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  1. #21
    Peter Paltridge's Avatar
    Peter Paltridge is offline It's worth iiiiiiiit
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    Like This Thread!
    It got even larger, so I had to slice it yet again and make it a four-parter.
    http://www.platypuscomix.net/miscell...=21&seriesID=7

    The title of this story is now "True Believers."
    It had another title before, but unless you went looking at the Miscellaneous section index, you probably never saw it. It was formerly called "Peter Paltridge, The Amazing Spider-Hack," and I still think that's clever, but I came up with it before it got all dramatic and, well, good. This is one of my favorite stories ever and I'm having a truckload of fun with it, and the self-deprecating title no longer fit.

    And I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I'm sorry, I have to. Beginning with page 22, the mask goes OFF and it stays off. One thing I've discovered about Spider-Man that I never knew before was how annoying it is to never see any expression on his face when you're the one trying to mine expression from it. The "Dallas Shower" scene from part two really needed the look on Peter's face to cap it off. That mask blocks everything; I swear I can get more emotion out of the Pixar Lamp than I can with Spider-Man's mask. How do people who draw him for a living stand this? (Don't worry about his identity...don't forget he's in the real world right now, and here, everyone knows it. So there.)

    And here's some information on the extremely obscure characters that appear this week.....


    Top Dog was part of the Star Comics line. He was not only a talking dog, but a talking, bipedal, genius dog. I bought a lot of Star stuff as a tyke and honestly, despite how obviously dopey he was, I was thrilled to find a way to actually work freaking Top Dog into this story. Not only that, but depict him with a live firearm.


    In 1986 Marvel decided to try a new character that wasn't a Star Comics character. Sales were awful and Dakota North's book was five issues long; one of the shortest on record for something that wasn't intended to be a miniseries. I've never read any of them, but I fell in love with her from seeing this cover alone. How awesome is someone who'd hold a pistol in her right hand and the handle of a Harley on the other while going DOWN AN ESCALATOR! Dakota knows how to have fun.

    Dakota was a detective, not a superhero, and the heavily prejudiced and stupid Marvel customers wouldn't buy anything that wasn't in tights. In my opinion being a hot girl in a leather jacket and motorcycle trumps tights any day.

    According to Wikipedia, in her third issue Dakota teamed up with Spider-Man to save Mary Jane's life. They'd remember this, so I had to change my original dialogue in which they acted like they'd met her for the first time.

    New characters had a tendency to team up with Spider-Man to boost their sales, though it didn't help them much.



    I enjoyed the Storagetown scene and bringing back characters that haven't been seen anywhere since the 80's. I couldn't find many of them, though. Whether this is because of wanting to hold onto the copyrights or not, who knows, but Marvel apparently has a tendency of never ever keeping any of its characters out of use. Even Dakota North was folded into Daredevil's continuity and appears once in a blue moon there. And look at this:


    She's now known as "Hellcat". Seriously. Patsy was going to appear in Storagetown until I found this out.
    Visit my website! It's comfy and easy to wear!
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    THIS WEEK: Why are so many TV romances so terrible? Why do writers pair up the wrong couples time and time again? This week we analyze why Love Is Hard -- and come up with a solution to make it softer!

  2. #22
    madhair60's Avatar
    madhair60 is offline Member
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    The only way this could have been better would be a cameo from Marvel UK's Captain Britain.

    Seriously, this story is coming leaps and bounds. Little bit hevay on the melodrama towards the end, but hugely enjoyable with it. Knew it'd come through.

  3. #23
    Dynamite XI's Avatar
    Dynamite XI is offline Whoa, where have I been?
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    Dude. This story is all kinds of awesome.

    I especially love how Storagetown looks similar to the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (and supposedly they're bringing back said warehouse in Indy IV).
    Troper!

  4. #24
    Peter Paltridge's Avatar
    Peter Paltridge is offline It's worth iiiiiiiit
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    See, this is why summer reruns happen on this site. Eventually the backlog I create over the summer catches up with me and updates fall off the wagon. I haven't been doing nothing; I've been doing just this. I've resolved to create nothing else for the site until I complete this monster. I haven't had a story that required this much work in a long time, but the finale is my favorite part and I want to get it right.

    CURRENT STATUS OF LONG-DELAYED CONCLUSION TO "TRUE BELIEVERS"

    9 pages finished
    2 pages awaiting color and paint
    4 pages nowhere near complete
    1 unopened copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl sitting seductively on the bed

    Gaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, I was really hoping it wouldn't come to this.
    Visit my website! It's comfy and easy to wear!
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    THIS WEEK: Why are so many TV romances so terrible? Why do writers pair up the wrong couples time and time again? This week we analyze why Love Is Hard -- and come up with a solution to make it softer!

  5. #25
    J. B. Warner's Avatar
    J. B. Warner is offline Increasing my wordiness
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    You know, I wouldn't feel too concerned about the long time between installments here. After all, this is a highly unusual piece for your site, so it's only natural that it should take longer to complete. I think the most important thing is that you get the story exactly the way you want it, not whether you get it done as quickly as possible.
    I'm the man with two DeviantArts.

