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Discussion in 'The Drawing Board' started by Fone Bone, Jan 19, 2017.
2. The Pontue Legacy: Part Two "The Invisible Kingdom" (Un-Iverse #10)
Rating: PG (Violence)
Linear Notes for The Pontue Legacy: Part Two "The Invisible Kingdom" (Abridged, Spoiler Free)
Better than I expected, but I like the first half more than the second. This is much longer than most second issues of The Pontue Legacy were in earlier versions. I also think its quality is much higher. The earlier versions were definitely lacking small moments with the characters, and ONLY focusing on the important ones, but even if the Narrator seems antsy during some of the traveling segments, he still gives the characters nice scenes with each other and a chance to breathe at the tavern. I never used to have the patience to do stuff like that, but those are the things that make a story a GOOD story. I'm not saying it's that. But it is definitely the best version of this story I've ever done for that reason.
Augatha stating mercy is a weapon gives you an insight to the thought processes behind many of the villains in The Un-Iverse. Most evil people in genre shows only use sticks, but Augatha and Eddie Cat are just as likely to offer carrots.
I love Arnold's Horse Shack. Because none of the characters in the story understand it's a pop culture reference (to Welcome Back Kotter). I can do those in the medieval prequel so long as it is clear the characters do not understand that that is what it is.
Krac in shadow (resembling an alien) making an alien hand gesture is a parody of "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" and "The Day The Earth Stood Still". "Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures" did a similar gag in 1988 and that's where I got the idea.
Winifred's "My servants" line is also cribbed from a cartoon I enjoyed in my youth, this time "Gargoyles". Although the reaction with the friends here is completely different. When Demona refers to Xanatos that way to Coldstone, he is super pissed, and is especially pissed because he dare not contradict her in that moment, since he DOES want something from Coldstone, and Demona's tack with him engenders unearned trust. But here, Henry and Sarah just think it is absolute genius, and love it and her for it. Suffice it to say, I like their reactions better than Xanatos'.
Justin, the Invisible Kingdom resident is named Justin solely because he's a total ahole. Justin is one of those names that gravitates exclusively to douchebags. If there is a kind and loving person named Justin out there, I have never met them.
Krac saying "Chillax" and one of the Vikings saying "Brain Bleach!" are more things that state that none of the dialogue in The Pontue Legacy is literal.
I love that when the Narrator states that Winifred is looking at Krac's wiry frame, she is actually staring at his butt.
Let me tell you why I love Princess Sarah. And it wasn't until I gave her this specific facet to her personality that I did. Even though Sarah seems outwardly like an aristocratic brat, the truth is she is much kinder and more diplomatic to Henry and Winifred than King Farrell ever was. She is all about empowering her friends, and treating them as equals, which since the Kingdom is gone, they are. A worse person (and character) than Sarah would be trying to keep up the facade of a legit hierarchy in a scenario when none could actually exist. Winifred is free to go. But Sarah believes she'll help her because she's a good person. Sarah is much more in touch with the plight of the people and the common man than her father ever was. Even if Roland Farrell was a mediocre king as of the time this story took place, if Augatha never invaded, the truth is Finn would have been VERY well-off when Sarah had simply inherited the crown. It is hinted that most of the Kingdom preferred Queen Gabrielle to her husband, and I try to show (without ever being able to outright state it a lot) that Sarah takes after her mother.
The fact that Sarah does NOT wind up as queen at the end of the saga, sort of tells me that an outcome that undesirable only happens to people unlucky enough to cross Augatha's path. If they had never met, Sarah probably would have had a MUCH happier ending.
Another thing that hints at the very different hierarchy between The Un-Iverse and our universe is that King Krac and Winifred share a horse, even though he's ostensibly a king and she's supposedly a servant. They don't see it that way, and share a horse because they choose to. Also very interesting to note that Winifred rides in front which is another thing that hints that the roles of patriarchy in The Un-Iverse back then were completely different from ours.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
The Second Sequel to The Un-Iverse, now in it's very early planning stages, is called "Destroying The Un-Iverse".
3. The Pontue Legacy: Part Three "The Magician And The Swordsman" (Un-Iverse #11)
Rating: PG (Violence and mild scatological elements).
Linear Notes for The Pontue Legacy: Part Three "The Magician And The Swordsman" (Abridged, Spoiler Free)
Do you know what's cool? In earlier iterations of the story, Sarah and Zyle's reunion was super frosty and filled with conflict and hurt feelings. And do you know what? There is no reason I needed to do that! The Pontue Legacy is still six issues exactly, and I was merely adding a complication that the story didn't even need to work. The Pontue Legacy used to be the most cliched and traditional thing in the franchise, so of course the first thing I did was the lover's spat. But all it does is confuse the issue, and make you dislike both characters for being so unreasonable. Seeing Sarah run up to Zyle and give him a warm hug fills me with joy in a way the scene never used to when there were supposedly more "layers" to it.
Over and over again I realized the simpler you make things, and the more likable the characters are, the better off your story ultimately is. And it was super eye-opening to discover this on my own. All of the forced conflict on current genre shows doesn't actually add anything but padding. And you don't even need it if you have a solid idea for a story. I mean, some great television has been wrought by having two characters get into conflict. But I still don't think that's a good thing if the only reason that happened was because there wasn't a better idea in the writers' room. Conflict should be big, but I kind of think the rarer it is, the bigger the deal it is. That is why "The Apple" is as devastating as it is. If everyone in The Un-Iverse is always screaming at each other at the top of their lungs, and dialed up to 11 over every little thing, I cannot really properly convey an appropriate reaction when something truly terrible actually happens. I save my fire. And it is amazing to realize how easy it is to do so. And that it is the correct decision.
And may I just point something out? As much as I love the Narrator, he's a total dick.
Why? Because King Farrell pretty much defended Henry's loyalty and prowess full-throatedly against Agnor's bigotry of soft expectations about black people, and the Narrator just ignores it as if it was nothing. It is literally the nicest thing Farrell does for anybody in the two issues he appears in, but the Narrator doesn't want to draw attention to it because it doesn't fit into his frame of Farrell being an irredeemable *******. I personally think Farrell is plenty of an ******* in his own right. But the fact that the Narrator does NOT point out how cool Roland is in this moment shows more than most things that the Narrator is unfairly biased.
Still, I had reservations about showing Farrell slapping Winifred. But I kind of don't think slavery should be sanitized in any way. That kind of cruelty is what it entails. And even if the Narrator is wrong for not pointing out when Farrell does something good, he's right that he's a d-bag in the first place.
Here is a black mark against Henry. He doesn't step in and object to that. He's obviously horrified, but he lets it slide, and I'm guessing that's not the first or last time he's done that. There are legit reasons Winifred is initially unhappy to be traveling with Henry (and to a lesser extent Sarah).
Then again, as another minority, there is a subtext Henry doesn't step in because that ire could be directed at him instead. I don't really think that's true, because unlike Winifred, Farrell genuinely likes and respects Henry. But considering what he's probably already faced in his life, even if I think he's a jerk for not risking it, I understand why that is completely.
Winifred telling Henry that the Watchman being human is only a good sign for him is another thing that states that she is not just going to let what happened in the past go.
One of my favorite sight gags is Henry's look of indignation as the giant feather on Pedro's hat gets in his face near the beginning. That was not scripted. Again, I suck at proportions, and didn't space the characters apart properly. So I gave Henry an appropriate reaction for being that close to Pedro's garish hat instead. It's one of the funniest things in the story, and it was never planned.
The Narrator stating that the douchebags of the Un-Iverse have nuance sums it up. Just based on his horrible, racist, and abusive personality, Agnor should be a full-fledged villain. The fact that he fights for the side of righteousness and good is even more surprising than Bernadette's shockingly rock-solid ethics. I buy Bernadette being good a LOT easier though, just because Bernadette has a LOT of redeeming qualities. The fact that Agnor does NOT and is still supposedly a fighter of evil is pretty surprising.
"I didn't forget that trick you pulled with the cakes!" For some reason, I love that line.
Speaking of which, I love the part of the flashback with Winifred, Sarah, Zyle, and the cakes. They are just scenes of kids who like each other having fun, which is kind of a rare occurance in The Un-Iverse. This issue has a lot of small moments that the rest of the saga tends to lack.
Gerf's "Yada, Yada, Yada," moment shows an essential Un-Iverse theme. The villains all think they're hot stuff, but in reality, they ain't all that. And that goes double for the Whahuma Bears.
Agnor is very lucky he gave Sarah a bloody nose rather than a black eye. There is no way Sarah would have been able to hide that, and Agnor's abuse would be found out.
The bloody nose and the popped blood vessels in the eyes are a bit too distracting during the scene where Sarah and Zyle realize Zyle has to go back to Kosram, and they tenderly hug. But The Un-Iverse isn't the Roadrunner. If a character gets an injury, it sticks with them for at least the remainder of the scene. So an otherwise touching scene gives me the heebie jeebies. I especially dislike how Sarah doesn't do anything to stop the flow of blood. I just want somebody to hand that girl a Kleenex.
There is a lot more potty humor in this issue than usual, but frankly I think it is beside the point. If all you get from the flashback are poop jokes, then I did it wrong. But poop and fart jokes are an essential part of kids that age, and it's sort of a way for them to be subversive and naughty with each other without actually engaging in underage sex. The poop and fart jokes aren't actually funny. To us. But for those kids, they are hilarious. And I always put my characters first, even over potential distaste from the reader. And I won't apologize for that. I'm not actually making The Un-Iverse dumb and low-brow. I'm saying that's how kids are. And they are. They're kids. You'll notice the toilet humor is absent in the first two issues and the last three when the characters are adults. But I'm not going to pretend that kids don't do scatological humor with each other just because adults think it is stupid. Kids ARE stupid. And if I want to write them properly they have to be shown that way.
You'll also notice that in Gilda and Meek, the person who most engages in potty humor is 10-year-old Bernadette Anderson. That is not a coincidence. Not at all.
Agnor the Magician has the second best character design next to Dr. Raggleworth. Like Julius, I can do amazing facial subtleties with Agnor that I cannot do for the other characters. Unlike Julius, Agnor is pretty much all pissed off, all the time. But in the few panels that he isn't, Agnor is MUCH more expressive than the rest of the characters.
Unfortunately, Sarah is the worst character design I have. The beady eyes were done to differ her completely from Disney Princesses, but they aren't very expressive, and it is VERY hard to attach eyelashes to them. Plus, her hairstyle make her head shape weird, and I have trouble with the neck and shoulders because of it. Winifred's nearly identical hairstyle gives me the same problems, which is kind of unprecedented for a Dog character. Those are usually the easiest to draw designs I have.
Krac is a good character design, as is Pedro. They are both easy to draw for that reason.
Zyle is in the middle, as is Henry. I REALLY love Henry's distinct and realistic jawbone that none of the other characters possess. But his lower lip is VERY hard to draw for me with my art style. The top and side of his head also give me trouble.
Zyle is also a hard character to draw, but unlike Henry, when he looks good, he looks REALLY good. Drawing Zyle is about a thousand times easier and better than it was during the previous version of The Pontue Legacy. Probably because he looks so much younger and less masculine. He's no longer Prince Charming. He's the stableboy. And the design looks better for it.
Another subtle facial expression: I made VERY sure that when Zyle attacks Agnor at the end, that he isn't in a berserker rage like he is with Gerf. He's annoyed, but he has a clinical detachment to nearly choking Agnor to death. His eyelids are lowered and one of his eyebrows is raised. He's bored. Agnor is beneath him, and he literally doesn't care a thing about him or his actions. I think the idea that Zyle sees Agnor as a bug is far more disturbing to me than Zyle seeing Gerf as a monster.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
The "Humble Narrator" line is straight out of A Clockwork Orange. Sometimes I don't think the Narrator realizes how creepy he often is.
4. The Pontue Legacy: Part Four "The Blessed Child" (Un-Iverse #13)
Rating: PG (Nothing too objectionable).
Linear Notes for The Pontue Legacy: Part Four "The Blessed Child" (Unabridged, Spoiler Free)
I love this issue. The thing I love best about it is that I said "Eff it!" and placed the title card in the middle of the issue. I shouldn't have done that, as it makes no sense narratively speaking, because this is one of the only issues I did that with. With the exception of this and the first chapter of The Terran Wars, I put all the rest of the title cards at the beginning, or after the very first scene. So I just wrecked all consistency for two random issues. Why am I putting the scene of Sarah and Zyle's reunion at the beginning and moving the great "prologue" with Augatha at the Dragons Council a few scenes down? The prologue is WAY more powerful if it starts the issue. Other than the "Behold!" Title Card moment, I'm diluting the rest of that scene's awesome impact! What gives?
Okay, my reasoning was that I wanted to show Sarah and Zyle discreetly (and tastefully) losing their virginity in the flames of the torch. Just because it feels like a bit of a violation for Augatha and the Dragons to be watching that. And since I always say that nobody but Warlocks from the Warlocks' Council can see the future, I probably shouldn't be giving the Dragons a magical torch that can do just that. So the scene in the torch no longer takes place three days in the future, but presently. Besides, if Augatha gets her idea for the Mumm-Ra Firepit from the torch, I don't want to show the torch having more awesome abilities than the Firepit does. Magic evolves over the centuries, and it would make no sense for this torch to be able to see the future if the Firepit is not able to.
"Bye, Felicia!" is probably the funniest Augatha line of all time. Precisely because she says it in the middle ages.
"Amazeballs." Repeat after me: NOT literal.
Augatha not only used to believe Gilda's mindset about how prophecies aren't written in stone, but coincidentally just recited Gilda's exact mantra, "Once You Know A Future Is Coming, You Can Change It". That is done to show two things.
