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.

    "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.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    The Staff Of Truth from cribbed from a similar McGuffin on Farscape.
     
    #85 Fone Bone, Nov 6, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  6. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    This last one is taking awhile too. I'll probably have something for you all next week.
     
  7. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    13. Gilda And Meek "The Bug Aliens: Part One: The Ship" (Un-Iverse #24)

    Rating: PG-13 (Sexual situations and adult themes).

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  8. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Gilda And Meek "The Bug Aliens: Part One: The Ship" (Spoiler Free)

    First appearance of Lance Lockjaw (although he isn't called that here) as the mysterious spaceship captain in shadow.

    Here is something interesting: This is the only outer space adventure for Gilda and Meek. Much of the second half of the saga takes place in outer space, but this is the only time Gilda and Meek themselves venture off-world. Even Bernadette remain completely Earthbound for the rest of the saga.

    I am super happy I was able to get in the line in the first outer space Un-Iverse adventure, "Star Trek, not Star Wars.". Because that is the entirety of the upcoming series "F.I.S.H.". There are myriad fantasy tropes in The Un-Iverse on Earth, but once you get off-world, there's none of that. There is admittedly some fantasy mythology with the planet Klawrania, but that's because its destiny is intertwined with Earth's, which is the only planet in The Un-Iverse where superpowers and supernatural elements occur. And no superpowers and no magic is Star Trek. Completely.

    You might think it's bad writing or stupid that Gilda is able to successfully bluff her way to victory the way she does in these two parts, and that it's ludicrous she is completely believable to aliens she's never met, but that's why it's funny. Almost ALL science fiction is devoted to the idea that "Speilberg got it wrong." And there is not a sci-fi franchise alive that takes a bigger "reality check" beating than Star Trek. Star Trek gets a LOT of crap thrown at it because outside of the high concept sci-fi stories, the alien races not only look humanoid, but they have the exact same kinds of societies we do. Newer sci-fi projects always show extreme and disturbing aliens that we will NEVER understand or make peace with. And Star Trek treats all alien life (the Jem'Hadar notably excepted) as potential friends. Which is insane. And stupid. And I love the idea that in The Un-Iverse, Gilda is so successful off-world solely because Star Trek crazily got it exactly right. Which is again, ludicrous. I'll admit that straight up. But considering the entire Un-Iverse is almost a straight-up Valentine to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (set on Earth) it makes sense that the outer space aspects are even more closely aligned than the Earth stuff. Which is crazy, and fascinating, and funny, and something that tells me F.I.S.H. will NOT wind up being the long hard slog I fear it will be.

    The whole thing with the Actress is pretty far-fetched in my mind. It is quite out of character to learn that Vic Puff hasn't memorized the name and face of every porn star in existence.

    The Actress' stage name "Amber Grace" is a take-off on "ambergris", which is the whale puke that is used in perfumes. I give a bit of a hint of her filmography simply when she tells Vic her "name".

    Oftentimes in the Linear Notes of a particularly disgusting Vic Puff story, I will wash my hands of certain dirty jokes, and assure the reader I don't actually find them funny, and am just establishing Vic's monstrous character in an easily demonstrable way. That is not this issue. At all. The dirty jokes in this issue are SO my humor. I am not the least bit ashamed of their grossness for once. I think the second girl with the cup line is actually hilarious, and one of the best Vic Puff jokes ever.

    I don't mind all dirty jokes. I hate ones that involve demeaning or violating a person, which is what most dirty Vic Puff jokes are. But this is not. It's silly and funny. I feel no shame for it whatsoever.

    This is going to sound slightly crazy, but bear with me. Part of the reason I loved writing for Amber is because despite the fact that she's a joke character that we never see again, she is probably more layered than any other character that usually fills that role. Craziness. I know. Hear me out.

    As I was writing her scenes with Vic, where she cluelessly repeats she's an actress, another character immediately sprang to mind upon her saying it over and over again, and once this hit, she became significant.

    She's Hank Hill from King of the Hill.

    "Acting" is her propane, and she thinks that it explains everything about her. The fact that she does not even seem to believe there is any difference in the type of acting she does, than what reputable people do, shows she is clearly out of her mind. But frankly, so is Hank Hill, and he'd be committed if people looked at his unhealthy obsession objectively. Nobody cares about propane. Nobody. It's dumb. And it doesn't matter. And yet it is Hank's entire reason for being. It makes him happy, and he would be shocked to learn that he is the only person this true of. This is Amber's mindset regarding her filmography. She doesn't see anything wrong with it. Maybe she's right. But she's also an incredibly damaged person to leave out a movie she's performed in for the guy she's taken home, and suggest he play it as if it is normal instead of appalling. At first glance Amber is a bimbo ditz. But when you pull back the layers, she is quite clearly pathologically insane. And I only got that upon her actress thing being exactly like Hank's propane thing. She's totally nuts. As is Hank Hill.

    Another reason this is like propane is because nobody else understands what she's talking about. Her obsession clearly means something to her, but the person she is trying to sell it to does not actually understand what the significance of her profession is, at least to her. It's only as you realize this is ALL Hank cares about that you start to get that Hank and her "ain't right". And I personally think the fact that Hank is the sanest character on that show is a truly sorry state of affairs. Because outside of that nuthouse, he's the craziest person ever. He just looks reasonable compared to Peggy, Bobby, Dale, and Bill. Him actually being reasonable has nothing to do with it. Because he actually isn't. He's bugfudge crazy. As is Amber.

    Part of the fun of writing The Un-Iverse is discovering things about the characters I didn't know. And I hadn't even realized this until the entire script was practically written. I sincerely doubt any reader picked up on this, but it is the reason I love Amber and her gross joke.

    You will probably be able to guess Amber's career pretty easily just based on the arch and jokey dialogue, but I'm less interested in revealing what the punchline is, than finding a perfect way for Vic Puff to learn it. The reader guesses she's a porn star, that's fine with me. Vic not realizing it until he sees her onscreen is even better.

    Here's something I hope I got across but I might not have. Bernadette's "We did it" moment is literally the angriest she has ever been in the entire saga. She is seething and raging in that moment, and the only reason she doesn't go off on Meek the way she does some of her other enemies is because he is her brother and she loves him. But she truly wants to murder him after he says that. "You are the single worst person that ever lived" is literally the mildest rebuke Bernadette could say to that without turning violent. And she wanted to say and do MUCH nastier. One of the perks of being related to Bernadette is that you will never be destroyed by Bernadette. Her other enemies wish they were that lucky.

    Part of that scene was done by me to show that as lovable as Meek is to us, Bernadette's insults and constantly calling him a loser are actually well-deserved on some level.

    I bet somebody who doesn't follow genre or kids cartoons will read that scene and not think or understand why it is funny. But for those of us who DO, I think the scene is outright hilarious.

    Since Bernadette's face is covered in fur, I really shouldn't have made her face red to demonstrate how mad she was in that moment. But you know, it REALLY sells it, so there.

    Suffice it to say, I toned the debate scene down a lot. I almost had Vic admitting to punching babies on-stage, but I kind of quickly decided against trying to make him worse than Trump for a couple if reasons. First, trying to make somebody worse than Trump is a sucker's game. Because Trump is ALWAYS gonna do something worse. People might take umbrage at the idea that I think Trump is worse than Vic, who will wind up a rapist / child molester / terrorist / mass murderer, but frankly, the thing that would TRULY surprise me about Trump is if he never actually did any raping, child molesting, or mass murdering himself. And I strongly suspect he has. Someone that hung up on the fact that their daughter is bangable is somebody who has bodies buried under the floorboards.

    The second reason I toned things down is because if I didn't, you'd never forgive Powder for sticking by his father. The moral at this stage in the game is that Vic is on his best behavior, and is not willing to risk doing anything that would reveal to his son the monster he is. I had flirted with the idea that Powder thought Vic was joking during his horrible statements, but no, I still didn't forgive him. And Powder's defining characteristic for me is that his virtue is above reproach. So I will not make his ethics look bad for any reason.

    So, Vic Puff is no longer the worst Republican who ever lived. Congratulations, Modern Republican Party! You've managed to destroy one of the central morals of The Un-Iverse! Remember this about Republicans: There is no bottom. Five years from now, Vic being a child-raping, genocidal psychopath will seem quaint. You think I'm joking? Realize that Dennis Hastert is barely news, and that nobody cares. This is where we currently are.

    Every single time I tried to write Vic Puff as being as publicly awful as Trump, it didn't work. Because his story stops being about him and turns into Trump's. Vic Puff is an allegory for Republican excess. That much is true. But he shouldn't be entirely too much like any one Republican. So if I had him be as openly vulgar and disgusting as he was in some earlier drafts you'd automatically think Trump. And the fact that Trump is worse is the thing that you'd notice. And I don't want that. Real life is trolling The Un-Iverse, and almost destroyed the message of Vic Puff. I'm still not convinced it hasn't.

    Another reason I refused to do it is because making Vic like Trump makes the story no fun and painful to read. The Second Sequel, set in The Un-Iverse Multiverse (entitled appropriately "Destroying The Un-Iverse") will show you exactly what I mean, and how utterly depressing and cynical the franchise would have been had I tried to top Trump. The story is called "In Which Vic Puff Is Actually Worse Than Donald Trump" and it is easily the most horrifying and disgusting thing I have ever written (and also scarily the easiest to come up with). It's also practically X-rated, which is another reason making Vic like Trump is completely wrong for this particular franchise. Donald Trump doesn't get to wreck The Un-Iverse the way he has real life. He only has that power if I let him. So I have to make Vic the SECOND worst Republican by default. I had no other choice.

    Fortunately, there is a good thing in that I didn't try to top Trump. I can give Vic nuance I could not do if I were actually trying to set a record. Deep down, Vic sort of wants to do the right thing. It's for selfish reasons (to impress other people and be admired) but I like to think that if Vic were ever given a chance to be a hero, he would take it. That is not Trump. Ever. And because I am not trying to top Trump, I can give Vic this personality facet. The scene in the restaurant is an essential Vic Puff scene in demonstrating both how Vic wants to do right by the world, and why it will never happen. You'll notice Vic is a perfect gentleman on the date. They don't talk about stuff and problems real people do, but Amber is a joke character, so they don't need to. But Vic is taking this date very seriously, and in fact kindly warns Amber about the risks involved in dating someone like him, especially if she's a famous actress. That is perhaps the most chivalrous thing Vic Puff does in any issue he appears in, even if the language he uses is somewhat uncouth.

    And it blows up in his face spectacularly, which is the Vic theme I always use in situations like these. In The Un-Iverse, the good guys are rewarded for being virtuous, and the bad guys are punished for being evil. But any occasion a bad guy other than Vic does a virtuous thing, they are rewarded for it too. Vic is literally the only character in the story who is punished every single time he does a halfway decent thing. This is probably why he does nice things so rarely, and I'm betting this is a problem he's faced his entire life. Vic Puff is not allowed to have nice things. Ever. Which is why Powder's genuine love (which he feels too) terrifies him so. And he is right to feel this way. Vic is a monster and the most evil character in the saga. But it's not simply because he is crazy which is why he acts the way he does. It's because everything in his life has led to him learning that niceness is a weakness. This is not true for anybody else in The Un-Iverse, but the reason Vic does evil things is actually legitimate on some level, which is kind of fascinating.

    If the Universe in The Un-Iverse loves Gilda unconditionally, it hates Vic with equal fervor. The way it treats him is proof of this.

    Here's a question: DOES Meek actually share more of his values with Bernadette than Gilda?

    Yes. Yes, he does. And that's a GOOD thing. And that isn't just because he is secretly as superficial as Bernadette is (although he is). He is just as appalled at the baseball bat incident as Bernadette is, and for the exact same reasons. He may not be able to articulate his views of morality and right and wrong as well as Bernadette does. But he shares them.

    But yes, Meek is superficial deep down. This not only explains why he isn't attracted to Gilda, but it might also explain why he is so nice to a reasonably attractive woman like Donna Demented. Stay tuned for The Supplements, folks.

    Jealousies and possessiveness over Meek are an essential part of Gilda and Bernadette's messed-up relationship, and the funniest thing about it is how absolutely irrational and insane it is. Neither are attracted to Meek, but both desperately crave to someday hear that he prefers one of them over the other. It makes no sense whatsoever, which is true about a great deal of Bernadette and Gilda's antagonism.

    The fact is that Gilda is deliberately stunting Bernadette's growth as a person on some level because she's afraid she's someday poised to take the mantle of baddest-assed woman alive from her (and soon). And nowhere is Gilda trying to stunt Bernadette's growth more than trying to curry Meek's favor over her. And it makes about as much sense as Stephen Colbert's fear of bears.

    The reason Gilda does not shoot back a tart reply over Bernadette saying Meek shares his values with his sister rather than his best friend, is that Gilda does NOT want to hear Meek confirm that out loud, and would rather drop the subject than give Bernadette the win. Probably because she realized in that moment that Bernadette was right about that one thing. Gilda knows when to pick her battles, particularly when there is ego involved.

    God, Gilda is SO petty and manipulative. This is why I always have Bernadette give her grief. She deserves it.

    In the back of my head, I sort of like to think that Meek is well aware of this dynamic, and is too disgusted and embarrassed to actually point it out. I know he's an Aspie, but we have shown that Meek is already wary of Gilda's peer-oriented relationship to his kid sister, and possibly thinks she's a bad influence. Maybe this is one of the reasons he thinks that.

