The Big Chill

If this comic makes no sense or seems out of place, perhaps it is because you didn’t read yesterday’s comic. Oh, what’s that? You didn’t notice the continuity? Well, it’s new. We just had it installed. I’m not sure if I like the color, but we have 30 days to return it, so…

If you are still confused, the guys WERE in line to see The Avengers and now they ARE in the theater, taking their seats. A betting man might assume they will next be watching the movie, then perhaps after that the movie will be over.

There has been nothing short of an outpouring of support from you, The Fancy Bastards, regarding my blog post yesterday dealing with the shortcomings I see in the comic and the changes/improvements I want to make. I am not exaggerating when I say I spent the whole of Tuesday reading comments, emails and tweets, processing them, responding to as many as I could and just thinking about what you guys had to say. The reactions ranged from “I love the comic and I will continue to support whatever you decide to do,” to “While I do still enjoy the comic, I don’t read it as much and I think you’re right in wanting to fix all those things that you want to fix,” to “YES! All of those things are wrong with the comic! Also here is another list of all the things you are doing wrong! Fix those things now!” Granted, that last group was a vast minority, but for some reason their words rang the loudest between my ears inside my overstressed, emotionally exhausted brains.

Major thanks to everyone that donated yesterday, especially to the few new donation subscribers. If you enjoy HE and would like to see it continue, I have added $2, $3, and $4 monthly donation subscription options. If you can spare $2 a month for a bunch of free comics, I would very much appreciate it.

It’s taking every single ounce of… is humility the word? Probably not. Anyway, it’s taking all of the stuff that I can muster… MUSTERSTUFF! That’s the word! It’s taking all of that to read the comments and really absorb the constructive criticism without taking it too personally or getting offended. I basically opened a huge wound then gave everyone one of your a band-aid and a jar of pee and asked you NOT to throw the jar of pee at the wound. There’s sand in the pee jar too. It’s a bad scene where open wounds are concerned. A day later, I am extremely grateful for the band-aids and even the slightly pee-soaked band-aids… OK this metaphor was out of hand before it even started. Abandoning metaphor. Thank you for the feedback. I’m keeping a running list of ideas that I’ve gotten from you guys and I will be considering them strongly and implementing many of the changes you’ve suggested the make sense.

I was really shocked by the number of people that suggested that I take the comic out of the RSS feed and instead just give a link to the site in order to improve ad revenue. These comments came mainly from people who read the comic in the RSS feed. I don’t know how I feel about that since I read everything in Google Reader and get frustrated when I am linked out of it, but I am willing to experiment with anything at this point.

I can certainly say that writing for this week has gone MUCH faster than it typically does. The concept of “picking up where I left off” is altogether new to me and is far preferable to desperately searching for a new topic to write about every day. I am still scared of this new territory, but I am already optimistic about the direction I am taking the comic and my ability to produce better comics, more often and with some degree of reliability in terms of update schedule. More on that as this phase of The Experiment progresses.

COMMENTERS: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen anyone do in a movie theater? I mean, being a teen is pretty bad, but one time I was seeing Equilibrium and a dude just it up a freakin’ cigarette. IN THE THEATER! That’s some seriously sociopathic behavior. Another time, while watching either Paycheck or The Time Machine (I don’t remember which), I had to yell at a guy to wake him up because he was snoring so loud. I don’t remember the film, but once I saw a mom let her two small boys run up and down the aisles of the theater with toy swords during the entire movie. They were like teens, only smaller. It was terrible.

The Unwashed Masses

I’m doing something different with the comics starting this week. A bit of an experiment, or rather a continuation of The Experiment. I could certainly use your feedback and your support. Please take a few minutes and READ MORE here.

The thing I hate the most about going to movies in the theater, especially popular ones, is the people. Specifically the teens. I HATE YOU TEENS! I HATE YOUR STUPID PRETTY BUT STILL AWKWARD FACES! I am an adult, and as such I believe I have a right to live a life totally devoid of teens. I am all for teen segregation. They already have their own schools. Why not their own restaurants and movie theaters?

“George Hurt You” shirts are in the store!!! Let the healing begin. 

