The Un-Iverse (PG-13)

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  1. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    This last issue is a bear. It will probably be done in two or three days and uploaded a couple of days after that. It's not the longest issue, but it feels like I've been working longer and harder on it than the previous issues, which is quite exhausting. We'll see whether or not it sucks by the beginning of next week, I'm guessing.
     
  2. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    12. Gilda And Meek "The Code" (Un-Iverse #23)

    Rating: PG-13. Partial nudity, adult themes, brief drug use, brief bloody violence, strong language.

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  3. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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  4. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Gilda And Meek "The Code" (Abridged)

    When I came up with the idea for this story, it started out as a comical fun adventure for the Piranha as a superhero, and turned into a dark meditation on the ethics of keeping and maintaining political power. I miss the fact that the story used to be funny. But now it's actually GOOD. Which is a far better trade.

    I love Gilda asking Bernadette for fashion tips. I honestly don't think I've had Gilda acting feminine enough, and even if she isn't a gender based hero, she IS a female, so I should be showing that whenever possible. It doesn't matter that Gilda is a feminist. Everybody, male or female, is worried about their appearance. And it's endearing that Gilda hates to admit that she wishes she looks as amazing as Bernadette does.

    But Bernadette telling Gilda her bra is on backwards doesn't actually make sense. Gilda's chest is SO flat, she doesn't actually wear one. I can see why she wouldn't correct Bernadette though.

    I think it is extremely funny that people in The Un-Iverse think Bernadette looks amazing in just a T-shirt and jeans. Because if I were a better writer or artist, I'd be designing trendy clothes for her. But just the fact that Bernadette's coolness obsession has such a huge narcissistic streak is why I don't have to do that. Bernadette thinks she's the coolest person alive in T-shirts and jeans, so that's enough for her. And I love that that is the vibe Gilda gets from that too. A better artist than me would have designed a better wardrobe for Bernadette. But the fact that Bernadette is such a self-involved egomaniac makes that entirely unnecessary.

    Her saying she carefully selects each outfit is made funnier by that idea too.

    I also love the idea of Superheroes without masks secretly keeping tabs on everybody, good and bad. Because as sinister as the idea is, Superduperpooperman is able to rationalize it, and even the Piranha is willing to hear him out. If there are no masks to protect the heroes' identity, they must protect themselves and their loved ones in other ways. What is ironic about this evil plan is that it isn't the thing that sours the Piranha on Superheroes. That's the fact that they are working for Augatha. The Piranha is all sweetness and light, but I am fascinated by the idea that he doesn't necessarily object to fascism. If there is a rational reason behind it, he'll listen. Which is all kinds of deplorable. If the Augatha revelation hadn't come to light, I'm not even sure he'd have quit the team. The notion excites him on some level, and he is getting entirely too used to the idea. It's a little bit frightening.

    There is something very Authoritarian hardwired into the Piranha that he has to watch out for. It helps that he knows what it feels like to be a minority, but sometimes I worry about how trusting he is. Because sometimes he is willing to put his trust in the wrong people for the wrong reasons. That is why the Piranha is interesting.

    Superheroes in The Un-Iverse are not dangerous because they are going to turn evil and take over the world. That's not what makes them a threat. It's the fact that they could upend nearly every Democracy on Earth by spilling their leaders' dirty secrets and causing public outrage and panic. And the most insidious thing about this scenario, is that if the superheroes actually decided to cause world turmoil in this way if they didn't get what they wanted, the public wouldn't blame the Superheroes. They'd blame the President who was banging his intern. The Superheroes in The Un-Iverse are so horrible because if they committed the ultimate evil, no-one would actually consider them the bad guys. They have free reign to do whatever terrible thing they want, and they'll never get blamed for it. That's messed up.

    Originally the idea behind the secrets thing was going to be a parallel to Anonymous and Wikileaks to show the dangers of both organizations. How while liberals thought of them as "good guys" now, that doesn't mean they'd always be. And then Julian Assange helped rig the election for Trump, and I realized my hypothetical scenario was no longer hypothetical. That's how eerily close my earlier Un-Iverse guesses tend to be.

    Superheroes are me showing the problem with both organizations. There is no accountability. They answer to no-one. As long as Anonymous fought for the people, liberals like me would look the other way, no matter what scummy things they may have done (such as posting the addresses of politicians' families online). But what if they stopped fighting for the people and used the information and secrets they acquired to gain and maintain power? That is the scenario of the Superheroes in The Un-Iverse. Even if you liked their and Wikileaks' goals you should be deathly afraid of their tactics, and I think any American, liberal or conservative, should probably be concerned about them as well. We used to think of Wikileaks as the good guys. And now we don't anymore. Give someone that much power over secrets and information, and they will undoubtedly abuse it, no matter how noble their intentions seemed to you at first glance.

    Speaking of which, the idea that Gilda's parents are in on the conspiracy is chilling to me. And also explains another reason Gilda does not see them.

    "The masks the rest of the world wear are our own," sounds like a really cool phrase, but it doesn't actually mean anything if you think about it. Which is true about many superhero catchphrases, so I really like it.

    Al Gore exists in The Un-Iverse. And he's still married to Tipper. And Gilda fangirls him. This is another one of those things that demonstrates that The Un-Iverse is better than our universe.

    To be honest, I think I may have added a little too much with the Bernadette betrayal subplot. But it's funny, and this was the best story to add it to. Plus it pretty much tells the reader once and for all that unlikely betrayals are 100% off the table in Gilda and Meek, and for good reason. I hope it works.

    I love Tork sighing and then lowering his collar to allow himself to be decapitated by Augatha. This is not abnormal for him. This is not new. This is this guy's life and reality. And it sucks.

    I have said elsewhere that Vic Puff is tonally wrong for this particular story. Well, Powder Puff is about a hundred times more so. He serves a function that NO character should ever have to: He humanizes Vic Puff. Bad idea for the story, which is why I've kept him, even if Vic's arc is much darker and more violent than it was when I first created his son. He's provocative. Which is exactly what Vic Puff is all about. Vic Puff is the most genuinely evil character in the story. There is no part of us that should ever be sympathizing with him. Ever. Even if he hasn't become what he will later on at the point Powder's story takes place, he still had an 8 year old Bernadette beat up for spite, and it is strongly hinted he traffics in child porn. But Powder, man. He gets under Vic's skin. Makes him want to be a better person. He actually declares himself Powder's father on national television, despite what a poor image an illegitimate son with a prostitute would be for his Presidential campaign. I do NOT want to see heartwarming scenes with Vic Puff knowing what I know comes later. It creeps me out which is, I think, good. To be perfectly blunt, I think seeing that Vic has a side that wants to be a better man, makes me hate him even more. He has the potential for good, but deliberately chooses evil. I think the fact that he has had some genuinely good moments is the thing that makes me detest him so much. And that is why he is the most outright evil character in the saga.