    This is Meek's original Animaniacs line: "Please don't make me try to explain my generation to you, Bernadette. It will just make us both very sad."

    Why did I change it? Two-fold:

    1. Animaniacs IS Gilda's generation, not Meek's. It's okay to say Rescue Rangers and Gargoyles broke out bigger in The Un-Iverse, and that like Scooby Doo, they are still around a couple of generations later. But I refuse to extend that same compliment to a crap show like Animaniacs.

    2. I love the idea of Meek talking smack about Gilda behind her back about this. The ironic thing is Gilda probably doesn't like Animaniacs and never did. But she's still getting blamed for it here. Which is how it should be.

    I also love the idea of Meek and Bernadette cracking wise about pop culture with each other. They are Beavis and Butthead here. It's usually Gilda and Bernadette who do that, but it's fun to see that Meek is equally quick-witted in this regard. And Gilda and Meek will do it more with each other as the saga goes on.

    Meek's perspective that it doesn't matter why he isn't pursuing Gilda is the correct one.

    Gilda's joke about CIA torture will be very interesting to those rereading the saga. Because just based on her shady past, that is REALLY not something she should ever be making light of. But that joke shows something essential about Gilda's morality: She is able to compartmentalize her past horrible actions with her current personality completely. That is not necessarily a good thing, but part of the reason that things get more tense with the group in the future, is that they do not believe she should be doing that. Gilda is NOT going to be let off the hook for beating Vic Puff half to death, and Bernadette and the others are sort of alarmed that she almost seems to thinks she should be. But it isn't going to be that easy.

    The reason Vic can both be attracted to a porn star like Amber and a child like Bernadette is because he's an ominsexual. And unlike Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood, that isn't played as a joke or a compliment. Pedophilia is exactly what that orientation includes, and I'm not going to pretend that is ever okay. Some of the story turns in The Un-Iverse seem to occur solely to say how much I hate Russell T Davies and his tenure on Doctor Who and Torchwood. If I didn't, I'd simply make Donna and Amber beards that don't actually interest Vic. But because Torchwood sucks so much, so does Vic Puff. It's also a large reason he is also rapist.

    I would like to state for the record, that even though I bring up Trump in the story to compare his and Vic's evil mindsets, the debate is nothing like Hillary and Trump's debate. Hillary cleaned Trump's clock three times with no room for ambiguity. And it wasn't the voters who were showing an alarming fascination with Trump at that point. It was the media. The media in this story sort of being taken aback by how well Vic is received amongst the audience members shows that the media in The Un-Iverse is relatively benign, while ours is outright sinister.

    But the media later calling Vic "relatable" is not a Trump allegory. It's one for George W. Bush. As was the "I'd like to have a beer with him," thing.

    The opening to the story is kind of melancholy and reads a bit like a bleak Young Adult novel. The story gets back into the Gilda and Meek sensibility soon enough, but the fact that the Narrator spends most of the time talking during the first couple of scenes makes the story more like a novel than a comic book. It's only once the characters start interacting and goofing off with each other that it starts feeling like Gilda and Meek again.

    The Piranha's dream sequence at the beginning is a rarity for The Un-Iverse. I do not tend to show dreams unless they are an actual part of the Narrative like they were on Twin Peaks, and give the characters new information that is actually true, or moves the actual plot forward. Why aren't there more dream sequences? One essential Un-Iverse theme is that people are responsible for their own actions. There are no instances of mind control, or body swapping, or any example where a hero could do something despicable and later excuse it on a villain causing him to do it. I don't know why comics don't see things this way. If you are responsible for your own actions, it not only makes it so that when a character does a bad thing that it actually matters, it also means the same thing whenever a character does an awesome thing. If people are always infected with mind plagues and and memory wipes, the story's morality becomes arbitrary, and no-one is truly right or wrong or good or evil. And I think that's a bad thing. What alarms me is that it seems I'm the only person who does.

    I tend to lump dream sequences into that idea. The difference with fake-out dream sequences in most fiction is that it's not a case of a character not willing to be responsible for their own actions. It's the writer him/herself who is refusing to own up to their responsibility to the reader / viewer. And since my Narrator is the most honest Narrator since the Grandfather in The Princess Bride, (he only lies to the reader once during the entire 90 issue output, and no, I'm not going to tell you right now when it occurs) any rare time a dream sequence occurs, he is going to tell the reader before they witness it that that is what is going on. TV is always able to shock viewers with horrible behaviors and violent deaths, and then have the character wake up so the writer can say "Fooled you!". But I actually think fooling a fan in this particular manner is bad writing, and is something I think should only be done by complete hacks. The fact that good writers engage in this horrid trope too is something that drives me bananas.

    Dream sequences in The Un-Iverse being labeled dream sequences the entire time is me basically destroying perhaps the worst fictional trope besides mind control.

    The scene of Meek and the fedora was initially only going to involve him, Gilda, and Bernadette. But I thought it would be MUCH funnier if Dr. Raggleworth and the Piranha were included in his rejection. I was right. Now instead of it merely being a Girl Power moment for Gilda and Bernadette, it's an empowering moment for everyone else too. Gilda is the only one of them who looks amused instead of annoyed.

    I sort of make fun of Gilda's intelligence by not understanding how the replicators easily work, and not immediately checking with the computer about the idea of an additional power source, but the truth is Gilda is far more collected and professional than anybody (save Batman) would ever be in this exact same scenario. She basically walks onto a spaceship, and is able to bluff her way into a meeting with aliens she didn't even know existed earlier in the day, and can convincingly pretend to be a part of an organization that she merely assumes exists, and never did any real research on. It is true that Gilda is a very lucky woman, and that the Universe seems to love her. But the fact that she seems to be able to do almost anything is almost certainly due to her own skill, intelligence, and versatility. And she is a MUCH better liar than we ever suspected, which helps too.

    Lance texts Gilda the mission because if he called her, she could tell he was lying due to the b.s. detector, which works over the phone. Gilda might have went to the warehouse if she suspected the text MIGHT be a lie, but she probably wouldn't have bothered if she knew for sure it was.

    "How drunk would you have to be for me to look good?" is literally the worst pick-up line you could ever give a chick. There is something to be said for self-deprecation. But THAT specific instance of self-deprecation is outstandingly appalling. And amusing. Which describes the Bug Aliens in general.

    Earth Swing and Big Band music being the rage in this corner of the galaxy is going to be one of F.I.S.H's funkier elements. Frankly, I think it will actually work better as a comic book where we don't hear the music. Because I can just tell you the names of the songs the characters are listening to, and you can get them in your head from that. But if it's animation, I'd be paying royalties out the nose for the actual music for how often it happens. And I couldn't afford that. So people's imaginations are cheaper.

    Here's something interesting: In the scene where Gilda is setting the limit with Julius about her love life being none of his business, she calls him "Dr. Raggleworth". That is interesting because in every other appearance besides this and the first issue, she calls him "Julius", and she is the only person besides Gabrielle who does so. I like the idea that Gilda treats Julius very formally in this moment when she is setting that particular boundary limit.

    Here is an interesting clue: The alien letters on Lance Lockjaw's chest are done using the first basic Futurama alphabet. They should be unusually easy to decrypt for that reason.

    This story takes place in the middle of October. Vic sewing up the Republican nomination in two weeks shows that U.S. elections in The Un-Iverse move FAST.

    Crusty supposedly being off to hunt for treasure is probably the weakest excuse I could ever give for his absence, but at least I used it to set up Catlantis. But the truth is, Crusty's absence is me being a bad writer. I had nothing for him to do in this part of the saga, so I just say he skipped town for a bit rather than creating filler subplots for him that add unnecessary padding. And I'd rather do that than ignore him and pretend he never existed. Particularly since I know he'll be coming back, and that he'll have more to do then. I'd feel a lot worse for the lame excuse if an actual excuse wasn't necessary. Since it is, I'll take any lumps I'm due for it.

    I realized in hindsight that people might think Crusty is gone because he's a psychic, and that would reveal too much bad guy information to the group. In other words, maybe I set him aside because his superpower could have been a little TOO helpful. And that's not it at all, because none of the villains in The Un-Iverse (aside from Donna Demented) have a secret agenda. I just set him aside because I didn't want him to become the sixth or seventh wheel.

    This story is better than it should be. The plot kind of admittedly sucks. But I threw in a bunch of random great jokes I always wanted to tell to fill out the issue, so it seems better than it might have if Bernadette had picked a different week to quit sniffing glue. It's a badly written story. But you may not be able to tell that. To be honest, I can't really tell that anymore either.

    Still, this is probably one of the weakest cliffhangers I've ever done or ever will do. But the difference between this story and other multiparters is that this is just one story that is so long that I cut it into two parts, whereas the other multiparters were designed to be separate and equally riveting chapters in their own rights. The cliffhanger sucks because the sensibility of "The Bug Aliens" is one long story split in two, rather than two distinct parts.

    One of the interesting things about Gilda being frustrated at the adventure not making sense, is that by the end of the second part, it still doesn't. The questions that Gilda cannot for the life of her figure out remain unanswered. I answer the questions later in the saga, of course, but the Piranha's past with Lance Lockjaw, advanced technology like Universal Translators being invented on Earth, Meek's nightmares, we don't find out the deal behind them here. All of this is stuff that is gonna get addressed, some of it sooner rather than later. But by the end of this story, Gilda is just as thoroughly confused as she is at the beginning. And the reader might be too. Which is good. But interesting.

    And before you ask, no, the Piranha and his people are NOT aliens. They are from Earth, as noted in The Pontue Legacy: Prologue. That is not what is going on. At all.

    Here is a major spoiler alert, that I probably shouldn't give you, because you'd never even realize this plothole without me saying so: Just based on everything else that is going to happen in the rest of the 90 issue output of The Un-Iverse, there is absolutely no reason the Piranha should have had that specific dream at the beginning of the story. The fact that it's a vision, and gives him new information makes absolutely no sense whatsoever with what I have set up in the rest of the story. I point this out now, because sixty-some-odd issues from now, the story will be over, and nobody will think twice about this idea, or even remember this plothole, considering what the actual gut-wrenching ending to The Un-Iverse is. But this is truly one of the biggest plot holes I have ever left dangling. I resolve almost everything else. But this doesn't get resolved, because the idea behind it is actually inexplicable.

    For the record, the reason the Piranha is able to fly the spaceship is similarly hard to believe, but I will be revealing some information in the second half of the saga that will make that idea (somewhat) plausible. But there is NO logic to the dream / vision whatsoever. None. It is complete nonsense. Full stop.

    Lance Lockjaw's design in F.I.S.H. is one where he always seems to have heavily lidded eyes to hint at the character's smarminess and ego. But looking at the design here, the half lidded eyes actually look sinister when they are the only part of the face in the shadow that you can see. Lance's actual design is not actually scary. At all. He's sort of a handsome, Gilderoy Lockhart looking jerk. The Narrator will later describe him as having "a dazzling smile and a punchable face". I'm a little bit amused that he actually looks scary instead of insufferable here.

    Upon seeing how ugly and garish those alien business suits came out on the cover (especially Bernadette's) I had to remember to include a scene of her insulting them.

    I like that Gilda is the kind of person who would acknowledge that Bernadette left herself wide open to being called a cretin but decided against it. Gilda perhaps wants Bernadette to think she begged off the one-liner because she is kind and possesses grace. Actually, I think it's merely because Gilda thinks the potential joke would suck, and would be something you'd hear the studio audience hooting and hollering over on Married... With Children. It would be extremely low humor to actually go there. I personally think if Bernadette left an opening for a good insult at her expense, Gilda would take it. But this is clearly not something Gilda believes is worth losing coolness cred over. Best to acknowledge the dumb joke exists and then move on.

    Meek's pajamas are red polka dots to set up the ending of the next issue.

    The Piranha's animalistic urges at the beginning of the story fascinate me. Perhaps this will lead the reader to believe that the Piranha's species are quite savage and animalistic usually, and the Piranha is always behaving around his friends to fit in. That isn't what is going on (the Piranhas are in fact a very advanced and futuristic race of beings) but it also says that this is something the Piranhas we will meet later on in the story probably all struggle with.

    The Narrator telling the reader to "Try and keep up" upon shifting perspectives to across the galaxy is the Narrator insulting and patronizing the reader for no good reason whatsoever. This is not the first or last time it's happened, but I thought I'd remark about it this time because it is particularly assholish, even by his standards.

    Lance believing he can b.s. Gilda is to show that Lance is not as smart and competent as he thinks he is.

    I also love Bernadette's "Not the way I dress" line. As if a T-shirt and jeans are the most expensive outfit in the world.

    Vic gripping Powder's hand and saying "I regret nothing" is probably the sweetest Vic Puff moment in the series.

    I think Bernadette's explanation to Gilda that she didn't want Dr. Raggleworth to destroy R.I.C. because it shows what quote unquote "nice guys" like Julius think of women is probably one of the most badass, female empowering things she has ever said, which is good, because I don't think Bernadette is, strictly speaking, a feminist, or at least not in the same way Gilda clearly is. But it shows that all women have to put up with that crap, and whatever your political leaning, it gets old fast. And she's only ten and already sick of it.

    As a man, I often struggle with having the correct feminist perspectives coming out of Gilda and Bernadette's mouths. I think this was one idea I got completely right.

