Linear Notes for Gilda and Meek "Warlocks Beyond Reality: Part One: Blood Debt" (Spoiler Light)
This five parter is interesting, because it is a story I have literally had on the drawing board for at least three decades. Most of it is based on two separate dreams I had as a child, involving the concepts of The Whahuma Bears and The Three Deaths. The entire concept of the story was practically unworkable to me, which is why I pushed it so far down the road in the last iteration of The Un-Comix Saga. I always hoped to do this story somehow. But never this soon in the canon. I actually figured I might never get to it, because I was completely unsure how to make something this ambitious work out. This is not the make or break arc for The Un-Iverse. If it winds up sucking, I have still built up a reasonable amount of goodwill, which will make the reader forgive it, and move on to the rest of The Un-Iverse. But like the first four part Howler story, it's kind of make-or-break for me as a writer and artist. I think this issue is great, and so is the next one. But the third issue is something that I might not have the writing skills to get across, the artistry to make what I am trying to say read on the page, or the imagination to make the reader think that the visuals are anything truly special in the first place. This is my balls to the walls insanity story, and either it is TOO insane, or not insane enough. If I manage to pull off the third issue, I think it will be a miracle. But that comes later. First we discuss the not-sucky Part 1, which doesn't suck because it is filled with dialogue filled scenes and character observations, which are totally my wheelhouse. I haven't had to stretch much as an Author or artist in this story. And the story is better for it. Yet. But I will. And that terrifies me.
This issue demonstrates something about Gilda that has always been true, but I have mostly failed at getting across in this version of The Un-Iverse: When it comes to fighting bad guys, Gilda is a bit of a rascal. She ENJOYS taking them down, and rubbing her victories in their faces. There should be a little bit of Bugs Bunny in Gilda when she goes up against villains, and I seem to have stepped away from that a bit. Her sending Augatha a box of giant underwear that Meek farted in is me acknowledging a key component of her character.
Bernadette hating Gilda on some level because she bosses Meek around, and he does whatever she tells him to do, is provocative. Because just based on the giant underwear scene, Bernadette is totally right to hate Gilda for that. I love Meek for it, but someone like Bernadette who doesn't like or trust Gilda at the moment? I get why she's pissed. Totally. I would be too.
The scene seems hilarious, but both the Narrator and Bernadette being concerned over it is the right reaction. Because Gilda asking Meek to do that is a bit sexually humiliating. Just because Meek doesn't have a problem with it doesn't mean she should do it. The fact that Meek is willing to do something that embarrassing and humiliating with seemingly no objections, shows that Gilda is abusing his trust on some level. I've said before that this is the era of Gilda and Meek where Gilda has lost her mantle of The Sage. Her having Meek do that without realizing that isn't something a friend asks another friend they supposedly love to do is a big part of that.
There will be some people who will accuse the scene of being low-brow and relying on potty humor. But the potty humor isn't why the scene is funny and great. It's not actually that funny that Gilda brags about having Meek fart into every pair of underwear. The funny part is that he actually did it. And the Narrator worrying about what potential sexual power Gilda could hold over that poor guy is why the scene works. I love Gilda being Bugs Bunny as much as anyone. But what is truly great about the scene is how concerned for Meek everyone is over it. Because that is the correct reaction.
I love that Gilda describes Meek doing that as an important task, and that he's the only one she trusts doing it. Is it any wonder he always does what she says?
"Conan's a rerun tonight." Which is another way to point out that one of the reasons Augatha is evil is actually because she's bored. The Mundaneness of evil personified.
Meek's wedding cake allegory to Gilda regarding Descendants and children's television is probably the only moment in the entire saga where he is smarter and more insightful than her. And she's pretty smart and insightful in that moment anyways. But while she is right that popular kids shows suck and always have, that doesn't make it acceptable. People demanding so little from their entertainment is why TV was so bad for as long as it was. I kind of think we should be teaching kids to be as finicky as current adult TV viewers are. While it is great that the Golden Age of Television has made television an amazing experience for adults, it is pretty depressing to realize that kids have it just as bad as they always did. And we shouldn't just be cool with that. That's not fair to them.
For the record, I am not making fun of Meek's intelligence by saying a 8-year-old with Down Syndrome down the street is smarter and funnier than he is, or that Meek is weak for being beaten up by him. I'm saying that somewhere in The Un-Iverse, there exists a smart, funny kid with Down Syndrome who happens to be a total butthole and hardass. I thought I should clarify that here. Even Bernadette sees this kid as a legit threat. As she should. I love The Un-Iverse.
I also love the hints of the end of the saga the Council meeting at the beginning gives. Meek’s wife? Bernadette’s dark and horrible Fate? Neat stuff I just teased, isn’t it? And both ideas are true and accurate, so I didn’t even have to retcon them later on.
And I love Bob the Wizard referring to Bernadette as a woman. Because since the Council exists out of time, they are more familiar with Bernadette in this state than any other people are Earth. Yeah, WE think of Bernadette as a little girl. But she won't always be, not even in the Narrative itself. And despite the amazing and magnificent things she's done as a kid, they will pale in comparison to the amazing and magnificent things she is going to do as an adult during the latter half of the saga. The Council is right to fear her.
The big question: Does Meek actually trust Gilda now? Bernadette doesn't think so, but Gilda obviously thinks he does. Who is right? I'm betting Gilda. What Bernadette is right about is that Meek FEARS Gilda now. But that's a little different than not trusting her. The giant underwear thing shows he trusts her, even if she scares him. To his own detriment at times. Maybe that's why he agreed to the underwear thing in the first place.
Another big question: Why is the story named "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" when the Warlocks really only appear in the prologues?
Honestly? The Warlocks are incidental. Seriously. I don't need 'em. Screw 'em. I just freaking LOVE the word "Warlock", and a story called "Warlocks: Beyond Reality", is if not the best title in The Un-Iverse, is at least the most kickass. Trust me, I put the Warlocks in as much as I could, but the story was never about them. At all. The story is called that because I can hear Don La Fontaine in my head previewing the episode title to wah-wah guitar licks in the background.
I made sure for Bob the Wizard to declare both the Whahuma Bears and the Warlocks "Beyond Reality" each at least once to give the title a LITTLE credibility at least.
Bernadette instantly believing Meek's story was an intentional thumb at my nose to the fact that in every kiddie cartoon, whenever something unexplainable happens to a single character, nobody believes them. And it always infuriates me, especially because the character in question usually isn't the type of person who makes random things up for attention. I had Bernadette being supportive and understanding of Meek's story because the Rescue Rangers never were. And that's a trope that NEEDS to be destroyed and never come back.
Supplements Spoiler Alert: Don't take Bob telling Bernadette that Derek was killed by the Whahuma Bears at face value. He's lying. The truth is much more horrible.
Gilda being surprised Meek lied to her about nothing being wrong doesn't mean he beat the b.s. detector. Gilda probably saw there was something wrong there, and ignored it rather than pick threads further, and learn that Meek really WAS upset with her. Because even if Gilda can tell when others are b.s.-ing her, it doesn't mean she can always tells when she's b.s.-ing herself.
Meek losing a hand is interesting to me because as a kid, when I was like ten, I hit upon the idea of disfiguring Meek at one point. I wasn't sure how, but I backed off the idea after awhile when I realized I wasn't willing to make it permanent. And if it isn't permanent, it's pointless. This was WAY before the Healing Spell was created.
This disfigurement ultimately won't be permanent either, but the reason I think it's okay that it's temporary, is that Meek does NOT get it back from the Healing Spell. It requires a genuine sacrifice and effort on Meek's part, and it blows up in his face so spectacularly, that the rest of the characters spend two additional issues trying to clean up the mess. Which would NOT have happened had Meek had the good sense to wait for the Healing Spell in the first place.
If you asked me to describe the five issues that make up "Warlocks: Beyond Reality", I would say it's "A Meek tour de force". Most of the major arcs in Gilda And Meek are focused on either Gilda or Bernadette. Despite Meek's name being the second name in the main Un-Iverse title, he is NOT the second most important character in the franchise. He is usually nothing more than Gilda's sidekick, and the other REAL star of the narrative is his sister. This five parter is the one exception, and Meek's most amount of screentime ever, and one of the few genuine hero moments he is allowed. This is pretty much a Meek opus.
This issue shows one clear way that Augatha is actually smarter than Gilda. Gilda thinks her trick with the magic tether is foolproof, because Augatha would be stuck lugging around a dead body. The idea that she would simply cut off the hand and leave Meek dead or alive behind never even occurs to Gilda. It is a testament to both Gilda's morality that her mind never even considers that horrible notion as an actual possibility, and her ultimate naivete, for not realizing that Augatha is the type of person who would.
I love that Augatha calls Meek a Red Shirt. He's not, but I love that she thinks he is.
"Oh, snap! A Loose Seal got Meek!" is literally the best "Arrested Development" reference in the entire franchise. I don't reference that show often, but I am positive I will never come up with a funnier reference for it than that anyways.
Fun fact: The Narrator from The Un-Iverse takes the cue from The Narrator from "Arrested Development" in being omniscient, and giving several character points of view at once. "Jane The Virgin" is a good start of pop culture realizing how awesome the trope of the omniscient narrator is, but it's the only other one I'm aware of (and I created the Un-Iverse Narrator before that show debuted). It's a trope that should have blown TV wide open, and I've only seen it one other time since? For shame, TV. For shame.
I did something narratively bad, but I reasoned it was more realistic than had I embraced the cliches. Meek bringing up Bernadette's photographic memory sounds like the cheat of the year. It has never been previously brought up or discussed in an earlier issue. We didn't even know she HAD one before now. But just because we never saw Meek and Bernadette discuss it, doesn't mean he doesn't know about it. Of course he does! He's her brother! And Meek bringing up this gift as if the reader already knows about it is what a real person would do in that situation. In real-life, people don't narrate exposition to keep nonexistent people up to speed. Meek doesn't explain the photographic memory because Meek, Gilda, and Bernadette already know Bernadette has it, even if the reader doesn't. It sounds like I'm cheating with the story, but actually I'm just keeping the reality of the situation.
The scene where Bernadette almost feeds into the Mary Sue cliche is something I like to occasionally do, to point out to the reader why Bernadette does NOT actually fit that definition. You might think we are about to switch over the mission from Meek, but it's precisely BECAUSE Bernadette is not a Mary Sue, which is why we don't do that. And I think it's important the Narrator points that out.
The Gilda and Meeks Meek sees as he crosses the dimensions are characters from a potential second sequel to The Un-Iverse called "Gilda And Meek: Adventures Across The Multiverse". It will probably not be completed for ten years at least, but I thought it would be cool to see some of the characters this far in advance, so you could reread the saga and enjoy that. The only problem is that this means I had to figure out the designs for the Gildas and Meeks this far ahead of time. Hopefully nobody will complain too much if I decide to tweak them a bit ten years from now.
Fun fact: The scene with Vic and Otterman was not originally in the first draft. It its place was a scene of Bernadette walking into Gilda's room with Gilda and Meek sitting on Gilda's bed, chortling with each other, while being insufferably pleased with themselves, as an irate Bernadette wonders what the hell is so funny. It was really great addition to the story, and fit the underwear joke seamlessly into the Gilda and Meek stuff at the lab. Now there was a symmetry between Gilda's prank, and her trying to repair her relationship with Meek. It was one of the rare bonding moments I gave the both of them at this point in the saga. Because THEY know what's coming, and we should watch out too.
Which is why I freaking deleted it 12 hours later! And thanked God in Heaven for the thousandth time that I now write my stories in drafts on the computer. The underwear joke is precisely as funny as it is because it's unexpected. If you know a gag is coming, it's like letting the air out of the unexpected punchline. Frankly, I was tempted to delete the part of the scene where Augatha is waiting at the docks and dreading looking into the crate. I probably should have, because it tips the moment off too (a little). But unlike Gilda and Meek laughing with each other, we might instead be expecting a typical Batman type Crowing Moment Of Awesome. Instead of a Bugs Bunny Crowning Moment Of Awesome. But the truth is, you needed to set up Augatha looking into the crate, and I don't feel comfortable saying Augatha is dumb enough to believe this is gonna go off without a hitch. It's not the shock I wanted that Gilda punked her. But it's the way in which she did which is still a surprise, which it why I mostly kept that part of the scene as it.
I love The Narrator thinking it is cool that the notion of The Un-Iverse Multiverse means that both he and The Reader (You!) have a personal stake in this story for the first time ever. This is partly me going over the line in keeping the reality and science of The Un-Iverse entirely separate from our Universe, but even if the notion doesn't hold up to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle about The Un-Iverse not TRULY effecting our Universe because it is fiction, and we can't measure its actual reality, I'd like to see someone prove me wrong. We KNOW there are no superheroes with magic powers in brightly colored Underoos saving the day and beating up talking gorillas. Because they aren't outside our windows. We KNOW this planet hasn't suffered alien invasion after alien invasion. We can look outside, and tell that our movies obviously take place in a different reality than we do.
But you cannot disprove this particular Multiverse theory. In an Infinite amount of possible Universes, it's entirely possible our Universe doesn't see the crack in the sky because the Multiverse hasn't gotten badly damaged enough yet for a Universe as far away as ours from The Un-Iverse, to actually have tangible, visible proof of it. There is no proof that this idea even exists in another Multiverse out there. But unlike Superheroes and aliens, you can't disprove it either. And it's the fact that you can't disprove it, which is why the Narrator is so giddy on behalf of himself and The Reader. He'll pretend it's true, even if it isn't. I believe that's why so many otherwise faithless people go to Church too.
I like that we never find out what Gilda did with the Death Ray. In the first draft I was going to reveal she destroyed it, but I think it's better if The Reader wonders if she has that thing squirreled away in her back pocket for a rainy day. Why not?
Augatha offering to negotiate at the end is the Saddam Hussein moment. The spider hole is the precise parallel I am raising.
I think the part near the end where Meek is tickled to see a version of him and Gilda kissing, and points it out for Augatha to enjoy, is such a sweet thing. It's totally Asperger's that he doesn't quite get that Augatha is NOT the type of person who wants to share touching, personal moments with him. And I love that fact that Meek is unaware of that ahead of time. It's not realistic, but as I said, it's still incredibly sweet.
Julius transporting the group before they can make any further objections is the mad scientist in him.
I kind of think Gilda should be making a bigger deal of Meek going into convulsions than she does, but there IS admittedly a lot else going on in that scene at that moment.
I kind of feel like Bob should not be calling the Whahuma Bears Evil Ewoks. He's supposed to be dark and mysterious, and he's actually seen Jedi? Weak! But I had him use the simile because it's the closest equivalent to what the Bears actually are. This is why the third part is titled "Like Ewoks On Crack". Maybe Bob should NOT be this pop-culture savvy. Maybe that damages his character. But now Bernadette understands exactly what he's talking about.
Spoiler alert: Pay close attention to the Council Chamber scene at the beginning, where Bob says Meek's place in history says he'll be fine, and that his life will be placed in only minor danger. I bring this up now because things get DIRE at various points, but neither I or the Narrator are going to pretend Bob's prediction isn't consistent with the conclusion of these next seven issues. Just pointing it out here in case you wind up feel ripped off by the end of this part of the story.
I love that Gilda owns a Jules Winfield wallet. And just like for Jules, it's entirely accurate.
For the record, I am 100% certain Donna Demented owns this exact same wallet. 100%.
You might object to Gilda having that particular wallet with Bernadette and the Piranha in eyesight, but that's kind of why I like Gilda and Bernadette. I'm not sure what the Piranha thinks, but in my mind Bernadette doesn't think f-bombs are a big deal, and it doesn't set her off the way it would for another kid her age.
I like that Bob is insightful and respectful enough to know that Gilda prefers Ms. Thurman to Miss Thurman. You might have missed that sign of respect entirely, which is why I'm pointing it out now.
Gilda using legalese to object to the Blood Debt is her getting back into her comfort zone. Big time. I love whenever I show Gilda's mindset going back to that of The Lawyer. Because that is her preferred career, and what she thinks she is best at, whether she claimed to be unsuccessful at it in an earlier issue or not.
For the record, Gilda of all people should not be sneering off Blood Debts. But that's something I'll leave for later.
Gilda also saying people who use Blood Debts are theatrical buttholes is spot-on in ways she doesn't even realize yet. Because that perfectly describes Gabrielle.
It strikes me as incredibly ill-advised that Augatha does the escape at the end of the issue. But both her and Meek spend this five-parter making terrible decisions, and hurting and being horrible to one another, so it's consistent with the rest of the story at least. But were I Augatha, and knew the fact that Meek was my only way home from this place I considered Hell, I'd want to stick by him, especially to make sure he stays nice and alive. And a ton of bad stuff is going to happen to Augatha in the next three issues because of that decision.
I like that Dr. Raggleworth creating various inventions has been sort of in the background of both Book Five and previously Book Four (Gilda And Meek: The Next Phase). Despite Dr. Raggleworth being a scientist from the get-go, we rarely saw him inventing things in Book One. Just Melcore and the Automatic Toepicker. In Books Four and Five he seems to be practically inventing a new crazy thing per issue.
I especially like what we've done with the Matter Transporter, and had him perfecting it last several issues, through trial and error. We always see the impractical inventions AFTER Gyro Gearless has invented them. I kind of like that we saw bits and pieces of Julius' process here.
The joke that Vic Puff was the least crazy candidate in the GOP field is entirely dated. It embarrasses me that it no longer works. But that is how both McCain and Romney won their primaries, by being the least horrible option out of a group of degenerates. But 2016 changed everything, and I'm betting for all future Republican nominations too. From Trump forward, I expect the craziest, most horrible person to win every single Republican primary from now on. And they'll occasionally be elected President, and do untold damage to our country. Our country is in an incredibly bad way if that particular joke at the expense of Republican primaries is no longer true. I wrote the joke in like 2014 and never expected it to be dated within two years.
I could have changed it to Vic winning the primary because he was the CRAZIEST candidate, but that's an example of Trump ruining The Un-Iverse. Part of why The Un-Iverse doesn't suck is because it is a universe where the craziest candidate thing ISN'T true. If I make the people in The Un-Iverse worse simply to make the Trump parallels work, I'm turning the entire tone of the franchise sour just to make fun of a small, pathetic person. Donald Trump does not get to ruin what I am trying to do with The Un-Iverse the way he has real life. He only has that power if I let him.
"Mother Mercy, release thee from thine binds" sounds kind of cool, but if you think about it, it pretty much states how portentous and ludicrous Warlocks and Mistresses and the people who create such spells are. That line was created by someone who takes themselves (and magic) far too seriously. Frankly, I think it's a bit out of character that Gilda keeps a straight face when reciting those lines, or at least doesn't crack wise about how overwrought the words are, but I felt like time a factor in her sending off Meek, and tension would be gutted by getting meta about it. But this is usually the part of magic Gilda makes fun of.
I specifically had Rita be the Mistress from the Warlocks' Council Gilda had friendly dealings with in the C.I.A. because Gilda and Rita were best friends in my grade school story. It strikes me as a bit weird that Gilda seems to talk about Rita as if she trusts her. Because Rita used to date Eddie Cat, and still carries a torch for him. But again, you can't always help who you fall in love with, and Gilda knows better than most people what fresh hell it is giving Eddie Cat the benefit of the doubt, even when he clearly never deserved it. She'd probably hate Rita for having warm feelings about Eddie, if Gilda's judgment regarding working for Eddie despite him not passing her b.s. detector meant she was in no position to throw stones.
Fun fact: Eddie and Rita dated in my grade school story too. Eddie was an outright good guy back then, and their schoolyard romance was sweet. Now their relationship is damaged and possibly twisted. Which is something I never would have predicted would have happened when I was a kid. But once I used Rita to fill out one of the slots of the Warlocks' Council, it instantly became that.
Interesting fact: Besides Bob, Charlie, and Derek, the rest of the Warlocks' Council are made up of characters I created in grade school, that I had no other place for in the final story. I used them to fill up the Council ranks, and gave them each distinct personalities. Walter was friendly and kind in grade school, which is an absolutely useless personality for the Warlocks Council. So now he's a jerk. Along with Louie Dawg, Zeepo used to be one of Meek's two kid nephews. I do not like the stoic Warlock he is now as much as the kid nephew he used to be, but I will confess that he's more interesting. Mole is similar to how his personality was when I was a kid, but the thing I changed was how the other characters responded to him. Gilda and her friends used to love Mole. And he's lovable, and he is probably the only Warlock who is. But the other Warlocks' strongly dislike him and consider him pathetic, which sort of changed his entire subtext, even if the character didn't actually change himself. He is now hanging out with the entirely wrong group of people. I suspect if Gilda herself she ever met Mole she would love him too. He's practically Meek with claws.
When the Narrator says Charlie was the only decent Warlock, I think he was wrong. I think Mole's okay too.
Bob was not created when I was in grade school, but unlike Charlie and Derek (who I both created within the past five years) he WAS in the last iteration of The Un-Iverse that I wrote in my early 20's. He had a similar personality and role in the last iteration of The Pontue Legacy, and a similar scene with Krac in the last issue of that miniseries. The scene is slightly different now, because while Bob's personality is the same, Krac has evolved into a different sort of character entirely, so the scene is better. Instead of Bob keeping Krac on his toes, they now keep each other on each other's toes, which is much more fascinating. One of the same things about Bob from the last version of The UnComix Saga, is that I didn't quite know what was going on in his head, which instantly made me want to write more of him. I knew this part of the saga was always coming, and always set up Bob for it, but until very recently I had no idea what Warlocks: Beyond Reality would actually entail, or even if it would actually wind up being the fifth book of The UnComix Saga, or if it would come later. A lot of the stuff that is now carefully laid down in this version of The Un-Iverse, was NOT carefully laid down in the previous version. I only mirrored some of the ideas specifically because I now knew the answers to the questions I was raising. When I created Bob when I was 20 years old, I most definitely did not.
Here's a plothole about Fuzzy and Scuzzy: If they are willing to transport anybody, good or evil, across vast distances, Augatha probably should have used them to transport herself across the miles walk to Dragons Mountain at the end of The Pontue Legacy. It's definitely a bit of a hole, but the truth is that version of Augatha is still pretty young and fresh-faced. She might not have known Fuzzy and Scuzzy could do that yet. How the Piranha did is a whole nuther kettle of fish, but I think the hole in The Pontue Legacy is a bit easier to plug.
