Saturday, February 21, 2009

If you drew a comic called Super Frog at age 11

Then take a number.

Jeffrey-OC/WIGU-Rowland and I both got ours at the deli counter of weird coincidences involving crudely drawn amphibious superheroes. My immediate thought was this was like an especially shitty or an especially awesome episode of Lost. Maybe it is both.

The year was 1986, and as he tells it, Jeff's 11 year-old mind conceived of a hero named Superfrog (no space).

Flash forward to the year 1990, a time when my 11 year-old mind would independently duplicate this feat, and bring into the world -- again -- a hero named Super Frog (but with a space!)

This cover stirs visions of a an intrepid young lad soldiering through that night sky with a thin, purple magic marker, thrashing in every conceivable direction like a crazed raccoon trying to escape an empty swimming pool. But it looks like he eventually and quite understandably muttered "fuck this" and stomped off to plunder the kitchen for some delicious Slimer-themed Ecto Cooler Hi-C.

You'll note some striking similarities between my and Jeff's work, aside from breadth of ambition. (Amphibition?)

They both dwelt on swampy planets. Though mine was supposed to be Earth, since my story followed a Superman template. I figured he might as well since he shared a prefix with that hero. Jeff's looks like it fits into more of a Star Wars mold, which would make "Amphibia" somewhat akin to Yoda's swampy planet I guess.

Also note that while Jeff's planet was plagued by a "terrorist group called MEGA", my story was published by MEGA comics. This is obviously a word one dare not leave uncapitalized. Also both these frogs had really cool underground lairs.

But I'm afraid that's where the similarities end.

11 year-old Jeff's handwriting is actually better than mine is today, let alone the grisly marks which I pawned off as letters at age 11. You'll also note Jeff could actually string together a pretty decent sentence. "But, Amphibia was not without its evil forces…" Note the fairly sophisticated use of the double negative to take a little something off the sentence for rhetorical purposes. He could have taken the easy route and said "Amphibia had so many evil forces!" Or, "Amphibia had all hella evil forces up ins, yo!" if he wanted to produce a tone of jocular irony. (Although I doubt that sort of irony had been invented yet in 1986.) The point is, he wasn't using language as a blunt instrument to say what he wanted to say.

Whereas I took that blunt instrument, used it to murder a family of four, and hid the bodies in my garage. You will observe this sample.

It's actually hard for me to believe an 11 year-old did this. To me it doesn't look very far beyond the reach of a 6 year-old. Where does one even begin dissecting this?

Ok, the Dr. Claw-style boss wants his henchman with an upsettingly phallic hat to go down to the "science plant". Where they do science. He wants him to steal some science. Fair enough. Then he instructs him to take a "disgise", and we shortly receive a humorous payoff. His disguise is simply a jacket. Ha ha, right?

Maybe. Except that I explicitly remember that I did not intend for this to be a joke. I was serious. That was his serious disguise.

Then at gunpoint, or maybe tube of Ben-Gaypoint, he commands the aardvark fellow to surrender the main project. Like, the main science thing they do. He wants him to hand over the big science thing. But it turns out he "already launched it". He launched all the science they were working on into space, and he is sorry about it. Maybe if the snake with the dick hat got there a little earlier, all that science would still be there.

Then later on in the comic when I got tired of all this storytelling bullshit, I went and drew a map. This was my first hack at a comic, and I don't think I actually even liked comics. All I really wanted to do was design the next Super Mario Bros. game and mail it to some Japanese developers. I actually tried to do this several times, and I just assumed whoever looked at it would be blown away by my ideas while making little hushed noises of polite awe in that distinctly Japanese way.

When I was 11 my teachers thought I was retarded. This isn't some sort of joke to make you laugh. This is actually true. For a while thereafter I resented the accusation. But looking back on this work I'm starting to think they might have been technically right. Whatever the case, I don't know why I ever had the notion that I was artistically inclined before age 11.

But in looking through this archive of relics, it's pretty clear my artistic development took a major leap in the following year. I did this drawing when I was 12. Ok, so it's obviously inspired very heavily by Rob Liefeld's work in the early 90s. Still, looking back on it I think it's probably better than anything Liefeld ever did. I even came up with a kickass signature brand for that year, "DREW92". WHOA, COOL DUDE!!!

Then from there it appears my artwork enjoyed pretty | brisk | strides through the rest of high school. Actually that first image there seems somewhat reminiscent of a Problem Sleuth villain, even though I drew it about 15 years ago.

