Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#5 -- That Coveted Demographic

"When asked to think of something, we usually can't think of anything. If you're told that you're trapped in a room with haunted, spiked wraithwalls closing in on you, you'd MacGuyver the situation faster with a pincushion, a ream of paper, two 9mm bullets, and a hairbrush. . ."

OK, we withheld posting strip over Thanksgiving because it was just way too fucking dark for the occasion. Five days have come and gone, and the joke's been hanging in the smokehouse, letting flavor microbes affix themselves to it's aging hull. Mmmm. . . delicious, smokey dark comedy.

(Tangentially, why don't we have foods that contain vapor or smoke or something? Bite into a tangerine scone, inhale, shoot some flavored smoke out of your nose. It'd be a one-shot thing -- how hard could it be?)

Yes, there was Thanksgiving travel, and massive turkey / stuffing / gravy / sweet potato sandwich on Friday. We recommend it. Microwave the stuff that goes into the sandwich but toast the bread, it'll make you believe in God. It requires some creativity, forcing you to work within the confines of Thanksgiving leftovers, and it yields stunning results.

Working within constraints is important when it comes to creativity. You need limits to keep you sane. When asked to think of something, we usually can't think of anything. If you're told that you're trapped in a room with haunted, spiked wraithwalls closing in on you, you'd MacGuyver the situation faster with a pincushion, a ream of paper, two 9mm bullets, and a hairbrush than you would with "anything you can imagine. . . before the walls drain your immortal lifeforce and encrushen your corporeal body."

Constraints are what separate Neil Blomkamp and George Lucas. Living inside your imagination gradually kills you. Your narrative suffers, you get what you want, not what you need. Outsmarting yourself shouldn't bring much satisfaction, and that's all you're doing if you continue to CGI characters into "existence." Real walls confining a limitless imagination provides tangible obstacles and WD-40 for the clockwork cognition apparatus between your ears. If it does the same thing ad nausea, it will forget it's not a machine. It's a mind, and a human mind at that. Work around obstacles, don't attack them with brute force.

For example, we suck at drawing. We haven't done it very much. So hide it as best as you can until it improves. Do things in black and white. Do it as an homage to old school daily comic strips. Sharpen your abilities. Lean on the written word, but not too heavily, because you're working within a frozen, but still visual, medium. You don't get to decide how long a person looks at something. Or can you? Can you? Give it a shot.

(click to embiggen)

-- Doberman
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#4 -- A Working Pinch

". . .you want your next actions to be recalled using the following words: 'I realized there was an attraction when. . .' "

Doberman and I try to keep each other honest. The understanding is that we've had a lot of influences on our style, comedically and dramatically, and that we need to own up if we're borrowing materials. Therefore, we should address these influences here and now so people don't shout "hey, motherfucker, you stole that from _____!" No shit, Sherlock. The Simpsons already did it. But, as Chef points out, this was already a riff on an old Twilight Zone episode, so everything is stolen, and people that go out of their way to be 'original' usually do it more for the sake of desiring an identity, not because it's a meaningful piece of work. Therefore, we give you:


We started reading Penny Arcade right when it was hitting its stride artistically. You can see Gabe's style jag off into different directions stylistically over the years, and Tycho's writing is infinitely quotable. If you can spot his influence in our text, it's usually in the insults. The whole Penny Arcade production was spiky, immediate, consistent, and agile. It still is. And obviously, since you're reading our work right now, and you see text, and you see a comic, you'll do math and realize some similarities. This is obvious, and we want to get it out of the way, but what we love about Penny Arcade is that there's deliberate (and vocal) mimicry that inevitably morphs away from its influences into something different. And that's what art is. It's a macro-photograph of a fractal image -- ever expanding and different from every perspective, and that's why Penny Arcade was such an influence on us. I expect this will resemble Penny Arcade less with every post.

On to the actual post!

Right here, we'll begin by explaining a simple litmus test. It takes a bit of imagination, but not an inconvenient amount, and it can save you a great deal of self-loathing down the road if you do it correctly. Let's start by saying, for instance, you're at a party, talking with a group of people, and one of them is an attractive girl (or guy, we guess? We decided it could work from either perspective, but in this instance, we'll be using the feminine singular) that you know on a limited basis but have had only some flirtation with. You're trying to make a move, but you're a bit of an indecisive weirdo and you seriously think Creep is a song about you (it's not, it's about Thom Yorke stalking a girl (who is a genius)), so you so you attempt some humor with the girl instead. Hey, you can always laugh it off as a joke if it crashes and burns.

