won't be able to change mid-race.






Japan copies, improves Western culture

Japan makes the best bourbon, denim and burgers, writes Tom Downey. It’s easy to dismiss Japanese re-creations of foreign cultures as faddish and derivative—just other versions of the way that, for example, the new American hipster ideal of Brooklyn is clumsily copied everywhere from Paris to Bangkok. But the best examples of Japanese Americana don’t just replicate our culture. They strike out, on their own, into levels of appreciation and refinement rarely found in America. They give us an opportunity to consider our culture as refracted through a foreign and clarifying prism. Jason Kottke points out that the same is true of coffee.

And it's not just stuff; consider Kazuo Ishiguro, who moved to England as a child and gained a startlingly clear view a particular kind of Englishness. These are all things that never truly existed until something new was inspired by the idea of them—a process as conservative as it is creative.






HOWTO equip your drug-dealing operation

Buy one part of the set--say, an AWS-100 digital scale--and Amazon's "what other customers bought" feature will tell you the rest you need. Alexis Madrigal:

Amazon clearly did not set out to create such a field-tested kit for starting an illicit business. But looking at the list of items, it sure seems like they've created a group of products by looking at the purchasing habits of people who may not be recording all of their incomes on W-2s and 1099s.

Buyer beware, seller aware.






Monkeys may sometimes grieve for dead mates through necrophilia


A still from the video of a marmoset exhibiting behavior that resembles human grieving.

A sad story of two marmosets documented by animal behavior researcher Bruna Bezerra, who was observing the primates in their northeast Brazil home: The pair had been the dominant male and female since observations began. When the female fell out of the tree, her partner engaged in a number of behaviors, including embracing her, sniffing at her, chasing other monkeys away, sitting by her, and trying to copulate with her. He also emitted alarm calls normally used when a predator is near. And several months after her death, the male disappeared from the marmoset group, never to be seen again.

More: Do Monkeys Grieve for Fallen Mates? | Science/AAAS. Here's the study, in the journal Primates. There's video, too. [via Ed Yong]






Donald Rumsfeld, unconvicted war criminal, is upset with the IRS

Noted horrible shitbag Donald Rumsfeld has one thing in common with you and I, dear reader: he is not happy with the IRS, and wishes he hadn't spent so much money preparing and filing his taxes. Here is his annual open letter to the Internal Revenue Service, no doubt to promote his stupid narcissistic book. Here are my thoughts on the matter. Read Rummy's letter below.


Donald Rumsfeld's 2014 letter to the IRS. Click for larger size.








Finland to offer Tom of Finland gay bondage art stamps

Worth a trip to Finland after September 2014 just to buy a few and send postcards to conservative US lawmakers or, say, the Pope.

Slate: This fall, the country will begin selling stamps that feature the “confident and proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland, an artist renowned as “beyond question the most influential creator of gay pornographic illustration.”

Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, once famously said "If I don't have an erection when I'm doing a drawing, I know it's no good."






Motorcycle safety: high visibility, low cost vest

I wanted a high visibility vest to wear over my motorcycle jacket. Cycle gear shops carried great looking vests at high prices. I didn't think the job required $80 of artisanal reflectiveness.

The Neiko High Visibility Neon Yellow Zipper Front Safety Vest with Reflective Strips is $7.25!

I bought a size Large to wear over an armored size 42 US leather jacket. It fits perfectly. Some folks in the reviews complain the zipper opens due to wind pressure, they suggest adding a binder clip to secure it. I have had no problems.

I should wear this vest whenever I ride.






Canada's Digital 150 Strategy: Cynical, lazy and so 1867

John sez, "We Canadians are looking forward to our 150th birthday coming up in 2017. As part of the celebrations, the Harper Conservative government has released its Digital Canada 150 strategy paper with the idea of propelling Canada forward to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age and be a global leader by 2017. While the document has some good points and is definitely not as actively terrible as some of their recent actions (like attacking Elections Canada or stifling science), the strategy is still extremely disappointing."

It's lazy because rather than a coordinated plan to energize Canadian culture and commerce in a digital age, it's mostly just buzzword soup and re-packaged announcements and programs from the last few years. It's cynical because it's clearly all about the government being able to say they have a digital strategy in the upcoming 2015 election campaign. It's a compendium of missed opportunities in science, commerce and culture.

But mostly it's not very forward looking or strategic.

