Learning Through Osmosis

 This is such a true story, it is MULTIPLE true stories. With an S. The first time this happened I was in Toronto and the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls toys were being debuted at the show. Kiddo was obsessed with the movie and I was missing her first day of 1st grade to be at this particular convention, so I wanted to get her a cool gift. I went up to the booth and browsed what was in the case. There was a mother with her young daughter, 8 or 9 years old (American years… no idea what the Canadian metric conversion age is.), and it quickly became clear that we were looking at the same things. I feared her mother had warned her about the “grown men who like to play with ponies,” of which I was not one, but CLEARLY appeared to be one at that moment. I almost said aloud, “I’m shopping for my DAUGHTER,” but I thought better of uttering what is likely the shameful battle cry of the self-hating adult pony enthusiast.

My Patrons can see the original last panel to the previous comic which spawned the writing process for THIS comic [HERE]. 

becomepatron

A more subtle approach would be to ask, “How old is your daughter? Mine is 6 and she LOVES this stuff.” But as I thought the words they immediately became twisted and creepy. “HoWwWwww OLLLLLD izzzz yoURRR DAWWWWWWTERRRRRR?!?!? [pant pant hisssssssss]” Better to just smile as un-creepily as possible and wait for the booth worker to come over. She arrived and addressed the little girl first. “I want Twilight!” she belted enthusiastically. “OK, just let me get one from the back, eh? [aboot soory]” the associate replied. I had already been away from my booth for longer than I intended, so I just raised my hand and said, “Make that two.” I might as well have said, “I’ll have what she’s having,” then given the mom a wink and a pair of finger guns. Then I could just hold my wrists together and wait for security to put them in handcuffs. A more direct approach would have been, “I’LL HAVE THE SAME PONY THAT THE CHILD IS HAVING! I’LL HAVE IT FOR MY OWNNNNN!”

Anyway, I felt goofy buying it at a convention, but Kiddo loved it and that was the point. A year or so later at SDCC I had the exact same experience, only more so humiliating. My con-wife, David, had procured through man-child sorcery a special VIP pass to the Hasbro booth, which let you skip the massive line of other man-children and purchase whatever they were offering that reminded you of when you were young and alive and so much further away from an inevitable death. David and I made the death march from the webcomics area of the floor to the Hasbro booth which, while only being about 10 rows away, took a good 30 minutes to reach in SDCC time. The cases were full of robots and ponies and maybe some robot ponies, but definitely NO pony robots. I flashed my VIP (Very Impressive Pony) badge and was ushered to the front of an impossible long line.

To my chagrin, I learned that all of the stuff in the cases was not, in fact, for sale and was, in fact, for filling space in cases. The only thing they sold at this booth was convention exclusive toys, most of which cost upwards of $50-$100. I usually spend about $20 on Kiddo’s convention gift and maybe another $10 on comics for her. The cheapest thing they had, that would be of any interest to her at all was $35. It was a limited edition pony who was based on a character from an episode that she had seen, but who only actually appeared in the comics, which she had not read. I had come all of this way, and no booth was going to have shorter line than this. Maybe she would think the “con exclusive” aspect of it was cool. Whatever. “I’ll take a… Mane-iac Mayhem Equestria Girl.” The booth worker looked at me like, “Of course you will, Beardo,” and wrapped it up.

I wiki’d the character once I got back to the booth, so I could at least know what I was presenting to my child. That’s how it happens. That’s how you get THE KNOWING. Not, necessarily by being interested in your kid’s toys and shows themselves, but by being interested in your kid. Granted, there are lots of things she’s into that I am GENUINELY into. Adventure Time, Minecraft, Ninja Turtles… Our Venn Diagram of interests has plenty of legitimate overlap. MLP: FiMOMGLOL just isn’t my bag, and so I feel like a goofus when I have to display my uncharacteristically extensive knowledge of the subject matter.

My daughter lives in a world where everything she likes is the universally adored, coolest stuff ever. “How could anyone NOT like Littlest Pet Shop?! [I could list 1000 reasons] It’s the COOLEST! [It is not]” But, rather than be the dad who “doesn’t get it, doesn’t WANT to get it,” I want to be the dad who begrudgingly watches the overly bubbly, hyper manic, highest possible pitched shouting matches that are her favorite shows, so that when she wants to talk about them (which is always), I will have more to say than, “That’s nice, Kiddo.”