    I have blathered over and over again that Donna Demented is my biggest regret of The Un-Iverse. Powder is my number two. Powder actually used to work well when Vic had a redemptive path. I didn't even need a tragic fate for that. But as soon as Vic became a full-fledged villain, I should have dropped the character entirely. He is just as bad for the Narrative as Donna Demented is. So why did I keep him? Because unlike Donna Demented, Powder actually IS a great character. I love the little guy to death, and I kind of didn't want to get rid of him simply because Vic now sucked. It is true Vic turns everything to dung. But I didn't want him to be the reason The Un-Iverse lost Powder. Vic shouldn't get to do that. Now Powder's arc is much darker that it used to be, but he is precisely as lovable as he is supposed to be before tragedy strikes later on. But as the Narrator has stated, the fact that Vic HAS had some genuinely good moments with him makes me hate him even more. Because he didn't deserve them. Which is how I hope the reader sees it too.

    I tried to make sure everyone seemed super annoyed and pissed at Gilda stating she is the only member of the group who could betray the others without them knowing. Because it's true, and it's got to be super disheartening for everybody else. Those expressions on their faces as they simultaneously say "Noted," tell me they each regret the fact that they HAVE to place an obscene amount of trust in Gilda. They barely know anything about her, and their lives are in her hands. She has their trust without the luxury of taking the time to earn it. And she better not ever break it. Or she'll regret it.

    I love that Gilda orders a non-alcoholic drink at the club. What is amazing to me about that is that Gilda is NOT an alcoholic and never has been. She is not dealing with an addiction in the slightest. She just cannot hold her liquor, possibly because she used to drink so rarely. But I love her newfound abstinence about it because it just shows that after what happened with Bernadette and Dr. Smog, she is not going to risk getting drunk or working at diminished capacity for any reason ever again. Later on, Bernadette accuses Gilda of not appreciating what her "killing" Dr. Smog cost her. The fact that Gilda never drinks another single alcoholic beverage during the rest of the entire saga shows that even if Gilda is unable to verbally tell Bernadette that she knows that this has been killing her, she at least is willing to DO something about it, and make sure it never happens again, even if it's in a way Bernadette will never know about. And the fact that Gilda never points this out to Bernadette is another reason I think Gilda is an amazing friend.

    I always regrets that Cats aren't as animalistic as Dogs in The Un-Iverse. Gilda ordering a glass of milk is me fixing that for one scene.

    I also decided to have her lap up her milk with her tongue when she drinks it to make that idea explicit.

    I love that milk in bars in The Un-Iverse is served in martini glasses.

    Gilda thinks Game of Thrones is trash. You know what? It is. Search you heart. You know it's true.

    Do you know why I take so many shots at Game of Thrones? Because people think it is high quality television. It's not. It is thoroughly average. And the Emmys are on their knees for it. It's like the more horrible and degrading the events that occur during a movie or TV show, the more the Oscars and the Emmys eat them up. But horrible is not the same as high quality. I suppose car wrecks have an intrinsic entertainment value in much the same way. But I don't think World's Wildest Police Chases deserves an Emmy for Best Drama, do you? And I shouldn't be the only person who thinks that.

    Part of the reason The Un-Iverse isn't actually horrible or hard to read, is because every other current genre project is, and I'm thumbing my nose at that idea. Being able to just sit down and enjoy something on television, or in a comic book, should not be too much to freaking ask.

    I can't believe a show where a character says "Play with her ass a little" actually won an Emmy for Best Series. What is WRONG with the Universe?

    Here is an interesting (and possibly embarrassing) fact about the original outline for this story. I was originally going to have a running joke of Meek spending the entire story not wearing pants (just a shirt, tie, and briefs) and have nobody comment on it once. There could have been two explanations for why it isn't commented on. Perhaps this is normal for Meek and not worth mentioning. The other idea is that Meek could be doing it to TRY and provoke a negative reaction, and none of the characters (including Augatha) are willing to give it to him. But as I added more to the story, I liked the idea of Meek clubbing better, and he'd wear pants for that, so I dropped it. So I decided maybe I should just put that joke in a different issue.

    And then I realized I didn't want to.

    Because Meek is no longer "That Guy". He isn't crazy, a loser, or a creep. Not anymore. Not after I fully developed his platonic, yet surprisingly intimate friendship with Gilda. And it surprises me, because Meek's creepiness and poor boundaries used to be a defining characteristic, but the Meek as he is now? He doesn't need it. And I like him better for not having it. It also makes Meek a LOT more like me, which I like because even though Meek is based on my negative facets, it's probably not a good idea to give my surrogate weaknesses that are 100% not true.

    The no underwear / no comment thing is a brilliant idea for a character. But Meek is no longer that character. And for some reason that doesn't bother me at all, even if I had to drop a really funny joke and plotline. Because Meek is better and more interesting the way he is.

    Vic hints that he first got hooked on cocaine at the age of ten. That isn't simply a joke. It is, in fact, true. Which is a large part of the reason he is as screwed up as he is. I'm never going to make excuses for Vic's behavior, but the truth is he has a completely effed up past. For real.

    Augatha's behavior is extremely erratic this issue, and she seems to have wild mood swings where her temper is out of control in one moment, and she seems very open and gregarious the next. The dinner table scene is Augatha being on her best behavior in front of Gilda (whom she detests). I suspect she did it to regain some credibility after her temper tantrum, and Gilda and Bernadette making fun of her. Ironically, it probably worked. Gilda probably thinks more of Augatha after that particular moment than she did before it. Frankly, I do too.

    Augatha doesn't admit in this scene that she's evil because she thinks being evil is cool or badass. She isn't Lex Luthor or the Joker who revel in their badness. What Augatha is in that moment is self-aware. It's not that Augatha thinks being evil is admirable, or something to strive for. It's just that she is so honest and open about her motivations and actions, that there is no other way to describe them. That's partly what makes Augatha interesting.

    I think it is very interesting to reveal that Augatha is the more reasonable of the two in her relationship with Gilda, because it proves that being reasonable doesn't necessarily make a person good and virtuous. Gilda is much more stubborn than Augatha in this scene, and yet she never loses the high ground. That is very interesting to me, especially because Gilda is starting to feel tempted and guilty by the end of the negotiations.

    Gilda thinking that she's the bad guy in her relationship with Augatha is missing the mark a bit. But not completely. Augatha IS the bad guy and always has been. But the truth is that Gilda and Bernadette usually treat Augatha far worse than she treats them. I'm not saying they are WORSE than her for that, but one of the consistent themes about Gilda and Bernadette (and ALL of the heroes in The Un-Iverse), is that on some level they are bullies. Because in The Un-Iverse, "Evil is uncool". Gilda and Bernadette are being a couple of "mean girls" whenever they talk smack about Augatha. In most franchises, the villains are the bullies and the heroes are the bullied. Because of the whole "Evil is uncool" moral in The Un-Iverse, that dynamic is almost always reversed for most of the characters. And Gilda and Bernadette pick on Augatha a LOT. Way more than she does them.

