As I’ve said a great many times, I do not deal well with heat. However, I’d rather live in a town with warm winters and unbearably hot summers than in a town with warm-ish summers and unbearably cold winters.
Either way, you end up not wanting to go outside for half of the year. In a town with the unbearably hot summers, the winters are warm, and during the summer, at least the roads are clear.
The spaceship in the first panel is from the 1953 film version of War of the Worlds. The ship is called the “Martian War Machine.” There’s a guy I know, the guy I drew as the fly in panel three, as a matter of fact, who thought that Martian War Machine would be a great name for a band.
Many of the guys I know have at least one idea for a band name floating around in their heads, even if (like me) they do not play an instrument.
My band name is Foxtrot 101. It’s a Disney cast member thing.
Ric has often said that if he ever starts a jazz quartet, it will be called The New Savage Beatdowns.
A lot of people don’t know that they made three Creature from the Black Lagoon movies. There was the original Creature from the Black Lagoon, where they come to his lagoon and try to kill him. Next, there was The Revenge of the Creature, where they capture him and take him to a sort of 1950s SeaWorld, which he escapes, causing them to try to kill him. Finally, they made The Creature Walks Among Us, in which they capture the creature and “fix” him by removing his gills so that he can breathe air. They make him wear clothes and keep him in a pen out back. He escapes, and they try to kill him.
I remind you the creature was considered the villain in these movies. The ’50s were an interesting time.
Note from Missy: I think the Graham-blob is one of the cutest things to ever appear in Basic Instructions. I just wanna give him a squeeze.
This was the first in an experimental series of comics expanding on the same theme. I started doing a comic about what clods we men can be, and found I had far more material than would fit in one comic.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t know how or why women put up with us.
I could have done a full comic on the concept of a stun ray set to kill.
“If it kills them, it’s a kill ray.”
“No, it stuns them to death.”
“But it still kills them!”
“Yes! that’s the point of the kill setting.”
Looking at the comic, something struck me as odd about it. It took a while before I realized that the Emperor doesn’t get the snot beat out of him in this one! I think, given his record, we have to classify that as a “win.”
Mullet Boss’s dialog in panel one is, sadly, the actual climax of an actual story a coworker told me. As in the comic, he was doing this to save a smaller, relatively defenseless dog, but still, I think he could tell from the look on my face that I didn’t think the actions he described were quite as heroic as he did.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he saved the smaller dog. I was just uncomfortable with the glee he took in describing his assault on the Doberman, at length, while acting it out, and imitating the sounds it made.
After this comic ran, I received the following tweet from Grant Imahara:
“Hey, @binstructions great comic! How did you know?? ;)”
I thought that was tremendously classy of him, considering I had pretty much accused him of humping a machine.
Why has no toy company put out an infant/toddler activity center based on Darth Vader’s chest-mounted control panel? Have each button and switch trigger a different sound or light effect. You’d hang it over the side of their playpen. It’s a terrible idea, but it would sell.
The person I’m talking to in this comic is a guy I worked with at one time, but we worked at a pretty nice place. Having someone talk all the time about how good his job is doesn’t make for a very funny comic strip, so I made my fictional workplace a dysfunctional dump.
I only used use the drawings of my work friend a few times, but one of those times, I had him ask if he could “put on a Speedo and ride me to Thailand,” so I think he suffered enough.
Here, in panel two of this comic, you can see the larval beginnings of the Knifeketeer.
Oh man, I can’t wait until the super hero comics really kick in. Just sayin’.
Note from Missy: The chain mail gloves are the only fictitious garment in the last panel. Scott does, in fact, own multiple fezzes, more than one luchador mask, and a smoking jacket.
When I was a child, my father was a bit of a pipe smoker. He had a wooden pipe rack, and a selection of a few pipes. His favorite was a Calabash, the kind of pipe Sherlock Holmes smoked (in the old black and white movies, at least).
Then, we were burglarized. They didn't take much (we weren't exactly wealthy) but they did take Dad's Sherlock Holmes pipe, mostly for the irony, I have to assume.
Hey, if you’re interested in a supernatural, and comedic interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, an old friend of mine wrote a book you might enjoy.
Note from Missy: Also, the second book in the Warlock Holmes series is coming out May 16, 2017. 😊
Our experience has been that some cats just reach an age where they start throwing up occasionally. One of our cats fell into that category.
Even though I consider myself to be tremendously lazy, I eventually decided that it was better to clean the mess immediately. Waiting only allowed it to dry into the carpet, or increased the chances that I would forget where it was and step in it. Both of those outcomes were worth avoiding.
The phone I had that broke was an early HTC model that was terrible from day one. The older phone I went back to was my trusty Palm Treo.
My Treo was made in 2003. It had a touch screen and a web browser. It could handle e-mails, and text messages. It played MP3s, and video files. I read books on it, and could open and edit PDFs, Word, and Excel files.
It did all of this years before the iPhone was introduced.
That’s why I’ve always said that what made the iPhone special wasn’t anything that it could do. It was the fact that it did many of those things well. The Treo didn’t. It was a fine e-mail machine, but almost everything else it did was severely compromised.
Also, when you held it up next to a first-generation iPhone, the Treo looked like an import from the 1960s Soviet Union. If I still had it, all I’d have to do is spray it with copper metallic paint and it would be steampunk.
