The Un-Iverse (PG-13)

Discussion in 'The Drawing Board' started by Fone Bone, Jan 19, 2017.

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  1. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    RIP Un-Iverse Online. Photobucket has decided to do away with third party hosting of their pictures online. I cannot afford to pay $40 a month for that. If anyone knows a different photo hosting site, please let me know. It will be a pain in this ass uploading all of this stuff again but it's the only way I can show my work.
     
  2. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Using Deviant Art as my new hosting site. Will be re-uploading all 18 issues today. Needless to say, this is gonna be a huge pain in the ass.
     
  3. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Done. What an ordeal.
     
  4. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    5. UnComix One-Shots: Meek's Chiller Theatre (Un-Iverse #19)

    Rating: PG.

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  5. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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  6. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes For "UnComix One-Shots: Meek's Chiller Theatre" (Abridged)

    Fun Fact: One-Shots was initially supposed to be only four issues long. But I had always been debating whether or not to adapt the Pink Gorilla story, and once I decided to do it, I realized it was too good to be a back-up story, and decided to create an extra issue to lead it off with. In creating an extra One-Shot, I brainstormed other I ideas I could fill the rest of the issue with. The Bill the Blue story (which is similar to one I wrote as a kid) was a no-brainer, as was a story of Gilda talking to the Piranha about the true nature of psychic powers and mental illness. The Pickpocket Convention story was me brainstorming concepts. It amazes me that a story that I built around such a boring concept that I thought of instantly, wound up being the best story in the entire five issue output.

    The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla is my favorite campfire story of all time. The idea is goofy, but if you tell it right, it is legitimately terrifying in places (you need to quietly, softly, and calmly describe the guy gently placing his hand on the Pink Gorilla, and then scream a scary and megaloud roar right when he does, as Meek does to Bernadette here). And instead of leading to a horrible ending like most scary stories, you get an unexpected and hilarious punchline. I don't know if my lawyers will let me publish a story I didn't actually come up with, but it is so great I think it should be shared with as many people as possible.

    I actually checked online to make sure somebody else didn't author it and hold the the rights. And it's just a campfire story after all. Interestingly, the version I tell here is QUITE different than the examples I read online. Sometimes they involved two anthropology teachers, or people going on safari. I like my scenario better because it is MUCH weirder.

    This is the first story I have ever adapted for The Un-Iverse, and the rare Meek's Chiller Theatre stories are all going to be adaptations of things. Everything else I came up with myself. My lawyers will have conniptions that I don't know who came up with these stories, but as far as I'm concerned, campfire stories and jokes are public domain precisely because nobody knows where they come from. If the person who wrote this story wants to sue me for ripping them off, fine. I sincerely doubt if that person is still alive, that they have ANY recordable evidence that they came up with it first.

    Most of the Meek's Chiller Theatre stories essentially are story length jokes with punchlines, masquerading as scary stories or genre tales. Except for this one. It has a punchline, but it isn't exactly a joke like the other upcoming stories are. That's probably why it's the best one.

    Meek's a pretty good Narrator, isn't he? I was originally going to reveal Bernadette at the end of the story, and make the reader wonder about the fourth wall during the entire thing, but I decided to show Meek isn't addressing the reader at the end of the teaser instead. Partly that was done so Meek could do the roar at the correct time someone does it during the campfire story, and partly because if I'm going to make Meek the Narrator for some stories, I'd rather he was less like my Narrator, and more like the Grandfather in A Princess Bride. To be fair to my Narrator, he owes a LOT of himself to the Grandfather too. The Grandfather was pretty much the reason I made my Narrator as honest as he is, and often ruin tension rather than lie to the reader. But I kind of thought this scary story might work better if Meek is relating it to an awestruck kid rather than pretending One-Shots has actually turned into an EC horror comic, even as a spoof. And Bernadette doesn't interrupt, or make fun of Meek during the story. She is a very attentive listener, which probably has to do with her love of books.

    One time I tried to tell this story to someone else went disastrously wrong because the person couldn't stop making fun of the idea of a Pink Gorilla. They thought it was dumb, and kept interrupting the story to make jokes, and I lost my rhythm and mojo, and the story wasn't scary, when if you tell it right it is. I felt a little bit bad for that person afterward, because they basically ruined a great experience for themselves by being so cynical. And it is a great story to just hunker down and listen to. And you have to play the story straight for it to work.

    I really like the drawing I did of Bernadette putting her hands to her mouth and her hair sticking out at the roar like the Bride of Frankenstein. It's super cute. In that moment, SHE lost her cynicism. Which is good.

    This story has stuck with me for a very long time, and I have thought about it for many sleepless nights. Not out of fear, but out of curiosity. I have always believed the story has much deeper implications about human nature and the human condition than the punchline might lead you to believe. Because Ronald's actions make no sense. Nobody wants to touch a pink gorilla so badly they are driven mad. And why is it so bad to touch the Pink Gorilla in the first place? What is the harm in a game of tag?

    I think Ronald's insanity is a metaphor for someone looking into the face of God. He now knows Heaven exists, but that he'll never enter it. It is not a perfect allegory, but the religious subtext explains a bit about why it is so bad to touch the Pink Gorilla in the first place.

    Touching the Pink Gorilla and instigating that particular game of tag is like leaving the cage door open for a beautiful songbird to hear its music more clearly. Once it flies out of the cage, you will never hear it again. Once the Pink Gorilla tags you back, he runs off, and you are resigned to never seeing his beauty again. That is why Meek describes the mild events of this night as a tragedy, even though nobody dies, and the story ends on a punchline. Ronald killed the Golden Goose, and let the most precious gift on Earth slip through his fingers, because he could not control his own selfish urges. And he ruined it for Cyrus too. Ronald is not the true victim in the story. Cyrus is.

    And the worst thing is that perhaps Ronald actually no longer thinks of the Pink Gorilla as beautiful after seeing him in that rancorous state. Meek says as much. He not only put Heaven beyond his reach, but he destroyed the idea of it in his own mind. He is now a faithless man. Touching the Pink Gorilla destroyed a part of his soul that he will never get back. He destroyed the notion of God in his own mind.

    Frankly, all of what I just wrote in the preceding four paragraphs is... utter *********. Whoever came up with this story was just trying to be a smartass. There were no deeper psychological implications to this campfire story when it was constructed, and told over and over again throughout the years. But there COULD be, which is why the story fascinated me in the first place, and why I actually adapted it for The Un-Iverse. I am definitely overthinking things with this story. It is NOT a religious allegory. It's a dumb joke. But the fact that a dumb joke means something that personal to me meant that I pretty much HAD to adapt it to The Un-Iverse. This is the Meek's Chiller Theatre story that I feel the most personal connection to. The second most personal connection for a Meek's Chiller Theatre story is the upcoming "Green Golf Balls". But as we'll see in the Linear Notes of that upcoming issue, while this story inspires good thoughts and memories, "Green Golf Balls" inspires the opposite, and will probably wind up the worst (or at least worst received) story in the entire Un-Iverse. But good or bad, both stories mean something personal to me, and how I view the world as a person and a writer. Fortunately for this issue, The Pink Gorilla is an enjoyable story. I suspect the reader will want to kill me after "Green Golf Balls."

    I definitely put my own touches on the story. Suffice it to say, when I was a kid at the campfire, the man who touches the Pink Gorilla isn't sexually attracted to it. But to fit it into The Un-Iverse, that means I decided once again to give my characters motivations for why they do the things they do. There is no other reason for the man to actually want to touch the Pink Gorilla unless he thinks it is beautiful that way. And even if you can shut your brain off for a campfire story featuring characters that don't even have names, a comic book should have higher standards.

    Perhaps you object to Meek relating that part of the story to a 10-year-old Bernadette, but Meek doesn't sanitize this version of the story for two reasons:

    1. It is another thing that shows that the adults in Bernadette's life are failing her, and misguidedly treating her like she's an adult. Part of Meek IS wrong for telling this version to her. But again, he's not just her parent, he is also her older brother, and siblings have far different rules about what is inappropriate with each other than adults do. Meek is being a bad parent and an irresponsible adult. But in this moment he ISN'T a parent or an adult. He's an older brother trying to impress his kid sister.

    2. I think the way Meek tells that part of the story is actually quite mild considering what is going on. "His pants tighten" and "his stomach lurches" are an extremely subtle way to describe what is happening, instead of Meek saying "He had an erection / boner". Maybe he IS sanitizing the story for her after all.

    I tend to use the light touch with the innuendo anyways, so it makes sense Meek does too.

    Plothole: How does 9-year-old Bernadette know who Alastair Cooke is?

    Honestly, she shouldn't. I am usually MUCH more careful with Bernadette's pop culture knowledge, and have reasonable explanations in the back of my mind as to where she's seen all of the cult R and X rated "Head" movies she has, but there is no way she should know ANYTHING about "Classic" Masterpiece Theater. Sesame Street hasn't done Monsterpiece Theater in years either, so I can't even say she recognizes Meek's bit from the spoof. But the fact is, Meek's wrap-arounds ARE Masterpiece Theater spoofs, and I didn't want to give the impression that Meek was talking over Bernadette's head. So Bernadette is way more pop-culture savvy than ANY 9-year-old in 2016 would ever be in that moment. Forgive my sin. But I didn't ever want to give the impression Meek thought he was smarter and cleverer than she is. Because that is not their dynamic at all.

    I love that Bernadette places a negative value on The Naked Gun for it's lack of promised nudity. That joke is done partly to show that I think the current generation has a better measure of the worth of 80's popular culture than we did back in the day. Bernadette is actually complaining about the right things.

    I love the expression on Meek's face as he's sitting in the chair. Total shit-eating grin.

    The clocks in the Chiller Theatre room read 11:00. I thought it would be irresistible if Meek is telling Bernadette this story way past her bedtime, and partly why she listens in is so she can stay up late. Another way Meek is often more like a big brother to her than a parent.

    We never see the room with the moose head, fireplace, bookshelf, globe, and clocks in it outside of the Meek's Chiller Theatre stories, but we might assume this study exists in the Lab itself. Inexplicably, this exact same room appears in the Second Lab later in the saga, even though we hint the Second Lab is located aways across the country. I have personally never taken this setting to be literal though. There's a good possibility either Meek is crazy and hallucinating the location around him and his sister, or (the more likely scenario in my mind) Meek and Bernadette are simply using their imaginations, and this all takes place in their heads. That's not definitely what is happening. But it's possible.

    Cyrus Miller's design was a struggle, but I like what I ultimately came up with. Sort of like Alec Guinness in Star Wars, even though I conceived the character as looking more like a mortician. It looks more interesting this way, but I am aware that look does not quite match Meek's description of the guy.

    However, I hate Ronald Gustavson's design with a passion. It looks all right when he's freaked out or gulping in shock (which was the expression I first used when I designed him) but it doesn't work for anything else. I gave him that horrible design for two reasons. First, it is bland, simplistic, and interchangeable with any other random new character. Which is important to me. Even if I name Ronald in this story, and give him a bit of personality, in the Campfire story he is only known as The Man, and there are no descriptions attached to him whatsoever. That bland design is actually perfect for a no-name character in a joke or a scary story. Since this is both, I wanted the design to be that bland. The second reason I chose the design is because I don't have any other characters that look too much like it, and as I grow as an artist, I feel it is essential that I differentiate the new characters from each other. The classic characters all have a similar, recognizable style, but I designed those when I was a little kid, and I need to step up my game 30 years later. So even if the design sucks, you'll still always be able to tell it's Ronald.

    I still absolutely hate it though. It looks like the Lard Lad Donut Boy from The Simpsons. It is far too juvenile a design for a grown man. But it doesn't look like anyone else we've met yet in The Un-Iverse either, so I didn't change it. That may have been a mistake.

    I don't remember TOO much about the personality of the character who became Cyrus from the original Campfire story. He was always the least interesting character in the story to me. But I like what I've done with him. He is completely morally neutral. He is neither good nor bad. Ronald destroys his faith in God entirely on his own. It's very cruel that Cyrus shows Ronald the Pink Gorilla without allowing him to touch it. But considering the Gorilla's beauty, it is also a benevolent action as well. Cyrus knows better. But the Pink Gorilla is so great that he knows it is wrong to keep it entirely to himself. Even if he suspects the oncoming disaster, and Ronald being driven mad in sexual frustration, he at least owed it to a stranger to show him religious beauty on the off-chance he wouldn't go mad. And I don't think everyone would. Hell, Cyrus didn't. Ronald is a very poor specimen of human weakness and succumbing to temptation, that is a crapshoot the old man would have actually stumbled across. But any stranger in this old man's solitary life deserves the chance to test his own resolve. As cruel as it seems, it is not ultimately Cyrus' fault that Ronald is so weak and fails his entrance into Heaven.

    Meek is speaking for me about one particular opinion: VHS recorders were awesome. Everybody loves DVD and Blu-Ray players, but VHS recorders paved the way for those. They were the only good thing to come out of the 1980's.

    I used different font and letter sizes on the phrase "Don't. Touch. The Pink. Gorilla." So you KNOW it's serious.

    And just when you think the story isn't being ridiculous enough, as Meek says that this is the most beautiful thing Ronald has ever seen, he is clearly staring at the gorilla's bare baboon ass. I think the story is deeper than most people might think. But that's essentially all it boils down to. Ronald basically fell in love with an ape's bare ass. Don't laugh. As someone smarter than me once said, that's probably why Stanley Kubrick cast Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut" too.

    The serene expression on Cyrus' face while watching the Pink Gorilla as a tear rolls down his cheek, should tell us once and for all that Ronald is a total bastard. Cyrus seems dickish and mistrustful during the scenes where he leads Ronald to the vault, but considering what happened, he was RIGHT to be dickish and mistrustful. And he still could not bear to never share this with anyone else, despite his better judgment.

    The stuffed kitten inside the cage was a tribute to Koko.

    The metal bars on the cage are not barbed. They simply look that way because my drawing hand is so unsteady. Which is another reason I will have to hire a second artist to clean things up for me if The Un-Iverse actually gets published someday.

    The Farrah poster was the first time I used a live picture model for one of my drawings. I think it came out fabulously.

    In particular, Farrah as the Pink Gorilla is one of my favorite things in the story. Usually when I get a specific visual in my head, I can never quite manage to draw it as epically as it exists in my mind. That visual is everything I imagined it could be. I am very happy with it.

    The "Tag! You're it!" drawing was something I made sure to draw and redraw until I got it exactly right. I managed to get what I wanted on the second try. It's the fact that the Pink Gorilla is jumping in the air as he tags him which sells it.

    I also love that as Ronald goes downstairs to touch the Pink Gorilla, he is still in his tighty-whities.

    The drawing where Ronald bursts into tears and starts to pull out his hair was partly based on the Joker in The Killing Joke.

    Say what you will about The Humans, but they gave me great practice for the Pink Gorilla. If they didn't exist, the Gorilla's design would not have turned out as great as it did.

    Cyrus being able to enter the correct numbers by turning a combination lock without even looking at it, says he visits the Pink Gorilla a LOT. He may never touch it. But it's clear by how often he visits, that he sorely wants to.

    The weird thing about this story is that it isn't actually a joke. Yes, it has a punchline rather than a horrible ending, but if you are a decent storyteller, you can still frighten people with it until then. There is genuine tension until the final line. That is why I legitmately think it is a scary story and not an actual joke. And I truly DO believe it's the scariest campfire story of all time. I, and basically everyone else listening at that campfire, pooped ourselves at the roar. No other campfire story has ever scared me so badly during a single moment. And no other campfire story has stayed in my memory for as long as The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla. It is the sole reason I made five One-Shots instead of four, as originally planned during the last iteration of The UnComix Saga (as The Un-Iverse used to be known). I hope people like it.

    The Stella Stickyfingers story is one of the most touching and moving stories in the entire 90 issue output. I am moved during every panel of it, and find Stella's weird relationship with her father incredibly meaningful.

    What I love most about it is that Stella should by all rights hate her father. He abandoned her, no matter the reason. But one of the main reasons I do The Un-Iverse is to subvert tropes, and frankly, I personally think this particular trope needed to be broken by me, Matt Zimmer.

    I am adopted. My birth mother gave me up. But I hold no ill will towards her whatsoever, and if I ever met her I would tell her I love her, and don't blame her for being forced to make a hard decision. I've had a good life because of that decision. And frankly, that is not an abnormal reaction for adopted kids. And I've felt this all my life, even when I was a kid and a teenager. It never occured to me to resent my birth mother. TV shows always showing adopted kids being mad at their birth parents is not an experience I have ever shared. And it's built into every adoption scenario on TV. Stella's experience with her absentee parent is mine. Which is why it never occurs to Stella to resent her absentee father and to give him the benefit of the doubt (which he might not deserve). Stella is me in this story. And that's probably why it is as touching and meaningful as it is.

    And Muppet rules for breeding NEEDED to be explained somewhere, and Stella's father gave me the best way to do that.

    Stella and her father stealing from each other as a way to show love is REALLY strange, but that's why I like it. I have noticed that different families and cultures demonstrate love in many different ways, so what may feel weird to you and me, may be completely normal for Stella and the Boot. Love cannot be defined by any one person and doesn't have to follow a rulebook.

    You will probably think "She stole his heart" is a really sappy line. But it's actually really cool because it means several different things at once. It means a father loves his daughter. It means his daughter stole something sacred from him. And it means the locket is shaped like a heart. There are a lot of layers built into that corny line. I hope people will forgive it for that reason.

    Here is something interesting about the conventioneers that is true for many of the "bad guys" in The Un-Iverse. Just because someone is a criminal doesn't make them a bad person. The thieves at the convention treat each other as if they are going to a family reunion. When the Boot wins the doorprize, everyone else is happy for him. This is very consistent with the idea that some "villains" merely consider crime a day at the office, and don't put any more thought into it than that. People like Stella and her friends just consider what they do a day's work. And I think that's okay. I'm not saying stealing is a good thing. But considering what some of the other major villains get up to, I try not to either place a value judgment on it, or have Gilda do that either. That is why criminals like the Stella, the Boot, Lunchmeat Lad, the Elephantom, and the Bug Aliens are eligible for the Un-Iverse's version of Heaven. They aren't bad people deep down and are simply misguided. The Un-Iverse's God is very forgiving of people's faults and I like that about Him.

    "It's the magic trick. It's always been the magic trick. It always WILL be the magic trick," IS however a really cool line from the Narrator. It is filled with whimsy. It may not be the best line in the One-Shots (although it may be) but it is definitely the most well-written and literary. Stella thinking that is her going back to her mindset of childlike wonder, and remembering why she always loved and was amazed by her father. And those three sentences perfectly encapsulate that.

    Frankly, this story is probably the best story in the One-Shots period. And I was really pleased about that after I scripted it, because it meant something else good for the franchise. F.I.S.H. will probably NOT be the long hard slog I fear it is. It is true I was never able to really come up with any good gag stories with The Humans or Narf-Narf and Chirp for the One-Shots. But the truth is this Stella story and the previous one ("Spike Cheats At Kitten Poker") are far better than I ever could have hoped. They are great. What is good about that is that before I actually sat down and scripted them, their outlines existed in a single paragraph (much like F.I.S.H. did for the longest time). Me being able to make these non-gag stories work told me F.I.S.H. will ultimately be all right too. When I just sit down and write, I'm decent enough at it now to if not be as great as this story, than at least as good as the last part of the Howler story "Bad Moon Rising". I realized upon scripting this that F.I.S.H. wouldn't suck after all. And that's the first time I realized that. I used to have problems when writing dramatics stories in adding believable twists, or having the patience to properly get from Point A to Point B. But I'm able to do that now, which means that this version of The Un-Iverse will wind up being the best I have ever done. By far.

    You'll notice I explicitly set both this story and the Pink Gorilla one in 2016. As of the time I have written this story, that is last year. But it is something that shows that The Un-Iverse does NOT operate in "Peanuts Time", where the characters never age. It's just that this portion of the One-Shots and Gilda and Meek specifically take place near the end of 2016. And the Presidential election is part of that. It is not something that should date The Un-Iverse if I tell it right. It will simply be when this part of the saga takes place. Some of the rest of the saga will take place far beyond 2017 too. The dates and ages of the characters are all consistent and planned out ahead of time.

    This is also the first heartwarming story in the entire Un-Iverse, I think. The franchise has done heart-breaking stories before (see the last two issues of The Pontue Legacy) but this is the first bittersweet moment that will actually make you feel good. It won't be the last, but it's definitely the first.

    Prediction: After this story, you will no longer hate any Narf-Narf and Chirp story so long as Stella is in it. I can't speak to the ones she isn't, but Stella is one of those characters who makes everything better.

    I think my biggest regret about the story is that the title "Pickpockets' Convention" is now wholly inadequate to describe the pathos and drama of what happens during it. But if I had chosen a different, more personal, or accurate title, maybe you'd kind of expect the heartstrings to be pulled. "Stella's Father" or "Stolen Heart" might put a person in a specific type of mindframe for the story. But "Pickpockets' Convention" is just another boring One-Shots title, so all of the stuff that happens in it is a genuine surprise. I decided on keeping the less accurate title, because I think the story will mean more to the reader if they don't see what happens in it coming. And Stella Stickyfingers stories are all about the unexpected story turns. That's the entire selling point of the character. I should not be giving any hint some family drama is coming. It matters more because you don't see it coming, even if her father IS introduced before the title card.

    We also finally learn WHY Stella Stickyfingers stole the Hope Diamond she did in the first Narf-Narf and Chirp story and gave it back. She didn't want the diamond itself. She wanted the credit for stealing it so she could get reunited with her father at this convention. A LOT of stuff like that in The Un-Iverse is NOT just random, and fully planned out ahead of time. Stella's motives in the first Narf-Narf and Chirp story seem a bit mysterious to the reader, but after this story, you'll kind of get entirely what is going on there now.

    The green night vision goggles scenes don't work out as well as I hoped, but you WILL understand what is going on. You Will Get What I'm Going For. Which is basically all I can ask from the artwork.

    The picture of Stella as a little girl in the locket is beyond adorable.

    I really like "The Talk" because it gives us some insights as to why Gilda is so great with an Aspie like Meek. She has empathy. She doesn't judge Crusty for his illness, and instead of being furious at him for getting the Piranha hurt, and refusing to let the Piranha see him again, she tells the Piranha that he should be an even better friend to him than he was before. That's one of the reasons I love Gilda so much. She doesn't judge other people, almost never holds a grudge, and always puts her friends first. Of course she would want to impart that same wisdom to the Piranha.

    I have blathered elsewhere that Gilda's b.s. detector saved The Un-Iverse, and suddenly made it a worthwhile franchise. That is true. Because of the b.s. detector, the characters now had motivations for WHY they were doing things, and that automatically made them and the drama matter. The Un-Iverse never would have come back without it. It is the most crucial piece of The Un-Iverse's potential success. It makes what the characters do have resonance. And they didn't have that before it was invented.

    But there is a secondary thing I reworked when going back to the franchise, that I think was a very important change too. Coming up with the idea that mindreaders are all insane sociopaths and super dangerous probably did almost as many favors for the canon as the b.s. detector did, although for completely different reasons. When I say the b.s. detector made stuff matter, you can see that throughout the story and what I'm talking about. The crazy mindreaders thing is something you may not pick up on, but without it a great deal of the franchise falls apart.

