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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
Finishing posting my blog. I have 34 issues up in order in the latest blog post in a handy dandy fashion, including one I haven't posted on Anime Superhero yet. I won't be posting anything else to the blog but the following is a neat place to see every Gilda And Meek thing I've ever posted online. Also putting the link to the final post with all of my comics in my sig.

Check it out and the new Howler story "Borns".

Welcome To Gilda And Meek And The Un-Iverse
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
Finished Gilda And Meek #29 "All Blood Things...: Step Two: Marker" (Un-Iverse #42).

Here is a Sketch of Pedro the Swordsman from The Pontue Legacy.

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
Good news! I have decided to post one final Un-Iverse issue on Anime Superhero. "The Apple" was a better place to leave things off, but this issue doesn't actually contain any vital spoilers to the rest of the series so I feel comfortable sharing it.

2. UnComix Tales: Howler "Borns" (Un-Iverse #34)

Rating: PG-13. Drug use, violence, sexual harassment and innuendo, and sexual and adult themes.







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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
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Linear Notes for UnComix Tales: Howler "Borns" (Unabridged)

This was the weakest Howler story. That's not hard, because the only one of those I liked was the first, but here we are.

Interestingly the title doesn't fit. Audrey, Pollo and Agnes are the only Borns in the story. But I wanted to name each of the Interludes after the three states of Werewolfism. The first Interlude is Infecteds, this is Borns, and the upcoming third part is Cureds. But the story IS actually kind of only about Audrey and Pollo, so maybe it fits after all.

Still, "A Werewolf's only constant is pain," is freaking deep. It not only sums up the Werewolves in the story, but the Werewolves in the rest of the franchise too. If you are a Werewolf, you pretty much have to be able to learn to live with crippling pain in order to be able to function at all. I knew going in that the pain thing being the antidote would strike many genre fans as a bad idea (Werewolves will be too easy to take down otherwise) but it sort of hits the allegory home about the sacrifice they are forced to make to be able to even function at all. And that is not something to be dismissed, even if it seems like a plot convenience.

Howler's group traveling in a school-bus sort of makes the story feel like several "end of the world" genre stories I am familiar with. Howler's peeps are "The Last Men Standing." Audrey's group roaming in caravans of van and trailers is done to give her followers more of a Romani feel. She also seems to be a little better at this than Howler is, and has attracted ten times as many followers as Howler had when we last saw him.

One thing I like about the story is that it says that Gilda actually misjudged a ton of people. And she did it because her friends last issue proved they would stick with her through thick and thin, no matter what. But the "No more secrets" lesson she learned from them, is something that would only be true for the five of them. Gilda is basically trying to use her b.s. detector on people he hasn't even met. But it does not have that power, and never did. I would probably not think that Gilda is more foolhardy than Gabrielle. Gabrielle is foolhardy in ways Smog has no idea about. But she is definitely more naive, and believes the best of people, even when she shouldn't.

Audrey has ALWAYS struck me as a hippie, but I always assumed Juan never approved of the pot smoking as a member of law enforcement. But he's not there right now, so she can do it.

There is no judgment, positive or negative, attached to Audrey doing that. There's not even a humorous subtext. The moment is treated about as exciting as someone on a TV show drinking a beer. The fact that I'm not making a statement makes a statement.

I don't smoke pot. Never have. Never will. But I think it makes Audrey interesting, and there is very little about the character I actually find interesting.

And I struggled like hell with that scene. I have hinted before that while I identify as a partisan Democrat, I am very personally conservative. My joining the Democratic Party could be seen by a cynic as a marriage of convenience at best, considering how personally square I am. And it kind of is. I don't personally agree with a lot of the liberal platform. But I hooked up with the Democrats simply because they shared my values. Republicans simply aren't conservative, at least not anymore, and at least not as far back as I can remember. They are reactionary and hypocritical. You look at someone like Barack Obama who has a wonderful wife and family, and compare him to Trump who cheats on his third wife and baby with porn stars, and you understand why I think "the party of family values" thing has always been ********.

And strictly speaking, while there are a ton of crazy far right politicians, there are no crazy leftwing politicians. Even the leftiest people in office are quite mainstream. And there ARE crazy leftwingers out there. They just never get elected to anything. And technically, I have far more in common politically with the most left Democratic elected policitian than I do the most moderate Republican politician. That's how far to the right the Republican Party has gone, and there is nothing conservative about the movement. So I am where I am.

But yeah, I am very anti-drug. I do not think they should be criminalized, simply because my Democratic allies believe that, and it's easier for me to see my agenda passed if I pick my battles. But even if I think drugs should be decriminalized on paper, I truly believe the world would be a better place if they didn't exist. So why am I showing Audrey smoking a joint with no objections from anyone? Not even the Narrator?

I don't know if this will sound crazy, but I often write scenes that I personally hate in hindsight, and keep as is simply because the story needs them, and is better for them being there, regardless of what I think. That is how I view the sequel The Supplements. I hate that story. But the saga will be better for it existing. And the same is true for this scene.

Werewolves have sort of a subtext of a Native American allegory, a Romani allegory, and there is also an allegory built into it about the stigma of the AIDS epidemic. But in the back of my head, I always sort of picture an additional counter-culture element. There are hippies in the ranks, as well as revolutionaries. Werewolves are often called freaks, but there are people in their group that would have proudly accepted that label in our Universe in the 1960's. And the revolutionary thing is built into the premise. Heck, the tagline of this issue and the last Interlude is "Join The Revolution!" There is counterculture built into the entire Werewolf concept.

And it's mostly due to how I initially drew Audrey. She is in a jogging suit rather than jeans and a tie-dyed T-shirt, so she doesn't look like a hippie. But she IS one just by wearing that. It's not recognizably hippie clothing. But Audrey wears it because it's comfortable, and she does not feel the need to feminize her appearance to fit in with the rest of society. She wears that old jogging suit everywhere, and I even once jokingly speculated that she wore it to her wedding. But Audrey dresses the way she does because she is what would have been a hairy-legged feminist in the 1960's who refuses to conform to gender stereotypes.

And that's Werewolf culture. Their entire society is on the outside of the culture looking in. So that means, they smoke pot without giggling about how naughty and subversive they are being. It's outside the mainstream for everybody else, but WEREWOLVES are outside the mainstream, so it's normal for them. Even the Old Woman from "Bad Moon Rising" (Agnes) partakes. And that is why as much as I personally detest drugs, there is no message attached to that scene in the story itself.

It's not just the pot that says this. Just based on the torturous looking dominatrix sex equipment found in Audrey and Juan's bedroom in the first Howler story, Werewolves are obviously a people who don't live by too many taboos. That makes sense. They actually have to hurt themselves every month to be able to function in society, so Werewolves often turn the pain into a sex game so they can actually enjoy it on some level, while they suffer. It's completely outrageous to non-Werewolves, but normal to them. And that's Werewolves in The Un-Iverse. Completely. Perfectly counterculture.

Here is how you know if that scene worked or not. If you read that scene and had no idea that the person who wrote it is as personally opposed to marijuana as I am, the scene is working as intended. And I think it does. And even if I hate the scene, The Un-Iverse, and the concept of Werewolves is better off for it being in there. I worry about the characters being bad role models, and doing imitable behavior that young people shouldn't do. But Audrey is not a main character, and I never use her perspective to argue about morality or right and wrong. And the scene makes the issue better, and the concept of Werewolves more well-rounded. And since I generally speaking, think my particular concept of Werewolves is weak compared to other interpretations, especially considering how well-rounded my other fictional species tend to be, I jump at the chance to make the concept work better, and something the reader can understand and relate to, even if I personally don't. And that's why I didn't delete the scene, even if I hated the message behind it.

Juan wasn't supposed to originally appear in the story at all, but once I hit upon the idea of him and Audrey having a separation, I needed to put him there at the end.

"Are you still my girl?" / "Always," was taken from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Chief Pollo believing Gilda must be really thick means he thinks she's the Un-Iverse version of Gilderoy Lockhart. Gilda. Gilderoy. It almost fits.

For the record, even though Audrey DOES smoke pot in her van, she never personally drives when she's high. Probably should have clarified that in the story itself.

I love that when Dr. Smog is reforming into a person Audrey is taking a drag of her joint with a bored look on her face.

I love the way Dr. Smog addresses and treats Chief Pollo. To be blunt, Pollo is quite a racist ******* to Dr. Smog quite a few times. He calls him "Human" as a pejorative, and the reason for his contempt is barely concealed for being complete and utter prejudice against a kind of person who has oppressed him in the past. And Dr. Smog does not brush up against that, or get angry at the racism, or try to make Pollo's feelings of resentment feel illegitimate. Ever. That's sort of how I navigate myself around black people who hate white people. I don't take it personally, and allow them to feel bad for feeling that way, even if it's against me. I do benefit from white privilege, so a black person's hatred of me would not be equivalent to a white person's systemic oppression and hatred of black people. But that's not why I had Dr. Smog react that way. To be clear Dr. Smog is NOT and never has been a surrogate for me or my opinions. I had him do that because that's Captain Picard from Star Trek would do.