The problems occur when I actually start to have opinions about this stuff. Like how, in a world with three distinct evolutionary offshoots of the dominant species, where one of the subsets is so much more powerful than the other two as to make them appear crippled, does a caste system not naturally develop? Here’s how a real world Equestria would break down: Unicorns on top, ruling the Pegasi and Earth Ponies with an iron hoof. Just dominating every aspect of pony life and taking what they want, when they want, from whomever they want. They are telekinetic magic users in a community where everyone else can’t even get a book off the shelf without gnawing at it with their teeth! The pegasi are their enforcers. They are still subjugated by the unicorns, but they are awarded special privileges for keeping the Earth ponies in line. The Earth ponies are garbage. Just pure, fucking nonsense garbage. They dig trenches, and break rocks, and pull shit around in carts and probably serve as a food source for the upper classes.

Bare minimum, this shit is all going down 5 minutes after the unicorns figure out magic. Extrapolate a bit further, probably after an uprising or two, and the unicorns have completely wiped out the other two classes and enslaved… I don’t know… whatever species Strawberry Shortcake is.

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

https://www.etsy.com/listing/200762224/doctor-who-inspired-sonic-screwdriver

Hanging Brain

NEW SHIRT!!!  Where’s Carl?! Shirts based on this comic are live at Sharksplode!
Where's Carl? Walking Dead Calvin and Hobbes Mashup Parody Shirt

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was my thing. Just like any red-blooded American boy I loved me some G.I. JOE and just like any advanced sentient machine boy from a war torn planet in a distance galaxy I loved me some Transformers, but Ninja Turtles was my thing. I ate, slept and breathed Ninja Turtes. Two of those I did quite literally. I horribly disgusting Ninja Turtles cereal, which was basically Chex with rejected Lucky Charms marshmallows, and a Ninja Turtles sleeping bag. If they had sold green canned air with tops in a choice of four primary colors, I’m sure I would have inhaled nothing but. [Side note regarding the Turtles Cereal: They got away with it just being Chex by referring to those pieces as “Ninja Nets.” You know… all those nets they were always throwing around. I think Donatello was the one with the net. Or maybe that was Zeppo.]

From ages 7-10 I spent a good 2/3 of my day as a Ninja Turtle. I had 3 close friends and we each adopted a Turtle persona for recess, which we kept for several years. There wasn’t any fighting over who would claim which turtle. It was just clear. I was bossy and an insufferable know-it-all, so I was Leonardo. Cody was the most violent and we all agreed his wild flailing of the limbs most resembled actual karate, so he was Rahpael. Rob was the smartest and the most sensitive, so he was Donatello. And… fuck me in the sewer lair, I don’t remember who was Michaelangelo. That’s going to bother me. Anyway, we played TMNT at recess every day. We kept up our story lines and picked them up where they left off each day. We wore various bits of costumes at home, and tucked plastic weapons into our belt loops. I even had a blue Leo mask with a green snout on it that smelled like the inside of a tire. We watched the episodes hundreds of times. I had 6 VHS tapes with 2 or 3 episodes each that came from Burger King and played them to the point of ruin. Each and every birthday and Xmas from those years was nothing but Turtles wall to wall. One kid would get a new vehicle or playset and the rest of us would assemble it and place the decals while he enjoyed a piece of cake or a round of TMNT 2 on the NES. One year, Rob (Donatello-Rob from earlier) got the Sewer Lair Playset (probably the rarest turtles playset next to the Technodrome… NO ONE had the Technodrome), and we treated it as if his parents had just given him a car with machine guns mounted to the hood. I eventually got the Turtle Blimp (probably the rarest vehicle in the line), so my status as Leonardo, Chief Intolerable Asshole of the team wasn’t revoked.

