Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Talkin’ Loud Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’

The title is a Public Enemy lyric that sort of has something to do with my newest strip, which depicts our hero walking around and talking to himself like a loon. When this idea came to me, I had a bit of trepidation with it. The reason is I don’t want Eddie to be seen as a crazy person, that’s not the direction I want to go with the character.

The more I thought about it and observed people, the more I noticed that lots of people talk to themselves and they aren’t insane. Ok, maybe they’re a bit wacky, but certifiable? Hardly. Actually, if I could make a bit of an admission, I often talk to myself … maybe not as loud as Eddie does, but I do. And I know where I picked it up from, my father.

When I was growing up, I would often hear my old man talk to himself, very loudly mind you, when he was in another room. The first couple of times that I heard him, I was really freaked out; I knew that he was the only one in the bathroom, yet he was carrying on a full fledged conversation with himself (complete with pauses, as if he was waiting for someone to speak back to him). I had no idea if he was talking to a ghost (I was really into crap like that when I was a kid) or if someone had slipped in the house.

After a few occurrences, I asked him about it, and of course he got mad. Who wouldn’t? So, eventually I stopped asking him and felt it was just my dad being my dad. It’s a quirk that I’ve picked up from him and I’m sure it will weird my kids out too.

Public Enemy? Michael Magrane? Comic strips? There is no place on earth where those three things belong together. Yes there is, my friend. Right here: www.room19comics.com

Back to the strip, originally this was going to be a three-panel strip starting with the second panel and working its way to the crescendo. That’s not how it turned out though; as a much stronger strip emerged (in my opinion anyway) where we see Eddie actually talking to himself while walking down the street. I think that also brings a bit of humor into the first couple of panels of the strip.

For one thing, Eddie talking to himself is intrinsically funny. Everyone has caught their buddy doing something stupid like that in the past, so you can easily identify with both characters. Secondly, Eddie lying to his best friend is also identifiable because, again this is something that we’ve all done when we get busted for something embarrassing.

I based the second and third panels on a Jerry Seinfeld-George Costanza type conversation, where Jerry blatantly sees his pal doing something stupid, calls him on it, George lies and Jerry busts out the evidence. My hope is that you read Kurt’s third panel in the same cadence as Jerry would speak it. BTW, there is a certain episode that I’m thinking about where they have this little back and forth, but I can’t seem to remember it right now, if I do, I will let you know. (I know you’re all on the edge of your seats.)

Anyway, the final panel was just going to end with Eddie’s line about him being the only person that listens (a line that I say when people catch me talking to myself), but I thought that it was a little too “wah-wah” and made Eddie seem like a baby. That’s why I put in Kurt’s sort of predictable line about not hearing what he said.

The drawing of this strip was a bit more involved than last week, especially the first panel. As long time readers of Room 19 Comics notice, there isn’t a lot of motion in my strips. For the most part, the main characters are standing around at a bus stop or at a party or where ever, they are rarely walking. With that being said, it took a bit of time to make sure that Eddie’s gait was right and the perspective of Kurt being across the street look correct.

The original drawing made it look like Eddie was walking away from Kurt and would give the impression that he was pissed at his friend and not really talking to himself. But, if you did get the idea that he was walking by him and not seeing him, that also would not work because Eddie would look like a complete moron walking by his friend and not recognizing him. I think that what I came up with is a pretty good solution.

As bare as the last panel is, that was a pain in the ass to draw as well. I did this strip on my day off last Friday, it was two days before Christmas (I hadn’t wrapped a single present yet) and our realtor called to let us know that we have our home (more on this in a second). Also running through my head was that two people were coming to look at our apartment in an hour and I still hadn’t cleaned the place yet (it looked like an atom bomb hit the place). So, I was not as focused on my strip in the later part of the drawing as I was at the beginning.

It’s a good thing that I ink the strip a few days after I draw them, because this would’ve looked a lot shittier. By the way, speaking of inking, I got a couple of compliments on last week’s strip telling me how much they like the darker lines. They said that the strip really seems to pop now, so I will keep it up. Thanks to all that took the time to drop a line.

So, Aly and I are officially homeowners now. We got a condo in Brookline, pretty close to Coolidge Corner and we’re both pretty ecstatic about it. We never thought that we’d be able to afford this place, but the sellers cut their price very significantly. So significantly, in fact, that if we passed on this condo, we’d probably regret it for some time. On Thursday, we have the home inspection (which shouldn’t yield too many problems) and on February 1, we can move in.

There’s a lot to do between now and then, but that’s the long and short of it. The one major project that we have to do is paint the place, despite being a graphic designer, the previous owner had horrible taste in colors. Our living room is painted a very bright canary yellow with a three-foot wide purple stripe running down one of the walls. The bathroom is painted pink and red and the other rooms have worse hues. It’s not going to be easy (I abhor painting), but when it’s done, it will be well worth it.

This weekend was Christmas and it was a pretty good one this year. Saturday night, we spent the Eve in Franklin at Aly’s parents’ house. They always go old school Italian on the eve, which means a ton of fish and fried food. The good thing is that they’re sensitive to the Irish in the crowd (my brother in law Bob and me) and cook us some steaks. That meant on Saturday I had a gigantic steak and a baked stuffed lobster, mussels, clams and shrimp. It was real good.

I like going there because we all sit around the table and laugh at each other, this year Aly and I got a lot of crap because everyone thinks that we’re cheap. Truthfully, we are, but it was funny to hear everyone over exaggerate how bad we are. Then we opened some gifts and I got a lot of clothes and a pretty cool watch from Aly. I also got a copy of her brother’s book, “A Season of Loss, A Lifetime of Forgiveness”, which I’ve wanted to read.

The next day we went to Amesbury to visit my parents and that was fun as well. We had a smaller crowd (Uncle Bud, Karen and Paige were skiing in Utah), but Uncle Joseph, Uncle Guy, Aunt Grace and Nina were all up. It was the first holiday without Aunt Rita and that was different, to say the least. But the food was good and we had a good time joking around and picking on each other.

My folks came through with some pretty cool gifts; including the best one the 2004 Red Sox 12-disc World Series set. I also nabbed the second season of “Arrested Development”, a few books, some more clothes, and some other junk. All in all, as good of a haul that a 31-year-old can expect.

I finally finished reading the Howard Hughes book that I’ve been battling through and I will be reviewing that very soon. No need to fear true believers.