    I actually had to Google to find out the correct spelling to Vicks VapoRub. It's not like anyone would have cared, so even if it was misspelled in the script, it was probably a detail I didn't need to bother to get right.

    I don't even KNOW where the "Babies shouldn't eat candy!" thing came from. It just seemed like a really good rant for Bernadette to keep the group off-balance and shock everybody into submission. And Gilda gets that's what is going on and loves her for it. But it truly is quite a random thing for Bernadette to take such a loud and vociferous stance on.

    It seems very unlikely that Meek can recognize the wormhole gun as a wormhole gun, but one of the consistent themes about the space technology in The Un-Iverse is that it is extremely user friendly. Perhaps this is a bit TOO user friendly to be credible, but part of the reason Gilda and the group do as well on this mission as they do is because the technology they are encountering for the first time is incredibly simple to use. This is probably because all of this technology seems to be shared by everyone in the Galactic Alliance, therefore it NEEDS to be easy for every species to use, no matter their culture or language. By necessity. That's how trade and exports in outer space in The Un-Iverse can even function at all.

    To be honest, I am not sure why I always show Vic eating at seafood restaurants. Fish sort of tie into Christianity, and if he's always eating them, I might be suggesting he's a good Christian on some level.

    But the more I think about it, the likelier I think the actual explanation is to simply demonstrate that Vic is a person who is offensive to Gilda on every level you can think of. And even in ways she has no way of knowing about.

    Maybe a ten year old like Bernadette should not know the DMV is horrible. But honestly, I don't drive and have never been there, and I DO know it's horrible by reputation alone. The joke coming out of a ten-year-old's mouth would be more unlikely to me if Patty and Selma didn't exist.

    Another example of sometimes writing the script when it comes to the drawing stage: I initially envisioned Meek looking annoyed upon Bernadette's Airplane! quote and her telling him he knew he loved it. I also pictured Dr. Raggleworth looking a bit more pompous and outraged that he would even entertain the idea leaving the ship. But I ultimately drew Meek's expression as happy, and Julius's expression as excited, and then I realized that was the right answer all along.

    As the saga has gone on I have really started to love that the Piranha is the only person in the group who still calls Dr. Raggleworth "Dr. Raggleworth". That is far more formal than it should be as he's the only person Julius loves. The Doc even has a nickname for him: "Lil' Fishy". Why does the Piranha call him that?

    I think he wants a LITTLE distance between himself and Julius in case he finds his family. The fact is that he sees Julius as a father and Julius him as a son, and he doesn't want to get TOO attached in case he meets his family and decides to live with them. But truthfully, it's way too late for that.

    It also strikes me as a bit sad because the Piranha knows Otterman killed his immediate family. But I think he hopes Otterman is lying. Yes, if he met some other Piranhas he might stay with them, but deep down he refuses to believe that his family is dead despite the evidence. The Piranha is kidding himself about both of these things.

    I am amused that Gilda tell the computer to locate "The Bug Aliens known as Ron, Zeke, and Link". Because Lance only said their names once a few hours earlier, and she remembers them correctly anyways. This is a classic UnComix plothole that I ALWAYS engage in. For the most part, the characters only need to be told something once. Nobody ever forgets a codeword or how to recite a spell at an inopportune moment. My excuse for this repeated plot inconsistency is that even if it's UNLIKELY Gilda and friends aren't ever messing up the codes or spells, it's also not impossible. I also have Bernadette, who has a photographic memory, so if worse comes to worse, she can pull out the correct answer when they need it.

    I'll tell you one good thing about Otterman and Vic Puff: Once I attached Otterman to Vic, Otterman stopped being just a guest star in Gilda And Meek, and pretty much became a regular cast member for the rest of the series. I only noticed as I was writing the early issues (and knowing how heavily featured Otterman would be later on) that Otterman was used very sparingly at first to preserve some of the mystery of the character. We're at the point where we don't need to do that anymore, so we can have him in almost every Gilda and Meek issue from now on.

    The transporter effects in The Un-Iverse are usually yellow, to imply a connection with electricity, but all of the previous teleports were done using magic. I thought the effect of teleporting via a scientific transporter should be a different color, so I chose light blue, the same color as holograms. I also decided to make the replicator effects blue for consistency.

    I love that Gilda asks if she is speaking to Ron, Zeke, and Link. Because the names are right on the shirts, dumbass. Still be rude not to formerly ask, right?

    You know looking over the Bug Aliens' design, they look a LOT like Jeff Smith's Bone Cousins. That's fabulous considering how much I love Bone, and entirely coincidental considering I came up with the design before Bone came out.

    The group's cover being blown means Gilda can be the best liar ever, and the replicator technology more than adequately convincing. And Meek's still gonna wet himself. Gilda will need to factor that in in the future.

    I love that the Bug Aliens not only can't tell each other apart, but they'll openly admit that fact to strangers. These guys have a total lack of vanity that is refreshing.

    I briefly flirted with the idea of making the female Democrat a young black woman. It would sort of make explicit the kind of threat Vic's brand of hatred represents. Plus, I like the idea of Jessica Salize calling her filled with gravitas and command of the issues, and then you get to the debate and see that instead of an older white woman, she is a young black woman with short, unstraightened hair.

    I chickened out. I probably didn't need to, but I decided to play it very safe here instead. I was afraid what the message would look like if a black woman was steamrolled by Vic in the debates and then the election. As cool as it would be to have a smart, accomplished black character, I decided against it because the Female Democrat is massively unsuccessful by pretty much every measure. So she's a boring old white lady.

    I like that Zeke thinks the Piranha's suit is cute. Because it totally is.

    I will never get used to Meek in a long necktie rather than a bowtie.

    I drew some excellent Gildas this issue (especially near the end.) After 35 years and 24 issues, have I finally gotten the hang of the character?

    That last page is the Matt Zimmer version of the kitchen sink. Suffice it to say, it was a lot of fun to draw.

    One of the biggest questions by the end of the story is "Is Lance Lockjaw a good guy or a bad guy?" He's both and neither at the same time, in the same way he is simultaneously a hero and a failure. He fights for the side of good, and definitely has the group's best interest at heart (particularly the Piranha's). But he is also untrustworthy, a bit cruel, selfish, egomaniacal, and delusional about the righteousness of his goals. He is the real-life Captain Kirk of The Un-Iverse, if Kirk was seen by the writers, fans, and other characters the way I always saw him. But just because he goes about doing the right thing the wrong way, doesn't mean he isn't trying to do the right thing. And that's pretty much all I'll give Kirk.

    Lance is unlike Kirk in a very big (and good) way (that you will see in F.I.S.H.). Lance is a gentlemen. There are actual legit reasons he doesn't try to bang a space girl in every port, but he's straight and still doesn't, so he's an improvement there. And I like that none of the male heroes of The Un-Iverse are pigs, or at least like Dr. Raggleworth, not a pig in a harmful way that actually hurts women. There are no alpha male heroes in The Un-Iverse. Those who fit into that specific trope (like Superduperpooperman) are shown as incompetent and corrupt as well. I do not think a badass hero needs to treat women poorly to establish their masculinity to the reader / viewer. If they do, the writers are better off not making them heroes in the first place.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    R.I.C. was actually created in the 1980's, and used to be known as Computer R.I.C.K.. He was essentially Raggleworth Labs' Batcomputer. Decades later, computers didn't need to be that big, so I Easter Egged him here as a sentient operating system instead. Spoiler alert: This is NOT his last appearance. Not by a longshot.
     
  9. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    14. Gilda And Meek "The Bug Aliens: Part Two: The Next Phase" (Un-Iverse #25)

    Rating: PG (Mild language).

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  10. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes for Gilda and Meek "The Bug Aliens: Part Two: The Next Phase" (Spoiler-Free)

    It amazes me how non-present Lance Lockjaw is during the rest of the 45 issues that make up The Mistress Augatha Arc. He is one of the most important characters in the second half of the saga and "The Terran Wars".

    This issue shares something with the fifth UnComix One Shots: Meek's Chiller Theatre. It's the second thing I have written where I realize the franchise is going to turn out okay, and that the blank space that currently exists in certain upcoming issues should be filled out pretty easily.

    Like One-Shots #5, the second part to The Bug Aliens outline had almost nothing in it. That's not even true of the first part (which had a respectable outline going on). But even if these two issues are simply one story split in two, the fact that this issue's outline was so thin told me I had no real idea how to work in the ending I planned (Gilda threatening to kill the Bug Aliens and Bernadette talking her off the ledge). I wanted that moment, but for the longest time, knew nothing of the pieces between the beginning of the issue and that moment.

    But once I completed the script to the first part, everything else fell into place, and I pretty much got all of my ideas out at once. There are four or five issues in The Terran Wars that have an equally bare-bones outline, and the fact that I was so easily able to fill up this one tells me I'll be able to do that too when I get to them.

    Unlike the entirety of One-Shots #5, I do not think this is an excellent issue. But it doesn't need to be to tell me the rest of the saga is going to be all right. Because it will be.

    I always claim that The Un-Iverse's biggest influence is Star Trek, specifically Deep Space Nine, which is weird, because Gilda and Meek is not an actual sci-fi series by itself (and Deep Space Nine is NOT the most famous Star Trek series). But I hope you see by the tropes I use here, and later on in the saga (particularly in F.I.S.H. and "The Terran Wars") that I'm not just blowing smoke out of my ass with that claim.

    Meek's threats to humiliate Bernadette in front of alien strangers is pretty much the worst parenting he has ever done. And yet, it works. Meek's parental role model to me is Donald Duck from the Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics. He's sometimes a magnificent parent, and sometimes a lousy one. It should be a constant struggle between the two. And I'm afraid I've veered too far away from Donald Duck by generally speaking, making Meek TOO good of a parent. I should be making him out to be worse than I do. Gilda is the adult in Bernadette's life who always seems to do wrong by her, (notice her thinking this is actually a great idea) but I think it is very important to show that that doesn't mean Meek always does right by her. This scene is me trying to show that. If I had a way to, I probably would have inserted three or four other similar scenes of Meek being a sucky parent, (although in very different ways). But Meek's sucky parenting only boils down to this (and the consenting to Bernadette setting off a bomb) and a scene in the next issue. And I really regret that.

    But admit it, that's pretty much Meek's greatest threat ever. You'd almost believe the guy is threatening murder and torture with how spooked and appalled it makes Bernadette. Which means he's doing SOMETHING right.

    "Operas and laments about The Girl Who Sucked." I love that line.

    That moment with Dr. Raggleworth and the Piranha and the toys in the spaceship, is me showing in a VERY clear fashion why the Piranha is the only person Dr. Raggleworth actually loves. And the scene is effective, if only for demonstrating that. Even if the Piranha is far more emo and annoying than usual during this two-parter, I wanted to show exactly why he and Julius love each other so much. Even if the reader is a bit disgusted with the Piranha during this story, I wanted to show why Julius never is too.

    I was very unhappy with the scene where the alien Sultan betrays Gilda. Because it is a cliched and predictable scene, and considering how often I try to bust tropes, it strikes me as unacceptable for this particular franchise. But I could not think of a better way out of the situation than the Sultan welshing on his debt. I was very unhappy about that. So I decided instead to show that the Sultan is not all bad. He is lovingly showing his delighted granddaughter music for the first time, and opening up her world in a way it never has been before. And it's because he does that, I can make Gilda feel like a total dick when she tries to rob him upon interrupting that. That is STILL a bit of a cliche, but it's not quite as bad as the other one, so I'm okay with it, and more okay with the betrayal than I otherwise would have been. Okay enough to include it, instead of completely rewriting the story for a better outcome.

    I sort of wrote myself into a corner with the betrayal because of the b.s. detector, but again, the detector saved the story, rather than hurt it. Gilda knowing the betrayal is coming, but doing the right thing anyways to set an example for Bernadette, is a completely cool and awesome scene. And the reason I was able to come up with it was because I knew once I did the betrayal thing, I could not have him fool the detector, even if we don't draw attention to the fact that that is what just happened. And because I am always figuring out reasons why Gilda is right, instead of making excuses as to why she is wrong, that meant if I did the betrayal, I had to give Gilda a good reason for being drawn into that scenario. Honestly? I think the reason I gave was fabulous, and make me think a HECK of a lot more of Gilda, which would not be the case if I just pretended the b.s. detector didn't exist in this moment, and hope the reader forgot too. And again, I have a hell of a lot more fun coming up with reasons why Gilda is always right than the Once Upon A Time producers do having to say why Emma Swan's lie detector is always wrong. A HELL of a lot more fun.

    The scene where Meek pops in and out of our universe with different pajamas might worry the reader more than it should. Because it hints that the version of Meek we know has been replaced by another Universe's version and we'll never see our Meek again. That's not what is happening. Meek isn't switching places with other Universes' Meeks. He's switching pajamas with them. Which is a far weirder and cooler concept that makes no sense. And it's the fact that it makes no sense which is why the Narrator simply stops the story, instead of picking threads any further. I DO want to assure the reader here that when Meek reappears twice, it is still the exact same Meek we know and love.

    There is a moment at the end that I love, that I presume Gilda and Meek shippers will absolutely hate. And Gilda and Meek shippers will wind up getting the rawest deal of any potential Un-Iverse fans. Spoiler alert: Gilda and Meek are never going to kiss, make out, have sex, or wind up together. Don't get your hopes up or expect that. It is natural for ANY project, genre or otherwise, to pair up the opposite sex leads, or at least make flirtation or "Will they or won't they?" part of the subtext. There is none of that with Gilda and Meek, and I pretty much give people who might want to see them wind up together absolutely nothing to work with. That's the right decision, because as Meek has Asperger's, he doesn't flirt, and Gilda is similarly lacking pretense in all of her relationships, male and female.