Vic asking Otterman to delete his Twitter account is him meeting the lowest standards of human decency. But see, he still meets them.
I love that Vic says that he's as surprised he's made it this far as anyone. That's him recognizing his faults. I love whenever I give him the slightest bit of humanity, and I don't think I did it enough.
"I haven't seen her at any of the meetings, have you?" is an explicit Battlestar Galactica reference. And the specific scene it is referencing is a major clue about a major thing.
I like the cover. It's very colorful and perhaps the most colorful cover yet. What's weird is that the background is white. But since the Warlocks each have different brightly colored robes, it pops. I was also a little bit worried about the logo for "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" but what I came up with totally works.
It is weird to me that I always draw Rita smaller than the other Warlocks. Rita was not shorter than the other characters in grade school, and yet, I made her only slightly taller than an actual dwarf. I'm not sure why I did that. Maybe because I kind of feel like she's secretly in charge, and I like that the other Warlocks sort of secretly fear a tiny seeming woman. That must be it. It makes no sense to me otherwise.
"He wanted my soul, but he stole my heart." What a line. And I don't mean that as a compliment. It just shows how hopeless and broken this chick is right off the bat.
The first scene is the best scene, but I imagine I might be the only person who loves it. Because The Un-Iverse is more words than pictures, and the scene is 9 pages of people having a discussion, after the Narrator sets them up. And I get why certain people will think stuff like this qualifies Gilda And Meek as the worst comic book ever made. But I just love how The Un-Iverse messes with the entire formula. It's precisely the reason I shouldn't have 9 pages of people talking which is why I love the fact that I do. I find the conversation riveting and unpredictable, which is weird, considering we don't really know any of the people talking. But they ARE giving us clues and hints about stuff we ARE familiar with, and it's trying to decipher those clues which is the fun part. Because it's certainly not the artwork.
Those 9 pages were incredibly easy and fast to complete. Pretty much just faces and the backs of chairs, and the words do the rest. And yes, I will be on purists' poop list for it. I don't care. I love it.
There is one bit of artwork in the first nine pages that I love. I show a brief glimpse of Gerf and the Whahuma Talisman on the Whahuma Plain. And I love the picture not only because it is small, but because it sets up all of the major beats from the last four issues of the miniseries in a single panel. There is the stake the Bears use to sacrifice each other on, the looming Crack In The Universe overhead, the Psycow's shadow lurking off to the side, the Cliffs of Ramienne in the distance, the two suns in the desert sky, and the hundred foot vines growing everywhere covered in red pustules. I put all of those details into that single panel, and you probably wouldn't have noticed them all without me pointing them out here, until you've actually read the entire miniseries. But I use that non-sequitur of a picture as the Narrator describes the Whahuma Bears and their Plain, to set up a TON of later crap. In a single panel.
Here's an opinion: The design of the Invention Fixer is super bizarre. It doesn't even look futuristic, it's just weird, even by Julius Raggleworth standards. The design is totally crazy and looks like a radio with arms attached at the top with electric razors for hands and wired extendable scalpels for fingertips . I will concede the design is actually impractical for what the device is supposedly supposed to do. What I will say is that perhaps you should wonder for the future why I chose that specific design. It's not because I'm a bad artist. Well, I AM a bad artist. But that's not why I picked that design. That's not why at all.
Meek and Bernadette seem unusually curious about the Automatic Toepicker in relation to the Invention Fixer. But there are reasons I had them ask the specific questions they did.
I should have made Meek's room more detailed in this issue and the last one, but I made up for it by putting a bunch of Easter Eggs in Gilda's room. She has a ball of twine she plays with, a box of Simpsons DVDs, and a small Christmas tree she keeps out all year. I keep out my small Christmas Tree all year too.
I love that she has a Santa Claus plush. I love that it goes back to the fact that as far as Christmas is concerned, Gilda is an innocent.
Gilda's ball of twine is me making her animalistic for once. I make Meek act like a real Dog quite a few times, but for Gilda it is MUCH rarer. The ball of twine is me putting in the effort.
I was very deliberate to put a lock on that cabinet to show that it's Gilda's Weapons cabinet, and as a responsible adult, she takes the proper kid proofing precautions with it. Bernadette and the Piranha aren't the types of kids who would play with weapons for toys, but I like that Gilda keeps the cabinet locked anyways.
The weird shapes on the spines of the books on the bookshelf are to hint that these are spellbooks in a demonic language that Gilda owns. I assume she got many of them from the wreckage of her exploded house. She probably kept those in her CIA Black Ops room, and that and most of her files were probably protected from the blast when Mitch exploded her house in issue three.
I probably could have made Meek's room more Easter Eggy if Twin Peaks had lasted ten years and spawned a ton of DVDs and merchandise. As it stands, I made Meek's room spartan instead, which doesn't actually strike me as too in character.
I made sure Gilda and Meek are wearing their socks as they sit on her bed. I have a "no shoes indoors" policy myself, but they would definitely not be wearing them sitting on Gilda's bed in her room.
Gilda would do better to have more chairs in her room. Having someone else sit on your bed to talk is pretty awkward. Still it shows a bit that they are more intimate than most male / female friends.
I really like the moment where Bob gently but firmly grips Bernadette's arm to calm her down. Say what you will about Bob, and he IS an untrustworthy, unsavory sort. But that moment there says that whatever else he is, he's not ALL bad. There IS some humanity in him.
I am fascinated by the fact that both Dr. Raggleworth and the Piranha aren't more freaked out by Bob the Wizard's sudden appearance than they are. They show fear upon first seeing him, but they quickly roll with it, which is NOT a normal reaction at all, especially since neither of those characters are as adventure-oriented as Gilda and Bernadette are. But stuff like this is probably NORMAL for them, and due to Augatha and Gabrielle, that would probably be true even if Gilda were not in their lives. Julius Raggleworth is not the guy who gets to be outraged that some dude has apparently broken into his home, and he never was.
Another example here of a character calling another a "son of a rat". There is a reason that is one of the main go-to slurs in The Un-Iverse, but it will be awhile before I reveal it.
The Narrator stating The Whahuma Plain is one of the few things Gilda genuinely knows nothing about strikes me as total b.s. on his end. No person knows anything about most things. The idea that Gilda does is almost laughable. I almost changed that line until I remembered that the Narrator is SUPPOSED to be somewhat unreliable by design. But I'm pointing out here that it's bogus.
I love the drawing I did of the Piranha holding up Fuzzy and Scuzzy. It is SOOOO cute. I regret that I usually am not able to routinely make the Piranha as cute as that picture. He should be and would be if I were a better artist.
I also love the crazy look on Dr. Raggleworth's face as he's transporting everyone. I also love that the Piranha is smiling at it.
Speaking of crazy looks, I made Gilda's expression a bit sinister and gleeful while she's punching out and slapping around Augatha. The madcap expression is funny when Doc is making it with the transporter. When Gilda does it while committing violence against Augatha, it's a bit frightening. She is enjoying this far too much. Which has always been Gilda's entire problem with violence. It doesn't come up very often because I always decline to put Gilda in many actual fight scenes. Now you may perhaps wonder if this is why I don't do that. Sort of. It's not the only reason, but it's definitely one of them. If I show you Gilda enjoying beating up people, you'll start to hate her for it. No matter what. So I usually just don't make it an issue.
Funnily enough, even if you got Gilda to admit she enjoys beating up people, I don't think she sees it as a character flaw at all. It just means she is extra good at her job. And part of me agrees with that notion. But Gilda has not always fought for the side of righteousness, so I see the argument against her loving this. We only can forgive her because we're lucky she's now on our side. She's kind of scary otherwise.
I'm disappointed in the Multiverse Void. It doesn't look quite like it does in my head. But what I drew is the closest approximation to what IS in my head that I am actually able to do with my limited artistic skill. I am a little worried about issue three now and the upcoming "Balls-Out Void", but honestly that should be slightly easier simply because I envisioned the Multiverse Void as highly stylized, and the Ball-Outs Void will be closer to my own artwork style (and full color).
I actually was so disappointed with my first attempt that I discarded the color drawing, which is something I never do. I usually make the best of things but I was super unhappy. My problem with the first drawing is that I drew the characters first and the Multiverse Void around them. In the second pass I boarded the Void first and then added the characters and the windows. It's not quite there. But it looks better than the first attempt because I focused the picture foremost on the backgrounds which is something I should have done on the first attempt.
As for the Multiverse Gilda and Meek who are kissing, I had Gilda leaning in and Meek receiving the kiss because in the Universe they are actually a ship, Gilda is the dominant one in the relationship, which is another thing to say that the Narrator's worry of imbalance of sexual power in a ship being lop-sided in favor of Gilda is spot-on. And it totally is and would be in any Universe they hooked up in.
When Meek falls on top of Augatha, I had his nose land smack dab between her breasts. Just for one last indignity for her. What's truly maddening about this for Augatha is that she can't even rightly complain about it later, since Meek was unconscious the entire time, and it was an accident. But the expression on her face is outrage and annoyance for it. Seriously. Dudes suck.
I like the drawing of Augatha ripping off the bottom of her top and Meek's expression upon seeing his hand missing. I redid the final drawing of Meek looking at the stump because I thought it would be more dynamic if he raised it to eye level
The tether was a pain in the neck. I always had to make sure it was ALWAYS on Meek's left hand and Augatha's right. And it was hard to position the characters around each other because I had to keep that dynamic the entire time. In a couple of shots Augatha is pulling her right hand behind her back to make it consistent, but it looks incredibly awkward. I might have even messed up the left and right hands at some point without realizing it. I went over the story a few times and don't think I did, but that's precisely the kind of stuff I always fudge up. I might be wrong.
My biggest regret of this issue is I don't think I always got from Point A to Point B all that smoothly in places. That's always been a real problem for me, but since I did it relatively well for Halloween Adventure, I'm a little disappointed I wasn't able to do it better here. But I wasn't. Oh well. Dems the breaks.
Like One-Shots before it, "Warlocks: Beyond Reality" is probably going to be a long, hard slog for me. It is not my favorite story, and there are other stories I'd rather be telling. And it's five issues long, which makes the slog even harder. But I am committed to trying something this bonkers, and like the early placement of the One-Shots, this is the best section of the story to attempt something like this. If this lives up to my expectations, it will be a miracle. But I want to try it anyways, even if I know better Gilda and Meek stuff is right around the corner.
The saving grace of this five-parter for me is that I am actually using most of the Gilda and Meek characters (outside of the Piranha and Dr. Raggleworth) to tell it. I think One-Shots would have been a LOT easier for me if Gilda, Meek, and Bernadette appeared more often than they did. This is still a Gilda and Meek story, even if it's not my favorite one ever. That means it interests me in a way Howler, The Humans, or Narf-Narf And Chirp do not.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
During the couple of pages the Multiverse Void scene lasts, I put the page numbers in one of the windows on each page. I am going to do a similar thing in The Balls-Out Void, although those numbers will be legitimately hidden.
Linear Notes For Gilda and Meek "Warlocks Beyond Reality: Part Two: The Task" (Spoiler Light)
I personally think the script to this one is phenomenal, even if things seem to be petering out in the last scene. This might be the best written part in the entire five parter. The cliffhanger at the end is probably the most dire I've done so far. Meek beginning his Trek across the Plain unclenches some of that tension, but Gilda and Bernadette are still in a really bad place.
About Augatha's Mumm-Ra firepit: I believed this was the best place to reveal that she didn't create it herself. Tork says that that type of super advanced magic is beyond her, and that she got the firepit for some unspecified trade with the Warlocks' Council. I wanted to say this MUCH earlier in the saga's run, as mentioning the Warlock Council in issue 1 or 3 would be a great Easter Egg for people rereading the entire thing. Unfortunately, it would also be meaningless in the context of the story. You'd sort of get the vague idea that there is a group of people out there more powerful than Augatha, and then forget about it. When the fact that they negotiated with Augatha to hand her her most important and powerful weapon outside of the Gragnock Idols should REALLY worry the reader. I hadn't thought of what thing or favor the Council traded for it to Augatha, when I first wrote it, or even needed to. Just the fact that they did it, should sound alarm bells.
Also, it makes sense it was the Warlocks' Council that created the thing, just because they exist out of time and have been showed, however fleetingly, that they possess this same power. It's kind of obvious, if you think about it.
For the record, since I do NOT think the Warlocks' Council is evil, and that it IS on the side of order, (if not goodness) I'm betting that whatever they traded Augatha for the Firepit, they thought it was necessary, and that giving her that weapon would cause less damage then them not having / owning what Augatha traded them for it. But I don't want the reader to think that when the information is revealed by Tork. I want the reader to think that maybe the Warlocks' Council is playing them all for a bunch of chumps.
This issue shows something interesting about Bernadette and Gilda's relationship: at this point, it is REALLY unhealthy on Gilda's end. What is cool is I'm betting that many readers won't actually think that until Bernadette insightfully points it out. They'll think I'm just doing a cutesy, more antagonistic version of the Gilmore Girls, but that isn't why I have Gilda talk to Bernadette as "an adult". I do it to show that being anti-b.s. is a double edged sword for Gilda. By definition she cannot form normal relationships with people when she tells them everything she is thinking. Meek's kind of a weirdo so they make it work, but as cruel as Bernadette is here, she is also perfectly normal and instinctively knows that Gilda is treating her badly by being so "honest" with her. It's not that Gilda should lie to Bernadette. It's that she should have a filter around her, and not have every opinion that crosses her mind about the girl pass her lips. She's the adult. And she's doing Bernadette no favors by pretending otherwise. I don't think the hip college professor who digs the kids' music, speaks their own language, and relates to them on their own level is actually cool. In reality, he is probably a creep and a perv. Now Gilda is neither of those things, and none of her motivations towards Bernadette are sinister. But I definitely think there should be boundaries in how kids and adults relate to each other. So there.
If there is a sequel to The Un-Iverse, Gilda's b.s. detector being a double-edged sword will come into play again. But even if her b.s. detector IS a virtue, and probably bestowed upon her for being righteous, that doesn't mean that there aren't unfortunate consequences to having it. I think that when it comes to superpowers, it's kind of interesting if there are drawbacks, and even if the detector isn't actually a superpower, that's what I'm trying to get across.
Do you know how Bernadette could REALLY get Gilda to shape up (and spook her at the same time)? Point out that she treats her like The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy does Bart and Milhouse: as a peer. Gilda is SUCH a huge Simpsons nerd, and is also insightful, that I bet she'd be more than a little appalled that Bernadette would be right about that.
This scene also establishes point-blank a fact that will never be deviated from: Gilda and Meek have zero romantic interest in each other and NO sexual chemistry. I'm using this particular story to straight up say it and dash the hopes of any misguided shippers out there. It comes straight from Gilda's mouth and the other person who knows Meek best. There is no ambiguity left.
One other thing I like about the scene: it establishes that both Gilda and Meek are sexual beings. Because I am not interesting in telling the characters' sex lives, you won't ever see either of them in a sex scene (although Alt-Meek gets one), much less one with each other. But this scene pretty much points out that Gilda and Meek could be having sex with each other if they wanted to. They just don't feel that way about each other.
What matters to me about the scene, and is the only reason I think it works, is because as horrible as what Gilda said to Bernadette was, I understand on some level why she said it. Bernadette is being deliberately as cruel as possible, and seems to be talking smack about Meek's utter lack of obvious sexuality behind his back as she supposedly "defends his honor". She just twists the knife with Gilda in a way she has done in few scenes before and since. It is amazing to me that by Gilda saying that nobody likes Bernadette, that Bernadette instantly can declare the high ground. Because nobody who says anything as deliberately vicious as Bernadette says to Gilda here, should ever be able to claim that. And it amazes me that she does. Gilda might have been able to actually WIN that argument if she hadn't gone so far over the line in her pushback. She also would probably give Bernadette less reason to hold a statement like "nobody likes you" over her head the way she does later.
Family Guy once did a particularly cruel Gilmore Girls cutaway, and in it, Lorelei and Rory did their fast talking, finishing each other's sentences shtick, and then proceeded to make out with each other. It was a crass and cruel joke, but there is some truth to it. Not that that is the actual subtext to The Gilmore Girls. That's not it. Not exactly. But people being that in tune and intimate with each other, is something that is appropriate for sexual partners, not parents and children. That joke interests me in hindsight, because that is part of the subtext of Gilda and Bernadette too. Maybe not yet at Bernadette's young age, but it will be, and will lead to further unwanted complications down the road. Gilda treating Bernadette like a peer is not only done to show that Gilda does not know how to relate to children, and doesn't b.s. anyone. It's done to show that Gilda is probably doing untold damage to Bernadette that neither of them are able to appreciate at this point in time. One of the consistent themes for kid Bernadette is that all of the adults in her life are failing her. But I truly believe the biggest failure belongs to Gilda herself. Bernadette would probably not be as messed up of an adult as she sometimes is in the second half of the saga, if Gilda's intimate behavior did not make her feelings towards her outright confusing. As I said, it's a good thing Gilda's motives towards Bernadette are not sinister. Because I'm not sure Bernadette understands that yet, or would even think that type of thing is sinister in the first place. Which is an extremely damaging mindset for a child. It is also a good thing Bernadette outright distrusts so many adults besides Gilda and Meek. Because Gilda is imparting ALL the wrong lessons about them on her. Family Guy plays the idea of mother / daughter lesbians as a joke. In The Un-Iverse, it will actually cause real-life drama and consequences (at least in The Supplements). It's a funny scenario played disturbingly straight, which is the subtext to a LOT of the off-the-wall plot turns of The Un-Iverse. But this is especially strange, because it isn't portrayed as off-the-wall at all. Which makes it all the more disturbing.
I suspect that if Gilda and Meek were a live-action sitcom, Bernadette FINALLY telling off Gilda for treating her like crap would be like the moment in Family Matters where Urkel has had freaking enough and screams at Laura that SHE should sleep in tub instead of him. It would be sustained studio audience applause unlike any other moment in the show. Family Matters, and Urkel, both sucked. Except for that one scene. Everyone remembers it and loves it, and loves how strongly the studio audience reinforced how awesome it was too. Another similar reaction would be when Edith Bunker slammed her would-be rapist away from her and escaped in All In The Family. The studio audience there was pretty much roaring in approval for a few minutes after that moment too. But I prefer to think of this as more the Urkel and the tub rant. Because the subtext here won't bum you out the way All In The Family always did.
I also love the scene where Gilda guides Bernadette out of the torture chamber filled with corpses. In that moment, she remembered she was the adult, and that was the precise moment she NEEDED to remember that. As mad as I am at her telling Bernadette no-one likes her, I cannot dismiss that moment. I personally think Bernadette is wrong for not appreciating it.
I also love that moment, because I sometimes feel like I go a little too far in making sure the reader understands that Augatha has legit reasons to want to rule and protect the world. And that may be so, but keeping a room full of corpses that have been tortured and killed, shows that Augatha is pretty much a total monster. She's a refreshing monster, in that she'll admit it, and be unapologetic for it, but the truth is, despite the fact that Augatha believes her goals are righteous, the fact that she keeps a torture chamber filled with corpses, says that she is personally not. And that interests me, because there are points earlier in the saga where Gilda worries that Augatha is more reasonable than she is. She thinks SHE'S the bad guy in their relationship. And Gilda is right to worry about that, because on some level she is. But the reality is, that this is something Gilda would never do, and has never done, even back in the days when she was evil, and working for the C.I.A.. It would never even occur to her to do this. Gilda sometimes wonders if Augatha is actually on the right side without Gilda being able to admit it. The torture chamber states definitively to me, Gilda, and I hope the reader, that she is not. Not really.
This issue and the last show something very important about Bernadette. It's not just that Meek looks out for and after her. She looks out for and after HIM too. And that is a VERY interesting dynamic, especially since she's a little bit upset Gilda has inserted herself in the middle of that, with no input from Meek's sister. Even if Bernadette has sort of gotten to like Gilda over the course of the series until this point, I kind of think this confrontation was always coming. And it was probably long overdue.
For the record, as cruel as Bernadette is here, I understand why she's mad. Gilda was the one who talked her into going into the dungeon as a joke. Whatever trauma she experienced was do entirely to Gilda trying to relate to her as a peer. And maybe Bernadette is the only one of the two who understands exactly WHY Bernadette is and should be mad about that.
"Big damn hero" was a watershed piece of dialogue in The Un-Iverse. Stubbornly, for decades, I refused to allow ANY swearing whatsoever in The Un-Iverse. It was a rule I started because of how sloppy Family Guy, South Park, and other animated shows for "adults" were with their "hells" and "damns". It was just non-stop, and added nothing. It got to be where it sounded even more cliched and stupid than heck or darn. Here's a good drinking game. Watch the first 50 episodes of Family Guy, and whenever a character says "What the hell?", take a tiny sip of beer. You will be dead of alcohol poisoning within 20 minutes. I knew there were always going to be violent and sexual themes in The Un-Iverse, but I kind of wanted to take the high road with the language. I wanted Gilda and Meek to be considered a cartoon for adults because the sensibility was mature, not because the characters talked like sailors.
But this scene of Bernadette and Gilda did NOT work with "Big dang hero". Aside from no longer being an explicit reference to "Firefly", I don't feel Bernadette is the type of person who would sanitize her language when she is this angry at Gilda. And she is about ready to have kittens. And if I use "dang", I'm not writing the character properly. It hits the ear wrong.
Still, there are a LOT more "dangs", "frells", and "fraks" in The Un-Iverse that any other current adult oriented franchise. Even family themed shows like "The Simpsons" and "Doctor Who" tend to have swears in every episode. And most Un-Iverse stories use the "frell", "frak", and "dang". The "damns" and "hells" are the rarities. When I got into "Lace Doilies" and "The Terran Wars", I eased the language restrictions a bit, but The Un-Iverse still has a very conservative sensibility where the swearing is concerned.
Picture your grandmother being mailed a sex tape of you, and you'll start to understand exactly how mortified Gilda is of the idea of Meek seeing that footage of her beating up Vic Puff. I honestly think on this point Bernadette could have pressed her advantage in the argument, and absolutely destroyed her, by explicitly twisting the knife at how embarrassed Gilda is, but the truth is, Bernadette is NOT actually a horrible person. She just pretends to be. I sincerely don't ever picture her rubbing Gilda's nose into such a sore spot for any reason. Which is another reason Gilda should be treating her better than she does.