Now is the time for you to stop, think, and do a bit of self-assessment. This is the test. Whatever you're about to say or do will generate a lasting feeling -- which is what you want, right? Right, well, you want your next actions to be recalled using the following words: "I realized there was an attraction when. . ." Obviously you want to get with this girl in some capacity. Obviously you want to make a good impression. Somewhere down the line, you're thinking that what you're about to do is going to be one of those moments that's remembered as you at your very best. That's why you're doing it, right? Why you're marketing yourself, why you're making that joke, or that statement, or that quote? It's why you're wearing that shirt. It's why you're picking that song, why you're drinking that drink, why you're embellishing your job, and why you're taking that stand.

So, ask yourself, will she say it? Will she remember it and say: "I realized there was an attraction when..."

Put yourself in her shoes, tick time forward a few minutes, hours, or days, to a moment later on when she's describing you to somebody else (which is a good thing to an extent, because at least you were memorable). Sitting at lunch with her friend, hopefully talking about a pretty cool guy (you, dummy), she'll say, in as many words, "I realized there was an attraction when..." It'll sound like that. 

"He was really (funny (sexy (smart))) when..."

What did you do? What will you do? What will you not do? What do you regret?

It works a couple of ways. If you can definitely see her not saying: "I realized there was an attraction when he asked if there was a lot of skin cancer in Texas," then you should probably not ask it. (That's an actual quote, and we know the guy that said it, he's also kind of a genius, but in a different way from Thom Yorke.) Of course, it's hard to predict this sort of thing, but before you ask if her dad had big feet too ("because your dad had big feet, and, you know, it's a genetic thing"), just... think, dude.

Think hard before you dance, for example. You could count on one hand how many times a man's dance moves at a house party specifically got him laid. Don't bust a move. Don't try to breakdance, or do the robot, or the shopping cart, or the Gaga. It's a bad fucking idea. Singular motions with some movement in your feet will do the job. Don't be a fucking freak. You're better off going to Meringue class, which is a great conversation piece, and good life skill (plus, it's a fun word to say when your drunk). Don't flail like a muppet, don't seriously ask if she likes your moves, in fact, the more distance you can put between yourself and bad dancers, the better.

"I realized there was an attraction when we stepped aside for some fresh air and started making fun of all the bad dancers."

There's a time and place for everything.

(click to embiggen)

Peace out, cub scout.

-- Ghost Little
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#3 -- Bonesaws & Lambchops

". . .but right now, in this Shaw's organic food aisle, one of them -- could be either the man or the woman -- hates their existence right now."

A lot of grad students live near Doberman and I, and they are fairly funny people to observe, actually. To preface this story, there's a shopping plaza near the house, with a bookstore and an Ace Hardware and a (fucking. . .) Radio Shack and a Dunkin Donuts (with chairs inside! (so you know it's classy)). And most relevant, there's a Shaw's in there, and that Shaw's charges painfully high prices, ostensibly forcing you to pay Whole Foods prices for Star Market merch, which is like being bludgeoned with an Alaskan King Crab while trying to shop at a Star Market. Fuck, whatever, we get the student discount at Ace Hardware because we show them a student ID from ages ago. The photo on the ID is just a little scary, because it looks like it's of an moonlighting EMT that only took the job because of an unhealthy desire to steal people's organs and store them in jars. It's an emphatically bad photograph. But we digress.

That Shaw's is the brick and mortar embodiment of submission. Basically, if there was a TV show about your life, this Shaw's would be where a lot of your 'Season 2' would take place. Your 'Hatch,' if you will. Imagine the scenario. Season 1, boy works job. Girl meets boy. They identify one another as "better than terrible and occasionally bearable." Then job fucks boy over. Girl plays mother, tries to fix boy -- and for the record, either of these things could be reversed, there are no gender roles in this hypothetical. Boy wants money, girl wants boy to get his shit together and get money. Boy applies to grad schools around the area, couple moves to this particular neighborhood that caters to the grad student lifestyle.

(But Ghost Little, you've written yourself into a corner, there is no 'grad-student lifestyle!' Very astute. Come in here boy, have a cigar, you're gonna go far!)

The couple is running out of money. They need food. They go to the Shaw's.

Oh, let the games begin!

