Only after I completed this comic did I realize that I had forgotten to include Masoch’s robot, Slave-2, who vanished after appearing early in “The Search.” I guess I can rationalize it as Slave-2 being off-panel with Mascoh’s ship somewhere!
Archive for ‘Lance Gemini’
“Post-Search” was originally the last four comics of “The Search.” I just split them off because I felt like having some fun with Schwartz and the Galanos brothers first. Although I still have one longer script from back when I wrote it four years ago, I’m trying to keep stories to three or four comics if possible. With only one new page a week (and hoping I can keep up that pace), I don’t want to spend too much time in one place. It’s also a challenge to myself to trim some of the fat – keep the better jokes and move the narrative along. I think the days of 22-part video game wrestling sagas and epic adventures with The Smurfs are behind us.
AWESOME news this past week! The sequel to “The LEGO Movie” will be a musical… set in SPACE! I of course wonder if LEGO will delve back into Classic Space for the film, seeing as they already introduced Benny and his “SPACESHIP!” in the first installment.
It’s funny when I think back to 2008, when this comic began. My idea was to create a story for the classic LEGO Space sets, which were released in a time when The LEGO Group presented most of their building sets with little context and let kids’ imagination fill in the blanks. This comic was just my (adult) take on it. And when this comic was created, those classic Space sets were pretty much just a nostalgic memory for most people. Today, LEGO has homaged and referred to Classic Space so many times, and possibly will now feature it in a new film, that I feel like I’m creating fan fiction more than ever. But although this comic clearly features classic LEGO sets, I like to think that the characters, stories and humor stand on their own!
First of all, don’t get too excited. Just as it’s been the last few years, I don’t have the time to create this comic at the rate I did almost a decade (!) ago. What I did realize is that I miss having the comic in my life, and I miss sharing it with the people who enjoy it. (Some still pine for it, which was a huge factor in creating today’s strip. I couldn’t leave the Gemini twins hanging in mortal peril much longer, either, could I?) I would also love to one day, MAYBE, actually wrap up a storyline or two. It would be nice to complete a new comic once in awhile, maybe once every couple of weeks, maybe once a month, who knows? Let’s just see what happens.
In the meantime, I’ve worked hard on my fiction writing and managed to sell a few short stories. One of them actually stars Commander Schwartz himself, and it’s the prose version of “Stuck On Mars.” If you’d like to read it (and many other fine stories), it can be found on Amazon in “Jouth Anthology: The Fantastic Flying Saucer Stories” RIGHT HERE.
Anyway, it’s nice to see you again. How’s life been treating you?
Groundhog Day, the one time of the year when we place our faintest superstitions in the paws of a weather-prescient rodent. Punxsutawney Phil has a lot of pressure riding on his furry shoulders as he gets yanked out of his hole by a bunch of bearded guys in top hats and nudged to decide if he spies his shadow or not. The outcome of this high-pressure moment, as a crowd of onlookers in a Pennsylvania field called Gobbler’s Knob and throughout the entire world wait with captured breath, will supposedly determine if winter will release its icy grip several weeks early or not. It’s hard to know what goes through Phil’s little brain as he is thrust into the spotlight, but I think I personally have an idea. You see, to understand the groundhog, you have to become the groundhog. And I have become the groundhog, my friends. Wait, don’t call the white coats on me yet. Let me explain…
For my very good friend Dawn, Groundhog Day is like a religious holiday. She reveres it as a religious experience and a time of renewal for reason I don’t fully comprehend but nonetheless respect. I can’t deny whimsy. She had a dream to one day travel to Punxsutawney and be there in person for Phil’s grand revelation. A few years back, she asked if I would accompany her as she finally embarked on this trip to the holy land. You have to understand that this was a great honor to be asked. She also needed someone to drive her, but I’m perfectly fine with that. So, the plans were in motion and I arrived at her house on February 1st ready to become immersed in all that is groundhog. And immersion would truly be the correct word for the situation. Because as I arrived she excitedly told me that the costumes were ready. “Um, what costumes?” I enquired, sudden dread gnawing its way through my belly. It turned out she had forgotten to tell me one minor detail about our trip, the one that involved a friend of hers making full-size groundhog costumes. Full-size groundhog costumes that the two of us would wear as we appeared in public in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. My initial instinct was to flee, like the groundhog that lives under your porch when you break out the lawnmower, but so much effort had gone into making the costumes and Dawn was so exuberant that I couldn’t say no.
