Learning To Love Again

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Do you live in or around Austin, TX? Come see me and Dave from Cyanide & Happiness and Randy from Something*Positive at Wizard World Austin this weekend (Saturday and Sunday only). We’ll be at the Dragon’s Lair booth #938 selling merch and doing sketches. Here’s some more info! 

I absolutely refused to give Arrow a chance due to its unfortunate pedigree. Being a DC/Warner Bros super hero “reimagining” on The CW and starring nothing but underwear model gorgeous people set off all of my “DON’T WATCH! DON’T WATCH!” alarms. Then, in a moment of weakness, I watched the pilot on Netflix. 3 days later I had binged the entire first season. 3 days after that I was caught up on season 2 via Hulu and The CW app on my iPad (both horrific viewing experiences when compared to Netflix). I gotta say, I was wrong.

Arrow is super enjoyable. That is to say, it is CONSISTENT. If you like the pilot, you will like every subsequent episode just as much, and several you will like quite a bit more. Everything good and bad about Arrow is present from the word “Go” and it keeps a pretty even keel throughout. The stars are far better actors than you’d expect from the CW, the writing is above average for a super-soap, the writers are obviously not scrambling to fit a bunch of loose plot threads together (it feels like they actually have a plan, but leave room for new ideas), the FX are not cheesy, the cinematography is better than most cable action dramas and (something I was not expecting to notice or care about) the fight choreography is quite interesting. There’s a lot of close combat (it’s not all arrows from afar) and the producers have obviously spent some time developing a fighting style for the main characters that plays well on TV without being overblown or unrealistic.

All of that said, there are moments of soapy-cheese (usually between Oliver and Laurel), sometimes the villains or the guest stars are not on level with the core cast acting-wise (but rarely if ever Tom “Wait… does… Clark… smell… a fart… or… is… he… just… trying… to… convey… emooooootion?”  Welling horrible), and… no, that’s about it. There just isn’t much to dislike about Arrow at all.

One of the aspects of Arrow that I’m particularly enjoying (something that Smallville failed miserably at), is how they are integrating characters from the wider DC universe in clever and subtle ways. They plant seeds episodes in advance for big character appearances in ways that would go totally unnoticed by non-nerds, but also won’t infuriate their core nerd audience. When they do introduce a larger than life character, they find a way to distill them down to their basic elements without totally reinventing them (since the Arrow-verse seems to be one without Metahumans or actual superpowers so far). I don’t want to get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but we are doing a SUPER SPOILERY THREAD over in the Fancy Bastard Facebook Group (newbies HERE and season 2 discussion HERE).

So, if you liked the idea of Smallville but wished it were 1000% less dumb, or 100% more like Batman Begins, I strongly recommend checking out Arrow. Season 1 is streamable on Netflix and Season 2 (which is about half-ish over) is available via Hulu (free version) and the CW streaming iOS app (though episodes are being removed as they get older). It feels good to enjoy a damn super hero on TV again.

Buying holiday type gifts for a special Harry Potter Fan? If you haven’t seen my wife’s Quidditch necklaces, you probably should is alls I’m sayin’.

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Graphic Knowledge MagazineI did an interview with Graphic Knowledge Magazine (Issue 2) (available here for iOS devices) about the origins of HE, the recent shift to storyline/character based comics, and the ups and downs of this weird job I have. I felt like I was super honest and there’s probably some good info in there for anyone looking to do their own thing for a living.






Comments (22)

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Don’t do it, Josh! It’ll destroy you!

4 replies · active 81 weeks ago

don’t you worry about a thing, this comic would never, ever, EVER actually happen in a million years. Smallville was dead to me about 3 episodes into season 4, and I will carry that grudge to my fucking grave. This comic is basically libel. Or slander. I forget which is which.
If it’s spoken, it’s slander. If it’s written, it’s libel. Spoken and slander both start with S, so that’s how I remember it.

Smallville also starts with S. Draw your own conclusions.