Now, above all else, this couple is happy that they're with somebody, but right now, in this Shaw's organic food aisle, one of them -- could be either the man or the woman -- hates their existence right now. Dragging their aching feet down the organic food aisle, they've clearly just finished a run that only the other person wanted to go on, and picking a flavor of Annie's Mac & Cheese (which they really do like) is the last thing they want to be doing right now. They spite their significant other so much that it's funny, then sad, then funny again, like a cosine curve. And the chipper one, who wanted to go on a run and then go to the store and maybe hit up the RedBox, recognizes the contempt, compounding this congealed hilarity. S/he has to be doubly-peppy because his or her G/BF has given the fuck up. They're the walking dead. Their autopilot capabilities blur away from reality and now border science-fiction. If anybody ever came up to us and asked "what do you hate about modern relationships?" we could just point to one of those couples and say "well, pretty much that."

People that hate being at the store and fight every step of the way are missing the point. You're there on a covert mission to get in, buy your shit, and get out before Liquid Snake knows what the fuck happened. You know that it sucks, it always does, so why agonize over it? You'll just make trouble for your very existence.

(click to embiggen)

-- Ghost Little
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

#2 -- Skip-And-Go

". . .fuck the Greek System with its first-rites and birth-rites and. . . night. . . lights(?) The Internet is the congealed collective unconscious, and for all its inane stupidity, it can spot the creative and the original, and a frat brother is neither of those things!"

We want to start a new feature. It's called sponsorship!

Today's entry (which we'll get to in just a sec) is brought to you by something the Internet loves and something the Internet hates. It's fairly self-explanatory.

The Internet Loves: [Nikolai Tesla]

The Internet Hates: [The Greek System]

Nikolai Tesla:

In short, Nikolai Tesla is a living manifestation of all that is fucking badass about science, most notably the madder sectors. He basically was the template for Steampunk, the second greatest of the ‘Punks, just below ‘Cyber- (think Ghost in the Shell) and just above ‘Desert- (Think Lawrence of Arabia, if Peter O'Toole rode a camel made of riveted steel powered by depleted Uranium). The Internet loves that kind of shit. Tesla was a rebel, a wizard, and a psycho that experimented with the type of scorching electricity you envision when you air guitar, or pretend you’re the Olympian king Zeus in one of his less bestiality-charged moments. Fucking LIGHTNING, not... electricity. Seriously though, fuck Thomas Edison, the constipated old prig. David Bowie hates you, Thomas Edison, and the Internet loves Nikolai Tesla. God bless the magnifying transmitter!

The Greek System:

And the Greek System! The Internet hates the Greek System. Frats, sorors, whatever -- if the Internet owned a battery of space lasers, the remains of every Kappa Delta Rape-Cave chapter would make Human Centipede look reasonable and sane by comparison -- pastel collars and Land Rover keychains fluttering back to earth amidst red mist and shell necklaces. Fraternities are the summation of a lot of things the Internet loathes: bros, backwards hats, entitlement, unrestricted human abuse, and elitism. Fuck exclusive, unattainable joy that’s given to some and withheld from others, and fuck the Greek System with its first-rites and birth-rites and. . . night. . . lights(?) The Internet is the congealed collective unconscious, and for all its inane stupidity, it can spot the creative and the original, and a frat brother is neither of those things!

Now, our regularly-scheduled programming. We liked the "Brought to you by..." feature, so we'll probably use it again. If you have any suggestions, ummm... suggest them.

How awesome would a completely empty town be? For personal use, we mean. You pay a small fee. You get all the beer you can drink. And you are set loose into an empty town. Don't think it would be awesome? It fucking would be! You can throw rocks at cars. You can take a shit on the sidewalk. You can reach over the bar and drink out of the beer tap like it's a water fountain. You can upend a mailbox, read some unsent letters, and then jaywalk. You could take a nap in the middle of the street! How would you feel? You'd feel like a goddamn badass, that's how! You could bring in some friends and hit golf balls out of the back of a moving pickup at passing buildings. You could have a really loud party inside a library and play King of the Hill on top of a big pile of books. You could eat cheeseburgers while playing a church organ. You could push a station wagon into a gorge. You could play with the meat slicer at the super market. You could burn every copy of Twilight in a bookstore. You could make really strong coffee at the abandoned Starbucks. At the laundromat, you could fill every machine with soap, turn them all on, and leave the lids open, running out into the street while foam chases you like the blob, from that movie The Blob. You could run a rally race around the town square, out to the high school baseball diamond, through the lumber mill, and straight out the front window of the McDonald's.

Chaos, and fun, would ensue.

