Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Corporate Pranksterism!

I thought about doing something funny on my site for April Fools, but then I didn't because I don't really have time for that nonsense! Instead I thought I'd regurgitate this article from my old blog I posted on 4/1 last year about how big corporations like to play these really limp-wristed April Fools gags on us now.

But then I reread it and thought it was kind of long and boring. It sort of spun out of control at the end into a rant about how stupid "funny commercials" are. I thought I'd post that snippet alone, because man, I really hate funny commercials!

Originally posted: 04-01-08

I fucking HATE funny commercials. I deeply resent the arena of humor being hijacked in this way. It makes me sort of hate the universe of humor itself, somehow. I almost find it distasteful to participate in the same discipline in which thrives such a loud and broad display of clumsy, floundering suck. I guess this phenomenon has its roots in the coronation of the Superbowl as the great custodian of funny commercials. These commercials are popularly alleged to be as much of a draw to the high ratings event as the game itself, and I guess this just got corporations thinking; why not make every day the Superbowl? And they did. Now every day is like a fresh, highly competitive Superbowl of unfunny bullshit.

I could go on about "funny" commercials and why I hate them forever, but who has the energy for that? (Especially after we've all eaten ourselves into a wheelchair from the customary April Fools feast.) Occasionally there are some genuinely funny commercials. I just don't care. All the unfunny "funny" ones ruin the funny "funny" ones completely. I'm tired of waiting for the shoe to drop in the 30-second bullshit vignette on Glade scented candles. I'm tired of "funny" moments being punctuated by awkward pauses of silence (while we all laugh, I guess. And then meditate on Werther's Originals.) I'm tired of people getting hit in the groin with a can of Green Giant corn, or backed over by a Hertz rental car, and hearing them shout "I'm ok!" in the fading moments. I don't want to laugh, and the attempt to inflict this reaction on me is causing me pain. There's a good chance I am watching the show I'm watching for this very purpose, to be made to laugh. The creators of this show are ostensibly good at causing this reaction. You aren't, Holiday Inn.

It's not that I want commercials to be funnier, up to the standards of the few that are funny. It's that I want them all to stop being funny. Do you remember a time when not every commercial was trying to be a damned Farrelly brothers movie? I do. They just said, "look, we sort of have this product..." and played some catchy music. They were benign. Ignorable. Corporations have forgotten their role in the social order. I don't want them to be cool, or to be my friend, or to make me laugh. Corporations should be stodgy, blunt, and humorless, and if it's not to much to fucking ask, mildly nefarious.

Now we can look forward to them latching on to pranks. Oh boy! And as with "funny" commercials, they will seize them as competitive advantages (re: adhere to them unwaiveringly as competitive upkeep). Thus will begin the kind of obnoxious one-upsmanship we see with funny commercials, with companies trying to be ever edgier, ever more surprising in their April's gotchas. Coke isn't going to take it lying down when Pepsi reveals in April, 2012 that 30% of all Pepsi cans the previous year contained moderate to major amounts of fetal tissue floating in the liquid [PSYCHE]. Let us begin a great arms race. Not one of munitions and warhead stockpiles, but of whoopee cushions and chattering teeth.



Anyway, I wonder which big company will play pranks on us this year and bag a few chuckles from the dude sitting behind the desk at CNN during a 30 second spot? Last year it was Google uniting with Virgin and pretending to colonize Mars. Hehehehehe! Nice one guys!

Edit: I just went there immediately after I typed that expecting to find some fun stuff, and sure enough, I knew it was a gag before I even clicked it. Damn, I just got SO PUNKED actively seeking out that joke I knew would be there before I went there!

Monday, March 23, 2009

WCWE Addendum

Wait, there are more people I wanted to talk about!

KC Green draws outstanding comics. His myriad of websites are all among my favorites ever. Please go to his site and visit his odd collection of satellite-websites like horribleville and gunshow and please read all of the comics there at once.

I bumped into him on the street the first night of the weekend when everyone was roving around the town under varying magnitudes of inebriation and chilliness. I recognized him and proceeded to orbit about his radiant, molten core of affability, but I did not introduce myself. Later in the evening I mumbled my name, and he recognized it, and offered a hug to celebrate the recognition. It was not because he was inebriated; the beverage in his hand was a root beer you see. Neither was it on account of chilliness. He's just a hella nice guy!

I also met Zach Weiner, which was another high point. He does SMBC, which is a comic that has the uncanny ability to be EXTREMELY FUNNY on EVERY SINGLE OCCASION IT UPDATES, which is JUST ABOUT EVERY DAY. Zach was also all hells of cool and drew me a picture of a llama with a brain in a jar for a head. I'll keep it folded in my breast pocket for the rest of my life, until one day it takes a bullet for me. The very bullet which passes clean through it and into my heart, rendering me not alive anymore.

