Sunday, December 19, 2010

12/20/2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the rest!

This year, I've really rediscovered my Christmas spirit thanks to M. The best present I could ever hope for is given by her every day.

Apologies if you did not get a Christmas card from us this year. My printer ran out of ink and by now, it's just too late to get them in the mail.

Friday, November 26, 2010

REPOST: I'll Draw Just About Anything For You!

Want some original art? Got a character that you love? Need a unique gift for someone? I’ll do commissioned drawings. These will not be sketches, but fully rendered drawings, detail depending on the subject you request. All drawings will be on 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock, making them easy to find a frame for. Depending on the subject matter, the medium will be charcoal or ink. Either way, you’ll have a nice darkly rendered drawing to show off. The price for a drawing is $25, as long as you’re not asking for more than three people in it.

I hear you asking, how will this work?

First off either e-mail me at carpaltunnelpress@gmail.com or private message through Facebook, letting me know what you want. If you want a likeness of someone, send me a photo. I draw comics, but for you, I’ll draw just about anything. When I’m done, the time period varying based on my schedule, the difficulty of the subject, and your own needs, I’ll e-mail you a watermarked scan of your drawing, at a resolution of 72 dpi.

How do you get money to me? I prefer PayPal, but you can mail me a check, if you want. Once I have the money, I’ll mail you your drawing in a plastic sleeve and inside a reinforced envelope, clearly marked “DO NOT BEND.” If you have trouble with your mailman bending your large mail to fit, consider having it sent to a work address.

New Strips on the Horizon.

That's right, new comics are coming, the two weeks I spent in painting mode are done and an unexpected hole in my scheduling has left me plenty of drawing time. I may just get Factor of 01 finished by the end of the year after all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11/19/2010

Whew! Bet you thought there wasn't going to be a strip today, didn't you?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

11/01/2010

I've decided not to countdown. You guys know it'll be around the end of the year, so counting down is pointless. I'm not entirely satisfied with this strip, but after a while, you have to cut it loose and say so long.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

10/25/2010

We're into the home stretch, now! Beginning next strip, each post will be titled with a countdown to the finale. I'm shooting for the end of the year, then taking a week or two to get ahead on the next storyline.

Currently, I'm debating collecting all strips and annotations in one volume, but given the state of my finances, I'd have to print it as a minicomic, and that would be one bulky minicomic, and I'd have to forsake my usual cardstock cover. More on that as it comes closer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"...While You're Making Other Plans"

Sunday has come and again I've found myself halfway done on a strip and too much to do on top of drawing a comic. In an effort to get this story done by the end of the year, this next week will see two new strips. That is my resolve.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Working on Getting Ahead.

I know that it's been two weeks, but this week, I should have some time to get ahead on the strip while I get situated in my new surroundings. I am taking some steps now at life after Factor of 01. I am also looking at making some changes in the general look and content of this web site.

Now, because I just don't wan this to be another "the strip is late" entry, I want to turn you on to one of the inspirations for the current incarnation of Jet-Pack Jenny. Peter O'Donnell's strip Modesty Blaise has the tone and attitude that I'd love to emulate here. Granted Modesty isn't the type of character that I'd want Jenny to be, but in almost every storyline I've read thus far, the hints of Modesty's past are always intriguing enough to keep me reading looking for something new that's revealed. I know that it's all known by now, and I don't yet have a complete collection of the stories, but it always comes into play in the story. The current story owes a lot to O'Donnell's character, even though Jenny's role in her world owes more to Ian Fleming's spy than to Modesty, but the more I read of Peter O'Donnell's adventurer, the more that character places her hooks in Jet-Pack Jenny.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So This Is What's Going On...

So, it was my birthday, and M gives me breakfast in bed, which is always good, and instead of a card, presents me with a nice little presentation book she made, and in it, popped the question. I thought about it, and said yes. You only live once, and this woman is definitely worth taking the plunge again. On our second date, I knew that I cared deeply about her and after just a month knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I was just going to take my time with it. She beat me to the punch.

As I mentioned, I refer to her as M because she currently enjoys a level of Internet privacy that is almost unheard of. I've seen other cartoonists refer to loved ones by pseudonyms, as well. Because I care deeply for her and recently realized how much of my personal life was online, I'm finally and formally adopting a pseudonym for professional work, including here. As far as Internet privacy for me goes, the genie is out of the bottle, and there's no getting him back in, but for M and my new family, I can make efforts to keep things regarding them much more private.

I'm really looking forward to being married again. M is very different from my first wife, but in the good ways, very similar. I'm going to spend every day of the rest of my life being worthy of her.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Life Is What Happens When You're Making Other Plans

More delays in the comic. On Tuesday I had the displeasure of dozing off behind the wheel and scraping a guardrail. I'm all right and uninjured, but got the wake-up call that given how much I drive, I have to be sleeping more than four hours a night. With the engagement, a new job hunt is underway in the Charlotte area. I do work on the comic but time is a little more restrictive right now, and my readers deserve quality, not quantity. Please bear with me, and I'll get updates done as quickly as I can. The story is in its final stages and will be finished by the end of the year, EASILY.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Okay, I Officially Suck Now

The next strip is in progress, but this has turned into a very busy time. Between a new relationship and a new, full time job, things are suffering and not just the strip. I just ask that you bear with me while I get back on schedule, an get a few strips in the can to avoid any further delays.