(click to embiggen)

-- Ghost Little

on Twitter  |  @GhostLitte_WTF

Monday, November 15, 2010

#1 -- A Grecian $5

"You'll go in for a bite and it has the texture of a tomato but it tastes like re-barfed worms that a mother bird evacuates into its baby's mouth. Suddenly the skin on this plant you're eating will puncture and a carcass of seeds and whatnot will flop onto your tongue."

I had a conversation with Doberman earlier today about how much soup can weird me out. It's tasty and all, but it's also a mystery. A grisly murder mystery made of parts of things. It's an underwater cave that heroes of Greek myth can only swim to when the tides are right. And who the fuck knows what you're going to find in there! Your local soup vendor may warn you of the soup's contents. Tortellini and cheese. Well, OK, that sounds good. We'll order it and instantly regret not asking the standard follow-up question: Are there going to be any cave monsters or minotaurs in there once we dive in, searching for tortellini? Wait, the water is what color? The plants in there look like what? We get the soup, look into its depths, and we start imagining the self-sustaining eco-systems that live inside the mouth of a whale, with microscopic worlds and their amber waves of strange, vag-shaped plants. We hope for the best, we inject a tiny bit of optimism.

Pretty soon, you're in the cave and you're jabbing at the advertised contents that you can actually see and identify, maybe wading into the deeper, darker end of the broth. Something's in there. But you're not quite sure. It's dark. And it's heavy. And it doesn't stay on your spoon very well. Something's making it slippery. Pretty soon, you're digging chunks of stuff out of the broth. It just sits there, dripping off of your spoon like a fat kid too scared to jump off a diving board. Do you trust it? Can you even identify it? A plant? You'll go in for a bite and it has the texture of a tomato but it tastes like re-barfed worms that a mother bird evacuates into its baby's mouth. Suddenly the skin on this plant you're eating will puncture and a carcass of seeds and whatnot will flop onto your tongue. Well, fuck, you don't want to look like a pussy, afraid of soup, so dive in deeper! Pretty soon, you're IN the soup, spooning up these fear-vaggies. C'mon, optimism, optimism! Oh, but we can't even keep that facad going! It's terrible, weird, and digestion is the only thing that can kill these dick-weeds. When this happens, we'll occasionally start avoiding the parts of the soup we like. We'll go after the weird, spotted, seed-encrusted, 3-shade pepper ball. It looks like a testicle. Fuck it, we're going in. We'll at least have that one good bit of tortellini when we get through all of these. We paid $5 for soup, we've gotta get our money's worth!

What if the restaurant just loads the soup up with this shit, lets the customer get one look at it, and dumps your half-eaten bowl back into the pot? We've never worked in the food-prep world, and we have no friends, so we can't confirm these kinds of theories. We think of this kind of stuff and we feel like damn geniuses -- that we've stumbled upon their skeevy fucking scam. What? Soup? Yes, it's 8 types of ancient Greek cave-vegetables and local pastas. They never mention that the broth is made from 69% human backwash and it tastes like burned soap.

(click to embiggen)

-- Ghost Little (and Doberman)
on Twitter  |  @GhostLitte_WTF

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's That From? #0 -- Negative Zero

“What’s That From?” is a 3-panel comic that tries its damnedest to contain it’s two main characters, Ghost Little and Doberman, who live their lives as a series of interconnected non-sequiturs. Ghost writes and draws the strip and Doberman is a robot. The title “What’s That From?” is derived from the two of them attempting to recall where exactly all their banter and references come from, or, on a good day, if their ramblings and shenanigans are actually original. It’s also funny that the acronym for it is "WTF?" And finally, if somebody were to quote it in real life, and somebody else asks what they’re quoting, it’d turn into an Abbot and Costello routine, which the kids go bum-over-noggin' for.

As the days go by, Ghost Little and Doberman dissect the human condition, frequently touching on people’s relationship with modern technology, and they also make horribly off-color jokes directed at people that deserve ridicule. Their adventures are most certainly not for those with weak stomachs. But Ghost is getting worried. He keeps wondering where his ideas come from -- are they ever his, or are they always from somewhere else? Is there any originality, any substance, any color, any progress, or any definition in this crazy, ‘effed-up world? How can we exist in the present if we can’t first understand where we’ve come from?

There are rumblings in the east, maybe or maybe not near Mordor, we’re not really sure. The suspicion that all that has ever been perceived by mankind is starting to coalesce into a vivid sentience is beginning to come true. Legends call it the Singularity or the Monomyth. Ghost Little calls it his worst nightmare, and he has the worst feeling that he’s been there before!


-- Ghost Little