    Even when The UnComix Saga (as The UnComix Universe used to be known) sucked, the same basic beats existed. But it's the crazy mindreaders thing that REALLY helped the continuity and the plot in the same way the b.s. detector helped the characters and the drama. And if I hadn't come to that (now obvious) conclusion, a lot of the layered continuity plot twists would seem to be random coincidence rather than carefully laid down clues. It's like the mystery resolution the story set up would be incidental to the clues provided. Without the crazy mindreaders thing, The Terran Wars wouldn't be awesome, it would illogical, and every single fan would be able to poke a thousand holes in the story. As The Un-Iverse exists now, the major twists from The Terran Wars (which I will not spoil here for anyone who hasn't read it) are awesome and mindblowing. Before the crazy mindreaders thing, it was coincidental. The b.s. detector blew the doors off the franchise. The crazy mindreaders idea made it so I could confidently walk right through them.

    The Piranha starting to like playing the hero in this story is good set-up for him deciding to become a superhero in "The Code".

    Gilda's "Stupid people being Republicans" joke will probably make conservatives mad, and it's not a great idea to be insulting half of your potential readership. But it doesn't matter whether I think that or not. It's that Gilda does, and is exactly the kind of loud-mouthed liberal who would state that opinion out loud, damn the consequences. If I had Gilda's political opinions be meeker than they are, I would be writing her out of character. Gilda is a Warrior Goddess. Someone like that will never be apologetic for their strong opinions. I don't have to agree with everything Gilda says for me to know it's the correct line for Gilda to say in the moment. I try not to use Gilda to express feminist opinions, because as a male, I don't like speaking for the feminist movement. But that doesn't mean I still can't be in-your-face with Gilda's politics. It would be weird if I wasn't.

    I find it very interesting that the cat instantly hates the Piranha. We always say "Animals always know", and can usually judge a person pretty well just based upon instinct. And as lovable as the Piranha is, the cat senses something dark about him we don't. I'm not saying the cat is right. But if "Animals always know" it makes me wonder how he can possibly be wrong.

    I love how important the Piranha's friendship is to Crusty and how terrified he is of losing it. This suggests to me he didn't have any friends until the Piranha came along.

    "Gravity" is based on one of the few good stories I did as a kid. Except the Epilogue (which is the only really new thing about the story) makes it ten times better. When I decided to include this Bill the Blue story, I had no clue I would tie it so heavily to the mythology at the end, even if I did always know Bill was Meek and Bernadette's uncle. Having Louie Dawg there at the end to direct him into the world saving activities turns a cute story amazing.

    I’m a little bummed that this is the last we really see of Louie Dawg until the last issue of Gilda and Meek. Because we reveal here that he has been secretly aware of Gilda’s world-saving activities, and probably has been for some time, and heartily approves. I kind of wish we could have explored that further during the saga itself. But as he said, he just played his part in all this, and I’m not going to argue with him.

    There is something about the scene where Bill goes into Microbe's mouth to save him that I didn't make explicit in the story itself, because it's a funny scene, and I didn't want to bum people out. But Bill is risking being infected by Werewolfism if Microbe's teeth accidentally break his skin, but he STILL goes in and saves this guy anyways, who has been giving him nothing but grief. The scene is cool because he saves his life. What I leave unsaid is that he did it at great personal risk to himself. There is a legit reason why Microbe now forever loves Bill and will do anything for him.

    In an earlier incarnation of The Un-Iverse, Meek's last name was "Reed". That is why I chose it for his mother's maiden name.

    If there is ever an animated adaptation of Gilda and Meek, I would try to get Donald Gibb to voice Louie Dawg. I'd love the idea of Ogre from Revenge Of The Nerds playing a gentle, soft-spoken lawyer.

    Like Cyrus Miller, the Warden of the prison is neither good nor bad, which is unusual for stories set in a prison. He's kind of cruel for refusing to move Bill to a different cell under threat of death, but the way he says "Lights out, fellas!" suggests he actually likes and cares about his charges.

    I don't care if "Bill sincerely hopes his new roomie isn't a farter," is a low-class joke. It is also hilarious and I love it. Because it states what the biggest drawback to hanging around giants actually is. Whizzpoppers are not as fun as the BFG makes them sound.

    I love that Microbe collects glass figurines. In prison. Which pretty much shows he fears nothing.

    Drawing Microbe's enormous size consistently was a struggle, but I managed it better than I feared. I state that he is bigger than the Dragons in The Pontue Legacy, and that is still true in every panel he appears in. Luckily Bill is one of my dog designs. Those are my one design that actually look okay when I draw them small. And I made Bill MUCH smaller than most Dogs are in the average story.

    Microbe's not quite bigger or taller than Melcore though, but I always feel like I pretty much botched Melcore's size in every panel he appeared in during the first issue.

    One good thing about recycling this story from a kid: If you had told me now that Bill wandering around Microbe's mouth while making snarky one-liners, while we only see the side of Microbe's head would play, I might not believe you. Except it did when I was a kid, so I knew I could work it. The mouth to mouth bit is one of the cleverest visual gags I've come up with. And it's funny BECAUSE all you see is Microbe's unconscious head.

    I love that Microbe wags his tail at the end when hugging Bill.

    This is definitely the best Un-Iverse issue so far, and the fact that it's a One-Shot, the worst title in the entire franchise, gratifies me in a way that an excellent issue of Gilda and Meek never does. Those characters always give me great stuff to work with. It's easy to write Bernadette and Gilda squabbling with each other. The fact that I was able to wring such great comedy and drama for once from characters who DON'T, shows me how much I have grown as a writer. I'm not going to say this is a turning point for my confidence in my writing skills. It's just that I now realize I was right when writing the monologue at the end of "Eddie Explains It All" told me for the first time that the entire project was going to work. That was the harbinger. This is the proof.

    I suspect that even though this issue is great, people will still hate the One-Shots, and possibly even The Pontue Legacy. Why? Because they are a never-ending detour away from Gilda and Meek. They are the World Tour on Gargoyles. Except unlike Greg Weisman foolishly believing Disney would greenlight a dozen animated spin-offs to Gargoyles (without ever questioning why it would be in Disney's financial interest to do so, as that much animation would cost tens of millions of dollars) we're gonna get to see the One-Shots pay off. People will be mad at first that the entire Un-Iverse does NOT revolve around Gilda and Meek. But trust me when I say it will ultimately make it awesomer that it does not.

    "Shut up. We're doing this," (the tagline for all five One-Shots) is the Narrator explicitly saying that he knows how annoying the One-Shots are, but that he's telling them anyways, and for the reader to shut up and get over it. He seems to think that telling these crappy stories is ultimately for the reader's own good. Spoiler alert: He is right.

    Even though I actually love this issue (it's the only One-Shots issue where ALL of the stories are good), I have to say I pretty much sighed in relief when I completed it. One-Shots was ONE tough project for me, and as I said, the only group of stories in the entire Un-Iverse giving me more trouble was F.I.S.H.. But One-Shots has ALWAYS been hard for me. It was SO hard in fact, that I wound up quitting The Un-Iverse for fifteen years out of frustration. Actually finishing the final one and being able to properly get back to Gilda and Meek isn't just something I had spent years, if not decades, trying to accomplish. It was also the furthest along in the saga I had ever gotten. In any incarnation. Ever.

    I said before in the Linear Notes to the second One-Shots (Narf-Narf and Chirp) that we were in a new frontier. But the completion of this issue makes that 100% true. Next issue, Gilda and Meek are FINALLY coming back for real, and I get to tell some of my favorite stories that I was never able to get to because I couldn't finish the One-Shots. Now The Un-Iverse can finally continue and function properly. It was a long hard road, but I'm relieved I actually finally made it.

    I noted in the Linear Notes a couple of issues ago that "The Terran Wars" is actually the story I want to tell, and One-Shots frustrates me because I am so far away from it. We may still be a long ways away from The Terran Wars, but "The Apple", "Timeline Trilogy", and "All Blood Things" will be here before you know it, and I'm aching to tell THOSE stories too. Even if nothing I have coming up before The Terran Wars is going to be SUPER great, some of it is still gonna be regular great. Which might be enough for me for now.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    Both Meek's pink Narrator boxes and The Pink Gorilla himself were colored using a pink highlighter. I usually use colored pencils whenever I do color, but for some reason, the pink barely shows up on my computer scanner. This is very good to know. The upcoming Meek's Chiller Theatre story "Little Pink Woman" (debuting in Gilda And Meek #12) is pretty much ALL pink, and I'm glad I did this story first, with only TWO pink things, rather than an entire story in pink. I would not liked to have to have redone all THAT.
     
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    #66 Fone Bone, Aug 3, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
  7. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    I have made a very big decision, and I fear it may be a mistake. We'll see. But I might have stepped in it. I have decided to add the first 19 issues' Linear Notes to their respective posts on Toon Zone.

    The Linear Notes are things that are done for the benefit of me and my friends who read my comic in meatspace. I worry about making them public. Because a lot of them are political, and I don't want to start a huge flame war with people who do not share my opinions.

    But as the story has been going on and on, I realize the entire STORY is getting political, and if I want to make it public, I have to prepare for some backlash. If I cannot defend my opinions on their merits, I never should have posted this story online in the first place.

    We'll see how it goes. But the truth is The Un-Iverse is a partisan liberal story with a partisan liberal viewpoint. I think maybe it's best if any curious conservatives know that going in, so they can cut ties with the franchise before it gets any good. And I know it's gonna get good. I'd prefer to be open about what is coming so any conservative won't feel like they are getting blindsided with liberal messages unasked. By making the Linear Notes public, I am letting conservatives duck out of the story with no shame attached. I truly believe that this story is going to wind up being great. And I'd rather Republicans were allowed to bail before it does.

    Am I crazy? Am I getting doxxed for this? We'll see. We'll see.

    Rating: The language in the Linear Notes is saltier than the comics, but I don't believed I've used an F bomb yet in these particular Notes. If the Notes to an upcoming issue wind up being more adult themed than most, I'll note that ahead of time too.
     
  8. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    9. Gilda And Meek "Destiny's Prisoner" (Un-Iverse #20)

    Rating: PG-13 (Adult Themes and some Violence).

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  9. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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  10. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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  11. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Gilda And Meek "Destiny's Prisoner" (Abridged)


    I am amazed. I have never made it to Book Four before.

    If you asked me to pick a definitive point in Gilda and Meek's entire canon to say "This is what it's all about," I would pick the six issues that make up "Book Four: Gilda And Meek: The Next Phase". Easily. They aren't the best issues, but they are the most Gilda and Meeky issues ever. As good as "Timeline Trilogy", "All Blood Things...", and Gilda and Meek's role in "The Terran Wars" is, all of that stuff is atypical Gilda and Meek. These six issues are pretty much the essence of the series. I will admit "The Apple" is a better example of Gilda and Meekiness than these issues. But that's only a single issue. These six issues in a row are pretty much what Gilda and Meek are about to me.

    Why? First off, this is still when they're at Raggleworth Labs, which is an essential part of the series' appeal for me. The second lab is impersonal and it is just not the same, especially since most of the supporting cast doesn't really tend to appear.

    Secondly, this is the first point in the series' run in which I think the characters have been well-established enough that I can actually take chances with them, like Gilda brutally beating up Vic Puff in the next issue. I NEVER would have done that in the first eight issues, no matter how juicy and devastating the idea is, just because Gilda's personality hadn't yet been established. But now that it is, I can say in the next issue, that this is both out of the ordinary for Gilda, and completely in character at the same time. I couldn't do that in the first 8 issues. You'd never forgive her. Ever. I was willing to take chances with the Narrative in the first eight issues ("Skeletons" is the most obvious example of this), but not with the characters. Not yet.

    Third, there is an extra amount of downtime in these six issues, with Gilda, Meek, and Bernadette farting around with each other and making pop-culture observations and slams. And because we now know the characters, those references are way funnier than they used to be when they made them in the first 8 issues.

    Fourth, we can actually recur some villains for the first time. While Augatha has already made a few appearances, Redmond, Mr. X, and Otterman's appearances had either been only one or two. It's not just the main cast that I feel I have finally established the personalities of. It's the supporting cast and guest villains too. And I can take chances with them too, like making Otterman an outright villain in his upcoming appearance here. And it totally plays, it's totally okay, and you won't think less of Otterman later on when he's a hero. And that's because I already established the heroism and self-sacrificing nature of the character earlier on. So he's a crook for one issue, hoping to gain power. Big Whoop. It works and it might not have if I had him be a villain in his first appearance as originally planned.

    Fifth, with the exception of the last two issues (which are a two-parter) they are all standalone one-parters. I love the multiparters as much as anyone, but a REAL Gilda and Meek story to me should only take one issue to finish. But maybe that's just me.

    These six issues are pretty much what Gilda and Meek is about to me. And I personally think "Destiny's Prisoner" is the best of them.

    "Destiny's Prisoner" is one of the longest issues in the entire 90 issue output. Usually an issue will have a ton of big stuff, or a ton of little stuff. But this has a ton of both, and both things were interesting enough that I didn't actually feel the need to cut down on either. Issues this long are why The Un-Iverse is unpublishable.

    Like the bookburning in a previous One-Shot, Bernadette getting hit with the brick is one of the most significant moments in the canon. The bookburning led to this. This leads to all hell breaking loose. Bernadette getting hit with that brick was something that was always planned, even before I put the first issue of the last iteration of The Un-Iverse to paper. She was always destined for that brick. There will be bigger and more important scenes coming up in "Timeline Trilogy", "All Blood Things..." and "The Terran Wars". But this is easily the most significant thing that has happened so far. And I think it is the point from which neither Vic Puff nor Gilda can ever come back from. This changes both of their characters forever. For the worse in Vic's instance. Whether Gilda is changed for the better or the worse is going to be the source of the upcoming conflict for the rest of the series. Will Gilda's response be over the line? And if it is, is that actually okay considering what just happened, and even WHY it happened? A lot of questions are raised for Gilda and how the group sees her based upon the fall-out to this. This moment changes everything. For everyone.

    It's kind of weird that Gilda and Meek starts off as a jokey funny animal comic. We've gone outside of that comfort zone before ("Skeletons" springs immediately to mind) but once you get that moment, Gilda and Meek is no longer a funny animal comic, and it is a drama for the rest of its existence. You'll probably even wind up thinking that Gilda and Meek was NEVER actually a funny animal comic to begin with because of the brick.

    I'm sure many people will consider Vic Puff leading a lynch mob against a 9 year old girl preposterous, but there is actually a specific reason he is doing it: he knows she's right, and is REALLY upset that MANY people might see things the way Bernadette does. Best to nip that in the bud.

    Bernadette probably had NO idea how true the "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" wanking joke was, and would probably be surprised anyone could take it seriously. She did not think she was actually cutting him as badly as she did. But even if at this point in the saga Vic has probably not personally sexually molested anyone, he almost certainly traffics in child porn. That is NOT a secret he wants people whispering about him behind his back. The only person in the saga at this stage of the game who truly understands how dangerous and crazy Vic Puff is is Gilda, and there isn't really anything she can do about it. She fights demons, not "political corruption".

    I ALMOST did it. I almost had a scene of Vic lustily smelling Bernadette's hair in her hospital room, just to drive home the point IMMEDIATELY of why he started his crusade. But frankly, it was WAY too big of a violation of Bernadette, who had already been violated by a random stranger. I'll seed the idea that Puff has always been secretly attracted to Bernadette in the upcoming "The Death Of Donna Demented." It is still disgusting there, but it is MUCH less objectionable to me if we learn about it ten years after the fact, instead of outright stating that is what is going on now. "The Death Of Donna Demented" is a story that traffics in evil and depravity. "Destiny's Prisoner" should NOT be, or at least not overtly. I think I found a good balance.

    Bernadette's story here is the sole reason I made her a religious conservative. Vic Puff has always demonized Bernadette as an atheist during every iteration of my story. But somebody I showed the story to didn't quite get that just because Vic called her that, it didn't mean that she was. If one of the characteristics somebody takes from Bernadette upon reading the story is that she is an atheist, then Vic Puff is WAY more credible of a character than I intended. So I make it explicit several times that Vic's stochastic terrorism is based upon a lie. Which is how ALL rightwing stochastic terrorism is based.

    Vic Puff is a liar and a demagogue who will say and do anything to turn people against his enemies, even if it isn't true. Don't just take his word for it, or ever expect rightwing propaganda to accurately reflect reality. That's not only a good rule of thumb for my story, but real life too.

    One of the subtexts of Vic Puff's feud with Bernadette is that it is really ill-advised on his end. She shares more of his political opinions than she does Gilda's, but he's pushing away a perfect recruit for the College Young Republicans due to his abhorrent actions, which sums up Republicans' relationship to younger voters in general, and women in particular. He should want to mentor her, not destroy her. But Vic is and always has been incredibly thick.

    Oh, and "A prophecy told me to break up with you."? Just with that one statement I hope I can get across what a thundering airhead Gabrielle is.

    Doc's reaction to the real reason for the break-up is outrage: "Oh, come on!" After he's calmed down, Gabrielle says that there are many prophecies saying that Augatha is going to rule and / or destroy the world, but that she only came across one that predicted that she'd lose. And in it Gabrielle and her five warriors had to remain single and unattached to focus on the task at hand. She'll give Doc this prophecy in detail and we should be just as skeptical as the Doc is. For one thing, it is just as detailed and convoluted as the one we were worried about in "Darkness Falls", except this one will contradict that in several places. Astute readers might assume I've lost control of the narrative, but having Gabrielle recite these conflicting prophecies without even being aware of the contradictions, is done in part by me to show that when it comes to reading the future, Gabrielle is spectacularly bad at it and doesn't even know it. I suspect the rest of the group doesn't even realize the extent of this, not even Gilda. Because Gabrielle believes herself competent in this matter, Gilda's b.s. detector doesn't flare up, because it doesn't judge intelligence or competence. And if Gabrielle truly thinks she's smart, there is nothing about that idea that the b.s. detector would take notice of. Gilda doesn't believe in prophecies anyways, but it would never occur to her that Gabby is as legitimately unskilled in this magical art as she is. Even Gabby doesn't realize. Only as the narrative goes on, and we hear more and more conflicting prophecies, do we realize that Gabrielle takes a LOT after her sister when it comes to dimwittedness.

    Make no mistake: Gabrielle IS smarter than Augatha. By far. But I personally think that has a lot to do with the company she keeps. Dr. Raggleworth and Gilda keep her grounded. Augatha doesn't have that. Fuzzy and Scuzzy may not consider the fact that there may be something wrong with their relationship with Augatha, but on Augatha's end, it is extremely unhealthy. Augatha is extremely pleased with how she has Fuzzy and Scuzzy wrapped around her fingers, and the idea that she is playing literal oracles for fools really does not help her God Complex. Fuzzy and Scuzzy make Augatha feel untouchable and completely non-human. Gilda and the Doc are the opposite for Gabby. They are both really good for her.

    May I point out something else about Gabby dumping Julius over a prophecy? It was not only stupid, but it's an idea that never could have worked. Gabrielle can take charge of her own love life, but if she dumps Julius, who is to say that he won't just hook up with somebody else? And how can she possibly insert herself into and control the other three people in the prophecy's love lives? It's not just the fact that Gabrielle believes this prophecy which is why she is so dumb. It's that she thinks she actually has the power to make it come to terms. When nobody would.

    The fact that Gabrielle actually knows the real deal about Piranhala makes her b.s. fortunetelling to the Piranha back in issue five even more despicable. And it was already plenty despicable.

    Gabrielle kissing Gilda was a hoot. Precisely because Gilda is 100% sure she shouldn’t trust Gabby, and yet she STILL doesn’t know what to make of her. Which is probably why Gabby did it. I also initially a little bit leery of having Gilda call her a chick (which is an anti-feminist term) but I was totally overthinking things. That is an exclamation from Gilda. A lot of times people cannot control what they say during those. And what just happened was such a surprise, I forgive Gilda for forgetting her political correctness in that moment. That’s relatable, even if that is something Gilda would normally not say. And that’s precisely why it’s funny.

    I love Gilda inperceptably shaking her head to the rest of the group upon Gabrielle's suggestion that one of them is a traitor. I love that moment because it shows that the group ALREADY trusts Gilda far more than Gabrielle, even though they've known her for a fraction of as long. That tickles me.

    I also love the Friends slam. Not too many pointed racial observations in The Un-Iverse (for obvious reasons) but I like that that show’s biggest failing didn’t miss this universe. I also love that the Piranha of all people tops Bernadette's put-down. The Piranha may be naive, but he is not stupid, and knows right and wrong as well as anyone. And Friends did New York City as wrong as possible.

    That line from the Piranha is a very clear example of why Bernadette doesn't ever bash him. The Piranha's personality is that of the kind of person Bernadette detests. He's an emo Mary Sue on his worst days, and on his best he is sweetness and light, which is something Bernadette trashes too. But that Friends joke is the reason Bernadette can never bring herself to bully him. How can you possibly hate somebody who occasionally says something like that? Yeah, maybe Bernadette secretly has unkind opinions about the Piranha on the tip of her tongue that she chooses to keep to herself. But things like "I'm not looking to spend hours on this," are the reason she never says them. She can't. Her heart is not in that. And can you blame her?

    The fire and brimstone speech from Reverend Vic shows exactly why I got back into The Un-Iverse. Five years ago I would have had no clue how to properly write that speech, but after seeing some of today’s religious demagogues I was finally able to get the preacher cadences down properly. It’s not as good as Sunlight Gardener in “The Talisman”. But it is a reasonable facsimile to a hate filled Southern preacher and how they address their flock. Conservatives always flatter their audiences, and make them feel as if they are a part of a special club bigger than themselves. The preachers and radio hosts are saying things that THOSE people don’t want you to hear, and the speaker lets the audience know that they are smart enough to handle it. It’s a LOT like how a cult brainwashes people, but today not all of the honey-tongued smooth talkers are Scientologists. A great many of them are conservative preachers, politicians, and talk radio hosts. I’ve heard enough of that crap to understand how it works. I wouldn’t have been able to write that scene before President Obama was elected and these nuts crawled out of the woodwork. Now it’s WWMHD? (What Would Mike Huckabee Do?) That made it surprisingly easy.

    Reverend Vic was ALWAYS supposed to make a fire and brimstone speech here, and every other earlier version sucked. I was not able to make it sound believable, or authentic, and it sounded as if I had no true idea what I was talking about. I did not have the writing skills to work it properly before I abandoned The Un-Iverse. I only returned to it once I did.

    The Un-Iverse is better for me having quit it for fifteen years.

    As cute and touching as the upcoming scenes between Vic and his son Powder are, I want there to be no mistake: This? THIS is the real Vic Puff.

    Bernadette using that poor new kid at school as a roundabout way to impress Gilda is another example of Bernadette being a b.s. artist. She is usually pretty open about her intentions with the group, but when it comes to the world at large, it is her toyroom and strangers are her playthings. There is a definite malevolent side to Bernadette that we don't always see because she is always surrounded by people she actually likes. But just for the time being, assume she treats the rest of the world the way she treats Hank. Fear her.