Before anyone asks, yeah I have a girlfriend, and no, she has a level of Internet privacy that's practically unheard of for someone that spends as much time online as she does, so even on Facebook, I refer to her only as "M," in an effort to maintain that privacy. And before anyone assumes anything, the job is the primary reason that the strip has fallen behind. I have an hour round trip commute, and 40+ hours a week of mentally draining work. The schedule I worked so carefully on with my prior job schedules just don't work with this one, so I have to find a new schedule.

That has got me thinking post Factor of 01, and I am completely open to collaborating with another artist on the next story. If anyone is interested, just email me at carpaltunnelpress (at) gmail.com

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It Is NOT a Hiatus

There will be no new strip this Monday. However, I'm doing my best in the next 9 days to get a little ahead on the comic, and avoid any further delays.

The day job hours are a little rough, and on top of that, I'm trying to work on the side to earn some extra cash needed to do things like oh, get a driver's license, and eat.

In the next week, also look for a little shameful plugging and shilling as things progress here in the wonderfully productive world we call Carpal Tunnel Press.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Enjoy a Video While You Wait

It's coming later today I swear. In the meantime enjoy anice little video I discovered this morning before my shower.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WHAT?!? AGAIN?!?

Yeah, late again, and no good excuse, except this new schedule is screwing with my drawing routine. I am not gonna wait until next week to post the latest strip though. I am going to work on it every spare moment I have. until it's posted. Hopefully that'll be by Tuesday, but I'm not making promises, because I do have errands to run. I also am shooting to get ahead a little on the strip.

Yeah, i know I've said that last bit before.

Just throwing a little out to the universe, but would anyone be interested if I ran some guest strips after this current story is over? Hell, would anyone be interested in doing guest strips?

UPDATE: The week has been insane. My day job isn't giving me a day off to finish lettering the strip, much less recover from last weekend's adventure out of town. On top of that, my phone needed to replaced and the week ended with car trouble. I'm seriously working on getting back into a regular schedule soon.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Just letting you know...

There's a pretty good chance that there'll be no new strip this week. My weekend is pretty busy and I'm never gonna rush a strip to get it posted. It'll be good, and if it's late, so be it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Open Letter

Before I go any further, I need to state openly how sorry I am to have been a burden over the past few months. I hope in some small way, this letter will go towards repairing any rifts that I may have created. I am the type of person that feels the need to talk out my feelings rather than just let them lie. These things need to be said and if you think that they're being said to you, then they probably are.

When I left Savannah I was leaving things behind that I didn't want to face. I didn't want to face the prospect of trying to balance paying at best, half of a seriously high rent, on top of facing down the prospect of not being able to afford my bills. I also didn't like the idea of running into my ex-wife around town. As a city, I loved Savannah, and it was my home for so long, that to this day I still miss it and compare any new place to it. I hate that I left a few really good friends behind, since they were there for me as I prepared for the beginning of probably the worst one year period of my life. If I didn't say it before, I'm saying it now, thank you.

I went from Savannah to Orlando, where I had the most friends, and it seemed like the most promise. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. It took nearly a month to get any employment at all, and it was only part time and at what was almost minimum wage. I had to replace my car and with help from my parents, was able to go a little way towards keeping me in Orlando. Unfortunately, every time a full time job looked promising, it fell through. Additional part time jobs even fell away. Every month it seemed I was depending more and more on my parents, whose support from three states away could only go so far. I tried very, very hard to make Orlando work, but my credit ran out, my money ran out and my safety net couldn't go any farther. I could have gone another month like this, but without full time employment at a decent salary, I would have to leave Orlando, and after another month of helping to support me, I wouldn't have the money to move, and the next month would be without any assistance, not by ultimatum, but because the money simply wouldn't have been there.

Likewise, it was a hard decision to leave another city. I had fallen in love with Orlando, and had made new friends. My friends there were great, but I didn't burden them with many of the details of my predicament, or what it was doing to me, emotionally. If there had been any way to stay in Orlando, I would have taken it. I find myself moving back to the town I had spent the first part of my adult life to leave behind.

I did make a few mistakes in the month after returning to North Carolina. I rushed into a relationship that I was ill-prepared for. I underestimated the side effects of letting prescriptions lapse. I treated old friends in a manner that was not consistent with what they deserved. For a few weeks, I spent almost every day at the nadir of emotional health. I really worried about where I would be over the course of a few days. There were some bright spots in this part, and that was the start of a new, full-time job. The start was delayed a little by a wait for enough new employees to start a proper training class.

So now I am working full time, preparing to enter a new phase of my job, and getting paid enough to meet some of my obligations. There are still some difficult steps to make, but with some stress off of me, I think I can handle it. Lenoir and I have come to an understanding, because of a good local music scene that presents some nice, cheap entertainment at least once a week. I also recently met someone who looked at Lenoir differently than everyone else I'd known, through new eyes, seeing all the nice, charming efforts to make downtown Lenoir a nice place to live. With the added benefit of free WiFi, downtown Lenoir and I have an understanding, I may not love it, but I can live with it for as long as I need to.