"That's what makes it fun," is an essential insight from Bernadette into the thought processes of the heroes in The Un-Iverse. The heroes, even those with dark pasts like Gilda, don't fight bad guys out of a sense of moral obligation to either pay for their sins, or because being a vigilante helps them have a healthy outlet for their violent tendencies. They don't straddle the line between good and evil, and spend each night struggling not to fall into the abyss. It's because kicking bad guy butt and going on adventures is fun. That's it. That's the reason they do it. Gilda and Bernadette often seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders (and often annoyingly act like it). But the truth is they don't actually mind. They find it fun. And generally speaking, it is. There is mischief afoot.
The "Cha" gag is something I always wanted to do, but I could only do it in this story, and this story only. It is an obscure reference to Chairface Chippendale on the cartoon version of "The Tick", whose evil master plan was to carve his name on the moon. But he was stopped by the Tick after only completing two and a half letters. But the reason the gag was so funny is that it occurred in The Tick's second episode ever, and from that point forward, whenever they did a shot of the moon, you always saw the "Cha". Every single time. And I would never do something like that in The Un-Iverse, because doing a joke like that would undercut any potential dramatic moonlit moments. The Tick cartoon could get away with that, because it is entirely a spoof. The Un-Iverse is equal measures drama, so I am not able to commit to the comedy as fiercely as Ben Edlund was able to. But the "Cha" being present for all of the Whahuma Plain's Moon's appearances, is me wishing I sometimes could.
You'll probably be like, "Yeah, right," that Meek correctly remember the "Mother Mercy" spell-breaking oath after Gilda only said it to him once, but that's kind of why I like it. A different franchise would have simply kept Meek and Augatha tethered together for the whole adventure, and have Meek completely forget the oath, and have Augatha refuse to tell it to him. But like Augatha shoving the severed hand down her skirt, part of the reason I subvert tropes is to see what random crap happens after I do that. And this did that at least.
Besides, this was a PRETTY crucial, and yet short spell. There is no doubt in my mind Meek was paying close attention, and that Gilda knew he'd do that, and only had to say it once. He probably also repeated it over and over in his head on the trip over, which we did not see because Meek could not actually say it out-loud himself. It's credible to me that Gilda only needed to say the phrase once.
If Gilda and Meek happens, this issue illustrated something interesting to me, about the franchise's potential fandom. I suspect if female readers are willing to keep reading past "Skeletons" (which is admittedly not a sure thing) The Un-Iverse will have far more female fans than male ones. The shots I take at superhero comics are squarely aimed at the male parts of the fandom, and often I will have pages of conversations between two female characters like Bernadette and Gilda, where either a man doesn't come up at all, or they aren't the actual point of the conversation. And the heroes tend to solve their problems through talking and analyzing the problem rather than throwing super-punches at it. The Un-Iverse being so talky will probably infuriate comic book purists. But I'm betting it might appeal to women more than it does men. Gilda and Bernadette beat the Bechdel test more than once (even if Meek comes up here).
Bernadette telling Gilda she doesn't want to be in the closet is a metaphor that even Bernadette doesn't quite grasp yet. And yet, it is true seconds later anyways, whether she wants it to be true or not. Which pretty much describes Bernadette's upcoming confused adolescence entirely. She doesn't WANT to be, or even thinks she SHOULD be in the closet. And yet she is, even if it isn't her first choice, or what she actually wants. Entirely because of Gilda. We'll talk more about that in The Supplements. But this aspect of Gilda and Bernadette has always been a subtext to their relationship, so don't be too shocked or surprised when it is addressed in the sequel. It's always been there and this is me setting it up.
Scenes like that are why I am going to wind up doing the sequel, even though I hate most of it otherwise. It's kind of a cute joke, but when you read the sequel and then read it again, it's kind of heartbreaking. And stuff like that is WHY I want to do the sequel in the first place. This moment is much sadder that it outwardly appears.
I think part of Gilda believes that deep down she is a terrible person. It doesn't bother her as much as it would some heroes. It's not a chip on her shoulder, or something she particularly regrets. She knows she does enough good for the world to cancel out whatever dirtbag thoughts sometimes crawl into her brain. She believes the situation is what it is, and doesn't overthink it beyond that. But she is well aware that part of her is a sucky person, and always will be. The fact that she almost said "Jealous?" out-loud, to a ten-year-old, who probably has a confusing crush on her, shows that Gilda is probably right about that. Granted, she's a good person because she doesn't actually say it. But it's the fact that she wanted to, and had to stop herself, which is why she is also a bad one.
I like Tork and Brock's conservation that Gilda and Bernadette silently listen to. It strikes me as both politically insightful and politically foolish at the exact same time. While "the 8 year itch" is definitely a real thing for American Presidents, even following beloved ones, he should probably not be taking that fact for granted. Liberals took the opposite for granted in 2016 in our Universe, and we are kicking ourselves for it. While is IS true that Vic is gonna win the election, it strikes me as incredibly foolhardy to make plans for a war assuming he will. Because as politics will tell you, anything can happen. The fact that he's right, and gets that boost is more dumb luck than anything.
I also think it is insightful that Tork realizes that invading a country without an exit strategy is a bad idea. And yet he does it anyways. Because he's supposedly on a clock for a fictitious reason he made up entirely himself to justify it. He believes he has to go through with the invasion because things are THAT dire, and they are in an actual ticking clock scenario. But again, the fact that he thinks they are on a clock, is entirely something conjured up by his imagination. The Narrator kind of finds it amusing that Tork's dumbness here is similar in unlikelihood to the average correct Gilda theory. Except when Gilda makes crazy guesses like that, her solutions never involve invading countries and potentially killing thousands of people. I like the moment that the Narrator is pointing out that listening to an entirely alternate, yet credible, theory to the mystery is kind of fun. For maybe him and the Reader. For the Tahilan natives that might be killed? Not so much.
When we return to Tahila next in the saga, we will see it is currently under Werewolf control, with armed guards patrolling the streets. Perhaps if this scene in this issue did not occur, the reader might assume that it's a recent development. Because of the invasion planned here, I think that it's not.
Maybe if Tork hadn't "died" and told the troops that Gilda was involved with Augatha's disappearance, and that his first guess was wrong, the invasion would have been called off. But as Donald Rumsfeld said, sometimes "Shit happens."
Okay, I am not going to outright say that Rita is right and that she is the secret leader of the Warlocks' Council, and pulling everybody's strings without them realizing it. But it COULD be true, which is why the idea fascinates me so. I cannot help making the women in this saga more badass than the men. The Un-Iverse won't let me.
For some reason, exploring the office politics of the Warlocks' Council is much more interesting than it ever should be. It should not work at ALL, because you don't care about any of the characters. It's like EVERYONE there is Commander Shelby from Next Gen. They are all in each other's way.
But for some reason that fascinates me. Probably because each of these annoying characters has legit powers to back up their ambitions. Part the reason Shelby sucks is that you knew she was only a threat to Riker if Patrick Stewart declined to renew his contract over the Borg summer cliffhanger hiatus. Other than that, Shelby was all bark. But I kind of like the idea of these beings of immense power, who aren't superheroes and do not interact with humanity in that capacity, each try to manipulate each other into doing what they each believe is best for the group. I want to see more of that, while I definitely wanted to see less of Commander Shelby.
Meek calling someone else a freak unsettles me more than if any other character did it. I'd say the Piranha doing it would be worse. But see, the Piranha never WOULD do it. The fact that Meek does Bob here truly jars me.
Similarly Meek stealing a hand from an innocent version of himself from another Universe, is probably the most unethical dirtbag thing he does in the entire saga. But I think that's one of this miniseries' greatest selling points. It's basically Meek and Augatha having a contest over who can be the bigger dirtbag on this mission. And Meek often has a legit claim to that title.
You might scoff that Gilda's b.s. detector never picked up that Bob was a potential secret traitor. Except, it DID. She repeatedly warned Meek that Bob was untrustworthy and likely to screw him over. But perhaps he last remaining hope is remembering the fact that Bob legitimately IS invested in protecting and saving the Multiverse. That is pretty much the one shred of hope she has to hold onto about the subject. And it's all she has. But she predicted something like this all along.
The Narrator asking if Gilda not openly recognizing Brock is a plot hole or significant is fun, because he's spoiling the answer by doing that. He wouldn't have asked that question in the way he did, UNLESS it was actually significant.
For the record, he's also wrong when he says we'll learn what it is soon enough. It's significant, but we never actually say the specific reason it is in the story itself. You kind of have to do a little deductive reasoning to understand it in hindsight.
Tork stating he got the information that Augatha isn't on Earth from the Firepit Guardian means that Augatha has a slate of Red Shirts handy to push into and sacrifice for the Firepit should the need arise. Another thing that says that no part of Augatha actually owns the high ground. We'll find out more about the Red Shirts in a future issue.
Do you know who the Guardian of the Firepit reminds me of? Jasmine from Angel. Beautiful and wondrous angelic being, which ultimately feeds on human sacrifices. Now the Guardian's motivations and deeds are nowhere NEAR as sinister as Jasmine's, who took away humanity's free will, while the Guardian is ultimately helpful. But I like the idea that this beautiful ethereal vision of a wisdom will only appear if someone is murdered in her pit as a tithe to the Church of Her. She strikes me as an actual force for good. Which just needs somebody brutally murdered and fed to her to get the ball rolling. That's kind of ghoulish and great.
Here's a fact that might bum you out. Gilda never learns the secret of the Firepit, or what Augatha traded the Warlocks Council for it. The reader eventually will find out, but Gilda herself never does.
I love that Augatha is frightened by the small bones strewn around the Psycow's lair. Because maybe she shouldn't be. Chicken bones are small after all. But no, Augatha is scared because she has the sneaking suspicion they are children. I personally have the sneaking suspicion they are actually stray Whahuma Bears, but that's not much less creepy, and Augatha's guess is still not out of the question. He could be eating BABY Whahuma Bears.
Meek being handy with a pocket knife probably sounds like a cheat, especially him creating satchels from the skins of the vines. But we never said in a previous issue Meek COULDN'T do that stuff, and when your best friend is Gilda Thurman, chances are she'll want to prepare you for anything. It would feel like a bigger cheat to me if it wasn't possible at all. And it's early enough in the saga that it still is.
Him being able to do it one-handed is far less likely though. I mean, it's possible, but it would be so frustrating and probably painful, that Meek would scream in frustation and just give up. But for some reason he doesn't, which means I either wrote him out of character, or he is stronger than I initially conceived. It's probably both. The again, he IS ambidextrous, so it IS possible at least.
I am a little bit furious that Gilda and Bob didn't think enough to pack Meek provisions for the trip. I don't blame Gilda TOO much, because Bob made this sound like a quick mission, but Bob was way too overconfident when he believed he could transport Meek directly outside the village with no problems. The tether to Augatha also strikes me as problematic, as Meek's mission to trap the bears, would probably have been easier to do with both of his hands free. That there is a plot hole Gilda SHOULD have pointed out, but it's not like Bob was willing to tell any of them the details of the plan before Meek left.
The Soundbreeze Fruits of the tree being delicious sort of puts me in the mind of the Tree of Wisdom from the Adam and Eve. I don't recall if the Bible specifically said the apple the snake gave Eve was delicious, but I imagine it had to be. And it set upon her and Adam's damnation at the same time. Which is what happens to Augatha upon enjoying the Soundbreeze Fruit. But it IS delicious. To die for, as it were.
For the record, Gilda is not actually pondering pushing Bernadette into the Firepit to get more time. The Narrator brings that idea up solely to show how Gilda is well aware that this is her only shot for her entire life. Gilda is not secretly crazy.
I tend to place a value on whether or not the heroes and villains of the saga refer to Gilda as Miss Thurman, or Ms. Thurman. Unlike Bob, who calls her the proper, respectful "Ms. Thurman", Tork is like Lance Lockjaw in annoyingly calling her "Miss Thurman". Unlike Lance, who simply doesn't know any better, I suspect Tork is doing it to try and get a rise out of her. It's not like Augatha and her closest circle never did ANY homework on Gilda. Tork probably know "Miss" drives her nuts.
Bob stating that he is doing all of the things that Derek and Charlie used to do means one of two things: Either he's exaggerating to make himself sound a martyr, or the rest of the Warlocks are SUPER lazy. It's the second thing. The whole problem with the Council is that they never do anything. Bob's the only one besides Charlie and Derek who ever did, so of course he's the guy who has to pick up their slack. He's probably cheesed that those are the two specific Warlocks who died. If it had been two of the lazy ones, he wouldn't be as overextended and exhausted as he is now.
"This is why you need me." Did I ever mention I love Bernadette?
The Psycow having a bowl of the Soundbreeze fruit ready for Augatha suggests one of three things. Either he eats the fruits himself, and is immune from the Three Deaths because he is one himself. Or he always has victims he brings back to his cave, and keeps refreshing the bowl for them. Or the Soundbreeze Tree is described as "Everlasting" because the fruits never go bad. It's probably either the first thing or the third, but I'm leaning towards the first.
UnComix History: This is the first and last time in the entire saga that someone calls Gilda a whore. All things being equal, I think Tork wound up getting off easy for it.
For the record, Gilda comparing herself to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman is probably out of character for her. If there is any movie that could be defined as antifeminist, it is Pretty Woman. But it gave Gilda a good excuse to break Tork's nose, so I let it slide.
Tork's face and shirt should be bloodier than it is after that, and he should be holding his nose to stop the bleeding, but I was trying to use a light touch with the gore in that moment, to truly make his death seem horrific. Sorry about that.
One of my favorite things in the Firepit Guardian scene is that the first thing Gilda asks her, without even thinking, right off of the top of her head, was how to destroy the Firepit. That being the first thing she asks tells me that Gilda is pretty much better at her job than pretty much any demonologist in the field. It's the first place her mind goes to, whereas most demonologists would almost certainly be fascinated by the Guardian, and thinking of various sinister ways to be able to use it themselves. Nope, Gilda's first instinct is to destroy the Firepit because it is too dangerous. Instantly. And I love that about Gilda.
I love the moment where Meek is upset because he's lost his favorite thing to do with his left hand. That will probably be a surprise for people in this franchise. We've done sexual jokes before, but those all involved the villains like Vic and Donna, or people detached to "Gilda And Meek" like Stella Stickyfingers and Narf-Narf and Chirp. It's a surprise and a funny surprise at that. But the cool thing is that is totally fits into the entire sensibility of the franchise, which is the best thing a surprising joke or scene can do. You didn't expect the joke, but it feels natural that it is there. And I love that about it.
For the record, the joke doesn't actually make too much sense, because I always portray Meek as ambidextrous. But it's still funny, if out of character.
I think my favorite thing about Gilda seeing the Mumm-Ra Firepit for the first time is that it is the first time we've ever described this as Augatha's most powerful weapon. We always thought that was either the Gragnock Idols or the Bunny Slippers. But Gilda's shocked and scared reaction to it is a bit surprising. We just considered that part of Augatha's normal shtick. But no, it's actually bad news for the good guys, and Gilda had no idea it was this bad. And since we never made a big deal about the Firepit before this, the reader will be shocked to find out that we actually should have been the entire time.
It's like Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak. Sure, it's amazing. But Harry seems to take it for granted, without recognizing that it does far more than any other Invisibility Cloak we're ever seen described. So it turns out to be one of the Deathly Hallows. The Firepit is the same way. We just figured it was a bit of magic Augatha cooked up. No, this issue and the last say this is Warlocks Council level magic and we start to realize how far-reaching a weapon this actually is. And part of the thing that scares Gilda is that if Augatha DID get this from the Warlocks Council, it means she has more powerful friends than Gilda does. I'm pretty sure Gilda believes she can take on Augatha one on one. But that assumes a level playing field. If Augatha really has this entire organization either secretly on her side, or in some way indebted to her, things just became a LOT harder. And if you consider the fact that Gilda is the only group member besides the Piranha who knows that the U.S. government secretly backs Augatha's bid to take over the world too, and I kind of see Gilda's hope evaporating in that moment. Gilda still thinks they can win. But if the situation is what she believes the worst case scenario is, they probably won't.
One of the cool things about this story is that the most powerful weapons in the story aren't nukes, or missiles, or badass machine guns. It is invariably knowledge, information, and secrets. And that notion is the precise reason a character like Gilda is a credible threat to a supernatural being like Mistress Augatha, and why Augatha having this specific weapon rattles Gilda so much. She is not as superior in intelligence gathering to Augatha as she previously thought. Augatha is basically cheating, but if knowledge is the most powerful weapon, Gilda suddenly feels a lot less powerful. Gilda believes she'll defeat Augatha because she's researched her, and knows her specific weaknesses. And upon seeing the Firepit she realizes for the first time that not only has Augatha done the same to her, but she's probably done a better job of it too, BECAUSE the Firepit helps her cheat. And that IS a blow to Gilda's sureness of victory.
One of the cool things about the raspberry night sky on the cover is that those specific background colors have never been used on an Un-Iverse cover before, so they looks especially striking. I should be differing up the colors on the covers more than I do.
The Mitt Romney thing is the Narrator adding a narrative embellishment to Rita's mindset. Mitt Romney, like most other current politicians, does not exist in The Un-Iverse. I would sort of appreciate the subtext of the joke more if he DID exist in The Un-Iverse, as it would say that he is such a renowned liar, that he is known outside of different Multiverses and timelines as one of the biggest phonies ever. But he doesn't, because I try to keep the politics and politicians separate as much as possible. The allegory works better if I satirizing the situations instead of the actual people.
All things being equal, it's not outside of the realm of possibility that the Warlocks HAVE heard of Romney, despite the fact that he resides several non-fictional Multiverses away. And maybe he IS that renowned far and wide throughout magical history as a liar of ill repute. That's probably *********, but I'm pointing out right now as not outside the realm of possibility. Either The Narrator is being portentous and full of crap (per usual), or Romney is actually known throughout the magical Multiverse as The God Of Lies. And both things seem equally likely when I say them out loud.
One of the things I have always loved best about Gilda and Meek's relationship is that there is zero battle of the sexes subtext built into it. Or so she thinks. Maybe if she saw how much Meek is struggling with going to her for help, maybe she'd see that patriarchal attitudes are as ingrained in him as everybody else. And they seem to be ingrained in everyone, whether we realize it or not. So I don't think less of Meek for that. He'd have to be a monk to never have those kinds of hangs-up about being a woman's sidekick.
Rita seems to believe Gilda is one of the most rational and level-headed beings on Earth. Which is weird, because even if it were true (which is debatable) those aren't the first words I'd EVER use to describe her. Yeah, she is more deliberative and focused on planning than the other heroes. But she sucks at improvising, and sometimes loses her temper at damaging moments. I had Rita think that because not everybody sees everybody else the same way, and it's obvious that on whatever C.I.A. adventure she and Gilda went on, Gilda was a complete professional. What is ironic to me about that is that when Gilda was in the C.I.A., she was pretty much a hot mess and borderline evil. Maybe I'm actually saying Rita is worse than that, but I just established part of Rita's hot-messedness is a performance to manipulate people into doing what she wants. But in reality, it was probably that Gilda WAS a professional on that one mission, and rational and level-headed. Even when Gilda was rash and evil, there was still a part of her that could BE a professional and rational and level-headed. Those aren't skills you can't just learn. You either have them or you don't. And maybe Gilda WAS a torturing scumbag at one point. But Good Gilda was always a part of her whether she realized it later on or not. She could not evolve into who she became if she wasn't. And it's clear Rita saw it during whatever adventure they shared.
Bob using the word "palaver" is the Dark Tower fan in me.
Meek actually planning to steal the new hand from another innocent version of himself shows an essential Meek theme, that I unfortunately believe is probably true of me. Meek is a secret *******. He doesn't want to be, he doesn't mean to be, and he probably doesn't even realize that is what he is. But if you look at many of his questionable actions objectively, that accurately describes him. Completely. Which is almost certainly true of me too without realizing it. Meek is the surrogate character for me who possesses my faults (while the Piranha possesses my virtues). But a LOT of Meek's most Aspergery faults are the kinds of things I am not aware I do at the time, and only realize in hindsight. Stealing a hand from another version of myself in the Multiverse is totally something I would do. That doesn't actually shame me, because it's a fictional scenario that will never happen, but Meek is often a self-loathing ******* in the precise way that I am a self-loathing *******.
I think Bob's idea that the Universe wasn't evil enough to exist, so the Psycow created itself for that reason, is a pretty heady one. This multiparter definitely deals with heady themes.
Bob calling himself Meek's Ace In The Hole was an extremely late addition, but it fit because that is what he is, or at least what he hopes Meek will see him as.
I love the expressions on Gilda and Bernadette's faces as they soundlessly squee at the idea of the castle being evacuated. The "D'oh!" look is great too.
Brock being an American is a clue for something later on.
The Narrator describes Gilda's face as having gone as white as a sheet when she learns Bernadette knew about her beating up Vic Puff, but Gilda's face is actually covered in red fur. This is actually just a narrative flourish on the Narrator's end.
I love that Tork has seen Pretty Woman.
It's interesting that the Warlocks' Council Timestream Black-and-White TV both has old-timey knobs and is something you can use a remote for. It's not simply a mistake, but the incongruities suggest to me that whatever the Timestream Viewer is in reality, it's probably not an actual TV, and that's just the closest approximation to what we can see it as.
The Psycow telling Augatha it isn't a request to go back to his abode isn't scary. What's scary is that she follows him anyways. This is done to show two things.
1. Augatha is too exhausted and weak to fight back against ANYONE.
2. There is now a sense of dread as to what she is in for because she seems so powerless against him. We sort of get the idea in our heads immediately that as frightened of the Whahuma Bears as Augatha seemed last issue, she is following the real threat back to his place. And I think part of her knows that, which is why the scene is filled with dread.
There will be some people who will accuse me of sexualizing Augatha in her ripped top outfit. Guilty. And I love that fact. Augatha is one of my least attractive characters, and I'm dressing her as Raquel Welch in a sci-fi B movie from the 70's. Now a more legit complaint is that she is dressed this way during the horror that follows in the next couple of issues, but Augatha is a horror movie victim in those issues, and the skimpy outfit works for that too. Hate me all you want. But me sexualizing Augatha for this story was quite deliberate. Stay tuned.
