Sunday, February 26, 2017

Catman #1

Stately Auburndale Manor was about forty miles outside of Philadelphia. It was raining when Dwight Summers--in his disguise as Catman--arrived which just made him angrier. He had worked his way from Golden City to Philadelphia tracking down leads about The Order of St. Constantin. Auburndale Manor was supposedly a major hideout of the Order on the east coast. There were dozens of cars lining the circular driveway of the Manor so there were at least a decent amount of people here. People he could question. People he could threaten to give him any information on who killed his wife and daughter.

Catman approached the Manor and peered in the window. It was, indeed, a party. It looked like hundreds of people were in attendance. They were all wearing red robes except for the few that were wearing black ones. “Weirdos,” he muttered. He remembered that he was dressed in a cat suit. “I’m at least in this to stand for something,” he said to himself. He began wondering how he should get into the house. Through the back or the roof?

Auburndale Manor was three stories so going through the back would be easier but the element of surprise came from above. Catman compromised and darted to the back of the house and began scaling the wall and windows to the third floor. There was a fancy balcony leading to a grand bedroom. The balcony was unlocked. In the dark room, Catman was nearly invisible, he just had to quietly get to where everyone was on the first floor.

He stared out over the festivities from the top of the stairs. He devised a plan in his head about how all this would go down. He would ignore the one in black robes and go for the ones in red. The reds may not know anything but the ones in black, he wanted to scare.

Catman watched for several minutes until he saw an opening. One of the black robes began talking and everyone turned to watch him. A couple minutes into the black robe’s speech, Catman leapt into the crowd. He landed on several and began throwing punches around to the ones still standing around him.

Like in the cave, he seemed to blackout during the fight. When he came to, many red robes were laid sprawled on the floor. Several had run away but three black robes remained. Catman quickly approached them. Neither of them seemed nervous.

“Priest Andreij,” Catman said.

“What about him?” one of the black robes asked.

“I’m looking for him. I’m looking for who killed my family,” Catman explained.

“If your family was killed, Andreij probably doesn’t know anything about it,” another answered. “The Order is controlled by him but he’s more of a figurehead. Each chapter has its own leader. You know this isn’t going to bring your family back, right?”

Catman’s fist caved in that black robe’s face and he slumped to the floor, blood spilling from his nose and mouth. “Who runs the chapter in Golden City?”

“I don’t know. I’ve met Jack Mancietti, he’s a boxer in Golden City and a member of the Order. He might know who’s in charge.”

“Thank you,” Catman said. He turned and walked away.

Jack Mancietti’s boxing gym was in College Hill, a small neighborhood that used to be home to some of the most educated and wealthy citizens of Golden City. When the college closed, the neighborhood quickly disintegrated.

Mancietti’s Gym gave hope to the kids of the neighborhood. It was a place where the boys could avoid drugs and the prostitutes. After learning about him, Catman was shocked to learn a man like him was a past of this perverted Order.

The gym was unlocked so Catman just walked in. He heard the sounds of fists hitting a sandbag. He walked toward the sound and saw a man punching a sandbag suspended from the ceiling. “Jack Mancietti?”

“Yep,” two more hits.

“Do you belong to the Order of St. Constantin?”

“Who’s asking?”

“I’m Catman. The Order killed my family.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t know anything about that,” Jack said. “But if you beat me in the ring, I’ll tell you who you need to see.”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tauy Creek Digest #33: Damnation

Benjamin Lindstrom got off the elevator and approached the receptionist desk where a floppy-haired bearded guy was standing and scrolling through his phone. Ben licked his lips and began talking. "Hi, I'm..."

The receptionist cut him off. "We usually don't get bomb threats until after the new issue comes out," he eyed Ben's briefcase.

"What? No. I'm Benjamin Lindstrom. I'm the new editor-in-chief."

"Oh," he trailed off. "Come on, I'll take you to Mr. Perry." They began walking through the office. The whole time the receptionist was scrolling and texting on his phone.

"Do you get a lot of bomb threats?" Ben asked.

"About once a month. We upset a lot of people," they went into an office with 'Editor-In-Chief' on the door. "Mr. Perry, Benjamin Lindstrom is here."

"Thank you, Kyle. Benjamin, how are you?"

"I'm fine, sir. You can call me Ben."

"Okay. Benjamin, you are going to be the overseer of our little group here. You are the moderator and mediator of half a dozen or so voices. You keep them on the rails even if they've already come off," Jack explained.

"What do you mean?"

"Jack, I have what I want the next issue's cover to be," an older man came in carrying a cover mock-up.

