Monday, August 31, 2009

The Separation of Reason and State.

Evolution is not a religion, but don't tell that to the parents of students attending the Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia. The public high school, I might add, though doing so depresses me greatly.


ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE wins Zuda Competition

Congratulations Robert and Kuen! I know how much effort you put not just into the comic, but the competition, and the win is well-deserved.


Monday, August 24, 2009


(EDIT TO UPDATE: Apparently, the story linked to below was from 1970. Why it's on Time's website now, I've no idea, but I'm glad to discover the world's not as completely bats#!& insane as I thought it was a few minutes ago.)

There are times when comedy and satire are unable to keep pace with reality and just break down. Take, for instance, this story about a New Jersey judge denying a couple with "high moral and ethical standards" the right to adopt because they don't believe in a Supreme Being.

I happen to believe in a supreme being (I married her), but even if I didn't, I mean, Jesus Christ...


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flashback to Andrew as an Angry Young Man

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I went to art college, I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with friends in the studio space given to fourth year drawing students.

This hanging out would occur at all hours of the day and night. At the time, the Alberta College of Art (but not yet Design) was open 24 hours a day, and the Nastys, as our teachers referred to a specific group of us, took full advantage of it. To this day, I shake my head with regret over the plight of ACAD’s current student body, many of whom may never know the joy of slapping paint on a 10x12 foot piece of cardboard, blind drunk at three in the morning. Those were the days, or so I’m told. It’s all kind of a fog now, but I can’t imagine we’d have done it so often if we weren’t enjoying it.

On one fairly mellow Wednesday night, I and a couple buddies were sitting around the candlelit studio, discussing the kinds of intensely deep thoughts that only pretentious 22-year old art students can have, when one of the commissionaires that patrolled the school in the wee hours poked his head in the door.

This was a bit of a surprise; not because he poked his head in, but because of the door it was poked in, which was the door that was A) actually in the wall of “our” space, and B) generally used only by the uptight jewellery technician next door to pound violently on as punctuation for his threats on our lives if we didn’t quiet the #*%& down right now. It was rarely, if ever, opened, and when closed, always locked. So it swinging open at this late hour was a bit of a surprise.

As it happened, it swung open in such a way that when the commissionaire poked his head in, he couldn’t see me standing behind it. I didn’t see any particular reason to reveal myself, so I stood there behind the door while the commissionaire made some gruff comments to my friends. I recall the phrase “hanky panky” being used, which struck me as odd, because the old guy’s tone let me know it was being used in a thoroughly unironic way. Anyway, after exchanging a few words with my fellows, the door closed and we resumed our conversation, thinking nothing of the incident…

…Until Thursday morning, when rumours of homosexual activities of an oral nature taking place in the drawing studios the night before filled the halls. That afternoon, the head of the department posted a memo all over the drawing department’s area, declaring all sexual activity in the studios off-limits.

This bothered me on multiple levels. First, I’d been in the drawing studios that night, and there hadn’t been any sexual activity, homo or otherwise, taking place. At least, not unless three mildly inebriated young men discussing their frustration with that at the time all-important area of their lives counted. Secondly, it seemed to me that art college was not an appropriate place for restricting any consensual activity between people who at least thought they were adults. Like it or not, sex is a huge factor in Art, experimenting, experiencing, and expanding one’s mind likewise huge when it comes to art education. I really didn’t see any good reason for the folks in charge trying to stop sex from taking place inside school walls. Admittedly, my reasoning at the time was influenced by my desperate belief that it was at least theoretically possible that some girl might throw herself at me in the studio, and my desire not to have that possibility (which, alas, never did become a reality) snuffed out by a cruel and uncaring head of the drawing department.

Above and beyond all that, it was (still is, actually) my belief that the reaction from those in authority wouldn’t have been so severe if the supposed sexual activity had been of a more hetero flavour. The more I thought about the whole thing, the more pissed off I got. Finally, I felt compelled to do… something.