Gilda expresses surprise that Bernadette does not chide her for pushing Tork into the Firepit. And Bernadette claims it's pointless to argue against that because he's not going to be dead forever. But I agree with Gilda's surprise over that. Bernadette should be objecting anyways. It's still torture, which Bernadette DOES actually object to. I get that she may have more immediate concerns in that moment than browbeating Gilda for being a torturing scumbag, even after all this time, but it still is a bit surprising she doesn't actually care enough about Tork to even muster THAT much.
Tork taunting Gilda about where the fun would be in telling her what the Council traded Augatha for the Firepit doesn't strike me as particularly fearless. It seems much more likely to me that Tork has simply been through far worse, and knowing that Gilda is about to burn him alive is child's play compared to what Augatha routinely does to him. It makes Tork sound hardcore and badass on the surface, but I personally think it just means he is emotionally numb and broken.
This is something I didn't actually put in the story itself, but I think Gilda actually really personally likes the Firepit Guardian. She probably instantly passes her b.s. detector. And I think part of Gilda is disturbed by how warm and beautiful this bright and sunny woman is considering what has to happen to make her appear. I think the fact that Gilda actually likes the Guardian is something that creeps Gilda out quite a bit. She shouldn't actually like and trust Augatha's greatest weapon against her. And yet, she weirdly does. Which is messed up.
Here is one sentence to sum up Gilda's thoughts about the Firepit Guardian: She is what would happen if someone who spouted Gabrielle's new-age and hippie phrases actually held up to scrutiny. Gilda considers the Guardian Gabrielle done right and honestly.
Plus the Guardian describing her "beauteous honor" shows she has a healthy ego, which is another thing Gilda relates to.
If the Reader doesn't know who Aku from Samurai Jack is, they probably have different tastes than I do, and might not actually like The Un-Iverse.
I love that Bernadette is the one who suggests to Gilda not to ask about Augatha and the Council's history because of the time limit. She is one smart kid. There is a reason I always say she thinks better on her feet than Gilda does.
The Firepit Guardian definitely does not look exactly like she does in my head, but the design is a pretty good approximation. In contrast, Bob the Wizard has NEVER looked like I wanted. I initially wanted his design to echo Groundskeeper Willie on The Simpsons. And there is absolutely none of that here, because I don't have the skill to ape that specific character properly. But his teeth were supposed to be bigger, his eyes more bulbous, and his beard was supposed to stick out more than it did.
Truthfully the main reason it probably didn't play right is because like all Simpsons characters, Willie has an overbite, while Bob was big chinned with an underbite in my head. So it's not like I could just make him look exactly like Willie anyways.
Still, Bob the Wizard's character design gets better and better each time I draw it. I don't love it, never did, and probably never will. But now I LIKE it. Which is new.
We don't see too much of the Psycow's design this issue, but I've always liked it. He looks similar to many cartoon cows I'm familiar with, specifically The Cow from Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, which was a huge influence as far as the art in this franchise goes. What I love about the Psycow is that his front hooves are always in front of his body, and seem to be pressed together in prayer. There is a little bit of a praying mantis to the Psycow out of shadow, which makes him look both demonic and sinister.
I have described Warlocks: Beyond Reality as a Meek tour de force. This is the one issue it isn't. He appears in this issue less than any of the other four parts. This issue is all Gilda and Bernadette's. But he's going to be the main character in the last three parts, particularly the third and fifth parts. Get ready.
Finally, me bringing up the Fixed Point In Time thing is probably one of the most confusing and complex issues I ever bring up. It fits and is right, but any true Whobie will probably have a huge problem with wrapping their heads around it, at least in this franchise. It totally works for The Un-Iverse, but definitely not at first glance, and not without some actual explanation. There are a ton of caveats involved in Fixed Points In Time being a thing in The Un-Iverse. But once I explain them, it totally fits. Here is what is going on and how this works:
On Doctor Who, a Fixed Point In Time is a moment in history that cannot be changed for any reason whatsoever. At all. You change a Fixed Point In Time, and the timestream blows up, and the Universe goes blooey. But how can that be in this franchise? That flies against the entire mindset of the character of Gilda, and the notion that the future is not set in stone, and that people write their own destinies, which is an essential and true Un-Iverse theme.
The key here is the Un-Iverse Multiverse. Parallel worlds are not usually a thing on Doctor Who, so the Fixed Point idea IS actually fixed. But for now, assume that the characters of The Un-Iverse consider The Un-Iverse that we read each issue as Earth Prime. It is the Universe where every single Warlock we have met is from. Ironically, I'm betting not every single Warlock from this Council in history was from The Un-Iverse, But considering how rare Universes containing magic are, they all probably were all from Universes SIMILAR to The Un-Iverse. For the record, it seems to me a pretty safe bet that Eddie Cat, or Eddie Lapinian, or whoever that Chaos Demons originally was, probably did NOT originate in the Un-Iverse. By the end of the story, it is hinted that Eddie has effed up a MULTITUDE of Universes. Ours is just his favorite playground. He is not a local boy.
But the Multiverse means that Fixed Points In Time CAN be changed. Here's how: If something diverts from The Fixed Point In Time, another parallel Universe is created. So Gilda can foil a Fixed Point, but that means she is no longer The Un-Iverse's Gilda if she does that, and resides in a parallel reality. Our Gilda, in Our Un-Iverse, cannot changed actual fixed points in The Un-Iverse itself. She has probably changed fixed points in OTHER Universes, and that's why she's now in The Un-Iverse. The Un-Iverse, as we have seen and witnessed, probably was not created until Gilda created a tangent in another Universe. Which is another thing to show how important the character is to the rest of the Universe. On the subject matter at hand, it's sort of hinted that the rest of The Un-Iverse is in a bit of flux about its destiny, but the Fixed Points cannot be changed without creating a new Universe.
And that seems like a bit of distinction without a difference to me. Gilda CAN defeat Fixed Points, it's just that if she does, she becomes an entirely different Gilda than the one we witness. But if you are Un-Iverse Prime Gilda, that doesn't mean you don't TRY to defeat the Fixed Points. This is where the distinction without a difference comes in. If Gilda succeeds in breaking the Fixed Point, it will not seem to the Gilda that did it that she is in an entirely different Universe. This is why Gilda believes prophecies are b.s.. Because they tend to be made and foreseen for a certain Universe, and if The Universe goes off on an unrelated tangent, the prophecy becomes worthless. It could perhaps be theorized that all of the bogus prophecies we hear Gabrielle and Augatha believing and reciting DID come true: In the Universe they were first forecast in. That does not track with Chaos Theory and the notion that the further away the prophecy is, the likelier it is to come true, but for now, we'll just assume The Un-Iverse is an unusually lucky and rare Universe to have older prophecies be truer than newer ones. It's also probably one of the few rare magical Universes where this is true. The fact that this is true is nothing more than an unlikely coincidence. But the prophecies only being a sure thing in the Universe they were cast in is almost certainly true, whether The Un-Iverse's prophecy accuracy rate beats Chaos Theory odds or not. Which is another thing to say that perhaps The Un-Iverse is not the Prime Universe for these characters. And that SHOULD be true, This is the Universe we explore and care about, but every single Universe in existence in the Un-Iverse Multiverse is equally important and as valid as The Un-Iverse. That includes our real life Universe that we live in, and any other real-world parallel Universes we have never been able to connect to yet. The Un-Iverse is the Prime Universe for this story. But not all of reality. That is why Gilda can change a Fixed Point In Time, and think she's won after doing it, with the other version of her that we witness fails to change anything at all. And the Gilda who wins won't know the difference. Hell, the Gilda who loses won't either. I'm not going to say creating Universes is something Gilda understands that she's doing whenever she foils a prophecy, but I kind of get that she groks the fluidity of the Universe, and it's willingness to adapt to changes to its timestream better than any other character. Gilda is completely right and horribly wrong about prophecies at the exact same time. Whichever it is depends on the Universe the particular Gilda resides in.
The Un-Iverse being a lucky Universe is definitely a thing. It IS a Universe with Gilda in it, after all.
For the record, those previous six paragraphs are probably my favorite essays I have ever done in the Linear Notes. Enjoy.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
The scene of Gilda killing Tork by sacrificing him to the Firepit Guardian was actually deleted for awhile at one point. I got it into my head that if Gilda kills Tork in this specific fashion, it should be the last time he appears, or at least the last time he appears as a Human. And I had some other plans for Human Tork after this, so I cut the scene. But then I realized I was overthinking things. If he tells Gilda he's just going to come back to life again, Gilda is not a murderer for doing that. So instead of me saying that it had to be a genuine sacrifice, I found away around both making Gilda seem horrible, and never showing Human Tork again. I had originally figured that the Guardian would only accept actual sacrifices so Tork couldn't come back. I was overthinking things with the rules of Guardian. Gilda killing Tork is her getting away with using the Firepit on a legal technicality, but Gilda is a freaking lawyer! She lives for those, whether it's intentional at the time or not. So the scene is back. And I'm glad about that. Because the Firepit Guardian turned out a LOT more interesting and funky that she was before I initially deleted her. Plus I actually got her design right which is rare for me.
17. Gilda And Meek "Warlocks: Beyond Reality: Part Three: Like Ewoks On Crack" (Un-Iverse #29)
Rating: This one is a bit tricky. It's TV-14. The MPAA would give it an R rating, because that's what they do, but broadcast television routinely does worse and more explicit descriptions on primetime television.
But to rattle off the few viewer discretion advisories, the story contains frank descriptions of sex, violence and gore, and has strong language and dialogue, drug use, and some brief visuals of sex and violence, including gore. The only thing in the story that wouldn't fly on network television is a single panel of partial nudity, but it might, simply because it is so understated, and doesn't draw attention to itself. You probably won't even notice it. But other than that, this is all stuff that is less explicit and gross than Family Guy.
Linear Notes For Gilda And Meek "Warlocks: Beyond Reality: Part Three: Like Ewoks On Crack" (Unabridged)
For obvious reasons, this was hardest of the five parts of Warlocks: Beyond Reality to both script and put to paper. The stuff with Gilda and Bernadette wrote and drew itself. But the trippy stuff with Meek in The Balls-Out Void was near impossible to write and then draw. I hope it came out okay.
I used color and ink for the trippy stuff in The Balls-Out Void to make it even more jarring and visually interesting. I hope it worked.
I always describe Ralph Bakshi's biggest dud Cool World as "animated diarrhea". It's a crap movie, with bizarre visuals, that melt and float around and never stop, and are almost interesting enough to make you ignore how bad the movie actually is. Bakshi created the visuals spilling out of his pen off of the top of his head, and the improvisational nature of some of the animated things going on in the backgrounds, is as unpredictable and everflowing as diarrhea. That's the vibe I'm going for here too. It's interesting to look at, and it comes bubbling out of Bakshi's imagination as if he's crapping drippy ideas. And it's also a total mess. Unfortunately, Cool World's animated diarrhea does not disguise the fact that it's a bad movie. But it almost does. The trick to this issue is making sure it isn't actually a bad issue. Then people can enjoy the visuals on their own merits, without having to be reminded what a crap actress Kim Basinger is. And that part of Cool World never stopped flowing either. Kim Basinger's role in that movie was to be the enema to the animated diarrhea. She released the diarrhea, but nobody is gonna thank her for it either. And they shouldn't.
For the record, I'm sure many people will think the Whahuma Bears are derivative of Woodland Critter Christmas from South Park. But the truth is that I had come up with Gerf and the idea of insanely evil Ewoks before South Park did. Admittedly, they didn't originally engage in as much sexual debauchery until South Park came along, but the concept itself was not cribbed from them. After South Park, I pretty much HAD to make them a LITTLE sexually hedonistic and violent to at least match the Woodland Critters. I cannot declare these are the most insanely evil creatures in the universe, if the Woodland Critters so obviously top them in every single respect. They at least have to be a little bit equal to them, even if Gilda and Meek is strictly PG-13 and South Park is a hard TV-MA.
I sort of promised myself that I wouldn't actually show on-screen rape and torture for the Whahuma Bears' first introduction into the story. My idea was, "No rape or torture. BUT... Make it in the same ballpark." Make it a foot massage at least.
I ultimately compromised by simply describing all of the horrible things the Bears did, rather than showing them.
Bernadette nuzzling a sleeping Gilda before she herself falls asleep is done to show two things:
1. Bernadette likes Gilda more than she thinks, and for reasons she doesn't completely understand yet.
2. Bernadette is liable to act like a Dog when no-one else is looking.
I think Bob the Wizard got a bit further in Meek's head than he should have. He only did because Meek is an Aspie, but the idea that Gilda purposefully makes Meek feel stupid is outright untrue, and if he were to look at it objectively, he'd realize it immediately. Gilda always, ALWAYS nurtures Meek's intelligence and independence. She is constantly calling him smart and insightful, and the only reason Meek doesn't get that Bob is talking out of his ass is because Gilda isn't there to tell him he's full of crap. Meek definitely cares too much what other people think of him. And when Gilda isn't there, he can be convinced of untrue things. Even about her. Meek is NOT stupid. But he is very naive.
Ironically, I don't think Bob voiced that opinion because he was trying to screw with him. Because he wouldn't have dropped it, if that was the case. He saw it was upsetting him and backed off. I'm thinking Bob just reasoned that there had to be a sinister reason as to why Meek always defers to Gilda, even though he is intelligent in his own right. Because according to him, using people is normal. But I think that even if Bob is right on some level for that (and he might be) that doesn't make it okay. That doesn't make Meek's feelings of humiliation and betrayal less valid. We shouldn't have to normalize the Universe's assholes because they claim that since a LOT of people are assholes, it's common. Even if it is, that's not fair to nice people like Gilda and Meek. We shouldn't have to adjust our niceness for them. We need to demand they adjust their assholishness for us.
This is one of the reasons I am one of the few partisan Democrats who actually loves political correctness. Liberals are afraid to be called out on that, and conservatives hate it, but I embrace it. Political correctness is just another word for what my Mama called "being polite". That should not be considered an unfathomable burden for ANYONE, and anyone who thinks political correctness is a terrible thing, probably has bad values to begin with. As if it is super hard to be nice to people, and unreasonable for society to expect that of its civilized members. It's not. It's actually something society should be demanding. I personally don't think people are usually outraged enough by racism, sexism, and general buttholery. It is NOT something we should be normalizing. Niceness is not too much to ask.
What is UP with Gilda hating Futurama? That's pretty much the craziest thing for a Simpsons fan to hate. All of us love it. Except Gilda. That is NOT her mindset. She can't stand it.
Why? Because objectively speaking, it IS better than The Simpsons. And Gilda would rather break somebody else's bones and teeth than ever admit that. Part of the reason Gilda refuses to argue it is because she doesn't have the winning argument. The past few recent seasons of The Simpsons have been a return to form for the series after literally fifteen years in the wilderness. Futurama is objective proof that the series never needed to be in the wilderness in the first place. And Gilda would rather die than admit that out loud.
Do you know what's amazing to me? There ARE knuckleheads out there who believe Family Guy is better than The Simpsons. But hell, I'll bet even SETH MACFARLANE doesn't believe that. But people this stupid exist.
What is amazing to me about the fratboy buttholes who prefer Family Guy is that they turn up their noses at the amazing television the relaunch has evolved into since its return. They'll swear by those original 50 turd episodes as if they are actually WATCHABLE, instead of one of the bottom ten worst animated shows of all time. I'll entertain a recent Family Guy fan who appreciates the now lavish musical numbers and epic animation sequences. I'll disagree, but I'll understand where the argument comes from. But the people who tend to think Family Guy is better than The Simpsons aren't those people. They're the people who actually think Stewie Griffin sucking Peter Griffin's nipple is funny instead of the single most appalling thing ever put to animation. I do not get these Philistines. At all.
The body odor thing is NOT the only reason Gilda smells bad. She also stinks up bathrooms. If there is a bad smelling vulnerability a person can have, I gave it to Gilda. I image her feet and breath sometimes stink too.
There is a distinct possibility that the Psycow actually comes from The Balls-Out Void, as seen in this issue. But frankly, I wouldn't count on that. That idea seems a bit too pat, which is something the Psycow's origin probably is not.
Pay attention to the Giant Spider-Creature in The Balls-Out Void. We won't see IT again, but we'll see another one of it. Here's a hint: Pay CLOSE attention to the Meek paintball scene. The Balls-Out Void seems to be subtly giving clues as to what the Spider-Creature is about.
Fuzzy and Scuzzy always switched possession in the story between Augatha and Gilda when they did (at the end of the seventh or eight issue of Gilda and Meek, right before The Pontue Legacy). But I never got far enough in the story to address one of the concerns and worries I had about doing that. I basically assumed that if I did that, it might be game over for the characters, and they'd be sort of set aside the way Crusty and Donna Demented wound up becoming. But I still can find ways to use them pretty easily.
Gilda worrying that Meek's mission is taking too long is interesting because she should be HAPPY Meek isn't back yet, since she has yet to find the Dark Idol. It's interesting she would rather have Meek home and safe than Augatha defeated once and for all. But also consistent with her character.
Augatha in this issue is unlike Augatha in any other issue. During this entire issue, Augatha is powerless and at the mercy of someone else. We have never seen Augatha suffering this much for such an extended a period of time. The suffering she endured in the last issue of The Pontue Legacy only took a few pages. Augatha is a genuine, vulnerable victim for the latter half of last issue, and all of this one and the next. By the time this is all over, we will probably feel more sympathy for Augatha than we ever have before. Which is kind of provocative considering how evilly she and Meek treat each other. I do NOT want to feel this bad for a woman who cuts off a guy's hand and keeps a torture dungeon filled with corpses in her castle. But I strangely do.
The scene of the Psycow torturing Augatha as she awakens in the restraint sheet and he force feeds her drugged soup, is one of the scariest scenes I have ever done, which amazes me because outside of the blood bags, it is surprisingly gore-free. But it scares the hell out of me in a way few Un-Iverse scenes do.
I love that the Narrator describes the Bears as "sexing each other". The Narrator is so much fun.
Considering what a manipulative mastermind Bernadette Anderson usually is, I suspect Bernadette's flirtations with Kevin were successful, and Kevin rejected Cheryl before Bernadette in turn broke his heart. For the record, Bernadette Anderson sucks.
The reader might think it is far fetched Meek can do the things he does in the story one-handed with no practice. He's never been portrayed as athletic. But in the back of my head, I've always thought Meek is ambidextrous and has superior hand / eye coordination. He's not the guy who can run down a basketball court and play offense and defense. But he can sink free throws. I also imagine he is great at darts and bowling.
I hinted at this facet of Meek before during his "rocks and bottles" scene in "The Otterman Cometh Back". He'd HAVE to be great at hitting targets if he could have chosen to hit the Otterman bottle on purpose. It seems unlikely Meek would be able to do something like that so well, but because he did, THIS story isn't very far-fetched. And it might be otherwise.
It's weird that Augatha was so scared of the Whahuma Bears a couple of issues ago. She never even encounters them. But the Psycow is a far vaster threat, and even more sinister and crazy than the Bears are, which is a statement. Augatha was right to not want to go to the Whahuma Plain. But she worried about the wrong torturers.
Bob not telling Meek how long the Trek to the Bear Village will actually take so as not to scare him shows he is ineffective at his job. Frankly, it borders on a plothole. But I didn't change it because it's entirely consistent with Bob's odd behavior.
As stern and grumpy as Bob outwardly seems, he abhors confrontation, and telling people things they don't want to hear. That's what his first scene with Rita is entirely about. He seems outwardly scary, but is secretly a people pleaser. He pretends he has authority and command over the situation, but if you push back on him even a little, he'll fold like a cheap suit. And maybe the truth is I fudged up the details of how long Meek's trek would take, and how many oases he would find, and how many supplies he could take with him one handed, without Gilda packing him a backpack. Maybe. In fact, probably. But the fact is that all of these details that I messed up fed into the idea that Bob is secretly weak-willed, and that Gilda is a bad short-term planner.
And Gilda not packing him anything shows she is a TERRIBLE short term planner. This is why she hates Bernadette's forced chaos shtick so much. Because she is personally not equipped for making things up on the fly. So while both of these facts were initially plot oversights because I didn't think the story through, I didn't change them because the plotholes make Bob and Gilda all that much more interesting.
I don't know if the reader has picked up on it yet, but Meek is a VERY different person now than he was before he lost the hand. We saw some of that in the last issue, but he was barely in the last issue, so we now see how fundamentally Meek has changed. He is no longer "lovable 'ol Meek". You know, the one who makes fun of Steve Buscemi's eyes, or fixes Alpo milkshakes, or dresses up like Agent Cooper to throw rocks at bottles, or gets himself beaten up by the Piranha on the promise of 6 bucks from Bernadette. He is also not the alarming version of Meek we were stuck with a couple of issues ago that I call "Victim Meek", who doesn't seem to be able to wipe his ass by himself. This Meek is a sarcastic cynic, always seething with rage. Now he's still autistic, so he hasn't actually gotten more insightful. In fact, considering the positive vibes this franchise routinely sends out towards goodness and ethical behavior, it means he's gotten LESS insightful. But something light and wonderful about Meek died on the Plain, and it's going to remain dead for most of the rest of the saga.
Funnily enough, the innocent Meek who defers entirely to Gilda will make a surprise reappearance in The Terran Wars, ten years after Gilda And Meek itself ends. But we don't know what triggered this particular regression, in the preceding ten years. And it IS a regression. You don't call going back to how you used to act ten years ago growth. The reasons why Meek loses his maturity and sense of independence in The Lost Years will be explored in The Supplements. Here's a hint: Gilda isn't actually happy about this regression, even if it makes ostensibly makes her life easier because Meek follows orders again. And Gilda's ambivalence about Meek refusing to grow up is one of the major conflicts of The Supplements.
The colors on the cover are unusually vivid for me. Since I knew this would be a huge color issue, I got one of those 100 colored pencil boxes from Crayola (which weirdly doesn't contain silver or gold like the 50 color boxes do). I have plenty of silvers and golds left over, but that wasn't a problem. But now the pinks and the oranges I had to choose from lit up the cover in a way it has never lit up. Which made me realize this was the right issue to start getting serious about my colors. Like the sequence in The Balls-Out Void, I also inked the cover, which I hadn't done since "Skeletons". Skeletons' inked cover is highly stylized however, with shadows and thatching. This was the first inked full color Un-Iverse drawing I did in my own style.
