Nth Class

Update 09-03-14: GAH! Toronto Fan Expo was a ton of fun, but the preparation, time spent there, time traveling home and recovery have and ARE costing me greatly in terms of productivity. I am frantically trying to update/backdate new comics so there are 4 a week for every week. I’m doing my best. Luckily I don’t have much travel planned for the rest of the year.

I have only experienced a full Planecouch once in my life. It was a rare and wonderful bit of magic. Upon realizing my good fortune, I actually raised all the armrests and laid down across all three seats. I was like a king in one of those big king chairs, except 50,000 feet in the sky and going like 300 miles an hour. It was some of the most baller shit I have ever been apart of. I almost had a second Planecouch once, but fate had crueler designs for me.


Calling all Whovians with holes in their ears! Just look at these Sonic Screwdriver earrings my wife made! 

sonic screwdriver earings matt smith elevelth doctor who etsy


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.

Credit Where Credit Is Don’t

I am ashamed to admit that of the dozen or so times I have encountered a person in the wild wearing one of my shirts (a person who wasn’t coming to see me at a convention or hadn’t just purchased the shirt from me at a convention), I have probably failed the “SERIOUSLY DON’T SAY ANYTHING DON’T BE A COMICALLY OVERSIZED DOUCHE LIKE SOME SORT OF CLOSER AT A CARROT TOP SHOW IN VEGAS LIKE A BIG 40 FOOT TALL PROP DOUCHE IN A CARROT TOP SHOW DON’T DO IT DON’T DO IT DON’T DO IT!!!” test half of those times. More often than not, I say something horrifically dumb like, “Hey, nice shirt,” and they say, “Huh? Yeah. Ok,” instead of “OOHHHH EMMM GEEEE THANK YOU IT’S FROM MY FAVORITE ONLINE COMIC LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!!!” The individual wearing the shirt typically has no knowledge of me or my work because they simply followed a link to buy a shirt from a website, put in their credit card number then immediately got hit in the head with a rock or a truck or a sack full of pianos and forgot the entire experience until the shirt arrived at their door, seemingly out of thin air.

Earlier today someone emailed to tell me that they bought a shirt from some website and later found out I designed it and wanted to make sure the site hadn’t stolen it from me. Several minor panic attacks later I finally realized she had purchased the shirt from my own store. I don’t think that applies to the ideas expressed above, about my shirts being more famous than I am, but hey, it’s a story. Whatever.

COMMENTERS: Let’s talk about getting credit. Do you crave the credit you feel you are due? Do you go out of your way to get it? Have you ever been denied credit for something or had it stolen from you? Have you ever been given credit for something you didn’t do?


Does It Make A Sound?

This is an actual dumb thing that I began doing on my plane ride home from SDCC. BEGAN doing, I said. I did not actually complete the ridiculous act. It’s just that as I was scrolling through my list of soothing sounds in an ill-fated attempt to sleep on the plane (a feat which I have never accomplished in more than a 30ish minute stretch), I remembered that the “Airplane Noise” setting was the most relaxing and sleep inducing. Why is it then, that the actual sound of an actual airplane is probably my very least favorite sound?! I’m looking at you, science! Shouldn’t you have an answer for this? Is it a plane-based conspiracy, like chemtrails? Oh, it is? Never mind then.


1) Noise canceling headphones. My wife got me a pair of these for Xmas or a birthday or somesuch about a year ago, and they rank among my most treasured possessions. I’ve got a rather inexpensive ($80-90) set of noise canceling earbuds (portability was essential for travel) and they have actually changed my life. I find the elimination of engine noise, random chatter and general airplane general cacophony decreases my discomfort during air travel by at least 50%. I have very sensitive ears and all that unfocussed noise was always the aural equivalent of leaky roof dripping directly into my eye. Also the roof is leaking poison. Spicy poison. Notice I say it “decreases my discomfort” rather than “increases my comfort” because the latter would imply that there is a degree of comfort to be had on an airplane other than in first class. There is not. Speaking of…

2) American Airlines Main Cabin Extra. On my plane to San Diego I sat down in my middle seat (WTF, I selected WINDOW!) and noticed that my knees were not touching the seatback in front of me or positioned directly inside my own ribcage. In fact there was a good 12″ of space between my naturally positioned knees and the nearest immovable obstruction. For anyone in or around the 6′ tall range, this is a HUGE DEAL. Every aspect of my 3.5 hour journey was improved by this extra space. I could get to my bag easier, get in and out of the row easier, I didn’t feel as intimately adjacent to my row mates as I normally would in a middle seat and when I leaned the seat back to attempt to sleep, IT ACTUALLY RECLINED! MORE THAN TWO DEGREES EVEN! WHAT WAS THIS SORCERY?! The plane touched down and I immediately tweeted my confused delight regarding the embarrassing amount of legroom to which I, a lowly coach passenger, a thing worse than landing gear failure in the eyes of the airlines, had been gifted with. AA quickly responded via tweet letting me know that I was enjoying “Main Cabin Extra.” I didn’t select this feature or pay any extra for it, and I don’t know if it effected the entire cabin or just a few rows, but let me tell you, tall people, this is a thing that you need in your traveling life. I need to do some research and find out if there’s a way to guarantee the Extra on all my flights from now on, because it was entirely less uncomfortable than the accommodations I am accustomed to.