Again, I apologize for making demands on friendship. I was not in my right mind, and not making rational decisions. I was reacting to situations in a way that was not the way I should act, nor would act if I were in my right mind, without all the stresses that I was under. I'm ready to start fresh and move on. I hope you can forgive me so we can move on. If you need me, you know where to find me.

Sorry To Say It

We're gonna have a repeat of last week, with the strip going up sometime on Monday. If there's any explanation, it's that I got ill this week with some type of stomach bug. I'm working on it tonight, and then some more tomorrow. As soon as it's done, I'll get it put up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sorry Sorry Sorry Sorry

I completely blanked yesterday and forgot to scan the strip for this week. I'll do it after work, even going to tape a note to my computer.

05/24/2010

Sorry it's late. It completely slipped my mind yesterday, stuff came up.

I'm ready to finish this thing.

I'm getting ready to finish Factor of 01. It's not that I'm sick or the story, I'm just getting another story ready to go, within my own head. It's not so much that I've chosen to work on another story, it's more that I've had the story come to me. It really seems like a Zen kind of thing, which would be neat, if I believed in that sort of thing. I create the story instead of waiting for it to create itself. However, I do realize that psychologically, I get ready for a certain story and the time is almost ready for this one.

Yeah, we're talking about Accepting Death. I need the therapy that doing this story will provide. I've become a real piece of work over the course of the past year, and there's a story in there that might help someone. When I did Too Scared To Die, a few people took the time to tell me that the story meant something to them. More importantly, doing the story helped me. The past week has been a really good week, but the experience of the past year has been one that needs to be shared.

However, I will not formally start it until I finish Factor of 01. I am not going to overload myself. I now have a full-time job and an effort to have a social life, I'm gonna make the effort to not throw too many balls in the air to juggle.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hey, Come See Me In the Park!

I have plans to be at the Caldwell Arts Council's Festival In the Park on Saturday, May 22. My plan is to have a book of my work to browse through and to be drawing Jet-Pack Jenny comics all day. That is, unless the weather decides not to cooperate. More on that later, if it proves to be a factor.

UPDATE: The rain location is the Mulberry Rec Center.

In the meantime, you might also spot me at Futs on Main Street in Lenoir Wednesday night when I'll be taking in the music of Will Willis and Patrick Crouch, while drawing a little. It's a routine for me, and you should come just to listen to the music. You should come to Futs on Wednesday nights if you can, to take in some great music. There was a great crowd last week, and there's even a little cafe in the back if you'd like a little bite to eat. I go there to take in the music, primarily. Drawing is just something else I do while listening, trying to stay out of the way, but I'll talk if you come up and say hi.

Thursday is Draw Muhammad Day.

Taken from skepchick.org.



I've yet to decide if I'm doing anything for Thursday or not.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Never Said WHEN on Monday

Sorry, but the new strip will be up late on Monday. I still need to scan and do some assembling in Photoshop before it's ready to post, and the clock has just run out on me today.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Character Flaws?

I just went back and re-read this, as I'm prone to do. It's from last October (and has been since changed to private status) and it still applies, so I'm re-posting it now.
Is it bleak and dark? Yes, at times. Now, for a spiritual person, this is the time that they fall back on their faith. However, I am not a spiritual person. True believers that do not understand the atheist mindset would say that someone in a hypothetical situation like mine as having no reason to continue. So why do I just not end the suffering now? After all, it’ll probably be bad for some time. However, I know that this is all the life I get. It’s more precious to me than it was when I was clinging to faith. I will not throw it away in the hope of something less painful waiting after death. I have this one life and when it’s done, there’s nothing left. I will not throw it away.
For the record, I have been an utter a**hole during my life, especially to my ex-wife. I have many character flaws and much of my life has been a continuous effort to repair them. However, I have always been devoted to my friends and willing to drop everything if they needed me. Whenever someone has called me in tears, I've been willing to spend hours on the phone with them. If they told me that they needed someone with them, I would be there. If you're one of my friends, I want you to know that, because I don't think I've said it often enough.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No New Strip This Week

Sorry, there's not going to be a new strip up this week. I got sick early in the week and obligations have kept me from getting work done on the comic at all this weekend. I'm going to make a concerted effort to finish the next strip early in the week.
Sorry, I'm gonna try not to let it happen again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Status Update

Looking back at the posts, I realize that I've been absent for the past couple of weeks. I figured that I should do a blog post just to say what I've been up to.

This week, I started a new job, where I'll be working for a large company that works for another, much larger company. My long time practice of not talking about my job while online prevents me from saying more than that. It's not great pay, especially for the first couple of months, but it is a full-time job, something I couldn't find in Florida. Hopefully this will help get me back on my feet, along with a major decision that I'm not going to discuss publicly for a while. I'll let some friends know privately, but it's yet another major change.

Comics-wise I'm trying to find a new routine that works with my new schedule and hopefully, get ahead on Factor of 01. I figure I'm somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through. Once I get it done, I'll determine what to do next. No firm plans yet, but Accepting Death, the Mall's revision, a revised Virginia Dare, a Cybergirl story, and the Crimson Queen of Titan are all on the docket. Trust me, I will only tackle one at a time. Depending on the next project that I choose, I'll determine my path to publishing the story. Once Factor of 01 is finished, it will be collected into one volume.