I say all of that to say this: I don’t know if I care if Michael Bay fucks up the Ninja Turtles by making them aliens instead of mutants. Sure, that would basically shift the entire original purpose of characters (regular, ordinary creatures are elevated to extraordinary status through an accident of science), but that doesn’t really have any effect on how much I enjoyed them as a child or how fondly I remember them today. You might call fowl, but this is different them George Lucas going back and altering/invalidating my memories through meddling with existing films. And it’s different than Michael Bay taking a steaming cyber-crap all over Transformers since that franchise has never payed any real attention to it’s own continuity (SHUT UP WILLIS! I’VE DONE MY HOMEWORK!) to begin with. I think the only reason people my age were mad at him for Transformers is because he was making the first official live action version of the series. Ninja Turtles already had two great live action movies (we do not speak of the third one… what third one?), which almost perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the franchise in the 80’s and early 90’s and brought to life the version of the Turtles that I grew up with. Sure they were cheesy, but so was everything else back then. And if you’re still upset, remember that the movies strayed pretty far from the cartoon origin story by making Splinter and Hamato Yoshi two different beings. Do you remember the scene where the rat learns kung fu? That shit was ridiculous. [UPDATE: is has been pedanted pointed out to me NUMEROUS times that the first movie followed the origin from the comics and it was the original cartoon that deviated plot-wise. Well, that just further proves my point that nothing is sacred in the TMNT franchise, so any changes made to the origin are fair game.]

The thing about Ninja Turtules is that unlike almost every other franchise from the 80’s, it never went away. It would go off the air for a year or two at most before it came back with a new incarnation. There were multiple cartoon shows, some continuations, some reboots. There was a live action show, For a while it was about alien Triceratopses, and one of the most recent cartoons took place over 100 years in the future. The only thing Bay talking about changing is literally THE ONLY THING that hasn’t already been changed. The weird thing about Ninja Turtles is every kid who was 8 years old at any point between 1987 and 2012 could have grown up with them, but not necessarily the same ones you did. Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the comics. I say let Bay do his worst. My bandanna is still blue, my katana is still plastic and my memories are intact. Cowabunga, you Fancy Bastards.

COMMENTERS: Feel free to weigh on on the aliens vs. mutant debate.  Which Turtles were YOUR Turtles? What was your favorite Turtles toy/ coolest one you never owned? Mine were the rubberized figures released after the first movie. They were more flexible and had realistic skin. What was the weirdest Turtles tie-in product you ever saw? For me it was the “Ooze” fruit pies. I probably ate 100 of them, but damn do they seem toxic in retrospect.

UPDATE: My friend Paul gives his pitch for how the alien turtle thing could work and not make his inner 8 year old weep. He wants to believe SOOOO badly.

No We Cain’t

“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

GUYS! Before you get your ballots all in a knot, I am not making fun of Herman Cain’s political views, his party or his policies. I am making fun of the fact that he quoted the Pokemon Movie theme song in a speech, that he might have gotten his tax plan from Sim City and the fact that he was actually a performance artist who punked the entire nation for like 6 months. I’m not entirely convinced that he wasn’t Banksy.

COMMENTERS: Please write a new campaign speech or slogan for Herman Cain using the cartoon theme song of your choice. Bonus points if you can work in Big Bad Beetle Borgs. Alternately, come up with a campaign platform based on a video game. Will you rid the country of illegal Koopa Troppa immigrants? Will we move to magic, floating coin-based economy?

Otherwise Occupied

“George Hurt You” shirts are in the store!!!

Show Us On The Trilogy Where George Hurt You - funny star wars t-shirt, george lucas shirt, star wars parody

First and foremost, I AM NOT casting judgement. I am merely expressing my confusion at the fandom of teenage to adult males surrounding My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a cartoon made for little girls. I’ve heard all the arguments. It’s well animated, well voice acted, well written, etc. I agree on all accounts. I still just don’t get it. That said, I have always been of the “Fan and let fan” mindset.

This comic is inspired by (and guest stars) my friend Lar, who I spent last weekend with at New York Comic Con. He was expressing an honest desire to understand the Bronies and what makes them tick (I suspect rainbows and sparkles are involved). Later he tweeted most of what I have portrayed him saying panel 1 and I couldn’t help but think he could have just as easily been talking about Occupy Wallstreet. I think he might have been offering himself as defacto leader if there was no other claim to the throne.