COMMENTERS: What is your essential travel tip or piece of discomfort decreasing travel gear? 

Comments (11)

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Melissa's avatar

Melissa · 98 weeks ago

I always pack a change of clothes in my carry on. One person in my group had their luggage lost, and had to hand wash and re-wear the same clothes for several days before the situation was fixed.
Ali's avatar

Ali · 98 weeks ago

Socks. Even with sandals. Because who wants to wear shoes on a long flight? But you don’t want your bare feet exposed to the random dirt that’s in an airplane cabin, either.
Candace's avatar

Candace · 98 weeks ago

I always carry an inflatable back pillow, because all airplane seats, even business/first class ones, are designed for people about a foot taller than me, and so effectively have no lower back support for me. Since I started this practice, my lower back hurts way less at the end of a long flight than it used to.
Fengor's avatar

Fengor · 98 weeks ago

There’s really just no way for me to ever be comfortable on an airplane, they simply weren’t designed for people in the 5’10” – “Holy shit you’re tall” range. The best I can hope for is an aisle seat so that I can let one of my legs extend fully every now and again during the flight.

I recently did fly to and from London with United and discovered that paying the extra cash for “Economy Plus” for five more inches of leg room between seats really did make all the difference. Granted I was still pretty uncomfortable for 8-10 hours in either direction, but at least I didn’t feel like my knees were providing back support for the person in front of me.

3 replies · active 98 weeks ago

I used to do aisle seats for the same reason, then I realized that if you get the window seat and lean into the the curve of the plane, put one foot under the seat in front of you and the other foot under the seat in front of the person in the middle (without bothering them), you actually get more room for the whole flight instead of having to pull your feet back every time a cart rolls by.
Richter's avatar

Richter · 98 weeks ago

The only issue is this is a tossup – if there were a window for every seat, it’d be fine, but sometimes you end up against the space between windows instead of the window itself – then it’s only different from the aisle because you’re not leaning against some total stranger. I used to make two flights per week.

You actually CAN guarantee Main Cabin Extra… for a $50 fee.

Richter's avatar

Richter · 98 weeks ago

Sorry, meant ‘only different from the middle seat because you’re not leaning against a total stranger’
I just look around at how miserable everyone else is looking. I find comfort in that. 😉
dave's avatar

dave · 98 weeks ago

I gave up on my window seat experiment because the curvature of the plane means I can’t put my outside leg straight in front of me. Also, usually the seat support is under the seat in front of me, not between the window and middle seats. This, combined with the curvature of the fuselage, means that there is significantly less room for a bag. Aisle seats also suffer from reduced room for a bag and carts rolling by hitting you in the shoulder/elbow; but the middle seat only works if you have someone to cuddle with (personally that means someone I know, maybe some people aren’t so restrictive) in the window or aisle seat.
wwlaos's avatar

wwlaos · 98 weeks ago

As someone who is both tall and fat, air travel (or bus travel… damn you to bus hell you rolling sardine cans) is just generally miserable all around. That’s why I drive everywhere whenever it is even remotely an option.
Fletcher's avatar

Fletcher · 97 weeks ago

I recently flew quite a bit on the States on holiday. United is kinda dreary and cramped, Air New Zealand’s long-haul flights give loads of room to Business, Economy Plus, and Economy Skycouch passengers, and squeeze everyone else up to make the huge expensive seats fit.

By far the best airline I flew on was Southwest – their practice of charging more for first access to seats, rather than for specific seats, means boarding is a bit more of a hassle, but on the other hand it does mean that the space that would be reserved for Business class knees is averaged out across the entire plane, giving everyone an extra inch or two of space. Quite nice!

Guest Comic By Lar deSouza: “Cry, The Red Moon”


[NOTE: I am writing this on Wednesday 4/24/13, before my flight to Calgary. So in all likelihood I am already dead, made a meal by a pack of blood starved hell beasts.]