"Here's your first fire. Benjamin, this is Fred. Fred, this is Benjamin, the new editor-in-chief," Jack walked out of the office.

"Ah. Okay. Benjamin, I have what I want for the next cover," Fred handed Ben the mock-up.

The picture was the President's head atop the elaborate golden robes of King Henry VIII. The caption underneath read: 'You know you want it.' "We're not using this," Ben said and handed it back.

"Why not? Matt in graphics worked really hard on this," Fred said.

"And I will give him all the kudos he deserves but we are not using it."

"Give me one good reason."

"You're the new editor-in-chief?" a short Hispanic woman with long brown hair and big glasses came into the office.

"Yeah, can you give me one second?" Ben said. "We use provocative but neutral covers. Now, if we split the cover and show the President as a man of the people we could run that," Ben turned to the woman. "Hi."

"Hi, you need to sign off on this," she handed Ben a small stack of papers.

"Okay," he glanced at the top piece of paper. "Thanks, Isabella," he looked back down at the paper. "Whoa. You can't use this title."

"Fire her," a lighter brown-haired woman, very thin and angular, came in. "I warned her about that title."

"What's wrong with it?" Isabella asked.

"You can't call half our readers," he looked down "'fucking morons.'"

"I disagree," Isabella said.

"Fire her," the thin woman said again.

"And you are?" Ben asked her.

"Sarah. I'm the head conservative writer."

"Nice to meet you," Ben said. "I will read this, Isabella, and make sure it is okay but the title has to be changed."

"Fine," Isabella huffed and turned to leave.

"Think of how many people would buy the magazine with this cover," Fred attempted to sway Ben again.

"Yeah, the wrong kind of people who will then call and email about having liberal articles," Ben explained.

"So? Then we just fire Isabella and Justin and hire new conservative writers."

"Told you you couldn't call our readers fucking morons, Isabella," Sarah said quietly.

"At least I didn't want to call our readers retards," Isabella snapped back.

"No. No. I used libtard. Completely different."

"No, it's not. Everyone knows exactly what you mean by libtard and it's offensive."

"Pfft," Sarah scoffed. "Such a snowflake."

"That's enough," Ben shouted. "Fred, we are not using this cover. Get me the articles you are working on and I'll read them and come up with a neutral cover on my own. Isabella, Sarah, we will not--NOT--insult or degrade any--ANY--of our readers. Is that clear?"

"Yes," they both muttered.

"I'll get you my article," Sarah said.

"We can just use your idea of splitting the cover between this and a man of the people one," Fred said.

"No, that ship has sailed. I will choose the cover. If you can handle it, next week maybe you can help with it."

"But why...?"

"Why, Fred? Why? Because I'm the boss, Fred, and I will not be pushed around. I will not be manipulated. And I will do my best to be as fair and balanced as possible. If you don't like that then maybe we will hire some new conservative writers. Clear?"

"Crystal," Fred said. "Can I hang this up in my cubicle?"

Ben sighed. "Of course. Maybe at the end of the year we can do a rejected cover section."

"That'd be cool. Good idea."

"Thanks," Ben said. "Get me your article by the end of the day."

"Yes, boss."

Ben sat down in the chair at his desk and breathed deeply.

"Hi. Hey," someone poked their head into the office. "I heard that I was going to be fired?"

Ben looked at him. "Justin?"

He nodded his head.

"No. I'm not firing anybody."

Justin scoffed. "You guys need to quit pre-firing me when we get a new editor-in-chief," Justin shouted toward the bullpen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Simpson and Delilah

Episode Number 7F02 (#215)
Created by Matt Groening; Developed by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon
Written by Jon Vitti
Directed by Rich Moore
Executive Producers James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon
Starring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, and Harry Shearer
Special Guest Voice Harvey Fierstein
Also starring Hank Azaria, Pamela Hayden

While watching TV with the family, Homer sees a commercial for Dimoxinil, a hair growth formula that is guaranteed to grow hair. Homer goes to see his closest Dimoxinil rep who says that the formula costs $1,000. Homer can't afford that so he leaves in tears. At work, Lenny and Carl convince Homer to try to charge the Dimoxinil to the company's insurance. Homer goes back and the Dimoxinil rep agrees and Homer happily goes to bed with Dimoxinil on his head. The next morning, a miracle happens.