    But that means there is going to be a certain aspect of Gilda and Meek's relationship which will infuriate shippers. I'd apologize for it, but I actually think it's kind of funny. But Gilda and Meek are CRAAAAAZY intimate. Gilda does not have breasts, but her pulling Meek's face into her chest and smothering his head with kisses is something only one of two people would do: a mother or a lover. And since we know Gilda isn't Meek's mother, that's gonna get a certain fan's hopes up. But one of the things that shippers will absolutely detest about The Un-Iverse, is that Gilda and Meek share the intimacy of a romantic couple. But are completely unattracted to each other and are never going to get together. Gilda pushing Meek's face in her chest says that she and Meek are sleeping together. The fact that they aren't, don't want to, and never will in the entire story, is really gonna aggravate shippers of Gilda and Meek. And I'm absolutely okay with that. If a certain segment of fan is unwilling to accept the fact that Gilda and Meek are perfectly content and happy with their relationship the way it is, and don't believe it is missing anything, maybe they deserve to be hit over the head with a hammer by scenes like that. And I'm not going to feel bad about it. At all.

    Once in a blue moon, I will deliver a Gilda and Meek issue with zero Vic Puff subplots in them altogether. They are somewhat uncommon, but I also consider them a bit of a treat. Even if this probably isn't a great issue, it might be more enjoyable than usual due to that fact.

    It is true: Bernadette and Meek look nearly identical, just going by the face. I don't even put female lips or eyelashes on Bernadette to feminize her in comparison to her brother. Winnifred and Stella Stickyfingers share this exact same problem, only worse, because they are both blue, exactly like Bernadette is. Characters that look somewhat alike with different clothing and color schemes used to be quite common, as it made creating toylines in the 1980's easier, and the toy manufacturers could just do repaints of the same figure easily, or even simply put a new head on a standard figure buck. Since this is a modern day project, I really should have differentiated Meek and Bernadette (and the rest of the female dogs) more, but the truth is, I love the design on both of them, and I wasn't willing to change either. I probably then should have done it for Stella and Winifred, but I figured if I try to get away with it with Meek and Bernadette, Stella and Winifred will literally be the least of my problems.

    The only explanation I was ever really able give those four characters (and Bill the Blue and Krac) all looking alike is that they are all distantly related. Which sort of explains everything. Except for why Winifred and Krac look alike. But that is simply the best I can do.

    The Narrator pointing out the bad art style himself is another reason The Un-Iverse will get FAR less crap thrown at it than a genre project that never does stuff like that. FAR less.

    I actually gave Bernadette eyelashes in one panel in this story (when she's batting her eyes at the Sultan while pretending to be a cute kid).

    Gilda pointing out that Meek and Bernadette look alike is pretty much the most racist thing she has ever said to either of them. It's the fact that she's right, which is why I had her say something that outrageously insulting. It's subversive that Gilda refuses to b.s. them even about THIS. It's also weirdly funny.

    We will learn later in the saga that Gilda used to be quite racist (towards Werewolves, at least) a few years ago. This is probably an old habit popping up.

    Do you know what is especially subversive about this moment? Meek and Bernadette get MUCH less mad at this than they actually should be. They are annoyed instead of furious. Probably because even they know she is right. Which is an insane reaction to an insane situation.

    I always sort of write Bernadette and Gilda as a bit racially insensitive towards each other in the back of my head. Gilda is aware of this dynamic, and it doesn't bother her. She just thinks they are giving each other the business. We will deal with this more in the sequel than in the first 90 issues. But I think it DOES bother Bernadette. Deep down, I think Bernadette REALLY wishes Gilda were a Dog.

    It's something her and her brother have in common, and on some level Bernadette does not believe she is getting the solidarity from Gilda she WOULD be getting if they were more superficially alike. This has never been Gilda and Meek's problem, and Meek doesn't care about stuff like that, but I think out of all of Bernadette's regrets about her messed up relationship to a woman she is eventually going to fall in love with, this might be the biggest, because there is NO way to actually fix it. And that's another reason their relationship is so messed up.

    For her part, Gilda does NOT wish she was a Dog. Not even a little. Because Gilda knows if she was, she'd probably wind up smelling even worse than she does now, since they have more fur, and hair is where body odor lives. And that's a non-starter. And I get that.

    She doesn't wish Meek and Bernadette were Cats either. Because Cats tend to be assholes. It would change her outlook on Meek entirely, and you think Bernadette is horrible now? Holy cow. No, any racial insensitivity felt by another person is only felt by Bernadette. And I find it fascinating.

    Here's a question: Does Bernadette wish she was a Cat?

    Yes. Yes she does. But it has nothing to do with Gilda. She's wished that since before she's even known her. Bernadette is outright ashamed she is a Dog because Dogs are so sunny and nice. And she wishes there was a rational explanation as to why she isn't. But there isn't one.

    Bernadette also admires Cats because she shares more with them personalitywise than with her own people. Unlike Dogs, Cats are fighters and warriors. They are also VERY spritually inclined (as is Bernadette). And they choose their politics based upon strength and authority, which also fits into Bernadette's conservatism. There is a definite reason she falls in love with Gilda in the first place.

    For the record, the fact that Gilda is a liberal is very unusual. Most Cats are Republicans (and most Dogs are Democrats). And despite the spirituality thing, it's more because they are more Rockefeller Republicans than religious conservatives.

    The fact that Bernadette has so many regrets about her relationship with Gilda, while Gilda apparently has none about her relationship with Bernadette, is the biggest reason Gilda and Bernadette could never work. Bernadette wants things from her relationship with Gilda that she doesn't have, while Gilda is perfectly happy with the relationship the way it is, and doesn't want things to change. That mindset is Kryptonite to somebody else if they fall in love with you, and this is partly why Bernadette is as unhappy as an adult as she is.

    Honestly, I am not too comfortable with the racial differences I raise in The Un-Iverse. If I say Cats are all strong and smart, and Dogs are all friendly and hard working, and Humans are all artistic and mean-spirited, I might as well be saying the same things about the differences because blacks, Asians, and whites. To have those species differ in personality the way they do, is me engaging in stereotypes, albeit fictional ones, which ironically is Star Trek's biggest weakness too. Star Trek does it for allegory purposes (and The Un-Iverse does not) but it's always been ******** every single time. It's ironic because Star Trek is the biggest influence in The Un-Iverse. But engaging in fictional stereotypes is almost me saying real stereotypes have merit.

    But the thing that differs Gilda and Meek from Star Trek to me is that Gilda is a pretty poor example of a Cat following what Cats think of as authoritarian and manipulative, which are a major part of the society of Cats' philosophies. And Bernadette is as far from nice and friendly and hard working as possible, so she's an atypical dog too. And as long as we are going there, Meek is hardly nice or hardworking either. And while Humans are the worst species, Hank is practically the most virtuous character, and he is Human too. And the Piranha behaves nothing like the rest of his people. The only main non-villain character of the three major races who feeds into their negative stereotypes is Dr. Raggleworth, who IS admittedly a bit foolish and cruel as Humans tend to be. But it's because most of the heroes besides him don't act anything like their species think they should act, shows an essential and repeated Un-Iverse lesson. People are responsible for their own actions. Somebody's species didn't make them do either a horrible or awesome thing. They chose to do that themselves. And even if I give separate characterizations for the species the way most fantasy does for Dwarfs and Elves and the like, that doesn't mean I think those characterizations are one size fit all. I admit, I sometimes engage in negative fantasy cliches. But it's the fact that I have so many characters who refuse to follow the stereotype which is why somebody might forgive it.

    The races in The Un-Iverse are more Tolkien than Star Trek. Because neither Cats nor Dogs are an allegory for a race of person that actually exists. Their stereotypical personalities are not stand-ins for any race of person I've ever heard stereotyped. The closest some people will think we get to that is Cats being similar to Jews, because Cats share the negative stereotype that they are power brokers who controls thing behind the scenes without people knowing about it. But the thing is, cats are also physically strong, badass warriors goddesses, so if I AM taking a shot at Jews, I seem to be doing so while declaring them the awesomest people who ever existed. Which is something I very much doubt the Ferengi were meant to be when Gene Roddenberry created them as an alien Hebrew stand-in back when they embarrassingly debuted on Next Gen in 1987. The Ferengi eventually grew awesome on Deep Space Nine. But they were originally an anti-Semitic insult. There is no other way to read them in "The Last Outpost". Which is why I think Gene Roddenberry's lionization as a standard bearer for humanity's future and progressive equality is definitely overstated. And probably why if you get right down to it, The Un-Iverse most resembles Deep Space Nine (the one most unlike Gene's vision) rather than any other Trek series (or movie).

    Speaking of Star Trek: Here's something funny: Bernadette drinks an entire giant stein of "Klingon Blood Wine" and doesn't get the slightest bit drunk, which considering how strong blood wine is on Star Trek, means one of two things.

    1. The alien version of alcohol does not effect Terrans' sobriety.

    2. 10 year old Bernadette can REALLY hold her liquor.

    I actually lean towards it being the second thing.

    Ralph Nader never ran for President in The Un-Iverse and is still in charge of the Better Business Bureau. Which is another thing that demonstrates that The Un-Iverse is better than our Universe.

    I was not originally going to humiliate Gilda for her terrible plan as much as I did, but it was so much fun that I couldn't stop. And just when you think I am beating up on Gilda TOO much, we learn that the real reason her plan was dumb and always going to fail is because Gilda is too good and noble to actually go through with it. And even she doesn't realize it until the moment she has to take the gem in front of the frightened kid. I'm making the entire scene and story build up as if Gilda is the dumbest person alive, when I'm actually saying the reason the dumb plan doesn't work is simply that Gilda is too good for it. The problem is not the actual plan, as stupid as it sounds. The problem is Gilda herself. And I love that idea. It sounds like I'm finally knocking Gilda down a few pegs, when in reality I'm showing why she will ALWAYS be amazing, even when she doesn't want to be.

    I'll tell you one good thing about that twist. It's not played as clever, or as if I'm insufferably pleased with myself. It's obvious, and is a "Well duh!" moment rather than a "Fooled ya!" moment. Without that twist, the issue is outright badly written, and I like the fact that the Narrator is always throwing that kind of thing in my face. He doesn't think the twist is well-written at all. It's obvious. And the Narrator seems to resent having to pretend something that obvious is a twist in the first place. And when he's pointing out that little girls shouldn't handle live bombs, you kind of get the feeling that the twist doesn't ACTUALLY make up for how dumb the story still is. Because Gilda and Meek allow 10-year-old Bernadette to plant a bomb. And it's not even the stupidest thing about the plan. Planting a bomb on a space station is ill-advised because if it goes wrong and blows up worse than planned, you could destroy the station, and then everyone gets sucked into space and dies. Part of why I love the Narrator is because he seems to hate and resent me. And I think this is one of those issues where I gave him good reason to do that.

    That moment is probably the biggest example of me using the made-up trope "The Complainer Is Always Right" in the entire series. It's a trope that is NEVER used outside of this franchise, but Bernadette's contrary opinions here own Gilda's dumb plan with an owning stick.

    Honestly, I wish I knew more about business transactions. Bernadette's meet-cute with the Sultan to get Gilda talking to him and start negotiations, doesn't seem very true to life for me. And it shouldn't, because I don't know the first thing about business deals. I'm poor.

    Trade secret: I don't know the first thing about a lot of the things I write about. But this one thing concerns me, because I kind of think the READER will get the feeling that I don't actually know anything about the subject, which hasn't been a problem before now. The writer not knowing the subject is something a good writer never makes the reader believe. I'd be more worried if it wasn't for the fact that I've often b.s.-ed myself as a believable expert on several subjects, and gotten away with it before now. It makes sense that my luck finally ran out here.

    And no, I'm not going to tell you which plausible sounding previous scenes I pulled entirely out of my ass. I'm not going to do your job of nitpicking and bashing the comic for you.

    I love that Lance Lockjaw calls Gilda "Miss Thurman". I love that because that is the type of thing that would immediately piss someone like Gilda off. One of Lance's defining characters traits in F.I.S.H. is him being completely oblivious to the amount of people he accidentally offends with his hubris and condescending ego. A feminist like Gilda being referred to as a Miss rather than a Ms. is the first hint that Lance lacks even rudimentary social skills.

    And it's dumb. Most people wouldn't even be offended by that. But this is Lance's entire problem. He always says precisely the wrong thing to precisely the wrong person. 99 out of 100 women in the galaxy would not take offense at that. Lance is the kind of guy who always gets the 1. Every. Single. Time. Defining character trait.

    The Man In Pajamas running his finger down one of the Bug Aliens' cheeks is beyond horrific and creepy. Those things are also an unfortunate defining Lance Lockjaw character trait.

    You might have actually suspected that Lance Lockjaw actually KILLED the Bug Aliens by zapping them with the wormhole gun, but they're actually fine. I don't mind stating this because they actually pop up in the next issue. Lance ripping them across two points in spacetime was excruciating, but not lethal, or even inherently damaging.

    If this two-parter is a tribute to Star Trek, I can think of no greater tribute to Roddenberry's opus than to point out that it looks like the shuttlepod doesn't actually have a bathroom. Neither does the Enterprise.