Socially, I'm trying to make new friends in North Carolina, but finding that most of my social outlets are a little bit of a drive away in Gastonia and Charlotte. To remedy this in the future, I plan on moving out of Lenoir and somewhere just South of Hickory after I get back on my feet. I'll miss the free WiFi, but the savings on gas should make up for it in the long run. Until then, Lenoir does have a local music outlet in Futs & Co. which is good to go and draw while I take in some live music. Friday night, a really good rock band named Jester's Dulcet showed up at the open mic. Will Willis is a regular there and is really good. If you're ever in the vicinity of Lenoir, take in some local music.

So, how are you doing?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

04/19/2010

Yeah, you're meant to notice that the bookcase at the end of this strip is the same as the one at the end of last week's strip, meaning that Paul spent the night. This element was in this little segment from the very beginning. I'm not trying to say anything about women in general, but Jet-Pack Jenny at times has been described by me as "James Bond in space if he was a girl." I've also read of a psychological theory that people in dangerous professions are more prone to promiscuity. While I wouldn't go so far as to call Jenny promiscuous, given the theory, she'd probably be more prone to elevate this relationship quickly.

Art-wise, I wasn't pleased with the transition between panels one and two until I glanced at it upside down. I know that the shadows in panel one aren't necessarily correct, but I am happy with how they work in an abstract sense. The best example of a comic artist that could do this successfully was Alex Toth. If I could get only a percentage of his technique right, I'd be happy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You Are Not Alone

Skepchick posted this video, and for the longest time, I felt like I was alone in being a cartoonist and a rationalist. Inherently, I knew this wasn't the case, but now it's nice to see proof.



"Do YOU have the courage to let go of your beliefs in order to grab onto what is true?"

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Focus

One more voice has been added to a chorus of people telling me to slow down. Therefore, everything is on hold EXCEPT for Jet-Pack Jenny and the Factor of 01.Don't think that I haven't noticed the few new eyes popping up on the Facebook fan page, and frankly, I'm really liking what I'm producing and the pacing of the story has turned into everything that Virginia Dare lacked.

If a small project comes up that won't get in the way, like the JREF credit card design contest, I'll do those, but I'm not tackling too much, and I'm not tackling it anytime soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not Going To Say Much

I tend to be pretty open and honest, but since I'll eventually do this one in comic form, this'll be a little vague. I've made a change in direction and as a result did some minor editing to the web site this morning. Not a complete overhaul, but you'll see at least one post moved to private, and a couple slightly edited.

Do me a favor, though, when I tell you what it is precisely, do not tell me that you're praying for me. I appreciate the effort, but if you believe in the power of prayer, there a great many other things you should pray for.

Me, I move forward, even if appears that I'm moving backwards.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Comics Are Capable Of, Part Two

I'm pre-dating this post because I've wanted to share this particular sequence from Omaha the Cat Dancer for quite a while. It has stuck in my head, and by pre-dating it, I don't want to seem to make it apply to anyone in particular, and unintentionally slight anyone. It doesn't apply to anyone in particular.


Being a friend means being there when they need you. It means being there when it's inconvenient for you. In this age of social networking where the term "friend" has been reduced to meaning the same thing as a contact, I've noticed that I get the best support and advice from people who live up to the meaning of "friend."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Comics Are Capable Of

I check out a few comics every day, and Least I Could Do is one of them. There are moments capable of with comics, and this is a prime example of one of them.



That being said, I'm going to try to encourage some discussion by asking you guys to add your favorite examples of what comics are capable of. Share in the comments section.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Life Online

Someone once voiced concern to me that I told too much about my life on the Internet. Well, there have been a few hiccups along the way, but I came to the conclusion that as a cartoonist, and now almost primarily an online cartoonist, a lot of my life is out there. Not to mention that a great deal of my personal life goes into my comics, even if they're not autobiographical.

A good cartoonist puts themselves into their work. I did it in Factor of 01 on August 4, 2010 when Tom Winchester says "I've lost my family." Yeah, that panel was all me. I'm currently starting a new autobiographical comic, and the stories I've done in the past that were autobiographical have put me in a position where I have to be completely honest in my personal life. Do I share everything? No, but the stuff that I share I need to be honest about. I still stand by the opinion that I formed ten years ago. If I'm not being honest with my readers, then why in the world would they want to read more from me?

With other people, it's different. I wouldn't include anyone in a story without at least their knowledge. In the case of the current autobiographical project, someone else will probably have a very large role in it. In this case, approval is paramount, but would I compromise the story if they were to veto? I wouldn't compromise, but I would change the structure enough to meet their concerns.

That being said, I follow the rule of behaving as if you were were already at where you wanted to be. I am a cartoonist. Eventually, I would like Jet-Pack Jenny to be better known, and people coming here to read new content to feel included in the discussion around new comics and posts that have to do with the relationship between art and science, skepticism, atheism, and politics. I want people coming here to feel like part of the process, and just like what I did on August 4, 2010, I want people to know that part of me goes into these stories and I want to feel that from time to time, they'll be part of these stories. If things go as planned, the ending to Factor of 01 will actually incorporate an idea from someone else, who made a suggestion for incorporating themes from a sonata. I'm incorporating it not because of who they were, but because it was a great idea.