The picture on the cover of Meek peeking out from the Crack In The Universe over The Whahuma Plain doesn't actually make much Narrative sense to me. I sort of think The Balls-Out Void and The Crack are separate entities, and The Void is how Meek crosses over The Crack to The Forbidden Dimension. The Void isn't actually IN The Crack. It's the gateway OVER The Crack. That being said, it might seem like it's IN The Crack from the perspective of the Whahuma Plain's side, although it doesn't excuse or justify Meek's face being visible in The Crack in the sky, or the face being as big as it is.
Is it just me or is "Shut up, you fat piece of garbage," a totally disproportionate response to "Picard got crap done,"? I'm not even bringing up a Trump parallel, I'm just showing how unequipped for this job Bob actually is.
I'd probably feel a lot worse about having a leader openly talk to another leader that way if Star Wars hadn't had Princess Leia tell Grand Moff Tarkin that he smells bad in her very first scene. And then she's shocked, SHOCKED Alderaan was blown up. If you ask me, her describing Tarkin's "foul stench" was her asking for it. What the hell kind of ambassador is she anyways? Maybe next time don't say that to the severe British guy aiming the giant death ray at your planet.
Bob tells Meek "No offense" right before he tells Meek he seems like a born sap. You ever notice that right after people say "No offense" they follow it with the most offensive thing possible?
The Warlocks being lazy is an important theme about the supernaturally powerful in The Un-Iverse. The Deities and Gods involved don't like doing stuff. People ask why God lets bad things happen to good people in Our Universe. In The Un-Iverse, it's because stopping it involves quite a bit of effort and paperwork. And the Major Deity of The Un-Iverse thinks people should do for themselves. He will explicitly say in The Supplements "I sent two boats and helicopter." Augatha being such a careful and meticulous strategist is actually an aberration when it comes to powerful supernatural beings in The Un-Iverse. Everyone else does the bare minimum required to save / destroy the Universe. They are not as personally invested in this stuff as she is. She's Leslie Knope, while the rest of the Warlocks Council are Tom Haverford, and Bob is Ron Swanson. And yes, Mole IS Jerry. Even the Narrator has noted that. In The Un-Iverse, The Gods Must Be Lazy.
For the record, I do not count The Narrator as one of those omnipotent deities who is lazy. The Narrator works harder than anyone, including Augatha and Gilda. He is the only character in every story in every issue of every title of The Un-Iverse.
I had a hell of a time trying to figure out why Bob is late for his and Meek's meeting if he can travel in time. The reason I gave doesn't really hold up. The idea that Bob initially was going to the place where Meek's body should be, and then him going to that place a day by day ahead further until he prevented the death doesn't hold up to scrutiny. It's stupid. Which is why it kind of works, and is the only answer that works. He sucks at this. He started at the end place of where Meek's dead body should have been, and is instantly shocked that Meek outlived his expectations. And once he's contacted Meek, he can't go back further than that without damaging the timestream and the timeline. And I love that maybe he would have been there for him the whole time if he had predicted he'd die sooner. Instead his prediction was way late, which means Meek is FAR worse off than he needed to be. I mentioned Bob sucks at his job, right?
Besides, what if Meek had died on the JOURNEY to the village? How would Bob have found him then?
At one point the Narrator calls The Un-Iverse "Our Universe" when he cuts back to Gilda and Bernadette. I don't like doing that. The Un-Iverse is entirely separate from ours and always should be. But the reason I don't always say "Meanwhile back in The Un-Iverse" in this story is because technically, the Whahuma Plain and all of the Multiverses seen in this story are part of The Un-Iverse too, so saying that seems meaningless and unhelpful. But I'd say "Meanwhile, back in the Universe WE know as The Un-Iverse" more often if it weren't so horribly clunky sounding.
There is actually a page with no artwork on it and the entire thing is just Narrator dialogue. I love that I can do that in The Un-Iverse, and I'm betting it won't be the only time it happens. But it's what sets this comic book aside from other comic books for me. Although I imagine there are purists who would hate it, and accuse me of being lazy. I can neither confirm nor deny that theory.
I love that the Psycow enters the room wearing nurse's scrubs. The Psycow is one of those serial killers who knows exactly the best and most theatrical way to terrify his victims. It is not lost on me that the Whahuma Plain seems to be entirely inhabited with psychopaths.
Augatha's torture is much more horrible than I like. But on the other hand, after seeing it, the reader probably wants Meek to rescue her now, which you wouldn't want after what she did to him unless you saw this. And wanting Meek to rescue her not only feeds into the next issue, but explicitly into the mixed feelings the next issue's ending is designed to elicit in the reader.
The artwork is that scene is particularly cruel-looking.
I worry about man on woman violence a lot. But I tell myself the Psycow is gender neutral and identifies as both male and female to sleep at night. But so does Buffalo Bill in The Silence Of The Lambs. It doesn't make what s/he does to women suck any less.
Frankly in the scene where the Psycow is nude you start to see the upper half of his male genitals. But since I did that, I also put small but visible udders on her stomach too to muddy the waters.
The irises in his main eyes were purposefully shaped and colored like nipples to hint there is a salacious aspect of how he sees and treats Augatha. Plus the teats make it looks like his eyes are pointing at her, which is great too.
As for the wings, the Psycow's wings are, generally speaking, impractical for the character design, and I often have to remember to add them on hastily in hindsight. But while she's wearing scrubs and hovering over Augatha, it makes her look like the Angel of Death. Which is how she SHOULD look. So the wings work for this specific issue at least.
I don't think the splash panel of the psychedelic Psycow freak-out is as dark and scary as it should be. That's probably me being invested in trying out my new 50 shades of colored pencils I didn't have before. And even if it might not be scary to the reader visually, it at least looks freaky, which sets up Augatha's terror at witnessing it just as well.
The "Relax. I'm a doctor," line strongly reminds me of Dr. Hartman's prostate exam scene in "Family Guy". And it strikes me as sinister for the same reason. Except that was all in Peter's head, while Augatha seeing the Psycow turn into a monster before her eyes is entirely what is actually going on.
Here is something about the bowling alley in Augatha's Palace that amuses me. I solely set it up here to make a sight gag in The Supplements work. I basically am setting up a one page joke over 60 issues ahead of time. And I love that I do that kind of thing.
I redid the panel of Gilda grabbing Bernadette and ducking under the gunfire. I don't have impossibly high standards for my artwork, but I could definitely make it more exciting than it was. Interestingly, the new panel doesn't knock my socks off either, but there is legit motion and action going on in it, which is enough for me.
I sort of shaped the transporters communicator pins like triangles to suggest the arrowhead pins from Star Trek: The Next Generation. That's where all of the space tech in The Un-Iverse seems to be based upon, so it makes sense to make the communicators the same way.
The Narrator saying Dr. Raggleworth and the Piranha are the kinds of guys you count on for anything, is a great moment for me. It's kind of a cheesy and insipid observation that no franchise trying to keep a speck of badass credibility for their characters would ever say, but that's why I like The Un-Iverse. It's not cynical. It can go for the cheesy lines describing what nice people the characters are. It's the fact that the Narrator is allowed to do that with no irony attached to the statement at all which is why I love Gilda And Meek. Any other franchise would undercut it with a joke at Julius and the Piranha's expense to show that the Narrator is actually wrong. But he isn't, and Gilda And Meek is cool because it's one of those stories that believes he doesn't actually have to be when he compliments a character. And that's refreshing to me.
My favorite image in the Bear debauchery scene at the end is one of the bears drinking the brains out of another Bear's severed head with a cocktail straw and little umbrella. That panel is absolute horrific, but as long as it has that specific gag in it, it still makes me laugh.
Bob says that according to his sources, Augatha has already suffered one of the Three Deaths. Sources? What sources? Show your math, Bob. Plothole.
The Psycow saying that he smelled Immortality in Augatha's veins and is saving his bite for a special occasion is similar nonsense.
The page numbering got messed up in a few places.
Considering how much effort I put into it, and how proud I am of it, I am well aware that The Balls-Out Void is actually nothing special. I am aware of that. The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and Beavis and Butthead each did their own versions of psychedelic acid head-trips, and they were all freakier and more interesting to look at than The Balls-Out Void. But what differentiates the Balls-Out Void to me is that as freaked out as Homer Simpson and Brian Griffin, and everyone else are by those hallucinations, they ARE just hallucinations, and not actually happening. I don't think every single thing in the Balls-Out Void is literal. I imagine there are certain aspects of it too bizarre for Meek to rationally process, and the Narrator just shows us the nearest real-world equivalent to what Meek is seeing and feeling. I'm pretty sure the Freaky Bees that eat honey off of Meek's shoes are neither Bees nor actually eating honey. But it was my idea that they are the only thing in the Void that Meek cannot process. Not every single thing is literal. But I estimate we witnessed about 90% of what we saw actually happening to Meek. Whatever the Bees and the honey are, they strike me as unusually sinister for that reason.
The torture of someone's body melting, and turning into twisted shapes, and becoming deformed, is a nightmare in all of the other animated acid trips I've seen. For Meek, all of the torturous things that happen to his body, actually happened. And the worst part is it doesn't kill him. I'm am sure there was definitely a point where the agony of melting into a puddle of his own vomit was so bad, that Meek simply wished he was dead in that moment. THAT is the thing that distinguishes the Balls-Out Void from previous similar scenes to me.
Time to talk about the origins of the creatures in The Balls-Out Void.
The Shell-Footed Tortoise and The Evil Tank And The Doomed Dog were both in a bonkers drawing I did as a kid. I don't still have it, but I considered that drawing I did when I was 17 the single best piece of artwork I ever did, until I drew Gilda And Meek "Skeletons" over 35 years later.
The artillery shell the Evil Tank fires comes out at a crooked angle from where the gun turret is point. Another demonstration that I am a terrible artist.
The colors for the Tortoise and the Tank are quite vivid considering I drew the original drawing in black and white. But I think those were always the crazy colors in my head.
The Balls-Out Void Spider-Creature was also based on a weird (separate) drawing I did as a teenager, but I can't get into that drawing's origins without revealing some major spoilers for the rest of the saga. For the record, the Spider-Creature we see here is a LOT more elaborate than the one in my drawing, which is something that is NOT true for the Tortoise and the Tank. In the drawing, the creature was merely a "demon" and I evolved it to a Spider here to fit into the mythology better. But again, I can't really get into that without spoiling a major thing. This is not the only Giant Spider-Creature that exists in The Un-Iverse. Not by a long shot. We will see another one much later on, and we'll understand their origins better. The Spider-Creature is the only thing in the Void relevant to the rest of the Un-Iverse Mythology. It is one of those "Hindsight Easter Eggs" the saga is famous for.
Do not ask me where I came up with the Oobi-like hand-creatures named Johnny Whawney And Johnny. I will never tell you. It's embarrassing. What I will say is that I came up with these creatures the same time and place I did for the names "Augatha" and "Tork". Augatha wasn't always named Augatha, but when I decided to change her name, I gave her a name I came up with elsewhere, when I created Johnny Whawney and Johnny. But that's all I'll tell you.
The Freaky Bees, The Rat Attack Rat and his Moll Girlfriend, and the Luck Worm all appeared to me in dreams. The Rats and Bees ones occurred when I was a kid. Ironically the Freaky Bees in my grade school dream were neither freaky nor sinister, and I remember waking up laughing upon having that dream. Just the idea of them licking honey off a couple of burglars' shoes struck me as hilarious. They were actually cute and funny, but I distorted how I actually dreamed them here.
I probably should have used printed type for Meek laughing "Tee Hee Hee!" as they lick his shoes (for consistency), but it was 100% legible, which is unusual for my handwriting, so I didn't feel the need to change it.
The colors of the Evil Freaky Bees' eyes are reverse from Klawranians. Klawranian have yellow irises, followed by orange, then red whites in the eye. The Evil Bees irises are red, and the whites are orange, then yellow.
The Rats are very similar to how I dreamed them, although I added the Mechanical Cat for an additional obstacle. It wasn't in the dream. Frankly, it reminds me a bit of the robot cat from Chip 'N' Dale's Rescue Rangers.
That dream is the specific reason there are both a ton of Rats in the background in The Un-Iverse, and why I came up with the notion that Rats are the smartest Proper Animals in the saga, and have their own sophisticated society going on in the background that the Terrans in the story ignore, either because they aren't aware of the signifcance of it, or the significance of it worries them, so they think about something else instead. Basically the Earth Terrans in The Un-Iverse are the Fraggles, and the Rats are the Doozers. Neither objects to the other, but they don't want to get too close either. Each makes the other uncomfortable.
The fact that Gilda allowed the Rats in her law office the leeway she did is another thing to suggest that Gilda is one of the few characters in the story who truly groks that all animals on The Un-Iverse's Earth possess a large degree of sentience. Both Hank and Stella Stickyfingers are Vegetarians too, but neither was an animal rights activist in college the way Gilda was. But Gilda lets the Rats infesting her office do their own thing, whether it's cockfights or multiple suicides by hanging. And partly because as deviant as the Rat society seems on the surface, it should still be allowed to exist. We usually witness the Rats do nothing but pervy and unethical things, but Gilda's perspective is that their society should be allowed to make those mistakes, and answer to themselves for the consequences of them. Which is another cool thing about Gilda. It's especially cool because Gilda has OCD, and on some level Rats in her office probably drive her cleanliness compulsion over the edge. But it's to Gilda's credit that she'll live with her discomfort, rather than harm an animal, especially animals as people-like as the Rats are.
As for The Luck Worm, that is singularly unique in all of the crazy characters introduced in Warlocks: Beyond Reality. That occurred to me in a dream less than two years ago, and it's the only dreamlike thing in the miniseries from when I was an adult. Everything else weird was from when I dreamed weird things in grade school, or drew weird things in high school. There is a lot of The Graboids or the Sandworms in The Luck Worm. Except it's a LOT bigger, exists in space, and can be ridden by someone who tames it. I don't tend to write down my nightmares, but that was a cool, interesting nightmare, and I woke up glad I had it, which is pretty much the only nightmare I've had where that was true. The image of the creature bursting through a rock from below in space was so memorable I still can picture it in my head. I forget almost every other dream I've had as an adult. The Luck Worm (named after the Luck Dragon in The Neverending Story because Meek rides and hoots and hollers on it) is the only dream I've had as an adult that I both remember and both think was actually worth anything.
I feel the Luck Worm is too small here, but he needed to be small enough that you could read Meek's elated expression as he rode it. In my dream it was the size of a building.
The Spider-Creature is also too small, if I'm being honest, but that's a years from now problem.
I declined to put a Blip in the Balls-Out Void. I always put the Blips is super important scenes for the canon, even if it would be easier to hide elsewhere, and as freaky and cool as the Balls-Out Void is, it's not an important enough moment for the Blip to be present. What I did instead is hide the page numbers around each of the pages of that scene. There are still Easter Eggs, they just aren't Blips.
The hardest part of the Balls-Out Void for me is that I decided to attempt it completely without the Narrator present. He is my crutch for bad artwork. So with him gone it means I had to step up my game a little. I think everything reads all right, but I'm not sure.
The second reason I didn't use him is because I wanted the stuff in the Balls-Out Void to be unexplained, and have no rational explanation. The Narrator is always making excuses for the insane things in the story, and in this one thing, I wanted the insanity to stand on its own. The fact that it raises questions that the Narrator doesn't answer for once is deliberate and is why it is unlike every other Un-Iverse scene, even if it's inferior to other cartoon head trips. It's the fact that the Balls-Out Void speaks for itself without the Narrator trying to justify it which is what makes the scene cool for me.
The Void was more detailed and insane in my head, but I decided NOT to put ultra detail in the drawings the way I did "Skeletons" because I wanted this particular art style to still be recognizably Gilda And Meek. The different art style in Skeletons is meant to jar the reader. I want the reader to enjoy the Balls-Out Void. It's not as freaky as other similar freak-outs but it is unlike every other Un-Iverse scene which makes it special to me at least.
The name of The Balls-Out Void is a bit of a misnomer. Too much crazy crap goes on and exists in the space to accurately be described as a "Void". But that's the name that sounds best. Sort of how the Idols of the Gragnocks are not, strictly speaking, Idols.
This is the weakest cliffhanger of Warlocks: Beyond Reality. The story just suddenly stops and there isn't even really a huge tension when it does. It's just a bit confusing. But the truth is The Balls-Out Void is confusing, and the ambiguous ending makes it even more-so, even if just for this issue. The cliffhanger kind of sucks, and is unsatisfying. But it's confusing and doesn't answer the questions, because that it the correct vibe following The Balls-Out Void. So here we are.
I have to say, that all things considered, the miniseries wound up being a LOT darker than I initially planned. It's not worse because of that, but it's definitely less fun than I had hoped.
After all is said and done, I was super worried about this issue mega-sucking. It doesn't. It's passable. Yeah, if I were a better artist I could make it look more bonkers and detailed. But it DOES look sort of bonkers in my art style anyways. The reason I am satisfied with it is because I believe the reader will be able to tell visually what is going on. If you couldn't understand what Meek was suffering through without the Narrator explaining every last detail, the issue doesn't work. But I think all the weird stuff reads. I do. I'm not just saying that to comfort myself.
I was actually planning for this issue (and therefore this miniseries) to be a dud. I hoped not, but was planning to accept it if it was. I have better stuff coming up, and I've done better stuff before, and we're far enough along that the reader will forgive this more easily than they would have if say, "Skeletons" had sucked. It pleasantly surprises me that it doesn't actually suck. And not just because the rest of the story is better than Cool World.
I thought there was a large chance Warlocks: Beyond Reality would be The Un-Iverse's Cool World because of this issue, and it's not. It's not great, but it's not unsuccessful either. It's not Cool World. More like Space Jam. Not great, but the franchise has done worse, and it has Bill Murray / Bernadette in it, so that part's okay.
The whole miniseries was based on various dreams and visions I've had growing up, and I fused them all together in a single Narrative. It's not just The Balls-Out Void that was based on subconscious visions. It's the Whahuma Bears, the Three Deaths, the Psycow. All of these things and the story itself were intended to be very dreamlike and not actually make logical sense. There are more plotholes in this miniseries than average, but because the entire thing makes little sense anyways, you'll either forgive them, or not even notice them. This was the killer issue in the miniseries for me, and the fact that I survived it and am not embarrassed by it is a really good, unexpected feeling for me. I'm proud of this issue.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
The Deity Holy Clone War is like the DC Animated Universe's "'Near Apocalypse of '09". It's tantalizingly referenced several times in The Un-Iverse, but we know frustratingly little about it. I will get around to telling the story eventually. I can't tell you what the war was fought over yet, but I can tell you SOME things about it, and some of the players now. It occurred chronologically in 1990. Augatha was not actually in the war, but she and Tork played a huge part on the sidelines. It could be argued Augatha was the catalyst, in fact. The war was actually the time when Augatha traded something to the Warlocks' Council for her Mumm-Ra Firepit. It started on Earth, but quickly moved elsewhere, which is why few Terrans have actually heard of it. Both the Warlocks' Council and The Whahuma Bears were involved, as was a specific Un-Iverse Deity (NOT The Narrator). Gilda was only 8 years old at the time, so she didn't even know the war existed. But the war changed her completely, despite her being unaware of it. It could actually be argued The Universe started the war on HER behalf, and not Augatha's. In an alternate timeline, Santa was involved in the war and died, as was the Golden Hammer, who did not. Santa and Hammer were not involved in the one in our timeline. The Warlock traitor Derek was NOT actually killed by the Whahuma Bears as Bob claimed to Gilda in a previous issue, and the circumstances under which Otterman came upon his body in New York City are as of now, unknown. I can tell you these things. But that is ALL I can tell you until The Supplements two part story "Warlocks: Beyond Reality: The Trade".
Well, one more secret about it: We will learn the Secret of the Universe during it, and it is a secret that Gilda herself probably could have guessed in hindsight.
Linear Notes for Gilda and Meek "Warlocks: Beyond Reality: Part Four: The Three Deaths" (Unabridged)
This is easily the shortest part of Warlocks: Beyond Reality. Because I am not the type of writer to pad things out. So here we are.
Unfortunately, that also means this is the one part I worked on least to get right, therefore it's the worst. But I did not feel deep down that this part had enough going for it in the outline to put in more of an effort than I did. Kind of sucks, but that was my actual reasoning.
The title "The Three Deaths" is very misleading. Augatha only suffers one of them in the issue. But one of the five parts needed that particular title and the other parts' titles were already great. So it falls to this issue, even if it's now slightly inaccurate.
I should point something out. Eddie was wrong about something. He told Vic that the only person Vic should truly fear is Gilda Thurman. But the truth is Bernadette Anderson is FAR scarier, and the far bigger danger to Vic. Eddie has no way of knowing that, (they haven't really met yet outside of Eddie giving her a fruit basket in the fourth issue) but I want to point out that Eddie is not as wise and all-knowing in this scene as he thinks he is. Which also describes Eddie in general.
I kind of love that Bernadette doesn't push back at Gilda grounding her for a month for seeing "Pink Flamingos". And she totally could have, I think. But I'm guessing she realizes that Gilda has FAR more set limits about appropriate behavior for children than Meek does, and she's not going to push her luck. She probably considers every single time Meek dropped the subject as a gift, and that Gilda's response is actually normal. Lesson learned. It's not like she isn't a bookworm anyways. As she noted in "Destiny's Prisoner", "No TV" is a punishment she can handle.
Spoiler alert 1: Bernadette DOES eventually find out about Saved By The Bell and OK Soda.
Spoiler alert 2: Gilda was right to fear that.
Gilda refuses to give Bernadette The Talk for any reason. This is another way she is failing her as her authority figure and role model. This failure will continue in The Supplements.
Why does Gilda refuse to do this? It's not that she's embarrassed, or a prude, or ashamed of her body, or thinks sex is bad. It's that she knows she'd have to reveal personal details about her sexual history to Bernadette to answer the questions properly. And that will not happen in a million years.
The fact that the last scene of Meek saving Augatha takes place two hours later from Eddie's meeting with Vic is significant. I did that for a very specific reason.
"This is why we can't have nice things," pretty much sums up the ending of Meek and Augatha almost kissing. It was never actually gonna happen. But I like that it almost did.