And there have been very few heroes in genre and science fiction who approached diplomacy the way Picard did since Next Gen went off the air in 1994. Even the best intentioned of modern heroes would take offense at the insults, and the struggle is finding the common ground by realizing they are fighting the same enemy. But the struggle of the characters disliking each other personally, or at least at first, is what every other fictional character but Picard does. And the reason I loved Picard so much is not just because he was great at building alliances. It's that he always should have been. He's a diplomat exploring the galaxy. It is part of his job description to seek out new life and new civilizations and convince them the Federation was a potential ally. Picard did not take any resentments personally, and always tried to place himself in the shoes of the people he was negotiating with. And that was his freaking job. And it annoys me that Picard's the only real famous example of that. Everybody else does the whole brushing up against each other and learning to become a team cliche. In every iteration of the Avengers they all hate each other at first. And you'd think Captain Freaking America of all people would be better at making positive first impressions to his teammates considering his IS the symbol for America. And that drives me bonkers, simply because we are spending half of the premiere on unnecessary forced drama because the characters can't behave like adults. And with Picard, we could actually explore other things besides the personal conflict with the alien of the week. I don't think Next Gen was a better show than Deep Space Nine. But it definitely got around to a lot more different and varied sci-fi high concepts than Captain Sisko did because Picard made the alien tension part either a non-factor or not something that ground things to a screeching halt.

And one of the most important things about Star Trek, and Next Gen in particular that I love, is that the writers of that franchise knew that for many people, actually watching sci-fi characters who were competent, professional, good at their jobs, and constantly amazing and impressing everyone else is damn good television. Doctor Who has a ton of Crowning Moments Of Awesome too, but those are misguidedly designed to show the Doctor is better than the people he is helping, and is probably too good for them. Picard made everybody feel equal and important and as every bit as much a part of the peace process as he was. And it kills me that TV thinks conflict in ALL of these first contact situations is always preferable than a steady hand at the helm.

And one of the reasons this works for Dr. Smog is that it's ultimately a short story. I am allowed to not dwell on potential hurt feelings between Smog and Pollo because the story is short enough that I can just get down to business and not pad it to fill out either 22 or 45 minutes. And Dr. Smog looks more empathetic and professional for it, and the story is better for it. And it bothers me that characters who are good negotiators and diplomats are as rare as Picard was, and as Dr. Smog now is. You'd figure with how many people loved Captain Picard for this precise reason, we'd be seeing a LOT more characters like him. But even Star Trek never gave us another Captain like him. It's very weird that Picard was as beloved as he was, and yet there are zero clones of him throughout genre. Dr. Smog is maybe me fixing that a TINY bit. It's a brief scene and short story so it doesn't fix things MUCH, but I think most people writing drama make personal drama out to be a bigger deal than it is or should be.

The other Picard allegory for Smog is that on a very real level Pollo's hatred and disgust of him is justified. I mean he's right that it is presumptuous of Smog to stroll in the camp with a demonstration of a "cure" without asking him, as the leader of the group, how he'd feel about it. And whatever Smog's opinions about whether it's a disease to be cured, or a condition to live with, presenting the cure actually IS buying into the frame that it's a disease whether Smog thinks that personally or not. And considering Pollo's spent all this time teaching the Werewolves under his care the exact opposite, Dr. Smog is Picard the way many aliens probably saw him. Blundering into situations he didn't understand. He diffused a TON of tension with the Klingon Empire. But one of the things about his embrace of the Klingons and his strong alliances with the Klingon High Council is that even if the Klingon leaders respected him and what he was trying to do, it probably would not actually be in the Klingons' best interest to join the Federation. The Federation has a ton of cool bells and whistles that will tempt many people to want to be a part of it. "Membership has its privileges", and nowhere is that more true than the Federation. It's just those specific perks come with the expectation of a civilized and free society. Not only do the Klingons prefer Empires and dictatorships, but they are a warrior race, who actually enjoy fighting and getting into battles. Joining an expansive organization devoted to peace is not actually going to be good for what makes their society work in the first place. And that's a lot of the appeal for many minorities to join the white hegemony in our society too. But they have to give up a huge part of their identity to do it, and become totally homogenized. So yeah, while I don't love the fact that Pollo hates Smog because he's a Human, it's not like Smog's isn't feeding into his negative opinions anyways. And that's kinds of the double-edged sword of Picard. When the Klingons aren't dealing with him, and Sisko instead, the Alliance can fall apart, and be on a lot shakier ground, simply because they are not built to follow the rules and expectations the Federations expects of its friends. And while Picard is a great friend and a respected ambassador of goodwill across the galaxy, he's sometime making friends with people who would only ever be friends with and understand him. And once he's not there, the Klingons get P.O.-ed pretty easily when they aren't allowed to invade Cardassia.

Honestly? I believe Picard COULD have talked Gowron down, and gotten him to see that invading Cardassia was a bad idea. The thing is Sisko's hard touch isn't actually wrong. If Picard needs to baby the Klingons to understand unilaterally attacking a world based on an unproven threat is wrong, than there is something wrong with the Klingons. While I know Picard would have handled things better with Gowron than Sisko did, and the Khitomer Accords would never have been temporarily withdrawn if he were there, sometimes you've got to freaking draw the line. And that's Smog knowing that just because Pollo doesn't want his Tribe cured, doesn't mean the rest of his Tribe agrees with him. It is not a black and white issue for either of them, and they are both wrong and right at the same time. And I can show that without making Smog seem like an unprofessional jerk who shouldn't be a diplomat. And that's another reason I love the scene.

Audrey putting her hand on Pollo's shoulder as she tells Smog to ask him what he wants is a small detail, but one that I like.

The joke of Audrey believing Juan has never been right about anything else in their marriage is a great observational joke. It doesn't make me laugh, but it DOES make me smile.

Similarly, Pollo calling the Wolves under his charge his kids feels very true-to-life for me too.

One of the interesting things about Juan and Audrey is how their opinions differ on how to handle Augatha. Audrey is much more pragmatic than her husband. She tends to play things much safer which might be the actual reason she's attracted more followers. It's less risky to join her tribe than Howler's, who are going on dangerous, life-threatening Resistance missions every other day. She's the Resistance leader who sits under the stars and smokes pot instead.

One of the things I like about how the Mumm-Ra Firepit has been treated for the past few issues is that it's Augatha's greatest and most devastating weapon, and many of the heroes believe Augatha is going to win because she has it. That takes on two essential Un-Iverse themes.

The first is the fact that for awhile, the Firepit wasn't treated by either me or the Narrator as particularly important. We call it the Mumm-Ra Firepit because it's essentially cartoon nonsense. But in the real world, cartoon nonsense can be VERY dangerous to the people it is used against, which is why I love how something that has been portrayed as no big deal turns out to be so significant. It's like the Deathly Hallows in Harry Potter.

The second Un-Iverse theme it explores is the idea that the greatest weapons in The Un-Iverse are secrets and information. The reason Gilda is actually a credible threat to Augatha is because she's smart and knows a LOT of stuff. And the reason Gabrielle is so powerful isn't because she's the second best performer of magic on the planet. It's because of her secrets and hidden alliances too. In The Un-Iverse, the most dangerous weapons aren't planet killers like the Death Star. They are information gathering tools like the Firepit and the Crisinian All-Seeing Orbs. Without those two things neither Augatha nor the Crisinians would probably be as big a threat as they actually are. Same for the Superterran organizations.

The Narrator stating he liked Dr. Smog's observation that Gabrielle isn't as foolhardy as Gilda, because he wasn't sure whether or not it was true, was him speaking for me. For the record, the Narrator speaks for me far less than you'd actually imagine, so I thought I'd point out that he did here.

Heh. Funny cigarette. I like that.

The weather in Virginia in December is not usually QUITE as cold and intemperate as the Narrator is making it out to be in our Universe. But I wanted a place both far enough away from Florida for there to be a noticeable temperature dip, and also relatively far away from New York where most of our current story is set, to sort of hint at the idea that Audrey has done a TON of traveling since we last saw her. There was no really good real-world location on the East Coast that was both cold enough for the story and far enough away from Appleton. So I had to fudge things a bit.

For the record, even though I never specifically say where the Second Lab is, in my mind it's in the Western part of the country. A LOT of the story takes place there during the second half of the saga (particularly during The Terran Wars) but Colorado or Nevada or Arizona is probably where the Second Lab actually is. Eddie Cat's secret lair in is Denver, and I can't imagine Gilda being TOO far away from his target sites.

The second Gilda and Meek story isn't even a story. It's just something that HAS to exist for the premise to function, and I reasoned I'd rather do a ten-pager here than try to shoehorn these scenes into an issue with an actual adventure. It's not good at all. But because it exists I can go on with business as usual without having to worry about this particular potential plothole.