That's why I life my life online.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

There Is No Such Thing As Destiny

Those of you that come here for comics will be saying that I should just be drawing, but this has been sitting in my head for a few days, and this blog is also a home to skepticism, rationalism, and logic, so please bear with me. Those of you that here for skepticism, you're welcome.

James Burke used to host a program call Connections, which detailed how seemingly unrelated historic events of varying magnitude led to a major invention in use today. That's what astounds me, especially given some recent developments in my own life .

You'll hear people, especially people in love, talk about how their current position is destined to happen. Usually this is in relation to their relationships.  This is where the skepticism comes in. The natural exercise is that for two people to be destined to meet, fall in love, etc. then their parents had to be destined to meet, and their parents, and so on, until the beginning of time. See how I can have a problem with that?

If we look back at our own lives we see all of these seemingly random events and some of them quite tragic. I've had my share of tragic events - the death of a sibling, a divorce, bouts of financial hardship, pretty much the same things everyone goes through at one point or another. However, there have been really happy occurrences as well. Christians will say "whenever God closes a door, he opens a window." I find that extremely cruel. What higher purpose did the death of my brother serve? Even if it led to me winning a Pulitzer prize, it wouldn't be worth it. I still miss him, although the pain of that loss is greatly diminished today. For it to serve a vague purpose makes God a cruel deity in my opinion.

Even if we don't invoke the deity, calling it the universe instead, destiny, or whatever, you're not doing anything different. It's still invoking magic, and I think watching a few episodes of Connections will show you that there's no such thing as destiny, just a lot of stuff that leads to a series of decisions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And The Streak Falls at Nine Weeks

No new strip this Monday. It's been a busy week, and the weekend is even busier. It's not that I've been letting myself get distracted, I've just gotten too many balls up in the air creatively. You wanna know something, though? I'm happy with having the past two months having new content every week. However, I am going to make you a deal. I will post a redrawing of an older strip, and in exchange, you forgive me. Deal?

I said do we have a deal?

Okay, for Easter Monday, I'll post a new strip AND a redrawn one, as well. Now be happy, that's all you're getting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Talk A Lot About The Future, But The Past Gets Darn Interesting, Too.

I came across this article in my daily news reading today, from the New York Times:
A previously unknown kind of human group vanished so completely that it has left behind the merest wisp of evidence that it ever existed — a single bone from the little finger of a child, buried in a cave in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia.

Researchers extracted DNA from the bone and reported Wednesday that it differed conspicuously from that of modern humans and of Neanderthals, the archaic human species that inhabited Europe until the arrival of modern humans on the continent about 44,000 years ago.

The child was probably 5 to 7 years old, but it is not yet known if it was a boy or a girl. The finger bone was excavated by Russian archaeologists in 2008 from a place known as the Denisova cave.

The researchers were led by Johannes Krause and Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. They are careful not to call the Denisova child a new human species, though it may prove to be so, because the evidence is preliminary.

But they say the genetic material, an element called mitochondrial DNA, extracted from the bone belonged to a distinct human lineage that migrated out of Africa at a different time from the two known archaic human species. Homo erectus, found in East Asia, left Africa 2 million years ago, and the ancestor of Neanderthals emigrated about 500,000 years ago. The number of differences found in the child's DNA indicate that its ancestors left Africa about 1 million years ago, the researchers say. Their report is published online in the journal Nature.


Now, science learned some time ago that Neanderthals were not a precursor to modern humans, but a separate species that lived concurrent with homo sapiens, even competing in Europe. This isn't any definite proof that another hominid species tried to claw it's way up the evolutionary ladder yet, but if it is, then the past gets more interesting, and would mean that early hominids began to leave Africa long before we previously thought. This implies a lot about our ancestors and could give indications for behavior we've not credited to our ancestors. Early man becomes an explorer much sooner, and becomes much more interesting.

Keep in mind, this is data discovered just two years ago and to extrapolate knowledge without data is just foolish, so don't think I'm assuming blindly that this is a definite new species and despite many headlines around this story, the scientists that are studying this specimen are even more cautious in calling it a new species until they have more proof. The lessons of Piltdown Man still hang in the air.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Days, My Ass

It's really odd to have one of your awakening moments be  watching a television show. Maybe I'm being naive, and a lot of people my age have similar moments where a bit of television is important in setting who they are. I've gone through a lot of effort to locate this clip, and I can only find the episode with no sound, so you'll have to bear with me describing it.

In the first season of Happy Days, there were little segments that had nothing to do with the story. I don't know if the writers were trying to add bits to be reminiscent of American Graffiti or the perceived, romanticized view of the 1950s, but in this case, there was no point in it. Ralph Malph was being a douchebag. In the fourth episode, Almost all the kids that hang out down at Arnold's get grounded because of a drag race so the place gets deserted very early, except for two very typically nerdy kids, the guy known as Moose. They share a very touching dance as the credits roll. This makes the first scene from the fifth episode all the more disturbing.