Hielario's avatar

Hielario · 81 weeks ago

And if i use a megaphone?
HandiGoat's avatar

HandiGoat · 82 weeks ago

I’m surprised you lasted up to season 4. To be fair, I don’t think the problem was bad writing, it’s just that Superman is a terrible character to have any kind of long-term story arcs for. He’s basically a god (time-travel anyone?), so trying to create any kind of conflict gets ridiculous after a while (“OHEMGEE, YOU have a chunk of a planet that blowed up on the other side of the galaxy?! ME TOO!”).
Jeff's avatar

Jeff · 82 weeks ago

Which of the three sister witches was a total B-Word? I bet it was the one whose name started with a ‘P’!
I stopped after the Huntress. I started to feel like we were treading into Cape territory after that – and I’m a LIFE-LONG comic geek.
I dunno. I might try it again. When my girlfriend’s not home and the shades are drawn.

1 reply · active 81 weeks ago

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Pikkabird · 81 weeks ago

Just…gloss over the Huntress episodes (there’s only 3 in Season 1, and no word of her in S2 so far). It’s SO MUCH BETTER outside of the Huntress episodes.
Matt.'s avatar

Matt. · 82 weeks ago

“Everything good and bad about Arrow is present from the word “Go” and it keeps a pretty even keel throughout.” <– My enjoyment of Arrow is totally summed up by this statement.

The wife, who is the resident comic book nerd, does not watch Arrow but will occasionally walk by and go, “Oh cool they’re introducing so-and-so”, to which I have to respond, “Um… sure…” Which is to say, it’s quite enjoyable for the those with little comic book background who just want their stories.

1 reply · active 82 weeks ago

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bubujin_2 · 82 weeks ago

Yeah that’s me. I read some review of Arrow elsewhere that caught my interest and so started watching it online before the start of the second season. And since the comic book character was only dimly known to me, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the show by not being previously familiar with the Arrow-verse.
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Richter12x2 · 82 weeks ago

The unfortunately problem I had with Arrow is that it made me interested in the comic books. Expecting the comic book reboot to be similar to the Arrow series, I was very disappointed. 😛 Joel sums it up very well by saying Arrow is a lot more Batman Begins.
There’s some sexual stuff, not much. Mostly its just a ton of violence that I wouldnt want my kid to ingest.
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Bruceski · 82 weeks ago

I’ve caught a couple of recent episodes, and have nicknames for the characters like “the ugly one because she’s a nerd in glasses” and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Harvey Dent.”

ICBINHD may be a completely legit character from the comic, but he still feels like a cheap knock-off.

3 replies · active 81 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 82 weeks ago

that should be “the ugly one ONLY because she’s a nerd in glasses”
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merovin · 81 weeks ago

I don’t think they ever even hinted that Felicity is ugly. She’s just awkward.
Less the teen movie girl who takes off her glasses before prom and is suddenly gorgeous, more more Golden Retriever puppy still tripping over its feet.
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dralou · 81 weeks ago

Well, it would if Golden Retriever puppies could make unintended sexual innuendos in about every sentences…

But yeah, it never occured to me she was supposed to be “ugly BECAUSE she is a nerd and wears glasses”. Personally, I think she’s cuter/sexier than Laurel.

I’m happy to hear the second season is good too, I was kinda afraid it would go downhill pretty quick.

The moment that hooked me on Arrow came pretty early; when Diggle started to suspect that this spoiled rich kid who kept disappearing on him was actually up to something – and then Oliver trusted him enough to let him in on his secret identity. If it were Smallville, Diggle would have actually seen him and recognized him – then he would have gotten hit on the head and conveniently forget. Seriously, everyone on that show was suffering massive head trauma, all so they could adhere to the bullshit “no tights, no flights” rule.
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mouse · 80 weeks ago

I do hate the CW app, but discovered (for the android version anyway), that if I closed the app as soon as a commercial started and reopened it and hit play again, I could skip commercials. That made it much more enjoyable than watching it on the computer which had no way whatsoever to skip them and had a tendency to play the same old navy commetcial four times in a row every single commercial break.

