Of Tooth And Claw. Of Blood And Stone.

Strange things happen to me when I travel. I basically suspend the need for regular sleep and go into a sort of survival mode fueled by adrenaline, alcohol and copious amounts of meat. I become a creature not of reason, but of instinct. I become… a BLOODWOLF! Also sometimes I am chased by them through airports. I am alternately one OF them or tormented BY them. It depends on how long my flight is delayed or when the last time I had any coffee was. Anyway, the underlying condition that brings on the Bloodwolves is called Plane Madness, and I promise that you do not wish it on your worst enemy (my worst enemies are the rival pack to the north known as Cave Wolf Clan).

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Plane Madness, scientists believe, stems from the unbelievable amount of horseshit you have to deal with in modern day air travel. Pat downs, porno scanners, oversold flights, lost checked bags, lost CARRY ON bags (seriously this happened to me once), missed connections, confusing terminals, other passengers, people in general… it’s all just maddening. Since I am traveling A LOT these days in order to peddle my wares and sundries at various comic’ed book type conventions, I am subject to the throws of Plane Madness more often than the average Bloodwolf human person.

The incredibly odd thing about my condition, and you may know this if you follow me on Twitter, is that in order to keep my tenuous grip on reality during the onset of Plane Madness I have to immerse myself in fictional scenarios that are somehow less terrible than the chaos that is actually happening all around me. Obviously a pack of blood-hungry wolves terrorizing the terminal is preferable to the realities of air travel, so The Bloodwolves were born.

I feel like I’ve over-explained this concept in a big, confusing mobius strip now, but I am still recovering from C2E2 in Chicago last weekend and my brain is not yet fully de-wolfed and re-brained yet. I had a lot of fun at the con. Thanks to all that came out and said hi, got a sketch or bought a thing. The guys from Explosm and I wrote a musical at a few different bars over the course of the weekend. Who knows if we’ll remember it all and actually write it down before the Bloodwolves devour our memories with their bone-magics in order to conceal their existence. Oh, you didn’t know they did that? Of course you didn’t. That’s how you know it worked.

COMMENTERS: Have you ever suffered from Plane Madness? What about Road Trip Tripping or Train Dementia? What about just general Travel Insanity? Only in sharing your experiences can you begin to understand the Bloodwolves’ plan for you.

I wrote this comic on my iPhone at 30,000 feet, and subsequently drew it on my iPad using Paper by 53 and an Adonit Jot Pro stylus. I pieced it together and added text in Photoshop when I got home. Other than that, I have no explanation for what the hell it’s all about. The Bloodwolves were guiding my hand.

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  1. I had Train Trip Dementia once. I stumbled on Ted Raimi and eagerly asked him if he was Keanu Reaves. This was in '00 after The Matrix but before Matrix 2 when I was a wee lad, but still. That's embarrassing.

  2. I don't know if this counts, but I actually once suffered from tram terrors. It was the tram tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, and due to filming or something the trams got backed up. What should have been fifteen minutes took almost two hours. Sitting on a tram. With a bunch of tourists. And a tour guide who ran out of jokes five minutes in. It was also hot out.

  3. I've had Road Trip Tripping before. When I met Josh, he lived 11 hours away, so there was plenty of time for me to go crazy.

    Also, the comic is _beautiful_. It looks like a thousand nymphs shat watercolors on your canvas as part of a spritely dance.

  4. I hate flying, so I distract myself as much as humanly possible. About four years ago, I had three flights in one day between Chicago and Eugene. Worst. Day. Ever. I'd rather drive halfway across the country than EVER do that again.

    But that's the humor of the United States Navy for you. >_<

  5. The amount of hassle now involved in commercial air travel in the US has pushed me to the point where I fly under protest, particularly if it's my own money involved. I'd rather take an additional day or two and drive.

    My most recent encounter with Airport Madness was going to/returning from JCCC2. Apparently, while we were all at sea drinking a lot and singing songs about office zombies and pirates, the TSA changed the rules regarding durable medical equipment in carry-ons, so when I went through at FLL, they pitched a fit about my BiPAP machine being still in my luggage (and just 8 days prior, I went through HOU with it in the bag without anyone even batting an eye). Grope. Disassemble luggage. Swab for residues. Run now-disassembled carry-on bag through again without BiPAP machine. Open other bag o' electronic goodies (power strip, cameras, label maker, iPod speakers) and rummage through that. Swab that for residues. On the checked-luggage side, we discovered upon returning home that TSA had tossed one of our 4 checked bags — the one that was primarily dirty laundry and interesting rocks Kim found.