I especially like that moment because the Narrator is basically making a tasteless meta joke in the middle of one of the saddest and most tragic things I have shown so far. It's not that I don't take the situation seriously. It's that there is so much wrong to unpack in that single panel, that the Narrator is basically throwing up his hands and simply saying, "That sucked" rather than do his usual deconstruction for The Reader. And it DOES suck, and he doesn't really need to say anything more than that. But part of me likes the fact that one of the most horrible scenes in the entire story is structured as a sight gag. I think by doing that, I have made it one of the darkest and most subversive things in the entire saga.
I also like it because now it makes Meek pushing her off the cliff seem like a total dick move, and a genuine betrayal. It makes Augatha completely sympathetic in that moment, and possibly for the first time ever. Which was precisely what I was going for, to show that this story is not just Augatha treating Meek like crap, it's the other way around too. The entire story is basically the pair of them treating each other violently and horribly.
I also like the near-kiss, because it sort of gives Meek doing that a domestic violence subtext. Which SHOULD be true. It is doesn't matter that Augatha is physically stronger than Meek, it is still an example of a man committing violence against a woman. So I wanted to be sure that the statement I was making with that action is that Meek is a total ******* for it. Men committing violence against women in fiction always makes a statement. I wanted to make sure that this example makes the right one. And the near-kiss means it does.
There is so much going on in that moment, and more than I ever planned. It's truly appalling that Meek pushes her off the cliff, and the reason I think he did it makes it even more appalling. He WAS about to back out of the plan. He was NOT going to go through with it. And then he starts feeling conflicted sexual feelings towards Augatha. Meek is on the spectrum, but I think he was unusually disturbed by how intimate his encounter with Augatha just turned. Meek is often (maddeningly) intimate with Gilda, but she is the only woman he is ever physically close to, and there is a safety in that, because Meek is completely unattracted to Gilda, and nothing will ever happen. There is no danger of things getting confusing for Meek with Gilda. I personally think this is the closest Meek has ever gotten to a woman he was not involved in a romance with besides Gilda. And the reason Meek felt so alarmed is because his feelings were turning romantic in spite of himself.
And that's unbelievably wrong for this particular situation, and he knows it. Augatha is the poster girl for the battered horror movie victim in this moment, and her sort of seeing Meek as her heroic savior sort of put an incredibly distasteful feeling in Meek's head about his suddenly ill-seeming intentions, and Augatha's unrealistic expectations. He felt guilty for feeling aroused at Augatha's state of undress and physical tenderness with him, and the guilt freaked him out. I think the reason he pushed her is because he would have kissed her if he didn't. He was simplifying the situation. The only justification he has in my mind is that this was always the plan. But he wasn't going to go through with it. Until he caught feelings and wanted to immediately end the encounter on a completely unambiguous rejection. He was casting the die by doing it.
As horrible and abusive as Meek is for doing that, part of me gets it. I would NOT like to have to explain making out with Augatha to Gilda, and good Lord, can Gilda throw epic judgmental shade about stuff like that. Gilda is the woman in Meek's life who never judges him for his sexuality (or apparent lack there-of). I don't think he could bear the idea of that changing for any reason. I hate him for it, but I also understand it.
The scene has so many awful layers to it that you aren't quite sure whose side you are on by the end of this part. And the fact that Augatha is a genocidal monster, and Meek is the hero of the book should make the reader feel incredibly uncomfortable, especially because what Meek just did is not out of character for him at all. And we probably only realized that upon him doing it, precisely for the reason he did it.
It saddens me and makes me hate Meek, especially since I tend to use him as my surrogate in my stories. But any time I am able to show visible flaws with Meek, I jump at the chance. Figuring out why Meek's thought processes often suck, helps my own thought processes not suck. And this scene is an example of that.
I don't do a lot of "gray area" or moral ambiguity in The Un-Iverse. This scene, and much of the rest of Warlocks: Beyond Reality, is one of those rare exceptions.
I personally think the worst thing about the scene is that the Narrator had been previously setting the scene with Meek's inner monologue. And just based upon it, Meek knows exactly how wrong it is before and when he does it, especially after witnessing the things that happened to Augatha that he did, and does it anyways so he doesn't have to deal with his feelings. It's like anyone else who witnessed the specific violations that Augatha suffered would be thinking furiously of another way out. But once Meek catching feelings there is no other answer for him and there never was. Maybe Augatha isn't the only one in this saga who lacks imagination.
This is one of Meek's worst showings in the entire Un-Iverse. He won't get another moment this dickish until The Supplements.
I think the one thing I REALLY like about that moment is that I had the Narrator describe what is happening as if it's fanfic shipping those characters. It's the one genuinely funny thing about the scene to me personally. But it feeds into badly written romance novel cliches on purpose. The way the worst shipping fanfic does.
I don't know where the hell I got the insane idea to turn that scene into a romance, but it makes it a LOT better because it is. It's an outright crazy idea, that is just crazy enough to work. The scene is fantastic because of it.
I wonder if the Reader will recognize the "WAUGH!" moment in the last panel. It is a direct lift of a last panel of a memorable early Calvin and Hobbes strip. In it Calvin and Hobbes are fishing, and Calvin spends the first three panels annoyingly grousing about how boring fishing is, and how nothing exciting ever happens during it. The last panel is Hobbes smiling, while sticking out his arms as Calvin is splashing in the water due to being pushed, And "WAUGH!" practically overtakes the entire panel. That's where the moment is from.
I love that because honestly, the moment in Calvin and Hobbes is hilarious. It's surprising, and the last thing you expected, and after reading it you couldn't expect any other reaction. Which describes this scene too. But...
Meek isn't pushing a guy friend into a lake. He's pushing woman off a cliff. It's ending the story on the same joke as Calvin and Hobbes in a scenario that isn't actually funny if you look at it objectively. It is designed to make the reader squirm a bit. There will be some readers who WILL find it funny. The Narrator's reaction is for them. But there are gonna be a ton of readers who are a bit disgusted at both Meek and me for having the character do that. Here's the trick: I WANT the reader to be pissed at Meek. I don't think this is Meek cleverly winning the issue. I DO think he sucks, and I personally judge him badly for it. I'm not subversively saying Meek is a good guy for doing that like Hobbes was for putting an end to Calvin's nonsense. Not by a longshot. Some people will laugh. But those who don't? I want to assure them I sympathize more with them than the people who will laugh.
For the record, no judgments from me if you actually find that funny. I honestly cannot predict how that moment will be received, and I don't think finding it funny is an illegitimate reaction. It's boarded like a gag, so that may be the proper response. It's the subtext which is sickening. But if you laugh at it, I won't think less of you.
I drew Meek's expression absolutely blank in the last panel because it's a better cliffhanger if you don't really understand what he's thinking. It's my opinion that it's absolute regret and guilt, followed by disgust at himself for feeling guilty for hurting somebody who has caused him and Gilda nothing but misery. But you don't get that from the blank autistic look. Which is how it should be.
Most of the Blips in the Un-Iverse are not very hard to find and are hidden in plain sight. The one in this issue is one of the trickiest. If you are good at finding this kind of thing, you eventually will, but he is definitely not just standing off to the side as he usually is.
The Narrator explaining to the Reader WHY there is not a second trip through The Balls-Out Void reminds me why the concept of the Omniscient Narrator is so amazing. But even Arrested Development's Narrator never deconstructed the story for the viewer while it was happening. I get why too: To keep a level of reality to the Bluths. But because of the concept of The Un-Iverse's Multiverse, I can actually have the Narrator share my process with the Reader at times, to explain why things are happening in a certain way. And I like that about The Un-Iverse, and think that makes it singularly unique among fiction.
The rules for how the Dark Idol can revive Augatha from across dimensions and yet be no help at all when someone else possesses it, are kept deliberately murky and ambigious by me. It's not that I couldn't come up with an explanation that fit, it's more like that if I did that, it might box things in in the future. There is probably a logic to it. But it might hurt the long-term health of the story to definitively explore what it is. Gilda's guess may be right or wrong. But I'll never say for sure in case I change my mind.
Here's another sad truth: The times the Dark Idol lights up in response to Augatha's various deaths IS inconsistent, and has a ton of holes in how it works. But if Gilda doesn't understand it either, it's almost okay that it doesn't hold up in the Narrative either. Almost.
The Psycow mentions zombies, vampires, and Kamma. What are Kamma? Un-Iverse created Demons that we will meet in the sequel.
Eddie saying he has an investment he needs to protect is significant.
I am very glad I had Eddie clarify that Powder is innocent, definitely good, and doesn't have a hidden agenda. Frankly, it wasn't always the case in my mind that Eddie put the idea to contact Vic in Powder's head, and was a late addition as I was writing this story. But it sort of makes the things that happen later seem perfect. Frankly, I'm a bit miffed at myself for not coming up with it sooner.
For the record, when Eddie convinced Powder to meet his father, he certainly shapeshifted into a completely different guise. Mitch and Ryan don't question it, but if they were smarter they might have. This suggests either one or both of them are unaware that Eddie Cat is actually a Chaos Demon.
Gilda instantly knowing the dark feelings the Dark Idol was instilling in her were completely messed up, and dropping it as soon as possible, is one of my favorite things about Gilda. That's Gilda taking responsibility for her own actions, which is the last instinct of people who touch a dark magical object that makes them feel powerful. I'm not just subverting that trope. I'm saying that if the character who touches the object had either a lick of common sense, or a sense of personal responsibility, they'd instantly drop the object. In real life, there is no such thing as an object that can drive a person mad. Gilda is me proving that once and for all. Speaking of which:
"I am responsible for my own actions." That is me deliberately thumbing my nose at the mind control trope. This is Meek making a deliberate choice not to fall for the oldest trick in the book. And that is how it actually should be. It annoys me that isn't the default setting for heroes.
There is a little bit of the Tree Of Wisdom in the Soundbreeze Tree, although Meek has far more integrity and will than Adam and Eve. I actually dislike the Adam and Eve parable very much, and my dislike for it will be explored in this franchise somewhere down the line, but Meek is what would happen if Adam and Eve never trusted the snake and believed in themselves instead. And that's why Meek says the mantra to himself he does.
There should be dead bodies around the Soundbreeze Tree to hint at its victims, but there aren't. And yet, there are many bones in the Psycow's cave. Perhaps these two things are related.
"Trumped-up email scandal". Do you like that? Sometimes I regret The Un-Iverse is not subtle. That joke is not one of those times.
One of the coolest things to me about Meek's attraction to Augatha is that Augatha is, all things considered, a very ugly-looking character. I've hinted before that Meek is a very superficial character, and that's part of the reason he isn't into Gilda, but just the fact that he finds something sexually compelling about one of the least attractive characters in the entire story, suggests that he is far less superficial than we had been ever led to believe before. FAR less.
The "Just between us girls" line is to show that the Psycow's sexuality is far from fixed. He's referred to as a he, and yet he also shares more design elements with cows, rather than bulls. But I always picture the Psycow as a hermaphrodite who identifies by both genders.
Victor Charles Puff. Why Charles?
It's my middle name and my father's name. It is also one of those middle names that makes a strong name sound even stronger when you put it in the middle of it. Victor Charles Puff sounds more impressive than Vic Puff.
But the truth is, I also sort also picked it because I wanted the reader to perhaps theorize that he was named after Charlie the Warlock, who saved Vic and The Mother in "Skeletons". Clearly, this is not the case, as the word "Charles" was nowhere NEAR the note The Mother left Ruth Puff. But I like to think that if Vic asked a present day Mother where the middle name came from, that's what she'd tell him. It's crazy that the name that simply makes Vic sound severe, is a perfect tribute to the man who saved his Mother's life. And it's actually coincidental. But as far as The Un-Iverse goes, there ARE no coincidences, and everything happens for a reason. And maybe the Universe named Vic Charles as a way to try and remind him of the best kind of person he can be. Which makes Eddie Cat being the one to call him that in this issue super ironic. Eddie Cat is, generally speaking, evil and his goals are malevolent. But his feelings towards the people he's met and known over the years probably are not. I can sincerely see Eddie calling Vic that on the Eve he's elected President solely to hint to Vic that he needs to be his best self when he assumes this role, Conduit destiny be damned. Which shows that Eddie's actual feelings about being a Chaos Demon seem to be in direct conflict with his actual goals. It amazes me that he is as successful as he is with that handicap he's restricted himself with for no reason other than sentiment. I shudder to think of an Eddie Cat with no conscience or restraint. We'd probably be screwed then.
I got the idea of Meek convincing Augatha of his reality by pointing out that Gilda would make a better rescuer than him from Buffy The Vampire Slayer's best episode, "Becoming, Part 2". I love that episode, but it always bothered me that Xander says something like that at his own expense, and Giles just agrees, and validates how worthless he thinks Xander is. It's supposed to be funny, but considering Giles is being rescued from torture, I don't think it is. The scene isn't even played like both of them are joking and bonding over the joke. Giles is far too spent and weak than do anything but declare his rescuer a worthless sack of crap. It's much less funny to me than it is supposed to be. I kept the idea the same, but Augatha doesn't actually insult Meek, and it's Meek honest self-appraisal about how unequipped he is to protect her which is the thing that convinces her to trust him. She didn't believe Meek because he proved he was a loser. She believed Meek because he proved he was honest. There's not much wrong with "Becoming", but I tweaked that little thing.
We don't actually specify if Mitch, Ryan or Eddie Cat have been smoking in the dark conspiracy room, but because it's a dark conspiracy room, it's smokey whether any of them actually smoke there or not.
I actually had to look up how to cure someone O.D.ing on coke. An IV bag of benzodiazepine is actually quite a boring remedy compared to the needle of adrenaline in Pulp Fiction, but Vic's a cokehead so needs to be calmed down instead. I will concede it's not as cool or memorable as if Eddie's briefcase contained a shot of adrenaline.
For the record benzodiazepine is a class of drug, rather than a drug in and of itself. But I hope the reader knows what I'm talking about.
Augatha claims she saved Meek's life because she didn't want to mess with the Chosen Five prophecy. That's part of it, but that's not all of it. There are subtle clues at this stage of the story that Augatha and Meek secretly and unknowingly like each other more than they both realize. And if you pointed that out to them they'd be confused, because it's true, and it doesn't actually any sense. There are actual reasons why they have a mutual respect, that we'll sort of hint at in the upcoming stories "Timeline Trilogy" and "All Blood Things...", even if part of it is ultimately left up to the reader's imagination.
It strikes me in hindsight as wrong that Rita says that if Gilda doesn't accept the consequences of Meek saving the Multiverse, that they'll be right back where they started. In the next issue, we'll see Gilda DOESN'T accept them. But it doesn't actually change anything, or undo Meek saving the Universe. So why does Rita say what she does? Simply because it sounds like a good line coming out of her at that point in time. But not only is it wrong, but Rita should already know that it's wrong when she says it. Mea culpa.
I made sure to make Bernadette's expression mischievous when Meek envisions her because he misses her and Gilda so much. Because that is a facet about Bernadette Meek enjoys.
I have hinted before that the reason that Gilda is a fan of Ice-T and David Bowie is because they both cut through the b.s. in every interview they do on television. Ice T doesn't actually like his own music. And him actually admitting that on television is the reason Gilda listens to it. That strikes me as a bizarre reason to listen to somebody's music, but Gilda's logic is not like our Earth logic.
Which begs the question, if THAT'S the reason she likes Ice-T and Bowie, how the frak could she also like people as sappy and full of it as Barry Manilow and Anne Murray? Here's a hint: It too has to do with b.s.. And the b.s. is people acting like those two artists' music isn't amazing to listen to.
It's called "easy listening" for a reason. It sounds SO good. I don't own any of their albums, but every time "Mandy" comes on the radio I stop and listen to the whole thing. How can you not? As Angel noted on his show, it's pretty. It sounds good, as does Murray's stuff. And maybe Gilda's anti-b.s. attitude regarding those two musicians is being willing to admit that with no drama whatsoever.
Fun fact: Gilda dislikes Family Guy. And yet, Family Guy has had both Manilow and Murray guest star as themselves using the same argument that their music actually SOUNDS good, no matter WHAT cynical critics say. And that's true. And that's why Gilda listens to them and does not have to hide that fact.
I have never shown Eddie Cat wearing a hat a day in my life, but him putting it on and grabbing his briefcase is the clearest sign he's leaving the smoke-filled room. Sue me.
When Bernadette makes her Pink Flamingos joke, I raised the bottom of Gilda's left eye slightly to register a bit of disgust at Bernadette saying that. Because it's a pretty gross reference, and I thought I'd do a little bit of subtlety with Gilda's disturbed expression upon hearing it.
Gilda's anger falls into two categories, one right after the other: 1. It's a gross joke and not actually funny. 2. And then she's a bit miffed that 10 year old Bernadette actually knows what it means.
It's interesting that The Un-Iverse is so low-tech. I mean, if Gilda threatened to take away Bernadette's internet access in OUR Universe, that would be a completely impractical punishment, just because kids Bernadette's age need to to do schoolwork and the like on the internet. But Bernadette doesn't seem to carry around a tablet, and neither do most people in the story. As seen in this story, Gilda has an iPod, so that type of technology IS available. It just never took off in the way it did in Our Universe.
I am very aware Bernadette's childhood does not revolve around the internet the way everyone's life in Our Universe does. I use the internet a lot. But I didn't as a kid, and while I definitely have the characters look up stuff online in the story, there is not a single Un-Iverse character who is a hacker, or known for being an expert with computers. When you get right down to it, that mindset I have about The Un-Iverse being low-tech is simply because I am too, and the notion is a bit old-fashioned and corny. Which can also describe the story itself at times, so I'll live with it.
The real reason I don't own a tablet, or a cell phone, or an iPod, or any of those other goodies, is because I am afraid if I got them, I'd depend on them. I mean before I had internet access my life was perfectly manageable. Now I simply cannot function without it because I write my stories on computers, and post my pictures on the internet. It's an additional thing I am dependant on society for that I wasn't fifteen years ago. And I value my independence, and that's the biggest reason I haven't pulled the trigger on any of those things. I think society is already far too dependent on computers, and God forbid if Russia hacked the power grid, and caused a mass blackout, we would have no way to respond to that because our entire infrastructure is based around computers. And that's probably a mistake, that we don't have a plan B for. MY personal Plan B is not being as dependant on electronic devices as most people. If the cyberwarfare blackout comes I will be as screwed as everybody else. But maybe I won't go as personally crazy as some people who have become addicted to their screens.
Gilda saying that every true saying is sometime wrong, probably even that one, is me speaking. That is how I view Universal truths and everyone trying to speak for everyone else's experiences just based upon their own. I don't think there is any right or wrong way to process having killed someone. I don't like that people often put an expectation of people who have been in that experience to possess wisdom and to know a deeper truth about humanity. Everybody handles crap differently. A CIA veteran like Gilda will definitely handle that particular thing differently than the religious and innocent Bernadette. And I feel things like that are not something anybody else should be telling anybody else the proper way to feel about it. And that's why Gilda says what she does.
I love that Fuzzy and Scuzzy play along with Bernadette saying the eye of newt smells worse than her shoe closet. Maybe you'd expect that kind of snark from Scuzzy but I like that Fuzzy is in on the burn too. My opinion is that their opinions are only slightly exaggerated. It stinks. And Gilda mostly keeps them in there. Another thing that states that Augatha treated the slippers better than the heroes did.
The Soundbreeze Tree scene with Meek is a recent addition to the script. Simply because I thought Augatha eating the fruit out of a bowl was inadequate for what the fruit represents. It's one of the Three Deaths. I used Meek to show precisely how and why it was deadly, even if Augatha's encounter with it was cursory. It's a big lethal deal on the Plain and always was.
I made Dr. Raggleworth's expressions as the transporter broke a bit desperate. He seems to be far more outwardly worried about this turn of events than Gilda is. Which goes right back to the notion in my head that Dr. Raggleworth is secretly sensible.
I had the Piranha laugh after Julius supposedly swears because kids think its funny when adults swear. Interestingly, the Piranha himself never seems to swear. But he still finds it funny when Dr. Raggleworth does.
The Narrator describes Meek's nose as his "snout" and his "sniffer". And that's what it is. The Dogs in The Un-Iverse are more animalistic than any other species, with the possible exception of Werewolves.
And no, I don't consider the music group The Humans an animalistic version of Mutated Animal Monkeys. I just think those specific guys are extra crazy and stupid. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
You know, if I were a better artist, the magnificent Soundbreeze Tree would, y'know LOOK magnificent. But I'm not, so the best I can do is describe it as so and hope the reader accepts it within the framework of this specific art style.
The golden colors are the thing that helps. Now it stands out so you can see why Meek is so enraptured.
"Stately Puff Manor" is a play on "Stately Wayne Manor". Except Vic definitely has more sinister plans cooking in his Batcave.
Eddie Cat trying to get someone to sit down and have a drink with him is a recurring theme with him. It's not the first time it's happened and it's not the last.
Speaking of recurring Eddie Cat themes, that scene with Vic is Eddie sitting back and just enjoying himself. And usually him offering the drink is the biggest sign that is about to happen. Eddie wants his "guests" to cheer his upcoming good mood. And that's what the drink means.
Eddie describing the things he does to Vic as decisions above both of their paygrades is an insanely cool line and moment.
Gilda teaching Meek the specific centering phrase she does is Classic Gilda. And yet, it works in the specific scenario, so I'd less inclined to call it self-absorbed and more inclined to call it smart.
Vic saying he is in charge of his own destiny is actually true. But that doesn't stop him from being dumb enough to feed into the Conduit prophecy all on his own. The only reason that specific prophecy entails as much damage as it does is because Vic Puff has an incredibly self-destructive streak. And if he chose not to have that, he could totally just ignore the prophecy, and move on with his life with his son. But because he CHOOSES the destruction he does, which is why he feeds into the prophecy the way he does.
It's beyond unlikely that the Secret Service Agents burst in RIGHT when Vic is O.D.-ing on coke. I just tell myself that they shouldn't have left him alone with Eddie Cat in the first place, and call their check-in long overdue. Shoulda secured the perimeter there.
I like the designs of the Agents. One of them looks like a cross between a Flintstones character and one of the Mutants from The Dark Knight Returns. The other is bald and black as a tribute to Ving Rhames in "Dave". Love that movie.
I love Gilda admitting to Bernadette that her theory about why the Dark Idol is still healing Augatha is pure conjecture, and that she doesn't actually know. Here's a sad truth: Adults don't actually know any more about the Universe and how it works than their kids do. Their job is making believe they do so the kid can sleep at night. I love that Gilda's anti-b.s. attitude makes her completely fail this absolute minimal parenting standard.