Homer begins embracing his new hair by going through all the styles that he missed out on between the 1970s and 1990s. What also happens is that Burns, thinking Homer is a vigorous, young, go-getter, promotes Homer to an executive despite Smithers' misgivings. Along with the promotion, Homer gets to hire an assistant. Homer ends up hiring Karl, an amazing gruff-voiced man who quickly becomes Homer's best friend. Karl even helps Homer when he forgets his anniversary, hiring a guy to sing to Marge and give her flowers and chocolates.
Yeah, he knows what they did later.
As Homer's star starts rising, Smithers becomes increasingly suspicious and begins to look into why Homer suddenly has hair and learns that he is committing insurance fraud. Burns has tasked Homer to give a big speech to the nuclear plant muckety-mucks when Smithers comes in to fire Homer. Karl takes the blame causing Smithers to fire Karl instead. His life starting to fall apart, Homer worries about giving the speech and his worry is made worse when he discovers that Bart has spilled his Dimoxinil. Homer goes bald overnight and even though Karl wrote Homer's speech for him, because he's bald, the muckety-mucks refuse to listen to him. Burns demotes Homer and his life goes back to normal.

Random Observations

  • The family is watching TV, game show host: "The capital of North Dakota is named after this German ruler."
    Homer: "Hitler!"
    Marge: "Hitler, North Dakota?"
  • The company that makes Dimoxinil is located in Hair City, Utah. It is not a real city.
  • Dimoxinil is a take on the real-life hair growth drug, minoxidil, which was approved by the FDA as a hair growth drug for men in 1988. Minoxidil is a genericized name and the most popular and well-known of the trade names is Rogaine.
  • The alternative that the Dimoxinil retailer tries to sell Homer is Hair In a Drum which costs $19.95 and any hair growth is purely coincidental.
  • The secret to Homer's rise at the Power Plant is his stance on tartar sauce. At the start of the episode, Homer is upset that they only give a small portion of tartar sauce and all the guys run out when it's fish stick day. When Homer is promoted, he is asked how to increase morale at the Plant and he tells Mr. Burns about the tartar sauce. Since an extra portion would only cost an additional ten cents, Burns agrees to it.
  • When Homer is complaining about not getting the Dimoxinil, Lenny tells him to just bill it to the company's insurance. Homer is initially hesitant because it's $1,000. Lenny tells him it's no big deal because $1,000 just means Burns won't be able to buy an ivory back scratcher. Later, when Burns learns of the $1,000, he complains that now he can't afford that ivory back scratcher.
  • It's clear that Karl is gay but the show doesn't come right out and say it. A great joke, which is very subtle, is when Homer is interviewing potential assistants and they are all women. Homer calls Marge and tells her that all the applicants just want to sleep with him. When Karl walks in and she hears his voice she says "He sounds good, hire him."
  • Burns: "I was watching the DuMont last night..." DuMont stopped being a television network back in 1956. It only lasted ten years.
  • Homer: "What does my little girl want?"
    Lisa: "An absence of mood swings and some stability in my life."
    Homer: "How about a pony?"
    Lisa: "Okay."
  • Karl takes the fall for Homer's insurance fraud and is promptly fired by Smithers.
    Smithers: "What do you care if this guy's bald?"
    Karl: "My reasons are my own."
  • This episode has the distinction of being the first televised kiss between two men on network TV. There is some controversy to that though. Some people argue that since these men aren't in a relationship and that the kiss was made in a jokey, off-handed remark, it doesn't count. In 1999, the animated TV show Mission Hill showed a gay couple kissing. A few months later, in 2000, the WB drama Dawson's Creek aired an episode that had two guys kissing. Will we ever definitively decide which kiss was the first? And where does Sammy Davis, Jr. kissing Archie Bunker stand in all this?
  • When Burns is lamenting about being bald, he mentions that his age is 81. Burns' age would later be increased all the way to 104 in later seasons.
  • Is baldness really as polarizing as it's made out to be here? A lot of successful people I see are bald or has that just changed over the years since this episode aired?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Supercomics #1

“Are you sure that you want to do this?” Dr. Samosian said to Robert Harris. Harris was about to enter his seventh tour in the Army and it was supposed to be the most dangerous tour, going into a city under siege and helping the few civilians fight back. Harris had volunteered for a super solider-type program that would usher in a new era for the military.

Within months, Harris was back on the frontline, about forty percent of his body had been replaced with cybernetic material. His metallic skin glared in the sunlight of the desert. His right eye had been replaced with a glowing red LED that doubled as a computer and a laser. When Harris returned home after almost a year, his wife, Alicia, and children did not appreciate the change in his body or demeanor. His new, almost skeletal look scared his children, and his eye showed no emotion when he looked at Alicia.

“I am the beginning of the future for American soldiers,” Harris said. “I am almost a perfect weapon.”

“I don’t want you to be a perfect weapon,” Alicia said. “Why didn’t you ask what I thought about this before sacrificing your body for...for this.”

“You would’ve said ‘no’,” Harris glared at his wife.