As Michael Geist says,

Most disappointingly, Digital Canada 150 lacks a big picture goal or target that might have made the whole greater than the sum of its parts. There was no shortage of possibilities such as a national digital library to revolutionize access in schools and communities, a rethinking of Canadian surveillance policy so that mounting fears of widespread surveillance of individuals might be addressed, structural separation of Internet providers or a plan to join forces with the private sector to bring affordable access and computing equipment into every home in Canada.

As far as making the new strategy making Canada a world leader, Geist also points out that,

In comparing the Canadian strategy with countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, it becomes immediately apparent that other countries offer far more sophisticated and detailed visions for their digital futures. While there is no requirement that Canada match other countries on specific goals, it is disappointing that years of policy development - other countries were 5 to 10 years ahead of Canada - ultimately resulted in a document short on strategy, specifics, and analysis. I’ve collected more commentary -- pro and con -- on my blog here.






Crowdfunding £12,000 to fight mandatory UK Internet filters

Jim Killock from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "Recently the British Government, with the help of conservative religious lobby groups, has persuaded ISPs to introduce an internet filter across the UK. Open Rights Group needs your help to challenge this. We want to make people aware that filters don't work, are dangerous for internet freedom and could give parents a false sense of security when it comes to their children's use of the internet.

"To get this message across we want to produce a high-quality, funny film that will re-start the debate about why filters are a bad idea. It will cost us £12,000 to get this campaign off the ground. We need to show people that filters censor the internet. Most of all, we need to tell politicians like Claire Perry that they have to stop blaming the internet for society's problems.

"Filters don't work. Help us to fight them."

Internet filters are a weak spot in the UK government's expanding censorship programme, and ripe for disruption through pointed satire. I contributed.

Stop UK Internet Censorship

(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and volunteer on its advisory board)






Dear Falcor

Editorial note: In a recent BBS thread concerning legendarily passive-aggressive advice column Dear Abby, Boing Boing commenters took it upon themselves to request assistance in their daily lives from our moderator, Falcor the Don't-Push-Your-Luck Dragon. This morning a pile of noisome, crudely dehaired human-skin hides were left outside Boing Boing's secret lair; upon close inspection, they turned out to be scrawled with Falcor's answers. I've transcribed them below — Rob

Dear Falcor,
I've recently killed a man (in self-defense, I swear!) and need to dispose of the body. What do you recommend? — JUST KILLED A MAN IN ONTARIO (Jardine)

Dear Just Killed a Man,
Canadians taste great with maple syrup.
Cheers, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
I have some left over chicken, some rice, some noodles and I think probably some veggies... Maybe there is tomato based sauce hanging around. Add that to a picky family. What should I feed them tonight? — TIRED OF THE SAME THING FOR DINNER IN THE SOUTH (Mindysan33)

Dear Tired of the same thing,
I have a friend in Canada who might be able to help you out. How are you with white meat?
Best, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
My baby is turning out to be the worst roommate ever. She makes constant demands, keeps us up all night, and refuses to pay her share of the mortgage. How should we deal with this problem? – SINCERELY, MOMMY DEAREST (Maggiekb)

Dear Mommy Dearest,
Usually I would say "gobble her down.", but in this case I have to say "suck it up."
Sincerely, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
During a particularly frustrating evening babysitting, I wished that the goblins would take my baby brother away. The Goblin King won't give him back and my parents will be back soon. What should I do?

Please help! – ETERNALLY STENCHY (Daneel)

Dear Eternally Stenchy,
Goblin Kings are a bit to stringy to eat, I recommend instead distracting him with a tight-pants-and-wigs sale downtown. Then snatch your brother back.
You remind me of the babe, Falcor

Dear Falco,
What did Vienna call about?

Robert C Baruch

Dear Robert,
This man is an imposter. Eat him.
Get out, Falcor







Homeland audiobook, direct from me

My independently produced audio edition of Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton, is now available direct from me as a $15 MP3 download. The audiobook not only features Wil's reading, but also Noah Swartz reading his brother Aaron Swartz's afterword and Jacob Appelbaum reading his own afterword, recorded at the Berlin studio of Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire.

Here's a free preview of chapter one.

Homeland audiobook purchase






NYPD program to spy on Muslims has been disbanded

NYT: "The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said." Translation: NYPD creates new secret secretive program to spy on Muslims. (Thanks, Matthew!)






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