What the exchange between Gilda and Bernadette about Bernadette being good at violence says to me is that Bernadette at one point pondered world domination and rejected it. And this scene occurs when she is 10. She is one messed up kid.

I also love that she calls Mitch "Thurman" and Gilda does not for one second wonder who she is talking to. Bernadette would NEVER address Gilda so disrespectfully, and THAT is saying something.

The fact that I made that line a spoiler quote two issues ago makes it one of the most confusing spoiler quotes ever. Because the reader might think she's referring to Gilda since Mitch's last name hasn't been revealed yet. But it would be completely out of character for her to talk to Gilda that way. What is actually going on?

I love that Bernadette confesses to Gilda that she may not ever be able to forgive her for her formerly evil actions and Gilda just accepts that! Because she is in no position to argue differently. Especially considering how unapologetic she is about her behavior. To an outside observer, who doesn't know Gilda as well as we do, her detachment seems cold-blooded and heartless. And Bernadette is absolutely 100% right that sociopaths have a similar capacity to compartmentalize and have a detachment to their actions. And Gilda doesn't argue that either. Gilda's b.s. detector is so strong, she won't even b.s. you when she probably should.

Why does the Piranha fare so badly during the training sessions? We've hinted he's the second most dangerous character after Gilda. Why does he wash out with Meek and Dr. Raggleworth?

This is subtle, but the Piranha is pulling his punches in the training sessions. He doesn't use his teeth once. He doesn't want to risk flying into a Berserker rage and hurting his friends during a training exercise. Perhaps if Mitch were slightly more insightful, he'd see the value in this, but this particular story in the one story in The Un-Iverse where Mitch is a 100% pure hindrance, and I think that particular role for this particular story doesn't actually need to change for any reason, regardless of Mitch's actual ultimate loyalties and motives later on.

"There are definitely stories there. Of which you will never hear." This is Bernadette's entire problem with Gilda. As the Narrator notes, any time Gilda gets the LEAST bit interesting, she changes the subject entirely. Which has got to be the most frustrating thing ever for a kid as nosy as Bernadette. Maybe Gilda's boundaries with Bernadette aren't as terrible as we always thought.

The "You pay far more attention to this nerd stuff than I do," is one of those slams on a particular kind of trope that many TV viewers don't even realize deserves to be slammed. We just accept it as normal, when it always makes me roll my eyes. But oftentimes a show will have a character ask a "Is the Pope Catholic?" / "Does a bear shit in the woods?" type question, and they'll ask the specific question using the mythology of the franchise as the allegory, as if it is a no-brainer instead of incomprehensible to someone who doesn't follow the show. This sort of thing is endemic to Pokemon, and is one of the reasons adults find that cartoon both confusing and off-putting. But it's NOT just a Pokemon thing. The first time I heard this trope was back in the 1980's, and it was on the Pac-Man cartoon. One of the Ghosts asks "Does Pac-Man chew Power Pellets?" That is NOT the no-brainer question the Ghost thinks it is. Someone who didn't play Pac-Man or watch the cartoons would have no way of recognizing that allegory. My problem with the trope is that whenever a show does it, they are being far too insular and don't realize that the question makes the franchise seem completely inaccessible to newbs. It's not just kiddie cartoons either. The fifth Tremors movie actually made me embarrassed to watch it because it engaged in the trope so brazenly. Burt Gummer's frustration over the behavior of Graboids, Shriekers, and Assblasters using incomprehensible comparisons, is treated as serious instead of how insane it actually would sound to someone who had never seen a Tremors movie. And genre does this crap all the time.

The closest I've seen to that trope being subverted is Futurama's version of "Is the Space Pope reptilian?" But that only works because we know the current real Pope saying to begin with. That's the only time I've seen that particular type of question used on a show I watch that I didn't feel like a complete loser for understanding the reference. And that's Bernadette refusing to engage the Gragnock Idol question on the merits. It is NOT the no-brainer question Meek thinks it is, and him asking that makes the franchise worse for the question existing. At least it would if Bernadette didn't call him out for asking such a loser question to begin with.

Dr. Raggleworth is pretty much a total cad during this entire story, which is something I like, because that's how I've always envisioned him to be. But for some reason, I am always way too chickenshit to portray him as obnoxious and unlikable as originally intended. To be honest, The Un-Iverse is better for Julius being lovable instead of a jackass, but this story presented a unique opportunity for me to use Julius' original personality type, and not make you wind up hating the character after the story is over. It's funny instead of detestable, which is why I allowed it for this one story.

He's the guy sabotaging and trying to injure a ten year old girl out of spite and jealousy. And weirdly, his contrition at the end seems genuine, so you might forgive it.

The more I witness his mean-spirited behavior, the more I am 100% certain he is putting us all on. He knows exactly how terrible he's behaving and is merely doing it for affect. And it has to do with my biggest problem with the elderly. A LOT of elderly people who misbehave, or who are loud and rude to people in the old folks home are not actually suffering from dementia and behaving that way because they can't help it. I'm convinced for many of them it's because they know they'll get away with it. I think people everywhere are pretty much terrible, and there is a certain section of perfectly self-aware old folk who are excited and glad that they can be as loud and rude as they've always wanted to be without the people around them getting mad at them. I suspect the nice and aware elderly people in those homes, who DON'T do that, and aren't starved for negative attention, are living in hell having to live with that many people exactly as I described. Mean people ruin everything, and it's got to be especially tough in a retirement home. I am sort of playing Dr. Raggleworth acting the way he does because he thinks it's funny and cute. And you'll also notice that everyone is STILL holding their tongues. You think Meek and the Piranha would ever cut Bernadette or Gilda that slack for acting that way? Of course not. Dr. Raggleworth is feeding into the crazy old man cliche and daring his friends acknowledge there's a problem.

I'm starting to think my interpretation of Julius Raggleworth as a total cad in earlier versions of The Un-Iverse might not have entirely been because he was the best group antagonist at the time. Maybe I was taking a bit of a shot at the specific kind of loud opinionated old person seen in this story. Maybe not. But I don't like those types of people.

I like that Meek keeps a building block in his pocket. It a random B block which makes it even more inexplicable. The rubber duckie is funny too.

Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it! I love Gilda. And The Simpsons. But that last part should go without saying.

You might think Hank is lazy and superficial for skipping the training sessions. His erstwhile activities DO make him sound like a total meathead (Gym / Tan / Laundry) but he actually skips the sessions because he is insightful enough to guess they are actually a sham and a waste of time. This notion is why Gilda is screaming at Mitch in the middle of the story, although it's only made explicit at the end that Mitch was supposedly only using the sessions as an excuse to split up the Chosen Five.

Or was he? Is that actually what was going on? And if it was, does that definitively mean Mitch is evil and working with Augatha? Or does he have a larger agenda that has nothing to do with either of those things? TBD...

The fact that Hank seems to recognize the training sessions are a sham shows that Hank is smarter than advertised. I think his IQ is lower than average as far as reading and general knowledge is concerned. But he values the right things and can read people scarily well. Hank is so insightful about people that it's a wonder Bernadette actually thinks he's stupid. He is, but he doesn't actually give her all that much ammo for that opinion considering how sensible he is.

Dr. Raggleworth laughing like Muttley would play better animated because you could actually hear it instead of me having to just describe it to you. I'm telling you the joke here, but you'd actually be able to experience it if this were animated.

Bernadette asking Dr. Raggleworth if either of them are the types of people known for personal growth says that she understands the moral of the story better than he does.

As much as the Piranha loves Dr. Raggleworth, I love that even HE is disgusted enough with him to put the itching powder in his jock strap. The Piranha's forgives a LOT of Julius' crudeness in ways none of the others do. But this was crossing the line for him.

I realized something excellent in hindsight, that reminds me why I love this story, and why I love telling it. But I notice that all of Mitch's "training" sessions are basically nothing more than boxing and gym class. What is missing? Firearms proficiency! And it doesn't make any sense that he wouldn't be training them with guns. Except the scenario would no longer be fun, and would be disturbing based on Bernadette and the Piranha's young ages. Just the fact that Bernadette is so anti-gun, it didn't even occur to me that Mitch should be teaching them target practice. And that partly makes the story lesser than it should be, and me lesser of a writer than I should be. But it makes the franchise more than any other franchise that would go for badass looking moments with guns instead. I like that The Un-Iverse is square about this one thing. Shooting targets is not actually cool, and TV and movies trying to get us to think it is is probably really unhealthy for society. So instead, training is as monotonous and boring as gym class. The training is dorky and unimpressive. But it's the fact that I'm not trying to make you fear these characters in this story which is why I really like this story.

True story: I decided to delete a REALLY funny joke. But when Bernadette hears Hank is at the laundromat, she didn't originally simply say that she hates him. She originally said, "Are we actually sure the Mullet isn't straight?" That's a fantastic line, that reaffirms how unqueer Hank presents himself to others, without being an outright slur, which would contradict Bernadette's bisexuality. It would be an insight that gay men are supposed to be classier and more refined than straight men, and not have the exact same schedule as the meatheads from Jersey Shore.

