April 7th, 2012

HolyHandGrenade

Family Meating

Now, please stick with me, as I'm not saying this to come across as some holier-than-thou asshole.  I have an explanation and will get to it within this paragraph.  I used to fast on Fridays until the end of the day during Lent for one simple reason:  I love fish.  Up until the allergy to shellfish kicked in, I could eat shrimp all day.  I love meatless chili mac and spaghetti.  In other words, giving up meat is no sacrifice to me.  Hell, it's barely an inconvenience.  But fasting?  Aye, THERE'S a sacrifice!  So it's not like I think others should also fast during the day, because for them giving up meat is indeed a sacrifice.  But it was a breeze for me, so I figured I needed to step up my game.

(Note:  I don't fast on Fridays anymore because my doctor told me to stop that shit.  In the past couple of years, I have begun to feel the breakdown of my body, which is why I keep saying I have no more than forty years left in me.  I feel it coming, I just don't know when.  And apparently, my body can't take the shock of the fasting as well as it used to.  Yeah, I look forward to the day I kick, but that doesn't mean I want to bump up the schedule.  That's cheating.)

An important thing to remember is the personal angle religion plays in people's lives.  The whole point of any religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Atheism, whatever, is to help you understand yourself, your nature, and your place and role in the world, including how you worship and honor whatever cosmic forces or beings (if any) you believe in.  This means there are some things that just don't get taught in the religious texts, you have to make the decision for yourself and deal with the results.  This is something I've been doing pretty much all my life.

My mother, on the other side of the corpus collosum, never has.

A few years ago, my mom tried asking me about the technicalities of not eating meat on Fridays (she had tried the "chicken doesn't count" dodge for a couple of years until my dad started making fun of her).  I frankly didn't want to listen to her.  I told her, You want to know what your problem is?  'Cause I'm gonna tell you what your problem is -- you are not seeking to understand your religion or yourself.  You are seeking a loophole because you are getting tired of doing without.  It's not the same thing.  It's cheating.

"But it's so hard," she whined.

And that's why you do it!  Jesus Christ, I fast and you don't hear me bitching like this!

And that was that until last night.  "Did you know that the whole 'meatless Fridays' thing was a rationing effort?"

Yeah, old news.

"The church was the dominant social group of the day, and they did it to help cut things down.  There's nothing in the Bible about it."

Uh-huh.

"So...(pause for dramatic effect)...do you think I can start eating meat on Fridays during Lent because there's nothing in the Bible that says so?"

I was done being calm.  I went for the throat.  I said, Look.  You are being asked to go without meat for one day for six weeks out of the year.  This isn't even like the old days where you had to go without meat every Friday.  There's other food besides fish.  You can have meatless chili.  You can have cheese pizza.  YOU CAN HAVE ALL THE CHOCOLATE CAKE YOU WANT!!!  Now, if you want to eat meat because there's nothing in the Bible about it, then resist and protest and do it with a clean conscience that this is what you feel is right.  Otherwise, quit being a pussy and tough it out.  You got two choices, pick one.

I suppose I should have been more understanding.  But this isn't someone coming to personal realizations about how things don't fit and she needs to find her own path.  She just wants a hamburger on Friday during Lent.

Religion isn't the only thing that gets abused for personal ends.  Anti-Establishment thoughts get abused as well.
Peter G

RED ALERT! RICK OLNEY IS BACK! INITIATE PERIMETER DEFENSE NOW!

An emergency message to all my fellow denizens of the trenches....

For those who came in late:  Rick Olney is a shyster who enjoys ripping off people trying to make it in the comic industry.  He started off with Tight Lip Entertainment, which developed a fast reputation for not paying anyone.  Likewise, his comic conventions that he set up and ran would not pay for promised and contractually obligated travel and lodging expenses.  If you talked publicly about not getting paid, Olney would threaten you with lawsuits to shut you up (although no one has ever heard from any lawyer about this) and redress whatever you said online as being trollish and mean and he was refusing to pay on principal until you apologized and signed an affidavit that you made it all up.

Olney first got a write-up on my blog here when he tried to start the Adirondack Comic Festival.  The list of guests Did Not Do The Research, and when people politely told them who they were dealing with (complete with links to back it up), they bailed.  You may also remember the Indiana Jones map fiasco that resulted from it -- Olney still has not returned the maps despite Lucas' lawyers circling his head.  As far as I know, Olney is still attempting to get ACF off the ground this coming year.

Olney is nothing if not enterprising.  He has just started a new publishing concern called All Aces Entertainment.  He even has a logo.  Nothing more than that, as the web site is still under construction.