I talked to one of the guys at Hasbro (a Hasbrony?) about the Brony phenomenon. He said their official policy is “we don’t get it, but we love it.” He confirmed my suspicion that they are careful NOT to cater to Bronies with the production of the show or the official merchandise, because it would probably have the opposite effect and drive them away. What they are obsessed with is the show which Hasbro thought it was making for little girls. To alter course now, would likely alienate both core audiences. It was a very enlightening conversation that got me thinking about what happens when you create something and put it out there for mass consumption. The audience you get isn’t always the one you want, but rather the one you deserve.

COMMENTERS: Other than MLP:FiM, are there any shows, movies, or other entertainment products that you’ve enjoyed despite being out of the target demographic (age, gender, etc)? Speaking of Hasbro, when I was a kid I LOVED Jem. I was always too embarrassed to ask for the toys for my birthday. Eventually I got up the nerve and came up with this thing about how I wanted the guy (whatever Jem’s boyfriend’s name was) and I “might as well get the girl to go along with him.” The ruse didn’t work and I remained Jemless.

The Thin Furry Duke

THE HIJINKS ENSUE STORE IS BACK!!!

Funny T-Shirts, Geeky shirts, Doctor who parody shirts, Team Edward James Olmos shirt, Groverfield Shirt, Sci-Five Star Trek Parody T-Shirt in The HijiNKS ENSUE Store

The newly relaunched HE Store is up and running over at Blind Ferret. Please go check it out and maybe buy a book or a shirt or something. Shirts will begin shipping soon, now that we are all back from Comic-Con.

UPDATE: You asked for it, so I added a “Chibi Wolverine” desktop to The Vault. I’ve also added “Winter Is Coming” and “Three Wheaton Moon” desktops as well. Just make a donation of any amount, or sign up for a recurring donation subscription and you’ll get access. I’ve also added mobile versions of these desktops HERE.

 

Long story short: Short mutant tall. I watched the premiere of Wolverine (Marvel Anime version) on G4TV and it just wasn’t for me. I’m not a huge anime fan to begin with, so let that color my opinions however you like. The show was done in my absolute least favorite style of anime. The “lovers exchanging long, silent looks over the ocean while 80’s casio keyboards set to vibraphone play softly in the distance… then everybody fights” style. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t Wolverine. This cat was about 24 years old, tall, slender and pointy in all the wrong places. From chin to Aladdin Sane-esque frock, he was all points. The only thing I really enjoyed about Wolvanime was the completely shoehorned moment reminding the audience”Hey! Wolverine is Canadian!” when the incredibly Japanese Logan is seen standing atop a random Manhattan building drinking a can of clearly labelled “CANADIAN BEER.” Yatta bub!

COMMENTERS: What other unexpected anime characteristics might Logan or any other Japanimated Marvel character have? What sort of situations might they find themselves in? Does Chibi-Charles Xavier have to catch (’em) all the mutants in order to be a true mutant training master?

Dallas Fancy Bastards! I am going to be at STRIP: The Dallas Webcomic Expo this Saturday [August 6th] from 10-5pm. It’s only $5 to get in. Come get a book or a sketch. It’s a very low key show and I’ll probably be doing a fun times panel with the dude from Cyanide and Happiness.

WATCH THIS WITH YOUR EYES! My friends Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt are both fantastic voice over actors (Yuri is the voice of Ben 10, Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto, and tons of video game characters, and Tara has voiced characters in Naruto, Final Fantasy XIII, Bleach and dozens of anime series and video games) and now they have stepped out of the booth, in front of the camera to create their own show. Shelf Life is a live action web series about four action figures living on a young boy’s shelf. It’s like Toy Story for those of us that grew up with He-Man and Spider-Man. You can watch the trailer HERE and check out the full series when it premieres later this summer. You can also follow them on the Facing Books.

Shelf Life - Funny Web series Super Heroes Toys, comedy web series

LAST THING: My AC died last week and living without AC in Texas is not an option. The new unit is costing me $3000. SPOILERS: I don’t have 1 thousand of dollars, let alone 3 of them. If you enjoy my ability to make comics without dying of heat stroke, please consider making a donation, buying something from the store or buying something from Sharksplode.

UPDATE: You wonderful Fancy Bastards have already donated nearly $650 towards the AC repairs. Thank you so very much. Your generosity means so much to me and my family.