2015-09-24-sharksplode-not-enough-pizzaz

Not Enough Pizzaz

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My Patrons got EIGHT TOTALLY DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF YESTERDAY’S COMIC with totally different jokes!!! WHAT?!?!? I KNOW!!!

Dearest Sharksploders, please help me get my Patreon over the $2000 hump. Comics is my full time job, but it doesn’t currently pay full time money. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work lately (which distracts me from making comics) to make ends meet, and I’ve agreed to attend more conventions this year than I really feel comfortable with (which REALLY distracts me from making comics) out of financial fear. Every little bit helps and is QUITE appreciated.

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For the past few years, all of Domino’s “PIZZA’s*” advertising has centered around them apologizing for what they do and how they do it. First they had a commercial apologizing for how their sauce tasted, and how their crust was like a day old bagel ate a shoebox. Then they had an entire ad campaign about how terrible they are at answering the phone, and how you should just order through their app if you actually wanted to get a pizza between now and the heat death of the The Universe. So they spent millions of dollars to tell the world they they make bad food, but they want to try to make better food, and they suck at answering the phone, so you should probably just stop calling.

It all feels like a trick designed to make the consumer feel sorry for them. Somehow it plays into their master scheme of dropping the word “pizza” from their title altogether. Perhaps their hope is in 50 years people won’t even remember that “Domino’s Hot Wingz, Turkey Wrapz, Diet Pepzizzz and Toazter Ztrudels” used to actually sell pizza. Yeah, they’re rewriting their own narrative! Maybe they’ll start systematically assassinating (sorry, PIZZAssinating) anyone who remembers ordering a pizza from them. There are worse reasons for mass genocide, I suppose. What tole will these Pizza Wars take? Will the streets run red with the sauce of non-believers? Will I be unable to defend my life and the lives of my family because my hands are all gross and slippery from the half pound of garlic leavings they dredge every slice of pizza in? Jesus, what is up with that crust? It’s like when a kid fucks up an art project so they just cover the whole thing with glitter, hoping no one will look at it too closely. Anway, take up arms against those who would be your toppings and Vive La PIZZistance! 

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Setting The Mood

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NEWS:
My new podcast Potter & Daughter is live now! You can download the first episode here or subscribe via RSS or iTunesFancy Patreon Patrons get each episode a week early!

HOODIES ARE STILL ON SALE! Use code 10offhoodies to get $10 off any and all hoodies in the HE store! Use it as many times as you like.

I will put up with pretty much anything to get a great service for free. I have ALLLLMOST pulled the trigger on Spotify Premium a dozen or so times, but I always end up asking myself, “Are the ads, that bad? Do I really need one more bill?” Turns out the ads aren’t so much “that bad” as they are often “innapropriate” for “trying to have” some of the “sex.” Hell, I JUST signed up for Amazon Prime after months of doing to the math to see how much I typically spend on shipping with Amazon each year. The answer was “none.” I spend none dollars on shipping with Amazon because I always opt for Free Super-Saver Shipping and the impossibly long wait that comes with it. Eventually you have to weight he cost/benefit of not having to wait two weeks for your new angled USB adapter to show up at your doorstep and NOT being coitally interrupted by rootin’ tootin’ car commercials. Treat yo’ self every once in a while.

COMMENTERS: What free service do you use that you still refuse to upgrade to the premium version? Is it the cost, or that you just don’t care enough about alleviating the minor inconveniences. What made you finally pull the trigger to the paid version?

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The ADristocrats

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KNOW THESE THINGS TO BE TRUE: 

My wife and I are currently plowing through all 5 seasons of Mad Men. We’ve been running an average of about 3 episodes per night and are about halfway through season 4 (NO SPOILERS!!!!). Almost immediately I knew everything I’d heard about the show was true. The acting, the writing, the believability of the world, ALL were superior to nearly everything else on TV (save for Breaking Bad). There are moments when the racism and sexism are TRULY and BRUTALLY shocking, but those elements are never used in a sensationalist way. Rather they just remind the viewer how far society has come in 50 years and occasionally how far we’ve left to go.

Consuming so much superlative TV in such a short amount of time (the same way I blasted through Breaking bad, 1-2 episodes a night, every night), I’m starting to really coalesce a Unified Theory of Television. What I mean is, I’m beginning to realize that regardless of genre, setting or subject matter, every television show geared towards me (a human person smack in the middle of all the prime demographics) either fails or succeeds based on the exact same successes or shortcomings. I noticed that not even 3 episodes into Mad Men, I was pausing the show to talk to my wife about a character’s motivation, how they really felt vs. what they were saying/doing, what their next actions might be and what repercussions those actions would have on their future and the other characters around them. This and THIS ALONE is the halmark of quality television.