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

There was a kid in line behind me bitching THE ENTIRE TIME about how “fucking retarded” this particular movie theater was because he stood in the wrong line for an hour and missed his showing of Avengers and no one did anything to stop him from doing such an incredibly stupid thing. To be fair, the theater was so incredibly packed that it was difficult to tell which line was for which showing. This kid, however, allowed himself to stay in the wrong line for over an hour PAST the start time printed on his ticket. Movies do not start an hour late. They are not concerts. Iron Man and The Hulk are not getting high in the green room while Thor gets his Mjolnir hammered by some Asgardian groupie. At one point he called his mom to complain that he was going to be late getting home because of how stupid the theater was and how he doesn’t want to just leave because he already spent like $20 (certainly hers, not his) on snacks. I should not have to endure such teenage dumbness just in order to see a film on opening weekend. Can I pay $5 more to sit in the Adults Only theater? Does that theater serve booze? Who wants to invest in this idea? It’s quite possibly the best idea anyone has ever had.

So what about The Avengers? Quite simply, it was a triumph. It rivals Iron Man and Spider-Man 2 for the title of “Best Super Hero Movie Of All Time” (I do not count The Dark Knight in this category because I just don’t. It’s its own thing.) Without question it is certainly the best Thor movie, the best Hulk movie, the best Captain America movie and the best Iron Man sequel produced to date. And the Hulk… Jesus the Hulk. I have NEVER liked any incarnation of the Hulk in any form of media, filmed, televised or printed. Yet give this character to Joss Whedon and he uses him with such precision and skill that he steals not just every scene he’s in, but quite possibly the entire movie. The use the words “the Hulk” and “subtlety” in the same sentence seems contradictory, but that’s what it was. As a matter of fact, every single thing I loved about The Avengers stemmed from that Whedonesque subtlety that I’ve grown to love so well. A throw away line here that is anything but a throw away, a bit of body language that goes almost unnoticed but tells an entire story. God dammit, Hollywood! Do you see now what we’ve been trying to tell you for a decade?

I want to write a thesis deconstructing the ways in which Michael Bay and Joss Whedon destroy downtown Manhattan. The ham fisted wrecking ball vs. the artist with the soft touch. In the end, the city is still rubble, but the way it got there could not be more disperate. I am not exaggerating when I say I fell asleep during the climactic battle of Transformer 3.  I honestly could not tell what was happening on the screen for the last half hour of the movie and I just lost interest in fighting the boredom. The last 30 minutes of The Avengers, however, might be the most fun I have ever had in a movie theater. Oh, and did I mention The Hulk? HULKHULKHULKHULKHULK HULLLLLLLLLLLLK!!! Seriously, it was that good.

COMMENTERS: Post your thoughts on The Avengers in the comments. SPOILERS MUST MUST MUST BE TAGGED or your comments will be deleted and you will be banned from commenting. DO NOT RUIN THIS MOVIE FOR ANYONE.

Earth’s Most Magnetic Heroes

Wow, we haven’t seen the Evil Fox Executive in a LONG time. I know Fox doesn’t have anything to do with The Avengers, but who else could be behind such a nefarious plot besides Joss Whedon’s oldest nemesis? Who else would want to take something good and geeky and pure like The Avengers and turn it into a commercial for fucking bullshit “magic” magnetic bracelets?

The Doctor Is In T-Shirt, Funny Doctor Who Parody Shirt, Charlie Brown, Sci-Fi

I’ve shared my thoughts on the carnival scam that is Magnetic/Hologram/Power Bracelets in the past. Let’s just say I am not in favor of them as those who sell them prey on the uninformed with parlor tricks and chicanery. In exchange for a bit of misplaced blind faith and $25 – $50 each mark gets the promise of a no effort, no side effect miracle cure for basically everything and the only convincing they require is a bit of slight of hand and some extremely vague technobabble. I seriously want to rage-flip the kiosks selling these things every time I see them in the mall.