“Of course I would. No wife in her right mind would agree to let their husband do this.”

“It’s for the best,” Harris gently took Alicia’s hands. “You’ll get used to it and everything will be right back to where it was.”

Alicia tried. The metal made Robert heavier which made love-making an unpleasant experience. The metal was also cold and clanged when Robert would move or touch her. It was tolerable but what Alicia didn’t like was the change in Robert’s emotions. He had gotten angrier and every little inconvenience set him off.

“I can’t do it,” Alicia said to a friend over the phone. “Tomorrow, while Robert’s at work, we’re going to leave. I’m so scared of him, I’m not telling anyone where we are going. I’ll let you know that I am safe. Good-bye.”

Robert, using his cybernetic eye, saw Alicia through the walls and heard everything. That night, the house burst into flames almost immediately burning to the ground. Investigators found the three bodies of Alicia and her children still in their beds among the charred rubble. Their throats had been slit almost through to the spine. Suspicion fell on Robert who had vanished into thin air.

“Even if we do find him,” one of the policeman said. “We don’t have the manpower to capture and bring him in.”

“The government created this monster, the government should help find him and bring him to justice,” another said.

For the last decade, Dmitri Sylvester had acquired a team of superheroes that the government wanted to use for your basic police work around the country. They had never actually been used in a major capacity before but with Robert on the run and considered extremely armed and dangerous, the team finally made their public debut.

On the team was their leader, America, the first person that Dmitri contacted. Matthew Coffin was the epitome of the American ideal, at least physically. Super strong and super fast, and very agile. Agent Spider, Miguel Stoll, was like a real-life Spider-Man. Geo-Whiz, Brandon Taggart, who could manipulate the earth and was really smart. Dmitri’s own daughter, Vanessa, who went by Smoke because she was just a wisp of smoke in female form. Lastly, Jerome Cooper, or Database, smarter than Brandon, he could process information within seconds to come up any and all possible outcomes. Jerome was also very opinionated.

“Leave it to our government,” he smiled and shook his head. “They build an unstoppable super soldier but don’t think about installing a kill switch. It’s like they don’t fully think things through.”

“That’s enough, Jerome,” Dmitri said. “They’re still only human. Not everyone can be like you.”

“This is totally going on my blog though,” Jerome said. “The public needs to know this dangerous man is out there and it’s because of the government that he’s so dangerous.”

That night, Jerome had long posted his blog post about Robert Harris, the government’s cybernetic soldier program, and the gruesome murders of Harris’ family. Jerome was alone in his apartment, browsing his favorite social websites. “You wrote some mean things,” a voice came through the darkness and into his office.

Without needing to think, Jerome responded. “I wrote the truth. It’s not my fault if you find something about you insulting.” Jerome turned around to the see the half man, half robot in his office doorway. “Are you going to turn yourself in?”

“No,” Robert was confused by the question.

“I don’t think so,” Jerome said and stood up. He began looking around the room, calculating odds and scenarios on how to escape from Robert. Robert quickly ran to Jerome, grabbed him by the throat and lifted him off the ground. “Whoa! Let’s think rationally here, it’s just a blog post. Very few people read it,” Jerome croaked as Robert’s grip tightened, making it hard to speak and breathe.

“I didn’t hesitate when I slit my own family’s throats and blew them to bits. Do you think I’d hesitate on killing you?” Robert asked.

“I…” and with three cracks, Robert twisted his wrist, breaking Jerome’s neck. Robert dropped Jerome on the ground then left out the way he got in.

The next day, Dmitri and his team were at Jerome’s apartment. “Okay,” Dmitri sighed as Jerome was taken away, covered up on a stretcher. “Now it’s personal.”

Charles Schulz's Cartooning Influence Felt By Many

Schulz's legacy goes beyond characters

Bill Watterson, the creator of "Calvin and Hobbes," greatly admired Charles Schulz and the influence "Peanuts" has had on the comic strip art form. Before Watterson decided to retire after 10 years, "Calvin and Hobbes" appeared in 2,500 newspapers.

I clipped this article from my local newspaper shortly after Charles Schulz announced his retirement. I was unable to find it online so decided to post it here.

By Bill Watterson, United Feature Syndicate
Comic strip cartooning requires such a peculiar combination of talents that there are very few people who are ever successful at it. Of those, Charles Schulz is in league all his own. Schulz reconfigured the comic strip landscape and dominated it for the last half of its history. One can scarcely overstate the importance of "Peanuts" to the comics, or overstate its influence on all of us who have followed.