I understand the formula is complex (writing, plus acting, plus directing, divided by budget, times network confidence and promotion, times Pi, etc, etc), and can rarely be duplicated with a resolvable, remainderless and equal solution, but my point is that all of these issues will have for the most part already been addressed before you and I, the viewers, see the end result. So let’s assume that all television shows have an equal opportunity of having a good premise, quality writing, and strong actors (which they do not, but let’s assume it anyway to simplify things). If, by the second or third episode, I am not either questioning or relating to a character’s motivation (which implies that said motivation is presented CLEARLY), then there is little hope that this show will hold my full attention. Let’s hope it has plenty of special effects and maybe dinosaurs (which we all know can’t always save a boring show).

My friend Amy Berg is a talented and successful writer in Hollywood machine and she always says, “What does your character WANT, and what is PREVENTING THEM from getting it?” While watching Mad Men, I began to think more and more about this idea. You see, at first I avoided Mad Men because I thought the whole “Period piece set in the 60’s” was a gimmick and would be overwhelming to the story or hokey in some way. I very quickly realized that, when executed correctly, the story and the characters trump the setting or the gimmick. As long as the show is telling a human story that explores wants, needs, hardships and triumphs then it will be relatable to the audience. Be it set in the 1960’s or a derelict spaceship during a robot war, a good writer can always tell a human story and a good actor can always convey emotions that will suck the audience in to their world.

I began comparing Mad Men to Revolution and that’s when my hypothesis really started to pan out. I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was I didn’t like about Revolution. It had most of the elements that typically draw me in to a televised work of fiction. It had a distopia and a dude from Breaking Bad and Katniss is there too. Lots of things to like. So why was I ready to give up after 3 episodes? I realized the premise, the show iteself WAS the character. Every human in Revolution acts solely as an extension of the premise and serves only to further the overall plot. “Where did the power go? Will it ever come back.” The individual characters are all replaceable and interchangeable. The thing needs to get from point A to point C, but only after it blows up the other thing at point B. ANY CHARACTER can achieve these goals. The plot still gets where it’s going and the audience is only attached to the action or the mystery rather than the characters. I would get just as much enjoyment out of an episode of Revolution if all I did was read the synopsis. In this case I think the failure is writing. I know at least 2 of the actors in Revolution are quite talented, but they are delivering less than captivating performances and I believe they haven’t been given much of a reason to think about what their characters really want. I could go on and on about Revolution‘s failure to impress me, but this is supposed to be about Mad Men.

Another thing I realized while shotgunning season upon season of Mad Men was how important the “show don’t tell” rule can be in television. Take another example of a show I try very hard to like, but can’t seem to stop finding fault with: Falling Skies. Every single character on Falling Skies speaks with the same voice. They all talk the same way, express themselves in the same way, get angry, get happy, get whatever in identical fashion. This starts to become super apparent when you realize that every character on Falling Skies explains their motivations with the same technique: the fond remembrance. Character 1 says, “Why did you let those aliens go? We’re at war.” Character 2 replies with a pause, then, “When I was 8, my dad used to take me to the batting cages to hit balls. There was this other kid who BLAH BLAH BLAH THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS WHATEVER.” They all do it. ALL OF THEM. Kill them all and replace them with a new cast on the next episode and I won’t notice because THE SHOW IS THE MAIN CHARACTER. Don Draper can raise or lower an eyebrow and it SPEAKS VOLUMES. Now again, is it fair to compare exceptionally bad writing to exceptionally good acting? It depends. How much of Draper’s eyebrow movement relies on the page saying “Don raises eyebrow as if to say…” and how much relies on John Hamm’s ability to execute those instructions. Obviously both are required, but I presume that neither works without the other.

So what’s my point? I’m not even sure I have one. I just know that high quality premises are being ruined by lack of attention to character detail, and high quality actors are getting shafted by sub par dialog and a lack of overall vision for what a show is, what story it is trying to tell, WHOSE story it even is and where the whole thing is going. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Fringe, The first 3.5 seasons of BSG, Firely… these are the shows that prove the impossible is actually all too entirely possible and that everyone else is slacking off. 

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Comfortably Numb

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“Winter Is Coming” shirts are now IN THE STORE!!! [based on this comic]

Me, Randy MilhollandDavid Willis, Danielle Corsetto, Jeph Jaques, Rob Denbleyker and MORE will be at the Dragon’s Lair Webcomic Rampage panel/signing event on December 10th and 11th. It is always a good time. Austin Fancy Bastard should NOT miss it.