    Bernadette is basically an adult trapped in a child's body. And she is going to make the rest of the world suffer for that fact. She has all of the cynicism and responsibility that being an adult entails, and none of the perks. She STILL has to put up with reading The Giving Tree for an assignment, and is not allowed to do any of the things she wants to do that she would be able to were she an adult (like watching the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones). Part of the reason Bernadette kicks the Universe's ass so much, is because the Universe spends so much time kicking hers. She is only returning the favor. The people she genuinely hurts are collateral damage.

    Speaking of The Giving Tree, that is one of the worst children's books ever written. I think unconditional love is an appalling idea as far as the Tree and the Boy are concerned. I think it's totally okay to hate someone who piece by piece dismembers and mutilates you. It shouldn't make you happy, and the Tree is like every abused woman who stays with the man who beats her because he's a really nice guy deep down. And the idea that a book portrays that as virtuous for children shows that Shel Silverstein WAS in fact a sociopath. The Tree is a doormat. And as Bart Simpson famously noted, a chump. There is nothing inspiring or wonderful about that story. The only lesson it teaches is that people should put up with abuse no matter what. I'd hate to think about how Silverstein treated the rest of his family.

    For the record, a LOT of the morals of the Un-Iverse are debatable. Santa Claus being bad for kids is definitely just my opinion, as is my disdain for mind control and love triangles in fictional stories. I could be wrong about those things. I don't think I am, but it's definitely up for debate. But when I say The Giving Tree is a horrid book, I am 100% right. There is no debating that. If you think I'm either overreacting to the book, or misinterpreting it, I assure you I am not. It is just as terrible as Bernadette thinks. If you actually think it is a sweet story about unconditional parental love YOU are the one misinterpreting things. A parent has every right to disown a kid who disfigures them, as does a woman to a boyfriend who does the same thing. If Silverstein wanted to create a book about the most beautiful things about unconditional love, he picked the absolute worst examples. And the fact that he doesn't seem to realize this means he WAS probably an abusive sociopath in real-life.

    Do you want to know what REALLY bums me out about Miz Foxx being concerned about Bernadette's book report? Bernadette's right, and THAT'S the thing that concerns Miz Foxx. Because Bernadette supposedly should not know that. A kid being smart and understanding things other people their age don't understand isn't seen by society as a good thing. As great a teacher as Miz Foxx is, Bernadette's wisdom is seen as something to be corrected. Whenever a kid says or does something smarter than an adult, the first instinct of many parents is to be concerned, and wonder where they got that insight. I think Bernadette gets punished for being smart even more than a boy would, because she's a girl. If a boy wrote that book report, he'd be considered insightful and sensitive. Bernadette does, and society thinks of her as a feminist troublemaker. That's the double-standard smart girls and women face, and this is as true in The Un-Iverse as it is our Universe. And even a great teacher like Miz Foxx, and a feminist warrior goddess like Gilda, are not aware that that is what is going on. That's how deeply that shit is ingrained in all of us. The great teachers, the liberals and feminists, all of us accept that idea as normal. And it's really frustrating.

    Oh, also for the record? Gilda has ALWAYS been a little bit afraid of Bernadette (and Bernadette equally Gilda). I'm just glad I found a place to outright state it at this stage of the game (at least on Gilda's end). They're scared of each other for different reasons. Gilda because Bernadette is always so angry and unpredictable (which is a legit fear), and Bernadette because Gilda is the first person who actually understands her (also legit, if more uncommon). I think part of the reason they clash is because they don't want the other to know they secretly are terrified of the other. For the record, Gilda DOES know Bernadette is scared of her and why. But that doesn't stop her from being scared of Bernadette.

    I love Gilda's "Unnecessary, man!" to Bernadette upon being called Vanilla Ice. Because that is the hippie reaction. Which is the correct one.

    I also love Gilda telling Meek he sucks for letting Bernadette read A Game Of Thrones. And that he gets to instantly throw back in her face that she let her watch Twin Peaks. They are both TERRIBLE parents.

    Also for the record, Meek calling Bernadette a horrible person is way out of line. But parents say way out of line things to their kids all the time. I'm not going to sanitize the reality of Meek being a parent when he's looking after a kid as problematic as Bernadette. The fact that he is still sane is a miracle. I won't hold this against him.

    Why does Meek blame Gilda for Bernadette misbehaving at school because Gilda treats her like an adult? How does that make any sense? And why doesn't Gilda call b.s. on it?

    This is just, like, you know, my opinion, or whatever, but I kind of think Meek's reasoning is like this: Bernadette's pranks are the kinds of things that only an adult would find funny. And Gilda's kind of feeding into that. I think Meek is sort of under the impression that Bernadette did what she did because she knew it would get back to Gilda, and that Gilda would be amused. And it is precisely BECAUSE Gilda is amused that Meek is so angry. Meek knows that Bernadette looks up to Gilda as a role model (even if she would never admit it) and her trying to impress her is starting to get her to do reckless things that put other innocent people in danger for the sake of a private joke. And Gilda knows he's right, so she doesn't push back on that.

    Honestly, that particular scene went in and out of the final draft a lot. I wanted it to sort of show that Meek is already aware that there is something very wrong with Gilda's relationship with Bernadette, before Bernadette explicitly calls her on it in "Warlocks: Beyond Reality". I wanted to make sure the reader understood that Bernadette was not the only person who saw it that way, and that Meek had prior concerns too. The reason I pulled it several times is that part of being a feminist is not deferring to a man's authority for any reason, and I kind of don't think Gilda should be as cool with Meek telling her to leave the parenting stuff to him as she is. Parenting is SUCH a touchy subject between genders in the first place, and I was concerned that Gilda completely being submissive about this one thing was TOO submissive, and it was a huge thing to be submissive about. The thing that convinced me to put it back in is that it is a perfect excuse for Meek to punish Bernadette, and sort of want to temporarily separate her from Gilda by not letting her go on the adventure. And it is BECAUSE Gilda is not there to protect her, that Bernadette is vulnerable to Vic Puff's witch hunt. I still think the scene is a little bit out of character for Gilda, but because it seamlessly added a reason to separate them for such a huge plot point, I decided it was worth including after all. Along with this mea culpa in the Linear Notes that it IS probably out of character for a feminist like Gilda.

    I think the scene is very significant for both Gilda and Bernadette. It shows in a completely clear and unmistakable way how Gilda is absolutely failing Bernadette as an authority figure. Just the laundry list of sins Bernadette has committed either directly or indirectly due to Gilda's influence shows that Gilda is pretty much as bad of a role model as anyone could ever have. And what is especially interesting about that idea, is that the reader may not have even considered that until this very scene. But it's true, and completely in character for them both.

    When we meet Florence Raggleworth in the sequel we'll learn why Gabby beat her up. Here's a hint: She had a good reason. Here's a second hint: Julius is VERY lucky Gabby didn't actually kill her. Gilda is the only one of Julius' friends who knows about Florence Raggleworth. And that is by design. Cryptic, much?

    For the record, Gilda's disgust at Gabrielle for beating up a 60-year-old woman would sound much more righteous to me if it hasn't been hinted several times in the story that Gilda has beaten up Julius on occasion when he frustrates her with his sexism. And he is ten years older than his sister was. Yes, what Gabby did SOUNDS worse because Doc's sister is a woman, but the truth is Gabrielle is not the only committer of elder abuse in that room.

    Dr. Raggleworth telling Bernadette how to tell an Aristocrats joke IS super creepy, and probably one of the creepiest things the character has ever done. But... I did it to show that the challenge of not treating Bernadette like a adult affected all of them. It's not just Gilda letting her watch Twin Peaks, or Meek letting her read A Game of Thrones. All of the adults in Bernadette's life are failing her. Frankly, I am little bit amazed that Gilda doesn't chide Miz Foxx for not doing more to STOP those Aristocrat joke tellings. Maybe Miz Foxx is secretly as amused by Bernadette as Gilda, Meek, and Julius are, and wants to hear the jokes as much as anyone. I did NOT make that idea canon because I do not think Miz Foxx is a bad teacher, and I think she wouldn't do that,, and I think she always does right by Bernadette. But the idea DID cross my mind, and I thought about exploring it, even if it was out of character for Miz Foxx. I won't lie about that. Even if I ultimately decided as always to keep my characters in character.

    Gilda's "You go squish now!" to Mr. X is another sign Gilda is a huge Simpsons nerd. I'm not sure she is always consciously aware when she references the show. It just seems to happen again and again. It is just that deeply ingrained in her.

    Reverend Vic calls Hank a queer behind his back to Bernadette here. Which shows how jarring it is for Bernadette to hear that, and us too, because it never occurred to us there was anything wrong with it. That's how prejudice works. It sneaks up on you when you are least expecting it, often when you are having a nice and normal day, and BAM! you hate humanity for the rest of it. I think a big reason Vic uttering that slur is so appalling is that it is just the tip of the iceberg of his reprehensible behavior. Ever read Stephen King's IT? Henry Bowers is a scumbag, and would be if he never uttered the N-word. But it's the fact that he repeatedly does that demonstrates that most effectively. Vic orchestrates having Bernadette beaten up at Church, and smiles when it happens, and threatens her in her hospital bed. It's how casually he says the word "queer", and the fact that it isn't even the worst thing he does in that scene that made it really jarring for me. We should be more outraged at that moment than we are, but we can't be because there are so many OTHER reasons he is a monster too.

    I love the idea of the Passable Samaritan in the story. And that's partly me hoping that maybe, somewhere out there, in an alternate universe, at a Trump rally, somebody is really horrified by the violence, tries to help, and realizes disgustedly what they are a part of. The sad thing is that this has not happened yet, so having ONE member of the angry mob having a conscience is still rather unlikely.

    Hank doesn't use a phone or a tablet to keep track of Reverend Vic's sponsors. He uses a pencil and paper. That is to show that even though those things definitely exist in The Un-Iverse, people don't rely on them the way our universe does. Possibly because the different sensibilities of three separate species make the Terran culture different than ours, but The Un-Iverse's Earth is incredibly low-tech. Similarly, phones with cords on them are normal too.

    The Un-Iverse is low tech because the Author is too. I still don't know exactly what Twitter is. Don't tell me. Something tells me I'm better off not knowing.

    Here's a good question: Redmond can fly. How is it he fell into the volcano when Mr. X pushed him?

    The idea behind that is that Redmond let himself fall in. I'm sure he probably knew he was Immortal at that point, but the reason he didn't "save" himself was because he felt trapped in the situation he was in. Even though Gabrielle was offering him another out, I think he was probably more tempted by the one he took. I think Redmond is so broken at that point that he cannot bring himself to believe Gabrielle. The idea as to why he fell into the volcano is because he wanted to.

    One of the mob members calling Bernadette a "Wicked Temptress" is a bit on the nose, don't you think? The last thing a 9 year old girl in a T-shirt and jeans should be considered is a temptress, yet this mob member blames his weaknesses on a child. And that's pretty much the textbook definition of rape culture. I'm basically making the case as appalling and ridiculous as possible to prove a point. The way Bernadette is treated here is equivalent to how a rape victim's manner of dress is discussed, as if that has anything to do with the crime, or is a justification for it. And the mob member projecting that onto Bernadette is doing the exact same thing, and as exaggerated a scenario as this is, it's awfulness is really only a matter of small degree. It still completely nails the conservative mindset on the subject.

    I was always a little bit leery of the fact that Vic is a pedophile and attracted to Bernadette. But the Duggars meant I HAD to not only explore it, but find ways for Vic and his followers to blame the victim. It's what conservatives do, and I think possibly sanitizing Vic's pedophile tendencies is missing a very large part of why that stuff goes so underreported in red states in the first place. The Un-Iverse doesn't actually explore the exact politics of our universe. That is by design. The players are entirely different. But it explores the political SITUATIONS, and both Universes are remarkably similar there, even if this seems old hat to ours, and the first time The Un-Iverse has been this bad is in 2016.

    "As a destroyer of worlds, the Dark Child shall be lame" is a very significant part of the Dark Child prophecy, and Un-Iverse mythology. It tickles me that I set it up so far ahead of time. We won't be getting back to it for around fifty issues.

    Like Augatha in The Pontue Legacy, Gabrielle used to believe Gilda's mantra "Once You Know A Future Is Coming, You Can Change It". I gave both Augatha and her sister these viewpoints in the past to show that in a LOT of ways, both characters are similar to Gilda, if not now, than at least at an earlier point in their lives.

    Perhaps you wonder why Bernadette doesn't simply kick the crap out of the mob. We have seen numerous times she would have been capable of that. She is a legitimate physical threat to Gilda and Meek's enemies. My opinion is she doesn't kick their asses because she thinks on some level they are innocent. They've been brainwashed. And honestly, bless Bernadette, but that's her being more religious and forgiving than the situation calls for. Bernadette doesn't cut loose on these particular villains because she doesn't understand them, or even think they're villains. She doesn't get why they believe this crazy thing, and why apparently formerly law-abiding citizens have turned murderous for no reason whatsoever. I have said elsewhere that Gilda would be the last person standing in a zombie apocalypse. As seen here, Bernadette would be among the first casualties. Because her first instinct as a good person is to try to rationalize and figure out where it is coming from. I think it is VERY subversive that Bernadette's rationality and openness to asking questions is because of her faith. You don't ever see that on TV. But asking questions is what faith is, and Bernadette is the one character in the story who truly has it. Considering all of the shots I take at organized religion, I am sort of taking the unheard of step of making religion based upon reason and figuring stuff out. And I think it's precisely because I take so many blasphemous shots at religion which is the reason THIS particular moral is as strange and subversive coming from this franchise as it is.

    Gilda not denying she is a torturer is good and bad. Her being honest about something in her past so horrible, with no second thoughts to being honest about it, shows she's a good person and lacks vanity. But the fact that she doesn't seem to treat the revelation as any sort of big deal shows she's a bad one. This compartmentalization of Gilda's past actions and ethics are one of the essential themes I show about Gilda and morality, and why her relationship is starting to crack with the group. It hasn't actually started to crack yet. But the mindset of Gilda not even bothering to rationalize the fact that she's a torturer is one of the reasons it will.
     
  12. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    It strikes me as an incredibly goofy notion that Julius proposes to Gabrielle in the tides of the ocean, but it also strikes me as an incredibly romantic one too. I love that the idea that a tightass like Julius Raggleworth believes in grand romantic gestures. Which makes sense. If he is unwilling to tell people he loves them, he has to show it in other ways.

    The other good thing is that Julius and Gabrielle are in their bathing suits when it happens. Their physicality with each other seems unusually intimate in that state of undress. The scene is much more sensual than if Julius had offered the ring at a fancy dinner. And as goofy looking as Julius is currently, it was important to me that his 40-year-old self was cut and studly, and actually EQUIPPED for a relationship with as sensual a person as Gabrielle. He doesn't even have a buck tooth, so she isn't out of his league yet. They aren't just a random May-December romance, and never were. They legitimately used to have a lot of things in common. Julius formerly being sensual and sensitive is one of them.

    And if they ARE a May-December romance, I hope this flashback makes it explicit that Gabby is actually the December in the romance. Julius is old and wrinkled now, but Gabrielle is still 700 plus years older than him.

    The race of The Archaeologist (Irwin Doyle) is kept deliberately ambiguous. Just based upon his character design, he could be black, white, Latino, or Arab. And while the drawings are uncolored pencils, you aren't sure. In my mind, he's Egyptian, or at least part Egyptian, and that's the reason he was in Egypt when we first met him in the Humans story "Untitled Mummy Project." But there is nothing in the story itself that confirms that idea. That's just my personal interpretation. I use this particular Archaeologist a lot, and it's because he makes multiple appearances which is why I made his race so indefinite. Why?

    I am one of those genre writers who believes killing off people of color sends a bad message. And if the death is pointless? I won't engage in that trope for any reason. Make of both of those ideas what you will for the future of The Archaeologist, but even if he is a person of color in my head, his character design never being race specific means the reader won't define him or anything that happens to him by his race. And to go into further detail than that would involve in major spoilers, so we'll just leave that idea there.

    For the record, I am well aware I just killed off a bunch of people of color in the flashback (albeit off-screen). That's different to me because that's Un-Iverse history, and not used as a plot twist. There is no racial statement to be made on my end by having something that horrible in Gabrielle and Redmond's past. Especially, because like Irwin Doyle, the Tahila natives aren't actually defined by their races either.

    I love and hate the cover at the same time. I hate it because you can't tell what is going on in it, or what the scene is depicting. And yet, that's also what I love about it. There is nothing in the Gilda and Meek saga that is too similar to the rocketship crashed on Tahila's shores, so it is another cover that is a bit jarring and weird for the Gilda and Meek comic. Which is something I love about Gilda and Meek and The Un-Iverse. You never know what to expect.

    I hope you kind of get that Mr. X is a psychopath upon him screaming at Redmond to kill the Archaeologist and his assistant. His psychopathy was sort of in the background of his first appearance, but I think this is the scene that makes the idea explicit.

    I love the idea that Miz Foxx already knows Gilda was a defense attorney. I love the idea of the teacher doing their homework on the troubled kid's parents before they meet them.

    Drawing the facial expressions on the characters during the Miz Foxx scene surprised me. I did not expect Meek to be staring at Gilda the daggers he did upon her boarding school joke, or Gilda's look of utter gratitude upon Meek calling her family. Not all of the writing of The Un-Iverse is done at the script stage. Some of it happens when I create the artwork.

    The fact that Bernadette is a conservative and still refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance says that she only refuses to do that to get negative attention. And Miz Foxx is playing right along and giving it to her. In normal circumstances, Bernadette would love to praise God and America and link them. But if class disruption is her goal (and it is) this is the best way to do it.

    I love how furious Meek is at various points with Gilda and Miz Foxx during this scene. He REALLY loves and cares about his sister. As her brother, that should really go without saying, but this is the first time we've actually seen how much.

    Here is something interesting about Gilda and Meek. They never seem to fight, even when they get angry at each other. Because whenever one of them gets angry at the other, it's because the other has deserved it. And they are both such great friends, and both so anti-b.s., that they both know who deserves to be angry when it happens, and each takes their lumps when they have it coming.

    Gilda is wearing her lawyer outfit in this scene. She doesn't wear it very often anymore, but she has enough propriety to know her adventure outfit is too casual for meeting Bernadette's teacher.

    It pisses me off that Gilda says she was an unsuccessful defense attorney. What pisses me off most about it is that she's actually right. It doesn't matter if Gilda is The Un-Iverse's version of Perry Mason, and can play a courtroom like a fiddle, and win all of her cases. The truth is she has very few clients, and her rates are astonishingly low because of her lack of perceived success. Her practice is hemorrhaging money, and in a bad neighborhood. She can't actually AFFORD to charge more than she does, because no-one will hire her now. She partly has few clients because no-one wants to hire a bald, plain-looking, smelly woman to represent them in court. And partly because she IS so ethical, she actually refuses to take the cases of people she knows are guilty. And because of her b.s. detector, she knows every time. Which is another thing that limits her clientele.

    Before I wrote those words coming out of Gilda's mouth (which are true words) I always considered Gilda's law practice her "good career". The thing she would rather be doing than anything else, vocation wise. She loves The Adventures, but being a lawyer is her dream job, and she loved every second of it. What bums me out is that the thing she loves best isn't something she is successful at, or that she is perceived as great at. It bothers me that until I wrote that line, I now realize Gilda has a far more realistic view of her law career than I, as the Author, did.

    I purposefully gave The Piranha a look of mild annoyance over Bernadette bothering him while he's reading, because this is the one scene where he's cooler than her. So he should act like it.

    As insightful as Meek is during the scene where he grounds Bernadette, I don't think he understands why she's upset at all. He thinks it's selfishness, and Bernadette is whining about missing a tropical vacation. That would imply topical vacations mean more to Bernadette than they actually do. No, the real reason Bernadette is freaked out, is because she's afraid Gilda and Meek are gonna get their dumb asses killed if she isn't there to stop them. And a 10-year-old having that specific perspective of that particular situation, is one of the reason Gilda refuses to b.s. Bernadette for any reason, and talks to her as a peer. Because on some very real level, she is.

    Meek's decision here ultimately turns out to be disastrous for an unforeseen reason, but one of the reasons I love Gilda is that even if Meek made a bad call here, Gilda does not blame him for the situation. The blame for what happened to Bernadette rests with one person: Vic Puff. Part of being anti-b.s. is not lashing out at your friends just because they are the closest people there for your rage to explode against. And Gilda and Meek never blame each other for these kinds of things.

    I love that Bernadette says the extra cliched kid tantrum "You are being unfair!" without being self-aware enough to realize how uncool she sounds saying it. That is a total kid moment. Bernadette is NOT just the world weary, wise-beyond-her-years, mini adult. She's not just the bratty, obnoxious, entitled kid. She's both and neither at the same time. And this scene encapsulates that.

    Dr. Raggleworth being "all business" when the group transports to Tahila, is a hint that he is just as angry at Gabrielle as Gilda is, and for the same reasons. But he's tactful enough not to be an ******* about it.

    Gilda worrying about the plane tickets is another thing to show she is obsessing about the wrong things this issue.

    I like Gilda's "Do you like beating up little old ladies?" line. Gilda at her meanest.

    I used the same hieroglyphics in the cave scene as I used in "Darkness Falls". Which is more effort than probably needed. Nobody would care. But it's not like I bothered to create an entirely new alphabet. This Easter Egg was relatively easy to do.

    For the record, upon reading this, I wish I had more hieroglyphics in the fifth issue. Because Gilda works some incredibly detailed prophecies out of the dozen or so pictographs. Which would probably only happen if the cave wall was covered with it, instead of just having one or two short lines.

    Good for the Narrator for outright spoiling the fact that the Tongue Lasher Killer is actually Donna Demented. As obvious as it is, any other franchise would STILL treat it as a mystery, at least in the story itself. But the Narrator isn't going to b.s. you about that, and neither am I. There is no actual mystery, if the "solution" is the only obvious answer.

    The Narrator doing stuff like that, is the reason The Un-Iverse will get a LOT less crap thrown at it than another project doing the exact same kind of twist, and trying to pretend it's a big secret. A LOT less crap.

    I don't like the Fuzzy and Scuzzy scene as much as The Narrator does, but it was a good way to give Scuzzy some much needed grace. His toothy grin at the end of the scene is literally the first time he has smiled in the entire saga.

    Vic Puff and The Simpsons will make sense later on. In a later issue, Gilda will tell Meek never to trust anyone who hates The Simpsons, and that they will, without fail, be a terrible person deep down. I'm setting up that facet of Vic, and Gilda's opinion of him right here. This is also probably a big reason her law firm ad was a Simpsons joke ("Just as good as Dr. Hibbert"). She was trying to lure like-minded fans on the theory that they would all be trustworthy and innocent. Frankly, I'm not sure that notion tracks, but that's Gilda and her insane Simpsons fetish. It is the one thing besides Christmas which she doesn't really think all that clearly on.

    "At least it isn't if you are one of the two." For some reason, Meek talking smack about Gabrielle makes me happier than when any other character does it. I wish it happened more often.

    I love the look of disgust on Gilda's face as the Piranha licks her. Usually she finds that cute and adorable, but I like that she finds it gross and insufferable in this one moment.