    I love that Bernadette says "Good answer," upon Dr. Raggleworth telling her he wanted to get away from her. I love that because it shows she values smartass remarks and rude behavior, even if she's at the other end of it. This is one of the very few things that her and Dr. Raggleworth have in common.

    Perhaps you have a problem with Bernadette being impressed by that quip, because it is actually NOT a good or funny quip. But I imagine Bernadette cares less that's it an old-hat lame joke, and more that a 70-year-old man had the steel ovaries to say it to a 10-year-old girl. There is a fearlessness in Grumpy Old Man rudeness that Bernadette admires. You know those horrible people in retirement homes who are always angrily yelling and making ALL the visitors uncomfortable and nervous? Those are actually the only senior citizens Bernadette Anderson thinks hold any real value.

    The Bug Aliens names on their Spacesuits at the end are done in the first Futurama alphabet.

    Gilda instantly noticing the alien translator being able to translate for Klingon Blood Wine is an example of what Gilda's scientific curiosity actually entails.

    "That's an adult beverage right thar!" is a funny line.

    Both of the bartenders in the issue (the one in the first panel, and the one who serves Bernadette a couple of pages later) are Bi-Globs (an alien race with two heads). That was less to do with the idea that those guys all serve drinks, and more to do with the fact that I had wound up making a continuity mistake, and made both bartenders the same species to fix it.

    The Bartender saying that Gilda treats Bernadette as a peer means it's not just Meek who thinks this. It's not just Meek at all.

    The second head on the top of the Bi-Glob bartender always has the same expression on its face as the bottom head. Very Wade from U.S. Acres.

    Meek fell for the cancer hand thing four previous times? Most people need to only fall for it once. What a dumbass.

    Somewhere there is a Universe out there where there is a nightclub that 10 year old Bernadette Anderson sings torch songs at. And I want to live in that Universe.

    The design for the Krozmodiarans came out a lot better than I expected. They literally do no look like any other fictional alien I've seen (which is good).

    I love that one of the Krozmodiaran Guards holds his sword with his nose.

    I like that the Bug Aliens are the kinds of people who will openly admit they are douchnozzles. I love that about them, especially since they sprung that opinion unasked.

    I'd feel worse about Meek's "death" being a total fake-out if I didn't know exactly how fudged up Meek is going to get in the next few issues. It's hardly the worst thing that happens to him and sort of gives a dark hint of what he is in store for.

    Dr. Raggleworth and the Piranha only popping up at the end when things seem all right tells me that pair is useless.

    The phaser effects are blue to hint that it works the same way as the transporter.

    I love that the phaser is the same shape as a revolver. The Un-Iverse is a no-frills Universe.

    I also love that Dr. Raggleworth sees the ship vanishing at the end coming. Normally, you hit up a hero with a piece of futuristic tech, they are surprised and disappointed when the alien behind it takes it back at the end. But Julius knows that is the only logical outcome, and instead downloads the specs for his favorite invention on the ship. Bernadette is exactly as clueless and cliched as most heroes in that exact scenario. But I love that Dr. Raggleworth planned for it ahead of time.

    Here's something about the story I love, but I'll be surprised if many people tolerate. In the last issue, we set up a bunch of mysteries that Gilda and company could not for the life of them figure out, and sort of make it seem like the culmination of this story would be answering the tough questions. Which does not happen. Mostly because by the end of the adventure, the characters are so spent, they no longer even care about those mysteries. It's gonna piss the reader off, but I love that it's Gilda's ultimate boredom that means I can keep some of those mysteries in the air for as long as I do.

    I mean, the Piranha actually decides against asking the Man in Pajamas The Riddle. Ever wonder what would have happened if he did? I love that this issue gives no answers, for the sole reason that the characters stopped caring about them.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    These are the first issues where we see some of the aliens that make up the main species in the upcoming spin-off F.I.S.H.. There are some Rabbaceans and Porcinese in the background of the cantina (including the Rabbacean Rebels from an upcoming issue). The Hotfoot Alien is one of the first Thrornaxes we ever see (there is another one in the first panel), and both of The Alien Bartenders are the first Bi-Globs in the saga.
     
  11. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Decisions have been made, and I'm confirming them here for the first time.

    The Un-Iverse is NOT ending. But my days of posting it on Toon Zone are going to be finite. I'll keep every issue I've posted here, and I'll still draw sketches of the characters for you guys on a regular basis, but I've made the pretty firm decision to stop posting the penciled issues themselves at issue #33 (entitled Gilda And Meek "The Apple"). If I do want to see The Un-Iverse legitimately published someday (and I do) I can't tease the entire thing before it happens, or nobody will bother rereading something they've already read for free. I posted The Un-Iverse on Toon Zone and Deviant Art to sort of test the waters, and see what people thought. I have gotten less feedback than I'd have liked, but most the feedback I have gotten has been positive (outside of one joker on Deviant Art stating that Gilda's head looks like a loaf of bread, which in fairness, it does). Issue #33 is going to be a defining issue for me to stop on. I think most of the issues past that point involve spoilers that I do not feel comfortable revealing publicly at this point, while the artwork sucks, and while I'm trying to sell it. There is one "Spoiler free" issue after that one, but to be honest, it's not as good a stopping place, and won't leave you wanting more the way "The Apple" will. So as of now, the last Un-Iverse issues to be posted on Toon Zone and Deviant Art are going to be the upcoming interlude "Howler: Infecteds", the five-part miniseries Gilda and Meek "Warlocks: Beyond Reality", followed by the Gilda and Meek stories "Fight Or Flight" and "The Apple". I truly believe "The Apple" will be a turning point in the franchise, so I kind of want to leave things there.

    In the meantime, I will still be penciling new issues at home, and once I finish penciling the 90th and final issue, I'll shop it around and try to sell it. I cannot really expect to sell The Un-Iverse in its current form. Any publisher would pretty much have to know how all 90 issues work out ahead of time to be willing to take a chance on it. And I'm willing to put that work in first to show any potential publishers why it would be a worthwhile franchise to take a chance on.

    Part of me really regrets that I'm going to stop posting Gilda and Meek on Toon Zone with issue 33. Because The Un-Iverse is all about the slow-burn, and doesn't really start to get kick-butt until the last 19 issues. But that's for a publisher to see and judge, and I don't want to give the store away for free on a message board.

    I will still be posting my various pompous opinions about cartoons and TV shows around the rest of Toon Zone, however. None of you will be lucky enough to be rid of me for that at least.
     
  12. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Un-Iverse Updates:

    1. This next issue (UnComix Tales: Howler "Infecteds") is turning into quite a chore. You'd figure with the amount of time I'm putting into the artwork, that it would look better. But it is quite a slog, there are three stories in the issue, and I'm still on the first. I expect to be done within two weeks. That's my goal. But at this point it's not a sure thing. It could be sooner OR later.

    2. Current events. The Stormy Daniels thing in the news is making me throw up my hands in despair. I always say Trump is worse than Vic Puff, and then revelations that he had a fling with a porn star occur JUST after I post an issue where Vic refuses to do precisely that for moral reasons. If you read Vic 20 years ago you'd accuse me of being too cynical. Now it turns out my problem is that I am simply not cynical enough.

    3. The current plans for me to cease putting The Un-Iverse on Toon Zone after issue 33 are unchanged. The next five years or so as I complete the rest of the saga are going to be a little nerve-wracking to me without any feedback whatsoever, but I'm not shopping this story around without the ending put to paper. The ending is the entire franchise's selling point and I doubt any publisher would hire me just based on what I've posted on Toon Zone so far. Be aware I already know the comic book that I've shown you is far from amazing. That is by design. You'll only see the amazing stuff if somebody gives me the greenlight. But I have to write the ending before I shop it around. So you won't see me around all too much in this subforum for at least five years after issue 33.
     
  13. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    1. UnComix Tales: Howler "Infecteds" (Un-Iverse #26)

    Rating PG-13 (Language, adult themes, some bloody violence, sexual situations, partial nudity, a vulgar hand gesture, smoking, drinking, and scatological elements. Here's an irony: The stories in here are FAR milder than the discretion warning suggests. This is a soft PG-13 at best.)

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  14. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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  15. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    Linear Notes For UnComix Tales: Howler "Infecteds" (Abridged, Spoiler Free)

    UnComix Tales has a very similar premise and format to UnComix One-Shots: A Howler story and two or three other different short stories with different characters. The main difference to me is that the One-Shots are all annoying nonsense (for the most part) and seem to be (key word being "seem") to be random unrelated crap to Gilda And Meek. UnComix Tales is very different in that the stories in it seem to be very substantive, at least compared to the One-Shots. There is an Unkie Matty story in the next Interlude, but other than that random piece of dreck, all of the rest of the stories, if not outright good, are at least linear in nature, and seem to effect the actual Narrative is easily seen ways. And each of the three Howler Interludes will contain an actual legit Gilda And Meek adventure. Not a short, not unrelated goofing off with Meek and Bernadette, an actual Gilda and Meek adventure (which is something none of the One-Shots did). Granted, as seen here, none of them will be as epic as the regular book sometimes is, but one of the most infamous things about the One-Shots to me is how light they are on Gilda And Meek. Part of the trial of the One-Shots is spending five issues with characters you don't care about to get back to characters you do.

    Also UnComix Tales are Interludes that last one issue each before getting back to the main story. The One-Shots occurred five in a row, so they are less tolerable.

    But you don't have to wait to get back to Gilda and Meek adventures in The Tales. They are right here, and their story isn't going anywhere, and they'll headline the next issue. I think UnComix Tales is not just better off for having more stories that actually matter to The Un-Iverse, but it doesn't contain the One-Shots' biggest fault in making you feel like you are missing something. Basically once The One-Shots are over, we'll have all Gilda And Meek stories until their last issue in Un-Iverse #47. And that's how I initially planned it before I frontloaded The Pontue Legacy and One-Shots because there was no better place for them. The Un-Iverse is far larger than Gilda and Meek, but my original intention was for the first half of the saga (The Mistress Augatha Arc) to be non-stop Gilda and Meek. We'll get into some spin-offs after Gilda and Meek is over, but 11 issues without Gilda and Meek at this stage of the game was far more than I planned, and far more than I should have done after only 8 Gilda and Meek stories (2 of which in which neither Gilda nor Meek appear). This section of the saga is what the reader has been waiting for, and I hope they'll forgive the detour to make the last 19 issues of the original 90 issues boss. It was always my intention for the Mistress Augatha Arc to pretty much be mostly Gilda and Meek until their story ended properly, and I branched off to other titles in the second half of The Un-Iverse. I just regret that I had to cluster all of the non-Gilda And Meek issues together, and so early on, because I didn't think this stage of the saga deserved to be interrupted.

    But this is where we were always supposed to be, and I'm glad that there is no sense of annoyance left in the franchise at the seemingly unrelated crap. You will love the One-Shots in hindsight after the 90 issues are over, but for now, I'm glad that even issues that aren't ABOUT Gilda and Meek, still all feature them pretty heavily. It's kind of exciting, actually.

    Here is something interesting: The Howler story used to be absolutely terrible. I don't think it's perfect now, but just based on the original outline, I predicted it would probably wind up in the bottom five Un-Iverse stories of all time when all was said and done. And now it's actually decent. Which floors me.

    It's the individual Werewolf personalities that I created that saved that mess. Over and over again I learn, the more you focus on characters and their personalities, and WHY they do the things they do, the better off the story will be.

    Maybe it sounds likes I'm tooting my own horn for having the Narrator state that the women heroes in this story tend to be smarter and more badass than the men. Except, I kind of feel that if I DON'T say that at this point, people are gonna confuse all of these strong female characters for Mary Sues. Which is not what is happening. At all.

    The other thing that saved the story is that I realized that the soldiers and doctors in the building and Howler and his friends were on the same side, and the soldiers and doctors didn't know it. It's a great twist, made doubly great by the fact that Howler doesn't WANT it to be true, and it doesn't lessen her hatred for these dirtbags. This is the first genuine clue that parts of the "Stop Augatha" movement are actually sinister. Gilda being forced to work with Agent Barracuda later on is a more explicit version of that idea, but as Gilda stated to Gabrielle all the way back in the fifth issue of Gilda and Meek, just because you share the same goals with someone, doesn't make that person a good person. And these scientists torturing Werewolves, and using them as lab experiments to try and figure out a way to rob Augatha of one of her biggest weapons, is the first example we see of that.

    The question throughout the first half of The Mistress Augatha Arc is "Can the heroes really beat Mistress Augatha and save the world?" The answer is, of course, "Yes." I am not actually spoiling anything by revealing that. Gilda has always claimed Augatha is a nothing that they were going to beat easily, and I'm not going to prove her wrong. What I will say, is that this is the section of the saga where the question stops being "Can they?". The answer is an easy yes. The new question is, "Should they?" Which is far less easy to answer, and is in fact, something I NEVER give a definitive answer to, even after the end of the saga. The ultimate moral there is entirely up to the perspective of the reader. But it's stuff like this that makes it a difficult question in the first place.

