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I should do more honor to this character in the blog post than I did in the comic. Basically this character was initially supposed to be a stupid joke for this strip. I still love that strip, mostly because it has no real punchline — it’s just this kind of stupid escalating situation based on the hilarious idea that Brian Eno made some kind of computer called the OBLIQUE STRATEGIST, that for some reason outputs to ticker tape, and that’s as gnomic as real Oblique Strategies are. Yet while real Oblique Strategies are fun ways to generate new kinds of thinking about whatever it is you do, they are not really a good method for DETERMINING THE COURSE OF A MULTINATIONAL EMPIRE, hence the joke. Because it would ruin it to have a coherent “summary” kind of punchline, I decided that the last panel should just be this arbitrary hunk of “webcomics drama” where one totally negligible minor character confesses this like undying passion for another character.
But THERE ARE NO MINOR CHARACTERS! There never can be.
So later, when I knew that the plot had to involve bringing back Dascha Rand as a kind of fun ersatz gay Uncle Scrooge figure, it made total sense to reintroduce Leonard as a source of wacky exposition, potential drama, and arbitrary pathos. The fact that he has this secret love for Dascha Rand has pretty much absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot — like, he sees the Main Character as this Serious Rival and the Main Character really has no interest in Dascha whatsoever. He is really sad and embittered, and he gets, like, beaten up by children.
The end “joke” of course is what you see above: that Leonard makes this grand heroic confession and gesture in an effort to truly prove himself worthy of his one undying passion, and there is no effectiveness in it whatsoever. I don’t even know what he was thinking. That he’d jump in front of these bullets that were fired what, a full minute ago? That he’d like land harmlessly on the dock and confront the shooter? They’re not even near Manhattan Island anymore. I really have no idea what his idea was here. And yet there is a crazy kind of glory in it, maybe.
But I am done torturing him now. He has been most notoriously abused. The whole point was to have a heterogeneous character who typified like, Scott Summers/Jean Grey comic book torrid passion, who was essentially there for the other characters to kick around. Charitably you could call it some kind of sophisticated parody of Ayn Rand books, I guess, but really it’s just mean, and I feel pretty low down about doing this now. But what else do you do with a character like this? What else do you do.
Um, so TUNE IN THURSDAY to see what effects this gesture may have had, everyone, in the FINAL PAGE OF OUR CURRENT CHAPTER
(Other notes: He is named after this guy, who I actually met once in 2004 at an event related to a college philosophy class I took that his wife taught! I remember that he was kind of obnoxious during the actual event — I asked a question that made mention of copyright law as “arbitrary,” meaning “decided by an arbiter of some kind,” and he flipped out and said REALITY IS NOT ARBITRARY! But then I talked to him after the event and he was the nicest guy in the world, and told me that it had taken him years and years of dedicated study of philosophy to understand why nothing is “arbitrary,” and that I shouldn’t be hard on myself. He seemed legitimately concerned about this in a way that I, um, hadn’t altogether come to expect from philosophy professors, so I guess I saw fit to pay him the extremely dubious honor of being the inspiration for this character who I’ve just coldly dispatched.)
Tune in TUESDAY to find out the terrifying results of this Moment to Stand. Leonard’s moment to stand.
At a certain point I just gave up trying to make all the Noam panels look exactly alike and tried to make each expression slightly different, yet somehow corresponding to a real emotion that Noam might be feeling. This was necessary for sanity.
FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST COMING IN: Noam is Elvira’s younger brother, with whom she and Our Hero used to live. (link) At some point in the past he became an ANARCHIST COP. After the GREAT SWITCHEROO, the ghost Elvira attempted to contact her brother (link), but merely ended up making him suspect FOUL PLAY. Thus he came to New York seeking her (link) and via a series of GENIUS DEDUCTIONS (link) managed to figure out that a FLYING BOAT was involved, which of course indicates the SINISTER RAND CORPORATION.
Part of the fun is that this is in no way a logical process of reasoning! But, um, this story has been going on for so long that I blame no one for forgetting the handful of strips that POWER UP this narrative moment.
There are only three panels left in this part of the storyline, but they are ACTION PACKED ONES, so please check back Thursday for the next update!
I Can’t Sleep, so here is the schedule for things to come:
MWHF: Pages up Tuesdays/Thursdays. Current phase of the storyline concludes on April 26, at which point there’ll be a break while I finish writing the script for the final storyline. Probably it’ll update once a week at that point, resuming sometime after Bad Mother is running.