My and Jeff's stroll down Super Frog lane is reminding me the more things change, the more they stay the same. Don't believe me?

Mob boss villains separated by two decades.

You're eventually supposed to grow out of shit like this, right?

I don't know why I didn't scan the rest of Super Frog. The samples above are from an archive consisting of photos I took about five years ago. I'm not sure what my thinking was at the time.

I'll see if I can dig up the original book and scan all of it. If I do, I'll post it. But I'll be trailing behind Jeff's documentation of his old comic, which I suppose is only fitting. He was always ahead of the curve on this Superfrog/Super[space]Frog business.

Oh, also another guy cropped up who did a Superfrog (Super-Frog, with a dash!) when he was a youngster.

Look, if you are 11 and you are a boy, here's what's up. You're going to be drawing a COMIC. That comic will be about a FROG. That frog is also gonna be SUPER. This is what your DNA will tell you to do, and if you don't do it there's probably something wrong with you. This is what SCIENCE says will happen, and this can be verified, assuming some dumbass doesn't go ahead and launch that science into space first.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BLOG REDUX: Bon Voyage, Tim and George

I'm really just reposting this article from my old blog so Byron can link to it in his new blog.

Originally posted: 06/24/08

Tim Russert and George Carlin both recently passed away, and it is time to honor their memory with the somber gravity that can only be conveyed by that sappy acoustic version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

It is also time for us to acknowledge that their very real souls have moved on to the very real afterlife, where their transient physical identities will persist relentlessly for all eternity.

As such I have put together this collage in memoriam as is the stoic tradition of this blog [EDIT: RE: MY OLD BLOG]. So keep a seat warm for me, George. I can’t wait for your bit on the 10 words you can’t say in heaven! And Tim, keep giving ‘em hell! ;)

Monday, February 9, 2009

How do I prank thee? Let me qwantz the ways.

Ok so here's what up.

I was recently embroiled (am still embroiled???) in this exotic prankster's feud with this guy who draws dinosaurs saying things. Ok he doesn't really draw them but anyway. It was fun (is still fun???) but then due to some mental handicap specific to the needlessly officious I deleted some of my earlier prankins because the news section was getting a little long in the tooth. VERTICALLY SPEAKING.

It was like a great venerable redwood and I was sort of like an especially angry Paul Bunyan, or just some really terrifically huge dude with an axe who hates trees, and possibly harbors disdain for the very concept of HEIGHT ITSELF.

So I did this and dusted my hands but then some people started yelling at me.

So I'm like, ok, I guess I can put it all back up somehow, even though that stuff I deleted is gone forever. I don't exactly have a stout archival repository for every frivolous little EPIC FUCKING BATTLESCAPE AMONG WORLD CLASS PRACTICAL JAPESTERS that happens to flutter through the perfumey breeze of my life.

I promised I'd take a crack at reconstructing what I said, and in the process probably charting new frontiers in the realm of dubious fidelity.

Anyway why don't we take this thing from the top. Ryan said this once upon a time, and I have emboldened the key point.

February 4th, 2009: Andrew "MS Paint Adventures" Hussie has been putting together some videos with his friend Jan van den Hemel where they re-edit some Star Trek: TNG footage into hilarious short videos. They're great, you guys! I recommend watching them in order because it is comedy gold that builds on itself really nicely. Andrew Hussie is quickly becoming the only person whose house I park outside at night. I just want to watch him eat his dinner.

And I was tickled he said it, but then I went on to say (probably) something like this.

Ryan, you're not fooling anyone sitting in your car, sort of ducking down behind your dashboard like that. [I think I probably mentioned something about opera glasses, or goggles here, which he retrieved from his glovebox. I'm not sure why I would suggest he keep such a thing in his glovebox. I think my motivation was probably to use language to cast him as a bit of a lithe-fingered fop. I'm going to go ahead and assume that I was successful in this respect, and blow my whistle while hoisting my arms for the touchdown sign like football refs do whenever they're in the vicinity of a sick burn.

Also I mentioned something about how I was eating a turkey sandwich or something. Oops, I should probably return to my "voice".]

Ryan, I am eating a turkey sandwich or something.

Ok, Ryan caught wind of all that PRETTY QUICK.