The natural and obvious path was to use the incident as inspiration for a piece of art. But by this point in my evolution I was increasingly of the mind that capital-A Art as I understood it was a self-indulgent activity, and Art intended to convey Important Ideas was doubly so--the equivalent of feeling satisfied that one’s “done their part” to combat bigoted morons by joining an anti-homophobia facebook group. No, if I was going to address this at all, it was going to have to be in the form of something other than Art.

My commentary took the form of a second memo, with ACA letterhead, with the head of the department’s (inverted) signature at the bottom, that was hung in close proximity to the original memos. This memo expanded the general theme of the first one, getting into the specific kinds of sexual activity that wasn’t going to be permitted. As the list of forbidden acts went on, it grew increasingly more ridiculous; among other things the memo banned all discussion of gender issues in any context, and the removal of men/women washroom signs. If I hadn’t been writing in hot blood, I’d probably have had the memo ban the use of periods.

I hung the memos around two on Friday morning, and went home to bed.

At around 10AM that same day, the insistent squawk of the duckphone roused me from the sleep of the just. I answered; my friend Amy was on the other end of the line. “Andrew, is it true you wrote the sex memo?” she asked. I smiled smugly to myself, and admitted I had. “Uh, you probably shouldn’t come to school today.”

According to Amy, the department head was on the warpath. He was out to find, expel, and possibly kneecap the memo’s author. I couldn’t believe it; all the crap I and the Nastys had pulled over the last couple years, and this was what was going to get me kicked out? That was the situation as Amy understood it. I took her advice and didn’t go into school that day.

I was terrified. As much as I enjoyed playing the rebel, the notion of being expelled was a kick in the gut, largely because of the investment my parents had made in my education. I was seriously upset when I called them Friday night to explain why their son might be getting kicked out of art college a scant few months before he was scheduled to graduate with distinction.

Mum and Dad took the news with more grace than I deserved. Dad recalled a note Mark Twain had written to a friend, explaining that he’d made a complaint about something and then signed the friend’s name to it, as the complaint would carry more weight that way. Mum fell back on her over the years oft-repeated justification for her son’s general uselessness: “We raised you to be an artist.”

By Monday, the whole thing had blown over. The memos had been removed and the department’s official policy was to pretend nothing had happened. I went on to graduate with distinction a few months later and promptly failed to establish anything resembling a viable career as an painter. Eventually I moved away from Art and into the much lower overhead area of writing, which I’ve always tried to approach from the perspective of a craftsman.

I’d rather entertain than educate. On the whole, I generally try to avoid dealing with Important Issues in my writing. On those occasions something bothers me enough that I feel compelled to discuss it publicly, now, as in college, my tendency is to use satire as the vehicle for self-expression.

At the same time, whenever I do something like, for instance, paste a Hitler mustache on Trig Palin to make a point about the overuse of the term “nazi” , I find myself reliving those ugly hours in college, between the time I said something I felt needed to be said, and the time I had to deal with the fallout of saying it...


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One of the best reasons I've come across yet to move to the USA.

So I could vote for Barney Frank.

Not nearly good enough to actually do it, mind, but that's the kind of response I like to see from liberal politicians confronted by demented nutjobs.


Also, my latest post at MightyGodKing is up.


Monday, August 17, 2009

No public option?

Mumbles (incoherently)

It's hard to express what's on one's mind when what's on one's mind would best be expressed by a phrase like "Frgghluh mmlrrgh nurr. Nurr, nurr. NURR." But it's been a week and I feel like I really ought to post something, so NURR it is...


This is pretty awesome. "This" being a post that features Carson van Osten's "Disney Comic Strip Artist's Kit." Everyone who's interested in comics (strips or otherwise) as a storytelling medium really owes it to themselves to look at the Kit. I'm glad I encountered it now, just a few days before I do a public critique of Jay Bardyla and Daniel Schneider's WEIGHTLESS (not FLIGHTLESS, as I previously referred to it, in fact, pretty much the polar opposite of Flightless.)

Link via The Beat.


