Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can You Take Me Higher?

Before I get into the comic stuff, I just want to thank everyone who stopped by the site last week. On Thursday (Dec. 1) there was 163 hits recorded, which is a new record here at Room 19 Comics. Normally, we’re lucky if we get 60 on a Wednesday, but to more than double that on a Thursday, was quite unexpected. Thanks to everyone.

This week’s strip was written and drawn in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, the site of the AARC conference. Don’t know what AARC means? Well it’s the American Association of Respiratory Care, I’ll get into it a bit more towards the end of the column. There were some cool stuff, believe me.

Anyhow, this strip is sort of based on the running theme of this strip, you’re not as smart or as cool as you think you are. Layne is always going to be the super-obnoxious type that usually thinks way after speaking. He’s a fun character to write for because there are times when we all act like him and stick our foots in our mouths, however, I can do it here without any problems.

Who the hell is Layne? What comic strip are you talking about? San Antonio, Texas … why were you down there, Mr New England? All questions will be answered here: www.room19comics.com

For the most part Eddie is the na├»ve main character, unless he is paired with Layne. In these cases, he’s the voice of reason. I envision Eddie as sort of an every-man type that has moments of clarity and moments of fogginess, which is just like the college and post college years. The other main character, Kurt, is more of a big brother type who is wiser than his two buddies, but is cool enough not to rub their noses in it.

That’s the build up for this and next week’s strip … in this particular strip, Layne is being his usual loud mouth self, saying something that is illogical not true. Though there might be times when I agree with his overall sentiment, there are plenty of men out there who have crappy tastes in music too. And yes, I count myself as one of those people. But to limit it to just the female gender, that’s wrong and Eddie calls him on it.

Two things about this strip: one, the third panel took me a long time to draw. I don’t know why as it is a panel that shouldn’t have been that hard to plot, but for some reason drawing Layne was a huge undertaking. First he was too big, then he was too small, then his face wasn’t right. I had to redraw him at least three times, and I’m still not convinced that I got the proportion done correctly.

Secondly, I was originally going to have Layne say, “The new Scott Stapp CD.” But I decided against it, and I think that last panel works perfectly without any text. That’s the first time I’ve done that, ended the joke on a panel without any words. I think it turned out pretty well, sometimes you can say a lot without words.

Lately, I’ve been drawing the strip out and then the following day, putting in the text. I found that this has helped me to keep the strip tighter and allow me to really focus on the message that I’m trying to get across. For this strip, I’m really glad that I did.

Moving from the strip to the trip, late last week (Friday) until Tuesday morning, I was in the lovely city of San Antonio. It wasn’t a bad little place, lots of bars and restaurants and interesting things to do. Here’s a quick rundown of what I did.

Friday, nothing. I got in at about 2 pm, set up the booth and crashed hard in the hotel. When I woke up, I watched the “40-Year Old Virgin” and I have to say, it was one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Some parts are sort of predictable, but the main thing that I liked about the movie is that they didn’t make him retarded or naively stupid. He was just a regular guy who did regular things, except he never got laid.

They treated the character as a person and that’s why I think the movie did so well. It was also written by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen, who were part of the whole “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” double threat that I wrote about two weeks ago, so that helped a lot. Steve Carrell, the virgin, did a tremendous job too. He was awesome on “The Daily Show” and the other projects he’s been in, so it was no surprise that he did well here.

Saturday, I woke up, shaved and went to the show. Sort of boring, but there are worse ways to pass the time, I guess. After my five hours were up, I went to the Spurs/Sixers game. Yes, I went by myself. I don’t mind doing stuff by myself, but about midway through the third quarter, I started to get a little bored. Part of the fun of going to a game is being there with your buddies and you get to crack on people, talk to them, as well as watch the game.

I didn’t have that opportunity, so I left with the Spurs comfortably ahead in the middle of the fourth quarter. The arena is pretty nice, I actually sat under the cowboy that is lit up on one of the baselines. There were two funny things about being at the game, one: there was this dude next to me that thought it was still 1989 because every time the Spurs did something good, he’d yell “Yeaaaaahhhhh Boyeeeeeee!” like Flavor Flav or would scream “Mo money, mo money, mo money” like Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans. It was sort of funny.

The food there blew. Typical arena stuff, but the nachos were terrible and the hot dog sucked as well. I will say this about the San Antonians, they love their Spurs. The place was rocking from the first whistle to the time I left. I guess it helps that they’re really the only game in town and they’ve won three world championships since 1999. Even all of the cab drivers were listening to sports radio or the game and loved to talk about “their” Spurs. Quite a difference from the cabbies in Boston.

BTW, this Spurs team is going to dominate in the playoffs this year. They are deep from Duncan to their ninth player. Just an outstanding team that is going to crush everyone. To quote Larry King, “You heard it hear first, friends. The Spurs in 2006!” The game was also fun to watch Allen Iverson, just a phenomenal player; quick, able to attack the basket, make the great pass and take the good shot.

Sunday, I worked the show again and then went to a bar to watch some of the football game. I walked around a bit and got to see the Alamo. Much like Pearl Harbor, I was glad that I was there, but to be honest, there really wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to see. I did not ask where the basement was, though I was very tempted. VERY TEMPTED.

Monday, did the work thing again and had breakfast at this awesome diner. Not sure what it was called, but the food was tremendous. Actually, most of the food I ate was great, though they gave you a lot of it and it was very heavy. This kind of messed up my stomach a bit, but like the trooper that I am … I continued to eat.

After the show ended up Monday, I ended up going to a St. Peter and the Vatican exhibit that was being held at the conference center. It was pretty awesome. There were a lot of artifacts, frescoes and other artwork from Vatican City. Most of the pieces were things that were almost 2000 years old. This clinches it for me, I have to get to Italy to see all of this stuff. The history was awe inspiring. It was probably the coolest thing that I did while I was down there.

Tuesday, I was up at the crack of ass 3:45 am and was out the door by 5:00 as my flight left at 6:00. Normally, I wouldn’t care about what time I got home, but that day was my last graphic arts class and I wanted to be there. It seems so weird that the class is over (my web class isn’t) and I had to say goodbye to everyone who was in my class.

They’re all a nice group of people and talented as hell. While the web class is more fun, the people there aren’t like the graphic arts folks. It was a genuinely enjoyable experience and I’m sad that time passed by so quickly (I started the day after Jay’s birthday). After our class, our teacher took us out to Bertucci’s where we ate and goofed around. It was a perfect ending to a whirlwind few days.