    I don't usually draw pictures of Gilda as angry as she is when she yells at Gabrielle. Although next issue's scenes with Vic Puff will be even more frightening.

    When the Narrator points out how cool Gilda is for calling the Piranha innocent instead of stupid, and then calls her a great advocate for the people she cares about, it puts into stark relief the selling point of using an omniscient, opinionated narrator. Usually that's the type of character insight you'd get from a DVD commentary, (or in my case a Linear Note). But because of this specific Narrator, I can actually write that idea in the story itself.

    I regret that I had Hank call marriage equality "Gay marriage." I hate that term. It's a term rightwingers use to make it sound abnormal. But The Un-Iverse deals with many different species and races within those species. And we don't know the entire political history. So I had to use "Gay marriage" to say specifically what Hank was referring to. If he had said "marriage equality", you might think it was recently illegal for Cats, Dogs, and Humans to marry each other in Appleton, until New York overruled Vic. But no, Hank is specifically talking about marriage equality for gays, and as a gay man, that means he finds Reverend Vic even more offensive than most of the other characters. So while "Marriage equality" is more inclusive a term for our universe, "Gay marriage" is more specific a term for The Un-Iverse.

    Similarly, when Mr. X tells Redmond Gabrielle is lying to him, I had him call them "Terran lies" rather than "Human lies". Human lies is the more recognizable expression for the reader. But Mr. X and Redmond are both aliens and non-Terrans. It makes more sense that Mr. X would call them "Terran lies" for that reason.

    I decided against changing Vic's "Secular Humanists" though. That's a bit of a bridge too far. You'll get what Terran lies are. Secular Terranists? Nobody would know what the frak I was talking about.

    The kid in the Ku Klux Klan robes, who cannot be more than Bernadette's age, burning the cross on the lawn reminds me that The Un-Iverse is never subtle. Sometimes its lack of subtlety bothers (and frankly embarrasses) me. This is not one of those times.

    I was worried that the fact that the KKK member was a little kid wouldn't play, so I put a family of KKK outside of the church, along with a kid KKK, and the Mommy KKK, holding a baby KKK in full robes. It would almost be cute, if it wasn't so sickening.

    Bernadette being outraged that Hank carries her off like a sack of potatoes is the correct reaction. It doesn't matter to her that he just saved her life. She perceives it as an indignity. And considering the fact that she is ALWAYS trying to pass herself off as an adult, I get why she's pissed. Batman doesn't like being carried by Superman either, even though sometimes he HAS to be. That's Bernadette now.

    I'll say one thing about Bernadette. She walks straight into that Church, even though one of the mob members clearly has a gun pointed at her. She's braver than I would be in that scenario.

    Her having to give her speech while standing on her tiptoes at the podium is awfully cute.

    Bernadette being called a "Godless slut" twice in two separate instances, shows that even in The Un-Iverse, rightwingers keep their talking points straight. I made sure that the guy who says it the second time is the adult KKK member who says it in front of his wife, kid, and baby.

    I made the scene outside the Church cloudy to show that a storm was brewing.

    The blood in that scene is unusually gruesome. Both Hank and Bernadette are covered in it. I've had scenes that bloody in the past, but this is the first time we've seen a character we care about that hurt and bloody. Usually that amount of blood is saved for no-name Red Shirts who The Mysterious Woman and Henry killed. Seeing it on Bernadette, especially considering her young age, makes the scene incredibly dark and chilling.

    Hank is pretty much the best friend Bernadette will never appreciate. He goes above and beyond this issue to protect and save the life of a kid who truly dislikes him. Even if Bernadette hates Hank, Hank is one of the adults in her life who is sincerely looking out for her. And it often seems to be in ways she doesn't quite understand yet.

    It's kind of sickening that Vic is smirking at the precise moment the brick hits her. This means this is exactly what he wanted.

    Here's something interesting about the mob scenes in the previous iteration of this story: They were played for laughs. The fact that they no longer are makes the story a hundred times more horrifying.

    Another example of the story being written AS I draw it is that the Passable Samaritan does not have a dark ending in the script. But in the penciled comic, two of the mob members hold him down, while the guy who pointed the gun at Bernadette rests it against his temple. I don't feel the Passable Samaritan actually deserves to be punished that severely for merely being in the Church. But that's chaos and mob rule. Violence doesn't always care if you deserve it or not in those situations. That message is even more timely today.

    The Narrator calling the flashbacks a "Pensieve level of continuity headache" helped me out a LOT. If he hadn't done that, they might be incomprehensible. Now you know exactly what is going on, because of a Harry Potter reference. It's like someone trying to explain the Grandfather Paradox of Time Travel to a layman, and they aren't getting it. Then you say, "Back To The Future," and they're all, "Oh. Duh." That what a "Pensieve level of continuity headache" does here..

    "What manner of sorcery is this?" is the absolute hoariest of fantasy cliches (right up there with "You FIEND!"), and I think it's absolutely essential that a character says it in this franchise to make it a legit fantasy. Although The Un-Iverse being The Un-Iverse, means that the Narrator will point out it IS the hoariest of cliches when Gabrielle says it. Whereas the writers of Conan The Barbarian expect us to take it seriously.

    This first instinct of a franchise with a character as flawed and superstitious as Gabrielle would be for her to immediately ignore Lolax's pleas to raise Redmond with Klawranian traditions, and tell him his birth mother loved him. Most other franchises would proceed to have Gabby indoctrinate him in her harmful prophecy nonsense to show that what happens to Redmond is partly her fault. That is not this franchise. Because I'm adopted and know that there is nothing sinister about it. Gabrielle is not a bad person when deciding to raise Redmond on her own, and follows his mother's wishes to the letter. Which despite being the most uncommon adoption scenario in fiction, is the most common adoption scenario in real life.

    You might think the Klawranians in the cave that Gabrielle is hiding from are drawn way too small. They appear to be people-sized, whereas Redmond's giant head says Klawranians are giants. We will later reveal in F.I.S.H., that like Earth, Klawrania has more than one dominant species on the planet. There are the Guardians (who are the guys in the cave Gabby is hiding from) and the Masters, who are giant sized Klawranians, which is what Redmond and Lolax are. I'll delve a lot further into that mythology in F.I.S.H., but those aliens in the cave weren't drawn too small. They are actually the first Guardians we've ever seen.

    Reverend Vic's Preacher clothes kind of suck. I admit that. Part of it's laziness. If the entire outfit besides the collar is black, I don't actually need to define anything. But it SORT of works if you see the pictures of Vic as a gross ink spot that infects every panel he appears in. Because that's sort of his role in the story too.

    Look for a cameo for The Secretary as Vic walks out of the hospital room.

    I love that Vic's ******** apology to Bernadette is immediately juxtaposed with Gilda refusing to apologize to Gabrielle for the right reasons. It tickles me that the person who refuses to apologize for their bad actions actually does it for noble reasons, while Vic is dribbling out his nopology solely to give himself legal cover. Which is another reason Gilda is anti-b.s., while Vic is the character in the story most filled with it.

    Vic calling the guy who threw the brick "a random lone wolf" is me stating why I think conservatives suck, and why they get away with the murder they do. Lone wolves my ass.

    I love that Gabby calls Gilda a horrible woman. Because she kind of is. I like that at this point Gabrielle is completely dropping the theatrics, and not trying to pretend she and Gilda are actually friends. Although if the kiss with Gilda is any indication, her feelings are still a lot more complicated than that.

    I love that Gabby is self-aware enough to realize the specific way she just "made that weird". She may be a hot mess, but I like that she knows it.

    Gilda's look of mock ferocity as Meek tells her to get over the plane tickets, is a great example of Gilda's commitment to the bit. She is so invested in the comedy of the situation, she refuses to laugh or break character, precisely because it's funnier if she doesn't. But she's not really mad, and Meek knows it.

    I love that when Hank hugs Meek at the end, Meek is actually the one comforting him. It feels extremely right to me for those two characters to have that specific dynamic in that moment. If anything, it should be the other way around. But Hank definitely took what happened harder and more personally.

    The "Destiny's Prisoner" in the title refers to Redmond The Dark Child. He cannot escape that prophecy. He is as stuck to it as any prisoner with a death sentence hanging over their head. The real drama of Redmond's story is how he processes that. Does he turn to evil to rage against the unfairness of it all? Or does it ultimately make him circumspect and appreciate the time he has left? We'll see which it is later in the saga.

    And yes, prophecies are b.s.. Except for this one. This is the one dire prophecy in the entire story that is going to go down exactly as foretold. Gilda is right about everything else being nonsense. Except for this one thing.

    I realized something as I put this to paper. Redmond the Dark Child used to be the Big Bad of the franchise when I wrote my stories in grade school. Back then Gilda was known as Love, and Redmond was known as the Klaw Kat. I've told that story before. What I haven't and is interesting thinking back on it is that the Klaw Kat used to be Love's personal nemesis. He used to have as personal a conflict with Love as the Piranha wound up having with Otterman in the second issue, or that Bernadette had with Vic Puff during the rest of the series. Augatha is now Gilda's personal villain. What amazes me about that is that in the current version of The Un-Iverse, Gilda and Redmond barely share any scenes together, and they never actually interact even once. The closest thing to a connection they make is that Gilda later tells Gabrielle he passes her b.s. detector. That's it, and pretty much tells me Gilda's b.s. detector is amazing if she can actually get that much with that little. It is weird to me that the story has evolved and changed so much that he and Gilda are no longer a part of each other's arc at all. They used to be entirely about each other, and their conflict seemed to define each other. And that's not the case anymore. At all. I actually like Redmond better this way, but it's weird how stuff changed over the past thirty years.

    The only thing I regret about changing their dynamic, is that Gilda instantly stopped being a rascally Bugs Bunny / Woody Woodpecker type character once I paired her against Augatha. I LIKE the idea that The Un-Iverse is serious now, but I really miss how poorly behaved Gilda used to be. The scene down at the docks with Augatha in the first part of "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" is how I used to have Love behave with the Klaw Kat. I won't spoil that upcoming scene in these Linear Notes for anyone who hasn't read it yet, because it's hilarious and it will be funnier if I don't reveal it here. But just for that one upcoming scene, Gilda is Woody Woodpecker again.

    The Humans story is me trying to make the One-Shots feel like a part of a larger world with each other, so that is why Howler guest stars. I frequently team up Stella Stickyfingers and Narf-Narf and Chirp for the same reason. It also exists to let people know that they shouldn't forget about them. It, like all Humans stories, sucks. But trust me when I say the first version of this story sucked MUCH worse fifteen years ago. It used to be the first Humans story, and it was the worst thing I have ever written, and the thing that made me quit The UnComix Saga (as The Un-Iverse used to be known). It's still not good. But the fact that it is now passable just shows I was right to wait to return to The Un-Iverse until I was a better writer.

    And yes, I think the silver bullets idea is a good excuse for me to argue gun control. Sometimes I don't think the politics in the franchise are all that hot. But that kind of works because the Humans are so dumb, and as it's pointed out, they aren't the only dangerously stupid people with guns. And those people vote in every election.

    I'm betting some people will think the Narrator arguing gun control is beyond preachy and soapboxy. But YOU think of a better moral for The Humans. You can't. So we're stuck with a PSA message. Like it or lump it.

    The Donald Trump "joke" is probably the most depressing joke in the entire franchise.

    Here's something REALLY cool about Howler in this story. It's the full moon, he is fully transformed, and also fully lucid! I love the idea that not only was his wife Audrey able to reach him for the first time in his fully transformed state in their last story, but that once she did that, he was able to control his full transformations from then on out! Howler is a Problem Character because his lack of character development does not line up with how major his role in the story is. But I think this small bit of character development, (which I don't even comment on in the story itself, and the reader might have missed!), is one of the few developments for Howler that feels both completely earned and organic.

    It's sort of become a morbid joke for me whenever I put Howler shirtless in a pair of jeans. That's his "Spartacus Revolutionary" look, and I think it's a bit ridiculous later in the saga. Walter White didn't go from Mr. Chips to Scarface in five episodes. But here we are. I figured I might as well show the look here, even though recent upcoming stories will have him dressed normally. As ridiculous as it looks, maybe some people will buy it if it's already established.

    One of the things I like about The Humans in this story, and one of the few things I like about them in general, is that their prejudice against Werewolves has no malice attached to it. They are simply ignorant, and even go around and shake Howler's hand upon him introducing himself. They are more curious than anything. Things only go South when they misidentify what the Werewolf virus actually is.

    This is a very uncommon perspective for Un-Iverse characters. We'll see that later in the saga, Gilda had some genuine and ugly bigotry towards Werewolves earlier in her life, and Bernadette sort of harbors those feelings now. Usually racism towards Werewolves is shown as an outright sinister character defect, even amongst the heroes like Gilda and Bernadette. I like that there is an actual innocence to the Humans' stupidity about the subject. That is very uncommon, and they are probably the only Werewolf bigots in the saga where this is true.

    I'm not going to pretend that ignorant or curious racism is harmless. But if that was literally the worst strain of it that we had to deal with every day, society would be far better off. Ignorance can be unlearned. Hatred usually cannot.

    I'm guessing people might think I'm obsessed with Werewolves and the Twi-hard genre, just based on how much they've been popping up lately. I'm really not. Once I decided that Werewolves were a legit species in The Un-Iverse, that means they are going to pop up with a LOT more regularity than they do in most genre projects. The Werewolves are not a secret society or a superstition. And if I'm making them one of the species of The Un-Iverse's Earth, I'm going to show them as often as possible. They do NOT have the mystery attached to them that the Piranhas or the Lapinians do. Which means we are going to see a lot of them.

    I don't think Howler will ever quite appreciate how very lucky he is that the Humans wanted to split so quickly. He is one of the very few people who meets them who isn't on the receiving end of some disaster. He seems annoyed at the Humans' treatment of him, but many people who have met them would have considered it a blessing if they had yelled "Let's get out of here!" that early in their encounter.

    I love that the Humans are smiling widely and sticking out their tongues as they shoot each other. These guys are SUCH morons.

    Here's an opinion. The last panel of the entire issue, of The Humans grinning dopily in their hospital beds, is the worst drawn panel in the entire issue. It's strange that the hospital room and beds look so awful, when I did a passable job with Bernadette's hospital room in the Gilda and Meek story. But the truth is, I was invested in putting in the effort there. This is The Humans. I didn't feel like bothering. So it looks unusually terrible, even for me.

    If we are just going by page count this is NOT the longest issue so far. But that's solely because I used to draw the earlier issues bigger, and have less dialogue per square. This story is going to take a person longer to read than any of the earlier stories with bigger page counts.

    This issue was relatively easy and pain free for me to complete. The One-Shots took so long because I was bored with them, and sort of had to force myself to complete them (at least for the first four issues). Gilda and Meek are my comfort zone and I can work a little on this every day with no problem. Which is good, and probably means the next batch of issues will be coming out faster than they have since The Pontue Legacy started.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    Chief Joseph is Hippie Joe's ancestor. The Unkie Matty's Wacky Funhouse cast member was born on Tahila.
     
    #72 Fone Bone, Aug 22, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  13. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    I now know the ending to The Un-Iverse.

    I have always maintained that The Un-Iverse could never end until Twin Peaks did. As underwhelmed as I was by the last episode of Twin Peaks, it pretty much solidified what I had originally written in mind. It is almost eerie how close I will be able to keep things as is because of that ending. I added a single line, and suddenly the ending is relevant and perfect.

    I did not like the ending to Twin Peaks. But I'm a little bit shocked at how closely it wound up mirroring the end of The Un-Iverse anyways. And because it lines up so perfectly, I DO love the ending to The Un-Iverse now.

    As always, David Lynch provides.
     
  14. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    10. Gilda And Meek "With A Song In Her Heart" / "In Which We Meet The Elephantom" (Un-Iverse #21)

    Rating: PG-13: Strong Violence, adult themes, and sexual situations.

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  15. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Gilda And Meek "With A Song In Her Heart" / "In Which We Meet The Elephantom" (Abridged, Spoiler-Free)

    Nice prologue, huh?

    Honestly, I really didn't want to write the first story. But since I wanted to write LAST issue's story (and I still did) there needs to be some serious repercussions for it. It's out of character for Gilda. But I can't picture her just letting that slide either. So, here we are.

    For the record, it isn’t TOTALLY out of character for Gilda, at least at this point in the saga. If she had pulled this stunt in an earlier issue or near the end of her arc, I wouldn’t buy it, just because Gilda is much more emotionally healthy in those parts of the story. That is when she is The Sage. But I kind of think this is the point of the saga that Gilda realizes exactly HOW much she loves the group, and is afraid of losing them, and is literally willing to do anything to protect them and keep them together. Without realizing that some of the things she’s done are the kinds of things that could potentially tear her new family apart. To be fair, I’m betting she never expected to be found out for what she did to Vic Puff. The fact that Dr. Raggleworth was competent enough to immediately plant a bug in Vic’s office is the thing that is TRULY out of character. I don’t blame her for not realizing Julius was smarter than she thought. He never acts like it. And judging intelligence is not what the b.s. detector does. Although by the time this is over, Gilda wishes she had THAT gift too.

    I'm sure many people are concerned that Gilda calls Vic Puff "crazy" to his face. After her sensitive handling of Crusty the Crab's mental illness in a previous story, she seems like the LAST person who should utter that slur. Here's the thing: I'm mentally ill, and even I recognize crazy people are a thing. Sometimes they are mentally ill, and sometimes they aren't, but they are usually different kinds of people from the plain old mentally ill. Meek and Crusty are mentally ill. Vic Puff and Donna Demented are crazy. Do you know the messed up thing? Not all crazy people are mentally ill. Not by a long shot. In fact, I'd argue most aren't. If you tell a bunch of people that God told you to run for President, you and the people who are actually nuts enough to vote for you after you said something that crazy enjoy two terms in the White House. If you tell a bunch of people God talked to you through a toaster, you'll get locked up for fear of you hurting somebody. Some people will say there is a difference between those two things. I am saying there is not. Not even a little. Who is and who isn't considered crazy is largely decided by which superstitions are in fashion. And there are plenty of people who believe crazy things who aren't even SLIGHTLY mentally ill. I recognize the difference, and so does Gilda.

    The story title is only attached to Gilda and NOT Gilda and Meek because I want the reader to be clear that what Gilda did this issue is something she did entirely on her own. Meek (and the others for that matter) would never have sanctioned it. This was Gilda's doing alone.

    Having Vic plead for mercy during the beating and beg her to stop was deliberate. I wanted to be as provocative in that moment as possible. The reader will probably feel uncomfortable with the fact that they may even extend some sympathy to Vic here, even if the Narrator reveals later on it is completely misplaced. But Gilda can definitely be read as a monster to anyone not inside her headspace.

    The original line was "She opens up her briefcase, takes out a baseball bat, then runs over to him and beats the everloving shit out of him." I demurred because if I use a swear you can't say on television now, it will dilute any time I decide to do that in the future. But I will acknowledge here that "Everloving crap" doesn't have the same ring to it.

    I hope you didn't miss the fact that Gilda is computer savvy enough to remotely hack into Vic's office security camera feed on a PC. She could have been a computer hacker in a different franchise, but since The Un-Iverse is so low tech, we don't see her use this skill all that often. But it's ANOTHER thing she is secretly amazing at.

    Gilda is also an idiot. She says Vic's flock would never forgive him for still doing the hookers and blows. And bless her, this is one of the stupidest and most naive things Gilda has ever said, and it is super ironic that it occurred during her scariest moment. I get why she'd think that, and The Un-Iverse doesn't really have the same point of reference of the reality of the situation that we do, but the truth is, Vic's flock would not even need to forgive him. They'd ignore it. Think the rest of Vic's hateful message is important enough to let it slide. All conservatives do is cover up hypocrisies, and ignore truly evil and disgusting things. If Gilda DID "out" Vic to the world, nothing would change. And that would include if she found and released evidence that he trafficked in child porn. For such a cynical character, Gilda has a far more optimistic viewpoint of Terranity than is actually warranted.

    Do I think Gilda would actually kill Vic Puff, if push came to shove? No, I don't. She is just trying to scare him. It works. Besides, as Gilda notes, he is probably worth more alive to her than dead. Because she apparently has pictures. And she is willing to use them. Gilda is one of the few heroes in my saga who will occasionally take a life. She does not make that decision lightly and wouldn't kill Vic Puff over this.

    One of the reasons Gilda is so deadly is because in The Un-Iverse, the strongest species are Cats (see all of the Vikings in The Pontue Legacy being Cats) and the females are usually stronger than the males. This is probably another reason gender dynamics in The Un-Iverse are a lot more progressive than in our Universe. It was still a patriarchy in the middle ages. But women rulers were not unheard of, and even if women were expected to follow the same rules of propriety and decorum as those in our universe were, they had a LOT more real and actual political power. But female Cats being such tough badasses is part of the reason that sexism really only effects the humans in The Un-Iverse, which are the least evolved species.

    One of the reasons I love Gilda, and think she sorely fills a void as far as heroes are concerned, is that the sinister expression on her face in the last panel of the last story hinted that her deviousness was kicking into overdrive. She seemed to be furiously thinking of complex and humiliating ways to plot intricate revenge on Vic Puff. And it's not like Gilda NEVER does that. But here? Instead she simply beats the shit out of him. Vic Puff ain't worth more than that. Coming up with one of her humiliations that she routinely cooks up for Augatha, would be putting more effort into dealing with Vic Puff than he's actually worth. If Vic were a slightly worthwhile human being, Gilda might have bothered concocting a scheme with some finesse. Since he's a waste of sperm, getting his skull cracked is the best Gilda's gonna bother to do.

    Gilda would never admit it, but she actually respects Augatha. Just the fact that she's never taken a bat to her proves it.

    Gilda's outfit in this issue sort of unsettles me. Because she's wearing her adventures outfit, but she has mostly her lawyer / demonologist gear on her. It's like she cannot decide which version of her is punishing Vic in this manner. I'm inclined to think that sounds right because I'm not sure either.

    Gilda whistling out of the room as she is covered in blood is equally unsettling. I made sure to use Gilda's "cute" design as she's smiling and whistling, but dang if it doesn't look especially disturbing with blood dripping down her cheeks.

    Despite me being underwhelmed by the artwork on the cover, the artwork during the beating came out surprisingly well. It was also far less gory than I imagined, if you can believe that. Gilda seems far less like a psychotic serial killer than perhaps the original script would indicate.

    "In Which We Meet The Elephantom" isn't great, but it is a good reintroduction to Ted. He doesn't have much else to do in the saga after this. But in the sequel, he'll have a bigger role.

    If you see some of Petey Pate in Bob Mintspleen, that's the idea. Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do a tribute to its Pilot "Night On Bald Pate" at some point. But while Petey Pete was a spoof of Kirk Douglas, Bob Mintspleen is a spoof of Bob Newhart. That's sort of hard to read in a comic book, but if there is ever an animated adaptation, I'd be using a soundalike.

    The spell to transfer a demon into a computer is "wunzenxeros". Because of course it is.