The intense pressure of posting two to three times a week at Mightygodking has had an unforeseen effect on my general online demeanour, leading to me doing something I don't think I've ever actually done before, and definitely haven't done more than a handful of time, if at all, which is to post something and then delete it without someone else asking me to. This turns me into something of a hypocrite; I've long maintained that people should have the guts to 1) take responsibility for what they write by signing their name to it, and 2) stand by what their words, taking the heat and apologizing for them if they were out of line, but not deleting them.

Earlier this year I broke the first rule, posting under an alias at Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood site. As long-time readers may recall, I felt so bad about this that I immediately wrote a post exposing my own hypocrisy, if only to the two or three people who read this thing.

The second rule I broke a few days ago over at the Canadian Geek forums, after I launched into an unnecessarily snarky reply to another poster, accusing them of resorting to cheap rhetorical tricks to try and score points for a weak argument while using pretty much the same cheap rhetorical tricks to attack them. So I deleted it, I'd say less than a minute later and I think before anyone had a chance to read it. Even so, it makes me feel a little squicky.

The whole incident did bring my attention to the aforementioned effect posting at MGK has had on me. To me, the site's strong point has always been owner and prime mover Christopher Bird's humour, so when I was given a shot, my intention was to post primarily humourous pieces over there (something I wasn't entirely successful with this last go round.) But humour's not really something that comes naturally to me, it's something that I really need to work at (at least I need to do that to get it right.) In the face of needing to find two or three things I can spin comedy out of a week, I find myself framing everything I come across, every interaction I have as either grist for the mill (which is mostly OK and something I reckon most writers do regardless of what they're working on) or as a potential target for ironic mockery.

This is fine when I'm coming across, say, Sarah Palin being a lying, idiotic cowbeast. It's not so fine when someone who doesn't deserve to be a target ends up in the crosshairs. And that's what happened when I posted at C-Geek. Someone said something that pissed me off, and I opened up with both barrels when all that was really required was a flyswatter. I don't think I wrote was particularly unfair, or even unreasonably rude, and some of it I think was mildly amusing. But what I do think it was was unhelpful and unnecessary. Letting it stand wasn't going to help anything and in fact I think it would've pretty much killed any possibility of a civil discussion going forward. In the face of that, I did what I never do and deleted the comment. And under the same circumstances I'd do it again. But hopefully, now that I've noticed how I'm approaching things at the moment, the same or similar circumstances won't happen again.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Some Housekeeping Notes


So just before I hit "publish" on my last post, I thought, "Hmmm...I can't be the first one to think of this; someone else must have done something with Barackest Night." So I googled "Barackest Night" and it appeared that nope, I was free and clear. Sometime after I posted, I googled Barackest Night--without the quotes--and was mortified to discover the existence of this.

So, for what it's worth, I want to publicly apologize to J. Caleb Mozzocco for accidentally stealing his bit. On the upside, as far as I can tell, pretty much nobody read the thing.



“Oh $#!&.”

These were the first words out of my mouth when I received Christopher Bird’s reply to my inquiry regarding his recent call for new co-bloggers at Said inquiry consisted of me telling him who I was, what I’d done that might make me seem like a feasible addition to MGK, and showing him the "Barackest Night" post.

This was actually done in a transparent attempt to get him to link to that particular post, which I maintain is pretty funny even though it sunk like a stone with whatever readership this blog has. What I didn’t expect was the reply I got, which was basically, “OK, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes.”

My first two MGK posts can be found here and here.

What this means for this blog is that anything that fits into the "Well I thought it was funny" category's probably going to end up over at MGK, while this will become slightly dryer in tone. Also, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I spent a lot of time here dissecting posts I made there. We'll see.



Friend of the blog Robert Burke Richardson has a new strip appearing in August's contest, ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE. Currently it's got the top spot; it'd be nice to see it hold it till month's end. Go read it, and if you like it or are otherwise inclined to give Robert & Co. a hand, register at Zuda if you haven't already and vote for it.