1. Augatha is a LOT more like Gilda than Gilda realizes (or at least used to be).
2. The Un-Iverse is NOT random. Not by a longshot.
I love that Augatha is the type of villain who doesn't take empty threats against her seriously or personally, at least not at this stage of the game. It's just a day at the office for her at this point.
In the first iteration of The Pontue Legacy, Augatha prostituted herself to the Dragons to get the information she wanted. Needless to say, not only was that icky, it was totally unnecessary. Her refusing to give into the Dragons demands in any way not only makes Augatha cooler and funnier, but the story much better and more interesting too.
Dragons' Mountain looks too much like Snake Mountain from He-Man. But the situation is what it is.
Dragon Springer's beady eyes are a pain in the neck. It's hard to make them expressive, but if he doesn't have a leer on his face, he doesn't look like Dragon Springer either. Oh well.
But boy, Larnath has a great character design, don't he? You can tell he's one of my most recently designed characters, based on how detailed he is. I wasn't THAT good at art when I designed the rest of the cast 20 years ago.
Vice-President Raz is a recently designed character too, although he's really simple. I like the design a lot though. Really foppish.
Zyle's scene with Raz is really cool too. We've JUST met him and we witness Zyle being nothing by kind to him, as if they have been friends for life. Which shows an essential Un-Iverse theme. The people there are, for lack of a better word, NICE. Buttholes like Vic Puff are the aberration.
One of my biggest regrets of the current iteration of The Un-Iverse is that Fuzzy and Scuzzy's roles are much smaller than they used to be. I hope the scene of them expressing doubts about Augatha's plan remedies that a bit.
This issue is one of the reasons I think this version of The Pontue Legacy wound up being better than I thought it would.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
I originally had Krac be a partial traitor to the group on the level of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars. But once my whole "Evil is uncool" thing became a mandate, it was totally unnecessary. Truthfully it probably always WAS totally unnecessary, but it was a popular trope in genre at the time, and The UnComix Saga (as The Un-Iverse used to be known) used to hew pretty closely to those tropes. Now it subverts them, which is why Krac's motivations are entirely unremarkable.
5. The Pontue Legacy: Part Five "The Dragons And The Egg" (Un-Iverse #13)
Rating: PG-13 (Violence and gore, and mild adult themes).
Linear Notes for The Pontue Legacy: Part Five "The Dragons And The Egg" (Unabridged, Spoiler Free)
That flashback at the opening told me something that I wasn't really aware of about Augatha until I wrote it: Augatha is a lot more layered and interesting than I had ever originally envisioned. She's supposed to be lameness and stupidity personified, but I couldn't resist giving her mixed emotions about her goals, simply because she would completely bore me otherwise. Having the stand-in for the mundaneness of evil being interesting runs counter to the entire moral of the franchise, but I don't think I'd want to spend ANY time with Augatha unless I did that, and I wanted to use her as much as possible. A trade-off.
Augatha crying during her monologue in the flashback was not scripted. But I did it because I thought it would make the scene more powerful. And I was right. And how.
The scene is now amazing. It kills me dead. Every time. It's truly astounding to me how small artistic flourishes can change the entire subtext and feel of a scripted scene. The scene as scripted is filled with dread. But now it is also filled with mourning, which is something we have NEVER seen with Augatha before, and makes the scene completely and awesomely unexpected and unlike every previous Augatha scene. Augatha showing regret in the script was a huge moment for her. But now it is ten times that when we see that she is visually devastated as well. She isn't just lying to Fuzzy and Scuzzy to make herself feel better. She means it. Truly. And we can see visual proof of it for the first time ever. Which is amazing.
Larnath's design continues to amaze me too. I can do a whole lot with it, which is cool because he's not exactly a character I would call brimming with a ton of different emotions. But you can totally get the subtleties with that design. This is why (with the notable exception of Dr. Raggleworth, who always looked great) the more recently I designed the character, the better I am able to use facial expressions on them. I'm almost tempted to go back and revamp the entire cast into a more modern, detailed look, but Gilda wouldn't be Gilda without that particular weird head shape. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
This issue is a LOT darker than I originally planned, but it's all the better for it. The Talk Show thing should NOT work at all in a fantasy, but since I took it so seriously, it kind of does. And when it gets too preachy, the Narrator steps in to defend Pedro's obvious observations. And Pedro IS a cliche in that moment. But as the Narrator notes, he's also right, so we should forgive it.
The idea that Augatha hired Melcore into her services after the Dragons sic him on her ties directly into the very first issue of Gilda and Meek. We don't actually SEE Melcore in this issue, or his first meeting with Augatha. But I think just the hint is good enough.
In case you were wondering, the Healing Spell hasn't been invented yet. Magic evolves over the millennia and the single handiest spell in The Un-Iverse wasn't invented until some time between the end of this story and the first issue of Gilda and Meek. And even if it had been discovered already, Zyle would have been too weak to perform it on himself, and there was no other Novice or Magician in the group. Zyle was always doomed.
"Coming to kill you, Sarah! You, our sister, AND the Blessed Child!" That is probably one of Augatha's scariest moments ever because of how deranged she sounds. I think Augatha is scariest when she loses her cool. It happens MUCH less frequently than most villains do, but when it does, watch out. Ironically, even if this is Augatha at her scariest and most dangerous, a LOT of the visual threat as far as the reader is concerned is mitigated due to the "cute" character design. And you know, that's one of the drawbacks of using it. I made Augatha's craziness much less scary than it could have been to help the overall mythology of Augatha and her conquest to rule the world. I often damage my franchise in the short term to help it in the long term. And as scary as Augatha is in her scariest scene, I would REALLY be freaking people out if she was screeching in her "Gilda And Meek" design. But the mythology is more important, so I actually diluted part of one of Augatha's scariest moments ever.
I hope if and when Jerry Springer is murdered on his talk show, that his last words as he passes from this life are, "And now for my final thought." Which is why that joke exists.
"Isn't what Zyle did to the Dragons' Council genocide? Why should I still like him?"
Yeah, kinda, that's fair. But the way I viewed it when writing that scene personally is that the entire sequence of events set off by Larnath's bad idea was preordained. Zyle didn't actually have any say or choice in how the Universe was going to let that go down. I'm one of those people who doesn't actually see Judas Iscariot as a Biblical villain. Him doing what he did was all part of God's design, and that's pretty much Zyle's role here.
And yes, I know, prophecies are b.s.. But the reason they are b.s. is because you can never predict which ones are true. This one happened to go down exactly as described. Most prophecies don't. But this one did, and that's why I don't think Zyle is as culpable for what happened as he otherwise would have been.
Augatha having binoculars is okay. She's from a magical species, so like Dragon Springer's "microcone", it makes sense she has access to magic and technology not available to the rest of 12th Century.
Zyle's death still amazes me. That right there? That's The Un-Iverse. The heroes win, but wish they didn't. I think that moment makes this issue the first actual Un-Iverse issue I've ever done.
Speaking of uniquely Un-Iverse scenes, I realized something else amazing that never occurred to me when writing this. Somebody I showed the comic to gasped upon the accusation that Zyle knocked up a tavern wench in Sarah's absence. "How could he?" I was a little bit shocked, amazed, ultimately amused, and finally proud of that scene because of that reaction. And it never occurred to me that a reader would take what Dragon Springer says at face value. And I'm gobsmacked I didn't realize that before. Because that's what every other franchise would have done. As a surprise "twist". And even if only half of the franchises that WOULD have engaged in that trope would take it seriously and make Zyle genuinely guilty, every other franchise would have Sarah at LEAST believe the dragons at first, until either Zyle convinces her of his innocence, or uses magic to prove it. They'd have a fight. Because not only is that what Springer (the real life show) is, but that's the entire purpose of drama.
That ain't The Un-Iverse. At all. The heroes are smarter than the people they go up against, and Sarah doesn't believe the dragons because she's not an idiot. And the reason she's not an idiot is that she is a good person who doesn't believe the worst of her friends. She likes Zyle because he's good and noble. That's the reason. So she'd have to be an incredibly cynical and foolish person to take a total stranger's word for something different, especially since with Denise's wails over her egg, she sort of can tell that this entire thing is a sham anyways. Zyle doesn't have anything to prove to Sarah. She loves and trusts him. Why would she believe a jerk she doesn't even know? And that's actually normal.
I allow my heroes to be smart. To not be petty. To not fall for the oldest trick in the book just because I could wring a juicy fight out of it. And I am proud that I am the type of writer to whom that doesn't even occur. Most other franchises would have gone there first. I never realized that because my characters aren't all a bunch of assholes, and actually love and care about each other. Which is tight.
I have said before one of the reasons I got back into The Un-Iverse was because a ton of genre shows that I used to like were starting to engage in tropes that ruined the characters and the relationships just to make things more dramatic. And if nobody else was going to do relationships between main heroes right, I'd have to do it myself. That scene proves I've done that just by showing up. It never occurred to me to do things different. Again, that's cool.
It's a total Gilda and Meek scene too. The main drama of most shows is characters treating each other horribly. In The Un-Iverse, the main drama is characters treating each other awesomely. Aside from being refreshing, that reaction from my friend told me it's unpredictable as well.
The pants wettening line from Zyle before flying into battle with Augatha is literally the best of a bunch of bad options I could give him. That's the moment the hero should say something heroic. But because Zyle is such a quirky doof, any badass line I could come up with would sound completely out of character, and would be betraying the notion that Sarah loves this kid for the lanky goofball he is, not the strapping alpha male society thinks he should be. So instead, I had him say something super embarrassing.
But yes, I DID have enough grace not to have him say it in front of Sarah. There is very little masculinity to Zyle, but I also wanted him to be able to keep his dignity right before he dies.
I love the visual of Augatha flying through the air upside-down, with her arms out in silhoutte. I love it because it is hilarious which just makes the tragedy that occurs immediately following it a bit of a surprise.
This is probably the best all around issue of the series. "The Pontue Legacy Prologue" is a WAAAYYY better beginning, and "The Promise" is a MUCH better ending, but overall, I think this issue works best. Heck, it is probably the best Un-Iverse issue in general so far too.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
Notice that at one point Augatha swears to God. If Augatha doesn't worship the Judaeo-Christian God, she at least believes He exists. That's interesting.
6. The Pontue Legacy: Part Six "The Promise" (Un-Iverse #14)
Rating: Hard PG-13. (Strong violence and gore).
Linear Notes for The Pontue Legacy: Part Six "The Promise" (Abridged, Spoiler-Free)
Wow, this turned out better than I possibly could have hoped. I have a very low standard for successful Un-Iverse stories, and it's still something I wasn't used to be able to clear.
I view the quality of the artwork of The Un-Iverse about the same way as I do Batman '66's "visual effects". Even if they suck, I consider the job well done if you Get What They Were Going For. And yeah, Henry's Crowning Moment Of Awesome is less awesome than it would be if I were a decent artist. But You Get What I'm Going For. And that's enough for me.
I had been dreading this issue, and it came out far better than I ever thought it would.
As bad as I think Sarah used to be, I was VERY kind to her here. I gave her one of the best final scenes I have ever given a character in The Un-Iverse. I'm glad she now deserves it.
Another way Sarah differs from Disney Princesses is that she and her True Love do not live Happily Ever After. Zyle actually DIES, and Sarah herself dies decades later without a husband and only her sister for comfort in her final moments. Sarah's arc is a dark one for a Princess, and I kind of want to show that this is one of the consequences of people running afoul of Mistress Augatha. The fact that Gilda gets the best of her repeatedly is unprecedented. Most people who survive encounters with Augatha wind up with lives a lot like Sarah's, on the run and miserable. Which is precisely why Augatha sucks as much as she does.
Another thing I love is the Vikings immediately taking Sarah up on her offer for peace. Heroes offer that to villains all the time, and outside of Star Trek, they never accept. I wanted to show EXACTLY why cats are so cunning and powerful. They saw which way the wind was blowing, and wanted a seat at the table. That is why they are the smartest species in The Un-Iverse.
I also love Krac immediately playing mind games with Bob the Wizard over his name, because that is precisely what Bernadette would do. So far, we’ve only seen him act like Meek, but him immediately trying to keep a potential threat off balance shows that the Andersons have been breeding obnoxious people like this for centuries. But you’ll notice that his mind-games don’t work like Bernadette’s always do. It took a few centuries to work the bugs out.
And Bob IS the baddest mothereffing name on the planet. David Lynch was right.
I was very conscious to have a moment where the Narrator acknowleges the one decent thing King Farrell did for his daughter. The Narrator goes through just as much growth as anybody else in the story, and that is one of his biggest moments.
Also, I want to point out that the three subtitles to the Books Of Un are terrific. "The Masters Of Earth", "The Stewards Of Earth" and "The Protectors Of Earth" are the kind of titles that sound incredibly iconic. They are the kinds of titles the Original Star Trek used to excel at.
The action sequence at the end means a lot to me. It is not the first decent action sequence (that would be the Agency Massacre in Gilda And Meek "The Village") but it's the first one that I actually like. I think the reason I like it is because it is the first action sequence that is incredibly personal for the characters involved, and demonstrates interesting facets to the personalities of the main heroes. The Mysterious Woman is someone we had no connection with, and the random soldiers and Vikings in "The Fall Of Finn" are similarly meaningless. This fight actually means something to the characters (and me).
The fight was SO important, that I decided to have the Narrator narrate the entire thing, which is something I sometimes shy away from in action sequences. Sometimes no Narrator works (See "The Village" again) and sometimes things are often not very clear ("The Fall of Finn"). But I absolutely wanted this particular fight to be crystal clear to the reader, and for them to know exactly what is happening every step of the way. And I think it works.