This comic has what is possibly the best first panel of any comic I ever wrote.
A few weeks after this comic ran, a nationally syndicated comic did a strip based on the same idea. A few readers pointed it out, but I chose not to make a big deal out of it. I’ve been in the “trying desperately to think of something funny to say” business long enough to know that this stuff happens.
Right now, all around the world, there are thousands of comedians, writers, and cartoonists trying their hardest to come up with an original funny idea. It’s inevitable that two people will get a similar idea around the same time occasionally. Plagiarism is, of course, completely unacceptable, but the syndicated cartoonist in this case does original work, and their execution of the idea was different enough that I was happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I may seem overly trusting to you, but I’ve been on the opposite side of this problem more than once. A couple of times when I was a comedian, I had people (one of whom I had never heard of, and another whose writing I had ZERO respect for) accuse me of stealing from them. I also once did a comic about the fact that my middle name is Oscar, and I ended up doing a joke that was very similar to a preexisting comic from the excellent webcomic Perry Bible Fellowship.
Heck, just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a commentary on this very website where I discussed my attitude toward Millennials, and a couple of days later, after I’d written it but before it posted, the author John Scalzi wrote a very similar opinion on his blog.
These things happen. You just have to make sure they aren’t happening deliberately.
I wrote the “his mistress fell on him” joke for a private gig, back when I was a comedian.
This guy hired me to do twenty minutes at his wife’s 50th birthday party, then, after everything was set, he requested that instead of my normal act I pretend to be a private investigator, there digging for dirt on his wife and her friends. It seemed particularly important to him that I go on and on about what awful, nefarious people they all were. He repeatedly told me to “really let them have it.”
I told him repeatedly that it was a bad idea, that it was not what I agreed to when I took the job, and that it would not work, but he was insistent. I ended up doing what I always did in those situations (it came up more than once). I wrote a quick, funny intro making a glancing attempt to fit the client’s wishes, then transitioned into my usual act. The theory was that if I was a comedian, and if I made the audience laugh, the client wouldn’t be able to justify not paying me.
So, I went up, pretended to be a detective for a couple of minutes, (because that’s how detectives do it, they crash parties and address the whole group at once without asking any questions) then admitted that I was a comedian, and did my usual act. The dialog in the second panel is adapted from the only detective joke I came up with that I liked.
Audience enjoyed it. The client paid me, reluctantly. But, I’m delighted to report that his money spent the same despite his lack of enthusiasm.
By this point, I had lived in Florida for a couple of years. I went back to Seattle to visit. I had come to realize that I needed more Rick poses for the comic. He agreed to pose for more photographs (I drew the images from photographs), but I was shocked to discover that he had completely changed his look.
Of course, by this time the comic had been running Seattle Weekly for a couple of years. I don’t know that the comic was a factor in his decision to change his appearance, but I like to think it was.
This comic is partially adapted from an idea I had a long time ago: a pitch for a sitcom called “Nerthus and Ned.” It was a sort of a modern twist on I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched.
Ned was a normal, modern guy who discovers that he’s reincarnated, and that in a former life, during the bronze age, he was drowned in a peat bog as a sacrificed to the goddess Nerthus. Nerthus, a beautiful woman with a German accent, who wears a sexy dress made of dirty burlap, comes to claim him, and ends up living with him in his apartment. She uses her magical powers to change every aspect of his life.
She has two powers: she can read his mind, and cause him excruciating pain.
I never pitched it to any networks, though it might have been a good fit for Fox.
My favorite line in the comic is “Mint juleps.”
At one time, Ric was married to a woman who liked the idea of living on an old-fashioned farm. I mean no offense to her. She was, and is, a great person. She once helped me get a job when I badly needed one. In the end, she simply wasn’t able to withstand the incredible pressures of life with Ric.
Anyway, she watched a show called Frontier House, where modern families tried to live as people in Montana did in the 1880s. I’ve always been interested in how, thanks to distance and cultural differences, time is strangely non-uniform. For instance: in my home town, the Great Depression seems to have lasted well into the ’50s. So, Ric and I would joke about how funny it would be for Ric to ruin Frontier House by showing up claiming to be one of the participants’ visiting cousin, the white suit-wearing southern dandy who refuses to help with chores and sits on the porch all day demanding mint juleps.
Once they got used to him, I would then show up as another cousin, the Saville Row tailor from Victorian London, who’s constantly measuring people’s inseams and offering to make them suits that cost more than their entire farm is worth.
People often say that Millennials are lazy, unfocused, and entitled. As near as I can tell, the primary difference between Millennials and Generation X is that we Gen-Xers had the good taste to wear flannel and listen to Pearl Jam while our parents told us that we were lazy, unfocused, and entitled. We were also a clear improvement over the Baby Boomers, who wore bell bottoms and listened to Country Joe and the Fish while their parents told them that they were lazy, unfocused, and entitled.
Of course, the Baby Boomers’ parents were the Greatest Generation, many of whom spent their twenties fighting Nazis. But I’m pretty sure that many of those Nazis told them that they were lazy, unfocused, and entitled.
(NOTE: I write these commentaries several days in advance. In the time between when I wrote this and when it published, John Scalzi published some similar sentiments about millennials on his blog. This is a complete coincidence, and we don't say the exact same things, but I thought the similarity was striking enough to mention.)