1 reply · active 80 weeks ago

I was streaming from my iPad to the Apple TV via Airplay and found that every time it went to commercial, or rather tried to come BACK from commercial Airplay would quit and the CW app would glitch to where I could not restart the episode without first starting a different episode then going back to the episode I was watching (it only saved my place about 50% of the time) then restarting airplay. It was a fucking ordeal.

Please Mr. Postmuggle

comfyconDid you miss my ComfyCon panel? Did you miss all of ComfyCon? Did you not know that ComfyCon was a free, online convention where many of your favorite online comics artists did live panels in their pajamas? Well, you can catch my panel, #PanelRoulette, archived here and check out the rest of the watchable goodies here.

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Do you live in or around Austin, TX? Come see me and Dave from Cyanide & Happiness and Randy from Something*Positive at Wizard World Austin this weekend (Saturday and Sunday only). We’ll be at the Dragon’s Lair booth selling merch and doing sketches.

You too can lick the back of Harry Potter’s face every time you pay that one bill that doesn’t offer online payment processing!

COMMENTERS: Given the option to take my family and jump universes, I would give up boring-ass, physics-based Earth-1 for the Wizarding World in a house elf heartbeat. So long, Internet and cellphones; hello, magic and creatures and flying around on brooms and children constantly in life threatening peril. That’s just my bag. Which fully realized fictional world would you take up permanent residence in?  

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Dean's avatar

Dean · 82 weeks ago

Two T’s in Gringott’s.
Gensokyo! I’ll just need to learn how to fly and shoot magic bullets from random objects
Bek's avatar

Bek · 82 weeks ago

Obviously Josh needs to read more Discworld, particularly “Going Postal”!
Starfleet. Without question. Probably the 24th Century for holodeck reasons.
Varmint's avatar

Varmint · 82 weeks ago

Ah shoot, I dunno… Planescape, maybe? Sigil was an unusually stable fantasy locale, the kind of place where you could set up a business and pretty much not be bothered if you didn’t want to be, and the town was lousy with adventurers if you had an odd job that needed to be done. Plus travel in the City of Doors was easy enough if you wanted a change of scenery. It basically gave you access to every world beneath the D&D umbrella, plus plain old vanilla Earth if you ever got homesick.
Greg's avatar

Greg · 82 weeks ago

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bubujin_2 · 82 weeks ago

I’ve long been a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s world of Pern. To ride and be psychically linked to a flying and teleporting dragon would be most awesome. Shards!
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PokeyPuppy · 82 weeks ago

Second panel Joel is fricking adorable. And I think I’d go with Rowling’s world or Diane Duane’s as @RDW0409 suggested (the Young Wizards series is seriously great, I agree).
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Lurkie · 82 weeks ago

Can I ride shotgun with Hiro Protagonist for pizza delivery? Pern is great, and even Riverworld sounds amazing, but both a little too Luddite for my tastes…
Pokémon in a heartbeat.

Uncancelling The Adrunkalypse

This is taken from a Fancy Digital Sketch I did for Fancy Bastard David Lewis, who asked for “The HijiNKS ENSUE cast’s entry into the Pacific Rim Jaeger program.”

I posted a few more Fancy Digital sketches on my Tumblr (here and here). If you are still waiting on a sketch, you are a wonderful and patient person who will be rewarded very soon with a weird drawing like the one above.

I might post a few more of these sketches as Lofi’s depending on how they turn out.

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R. W. · 85 weeks ago

Jaeger Bomb would make an awesome tshirt.
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DuckAmuck · 84 weeks ago

I imagine if you get the Kaiju monsters drunk enough, they’ll have to stop wreaking havoc and start throwing up instead.

1 reply · active 84 weeks ago


Gravity Sickness

I have a new store NEW STORE new store NEW STORE!!!

The new HE store is live at explosm! There are new signed prints and posters (previously only available at conventions), and for the first time I’m offering signed books! More info HERE.