So, if you are getting a pitch package together, do not submit to him under any circumstances.  And if he somehow hears of you and offers you a gig, do not sign with him.  You will be burned.

We must look out for each other.
HowardTheDuckForPres

Raising Hell In Arizona

I know the state of Arizona has a reputation for not liking the US government.

I didn't know that included the US Constitution.

The Arizona state leg recently passed House Bill 2549.  It passed with bi-partisan support and needs just one more vote tweak before it gets sent to the gov for his signature.

So what is in this bill that has Peter so up in arms?  I thought you'd never ask.  The bill seeks to ban all "annoying, offending" language from the Internet.

Okay, some of you need some recover time.  I'll wait.

You're back?  That's good!  Okay, so here's the bullet points.  Anyone convicted of saying anything offensive or insulting on a message board, web page, chat, anything involving Internet communication, can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor and be jailed for up to six months.  This means that, if you live in Arizona and write something factual like "Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a 'slut'," and someone gets offended by the word "slut", you're on your way to the Big House.

If you think I'm economizing with the facts here, I'm not.  It makes it a crime to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend" through any electronic or digital means, but provides no definitions or exceptions or anything.  The bill's language is so vague and overbroad, that is entirely possible.  No distinction is made for any circumstance.  It's just, someone's offended, so we will defend their delicate sensibilities at the expense of your Constitutionally protected Free Speech.  Potentially, Amazon could get nailed for listing the Al Franken book "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" since it is an insult to Limbaugh.  Nice to see that the lessons taught by the passage of the DMCA are being ignored so thoroughly.

State Rep. Steve Farley is basically selling this as an accessory crime bill.  You know how, you get picked up for armed robbery, and you might also get illegal use of a firearm or something like that?  It's an additional crime tacked on just to tack it on to either up your sentence or use as a plea bargaining chip -- "We'll drop these charges if you plead guilty to just the armed robbery."  Farley says this is the intent of the bill.  It doesn't mean that the person is instantly going to be fined or put away.  But if the judge determines it relates to other circumstances in the case then they can use this as another tool to make that decision."  All those who believe that this will NEVER be abused by the morons on the Internet, please raise your hand.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Someone want to tell me how this is supposed to work?  If someone in Arizona reads my blog and I make some sort of joke they don't like, is Arizona going to try and extradite me?  Or try me in absentia, which is a violation of my civil rights?  How about someone from England?  They aren't signatories to the law, so their harassment is okay?  I hear a lot of shit about my religious beliefs, political leanings, everything.  Everyone disagrees with me about something at some time.  Does that mean I need to block Arizona lest some mouth breather doesn't understand these things are my opinion?  And if someone in Arizona writes something in my blog that I disagree with, can I have THEM charged with this?  How would I pursue this?

The only upside is that, if this does pass, the ACLU is promising to get it to the federal courts so fast it'll make your head spin.  There is no way on God's green Earth this bill will survive a Constitutional challenge.  I just hate that the lawmakers are more interested in passing laws than figuring out laws that work.
Sound Waves

Sound Waves #9 Is Out!

And here it is, the Big Reveal that was hinted at in #4 and #7.

This is another case of editorial honesty.  The mechanics that I settled on to enable Rhapsody to survive underwater were simple.  In fact, a bit too simple.  If harmonizing is pretty much all it takes, there is no way Rhapsody should be the only human ever to directly interact with the merpeople.  Not only that, but there were probably other ways to get the same effect.  Since Rhapsody's song is a reflection of her true nature, people with questionable motives, simply due to what that means for their personal songs, would never be able to harmonize with the water and frolic with the fishies.  That was where the crystals came in.  Crystals have a resonant frequency (it's what powers your quartz watch).  Get a "programmable" crystal, set it to harmonize for you, and off you go.

This got me thinking.  If being with the merpeople is a result of being a good person, what happens when you remove that limitation?  I started extrapolating on the nature of a group of people who knew the merpeople and interacted with them, but as time passed, they lost their touches.  They developed an artificial means around their limitation, and the result was the Poseidens.  It was an idea that I just couldn’t shake.

However, it was also the beginning of the end for the series.  With this little revelation, it meant Sound Waves was going to end around issue #15.  Spoiler alert:  the two are going to be forced to go their separate ways.  I was already setting things up and even considering the release schedule when an idea hit me for Rhapsody and Melody reuniting years later.  Sound Waves 2.0 would have been a continuation.  But some of the plots I came up with could easily have been done with the girls in the current series.  So I added a couple more stories before the end of Sound Waves proper.  Ultimately, I just couldn't say goodbye to them, and ginned up stories to take place after that fateful issue that would eventually bring them back together.