I love Krac's portion of the fight SO much. Because even though I'm a sucky artist, I got everything across. That was some creative gore there, including Krac thrusting a sword up the Viking's mouth and it toppling off his helmet as it goes through the skull. And only a terrible artist like me could get away with "pose" and "glare" as sound effects. I am so lame.
This issue's artwork is the hardest I have ever had to do so far. I could NOT half-ass this action sequence. It had to matter, everything had to read, and it had to flow together. Even if Gilda And Meek "Skeletons" has better artwork than this, I had a MUCH easier time doing that. This was a nightmare. I don't think it came out as good as "Skeletons". But by God, I tried.
Fun Fact: Guess what was previously the hardest to draw issue before The Pontue Legacy #6? Why, none other than The Pontue Legacy #5! I never brought that up in that issue's linear notes, because this is about actually ten times that. I had nothing to complain about there. Really. The fall of the Dragons Council and Zyle and Augatha's aerial battle were nothing compared to having a scouting party sneak through a secret passage in the moat, a giant epic battle sequence, and worst of all, Augatha's nearly mute trek to Mt. Crushmore. That last one was probably the hardest thing so far.
Pedro's Fate being that he's never heard from again not only increases the mystery of Piranhala, but also for the first time hints that there is something sinister behind it. Which suits me just fine.
The flashback with Sarah and Zyle where he calls her a crank used to be in the third issue in that issue's flashback, but I screwed up and forgot to include it in the final draft. So I put it here instead because I didn't want to lose it. But when I redraw the entire franchise it is going to be in issue three instead.
Winifred giving Krac one of Farrell's priceless Ming vases to break shows in a VERY clear and demonstrable way that Dogs do not value the same things as Humans.
I love everyone, Henry, the Vikings, and Sarah, everyone, saying "Oh, sick!" in unison upon that Viking's guts exploding all over Henry. Generally speaking, violence in the Un-Iverse isn't usually funny. That one thing definitely is.
That thumbs up from Krac and Winifred to Henry after he survives the final fight is full-stop solidarity. Both of those characters know what he is going through in that moment, and what that moment precisely means for Henry. I think that's really cool.
I love that Krac is practically bald after losing his crown. Is this a hereditary trait Meek needs to watch out for?
I love that everyone dresses up for the Coronation. Even Winifred is wearing a gown and elbow length gloves. The only person who doesn't? Krac. Still wearing his dingy old robes. He is me and my Aspergery self in that scenario. If I ever attended a Royal wedding it would be in a T-shirt and sweat pants. And I wouldn't have Krac do it any other way.
I was very unhappy that Henry looks a bit ridiculous wearing a crown in his last scene. He looks like a rapper in a BET video. But the truth is, crowns and royalty are nonsense and always have been. It makes me very uncomfortable that the clearest sign of this is having such a level headed and even keel guy as Henry wearing that dumb thing on his head. But that's the situation we're in.
Sarah telling Henry that him not dying for her was refreshing pretty much shows that The Pontue Legacy is just about as meta as anything in The Un-Iverse.
Augatha sucking the blood of the vulture was a pretty good visual considering I am not a great artist. I was super worried that wouldn't play (I had the Narrator spell it out to make sure) but it totally does.
The ending to The Pontue Legacy is very instructive to the endings for the rest of the major arcs in The Un-Iverse. It ends in a moment of beauty and triumph, and yet it is so tragic it is almost unbearable. They win, but almost wish they didn't. The ends of the major arcs of The Un-Iverse tend to be sad ones. And as The Pontue Legacy proves, the sadness is earned. It's not tragedy for the sake of tragedy. It is precisely where those characters should be.
The last page is pretty much unchanged from the last version of The Pontue Legacy. Which one exception: Here Sarah is riding a horse (Gerald) out of the Kingdom. While she looked a bit more iconic simply walking out of the Kingdom with the baby in her arms and nothing else, it also didn't make too much sense. Since I put more realism in The Un-Iverse, Sarah NEEDED a mode of transport and a way to carry provisions. I hope it still works. I moved Heaven and Earth to figure out a way to make the horse Gerald, (Sarah hides his wings) so the moment is still incredibly personal for her, and I hope the reader.
Completing the last page of this took a lot out of me. Why? Because I created The Pontue Legacy characters when I was 12, and have been living with them (and mostly been disappointed by them) ever since. But this is the final version. I know it in my heart. I could redraw the thing to look better, but I'd be using the exact same script, so not much would change. This is a big moment for me, because this is the last time I will be writing and drawing these characters that I've had with me since I was a kid. And it kind of makes me dread the end of the actual Un-Iverse, whatever it will ultimately be, whether or not the sequels I have in mind see the light of day. But this is truly it for The Pontue Legacy characters. For good. And that makes me a bit sad.
But I am also proud, because this is the first version of the story that was actually any good. Which is why I know it's the last one.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
I was VERY conscious to show in the Fates section that middle-aged Sarah dresses in a revealing toga with her large breasts prominently featured. This will be more fully explored in The Supplements, but I wanted to show that Gabrielle got much of her slinky, bohemian nature from her sister. And Sarah never hooks up with anyone. It's like she became a total flirt for no-one. But I like that aspect of her in middle age, and we will be going back to it.
1. UnComix One-Shots: The Humans (Un-Iverse #15)
Rating: PG (Some bloody violence).
Linear Notes for UnComix One-Shots: The Humans (Abridged)
Here's something interesting: One-Shots is easily the lowest quality thing in the franchise. The first four of these short story issues in a row have the weakest scripts, characters, and arc momentum. Issue five is great, but it's the only one. And yet as bad as they are, I am REALLY proud of them, because people might not have realized at the time that I intended them to be this bad. Granted, back when I quit The Un-Iverse for the last time before returning to it and fixing it, it was SO bad, it did not do what I wanted it to do. But now, it's JUST bad enough, and just DECENT enough at the same time, that I have zero regrets with it. F.I.S.H. is the greatest disappointment to me in The Un-Iverse, not One-Shots. Yes, objectively speaking they are technically the worst thing in the entire 90 issue output. But they did the job I wanted them to do and did it brilliantly.
If I've told these stories right, readers will be a bit annoyed with them. The Pontue Legacy detour may have annoyed Gilda and Meek fans enough, but at least The Pontue Legacy was good in its own right. At least I think so. But spending all of this time away from Gilda and Meek, especially for something this crappy will make people really upset.
But the thing is, One-Shots are not exactly designed to be enjoyed in the moment. I realize reading these stories is something that will ultimately be unsatisfying, and yes, annoying. But they are another example of me hurting the saga briefly for a little bit in the short term, to help it greatly in the long run. By the time The Terran Wars are over in the last 19 issues of the entire Un-Iverse, you will probably love the One-Shots, even if they don't get better rereading them. Because you'll know exactly why I did them, and that will make you love them anyways. The fact that they suck will be besides the point. You won't care. You'll find the idea of them hilarious. But it's going to take over 50 issues for that to happen. But it will. Trust me.
Here is something you need to understand about the Humans, Narf-Narf and Chirp, Stella Stickyfingers, and Unkie Matty stories going in. They seem like random unfunny jokes. But the characters and gimmicks are not random. At all. They will each play a major role in The Terran Wars (as will Howler). That's probably the reason the One-Shots will seen better upon second glance. Everything in this issue is just as important to the canon as Gilda And Meek, Lace Doilies, F.I.S.H. and The Pontue Legacy.
If you asked me to define the One-Shots in one word, it would be "necessary". "Release The Gilda" might just go down in UnComix history as the most shocking and audacious thing I have ever done. But it wouldn't be what it was if the One-Shots didn't exist. Without the One-Shots, "Release The Gilda" is simply every downer action movie ever. Now it is the most special issue in the entire canon. Solely because of these five issues.
Re: "Untitled Mummy Project": Yeah, that's pretty much how bad The Humans are. They don't simply seem to be the Visitor's punishment. They seem to serve that function for the reader too.
The truth is, The Humans were SO bad when I came up with them, that I abandoned The UnComix Saga (as The Un-Iverse used to be known) for YEARS after I wrote it. I did one more pass of the first issue of Gilda and Meek on paper, and added some stuff here and there to the outline, but honestly, The Humans were the main reason I quit The Un-Iverse in the first place. And I knew they were needed for the end of the saga, (that's how long this has been in my head). And I wasn't equipped to do better. Not then. Better Gilda and Meek die, than I completely humiliate myself, I suppose.
But this version of the story pretty much put into focus for me how a Humans story should work. Unlike F.I.S.H., the Humans don't actually lose their adventures. It's everyone else who does. They are accidental antagonists who make everything worse by showing up. They are what would happen if Tigger involved life or death consequences. And they ARE Tigger, not Beavis and Butthead. Beavis and Butthead have some serious malice in them, while the Humans don't seem to understand the consequences of their actions, or even that their actions have CAUSED consequences. Like Tigger, they are the bad guys by mistake. Once I had that idea, I got the concept. It still sucks, but it's sort of supposed to, so that's okay. But it is no longer something so terrible that I am embarrassed of it. It fits in with the rest of The Un-Iverse for the first time.
The Humans story is incredibly short, even for them. It's a bit hard to believe I centered an entire issue around something so short and underwhelming, but that's The Humans in general. It's not like I had a vast wealth of superior Humans stories on the backburner to choose from to lead off with.
The Ra'ans are mentioned briefly in this story, and for the first time. If I live to write the second sequel spin-off, we'll meet them. But I like that I set the idea of them up this early on.
The Mummy's weird lines will make sense in the Second Sequel too.
I love that in the last panel the Humans have pieces of mummy wrapping stuck on the bottom of their feet or trailing out of their pants. I wish I were a better artist, because I don't think that particular gag actually reads, at least not in the pencil version.
I like the first Narf-Narf and Chirp story too. Technically, it's not great, but I like that it introduces Stella Stickyfingers here before she gets her own shorts, and that Hank's career as a temp is still a thing.
One of Hank's biggest personal problems is that he sets off nobody's gaydar. Stella flirting with him might not have been as embarrassing as it was if he were straight. But the fact that Hank doesn't set off gaydar is a key component to the character. There are no over-the-top fabulous moments for Hank. He's dumb and dresses like a poor person. I realized rereading issue two (Hank's introduction) that there is no hint that Hank is gay there. There's no reason for him to be discussing his love life either, but I am well aware that most franchises would have set up the fact that Hank is gay immediately, possibly to bank some goodwill from LGTBQ groups. That isn't really Hank's thing. Most people, gay or straight, do not advertise their sexuality in everyday life. The fact that I can wait fifteen issues to say that Hank is gay without misrepresenting the character kind of shows how normal he is for it. I won't be winning any awards from gay or lesbian groups. But that's because I make zero to-do about it and offer no judgments, positive or negative, while doing those things are kind of a key component of creating a gay character. There should be more people either standing in judgment of Hank in his first two appearances or defending him. As cruel as Bernadette is to Hank in the second issue, she never utters a single gay slur against him. Because she hates Hank for a multitude of other reasons and that doesn't rate.
That joke about Hank instantly giving Stella the bank security codes from memory is one of the few things from the original version of the story that I actually liked, so I moved Heaven and Earth to make it fit. The problem is that this version of Hank is nowhere NEAR as dumb as the earlier version. This version, while not book smart, is more insightful about people than you'd guess at first glance. So instead of Hank telling her the real code because he's dumb, he's telling her a fake code because he's tricking her. But the truth is, Hank gives off a dumb vibe to everyone, which is why Stella takes what he says at face value. Even if Bernadette's hatred of Hank is irrational, the fact that she thinks he's dumb is not an opinion that only she has.
I should probably state this for the record: Gross bird sex is gross. Chirp in general is gross and creepy, and I hope that scene shows that right off the bat.
About the Dolores thing: I should also probably state for the record that I hate Seinfeld with a passion. Most overpraised show of all time. Why do I reference it here then? Because it's culturally relevent, whether I hate it or not. Game of Thrones is also something I don't like, but it gets name-dropped equally often in this franchise, and for the same reason. If something in popular culture has become well-known in our universe, chances are Gilda and Meek will have an opinion.
The "Say my name. Say my name," thing is interesting because it is playful. Dolores doesn't seem to take the fact that Chirp doesn't remember her name personally, and has a little fun with it to torture him. That should hint to you at the sensibility of the female birds who are drawn to Chirp.
I freaking love Stella Stickyfingers. She is my favorite character in the issue after Bernadette, Meek, and the Piranha. You may question why I love a character this relatively boring, (at least as far as this story is concerned) but even if Stella has less screentime than usual in her first appearance, she is still demonstrating her best quality: You cannot figure this chick out or what she's thinking. Is she actually friends with Narf-Narf and Chirp or is she just using them? Is she ultimately good or bad? What potential big score could be as lucrative as stealing a hope diamond? Some people will accuse Stella of having a blank personality, or being somewhat underwritten. It's my opinion she's this ambiguous on purpose, and part of why she is successful at doing the things she does, is because she keeps her cards VERY close to the vest, and never tips her hand about anything. We'll see as Stella appears more and more, and the Narrator gives some actual insights into her past and personality later on, that Stella is actually not boring at all.
The Piranha story was originally almost as bad as The Humans' story and was another reason I took a step back. The original story was violent and unfunny. I thought of how I could improve it. I decided to make it so the Piranha's ire at the Mailman was a bit personal. Aside from abusing dogs the Piranha likes, he's careless with the Piranha's baseball cards in the mail.
The "Buck Bokai Rookie Card" is one of the most blatant Star Trek: Deep Space Nine references in the entire franchise, and also probably the most obscure. You'd have to be a pretty hard core Niner to remember him.
How much of a Niner am I? I made sure to spell "Bokai" correctly.
I like the expression on the Mailman when he says "What did you just do?!". He's got some tendons going on in his neck there.