By now, "Peanuts" is so thoroughly a part of the popular culture, that one loses sight of how different the strip was from anything else 40 and 50 years ago. We can quantify the strip's success in all its various commercial markets, but the real achievement of the strip lies inside the little boxes of funny pictures Schulz drew every day.

Back when the comics were printed large enough that they could accommodate detailed, elaborate drawings, "Peanuts" was launched with an insultingly tiny format, designed so the panels could be stacked vertically if an editor wanted to run it in a single column. Schulz somehow turned this oppressive space restriction to his advantage and developed a brilliant graphic shorthand and stylistic economy, innovations unrecognizable now that all comics are tiny and Schulz's solutions have been universally imitated. Graphically, the strip is static and spare. Schulz gave up virtually all the "cinematic" devices that create visual drama: there are no fancy perspectives, no interesting croppings, no shadows and lighting effects, no three-dimensional modeling, few props and few settings. Schulz distilled each subject to its barest essence, and drew it straight-on or side view, in simple outlines. But while the simplicity of Schulz's drawings made the strip stand out from the rest, it was the expressiveness within the simplicity that made Schulz's artwork so forceful. Lucy yelling with her head tilted back so her mouth fills her entire face; Linus, horrified, with his hair standing on end; Charlie Brown radiating utter misery with a wiggly, downturned mouth; Snoopy's elastic face pulled up to show large gritted teeth as he fights the Red Baron--these were not just economical drawings, they were funny drawings. More yet, they were beautiful. Drawn with a crow quill-type pen dipped in ink, Schulz's linework had character in its quirky velocity and pressure, unlike the slick, uniform lines of today's markers and technical pens. "Peanuts" could never be drawn by anonymous assistants, as so many other strips were and are--its line is inimitable. The strip looked simple, but Schulz's sophisticated choices reveal a deep understanding of cartooning's strengths. I studied those drawings endlessly as a kid and it was invaluable education in how comics worked.

Indeed, everything about the strip was a reflection of its creator's spirit. "Peanuts" is one of those magical strips that creates its own world. Its world is a distortion of our own, but we enter it on its terms, and in doing so, see our world more clearly. It may seem strange that there are no adults in "Peanuts'" world, but in asking us to identify only with children, Schulz reminds us that our fears and insecurities are not much different when we grow up. We recognize ourselves in Schulz's vividly tragic characters: Charlie Brown's dogged determination in the face of constant defeat, Lucy's self-righteous crabbiness, Linus's need for a security blanket, Peppermint Patty's plain looks and poor grades, Rerun's baffled innocence, Spike's pathetic alienation and loneliness. For a "kid strip" with "gentle humor," it shows pretty dark world, and I think this is what makes the strip so different from, and so much more significant than, other comics. Only with the inspired surrealism of Snoopy does the strip soar into silliness and fantasy. And even then, the Red Baron shoots the doghouse full of holes.

Over the last century, there have been only a handful of truly great comic strips, comics that pushed the boundaries of the medium and tried to do more than tell little jokes as a relief from the atrocities described in the rest of the newspaper. Schulz did it all: he drew a beautiful comic strip, a funny comic strip, and a thoughtful, serious comic strip. For that, "Peanuts" achieved a level of commercial success the comics had never seen before. We should understand, as Schulz did, that the merchandising empire "Peanuts" created would never have worked had the strip not been so consistently good. How a cartoonist maintains this level of quality decade upon decade, I have no insight, but I'm guessing that Schulz is a driven perfectionist who truly loved drawing cartoons more than anything else.

I've never met Charles Schulz, but long ago his work introduced me to what a comic strip could be, and made me want to be a cartoonist myself. He was a hero to me as a kid, and his influence on my work and life is long and deep. I suspect most cartoonists would say something similar. Schulz has given all his readers a great gift, and my gratitude for that tempers my disappointment at the strip's cessation. May there someday be a writer/artist/philosopher/humorist who can fill even a part of the void "Peanuts" leaves behind.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ipomoea #3

Whoooooooaaarrrp! the air duct squealed next to Sabrina’s head. She angrily glared at the duct, eyebrow raised. Wheeeeeeeek! it squealed again.

“Shut up!” she yelled at the duct.

The duct responded with a Thuhp!

Everything on the ship was now over a million years old. It was pure luck that most everything still worked but the ducts were much more rattly now. Sabrina sobbed and then buried her head under her pillows. She began calming down and released her grip from her pillows. She sighed and began drifting off to sleep.

Whoooooooaaarrrp! the duct squealed again.

“You two are up early,” Sabrina said as she went into the navigation room. Her hair was a mess and she was still in her pajamas. She also still had a hold of her childhood teddy bear that she had brought with her.