And I love that I write my stories down now months before I actually pencil them! Because I deleted the line, as funny as it was.

When I conceived of Hank being gay, the conceit of the character's orientation is that his gayness would be responsible for zero percent of the jokes. The fact that he's a surfer meathead with a mullet is the reason he's funny, not because he's fabulous. And if that's the subtext, his orientation absolutely CANNOT come up in this conversation. It's his behavior that is appalling Bernadette. It doesn't even occur to her to tie it into something a non-gay person would do. It's just aggravating in and of itself, and the orientation has nothing to do with it. I do not mind Hank bringing up his sexuality to make a comment on society, and how he perceives it as a gay man. And the fact that he does that sometimes is why this insightful character is not as dumb as his behavior suggests. But that should only come from him, and not his friends. The only time anyone else brings it up when he isn't there is Vic Puff when he is threatening a hospitalized Bernadette, because Vic Puff is the only person it matters to. And that's why Bernadette just hates him, instead of wondering why on Earth he is exactly like a straight, boorish, reality TV star.

"I am going to destroy you," was an extremely late addition. But now I can't picture the story without it.

Isn't she against lethal force? Shouldn't she NOT be saying that?

Silly Reader, there are plenty of ways for Bernadette to destroy a character without actually killing them. Which is why the rest of the characters fear her.

I was a little concerned last issue that the "No more secrets" promise between Gilda and her friends would box things in and confuse the reader into believing Gilda now owes the group every detail of her past. And the fact that Gilda refuses to tell Bernadette her hot blonde stories, and Bernadette just accepts it is me setting the parameters of what personal secrets are and aren't appropriate for her to keep, and what someone like Bernadette thinks about that too. If Bernadette truly wanted to be a pain in the ass, she would remind her there are no more secrets, but that's never been what that vow meant to me. And I like that it doesn't mean that to Bernadette either.

When Bernadette tells Gilda that the fact that she came to her with the CIA file information she did, even knowing what she'd think, and that fact is not something she will just dismiss, no matter what else she is currently thinking, is an adult perspective. I personally think Gilda is 100% wrong every time she treats Bernadette like an adult. But that moment there shows the reason that she does.

I swear, Mitch calling Gilda and Bernadette Marshmallows is NOT a Veronica Mars reference. But it can totally be read that way anyways.

I am pleasantly shocked that the artwork in the boxing stuff with Mitch came out as well as it did. You probably won't guess that because it is so basic and simple, but I suck at action scenes, and you can actually feel the movement in those drawings, which is VERY rare for me, and why I hate most of my action scenes. Granted, punching and blocking is a LOT easier to draw than what I often attempt, but it reads, while the harder stuff doesn't, so I'll take it.

It helps that I didn't dress Meek and Mitch in boxing shorts for that one scene. I even have the group wear athletic gear later on, but I wanted nobody geared up in the first session because it is spur of the moment. I doubt even Mitch predicted they'd be starting that day until Gilda slammed him to the ground and he needed to regain some authority because of that. The other reason is because as loopy as Meek is for seemingly carrying a building block and rubber duckie on his person at all times, you wouldn't believe it for a second if he was just wearing trunks. It already stretches BEYOND reasonable credibility, but that would be much farther than I'd be willing to take those specific jokes. And I LIKE those specific jokes. Which is another reason Meek is still in his dress shirt, slacks, and bow-tie.

Frankly, Meek being able to fish random toys out of his pockets while wearing boxing gloves is already pushing it, but since his clothes are already super baggy due to the Asperger's, it's at least feasible, if completely unlikely. And feasible is about the best I'm gonna get.

Thinking over Meek's wardrobe makes me realize that he doesn't dress like I do as an Aspie. Although I AM very concerned about constricted clothes, and that's why I don't ever wear long sleeves or turtlenecks, my T-shirts and sweatpants all have less to do with the fit, and more with the soft cloth on my sensitive skin. Meek has fur, so even if he gets claustrophobic when he dresses (hence the oversized and baggy shirt and slacks) the cloth of dress shirts and slacks aren't the issue with him it is with me. The one thing I just don't get about him is the bow-tie. I cannot wear neckwear of any kind, and it always astounds me that Meek has that bow-tie tied so tightly around his neck while the rest of his clothes are so loose and ill-fitting. And honestly, it looks wrong, which is why I never changed it. Meek never looks comfortable in his own skin, while his wardrobe mismatches in that fashion. It's similar to how the Tenth Doctor would wear all of these snazzy overcoats and natty suits while wearing old sand-shoes on his feet. The fact that those outfits seem ill-fitting is another reason Ten looks slightly off kilter in every scene. Although Meek's bow-tie is something ELEVEN would actually wear, and thought looked good.

Meek's clothes are loose, his bow-tie is tight and immovable, and he himself carries his body stiffly, and as if he's uncomfortable in his own skin. What's amazing in hindsight to me is a lot of the early artwork of me doing that wasn't conscious on my end. I hadn't really went over in my mind Meek's specific postures and movements before I wound up drawing a good chunk of the saga. But that's exactly what I drew anyways, as in the back of my mind Meek's personality is that of someone who is VERY reserved, and one bad day away from going ballistic. And I've always drawn him that way whether I consciously meant to or not.

Gilda's sullen expressions throughout the training sessions were sort of easy to decide upon, but a little tough to nail the mindset of anyways. Basically Gilda suspects 2 things: That the training sessions are a waste of time, and that Mitch probably set them up for a nefarious reason. She's right on both counts, which means nothing that happens in the story ever surprises her. So I had to make her bored and angry, but not TOO angry to suggest she wasn't also bored. Gilda's crossed-armed demeanor and contempt masks the fact that she is far more passive in this story than she usually is. She correctly guesses this isn't a problem a she can personally fix, or even a problem worth getting TOO worked up over. But yeah, Gilda pretty much sits back and lets things happen, which is totally outside of her comfort zone, and the precise thing she sucks at. So she's bored and annoyed at the same time, masking a certain feeling of dread and helplessness which seems to be at the heart of all of her fears about the Second Lab. It's everyone's fears really. The Second Lab is a wonderful resource, and I believe the group is closer to each other than they have ever been, and are on more solid footing than they have ever been as well (Julius' misbehavior here notwithstanding). But the Second Lab is both the Biblical Apple and the Pitcher Plant. Something tempting that winds up smothering you the longer you stay in it. And as happy as the group is with each other, there is a feeling of deepening dread in each issue as they start to realize themselves being trapped in that Lab, waiting for Mitch to betray them, is NOT a temporary problem for Gilda to get them out of at the end of the issue, but basically The New Normal. This Is Their Life Now. Outwardly they are happy. Inwardly, they are feeling more and more trapped and isolated than they have ever been. And the next few issues are going to build on that paranoia.

When Gilda tells her friends that Mitch is an idiot and that he sucks it demonstrates something clearly. On a very real level, Gilda unambiguously hates her own brother. Part of her absolutely loathes him. And that strikes me as incredibly sad, especially because of the specific reasons she hates him.

The fact that Gilda worries so much that she's a bad person means that she's a good one. That is not a worry a bad person ever has about themselves. Just the fact that she's unsure and examining it at all means she's good.

It's funny to me that the most competitive member of the group is Julius. It actually should be Gilda, and when it comes to one-upping Bernadette it usually is. But otherwise I sort of portray Gilda as not caring about her performance in games or sports because they don't actually matter. For some reason, she is REALLY invested in getting Meek to prefer her to his sister. But I don't show Gilda ever getting competitive in games or physical challenges because I think those types of people are uncool. And as Gilda is the coolest person in the saga, that's why she doesn't care about that specific thing. There ARE legit reasons Bernadette admires Gilda's coolness.

There is something unusual about this story, that I think is the only Gilda and Meek story that is true of. But generally speaking, Gilda And Meek is NOT a "mystery franchise". I set up some unsolved mysteries in both Howler and The Humans, but as far as Gilda and Meek go, if you see a guy in a hooded cloak, in shadow, or you can't see their face, especially if it's in the last panel and they are declaring a Xanatos style victory unknown to the heroes, I am going to tell you who it is eventually. In fact, I usually do so in the same story they first appear. "Mystery Suit" seen at the end here conspiring with Mitch is the one exception. Nowhere in the story does this meeting get referenced again, and we never say who the guy whose face we can't see actually is.

But do you know what? It's actually Eddie Cat. Which is a beyond underwhelming revelation, which is why I never say or reveal it later on. It plays better if I never actually say it in the story itself. But Eddie is the safe guess, the intended guess, and the 100% predictable guess, which is why it is the only scene like that left entirely up for debate in the story itself.

I agree with Bernadette that Dr. Raggleworth is NOT a guy known for personal growth, or learning a lesson, or appreciating the moral of the week. Where I disagree is where she say that is true of her too. It's really not. In fairness to that particular misguided opinion, her mindset about the subject is closer to Julius' than anyone else in the group is, so that's probably why she sees them as kindred spirits in that regard. But she's totally underselling her own insightfulness in that moment to make Julius feel better.