That "Looking forward" moment is an essential Piranha scene, and one of the few ways I can definitively tell the reader the Piranha sucks deep down. And I can't usually do that unless I want the reader to absolutely despise him. But that political scene is me saying that perhaps we should be as angry at Rudy for looking forward from the idea the Piranha used to eat dogs, as we should have been at Obama for not going after Bush and Cheney for war crimes. We always, ALWAYS give the Piranha a pass for the horrible things we've hinted he's done because he's adorable. That one moment is me saying maybe we shouldn't do that.
And yes, I just compared the Piranha negatively to two of the worst Republicans who ever lived. I am aware of that. The allegory stands.
That moment is probably also the biggest direct slam on Barack Obama in the entire Un-Iverse. And it happens to be about the thing that bugs me most about him.
Having the Piranha be in every panel reminds me of something I don't like to think about: The Piranha's design is REALLY hard to draw. Like Gilda, you have to get him 100% right for the design to work properly. Which may sound a bit shocking considering how simple the design looks. But the truth is that I always have a MUCH harder time with him than I do Gilda. Possibly because Gilda has more screentime, and I'm more used to using that design. But the Piranha starting to have a heavy role in this one story means I will probably get used to drawing him right too (sooner or later. Hopefully sooner).
The Piranha giving the Mailman a happy ending was a late addition, but that seemed more appropriate to me than him terrorizing him. Besides, the happy ending he gets him is a bit subversive, so the Piranha is still a rascal.
"Our dear sweet Piranha is in his room playing with 80's action figures he has no pop-culture reference for" is an outright Family Guy slam. Stewie Griffin is always playing with He-Man and ThunderCats dolls that he as a one-year-old of his generation would have no point of reference for. This is me digging at the idea.
The look on the Piranha's face as he says "Did you check the salary offer?" on page 4, panel 4, is unusually expressive for that character, and one of the best pictures of him I have ever done. You have to get the Piranha's design right 100% of the time for it to work, and I can't usually manage it. That was one time I did.
The Un-Ad and UnComix Korner strips are classic UnComix gags, and have always been in the canon at various points. The "Rats" strip in particular is almost thirty years old, and I still write and draw it exactly the same as I did when I was 12.
"You Know" is extremely quaint and dated. Simply because modern ads actually ARE allowed to say what the gross creams and pills and such are for. Trust me, this was much funnier 20 years ago.
I love the revamped design for the Announcer. The fact that he is so much more appealing and easier to draw than any of the old designs, tells me I probably should have revamped every single design I created more than five years ago. Gilda's weird head shape is a side effect of that decision.
I specifically made all of the comic book panels in the ad HDTV's. That way it is canon with the entire franchise. This isn't just a meta one-off joke. The ad is actually something that exists on TV in The Un-Iverse.
"Un" and "Rats" are literally the only time two different UnComix stories / gags share a single page in the entire 90 issue output. Even other gag strips always take up a full page themselves and there is no room to share.
The "Un" gag (starring the UnComix mascot) isn't even a gag. It's just weirdness for the sake of weirdness. It also strikes me as a bit disgusting, but if you asked me to tell you the specific things in it that are gross, I'd be damned if I would be able to. It's repulsive, and I'm not sure how or why.
The "Rats" gag's repulsiveness is MUCH easier to quantify. Sick!
The "Hiccups" story is also a "Classic", although that's more like 15 years old.
I don't do too many one page gag strips, but of the couple I have scripted in the entire 90 issue Un-Iverse output, "Hiccups" is the best. It never fails to make me laugh. Never.
It is a good cautionary tale. If you ask Bernadette Anderson to frighten you, something terrible is going to happen. Every time. Because that chick is scary.
I love the look of concern on Bernadette's face as she helps him up and says "Better?". Because she actually believes she was helping. Bernadette is a very intelligent and precocious little girl. And also often clearly and psychopathically insane.
I don't bother putting page numbers on the single page gag strips or ads.
And finally, Howler. For such a problem character, I am really happy with the first part of his first story. I love THIS being the place we reveal the extent of a before unknown conspiracy with the U.S. government wanting to install Augatha as Queen of the world. And you don't expect to get that here, especially in a story that has nothing to do with Gilda and Meek. And the cliffhanger is amazing. Well, not really, but you have to realize I wrote it about 20 years ago when something like that was unusual. Now it's the end of every episode of Lost and Breaking Bad. But cliffhangers like that were quite rare on television when I first wrote it. Once again, my laziness regarding The Un-Iverse diluted some of the impact it would have made had it been published 20 years ago. That is partly why I subvert tropes now instead of feeding into them. 20 years ago, the plot twists I used to have would have been cool. Now I sort of have to find ways to make things seem fresh and daring and I usually do that by simplifying things and having the Narrator explain what tropes the Author is using in that moment. But I genuinely love this cliffhanger. Had it aired on TV, the screen would turn black while the words "Executive Producer: Matt Zimmer" appeared on the screen. It is very much a TV ending in a comic book.
The FBI refusing to get involved with political matters shows the FBI is The Un-Iverse is measurably better than the one in our universe.
There is good news and bad news about the opening to the Howler story.
The good news is that Mitch's design works astonishingly well, considering both how simple it is, and how easy it is to draw. But he is the first beady eyed character I have been able to make completely expressive. I so wish I could have done that for Princess Sarah.
The bad news is that I still can't draw cars worth crap. If The Un-Iverse winds up being as long as I think it will, I need to learn how to improve at this and FAST.
The Forrest Gump joke doesn't work at all. It sort of does in hindsight, but not really. The movie I REALLY should have said Eddie influenced to win the Oscar is Shakespeare In Love. THAT is the movie movie-lovers think was least deserving of an Oscar, although in hindsight, Forrest Gump is actually a much worse win. But I changed it to something less funny and universally relatable solely for continuity reasons.
World War II never happened in The Un-Iverse. Because I take the horrors of the Holocaust seriously, I'm not going to insert Hitler into a universe with three different species, and say he targeted dogs and cats along with Jews. That's freaking insulting to the horrors people actually suffered in our universe. Lot of good storytelling opportunities gone in The Un-Iverse with no WWII and no Nazis, but I don't care.
But if WWII never happened, Saving Private Ryan was never made, and thus if Shakespeare In Love actually wins the Oscar, even if it's maybe ill-advised, it is no longer infuriating. It's just a weak year for movies, and we move on.
Forrest Gump just does not have the same subtext. Although I will argue it is an even MORE unfair Oscar win than Shakespeare In Love. Nobody remembers or watches Forrest Gump anymore. Nobody. And honestly, it's a crap movie, and one of the few movies that has won Best Picture where that designation is true. Pulp Fiction is a bonafide classic that is still being taught in film schools, and has resonance decades later. Add to the fact that one of the most beloved movies ever (The Shawshank Redemption) was also up for the Oscar, and you'll realize the Academy blew things on multiple levels in 1994, which was one of the best years for cinema since the 1970's. But you wouldn't know it due to what won Best Picture.
And yeah, the joke doesn't work, because even if in hindsight Forrest Gump doesn't deserve the Oscar, it WAS the frontrunner in 1994, and everybody expected it to win. Eddie sealing THAT deal is unimpressive. Pulp Fiction was the Dark Horse that never had a shot, and The Shawshank Redemption was a box-office failure who fans had yet to discover, and make it the most critically acclaimed movie of all time. Forrest Gump winning is appalling. To us. With 20 years hindsight. But its win is hardly something that Eddie needs to brag about.
The joke only works if you remember that Pulp Fiction got robbed, and The Shawshank Redemption did too. If you actually know the history of the Oscar dynamics in that race, the joke doesn't hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.
Maybe it does. There is a very strong possibility, that like with the cartoon Gargoyles, Pulp Fiction broke out MUCH bigger in The Un-Iverse than it did in our Universe. Where the Gargoyles comparison falls apart is that Pulp Fiction is already huge in our universe, while Gargoyles is smallest of cults for us. (In our Universe, the idea of a Xanatos Gambit is more easily recognized amongst genre lovers, than David Xanatos himself ever actually was.) But maybe there is a legit reason the characters all seem to quote Pulp Fiction as much as people in our universe quote The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. Maybe Forrest Gump winning the Oscar was just as big an outrage to The Un-Iverse as Shakespeare In Love winning was in our universe.
I am a little bit worried at how explicit and brutal the shot I take at Republicans in this story is. But it is only the tip of the iceberg of the Trump / Vic Puff allegories in the canon, and my perspective is that it's probably better to get what is going to be happening out in the open now, so any offended conservative reading this can duck out of the franchise early on, with no harm done. I would really hate to hook a conservative reader with some of the good upcoming storytelling, and then constantly push jarringly liberal messages down their throats unasked. This scene is sort of me giving conservatives the excuse to drop the franchise without making them feel bad about it. This is a liberal story with a liberal viewpoint, and I don't want to spend time making conservatives feel awful about the liberal messages. If you don't agree, just stop reading. It's not like the franchise has truly gotten good yet. And it will. It's better to break ties before it does.
Not so fun fact: In the original story, Mitch makes a reference to their meeting in the parking garage being similar to Deep Throat meeting Woodward and Bernstein in the same setting. When Ryan (who is practically a kid compared to Mitch) asks if he's talking about Watergate, Mitch sarcastically says "No, dummy, I'm talking about the porn star." That joke is dead for two reasons. The biggest is that it is a crass and punny joke inserted into a scene that I am trying to pass off as mysterious and ambiguous. And considering we know neither of the characters in the scene, as we get answers to major questions we had from earlier in the saga, I wanted that scene to be as mysterious and ambiguous as possible. The second reason is that Richard Nixon no longer exists in The Un-Iverse. So Watergate jokes are completely off the table.
I think The first part of the Howler story is weakest where it sets up a bunch of weird sounding stuff (the torture device in Howler's house, the painkillers) without paying off explicitly what they mean. We'll learn what they mean in the next issue, but for now those things make no sense.
One-Shots is one of the weaker efforts of The Un-Iverse. But I think the first and fifth issues of it are the best. This isn't as good as Meek's Chiller Theatre. But it's number two.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
I love that my rats have pockets.
2. UnComix One-Shots: Narf-Narf And Chirp (Un-Iverse #16)
Rating: PG (Strong adult themes and mild violence).
Linear Notes for UnComix One-Shots (Abridged, Spoiler-Free)
"Where do we go from here?"
--Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "Once More With Feeling..."
This issue was a milestone for me. This is the furthest I've ever gotten to committing the Un-Iverse to paper. While it is true earlier versions of The Un-Iverse had versions of the stories Destiny's Prisoner, The Otterman Cometh Back, The Bug Aliens, Bad Timing, The Elephantom, and Dark Child: Part One, the last real crack I took at The Un-Iverse before this ended after the first One-Shot (mostly due to frustration).
From this issue forward, I am pretty much flying blind. That is both terrifying and super exciting.
The "Where do we go from here?" thing became so significant to my mindset that I gave the line to Phil at the end of the last story. He isn't just asking the question to Howler, he's asking it to me too.
Reverend Vic making his debut in a Narf-Narf and Chirp story was done to show that those two are significantly connected to the Un-Iverse at large. I want the reader to see that they have already interacted with some of the cast, so Narf-Narf's major role later on doesn't seem out of left field. It has ALWAYS been a part of The Un-Iverse.
The Narf-Narf and Chirp story is much less funny than most of their cartoon shorts. But it is also a thousand times more interesting than normal, which is why I consented to them being in something that relatively straightforward and non-goofy.
We can assume Vic cut the budget to the fire department sometime after the first issue of Gilda and Meek, because there they show up on time after Dr. Raggleworth's robot SHERMAN starts a fire at a convention center.
The joke of the people at the book-burning buying books to burn, without realizing the book's authors get paid for that, is a commentary on the fact that after the controversy of the Iraq War and France's condemnation of it, some people bought bottles of champagne, simply to pour them down the gutter to spite the French. Without being smart enough to realize the French got their money anyways and they were literally just pissing it away on an empty gesture that made them look even stupider than they already did. That's where that came from.
The "Look at the way he runs!" joke is not fat shaming on my part. It is one of the few negative statements about Vic Puff in which I am not actually insulting him. I'm sticking up for him. I'm actually insulting Narf-Narf's character. Narf-Narf is a dullard and a creep in that statement. I've always had a character say that about Vic Puff in my story going back to when I was a kid, and another kid REALLY laughed at the joke back in the day, and thought it was hilarious, and didn't quite get that I was making fun of how cruel bullies like him sucked. And that kid was a creep and I never forgot that. So now the joke is a Rorschach test. If you think it is a hilarious slam on Vic, you are an infantile moron, who can't think up a clever put-down to save your life, and you suck. If you are properly appalled, and think I am disgusting for such obvious fat-shaming, then you are a person I want to know. I'm not making fun of Vic in that moment. I am viciously insulting cruel people and bullies. If you were offended by it, that means it was not directed at you. Funnily enough, that is pretty much the opposite intent behind most offensive jokes, which is another reason I think the moment is a great test of the reader's character.
It is entirely fitting I make a Beavis and Butthead joke. Both Narf-Narf and Chirp and The Humans were loosely based upon both Beavis and Butthead and The Brothers Grunt. Unlike The Humans and Beavis and Butthead, Narf-Narf and Chirp often do not effect the story and simply observe things and make unintelligent comments. The Fringe reference is another clue that Narf-Narf and Chirp have nothing to do with what went down at the bookburning.
Vic's reaction to being burned alive, peed on, stomped on, and beaten with sticks is gross, but it was done by me to show that even if Vic wasn't into sexual pain BEFORE he met Donna, he is now. Another way she unleashed a monster that was always there, but that Vic was not aware of.