“Early? It’s after ten,” Rizzo said.

“You look terrible,” Cardy commented.

“Thanks, Cardy,” Sabrina collapsed into a chair. “I barely slept last night. The air ducts in my room are driving me to kill. Or suicide. Not really sure which way I’m leaning.”

“Just move to another room. Corporal Robbie has a corner barrack but not against the HVAC corridor,” Rizzo said. “I moved into Captain Smith’s room because I knew it would annoy him. Haven’t worn pants since.”

“I moved into one of the medic bays,” Cardy said. Rizzo and Sabrina looked at him oddly. “What? I like the way hospital beds feel.”

“That’s a good idea but it’s not my barrack. It belongs to Corporal Robbie,” Sabrina said.

“I’m sure she won’t mind,” Rizzo said.

“I don’t know,” Sabrina hesitated.

“Here, I’ll ask her,” Rizzo leaned down to a pile of dust near one of the navigation consoles. “Hey, Robbie. Do you mind if Sabrina moves into your room? She said that she doesn’t care because she is dead.”

“Fine,” Sabrina smiled.

“I don’t know if you should take Blue Dwarf on another mission so soon,” Robot-2 worried. “It hasn’t been refueled.”

“Look, Robot, all the other modules are a million years old now. Blue Dwarf is the only one that isn’t. The planet is small enough and we’ve calculated that we have just enough fuel to get there, do our job, and come back,” Rizzo said.

“I don’t even know why you are still continuing to do your job. We should be heading back to Earth,” Robot-2 said.

“Robot,” Rizzo stopped and turned to Robot, “take yourself out of C3PO mode. Everything here runs on its own. If we don’t do what we came out here to do then all we’ve done is waste time, money, and progress. We’re at least getting Scotia-138 done.”

“But there is a 67% probability that Blue Dwarf will run out of gas while you’re down there,” Robot-2 said.

“I think you are making up that number,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo and Robot arrived at the docking bay where Sabrina was waiting next to Blue Dwarf. “Ready?” she asked. “I calculated that we can get this done in four hours.”

“Ugh. Four hours. Maybe we should just head back to Earth.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Robot-2 chimed in.

“Scotia and then we can go back,” Sabrina said.

The Rizzoes flew from Ipomoea to the frozen, barren wasteland of a planet named Scotia. As they approached the surface, the winds blew the Dwarf to and fro. Visibility was below nothing due to the snow. Sabrina hovered several feet above the surface.

Rizzo was lowered down on a platform where he placed a terraforming charge on the surface and then went back up into Blue Dwarf. They did this several hundred more times and was nearly finished when the Blue Dwarf fell to the ground.

“What happened?” Rizzo asked, running into the cockpit.

“Don’t tell Robot, but he was right. We’re out of gas,” Sabrina said.

The ship began powering down, trying to save its limited fuel source. “We need to radio Cardy and Robot to come down here and get us,” Rizzo said.

Sabrina grabbed the radio but only heard static. “I think the snow is blocking communications.”

“Of course it is,” Rizzo shrugged.

“They’ll get suspicious when we’re not back soon. We estimated four hours. They’ll figure it out,” Sabrina was hopeful.

“I hope so,” Rizzo said. “Because it’s going to start getting very cold in here very soon.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

Classic Magic #2: Magic Man, Part 2

"The city is ours gentlemen," Charles Renfro raised his glass to his close friends and fellow businessmen.

"Congratulations on having the largest media company outside of New York, Charles," a short man said.

"Soon it will be much more than newspapers, television, and radio," Renfro said. "I have my eye on this lab on the westside. It's not doing so well but this doctor there has a formula that could put it on the map."

"A pharmaceutical lab?"

"Yeah," Renfro answered.

"Criminals," a voice said nearby.


"You act all high and mighty but you're just a pack of criminals," the voice continued. All the men pulled out guns. "Gun-toting criminals."

One of the men finally got a good look at who was talking to them and infiltrating their get-together. "It's Magic Man," he pointed out. They all turned and saw the giant blue and white 'M' that had become well-known throughout Chicago.

"He's not bulletproof," Renfro said. They all prepared to open fire but all of the guns were lifted into the air and then were crushed into a ball of metal. Within seconds, the other men were taken out and only Charles remained standing. "Why don't you face real criminals? The Italians and the..."

"You are a criminal," Magic Man said, picking Renfro up. "You act like you are better but you are just as bad. Maybe worse since people expect more from you. They expect you to be a decent person. At least with an actual criminal, you know what you're getting."

A security team came in and saw Magic Man lifting Renfro over his head. "Freeze!" one shouted. "Put him down."