    The Werewolf prisoners supposedly refusing to join Augatha sort of makes the story even MORE maddening. These scientists are experimenting on potential allies. But they think their mission is more important than recruiting Werewolf Resistance members. But that's the entire problem with different factions of the government working for and against Augatha. You don't know who to trust. The layers of the Augatha conspiracy are so far-reaching and complicated that oftentimes people are double and triple crossing people on the same side, simply to address THEIR main agenda, and I'm betting oftentimes, completely accidentally too. None of the doctors ever guess that Howler doesn't even work for Augatha. They accidentally reveal the truth too, without being aware finding a cure is NOT something they should tell to Werewolves loyal to Augatha. Nobody seems to be able to keep track of this stuff. How many or potential friends and enemies have been misidentified during this entire mess?

    Part of why Augatha's evil is so mundane is because there is too much paperwork involved to be able to fully grasp what the actual plan is. The government red tape and crossed signals hint that if the Werewolf army are her legion of Hellspawn, and the Mumm-Ra Firepit her voodoo priests, the Idols Of The Gragnocks her birthing the Antichrist, then the U.S. government is her version of the DMV. Which is pretty much more sinister than all of those other ideas put together.

    There are no Dogs among the soldiers and doctors in the prison. Which is another thing to suggest that they are the most decent species in The Un-Iverse.

    Judy is specifically dressed in baggy fitting long sleeves and pants to hide her sexuality from pushy men. That's part of her trauma. She is also the first Werewolf we meet with glasses.

    Judy is not an outwardly attractive character, which is something I like. She is entirely this awesome on her own. She is similar to Gilda in that way.

    One of the best things about the badass women in The Un-Iverse, is that there are SO many of them, and yet they all have different personality types. In most franchises with badass women, there is only one, so they give her a pretty basic badass personality. And I think because most shows do that, which is why so many male fanboys complain about political correctness, and creators supposedly creating strong females to make a political statement. The creators are giving them ammo, by make each badass woman a lone wolf who doesn't play well with other. If most badassed woman on TV are the same (damaged and distant) it gives those idiot fanboys a perfect excuse to want to downplay diversity, and more roles for badass women. But Gilda is insightful and wise, Bernadette is snarky and mean-spirited, Gabrielle is sensual and theatrical, The Mysterious Woman is unnecessarily violent and unforgiving, Augatha is shrewd, yet thuggish, while Judy IS the one who is distant and damaged, yet she is also a master strategist, and the literal den mother for the group of hopeless men she carries. If you have a ton of badass women, it's totally fine to switch up the personalities. Most franchises with only one badass woman don't want to do that, because they want the badass woman to stand apart from the regular women on the show. If you have a franchise with practically nothing BUT bad badass women, you HAVE to switch up the personalities, which automatically makes everyone, and the story, more interesting. Another solution a lot of writers have for male fans who object to strong women, is to domesticate them by pairing them off with a strong male lead, so they more conform to their gender roles, and not make the fanboy feel uncomfortable. Me? I just diversify the hell out of the personalities themselves to make them interesting, and believe sexist fanboys can go screw themselves. There is nothing about Superhero fandom a male gender role critic makes better. Nothing. So screw 'em.

    I love the Bear In The Big Blue House moment. It's not as ridiculous as it could be, simply because the Narrator points out it IS ridiculous.

    One thing I really like about the story is that none of the heroes die. Setting up five never before seen characters is just asking for some of them to be picked off, but nope, Judy keeps her word, and Lanny is fine. The Un-Iverse is unlike other franchises. We can point out the Red Shirt trope, without actually engaging in the Red Shirt trope. Which is something I like.

    Here is something interesting about Judy and Howler's relationship. No flirting whatsoever. Nada. Zip. It is completely professional, and there is no "will they or won't they" attached to them whatsoever, which would be the last instinct of any other franchise. Any other franchise would make the reader worry that Howler was going to cheat on Audrey with her. Many of them would even actually have him do it. But one of the cardinal rules of The Un-Iverse is that there are absolutely zero love triangles. By design. If I want you to hate a character, I want you to hate the character because they suck, not because they are getting in the way of your favorite 'ship. Whether you love or hate Judy is entirely on her. She is not being inserted to disrupt the actual characters' relationships in any way.

    I cannot imagine that there will be ZERO people disappointed that there was no actual firefight in the government secret prison. I will sadly admit part of it was laziness. It WAS originally gonna happen, but I was not invested enough in this particular story to do it. I tend to save boarded stuff like for special occasions and stories that I love, and want to improve even more. That being said, I think the issue is better for it not happening. Because we see the reason it didn't happen is because the people Howler and his friends were going up against were even more contemptible than we could have possibly imagined. It they were just cowards, there might be some sympathy extended to that mindset, but it turns out they are soulless torturers who only flinch when their potential victims hit back. The fact that the firefight doesn't exist should NOT just piss you off because I'm a lazy writer and artist. It should piss you off because these are unusually scumbaggy villains as far as this franchise goes, and the fact that they refuse to fight due to cowardice and bigotry means they suck more than Howler could have possibly imagined.

    Hey, I personally think Trask is one of my more evil, irredeemable villains. But I get why he did what he did (in this issue at least). I don't approve of it, but, like, I GET it.

    I don't make a TON of references to the Wayans' sketch comedy show "In Living Color", but the joke about Howler telling Trask to say "Hi," to Anton for him after telling him he'll be peeing in pickle jars is awesome precisely because it is so freaking obscure. Even if you DID watch "In Living Color", you probably don't remember that the homeless guy who peed and pooped in pickle jars played by Damon Wayans' name was Anton, so you won't recognize who that is referring to until I just pointed it out right now. But about 1 in a million people will immediately find the joke hilarious. Which makes it a TRUE Dennis Miller ratio joke in the way many of the other nerdbait references probably actually aren't.

    The wolves on the bus singing Biz Markie's "Just A Friend" is done to make the In Living Color reference more explicit. But it's still pretty random. But that's Anton's trademark song.

    It raises the right questions that Werewolves as a group seem to REALLY dig that show. African Americans had a REAL affinity for Married... With Children back when that aired, even though it had an all-white cast, and I'm betting Werewolves in The Un-Iverse see similar parallels to their struggles in In Living Color too. Which is kind of cool to me.

    What I like about that scene is that Howler stories don't tend to have jokes in them, so it's an unexpectedly funny moment. You don't see it coming.

    You might think making fun of the homeless flies against the "No punching down" mandate. And it kind of does. But I am willing to loosen that restriction whenever it isn't the Narrator himself doing the punching. Non-PC people exist. And the scene is less funny because Howler has no sympathy for the homeless, and more that a bus full of Werewolves are huge In Living Color nerds. Sue me.

    My mandate in designing the new Werewolves is that not only should they look drastically different from each other, but they should each look unlike every other Werewolf we've seen before. I did NOT give Infinitesimal Microbe a vastly different Werewolf design a few issues ago, just because his size is how you can recognize him. But if and when these Werewolves come back, I want the reader to be able to instantly identify them. And that means making them as unlike the other Werewolves as possible.

    It won't be TOO tough to ID them because all of the other Werewolves have a near uniform look, including Audrey, Howler, and Brock. But I want the reader to be able to instantly ID Lanny, Judy, Nathan, and Bradley.

    I like all the designs but Judy's. I whiffed that one. But she looks unlike every other Werewolf and every other female character. I wish I were better at doing nuance at that kind of thing. But Judy's disappointing design is what it is because I'm not.

    Calling Werewolfism The Virus is probably the most explicit allegory for HIV I use in the story.

    I kind of feel the guards in the prison should have had guns, and have had them pointed at Howler and friends as they jumped down the manhole. Maybe even have executed one or two of them instantly before the others dropped down. And then I thought, "Maybe they DO have guns. Maybe they are just too scared to use them." I'm perhaps wondering if the soldiers unilaterally disarmed simply because even if they PROBABLY could have killed all of the Werewolves upon their entrance, maybe they thought they couldn't do that without at least one of them getting Infected. Maybe they are THAT scared of the virus, and think they have less chance of one of them catching it if they surrendered. Maybe they are more afraid of turning into Werewolves than they are of Augatha executing them for treason. Which is another reason to think that Howler and Judy being unhappy that there is no firefight is probably the right reaction.

    The school bus is smaller on the cover than it is in the actual story. I made it smaller on the cover because it's a close-up and I wanted to show more detail, whereas in the story we see the bus from a little bit more of a distance. But the bigger bus was my intention all along. The cover drawing is inaccurate, not the story drawings.

    We don't really get any updates on what happened to Howler's old FBI partner Phil Douglas after he was Infected, except to hint that he took it badly. We'll explore his actual fate in a future story.

    "Settle down, Lanny," is a nod to "Settle down, Beavis."

    I love when Howler and Judy take off the ski-masks, and for the reason they do: There is literally no need to hide their identities anymore. These assholes are going to tell NO-ONE they were there. If anything, the doctors and soldiers should be wearing ski-masks themselves. They have much more to hide and to lose than Howler and Judy do.

    Also, I did that because it was the point in the story where I really wanted to show Howler's and Judy's expressions again, and this was a perfect excuse.

    I made sure to make all of the Werewolves on the machines emaciated and half-naked. I couldn't quite bring myself to do that for the 6 year old girl, but everyone else looks in terrible and vulnerable shape.

    Still, the 6 year old girl has shunts sticking out all over her body, so it's not like she's actually in all that great shape either.

    Do you know the effed up thing? They aren't even in beds with pillows and blankets. The are literally being tortured 24/7 on hard, flat tables. These Werewolves are non-people to the doctors and soldiers on the base, and they are being treated as no more than chattel. Sometimes the "Stop Augatha" movement makes it VERY hard to root for them.

    What's interesting about Howler rescuing these Werewolves is that his ultimate mission in the issue may have been unsuccessful. They were planning to liberate that prison to get the Werewolves that opposed Augatha to join Howler's Tribe. Except the captured Wolves were tortured on behalf of the Stop Augatha movement. If all of the Werewolves Howler just rescued decided to stay on his side instead of defecting to Augatha at that point, I'd be surprised. I could actually imagine the torture making ALL of those rescued Werewolves run right into Augatha's waiting arms. The Stop Augatha movement would be a lot more effective if a lot of its factions weren't outright evil. Which is one of the series' essential themes. Is beating Augatha worth becoming worse than her? And I think the answer to that is "No," and that's why defeating Augatha has a lot more hiccups in it than if Gabrielle's side didn't have secret allies like these d-bags.

    Howler gulping and running off like a punk was probably done because I deeply dislike the character, and sort of wanted the reader to too, at least for that moment.

    Banishments are how Werewolf tribes mete out justice for Werewolf crimes. I personally think it is a wholly inadequate punishment for what Trask did, but I understand why Werewolves use that tool internally, and don't go to the police first. They cannot trust the American justice system to be fair to Werewolves. But once the Werewolf is banished, the thinking is that they will no longer be protected from the police for future crimes, and will have to go to jail then. Banishment is basically a Werewolf criminal's version of a Mulligan.

    Banishments are also used in other countries besides America, and are considered a Universal Werewolf law. Which is why Judy doesn't want to do a background check on Trask. Because if he WAS banished before, Howler would have to banish him by law too.

    For the record, it strikes me personally as stupid because the banished Werewolf can simply join another tribe under a different identity, and things start all over again. If this was the first group of Werewolves Trask was banished from, I'd be shocked. I'd imagine he's been kicked out of at least a half dozen tribes over his lifetime. This was probably one of the reasons he joined up with Howler in the first place.

    For the record, Bill the Blue's cellmate Infinitesimal Microbe from a few issues back, was never banished. Whatever his crime, whether he was guilty or innocent, he was caught by the police and his jail sentence was his first and only punishment. Microbe does not strike me as the kind of Werewolf would ever run afoul of Werewolf law.

    Banishments are such a severe punishment for Werewolves, that only serious crimes like rape, murder, and Infection are things that trigger it. Punishment for lesser offenses such as stealing vary from Tribe to Tribe. For large Tribes that live in compounds, jails are used for lesser offenses, and for smaller tribes, banishments are still used, but they are only temporary.

    Infection is the most serious Werewolf crime there is. It is 100% illegal if you are lucid. And while Werewolves who accidentally Infect others on the Full Moon are not charged with a crime, they are basically considered the Werewolf version of released sex offenders. They can live in the society, but they will never be accepted by it.

    Showing Kenny's middle finger at the end was a debate for me. I had Vic Puff flip off a taxi driver in an earlier issue by moving his arm off-camera, and the Narrator telling us what he was doing. I could have been just as understated here.

    But the moment plays better if you see Trask's anger and Kenny's fearlessness at the exact same time, at the exact same moment he's flipping him off. It's more vulgar than I like the franchise being. But it was easier to imply, rather than show the finger in the Vic Puff scenario, because not only was Vic the flippee, but we don't really care about the cabbie's reaction. Here, the simplest way to show every part of the scene I needed to show at once, was to show the finger too. It's crasser than usual for The Un-Iverse. But the moment needs that crassness to function properly.

    I love that Trask is snorting a cartoon puff of air during that moment. I never used to put cartoon-like details in the story before this iteration, and the little touches make The Un-Iverse all the better for them.

    I'll you one good thing about that scene. I like Kenny a LOT more than I would have had he never flipped Trask off. Which is what I imagine the reader's reaction will be too. At least, I hope it is.

    Do you know what's WEIRD? I REALLY like the Stella Stickyfingers / Narf-Narf And Chirp crossover. It is actually probably the only Narf-Narf and Chirp story I DO truly like. I like that there is a weird sexual aspect to it missing from most of the rest of the franchise. All of the sexy scenes so far have been between Vic Puff and Donna Demented and portrayed as perverse and gross. Despite the claims of their group being dirtbags engaging in debauchery, none of the sexy things that happen in the story are actually out of bounds. They are normal. This franchise RARELY has sex in it, and when it does, it is almost always BAD sex and not healthy. I think it's cool that this story is one of the few exceptions.