Here is something odd about that scene. I totally play it as a joke. And there will be a certain segment of reader who genuinely finds it twisted and hilarious. But I don't actually find it funny. At all. It legitimately upsets me, and if it were in an actual Gilda and Meek comic rather than a dumb Narf-Narf and Chirp story short story, I'd consider the issue a wash. This is very unusual for creator driven comics. Most comic book creators have stomachs of steel for that kind of thing, and the humorous way the scene is played suggests I do too. But while I am able to do it because it is a VERY important way to showcase the precise ways in which Vic Puff is mentally damaged, and therefore dangerous to the world, I think that specific scene makes The Un-Iverse worse for being in it.
And again, the writers of Lobo and Deadpool would think it is mild and no big deal. But it isn't like most other scenes in The Un-Iverse, which is why it is upsetting. Lobo and Deadpool have violence and debauchery at every turn, so it is expected. This one specific way to show Vic's madness is SO vivid and true to life to the character, that I wish I didn't have to show it to the reader. But I did.
It's the fact that I suspect if The Un-Iverse hits that a LOT of fanboys will find the scene hilarious which is the reason Vic Puff and Donna Demented keep me up at night. What I find nightmarish and bone-chilling, I am afraid a certain segment of misogynistic fanboy would find naughty and subversive. But I'm not clever for writing that scene. I'm disgusting. And it bothers me that there isn't a way to actually state in the Narrative itself that that is what is going on. Because if I do that, I suddenly make the entire story about that scene, and it's bad enough for two panels. I don't want to wallow in it any longer than I have to to try to keep my "hands clean". There is no part of me that holds the high ground in writing that scene in the first place. So who am I to judge a witless fanboy for finding it funny?
Nobody walks out of that story looking good.
Fun Fact: Mirrors are really hard to draw, especially if a character is viewing it from an angle. As an artist, I should have already known this, but Vic looking in the mirror in this story is literally the first time I have ever needed a character to look in a mirror. Personally, I think I botched it, but if the reader doesn't actually notice how askew the image is, I won't complain any further.
Vic is too thin in this panel too.
The books Reverend Vic chose to highlight to burn were deliberate choices on my part. Fahrenheit 451 and The Handmaid's Tale were chosen solely to say that Vic has never read them, and if he did, he wouldn't understand or appreciate the morals of either. The choice of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? for the third "filthy" book that Vic burns at first seems like a joke, since it's a kids book. But I chose it for a specific reason for an upcoming issue. Vic burning that book is the thing that gains him the attention of Bernadette Anderson, whose feud with him devolves further and further as the saga goes on. There is an argument to be made that Vic would never have become an Ultimate Evil had he chosen a different book.
Hint: It's not that Bernadette is a Judy Blume fan which is why her conflict with Vic escalates. It's because she correctly guesses the exact reason he chose it. And that cannot stand.
The expression on Vic's face as he holds up that book gives me the creeps every time I see it. I need to take a shower every time I reread this issue.
People might think the hooded Klan member in the crowd giving the thumbs up is going a bit overboard, but no, it isn't. It's exactly the kind of people those kinds of rallies attract, and a tea-bagger and a grand wizard only differ by what they call themselves. They are the exact same people otherwise. You can call yourself a tea-partier or a patriot all you want. I know a Klan rally when I see it.
Interesting Note: Even though Nazis are not a thing in The Un-Iverse, the Ku Klux Klan is.
The gravy ladles and Ted Nugent signs are interesting because they are a reference to The Simpsons. NEWER Simpsons. Everybody references the classic episodes all the time, but this is the first time I've seen anybody do an homage for something the show did fairly recently. But the gravy ladles were genius, as was the idea of Ted Nugent running for President. Who knows? In this climate, he could win.
"And the fire shall smite the wicked." Part of me was second-guessing that line, but I think it sort of works. My objection is that because of it the reader will know what's coming. And that is the downside to using it. But it is just all kinds of appropriate, so maybe instead of thinking that line makes things predictable, maybe it makes things seem more like destiny. Just the expression on his face sort of tells you there can be no other answer. And maybe that's okay.
Remember this about Reverend Vic: He collects other people's old porn. That is the kind of guy he is.
Vic's assistant Jessica's wardrobe was loosely based on Jackie Kennedy's. There is a classiness and elegance to the character incongruous with the fact that she works for Vic.
Here is something you HAVE to understand about the Narf-Narf and Chirp story. It is one of the most significant events in the canon, and definitely the most significant thing that happens in the One-Shots. It's a dumb joke story, but the events that take place during it set off a chain reaction of worse and worse outcomes that none of the characters can come back from. Bernadette and Gilda do not appear in the story itself. But it has dire repercussions for them both that propel them throughout the rest of the entire saga. It doesn't seem like it now, but it is a turning point for the characters, and Reverend Vic's role as the Conduit to Earth's destruction. This also is another explanation for both the Observer's appearance and another hidden Easter Egg.
Fun fact: "Money Well Spent" is the only multiple page story in the entire Un-Iverse nearly identical to how it's always been written going back decades (or more like 15 years). It is the one story I have always felt I nailed from the outset. That is why there is a Full House reference in it.
Bernadette "tricking" Meek into getting his ass kicked by the Piranha was one of those examples of Bernadette being a b.s. artist. Despite the fact that I repeatedly call her that, I don't think I did it often enough. But this is definitely one of those those times.
For the record, this story is the stupidest Meek has ever been portrayed, before or since. I mean, he is just a thundering numbnuts here. In this incarnation of The Un-Iverse, Meek is much smarter and more self-aware than he used to be, so this story, which hasn't changed in decades, should give you a pretty good idea of how Meek USED to be in the previous versions. It's technically out of character now, but the thing I tell myself to justify it is that Meek is partly putting Bernadette on. He is deliberately trying to goad and annoy her for his own amusement. "Meek's Chiller Theatre" is another storyline with that premise, although Meek is not such an obvious goofball in it. But my thought process in justifying Meek being this stupid is that he's trying to drive Bernadette crazy a bit, as a big brother often will. The fact that he purposefully got his ass kicked by the Piranha while doing so shows that like Gilda, when Meek is putting someone on, he is REALLY committed to the bit.
I love the "Bubble!" sound effect and think it's hilarious. Exactly what horrible thing is the Piranha doing to Meek in that moment that causes that specific sound effect? Did he shove his head into a microwave or what? Is he chewing his head like bubblegum and blowing a bubble? I'll never tell.
Here's something interesting: the Narrator is almost completely MIA during this story. Outside of the title card and The End card he doesn't ever pop up. Why?
I will confess that the Narrator IS a bit of a crutch for me. Since I am not a perfect or detailed artist, I use him to make sure things are absolutely clear to the reader at all times. "Money Well Spent" is the only multiple page story in the entire 90 issue output of The Un-Iverse, where I think the reader can get exactly what is going on without him. Which is another reason practically nothing about the story has changed decades later.
The "Elmo knows where you live" thing and the inanimate carbon rod show there are more Simpsons jokes than average in this story.
I'm with Bernadette. I can't for the life of me figure out why it's a crime to punch Geraldo Rivera in the nose either. This stupid country.
If we follow the math of Bernadette's wisdom, this means the Full House era Olsen Twins can probably beat up Geraldo Rivera. And that does not strike me as something that would be untrue. Rivera is a bedwetter and a knob of the highest order.
Even though this story hasn't changed much, I will say that Meek's various expressions during it are the best I've ever done. He's a little bit different kind of insane in every panel. There are subtleties to his madness that were not present in the earlier drafts.
I like Meek's worried expression upon Bernadette saying he'd beat the Piranha. Shit just got real.
"Skippity skip! Boing boing boing!" The Piranha is so dumb. I can't stand him at this point! Help! I've created a monster!
Speaking of great expressions, I love that Bernadette's constant expression during Meek's pain and suffering is abject boredom. She is SUCH a sweet little sociopath, ain't she?
I do not know why it is funny that Meek talks street when he is threatening the Piranha. It just is.
I like that Meek uses the phrase "Don'cha" towards the end of that. Very Sarah Palin and proves a deep truth: Deep down, whenever they lose their filter, every single white rapper is lame. Maybe you don't need Meek to already know that, but that's the subtext of him breaking character in that moment.
Meek is a very specific type of loser: He decides what comic book to buy based upon the price. Yeah, he'd better pick up the 3 dollar issue instead of the 4 dollar issue. He DOES have to be able to make the rent, right?
I like that after the "fight", Meek has a giant bite mark taken out of his right ear, while his left one seems to be missing entirely. If the Healing Spell didn't exist, I'd never get away with that.
The missing parts of the ear are a bit chilling if you sit and stew on it a bit. It means the Piranha actually ATE parts of Meek's body. As sweet as the Piranha seems, there is a reason the others don't tend to think of him as someone to mess with.
There is one thing I changed about the story. Bernadette used to be reading the Wall Street Journal instead of the Holy Bible. But the Holy Bible is better. The Wall Street Journal was funny precisely because it's a little girl who is reading it, but it made more sense when Bernadette's politics were more aligned with Libertarianism. Now that she's become more of a religious conservative, the Holy Bible makes more sense, especially since at this point in the saga, Bernadette is still poor, and would have no actual reason to read the Journal.
But her reading the Holy Bible is an essential Bernadette idea. Because while we always say Bernadette is the most ethical character in the saga, and the person who always keeps Gilda honest, the truth is, as moral and honorable as her values are during The Adventures, Bernadette is still an incredibly cruel person. She is just mean as hell when she doesn't have a dog in the fight, just like many people who hide behind the Bible. The fact that she sets into motion that horrible fight, and actually winds up paying Meek for the privilege of watching him get his ass kicked WHILE she is reading the Bible, sort of turns a dumb gag story into a political satire at it's mildest, or a religious allegory at its worst. I'm either bashing fundamentalists or the Bible itself, and your position about which I'm satirizing will probably depend on your political affiliation. You might think I'm a clever satirist spoofing what true moral values entail, or a God hating liberal who hates puppies and America. And the case could honestly be made either way.
The Humans story again sucks, but a scary circus is precisely the kind of genre cliche I like using them for. I don't always get to explore different genres and premises. The Humans helps me open up the world a bit, even if they are terrible.
And they ARE terrible. This story is unusually sucky, even for them. I think the biggest problem is that there is no real bad guy in it. Usually if the Humans leave a place a smoking ruin, it can be argued it deserved to be, but even if the Clowns are scumbags, the freaks and the Ringmaster are not. I sort of put in a little beat at the end that the freaks LIKED that the Humans really screwed with the Clowns. Because without that moment the story doesn't work at all. Frankly it STILL doesn't work, but because of that moment, it at least works a little.
But the "We WANT them!" moment is pretty sinister, and I seem to wind up writing one sinister moment for those guys per story. If they are The Un-Iverse's Tigger, this sort of hints that I think Tigger is sinister deep down too.
The Ringmaster's character design is from a character I had as a kid called Brandon S. Cool. I never get rid of any ideas, no matter how bad they are. And as bad as Brandon was, his design was interesting enough for me to crib here.
I am a bit ashamed of the Learned Republican. Because he doesn't actually say anything truly smart. He maybe starts to before he's cut off, but the fact that he never says anything smart means the gag doesn't work at all. Why didn't I simply have him say smart conservative talking points from the great conservative minds in history? And no it's NOT because I think smart conservative talking points don't exist. That's not it at all.
It's just, if I had to go online and dig around for the appropriate Ayn Rand or Dennis Miller quote, I'd officially be putting effort into a Humans story, which is something I should NEVER do. I might want to do a little research for it if I want Bernadette to say a smart conservative thing, but I ain't gonna bother scouring the internet to make a Humans story more plausible. It is truly not worth the effort.
For the record, I DID do research on Egyptian mythology for the last Humans story "Untitled Mummy Project". I'll concede that. But the difference there is that the Egyptian mythology in that particular story effects upcoming stuff in the canon. I'm not gonna go on Wikipedia for a dumb Humans gag story. Life is short and I got better things to do.
I think the design to the first Dirtbag Clown is too similar to Vic Puff's. Which again makes me wish I were a better artist.
Speaking of which, I tried to put a Ferris Wheel in the story. But the artwork turned out so horrible, I just erased it.
I decided to give The Learned Republican an ultra annoyed expression in the last panel. He's probably as tired of being completely ignored and dismissed as moderate Republicans are in our universe. But you'll notice that just like the smart Republicans in our universe, he never actually speaks up, or tries to take back his party from the freaks. That is precisely why he is a freak in the Freak Show. The Learned Republican is not actually a freak. But he allowed himself to be defined that way. The reason he is in the freak show is because he chooses to be. If he actually pushed back against the people who are trying to silence him, he'd be considered perfectly normal.
Flood Beer is dumb, but funny.
I don't much like Howler, but I like that his first story was serialized in small bites in four different issues. Very Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Not all of the stories are continuing issue to issue, but I like that one of them did (with the exception of the last One-Shot). This is really the only Howler story I truly like.
20 freaking years. It took 20 freaking years for me to finally put down to paper what happened after Phil shot Howler and the screen went to black. Once I started drawing the scenes at the very beginning of this story, I got unusually excited for that reason.
I love that Audrey is kidnapped. Because it is throwing off a false trail as to her role in the story. We think of her as a damsel in distress now, but that is NOT going to be her role in Parts 3 and 4. There is a very good argument to be made that Howler is the bad guy in the fourth part, and she is the one who actually saves the day. I don't like Audrey much, (or Howler for that matter) but she fits perfectly well into the mold of Un-Iverse women who Can Take Care Of Themselves.
I have to say, that even if I don't like Howler, his character design is really growing on me. Both the segmented eyes and the doggish "harelip" are things that make the character surprisingly expressive and stylized. I'm starting to get the hang of Phil too.