    There is something about Gilda in the second story that bothers me, and I hope I'm not alone. I don't really blame Gilda for nearly beating Vic Puff to death. It is not what a hero would do, but she has larger reasons why she is doing it. It will be later revealed that Gilda correctly read a sexual interest into Vic's obsession with Bernadette, so even if I don't agree with her for doing it, I understand why she'd want to make sure that guy stays as far away from her friends and family as possible.

    No, what bothers me is that immediately after she does it, she goes home, presumably takes a shower, and then proceeds to have a fun and care-free ghostbusting adventure with her friends as if nothing happened. It's the fact that Gilda isn't shaken by that experience at all that is the reason I am so angry with her. Dark Gilda is not the thing that frightens me. It's the fact that Gilda can turn Dark Gilda on and off like a switch, and not even seem to feel bad about it later. Her whistling after the incident is another clear sign of this, but part of the reader might hope that was merely done to frighten Vic Puff. No, it turns out, Gilda really is NOT bothered by what happened. And she really should be. It is pretty much between this issue and "The Apple" where she completely loses her mantle of The Sage, which is one of the biggest selling points of the character. She gains it back in that story, but as of now (and the last issue where she makes Gabrielle cry) Gilda seems to be doing more actual harm to the group than good. The reasonable person at this point of the saga shifts to Bernadette, and sometimes the Piranha. As I said, in an effort to make sure she doesn't lose the family she has gained, and gotten so attached to, Gilda has lost a great deal of her wisdom and insight.

    But I think that's part of what makes her character arc interesting, which is why I did it.

    I love that Gilda and Meek cry during Beaches.

    Eddie Cat is not a Republican because I hate Republicans (although I do). But I actually like Eddie Cat. And he's actually smart and insightful, so it seems a little weird that that is his philosophy.

    It's because Republicans cause chaos. They universally make things worse for everybody, and their goal in life is to make the public's life suck as much as possible. That's a Chaos Demon in a nutshell.

    The way Eddie totally divests from Republicanism is that Republicans always blame other people for their failings, that they themselves caused by taking away the financial security and well being of the public. Whenever they want to cut our Obamacare, it's the Democrats' fault. Whereas Eddie not only admits the crap he does, he wants credit for it too. Which just means, even though he is more explicitly evil than any Republican not named Donald Trump, he also has far more integrity than any other member of the party. Eddie actually takes the politics of personal responsibility very seriously, and he's the only Republican in the story who does. This is probably why he is as widely hated as he is, and has no shot of getting reelected. His mayoral career in the rest of the story is practically non-existent. This is, in fact, the second to last time we see him in that role.

    I absolutely adore the moment where Bernadette asks Meek about him saying she never cried as a baby. I never show Bernadette acting like a small child, but that's exactly what that moment is. Small children are VERY curious as to what they acted like as babies, and Bernadette's "I didn't?" is one of the most innocent and sweet moments for the character ever.

    I like that Meek likes "Beaches", because it's supposed to be a chick flick. I always try to show Gilda and Meek going outside of their typical gender roles whenever possible, and this is something that does that.

    Do you know why I like this story? We actually introduce the notion of supervillains two issues before we really introduce any superheroes. The Un-Iverse refuses to follow the comic book formula which always states the heroes are introduced first.

    The Piranha was originally going to say Donald Trump was the thing he never licked instead of Howard Stern, but once Trump became The Occupant, I changed it. It stopped being funny to me, and openly bummed me out. Also, now it's too obvious. Truthfully, it's fine if some of the Trump jokes in the franchise bum me out. But I also don't think those bummer moments should be coming from the Piranha. The joke would still be Trump if Hillary Clinton were where 3 million more people knew she was supposed to be.

    I have been practicing drawing the Elephantom for decades. Literally. But the first time I actually drew him in his Bob Mintspleen civilian outfit was this issue. It amazes me I nailed what I wanted on the first try. Those Buddy Holly glasses and two strands of hair make the character look especially harried. Not so explicitly like Bob Newhart, but it was always the mannerisms I was going for with the Elephantom, not the design. This would work much better in a cartoon than a comic book. Without the voice, it's not the same. Still, Bob's business design is great.

    He sort of looks like what I imagine Vic Puff would look like if Vic Puff were visually appealing. Similar design, but it will make you smile instead of puke. At least, I hope so.

    The whole runner with Bob's boss complaining about losing clients that aren't actually clients, makes me laugh every time. When we get to the "That's a philosophical debate," portion of the routine, I realize it is a total Family Guy joke. Not one of the gross and cruel celebrities slams. But one of the random observational moments. Those are pretty much the entire reason I watch the show, and wish the show was that all the time. But even The Un-Iverse is rarely that, so I can't get TOO mad.

    The conversation between Bob and the Poolboy on the phone interests me because it is incredibly mild. It is loaded with innuendo and yet the innuendo is positively PG-rated compared to what another franchise might have done. The words "sex", "sexual", or "sleeping with" are never uttered. This franchise will sometimes be incredibly vulgar in the future. But I think that will make those moments better and more jarring because this scene proves it usually isn't.

    Mr. Cuthbert is the first Mutated Animal Mouse with a significant part and speaking role. Just by the turns his conversation with Bob takes, it strikes me immediately that he is both outright insane and incredibly stupid. You might say it's unrealistic that someone so obviously unhinged and dim-witted found themselves the boss of anything... but I believe you'll guess my rebuttal.

    Mr. Cuthbert harkens back to an old UnComix Saga tradition of a boss / authority figure starting off a scene as seemingly rational, and gradually being revealed to be pathologically insane. I have mostly stepped away from that trope in The Un-Iverse, (for reasons I will not get into here) but Mr. Cuthbert is an excellent example of it, and one I felt comfortable doing.

    When he asks about the illusion of free will, I had him put his fingers to his temples, with a look of utter frustration and madness on his face. He's nucking futz. The tweaker mouse design works especially well for this reason. He's got some tendons going on in his neck, and veins in his forehead too in this moment.

    The name of the defunct videogame company is Coleco Industries, not ColecoVision, which was the name of the home console. But you'll immediately know what I'm talking about if I call it ColecoVision. So that's that.

    Another Golden Hammer reference, this time about a statue downtown. There is a reason. There is reason.

    I love that there is actually no malice in the Elephantom. It's just a way for him to get negative attention and reinforcement. Bob Mintspleen, like many UnComix "villains", doesn't take the job personally, or truly see themselves as evil-doers pushing back on society's ills. He just wants to make the news, and feel important for once in his sad life. And I love that.

    I colored Ted's suit purple and red (despite the rest of the comic being merely B&W pencils) all the way back in the first Humans story precisely so Bernadette's "Joker suit" joke would play here. That's how far ahead this stuff is planned out.

    When I drew Ted as a kid, he was black, rather than gray. And it sucks that I had to change it, but black simply does not read on the page, especially with the sunglasses. I also miss the fact that the black cat thing sort of hinted that Ted was a bit of a jinx around the people whose life he inhabits. Both Gilda and the Elephantom would agree with this assessment by the end of the story.

    I love that the Secretary does the "Hi Bob!" bit. It shows that she knows him, and probably knows that Ted would see him right away as a friend. But she is STILL gonna torment him with the appointment bit anyways. That is 100% classic Secretary.

    Joey the Dog Bank Teller has a near identical design to how he was drawn in the Narf-Narf and Chirp story he previously appeared in. And yet, for some reason, I think he looks decent here, while I think my first picture of him sucked.

    There might be some people who guess Ted gets Bob to target Eddie Cat as sort of a revenge against whatever he did to Gilda that we've hinted about. And while I'd love for that to be true, and for him to be defending his sister's honor in that moment, I don't want to overthink it. Ted is simply a nuisance that inconveniences everyone. The fact that Eddie got the brunt of it here seems more circumstantial to me than anything.

    I love the expressions on Gilda and Meek's faces as they are bawling their eyes out. Very Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

    Maybe Gilda should not be kissing Dr. Raggleworth on the cheek if she can probably guess he has a secret crush on her. But that's Gilda. Her boundaries are absolutely terrible. 100%.

    Nobody in Appleton wanting Eddie Cat back is because of how he got the job. The people saw him selling out Vic with the press leaks, and were outright disgusted with him. I personally think voters should perhaps have been more disgusted with Vic's gross secret actions than they were with the person who reported them, but even if the politicians of The Un-Iverse are different, the political situations are all things we recognize.

    The Hordbard's bizarre design does not suck. Which tells me the upcoming bizarre miniseries "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" will not suck either.

    I'll say one thing for Ted's office. It has a surprisingly high ceiling. You might say, unrealistically so. Sorry about that. But the Hordbard Demon looks best if he takes up an entire half page. So there.

    The pencils in the ceiling should give you a pretty good idea about the mindset of Ted's office and professionalism.

    I love the Ragglemobile, and I love that they take it for this mission (and that Julius drives). It may have been an ironic nickname given by Bernadette to describes Doc's janky old car, but I like that they take Doc's car for a couple of reasons. Even if Gilda is looked upon as the leader of the group, she still IS Dr. Raggleworth's employee, so it makes sense they take his car. It also makes sense because Doc's station wagon can seat five people while Gilda's WV bug cannot.

    We will not ultimately spend a lot of time with Ted, but the look of increasing dismay as the Hordbard Demon is freed shows an essential Ted theme. He constantly is losing control of situations he believes he is on top of at first. That's where Gilda always bailing him out comes in. This is not new behavior. This is Gilda's entire relationship to Ted.

    Bernadette is clearly ambidextrous, as she is clearly using different hands at different points to work the videogame joystick. Or possibly I'm a bad and inconsistent artist. Nope, the ambidextrous thing is what we're going with.

    Bernadette stating she felt empowered upon Gilda putting the demon in her videogame for her to destroy might annoy some people, who'll see it as an example of Bernadette being a Mary Sue. But Gilda ALWAYS empowers her friends on the adventures. She's done the same for Meek and the Piranha at various points, so her letting Bernadette "defeat" the demon is not out of character.

    Gilda telling Eddie that life in prison is no small punishment for him is to remind the reader that he is Immortal. But this is the first time we've revealed that Gilda already knows that.

    I personally think that when Gilda says this, she is bluffing. Because if she actually had that evidence, she probably would have used it by now.

    I love Gilda's "Easy!" and "Stop talking. Now," with Bernadette. Yeah, well, good luck with that, Gilda.

    For the record, Game of Thrones is a million times worse than Fast Times. Which again shows that Meek is worrying about the wrong things.

    I love that Dr. Raggleworth is shown laughing at Bernadette's courtesy fart joke.

    The picture of Gilda snoring on the couch is funny.

    I'll say one thing. I would have very much loved to have seen the scene of Julius paying one of Vic's security guards to plant bugs in his office. Very much.

    One of the reasons that I love that scene and that idea so much, is that in this iteration of The Un-Iverse, Dr. Raggleworth does not directly affect the canon as much as he did in the previous versions. It used to be all about his wacky inventions causing problems, and Augatha being after him specifically. Even though Gilda was always the main character, Dr. Raggleworth drove the actual plots. He was M in James Bond. That's not true anymore. The story is far more Gilda-centric now, and even if she is still his employee, all of the missions and adventures are centered around things Gilda thinks need to be accomplished. Him planting the bugs that get Meek and Bernadette to rethink everything they thought they knew about Gilda, is one of the few times where something he did still majorly effected the plot. And I'm glad that happened, even if it's now rare. He used to be the most important character to the actual mythology of the series (of the Chosen Five). Now he's the least. I'm glad I found something cool for him to do in this issue.

    I'll tell you the reason I love Bernadette Anderson. Even after everything she went through last issue, after everything Vic put her through, she is equally as horrified as Meek over what Gilda did to Vic. I admire Bernadette's ethics, because they are non-situational, and non-personal, and absolutely consistent with what she preaches. They are rock solid and immovable. Even after what Vic did, Bernadette does not believe Vic deserves that. She is a true Christian in the way Vic could never hope to be. She walks the walk as far as Jesus' teachings are concerned.

    I very deliberately made the blood on the black and white camera footage black. I've colored every other instance of blood. Except when it shows up in black and white footage.

    Bernadette putting her hand on Meek's shoulder in the last panel was not scripted. It just felt right, so I did it.

    In the end, I don't think The Elephantom story ultimately works. It's a filler story, but it's the first Gilda and Meek story that actually FEELS like a filler story. Why isn't the adventure bigger and more exciting? Because it didn't need to be. The selling points of the issue are horrific prologue and Gilda reconnecting with Ted. Everything else is besides the point, so I didn't go out of my way to pretend you should care.

    I think the biggest problem for me is that the writing is unusually choppy, and I'm betting a bit hard to follow in places. I used a lot of shortcuts in the dialogue under the assumption that the reader knows enough about the characters to understand what they are talking about when speaking in shorthand with each other. And that may be a false assumption. I get everything that happens in the story. I don't necessarily know if everyone else will.

    Part of the choppiness has to do with the fact that as a humorous story, all of the major beats are punctuated by jokes. That is NOT unusual for how I used to write The UnComix Saga (as The Un-Iverse used to be known). It was a straight-up humor franchise back in the day, and I was afraid to actually explore drama without buying it back with a joke. I was a lot more fearful of backlash to a "serious" funny animal comic before I said "Screw it!" and embraced the idea. But this issue is how The UnComix Saga used to be. A randomish story punctuated every few panels by a punchline. That's not necessarily bad. But that's no longer what The Un-Iverse usually is. The reason I didn't try to cut down on the jokes, or make it more consistent with the rest of the story, is because I like that The Un-Iverse is kind of a free-for-all, and you never know what you are going to get. It's a bit of a shock that after that horrific prologue, I treat the reader to the silliest and least credible Un-Iverse issue so far. And I like that inconsistency. It makes things unpredictable. So while I will concede that this is not as well written as the "serious" Gilda and Meek stories, I have absolutely no regrets with not only varying the tone, but never letting the reader know which sensibility is coming. I don't know if The Un-Iverse is a great franchise. But it's an eclectic, funky one, which means it automatically has SOME merit to it. So there.

    The Narf-Narf and Chirp story is quite different from the original outline. The original idea was to make Narf-Narf and Chirp perfect reality show participants because they are just as big of meatheads as the rest of the cast. But once I decided that because it's television and none of the rest of the cast and crew could understand them, and that they should have no dialogue, I did away with that idea. You can't really do a silent meathead. I could have made the idea work if I used The Humans instead, but Narf-Narf and Chirp have to be VERY visibly upset for them to be able to effect the story in any measurable way since they cannot speak.

    The story sucks because I didn't watch any reality shows as research for it. I just had a bunch of people talk nonsense and behave horribly. I also was very careful to have Stella Stickyfingers clarify at the end that nobody died in the fire. Narf-Narf may be a sociopath, but he isn't a murderer, at least not at this stage of the game.

    The "running lines for a porno" idea is horrific to me. And I'm a little bit disgusted and embarrassed I got so firmly into the dirtbag headspace to come up with that joke. But any way you look at it it's horrible. Maybe The Scenario is lying to Ammmber and is saying he's rehearsing a porno to trick her into making out with her. And that's horrible. Or maybe he's telling the truth and making out (and possibly more) with a woman who isn't his girlfriend who he then lies to Snizzy about. That's horrible. There is nothing about that idea that doesn't make my skin crawl.

    Once again, I love Stella Stickyfingers. I pretty much hate everything about this story, and then she shows up, and all is right with the world.

    Unlike Rob Chocolate, Snizzy and The Scenario are not black. Just really, REALLY tan.

    That opening splash panel of all of the housemates was a nightmare and biggest trouble I have EVER had with the artwork in the entire franchise. No joke. I had to redraw the page THREE extra times, which is unprecedented. I kept putting the castmates in the wrong order. They are still in the wrong order, but the order still works okay on the fourth try plot wise (Dax last) so I didn't feel the need for a fifth. But this is literally the comic book page that gave me the most amount of trouble ever, and you might be able to tell that by the amount of clearly visible erasure marks.

    I suspected before I drew the story that these seven pages would be among the most challenging artwork I would ever have to do. As of now, I was right.

    And I always knew that going in. Because it's a TV show, and I use TV's as a panel frames, I am purposefully limiting the types of things I allow myself to draw. The Un-Iverse Narrator barely shows up until the end, and much of the narration is done by the Semi-Plausible World TV Announcer. I did not draw camera angles (including sudden close-ups) you would not see on reality TV. Because the panels were TV's, I even debated whether or not to ultimately use sound effects, and the few I DID use, were done with actual comic bubbles to show that they were something emanating from the actual TV. Plus, I had to draw 6 brand new characters, and for the most part, I botched that. I also knew I couldn't have Narf-Narf and Chirp use any dialogue during the reality show itself, which was probably the hardest thing of all. I knew the artwork would be tough, and potentially suck going in.

    That rapper pose Dootch is doing in the first picture shows he is the honkiest of honkies. Seriously lame wannabe.

    Ammmber's hair is a mess, but it is as big and frizzy as it is because it is Jersey Hair. It doesn't look good art-wise, but I was channeling Storm and Rogue from the 90's X-Men cartoon when I drew it.

    Dax's character design is horrible. Snizzy's design is horrible because she's supposed to look clownish and unattractive on purpose, but I actually whiffed Dax's design. I did not intend him to look that bad.

    The one thing I like about Dax's design is that he inexplicably seems to be wearing lipstick. That amuses me for some reason.

    Also Dax seems to be the first cartoon zebra I've seen with a nose ring. So there's that.

    Rob Chocolate declaring that Dax only got on the show because he's a minority is one of those plot threads in genre that you'll occasionally see that drives me bonkers. Oftentimes in a Utopian futuristic society, or alternate Universe, they'll specifically have the black character be intolerant, and even racist towards a different minority group outside of humanity. This was pretty much Geordi La Forge in every episode of Next Gen that had a visiting alien. They do it to make a statement, and it usually strikes me as a negative statement on black people. But I use the trope here specifically because it's a reality show, and everyone on those shows is mad racist. You won't think Rob is extra deplorable for that observation, because everyone on that show is equally deplorable. I would never make that joke unless it was specifically either for a reality show, or a trash TV talk show. But here it is, me creating as big of a tool as Geordi La Forge. But at least unlike the writers of Star Trek, I will totally admit that's what I'm doing.

    As the story goes on, Snizzy's design looks more and more ghoulish to me. I don't actually like the design, but I kind of like the way it freaks me out.

    I was very worried that the cameraman grabbing the gun out of Narf-Narf's paw before he could commit suicide wouldn't play. And I was kind of right. Which is the reason I decided to put it in the background of the scene, rather than drawing attention to it outright.

    The sore on Snizzy's lip is super gross. It's also super funny.

    Milestone alert: That was the first reference to oral sex in UnComix history. Hey, I didn't say it was a GOOD milestone.

    I had Rob Chocolate say "Hey! My lighter!" to make it clear what was going on.

    To be clear, the yellow boxes are the Un-Iverse Narrator, and the orange boxes are The Semi-Plausible World's subtitles. For the rare Semi-Plausible World Narrator lines, I simply had the lines come straight from the TV with no other characters in the panel.

    The last page's two giant panels are larger than they needed to be, but I ran out of story before I did pages. I probably should have structured things better.

    I'm not sure the the Mittens and Polly thing plays, but I reasoned that if the producers kidnapped Narf-Narf and Chirp against their will, there wouldn't have been a Dog on-staff to translate their actual names. So the show uses made-up names. Polly seems like an especially embarrassing name to give Chirp.

    None of the castmates call Narf-Narf and Chirp by their fake names anyways, so hopefully that makes it less confusing.

    The cover, despite being one of my easier to complete ones, still worried me. I think the expression on Gilda's face could have been better, darker, and scarier. But since she isn't actually looking anyone in the eye, I couldn't figure out the best place to put her irises. Also I wish her teeth were better. On the plus side, I am relieved the blood reads as well as it does. Gilda has always had red fur, but I was worried if I drew a color picture of Gilda with blood it would not play. And even if the shades are only slightly different, I think it does. It is not as effective or shocking as if Gilda were a paler color, and covered with it. But you can at least tell what it is, which is the most I ever hoped for with Gilda's red fur and blood.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    The Secretary having two separate places of employment in the exact same issue is done to hint that there may be something supernatural going on with the character.
     
    #75 Fone Bone, Sep 18, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  16. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    11. Meek And Gilda "The Otterman Cometh Back" (Un-Iverse #22)

    Rating: PG (Some bloody violence at the beginning and mild innuendo).

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    #76 Fone Bone, Oct 2, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  17. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Meek And Gilda: "The Otterman Cometh Back" (Abridged)


    This story works on two levels: a happy one and a sad one. You probably won’t get the sad thing the first time, but that’s the good thing about something working on different levels. It makes rereading things more interesting.

    Let’s talk about the happy stuff first. I am of the opinion Gilda wasn't being completely truthful when she said she would have let Bernadette be leader. She was able to promise that because since she is such a great judge of character, she knew Bernadette would paw the task off to Meek, who she knows COULD handle the responsibility. Bernadette basically played into Gilda's hands here, and was made to look the fool.

    I wanted this issue to be special. I always have said that Gilda and Meek are best friends and love each other to death, (platonically) but ironically I don't think I've ever clearly shown why in any previous story. It's obvious Meek hero-worships Gilda to some extent, but what is it about Meek that makes Gilda supposedly think he's all that great?

    The answer is Meek is unpredictable. Meek is FUN. Meek makes the time fly by on what should be an otherwise routine and relatively boring case. And despite his daffiness, he doesn't lead them wrong. He gets to the correct answer in his own messed up way, but he still gets there. Putting Meek in charge is like putting the Eleventh Doctor in charge. Okay, Meek is not as awesome as the Doctor. Not even close. But he makes the adventure more fun by being in charge than were it anyone else.

    That being said, there is a dark subtext in the background that Meek is VERY unhappy with Gilda for obvious reasons, and refuses to tell her why. They’re imploding in the very issue I’m showing why they love each other, which is very subversive. His hug betraying a secretly miserable expression tells me that his wacky persona this issue was largely a performance to diffuse tensions. I think Gilda KNOWS something’s off and consented to the leadership position for him precisely to show him how much she trusted him. There is an unspoken subtext that she is trying to mend fences, even if she isn’t exactly sure WHY Meek is so distant. The ironic thing is that she is going about it all wrong. While it may be fun for the reader to hear Gilda cheer Meek on all throughout the issue (and as noted above it shows exactly why she loves him) she is being EXTREMELY patronizing in many of her statements. Outside of the fist bump, many of Gilda’s remarks have stopped being deadpan private jokes, and veered into her actually making fun of him. Not deliberately. And that’s not necessarily what Meek would have usually thought about otherwise harmless comments, but since he’s in the midst of rethinking everything he thought he knew about Gilda, she’s not helping.

    Gilda’s b.s. detector should have picked up on this, right? I think it did. And Gilda tried to convinced herself she had fixed things at the end instead of making them worse. And even if her b.s. detector can tell when others are b.s.-ing her, it doesn’t mean she can always tell when she’s b.s.-ing herself. Around the edges of the very story where we’re showing why Gilda’s relationship is so healthy with Meek, we’re saying the opposite. But you might not get that the first time, and be as clueless as Gilda about it. Which is good.