Saturday 8-11 pm
Sunday 12-5 pm

**Q&A panels by reservation only!**
Sat: 6-8 pm
Sun: 10-12 before signings
8-11 pm after signings

HijiNKS ENSUE at Dragons Lair Webcomic Rampage

There is a whole class of “gift” one may receive around the holidays that says, “Hey. I don’t really know you that well, nor do I care to. Here’s some bullshit I paid money for.” The Snuggie (the blanket with arm holes) and the Forever Lazy (the blanket you wear like a shame-suit while you go tailgating or play Wii) have the distinction of falling not only into this category, but all into the “Thing that solves a problem that isn’t really a problem at all and actually makes trying to solve that fake problem more difficult that using the thing you already have or just ignoring it outright” category.

These types of items flood the stores around December as if to say, “SHOPPING IT TOO HARD! BUY LIKE 40 OF THESE AND YOU’LL BE DONE AND YOU CAN GO HOME AND HATE YOURSELF!” They also play into the worst part of Christmas and other gift-giving holidays: the idea that buying something, ANYTHING, for someone is a requirement. Nay, an obligation.

I have successfully managed to strategically distance myself from most of my family in such a way that I A) Do not receive any bullshit X-mas trinkets, and B) Do not have to purchase any such bullshit for others. I buy gifts for my wife, my mother, my in-laws and my daughter. I know those people and I have a pretty good idea of what they like. Often that thing does not cost very much, if any money. My in-laws certainly don’t need me to spend money on them. They have plenty. We give them gifts they wouldn’t think to give themselves or something you can’t buy in any store. With my mom, it’s more about giving time, memories, etc. For the kiddo it’s about treating her to a few special or larger items than she would normally get during the year while simultaneously instilling the value of giving to others in her. Every year she has to fill up a box (sometimes 2 or 3) with toys that she doesn’t play with any more to donate to needy kids. This year she is doing that and using her own money from chores to purchase a new toy from the store to donate.

I say all of that to say this: When you see a commercial that starts with “Doing [insert extremely easy, every day task] is hard! Don’t you wish there was a better way?” DO NOT BUY THAT THING! No one wants it. No one needs it. Stop buying stuff for people just because you think you have to. Make something. Frame a photo of the best day you ever had with that person. Take them on an adventure. Knit a freakin’ scarf. Give them something that doesn’t have a direct monetary value and isn’t available at Best Buy. Otherwise you might as well just write how much cash you were intending to spend on a piece of paper, give it to the other person, take their slip of paper and work out the change owed.

I should probably mention that NONE of the above logic applies if you are giving gifts from The HE STORE or Sharksplode. Seriously. Go buy that shit up.

COMMENTERS: Whats the worst “Here’s some bullshit” gift you have ever given or received? One time I got a set of pocket knives (a SET of pocket knives… like 6… as if you would ever need more than one) with the last 6 U.S. president’s faces on them. If that doesn’t say “I have no idea who you are. Here, take this,” I don’t know what does.  ALTERNATELY: What’s your favorite “As Seen On TV” product to hate? Mine is the “Make a giant cupcake” pan whose commercial starts out with “Regular cake is boring…” NO IT IS NOT. FUCK YOU. CAKE IS AWESOME.

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Truth In Advertising

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This comic is a completely true story, except it was less Josh yelling at a Brookstone employee and more me and my wife making fun of all the vibrators masquerading as “personal massagers” on their shelves.

Ewok Stare Shirt, Ewoks Carebear stare t-shirt, funny star wars shirts, empire strikes back parody

If you start on the left side of the “massager” section, you see some plausibly legitimate, semi-medical devices. There are some big, sturdy pieces of machinery with multiple rubberized contact points contoured to the shape of the human spine. As you move to the right, it’s like the evolutionary chart of the vibrator. They get smaller and more cylindrical, lower power (more buzzing and less percussing), more ergonomically shaped for one handed use and more focused on stimulating a specific, conspicuously vagina-sized area. The packaging also shows less and less people making the “OUCH! My back hurts!” face and more of the “I’m having a glass of red wine, taking a hot bath, then laying a towel down over my good sheets,” face.

Of course, if you look at it from right to left it just seems like ladies are demanding more and more cumbersome and industrial erotic implements. It’s like the tiny ones on the right are for humans and the multi-pronged jill-hammers on the left are for bears and rhinos and to aid in the collection of bull semen.

In reality, people have been using personal massagers to get themselves off since their inception and some clever marketing person just decided to start designing them towards their actual use rather than their intended purpose. Still, the cheeky box art, exploding with innuendo is rather amusing.

Speaking of bang-machines, have you seen the trailer for Hysteria? It looks pretty great as far as lady-gasm based films go.

COMMENTERS: What’s the silliest “this is totally a vibrator” item you have ever seen in a store? When’s the last time you saw a product advertised as one thing that was CERTAINLY supposed to be used as another thing? Are “massagers” the only industry that does this? Why can’t we just sell vibrators on regular store shelves next to the tupperware? People need to keep their leftovers from spoiling and they need to get off.