 I saw Gravity last night and I was all :O the entire time. If you are interested in my more in depth thoughts on the film, please head over to the SUPER SPOILERY Gravity thread on the Fancy Bastard Facebook Group.

Potentially mild Gravity spoiler in the next sentence…. Ok, so was that a horror movie where the monster was momentum? Or inertia? Or possibly… GRAVITY?!? WHUT?! DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!!!

Either way, I really enjoyed it. Reminded me of Aronofsky’s The Fountain except for the linear storyline that made sense. It was beautifully shot, totally immersive and allowed you JUST enough time to not quite catch your breath between gaspable moments. It plays with the kind of suspense that nearly becomes stress, but never quite makes you so uneasy that you want to leave the room. I give it two bloody thumb nubs up.

COMMENTERS: What movie has provoked the biggest physical reaction (ie raised heart rate, jumping out of your seat, actual tears, dizziness, etc.) in you? 

UPDATE ON THE FANCY DIGITAL SKETCH DRIVE: If you are still waiting on your Fancy Digital Sketch, I am SUPER BACKLOGGED on these. I am very sorry it’s taking so long. I am working through them, but if you need yours urgently, feel free to let me know via email.

Have you seen my wife’s Etsy store, “Science and Fiction?” Check out her Starfleet pips choker

Star Trek Starfleet Pips choker Necklace Etsy


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I seriously had my hands to my mouth for most of the movie. It felt like a ride.
TJ "Kiltman"Anderson's avatar

TJ “Kiltman”Anderson · 87 weeks ago

The first time I saw saving private ryan…that opening 25 min Normandy invasion sequence was extremely intense.. haven’t seen gravity yet.
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TJ “Kiltman”Anderson · 87 weeks ago

Shaving Ryans privates… Rule#34.

i am 12.

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Carlos A. · 87 weeks ago

Some people weren’t happy with it: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/poking-hol…
Danger, Danger, Spoilers and science in link.
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petsinwinter · 86 weeks ago

Pokemon: The First Movie made me cry but +I was like 6 at the time
Candace's avatar

Candace · 86 weeks ago

Martin Scorsese’s ’91 remake of Cape Fear starring Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte. Robert De Niro was completely and utterly terrifying in the role of Max Cady, and I spent the entire movie alternately on the edge of my seat, and cowering in my seat grabbing onto my friend next to me while squealing in terror.

I believe that may still be the most frightening, chilling movie I have ever seen. (I have not seen Gravity yet.) I would say that Scorsese topped Hitchcock with Cape Fear, and that is no mean feat. (Of course, Hitchcock didn’t have De Niro.)

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Varmint · 86 weeks ago

Probably the climax of Back to the Future (do I even need to say that spoilers follow for a movie released in 1985?). The whole race to get the Deloreon some juice from the lightning striking the clock tower while everything that can go wrong does go wrong still keeps me in suspense on some level even after all this time, despite repeated viewings.

The two minutes immediately afterward, with the wide shot of Doc Brown walking through the wreckage of the whole aftermath dumbfounded before he suddenly runs down the street yelling in triumph as the horn section plays a few bars of the orchestral theme, still make me want to involuntarily pump my fist. It’s possibly my favorite movie moment of all time.

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BrerBear · 86 weeks ago

I suffer from extreme acrophobia so i will give gravity a wide berth. And don’t come at me with “you lose you sense of height at a certain altitude”-bullshit. i know exactly how high and how long i will be falling 😀
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Scarlettb · 86 weeks ago

I almost passed out during The Dark Knight. I saw it on an IMAX screen, and we sat HELLA close (not my choice). When he jumped off the building at the beginning, I had to put my head between my knees.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 86 weeks ago

I had to consciously supress my physiological response to “Headhunters” (featuring Jaime Lannister) because I was donating platelets at the time. They’ll probably need to ban “Gravity.”

There was some sort of excessive fluid build up in my eyes watching “Pay it Forward.”