February 5th, 2009: UPDATE: Last night Andrew had a open-faced turkey sandwich with a glass of water. He took a bite and chewed, frowning at his dinner. He sprinkled some pepper on top, and took another bite. The sandwich appeared to satisfy him now, and he dispatched it quickly, drinking the water all in one go at the end. Impressive. He then reached for his empty glass, turning it upside down and using it like a microphone. I couldn't hear clearly, but it sounded like he was reciting "Baby Got Back", sitting there at the dinner table. I felt like he was putting on a show for my benefit. I got suspicious - did he know he was being watched? But then some water slide down the glass onto his lap and he jumped up, brushing his slacks down and running out of the room, cursing. It was that little detail that made the whole evening worthwhile.

I said something kind of complicated in response to this… wait, oops, hang on…

Ryan. I'm going to say something kind of complicated in response to this. The basic gist of it will be that while you are distracted by my outrageous domestic broadcast and its embarrassing void of self-awareness, I took the opportunity to deploy a servant through my cellar door and into the yard and had him shove a whole can of cookie dough into your car's tailpipe.

CHECK AND MATE, prank buddy.

Alright I didn't say that last part, but in just transcribing it now, oh man. It was just so sweet how I did that to his car.

Ryan didn't really see it that way though.

February 6th, 2009: Okay, so I guess Andrew has, like, a butler? Who he pays to stuff food into my car's exhaust pipe? And that's fine, that's cool. We all need jobs. But when I drive home and my car stalls out a few minutes in and it's because the tail pipe is blocked with chocolate-chip cookie dough, it's not that awesome. Andrew's house is at the end of a deserted lane surrounded by a bunch of fields, and now I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere.

So I walk back to Andrew's place - takes about 20 minutes. I ring the doorbell. No answer. I knock on the door. All the lights are on; I know he's home. I go round back and I stand in the dark of his back yard and I can see him there in his living room. His soggy slacks are spread out on the couch. His underpants are tasteful. He's rapping again. It sounds like - yes, it's Rapper's Delight. Andrew's really belting it: "Have you ever went over a friend's house to eat / And the food just aint no good? / I mean the macaroni's soggy, the peas are mushed / and the chicken tastes like wood."

I've never realized how much of that song is about food.

At this point I don't actually need to make up an approximate ridiculous reply, because I can submit word for word the ACTUAL RIDICULOUS REPLY which I typed. On a KEYBOARD:

Ok, well it seems Mr. North didn't totally appreciate the Pop n Fresh emissions test I had old Snootington slip into his muffler. Some people just don't know how to take a joke.

February 9th, 2009: I woke up parked outside my house. Andrew was nowhere to be seen. My shirt was folded neatly in my lap and I was wearing a very nice pair of suspenders. Someone had written on my chest: "Human Hug Factory". I couldn't remember, but I knew - I know - that everything will be alright.

As I slip back into "hypothetical reply" mode for some reason again, I'm caused to wonder by Ryan's tone if he is treating my submission to Urban Dictionary as a sort of sweeping denouement to our grand mutual Prankisode.

I could hardly fault him if his intent was a "rhetorical wind-down", a sort of genteel "that's all, folks" in the manner so comfortable and form-fitting to men of North's class and distinction.

Could it be that this borderline-psychotic transcription poses as the final blunt thud on the horse's soft carcass? Or could it be the calm in the storm before North's next ferocious gotcha?

Oh Jesus.

I'd better get back to my mansion and order those goodfornothing butlers back to their fucking battle stations…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Star Trek Edits

Recently I helped a friend edit some episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I've collected them all on this web page here.

Some other things of note: Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) from the show has seen them and written about it in his blog. The videos have also appeared on TV, a on a G4 broadcast called Attack of the Show. (It is mentioned in item number 4 on that clip.) They went as far as getting in costumes and sort of "acting out" the scenes from the particular episode they showed. Cool!

A few other notes on this, and some FAQish sort of stuff...

These were edited by Jan Van den Hemel, who's obviously pretty awesome at this. I helped him make these by writing these sort of "scripts", suggesting how to arrange clips, what lines to dub, and what sort of visual effects to try out. I also usually supply the, uh, external resources. Jan supplies a lot of input to the "scripting" process too. The result I think is a pretty effective fusion of our senses of humor, but of course all the technical editing gravitas is pure Jan.

We will probably keep making these videos, as long as it stays fun. We'll keep doing Star Trek for a while, but will likely also try using samples from other TV shows and movies later.