    I mean, whenever we hear Gilda or Bernadette badmouth Augatha, it usually doesn't involve the evil things she has done. They usually talk about how stupid and lame and uncool she is, and are constantly calling her a loser. Bernadette in fact actually makes fun of the way she dresses and calls her ugly and often. I don't really think it is all that admirable for a heroine to constantly badmouth another woman because of her appearance. And yet, because evil is uncool, that means they pretty much have to. Both Gilda and Bernadette are far more unlikable characters than they were before I decided on my "Evil Is Mundane" mandate. But because of that, they are bullies and mean girls. They aren't actually the bad guys. But you wouldn't know that just based upon their social skills.

    I was very conscious after doing that scene of making sure that Gilda confessed her "sin" to the group immediately. I want to be VERY clear that even if Gilda turning down all of those wonderful offers to spare their lives in return for backing off could be seen as hubris, and of somebody not looking out for their friends best interests, that it is NOT something that is going to drive a wedge between the group. This isn't a secret Gilda has hanging over her head, that could blow everything up if revealed at the wrong time. Gilda still has one of those coming. But in this particular matter, Gilda's lack of b.s. is absolute, and the first thing she does upon second-guessing that decision is to tell her friends the truth. Having the group being so forgiving of that decision, even if they might have had reason to be otherwise pissed about it, is another clear sign that this is not a wedge issue between these friends.

    The Narrator explaining the rationale behind the mole fake-out is unlike any other genre project I've ever seen. Gilda and Meek is literally the first genre project that deconstructs the story for the reader WHILE it is happening. I am not as talented as Richard Scarry and Dr. Seuss. But they both got crap flung at them for refusing to follow the children's book formula that proceeded them. Gilda and Meek will have the exact same kind of detractors, but this time from comic book fans, and if there is ever an animated adaptation, TV critics. You are NOT supposed to do that. Ever. It is WRONG. It breaks every rule of fictional decorum. And I did it anyways. So suck it.

    If you ARE the type of person who is pissed the mole thing was a fake-out, sorry, this franchise is not for you. Because betrayals of formerly loyal friends for no reason other than to shock the audience is pretty much the biggest form of b.s. modern storytelling engages in. And if my main character's entire shtick is being anti-b.s., that means that is specifically a type of terrible storytelling trope that I will call out and bust. And that's not a question. If you WANT there to be subterfuge, and shaky alliances between your main heroes, where you never know if the characters are truly good or bad until it is too late, walk away. Now. Not. For. You.

    Gilda realizing that Augatha's proposals for peace are genuine and not b.s. shows something interesting about Augatha. I wouldn't call her an especially honest person. But she's not dishonest either. Her honesty is about average and that of a normal person. She'll lie if she thinks she has to (and can get away with it), but when it comes right down to it, and making promises about the big stuff, she DOES have a moral compass there. I'm not saying Augatha is Lawful Evil. But she's not Chaotic Evil either.

    Ah, Jessica and the DNA thing. I am not going to definitively state what that means, if it's ultimately dirty or innocent. But the fact that the Narrator realizes there are implications for both is why I wrote the scene the way I did.

    Honestly, the Vic Puff stuff is the worst stuff in the issue, no matter how much I actually love Powder. It's the one thing in the issue I am actually bored with.

    Gilda misjudging Julius' reaction to the Piranha becoming a superhero is an essential part of those two's relationship. Her relationship to Julius is messy in a way it isn't with everybody else, because he is the one person in her life she routinely misjudges. Because the Doc's unpredictability has nothing to do with b.s.. Remember, the b.s. detector isn't magical, and it isn't a form of mind-reading. It's not even exactly a lie detector. It just can help Gilda know who to trust. And because Gilda knows that, she can usually read everything else about the rest of her friends and enemies pretty easily. It helps her understand everything else about the person, which is why she is so insightful about every facet of almost all people. Except for some reason Julius. He passes the detector with flying colors, but it doesn't help with the fact that Gilda sucks at predicting what he is going to do next, and what his ultimate opinions on what will be best for the Piranha will be. Julius never actually "beats" the b.s. detector. But he is the one person in the story Gilda is often wrong about. And she's wrong about him a lot.

    Just because Gilda can completely trust a person, that doesn't mean the person cannot surprise her. Especially when it comes to matters that have nothing to do with trust. That's the sticky part of Gilda and Dr. Raggleworth. Like I said: Messy.

    Everyone (except Augatha) realizing it's the Piranha immediately is me poking fun at how dumb superhero secret IDs often are, and that in reality, we'd be able to recognize a loved one, even in a facemask. And the Piranha's distinctive body shape means EVERYONE'S gonna know it's him. I don't even know why Augatha is surprised nobody makes a bigger deal than they do. Meek and Doc's sarcastic reactions are not just them making fun of Augatha. They're also sort of making fun at the Piranha for thinking he was fooling anybody in the first place.

    Why does Gilda like Ice-T and David Bowie? Because in every single interview I have seen them do, they cut through the b.s.. And unlike Kanye, whenever they are embarrassingly honest about something, they also happen to be right.

    I always find the fact that Gilda usually doesn't try to attack and kill Augatha during most of her scenes with her very interesting. Partly, that's because Gilda has a code. She doesn't attack Augatha at the dinner table because there is a time and place and this isn't it. She is going to kill her in battle. Not when she's least expecting it. I'm not even sure that's smart. But the inevitable upcoming battle between them will mean a LOT more to me if it is practically their only one. We're building up to it instead of Gilda and Augatha fighting every issue to a draw. There is going to be a winner and a loser in that one battle. And we'll be able to clearly see it because the upcoming fight will be one of a kind. That is unlike most comic books, and I'm not sure if that makes Gilda and Meek better or worse. But like conflict between the heroes, I tend to save my fire between fights between Gilda and the Big Bads. This is probably another reason The Un-Iverse will not appeal to most comic book fans. Not to get too much into spoilers, but in the entire 90 issue output of The Un-Iverse, Gilda really only has two major life and death fights with villains. And that is very unusual, especially since I don't actually shy away from other characters getting into various battles. But if I want to show Gilda kicking major ass, I also want it to be completely earned and special at the same time. For such a supposedly badass character, I don't often put Gilda in the kind of life-threatening jeopardy that she has to stop herself. And one of the major reasons I do not do that, is because I don't want to completely tip my hand about what Gilda's fighting skills actually are. Suffice it to say, in Gilda's second and final fight of The Un-Iverse, which occurs during The Un-Iverse's climax (The Terran Wars) we'll see exactly what Gilda is capable of.

    Not to sounds too smug, but every time I read the Return Of Jafar exchange, I laugh. When Bernadette says "Second one," I'm always rolling.

    I was very conscious that it should be Meek who points out to the Piranha that his innate talents would qualify as superpowers among normal people. I really wish I had more scenes of Meek and the Piranha relating to each other. There really should be. The Piranha is the person Meek loves most after Gilda, Bernadette, Hank, and later Gabrielle, and Meek is the person the Piranha loves most after Gilda and Dr. Raggleworth. But I never really show them playing off each other, or give them scenes to relate to one another.

