Saturday, March 24, 2018

Marching For Our Lives Comics

March 24th is a Watershed moment in American History.  Years of becoming desensitized to school shootings since Columbine and Fort Hood has made Americans numb to these easily preventable incidents from occurring, even when rapid deaths in Vegas didn't even bother to raise the issue of gun control, because "Now wasn't the right time to talk about such a sensitive issue".  But lately, in this sea of political ineptitude and naked corruption, there's a sea of change coming from people who aren't going to take this any longer - the kids who're being forced to go to these institutions in the first place.

The usage of automatic rapid fire weapons have become so commonplace that after every school shooting, StoneKettle would constantly update his most controversial essay, the Seven Stages of Gun Violence that for a long time, remained unbroken.  His latest article points out the logical fallacy in arming teachers - who's going to teach these educators, how are they going to differentiate between protecting themselves and the actual shooters, and is this really the most conductive use of a learning environment where your children are under constant threat?

At last count, the tally for students marching for change has reached about a Million.  If asked about those figures, Trump would probably say something along the lines of, "I had more people at my Inauguration! The largest in history!!!"  One of the best comic bloggers, Kleefeld, used to find relevant comics surrounding an issue of the day with surprising speed, but since he's taken a brief hiatus, I've decided to pick up on his stead.

Pearls Before Swine decided to tackle the issue a day early, with a poignant message with every parent's worst fears.  Or at least, until these shootings became commonplace.  The phrase, "Have a safe trip!" has become "Come back alive!", even though they both retain the same message, have very different meanings.

Then the next day, I noticed a few comics that registered the message again - Zits, which had been going on autopilot with immature teens and clueless parents, since these are actual teenagers who're unafraid to face the reality that adults don't have to live with.

As is my rule, I don't post anything with a thematic message, unless I can find comics from at least three sources.  Fortunately, the third came in handy with a surprisingly funny take on the issue:

A tip - I generally find Rhymes With Orange comics to be easier to read if I just look at the title in the first panel, then move on to the main comic in the 2nd panel, then look at the mini-comic in the 1st panel again.  It makes more sense in context that way.

There may have been other comics, but I've been unable to find any more than what I've seen.  If there are any I've missed, let me know.

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Bout With Gout

Frequent readers may have noticed a drastic drop of new material on this blog lately.  There are several reasons for that.  First and foremost is that I’ve been exclusively concentrating on my WebNovel, mainly doing drafts of later chapters far off in the distance, while neglecting the script
for my next chapter.  I pay so much attention to the far-term plans, that I lose sight of the short-term consequences.  I also haven't been looking at much old-school Newspaper comics as I used to, which is a prime motivator for these entries.

But the main reason is that starting February, I was overcome with a severe affliction that left me severely paralyzed.  On a Thursday Afternoon, I noticed my foot started hurting when I took it out of my boot.  Up until that point, I’d been feeling a little tired, but it didn’t hurt until then.

On Friday, my foot hurt some more, but I forced myself to put my boots on to finish the remaining work downtown.  I’d planned to do some extra working business elsewhere, but the person who I planned to have drive me there never showed up, and I didn’t feel like making the trek myself, since I was feeling extremely tired due to the pain and lack of sleep, so I went home.

On Saturday, my sister came in the late Afternoon, where I’d stayed home all day to recuperate from my foot.  I showed it to her, which at that point, still appeared normal.  She suggested I take some Advil, but since I didn’t know where that was, I didn’t take any.

On Sunday, I’d planned to return some library books, but the pain in my foot had grown so bad I couldn’t even make it to the end of the driveway.  I figured I wouldn’t be able to make the necessary trek, so I grudgingly made my way back home.  I noticed that I couldn’t fit my foot in my size-specific sandals, and concluded it was swollen.

I told my Sister about my foot, having made the amateur diagnosis of having somehow contracted Gout.  The closest substitute was Ibuprofen, which I took one pill of to see if it’d work.  Then I took another an hour later when the double dose started to kick in, and I could manage to walk around and lift my big toe without wincing too much.

When my sister came later with some medication, I showed her my foot, which had suddenly swollen to an uncomfortable size, and she told me to take a pill around 9:00.  I waited until 10:00 just to be sure.

By this time, even the act of sleeping was becoming an ordeal, because even putting blankets over my foot hurt.  I was reduced to sleeping on top of the covers with my feet dangling over the edge of the bed to reduce the pain.

The next day, a co-worker from work showed up to drive me to the walk-in clinic.  She rode a 4x4 jeep, which made it easy to traverse over the unplowed snowy parts of the city, but getting in and out the high doors was quite the ordeal, even more so with a wounded toe.  Wearing boots let alone shoes was a practical impossibility, since even trying to bend my feet slightly caused pain.  But I was given a protective layer of rubber overshoes, that worked as a kind of slip-on boots.  If I’d known of these, I could’ve gone out by myself... is what I told myself.
Not the exact model, but close enough.
There were multiple movies and Manga where protagonists managed to over come adversary by fighting through the pain.  But the majority of my movement centered over my left toe, which hampered my mobility to a severe degree.