    I thought about having Gilda be mad at Meek for lying to her about nothing being wrong later on when the truth comes out, but frankly, that’s stupid. TV shows often have a character being mad at someone for lying to protect their feelings about them hurting them, but that has always struck me as a b.s. comparison, and a way for the character in the wrong to pretend the person they treated badly was equally at fault. There is no scenario in which Gilda has the high ground in Meek feeling creeped out by seeing her beat Vic Puff half to death with a baseball bat. And she is a good person and would never try to make a false equivalence like that to justify her actions. Besides, Meek’s an Aspie. I’m sure he simply did not know HOW to talk to her about it and didn’t want to accidentally make things worse. And I’m betting will realize this too once she realizes WHY Meek has been distant.

    Do you know what I love about Otterman this issue? He's the villain! No higher redemption arc, no misunderstanding, no character growth (til the end), he's just a crook who stole the Moona painting to gain power. Honestly, Otterman was originally SUPPOSED to be a straight up villain in his FIRST appearance too, but once I came up with the idea that the continuity of Otterman gaining his powers, massacring the Piranhas, and Dr. Raggleworth discovering Our Piranha was super tight, and that those things practically happened one right after the other, it no longer made sense. Otterman was never the villain of "The Village" either, but I am quite pleased I was able to use Otterman as originally intended in this story, even if it WAS only this story.

    Even if Otterman acts quite out of character in this issue, I DO want to point out the moment where he states he loves the Christian Science Reading Room is the first hint that he, like Bernadette, is a total bookworm. Even if Otterman is scumbaggier than usual in this story, I'm still setting up certain aspects of his personality for later.

    I like the Robot Chicken slam. Because unless you are Seth MacFarlane and doing it ironically, comedies never, EVER point out that Robot Chicken isn't the least bit funny. It is SO surprising how unfunny it is, considering how long it's been on the air, and the amount of genre voice talent it's attracted to poke fun at themselves. But really, I've only laughed once or twice EVER. It's the biggest elephant in the room of comedy. Seth Green is considered a comedy titan important enough to hang out at the Playboy Mansion. But everybody is too scared to say out loud how much his passion project actually sucks. I'm waiting for a NON-friend unlike MacFarlane to actually point out that the comedy Emperor has no clothes, but nobody seems brave enough to do it yet. Are they scared of offending Robot Chicken's obviously easy to please fans? Because those suckers don't seem to be people I'd need to see in the Gilda and Meek fandom. If Gilda and Meek ever hits, I'm afraid that I MIGHT actually be the first person to take a legit shot at Robot Chicken. Which is alarming. Which would also result in Seth Green creating Gilda and Meek dolls to violently and bloodily kill as if that's the proper pop culture response to ANYTHING, or the least bit funny. Celebrity Deathmatch was just as dumb and unfunny, but at least that had the sense to burn out rather quickly. Robot Chicken has been on the air FAR too long for a show as unfunny and stupid as it is. It should not have lasted ten seasons. The fact that it has is another reason nobody should take Williams' Street's animation department seriously. Ever.

    Robot Chicken is the kind of show that thinks showing Big Bird raping somebody is funny in its own right. It simply has G rated characters behave horribly and violently with each other, and it thinks that the comedy ends there. They don't even bother writing jokes. I'm just supposed to find a junkie hooker Hello Kitty funny all by itself. And it's not. At all.

    There are several wrong ways to eat a Reeses'. Bernadette's example is simply the most obvious.

    Nan's bakery being seedy for Meek might not be a total joke, and partially literal on his end. Nan is quite possibly Donna Demented's biggest Appleton competitor, and as Donna's friend, Meek might think of Nan's as a bad place. That MIGHT not be true (he DOES eat and love the muffins there) but there might be some friendly rivalry going on as to the reason Meek suggested it in the first place.

    Is there a particular reason Otterman chose to buy an apartment in Appleton? Is it because it's close to the Piranha, who is pretty much the only person in the world that Otterman actually likes at this point? That is a strong possibility.

    If and when this story gets inked and colored, Vic Puff's hooded cloak at the end will be purple. The same color as the Conduit Death Cult's cloaks in "Skeletons". It will be an explicit reference to that.

    Vic saying there are things in his past he is not proud of is what can be charitably described as an effing lie. The only thing a psychopath like Vic actually regrets about his behavior is that he is sometimes caught. Otterman swallowing this load of b.s. proves exactly how bad of a judge of character he is, at least at this early stage of his life. Otterman's been an adult for a few years (and a couple as an otter) but his age is actually only chronologically 8 years old. It makes a warped kind of sense that an Otterman who is that young still defers way too much to authority. Which leads to nothing good.

    Biggest plothole in this issue is the idea that Meek is athletic enough to CHOOSE to hit the Otterman bottle on purpose. Even professional baseball pitchers are not usually that lucky.

    The hidden Blip used to be in Meek's bucket of rocks (which would have made it REALLY hidden) but I changed it for story purposes. But perhaps I've said too much.

    Derek the dying Warlock's design is exactly what I wanted. I nailed what I wanted to do on the second try. I got everything I wanted in the face in the first, and I made him taller and lankier in the next drawing, and he was perfect. It's not the best design. But it's the best for who Derek is (whom we'll meet in The Supplements).

    Even if Otterman is a giant dirtbag in the story, I will say here that he is not a TOTAL dirtbag. His empathy over Derek dying at the beginning is totally in character for him, and consistent with the hero he becomes later. He is not a hero in this specific story. But the pieces of what makes him a hero are still present.

    It appears to be a night of the full moon in the New York City flashback. Full moons are a recurring motif in The Un-Iverse, even in stories without Werewolves in them.

    I cannot help but think that scene would play better if it were colored. When this whole thing gets colored, that specific scene is gonna look great.

    The Narrator says Derek is grabbing the front of Otterman's suit. But he is really grabbing his arm. That is because I am a terrible artist.

    I do not think Otterman deciding he needed to gain power upon seeing the word "Whahuma" plays at all, but if I get any more specific as to why that is in the story, I'll be spoiling some later stuff. What I will say here is that Otterman seeing that specific word touched him on a spiritual level that he doesn't understand. His reaction was to want to gain power to protect himself from what is coming. I'm not saying that would be EVERYONE'S reaction, but Otterman's reaction is so unusual and specific precisely because the word seemed to speak to him on an unquantifiable supernatural level. He can't explain the feeling, and I can't either really. But that's why seeing that particular thing turned him power-hungry for this story.

    For the record "They're coming!" as a warning, is a little bit off for the threat the Whahuma Bears are. They aren't actually coming to Earth, and that's not why they are dangerous. But we'll sort of learn in The Supplements that perhaps Derek phrased that warning in that way for an entirely unknown reason to us.

    Otterman's perspective seems to be drawn a bit off to me as he's looking at the word in the two panels it appears in on page 2. He's looking down at it in the first panel, and looking up at it in the second. But those were the best poses for the reaction shots I wanted, so I just hope nobody noticed this as they were reading the story.

    It's interesting how gory the opening is because the rest of the issue is 100% blood-free.

    I don't know if Gilda making a cutting motion on her throat to Dr. Raggleworth on page 3 plays or not. I personally don't think it does.

    I dressed Gilda in her lawyer outfit for the museum exhibit opening. It's Gilda's classic look, and even if it doesn't fit her adventuring style anymore, I am happy to use it whenever I am able to.

    Bernadette using the arsonist parallel about wanting to keep an eye on several flame-wars she started online, is the correct allegory. If you start a flame war, you kind of want to keep an eye on it so it doesn't get out of further control than you planned. Many arsonists do not look to burn down entire buildings or neighborhoods, and don't just keep a close eye on their fires entirely because they think they're pretty. They also don't want them to be bigger than they planned. I've never committed arson, but I have started a flame war or three, and that is NOT something to want to leave unattended and have go off the rails in your absence. That's maybe what a total troll would do. But I think Bernadette's online behavior is probably a LOT more complicated than that of a total troll. Which is interesting about her.

    I seem to recall Beavis and Butthead once detailed the actual legit selling points of the Parents Television Council website for dirty-minded kids. I figured if those two idiots got it, it was a no-brainer that a smart kid like Bernadette would get it too. PTC is essentially doing the kid's job for them, and keeping all of the inappropriate stuff in the exact same easy to access to place. It blows my mind how dumb the PTC is.

    Plus, if you get the dirt anyways, that frees you up from watching a LOT of crap television. That website is less useful for parents, and more for people deciding which shows to watch and skip.

    "Excellent burn from the doctor." I love stuff like that, and I specifically love this era of the saga, because there is more stuff like that than usual.

    It amazes me that this is the 23rd issue of The Un-Iverse, and this is the first time EVER we've seen former UnComix staple Newscaster Ned Apple. He has MANY fewer appearances in this iteration of The Un-Iverse than he had in previous versions. Why? I think Angela Feline has an actual personality to her, and because of that specific personality, I could tie her to the plot, specifically Vic Puff. Ned is more malleable, but I tend to use Angela exclusively now, because the reader will probably care more about her and what happens to her by the time this is all over. You would never think the same thing about Ned.

    His character design is awful too. All he essentially comes down to is that he's a wrinkled Zyle. Which probably means it's a good thing I'm using him as little as I am.

    Here's an opinion. Bernadette is actually right that it is weird that Gilda leads their non-lab related missions, even though she's Raggleworth's employee. That is a legitimate grievance right there. This is partly why Gilda rubs Bernadette the wrong way, and I kind of think Bernadette is right about that. It's unusual that Gilda is leader, especially since she's seemed to put herself in charge with no-one but Bernadette objecting. I see where Bernadette's anger comes from there.

    Bernadette doesn't actually chastise Gilda here for calling her "kid" the way she does everyone else. But her acknowledging it in this one scene is the closest she ever gets to doing it in the entire saga.

    The rocks and bottles scene has been in the saga for at least 25 years. It was developed right around the Twin Peaks craze. This version is very unlike the previous version, which while I will decline to describe it here, I will say was completely over-the-top, and making fun of the ridiculousness of the idea. My perspective has changed entirely 25 years later. The scene is MUCH more subdued now (wacky sounds effect notwithstanding). It is a rare specific kind of comedy, in that the characters know they are spoofing something, and spoof it exactly, simply to amuse each other. That's a very unusual type of comedy, to have the character in on the joke of an actual spoof. And if you don't know Twin Peaks, it's not actually funny. But the scene here is structured almost exactly the same way as the original scene, and with similar beats, so it feels much more authentic to Twin Peaks. I think this scene goes on a little too long for a joke, but I think that's probably also true about the Twin Peaks scene itself. It still fascinated me, and still does 25 years later.

    Dr. Raggleworth isn't looking at Crusty when he enters with his warning because as a Human, he cannot understand crab language. It sort of bugs me that I have a character among the main cast who doesn't understand another major character, or can even tell when they are talking. Crusty must make SOME noise, right? So Doc SHOULD at least know that's what he's doing. But I never bring up Doc never understanding Crusty in the story because the story would be clunkier, and I fear that you could pick holes in the logic of it if you pulled threads even a little.

    Also, I'm not going to say Crusty is a fraud, because his non-specific prediction DID turn out correct, and he IS a psychic. But that strikes me as more coincidental than anything. It sounds like the kind of wild correct guess John Edward could manipulate out of one of his audience members. I think Crusty thinks the vision is real and that he's being helpful. But it probably isn't.

    The fact that Meek is immediately hucking rocks at bottles after that warning, shows that he probably treats it with about the level of seriousness it actually deserves.

    I love that Meek is the type of person who unironically still says "You bet your sweet bippy!" Like his "Hard cheese!" exclamation two issues ago, this is probably a big part of the reason Gilda loves him.

    I wanted to make clear that Bernadette DID understand the Twin Peaks reference. And still thinks it's dumb. And it kind of is.

    The "B-B-B-BLOCKED!" thing was not scripted. That and "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" and "PALIN!" shows The Un-Iverse has the best sound effects ever. The sound effects sort of ruin the Twin Peaks related satire a bit, but that's the trade-off for using them. If this was ever animated, we would not be using the sound effects, and it would be a LOT closer to Twin Peaks (although it's still pretty close already).

    I should clarify something about the Debbie Downer Feline AIDS sound effect. That is the Narrator kidding around with the sounds effects. The rock and missed bottle didn't make that noise, partly because it's weird and unrealistic, and partly because AIDS does not exist in The Un-Iverse. That sound effect is for the reader alone.

    I love the sound effects because since I put a level of reality into The Un-Iverse, I cannot make it as bonkers as it was in the earlier versions. But because of The Narrator, that means I sometimes CAN. As long as the characters and the situations reality are not altered because of the goofy jokes, it means I can still make them sometimes. This is another one of those reasons where since The Narrator is translating everything in The Pontue Legacy for the reader, why the characters there make pop culture references.

    I love that Gilda has a pen and notebook handy to write down Meek's note. Gilda is prepared for everything. Including comedy bits.

    I love the idea that enough bottles of beer and hooch seem to be strewn around the lab that Meek has enough to represent each one of Gilda and Meek's enemies. What is wrong with these people?

    I personally think that Gilda handing that stoolie a hundred dollar bill is probably one of the most absolutely infuriating things she ever does in front of Bernadette, but Bernadette is so mad at her and Meek for other reasons, that it blows by her. But it is an unusual level of suck for Gilda. I'm almost glad Meek tricked her into being the one to pay the bribe. Because she kind of sucks for how much it is.

    Bernadette's worry the entire issue is that due to Gilda not caring about being rich, Bernadette and Meek are going to be poor forever. But if Gilda has hundred dollars bills handy just to bribe stoolies, Bernadette is absolutely right to be furious at Gilda for not letting them sell the painting. Sure, money doesn't matter to Gilda. Because she already has it. She doesn't have to worry about it the way Meek and Bernadette used to, and she doesn't really get why they SHOULD have sold the painting and become rich.

    For the record, Gilda is not the only member of the group who doesn't think money is a big deal because they already have it. By process of elimination you may figure out who I mean.

    If Gilda DOES have money (and yes, she DOES have a large trust fund since her parents are wealthy) why was her law firm so run-down and cockroach and rat infested in a bad neighborhood? That is merely because I am a sucky artist. If my art were more detail oriented, perhaps I would be able to put subtler clues that the law firm is failing, besides indoor rat cockfights and candy dishes with roaches in them. As it is, I kind of have to be a little in your face about it, even if it's inconsistent with the idea that Gilda is not actually poor and suffers from cleanliness OCD. But, hey, I got some good visual jokes from it.

    It also suggests that perhaps Gilda should not be giving Julius the crap she did a couple of issues ago for making her previously pay for the plane tickets to Tahila. Dr. Raggleworth may be a cheapskate, but it's not like Gilda can't afford it.

    I got the bribe receipt joke from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But there, it's a quip. Here, it's a thing.

    Truthfully Meek's "Master Plan" to humiliate Bernadette doesn't hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Like Crusty's psychic guess earlier in the issue, Meek's various wild theories being right bordered on the coincidental. His grand scheme to embarrass Bernadette wasn't a Xanatos Gambit. It wasn't even Xanatos Roulette. It was Xanatos 50-Car Pile-Up.

    The Moona Painting empowering spell has a little Jambi the Genie in it.

    Otterman getting a dead chicken sacrifice from a restaurant shows an essential Otterman theme. Even though Otterman is a carnivore, and will even take a Terran life if the situation calls for it, he is humane whenever possible. That's one of the most interesting things about the character to me.

    Ironically, the way restaurants kill chickens is often FAR from humane, but that's another essential Otterman theme: Missing the point of the ethics entirely. Otterman is a good person who often doesn't understand what goodness truly entails. But he WANTS to, by God, and that's what makes his struggles with it so relatable.

    Gilda, Meek, and Bernadette peeking behind the door is awfully cute. They look like Wilson from "Home Improvement".

    "It's Deathtime!" used to be Otterman's catchphrase. Once he became less lethal, it dropped by the wayside. But he still says it occasionally, if not as often as before.

    Ottermammoth's tail is much simpler than it used to be. It used to have spikes on it the way Augatha and the Klawranians' tails do. But I figured since Otterman's legs were already so similar to Augatha's, I should perhaps make the tail as unlike hers as possible, so it's furry instead of scaly.

    Headbutting a villain many times bigger than he is in the breadbasket is Scrooge McDuck's trademark attack move, so that is why it's Bernadette's here. Also big with Bernadette are the leaping kicks, although she doesn't do one this issue.

    Meek talking about James T. Kirk destroying things he doesn't understand is an explicit reference to one of my least favorite Star Trek episodes ever, "Catspaw". In it, Kirk defeats the villain by grabbing her magic-seeming wand and snapping it in half. Everything goes back to normal, and the villain is defeated. And the show treats Kirk as clever for doing so. Even as a kid I thought that was stupid.

    What if the wand had been nuclear powered? Or worse yet, what if everything that had been messed up didn't return to normal after it was destroyed? With the wand broken, the crew would be in their messed up situations forever. If I could see how dumb Kirk was for doing that as a kid, I really do not give the writers credit for not seeing it. TOS Trek gets cut a LOT of slack because it was made in the 1960's. I refuse to give it slack in regards to the plot holes I recognized as plot holes from when I was a kid. It doesn't matter if it was written in an era of simplified television writing. If a kid can poke that hole, the adult who wrote it should have seen it too.

    But if Gilda and Meek oftentimes tries to be the best of Star Trek, I also want to make sure it's sometimes the worst. And it's stupid that Meek does that. But he knows it's stupid, and does it anyways because it's funnier for his bit, which is why he says the line he does. Which is another thing that says Meek's repeated victories in this issue are incidental. Bernadette is right to be as pissed at him throughout the issue as she is.

    One of the biggest curses of The Moona Painting is that when you hold it, you start talking like a villain from a Conan the Barbarian comic.

    In the original iteration of The Un-Iverse, the Moona Painting was never destroyed. Instead Gilda and Meek freed the Moona troll from the painting, and he went to live at the lab the same way Fuzzy and Scuzzy do now. The James T. Kirk line used to be said by Meek about Fuzzy and Scuzzy in a previous adventure, who he destroyed instead. Needless to say, Augatha resurrected them at the end of the issue, but it strikes me as ill-advised to use that particular Kirk parallel to destroy a couple of sentient beings. That is now not only why Meek never destroys Fuzzy and Scuzzy in frustration, but why the Moona Painting is never alive in the first place.

    Plus, Fuzzy and Scuzzy are magic crystals (Gragnite), not glass. They should be harder to destroy than simply smashing them on the floor.

    I love that Gilda asks Meek permission to ask Otterman a question at the end. She does not actually need to do that (Meek never needs permission to do the same thing with Gilda in charge) but I like Gilda doing it because that is her proving to Meek that she is following the rules of his mission entirely to the letter, and that she currently has no real authority. And as badly as I think Gilda is in misreading Meek's ultimate mood and what will cheer him up, I actually think that one piece of her behavior in this issue is really cool.

    I think Otterman saying their leader was smart has GOT to have pissed Bernadette off more than she already was. Because he's an outside observer, and has no reason to try and lie and make Meek feel better. Maybe Meek isn't the total loser Bernadette thinks he is. And Otterman's unasked for outsider opinion is perhaps proof of that.

    The Christian Science Reading Room in The Un-Iverse has a much more diverse type of literature and history book selection available than the one on our Universe. But the modern Christian Science Monitor has become more diverse in what it covers too, so it makes sense that an alternate Universe's Reading Room might have also have a larger selection of different kinds of non-fiction books.

    For a religion with so many strict, immovable rules, it amazes me how liberal the Christian Science Monitor has gotten. I mean, I know what political philosophy actually follows the teachings of Jesus, but the Christian Science Monitor is pretty much the biggest publication to have that same perspective. The Monitor is one of the reasons I regret leaving my faith. If Christianity were ALL that, I'd probably still be one.

    It might seem a little strange that Meek is the type of person to visit the Reading Room every week, since he is usually portrayed as quite secular, especially in comparison to his sister. But the Reading Room is COOL, so I don't blame a guy who doesn't go to Church every week still wanting to visit it. It is super cool.

    Just to clear up any confusion, when Gilda says that the word Whahuma means "Trouble", that is a guess. A correct guess, granted, but Gilda does not actually know what it means, and you should not think that she does. There are very few things in the magical world Gilda is unaware of. The Whahuma Bears and the Whahuma Plain are one of her few genuine blind spots.

    Meek saying Otterman is the only one of their enemies known to empower themselves with magical objects is a plothole. However, it is also a plothole that can reasonably explained away. It is a plothole because in Otterman's previous two appearances, nobody ever learned that Otterman's whip was magical, or that the Otteress called it the source of his power. The reasonable explanation is that the group may have wound up doing some research on Otterman after his first encounter with the Piranha, because the Piranha recognized him, and they wanted to find a connection to him, and Meek learned that tidbit during the research.

    However, THAT idea also has a plothole attached to it, but also one that can be explained away. Because any records of Otterman Gilda found using her old C.I.A. connections would probably not have his origin story in it. Then again, Otterman never lies about his past the way Lance Lockjaw does. Ever. If someone from the government posed as an undercover member of the Agency and asked Otterman's life story, he'd simply give it without a second thought. Otterman is the kind of guy with no effs left to give after the Piranha massacre. Even if he was afraid he'd get locked up for what he did, he'd still tell the truth, because part of him believes he deserves that.

    But wait, that idea has ANOTHER plothole attached to it! If Gilda learned Otterman's backstory, wouldn't she tell the Piranha? So why does the Piranha ask him why he killed his family in their second encounter? That can also be explained! First off, just based on the flashback in The Village, and the way Otterman killed the Piranha's family, he doesn't actually know any more about the situation than the Piranha does, at least what he told him in his first appearance. Even if the Piranha DID get some "clues" from his past due to any files dug up by Gilda on Otterman, they would be the exact same clues Otterman immediately admitted to him when they met. But wait! That answers ONE aspect of the plothole, but it doesn't plug it!

    Again, if the Piranha already knows how and why Otterman killed his family, why did he bother asking him that in "The Village"? Maybe, just MAYBE, the Piranha did that because he wanted to hear him admit it out loud. And you'll notice, the second Otterman did that in the sixth issue, the Piranha instantly starts treating Otterman respectfully. He doesn't instantly forgive him. But perhaps the fact that Otterman did more than he expected upon meeting him again is why the Piranha is fairer to him every other time they meet. And he might not have instantly had that particular perspective unless he already knew the real story before Otterman bravely admitted it to him. And that extends to this issue too. The Piranha is entirely magnanimous to Otterman, despite the fact that he just tried to kill him and his friends. Because he now believes Otterman is better than that.

    Ah! Another plothole! The WAY the Piranha asks Otterman why he killed his family in their second encounter is entirely inconsistent with that of a person who already knows the answer to that question. Answer? Perhaps the Piranha is simply acting clueless to see if Otterman would tell him the entire truth with zero prodding whatsoever. And to Otterman's credit, he does.

    I hope if I ever do a plothole that big again (that you can unwrap that many threads from), that you can at least answer everything reasonably. It doesn't fit ENTIRELY (the Piranha probably shouldn't have left Gilda and Dr. Raggleworth in Tahila if he had that specific information already), but it is also not impossible, so it isn't a retcon either.