So why am I upset about them again? Apparently there is a subplot in The Avengers that involves Tony getting a set of magnet bracelets as a gift which inspires him to make a new suit of armor (possibly his current nano-tech/neural interface armor). This would be innocuous enough (you can see him putting them on when he confronts Loki), except that Marvel and Paramount are actually shilling for a real $200 bullshit magnet bracelet that you can actually buy if you are A) the stupidest dummy in the world B) suffer from the fictional condition known as improperly polarized blood and C) do not understand that $200 is a lot of money which can be spent on things that are not fucking bullshit.

I uncovered this dastardly plot when watching a 7 minute prequel motion comic concerning all of the movie incarnations of Iron Man’s armor. I felt like such a fucking asshole when, during the last 30 seconds, I realized the entire thing was a set up for an ad for the bracelets. Motion comic’d Tony, upon receiving the gift, actually says “Don’t I see a lot of professional golfers and athletes wearing these?” to which Pepper replies, “They are considered a medical assistive device in China.” You know what Ms. Pots? So is ground up tiger dick! How dare they interject this fucking anti-science horsefuck into the biggest geek movie of the year?! They might as well have The Hulk raving about those Japanese foot pads that suck all the negative energy out of your body “just like the roots of a tree” because people are essentially trees and Hulks are essentially idiots. Fuck this noise. I wanted to love everything about this movie. I bet Cap keeps his 80 year old abs in such great shape wearing one of those belts that electrocutes your fat until it magically turns into an 8-pack. Just 4 easy payments of GO FUCK YOURSELF and you to can possess the abdominal excellence of a super soldier!

COMMENTERS: WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?! Am I overreacting or not reacting overly enough? Is it possible this whole thing is just a silly plot point that I have somehow self-trolled? If so, then whey is there a REAL tie in magic magnet bracelet for sale that claims to have wondrous health benefits? This isn’t just some over priced limited edition movie prop. These jackoffs actually claim “voodoo blood magicks” will occur when you wear their jewelry. Tell me I’m not crazy.

Guest Comic By Lily Watson (Age 5)

The Doctor Is In T-Shirt, Funny Doctor Who Parody Shirt, Charlie Brown, Sci-Fi


Hang on, there must be something in both my eyes. 

I am flying out to Chicago today, so I decided rather than posting some filler I would share with you the side project I’ve been working on with my daughter. It’s called Daddy/Daughter Digital Drawing Time. First some back story: Last December at Dragon’s Lair Webcomics Rampage I picked up the first trade of DC Comics Tiny Titans to bring home to my daughter. I’d been wanting to introduce her to comics and it seemed the perfect title to do just that. The stories are genuinely interesting and funny, but still at a level she can fully absorb and the art is just fantastic. She tore through the first trade in a few days (well, my wife read it to her a little each night before bed as the kiddo was 4 at the time and still learning to read). It turns out that comics are a pretty fantastic way to get young children interested in reading. More so than any other book in her vast library (quite literally hundreds of books), she was super engaged and really trying to read the words to keep up with the pictures and NOT getting frustrated when things got tough like she normally does. I realized we had found a winner and we picked up another trade at Barnes and Noble. Again, she was enthralled. Unfortunately the series ended right around the time we discovered it, but there are still another 5 or 6 trades to pick up which should be plenty for her.

C2E2 in Chicago is this weekend! I’ll be with Blind Ferret at Booth 432. More details HEREIf you are coming to C2E2, you really don’t want to miss our panel:

Panel: Webcomics Roundtable With Blind Ferret and Explosm!
Date: 4/14/2012      Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM      Location: N426c