The scene of the Psycow looking between Augatha's legs and licking his lips is badly drawn. Honestly, I'll live with it. The moment upsets me a lot, and I didn't feel that was something I wanted to obsess over to make "perfect". Because it's absolutely disgusting either way. I don't really care if it "lands" properly.
This is a reason a lot of the dirtier jokes and things like that don't land well in the franchise. I don't like them so I don't obsess over perfecting them. And maybe that makes the saga worse. But I am glad I'm the kind of person and writer who doesn't find that kind of thing great drama or comedy. I just do my best, and move on. Sorry about that.
I made Meek's expression as he knocks out the Psycow absolutely rage-filled and maniacal. Meek is NOT a good guy this issue. But the fact that he's as pissed off at the Psycow's actions as he is says he's also not entirely a bad one.
Augatha thanking Meek over and over again shows that it's possible for Mistress Augatha to express gratitude. And I like that because we don't see that enough.
Meek being able to relate to the idea that Augatha has just been through a drug induced hallucination is because he DOES know what she's going though due to the Balls-Out Void. In fact, it could be argued that Meek's drug trip was worse because a lot of that stuff seemed to actually happen, while most of Augatha's worse hallucinations were just mind-screws. But it's not like Augatha also didn't go through a total ordeal after the drugged soup wore off either.
Augatha's blood is purple because a Human's blood is red and a pure Gragnock's is blue. The blood being purple is the thing that tells the Psycow Augatha is a hybrid and the reason he thinks of her as an especially delectable morsel. But Gabrielle has purple blood too.
Day seems to transition into night a lot in the Whahuma Plain. The canon explanation is that the days and nights are much shorter in this dimension and only last a few hours. The actual explanation is because the opening and final panels of the issues of this miniseries look and read better at either sunrise or sunset. The Whahuma Plain has short days simply to make the drama land better and more iconic.
I probably shouldn't have had Bernadette tell Gilda she isn't a leader of men in the exact same issue that Eddie tells Vic the same thing. It was an unintentional oversight. But I didn't change it at the last minute because it almost seems like a parallel if you squint a bit. Do me a favor and squint a bit.
Augatha's front should be bloody on the cover, but it isn't because that's a spoiler. The covers aren't always literal.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
I had been strongly considering reintroducing Donna Demented at this stage of the saga, and having her and Vic reconcile and elope, and have their happy nuptials be the thing that pushes his campaign over the top. My idea was that I could do a bunch of dark gags and subplots with a serial killer as the first lady. It's what would happen if Laura Bush were secretly more evil than George W. The White House Rose Garden would have human remains as fertilizer, the White House Easter Egg hunt would turn up the occasional body part, etc. But the main reason I wanted to do it was to sort of show all along that Donna has always been aware of Vic's Conduit destiny, and was always a major part in trying to make the prophecy come to terms. And she is. And we learn that a ways off. But if Donna had been First Lady, we would have learned it as the story went along instead. She'd pretty much be his "cleaner", without him being aware she played that role.
If a woman calls Vic and hassles him for hush money or she'll report the abortion he paid for, when she slams down the phone and looks in the mirror, she'll see Donna, who will slit her throat. When a newpaper reporter is about to break a corruption scandal about the administration, the reporter winds up dead and washes up in the river, and the report goes "missing". Stuff like that. I think the upcoming White House stuff with Vic Puff is less interesting than it could be, simply because Vic is far better behaved in that part of the saga due to Powder than he otherwise would have been. Having Donna do all of this stuff in the background would have perhaps put the horror of what the administration represents into an even clearer focus for the reader. Sadly, The Un-Iverse would wind up darker and more violent than it is, which is not my favorite idea ever. But because Vic is so well behaved, the White House stuff is going to be a little boring compared to his earlier (and later) escapades, and this would have instantly made it electrifying, controversial, and twisted. The Un-Iverse Mythology would be MUCH better and richer for it.
So why did I back off?
Gilda. That's all the reason I needed. And once I remembered Gilda, the idea just instantly died. There is no way I'd do that with Gilda in the picture.
We sort of say that Donna gets away with what she does because Gilda is not ever in the same room with her, and her b.s. detector cannot read a person she has never met, seen, or talked to. Maybe she thinks Donna's behavior (and name) seems a bit off if Meek describes his friend to her, but she has no actual reason to be suspicious on the sort of level she'd be if she were actually there to read her with the detector. But if Donna is first lady, she is on TV all the time, and doing interviews, and Gilda will have been able to view and "read" her quite clearly, and probably gather enough evidence against her to get her arrested to boot. That's what Gilda does.
The only way I can have Donna as First Lady with Gilda in the story, is to pretend that her b.s. detector missed this because this was on TV (even though it's been established she's read people like the Golden Hammer on TV before) or that she never saw those broadcasts, so she's incurious and stupid instead. Or, the detector actually failed for a ********, made-up, supernatural reason. And, no. I always err on the side of Gilda being awesome every single time. And if Gilda's b.s. detector can EVER fail, there is no point in me giving it to her in the first place. That specific superpower is only impressive if it NEVER fails. Once it fails even once, it's no longer even an actual superpower. So The Un-Iverse has far less White House intrigue and dark political commentary than it could have, solely because I refused to portray my characters (especially a character I love like Gilda) out of character for any reason whatsoever. Even if the story would be juicier. Because even if it WERE juicier, it would also be worse for the characters. And I am NEVER willing to sacrifice the integrity of my characters to score story or joke points. And that's something I like about me and The Un-Iverse.
Also do you want some constructive artwork criticism? Because this is literally the only type of art I'm an expert on.
Meek is good. The problem is he's too good. He should be skinnier and his clothes ill-fitting and too big. I also deliberately make his posture a bit stiff not because I'm a bad artist, but to hint at how uncomfortable he is in social settings. He can definitely smile as big as that when he wants to. But he never quite moves like he actually fits in anywhere. I honestly love the way you've done his mouth. It's bigger than mine and looks better. I make his lips thinner because it is easier for me to do other expressions using that. The way you've done his eyes and hair are perfect and way better than mine. But you seem to have forgotten his short, black tail.
Honestly, Gatordragon, I do not fault you for getting Gilda's head wrong. Like the Piranha's body shape, is it deceptively simple to look at and a nightmare to get right. I still mess it up sometimes myself. A LOT. What I always do is draw the eyes first and center the head around them. The eyes should be the biggest thing on the head, and where everything is based around.
To be blunt the body you did is absolutely amazing. I wish I could draw it that well. But you got the details and nuances I TRY to get but never can. Aside from the fact that your shoes are three-dimensional, you were canny enough to put visible muscle tone in the legs while still giving her no bust and a small waist. That is a crazy detail to get exactly right and you nailed it.
Gilda is also missing her tail in this picture though.
Man you did such an amazing job and put a huge smile on my face. Thank you.
@Fone Bone I finished the first chapter and started the second. It's pretty fun, though I have quite a bit to binge. I like the world you crafted and the character interactions.
And thanks for the constructive criticism! It was a little tricky to interpret their designs, so I appreciate you telling me what I got right and wrong. The lack of tails is something I sometimes forget to do, even with my own characters.
I finished the first chapter and started the second. It's pretty fun, though I have quite a bit to binge. I like the world you crafted and the character interactions.
And thanks for the constructive criticism! It was a little tricky to interpret their designs, so I appreciate you telling me what I got right and wrong. The lack of tails is something I sometimes forget to do, even with my own characters.
Hard at work on the last part of Warlocks: Beyond Reality. After that there will be only two more issues posted on Toon Zone. Perfect time for anyone to catch up who is interested, but thinks the sheer amount of pages I have posted is daunting. It kinda is. But there is gonna be a finite canon on Toon Zone itself, so you'll maybe catch up eventually.
Linear Notes for Gilda And Meek: "Warlocks: Beyond Reality: Paid In Full" (Abridged, Spoiler-Light)
Gilda secretly carries a gun! And is willing to use it! I almost actually did it. I almost had Gilda shoot at Bob the Wizard to see the bullet pass through him as a specter. It would be a REALLY shocking scene with a surprise (sort of) twist. But then, I remembered...
Gilda is NOT Jack Bauer. Even if her threatening someone with a gun is a shock, she wouldn't pull the trigger on anyone who wasn't immediately attacking them. If I claim my story is about how cool having ethics is, I can't have my most moral character do something reprehensible simply because there would be no consequences to it in the end. Maybe Gilda would have pulled the trigger in the CIA. She obviously never gave up her gun. But she isn't the same person since she's met the group, and having a "dark backslide" is not something that should ever happen to Gilda.
Why even include this scene if I'm going to chicken out? Spoilers, sweetie!
I like Meek's insight into Augatha setting expectations for herself SO high that she's bound to be disappointed when things turn out differently. And that's definitely one of Augatha's biggest weaknesses. What is hilarious about Meek saying that is that he is doing the exact same thing on Gilda's behalf! After Meek's particular rah-rah cheerleading of Gilda here, I would have to think if Gilda HAD lost to Augatha, she would have been exactly as embarrassed and humiliated as Meek warns Augatha she will be. The expectations game works both ways.
"I HAVE NO DESTINY WITHOUT MEEK!" You know, that's kind of emo and cliched, but still pretty awesome. I think it works. At least I hope so.
Do you want to know why I created those disgusting, pulsating, 300 foot vines in the second part of this story? It wasn't so I could demonstrate the Whahuma Plain going to hell in an obviously messed up way. It's so Meek could believably toss Augatha a rope at the bottom of a cliff in this issue. One of the creepiest things in the story was done to cover up a plothole.
"I want to thank my supporters for tonight. Everything that happens from this point forward is due to them. Always remember that."
There is not much I can do to keep Vic Puff consistent with Donald Trump's awfulness. Frankly, Trump is a million times worse, and that is not hyperbole. This moment right here? It's a Trump moment, and one of the few genuine allegories I was able to keep. All of the horrors our country currently suffering aren't due to Trump. They are due to the people who voted for him. They knew what he was and put him charge anyways. If the is a nuclear holocaust in our near future I won't actually blame Trump. He cray. I will blame a country that let a lunatic be put in charge of it in the first place.
I kind of bet people might resent Meek for initially wanting to go home before foisting the Third Death on Augatha. But honestly? This adventure has been nothing short of a nightmare for him. I can hardly blame him for wanting to cut it short.
Meek was truly not being sensible by going along with Bob's earlier suggestion to try and steal another hand from another dimension's Meek. The Healing Spell would have worked just as well, without any of the magical damage Meek winds up doing to himself that the rest of the group has to clean up. My opinion is that he did it out of pride. This is the first successful mission Meek has completed entirely by himself, WITHOUT Gilda or Bernadette to guide him. I kind of think he was a bit embarrassed to have to go back and have Gilda fix this one thing for him. It would take away his newly found independence to depend on Gilda after defeating Mistress Augatha entirely by himself. It's not smart. But it's kind of understandable.
I also believe that while Meek is not the least bit sexist, I think it's possible always following Gilda's orders to the letter is negatively effecting his sense of manhood. Like Gilda, Meek is NOT a gender based hero, which is partly why their platonic relationship is so refreshing. But just like the fact that I occasionally show Gilda acting feminine, and giving her real-life problems women exclusively deal with, is how I also sometimes want to portray Meek. He's a man, and as a man there is a certain level of pride attached to him. The reason I show this sometimes is because Meek is usually VERY deferential to Gilda. And it's starting to take a toll on him. This will be further explored in "The Apple" two issues from now.
Meek saying Gilda is unlike Laurie Strode because she is unafraid of Augatha is a great quip, especially since it is completely off-the-cuff. Another example that Meek is perhaps quite a bit wittier than his enemies and his friends (besides Gilda herself) realize.
Meek feeling powerful and unafraid of Augatha after pushing her off the cliff is a fascinating reaction to witness. It's also the wrong reaction, particularly for a character I use as a surrogate. If I had done what Meek just did, I would be ashamed and apologetic about it. Granted, I have not suffered the things at Augatha's hands that Meek has (including losing one) so I can't really judge him TOO negatively for liking the fact that he's an abusive lout to his arch-enemy, but it is entirely the opposite of what my reaction would be. Meek is pretty much who I would be if I were a much worse person than I am. The fact that Meek is actually usually a decent guy is one of the things that helps me sleep at night. Especially when I have him do something jerkish like this.
Also, Meek is lying to himself as to why he did it. It wasn't to prove a point about how he's more powerful than Augatha here, and unafraid of her potential future wrath. It's because he got surprise, unwanted wood from her, and thought shoving her off the cliff was the less painful alternative than chopping his own nutsack off. If Meek were slightly more honest about what just happened, he would not be retconning his frantic, sexual panic into a hero moment. Because that's pretty much exactly what he's doing.
With Gilda losing her temper more and more as the saga goes on, I sort of feel like there should be a point where Gilda shoves aside Bernadette or Meek and looks back in horror at them bleeding on the ground. Or perhaps she should grip their wrists too tightly, and have them say in a scared voice, "Gilda, you're HURTING me!" That is the default mode for heroes in this precise circumstance in every genre project ever. Why isn't it Gilda's?
Mostly because it's to show something absolutely awesome about Gilda. Somebody as violent as she is would probably be accidentally hurting her friends once in awhile. But Gilda is such a complete professional in every single way on these missions, that even if it seems like she's losing control, she never actually does. The idea as to why Gilda has never accidentally punches Meek or Bernadette in misplaced rage is because Gilda is the kind of person who never inflicts physical violence against a person she never intended to. Emotional scars, Gilda gives Bernadette plenty of those. But Gilda never, EVER uses physical force unless she is 100% certain it is going to hit the right target. Meek seems a little afraid of Gilda due to seeing the video footage of her beating up Vic Puff, but he has MUCH less to fear from her than he thinks, simply because Gilda would never physically hurt a person who she never intended to. It's probably small comfort to Meek at this point, but it's 100% true.
I love Augatha calling Gilda Meek's wetnurse. Augatha is just cruel as hell during this issue, so I feel less bad for Meek's actions than I might have had she not called him Poor Widdle Meeky-Poo.
The Psycow calling Meek an after-dinner mint is a similarly good burn, as is his mock appreciation for his dinner coming to him.
Gilda does actually know CPR (she learned it in the C.I.A.), but I think we'll learn later on why she has such a hang-up with performing it. This hang-up is especially true of Meek, but I don't think she'd be willing to do it for the Piranha or Bernadette either. As I know what the reason is, I think she's overthinking things, but Gilda DOES tend to do that, so it's in character at least.
For the record, (and to perhaps confuse you) the reasons why she would be hesitant to perform CPR on the Piranha are completely different than why she wouldn't want to for Bernadette and Meek. Theorize away!
"The Worst World". The World Without Gilda. We will be getting back to that in only a few issues.
The other Universes Meek shifts into at the end are quite a bit longer a ways off (in the Second Sequel "Gilda And Meek: Adventures Across The Multiverse") but I included them here as an Easter Egg for after the Multiverse Arc is completed, (probably a decade from now.) It probably was stupid to do that because I'm committing to the basic designs of Evil Gilda and Meek and Mr. and Mrs. Gilda and Meek et al. years ahead of time. For the record, if in ten years I feel the need to tweak or streamline those designs further, just know that I will be aware it will be an inconsistency with this issue. Which is probably why this particular "hindsight egg" is a bad idea.
Bob the Wizard is far more empathetic and concerned about Meek during the end of this story than I initially planned. But I kind of got to thinking, that as big and heartless of a jerk as Bob is, after what he and Meek have been through, he'd probably wind up liking Meek in spite of himself, and caring about him more than he should. Add to the fact that Bob has always been the most meddlesome Warlock, and it made sense to me that he'd actually have a problem with this bit of history proceeding as ordered. He doesn't actually help anything. But I think he's subtly trying to give Gilda the hint to the correct answer anyways.
The character stuff between Gilda and Fuzzy was done solely because I think the fact that Augatha treats the slippers better and loves them more than Gilda and Bernadette do is a really interesting concept, and I thought this would be a good way to make the idea explicit in the story itself. And I'm glad that Gilda seems to actually be aware of that fact, and promises to do better in the future, because I wasn't sure if Gilda knew or appreciated how messed up her treatment of the slippers was until this issue. But now that I know she does, I feel a lot better about her.
Meek's disgust at Augatha claiming that everyone has a weakness and the trick is finding out what it is, does not make as much as sense as it initially did when I wrote the scene down a couple of years ago. Then, it sounded like a cliched phrase Augatha was spouting because she's a tired, genre stereotype, but as the plot of the issue became filled in, it is actually the way she figures out how to kill the Psycow. Just based on what else I wrote into the scene, Meek has no real reason to be upset at that cliche anymore (especially since HE was the one who asked Augatha how she planned to kill the Psycow in the first place). Meek's disdain over Augatha's cliches would sound better to me if Augatha didn't turn out to be totally right here.
Meek expresses surprise at the idea that Augatha seems happy and fun to be around, and she responds that he's never seen her without Gilda messing things up for her before, hinting that devious and playful is actually Augatha's default mood. And that is entirely consistent with her behavior during the first half of The Pontue Legacy, and an upcoming prequel in The Supplements. Maybe Augatha is always a cliched loser. But until Gilda, she wasn't always a sour stick-in-the-mud.
I love when I have Augatha quote movies. And the movies I especially love to have Augatha quote are G-rated one like The Wizard Of Oz and The Return Of Jafar. I love the idea that Augatha loves kids movies and cartoons, and it's something I only hint at and never actually explore. It's basically the same idea that Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Spike the Evil Vampire watches The Great Pumpkin on TV every Halloween. It makes the scary villain a little less scary, and a little bit easier to relate to. For Spike, this was a no-brainer, as they were transitioning to making him a hero in the next season. For Augatha, it's a no-brainer, because I always say evil is ordinary and nothing special. And nothing says that more than the idea that Augatha is a kids movie nerd.
She is also apparently a horror movie buff, and enough of one to stick through lousy sequel after sequel for a given franchise (in this case Halloween), despite diminishing returns. Never let it be said that Augatha's tastes aren't eclectic.
I love that the Narrator gives us a spoiler alert about the Laurie Strode death after it is far too late. Which shows that not only does the Narrator not really have a professional handle on things, but he also kind of sucks at his job. Which is a good thing to sometimes portray.
There will be people wondering why I had Vic win the election so decisively, when he's the Trump stand-in, and Trump squeaked by the Electoral College, while losing the popular vote by 3 million people. To do the proper allegory, I should have made the election closer, and Vic sort of unpopular. Hell, I could have even brought up ballot irregularities in Florida and Ohio if I wanted to do a Bush comparison instead. But I was very clear that Vic needed to win that election decisively and be a popular President.
One of the things I hate about liberals is when they speculate that Donald Trump is the Antichrist. He is SO not the Antichrist. And this goes hand in hand with Vic being better and worse than Trump at the exact same time. According to Biblical prophecy, the Antichrist is going to be charismatic and have broadly popular public support. And Trump has zero charisma and everybody hates him. Liberals calling him the Antichrist are paying him several unnecessary compliments at once by doing so. The Devil is supposed to be attractive. And I see that picture of Trump's tighty-whities sticking through his fat-ass golf shorts, and I'm like "No". Barack Obama has a more legitimate claim to being the potential Antichrist than Trump does. That doesn't sound very nice, but it's the reasons he fits the prophecy better which is why there is absolutely nothing supernatural about Trump.
Now Vic Puff is not attractive either, but I play his time in office as being a lovable blowhard in the vein of Chris Christie right after Hurricane Sandy. Vic's inner thought processes are very similar to Trump's. But his behavior is like Christie. Rude, but charmingly so (for some people at least), and not publicly enough out of line to draw clucks from the Media Heathers. And there will be a point in the saga where Vic has an 80% approval rating. Now whether his later actions actually LOWER that rating all that much is where the Trump parallels start to come in, but as of now, Vic is very much considered a normal Republican by most people (or at least most people who haven't met him) and nobody like him has ever been President before, so nobody in The Un-Iverse can see ANY of the warning signs. That's something he also has in common with Bush, although to be fair to America, we had seen several people worse than him in office before he was elected, and as bad of a President as he wound up being, he wasn't considered by many people to be an atypical Republican.
And Vic actually ISN'T a typical Un-Iverse Republican, which is why he gets the amount of leeway he does. There was never a Hitler in The Un-Iverse. Nobody has ever seen this before, or knows how to properly classify it. They don't know how to watch out for somebody like them. It is hinted that there have been a few fascist movements that popped up in The Un-Iverse's history (such as the Ku Klux Klan) but nothing such as the Nazi party, with a lunatic in charge of the world's more powerful army. But it's not Vic's military power that should concern people. It's the fact that he is slowly degrading the discourse and turning Americans against each other without them realizing it. There is no Fox News in The Un-Iverse. After Vic Puff became President, there may as well have been. The dialogue was precisely that coarsened. And the way Vic is worse than Trump is because we've seen hate speech throughout history, and know how to easily recognize it, so Trump isn't fooling anyone paying attention. But Vic is worse because his dogwhistles are normalized, because nobody bothers actually looking for the second meaning to his words until it is too late. Vic's greatest upcoming weapon won't be the Office of the Presidency or the might of the U.S. military. It's simply that he became universally beloved despite being a total monster.
The total irony of Vic Puff to me is that if you don't actually look at the way he brainwashed his supporters, he would be considered by most metrics, a successful President. None of his most most monstrous actions occur until he is out of office, but it's the fact that his time in the Presidency has built himself quite a fanclub which is why he is dangerous later on. I'm not going to say whether he has enough followers out there to fulfill the Conduit Prophecy on their own (Spoilers, Sweetie!), but it's the fact that that's possible which is why he remain the story's "Wild Card", which is the only thing I think about Vic's story that is still successful. I botched everything else. And that's on me.