    Speaking of plotholes, it was pointed out to me that you can't just sell a lost priceless painting you found. There are rules and insurance policies that prevent you from doing that. What is my response? The Un-Iverse is an entirely different Universe than ours, with entirely different laws. It's about as big of a cop-out as "A wizard did it". But frankly it makes about a thousand times more sense.

    I absolutely adore the fact that Otterman does NOT make excuses for why he tried to kill the group. Technically, while it wasn't mind control, the influence of the Moona painting was warping his thoughts. His behavior was not entirely within his own control. But Otterman doesn't pretend that makes it okay for a second. He stole the Moona painting. Any effects he had from using it came from an unethical decision he consciously made. He was the one who chose to steal the painting in the first place. In The Un-Iverse, people are responsible for their own actions. And nobody believes this more than Otterman. And I love that.

    I'd actually the think the gag of Tommy wondering aloud who made the mess in the back room would be funny if I actually showed the group making more a mess of the back room during the final battle than they did, outside of a single panel. But the battle was kind of besides the point to the issue, and I didn't feel the need to make it any more detailed than it was. But perhaps now when the restaurant owner enters a backroom with so many pots, spilled boxes, and food on the floor, it doesn't actually make too much sense. Hopefully the one panel fixes it. But if the reader missed that panel, or God forbid, MISREAD it due to the crappy artwork, that automatically makes the joke suck.

    Perhaps you think Meek having the group silently leave, and making poor Tommy have to pay for and clean up the mess himself is a dick move. It is. But the truth is that Meek is the kind of person who is all about the dick moves. We have not seen that yet, but it is definitely a facet of his character that will come into play again. If you think that cheap joke is kind of horrible on closer inspection, it is. But that's because Meek is kind of horrible on closer inspection too. We haven't actually seen Meek at his worst yet. But that right there says it's coming.

    For the record, this is another reason Gilda likes and is fascinated by Meek. She can totally relate to dick moves. She has no illusions that Meek is perfect, and loves that he shares one of her biggest faults.
     
    #77 Fone Bone, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  18. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Villains in hooded cloaks used to be a lot more prevalent in the earlier versions of The Un-Iverse, than they are now. And they are STILL pretty prevalent. But I wouldn't feel right not putting Vic in a cloak in this scene as he was in the original story. So instead, I simply gave him a plausible story reason to be wearing it, besides the fact that I didn't want the reader to know who it was till the end of the issue.

    And the excuse I gave for Vic wearing it is fabulous. Vic Freaking Puff should NOT be seen publicly skulking around near a crackhouse. For myriad reasons. But now, I like, GET the cloak.

    I find it very strange that The Un-Iverse is the kind of universe where Otterman feels perfectly comfortable wearing his superhero/villain get-up out in public as he walks home alone at night. This hints to me that Superterrans doing this are not unusual. I usually flinch whenever I see a cop walking down the street. But I also don't panic or think it's weird. And maybe because of the Superhero Registration Act in the 1970's, it isn't.

    I love that Otterman jumps when he first sees Vic in the cloak. I love that because Otterman is literally the most powerful Superterran in the entire saga, and yet, when you come home and turn on the lights, and see a hooded guy on you couch, your first instinct is to jump. I don't care how badass you are, or if the guy under the cloak is secretly a dumpy turd. You're still gonna flip out for the first couple of seconds.

    Otterman is the worst judge of character in the entire story. He's the Antigilda. I actually like the fact that he has a rule that he doesn't talk to guys in hooded cloaks, and then, BAM!, he BREAKS it, like the total chump that he is! If he had stuck to his guns about that sensible rule, perhaps the entire upcoming mess with Vic Puff could have been avoided. Otterman would have certainly avoided being a part of it, that's for sure.

    I love when Vic points out that Otterman owns nothing worth stealing. I don't know if Otterman is actually broke or not. Since at this stage of the game, he's a criminal, I would imagine that he's not. But he LIVES like he's broke anyways, and always is found in Spartan surroundings, whether he's homeless or living in an apartment / hotel. This is partly why is feels the luxuries he gets in the second half of the story feel strange and uncomfortable to him. Part of him will always believe he deserves to live like a bum, and as seen in this scene, he always did, even on the occasions he wasn't.

    Ever notice how sometimes if someone says a theory out-loud, it sounds stupider every time you think closer on it? Perhaps it's normal for Otterman to wonder aloud if Vic is a burglar. He broke into his house after all. But aside from the fact that Otterman has nothing worth stealing, burglars don't usually sit on your couch in the dark, waiting for you to get home. Otterman displays his not insignificant cunning for some of the earlier part of the issue. He's kind of a total dope in the last two pages.

    It again amazes me how expressive my hooded cloaked figures are. Vic's expression as he "decloaks" is fabulous too.

    Vic talking about the Black and White TV and the broken space heater, says that even if he didn't, and was never going to rob Otterman, he still rummaged through his stuff. Which is totally a Vic Puff thing to do. He violates strangers, and loved ones alike, in ways that would never even occur to a normal person to violate them. It's not that he has poor boundaries. It's that he doesn't believes those boundaries actually exist.

    In complete hindsight, I totally wish the Piranha had chosen different words to encourage Otterman at the end. Heck, Otterman probably would have been better off had he not encouraged him at all.

    Meek’s name is first in the title because his and Gilda’s roles are reversed. For this issue, and this issue only, Meek is the leader and Gilda is the sidekick. Even other stories that feature Meek acting competently, like “Who Framed Bernadette Anderson”, never actually changed that dynamic. All of the scenes with Meek being in charge there happened while Gilda was off-screen. This is the only issue is which she takes orders from him (even if we can guess it is a bit ironically).

    Second to last Humans story EVER! And this Humans story sucks less than any previous Humans story! Why?

    How about because I tied some of the mythology to it at the end to make it suck less? I didn't really have another ending either.

    Suffice it to say, this Humans story interests me in a way the other previous stories never did. Which is a very cool and refreshing thing for me.

    And it starts ominously with "Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize." The Narrator doesn't even need to add a joke to that. That is how morbidly ludicrous that real-life situation was. I totally disagree with him that the Humans story is stupider. I hope the Reader gets he just says that because it's his normal shtick, and it's rare when he switches up the opening at all. Because him saying the following story is stupider than that, is me writing a check my ass cannot cash.

    You can see Bing's eyes in the third panel as he's sucking on the booger on his finger. I am totally on-board South Park's treatment of Kenny's face. Just because you don't USUALLY see it, doesn't mean you NEVER can see it. Nanny from Muppet Babies and Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget drove me nuts. What were they hiding the face for? Were the characters actually someone we knew? If not, why hide the face? My frustration over never seeing Nanny or Dr. Claw (and frankly the true form of Stephen King's IT) is pretty much the reason there is no "You never can see this" policy in The Un-Iverse. You can see anything. Whenever I damn well feel like it. And not before.

    I take that back. There IS one thing I never show. I never show phone numbers. I refuse to feed into the 555 cliche. But that's the ONLY thing I'll never show, I swear.

    The Talent Scout's design is truly bizarre, but I like it a lot. With the rosy cheeks and cartoon glasses, the Talent Scout is very cute and appealing. But the dead eyes behind the glasses make him seem creepy and sinister. Both those things totally describe Hollywood as well. I wanted the Humans' enticement into "The Biz" to be nearly Biblical in nature, as the Humans wind up getting more philosophically bizarre as the stories go on, and tied into Twin Peaksish allegory. The Talent Scout might be considered the Snake offering the apple to Eve in another franchise. In this one, it strikes me as Eve offering the Apple to the snake instead.

    Or maybe it's the beginning of "mother!", with Mother destroying Him's ass before he causes her any damage whatsoever. It strikes me that this is the one story of destruction for The Humans in which they actually have the high ground when doing it.

    Originally the talent scout was going to be a bit sadistic, but the story didn't need that so I changed it.

    The Humans are using a red crayon to sign their studio contract. I imagine this is the pen of choice for Professional Wrestlers and reality show stars.

    It amazes me that this is the first time I've brought this up: But Bing and Elvis' character designs totally suck.

    I didn't expect them to always, and assumed they'd look better the more I got used to them, and drew them more. They are a Chris Griffin level of terrible design. Hard to draw, hard to make expressive, and just plain unappealing to look at. The Humans didn't all initially have individual hairstyles when I created them. As a spoof of The Monkees, I just had one with Davy Jones' haricut (who is now Davy), one with Peter Tork's (now Ringo), and one with curly hair like Mickey Dolenz's and one with a wool cap like Mike Nesmith. I switched up the designs, because the story became MUCH less of a strict parody of The Monkees as it went on, and even if it hadn't, it was still veering awfully close to copyright infringement. Speaking of which...

    Fun Fact: The Humans were created before The Brothers Grunt, which seems to have an identical premise, (idiotic musicians searching for a lost sibling / band member.) For the Brothers Grunt, Perry didn't WANT to be found, whereas the 5th Human doesn't actually exist. But since The Brothers Grunt was considered a massive failure by MTV, that meant I sort of felt the need to play up some of those parallels. The Brother's Grunt is one of MTV's biggest cartoon bombs, and the first animated show they made that was unsuccessful. If The Humans are designed to be the worst story in The Un-Iverse, and one with a coincidental premise? Of COURSE I'm going to play up those parallels. I'd be crazy not to.

    Speaking of designs, I like the producer's design a lot. He looks half Human / Half Dog, and as if his parents skipped Muppet Rules to breeding entirely. That's not it. It's more that Cats and ESPECIALLY Dogs have many different subspecies under their umbrella than just Meek and Bernadette's Beagle design. Betty Sinclair in the Unkie Matty story seems to be a poodle, and the producer here is channeling the characters of Carl Barks, who always looked half Human / half Dog. But he IS a full-on Dog.

    The fact that he's smiling sweetly at The Humans cutely walking out of the room with director Les Gleeson amuses me. Because the drawing is cute. While the subtext on my end was the Humans were laying hands on their new ritual sacrifice, it's a cute picture, and the producer only sees the cuteness. But that's not how this works. At all. The Leland Palmer and Woodsman quotes are MUCH more appropriate.

    The Woodsman quotes are another essential mythology piece. Suffice it to say, it was a VERY late addition, but it is entirely appropriate.

    You may wonder why the Narrator doesn't chastise them for making a Twin Peaks quote when they drew his ire for referencing Game of Thrones earlier. Spoiler alert: That's because the Humans aren't actually referencing something from TV with that quote. Keep in mind this story is set in 2016, while the Twin Peaks relaunch started in 2017. They are saying that line for an entirely different reason.

    Do you know what the Humans are doing while posing with their arms outstretched in the motion capture suits, with their faces puckered for the camera? Vamping. Crap like that is why I have never COMPLETELY hated The Humans, and never will.

    They are unlike every real-world musician who ever existed, and are total cartoons. But the fact that they do that gives a certain reality to their behavior that I kind of love, and wish I had shown more of.

    The fact that The Humans wind up getting so heavily tied into allegory and philosophy by the end of The UnComix saga, through both their sheer destructiveness and cluelessness, strikes me as their one redeeming virtue. And this story excites me because it's the first time it comes up. We won't be seeing The Humans for a LOOOONG time after this, but that ending should hint how bad things are going to get. I don't actually like this story. But I like the next (which is the last) Humans story, and this one sets it up perfectly.

    Fun Fact: Los Angeles, along with Appleton, and Las Vegas, are pretty much the most important Earth cities in the saga that we actually name. We don't know what city or country Mount Crushmore is in, or the actual location of The Second Lab, but Los Angeles, Appleton, and Vegas are the three big known central locations for our heroes and villains. Like Vegas, L.A. is also a city that exists on our Earth, while Appleton is fictional from our perspective, (even though it exists in New York State in The Un-Iverse). It's interesting to get our first early glimpse of L.A., ten years before Bernadette and Otterman form the superhero team The Lace Doilies. We have some early appearances for Las Vegas too (in the Stella Stickyfingers One-Shots story "Spike Cheats at Kitten Poker"), and I love giving a brief look at an upcoming central location through the eyes of someone who will never see it again ten years later. I love doing that. Love it.

    Mugsy and Hendricks' expressions came out even more sinister than I planned. A couple of genuine sociopaths there.

    I love that Artemis Studios has an Animaniacs water tower.

    I think I did a great job with Bob and Charlie's silhouettes. You can tell who they are retroactively, but you might not guess it before the reveal.

    The last panel was a little tough because I had to keep track of the idea that even though Bob and Charlie are both Human, they have different numbers of fingers and toes. Charlie has ten fingers and ten toes, while Bob has eight of each. I like that the The Un-Iverse doesn't actually have a consistent "House style", but it makes it a little harder when trying to keep minutia like that straight.

    You'll probably have forgotten this, but the Mummy Hubbahotep also referred to The Humans as "Dark Bringers Of Chaos" in the One-Shots story "Untitled Mummy Project". So even if this is the first story to tie the Human explicitly to allegory, it's also always been in the background for them.

    The Dark Bringers Of Chaos thing will be a bit more detailed in the Second Sequel, which is still ten years away. But I definitely have ideas about that.

    Funnily enough, Derek the Warlock's name was never uttered in the Otterman story. But the guy who died at the beginning of the story is who Bob and Charlie are talking about in the last scene.

    Initially it was going to be Bob who suggested to Charlie that something needed to be done about the Humans, and Charlie who declared their fates were too important to tempt, but I switched their lines because I kind of like the idea of Charlie being hard-nosed and unforgiving about this, and Bob seeming reasonable. Because in reality, Bob is the unforgiving one, and Charlie is the reasonable one. But I like the scene because I entirely reversed their dynamics for it.

    Didn't Charlie die in the year 1970 in the Gilda and Meek story "Skeletons"? Yes, but the Warlocks Council exists out of time, and the Warlocks go back and forth from the past to the future with no problems. We never actually tell their story in linear order. Here's a tantalizing hint: Charlie died less than six months after Derek, so perhaps Charlie is so anxious to see the Humans problem dealt with precisely because he knows his time is almost up.

    Technically speaking, there is a huge continuity glitch in the story. The Humans are wearing the motion capture suits when they are thrown into th block of ice, and are instantly back in their jumpsuits when it is unfrozen. I might have been inclined to figure out a different way to put the Humans in the ice (possibly without motion capture suits present at all) but I realized that them wearing wool caps and smoking cigarettes with ashen faces for one panel already broke the continuity and the reality of the situation. So it seemed like more effort than it was worth.

    Here is something interesting about both The Humans and Unkie Matty stories: the Terran Human Artisan Snub present for most of the rest of the franchise is absent from The Humans Biopic and Auntie Matilda's Serious Lawyer Drama. We've hinted before that it was majorly unusual for Unkie Matty to have non-Humans on his show, especially Mutated Animals, and both Auntie Matilda and the biopic have similar casts. I can't really explain it it except to say that since Auntie Matilda is probably a locally produced show in Appleton, it probably doesn't have the pressures that Hollywood TV shows do to conform to Human prejudices. As for The Humans biopic, that is less easy to narratively justify, but perhaps musical biopics and concerts aren't effected by the artisan snub. But there isn't really a good explanation as to why both Auntie Matilda and the biopic cast Mutated Animals.

    However, the Unkie Matty story is one of the single biggest accomplishments in Un-Iverse history. I will be talking an inordinate amount of time about it now. So much so, you may think this issue was actually about it.

    I came up with the idea when I was 8, and could NEVER figure out how to make it work. This is literally the oldest story in the entire Un-Iverse. It used to be a Love and Meek story. And it's the ONLY story in The Un-Iverse that used to be a Love and Meek story. The earliest other story was Bill the Blue in "Gravity", and I was 12 when I came up with that. This is the earliest story I have ever written that made it to the final draft. It is a piece of UnComix history. It took me 32 years to figure out how to make it work. The story is literally over 30 years old.

    It ain't great, is it? And yet I am completely happy with it. Because as unfunny and quirky as it is, it still kind of works, and makes sense within the framework of The Un-Iverse. And I could NEVER do it before. It refused to work at all.

    The idea for the story was me seeing a ton of those lame 80's cartoons where the girls team up against the boys in baseball, the boys get all cocky, and the girls wipe the floor with them. And I didn't just see that once. That was every cartoon with kid characters. It's the Tortoise and the Hare of Little League. Except the Tortoise and the Hare makes sense. There are legit reasons why the Tortoise wins. Basically what all of those 80's cartoon were saying is that assholes never win. And even at that age, I knew that couldn't possibly be true.

    Part of it was my 8-year-old Boyz Rule and Girlz Drool sexism. I'll cop to that. But over the years as I kept going back to the story, I knew I REALLY needed to do something with it, because the point still stands. Being a nice person does not help you win ballgames. Ever hear about the private lives of athletes? They seem to be, without exception, major league assholes. And being kind and believing in yourself will not make you good at sports. As someone who was ALWAYS picked last for teams in gym class, I know this lesson better than most. But the story still refused to work.

    The story started off as Love and Meek having a baseball game between the girl characters and the boy characters. And Meek would loudly and emphatically declare to his male teammates that they could NOT take this game for granted, he's seen every cliched cartoon ever, and KNOWS that only nice people win, and he convinces the boys' team to be complete gentlemen, and they actually win. But everybody is mad at Meek for making things so predictable and boring. The irony is that by Meek refusing to feed into a cliched trope, he accidentally made the story and outcome worse. That was the original story. It did not work for multiple reasons.

    First off, Meek is a total ******* for manipulating the outcome of the game by getting people to act out of character. I'm not gonna say I was never manipulative as a kid, and that as my surrogate, Meek doing that was a no-no. But I'm just gonna straight up say I was NEVER that successful at it. Nobody would be. It's not believable. It's the universe following Meek's rules simply because he wants it to. And that is not how life works.

    Secondly, even if I punish Meek at the end by saying he ruined the story, and everybody is even more unhappy with him than they'd be if they'd actually lost the game, I'm basically undercutting the entire moral of Meek trying to have things turn out properly. Because if Meek actually IS successful, (which is what the story is about) he wouldn't be punished for it. And if he IS punished for it, the entire story means nothing.

    Even worse was the fact that somewhere along the way I created the Narrator, and refused to break the fourth wall with my characters ever again. This story cannot possibly work if the characters aren't aware they are fictional. There is nothing I could do to salvage this idea, and as it was one of my first story ideas EVER, I really wished I could.

    And then Unkie Matty came along. Since he IS a TV show "character" who is aware he is a TV show character, and that everything is fake, he can totally be Meek in this moment. But the best part is that I figured out a way to make the story work without punishing Unkie Matty for manipulating everybody into being good sports. We learn there is actually nothing wrong or subversive about him doing that. Everybody had a great time at the game and even if the boys won, it was only by two runs, and everybody congratulated each other afterwards. It is literally the only happy ending ever in an Unkie Matty story, and the best part is the only person sickened with the proceedings is the Narrator. We learn that nobody busts that particular trope without any punishment because it automatically makes the story boring and suck. And by God, the Narrator is allowed to think that! And having the Narrator be the only one in the story who is disappointed means that I can still do the subversive ending of Meek ruining everything but figuring out a way he wasn't actually punished. The characters are not aware of how much Unkie Matty sucks. That opinion is the Narrator's alone. And because I could have somebody be disgusted with Unkie Matty with nobody else aware of that fact means I could do the subversive moral AND say that Matty ruined the story. I couldn't figured out how to do that before. I was unable to walk that line. The Narrator actually helped there. When I created the Narrator, I assumed he meant that I'd never be able to tell this story. But ironically, it is because of him that I finally could. He is the sole reason I could make it work.

    The gender bending opposite ideas for Auntie Matilda's Serious Lawyer Drama were a lot of fun to come up with. Also surprisingly easy. You be amazed how easy it is to take stereotypical joke characters and reverse their genders and gimmicks. It is the only legitimately funny thing in the story.

    The Chick With The Mouthful Of Golf Balls having Dr. Jacoby 3-D glasses is one of the better Twin Peaks references in the saga. Simply because, you'd have to be a MAJOR league Peaks Freak to get it. Novices or casual viewers need not apply.

    Betty Sinclair is loosely based upon Betty from Mulholland Drive, but she's a sunny, fresh faced producer rather than a sunny, fresh-faced actress.

    I love Betty Sinclair's design. The poof balls on her poodle ears look like a reasonable facsimile to my female curly hair designs, so she fits into my art style better than the average female Dog not done with Meek or Bernadette's facial structure.

    Bloody Rectal Surgery Stitches Jam might not actually exist in The Un-Iverse. Phil the Gregarious Goldfish might simply be trying to annoy Phyllis the Suicidal Guppy in that moment. It's works, so I won't argue with his results.

    Serious Lawyer Drama is so provocative because you aren't exactly sure HOW it breaks the fourth wall. Everything that happens in it is obviously scripted and fictional. Yet, the characters seem to know they're fictional. Is this only an Unkie Matty construct, i.e. a fictional parody? Then why is it hinted that the cast of Unkie Matty are all their personas from that show in their private lives? Is Unkie Matty actually a kids show? Or a misclassified reality show? And does Serious Lawyer Drama actually exist on the network that Unkie Matty does, or is that all just jive? I never break the Fourth Wall in The Un-Iverse. But Auntie Matilda is the only thing in the franchise that raises the question about how thick those walls actually are.

    The byline being "Figured Out By Matt Zimmer" is basically me taking a victory lap. Don't hate me for it. The story's title is meta too.

    I am a little bit ashamed that I made my namesake a sex offender (see the "he tried to put his hand up her skirt" line) but I needed to show that Auntie Matilda realized Matty was behaving out of character and that one sentence was the quickest way to do it. Besides, Donald Trump has proved that it's TOTALLY okay to jam your hand down a stranger's skirt. Society is now cool with that. If it's good enough for God fearing family values voters in swing states, it's good enough for me.

    That last paragraph was me abusing sarcasm.

    The skull on Wacky Quacky's jacket used to be a duck skull, but I realized that was a little too Wade from U.S. Acres, so I changed it.

    The fact that Phyllis bursts into tears because she didn't make the softball team makes me think her entire shtick is an act. She seriously didn't see that coming? I think on some level she is putting us all on.

    I like the "Before my time", "After my time" thing with Willis, Wacky Quacky, and Hippie Joe. They are sort of giving us a rough idea of their ages during that single panel. Willis is Generation Jones, Wacky Quacky is a Millennial, and while Hippie Joe is technically a Generation X-er, he's been a pothead since the age of ten, so he memory retention thingie no goodie.

    Can I just point out what a coward and loser Unkie Matty is (and Meek was?). He doesn't want to play the game because he thinks they'll lose? What kind of jive is that? Unkie Matty hates kittens and America.

    I love that Sell-Out Josephine has a short and severe haircut. Sell-out or no, like Otterman, Josephine strikes me as a person with no effs left to give.

    I gave Wacky Quacky the same ballcap Huey, Dewey, and Louie wear in the Disney cartoons. Can I just say how much I love those ballcaps? They were always weirdly shaped like a duck's bill, and mirrored their faces perfectly. I don't know if that was a deliberate art choice or not, but it makes the nephews look fabulous.

    I made sure The Chick With The Mouthful Of Golfballs is wearing a Hawaiian shirt. That was important to me.