  6. #26
    Peter Paltridge's Avatar
    Peter Paltridge is offline It's worth iiiiiiiit
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    I think it goes without saying this story surprised me just as much as it surprised the rest of you. I had a blast with this.

    Okay, most of what I have to say contains a lot of spoilers, so....if you haven't read this excellent cartoon yet, don't click the tag.

    Spoiler:
    COOL TRIVIA
    Go back to page 21 and look at the bottom. You can see MJ carry the stamp out of Joe's office!
    And at the top of page 38, if you look closely you can see her reach into her left pocket for the stamp because she thinks then's the moment. She had this plan the entire time; she just needed a chance to act on it, and it could only be by surprise.

    COMPLETE LIST OF VISIBLE GUESTS AT SPIDER-MAN AND MARY JANE'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY

    Page 44:
    Thor
    Hulk
    She-Hulk
    Wolverine
    Mr. Fantastic
    Batman
    Daredevil
    Superman
    Black Lois Lane
    Nightcrawler
    Storm

    Page 45:
    Top Dog
    Royal Roy
    Sabrina
    Little Dot
    Jack of Fables
    Fone Bone
    The Punisher
    Archie
    Sassy Thrasher
    Ninja Turtle
    Yenny
    Mr. Natural
    Dennis the Menace and Gnasher
    The Tick
    Dakota North

    Page 46:
    Rogue
    Little Lulu
    Stan Lee
    Harley Quinn
    The Shadowgirls
    Josie
    Supergirl
    Milk and Cheese
    Nemi
    Sam and Max

    I couldn't get all the appearances I wanted, due to space. Madhair, I was going to take your advice and slip Captain Britain in, standing next to Captain America--AND Captain Canuck from Canada. AND Cap's toothpaste-tube pal Colgate Junior, in reference to this. But I didn't even have enough space for Captain America, so it didn't happen.

    Then I thought, since the infamous storyline this cartoon was designed to mock ended with a party as well, I should match some of the dialogue for a twist of irony. But that would have required actually reading One More Day, something I didn't want to do in the first place and I REALLY don't want to do now. Now I just CAN'T. After spending the last seven weeks getting into these characters' heads and feeling as they feel, reading that piece of trash would be the equivalent of knifing myself.

    It was bad enough when I was looking for covers to inspire me on who to include in the party, and accidentally saw this. I wound up curled up in a ball on the floor for an hour. There's a reason why I normally don't write storylines with scenes this gloomy. Being in Mulberry's head as she stomps on Justin Timberlake with a giant mecha is fun. Being in Peter Parker's head as he loses his wife isn't so much.

    Fortunately, the Newsarama interview with Joe printed some of the pages alongside as illustrations, and I was able to get what I wanted while avoiding what I didn't want to see.

    DELETED SCENES
    In the early version of this story there was going to be a twist two-thirds of the way through. We'd flash back to Joe Quesadilla's office and he'd be writing again. "Now for the final phase of my plan," he'd say, and he'd write: "WITH THEIR MARRIAGE DISSOLVED, MARY JANE RETURNS TO THE ARMS OF HER ONE TRUE LOVE....JOE QUESADILLA!!" At that moment MJ enters the room brainwashed and robotically utters out, "Oh Quesadilla...my darling!" Seriously, that was going to happen.

    That was in my head until I actually got to that point in my first draft and thought "Y'know, maybe I don't like that." It turned out to be a very good call. Thank goodness.

    The original climax was going to take place in Joe's office again; Spidey would have been told what was going on and he and he was going to rush to the building to save her from him. Miss Teschmacher was going to block his path, leading to the "Spider-Broom is fighting me?"/"Fly reference" bit. After he burst in the office, Joe was going to take some more paper and write up a bunch of enemies for him to fight. At the end the paper would be ripped and Spider-Man would take the Retcon stamp from his desk and erase his existence, making everything good again. Then he and MJ would walk into the sunset. This was back when the script was all silly, before the dark tragic tone of those early scenes became apparent. As you can see, this would've sucked. That's why it was an early idea and not much from it made it in.

    The only thing I regretting cutting was the final Teschmacher scene, and I got the chance to put it back in when I needed Spider-Man's chase of Joe to last two pages. The problem was that without him being able to write his destiny, a chase between Spider-Man and Joe Quesadilla would last about five seconds--all he'd have to do was go "THWIP" and hit a very wide target. Then I thought of the last Teschmacher scene and realized that could be used to give Joe a slight lead in the chase. "Hooray! I got it back in!"



    Originally, Mary Jane ran around the other corner and hit him with a pipe. This made it as far as ink before I realized a tough act from her diluted the surprise of the "Now we cook him!" line. I came up with that line for Mulberry, but thought it'd be a thousand times funnier if it came out of Mary Jane's mouth. Now Joe simply runs right into a pipe jutting from the wall, yet the other pipe is still lying on the ground in the next page, seemingly coming from nowhere.

    On page 39 Spider-Man made a reference to the writer's strike. After Joe made his offer, Spidey remarked "You call that renegotiation? Only the A.M.P.T.P. would consider that a good deal!" It was replaced with MJ asking where she would end up if Spidey agreed to the new terms.