Moose is getting his order and Ralph and three kids are eagerly watching on, Ralph assuring that they just need to wait for it. Moose goes to put salt on his food when the entire shaker empties on his food, ruining it. He's visibly mad, and Ralph and the kids laugh it up. Arnold's is not huge, so Moose has to know who did it to him, but it's left alone as Potsie comes in and we get the story started.

As a kid, I saw that and thought that it was just sad. I felt bad for Moose, and could never really like Ralph Malph, because he could f**king do that to someone. Over the years the two scenes grew linked in my head and that made it all the more upsetting. Ralph was doing that to someone in public because they didn't fit in with the rest of the crowd. To do that to one of your friends is one thing, but to someone because they're an easy target is just wrong.

Growing up later, I was picked on because I didn't fit in. I was smart, I liked comics, I didn't play sports. I was an easy target. Well, I didn't have the guts to say it then, so I'll say it now.

F**k you, Ralph Malph. F**k you, anyone who did that to other kids growing up, and f**k you, anyone who thought it was f**king funny, because it wasn't.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Too Much Time Online

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time online, and given that I'm currently working out of my home, it's probably only natural that I be online as much as I am. It seems that way because in my new apartment I'm within range of free WiFi, courtesy of Google. If you have unlimited access to the Internet, you tend to use it. Most likely, after next week, I won't be online as much. There's also a lot going on that I can't really talk about until after certain things happen. To someone using the social network part of the Internet as much as I am, keeping things secret get to be a problem, really nerve-racking.

I am starting a sequel to Too Scared to Die, which hopefully will have a good start, somewhere around my move back to North Carolina. I'm most likely not going to use the same storytelling method of Too Scared, and more likely, going for a detached, narrator style of storytelling. I may decide to go with straight storytelling, telling the autobiographical story as if the characters were nothing more than characters in a story. The trick with that is that autobiographical stories never really have a sense of closure.

I am also toying around with the idea of doing some t-shirt designs, but a lot depends on if I think that the designs can work or not. I'll post a link if I decide to go through with it or not.

In the meantime, feel free to hit me up for a chat if you see me on Facebook. One on one, I can divulge some of the things I can't discuss openly just yet.

EDIT: I am starting the sequel to Too Scared to Die, the beginning is set, I believe. The real trick is to find as good a title for it as Too Scared To Die.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Because Embedding Video Makes It Look Like I'm Blogging

This is one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits ever. It was written by Tina Fey and is a great use of accents to make a joke. Seriously, If you just read this script with no accent at all, it doesn't work. It's slightly dirty... Okay, it's dirty, so don't play it at work or in front of your mom. Unless of course, you either work at or are the adult child of a really super cool person with a great sense of humor.



What I just typed also brings a question to mind. If you work in the porn industry at an office job, what's the company Internet policy? Once I worked for a company and Wicked Pictures ordered a piece of office furniture, which means that there's definitely jobs there, and it is a business, so there has to be policy and procedures, but I wonder what the policy is regarding the Internet?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Should Have Posted This Yesterday

I should have posted this yesterday but it was a busy day with meeting the Gastonia Society for Free Thought, and then doing laundry which turned into a major endeavor when the laundry room door got blocked by an unbalanced washer.


XKCD frustrates me terribly because I think that it's hilarious, but when it comes to comics, I'm a firm believer that the art is as integral as the words. XKCD uses iconic imagery to help illustrate the joke, but sometimes it gets in the way. This particular strip is one that I would love to redraw in a way that adds layer to the joke. The actors chosen for blockbuster bad science fiction action movies are always the best part of the joke as absolute nonsense dialogue is delivered with complete sincerity. A lot of times, the actors take the blame because they're the ones sent out to promote a horribly bad movie, when it's the writers that need to have their names and faces attached to absolute drivel. Mitchell and Webb did a nice little bit that illustrated this in a much more humorous way than I can manage.

Reminder About Comments

One of the reasons that I started using Wordpress was to get comments from readers. This is just a reminder that while I appreciate it when you post a reply to the link I cross post on Twitter or Facebook, I really love when you add a comment here. It doesn't take any more time, so please add a comment whenever you read a post. I do review all comments, but I don't delete any that are legitimately from readers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Comic Shop Review: Docking Bay 94

I had the pleasure of living in a great town for comics shops, Orlando, Florida. Because I've always wanted to review comic shops, I'm starting as I prepare to leave town by starting with the one that's been so kind as to carry my comics.

Docking Bay 94 is run by Rich who genuinely has a love for comics and animation. He'll talk to you for an hour if you let him. His stock is predominately back issues that are priced very affordable, especially given the prices some of the other shops in town charge for back issues. He has some toys, too, but the shop doesn't have the space. The biggest drawback for the shop is its size, and the level of competition in the area for different facets of the market. For toys, there's a shop a short drive away in Lakewood, for new comics and collectibles, the leader is a shop with several stores spaced to maximize the customer base. Back issues are the one area where Docking Bay 94 really competes as the only serious competition is a shop that lost it's Diamond account, and now apparently subsists on eBay sales. Rich is really trying hard to compete here. The back issue selection is vast and consists primarily of 1980s and 1990s comics, which is an improvement over most shops whose back issue selection consist primarily of the age of the glut when the average print run was over 100,000 copies, which means that there's a lot left over. The 1980s has a lot of good comics in its history, but I could be biased there. Nevertheless, Rich prices his back issues to be very affordable, even to the point of having a small box near the register of comics in such bad condition that they can only be termed "reading copies" as "free comics."