    If I have one regret about the story, it's that Hippie Joe takes part in the manipulation. I care about Hippie Joe more than the rest of the Funhouse Cast, because Hippie Joe used to be a legit cast member in Gilda and Meek, and going along with Matty's dick plan is completely out of character for how nice and chill he used to be. You'll notice he is the only one to challenge the logic of the "plan", as it were, but I think a lot less of him for participating in it anyways.

    The ending may not seem like much, but the "Lemonade?" / "Please," thing basically distilled the entire story and the entire purpose of the story, down to two words. It is an underwhelming ending, to a purposefully underwhelming story. But by, God, it's the RIGHT ending.

    The fact that I was able to finish this story at all is a major artistic accomplishment for me. I understand that my grade school stories were not good enough to "graduate" to this level of the canon, but I am VERY grateful I at least managed to include ONE Love and Meek story, even if I didn't use Gilda and Meek to tell it. The entire story is somewhat unfunny and pedestrian. But just the fact that it works at all is one of my greatest achievements ever. I am very proud of this.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    In The Supplements, Charlie and The Un-Iverse's God strike up a friendship and buddy cop dynamic when Charlie is hired as God's bodyguard. God is Riggs and Charlie is Murtaugh. And yes, the story is just as ridiculous as those previous two sentences indicated.
     
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  19. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    UNCOMIX SKETCHES: BATCH ONE

    UnComix Sketches Batch 1 Linear Notes

    The next issue of Gilda and Meek ("The Code") is going to be quite daunting. Extremely long, with a bunch of new characters to design. In the meantime, I thought I'd show off some of my color sketches for my eight main characters.

    [​IMG]

    GILDA:

    Gilda's color design is a disaster. Gilda has a really interesting head shape in that, like The Simpsons, you can easily tell who the character is just by the silhouette. I honestly wish the same were true of Meek. But Gilda's red color is problematic at best, to say the least. It is too strong, and makes the expressions on her face incredibly tough to read. Blood doesn't register well either. All that being said, I wouldn't change the color for the world. It's what I colored Love (as Gilda used to be known back when my seven-year-old self created her) and like the head shape, it is majorly distinctive. There is no other cartoon character out there that looks anything like Gilda, because of that color and head shape. Which is good.

    [​IMG]

    MEEK:

    Also a character created when I was seven, Meek was the second original character I ever created. Unlike Gilda, his name never changed. I hint later on in the saga that Meek was so named because he was a quiet baby, but meekness was not on my mind when I named him as a seven-year-old. Why would it be? I had no idea what that word meant. Meek just sounded like a really cool, strong sounding, cartoon name to me. The more and more I draw Meek, the better and better his design looks, which hasn't changed much since I revamped the character at age 14. Meek's last name has constantly changed before I settled on Anderson. In the last take, he was Meek Reed, which is now his mother's maiden name, and Bill the Blue's last name. Meek wore bow-ties long before the Eleventh Doctor made wearing bow-ties cool. Meek's design is probably the most revamped redesign I ever did of a main character. You would not be able to recognize the initial beady-eyed design, the way you'd see familiarity in my first drawings of Gilda and the Piranha. He was always yellow though, and unlike Gilda and Bernadette, it doesn't obstruct his facial expressions at all. I love Meek's hairstyle, and thinking back on it, I probably got the curly lips from Grimmy from Mother Goose And Grimm.

    [​IMG]

    THE PIRANHA:

    The Piranha used to be named Fishface, had a MUCH blockier design, was cross-eyed, and had spots / holes all over his body, and not just his stomach. A mechanical gloved hand used to come out of the hole in his stomach. Generally speaking, the Piranha is probably the worst design of the main characters. It actually looks great if you ask me. But it's one of those designs that you have to draw 100% perfectly every single time in order for it to work. Gilda's design is similarly hard to get right, but the Piranha is about ten times that. This might surprise people who see the design as simple. But it's its simplicity which is the hard thing to get right. Try drawing it yourself. You'll wind up having multiple erasure lines (as this particular drawing does). The Piranha was initially a barracuda.

    [​IMG]

    DR. RAGGLEWORTH

    Ironically, Dr. Raggleworth's design is the least visually interesting of the main eight characters. His hair, skin, and lab coat are all quite drab, and the most colorful part of his body are his boring brown slacks and shoes. He doesn't actually LOOK like my best design. But hs IS. Simply because I can do facial expressions on Dr. Raggleworth that I cannot do on any other original character. You can get entirely what the character is thinking just by slightly lowering or raising an eyebrow, eyelid, or lip. I have recently designed characters more expressive than Dr. Raggleworth. But Dr. Raggleworth is easily the "Classic" character whose expressions give me so much to work with.

    [​IMG]

    BERNADETTE

    Like Gilda, Bernadette's blue color scheme makes her facial expressions tough to read, because it is so vivid and dark, and blends in with the black mouth. But I actually like the black and white design even more than Meek's. Interesting note: Most of the major Dogs in The Un-Iverse, or at least those created when I was a kid (Meek, Bernadette, Krac, Bill The Blue, Stella Stickyfingers, Winnifred) have an identical facial structure to Meek and Bernadette. This is something that is common for a kid to do when designing characters, but it's a no-no for an adult professional artist. What is my workaround or explanation (besides the fact that I'm a terrible artist)? It turns out that all of those characters are at least distantly related. Bernadette's simple jeans and white T-shirt amuse me. It is SUCH a huge middle finger to the reader, since I always say that Bernadette is image obsessed and cool. You'd think she'd have a trendier fashion sense. Ironically, Bernadette' simple fashion choices will be explained (or at least rationalized) in the very next issue ("The Code"). One of the things to remember about Bernadette's coolness obsession is that it has an incredibly narcissistic streak to it. If Bernadette believes she's cool, that's enough, and I don't need to design a more elaborate wardrobe for her. It also means I never have to follow trends or fads closely at all. I can be as big of a dork as I like, and as long as Bernadette still believes she's cool, that's enough for her.

    [​IMG]

    OTTERMAN

    Otterman is another one of those characters with a dark color scheme on his mouth, which could potentially make his expression tough to read. I see a lot of Bill The Cat in his face, and like Meek and Bernadette, he has Grimmy lips. Otterman's neck used to be much skinnier than it is now. I really like the red and green color scheme on his costume. He wears a red beanie on the top of his head (and always has) and the curled yellow thing with purple on the inside is his visor, which he can flip down to see in the dark. I haven't shown his visor look yet in the three issues he's appeared in so far, but it looks great. Think Mutant Leader from The Dark Knight Returns. Otterman's visor look is the original design of the character, and the bug eyes came much later, when I needed to make him expressive. I like both looks equally, but the current look is much better for what I need to do with the character now.

    [​IMG]

    LANCE LOCKJAW

    Lance Lockjaw is one of the main eight characters of The Un-Iverse. He is also the only one of the major eight characters who has yet to appear in an issue I've drawn. I'll save going over the character's history for now, but the only thing we've seen of him so far is a brief color drawing of him on the first page of the first issue. Here is a better look at this mystery character.

    [​IMG]

    GABRIELLE

    I said Meek's character revamp was extreme, but so was Gabrielle's. And I used to draw her differently all the way back into my 20's. This is the first iteration of The Un-Iverse with the new design. I hesitate to call it a more extreme character revamp than Meek, solely because old Gabrielle still had the same hairstyle and outfit. But the face completely changed. Gabrielle used to be cartoony instead of comic book realistic, and had cartoon glasses and an overbite. She was adorkable, and was channeling Velma on Scooby Doo. Why did I change it to a beautiful, (but bland-looking) woman in sunglasses? Because you'd never believe for one second that cute geek I drew could ever be harboring a dark or dangerous secret. But this Gabrielle? You hardly ever see her eyes! Oooh! Spooky! Suffice it to say, the old design was MUCH easier to draw. That's probably the reason it looks so much better than it does now. Gabrielle is a very colorful character, even if her colors seem muted for a tropical island like Tahila. But there is not a single speck of white on the character design. It is ALL color, which is sort of Gabrielle's personality too. Gabrielle's fashion choices are inspired by Klawranian fashion, to show how much she loves and accepts Redmond. We will see Klawranians later in the saga like Stark and Felisino, who have very similar wardrobe designs. Gabrielle has eight fingers and toes, which is unlike her sister Sarah, who had ten. It must be the Gragnock blood.
     
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  20. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    UNCOMIX SKETCHES (BATCH 2)

    [​IMG]

    MISTRESS AUGATHA:

    Augatha's newish design was not present in the last iteration of The Un-Iverse. She used to look kind of cute, and like a cartoon cloud. The closest I got to showing that design is Augatha in The Pontue Legacy. But once I came up with the whole "Evil sucks and is completely lame and boring" thing, I ugged up Augatha. Her being visually appealing when she represented evil, meant she did not represent evil well enough
    for what this franchise was trying to do. As you can tell from Augatha's Pontue Legacy design, the new things are the gladiator outfit, the lizard like facial features, the hair, the dragonish legs and tail, and the Firecape. Augatha used to be dressed in the kind of royal purple robes you'd see on King Friday from Mister Rogers. This is fine for The Pontue Legacy, because that is an era in time where Augatha is much more obsessed with royalty and bloodlines than she currently is. I also like the visual change 800 years later because it shows that Augatha built herself up into a hellish she-beast all on her own, with her own talent and hard work. Her blood and legacy had nothing to do with why she is as badass as she is. Gilda And Meek Augatha is a thousand times scarier than Pontue Legacy Augatha. At one point Gilda will point this out to Meek, and tell him that the reason she thinks so little of Augatha is because Augatha's obsession with entitlements and royalty means she is underselling herself. All Gilda is doing is agreeing with her. Truly evil, scary people don't threaten the wrath of their mommies and daddies to their enemies. There is a reason a suck-up Daddy's boy like Draco Malfoy is not actually a legit threat to Harry Potter ever. Augatha did not always used to be the Big Bad of the franchise. That role belong to the character now known as Redmond The Dark Child (who used to be known as The Klaw Kat). Once I decided to change Redmond's role and make him ultimately benign, his second in command from my grade school stories was promoted to the Big Bad position: Mistress Augatha. What is amazing about that to me is that I somehow managed to make all four of the most powerful people in the entire saga (Gilda, Bernadette, Gabrielle, Augatha) women. I swear to God, I'm not trying to get laid. Just the fact that Augatha has the specific role that she does borders on coincidental.
    [​IMG]
    FUZZY AND SCUZZY:

    The motifs are different for each character. Fuzzy has crosses for reflections all over the body, while Scuzzy has lightning bolts. The designs are not great (especially not Fuzzy's) but they are cute, which totally works for what I'm trying to do. I kind of screwed up the characters in this latest iteration. I regret it, but The Un-Iverse is better for it, even if the characters themselves are worse. The deal behind Fuzzy and Scuzzy is that they are "Good And Evil Crystal Bunny Slippers With British Accents". That's the entire joke. The ridiculousness of what they are was originally their entire gimmick. Then I did something very foolish. I tied them heavily to the mythology and started giving them actual pathos. Which is the worst thing ever for the joke, which is now not only no longer funny, but now maybe it never was. I regret that, but the mythology of The Un-Iverse is stronger for Fuzzy and Scuzzy's roles being more crucial than that of Augatha's sidekicks.
    [​IMG]
    VIC PUFF:

    This is Vic Puff's earliest design. The early design hasn't changed much from when I was a kid (the visor glasses look straight out of the 1980's, to be honest), although the suit has gotten a little more complex as I become a slightly better and more detailed artist. The cigar is unchanged as are the beady eyes. Vic Puff is a rare character like Mitch the CIA spook, whose design will actually evolve and change as the saga goes on, to sort of hint at the mindframe of the character. The first design is simply when Vic is nothing but a blubbery hump. It doesn't need to be more than that. But the simpleness, and near-cuteness of the design automatically gives the reader a giant mislead about the character. Vic Puff will turn out to be the most psychopathically, irredeemably evil character in the entire saga. And you don't suspect that with the first design. It's only as the design keeps getting less round, and more jagged, that you start to visually understand Vic's psychopathy. But he's not just a joke about value voters politicians who snort coke and are blown by hookers on the downlow. He's MUCH worse than that, although as of yet, he's only done about a tenth of the horrible stuff he will wind up doing. I probably dislike Vic more than any other character. Do not let it be lost on you that in a saga where the moral is "Evil is mundane" I hate the evil characters more than anyone else. I hate him and Donna Demented ABOUT equally. That being said, I think Vic contains a HUGE virtue that Donna does not. Donna just makes the saga worse for being in it. Vic actually makes the saga better, especially because as the story starts, perhaps the reader isn't quite sure what to make of him. Vic's role is "the wild card". The random, unpredictable, unknown variable, that can cause things to come crashing down at any moment if things go as badly as they possibly could go (and they do). He is a necessary character in the way Donna Demented is not.
    [​IMG]
    DONNA DEMENTED:

    Donna Demented is easily the worst character I have ever created. I am deeply ashamed of her, and thinks she nearly wrecks the entire story. If I had a time machine and could go back in time 20 years and structure the canon entirely differently so I wouldn't have to use her, I would. Unfortunately, the character as she is, who seems to be designed solely to make feminists the butt of some sick joke, is needed the way she is. I could probably do away with more of the jokes, but believe it or not, this version of the character is far more serious and less jokey than the earlier ones. But the reason I cannot get rid of Donna is beyond messed up. She's perfect for Vic Puff. And he IS a character who is needed, and whose arc I've thought a great deal about. And I think that perhaps the only reason somebody would wind up doing the horrible things that Vic does in the second half of the saga, is if they were married to serial killer themselves. And that bums me out. To be very clear, Donna does not turn Vic evil. She gets him to embrace the evil that has always been inside him. All things considered, by the end of the saga, Donna is a little bit afraid of Vic because she believes she may have created a bigger monster than herself, which would concern anyone. She is needed for Vic's arc to tempt him to the Darkside where he belongs. But because the character is a slobbering Donna Reed-looking serial killer, it sounds like I'm taking a shot at feminists. Donna was initially created to do one of those stories where a clearly disturbed individual, who is clearly a psychopathic serial killer, raises no red flags for anyone, which seems to be how serial killers work in real-life. This is that idea taken to the extreme. Donna's entire reason for being is for Meek to say at some point "There were absolutely no outward signs." Once he's said that, the character has pretty much served her initial purpose. THAT is the actual joke, but damn, it is still way too antifeminist if you ask me. I suppose I could make Donna a more subtle type of manipulator. Eliminate her apron and cookie gimmick, and make her machinations much more understated and sneaky. The problem there is that you'd wind up feeling bad for Vic, and think he is being tricked into his actions. He's not. Donna is getting him to embrace his evil. He is actually more evil and crazy than she is. And I don't think I could quite get Vic to embrace his evil in the way he did unless the serial killer he married pretended to be a conservative publicly. The slobbering and walled-eyes all make it clear that Vic is an idiot for not immediately realizing what is going on, but the truth is that complaint can be (and should be) leveled at Meek as well. You will feel less bad for Vic if he's too stupid to see the obvious, instead of Donna sneakily tricking him into letting his inner freak out. One of the only interesting things about Donna to me is that she is the most id-based character in the entire saga. She can want to kiss you or kill you, and she isn't sure which one until she's actually done it. This is both a strength and weakness. It's a weakness in that Donna's impulsiveness is often destructive to her ultimate goals. And she does have very real, purposeful goals, that she often bungles because she cannot resist killing the person she is alone with. But it's also a strength because it is almost certainly why she has been getting away with this for as long as she has. As of yet, no-one has survived an unfriendly encounter with her due to her impulsive need to kill a perceived threat immediately to simplify the situation. Donna is the worst character in the saga. But her id-based personality is the one legitimately interesting thing about her. Spoiler alert: Donna Demented is more than a little bit afraid of Bernadette Anderson. The threat of Gilda does not ever seem to concern Donna (even though she and Gilda never seem to meet) but Bernadette scares Donna because she believes she might be crazier than she is. She isn't, but I WILL say that Donna has legit reasons for fearing that. I actually like the colors in Donna's design, but that's probably the only thing I like about it. I wish I never created her. The thing I hate most about her, the thing that keeps me up at night, is the fact that if Gilda And Meek happens, Donna could wind up a VERY popular character in spite of everything. She is dumb, sexually gross, perverted, obvious, and unfunny, and precisely the kind of character comic book fandom, which often traffics in misogyny and depravity could really get behind. Lobo, Rorshache, even Bill the Cat, each became break-out characters, despite thei creators doing everything in their power to tell the reader how much they actually sucked. Donna is the type of character who could wind up an a bootleg T-shirt. And all of the messages about badass women not about the ship I have been doing with Gilda and Bernadette, will be completely overlooked for something I initially thought of as a cheap joke 25 years ago. It frightens me more than any other aspect of this franchise. One of my best online friends tried to console me about what a disaster the character is, by reminding me that I created her 25 years ago when I was a teenager, and it is hard for a creator to kill their babies. But Donna is not my baby. Donna is my turd.
    [​IMG]
    EDDIE CAT:

    Eddie Cat is easily my simplest design, which is sort of perfect for what I wound up doing with him. I never planned for him to be an Ultimate Evil when I created him (he was a good guy in grade school) but now the bland design makes the character a thousand times better. He's a a boring, white cat in a business suit. You would look twice at this guy, which is exactly why he has as many fingers in as many pots as he does. The blue suit and red tie are designed to make him pop a little (just a little). To make him more visually interesting as a kid, his fur outline used to be highlighted with pinks and light blues. He is one of my easiest characters to draw, and totally yawn-inducing. You'd never expect this milquetoast deputy-mayor is The Un-Iverse's version of David Xanatos. Which might be why he winds up doing the amount of damage he does.
    [​IMG]
    HANK:

    Hank is one of my oldest supporting characters. I didn't create him in grade school, but I DID create him when I was 12. The mullet says he is definitely a product of the 1980's, and the turtleneck is outright hideous. Hank is dumb and dresses like a poor person. He is proof positive that not all gay men have fashion sense. Hank is a very unusual gay character in that his gayness is responsible for zero percent of his jokes. There are no over-the-top fabulous moments to be had for Hank. The entire humor of the character comes from his malicious back-and-forths with Bernadette. Bernadette never utters a gay slur against him, which is another reason he is unlike most gay characters. Why does Bernadette pick on him so much? Hank is one of the most decent, good-hearted people in the saga, and we'll later reveal he's one of the people along with Meek and a couple others who passed Gilda's b.s. detector the fastest. That's why. Bernadette know how virtuous he is and that cannot stand. As a kid, one of my counselors at my school had a joke crush on Hank (who she repeatedly called hot) so I wound up drawing him in several salacious pictures for her, which she found quite amusing. Hank used to be the UnComix version of beefcake.
    [​IMG]
    CRUSTY THE CRAB:

    I am not too fond of Crusty the Crab's design. He looks like several other cartoon crabs I've seen, and is nothing special. I probably would have worked harder on his design if I had known how crucial his role in The Un-Iverse would wind up being. Back as a teenager, he was the Piranha's sidekick for an issue, and now he winds up one of the main cast members on the upcoming series F.I.S.H.. Despite having no mouth, Crusty is not expressionless. When he is happy, his shell seems to curve up in a smile, and his shell curves downward whenever he should be frowning.
    [​IMG]
    BLIP:

    Have you seen this being? There is a Blip hidden in every single issue of The Un-Iverse. Some are less hidden than others, and the Blip is given a similar observational role as Narf-Narf and Chirp. But every issue contains one hidden Blip per issue. There is actually a Narrative reason I have put the Easter Eggs in every issue, but I will not tell you what is it now (you'll have to wait for the sequel for that). Here is a hint: Be less concerned where the Blip placements are, than where they AREN'T.
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    MITCH:

    One of my oldest characters, CIA Spook Mitch did not used to be a CIA spook. As he is a "mystery character" now, I will decline to tell you what his role used to be, but Mitch has always been in the saga, even though he used to have a different name (and no, I won't tell you what that is either.) Mitch is one of the simplest designs I have ever done, which is very interesting to me, because he is also my second most expressive grade school character after Dr. Raggleworth. The eyebrows and beady Charlie Brown eyes always give me far more expressions to work with than most of the "Classic" characters. Unlike many male Cats, Mitch is not actually bald, and shears his head sometimes. It is for this reason Mitch is very like Vic Puff in having a lot of different designs going forward, based upon what the story and his personality and role in the story dictates. Sometimes he has the pencil mustache, sometimes a full mustache, and sometime no mustache at all. Sometimes he's bald and sometimes he has brown hair. It all depends on what the story calls for. It may not sound like those particular design differences should actually be related to the story and Mitch's role and personality, but they are. And big time. And that's all I'll say about that.
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    REDMOND THE DARK CHILD:

    Forget the fact that Redmond has one of the most complicated backstories in The Un-Iverse. He has one of the most complicated HISTORIES of any Un-Iverse character too. Redmond used to be a villain. Not just any villain. The main Big Bad, and the first original villain I ever created. Once I changed his role in later iterations of The Un-Iverse, the Big Bad role was shifted to Augatha, and has pretty much stuck since then. What is interesting about the old version of Redmond (who used to be known as the Klaw Kat, despite having no claws) is that he was Love's (Gilda's) personal nemesis. With the Klaw Kat gone, Gilda doesn't seem to really have one of those anymore, and seems much more detached to Augatha and Vic Puff's actions than most heroes would be. Gilda doesn't overthink things like that in this version of The Un-Iverse, partly because she herself used to take part in evil when she was younger, and partly because she simply doesn't care. But Redmond and Gilda used to be entirely about each other and obsessed with the other's defeat. It is for this reason Love used to be a much more rascally character than Gilda is now. She used to treat the Klaw Kat similarly to how Bugs Bunny treats Yosemite Sam. Gilda's actions towards Augatha are much more grounded and not cartoony. I like Gilda's complex relationship to Augatha more than Love's arch relationship to the Klaw Kat, but I will not deny I miss Gilda as a rascal. Redmond's design is nearly identical to how I drew him as a kid. He looks so freaking striking to me with the yellow / orange / red vampiric eyes and the tufts of orange fur at the tips of his ears. Unlike most Klawranians, whose fur is either white or red, Redmond's fur is Gray, and he is the only Klawranian with gray fur (which is how he was identified by prophecies and why the Klawranian authorities are after him.)
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    MR. X:

    Besides Blip, Mr. X is my easiest to draw character. If you timed me, I could whip up a black and white pencil drawing of him in under 30 seconds. And probably an ink color one in 60. Mr. X's design is the entire joke, and the big reveal of it in issue 5 is one of the funniest moments of the series, especially because his cliched bad guy trenchcoat never hinted THAT was lurking beneath. One of the funniest things about Mr. X to me is that outside of the design, Mr. X is played completely straight. He isn't snarky or jokey, and his small size and apparent physical uselessness is never commented on. The heroes treat Mr. X as the very real threat he is, which somehow makes the design funnier to me. Mr. X is a Crisinian, specifically an eXen. eXens are a subspecies of Crisinians, and outside of Mr. X, we won't see as much of them as we do the Visitors or the Phantoms. But Mr. X comes from the same planetary alliance as the Big Bads of the second half of the saga, even if though his earlier appearances show he clearly went a bit off mission there. Wherever the other Crisinians are, I don't imagine they are too happy with him.
     

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