For those interested in comics creation who're in the Edmonton area and don't already know, at 1:00PM on Sunday, August 23 at Happy Harbor Comics' V1 location, I'll be doing a powerpoint presentation on Jay Bardyla and Daniel Schneider's comic FLIGHTLESS. Basically, I'll be going through it, probably on a panel-by-panel basis, and doing more or less what I do when I'm hired to edit a comic, pinpoint problems, try and offer solutions, and generally nitpick the thing into submission. This process is generally not a lot of fun for me or the people I'm critiquing, so I don't know that it'll be a particularly entertaining show. That said, I do think it's an important part of the creative process that a lot of people, especially those new to the industry, would be well-served to understand, as in the absence of an editor it falls on creators' shoulders to ensure their work is as good as it possibly can be.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

For Immediate Release


New series to be “the comics event of the eight to twelve months it takes to release all seven issues”

Ten months after everyone else jumped on the bandwagon, DC Comics was pleased to announce Friday that Barack Obama would finally appear alongside such superheroes as Superman, Batman, and Arm Fall Off Boy, but not, they hastened to add Spider-Man or Iron Man. Said DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz,“Those characters belong to another company. Who let this guy in here?”

In the wake of the Grant Morrison-penned miniseries Financial Crisis, universally panned by comic and economic fans alike for presenting the global economic recession as the product of a lack of imagination on the part of corporate interests, some at DC were reluctant to once again include real world elements in a major comics crossover event.

“It’s true, I didn’t really want to feature President Obama in our comics,” said DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio. “But sales of Amazing Spider-Man #583 were enough to convince (DC parent company) Time Warner to say, ‘Get on board the Obama money train before it leaves the station or your bald ass is fired.’”

During the next DC Creators summit, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, along with the seventeen other exclusive DC writers nobody pays any attention to, were tasked with bringing Barack Obama into the DCU in a way that nobody would ever forget. The result: BARACKEST NIGHT. “It was Geoff Johns who came up with it, though I’m pretty sure I saw Grant put something in his drink. Right after Geoff suggested it, he started screaming something about bats and had to be physically restrained as he tried to take all his clothes off.”

Morrison continued the story of BARACKEST NIGHT’s creation in an unintelligible Scottish accent. After politely asking the eccentric popmag!c superstar never to speak on DC’s behalf ever again, DiDio said, “The bottom line is this: we’re going to have Obama in our comics, presented in a way we haven’t seen before outside of Fox News: as the ultimate supervillain.

“With world finance in a continuing freefall, a failing attempt to bring about a public health care system the vast majority of Americans wholeheartedly support, and plagued by lunatics insisting he offer up his birth certificate, Obama does what anyone else would do: he uses the Spear of Destiny (last seen in Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron, I think) to summon the Antiguardians of the Universe from their home planet of O’a’.

“The Antiguardians offer Obama the power of the Long Green Lantern to turn all his hopes for America into reality. All he must surrender is his soul. He accepts the bargain, and hears the words that will utterly, completely, no-BS I mean it this time, totally 4realz Uguyz, change the DC Universe forever: ‘National Deficit: Rise.’ It’s up to the superheroes of the DCU, specifically Hal Jordan and the other members of what’s now known as the Short Green Lantern Corps and, because their book’s sales numbers suck, The Outsiders, to avert disaster.”

The creative team for the series includes legendary artists George Perez, Jim Lee, JG Jones, Frank Quitely, Rob Liefeld, Adam Kubert, and a bunch of others that’ll be brought in at the last minute when it becomes clear the original team couldn’t meet a deadline with a gun to their heads. As for writing chores, said DiDio, “After Grant Morrison told me to piss off and with Geoff Johns spending some time at a California state mental facility, it was clear to everyone there was only one man who could do this book justice, a manly man, a real man, a manly real manly man, and that real manly manly real manly man is Chuck Dixon.”

According to Dixon, “Writing a major DC Comics crossover is the culmination of my comics career.” He added, “Is waterboarding torture? I’ll concede that it is. Does it represent a shameful period in American history that we all need to forever beat ourselves up over? No.”