Gilda asks Bernadette why she is stealing Mitch's shoes. And she is right that she doesn't need or want them. But stealing shoes off a guy who is passed out is what is known as adding insult to injury. She did it solely to humiliate him. Which is partly why Gilda fears her.

I love the moment where Gilda tells Bernadette that for someone who disdains violence, she's good at it. I love it, because Gilda says it partly to throw Bernadette's ethics and ever present moralizing back in her face. She wants to shame the kid a bit for all of the times she's told her to put down the gun. Except Bernadette's response is NOT shame. Instead she terrifies Gilda with the idea that she is ALWAYS using kid gloves around Gilda and the rest of the group, and that if she didn't, SHE'D be the one they'd be having to stop from taking over the world. I love it not only when Gilda's teasing of Bernadette backfires, but whenever it brings up a totally unexpected feeling from her in return (in this case mortal fear). And it's the fact that Bernadette always scares Gilda instead of being shamed by her which is probably why the kid is the only other person besides Eddie Cat she is actually scared of.

I made the word balloon around the words "I believe you" a WEE bit larger than usual to hint that Gilda is speaking the words softly.

Beware Mystery Suit's Green Golf Ball lapel pin in the last panel of the story. Beware it very much.

Speaking of Mystery Suit, I find bosses who call their employees by their last names with no "Mr." prefacing it quite rude. That was one of the way The Jetsons showed Mr. Spacely sucked, which is the same reason Mr. Burns does on The Simpsons. It is quite disrespectful which is the exact reason I had Bernadette call Mitch that too. Let's just say disrespect is Eddie Cat's forte.

One of the reasons Mitch sucks so much is how cruel he is about publicly humiliating Meek and the Piranha as he tells them they have washed out and have to go into witness protection. It doesn't occur to this butthole to talk to Gilda about this before-hand, and find a way to break the news to them gently and diplomatically. There are larger reasons behind Mitch's assholish behavior in this issue, but they don't stop him from being an *******.

It strikes me that the exclamation "Holy smokes!" (which Bernadette utters upon reading Gilda's file) is one of the few non-curse words that actually lands about as hard as swear. I try to use darn and heck whenever possible, but whenever Bernadette uses those words instead of the curses, it sounds like I'm pulling punches. I do it anyways, but her saying "Holy smokes" lands just as hard as Holy shit, and is G-rated. I don't know why that particular phrase doesn't sound cornier than it does.

The Gilda and Meek story and the Unkie Matty story actually have a lot in common. I don't think the comedy bits in either the training sessions or behind the scenes debauchery land very well. The writing is very clumsy as slapstick is outside of my wheelhouse. This was the precise thing that made the One-Shots so weak. Fortunately the Unkie Matty story is the only story in UnComix Tales that feels like a One-Shots story. As for "Training", as dumb as the slapstick mischief in the training sessions is, for me the story isn't actually about that. But I am well aware that the scenes the story was actually named after are the worst and least interesting things in the entire story.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
What if a Behind The Scenes featurette caused REAL problems that nobody anticipated when they agreed to be interviewed for these things? The Unkie Matty story is me taking that idea as far as possible.

This issue is a bit of an outlier because it took me so long to complete it. Entirely because of the Unkie Matty story. Normally I get an issue or two drawn a month, and another two written in the same month / month and a half. I spent over two months drawing and struggling with this issue, and its artwork alone. And it's because I couldn't figure out this story's format.

I have previously stated that the issue with the hardest artwork for me was the Narf-Narf and Chirp reality TV show story. This story was pretty much at that exact level, with the unpleasant exception that the format was incomprehensible. It didn't work. The format in the Narf-Narf and Chirp story isn't great either, but you can get what's going on pretty easily. But the TV interviewer in this story was originally treated like a second Narrator with orange boxes instead of Our Narrator's yellow boxes, but nobody would have understood it was a TV interviewer as the story was going, and it would be impossible to read. This was bad. I've had similar bad experiences with this franchise before, (the first One-Shots of the last iteration of The Un-Iverse stymied me so much I quit the franchise for 20 years in frustration) but that had to do with the writing. This artwork and format was me biting off more than I could ever chew.

Frankly, I don't know if there is ANY comic that could make an on-camera documentary work so long as the interviewer is off-camera during almost all of it. But that doesn't matter. The failure is still mine.

In pure desperation I tagged on a last minute Narrator's Note at the beginning of the story to set things straight with the reader ahead of time. I don't much like sharing my deleted scenes, but this is the Narrator's original note in its entirety:

Narrator's Note...

Sweet God. Things are about to get messy. I have a sneaking suspicion this next Unkie Matty story might wind up the most confusing and incomprehensible story in the saga so far, and perhaps ever. I'm gonna have to do something I wouldn't have to do if the Author were a better artist than he is, but it turns out I need to do it anyways. He sucks.

The next story takes place in a television documentary format. But there are two Narrators. I have a couple of lines with my friendly, yellow squares designating them belonging to me. No confusion yet.

The Narrator with the orange squares is the off-camera Narrator of the TV doc. We don't see who it is until the end of the story, but unlike MY narration (who nobody in any of the stories can hear, or is ever aware of), the Doc Narrator's narration is heard by everybody, and is considered a part of the interview. Therefore the lines from the Orange Narrator boxes extend to the TV-shaped panels, but off to the side, and never directed at a specific character.

I think the confusing part is that the Author used orange squares for the on-camera identifications of the characters too. His reasoning is that the same person doing the interview was responsible for the documentary, so those are technically his words too. But it might be completely confusing about the two different Narrator rules, and who can hear who, without this little how-to pep-talk before the actual story. Frankly, a documentary is probably a bad fit for a comic book for all of these reasons, but the Author likes to fail on his own before learning his lesson.

Here is a question you may be asking me before we begin the story. Is it going to be a good story, and worth putting in all of the extra work and attention you'll need to to be able to remotely understand it?

That I cannot say.

What I can say is that it feels like a necessary and relevant story in the era of #MeToo. And I think the Unkie Matty franchise is pretty much the perfect way to remind the Author not to bite off more than he can chew. If he hadn't decided to include this originally silly and harmless character who was named after himself, he never would have had to turn him into a sex offender and a sociopath to fit the reality of the rest of the story. That would be a blow to ANY creator's vanity, whether their artwork sucked or not. And by God, nothing says more clearly that Unkie Matty has gotten completely out of hand, than me having to walk you through the entire format of the story before I even start to tell it.

Yeah, this particular Narrator's Note is also completely ill-advised and unprofessional. Which sums up the wisdom of including Unkie Matty at ALL in The Un-Iverse to a T. Sorry about that.

With deepest regrets,
The Narrator.


I don't know about you, but every word of that pierces my heart like a dagger. Every single sentence damns me and my incompetence as a writer and artist for all eternity. What's ironic is that the note isn't badly written or anything. And the Narrator is ALWAYS busting my chops. Why did this deleted page hurt so much?

It's because I should never have to do that. You get a bunch of guys together, and tell them a story that happened to you, you are allowed to set the scene for context. You can't do that for professional fiction. The reader is not my forgiving buddy. The closest that fiction gets to that idea are recaps at the beginnings of serialized shows, and I don't use those because they spoil what was important before, and therefore spoil what is going to happen next. And while The Un-Iverse is a franchise where I experiment with the format, and share my process with the reader, I don't like sharing my mistakes. Sometimes I have to, and I'll acknowledge that when I do, but this wasn't a sloppy plothole that the Narrator acknowledges to cover my ass. It was an actual story and artwork failing that is inexcusable. And using the Narrator to excuse it shamed me.

If I used that scene I am a hack writer and artist. Full stop.

But the bonechilling truth is I almost HAD to use it. Scarily close, in fact. I cannot recall a scene I have ever been happier not to have to use. Most deleted scenes don't engender much emotion from me other than the occasional pang of regret. Being able to delete this was an unfathomable relief. It's not a badly written note or anything. But if I had used it, it would mean I was a bad writer and artist, and just publicly admitted that to everyone. The trick of telling stories is bullshitting people into thinking you know what you are doing. That Narrator's note is me telling my story naked in public in 20 degree weather. You might listen to what I have to say next out of morbid curiosity. But you'd never respect me for it.

I was desperate. I had to get rid of that Narrator's note. But how?

The first solution I came up with was problematic on its own, but I think most readers, (if sadly not all) would get the drift of what was going on without that damn note. Instead of Orange Narrator boxes, above every single interviewer line I then put the words "<Off Camera TV Interviewer>". I even put them in italics to distinguish what is spoken on the air, and what only the reader is supposed to read. I actually could have used an asterisk after every line and put "Off Camera TV Interview" at the bottom of the page, but with the exception of the rare single panel pages and the covers, my artwork is not designed to read as a whole on a single page. Asking the reader to look down for the asterisk would be asking them to skip back and forth. So I put that heading on the top of every line instead.