The kidnapping Werewolves have good designs too. You can tell they're evil just by looking at them.
Truth time: The second issue of the One-Shots IS the worst. Every other issue has at least one good story in it. I don't count "Money Well Spent", (which IS admittedly good) because that's a glorified Gilda and Meek story, using characters I already know inside and out. None of the other stories are particularly memorable. And yet, I do not think this issue is actually bad. The fact that the worst issue of the worst UnComix series is actually passable is something I am quite proud of. Trust me, there was a reason I abandoned this title 20 years ago. And it's the fact that I don't need to be embarrassed by it anymore which is the measure I hold up to this issue's success. The One-Shots tend to suck. But like this issue, they do the exact job they were meant to, and I'm proud of them for that fact.
I still can't believe I actually finished this issue. We're in a new frontier, ladies and gentlemen. Let's see where it takes us.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
Look for the Narrator talking about Howler and Audrey removing their shoes. It sort of becomes a running joke in later Howler stories that badassery will be upcoming with either Howler or Audrey removing their shoes. Which is pretty much the most ridiculous badass trigger line ever.
Sorry, I've been crazy busy. I should have another issue finished and ready to upload in the thread in about a week or two.
3. UnComix One-Shots: The Piranha (Un-Iverse #17)
Rating: PG-13 (Sexual Situations)
Linear Notes for UnComix One-Shots: The Piranha (Abridged, Spoiler Free)
Holy Moly! Issue 17 and the third freaking One-Shot! Never, EVER gotten this far before. This is uncharted territory. I might stop and savor this moment, if it weren't for the fact that only one story in this issue is great. And Stella's story IS great, but since it's the only one that is, perhaps I should dwell less on the Milestone, and simply move on.
This was an unusually easy issue to put to paper. None of the stories had particularly challenging artwork, so I whipped it out pretty quickly. And yet, the Stella Stickyfingers story is still one of the high points of the One-Shots.
The artwork is SO boring that I was actually aggravated that the scripts to The Un-Iverse at this stage of the game don't really interest me very much. I am a LONG ways away from "The Terran Wars", which is the reason I created The Un-Iverse in the first place. This right here? This is me paying my dues first. And it's going to take far longer than I'd like to do that. I wanna tell "Release The Gilda" NOOOOWWW!!!
It's not even all about Gilda And Meek for me anymore. I'm building to The Terran Wars. That's pretty much all The Un-Iverse really means to me at this point, and Gilda and Meek have sort of become secondary to that goal. Even when I get back to Gilda And Meek in three issues, I am STILL a long ways off from telling the story I TRULY want to tell. Sigh. It's better in the long run if I take my time, and set everything up ahead of time. But I'm like a kid who is told his next Christmas is five years away. I'm excited for it, but that doesn't make me any less bummed about the wait.
I did everything in my power to make the Piranha story 100% G-rated. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. He’s the kiddie character. I’m appalled at the lack of all-ages stories he’s appeared in. One-Shots was designed to help with that.
What is especially galling about that to me is that his first solo story in Gilda And Meek ("The Village"), had enough gore to get it an R rating were it live-action. I honestly did not plan it being that gory, but it made sense for that story. But I'm still a little ashamed I used the Piranha to tell it.
The story isn't good, but it IS super cute. And that's enough for me. That's all I wanted for it, so it is successful to me in a way the Piranha's story with the Mailman was not.
I love that Dr. Raggleworth is the kind of guy who reads "The Bridges Of Madison County". His copy is probably well-worn and dog-eared. You'd never expect that, which is why I did it.
I love the lettering in "The Piranha" logo on the cover. They look like a combination of fins and red lips with pointy teeth.
I love the expression on Dr. Raggleworth's face as the Piranha burps in it. If you ask me, he seems far more forgiving of that action than warranted. The Piranha's face as he burps is hilarious too.
If I am being 100% honest, this story is cutesy and insipid. Not exactly badly written. Not exactly. But it's not well-written either. But that's precisely why I did it. The Un-Iverse is not all entirely one thing or another. I can do R-Rated horror stories like "Skeletons" and "Release The Gilda", as well as Muppety G rated kids stuff like this. And it's precisely because I do the Muppety kids stuff which is the reason people might forgive the horror stuff. I will concede right now that the kids stuff is not as good or interesting as the adult stuff. But just by existing, it makes the adult stuff more interesting than if it didn't exist. Showing happiness and joy in such a sweet and adorable manner means that if something horrible DOES happen in the future, it actually matters. And I don't think that would be true if the main characters were always dour and suffering all the time. People love Game of Thrones, but I am not invested in it at all. Not just because I expect any character I like to be killed, but because everything is so miserable all the time, that there is nothing in the show or characters for me to actually enjoy. And if I actually enjoy something, if something bad happens, it will effect me more than something bad happening on a show like Game of Thrones where it is expected. I do not actually think THIS particular story is enjoyable. It's dumb. But the characters are happy and love each other, which makes any and all upcoming drama matter more than if they weren't and didn't.
"Release The Gilda", and its follow-up "Everything Hurts", will matter more because I told this story. Which, like all of the seemingly unrelated One-Shots stories, is the precise reason I told it. I didn't tell this story for its own sake. I did so for the Piranha's sake. And that matters most to me, even if it may ultimately aggravate a cynical reader.
The Narf-Narf and Chirp story is gross and underwhelming.
And of course Chirp is super embarrassed by the way he saved the day. Because Chirp is probably the second coolest character in the saga after Bernadette, and he just did perhaps the uncoolest thing a creature could ever do. He better hope Narf-Narf keeps his mouth shut, because that particular act of "heroism" is something he'd probably want to take to his grave. That ain't somethin' that impresses the ladies.
I should probably be embarrassed by the story too, if I'm honest, but I wanted me that Pulp Fiction reference, and that seemed to be a situation embarrassing enough to warrant it. Be thankful I didn't make it grosser. I totally could have.
But as gross as that scene is, I personally do not think Chirp is gross. At all. This issue is one of his few endearing moments (and there are admittedly very few) but as gross as what Chirp did was, it's pretty much the most gallant thing he's ever done. He is outright ashamed and embarrassed that he did it, but he did it to protect the innocent people in the bank. It's the first time Chirp actually does something outright UNCOOL in public for the greater good. And I love that Narf-Narf doesn't ultimately hassle him for it, which is one of the things I really like about their friendship. If Chirp pooped on the robber's as a prank, he would be gross. But that was pretty much his only defense in that scenario, and he used it to protect innocent people. So I don't think he's actually gross for that.
Narf-Narf lamenting that he started a few fires he should really be keeping an eye on is another hint that he is a sociopath.
Widow Crumpetwhacker is another old character I Easter Egged here because there was no place for her elsewhere. I WAS leaning to hook up Dr. Raggleworth with Gilda eventually, but I think part of me knew in the back of my head that wouldn't work. Widow Crumpetwhacker was my safe option two, and was originally going to marry Julius if I decided Gilda couldn't. Once I decided Julius should remain single for the rest of the saga, I dropped the character. I'd almost say entirely, but here she is.
Is it just me or does Widow Crumpetwhacker look eerily similar to Your Grandmother from the Flood Beer billboard advertisements? Is Widow Crumpetwhacker an ad model?
Here's Narf-Narf, making plans for his future. And the future is so frustratingly far away. Sigh.
By the way, was there anything funnier than Wayne Brady on Chappelle's Show? I don't think so.
It is just NOT a great story, which describes the average One-Shot. Sorry about that.
The one thing I love about the story is it sort of states that Narf-Narf and Chirp have an insane of intimate trust. For Marsellus Wallace and Butch, it was a shared experience of suffering, but this is a little different. Narf-Narf is the ONLY person Chirp would feel comfortable doing something that uncool in front of them, because he knows Narf-Narf is not the type of person who will hassle him for it. Narf-Narf is crazy and Chirp never makes him feel that way. Of course they trust and respect each other enough to have something embarrassing happen to one of them, without the other making fun of them. It's the fact that Narf-Narf is the only person who actually knows that Chirp is NOT cool deep down which is why I like their friendship.
I also suspect Chirp thinks deep down that Narf-Narf isn't actually insane. Which is another interesting thing, because on some level he is. But I'm not ready to completely tip my hand about that yet.
ThunderCats, man. For such a sucky cartoon, I have NO idea how they came up with such a great character as Safari Joe. Before I got the DVD set, I had pretty much forgotten everything about the show. Except him (and well, honestly, Mongor). The effed up thing is that Safari Joe is NOT a common pop-culture reference. Even Family Guy has never touched him (not sure about Robot Chicken). And yet he was the very best thing about ThunderCats. Seths MacFarlane and Green have some explaining to do. The Big Game Hunter is precisely as big and dumb and obnoxious a villain as the Humans would gravitate towards. And the story quickly stops being ThunderCats and turns into O Henry’s The Ransom Of Red Chief. Except there is nobody to blackmail to take the Humans back. Sometimes I don’t think kidnappers think the potential ramifications of their behavior all the way through.
I keep making the Humans more and more sinister as the stories go along. I do not think their motives ARE sinister, and I think they have about as much foul intentions as Tigger does. But if The Humans are me showing real-life consequences to Tigger, at some point we have to question if Tigger actually knows better and causes the mayhem and destruction he does on purpose. And I do NOT think that is outside of the realm of possibility. The Humans have about as much malice as Tigger does. What this story says to me is that it is possible Tigger is FILLED with malice deep down.
Referencing Bernadette in this story is something I often have the Narrator do. He often brings up unrelated characters in stories they do not appear in, or have anything to do with. Him referencing a previous Gilda and Meek scene is not something another franchise would do without a solid crossover to back it up. Narratively speaking, it's cheating.
But the reason the Narrator does stuff like that is because he isn't actually breaking decorum. This is ALL the same story, Gilda and Meek, The Pontue Legacy, UnComix One-Shots, UnComx Tales, F.I.S.H., Lace Doilies, The Terran Wars, it's all the exact same story told in order. It is why The Un-Iverse is NOT for casual fans, and cannot be dipped in and out of. By me structuring the canon that way, it will make things frustrating for people who have to put up with the detours of The Humans and Narf-Narf and Chirp. But the experience will be SO much better for the reader in the long run. Bernadette is referenced here so that the Narrator can make sure people are already aware of that fact. All of this stuff is connected, and will be colliding eventually. Maybe not soon enough for some people. But eventually. The Un-Iverse is gonna rock. But not yet. As I said, One Shots is me paying my dues first.
I purposefully made the Humans a bit demonic as they shriek "One of us!" I pointed their ears slightly, and gave them forked tongues and pointy teeth. Davy wagging his finger beckoningly is the most horrific drawing I have ever done using those specific characters. If I live long enough, it won't be that way forever.
And yes, the Freaks reference there is deliberate. Oldest movie I've referenced so far.
The sinister looking snake in that scene doesn't mean anything. I was just bored.
Here is another similarity between the Humans and Tigger: They are never, EVER punished for their horrible actions. And if this issue is any indication, you can sort of guess my opinion of Tigger.
Do you know what the most horrific thing about them stating the Big Game Hunter would spend the rest of his life with them? They are ultimately correct. As the Hunter gets more and more desperate and crazed, I mussed up his slick hair and mustache. He goes from sleek to raggedy in the space of 30 seconds.
The Frank "Grimey" Grimes thing is NOT a joke I should have done. It does NOT fit into the canon. At all. But that's essentially what this story ultimately is. The joke is bad for the narrative, but good for the reader.
The Humans do not drop a single rose on the grave because they are romantic, or classy, or even regretful. It's because they're musicians. And that's what musicians do at funerals.
The Stella Stickyfingers story is another famous catchphrase nod, this time for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved that line and the kitten poker concept so much I built an entire story around it. And named it precisely that so you know it isn’t a rip-off, but an homage.
The reason Stella Stickyfingers stories tend to work in a way The Humans and Narf-Narf and Chirp do not, is that Stella does not follow a formula. The Humans are accidental antagonists, and Narf-Narf and Chirp are cynical observers. Stella's role in The Un-Iverse and the stories she appears in are much harder to figure out. The story is the best story in the issue because the reader probably has no idea what is going on during it, or what it is leading to. And that's fun and cool.
And face it, having a psychic cat in a kitten poker game pretty much means Stella was ALWAYS gonna win. The only question is whether she can do it without the canine mafia (correctly) believing she cheated. And she pulled it off.
Ironically the story title is a misnomer. Spike doesn't actually cheat at kitten poker. It's Stella who does. But the title is what it is as a tribute to Buffy, even if it's the wrong one.
The two states where Kitten Poker is legal are Texas and Florida.
Spike's design is one of my best ever, which just proves again that the more recently that I designed a character, the better it looks. I've said before I'd probably have been better off redesigning every single character from my youth from scratch, but I wouldn't actually give up Gilda's weird head shape for the world. So here we are.
It's weird Spike is a bulldog, because the bulldog from Tom and Jerry is also named Spike. But THIS Spike actually named after Buffy's Spike, and is a bulldog because that is the species of dog a mob boss should be. The Tom and Jerry thing is a pure coincidence.
The Stella Stickyfingers story is important to me, because it is the first time I have told a completely straightforward linear narrative that doesn't really effect the canon at large. "Skeletons" did that too on some level, but that DID effect the canon, big time. But the fact that I can take a story a little bit sideways from the Gilda and Meek canon, and still make it interesting and totally play, is good practice for later. It tells me the upcoming spin-off F.I.S.H. will NOT be the long hard slog I fear it is.