Every way you look at it, Vic Puff is a failure of a character for me. Trump wrecked my game entirely, and I think The Un-Iverse is no longer what it could have been if he weren't elected. But is it fair for me to blame Trump for my failures as a writer? I imagine if I were a better writer, I could have fixed things, but I was unable to. That's on me, not Trump. I cannot change the real world and how painful it currently is for so many people. The only thing I can do is tell the story as closely as possible to how I originally envisioned it, and hope people don't turn away in disgust at what I'm having to currently satirize. Because they might be right to. There is a very large chance that the political message of The Un-Iverse outright sucks now, and is working counter to my goals and opinions. There is every possibility that because I have to pull my punches on some things, and overexaggerate on others, that the whole thing falls apart, and makes a lousy, unrealistic, and inconsistent allegory. It's my own damn fault for waiting so long to tell the story. Now Vic seems either too quaint or too far, (depending on the scenario), which is probably why he will wind up my second biggest failure in the story after Donna Demented. Difference with Vic is that Lord, did I try with him, and the reasons he now sucks are completely out my hands. But the situation is what it is. Judge me.
Gilda mocks the Republicans of The Un-Iverse fiercely, but if I lived in that Universe, I would love those Republicans. Unreservedly. Before Vic, most Republicans in The Un-Iverse were like Bernadette. Somewhat selfish, but also religious, and morally virtuous. And after Vic, it stopped being like that, which is probably another reason Bernadette will wind up such an unhappy adult. She's a conservative who is losing her entire political identity due to the actions of her abuser, and the fact that no-one else in her party recognizes him for the monster that she already knows he is.
There are two plotholes in the issue that I sort of regret, but I didn't feel they did enough damage to the story to actually change them. And both plotholes work in this issue's favor, if not the rest of the saga's. And both plotholes involved Augatha's quest for the Idols of the Gragnocks.
If Gilda has a spell to trace Gragnite, considering how rare the mineral is, Augatha should be able to use a spell like that to track down the Idols. I was very careful to say this was a LOCAL spell only, so the one Gilda uses would not help Augatha all too much because its range is too short. But the truth is Gilda is a Magical Novice, while Augatha is a Mistress. If Gilda knows a spell that can do this locally, Augatha SHOULD know a spell that does this globally. The reason I didn't change it is because even if it doesn't make too much logical sense, and it's improbable, it's also not completely impossible. I have also demonstrated repeatedly that Gilda is far better at magic than a supposed Novice usually should be. At this point, she may be a Borderline Sorceress. But nobody around her is really well enough versed in magic to point that out.
The second plothole is how Fuzzy and Scuzzy know the transporter broke. Fuzzy claims it's part of their vast knowledge, but that's probably *********. I specifically declined to change this plothole because I liked the questions it raised. But most people will think it's a hole. And it is. If Fuzzy and Scuzzy actually know stuff they should have no way of knowing, then, hell, they probably know where each of the Gragnock Idols are, and since they are free with information with everybody, they would tell Augatha. But it's the fact that instead of someone saying, "This comic is dumb," they might try to rationalize that hole, which is why I kept it. Did Fuzzy merely make a correct guess, and is lying to Gilda about his omniscience to sound important? If he is, and he IS good, is there other stuff he is lying about? Or is it possible Fuzzy and Scuzzy DID know where the Idols were, and both decided against giving Augatha that information? Why would both of them do that considering their dual natures? And did they straight up refuse to help Augatha with that, or did they lie and say they didn't actually know? The truth is Fuzzy knowing the transporter broke is because I'm a bad writer. But I never changed it in case some people reading this story secretly thought I knew what I was doing.
For the record, when Gilda decides to kill Augatha at the end, that is actually the correct move. Bernadette's protestations about it being wrong because she is helpless is a 100% bad call. I had her make that call because it is also the virtuous call a hero would make. And that's what Bernadette and Gilda are. But not a jury in the world would convict Gilda for killing Augatha under these circumstances, and sparing the world the upcoming grief.
One of the things I like about Augatha's team-up with Meek is that it's with Meek. It SHOULD be with Gilda. They are the actual enemies. Those are the characters who are usually forced to work together in this scenario. But honestly, I'm glad it's Meek. I could team Augatha and Gilda up, but I don't think I could do anything new with the premise that a thousand superhero writers haven't already done. Meek is a very interesting choice to pair up with Augatha, simply because Augatha probably thinks the least of him of all of Gilda's friends. And with Meek, Augatha doesn't have to listen to Gilda's sermons about morality. Instead, Meek is basically being Gilda's biggest booster, and probably is getting Augatha to think about the situation in his way more than Gilda would. Augatha sees Meek as a bug. And this particular bug is fiercely loyal to Gilda and believes she'll win. That probably interests and concerns Augatha more than it would if it was Gilda who did the trash-talking. Meek is however a True Believer in the Church of Gilda, and is far more convincing as a testimonial than Gilda would be trying in to sell the idea of her to Augatha herself.
I do not regret I never had Gilda and Augatha team up to fight a common enemy. Because Meek being there isn't something I've really seen done all that much, so I pretty much had the playing field to myself. Even if the story winds up sucking, it's not like there will be a ton of similar examples to negatively compare it to. So there's also that.
"Oh, and the next time you see Bernadette? Thank her. She just saved your worthless life," was an extremely late addition. It was added to the script a couple of weeks after I thought I had been done with the final draft. But I felt like the ending to the five-parter was both too quick and too weak. It's a cliffhanger, which is all right, but as it's the last part of a five-parter, I needed a stronger scene to go out on. And that line does it. It doesn't make the ending great (because it's not). But it definitely makes it a good harbinger of things to come, which is what it should have been doing all along.
It is strange to me that the Psycow hasn't eaten Meek's hand yet, but the fact that it's weird raises the right questions for me. Yeah, Augatha's blood tastes delicious fresh and hot. But she's a rare Gragnock Half-Human hybrid. It is possible the Psycow believes Terran Dogs need to be "aged" a bit? Like that maybe their flesh only tastes decent if there is a good amount of rotting to it already? Which is why I didn't bother to change the idea or even bring it up. The Psycow's grossness means there is nothing wrong with how weird that idea is. It's not a plothole at all.
The Psycow's knick-knacks around his cave also raise questions for me. Why does he have two chairs when he never has visitors? Why does he collect so much memorabilia when he lives alone and has no friends? I can't explain the chairs thing, but I DO know that serial killers tend to be collectors. Big time. This is not unusual even if it seems weird at first glance.
Angela's first drink here on Election Night is A.K.A. "The Shot Heard 'Round The World". It's not WHY she becomes a lush later on. But it shows that she was already spiraling there at this point.
Powder Puff throwing up in a public toilet is probably crazier than anything Vic does in the entire 90 issue story. I would not put my mouth near a public toilet seat for any reason. If that means a public restroom's sink is gonna be a mess for somebody else to clean up, so be it. I would never do that.
Gilda being ultimately forgiving of Fuzzy and Scuzzy is an essential theme for the character. She tends to forgive people who have wronged her. Outside of Eddie Cat, she's never held a grudge. Gilda not taking wrongdoing by her friends and enemies personally is one of the defining things about The Supplements. I'm making sure here that you understand that it didn't come out of nowhere. This has always been the subtext.
For the record, I think Meek stole the hand from the wrong Multiverse Meek. He should have let the Gilda-less Meek keep it, as without her around, he'll need all the help he can get. I would have stolen the hand from Evil Meek as punishment, and done Evil Meek's universe a favor by weakening him. But maybe that's just me.
I am VERY glad I had Augatha be the one to kill the Psycow. Because last issue turned her into a damsel in distress. And if I'm gonna do that, she's got to be the one to deliver the payback. He manages to kill her again after all. But I think the fact that Augatha got the proper revenge before he did that is something I really like.
You won't see the Warlocks all too much after this. They'll appear a couple more times in small roles, but the reason I show them so sparingly is because they know too much. It's hard to write a scene with them in it, and not spoil every last detail of the end of the story. The best I did at this was their magnificent first scene in the first part of this miniseries, which raised all of the tantalizing questions it should have. But those are really the only questions I am willing to raise this far ahead of time, and every conversation with the Warlocks would involve repeatedly revealing the end of The Un-Iverse. For the Warlocks, the story already happened. The heroes already either won or lost, and the Warlocks' entire job during this story is to keep that outcome the same. If the heroes won, the Warlocks are good. If they didn't, the Warlocks are bad. The only way to judge their actual morality is to know the ending to the story. Because the Warlocks already seem to know everything that happens. The only thing the Warlocks don't know about how The Un-Iverse ends is the specific role THEY played in the final stories, and if and how they eventually die. But they know everything else. And it's kind of hard to have them keep talking about Gilda and Meek in the present tense when they are actual historical figures to them. The present tense works if you can believe the conceit that the Warlocks exist out of time, so EVERYTHING is technically "now". But that's not a conceit you want to linger on, or think too hard about, which is why the Warlocks appear as seldom as they do.
The Warlocks WILL return in a big way in the sequel / prequel The Supplements. But I can use them easily there because by then you'll already know how the story ends. Until it does, I have to keep them almost entirely in the background.
I think Augatha's reaction of respecting Meek for pushing her off the cliff is outright weird, but both Meek and Augatha's reactions to each other during this scene seem outright weird to me, if not outright insane. They are both crazy people.
I adore the fact that neither Meek or Augatha bring up the tender moment they shared in the last issue. They simply want to pretend it never happened and I love that it never comes up again.
I was very conscious that it was Walter who voiced the opinion that the idea of Gilda assaulting a person for insulting her is a sign of weakness rather than strength. I personally believe Walter is the most misanthropic of the Warlocks, so it really interests me that this thoroughly unpleasant person understands something that most people don't about people who threaten other people over disrespect or insults: That's not normal or acceptable behavior. If you cannot take a little smacktalk without threatening to get violent, you are a weak person. You are essentially proving the insulter's point for them.
For the record, I specifically made Walter this kind of insightful because he is also 100% wrong. Gilda never once threatens anyone for insulting her in the entire 90 issue story. Bernadette is still alive and kicking after all. I love the idea that just because the Warlocks know what happened, that doesn't mean they understand what happened. Gilda is probably built up as a far fiercer and bigger threat in their minds after the fact, than the person we actually know and spend the story with. I was comfortable making the Council's Limbaugh insightful about this one thing. Simply because he is also completely wrong about Gilda being that type of person.
I love that Meek is described as Gilda's acolyte. But if Gilda and Meek are historical figures, and Gilda is consider this period of time's Joan of Arc, "acolyte" is the proper term for Meek. Which is crazy. But I'm sure that sort of thing might have seemed crazy to real-life famous people in history who wound up being called things like that. But yeah, as far as history is concerned Meek is not Gilda's best friend or her sidekick. He's her disciple. And I love having the Warlocks describe the characters were currently know in completely wrong-sounding terms that only sound right with thousands of years of hindsight.
Honestly, as much as I love those moments, they are also the reason I barely ever get back to the Warlocks. I think the way they talk about the characters is fascinating, but if we showed them doing that a LOT, the reader would take the wrong message from that. You hear the Warlocks talking up Gilda and Meek as mythic figures once or twice, you understand that's part of the joke. But if they kept appearing and kept doing that over and over again, you would be inclined to start taking that opinion at face value. The more you would see the Warlocks, the more seriously you'd take their opinions about Gilda and her friends. And you shouldn't do that. Gilda is not Joan of Arc. She is the chick who stinks up bathrooms, and watches A Charlie Brown Christmas on a DVD loop. And a LOT of comic books want their readers to see their heroes as demigods standing above and apart from humanity as creation myth allegories. But that's no fun. That's why Superheroes suck. I enjoy the comics where Superheroes quote Shakespeare and Nietzsche much less than the ones where they punch out evil talking supergenius gorillas. And Gilda is the kind of hero I want to show punching out evil talking supergenius gorillas, rather than exploring themes of alienation from humanity and creation myths. If you ever see me do a Christ parallel with Gilda, you have my permission to kick me in the nuts. Hard. That's not what I ever want for the character.
What is ironic is that in actual Un-Iverse mythology, the Warlocks are more or less RIGHT about Gilda's Gravity. It is supernaturally strong and unusual, and makes her the most important person we've met. And there IS a religious significance behind the b.s. detector we haven't explored yet. But I don't ever want the reader to view Gilda that way. I want her struggles to actually be relatable, and for the reader to think in other circumstances they themselves could save the world too. Gilda has no superpowers. She can use magic, but that is in a Universe where magic use is relatively common. She is also (at least at this stage of the game) not the world's greatest fighter. Gilda's strength is that she's smart, and knows exactly what buttons to push to get what she wants. She's like if Xanatos used his powers of manipulation for good instead of selfishness. And because she is not supernaturally gifted or an actual superhero, which is why the reader might want to be like Gilda when they grow up. She a possible version of a hero that they can be without gaining superpowers, or training nonstop for decades, or being born rich enough to buy futuristic tech. And she is only that specific hero if the Warlocks aren't around making her sound bigger than she actually is. So I barely use them past this issue. And I think that's for the best.
A lot of what the Warlocks actually know does NOT hold up to tight inspection, but like Eddie Cat, they know the future. Unlike Eddie Cat, who can travel between periods in history that have actually happened, the Warlocks are better at seeing every possible future, which muddies things up a bit and gets them going on a bit about percentages and chances for how things WILL shake down. They know the ending to the story. But the story itself is often in a state of flux. They know ALL of the potential futures. But they don't necessarily know which one is going to hit The Un-Iverse. Their hands-off approach means there is guesswork and estimations involved in what they know or suspect. Whereas Eddie has actual definitive proof of the past and future because he regularly travels there in his missions to cause chaos. The Warlocks know whether to heroes will win or lose. They just aren't sure if The Un-Iverse we see and know is the Universe where either of those things happen.
Interesting fact about the Warlocks. I set up the Council under the idea that some members in its past and future history came from a different Multiverse than The Un-Iverse. It was started in The Un-Iverse, but throughout history Blessed children popped up from different Universes.
For the record, Eddie Cat (or Eddie Lapinian) was one of the initial founders of the Council millions of years ago. And he is the first Council member from a different Universe. I can spoil it now, because it doesn't really effect anything coming up, but Eddie Lapinian did not originate from The Un-Iverse. Ours is just his favorite hotspot. He is not a local boy.
If you didn't think Meek was the ******* of the year for pushing Augatha off the cliff last issue, just the fact that Augatha is genuinely crying about it should tell you that he is.
I was having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to make Meek and Augatha have a conversation while she is at the bottom of the cliff and he was at the top. In order to do the proper perspective, they'd each have to be tiny and their expressions would be impossible to read. For the first panel of the discussion I fudged how tall the cliff was, and made it look smaller than it was to see the both of them. But then I hit upon the genius idea of using split-screen for the rest of the conversation.
Meek saying that he and Augatha are in this together is what the five-parter is all about. As violently and horribly as he and Augatha treat each other, on the Whahuma Plain, the only person each can truly rely on is the other. And that is basically the thread that runs through everything.
I made Augatha's expressions throughout the issue extra cartoonish and goofy simply because I thought it would be fun. And it was.
Honestly, I have never been crazy about Augatha's revamped design. But it's literally in this issue and the last that I've gotten it right, and how it is supposed to look in my head. I probably would have nailed it earlier if Augatha had more screentime before this story, but it's kind of cool that I finally got it right because I have been doing it long enough.
I was very mindful of the subtext of Augatha rushing right back into that cave and waiting for the Psycow. Frankly, that is not a normal response for a person who was violated in the specific manners she was. If I had endured what Augatha just did, not only would I never return to that place, but I'd have a lifetime of nightmares, PTSD, flashbacks, and jumping at the slightest provocation. And I'm not saying Augatha did not just go through a trauma because she is so gung-ho for a rematch.
It's just that that's how Augatha works shit out. If something or someone hurts her, she simply kills it so she can sleep better at night. That is how she processes and works through those kinds of issues. That is atypical of a woman who has been violated in the manner she was. But Augatha is not a typical woman. She's a murderer. And her ways of dealing with trauma are different than mine. And I think it's perfectly okay to say that Augatha's form of therapy involves killing the being who tortured her. And that how she got through that. It's not realistic in the slightest. But neither is Augatha's actual lot in life. I think it works.
A Gaggle Of Smitherses is like my favorite unit of measurement ever.
The Narrator stating the band name thing is sort of interrupting the flow of the conversation more than I like to do with him during most dialogue scenes, but the truth is, that is a pretty snappy one-liner by him, and the conversation hadn't really gotten going yet. It's clumsily inelegant, and a bit of poorly constructed writing when the Narrator says the quip he does, when he does. But it doesn't actually hurt much, which is why I let it slide.
The look on Augatha's face as she beheads the Psycow without looking is beyond badass. I love it.
I think a lot of people will wind up frustrated with Gilda And Meek because we talk SO much about the upcoming battle with Augatha. Nothing but Talk, talk, talk. "I will defeat you!" / "Gilda WILL beat you!" Snore! And we never seem to do anything about it. It's like "Look! Look! Meek's right there, Augatha! Kill the bastid!" It's like everyone talking about the future battle is SO annoying when Augatha could just kill everybody we love and be done with it. Admittedly, Augatha being Immortal means Gilda's timing has to be perfect when Gilda makes HER move. But Augatha in reality needs no such cautions. Because neither Gilda, Meek, or Bernadette are Immortal, and could probably be pretty easily killed if Augatha actually put in the proper effort.
Except for the Chosen Five Prophecy. That is the reason things are still a stalemate. This was Voldemort's hang-up with Harry Potter too, but to Voldemort's credit, he at least STILL tried to kill Harry a bunch of times before their final battle. But it's like Augatha is SO invested in the prophecy that she'll win, she doesn't want to mess any part of it up.
For the record, if I were a proper storyteller, Augatha WOULD have killed most of the group already. She only realized the Chosen Five Prophecy referred to Gilda and her friends in Issue 8. In reality, Augatha should have been able to kill and take out the group if she has been after them for years, particularly during the period when it had a falling out with Gabrielle and before Gilda joined. Yeah, I always say Augatha wanted Dr. Raggleworth alive because she believed he knew where the Idol Of Light was. But the truth is if Augatha were a far more ruthless and horrible villain, she would have been putting the screws to his friends in far more lethal ways than she ever wound up doing, to get him to talk faster (or else). And since he didn't actually know the location of the Idol, I imagine everyone but him (and maybe Bernadette) should have already been killed by the time Gilda is introduced.
So part of me is like, "Augatha is stupid, and weak, and bad at her job of supervillaining." But then I remembered that that was the entire point of Augatha, and so I didn't actually need to change anything. Probably annoying for the reader though. Sucks to be you.
Those aren't stink lines coming up from Augatha as Meek is lugging her out of the cave. Her firecape has simply burned out and she's letting off smoke.
I hope the reader sees Meek cruelly telling Bob he doesn't need him anymore as a moment of growth for Meek, done to put Bob in his place for all of the unasked for misery he was put in. Truthfully, it's probably NOT just that Meek is hardcore and rude. It's probably more that he's an Aspie and is completely unaware of how cruel what he just said was.
To be blunt, I think the artwork in the second half of the issue sucks. It's not just that I feel like I botched the Multiverse Void again (although I did). I was sort of coasting on fumes to complete the issue. I have never drawn a good picture where Gilda is both in rage and crying at the same time before, and I didn't get what I wanted. Under other circumstances I would have done it over and over again until I got it right, but this five-parter was already kicking my ass, and I'm less concerned with Gilda threatening to kill two people in front of Bernadette, than getting to the fall-out from that, which is another weakness of mine. I always find drawing conversations and character moments much more rewarding and fun to draw than action scenes. Now this is a bit of a character moment too. But I know it leads to much BETTER character moments in the near future, and I was kind of anxious to get to them.
I am not a great a artist and cannot do fantastic artwork every issue even if I wanted to. I sort of have to pick and choose my battles about what is worth doing over and over again to get exactly right, and what is Batman '66 Special Effects "Good enough." This issue was killing me. So I half-assed the artwork in the moment.
I might not have if I didn't feel the dialogue was already pretty strong. But the words carry a great deal of what is going on via The Narrator, which is another reason I need that framing device in the first place. I am not saying the Narrator wouldn't exist if I was a fantastic artist. But he'd definitely be used less, and only used for commentary and quips, rather than actually describing what is happening because I'm a crap artist.
The only really interesting thing I did in that sequence was draw a panel from the perspective of inside Gilda's gun barrel. But even that doesn't really work. I only note it because I almost never do stuff like that at ALL.
For the record, I did actually redraw the cover a second time to get Gilda's look right, and sort of make it feel more like Bob is looking down at her. So, it's not like I didn't put in any effort at all in the artwork in this issue. It just sort of started to really suck during the second half of the issue.
This is probably the worst drawn issue since the first issue of The Pontue Legacy.
That being said, all in all, this five parter did what I needed it to. It was a bit of a bear to be honest, but it could have megasucked, and there were definitely things about it I liked. I could have done better, but I've also definitely done worse.
Un-Iverse Fun Fact:
The "Freedom Is Slavery" banner doesn't actually tell us much about the Evil Gilda and Meek Universe, but hopefully it raises the correct questions.
I presume with Toon Zone's upcoming domain name change I am going to have to change the link in my sig. I'll do that when the new version is up and running (still don't like the name Anime Superhero).
Other updates. After the final two issues are posted on Anime Superhero, I plan to go back and correct a few of the mistakes I've made in the story such as the page numbering screw-ups or typos that I caught after the fact, rescan them, change the files on Deviant Art, and update them here. I will also add whatever additions to the various Linear Notes I have written in the meantime. After all that is done, and while I'm writing the rest of the saga but not posting it, I think I'll create a second thread titled "Gilda And Meek (PG-13)" and repost one of my first 33 stories a month there. Simply because this thread has gotten so long and unwieldy that people might balk at having to start reading through over 1200 pages of material, including Linear Notes. My idea in the new thread is to just post the stories once a month sans Linear Notes, so it won't seem so daunting to anyone who might have wanted to check it out before but didn't have the time or patience to sift through this much material at once. I'll still update THIS thread occasionally with progress reports of how the saga is going, and maybe even more sketches. I will also keep the rest of the saga here and untouched, in case anyone DOES like what they read in the new thread, and wants to catch up to everything before I repost the 33 issues on Anime Superhero I plan to. This will also be the only exclusive place for the Linear Notes. If a miracle happens and somebody publishes the rest of The Un-Iverse, this thread will almost certainly be the only place to read any Linear Notes for any of The Un-Iverse. I can't imagine them being much use to anyone else anywhere else.
Stay tuned. New issues of The Un-Iverse will soon be no more on Toon Zone, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop posting stuff related to Gilda and Meek. It doesn't mean that by a longshot.