    Why not? Partly because Meek's relationship to the Piranha is unlike any of the Piranha's other relationships. Gilda and Dr. Raggleworth are the Piranha's parental figures. Bernadette is the Piranha's peer. Meek, as an adult with no real say-so on how to raise the Piranha, is both and neither, at the same time. Sometimes Meek can tell the Piranha when his bedtime is. But he doesn't have any more real authority over him than any other grown-up or babysitter would. And because of Meek's Asperger's he doesn't pretend he does, and doesn't really talk to the Piranha as a responsible adult should. Gilda and Dr. Raggleworth would never encourage the Piranha to do anything dangerous, and Bernadette is too self-involved to take actual notice of the Piranha's gifts. Meek being the one to be impressed by, and encourage the Piranha's talents, is one of the very few scenes where I was able to show why their relationship is unlike any other relationship between the members of the Chosen Five. And I like that fact.

    Speaking of unusual relationships, the Piranha thinking of the group as his family is the most accurate assessment any member of the group who thinks that could have. He is literally the only member of the group who not only sees all four other members as family, but whom all four see that way too. Gilda, Meek, and Bernadette see everybody as family too, but Dr. Raggleworth does not love Gilda, Meek, and Bernadette in a familial way. The Piranha is the only person in the group who is family with everyone.

    There are two possible explanations as to why Bernadette texts the Piranha for help instead of Gilda:

    1. It's a plothole.

    2. Bernadette is loathe to ask Gilda for help if she has the choice, and the Piranha is the third most dangerous member in the group after her and Gilda, so it makes sense she'd pick him next. She also might be hoping the Piranha could bring backup with the Sexy Tapeworms.

    The first answer is the truth, but if anyone asks, I'll tell them the second.

    The fact that the Piranha can sew despite not having fingers, shows that despite the level of reality I try to keep to it, The Un-Iverse is still ultimately a dumb, unrealistic cartoon.

    The Piranha's ability to sew / knit also comes up in The Supplements, so at least it isn't just a random skill I gave him. It's simply the most ridiculous gift I've given any character in the entire franchise.

    The costume sewing moment is incredibly cute if you ask me.

    I'm a little bit worried that Gilda taking Meek by the hand and leading him into the club could read as flirtatious on her end. But I kind of think it sort of is, which is why I included it despite always doing everything in my power to separate Gilda and Meek sexually. Because the reason in my head she is doing it is to loosen Meek up to be receptive to talk to a woman in the club. She's not really flirting with HIM. She's trying to unlock his flirting powers to the world. Which is okay in my book.

    I think the part where Augatha gives Bernadette the Staff of Truth test is way too pat and unlikely to be believed. It is not believable in the slightest that those are the only questions Augatha has ever asked Bernadette while she was holding that staff. And if they were, it is just as unbelievable that Augatha doesn't see the loopholes out of the questions (particularly Bernadette pledging her allegiance to the winning side). But you know what? That's fiction. That's genre. Sometimes it's dumb and unbelievable. The fact that it is illogical doesn't stop the scene from being funny and awesome. Even if I might not be able to convince the reader the Staff of Truth is plausible, perhaps having the characters think it is, might be enough. Especially considering how hilarious Gilda's reaction is. We might forgive it for that.

    Most of the superhero spoofs in The Un-Iverse are good-natured and gently poking fun at the tropes. But the character of Camel Toe hints that I actually hate superhero comics and fandom. Is this true?

    Yes.

    Power Girl's Guinness Book Of World Records sized boobs aren't sexy, they are freakish. Starfire's stripper costume is not hot, it's tacky. I sort of use Gilda here to say that we shouldn't be judging women by their sexuality, and that is true in the real-world (which is what The Un-Iverse is for Gilda and Bernadette). But I personally sure as hell am going to judge the male comic book writers and artists, and the male fans who lap that stuff up harshly for objectifying women in a pathetic attempt to get their aging fanboys to forget that internet porn exists, that risque drawings are completely obsolete, and that female readers and people with brain cells have to put up with these embarrassing tropes for no good reason whatsoever. I don't hate kid friendly superhero cartoons. But I hate superhero comics and their pathetic fandoms with a passion. And that's why Camel Toe exists. I already had another Mutated Animal camel when I created her (Willis the Paranoid Camel) so I simply decided to say they were related instead. But me hating the Dark Age of superhero comics is why Camel Toe is a thing in The Un-Iverse.

    Rereading the entire finished book, there is something about Camel Toe that surprises me. Cheesehead leers at her once, and Bernadette insults her costume, but other than those two moments, there aren't a ton of characters actually bothered or affected by the costume. And I like that, because I think a different franchise would do a bunch of sex puns and dirty jokes using Camel Toe as the punchline. But literally the only joke involved in the character is the name and the appearance. That's it. Once those are revealed, the character is played pretty straight. She actually has quite a normal conversation with the Piranha and neither acts as if she is currently dressed as a porn star. I don't actually think Camel Toe wound up being a joke at all, which surprises me. Instead, she's an observation about how much comics and the fandom suck.

    I didn't exactly write jokes for Camel Toe, but going back to the idea that she's a observational character makes me feel the need to point out the little "bit" I did. A while back, Power Girl's artist decided to slightly augment the character's breasts every issue until they got bigger and bigger and bigger. The catch was that the second somebody complained, they'd stop. Needless to say, not a single person ever complained. I cannot tell what makes me angrier. The artist for thinking something that degrading would actually be funny, or the readers for completely failing the thought experiment in the first place. That real-life story is probably the biggest reason I hate superhero comics. And I've never seen a superhero comic with enough virtues to make up for my disgust at that one horrible thing.

    To sort of pound the point home, I did the same thing to Camel Toe as Power Girl's artist did for that character. Except, instead of blowing up her boobs a tiny bit every issue, I did it a tiny bit every successive panel till she is a literal freak by the end of the issue. That is the precise thing I'm referencing as Camel Toe gets huger and huger. Thankfully I don't plan to use the character again, or at least not more than a random cameo. I could not build on that particular allegory for issues on end.

    I love Eddie Cat's total whiff with Gilda. Because on paper it almost sounds romantic. It's pretty much Daryl Hannah's speech to Steve Martin at the end of Roxanne. He's letting her know he loves and wants to be with ALL of Gilda, despite her many faults. But it's the fact that he LISTS the faults which means he's gone from being a guy supporting a woman for who she is, into a guy simply insulting her. And he doesn't understand that until the milk is in his face. I have seen far too many "romantic" scenes of a hot woman telling a unattractive guy why he's good enough for her, and that she loves his physical flaws in and of themselves. That's the entirety of The King Of Queens. But I use Eddie here to show how awful something like that actually is, and it's not something you'd realize unless it's a man saying it to a plain looking woman, and not the other way around. I love how empowered women have gotten on television. But I think fat and unattractive guys put up with more crap than they probably should simply because the woman is hot.

    Me subverting THIS particular trope is ironic, because it is almost anti-feminist that I'm doing it. Using Gilda of all characters to do it is particularly galling too. But it had to be Gilda. She's the anti-b.s. queen, and that trope is all b.s.. And it's the fact that she's a woman which is the way I can clearly demonstrate that.