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Hotsauce · 86 weeks ago

Gravity: Two Hours of “So you have a thing about heights, do you?”
“Angular Momentum” should have been the title according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. I have not seen the movie and likely won’t.
Im not making fun, but I laughed out loud imagining someone crying that “inconsolable child cry” in a movie theater.
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Bruceski · 86 weeks ago

I’m not sure if this counts since it was after the fact and due to external issues, but Jurassic Park scarred me for ten years. The movie was freaky and awesome and probably something I shouldn’t have seen as a 10-year-old kid but who cares it was CG dinosaurs. Unfortunately I had sleep apnea (undiagnosed at the time) and as a result had major sleepwalking problems where I’d be awake but my brain would still be running in dreamland.

Now imagine when this occurs during a nightmare. I was in bed, and there was a TV hovering at the foot of my bed showing the scariest parts of the movie. I got up, turned off the TV, and went to the bathroom. On the way I had to pass my playroom, and the moon in the window was casting a shadow on the wall that looked like a raptor. Now when half-asleep that means you’re also half-awake: I was able to tell myself it was just the shadow of a robin or something, and my mind playing tricks on me. Then the shadow turned its head towards the doorway and lept.

Until I left that house for college, no matter how many daylight hours I spent looking at things rationally, if I had to pee during the night I went past that room at a sprint. I knew it wasn’t real but I couldn’t take that chance.

2 replies · active 86 weeks ago

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Zee · 86 weeks ago

This made me laugh so hard. But to give you some ammunition to fire back at me, anything featuring Slenderman, whether games or videos, makes me unable to sleep properly at night. I’m 32 years old, and I am incredibly jaded about horror. I can watch any horror movie you put in front of me, and come out okay. I played Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and while I will agree that it was very scary WHILE PLAYING, I had no nightmare issues. Same goes for many of what most people call the scariest movies. It is why I am not a fan of horror genre. I am so rarely scared that I just can’t enjoy it.

But I had repeated sightings of a very waifish, humanlike shadow in the hallway of my childhood home when I was little. It was in the corner of my eye, when I sat at the computer at night. I would turn around, and there’d be nothing, but I could see it in my peripheral vision. There wouldn’t even be a shadow there, either. It happened well into my adulthood. I have had no episodes of hallucinations, did not do drugs, still don’t, and have not had this happen to me in any other location, nor under any other circumstance. So, with that deeply disturbing phenomena ingrained into my formative years, with no rational explanation, Slendy scares the F**K out of me.

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 86 weeks ago

Laugh away. I loved the movie, and if not for the sleepwalking any nightmares would have been short-lived. These days my brain tends to make up its own horror. “Hey, what if in this video game that has nothing to do with being scary you turned around and there was a monster behind you?” “Shut up brain, I’m going to sleep after this. Why’d you have to do that?”
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 86 weeks ago

Kill Bill 2 – buried alive. I swore I felt my lungs stop working.

The Descent – not the monsters. The scene where the one gal gets stuck. If I were to go caving, THAT is where I would suffocate and die.

Monsters Inc – yes, seriously. Every time the kid screams it makes me cry.

1 reply · active 86 weeks ago

That reminds me of the scene in the Ewok movie where the kid gets trapped under the surface of the water. That scared the shit out of my for at least 5 years afterwards. I remember there was a time that I wouldnt evet go completely under the surface of the water in a swimming pool after seeing that.

Re: Monsters Inc. I know what you mean. Boo’s terrified and anguished screaming when she’s strapped in the chair are a little too realistic, especially considering how often I have seen that movie with my own daughter who was basically Boo’s age at the time.

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bix · 86 weeks ago

I watched a documentary about Chinese foot binding during an anthropology class that made me pass out. I had never passed out before and had no idea what was wrong with me, but watching close ups of real women’s feet after they had been unwrapped was so disturbing that I got nauseous, followed by tunnel vision, followed by blacking out and falling out of my chair. The odd thing to me is that my body decided to shut down rather than my brain just telling me to stop looking at the screen.
Shayne's avatar

Shayne · 86 weeks ago

Million Dollar Baby. She broke her neck. Died. Movie over.