"Certainly," Magic Man said and stepped off the edge of the building. Magic Man and Charles fell to the street below. Magic Man calmly fell while Renfro panicked and went as white as a sheet. Suddenly, Renfro jerked to a stop. He and Magic Man were in midair. Renfro was still panicking and sweating even though he was now being gently lowered to the street. "Are you going to run your companies honestly?"

"Y-Yes," Renfro stammered.

"Are you going to quit bilking and lying to your customers?"

"Yes, yes," he cried.

That night, on the ten o'clock news, Charles Renfro admitted his guilt and that he was selling off his newspaper and television companies and that any and all future acquisitions are cancelled.

"No," Dr. Conner shouted at his house. His phone rang, he ran to pick it up. "Hello?"

"What does this mean?" the voice on the other end growled.

"It means we'll have to go with plan B. There is no way Abell will sell the company now so we'll just have to take it from her," Conner said.

Winnette Abell had just taken over her father's pharmaceutical company, Abell Labs, after his sudden death a couple months ago. The Labs weren't doing great when her father was alive and she was looking at selling so her father's research could at least live on. Now that Charles Renfro was no longer interested, Winnette didn't know what to do now.

Winnette was alone in the lab looking over the numbers. Winnette was schooled as a lawyer so most of this was over her head. She didn't understand the science behind what the lab did but she did understand that it wasn't feasible. Was this place always in the red? Did her father ever turn a profit?

Outside, three men found their way inside. They found Winnette in her office. "Don't worry," one said. "We don't want to hurt you."

They took her to another room while one stayed behind and began setting up explosive charges. Then, to get attention, he set one up at the main entrance to the building and detonated it.

The situation was all over the news in a matter of minutes. Police surrounded the lab and waited for an opening. Silas turned on the radio and heard about the news. He threw on his Magic Man outfit and flew to Abell Laboratories. "What do you know?" he asked someone who looked in charge.

"Three men, one hostage. All the men have guns and said that they've set up explosives. At least one went off," he nodded at the smoldering debris of the entrance.

"Where are they in the building?" Magic Man asked.

"This side," he pointed to the east wing.

"Then I guess I'll go in through the west doors," Magic Man walked over to the lab building. When he got to the door, he created a protective shield around him and then magically opened the locked doors.

He cautiously walked through the lab, listening for sounds of people. He finally heard the muffled sounds of the perpetrators in one of the offices in the east wing. Magic Man listened at the door for a bit trying to decipher their talking.

"Magic Man?" someone exclaimed off to the side. Before Magic Man could do anything, the man pressed a button and one of the explosives went off. It killed the man instantly and pushed Magic Man back.

"I guess the element of surprise is out," Magic Man blew the door off the hinges.

"Magic Man? What's going on?" another man asked.

"Your third partner freaked out and set off an explosion," Magic Man said. Another explosion occurred, bringing part of the wall and ceiling down. "Ms. Abell, are you okay?" Magic Man shouted.

"I think so," she answered loudly.

Magic Man extended his magical shield around Winnette, along with himself, and held out his cape to expand the shield more. The last two explosions went off and buried the four of them in debris. When the dust settled and the police began looking through the rubble, Magic Man pushed his way through the rocks and helped Winnette up.

"Are you still okay, Ms. Abell?" Magic Man asked softly.

"Thanks to you," she smiled at him.

"Head over to the ambulance and they'll make sure," he didn't want to stop looking into her beautiful eyes. "I hope I'll see you around."

"I hope so, too."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Comic Comics 214

I'm going to start forgoing titles for Comic Comics posts because most of the time, I can never figure out a good one, a funny one, or a clever one. It's just easier on everyone involved if I just start numbering the posts.

Hi and Lois
I don't get my news from the TV because I don't want to be told how terrible of a place the world is. I don't see it like that and I'm baffled why so many other people do. I prefer newspapers or online where I can a variety of news and disseminate it myself. After the election of Donald Trump, my family even bought subscriptions to several newspapers (including my local one) because we're going to need news now more than ever and outlets like the News-Herald will need all the help they can get.

 Dennis the Menace
Why are you asking what Dennis wants for dinner? It's clear that you have already made dinner and that everyone is sitting down to eat it. You know what I want for dinner? You to quit being a teasing bitch, Alice.

So Heart-Throb's first job is only going to last a week. Good to know.

The Amazing Spider-Man
I don't understand why so many outer space villains refer to Earth as being primitive. Look, I'm sorry that we don't have magical tuning forks but at least we aren't constantly at war with every single planet like you guys usually are.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Incredible Comics #14

Time Man grabbed Adam and pulled him away from Caleb. He lifted him over his head and slammed him into the pavement. “You killed a good man,” Time Man said, hitting Adam, trying to keep him from getting back up.