    The joke of someone telling Gilda in a bar that they don't care if she's a toxic waste spill, Gilda throwing her drink in their face, and Un hopping up and propositioning the butthole is an old, old UnComix gag. It still works decades later.

    It is still also the only proper appearance of the UnComix mascot Un in the entire saga.

    Un calling Eddie "Tall, Dark, and Handsome" doesn't fit because Eddie is of an average height and has white fur. But that's the well-known cliche, which is why Un says it.

    Here is something terrible (but true). Vic Puff, the Conduit to Earth's destruction, announcing his run for the Presidency is far less messed up than the rest of the government malfeasance we hear about in this issue. That should NOT be true at any point, but it is for this issue at least.

    Gilda saying that it might be better for the world if Augatha kills them sounds like the craziest bluff ever, but Gilda knows Augatha is full of b.s.. Gilda specifically says this because she knows Augatha is tied to the rules of the prophecy, and she knows that if she wants to take over the world, she has to kill the Chosen Five AFTER that happens. Gilda is not actually insane, and doesn't have a death wish. She just knows they are in no immediate life-threatening danger. The prophecy is their buffer, and Gilda knows it. And Augatha KNOWS Gilda knows it, and hates her for it.

    But still, it IS pretty much the dumbest bluff ever. Gilda knows it will work, which is why she says it, but it's about as dumb a threat as "You'll never take me alive!"

    Bernadette's birthday is September 28th. I love the idea that Vic decides to run for the Republican nomination on the 29th and the general election is held a month and a half later. It shows that in The Un-Iverse, elections in the USA are run like they are in Europe. They take a couple of months at most, and politicians are not in a perpetual state of campaigning. It would almost seem a plothole if the story didn't take place in another Universe.

    This issue is a turning point for Gilda and Bernadette's relationship. Not for them personally. Neither do anything in the issue that surprises the other. But I think it's a turning point for the reader understanding what their dynamic is. After the betrayal bluff, I think a reader can finally get what Gilda and Bernadette think about each other, and why their relationship is so unique compared to many females in fiction. And I think this is the first issue that shows that to the reader clearly.

    Powder is right about something: His mother was a card. Her giving her the specific given name she chose for him while having him keep his father's surname shows she did, in fact, have a sense of humor.
     
  5. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    A villain telling the hero that they are not so different (or unalike) is the hoariest of cliches, so you might groan that I'm engaging in that particular trope with Augatha and Gilda. But if you look closer, you'll see I'm actually subverting it. Big time.

    Whenever a villain says that to a hero in a TV show or movie, the hero is almost always straddling the line between good and evil, and the villain is trying to tempt them into a life of crime. Or at the very least, cast doubts about the legitimacy of the hero's mission. Oftentimes the villain is even right, which makes it an excellent way for a bad guy to get inside a good guy's head.

    That's not why Augatha is doing it. At all, which is why I love the reason she does it. Like many villains pointing this out to the hero, the fact that Gilda and Augatha have a lot of similarities IS true. Which is why Gilda doesn't deny it, even though she thinks very little of Augatha otherwise. But when Augatha is saying that, she isn't trying to either tempt Gilda to the Darkside, or cast self-doubt about her goodness. She's trying to prove to Gilda that she, Augatha, is actually on the side of angels, and if Gilda listened to her reasoning, she'd understand that. She is doing that because the things she and Gilda have in common are all positive qualities. It isn't that there is evil or criminality lurking beneath the surface of Gilda's skin, which is why they have so much in common. It's because they are both badass warrior goddesses, who have seen the best and worst Terranity has had to offer. They both value loyalty and patience, and have admirable leadership skills. And both badly want to save the world. It's this last thing that is the stickler for Gilda, because Augatha is willing to do ANYTHING, no matter how horrible it is, to save the world, and Gilda is not. At least not anymore. But I love this cliched trope for once, because Augatha is not the devil on Gilda's back. She's the angel on her shoulder, trying to convince her they both share the same righteous goals. She isn't trying to goad Gilda into doing bad, she is trying to make her see that her enemy is actually on her side and doing good. And Gilda is alarmed to realize that genocidal monster or not, they actually do have these goals in common. And that's awesome to me, as cliched as it usually is.

    Here's an irony: Both Gilda and Augatha seem to be big fans of The Killing Joke. I'm not. I hate that piece of shit.

    I was initially going to show nipples pointing out under Camel Toe's bikini top as she poses salaciously for the crowd, but I ultimately decided against it. It seems almost gutless that I am not making the drawing as salacious as it could be, but the truth is, none of the other characters have nipples in my normal art style either. I always try to keep things consistent, even if the moment would have been better and more perverse if I didn't.

    Near the end, Gilda calls Augatha the most powerful woman on Earth. But she's not. Gilda is. But I love that Gilda doesn't realize that, and thinks it's Augatha instead. I love that about her.

    I don't blame Gilda for not thinking she's the most powerful female Terran. Because most of the power she holds comes from (as Louie Dawg noted in an earlier issue) positive Gravity, and being a force for good in the people whose lives she's touched. And once you start exploring what that means, it starts to come down to destinies and prophecies, and Gilda thinks that's all *********. I do not blame the most powerful woman on Earth for not realizing it if her true power comes from something she claims to disdain. I doubt she even recognizes what she does as powerful. But it's interesting to me that she still thinks it's Augatha, if it's not her. She's probably right, although by the end of the story, both Bernadette and Gabrielle could give Augatha a run for her money power and mojowise.

    For the record, because of the Gravity thing, Gilda is not just the most powerful female Terran. She's the most powerful Terran period. But the power comes from something only the Narrator and the Author could recognize, which is why nobody else, herself included, sees her that way. But she is.

    I personally think the only person in the entire story whose life Gilda has not positively affected is Vic Puff (although you could also argue Mr. X). Everyone else, EVERYONE, including Augatha and Eddie Cat are better off for Gilda knowing them.

    You might wonder why Vic Puff hired Otterman in the first place to run his Presidential campaign. It's not like someone with his specific record would make a great campaign manager. Why did Vic hire him for that specific role of all roles?

    Okay, 2 reasons.

    1. Otterman is trustworthy. Even when he was in a terrorist organization, or involved in the criminal underworld, that was his rep. The ONE honest criminal. Vic wanted that because Eddie Cat, who had a similar role, turned out so untrustworthy, and caused SO much damage to Vic's political career and personal life, and wound up being Vic's biggest mistake. And Vic did not want to risk repeating it. Spoiler alert: He doesn't. Otterman is just as ethical and honest as advertised, and nothing but a help to Vic. Until it is too late.

    2. The fact that he is a criminal, means Otterman is indebted to Vic in a way he wouldn't be, if he wasn't working with a guy who set him up with a completely new and legal seeming false identity. He OWES Vic now. As awesome as it is that Otterman is the one honest crook, it's also a liability because Vic is entirely crooked, and Otterman might object to that. With the false identity, Otterman can't object too loudly.

    I actually kind of think this explanation is a bit out of character for Vic. It's a far more shrewd and cunning plan than something Vic could have normally thought up himself. I tell myself Jessica suggested it, and for those smart reasons, and leave it at that.