    I planned to wrap this up with my thoughts on the whole mess that inspired it. By now this horse has been beaten to death all over the Internet and Joe's still in his protective bubble he bought used from George W. Bush assuming everyone's happy.

    So why can't you do what he just did? THIS is why you can't. The feelings "True Believers" evokes are exactly why you can't. Would this story have worked if I'd made up a new superhero and his wife and used them instead? Not as well. Would it have worked if I'd used Wolverine and whoever he's with this month? No. This story works because it's Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Because everyone knows those two characters belong together. Because all of Marvel's efforts over the last thirty-plus years have been to establish this, and once you establish the love interest in a storyline, you've done it. You can't go back and change your mind. The time for that was in the myth's formative years. It's not after you play up one girl for several years afterward. And it's certainly not twenty years after they've been married--I mean, good gravy, how awful.

    The audience will always love the first one best. To think you can ever decide for them otherwise, just because you yourself don't particularly like that pairing, is being delusional. It's also spitting in the face of every single person who has taken the time to become lost in the world you've created. If you "reward" their attention by throwing out a key relationship they have grown to accept, they won't trust you anymore.

    Established relationships are what give our entertainment depth, and allow us to connect emotionally with what we see. Not only has the internet reacted rather harshly to One More Day but also to the leaked plot for Toy Story 3, which if rumors are to be believed involves Andy growing up. And giving away the toys. People can't imagine a Toy Story movie without the Andy/toys relationship. If someone made a Tarzan movie without Jane in it, people would only be asking, "Where's Jane?" If the Little Red-Haired Girl was hit by a meteorite tomorrow, sure Charlie Brown could start playing the field more often, but tossing something like that out for the sake of variety would be a mistake. As much as Smallville wants to, it'll never convince the general public to prefer Lana Lang over Lois Lane. CBS's "Beauty and the Beast" jumped a thousand sharks once they killed off Beauty. Disney recently launched a Winnie the Pooh program that replaced Christopher Robin with some kind of Dora ripoff. I haven't heard anything about it since. I wonder why.

    It's okay to put those relationships in peril of loss. In fact, you should--that's the essence of plot. But you can't outright cut them apart permanently, especially if they're world-famous. That's not entertainment, that's cheesing people off. Sylvester can chase Tweety but he cannot swallow. Marge can threaten to leave Homer but she can't permanently do it. And Spider-Man can't have all history of involvement with his true love erased.

    One of the reasons why I love this story so much is because it carries a message, yet that message didn't even need to be said. Why is messing with what is beloved wrong? Just read the story. You can feel why.
    Visit my website! It's comfy and easy to wear!
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    THIS WEEK: Why are so many TV romances so terrible? Why do writers pair up the wrong couples time and time again? This week we analyze why Love Is Hard -- and come up with a solution to make it softer!

  7. #27
    J. B. Warner's Avatar
    J. B. Warner is offline Increasing my wordiness
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    Bravo, good sir! An excellent conclusion to an excellent story! I know I've said this before, but you definitely deserve a job as a professional comic writer someday.

    I only wish I knew more about comic book culture so I could have identified more of the characters at the party without consulting your list there - I always enjoy trying to spot cameo appearances.
    I'm the man with two DeviantArts.

  8. #28
    Dynamite XI's Avatar
    Dynamite XI is offline Whoa, where have I been?
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    The ending certainly was crafty, I'll grant you that. Plus, anytime there's a
    Spoiler:
    visual interpretation of what a pure retcon looks like
    then you know it's good.

    It's interesting how the narrative gradually shifted from something somewhat lighthearted to something more serious and unhappy. You really give the characters a lot of respect throughout the whole process, and that's one of the signs of good writing.
    Troper!

  9. #29
    Peter Paltridge's Avatar
    Peter Paltridge is offline It's worth iiiiiiiit
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    http://www.platypuscomix.net/miscell...e=1&seriesID=7

    So how do you follow up something like True Believers? ....You really don't, but you can still have fun. It's back to comedy again. Notice how this one's actually on time, as these are so easy to make.

    All these letters are real, though they weren't all sent at the same time. I went through everything in my Yahoo account from the past few years and picked the best of it.

    For those who didn't manage to catch this cartoon this afternoon, when it went up yet wasn't formally "announced" for several hours: I made a mistake and the Exec's body was actually uncensored for the last two pages. That was probably your only chance....

    And yes, Harley really made that. Not for the site, though, but because she was bored.
    Visit my website! It's comfy and easy to wear!
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    THIS WEEK: Why are so many TV romances so terrible? Why do writers pair up the wrong couples time and time again? This week we analyze why Love Is Hard -- and come up with a solution to make it softer!

  10. #30
    J. B. Warner's Avatar
    J. B. Warner is offline Increasing my wordiness
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    Yes! At long last, the strike is over! I admit that I loved "True Believers", but at the same time, I missed Mulberry and Beefer and Tuan and Aerynn and all them...

    Dear god, you get some weird mail. And hey, I do believe I see a cameo appearance of the work of one Kyle A. Carrozza on page 9!
    I'm the man with two DeviantArts.

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