There was also a gentleman named John Keogh who does a comic called Lucid TV, which I had not read before. I just checked it out and it is quite funny! You should check it out too.

This encounter was precipitated because he said hello and told me he liked my work. Not MSPA in this case, but a comic I used to do a while ago called Humanimals. I'm always impressed when someone has heard of Humanimals before, and I am downright flabbergasted when people tell me they actually like it. Here's a sample if you care to trespass into...

I'll shut my flowery trap this once. It is a comic about nude men with hooves and udders and stuff. They work in an office and they are always happy.

Webcomics Weekend 09

I went to a weekend gathering for webcomic authors and enjoyers alike, and good times were had! You could say it was authoritatively enjoyed.

Speaking of authoritativity, the event was spearheaded and organized by Meredith Gran, who does a really great comic about a young octopus who lives in New York City, trying to make it out there. Ok, that is not what the comic is about. But you should go read it and see what it is about!

My accomp-hort Cindy came along and took some pictures. We didn't snap a lot, but here are a few which you may use to waft some of the ambiance into those gaping nostrils you call eyeballs.

Here I am bookended by the dynamic damefella duo, Emily and Joey, who produce the comic that is called a softer world. These are really cool people to hang out with and talk to and stuff! Here Emily rifles through her mad wad of Benjies, or at least I'm pretty sure those are Benjies. Cause that's what we're all about here, knocking down sick bank and leafing through our pimpin' hustle-bucks. Joey is the sort of dude who seems like he is always on the verge of either beating the shit out of you, or giving you a hug, in a precisely equal distribution of probability.

Oh yeah, up there I think is one of those moments where I was talking to someone while pretending to be Ryan North, poised in front of all his dinosaur merchandise. He would pretend to be me too, and brandish vivid tales about how he drew a lot of pages about a guy who likes candy corn or something, and possibly wore a hat at one point. Our marks were none the wiser to the ruse. You see, we play pranks as a thing we do.

Here Chris(!!!) and Joey and Ryan prepare for a panel discussion, comparing notes on how to be a hilarious bunch of outrageous motherfuckers.

By the way, is Dr. McNinja great? Uh let me think.


I eat cake which is shaped like a pork chop. You will have to take my word for it that that was the shape of the cake. Ryan is holding an alligator head for some reason, which is confusing.

Ryan is a really nice guy. I think being a really nice guy might be his super power or something. It's kind of a dumb super power and it makes it really easy to defeat him in the martial combats.

Also one of his powers is being very TALL.

Eventually I sat in the proximity of my own shit and pretended to not be Ryan for a while. I drew some stuff for people who liked my comic. (But not sick burns, I saved those for my foes.) Everybody who approached me was really cool. What can I say, everyone who likes my stuff is amazing almost by definition.

Jeffrey is the grand arch-magnate of Topatoco and is an exceptional human being as well. He and I once drew crude frogs that wore capes, once upon a slippery era long-sopped by time’s absorbent sponge. The Topatoco HQ is quite an impressive compound and looks like a wonderful place to do business. Jeffrey probably has one of the sweetest gigs in the world, possibly second only to what I do, which is basically nothing at all. I mean I draw stuff sometimes, but whatever.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The pot of gold at the end of the cultural rainbow...

Is me.

And anyone who chooses to stand up for diversity, strong civic spirit, and multi-cultural harmony in the community.

When I originally included this mural in Problem Sleuth, I found it on the internet and thought it was particularly striking. I had no idea at the time that it was physically located about 15 minutes from where I lived, in Cambridge MA.

Naturally I had to go celebrate its existence as well as my physical proximity to it by standing in front of it. Intrepid fellow diversity enthusiast Tyler came along too, and here you see him somewhat nonplussed by the mischievous stowaway clinging to his hapless personage.

Prior to discovering the mural was local, I had wondered how to get information on the artist in order to give credit. Now that is possible. Let us all bask in the majesty of David Fitcher's painterly vision.

There is an amazing amount of these "cultural urban murals" in the Boston area. Fichter's work is apparently everywhere, including two striking works of genius less than a block from my residence. I'll take a photo of those too some time.

But there is a lot of lesser talent glomming on to otherwise respectable city surfaces as well. Mr. Galvez's heart is in the right place, I suppose.

Fichter's stuff may be a little thematically silly, but at least it's very well executed. Galvez's shit is just fucking pandemonium. The composition is an airy, rambling hodgepodge of disagreeable-looking horseshit. These grotesque harbingers of diversity at once frenzy to stoke my nightmares, or whatever you call the type of dream you'd like to shake by the collar and backhand repeatedly. Where do I start with this thing?

1) I've never seen a man employ a conductor's baton and rollerskates to assist him in his quest for spare change.