Lar just gets me, man. He knows what it’s like to pay $600 for a flight to Calgary that leaves at 6am, so you have to be at the airport at 4am (international flight), so you have to leave the house at 3am, so you have to be up at 2:30am after going to bed at 2:20am, only for the privilege of a 4 hour layover in Phoenix before boarding your actual flight to the actual place you are going to draw dicks on paper for kind people with silly pastel money. Lar knows what’s going to be waiting for me at the airport. At each of the three airports I will visit. Lar knows they can smell my exhaustion, my frustration on the ill wind that creeps and hollers through Terminals A through C.

Lar is the most versatile and adept artist I know. He creates art like fish swim: constantly and seemingly without effort. He’s a mentor, a tutor, a surrogate uncle and he can pound back a bottle of chocolate wine like nobodies business. Check out his Tumblr, his comic, his other comic, his print shop and his t-shirt store.

For the confusedly uninitiated, #bloodwolves are the physical manifestation of all of my frustrations with air travel when going to conventions. Sometimes I am their prey, sometimes I am their kin and other times I just tell their story in order to garner favor, grow their legend and keep them at bay. Insomnia induced delirium? What Insomnia induced delirium? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAGHLAAAGHLLAGHLLLL[THROWS UP BLOOD FOREVER]!!!

 COMMENTERS: How have the #bloodwolves tormented you?

Comments (15)

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Mostly on buses, preventing me from sleeping while the bus rolls across the plains. They torment me with their howling.
I love the way Lar draws you.
Mr c's avatar

Mr c · 112 weeks ago

This was up for a bit Yesterday

And i love it, run for your seat joel, before they reinitiate you into the pack

Fayili's avatar

Fayili · 112 weeks ago

Every time. Sometimes the layovers last six hours. Sometimes eleven. Sometimes only one. They’re always there, pacing, around a kiosk corner or next to the Cinnabon. JFK or O’Hare. Even London. They’re there.

When I finally arrive in Ireland, I hit the ground running, and when I make it through customs, my beau looks at me with mild concern. For some reason, they’ve never bothered him when he flies to me. I don’t like to speculate why.

For the moment, I am safe. But they know that in a month, or three months, I’ll have to go home. And they wait…

I am immune to Bloodwolves. For I have …NEXUS!
nenslo's avatar

nenslo · 112 weeks ago

Clearly your theme song should be The Prodigy – Run With The Wolves

I don’t understand that need to be first. We’re all going to the same place. Crazy people, I be you’d be a lot less stressed if you’d just wait until your damn row is called.

I tend to be very zen about travelling because…..because. It is what it is. Maybe that comes from travelling with my former flight attendant mom so much when I was a kid. But, I don’t want to talk to people (much like the rest of my life) and so when people push and shove or get loud or decide to ignore the Headphones of Don’t Bother Me, I do tend to get stressy.

Just booked my flight to SDCC this week. Can’t wait! It’s my first con since SDCC 2011.

This might be my favourite guest strip ever!

I hate flying so much I recently drove 4000 km to go to a wedding rather than fly. The blood wolves will not get me, dammit!

2 replies · active 110 weeks ago

The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 112 weeks ago

I’ve gone so far as to calculate the ROI on the cost of flights vs. what I make per hour to determine whether I’m going to rent a car to drive long distance or fly to “attempt” to save the time.
Once you factor in a 4-6 hour flight (mandatory connecting because of where I now live) and time waiting in airport, it approaches the 13 hour drive time back home to visit family, which makes doing either a PITA.
Mahnarch's avatar

Mahnarch · 110 weeks ago

Muah-ha-ha! This is why I went and got myself a Pilot’s License!
My plane! My stuff! My schedule!
And, the view is better!
HikingViking's avatar

HikingViking · 111 weeks ago

I loath air travel. Actually, when I think about air travel, it makes me mad that this country doesn’t have high-speed rail like many other places. I’d still have to get on a plane for flights to Europe or Asia, but international flights are usually a little better (bigger seats, choice of movies, etc.). Mostly though, I hate all of the extra security bull$h*t. I travelled from Seattle to Korea last year, and had to literally sprint through almost the entirety of San Francisco International airport on a layover, only to be held up in another security screening. Apparently, SFO’s international terminal isn’t connected to their other terminals, so there’s no way to avoid a security screen even if you’ve already had one in the U.S. I could go on, and on, and on – really, my issues with air travel are about the closest I get to sounding like a conspiracy theorist. Ultimately thought, “they” kind of have us over a barrel, and until that whole teleportation thing is figured out, we’re pretty much SOL (International).
preciousRoy's avatar

preciousRoy · 111 weeks ago

I’ve flown out of O’Hell once, the experience was pleasant until I got to my destination. Apparently that part of Texas just smells like diesel fumes.