    I think the razor joke is a little too far, but I like it because Stella is flirting with Narf-Narf and Chirp for the first time ever, which considering they are actual animals, is completely insane. Maybe the idea that Stella is into debauchery ISN'T far-fetched, but the truth is this is the only time it happens, and she's doing it partly to torment Chirp, who has never hidden his creepy feelings towards her. That will be my excuse to my therapist.

    Most games of Seven Minutes In Heaven don't involve actual intercourse, so not only am I amazed Zeke and Stella have it, but that it only takes 2 and a half minutes (and both are completely satisfied). I totally see why Chirp is completely frustrated by this turn of events.

    The topless photo thing is pretty much the least I could do for Chirp. He wants Stella so badly, but if I ever give her to him, I'm rewarding bad behavior. This was my compromise.

    Stella loudly complaining that the guy on the bus recognized her from a porno is a really crass thing to do. But it works. Because Stella reads people better than anyone in the saga besides Gilda, and figured it was more than likely he was simply a creep than a cop. And the best way to fend off creeps is to be publicly loud to scare them off. It's kind of a low-class thing on Stella's part to do, but she is less interested in not offending the people on the bus, and more interested in getting this dude to mind his own business while she's carrying stolen goods.

    It's sort of like a woman yelling "Fire!" during an attempted rape. Sure, it scares people it shouldn't. But it gets them outside to take action faster than if someone yelled "Rape!". Stella is less concerned about other people's comfort, and more in her own safety. Which is smart.

    One of the things I try to show with Stella (and later on an adult Bernadette) is that women as attractive as them have to navigate pervy guys all the time. I think Stella does pretty well with that for a 19-year-old runaway. She makes sure she's nobody's eye-candy. Unless, as the strip poker game proves, she is conning somebody. And then she's nobody's victim.

    It's not just Chirp who does this to her. She has to deal with louts all the time. Sometimes the louts offer affection she actually wants (like the Bug Aliens in the story) but generally speaking, Stella views most strangers as dangerous pigs after only one thing. And as a runaway with no parents to back her up, this is something she's had to deal with far younger than most other women. And most women usually have to deal with it REALLY young anyways. Stella has not led an easy life. Which is probably the reason she is such a successful and amazing conwoman.

    Even still, as seen by the Seven Minutes In Heaven scene, Stella is one of the few women in the story who fully owns their own sexuality. Considering how badass and female empowering the women in the franchise are, that should not be true. It should be all of them. But since there are so few sex scenes, it's pretty much just her and Gabrielle at this point.

    Gilda never has guys perving on her though. She has it MUCH worse. Guys instantly fall in love with her. Which for someone as not about the ship as Gilda is, is nothing but annoying. Gilda would probably much prefer a leer now and then, than constantly having to be the bad guy in setting a limit in every relationship she has besides Meek and the Piranha. And the worst thing about people falling in love with Gilda, is that it isn't just guys. And if you want to get technical, it isn't just GAY women either, which makes things even MORE confusing for all concerned. Poor Gilda. Bald, no-boobed, smelly women have much more game than they intend. That's a fact.

    One other thing Gilda has in common with Stella is that Stella is obviously a Simpsons nerd too.

    "That in'int good," is also a Simpson reference, for the time Bart conned his way onto a rollercoaster he was too short for, and the bar went past his head, and he flew off the thing, hanging on for dear life. I love that show. Can you tell?

    I love the Blue Brothers reference. I've seen that movie parodied many times, but nobody ever brings up the fact that's its funniest joke occurs during the first two minutes. Hopefully, I have rectified that.

    I also love that the Bug Aliens seem to be Futurama fans. It's been hinted some of Earth's music is popular out in the stars, it makes sense that perhaps some of its TV shows are too.

    You know, when Chirp is talking about Bill the Blue and Stella's "personal canons", on his end, it's a sarcastic quip done by a genre fan to other genre fans. They are in on the joke. But because Bill's relationship to Meek and Bernadette IS such an important part of the story, it is also a literal true meta moment. It breaks the fourth wall and doesn't at the same. It works on two levels, so I have plausible deniability that the characters don't know they're fictional. This is an incredibly hard line to walk, and it is SO hard, I definitely do it less than I'd like. But the show that helped me walk it at ALL is Dan Harmon's Community. If that show didn't exist, I wouldn't even know a joke like that was possible in the first place.

    I like that Bill and Stella are smiling at him saying that too.

    It borders on homophobic that Chirp is so grossed out by the idea of kissing Narf-Narf, but when I put the South Park allegory in the middle of it, it's hilarious instead of offensive. Probably the second best joke in the issue after Bernadette's Tina Fey rant.

    I like that Narf-Narf's expression before that happens is lustful anticipation. He's so nuts.

    I love that the new Stellanobile turns out to be the Bug Aliens' Spaceship.

    You'll probably groan at the idea that Stella instantly figures out how to drive a spaceship, but let me assure you, this is NOT the first stolen vehicle Stella has had to figure out how to work while she was commandeering it. Do you actually think this chick has a driver's license? That a homeless 19 year old scam artist attended driver's ed at the DMV, and passed her driving test? Of course not. The truth is Stella can figure out how to make anything she steals work. That's part of why she's a good thief. She isn't a mechanical whiz or anything. But she is a great improviser, which is something that is just as handy in situations like these.

    For the record, since Narf-Narf is psychic, he should have won the game of strip poker. Handily. For the record. That is a plothole. For real.

    I love that Chirp's last feather looks exactly like a cartoon fig leaf.

    Something interesting about Stella Stickyfingers. She never loses in any of her stories. She has a somewhat sad backstory, but every time we've witnessed her current self she wins her adventures. She's practically homeless, and it's hinted that she's already a huge alcoholic at the age of 19. But she always gets the better of anyone she encounters. The worst outcomes we ever see for her simply involve her being annoyed with Narf-Narf and Chirp at the end of the story. As far as her adventures go, she never loses. We have even witnessed Gilda suffer far more losses than we ever see Stella do.

    The ad on the side of the bus reading "Try Pep!" is a DuckTales reference. An OBSCURE DuckTales reference. It's so obscure, it not even a joke anymore, it's just a random reference to nothing. Which described the ad campaign to Pep in DuckTales. So it's appropriate for that at least.

    Chirp calling Stella the World's Greatest Thief is a reference to the fact that Stella won the Pickpockets' Convention doorprize with her long-lost father a few issues ago. Narf-Narf and Chirp weren't actually present for that adventure, but that is totally the kind of thing Stella would have bragged about to them afterwards anyways.

    The Narrator calling the story that is about to follow filler that nobody asked for is unnecessarily mean, if you ask me. You'd expect a MUCH worse story than we got just by him saying that. But that ******* is the master of lowering expectations, which frankly comes in handy. The Un-Iverse will get far less grief than it actually should because of that fact.

    All things being equal, I love the Narrator. But this is one of those moments where I don't. This is a special kind of obnoxious only he can deliver.

    Un-Iverse Rat Alert: On the bus. The Rats in The Un-Iverse always seem to be doing weird things in the background of the story. This one is smoking a pipe. Not as X-rated or subversive as SOME of the other Rats in my story, but it's yet another example that the Un-Iverse Rats have human characteristics and affectations that none of the other animals in the story have. Yeah, Narf-Narf is obsessed with sore throat spray. But he's specifically crazy. The Un-Iverse Rats simply have their own society going on behind our backs that we don't know about.

    Widow Crumpetwhacker is also on the bus. Either that old broad really gets around, or it's simply easier to use her rather than design a new background character. Spoiler alert: It's the second thing.

    I like that she puts her hand over her heart as Stella yells that the guy staring at her saw her in porno. Also not scripted were Chirp's heart shaped eyes and tongue dreamily sticking out, but they were kind of no-brainers in hindsight.

    I also like that when Stella and the animals find themselves in that dark room that Stella is hugging them for comfort. That is very sweet. I also like that she instantly knows Bill isn't the one who abducted them, and already knows Bill was looking for his niece and nephew. That hints at a long history between the two characters.

    As for Bill's fedora, I like that because just two issues ago Meek's friends refused to allow him to wear one. I don't think it looks as bad on my dog designs as Gilda and Bernadette think.

    The transporter effects (as lightning) are yellow instead of blue because I didn't want to tip off they were abducted by aliens. But we never saw the Bug Aliens' transporter in the last two issues, so there's a chance it works a tiny bit differently than Lance Lockjaw's.

    Bill calls his lawyer Louie Dawg amazing because he is.

    I like that the Bug Aliens' closet door has a doorknob on it. Enterprise who?

    I love that the Bug Aliens pick Stella and Zeke for the game of Seven Minutes In Heaven using a Cootie Catcher. That was actually not in the script.

    If Stella stole the spaceship, she clearly did it while drunk. I'm sure she would get arrested if she was pulled over by alien cops.

    The shading in the last panel was necessary. Otherwise you'd see Bill The Blue's Johnson. This franchise will not always be nudity-free, but I didn't feel comfortable with that being the first full frontal ever. I need a better excuse than that.

    "Halloween Adventure" is literally the least interesting story title in all 90 issues of The Un-Iverse. But I couldn't think of a better one. It also totally fits, despite how boring it is. But that's why there is no pun or epic Star Trek-style title this story.

    The Gilda and Meek Halloween story mainly exists because I wanted to put Bernadette in a Sailor Moon costume. That's it. That's its main reason for being. I also wanted a story to show Meek being a bad parent. I think I've done TOO many stories where he's a great one. He should be like Donald Duck in it being a struggle and sometimes failing. The fact that Bernadette can talk him into breaking into an abandoned house shows what a pushover he is. She never would have tried that stunt if Gilda were still there. Meek is usually a better parent to Bernadette than Gilda is. But not always. This is one of those times.

    Bernadette often playfully jokes to Meek that he's the best parent ever whenever he makes a questionable decision regarding not picking threads on where Bernadette has seen the R and X-rated "head" movies she has, when she hints she's seen A Clockwork Orange. But do you know what? I don't think Bernadette would like Meek very much if he actually WERE a good parent. Every time she says that; I think she is truly pushing her luck, but Meek just lets it slide, as always (the big sap). Yeah, he's often a bad parent because of that. But Bernadette grows up happy and well-adjusted by the time Lace Doilies comes along. So he must be doing something right.

    And she HAS seen A Clockwork Orange (or like me at least has read the book). As good as the book was, I refuse to see that movie because it looks so freaky and scary. But Bernadette is far more fearless than I am, so she's probably a fan of the movie instead. Or even more likely, she's seen and read both.

    Meek not wanting to know where Bernadette has seen the adult movies she has is pretty much because I would not in his place. There are two types of brothers. The kind who gets all up in the sister's romantic business to protect her virtue from skeevy guys, and those who think any intimate details about the sister's love life or sexuality is something they don't know, and something they don't WANNA know. Meek is the second kind because that's what I am. It's hard to show this about Meek when Bernadette is only 10, and too young for boys, but even questioning where Bernadette sees the nudity filled movies she does, is more than he is willing to do.

    Suffice it to say, Meek is NOT the kind of older brother who will EVER give Bernadette The Talk. And since Gilda is unwilling to as well, I think Bernadette's adolescence is in VERY deep trouble.

    Another reason I wrote the story was because I wanted to remind the reader Donna Demented still exists. She didn't just fall off of the face of the Earth; and if I didn't write this story we wouldn't see her from "Rebuilt From The Ground Up" until the very last issue of Gilda and Meek. Donna is still out there causing misery, and she still lives down the street from Raggleworth Labs in her bright yellow house.

    Gilda was initially going to be dressed up as Marge Simpson, as she is a huge Simpsons nerd, but that was a mistake and I'm glad I changed it. Gilda is not a Marge. It is inappropriate for her to dress as her, even for a gag. But Camen Sandiego? THAT'S a Gilda costume. Full stop.

    Gilda wears fake sock boobs in her costume. Which amuses me.

    I kind of feel like Gilda should be more embarrassed than she is when Bernadette points out the fake boobs in front of the group, but whenever Gilda is doing a commitment to a bit (in this case Carmen Sandiego's hotness), she is pretty much shameless. So that's why she's not pissed.

    I like that even though Gilda has taken off the hat and wig at the end of the story, she is still clearly wearing the coat and sock boobs. As she said, she loves Halloween.

    I really, REALLY like the scene of Bernadette explaining Starbursts' stupid slogan to Meek. I mean, I REALLY like it. Meek saying that is a normal joke for a person. I've heard people say "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" before. Or "Betcha can't eat just one Lay's potato chip". A lot of times when people are farting around with friends, and eating something, they'll repeat the ad slogan as a goof. And Bernadette is sort of saying we shouldn't ever do that. And she's right about something that most people don't think about. Maybe we SHOULDN'T ever repeat an ad slogan. Why are we buying Madison Avenue's framing of a particular subject as our own? And Bernadette, at the age of ten, intrinsically knowing that ad slogans are stupid and uncool, shows the reason Bernadette is the coolest character in the saga. She takes this crap VERY seriously, and is able to articulate when people need to wise up about stuff like that better than any other character. Including Gilda. Gilda would have played along. Instead, Bernadette teaches Meek a VERY valuable lesson on how empty and ill-thought out ad slogans actually are. Stuff like this is the reason Bernadette is cool. I think her killing Tina Fey and absorbing her lifeforce is probably quite unnecessary at this point.

