Use Your Environment

I usually watch movies on my iPad when on an airplane, and I would always get a sore neck trying to stare down at an uncomfortable angle when the iPad was sitting on the tray. I eventually devised a system (not unlike the one portrayed in the comic above) that involved a piece of string, a… squeezy drawstring thing(?) and a folding wire book stand [see it in action HERE]. Depending on the type of plane I’m on, I can usually toss this contraption on the seat in front of me without the seat’s occupant noticing.

Above all else it keeps me somewhat comfortable in what is essentially the most uncomfortable place in (or above) the world, and prevent me from looking like the twisted, contorted, misshapen business golem next to me who’s trying to make all the colors pretty on a very important spreadsheet with the laptop sitting on his sternum, the screen resting flat on the tray and his elbows angled up at his ears with his deformed, birdlike talons pecking away at the keys of his… probably a Lenovo or a Fujitsu or some other corporate issued business bullshit laptop.

COMMENTERS: How do you maximize your travel comfort, or rather minimize your travel misery (since that’s really the best you can hope for)? Do you go full PJ’s and slippers? I bet you do. You totally do.


1) I will be at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle (March 28-30, 2014) with my good friend David Willis and I will be putting on my first ever solo comicon panel!

It will be all about The Experiment, and I am SUPER excited. I did a version of this talk at Bumbershoot this year and it went over really well, but in order for it to be successful I need BUTTS IN SEATS! SEATBUTTS! If you’re coming to the con, Seattle Fancy Bastards, you GOTTA COME to this panel. I am also doing a live drawing panel with my Cyanide & Happiness friends. More info on both panels HERE

2) Just in tine for Valentimes, my wife made a Kissing Pacman and Ms. Pacman necklace. She would also be happy to make it in double Pacmens or Pacladies configurations.

Kissing Pacman Ms Pacman Necklace Etsy

She’s also updated her Game Of Thrones house necklaces to include House Targaryen (in addition to House Stark and House Lannister).

3) Part 3 of an interview I did with The Anglerfish is up now! Here’s their Tumblr and their website.

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  1. On long-distance flights I take 2 inflatable pillows with me, one neck pillow, and one rectangular one which I use for either back support, or if I'm on a United 747, to sit on (seriously, their seats are like concrete).

  2. My last flight I watched Wal•E too!

    The plane had no seat back TVs and the warning message for lifejackets under the seat was written in some kind of moon language – too many accents over vowels. This was between Toronto and Orlando. I was nervous.

    • I was flying home from Canada last year and the plane had an inflight TV system with different channels and everything. First time I'd seen one of those. Anyway, the first thing I turned on was a documentary about a Korean Air plane crash. I left it on to see if anyone else noticed.

      The craziest thing was the plane crashed and killed everyone on it because the pilot was an ex-military jet pilot who didnt know how to fly commercial planes (they give retired vets "prestigious" jobs in Korea apparently, whether they deserve them or not) and even though the co-pilot knew that the pilot was LITERALLY CRASHING THE PLANE he said NOTHING because it would have been disrespectful to question his captain.

      They've since implemented a "if the captain is crashing the plane, you should probably say something and not worry about being disrespectful" clause.

  3. Nope, no full PJs here but when I do fly (and usually it's international) I take a pair of slippers and stretchy socks that were comped to me on an airline some time back when I somehow managed to snag an upgrade and a little traveler's kit came with it. Oh, and the eye shades and sometimes ear plugs. Those can really help on those 'cross the pond 9+ hour flights.

  4. I immediately take my shoes off – for me it makes the journey several times more comfortable. Also with a neck pillow, I actually put on the front of my neck rather than round the back. It means I can rest my chin upon it and sleep without that annoying 'head-drop'. Yeah I tend to look a little crazy, but it's worth it.

    • I take mine off sometimes since my backpack and large shoe'd feet typically take up all of the space under the seat in front of me. If I put all that nonsense under my legs (or behind my legs, whatever) I actually have some room to stretch my toes.

      • I'm pretty much only ever flying transatlantic, so it's shoes off and watch all of the films on the seat back that I can. I'm sad enough to get excited about what might be on in advance, which reminds me, I need to check Virgin's schedules for March/April… 🙂

  5. Origami. I have a portfolio that holds the paper and makes a pretty good working surface on my lap. I've learned to avoid the pretty foil paper – that stuff makes a loud crinkle that disturbs everyone (even me). I can get lost in a difficult folding sequence and lose all track of time. It is also therapeutic for canceling out those oh-no-I-am-going-to-miss-my-connection-and-the-blood-wolves-will-have-won thoughts.