“I’ve killed many good men,” Adam shouted, trying to block the hits.

“It ends now,” Time Man said. Time Man stood over Adam, breathing heavily.

“And how will you do that? I’ve been around longer than humanity itself,” Adam sneered. “Many have tried and all have failed to put me down.”

“Then I guess I better hope this works,” Time Man pulled Caleb’s watch out and grabbed Adam. Time Man clutched the watch and then pressed a button. Both Time Man and Adam disappeared.

They reappeared in nothingness. Time Man let go of Adam. Both floated in the nothing. “Where did you bring us?”

“If I did it right, the end of time. Soon entropy will engulf us and it may not kill you but it will stop you.”

“It’ll kill you,” Adam said. The darkness began enveloping them.

“I have a way back,” Time Man held up Caleb’s watch. “And if it doesn’t work, I’m comfortable with my decision.”

Adam moved toward Time Man just as he pressed the button again. Time Man disappeared into the darkness, leaving Adam alone at the end of time.

“I should’ve told you,” Harold said as he approached Ellie and Maggie as they sat on the stairs to their apartment building which was now surrounded by police cars and ambulances. “I didn’t know how you would handle it and I thought you would try to talk me out of it. I also thought you not knowing would help protect you. I guess I was wrong.”

“We could’ve died, Harold,” Ellie said, tearing up. “I don’t have a problem with you being a hero, being Time Man, but I need to know so that I can prepare for what could happen. We have a child to think about.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m going to take a break from Time Man for a while,” Harold said and sat down next to Ellie. “In fact, I was thinking of taking some time off from the city as well.”

“Where would we go? What about our life here in Golden City?” Ellie asked.

About four miles south of Duquesne, Iowa, Harold was standing on a ladder hanging a large wooden sign that read “Banner Farm” on a wooden arch that was built at the end of the driveway. Ellie was cleaning the kitchen while Maggie played on the floor in the living room. They had lived at the farm for the last six months and everything was going great. Harold not only did some farming but also took in repair work.

“I got the sign up,” Harold said, coming into the kitchen from outside.

“Are you happy that we did this?” Ellie asked him.

“Yeah, I love this. Are you happy?” Harold returned the question, worried.

“I do like this. We both do,” she motioned to Maggie. “You don’t miss the city? I know how much you liked the city and the fixit shop.”

“I also love small towns and quiet and I don’t need a building just for fixing things,” Harold said. “I’ll be in the reading room for a bit if you need anything,” Harold gave Ellie a kiss on the forehead and went into the reading room, a bedroom that was downstairs. He went over to the desk and slid open a drawer. Inside, was the sundial and Caleb’s watch just in case he ever needed them again.

Big Game Quickies

Shouldn't the license be laminated or somehow protected to keep things like this (and counterfeiting) from happening?

Is it because his name is Buzz? If not, I don't get the joke.

Honestly, either way I don't get the joke.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Cosmo and Roz's Unspoken Love

Cosmo was looking for a handjob or something but whatever.

Don't forget that Tauy Creek has a Facebook Page and I post regularly on Instagram.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Luckily It Was the Chicken's Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Beetle Bailey
The way this country treats our military sometimes is just blasphemous.

Family Circus
If you want to inject Jeffy with a lethal dose of potassium chloride and say it's a flu shot or something, no one would rat you out.

You ungrateful son of a... You and the teacher make a mistake causing yourselves to have to be marooned at the theater and you crap all over it. It's a wonder no one has killed you.

panel from Funky Winkerbean
Speaking of wondering why somehow hasn't killed someone yet, here's Funky and his wife. She's not going to kill him because of the bad joke or the insult to her but because she's not seeking heat so the joke/insult doesn't work.

Hi and Lois, January 29-30, February 2-3

It's clear that the five random people who create Hi and Lois don't talk to each other or even half-assedly concern themselves with even the most basic continuity, right?

Wait. Does everybody think this gorilla in a suit is a human being? It's like that episode of The Flintstones where everybody thinks a gorilla is Fred just because the gorilla is wearing the same shirt.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

I Miss the Middle-Aged Man Who Wrote 'Dear Wendy'

Mary Worth
I'm not an advice columnist and I haven't read anything like Dear Abby or Ann Landers in a very long time but if a person who you have already given advice to keeps writing back, maybe you aren't very good at giving advice.

"I can't decide between two jobs."

"You should make a pros and cons list."

"I made a pro and cons list. Still don't know what to do."

"Well, what do you think you should do?"

"You're bad at this."