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Writer’s Block

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Jim and I started Unicorn Soup at almost the same time Baby Indy was born. This posed a problem, I needed to produce scripts but had no time.

The only free time I had were those few precious minutes I’d sneak away for my shower, and most of that time would be eaten up doing my best Kevin Spacey impersonation.  Thanks be to whatever forces crafted the brain that, “Eureka!” moments occur.

There’s some magical power in the mind–not to get too college dorm on you, but I do often wonder what’s rumbling away in our subconscious.  What innovations, discoveries, and art is bubbling away just out of the reach of our waking brains?

Oh and, “What if the color I see as blue is really what you see as red?”  Blah, blah, blah.

Back to the comic.

During those first few months I produced a lot of scripts, virtually all of them like Archimedes before me.  I would tap the “Eureka!” script out at my laptop still dripping wet. Okay, so not just like Archimedes but you get the idea.

On top of that, I had a cat to contend with.  I don’t recall anything about a cat in the Archimedes legend.  As anyone with a cat knows, cats love keyboards yet loathe their productive use.

So there I’d be wet, fending off my cat, and praying the baby wouldn’t wake up before I’d gotten my idea down. My wife found me this way a few times, but never really said anything. Either she’s incredibly tolerant of aberrant behavior or, given the sleep debt we were running at the time, too exhausted to give a shit what her idiot husband was up to.

I’m banking on the latter.

The things we do for our art.

Cheers,

Jack

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block published on 6 Comments on Writer’s Block

This is another early one.  I use fake sable brushes (synthetic mixed with sheep works pretty well), a very old pen with lettering nibs that I got from a box of my father’s ancient school supplies that he was holding onto for no reason, and pigment liner markers.  I use sumi ink because it’s super black, and NOT waterproof!  Most comic guys recommend Black Magic or other waterproof inks, but those contain shellac which destroys brushes and in my experience isn’t all that waterproof anyway.  I’m able to brush gouache over the sumi ink, and that’s all that’s necessary anyway (That and keeping the artwork out of the rain).  Every time I get ready to shell out for actual sable, I chicken out.  I’m hell on brushes as it is, and $50 brushes just aren’t disposable.  They work far better than the synthetic crap, though.

There’s an App for US!

There’s an App for US! published on No Comments on There’s an App for US!

We’re now App Accessible!  4.5/5 star App Accessible!  Oh and it’s TOTALLY FREE!

So we’re pretty much a big deal now, better get your fan letters in now while we still answer them.

You can find Unicorn Soup right alongside Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, and all the other webcomics that you like almost as much as US.  You can even follow Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts if your heart desires.

On your iPhone/iPod/iTunes.  Search the App store for:

“Web Comic du Jour”

There are two versions of the Web Comic du Jour.  The free version allows you to follow up to 8 of your favorite comics at a time, but honestly adding and deleting comics is a snap so in reality you can follow as many as you want at no cost.

The $1.99 version of the app allows you to follow as many comics as you want without adding or deleting any comics from your “Selected Comics” list.  If you want to kick these guys $1.99 then go for it, they were really great to work with–but I’m currently reading all the comics I want for a very reasonable $0.00.

May you spend all day tomorrow reading comics rather than working.

Cheers,

Jack

Dead Island zombie disassembly

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I’ve been playing Dead Island this week. I see a lot of similarities to Borderlands, in terms of general structure. In the same way that shooting bad guys in Borderlands was satisfying enough for me to excuse the sort of “RPG Lite” story and mission structure, the melee in Dead Island goes a long way towards allowing me to excuse its flaws.

The melee gameplay at first is just okay; pull the trigger, and watch a melee attack. The sort of attack changes a little bit based on context and where you’re aiming. That’s the “digital” control for melee.

But in the options menu, change it to “analog” and then the game comes alive. In analog mode you aim your crosshairs at the part of the zombie you want to strike, then hold the left trigger. This switches the right stick from controlling your aim to controlling your weapon arm. Move the stick left, then right, and you wind up and deliver a backhand. Up, down delivers an overhead strike. Diagonal movements produce diagonal strikes. The character I’m playing with favors edged weapons, and after about 1/2 an hour of experimenting I was lopping off heads and limbs with precision (as long as the weapon was in proper shape). Facing a “thug” (a larger, slower zombie who swings haymakers that knock you onto your back), I find severing arms first to be prudent. “Infected” (fast-moving, wildly swinging zombies) can do much damage in a short time, so I usually deliver a kick to the chest to stop their forward momentum, and follow immediately with a swing at their neck to behead them.

No first-person game I’ve played has made melee fighting as enjoyable for me as this one, and though the game suffers from many “video gamey” flaws (illogical inventory, NPCs that ask you if you’ve completed their mission as soon as you’ve accepted it, etc), just the act of disassembling zombies is so enjoyable that so far I’m able to just laugh them off. I’ve found a couple of guns in the game so far, and have just sold them. I don’t want to shoot zombies; I just want a nice sharp machete.

Locust Vasectomies

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Thank God for party chat.

In the Year 2000–I hung up my WoW subscription and bought an Xbox.  Yes, I played Wow.  I’ll pause while you snicker.

There was no party chat when I got into Xbox but there were loads of DickyDoo’s.  It’s a pleasant and insular time we live in, with a nice group of gaming friends I don’t think I’ve spoken to a random in over a year.  Those early days of XBL were rough… crammed full of Fred Durst badititude and X-treme everything it’s a wonder most of us made it.  I hung in there, despite the DickyDoo’s, by trying to change the social environment.  I wrote posts that were equal parts bold and naive on the XBL forums.  I called for a kinder gentler gaming environment.

“Rape” should be banished for the gaming lexicon!  Racial, gender, and sexually pejorative terms tossed out!