Speaking of "Skeletons," I think this issue has the tightest script since that Gilda And Meek comic. Scripts this tightly written are not going to be unheard of as the saga goes on, but the rambling nature of the dialogue means they WILL be unusual. This is an uncommonly effective script for that reason.
I think Stella's dress objectifies her quite a bit, but I am actually fine with that. Stella is one of the most sexual characters in the entire story, and one of the few characters the descriptor "sexual" is true of. Sex is a rarity in The Un-Iverse, but Stella is a character who can hold her own on the subject, and she is probably the most major character this is true of in the entire story.
This is partly why I have Chirp hit on her so much. Because he is totally not a threat to her in this matter, and his creepiness doesn't faze her a jot. She gets that ALL the time, as attractive women do, and navigates it pretty well for someone her age. She owns it. Chirp is MUCH less creepy of a character than at first glance, because Stella doesn't care that he's a creep in the first place. It's irrelevant to her.
But just remember, she's young, attractive, a runaway, and practically homeless. She has had to deal with this stuff far more often, and for far longer than most women her age. That is probably why it never fazes her. She's used to it. That's both kind of impressive, and very sad at the same time.
Why is she dressed like that in the first place? While admittedly part of it is to distract the Mafia, it's also partly so they'd underestimate her. You don't expect the hot mess bimbo to be the smartest person in the room.
One of the biggest clues as to what the story is about is the fact that Dogs are the only characters that appear in the story. You might not even realize that until you reread it, but there is not a single Cat or Human in the casino at the beginning. That was the one clue that something is not quite right here.
Stella being a runaway is not just a random plot point. It WILL come up again. Two issues from now, in fact.
I was very conscious to have Stella take a deep breath after she leaves the casino. I do not think heroes should always be as steely and cool as they are usually portrayed. That was a VERY scary thing Stella just did, and if she was caught, she might have been killed for it. Showing relief as she exited the casino, especially since she pulled that stunt with no back-up from anyone who could physically protect her, is perfectly natural. It would be weird if she WASN'T actually shaken by that experience.
The Dog leering at Stella's exposed breasts at the bar is gross, but it keeps the reality of the situation. This is what she has to do with to save Narf-Narf's younger relatives. This adventure is not pleasant for Stella. She knows exactly what she is doing, and navigates the situation expertly, but this is not fun. Sexually empowered or no, there is no part of her that enjoys being in this particular casino dressed like that. Probably because the actual stakes are so high.
And yes, the secret password to the kitten poker game is a dumb Garfield joke. I ain't proud of it. But it's entirely appropriate.
And yeah, I know, Dogs playing poker. Shut up.
I probably messed it up due to my crappy art style, but I DID put a picture of Humans playing poker in the background of that, for that precise reason.
Mostly during The Un-Iverse, the species of Dogs are wonderful, friendly, loyal, and noble. This thing right here, is the one way they are absolutely sinister, and it's probably a worse species quirk than I've actually shown a Human or Cat having. No species in The Un-Iverse is perfect. And kitten poker being an actual thing proves it.
Just because your species has a reputation for being awesome, it doesn't mean they always are. Kitten Poker is Exhibit A.
I love that there are air holes in the duffel bag.
Stella's friendship with "Rico" is clearly the thing that got her the invite to the game. Who is Rico? We'll never know.
I knew a card counter once. And it is NOT an easy skill. It is totally possible for a card counter to lose a LOT of money at a casino if they drink too much, or get too distracted. It is NOT the exact science Rain Man makes it out to be. You have to do complex math while people are getting you drunk, you have to make it look like you aren't doing it, (so you don't get kicked out of the casino), and you have to ignore the flashing lights and crowds because if you lose your place, you are screwed. Stella having this skill shows that she is a VERY versatile criminal. If she was just the pickpocket or jewel thief she is sometimes billed as, she would actually be much less interesting.
This is probably why card counting isn't illegal. It's an advantage, but it isn't a foolproof one. You can lose big if you aren't fully aware of your surroundings at every step of the way. If you know how to count cards, going to a casino and betting a lot of money is STILL a huge risk. It's a risk that favors you. But not fully and not always. As Data opined on Star Trek: The Next Generation: "I believe that is why they call it gambling, sir."
The picture of Narf-Narf as Stella takes him out of the duffel bag and places him on the table is easily the most adorable picture I have ever done of that character. And that's deliberate for this moment. I'll be surprised if I ever do a cuter Narf-Narf picture coming up. Because I won't need to.
Stella using Narf-Narf as her opening wager is another thing that shows why this mission is such a risk. It sets up the stakes immediately.
Speaking of great pictures, the last panel of page 5, where Stella is surrounded by cats while taking a shot and holding up her hand of cards, is precisely how complicated I imagine card counting is. Narf-Narf is in on the scam too, but it's the blinking in Morse Code thing that makes this even more complex than the blackjack table. And I think her expression of vindication shows that here.
How does the Morse Code blinking work in the first place? How does Narf-Narf indicate which mafioso has which cards? And how does he blink the info fast enough to not attract unwanted attention? There are logical holes in the way Stella cheats, which is something that I think makes the fact she is actually successful more interesting.
I also love the dollar signs in her eyes, and her tongue sticking out, upon seeing the money at the end. That right there is Stella getting back into her comfort zone. Big time.
Not all of the artwork is great. Besides the Human poker painting, I don't think the last panel reads very well, and Chirp's ski mask more resembles a bondage S&M gimp mask than anything else.
I personally think Stella telling the Mafia she's a vegetarian is probably ill-advised. Her doing that is her rubbing in their faces how much they suck. And they have guns, so it might be wiser if she didn't poke that particular hive. But frankly, I think Stella is disgusted with these guys (for the right reasons) and this is her one chance to state once and for all why. It's not a smart thing to say. But I don't blame her either.
I love Chirp's out of nowhere entrance at the end. You are probably wondering where he is during the entire story, and BAM. That's where.
Chirp being able to fire a gun in one talon, while holding a bag of money in the other may sound like the most implausible thing ever. Unless you think really closely about what I've had the Piranha do without fingers or opposable things. Then maybe you can shut off your brain for it.
I could not really think of a great ending to the story until I had Chirp rob the casino. It's not a perfectly constructed thing, since Chirp isn't seen, or even mentioned earlier in the issue, but it works for what I wanted to do, because it's an extra surprise twist, built on a story whose entire premise is a surprise twist. It makes a kind of sense to go with the big out of nowhere ending, in a story that doesn't make any sense until Narf-Narf's nieces and nephews call him Uncle Narf-Narf. It fits a story this otherwise ambiguous.
Stella is very unlike the other One-Shots characters in that I think she is the only one who is remotely relatable. And yes, I'm including Howler in that statement. I would love it if readers sympathized with Howler's plight, and found his struggle interesting. But I don't, so I can't very well expect anyone else to.
This story is everything I wanted it to be, which is not usually true of most of my stories. Just this and "Skeletons" so far. Which again proves that anytime I have a solid script I can make things work. I am looking forward to the Fifth One-Shot very much. All four of those stories are going to be tightly plotted and great. Stay tuned.
Speaking of genre homages, I’m sure many people will see the Werewolf Tribe as a direct nod to Stephen King and Peter Straub’s "The Talisman". While there IS some of that in the concept, I think my Werewolves are MUCH less interesting than King’s. And that’s sort of deliberate. The Werewolves aren’t adorable, larger than life characters like The Talisman’s Wolf. They are damaged, and bitter, and NORMAL people just trying to get by. Most Borns tribes seem to have a great deal in common with Indian reservations in the amount of heritage and culture roundly ignored by society at large due to fear and mistrust. Well, most Infecteds’ compounds are even worse. They are pretty much leper colonies, and the Infecteds treat each other as such. The compound in the story is a mixture of both, but neither side seems to get along very well with each other.
The Talisman's Wolf was a very adorable character. Howler and his friends are not. The Werewolves in my story do not run with the moon, and pretty much either hate their condition, or pretend it isn’t an issue. I personally think that by the end of Part 4, Phil could have definitely stood to have been put in a Box by Howler. Howler did NOT take care of his herd. That bastard.
I originally flirted with the idea of having the guy on the other end of the phone at the end of the Howler story be Warren (Phil's old partner). I decided against it because he'd instantly recognize his voice. Woulda been juicy though.
I think the fact that that many torture devices can be found in Howler and Audrey's bedroom says something incredibly messed up. Whatever Werewolf sex entails, it's probably kinda hot and kinky. I wouldn't want to participate in it, but it seems like both Audrey and Juan dig it a LOT. Which is kind of scary.
There is also something else I love about Audrey that you may not pick up on: she, like the Mysterious Women the Piranha encounters in the seaside village, ALWAYS wears a sweatsuit. As funny as it is to me that a mousy, overweight woman in jogging clothes is one of the biggest badasses in the saga, Audrey's lazy wardrobe tickles me for similar reasons. Because there are NOT a ton of romances in The Un-Iverse, so Audrey and Juan are one of the franchise's top power couples by default. And it amazes me that the woman on the end of one of the few epic love stories that exists just does NOT care about her outward appearance to others. She is ALWAYS dressed down. She probably wore that sweatsuit to her and Juan's wedding. What I especially love about this idea is that this doesn't make her any less desirable to Howler. There are no ball and chain jokes to be heard pass Howler's lips. He is just as sexually fascinated with his wife as Sarah and Zyle were with each other in The Pontue Legacy, and Bernadette and Otterman will be in the second half of the saga. And that facet of Audrey is one of the few genuine things I like about their otherwise boring seeming romance.
I was originally going to have Howler thank "Dog" for small favors when he sees that Mitch left him the pain weapon, but that raised too many questions I'd never answer. God is more cliched, but is also the line that makes the most sense.
Narf-Narf's name being on one of the storage units is deliberate. It is another way for me to make the One-Shots be in a larger connected world with each other. Howler keeps the weapon in the same place Narf-Narf has the majority of his Sore Throat Spray stash.
I can't believe how horrible looking that van came out. I suck at vehicles. Usually if I draw something I can improve at it in time, but cars and airplanes are the one thing I've never gotten even slightly better at. It's actually a bit frustrating.
Still, I put an unusual amount of detail in that opening splash panel, and it looks all the better for it. And there is no reason for me not to do that.
After Audrey tells the Werewolf at the beginning that she will kill him, you may have missed that I had him lick his lips as he says "I have no doubt you will try". That automatically makes the moment salacious.
I have never been crazy about Audrey's design, but I think it really works here, and for the first time ever. I'm really pleased with it because it tells me ANOTHER upcoming character with a similarly troubling design (Volk-Si in F.I.S.H.) is something I am going to get the hang of eventually.
I love Drake's design too. It looks like a 70's disco club design to hint at the character's sleaziness. You might cry foul at a Werewolf Chief being dressed like this, but that's kind of why I like it. The cultures in The Un-Iverse don't necessarily follow the norms that they do in our universe. Drake dressing like Larry in Three's Company proves it.
Phil saying "Eeeewww!" upon seeing Howler and Audrey's bondage S&M sex equipment is a REALLY cliched and obvious joke. It is also the right one for that situation. I hope you'll beg my pardon.
The Shock box with nipple clamps shows that even if you never SEE the nipples in The Un-Iverse due to the streamlined art style, they still exist.
Take note: Audrey actually DOES take the sweatsuit off... when she's wearing the dominatrix outfit on the full moon. Howler's assless chaps amuse me for similar reasons.
One of the weapons I Easter Egged is a Klingon Bat'leth. You're welcome.
Reread the scene where Mitch the government agent talks about his divided loyalties. There are several different clues in Mitch's speech that hint to major upcoming things in The Un-Iverse. But that's all I'll say for now.
Howler being so cool and collected as Mitch waves a gun in his face says that this is not the first time this has happened.
Divided loyalties and not knowing whether you can ultimately trust Mitch is Mitch's defining character trait, and this is the first issue I use this theme. Is Mitch good or bad? If he's bad, is there anything he cares about enough to turn him good? Mitch's ultimate motives and the reasons why he helps both the good guys AND the bad guys remain a central mystery of The Un-Iverse.
I really enjoy writing the scenes of a ton of dialogue with two heads in the lower corners of the comic panel. I imagine comic book fans will hate something that relies so little on the visuals, but I like them because they are easier to draw, and therefore the artwork looks better than usual. Plus, I am more comfortable with dialogue than art in the first place.
This is the first Howler Part I actually think is any good.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
Like Gilda and Hank, Stella Stickyfingers is a vegetarian. Unlike them, it's not because she's socially progressive or super ethical. It's just, when you have talked to the amount of animals Stella has, the idea of eating meat becomes abhorrent. Unlike most vegetarians, Stella isn't actually giving anything up. Meat actually physically grosses her out in a way it does not for Gilda or Hank. It makes her as ill to be around as a dead body is for us. Which again shows that she has a stomach of steel for this particular mission.
4. UnComix One-Shots: Howler (Un-Iverse #18)
Rating: PG-13 (Some bloody violence and adult themes)
Linear Notes for UnComix One-Shots Howler (Abridged)
Another Milestone: I scripted the first draft of the first part of Bad Moon Rising when I was around 20 or 21. It took me 20 years, but I finally actually finished the freaking story!
Whether the story is good enough to warrant working 20 years on it is strictly up for debate, but I will not let the fact that some of the parts are underwhelming, lesson the sense of accomplish I get from finally finishing a story that had been giving me this huge amount of trouble. For literally decades. It matters to me that I finished it.
The last part to the Howler story is pretty great. It wasn't always, but I managed to actually write a good Howler story for once. I am very pleased with it, which is unusual for One-Shots story. There also aren't really any jokes in it. It's not a horror story like "Skeletons", and the lack of jokes wasn't a deliberate thing, but once I decided that The Un-Iverse is more drama than comedy, I was okay with writing stories like this.