    Here is a future spoiler and irony: Vic never does anything outwardly awful enough in front of Otterman himself that make Otterman turn against him while he is employed by him. For some strange kismet reason, the timeframe when Vic met his son, and was trying to be on his best behavior in front of him, almost entirely occurred while Otterman was his employee. If he wasn't, Otterman probably would have sensed the evil in Vic sooner, and tried to stop him before he became as big as he wound up becoming.

    Scuzzy getting Bernadette a pony's ear for her birthday, and nothing else, with no explanation of what happened to the rest of the pony, is an old, old, OLD UnComix gag. I'm surprised it still works as well as it does decades later. Because Bernadette never wanted a pony.

    I adore the moment where Gilda tells Bernadette they are at the parade to make sure Eddie Cat doesn't hurt anybody, and that Bernadette is incredibly moved by that revelation. It is such a small moment for Gilda, that brushes by her entirely, but it completely shakes Bernadette to the core. The thing I like best about it is that it goes by with Gilda being oblivious that something significant has just passed between her and Bernadette. I don't blame Gilda for that, as her attention was definitely needed where it was, but perhaps the real reason Gilda thinks that Bernadette doesn't take their missions seriously enough, is because she is never looking at her when she does.

    This is the second time Gilda has resisted the urge to kiss the Piranha on the cheek. There is a reason. There is a reason.

    The "Electricity" moment between Vic and Otterman is significant. But that's all I'll say for now.

    Vic spending the day and bonding with Powder used to be a comical montage involving questionable activities like donating kidneys and playing Russian Roulette with the mob. But The Un-Iverse is no longer that franchise which is kind of good. Unfortunately, it makes this version of the scene ultimately forgettable. What I want you to understand is that one of the most rote and plot servicing scenes in the issue used to actually be interesting and funny. Sorry about that.

    Meek seems very unhappy about witnessing the Silver Fish, probably for the reasons Gilda stated.

    Gilda saying she wanted to dance with a stranger is the closest she gets in the saga to pursuing a ship.

    I did that line to show something about Gilda I usually do not, because I do not show her love life at ALL. Whatever else Gilda is, she is not a monk. She enjoys dancing and partying with the opposite gender on her nights off. We just never see it.

    Character Design notes:

    A ton of all new characters in this issue, and I am mostly happy. I was very UNHAPPY about the new characters in the Narf-Narf And Chirp story "Reality Is For Suckers", but I'm reasonably satisfied with the Sexy Tapeworms.

    For now, when I talk about the designs, I'll be mostly referring to the color designs on the cover. That is the "Beauty Shot" where you can see most of the team at a good angle.

    I regret that I am not a better artist. Somebody like John K would totally be able to rock Camel Toe's design, and make it equally sexy and repulsive. I'm not quite good enough at that. It's repulsive and freaky, but it should also be sexy, which it is not. What I WILL say is that even if I would have liked it if the design was drawn better, I think the pasties on the exposed humps on the back help a out LOT anyways, and Get. The Point. ACROSS. I don't actually NEED to be a great artist if those things are doing the heavy lifting (so to speak) during that moment. You Get What I'm Going For.

    Why are Camel Toe's humps peach, while the rest of her fur is tan? She shaves them. Which should tell you all you need to know about the fads of The Un-Iverse. Considering her humps are on her back, she clearly doesn't do it herself, but she must have some epic spa days.

    Lunchmeat Lad's first earlier design is fine with me, because he's skinny, but you'll believe he can grow into the fat disfigured character design he will later sport in Lace Doilies. The character looks completely the same and totally different from the future design.

    Cheesehead's design was the easiest and least creative I did, because I just designed a ratty looking guy. I see influences of Cuckoo-Man from The Mighty Heroes in him. His cheeks are pock-marked.

    The Bovine Avenger is probably the weakest design of the Tapeworms. Don't get me wrong, it works and looks good. But it is an absolutely perfunctory "easy" design. I put zero effort into differentiating her from other cow characters like the Psycow, and you can totally tell. Even Cheesehead doesn't look too specifically like any other character.

    Superduperpooperman's design is deliberately a bit bland and generic. He has perhaps larger muscles than a character as useless as him might actually need, but the message I wanted to get across with this superhero is "thoroughly average, and nothing special". The chin's a little out there, but there is nothing cool or memorable about the design otherwise, which means I succeeded.

    The Piranha's non-costumed eyes do not match their placement in his eyeholes in his Silver Fish costume. But then, neither do Batman's, so I don't want to hear about it. T.S.

    I struggled with The Growling Man. He was not working. The idea behind him was a man at war with himself. The head of a hellhound, and the body of a quiet Human in a thick woolen sweater. He is the only hero without a costume.

    But it wasn't quite working. You get the hellish dog face, but it's actually attached to the body, so you might think the body is a Terran Dog's too. I did two tweaks, one little and one big. The little tweak helped a little, and the big tweak helped a lot.

    The little tweak was to make his neck especially skinny, and his head leaned SLIGHTLY over to the side. It actually looks sort of like his head is falling off now, and trying to escape the body.

    The big thing I did is give him a small, struggling white kitten to roughly pet and never let go of. I was not able to fully get across the contradiction and incongruity of the character until I gave him that particular fetish. It's fine to see Blofeld calming stroking a cat. To see a rabid, Cujo-style Hellhound do the same thing a little TOO hard, while he's screaming, and the kitten is trying to get away, sort of gets the point across better than if he didn't have that particular affectation.

    Ironically, the Un-Iverse is a Universe where very few characters actually have visible affectations like that. Considering how much personality it gives The Growling Man, I'm starting to wonder why that is.

    This issue is the first where Tork is wearing a militaristic uniform, rather than a robe. Since this version of the comic isn't in color yet, you may not have even noticed. But I was channeling Grand Moff Tarkin a bit.

    I think SDPM is b.s.-ing the Piranha a bit about Cheesehead and Lunchmeat Lad's snotty jokes not being appreciated. I think it's probably normal, and SDPM is simply lying to the Piranha because he's a new member.

    I love that the first thing the Piranha thinks upon hearing that Vic is a pedophile is that he wants to tell Gilda. Because Gilda gets crap done, and would stop him.

    I love the expression "We was just funnin'".

    "We do NOT joke about Klondike Bars." Good rule.

    The woman who Piranha gives back her purse appears to be Widow Crumpetwhacker.

    The Piranha seems to carry around a large mallet with him. He must keep it in the hole in his stomach. The hole can hold things many times the hole's (and the Piranha's) size due to the fact that the original wound was magical in nature. It's a side effect of both that and Gilda's Healing Spell. There seem to be rational explanations attached to even the cartoon gags in The Un-Iverse. The Piranha's Belly Button is pretty much the TARDIS.

    I love that Bernadette's first reaction to seeing the Silver Fish on the internet is disgust. She must privately be disgusted with the Piranha's cuteness and outward nobility a LOT, but she can just never bring herself to say so out loud. Just for the moment, assume this rare glimpse we get of her private reaction to the Piranha's adorability is common.