Recently, Rich entered into a business relationship with A Comic Shop to carry new comics and trades, and to hear Rich talk, it's been a good arrangement. It gives Rich's customers a reason to visit week after week. Rich also has started carrying comics self-published by local cartoonists, which is something no other shop in Orlando does. Some will make note of comics from major publishers that have creators local to Central Florida, but they do so for comics that they get through Diamond. Rich gets his directly from the creators. The deal with A Comics Shop has also expanded his selection of trade paperbacks and looking at the wall and talking to Rich, he can tell you about each one, and why you should buy it. He's recommended books for customers based on what else they're buying.

Rich also carries some toys, and the last time I was there, he'd purchased a huge selection of loose DC Direct figures and his central display cases were full. His toy wall is a little limited by the size of his shop. Rich loves toys and if he had a larger shop, he'd definitely would sell more, but his ability is limited by the size of the shop. Chances are you will find something that you'll want, but if you're toy shopping is very specific, you may not find what you're looking for.

Overall, this a great shop. Rich loves comics, will talk at length with you about them, and most importantly, likes his regular customers. His resources are so much better than you'd expect, and if you're out for something specific, he  will do his best to help you. If you're in Central Florida, make this store one of your stops.

Directions: From I-4, take exit 85 then head east on Princeton Ave. Turn right onto Orange and then look for Docking Bay 94 on your left in less than a quarter of a mile. Parking is available on the street and there are a couple of small parking lots nearby.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Talking Points

Arguments on a note card:



Doesn't anyone know the meaning of the word "paraphrase?"

Seriously, I watched about three hours of this before they broke for a House vote around 1PM. There's quite a few clips floating around the Internet and I could make this post about a mile long with the various things that made me angry, excited, or proud. Do yourself a favor and go watch as much of this as possible. It's really amazing at what was said by whom and how the summit was approached by all involved.

BTW, I know this is from MSNBC, which is hardly unbiased, but their video player lets you pull out a segment for sharing. While I'm not an Internet expert, I don't know of any other news outlet that lets you pull your own segment for sharing out of practically an entire episode of their programming. If there's another, please direct me to it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's That? Re-Drawing Virginia Dare?

In last week's strip I casually mentioned that I would eventually be re-drawing Flight of the Virginia Dare. I've planned to re-draw it for some time, if for no reason than I just don't like a majority of the artwork that I did 8-9 years ago. I also don't like the way the romance between Jenny and Officer Duett just kind of happens. In the revision, we'll get a tour of the Virginia Dare and a real sense of why a conventional bomb in the ballroom will damage the ship past the point where it would be space worthy, since it's a BIG ship.

There's also a bit of science that needs to be cleared up. The effort with Jet-Pack Jenny, despite the absurd name she goes by, is that the science fiction is supposed to be scientifically accurate. It's just something that really irks me when science fiction gets science wrong. Of course, it's one thing if the science fiction is from an era and the science that's wrong simply wasn't known, yet. Getting the atmosphere of Venus as habitable is fine if you're writing a story in 1952. but it's bad science if you're writing it in 2002. Ignorance doesn't count, either. That's why I'm redrawing the story.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I have convinced myself that this could be a great piano ballad, a real tearjerker.
These guys feel differently:

Congressman Schock Can't Tell You Anything.



So, if that's all that you can tell us, then why the hell are you in the Congress? What Congressman Shock is doing here, is playing the argument from ignorance. It's frankly all he can do when he's up against Rhodes Scholar Rachel Maddow, who directly squared off against him, confronting him with factual inaccuracies that he stated and all but calling him a hypocrite for touting programs in his district that were funded by the stimulus bill that he voted against and still criticizes to this day. It's a disturbing political tactic where you play the "aw shucks, I ain't nothin' like those Harvard intellectuals, I'm one of you folks." They're telling people that smart is not a positive quality.

Here's some news for you, Aaron Schock is not stupid. He got his degree in Finance in just two years from a very fine college in Illinois. He could talk intelligently about economic issues and be able to present his case very well, and his THREE committee positions (other Congressmen only take two) reflect this area of scholarship. The problem with him here arguing that he is just following the will of the people is that he is a leader, and has always wanted to be a leader. Look at his biography and you'll see that he's always wanted to lead. Representing yourself as being a follower is just being dishonest when you obviously want to lead.

This tactic that politicians use is troubling because our leaders need to know more than we do. Our leaders need to be able to know where to go to learn about issues that they're going to have to take a position on. Our leaders need to inspire us to learn about issues just because we want to relate to them. We currently have a President that has a Doctorate in Congressional Law* after having a president that didn't seem to want to read his daily briefings completely, and didn't bother to learn to say the word "nuclear."** We can like intelligent people, as long as they're engaging. It bothers me when this tactic is used, because it's not always used by intelligent people trying to seem "like normal folk," and sometimes the unintelligent people win with it.

*(TRIVIA: the only other one with a Doctorate was Woodrow Wilson)

**(FULL DISCLOSURE: I too used to say "nukular," but have since made effort to pronounce it right.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wow, she's... pretty.