But the fact is, the addition of the Poseidens expands the scope of the series considerable.  As I mentioned in my notes for issue #5, I just felt it was cheating for Rhapsody to never end up in a situation bigger than herself.  Consider, if you will, Star Trek.  Star Trek features the characters interacting with other places with the safety of their ship to return to.  They are never stranded, they are never confined, and no matter how unpleasant the experience is, home is always right there for them to return to.  Given that Rhapsody is human, all she has to do to be safe is stay out of the ocean.  When Sound Waves was only 5 issues long, keeping everything secret or keeping her away from the bigger elements of her new world was easy because her exposure was limited.  But with the increase in numbers, I knew it wasn't realistic for the worlds to never collide (for example, in an upcoming issue, Rhapsody's dad learns her secret).  I see a lot of all ages stuff where the threat is never really a threat and the world is always limited.  Given the emotional heart at the center of the series, expecting there to never be any heartbreak just felt dishonest.

A lot of story ideas and inspiration is often the result of necessity.  Originally, this was going to be a three issue arc, not two, with the middle issue showing the journey to Rosstello Island and Rhapsody and Melody going ninja to sneak in and out of the there.  Rosstello Island is based on the Hawaiian park with the black rocks, and I realized that was just waaaaaaaaaay too far for Rhapsody and Melody to travel without anyone noticing they were gone for a long time.  I thought about moving the island closer to California, but that just didn't seem right, either.  I wrestled with how to get them to travel that distance in a short period of time, and eventually came up with the noise gate.

The inspiration came from watching the video for Chocolate Rain by Tay Zonday.  During the video, he moves away from the mic during a gap in the song.  A helpful caption explains he moves away from the mic so that the sound of him breathing in isn't picked up by the recording equipment.  I thought, "There's this device called a noise gate that can solve your problem, buddy."  Something about the name clicked, and it became the merpeople's equivalent of a stargate.  I figured out roughly how to make it work and even how to move it -- I needed them to be able to move it with them as they traveled to keep people from stumbling across it, but they had to do it without touching it, since touching it warped you wherever.  In a future issue, it's revealed that, you sing the song of the water you want to go, you warp there.  If you sing the song of the water backwards, the noise gate goes with you when you warp.  Problem solved.

This also became the source of a hasty rewrite.  Not only did it cut down the issues from three to two, but it meant Laminar would have to come with.  The girls are bold, but this just seemed too risky for them to do on their own.  Melody's dad would kill her.  This did raise the question of how Laminar knew what the water around Rosstello Island sounded like.  His pod couldn't have been there, since neither Melody nor Marina, the other trusted friend in the pod, would know about it.  I came up with the idea of the leader of the pod being a "ledger" (established in #7) and Rosstello Island was where they went for a sort of finishing school.  And that was how Laminar's pod suddenly got itself an official leader, and it was Melody's dad.  It did add a little more dimension to Rhapsody's first meeting with the pod in #4, since Laminar was pretty much the main contact in that issue.

I also loved the bit where Melody is trying to swim to the noise gate and Laminar is simply holding her back with the palm of his hand, and she's still trying to swim over.  That and her body language when Laminar does his, "I'm the dad" bit.

Yeah, I know, the Hannah Montana reference tips off I wrote this a while ago.  Sue me.

That said, I love the job I did drawing the state park.  I don't feature a lot of detail when the girls are swimming in the ocean since they are in the middle of the water and there's nothing to reference their position.  The first panel of Rhapsody walking in the park is a favorite of mine with all the trees and shrubbery, although, now that I look at it, I did blow it.  The bottoms of the plants are more or less straight lines along the ground.  Either I made a mistake or that park has the most OCD landscaper in the history of the world.

Rhapsody's way of returning the stone was born of necessity.  To make sure I had space for all the exposition about the Poseidens that I needed, I wrote up to her getting to the island and sneaking past the guard shack first, then her leaving the island and learning what was going on from Laminar.  When I looked at the pages I had left to show Rhapsody returning the stone, I only had two left.  Well, shit!  I was looking at having to make a whole other issue to show Rhapsody sneaking around, but making it interesting was not going to be easy.  Then, Rhapsody's brain to the rescue.  I know, it's an old trick that factors into a lot of con stories and folklore, but I did create Rhapsody to be smart and ingenious, and it was exactly something she would gin up.  The sneaky look on her face before she switches into her Actress mode with the guard, then her smile as she thinks, "Sucker!" are favorites of mine.  Although, if you ever see the original art, the guard gives Rhapsody her rucksack back at the end.  I started drawing the subsequent pages, and realized too late that I was forgetting to draw the rucksack back in her possession.  The easiest solution was to digitally erase the rucksack from the panel where she gets it back, and change the dialog to say the guard was confiscating the sack.