It was not a perfect fix. It certainly ruined the rhythm of some of the jokes and dialogue. But I always call The Un-Iverse a screenplay with pictures. And as far as when you read screenplays (or just regular plays) goes, at some point you stop reading the character's names before every line of dialogue and just go with it. I had to hope that would happen there. If it didn't, the story was worse. But it was at least readable, or it should have been for most people, and getting rid of that Narrator note was probably one of the biggest artwork things I have ever wanted in this entire project. I have definitely had story problems that hit me worse. An upcoming Narf-Narf and Chirp story is probably the hardest thing I have ever written, including when The Un-Iverse sucked, simply because I actually went to the massive trouble to fix the problems rather than quit, and that was super hard. That was my exact experience with the artwork for this Unkie Matty story. It's ironic that I don't think the artwork in the story is actually all that bad. But while it was only what is was, the format didn't work at all. The italics at the top of the TV interviewer's word bubbles helped clear things up for the reader immensely.

But as I was putting the final touches on the Linear Notes and scanning the story into my computer I realized that the story still didn't work. While the reader understood what was happening, those italics ruined the timing of the jokes, so the story was no longer funny. The reader GOT the jokes, but the rhythm was totally off.

Once I scan my issues onto the computer, I rarely look back. But halfway through scanning this issue, I hit upon the idea of using the asterisk after all, AND the orange boxes, and have the asterisk explain the orange boxes in a brief no fuss, no muss sentence, just the once. The simplest explanations are the best, and I was able to get the crux of the Narrator's note across by using a simple asterisk and extra Narrator box. And that is definitely something the reader will not only forgive, but probably not see as a problem to begin with. Which is was what I was searching for the entire time. And there is finally no shame attached to it whatsoever while the cadences of the jokes still play properly. The answer wasn't one or the other. It was both and neither at the same time.

Ironically, there IS something about the Narrator's Note I liked, and I am sad to lose it. But I'm not going to shoe-horn it into anything else since all of the rest of the Unkie Matty stories are already written. But I love that the Narrator explains to the reader for the first and only time the logic of me turning a character named after myself into a serial killer and sex offender. And how deeply I regret it and that it's a blow to my vanity. There is no other place for the Narrator to state that outside of The Un-Iverse Handbook 50+ issues from now. And it strikes me as something that NEEDS to be said. But again, that may simply be my vanity. And my vanity is in a lot better shape now than it was when I feared I'd have to keep the damned Narrator's Note, so I am not going to freaking push my luck.

It's interesting that I was able to crib several real life ideas from the news for the story. If I had completed it a couple of years ago, the #MeToo, Bill Cosby, and O.J. Simpson parallels would be non-existent. But the #MeToo movement was too important to ignore. This is one of the few stories that is better for me being too lazy to complete The Un-Iverse sooner.

For the record, since the story is set in 2016, it's actually before the #MeToo movement even started. I am usually careful about stuff like that. The O.J. joke doesn't fit because the special came out in 2018, but the timelines between The Un-Iverse and Our Universe have always been slightly different and that is even more true for the stuff that is allegory.

There are also specific slams against Dan Schieder, John Kricfalusi, and John Lasseter. The whole thing with Matty talking about naked drawings and dykes objecting to them while his female production assistant cringes was lifted directly from a DVD Special Feature from Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon I saw on YouTube. The 15th birthday party thing is not a made-up joke. That was actually something Kricfalusi said. The walrus in the drawing with the caption "Call the police" is a reference to the Ren and Stimpy episode "Rubber Nipple Salesmen" which turns out to not be so funny in hindsight. Betty Sinclair treats all of this weird sexual behavior as an example of Unkie Matty being a larger than life personality. Instead of recognizing all this crap as a cry for help from a sociopath, which is pretty much what The Ren & Stimpy show was in hindsight. But that's a VERY tough spoof to recognize.

And Dear God, that dykes joke IS horrifying. Anyone who doesn't immediately get the reference might think I'm simply a monster. And unfortunately this is the textbook definition of a Dennis Miller Ratio joke, and almost no-one will actually get it. On my side is the fact that the scene's dialogue is structured in such a way (they are very unusual and shocking words for a person to speak on-camera) that people will probably assume I AM referencing something, even without getting the actual reference. At least I hope so. If not people are going to call me a sociopath.

Do you know amazes me? That John Kricfalusi made that statement in a DVD feature with zero understanding that's how people heard it when he said it. John Kricfalusi is animation's Donald Trump, and has been getting away with monstrous and psychopathic behavior for years, and only now is attention being drawn to it. But by God, I'm wondering how anyone could ever consider someone this publicly loathsome as a creative genius. I do not get it. At all.

The Lasseter slam is similarly hard for non animation fans to get. Maybe you've heard of the Pixar cereal room before. But that scene was a specific parody of Lasseter delightedly declaring "That was my first hug of the day!" on a DVD Featurette. Later Lasseter was suspended for those unwanted "hugs", so the "first tongue kiss of the day" is making fun of the idea that Lasseter is happy and excited about something female employees would later say was harassment and assault. Liza's expression is creeped out during the kiss to make sure you understand it was not wanted or consensual.

The Schneider reference is easier to recognize, or it would be if Schneider was actually a household name. But the idea of a guy who takes pictures of his teenage girl kidcom star's feet turning out to be a creep is a reference to him. What amazes me is that it took years for people to put two and two together about Schneider. People thought him doing that was creepy at the time, but if he had done that in 2018, he would have been outright fired immediately. There would be nothing controversial about it. It would simply be a disgusting act with no amount of plausible deniability attached to it. But people loved those trashy Nickelodeon kidcoms, and picking threads further might have actually tanked the entire genre, considering how closely Schneider was to the actual origins and popularity of that specific type of show.

Also for the record, I first heard "Shart Garfunkle" as a pejorative insult against Donald Trump. But it works for Unkie Matty too, so here it is.

The title of the story was originally "Unkie Matty's Wacky Funhouse: Behind The Scenes". I changed it to "Behind The Bruises: Unkie Matty's Wacky Funhouse". I rarely change story titles, but I always figured "Behind The Scenes" was probably only a placeholder title until I thought of something better.

The "Do you object to wet socks?" thing is something essential about the best dirty jokes in The Un-Iverse. I personally think it is probably the most disgusting dirty joke so far, but what I like about it is that I couldn't actually explain why. I'm not actually sure what the dirtiest of the dirty Un-Iverse jokes actually means. It just sounds gross. I always picture the writers of Family Guy and South Park do a ton of "research" for their dirty jokes. Debauchery is probably something they are actually very familiar with. What I love about The Un-Iverse's dirty jokes is that I don't actually have to know what they mean to make them sound gross. I don't have to participate in degrading sex to make the specific jokes I do. They sound VAGUELY gross, instead of actually being EXPLICITLY gross. And that's one of the best things about the dirty jokes. I think they are just as funny as the dirty jokes from explicit franchises. And I really like the fact that you may have to sit and stew on them a bit, to actually wonder why they ARE probably as horrible as they sound. I don't spell it out. Because I don't actually know myself.

What I also love about the dirty jokes in this franchise is that they are unusual. Most projects such as this aimed at adults tend to have a TON of sexual innuendo and double entendres. And because The Un-Iverse doesn't, the jokes are properly shocking. At some point they will probably stop being so. Probably sooner rather than later. But as long as it only happens once or twice every other issue or so, they are going to jar the reader a bit. Which is intentional.

To be honest, I actually hate the fact that I turned Unkie Matty into an actual sex offender. He was literally initially named after myself.. And it pisses me off that I had to go there. But the entire concept of the story was Matty doing increasingly horrible things that gets the show canceled simply by being reported by what seems to be at first glance a DVD extra. Then it was 2018. I had to make it relevant BECAUSE of the #MeToo movement. Not only would it not be as powerful as it is if I refused to do this because of vanity and possessiveness of the namesake aspect of the character, but it wouldn't actually make too much sense if Unkie Matty wasn't as bad as any real-life celebrity dirtbag whose show gets canceled. But yeah, making Matty a sex offender is a definite blow to my ego. Once I put realism in The Un-Iverse, I figured I could still use Unkie Matty if I made him motivations sinister instead of goofy and harmless. And for a couple of years that worked perfectly well. In fact, part of me liked the idea that my namesake was a total turd.

But as the Narrator says in the last line of the story, it's crazy the things we have to make fun of. Unkie Matty, much like Vic Puff and Donald Trump, is way more horrible than originally envisioned, because real life is more horrible than the character as originally envisioned. I tend to take Trump ruining Vic Puff a bit personally, and I've complained about it before. Now picture my disgust over having to do the same thing to a character named after myself. It is freaking humbling. And if the story was written in 2015 I would never have to do it. But Kricfalusi, Schneider, and Lasseter means I do.