Bad Mother: Launches May 13, Mother’s Day! Tell your friends. I can’t figure out yet what the schedule will be, but at minimum Tues/Thurs. Depending on how many strips I get done before the launch and how quickly I can get them done, I’ll maybe add a day in there. It should be doable.
Existential Girls: Generally if I have Boat Girl or other Existential Girls stuff to put up it’ll happen over the weekend, a delightful surprise for those True Fans who check. During the gap between MWHF and Bad Mother I’ll have stuff up Tues/Thurs, so as not to break Karma.
Ghost Girl: I don’t know — when it gets done I’ll put the whole first issue up. I’m not sure if there are going to be more issues after the first — it may just be a fun one time thing.
September 30: Mystery Announcement.
The script I wrote back in September 2011 for this scene just has “ludicrous airship” written; there were a lot of designs, including gigantic hollowed out bombs, the starship Enterprise with a bomb for a saucer and a kind of dias with couches where everyone sat, etc. This seemed the most imposing and the least odious to draw over and over for the next few pages.
The three cornered hat I am truly proud of. Soundtrack for inking this panel: Castlevania. An impromptu house party started around me while I was finishing this tonight, topics of conversation including: the futility of the Belmont family from Castlevania, the value of higher elements on the periodic table and “where it all started to go wrong” as far as adding new elements was concerned, and whether Roger Waters is more odious now that he’s pretending to be cheerful and optimistic or whether his veneer of civility is actually an improvement on his basic honest personality. All important questions and I’m glad they were addressed.
Next update TUESDAY, featuring nine panels in which six bullets are fired. BUT WHO DO THEY HIT?
So here this is, for what it’s worth. I’m not totally happy with this, but it Gets the Job Done. The right thing to do would be to split off a new subplot here actually following Elvira attempting to live out this Ghost List, show her gradually developing ennui, her realization that Life Is for the Living, and some kind of nuanced, ostensive definition of exactly what it means that Life Is for the Living.
Instead this is essentially the scene in Star Trek: Generations where Captain Kirk is all like NO, CAPTAIN PICARD, THERE’S NO REASON I SHOULD LEAVE MY WORLD OF INFINITE BLISS TO GO WITH YOU and then his horse makes a certain jump too easily and he realizes that WHERE THERE IS NO FEAR, THERE IS NO JOY and he goes to get murdered in a desert, because that is truly living. This whole horse-jumping-the-ravine scene happened because the filmmakers didn’t want to do it the right way — to show the evolution of character until we ourselves feel the terrible forces of narrative gravity operating upon those characters, until we Understand Them — so they did it the quick way. This is also the logic behind this scene right here. I apologize for this scene right here, and thanks to the miracle of technology, I don’t have to fool you into thinking that I Achieved All My Intentions With This, as a film studio does for PR reasons because a lot of money and a lot of people’s reputations are at stake. It’s not like I’m charging money for this or anything. The best feature of the Internet the abiding gateway into imperfection that it provides, like a stable wormhole into someone’s universe in process. This is not a feature we should try to fix, I think.
(Another neat thing about Generations is that we see Captain Picard’s dream of ultimate happiness, which is essentially to be Mr. Fezziwig.)
Join us Thursday for a page that I DO, however, feel lives up to all the dreams I had for it!
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I just wrote a long and thoughtful post about this and about other recent stuff in my life and as I was about to post it I hit the back button on the browser and lost everything. It was seriously like 5,000 words long or something crazy, and I’m not going to replicate it. This should be an object lesson to all of us about doing our work in a safe program like Textpad or Word or something instead of trusting any modern technology ever.
Next update will be on TUESDAY and will feature two people falling off a rooftop, but WHICH TWO? There are six pages left in this storyline altogether before I take a while to finish the script for the next and last MWHF storyline. In the meantime there will be Boat Girl and her friends, and on May 13, Mother’s Day, my new strip BAD MOTHER; please read it! I am working on pages for it even now; it is like a classic newspaper comic that a newspaper syndicate would never publish, which is what I initially liked about the whole notion of this webcomics thing.
This scene needed a lot of rewriting and rearranging before it worked okay.
Please check back Thursday, when we catch up with Elvira Ellison, and learn some things that ghosts are better at than living people.