I actually held off on scripting the story for a few days until I locked down some decent ideas. Howler turning into a full Werewolf was a late addition, but I now realize is crucial. The franchise is about a Werewolf, and part of being a Werewolf is losing control. It has to be a serious factor at the end of the first Howler story.
The second good thing is that the massacre gives Howler and Audrey a good reason to split up. Before they didn't have one, and just split up for the sake of the mission, but I didn't like that. They're married. They should WANT to stick together, no matter what the universe throws at them. When I came up with the idea that Howler's love for Audrey was so strong it was liable to get other people (including Audrey) killed, I gave them a perfect excuse to take a break from each other. And the story is better for having that excuse.
I hope people might think there is a serious subtext to the idea that perhaps Howler was able to control his full transformation for the first time in his life because he was in serious pain, but of the emotional rather than physical variety. I'm not going to state if that it true one way or the other, but if it IS true, that makes him even MORE culpable for the massacre than he was before. Which is interesting. Which is probably why I did it.
Do you know what I like about the flashback at the beginning? We are given no context for it, and what Warren and Phil are doing being surrounded by Werewolves is never explained, and their location or what kind of building they are hiding in is never specified. Do you know who else does stuff like that? David Lynch. This scene is nowhere as ambiguous as the best of his stuff, but I love that it raises questions that I am never gonna answer.
Part Four is also the longest of not only the Howler One-Shots stories, but of the One-Shot stories, period. I debated splitting it in half and putting an unforeseen Part Five in the next issue, but I was kind of curious as to where it was headed, so I finished it instead. That happens to me sometimes.
Phil being gay is another example of me introducing a gay character without revealing they are gay until a few issues down the line. And that should be normal. Usually that should not even need to come up.
"People are responsible for their own actions. I lost control tonight because I CHOSE to lose control when I did."
This line is the essence of The Un-Iverse.
Howler refusing to believe Audrey that it wasn't his fault what happened shows an important Un-Iverse theme: People are responsible for their own actions. He deliberately chose to lose control when he did in a fit of rage. He is not off the hook for it. Audrey is actually lying to him to make him feel better. But what happened at the compound is 100% Howler's fault, and the story isn't ever going to pretend differently.
That being said, him telling her he almost killed her is him taking too much blame / credit for what just happened. Audrey was in no real danger. That chick can take care of herself.
I like that the references to the tides and that time of the month tie in Werewolfism to menstruation. Men seem always so grossed out and afraid of that condition, when it is really no big deal and managable for women. That is how the rest of the Terrans in The Un-Iverse see Werewolfism, so it's an especially strong allegory. Werewolves supposedly have icky girl parts that men fear. That's another thing that states prejudice against Werewolves is ill-advised.
There wasn't originally a mini beeper-sized pain device, but I drew the device far too big last issue, and I needed a way for Howler to be able to fit it into his pants this issue. So I created a mini version inside the case.
"Nobody but Audrey would check there," is a sexual reference. But it is not an EXPLICIT sexual reference. I like that about The Un-Iverse.
I don't actually 'ship Howler and Phil. But because of the kiss and the holding of hands, some people WILL.
Still, the kiss in the moonlight is incredibly romantic. I won't deny that.
Phil supposedly making Warren mad enough to make a mistake so he can shoot him does not hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Because he had a gun on him the entire time, and could have shot him at any point. But hopefully, the first time you notice this plothole is when I bring it up here.
I totally screwed up the ID booth at the compound. Last issue I put it on the right side of the page because it looked better there, but those booths are always on the LEFT side of the road, so the booth takers can check ID's without the person getting out of the car. I kept it the wrong way in this issue for consistency, but if and when I redraw the entire saga, I'm going to put the booth on the left side of the road in both this issue and the last.
Audrey kissing Howler while he has blood on his mouth is not my favorite thing, but I had to keep the reality of the situation. Which kind of bums me out.
Audrey's Smiley Face T-Shirt at the end was done for two reasons. First as a nod to the UnComix logo. The second reason is to show that when you are stuck with second hand clothes as your only option, you don't get to pick what message is on the T-Shirt. Audrey doesn't exactly feel like having a nice day right now. But the shirt fits, so she'll put up with it until she can buy another tacky pink sweatsuit.
Here is something interesting about "Bad Moon Rising". All four parts take place in the span of a day and a half. Part One starts on the first night of the full moon, and then proceeds to the second. Then Parts Two, Three, and Four all take place on the same night until the dawn.
Bad Moon Rising takes place within two nights in July 2016. It is the first story chronologically in the One-Shots. The rest of the stories take place between July and September 2016.
Bad Moon Rising is the only multiple part story in the entire Un-Iverse that has no subtitles for each individual part. The only reason this is is that I forgot to put them on the stories until they were far too late in completion to do anything about it. The last version of Bad Moon Rising: Part One didn't have a subtitle either, so at least I'm consistent. About this at least. Every other multiple part story in both the original 90 issues, and The Supplements will have a second individual title for each part. Bad Moon Rising is the only multipart story that doesn't.
There is a continuity error on the cover. Generally speaking, I try to use the covers to show actual scenes, or at least the distillation of actual scenes. On this cover, as Audrey is putting her hands on a transformed Juan's muzzle to calm him from his murderous rampage, she is wearing her trademark sweatsuit (and we see for the first time that it is a hideously tacky pink). During this moment in the story itself, Audrey is topless, as she's ripped off her sweatshirt when she transformed earlier in the story. But if I put her topless on the cover, you might mistake this intimate moment for a sex scene, which it most certainly is not. Admittedly, the innocently cartoony nudity (replete with fur covering her breasts so that you don't see much) in the story adds a level of intimacy that would not be there in the sweatsuit, but it is also not a sexual moment at all, and I didn't want to misrepresent that moment to the reader before they saw it. It's tender, but not sexual. Which is why the cover image differs from the story in such a large way.
This is the first cover I used color shading and texture. Hopefully it won't be the last.
I seem to keep saying this, but this is my best cover so far. Looks far more spooky-cool and iconic than I usually come up with. The silhouette of the Wolf howling at the moon on the cliff in the background is awesome. I put barely any detail into it, yet you can still tell what it is.
The joke of Chirp wrapping the blood-pressure cuff around Narf-Narf's neck was pretty much the reason I built a story around it. For the record, I've had that idea in my head for almost two decades. This "story" isn't even really a story. It's just a couple of jokes. But I didn't feel the need to expand it.
The painting of the sailboat in the waiting room is a tribute to The Simpsons' couch gags.
I love the little hearts in Chirp's eyes as he sticks out his tongue. There are very few ways Chirp perving on Stella is adorable. This is one of them.
I ain't proud of the booger hanging out of Narf-Narf's nose the entire story, but it was the best way to show he was sick.
Stella's default mood towards Narf-Narf and Chirp in this story seems to be epic anger, even at things that shouldn't make her angry (like Narf-Narf offering to pay for the vet visit). That isn't her mode with Narf-Narf and Chirp all of the time, but it is for some of the time, and this is the first story we get that.
For the record her anger at Chirp is justified. Big Papa Beak? Seriously? Ugh.
"You know you love it," is also a Bernadette catchphrase.
The vet is Barbara, who used to be Dr. Smog's fiance before he was mutated. I wanted to give the vet a similar design to hers, and just decided it would be best if they were the same character.
The great thing about using Barbara again is that I loved her design, but was barely able to show it in her previous appearance. Her only scene where she isn't in a gas mask is when Eric is kissing her on the cheek, so even there her design is a little messed up. He cute design is something I am proud of, and I'm glad I can actually show it off for the first time.
Narf-Narf saying "Ack!" is a Bill the Cat reference.
Big moment: We actually learn that Narf-Narf doesn't seem to like the taste of sore throat spray. Which should make you wonder why the hell he wants so much of it.
Love the design of the Yeti in The Humans story.
For the record, the Narrator is wrong that the Human's didn't destroy anything in this particular story. They basically broke the Narrator's sanity. The person they drove nuts this issue is him. He blames me, the Author, for that, but I sort of used the Narrator to poke fun at the idea that I can never come up with a new or interesting Humans story. And I'm using the Narrator to say that the concept is such that I can't even do a good twist on it. Yes, it's definitely a surprise the story turns into the Humans being lovesick puppies. But as the Narrator points out, Pepe Le Pew isn't actually funny at all. Every single way I could possibly tweak the premise is equally unfunny. I hope the Twin Peaks parody coming up is different, but I literally think the final Humans story 50 issues from now is the only good one.
And yes, the Humans are too stupid to be funny. That was Beavis and Butt-Head's biggest problem too, but they somehow still made it work. But if a Human makes a Game of Thrones reference, the Narrator is sure as heck going to call foul on the Author. This is one of the most meta stories in the entire canon for that reason.
Once in a while I will have the Narrator say something insightful or true. "There is nothing less funny than a cat-raping skunk," is one of those things.
I also adore Willis the Paranoid Camel's underwhelming introduction in the Unkie Matty story. Because I give absolutely no clues that this rightwing nutjob will one day become of one Gilda's most loyal and fiercest acolytes, willing to follow her commands without question, deferring to her orders about everything, as well as being in love with her, and show it. As far as this issue is concerned, he's just a dumb joke, and nothing more than that. The fact that he is just as supremely layered as any of the major cast members will be a shock in "The Terran Wars".
I will get crap for not having any admirable conservative characters except for Bernadette Anderson. But Willis will wind up proving that untrue in "The Terran Wars".
Do you know what's great about giving Willis subtext later on? It's hinted that we see it in "The Terran Wars" because we never got to really witness him off the set in Unkie Matty. I love that because it hints that it's possible Wacky Quacky The Chainsmoking Duck, Phyllis The Suicidal Guppy, and The Guy With The Mouthful Of Tubesocks are secretly filled with drama and pathos too which is something we are never made aware of because their roles are so brief. I love that idea.
Nine issues. It's been nine issues since we've last seen Gilda. That's amazing, because the Piranha, Bernadette, and Meek have been a part of the One-Shots since the first issue. I only realize how long Gilda has been gone upon seeing her again.
I love the Piranha's expression as he yells "Yay!" at the beginning. It borders on the deranged.
I debated giving Willis a MAGA hat, but I came to my senses. The Un-Iverse is NOT that kind of Universe.
Saved By The Bell also comes up in The Supplements. Here's a preview: Bernadette watches it on Netflix, and gives Gilda and Meek her unvarnished opinion about Gilda and Meek's generations. And it's about what you'd expect.
Here is something wild about Unkie Matty's Wacky Funhouse: One of the ways I decided I could keep the pop culture references the same in The Un-Iverse as in our universe, was by suggesting that Humans are the artisan species, and that the film and TV industry is largely racially segregated, and Humans tend to create and star in everything. I don't place a value judgment on that racism (Cats and Dogs follow Lost just as obsessively as any Human, and don't take the Artisan Snub personally, and sort of roll their eyes at the idea that Humans think themselves the center of the TV and movie universe) but the idea really seems MUCH more interesting when you look at Unkie Matty. Unkie Matty may be an evil sociopath in real life. But the truth is he has two Mutated Animals among the main cast. And Mutated Animals are probably the species next to Werewolves that bigots feel the most fear and hatred towards. Which automatically makes his show more inclusive and diverse than pretty much anything else on television. I sort of use Unkie Matty to give an example of what kids shows are like in The Un-Iverse. The fact that the Funhouse is so diverse actually means it's this universe's version of Sesame Street. And that amazes me.
This is my first actual Unkie Matty story so I am relieved that the design for the main character works as well as it does. While I think the design of the Guy With the Mouthful of Tube Socks could be better (hopefully it will improve in future issues) Unkie Matty is expressive and dynamite. This is also the best Wacky Quacky I've ever done. There is a forceful shape to the beak that I recently added and it distinguishes the character a bit from Donald and Daffy Duck.
I like when Wacky Quacky is hit with the mallet, he sticks out his tongue and the cig is dangling off that.
Hippie Joe mentions his wife for the first and only time. I'm not even sure if she exists or if that part of the show is scripted.
What's with the kilt? It makes Unkie Matty look weirder and crazier. That's all the reason I needed. If there ever were an animated adaptation, Unkie Matty would NOT have a Scottish accent. He's American and dresses that way for shock value.
Unkie Matty wasn't originally a sociopath when I created him. He was a goofball like Pee-Wee Herman. But the more reality I put in the The Un-Iverse, the more realistic I had to make the characters' personalities. Goofballs like Pee-Wee don't genuinely hurt people by hitting them with wooden mallets. That's something a violent psychopath would do. So now my namesake is one. There is no larger subtext to my namesake being evil than that.
These are some of my most on-model drawings of Gilda ever. Which tells me that both The Pontue Legacy and One-Shots have given me much needed practice on my artwork and that when I return to Gilda and Meek, the artwork is gonna be fantastic.
One of the most refreshing things about Gilda to me is that she refuses to deny her generation's terrible taste. I cannot count how many times I hear old school animation fans rave about the original Transformers, when it is literally one of the most appalling cartoons ever put to cel. Saved By The Bell does not have the same apologists attached to it, but Gilda is never going to pretend the generation that drank OK Soda didn't totally suck.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
Phyllis's original design and gimmick was that she was called "Phyllis, Guppy Who Loved Too Much" and she would have a hundred tiny fish in her bowl. That changed once I came up with my "No punching down" mandate. The joke could have been read as if I'm slut-shaming single mothers, and I always avoid offending groups of people if I can help it. If I take a shot at someone, no only will they deserve it, but they won't be a part of the disenfranchised class either. I've fudged this rule with fat and crazy jokes for Vic Puff and Donna Demented, but I'm not going to do it for single mothers. They are, in reality, Badass Warrior Goddesses like Gilda.