Avengers #255
May 1985

Oh my gosh, it's a new review of an old comic. I must be insane. Bear with me while I should be doing something else.

SYNOPSIS:

Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) arrives at Thanos's abandoned starship, Sanctuary II, seven light hours away from Earth. Nothing seems amiss, as the station has been abandoned since Thanos's defeat. Back on Earth, both the US Government and the Avengers recover from the Vision's takeover of the world's computer networks. The Vision has decided to leave the Avengers and submit fully cooperate with a government investigation of his actions. Captain Marvel reports in and the Vision admits that he sent her on a wild goose chase.

As she goes to leave, a ship docks and two passengers, Skunge the Troll and an orange alien named Kehl attack her. The attack is called off by another passenger, a Rigellian named Gunthar. The last passenger, the apparent leader of the group, Levan apologizes. Captain Marvel stays behind because something doesn't sound right with these salvagers' story.

The Wasp returns home to learn of the Vision's takeover attempt and see him and the Scarlet Witch off, noticing that the Vision's voice has gone from flat and modulated to being more human.

Meanwhile, Levan's crew acts on their duplicity, engaging Sanctuary II's star drive, temporarily nullifying Captain Marvel's powers and abducting her millions of light years away from Earth!



REVIEW:
This a recovery issue from a previous culmination of a subplot that took a year to develop. John Buscema returned to the Avengers with this issue and his style was a welcome departure from the previous regular artist, Al Milgrom, who could draw the most unattractive women. That's all the background you need for this review.

Roger Stern's story has to accomplish a lot in this issue, including recapping the previous storyline and introduce a new sub-plot. The best element that gets pointed out late in the story is how different the Vision's voice is, depicted visually by his word balloons, which use to be rectangular with rounded corners, and now are organic and oval. Roger Stern is unknowingly giving a lesson in how to convey tone of voice here.

The art, as I've touched on, is exquisite. Captain Marvel had only briefly been drawn remotely attractive, yet despite the worst examples since her creation, John Buscema draws her as a mildly attractive woman. .


NOTES:
To my knowledge, this issue has not been collected in any trade, nor would I expect it to. This was not a very influential period in Avengers history, despite the strong creative force on it.

FINAL RATING: 7.5 (out of a possible 10)

Art wise, it's fantastic, at least a 9, but this is a recap issue, and on its own just reaches for too much and doesn't deliver enough, albeit it does well enough to get by. For a while, this review was going to be for the issue following this one, which is much better. This was a good run for Avengers, up until the culmination of the Masters of Evil multi-issue storyline. I picked my copy up for a couple of dollars, and it should be easy enough to find at an affordable price.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Call Shenanigans!

This video is from that wonderful bastion of journalism, Inside Edition.



What do I think, given the research I've done on the issue? Desiree was faking it. She wanted attention and found a way to get it and perhaps, just perhaps could get a little cash out of it. It's entirely possible that she was unintentionally faking it. The presence of a new accent is also suspicious, given that she didn't have it after her keylation therapy in late October.


I am very skeptical, especially with the explanation of a new accent. Sorry, Foreign Accent Syndrome actually seems to involve brain damage. My theory, and it's an educated guess is that Desiree just might be a hypochondriac, and reads a brief bit about a rare disease and then mimics its symptoms.

This also brings up the subject of journalism. Inside Edition shouldn't be the one thwarting these claims that the vaccine caused this woman's illness. When she's latched on to by people trying to discredit flu vaccines and is used by quack doctors to promote ineffective and expensive pseudo-medical procedures, that should be the area of major news investigation. Sadly, what we have now is a news system that doesn't investigate like it used to, so we're left with Inside Edition to do this crap, and they, quite frankly, do it badly. This should have been on 20/20 or Frontline, but I guess looking into the alt-med industry is likely to make too many viewers mad.

All that said, get vaccinated. Stop going to quacks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ka-Blam!

I just picked up my books from ka-blam! printing in Orlando, and I must say that they look very nice. The full bleed is perfectly done, the print quality is excellent, and if it weren't for the fact that I put in so few pages, it'd seem like a proper comic book. Very professional, and I couldn't be more pleased.

If you want one of these excellent books, you can order them print-on-demand through IndyPlanet. I'll put a permanent link on the web site soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's Just Math, Right?

For those of you a little more in the know about me, you already know that I've taken a second job as a tax preparer.  I took the job primarily because after doing my taxes for three years ago, each experience bringing different challenges that I overcame.  Well, knowing how to do YOUR taxes is completely different from knowing how to do EVERYONE's taxes. The real challenge is all the rules regarding the Earned Income Credit.

The EIC, as it's called because we hate syllables when an acronym will do, is something you're familiar with if you don't make a lot of money and have kids. It's free money and everyone wants it. Everyone wants it to the point of lying about it. This year, you can get credit for three children, which is one more than in previous years. From what little I've seen so far, people are so stupid as to confess to a tax preparer that they're out to defraud the government by claiming other people's children and relatives. If you're going to lie, please don't tell us you're lying. That implicates us and we are personally responsible for being certain that your tax return is correct and not fraudulent.

I don't know yet if I'm going to face any instance where I am being used to defraud the government. It's good to know that my office has already refused to file a return because it was obviously fraud.