Obviously, my campaign was a stunning failure.  My posts were thoroughly trolled, flamed, and bogged down by the L33Ts.

But, did I really lose to the avalanche of DickyDoo’s?  I’m writing comics and casting their caricatures as horrible pervs

Game… Set…Jacky-Boy.

If the L33Ts do get you down or make you feel icky by associating in the same hobby, here’s a gaming feel good story for you.  The journal Nature has published a brief piece that lauds players of fold.it for having helped with a real scientific break through.  The players sequenced a difficult protein sequence in a mere three weeks, overcoming a problem that was stifling research into HIV and other retro-viruses.

Maybe my nerd brother can interpret the piece for me when he gets a chance… in any event, it’s certainly a Huzzah moment for Good Guy Gamers everywhere.

Cheers

Locust Vasectomies

Locust Vasectomies

Locust Vasectomies published on 5 Comments on Locust Vasectomies

For me, the best part about this comic is the blood spray in panel one.  That’s because, as I masked the page with frisket and splattered the page with a toothbrush dipped in ink, my son was watching intently.  When I peeled the frisket back to reveal the effect, he said, “that’s cool.” It may not seem like much, but when you’re able to impress your world-weary teenage son, it feels like the best thing ever.

BTW, frisket is the real-world equivalent of the Lasso Tool. And use an old toothbrush, not the one in current rotation.  Unless you’re into Heian era tooth fashion.

“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”

“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” published on No Comments on “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”

Baby Indy believes his parents need:

  1. Aesthetically Challenging Baby Poop
  2. A more streamlined bank account
  3. To be awake for every sunrise

Baby Indy stands firmly resolved that the following are unnecessary:

  1. Hot food
  2. Showers
  3. Movies

Being a benevolent ruler, he did let Molly and I watch “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.”  I didn’t follow the CoCo Vs. Leno feud, but all the publicity surrounding it did remind me that I loved Conan.  I spent many a happy nights in college watching Conan… that goofy redhead inspired me to insert many a Rust Monster into my DnD campaigns.  I even rolled a Dire Masturbating Bear once–the party avoided him by creating an she-bear illusion, I’ll spare you the rest of the details.

Back to the movie, it did provide an interesting insight into the deep pit of insecurity that drives O’Brien’s brilliance.  He is at once genuine, hilarious, endearing, and cruel.  Conan has always been a very human entertainer–this humanity comes through in one of the documentary’s quieter moments–Conan sitting alone on a flight of stairs, his head in his hands, waiting to go on.  This is not a facade, nor some contrived drama.  Naked sincerity is refreshing from our entertainers–it is this sense, that you’re getting to see an unfiltered person dealing with the trauma of a brutal business that makes “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” an interesting movie.

It’s not uproariously funny, but it certainly is engaging.

Cheers

Noisemaking Plastic Junk

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I’m filling in for Jack this week, as he’s having back problems that prevent him from sitting at the computer and being funny. I’d like for everyone to take a minute and think some warm, healing waves in his direction.  You don’t need to know where he is, just focus them on the monitor or a convenient USB port, and the magic of the internet will do the rest.  Just address them to Jack in your brain.  Miracles of modern technology, right? What an age we live in, etc. and whatnot.

Speaking of which, please find enclosed above our comic about technology, about how kids’ toys are specifically designed to annoy parents, and how some parents still play with toys, only our toys are way cooler. Or something like that, I didn’t have time to read it closely. Although, that is a pretty cool spatula.  If I had that, I’d spatula everything not nailed down.  Fried eggs would be at least 15% more delicious!

My mother’s first present to my first child? A blinking plastic monstrosity that bleated incessantly at exactly the right frequencies to cause me to grind my teeth down to brittle nubs. Thanks, grandma! Don’t think I don’t know exactly what you were thinking!

Noisemaking Plastic Junk

Noisemaking Plastic Junk

Noisemaking Plastic Junk published on No Comments on Noisemaking Plastic Junk

See, we can do a 3-panel newspaper style comic too!  We’re so versatile. It won’t be long before we’ve amassed all the skills we need to take over the world.  You hear that, world?  We’re coming for you!  Hope you’ve got your shit together!

Another digital gray tone here, but I’m pleased to report that I’ve ordered some sheets of Screen-tone(TM) to experiment with. Soon I’ll be making halftones like we had to do back in the 1950’s. Woo!  Seriously, I’m not a luddite.  I’m not knocking digital art by any means.  I’m producing this comic as traditionally as I can because it’s fun.  I work digitally all week at my day job, so actually getting my hands dirty is refreshing and challenging.  Working without an undo key feels a bit like a tightrope walk without a net.  Of course, I’d have to screw up pretty bad to break my neck while drawing, but you get what I mean.

There Can Be Only Dumb

There Can Be Only Dumb published on No Comments on There Can Be Only Dumb

Netflix ruined “The Highlander.”

Without instant streaming I’d never have watched that embarrassment of a movie again.  It’s likely I’d have wandered through the rest of my life saying things like, “Christopher Lambert kicks ass!”  He very well may kick ass, but those movies don’t.

If there’s a movie you loved as a child and you stumble across it.  Keep stumbling.  It’s a bad movie.  Don’t tell your spouse to watch it.  She’ll laugh at you… and you’ll deserve it.  You may even owe her a “Steel Magnolias” penance.

Think, “The Wizard” is awesome?  I sure did, turns out it’s a 90 minute Nintendo commercial complete with plugs for Nintendo Power Magazine.  Yes, it’s got child acting savant Fred Savage, but it’s still awful.

Wait… was Fred Savage a good actor?  Or do I just remember him as a good actor because Winnie Cooper talked to him?

No more blogging, I’m going to see if “The Wonder Years” is on Netflix–that show kicked ass!

Jack