2) Affable street walkers hustle up a buck on the lemon-lime road. Any takers? How about the kid to the left with the broken foot and the overalls 20 sizes too big for him?

3) This Village People understudy wears on his face the one emotion, regardless of race or creed, with which we are all intimately familiar: profound shame.

3.5) Random-ass black woman: check.

4) "What should I do with all this empty, blood-red space in the background? How about I just sprinkle in a few malingering ragdoll dipshits?"

5) It was probably a perfectly nice old lady this was referenced from. The decision to use this *particular* photo of her, and make her a dominating 9-foot fixture in the mural: DUBIOUS. She's probably been dead for years. Her legacy: BOUNDLESS, SOUL-PUMICING TERROR.

6) Is this some sort of black trucker vampire? Is this child in danger? I might suspect so, but she looks so sinister herself that she's likely his netherworldly superior.

7) I don't... I don't even know.

8) Punk rockers are a culture too. Get him in there. It reminds us that despite appearances, deep down we are all alike: harrowingly one-dimensional.

9) Other cultures can at times be quite flamboyant! This man has passionate feelings in his bosom, and they must take the shape of rhythm come hell or high water. He'd sooner cut out his heart than cease wailing on his bongos. If someone snuck up behind him and pulled his hat down over his head, can you really say you'd have the maturity to not laugh at his expense? The answer is no.

10) Fanciful headwear on a black woman: check.

11) Is this a culture? What sort of culture is it? Caucasians who wear togas while playing jazz? Are we saying that embarrassingly drunk people comprise a culture unto themselves? Memo to this guy: you are fired from Diversity.

12) Disturbing encroachment on chubbykid moneyshot: check.

13) And these people? Perhaps this man is a poor caricature of Ray Romano? I am going to guess that this family is vaguely Mediterranean due to the bit of chest hair poking out from the man's shirt to the right. The hairy dude also seems to be rather oily. Is it really TOO much to ask that our murals celebrating racial diversity not be subtly racist too? Additionally -- the woman appears to be trying her best to not cause me physical harm with her facial expression. She is not succeeding.

Also to the upper right, it looks like camera glare has obscured the Indian family riding their fucking magic carpet, thus sparing you a joke about them. THIS TIME.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


03/10/08 - 03/10/09.

3 detectives
365 days
1621 pages
1915 images
142 megabytes
45,000 words
0 sacred urns toppled
0 mystic ruins desecrated
0 hallowed tombs defiled

A couple hundred people tuned in on the first day. A couple hundred thousand tuned in on the last.

The beginning was humble in ways that go beyond a simple reader count. Humble might not even be the right word. The word's blade might need to be dulled further -- from something used to slice butter, to something used to ladle paste into the mouth of an infant.

I was wondering what sort of story to make, so I drew a detective on a blank canvas. Then I thought he should be in a room, of course. Probably a detective's office, because that's where detectives usually are. He needed a phone and a gun. Clearly those two items would alone suffice, I thought. The wall over there looked a little blank so I drew a safe. A window for ambience. A door for exit, which may or may not have been locked; I wasn't sure yet.

What I was also oblivious to was the two other detectives who would show up later, and to their adjacent offices. I was oblivious to the world of imagination, and the desk-made fort that would be its gateway. I didn't know the window lead there either, and I didn't know you could only get to that place I didn't know about if it was plugged in. I didn't know about the candy in his pocket, the dames in their dollhouse, the kingpin in his ship, or the weasel in his palace.

Those I's would be dotted by your suggestions, and the T's would be crossed by my reaction to them. It was a storytelling game of cat and mouse, and you presumably just finished reading the aftermath of our year-long, Tom and Jerry-style rampage through the house.

And if at the beginning you told me I would have a group of characters fight a single giant monster every day for almost six months, I would have told you... well, I would have told you that sounds awesome! But then I probably wouldn't have done it. Because I would have known I was going to do it. And what fun would that have been?

It's hard to believe it's done, I'm sure mostly for me personally. If you do the math, you'll note I produced an average of more than 5 images per day, every single day for that year-long stretch. In retrospect, it was a matter of routine inseparable from day to day existence. I didn't notice the effort, and I didn't notice the year. It wasn't a labor. It was just what I did.

But I guess it's more than just a shift in habitual momentum. There's a note of melancholy. These detectives won't be up to their antics anymore (unless I make deliberate exceptions to their retirement, of course). It seems strange to me that these characters have become so well defined in my mind, even though they've never uttered a single word. It was never supposed to be that way. It was just supposed to be about a cruddy-looking dude in his office.

But that said, I'm pretty excited to get working on something new. And maybe, if you're not all that busy, we could take the first step of this amazing new journey together.

Thanks for reading!

- Andrew.