    But really, idle time is your worst enemy. We all turn into cranky toddlers on airplanes. I bring a whole grab bag of activities, in case I get bored of what I am doing and need something new – quick before the tantrum starts.

  6. I just bring a book or a magazine. Y'know, something on paper? Last time I flew, I had that week's comics, an issue of "Asimov's Science Fiction" and a Will Eisner biography I'd bought during the visit. The flight was only about 90 minutes, so I read a chapter of the Eisner bio and spent the rest of the time watching the lights below.

  7. I prefer my phone to an ipad, since it's, you know, the correct aspect ratio for most films. I also spend a lot of time playing Me and My Katamari. When I get uncomfortable I close my eyes and listen to the Beatles until (if) I fall asleep.

  8. I'm terrible at flying, and recently my only flights have been 4 hours. I'm all about the classical music station to ease into the sky and onto the ground. And then whatever bullshit they decide to show me on the plane.
    Even the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is a terrible, terrible movie.
    And I always have something available that I can sew, which will also calm my nerves, even if it doesn't look pretty after sewing through turbulance.

  9. I only travel on business, and that business is an installation business. As such, I tend to pick up a nice, thick book. Gives me something to read whilst stuck in the airport awaiting connecting flights and something to do after putting in yet another sixteen hour day in some strange place. Just plain too tired after that sort of day to go out on the town, yanno?

    Books, always books.

  10. Hey!! I'm reading this on a Lenovo Bullshit Laptop!! The Company Overseers just upgraded from the Fujitsu Twelvepoundbrick…

  11. I just read books on my phone or watch some of the plane's many entertainment option from the screen on the back of my seat. (I don't fly much though, I guess that stuff could get boring if you ran out of things to watch before you ran out of flights.)

  12. Sweatpants and fuzzy socks, if it’s a transoceanic flight. If I’m going on winter vacation, I wear a dress or shorts with tights that are warm enough to keep me comfortable in my 20˚F departure city but that I can take off before I land at my 85˚F destination. I don’t have an iPad, but comfortable headphones are essential for 2+ hour flights. If it’s shorter than that, I’ll just nap or look out the window and maybe write a bit.

    I’ve tried using my 15″ laptop in coach before. It’s not worth it. There isn’t room to tilt the screen back to a viewable angle while also being able to type.

  13. "I usually watch movies on my iPad when on an airplane, and I would always get a sore neck trying to stare down at an uncomfortable angle when the iPad was sitting on the tray."

    Joel I don't know quite how to break this to you, but they sell iPad cases/stands that tilt.

    • I hate to break it to you but I'm 5'11". There is case or stand that can make looking down at a seatback tray table comfortable, regardless of the angle of the device. Moving said device to roughly head height is the only way.

    • I'm only 5'1", and I have the same problem as Joel. My neck is seriously screwed up, and has been for years, and looking down at my iPad screen at airplane table height for long periods of time is murder on my neck. Sometimes I have to just put it away and lean back or look out the window for a while to unkink my neck.

      I'm liking Joel's solution, may have to try that next time.

  14. I have had to fly a lot lately and really the best thing is to take a decongestant before the flight and hope that you trip balls in a half-asleep state for the whole thing.

  15. I somehow feel obligated to say that after the flght you should take off your shoes and socks and ball your toes on the carpet.

    Unless it is around the holiday season and you are visiting your estranged family, but have to meet her at her very tall office building.

    In that case don't

    It leads to local and federal law enforcement being but-f***ed on nation television.

    You don't want to be the cause of that now, do you?

  16. I'm old school. I bring a backpack full of magazines, comic books, a collection of newspaper comic strips (Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, Foxtrot, etc.), and some music-playing device (used to be CD player, now iPod). If the flight allows for it (BIG if), I whip out whichever portable video game system I have. When I was a lad, it was Game Boy. Then Game Gear. Then Game Boy Color (what took them so long?!), then GB Advance. Now the most high tech one is comparatively old, PSP. Otherwise, I save those for road trips.

  17. My family usually drives overnight to travel. Coffee and 5-hour Energy are my friend. And yes, we travel in our PJ's. Kids sleep most of the way. Lotsa fun walking into a Pilot or Loves at 3AM in Plants vs Zombies flannel pants for a refill.

    Of course, if it's a Walmart, it seems status-quo…

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