Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Form of … A Funny Comic Strip

I’ve been thinking about the direction of this strip during the last two weeks. What I’ve decided is that there are three ways that I can go with this strip: I can continue to do college style humor, I can hone in current and past pop culture using these characters that I’ve created (and the Random Memories stuff) or I can do a bit of both until something shakes out.

Last week I did the first type of humor and it worked pretty well. Since I usually use SoSH as a spring board for the strip, I get a lot of feedback there. One of the comments I got was that [last week’s strip] worked because of its simplicity. And I agree, it was a very uncomplicated joke where hubris was the downfall. This week’s joke is a bit more complicated and will probably only hit about half of the audience (if I’m lucky).

Let me say, first off, that this isn’t some Dennis Miller rant that only college professors and fans of 18th Century English Restoration novels will get. I mean, I would wager that most people are aware of the Saturday morning cartoon the Super Friends. And of those people, the Trouble Alert was a main part of the show. However, if there are some older folks who happen upon this corner of the Internet, some real younger people who never got to see that cartoon or people who think comic books are stupid; then this strip will completely suck.

Holy Hannah! What are you blabbering about, Super Fool? Take it easy, Lex and go to to see what I mean. There all of your questions will be answered.

I think that’s the risk you take when writing/drawing about a specific genre of pop culture. In the last two months I’ve read two Chuck Klosterman books (“Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puff” and “Fargo Rock City” – two awesome books, BTW … I haven’t gotten around to reviewing them here yet, but I will) and have been plowing through the second and third volumes of the Peanuts cartoons. If you’ve been reading this Blog, then you know about my obsession with the Peanuts characters, but Klosterman is a new obsession.

The guy is a pop culture maven. He seems to remember everything and just throws as much knowledge into every book, article, essay that he can. For those that get the jokes, they really work. For those that don’t you end up feeling a bit stupid (especially if you’re from his generation [Generation X … don’t get me started on that moniker]) and if you miss enough, you get pissed at him and stop reading his stuff.

This is what I’m wrestling with right now, do I stay on the relatively easy track of writing everyman, college stories or do I delve into a more fertile ground of skewering pop culture? On one hand, the everyman college stuff seems to be done to death, I found a web site the other day (Girls and Sports) that is a dead ringer for Room19Comics. From the tone to the settings to each strip’s stories, they could be the exact same thing.

Someone SoSH hipped me to it, and frankly, it scared me. I didn’t think that there were a lot of college-based strips out there, but when I saw one that is almost exactly like mine, it made me reconsider my overall goal.

Don’t misunderstand, turning to a more pop-culture based strip isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, and to be truthful, I’m not even sure if I will do it. However, becoming the Chuck Klosterman of the comic world is an intriguing idea to me. I have an excellent memory when it comes to this stuff and it is something that comes rather easy to me. From the time I saw “Clerks” I wondered how I could do what Kevin Smith and Klosterman and Bill Simmons do. Will it work? Does a comic strip, as a medium, lend itself to that kind of writing? I don’t know … but I hope to find out.

So, to make a long story short, in the coming months expect to see more pop culture related strips and thoughts. If they suck or if you dig them, let me know. I haven’t been getting a large amount of feedback, and this is shameless begging folks, I really need it.

That’s what’s been going on in my brain for the past two weeks, aren’t you glad that I’ve been updating this Blog once a week? Turning to this week’s strip, there are a lot of cool things that I think that I did. In the first panel, I think I did a fine job with the pacing. Again, our dynamic duo are standing at the bus stop just shooting the shit, when Eddie brings up the Super Friends.

And I’ve always wondered about this, whenever the Super Friends wanted to all they had to do was turn on the Trouble Alert (that gigantic TV in their headquarters) and tell it to find the Legion of Doom. It always found them. What I thought was completely uncool is that the Super Friends would watch the LOD do their dirty work and then break into action. Superman, the Flash or the Green Lantern could get to where they need to get in under five seconds. Why don’t they do it?

For some reason, they wait until someone cries for help and then break into action.

Furthermore, who set up all of these cameras? There has to be a way for the Trouble Alert to transfer all of this information to the Hall of Justice, right? Unless it’s an insanely powerful satellite.

So, Eddie and Kurt are talking about this (Eddie, BTW, is wearing a Kansas City Scouts jersey and Kurt is wearing a “Rest in Peace Arrested Development” shirt – I am absolutely crushed about AD getting pulled from the schedule. It’s total bullshit and FOX sucks as do the public that doesn’t support a show like this.)

The second panel could be done a bit better, it’s extremely wordy and could’ve been plotted a bit better. If I could do it again, Kurt would be in the full frame. I guess it could be argued that skewing with the perspective is interesting, I’m not sure.

In the third panel, I’m not wild about the “super pervs” line either, sounds kind of forced. Should Kurt really be that mad at a cartoon? But, in all I think Eddie does a good job of being the straight man here.

The last panel is one of my favorites. I think I did a bang-up job of drawing Batman. It’s not as easy as you think, especially from behind. Also, I enjoy how I set the strip on it’s ear … is it a comic set in real life, is it a comic set in the DC world? Who the hell knows, all I know is that Eddie’s paranoia was rewarded.

And the best part is that I got to make fun of Aquaman. There is no better comic character in the world to rag on than AM, especially the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends version. He’s the best, mainly because he’s such a pussy. You would figure that a guy who ostensibly controls 75% of the world would be tougher, but he’s not. In the comics, they ripped off his hand and replaced it with a hook and made him more mean, but he’s still Aquaman in my book. Also, the WB is coming out with a “Smallville”-esque type Aquaman show for next year.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading 19Thoughts for any length of time, you know how I love to write about him (go through the archive, I hate to pat myself on the back, but it’s really some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever written. I love writing for douche bags.) The last panel has two jokes in one, really: Batman spying on the boys and Aquaman’s horny admission.

So there you go, a long-winded explanation and a meandering meta column. If you’ve read this far, I commend you.