I was shaking with anger when I left the theater.

Chelsea's avatar

Chelsea · 86 weeks ago

I saw The Woman in Black in a crowded theater and basically cowered in my seat the entire time. It’s hella atmospheric and the jump scares abound – the audience was totally feeding off each others’ fear. It was an hour and a half of shocked screams, nervous laughter, and relieved exhales. A truly excellent time.

Also…Up. The first five minutes of Up. Goddammit, Pixar. *sob*

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bubujin_2 · 86 weeks ago

Three films come to mind:

1) Star Wars (IV). Saw it live when it first came out in 1977 at the Cooper Theater in Denver–curved screen and a decent (for the day) sound system. So when the battleship came zooming from seemingly overhead it was a totally visceral moment and quite the ride to the very end.

2) Some sort of IMAX like theater at a state fair or some such. It was just short, wild clips of flying, riding a roller coaster, and other high-speed actions. There were no seats in the theater so you’re standing up and getting the sensation of falling or moving with rises and falls of the POV action. So weird.

3) Rocky Horror Picture Show–simply for the outrageous film itself but mostly for the frantic audience participation.

Away we Go – when Chris Messina is talking about his wife and their kids,(SPOLIER: She can’t have kids but they keep trying.) I just about lost it. Which is of course followed with Mya Rudolph wondering if she’ll be a good parent, followed by them finding their home, roll credits…..I had to go into the kitchen for ” a beer”, mostly to pull myself together.

The original The Amityville Horror Horror, saw it when I was ten and didn’t sleep for a week.

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Frostpaws · 86 weeks ago

Call me a monster if you like, but dammit, I laughed uncontrollably in the first 15 mimutes of Saving Private Ryan. I was on a date too, so that didnt go so well. She did give
Me another chance, though.
Daemnor's avatar

Daemnor · 26 weeks ago

Final Destination – I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie, trying to alter the probabilities on the accidents.

Also, for some reason… any time a character is underwater/around poisonous gas/must be silent, I hold my breath. Every. Single. Time.

Think Outside The Bill

I am a monster. A pun monster. Someday I will answer for my crimes, but today is not that day. For you see, the law enforcement agency that polices pun crimes is currently furloughed all to shit as part of the US Government Shut(The Club)down.

David Willis appears courtesy of Dumbing of Age (a thing that was MY idea), and by way of Cybertron.


NYCC 2013

I will be at New York Comic Con Next weekend (10/10) with Cyanide and Happiness at booth 2247!

UPDATE ON THE FANCY DIGITAL SKETCH DRIVE: If you are still waiting on your Fancy Digital Sketch, I am SUPER BACKLOGGED on these. I am very sorry it’s taking so long. Doing 50+ original pieces of finished art always sounds easy, until you agree to do it and take money for it. I am working through them, but if you need yours urgently, feel free to let me know via email.

Have you seen my wife’s Etsy store, “Science and Fiction?” Check out her Tetris earrings!

Tetris Earings!


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Yo quiero Taco Executive SUPREME!
No matter what, the Burrito Bureaucracy will hinder the decision
With their 5 beefy layers of paperwork; damn them!
It’s a Tacocalypse!
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 88 weeks ago

Taco Bell government – Everything with cheese sauce! Can we replace people with something that’s actually only 10% people? Who needs health care when there’s more cheese sauce! Real people need health care, 10% people only need more cheese sauce.

Did I mention there was cheese sauce instead of taxes?

lou's avatar

lou · 88 weeks ago

Unicron, eh? Did you or Dave watch the Transformers Prime finale?

1 reply · active 87 weeks ago

I think I watched the whole series. It wasnt my favorite, but it was something to watch.
StephC's avatar

StephC · 88 weeks ago

Anyone else *immediately* get the Armour Hotdog song in their head?