    And then, once I'm through security and on the plane, I'm crammed into a seat that doesn't have enough room for my (tall side of normal but still normal-sized) legs. My knees are invariably crammed hard into the seatback in front of me. Since the airlines have started charging premium prices for bulkhead and exit-row seats in their never-ending effort to thoroughly piss off their customers, it's now even less fun.

    I don't need to be treated as a criminal every time I desire to go from point A to point B within the boundaries of the United States. I don't need to be stuffed into a space designed primarily for circus midgets or Roman busts. Therefore, I drive whenever possible. Already plotting the drive from Houston to Port Canaveral for JCCC3, actually. It's only 1100 miles each way…

  6. I thought for a moment that said "Train Dementors" and I was going to say yes, yes I HAVE had that problem. But then I saw it said "dementia", which–while probably closer to the truth–is not how I like to think of it.

  7. I generally travel pretty well, and the last few times I had to go any real distance children I was driving and wer involved so being anything less than fully coherent wasn't much of an option. Having said that, my husband recently joined the Canadian Forces and probably some time in the next month or so we are going to have to move our entire household, including two young kids and a very large dog (who still doesn't quite know what a leash is for or how it works) from BC to Ontario. So, like, the equivalent of moving from Seattle to Detroit, then a couple hours further east. By car.


    I may not survive the trip. If I do, though, I expect I will have LOADS of stories for this post.

    Although, now I think of it, there was that one trip where we played doctor at an accident site for the hour+ it took the bloody ambulance to arrive, followed by taking a nap on the side of the road in what seemed to be, in the dark, a convenient place to pull over and nearly getting run over by a train, followed by us finally making it to our destination only to stop for food and then fall asleep in our beer, in the middle of the restaurant– all told, the trip that would have normally taken about five hours ended up being closer to eighteen.

    Don't think wolves were involved in that one but there may have been dancing leprochauns for the last leg of it.

  8. I am a volunteer in northwest China. Every so often, I have to go to training events, and since I am a volunteer, I take the train instead of flying. This is usually about a 23-hour-long trip, but it's mitigated by the fact that the train has sleeper cars…unless of course the sleepers are sold out. Then, as I have had to do, you have to get "hard seats," which are…well, they're hard. Then you must seat on the aforementioned seats of hardness for 23 hours, upright, crammed into a tiny space with screaming children, smoking and drinking adults, and a gradually worsening sense of your own impending doom. The bathrooms are festering stinkholes where smell becomes a physical entity with a seeming grudge against your olfactory equipment.

    At first, you think "This isn't so bad. I can do this," but after an hour or so, reality sets in. By the 5th or 6th hour, you begin to panic. By the 10th or 11th hour you are weeping silently and rocking back and forth, holding yourself. By the 18th or 19th, laughing quietly to yourself and looking around shiftily, mumbling in a mixture of English and Chinese. By the 21st or 22nd, you are praying to the gods who have abandoned you to please just let you die.

    I'll take a governmental groping and bloodwolves any day. Especially the bloodwolves.

  9. If only the Bloodwolves would do their ecological duty and take out the sick and insane of the airport personnel the travel experience would be much improved due to the utter lack of remaining personnel.

  10. joel, how many times have i told you (none because i don't actually know you, but whatevs)
    each airport has it's own pack, some will accept you as a member of the pack, some will hunt you. You must either fight or flee, if you fight, you either win or die, but if you do win, you are accepted.
    you must use the traveling-madness to fuel your victory


  11. Yeah I'm pretty sure I get plane madness everytime I fly, especially late at night.

    Also now I know where those blood curdling screams on the show floor last weekend came from.

  12. I work at TIA [Tampa Airport] moving cars for the Rental companies,..I deal with "Madness by Proxy" or "Osmosi-Madness" on a daily basis. Trust me Plane Madness is contagious to the extreme. I get attitude from the people arriving off the planes about the rental car,..I get attitude from those dropping off the car,… I get attitude from people [both arriving and leaving] for having to deal with the traffic,…I get attitude from people [again both arriving and leaving] about the screenings. I actually had to tell a person a few weeks back that I was a "minimum wage working shlub" who had no power to speed up their checkout of the car, no power to speed up the screening, and no power to hold the plane for them [this is not a joke he actually told me to contact the Plane and tell them that he was going to be late because of all the idiots working at TIA so they needed to hold the flight]. I think, thanks to you, that in the future I shall inform people who get too far on my nerves [I can accept some attitude from people because I am in a hospitality/tourism job so I do try to be helpful when I can ] that as a member of the "Shinning Tooth Clan" I am unable to help them further then walk off,…maybe this will appease the Bloodwolves at TIA enough for them to lessen the impact of Plane Madness on me,…. or at the very least make me laugh so I can atleast enjoy the Madness some,…..