Betty Sinclair calls the show "product". I had her do that deliberately because you can tell a TV show or movie sucks whenever the producer calls it that. A legitimate director, actor, or producer will want their movies and shows to be seen as a work of art and entertainment. Calling it "product" is what somebody looking to cash a paycheck thinks of them as. It means whoever does that has no scruples or integrity, and doesn't actually believe in the project. The notion of Betty being the one to use this phrase makes her more personally detestable to me than I initially envisioned the character. She was initially written as a bit put upon, and I subconsciously saw her as big of a victim of Unkie Matty as the cast. But upon the #MeToo movement, it made more sense to me that she was actually an enabler, and was still producing this piece of dreck for the absolute wrong reasons. Betty Sinclair WAS initially based on Naomi Watts as Betty in Mulholland Dr.. But the #MeToo movement meant I could not keep her fresh-faced and innocent forever. So now she's Diane. I actually regret that.

Literally the only time I don't get mad if a producer calls the movie or show "product" is if it's a cooking show, how-to video, or porn. Those are the only three genres I think a producer can get away with calling a project product and have that be what they are. A producer says that about a scripted movie or show, and he / she doesn't believe in the project and / or is a terrible person. I sincerely hope Betty is the first. But when someone uses that term for a work of art they ostensibly created, they just might be the second.

The cereal room proves they have variety in hell.

I was shocked, SHOCKED when Bill Cosby cursed out his lawyer upon being found guilty of rape. Doesn't Cosby know you don't ever need to work blue?

Unkie Matty's show has always gotten away with what it has, because since it has an eclectic cast of Humans and Mutated Animals, it is given far more benefit of the doubt than a similar show only using Humans. Unkie Matty is a shit kids TV show. But it is also literally the most racially diverse show on television. That leads to people cutting Matty a LOT more slack than he deserves.

And you'll notice that despite the fact that the cast is diverse, and the Funhouse is The Un-Iverse version of Sesame Street because of that, the Human Artisan Snub still majorly effects the show. Betty Sinclair is admittedly a Dog. But every single other producer, writer, and animator we see in the writers room and Cereal room is 100% Human. Even in a show that is the most culturally diverse of any other show in The Un-Iverse, it still suffers from the Artisan Snub. And that's a deliberate message.

I don't know why Wacky Quacky believes that Willis' too-late amendment of saying "Or so I've heard" actually means anything. What is said can never be unsaid. The horror. The horror.

I gave Liza Dooeverything a flushed face and tears after the kiss just to show what an utter bastard Unkie Matty is. I cannot imagine what was going through the minds of the women in that Pixar featurette with Lasseter who had to pretend on camera this was normal and welcome.

The sketches on the artist's board don't look good because when I draw I don't use circles and lines and shapes ahead of time to guide my artwork in pencil. I immediately draw the picture. This is unlike every other artist I know, and more common among grade-schoolers. But I never went to art school and learned how to do measurements and proportions properly, so I'm not going to attempt that technique while I don't actually know how it works. The fact that I don't use the technique is partly why everything in The Un-Iverse is as crooked and off-model as it is. But frankly, it's a miracle it works at all. The fact that it does makes me think I am not as talentless as many people would believe upon seeing my lousy drawings. I definitely don't have safety or guiding lines under my pencils and you can still tell what they are. That's unusual in a good way.

The pencils, pens, and scissors in the ceiling of the writers room is shows how unprofessional writers rooms tend to be. I have heard horror stories about the huge spot of caramel on the ceiling of The Simpsons' writers room and that's the idea.

For the record, Meek's Chiller Theatre stories always have two Narrators too: The Un-Iverse's Narrator and Meek. And yet that particularly dynamic is always super easy to tell apart and follow. The success of those stories is probably the biggest reason I attempted two narrators for the Unkie Matty story in the first place. But it totally works without explanation while the Unkie Matty story doesn't.

Meek's Chiller Theatre stories interest me because they are the only recurring story that never, EVER ties into the larger mythology of The Un-Iverse. By design. They are public domain. I didn't write them. They have to stand completely on their own merits. The Trid story is merely so-so, but I think I am usually able to make these stories interesting in their own right.

The Narrator saying "Ummmm", in the opening wraparound to the Trid story is one of the only times he interrupts a Meek's Chiller Theatre story. Normally the Chiller Theatre Narrator is all Meek besides the Author credit and the The End / End Joke at the end. Why did I do that this one time? Because Meek was originally going to say "Ummmm", and that WOULD be breaking the fourth wall, which is against the rules. The characters aren't supposed to know they are fictional (and that includes the Piranha who DOES skirt around those rules when swinging off word balloons.) I wanted that joke to describe the meta of the situation, but if Meek says it, it is TOO meta.

I love Rabbi Borstein's scientific curiosity. Because it again ties into the moral of what I ultimately believe Faith should be about. The truly faithful are willing to have that faith tested. And that is Rabbi Borstein. Completely.

Rabbi Borstein is one of the few Jewish characters in the story who is explicitly identified as Jewish, and since his story is essentially a dumb Rabbi joke, I thought I'd better make him awesome to make up for it. So despite ultimately being the butt of Meek's joke, he's also brave, cunning, strong, and intelligent. He's the Meek's Chiller Theatre version of Gilda.

I love that the Rabbi is such a Trekkie that he goes to conventions dressed up as a Vulcan.

To make absolutely certain that the Rabbi is not a total joke by the end of the story, I had him smirking and rolling his eyes in the last panel. He is self-aware enough and enough lacking in vanity to appreciate the groaner in and of itself. My pastor as a kid used to love pastor jokes, and those involving God and religion, and that is true of many pastors, priests, and rabbis. Rabbi Borstein has a good sense of humor.

There is specific reason the grass and trees are pink. But you might have to wait ten years to find out what it is. And yes, that's a spoiler for the Second Sequel.

I was very deliberate to put a looks of ecstasy on each Trid's face the moment it is kicked. There is probably some sexual thrill involved in it, which is the absolute correct subtext. Nobody would actually enjoy getting kicked in the ass otherwise. I even put a certain level of reality into the joke stories.

The 20 dollar tip Borstein gives the Trid Tailor is extremely generous. I just wanted to thumb my nose at the Jewish miser stereotype completely.

However, I realized as I put the story to paper, I sort of had to be careful about the money thing. I thought about using Shekels, or gold coins, and things like that, but even if I'm getting rid of the Jewish miser stereotype, I realized I might be feeding into the stereotype that Jews buy their way out of situations with money. Instead of the miser Jew, I could be feeding into the power hungry Jew. So instead Trids accept good ol' American cheddar, and the Rabbi gives a 20 dollar tip to show how generous he is, without it being such an extravagant sum that he seems to be trying to buy influence in Trid culture. He's not buying the tailor's silence and soul, he's making his day instead. It's actually not okay that he dresses and tries to pass for a Trid. But I didn't want that specific bit of mischief to seem like anything greater than mischief, or to perhaps attach a sinister subtext to it. So it's American money, and 20 bucks for a tip. It's a big, generous tip, but far from enough to morally indebt anyone to the tipper. Maybe if there were a ton of other Jewish characters in The Un-Iverse, I might not have to be so careful, but since I don't really get into the character's religions except to say that Bernadette is Catholic, and Gilda celebrates Christmas, it doesn't come up elsewhere.

It's also a good reminder than the way somebody tells a verbal joke is always different than how somebody tells a written story. A joke you can gloss over any insensitivities as a part of the humor, but Meek's Chiller Theatre is me taking jokes and anti-humor stories, and turning them into genre fables. Therefore I have to actually think about the message, and what will offend who, when I never would have to do that while telling the joke to another person.

The Rabbi praying to G-d is what is known as "A Nice Touch". That's not a cool detail Meek can give to Bernadette. But I'm giving it to you.

The Giant ultimately wasn't drawn too giant. I always pictured him in my mind to be like the Giant / Fireman from Twin Peaks and merely 9 or 10 feet tall, simply because the visual of him kicking the Trids in the butt seemed funnier to me in my head if his foot wasn't TOO big. So the giant in this story is probably only ten feet tall at most.

You might think he's dressed a lot like the Fireman, but I think he's dressed more as a tribute to the BFG.

It is true that with the exception of certain parts of "The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla", Meek's Chiller Theatre stories aren't actually scary. But part of me thinks Meek might be onto something when he calls them "Bonechillinjg tales of horror and madness" anyways.

The number 313 strikes again, this time as Rabbi Borstein's license plate number. It is also Donald Duck's license plate number.

Oh, my God! The visual of the Giant kicking the Trids! I had been super worried about that because action scenes are a weak point with me, as are slapstick scenes. And this is both. I shouldn't have worried. I get why I did (I know my limitations) but I should have instinctively realized they wouldn't be a factor here. The truth is I've lived with this story / joke for 30 years. It makes perfect sense it was already boarded correctly in my head. The first drawing of the Giant you see in the story? That is literally the first time I have ever drawn that character, and he wound up perfect anyways. One of the selling points of Meek's Chiller Theatre is that it's good fiction that I have stewed over for decades, and figured out exactly how to tell it right. The shoes in the flabby asses are exactly as they are in my head, as are the looks of ecstasy on the Trids' faces.