I was expecting a long wait, and my co-worker said she needed to go someplace else in a hurry, so she’d take my number, and come back when it came on her cell.  I wasn’t looking forward to going in and out of her massive truck multiple times.  Fortunately, the Nurse took a quick look at my symptoms, and had me rushed ahead of schedule so I could see the Doctor sooner, which was a big relief for the both of us.

I had no confidence in my power of speech given my state of exhaustion, so I wrote a comprehensive rambling series of events as best as I could recall them, and handed the paper over.  Later, I realized I’d neglected to save a copy for myself for future reference, and asked if I could have it back.  Those notes now make up the bulk of what you’re reading now.

The Doctor was unsure whether I had Gout or a skin condition, so I was given a three-day amount of medication to be taken later.  However, my co-worker was more concerned about getting to her destination first than picking up my meds, so she drove like a maniac to her home to pick up her roommate and drive her to her workplace.  Even with the clock radio being a few minutes fast, she still wound up being late.  (Not my fault!)

The meds I’d gotten was good for three days, at which point, I’d have to either go for refills or make an appointment with my local doctor.  But I was still hoping I wouldn’t have to go that far yet.  After a day or two, the symptoms started to subside somewhat, and I was able to function again, but was still told to take sick days off, which annoyed me despite the sheer amount of reading material I had.  I wanted to return the library books I’d already finished for newer books.

Since most of my writing is motivated when I get up and walk around trying to find the right word that’ll fit the sentence I’m thinking, I was handicapped in this area as well.  Not to mention that if I got ideas while reading a particularly lousy passage in the bathroom, I couldn’t make a mad dash to write my inspirational thoughts down.  I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the book otherwise - all I’d be thinking of was my idea, and it’d interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

It wasn't until a month later that I finally made a long-overdue checkup appointment with my regular doctor who checked my symptoms and correctly concluded that I indeed had Gout, and presribed some additional medication for me to take.  But not before taking my weight that I'd been consciously avoiding for years, not wanting to know how heavy I really was.  Taking off my pants, glasses, wristwatch and hearing aids didn't seem to help matters much.

So what IS Gout?  Gout is basically arthritis of the feet.  It’s a buildup of uric acid that’s best flushed out by drinking excess amount of water.  It’s the same stuff that causes Kidney Stones, so Gout is basically the Kidney Stones of the feet.

My Father had once got Gout ten years ago, but that was during Summer, when wearing multiple layers of protection against the cold wasn't too much of a hassle.  The only thing I knew about Gout was that it was caused by drinking too much.  Since I’m a total teetotaler - I can’t even stand the taste of sugar soda drinks - I thought I was safe.  But apparently, it can be brought about by eating too much, and lack of exercise.

The ironic part was, of the foods to avoid, my Father consumed Mackerel and Herring on a daily basis, which should’ve made him more of a candidate for contracting Gout than me.  According to research, it seems that Gout can be hereditary.

Gout was also a very common ailment among Nobles and Royalty, who had little to do than sit around and eat.  I just recently got my test results back, and in addition to elevated uric acid levels, I apparently also have - get this - a bone spur.  Yes, THAT kind of bone spur!  The infamous medical condition that Trump had five of!  Mine happens to be located in the heel - and it's not even the part that hurts either!  Of all the things I might've had in common with the "Millionaire", that's the one I want to be associated with the least.

I was given a list of various foodstuff I’m supposed to avoid, which seemed easy enough:

  • Anchovies, Sardines - Never touch the stuff.
  • Beef boulion - A little too blocky for my taste.
  • Brain - Since I’m not a Zombie, this isn’t a problem.
  • Gravies - Can’t stand liquid sauce.
  • Heart, Liver, Kidneys - I don’t bother eating stuff I’ve already got.  (See brains above)
  • Scallops - Don’t eat clams that often, if at all.
  • Shrimps - Only have those at work buffets, which is once every six months, and they stopped having buffets this year.
  • Vension - Tried some deer once.  Didn’t care much for it.
  • Veal Sweetbreads - Which are neither sweet, nor bread.
Then there’s the foods I’m supposed to eat less of.
  • Seafood - Crab, Oyster and Lobsters.
  • Soups made of Meat Stock.
  • Asparagus, Cauliflower and Spinach.
  • Mushrooms and Peas.
  • Cereals - Whole-Grains, Oat Flour, Wheat Germ, Bran Germ.
  • Beans & Lentils.
  • Meat and Poultry.
  • Freshwater and Saltwater fish.
Most of these don't affect me much, though I'm annoyed that I won't be able to use Meat Stock for soups, and I tend to enjoy Mushrooms and Peas.  Not to mention cutting down on eating Meat.  In short, the good times are over.

Interestingly enough, of the foods I'm allowed to eat, Strawberries or Cherries are a good cure as well.  That, and losing some weight.  But not to the point of starvation against all else.  I have to eat less in moderation.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pet Peeves: Incomplete Foreign Reprints

When it comes to reprinting comics, the Foreign comics market seems more willing to accept higher quality attractive formats for their collection than the American market.  Sometimes resulting in omnibus packages that are cheaper and more comprehensive than the English version.  Don Martin is one of the great influential MAD comic artists, his sophisticated sense of weirdness and sound effects that played tribute to the slapstick silent movies of the era.  His style doubtlessly had a great influence on Jim Unger's Herman.  Go ahead, compare the two.  Prove me wrong.