    Gilda definitely has her own car, so I like that it looks like she and Meek enjoy walking downtown with each other.

    It's interesting that in The Un-Iverse, a guy like Meek can get past a nightclub bouncer. Or maybe he already knows Gilda and she vouched for him. Either way it's interesting.

    I love the moment where Meek tells Gilda women don't tend to treat him as a normal person. That's one of the biggest things I love about Gilda and Meek's non-sexual friendship. They can tell each other stuff like that. This will not be the last time they give each other insider information about each other's gender that most women and men would never tell each other. Look for Meek's "Secret About Men" in the third part of the upcoming story "All Blood Things...".

    I love that every single member of the Chosen Five is immediately smart enough not to let on to Augatha that Gabrielle being missing is entirely new information. Not quite realistic, but cool nonetheless.

    I like what I did with SDPM's expression upon threatening to reveal the Piranha's name. In my head, as I wrote the script, he kind of had a horrible smirk on his face as if "I gotcha!" when he did it, and there was a deviousness and hidden sinister agenda about the character revealed in that moment. It was the curtain finally falling off for the Piranha.

    I was overthinking things (per usual) and I actually like the bland stern look he gives now. Him threatening everything the Piranha holds dear is not a trump card. It's perfunctory. He probably expected this was a possibility at some point, and planned this far ahead of time. He is using the Piranha's most intimate and personal secret against him, with an expression that says "Nothing personal". I think SDPM is a much less interesting character to the premise if he is a devious mastermind. Since he isn't, he is now mundane. Which is what all evil in this franchise should be. The fact that he's boring and going through the motions, makes him far more nuanced and interesting of a bad guy to me than if his hidden agenda is that he simply LIKES causing people pain. The Piranha's most guarded and personal secret is something he uses against him simply because it will work, not because he hates the Piranha. It is an impersonal reaction to the most personal betrayal of all. Which is MUCH more in the spirit of the rest of the franchise. With the exceptions of Renald The Hunchback, and MAYBE Augatha and Vic Puff, there is NOTHING personal about any of the villains in The Un-Iverse. Crime and / or evil is simply all in a day's work. And that's SDPM now.

    The profile picture of Augatha as the Piranha asks her the riddle is cool. She kinda looks like a Cyclops in it. The picture of her refusing to answer the riddle in the next panel is similarly terrifying.

    But that's the question: Does Augatha actually KNOW the answer, or was she simply saying that to break the Piranha's spirit?

    She definitely knows. Augatha is a chick who has been around the block a few times, and has heard her share of top-secret, ancient, sacred riddles. And the Piranha should be kicking himself this is the first time he's asked her. If Gilda's negotiations for peace with Augatha had actually bore fruit, I personally think Augatha would have wound up telling him the answer in short order as a sign of good faith. Thanks a lot, Gilda!

    Why are Gilda and the rest of Augatha's prisoners all handcuffed, and in the next scene their hands are entirely free? Did Augatha undo them in a scene we missed before that?

    Like Gilda don't know how to undo handcuffs. C'mon, now.

    I find it interesting that as selfish and hedonistic as Vic Puff is, in reality, there are very few things he actually wants. I don't even think he wants to be President, but he's running for it anyways, just because he can. Powder is probably the first thing since discovering cocaine at the age of 10, that matters to him. And sooner or later, Powder winds up mattering to him even more than the coke. Which can lead to nothing good. Vic cannot easily get a fix of reassuring Powder if he is not there in the future. If Vic sees his son's love for him as a drug, perhaps Powder is the perfect name for him in hindsight.

    Vic is very unlike most sociopaths in this matter. Most sociopaths are all "Mine! Mine! Mine!" Vic is too, but unlike most other sociopaths, and takers, he doesn't actually want what he takes deep down. It's just his nature.

    For the record, I HATE The Scorpion And The Frog. But that is an opinion for another day.

    Perhaps you don't quite get Augatha's logic in trying to bargain Gilda out of the Chosen Five prophecy. Surely, if Augatha is SO attached to the notion of the prophecy coming true, she'll want to help it along, not neuter it, right?

    It's because she is positive it is legit which is why she's trying to alter it. I don't know about you, but if I lived on The Un-Iverse's Earth, and had that Chosen Five prophecy standing between me and life and death, and victory and defeat, the LAST person I'd want The Chosen One to be is Gilda Thurman. Augatha isn't trying to prevent the prophecy. She's trying to shift the person the prophecy refers to to someone she can actually handle. Which is actually smart, and shows that Augatha is smarter than Gilda gives her credit for. It's incredibly noble Gilda volunteers to be the martyr ahead of time. But perhaps she should have run this by the other four people she also volunteered for martyrdom first.

    Knowing what I know comes later, it truly depresses me to see Angela Feline all smiles in the crowd at the press conference. That poor damn woman. That poor, poor woman. Her life is about to become completely messed up, and that smile tells me she is completely unable to recognize why that would be. I think this is probably this last issue we see her where she is not actually an alcoholic. That poor damn woman.

    Speaking of feeling bad, I sincerely hope that the warm look Jessica and Otterman share upon Vic publicly embracing his son doesn't make people want to 'ship those two characters. I worry about that, because now I kind of do too.

    Half moon instead of a full moon in this issue.

    That look of dumb surprise on Narf-Narf's face as he has the potato chip stuck halfway between the Lay's bag and his wide open mouth was not scripted. I just thought most of the rest of the page was a snooze, so I figured I'd make the reaction shot for Vic revealing Powder's mother was a prostitute funny and memorable. And that was the first thing that came to mind. To add insult to injury, I have Chirp standing next to him in stunned silence with his wing over his weak poor heart. Yes, that particular dirtbag has a huge case of the vapors over the subject. Heaven forfend.

    The Narrator describes Augatha's dining room table as giant, but it's really not. The idea behind it was one of those long dining room tables you see rich people and royalty use, but the actual design is much smaller so I didn't have to shrink Gilda and Augatha as they are talking to each other. But just imagine that the table is long and You'll Get What I'm Going For.

    Augatha could smell Gilda all the way up from the dungeon. That says something that Bernadette's insults about Gilda's smell never do.

    I love that Bernadette sticks out her tongue and winks at Gilda as she kicks Augatha in the stomach, (without looking) and then takes a bow. Frankly, Gilda would look better design-wise if her eyes were closed when she was laughing, but I didn't want her to miss the bow.

    The Staff Of Truth from cribbed from a similar MacGuffin on Farscape.

    "Go ahead, child. Show her your heart," is SUCH a terribly written cliche, which shows an essential Augatha theme. Whenever she is the hoary, old fantasy villain, she fails. Whenever she's the snarky and sneaker master planner, (like in her earlier conversation with Gilda) she succeeds. And she doesn't tend to be consistent in either of those character traits, so she seems to build up an equal number of wins and losses depending on the performance.

    For the record, Bernadette is probably wrong that Gilda has no personal life. But it is also not a perception Gilda would ever correct in front of her either.