What I need to do next is remind myself that future action scenes will NOT come together this easily, and this this is the definition of the exception that proves the rule. There's one more Meek's Chiller Theatre story coming, but I don't see a ton of these types of artwork opportunities for me in the future. Maybe if I wind up getting to The Terran Wars after 5-10 years (which is far longer than I plan to get to that story) I'll have perfect boarding there too. And that is another argument in favor of me taking my time. The foot in the ass is all the argument I need to slow down and plan things in my head right.

When it got time to do that scene, the exact words to myself is "Time to do some boofing and wheeing." And the results speak for themselves.

I love the lines of sheen coming from the Rabbi's tuckus as he "presents" his derriere to the Giant. That is some quality butt-gleaming right there.

I spent a little bit of time redoing that Rabbi butt panel. It's not great now but it's funnier than it was.

"Trids' Wearhouse" was literally a last-minute flourish, but I thought "Why the hell not?" If THAT'S the thing that breaks the reality of the story for you, you're probably viewing it wrong.

I did something interesting with the mirror in the Trid tailor shop. I figured since most Trids are short, the mirror would reach up to Borstein's head. So he leans the mirror over at an up angle to get the proper perspective. My stories do not live or die by the artwork. But that was a small touch I added to keep things a LITTLE real.

I love the trollish burly Trid kissing his muscles. It's a small touch you will almost certainly miss.

I'll tell you one thing I love about the Giant's design. In his first panel, he is in profile and you can only see one of his eyes. I never do that! And because I did, I sort of unbalanced the way I drew the rest of the pictures and made them slightly skewed to match the first "Not quite right" panel. The Giant is lanky and his arms do not seem to stay the same length from panel to panel. And it works because that singular eye to start off with unsettled me so much.

The Giant's design gives off a sense of childlike curiosity and innocence. But in the Giant's backstory in my head, he's completely evil and sinister. I give him some definite sadistic expressions as he's kicking the Trids, but I always believed the character was malevolent, no matter how confusing his actions appear to Rabbi Borstein. And that's not something we get in this story. At least not in THIS story. And there is no guarantee I'll get back to it. But in case I do, the potential sequel and the fact that the Giant is evil is why I colored the vegetation in the story pink. But all of this is conjecture for a potential story I haven't even plotted yet, much less written, at least fifteen years in the future, that I realistically will probably never get to. Oh, well. There always seem to be more stories in The Un-Iverse than I ever get the chance to tell.

It's weird that the story is called Welcome To Tridville. Because the last thing the Giants and the Trids make the Rabbi feel is welcome.

The last panel in the story with the punchline sadly was the one piece of artwork in the story that disappointed me. I had it in my head that the Rabbi would by lying on his stomach and propped up on his elbows with his hands holding his face during the groan, but I didn't really see a plausible way he would have landed like that when the giant set him down. I did redo the artwork a little so that he was at least sitting and you could see multiple erasure lines. I also felt like the last picture of the Giant as he says the punchline wasn't great either.

In The Curse Of The Pink Gorilla, I redid a couple of the biggest Pink Gorilla panels to make them land as perfectly as possible. Why did I resist that at first here? This is going to sound lazy and terrible but the last panel here didn't NEED to be as perfect as the Pink Gorilla story did. The Pink Gorilla story is not just a joke, it also encompasses the horror genre too, but I was much more concerned with the artwork landing properly. The truth is Welcome To Tridville is the most disposable of the Meek's Chiller Theater stories and I didn't feel the need to make a bigger effort than I did, especially since the Unkie Matty story kicked my ass so much. The ugly truth is that by the time I got to that last panel, I simply wanted the issue to be over and done it. Spending two months drawing it was far longer than I had ever spent drawing a previous issue and I was checked out at that point.

But when I made the last second decision to redo the Unkie Matty story, suddenly redrawing the last page to my liking was no longer daunting. In for a penny, in for a pound as they say. It still doesn't quite look like it does in my head. But it's a huge improvement.

Speaking of the Pink Gorilla, there was a Pink Gorilla in the first Meek's Chiller Theatre story, a Little Pink Woman in the second, and here the vegetation is all pink. Is this all some larger pink motif for Meek's storytelling?

You won't believe this: It's a freaking coincidence! For all three stories. Perhaps the biggest thing that will convince you is that for the fourth Chiller Theater story (Green Golf Balls) the dominant color will be green and pink is never mentioned. What MIGHT interest you is that in the final green story, I still make Meek's Narrator boxes pink, solely for consistency. But Meek isn't obsessed with the color pink and I'm not trying to send out a hidden message. It's a freaking coincidence. Three stories in a row.

Meek always seems to have a crazy rictus grin in the Chiller Theatre stories. He is never zanier in The Un-Iverse than when he's sitting in that easy chair in the smoking jacket.

One of the interesting things about all four stories to me is that there is no action to speak of in them. There are action bits in the training sessions in the Gilda And Meek story, and when Bernadette beats Mitch up, but outside of that, the stories involve the characters talking to each other, either through a negotiation like the Howler story, an interview show like the Unkie Matty one, or Meek verbally relaying a fictional story to his sister. I cannot pretend that "Training" is actually ABOUT training when the most memorable scene is at the beginning of Gilda and Bernadette discussing her past, and whether or not she can, or even SHOULD be forgiven for her evil. The story exists because I didn't want to do a subplot of the group training that would slow down a future issue. But truthfully, it's the conversation at the beginning that will hit us hardest anyways, so it didn't even ultimately wind up about training after all. Like "The Apple" last issue, this is issue is pretty much All Talk.

The cover doesn't wow me. I drew the UnComix Tales logo a bit crooked, and the color is not dark enough for my liking, considering the scene takes place at night. But those were the darkest green pencils I owned. The silhouettes over the horizon work okay (considering they are stick figures) and you may be surprised to realize Audrey and Agnes are holding their joints on the cover too.

On the cover, the former Werewolves don't have their hands raised in the silhouette. But I think it looks creepier if they don't.

Let me say something that I need to get off my chest about this one. I am prouder of the work I put into this issue than any previous issue. It's ironic that the issue's story is average, because I moved Heaven and Earth to make it work the way it does. The previous issue (The Apple) is the best one so far and that hasn't changed. But that was super easy for me to make. It practically wrote and drew itself. While this issue is not fantastic, I put more effort into the artwork than I have ever done before. More than Skeletons, more than Warlocks: Beyond Reality. Ever. Simply because this issue's art was so hard and I didn't quit.

Which is a lesson for me. I have been writing these comics off and on for 30 years, and I have come to realize, good writing and artwork in my stories is a completely recent development (within the last five years, and only after I returned to the story after a 20 year hiatus). So I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't. One of the things I learned early on about good artwork is that the more detail you put in a drawing, the better it looks. Whether you are a great artist or not, the best way to get your stuff looking good quick is to put in the effort. For many talented artists simple drawings look effortless. For those of us who suck, the art sucks less if you put in the time and effort.

And this issue taught me a similar lesson, but about writing and formatting. If you have a huge unsolvable story problem, keep working at it. And for me and this issue there wasn't a single "Eureka!" moment to make things work. I simply used trial and error and combined different "okay" solutions in different combinations until I hit on one that worked for everything. It was a process for me, and I learned that sometimes there is no simple right answer. Sometimes the real answer is taking the best parts of wrong answers and cobbling them together until it works. And anytime I get stuck in the future, I am going to have to remember that.

I have never worked harder on an issue of The Un-Iverse than I did this one. I have also never been prouder.

Un-Iverse Fun Fact


"I can do anything I want to do. This is America," is specifically a Matt Zimmer catchphrase. I put these in The Un-Iverse whenever I get the chance. It's usually rarely though. The only other previous example is the Narrator saying upon The Humans eating boogers in "The Humans Go Hollywood", "In their defense, boogers are delicious." I accuse people of eating boogers and use that defense all the time. I am weird.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
Finished Gilda And Meek #29 "All Blood Things... Step Three: Late Night Conversations And Other Equally Important Occurrences" (Un-Iverse #43). Only two more issues left in The Mistress Augatha Arc, and four more issues left in Gilda And Meek. Things are getting serious for me.

Here is a picture of Meek in casual attire.

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
28,658
-5
113
44
Framingham, MA
Finished the script to the first issue of F.I.S.H. "Catch And Release" (Un-Iverse #48). Better than I expected. Here's an early attempt at my new character of Volk-Si:

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I’m adding Primo to Triad, turning it into QUAD. So now it’s Qubo, DiscFam, UniKids, and Primo. Should I add V-Me Kids to it for preschool content? It’s a sister channel to Primo, so it won’t affect it that much.
am I the only one posting the updates for Slimetime while nobody else seems to care????
R.I.P. Tomi DePaola, author and illustrator from my home state, best known for children's books such as Strega Nona.

He was so young.
In my April Fool's Day prank regarding either Mediacorp reviving Kids Central or Universal Kids merging with Qubo, I mistakenly called Primo TV as "V-Me Kids". I guess V-Me Kids ceased operation years ago. Sorry.