  13. The last time I flew, I had… I guess it would be more Airport Madness than Plane Madness, but yeah. I was supposed to take a flight from New Hampshire, which was delayed for several hours, then cancelled AFTER we were seated on the plane. Arranged a flight leaving from Boston instead, took a taxi there, then waited through several more hours of delays, cancellations and changing flights. After I was finally seated on a plane AGAIN, we were told that all flights going south or west of Boston were cancelled for the rest of the day. Went to get my luggage back, and it was somehow lost EVEN THOUGH THE PLANE NEVER WENT ANYWHERE. Did I mention it was 90+ degrees that day, and the air conditioning in the airport was broken? I called my work to tell them I wouldn't be in the next day due to still being several states away, and I'm pretty sure they thought I was high, because by that point I was kind of incoherent, laughing at everything and I literally couldn't remember what city I was in. That was in 2000, and between that and what I've heard about the current levels of security insanity, I haven't felt any desire to fly since.

  14. I've….never been on a plane. Not enough booze in the world to get me on a plane. That, and I can't carry any weapons. 9/11 could have been averted had one of the passengers been carrying a gun. But that's just me.

    • How do you separate the passengers carrying guns to hijack the plane from the passengers carrying guns to avoid a hijacking?

      But that's just me…

      • Bad guys have eye patches. That's just common knowledge. Also, no one tries to hijack a plane when some of the passengers are armed.

        • Right. I keep forgetting the obvious outcome that if everyone has a gun nobody will shoot.

          Like in all those fantasy novels, where everyone carries a sword. No one swordfights.

          • There's this rumor that everyone was so polite in the 1920's because you never knew who had a gun, and would take an insult a little too close to heart.

          • Quote: "fantasy" novels. Not everyone can use a sword as well as the next guy. Not true with a gun. At close range, like inside of an airplane, it won't be hard to hit the guy. But I do suppose they will have to re-inforce the inside of the plane so you don't shoot a hole in it.
            Also, have you ever heard of the MAD doctrine? That also works outside of nuclear warfare.

            • Ok, I can't tell if you're just trying to instigate here, but the MAD Doctrine?! Really!? You realize that most terrorists who hijack a plane are planning to die themselves, right? The whole premise of Mutually Assured Destruction is the threat of, well, Mutual Destruction. If your enemy doesn't fear death, then there is no threat to them. Allowing passengers to have guns on a plane is just going to ensure that some redneck crazy guy will shoot a hole in the cabin (killing everyone) when the first brown-skinned person gets up to pee. Gun-toting crazy people are the reason why the rest of us have to endure the agony of airport security.

              As you might have guessed, I hate flying. The last time I got on a plane (in Canada, BTW), I set off the metal detector (every damn time!) so I had to take my belt and shoes off, had a pat down, including a very close inspection of the underwire in my bra, and when they still weren't satisfied, they put me in the full body scanner. It's like a physical assault, and we're supposed to smile and be grateful for the privilege. I agree with several above comments – if I can drive the distance, I don't care if it takes 2 days, I'll avoid flying.

      • Just let the pilot have a gun then. Even if it turns out he's a mole, what's he gonna do with it, hold himself at gunpoint and hijack his own plane?

  15. It would be best if they just gave every passenger a gun, but the cost of a ticket is enough without having to pay for a gun as well. Who knows, though: the system may pay itself off in due time.

    Who knows? The Doctor knows, that's Who.
    Or Mr.T.

  16. I'm no frequent flyer–get on a plane perhaps once or twice every couple of years. But I have experienced two cases of plane madness and/or airport insanity, both prior to 9/11:

    1) A 3-day series of flights from hell trying to get from upstate New York to Denver near Christmas time. Why 3 days? Because a) the plane broke at a Cleveland connection and b) snowy weather didn't cooperate in Denver. To make matters worse, upon eventually arriving home I learned my grandmother had just passed away.

    2) After having attended a brother's wedding in Montana, I was returning to Oklahoma City from Bozeman. Engrossed in a book when I thought my flight had been called, I didn't realize until after we left the gate or had gotten into the air that I was actually bound for Dallas. I still blame the airport for having a confusing gate set up and the airline gate agent for cheerily accepting my boarding pass without checking.

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