However, for their bargain styles, they're still capable of making silly mistakes, as this translated book of The Completely MAD Don Martin shows.  All samples are from the first volume.

The very first instance shows up on page 100, where the last balloon for the Sculptor is left blank.  It Should read, "And remember!  One more time sleeping on the job... and you’re fired!!"  Only, you know, in French.

The next instance is where a hitchhiker decides to inflate himself up for no good reason.  That reason being that the sign on his suitcase is supposed to say "California or Bust".

In other instances, they were inconsistent or incomplete with the building signs.  The Danger! Construction sign was left in English here, but left out in other panels, and didn't even bother to replace the text.  Something similar happened in an earlier comic at the beach where the Men's restroom sign was cast in New Times Roman font for the first page, but left alone for the second page.

Likewise, the book the nervous guy's reading is "Mafia Tales".

But this is by far the biggest offender.  Pretty much Every Sound Effect, save the last panel is left out or missing.  Here's how it Should look:

Having these comedic masterpieces made available is admirable, but they could stand to use another proofreading.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Facing Problems Head On

Recently, there was a twitter that pointed out the uncanny valley that exists in the brief moment where Simpsons characters turn their heads to the other side:

For some reason, it usually happens during that most embarrassing moment of blinking while taking photos for your driver's license or yearbook.

There are some exceptions, when it's intended for the camera to linger on their face, such as Dr. Hibbert asking if anybody could figure out who shot Mr. Burns.  (Can you?)  Personally, I'm a bigger fan of the more visible animation mistake where their mouths would be facing away, resulting in wonky faces looking in two directions at once.

As it turns out, the Simpsons is hardly original in this field.  Pretty much every cartoon character is plagued with limited facial design that isn't fully developed beyond the minimalist easy-to-copy sketch image that falls apart under scrutiny.

This is reminiscent of the unusual proportions of Akagi, who looked perfectly normal head on, but had an awkward jutting chin, just like everybody else in the Fukumotoverse.  There's a reason why the most virulent defenders of adhering to artist's production keep showing their characters at a three-quarters view, not only because it's easier to keep their looks consistent, but also to avoid uncanny mistakes that'll result when the animation sheets fail to consider the inbetween moment when they fall outside that norm, since their whole model falls apart if you stare too long.  There's the old joke of actors telling the camera to "capture their good side", which approximately works here.

This could explain why there was so much resistance to 3-D animation, not only because it was a new field that threatened the old production model, and reduced the chance for those amusing stretch-and-squash animation blurs, but also because it increased the chance of emphasizing problems of the cartoon characters approaching a level closer to reality that was never intended.  I'm reminded of Boulet's 24 hour comic showing the technological problems of having Popeye face the camera full on.  They don't actually show up until halfway through, but they're all gold.

Eventually, a 3-D cartoon of Popeye AND Peanuts was successfully rendered, bypassing the lumpy design of Popeye's face by de-emphasizing the bulge of his jawline.  It's not only iconic cartoon characters who fall prey to this, but Manga characters have certain unusual properties that don't directly apply elsewhere.

Ironically enough, the one character who exemplifies the sideways Manga Mouth naturally would be Cerebus the Aardvark, who's quite capable of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.  Here's an instance of him eating normally, which involves chewing sideways.

And here he is again, in a rare moment of silence in the otherwise wordy epic at the climax of Church & State II.  There's no open line separating the boundary underneath that hefty snout of his.

Given the lazy shortcut that WebArtists and budding cartoonists adhere to in looking for the next doodle that'll make their big hit, this is a problem that's not going to go away anytime soon.  The alternative would be to create a comprehensive model sheet that'd capture every possible facial muscle and perspective as seen from any angle, which would cut down on their creativity, and who has the time?  How often does Lackadaisy update anyways?  (Okay, every page is an artistic masterpiece, but still)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Opening New Members Into The Fridge Door

Last time, Noodle's noodles were despondent with the absence of their alien worm friend.  So the raccoon tries to pass off a close substitute as a passable replacement.

But like the sudden popularity of Popeye, you can't keep a good ensemble character down for long.

A large portion of the Fridge Door was taken up by letters of stories and jokes written by children.

You can try to read the notes the children wrote on the Fridge Door, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Personally, I didn't find them intellectually stimulating.

For years, I had trouble telling stories because the ones the children wrote were so sub-par that I had no relatable frame of reference to apply to.  Sure, they're written by Children, but I still demanded better quality entertainment even back then.

For that reason, I've left the majority of them off, focusing more on the Raccoon comics.  But I still felt the need to capture whole parts of some pages if only to see how it started, leaving my curiosity sated.

This might seem like a bare entry, but that's only because the comic that comes right after better fits the theme for next month.  Until then, stay tuned.