    I tried a small moment when Augatha is calling for a truce and a time out. I had her putting her crown back on (which had fallen off after Bernadette kicked her) in an especially harried manner, to show she is desperately trying to regain authority and composure. It doesn't read that well, because Augatha's claws are so pointy, they aren't that distinctive to either her hair or the crown, so you may not register that is what she is doing. The expression on her face is right though. I got that at least.

    I think both Bernadette and Santa are assholes of the year for posting revenge porn pics of Augatha on Twitter, but I'm not going to pretend those two characters aren't total assholes already. It is totally something they both would do.

    I like that Tork calls the pictures magnificent, which sort of gives a hint about his and Augatha's relationship. And Augatha thinks they're kinda hot too.

    I like that Meek is the one who is smart enough to point out to Augatha why none of them acted surprised that Bernadette betrayed them. He's no dummy.

    Augatha again calls Fuzzy and Scuzzy "My babies". She used to call them that a LOT in the previous versions of The Un-Iverse. It was sort of a nod to Ursula and Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid.

    Plothole: The Piranha probably should have used Fuzzy and Scuzzy to transport everybody back a lot sooner than he did. There is no real good explanation for why he didn't other than that I wanted Gilda and Augatha's scene together, and Bernadette's betrayal bluff first.

    I like that Gilda is insightful enough to know that the Piranha is struggling with what being a hero means. Because he never told them that.

    I like the goofy expressions on Gilda and Bernadette as they wrestle on the floor. Very cute.

    I think it is a little bit sad that the Piranha believes they are going to fail against Augatha. Because he's wrong. And Gilda could have told him that, whether Augatha has the backing of the government or not.

    The ending is the first time we mention Gilda's hated parents, Lou and Iris Thurman, by name.

    To be perfectly blunt, this issue didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. Because it shows the flaws in The Un-Iverse's format in an unusually clear manner. The issue starts off as one thing (Bernadette and Gilda bonding), then turns into another (Vic and his son), then another (The Piranha being a superhero), then another (Gilda and Meek clubbing and then being captured), and then another (Bernadette's betrayal bluff). Most of these things aren't connected, and I didn't try particularly hard to connect them. But it's an incredibly awkward thing to ask the reader to commit to a premise, and then constantly switch it around, without ever really paying off the original premise or its off-shoots. And that's The Un-Iverse. It's a novel, and each issue is a chapter. And not every chapter to every novel pays everything off, or connects everything, and wraps things up tightly in a bow. But most of my single chapters DO do that. So you'll probably be more annoyed at the left turns this story constantly takes, than you might be if they happened in every issue.

    But they can't, and don't happen in every issue, and that's part of telling a story. Not every chapter is going to be the same. Some are suspenseful page-turners, some are emotional characters scenes, and some are exposition overloads. But generally speaking, I'm able to tie things together better than this issue. But I didn't here. Why?

    Honestly, I think all of the random plots here are good enough on their own, that I didn't feel the need to make them overlong and bloated to tie them together, and have a narrative resonance for a single chapter. And that might have been a mistake. That is up for the reader to decide. But frankly, this is ALREADY one of the longest issues in the entire canon, and I didn't want to pad it out even more than it already was. So I decided to let the entire schizophrenic thing stands on its own merits, for good or ill. I think it still sort of works, but if you don't, I'll understand. But it was still a really fun issue for me to write. Because it's unpredictable. Which is what The Un-Iverse should be.

    "Little Pink Woman" is the second best of the Meek's Chiller Theatre stories (after "The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla"). Pink equals GOOD Chiller Theatre stories and green equals bad ones.

    It's also the shortest Meek's Chiller Theatre. Partly because it didn't ultimately need to be longer than it was. I padded "The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla", "Welcome To Tridville", and "Green Golf Balls" a bit to make them better. I didn't need to do that with Little Pink Woman. It's pretty much just the joke verbatim.

    Little Pink Woman is one of the few strictly G-rated stories in the franchise. And I like that about it.

    "The Log Lady sayzwhut?" Heh.

    I like that Bernadette didn't simply already know the joke, she actually correctly guessed it. It shows her and Meek are probably on a better wavelength than at first glance.

    Artwork Notes:

    "Little Pink Woman" is the first story after "Skeletons" that I attempted to do in an art style dissimilar to my own. Whereas "Skeletons" was ultra detailed, this seems ultra simple and cartoony.

    The characters seem to be a cross between Gerald McBoing-Boing and Fisher Price's Little People. I was hoping to make the artwork even more stylized than it was, but that would take a better artist than me to do it. I wanted the characters to be ultra curvy, and perhaps recall Al Hirschfeld a bit. I don't think THAT particular part of the tribute works however. Hirschfeld's doodles were very free-flowing and natural, and I had to put in a lot of effort here. Hirschfeld was also somehow able to make thicker and thinner lines on a character simply by turning his pen sideways while drawing in a sweeping motion, which is something I'd never have either the skills or confidence to pull off. Another great artist at that particular move is John Kricfalusi.

    My initial thought for the artwork was to do it on pink construction paper, and have the outline be white chalk or crayon. That is not feasible for a comic book, but it there is ever an animated adaptation, that's what I'd go for.

    I inked the outlines of the Little Pink People in black ballpoint ink. I remembered from "The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla" that pink colored pencils don't show up well on my computer scanner, so I did the characters in highlighter. The highlighter however made the pencil lines on the characters unreadable, so I did them over with ink again so you could see them.

    As the night goes on, The Little Pink Woman gets slightly more and more frazzled and tired every time she has to get up. I worried with the simple design that wouldn't play, but it totally does, which reminds me that the more recently I have designed an UnComix character, the more expressive I am able to make it.

    In hindsight, Little Pink Woman is an Un-Iverse rarity for me. Despite my small disappointments with some aspects of the art here and there, this turned out almost exactly the way it looked in my head. Which is good, because the actual script has none of the details or art minutia from my mind. The last story that turned out almost exactly as I planned was "The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla", which was another Meek's Chiller Theatre. I did not much care for Ronald Gustavson's initial design in that one, while all of the artwork here clicked for me. I don't think this story is actually as good as the Pink Gorilla one. But it came out pretty much exactly how I planned.

    It makes sense it's the Chiller Theatre stories that tend to be closer to my imagination. I have lived with them for far longer than most Gilda and Meek stories, which constantly evolve and change over the years. The public domain jokes are pretty much solidified in my head, so I always seem to know exactly what I want to do with them.

    There is one way the comic version is inferior to the joke. But I think it's the way I tell the joke, so it's probably not true for everyone who tells it. If you want to get a REALLY good reaction to the joke, tell it REALLY fast, like an auctioneer. Most people cannot do that (it's a bit of a tongue twister), but I CAN. I am very good at voices, and talking fast, and tongue twisters. The faster the joke goes, the more you dazzle the listener with b.s.. And it's funnier and more amazing that way. That has always been my experience, but I don't know how many people who tell the joke can tell it as fast as I do without tripping up.

    Which is the one thing about the comic version that is worse. It's much less bizarre than if you were hearing it all at once, without the chance to properly process it. But that's the trade-off. In every other way, I am very happy with the comic adaptation.
     

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