    I really wish Bernadette had been alive when McDonald's tagline was briefly "I'm hittin' that." She would have had a friggin' field day.

    Honestly, I have always wanted to do an Un-Iverse Halloween story, but I could never figure out a great hook. I had several ideas in mind, and couldn't decide. Like the stories "Planet Meek!" and "This Is Why We Don't Do This" I always WANTED to tell this story, but figured I probably wouldn't be able to. I changed my mind much easier on this one though. I couldn't decide on a haunted house adventure or trick or treating at Donna Demented's house. But once I put Bernadette in a Sailor Moon costume, and Gilda in a Carmen Sandiego one, it meant I might as well figure out a way to make the two plotlines share.

    The Donna Demented thing was from when I was kid. One of the scariest ideas that popped into my head as a kid is what if one of those kiddie haunted houses was actually run by a serial killer, and the people screaming in horror and begging for mercy in the walls and under the floor, were serious, while the people on the tour believed it to be a game? And the idea isn't just scary, it's kind of funny too, which is why it is a perfect plotline for Donna Demented. It's one of the few legitimately funny plots I've given her. I think Bernadette's insightfulness is vastly overstated if alarm bells aren't immediately blaring red about Donna over this. Bernadette often makes fun of Meek and Hank's intelligence, but in this matter she is every bit as big of a dope as they are. Full stop.

    Bernadette's reactions to Donna Demented are a really tough thing to thread every time they share a scene. She doesn't like her, or enjoy being around her, but I also have to show that she's clueless enough that Donna's provocative behavior doesn't actually send up red flags to her. Bernadette is definitely Donna's smartest enabler, and I try to show as much as possible that it's due more to apathy than it is for Meek, Hank, and Vic Puff's stupidity. She might think something sounds off, but looking into it further would involve her actually paying attention to Meek's loser friends. Gilda would probably be furious at Meek for falling for Donna because he is naive and gullible. What's Bernadette's excuse? In my mind it's that she's too self-absorbed to care. And that is a REALLY tough thing to show on the page. The Narrator helps a little, but Bernadette should definitely be smarter about this than she is, and is only so clueless because Donna seems trivial to her. It's not a great explanation, but it's the best one I've got for her.

    This scene is easier than usual because it's Halloween, and adults acting dark and menacing around kids on Halloween is normal. But really, Bernadette does not have the Aspie excuse Meek does.

    The fact that Donna hands out candy filled with razor blades means she should be immediately found out. It's not that hard to trace which tainted candy came from which house. It is completely unrealistic that Donna gets away with stuff like. But that's sort of the entire conceit of the character. Maybe the parents in Appleton have more pressing concerns than who tried to cut their kids mouths. But in reality, Donna gets away with crap nobody else would because that's the entire joke.

    The Office Space reference was a struggle. I still haven't seen that movie yet (I know. I suck) so I had to find the relevant Milton quotes online. NOT the best way to reference a quotable movie, I know, but it NEEDED to be referenced due to the stapler thing, and I wasn't willing to ignore that similarity simply because I have no idea what I'm talking about. If that ever stopped me writing, I'd never write anything at all.

    I did not come up with the "says everyone in prison with a busted nose and no pudding" joke. But it's so funny, I needed to share it.

    It's not a Meek line at all, which is why I gave it to him. Gilda or Bernadette say something like this, you snort and move on. Meek makes this joke, and you realize he is more witty and insightful than you thought.

    Pudding has a great deal of value in prison. It's pretty much the only treat you get. If you are not a nice person, you will have it taken away from you. Meek is imparting the lesson that the court system and Bernadette's future cellmates will probably not find her antics as adorable as he and Gilda do. That why she says things just got real upon him making that joke.

    I have always envisioned that prison pudding is probably amazing, and the fact that it is such a valuable commodity suggests that it is probably the only food in prison worth anything. And it's universally considered a huge deal there. The Flash recently did a joke speculating that prison pudding tastes great, and what's interesting to me is that I wrote this scene before I saw that. But they are probably right. You go to New York for the pizza, you go to Boston for the chowder, and you go to prison for the pudding.

    "You have some strong opinions about some things." I freaking love that line from Gilda. Because that sentence following a psychopathic serial killer rant is wholly inadequate. Which is why it's funny.

    To get the full impression of that joke, picture Bernadette saying that rant as if she is doing an impression of Tracy Morgan.

    Bernadette actually feels a rare moment of guilt for accidentally making the Piranha wet his costume. That is why she agrees to "Hassle up" some candy for him so easily.

    That moment is kind of badly written on my end. But I didn't want to make a federal case out of Bernadette scaring the Piranha so badly. In real life, a kid does that to their sister / brother, and makes them wet themselves, the parent taking the kids trick or treating is going to fly into a rage, and takes the kid who did that home as a punishment. The wrath of God will rain upon the kid who did that, and they'll be told they ruined Halloween, and that this is why we can't have nice things. But I didn't have Bernadette scare the Piranha because she's an an *******, and she deserves to be punished. The actual reason the Piranha wets his costume is because I wanted a reason for Gilda to take him home. Why? Because I didn't want Gilda and Donna Demented to formally meet. And having Gilda and Meek realistically fly off the handle at Bernadette for something I merely did as a plot convenience, would change the entire tone of the story. Which would be bad.

    But like many of the scenes in Gilda And Meek that are unrealistic, I kind of dig the questions it raises anyways. I don't answer them in the story itself, but maybe the reader WILL wonder why Gilda and Meek aren't madder, and come up with their own reasons why it is actually realistic. My realistic explanation is that Gilda and Meek are AGAIN treating Bernadette like a peer, and if one friend does that to another younger one among a group of kids, they don't yell at the kid who made the kid wet themselves. If the kids are actually good friends, and not assholes, the next step is to try and fix the situation. Negotiate with each other about how to fairly make sure the kid who has to go home early gets the same amount of candy they would otherwise. And as badly written as it is, the idea makes a LOT of sense to me personally, because Gilda's entire problem with Bernadette is that she treats her like a peer, and since Meek IS her brother, he techically IS her peer. Even the worst written scenes in this franchise can be explained with a little creativity.

    The Narrator wondering if Donna actually spares Meek and Bernadette the razor because she likes them is what is going on. And I struggle with that idea. Donna is an irredeemably evil character in my mind. But I truly do believe she is fond of Meek and considers him her best friend. Which makes everything that comes later even more appalling.

    I love that Dr. Raggleworth keeps a stapler and a live bird in his coat pockets. He is SO Batman right about now. Or maybe Hagrid. The Narrator thinks it's awesome too.

    Bernadette telling Meek "It's always funnier when it's you," is another Community-esque meta moment. I don't usually find a way to put two jokes like that in one issue but I did here.

    I love that in The Un-Iverse the adults dress up with the kids when they go trick or treating. Dr. Raggleworth proves that it is not NECESSARY for the adults to dress up when handing out candy, but Donna Demented proves many of them do that anyways.

    The reason in particular I like the story that ghosts are allergic to toilet paper is that Bernadette believed Gilda and took it at face value. And I love that it's true. Usually an adult telling a kid something like that is just b.s.-ing them, but I love it's just something Gilda knows, and is actually imparting wisdom there. Normally a kid Bernadette's age believing something so unlikely would show the kid is gullible, but this just shows how much Bernadette trusts Gilda, and knows that she wouldn't just b.s. her for her own amusement. Most adults suck because they like making kids the butt of a private joke. Gilda does not because she is never willing to do that. As badly as I think Gilda treats Bernadette usually (and I usually think her reactions to Bernadette are quite unjust) it is refreshing to me that she doesn't do the thing to kids that most pissed me off about adults when I was younger.

    Gilda not making a bigger objection of Bernadette damning the ghosts to Hell might not just be because Bernadette is scary. There actually may be a little vanity involved as Gilda realizes Bernadette DOES look up to her.

    The Piranha strangely still has his Silver Fish costume which might surprise people who just assumed that he left it behind in Augatha's dungeon when she captured and unmasked him in "The Code". The fact that he still has it suggests he put it in the hole in his stomach with Fuzzy and Scuzzy once he was unmasked.

    For some reason, I really like when Dr. Raggleworth says he's always Dr. Frankenstein.

    The Birdplers are an extreme example of animal cruelty in the story. It's a wonder Gilda didn't make a bigger objection over that.

    The Narrator says it's awesome Dr. Raggleworth pulls a live bird and red stapler out of his pockets because it is.

    "The saltwater taffy incident" is a tip of the hat to the Noodle Incident from Calvin and Hobbes.

    People in The Un-Iverse seem to pee their pants more often than real people do. It's an entire Universe of incontinence.

    It is weird to me that the actual election is only a few days away from this story. Because the upcoming five parts miniseries "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" will wind up taking place in a really short space of time (relatively speaking). The election actually occurs in the very last part, which is weird because there are five issues between this story and that. The miniseries is a huge sprawling epic that takes place over a two or three day period. And it only starts a couple of days after this story. These few days of The Un-Iverse we are currently witnessing are probably the most detailed few days in the entire saga after The Terran Wars, which also takes 19 issues to tell, but only lasts two days in the actual story. We spend an extra amount of time with the characters in The Un-Iverse in the last day of October, and the first few days of November 2016.

    I always feel that the Piranha's Silver Fish costume looks a lot like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

    Honestly? I really regret the fact that the Piranha licks his friends on the face, and have ever since the sexual abuse allegations against Andy Dick came out. Because Dick would do that to strangers for the same reason the Piranha does that to his friends: He thinks it's cute. In real life it's horrifying, and creepy, and menacing. I try not to let the reality of our world effect the cartooniness of the Piranha's world TOO much, but that particular quirk of the Piranha's has legitimately gotten less cute and funny because of Dick.

    It is cute when a dog licks you. But despite being cute himself, the Piranha is NOT a dog. He is a person. One who can carry on a legitimate adult conversation with someone when he chooses to. Because the Piranha is a person, that automatically means he should NOT get away with what a dog does, even if he's just acting like one. Because he isn't one. But that facet of the Piranha never really bugged me until a couple months ago. But here we are.

    Interestingly, I am personally opposed to abortion, so me taking a shot at the "pro-life" contingent seems weird because I should gravitate towards towards that movement because of my beliefs. But the "Rape's okay though" thing shows why I do not and refuse to join that movement. They actually value different things than I do. If the "pro-life" people were actually concerned with preventing abortions and making it so women won't actually feel the need to get them, I'd join them. But they want to criminalize sex instead. Which means I vote for the pro-choice side because it is literally less repugnant than that. Abortions rates go down when Democrats are in power because sex ed, birth control, and better economic conditions for mothers exist. It's easier to accomplice those things than criminalizing everybody with a different political view than me. Which is why I'm actually pro-choice. It should not be up to me, and it certainly should not be up to the people who want to make The Handmaid's Tale a reality.

    You'll see a ton of erasure marks upon the first wide shot of Old Man Wither's Place, as I messed up both the house and the trees. The house is more even now, but I think the trees still suck. Which should tell you how bad they used to be.

    I think the house would probably look better under a cloudy and rainy sky, with lightning in the background. But it's a clear night. I'm not changing that for one wide shot only. I'm not Ed Wood. Still I did put more shadow in the house than usual which is kind of silly to do in the dark. But it makes the house look slightly sinister which is what I was going for.

    Meek's cowlick at the end was a tribute to Agent Cooper's hair at the end of Episode 2 of Twin Peaks after he woke up from the infamous dream. I figured if Meek was dressed as Cooper and that I was going to mess him up, that look was a no-brainer.

    Donna Demented's victim is a bald middle aged man because that is her profile. There is a reason she gravitated towards Vic Puff in the first place.

    For the record, she also kills young attractive women too.

    I was actually worried about scripting this particular story. There is just so much going on, and so many different plot elements, that I was totally worried it would be overlong and incomprehensible. I feared I would have to do an incredible amount of padding to get from Point A to Point B to Point C. As usual, I should NOT have worried. The Narrator, simplifies EVERYTHING, not only by explaining things clearly to the reader, but by making it so the Author can construct the story without having to do a bunch of boring bits to segue from scene to scene. Because of the Narrator, we just show up at the interesting stuff. The story is far shorter than I worried it would be.

    There is a full moon in the Stella Stickyfingers and Gilda and Meek stories to hint that they both take place on the same night (even though Halloween isn't mentioned in the Stella story). The Howler story takes place a few days earlier. While full moons are a recurring motif in The Un-Iverse, even in stories with nothing to do with Werewolves, there is no way the Howler story takes place under a full moon, because it would have been mentioned, as that is both a Werewolf's weakest and strongest point of the month. The Howler story takes place a few days before the Gilda and Meek and Stella Stickyfingers stories.

    Un-Iverse Fun Fact:


    Howler saying he can smell 6 Humans, 2 Cats, and 2 other things he isn't sure of is a clue. Boy is it ever.
     
    #95 Fone Bone, Feb 8, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  16. Fone Bone

    Fone Bone Matt Zimmer

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    I LIKE The Un-Iverse. I BELIEVE in The Un-Iverse. If the fact that its format is too different from every other comic book to make it publishable, I will accept that. But I will never believe it's because of a failure on my end. I believe in this concept and story and it is everything I ever wanted it to be.
     

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