Since my daughter has been old enough to hold a stylus, we’ve been drawing on my Cintiq together. At first she would scribble in Photoshop or play with the shape tools. Then she got hooked on KidPix, a drawing app for kids with an unnecessary amount of silly noises, goofy animations and a UI designed specifically to annoy parents and delight children. I don’t remember if it was my idea or hers, but a few weeks ago we decided that she was going to draw a character from Tiny Titans. I realized as we were getting started that this was her very first attempt at replicating pre-existing art. This was essentially how I learned to draw. I would look at panels from Amazing Spider-Man or my Marvel trading cards and do my best to recreate them on paper. This exercise really trains your artistic muscle memory and helps you develop a base skill set to work with when it comes time to create you own original art. So she decided on drawing Raven. I found a reference image, opened a new Photoshop document and set up a brush tool that I thought she could work with easily. I introduced her to the concept of “inking” vs. “coloring” and made sure she was working on the appropriate layer. As she drew I tried not to tell her what to do, but instead ask her questions that might lead to discoveries. “Is that circle the same size as Raven’s head?” or “Are those legs the same length? Do you want them to be?” etc. For the most part she would start by just drawing an arm or a leg the way she always does. After reminding her that we were trying to make it look like the picture, she would stop, think about it for a second then try again. This was one of those proud Daddy moments that sticks with you forever. My little girl was learning how to look at the world like an artist. “How big is this in relation to that?” “What shapes is this made of?” “How many lines does it take to do this?” These are the questions that artists ask themselves 1000 times a day without even realizing it. I’ve always thought the difference between an artist and a non-artist was just the ability to see things for what they’re made of, their base components, and then store and index that information for later retrieval and output. In my brain right next to “my house is grey” is “my house is 2 rectangles, 2 triangles, a square…” and so on. AND SHE WAS LEARNING HOW TO DO THIS! AT FIVE! I was beaming and she was having a blast. She was so happy at the results she told me to “show them to all of my friends,” so I started posting them on Tumblr.

It’s not about teaching my daughter to be an artist. If she gives it a shot and decides she likes softball better, then that’s her choice to make. For me, it’s about exposing her to who I am, what I care about and what I know. I want to show her how to do the things I know how to do, and make her understand why I do them. Why I care about them. I want to be the voice in her head long after I’m gone that asks “Are those legs the same length? Do you want them to be?” just before she says “Nope. Who cares if they are?” and goes back to doing it her own way. I believe this is the way that we, as parents, pass on more than DNA. I started this comic specifically so I would be proud of the answer when my daughter was old enough to ask what I did for a living. Five years into this experiment and I’m prouder than I ever could have imagined, but not of myself. I’m proud of her, and grateful that I get to be the one to show her how to draw super hereoes. Seriously, what is going on with my eyes? There’s definitely something in both of them.

COMMENTERS: Did you parents or any influential adult in your life teach you a skill or get you interested in a hobby as a child?  Did you stick with it? How did that experience affect who you are today, or how you might parent your own kids?

Special thanks to Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani for making such a fantastic comic. Without Tiny Titans as catalyst, I’m not sure we would have started drawing like this together. Whether they ever know it or not, they’ve helped create a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Check out more of there work at Blindwolf Studios. I hope I get to see them and say thanks at C2E2 this weekend. Maybe I’ll bring them a print of this “guest comic.”

So Much Ado, So Little Time

Wil Wheaton and I got excited and made this “Fighting Time Lords” shirt for you! No, really. Specifically FOR YOU.

Gallifrey University Fighting Time Lords Shirt - Doctor Who parody, geeky tees, funny t-shirts,  nerdy shirts

[For the confusified…]

The man is a machine! And not the “rise up and destroy humanity” kind. He’s more the “I’m making the biggest super hero movie of all time, but I’ve got a weekend off so I guess I gather up all my geek actor friends and make a different movie” kind of machine. I’m not sure of which type I should be more afraid. I mean, as long as Joss Whedon has positive outlets in which to channel his remarkable drive and creativity, I think we’re more or less safe. But what if we have another writers’ strike or some kind of worldwide moratorium on filmed geekiness? What then? I’m talking doomsday devices, cyborg armies, skyscraper-sized monitors barking quipy dialog and cardigans… CARDIGANS FOR ALL! Can the humanity survive a ginger despot with endless supplies of both imagination and ambition? You know how he likes to kill off characters.

COMMENTERS: Whedon came up with the Buffy musical because he and the cast would sit around and play songs and have sing alongs. He made “Much Ado” because he would host impromptu Shakespeare readings at his home. What other “me and my buddies” hangin’ out activity do you think Joss should make a movie about next? Backyard BBQ with Neil Patrick Harris (OMGWTFBBQNPH)? Alternately, what other public domain work would you like to see Whedon adapt?