Dawn and I ventured out on the several-hour ride to Pennsylvania, the groundhog costumes waiting patiently in the trunk of my car to embarrass me. To this day I thank the good Lord for the $1 Long Island Iced Teas available throughout the night in our motel bar. I’m not sure how else I would have gotten to the point where I actually stood outside my parked car a short distance from Gobbler’s Knob before sunrise, stepping into a giant, furry rodent costume. I looked at Dawn in her costume; she looked like a giant teddy bear and was all smiles. The costumes had hats with ears that tied around your head, but your face was exposed so you could actually see and breathe. We wore rubber muzzles around our noses so we could pass as actual giant groundhogs to the untrained observer. I pulled my costume on tight and glanced in my car’s side window. I somehow looked even sillier than Dawn, a taller, slightly chubbier groundhog with lighter-tinted brown fur. I took my first tentative steps away from the car, knowing there was no way the eyes of everyone we passed would not be compelled to stare. I was suddenly a costumed character at Disney World, only instead of amusement park rides and Florida sunshine, there was just an army of bleary-eyed groundhog watchers and a frosty February morning. My first consolation was that the groundhog costume was incredible insulation. As everyone else was bundled up in heavy jackets, hats and mittens, I was strolling around in my own one-man heating booth. The second consolation was that we quickly walked into groundhog mania. The entirety of Punxsutawney, an otherwise average rural town square, becomes a surreal landscape dedicated to worship of the woodchuck for one week a year. There are effigies of Phil all over the place and regular celebrations held in his honor. People travel from all over to this land-beaver Mecca. I didn’t see many other visitors in full costume, so we were enthusiastically greeted by many of the people we passed and posed for photo after photo. We were stars! Well, until the real star was ready to emerge.
Housed in his little wooden house on Gobbler’s Knob, Phil might just have snoozed right through all of the festivities going on around him. When the time came, he was yanked out and presented to an adoring crowd that probably confused the crap out of him. As Phil was lightly manhandled yet seemingly content, I felt for him. I knew what it was like to look so furry and adorable and have the world take notice. I knew what it was like to have so much pressure put on you unexpectedly, and to just sit back and enjoy a few confused moments in public until you get to go lie down somewhere and fall back asleep. I believe the great, top-hatted groundhog interpreters on stage said that Phil saw his shadow that year and therefore predicted six more weeks of winter. But that didn’t matter. I could see the warmth of the expression on Dawn’s face, her long-time dream finally realized in perhaps the most enjoyably ridiculous way possible. And clad tightly and bravely in my groundhog costume, I felt pretty warm, too.
Being in prison can change a man. The sweet charms of freedom you never even knew you had become sharp barbs of despair once you’re thrown in a dank, concrete vault away from life’s pleasures. The simple joy of waking at the crack of noon on a Sunday to step outside and inhale the faint, wistful scent of the the day’s first barbeque in the distance becomes a mournful memory when you’re locked up in the clink. No longer can you plop down in front of the computer for untold hours worth of Warcraft and porn. The delightful taste of Hot Pockets ceases being at your beck-and-call whenever you can muster the energy to lift yourself up from the couch and trudge over to the microwave. Even your every-other-day shower becomes clear for the luxury it was. No, in prison you are faced with the stark, dispassionate truths of a new reality: a scenic toilet-side view, a tattered copy of Librarian Professional Monthly as your only source of entertainment, food so bad that your own stumbling efforts look like culinary masterpieces, and communal showers that always end you with feigning screaming insanity as the guards drag you away to avoid either your face or your asshole being repeatedly pummeled, or both! Yes, prison can certainly change a man and the assessment he has of life’s priorities and everyday pleasures.
Thankfully, I was not in prison. Rather, I was busy lazily not doing the comic for five consecutive months as I tried constantly to determine what else I should be doing with all the time that I pour into it. I usually contemplated this while stretched out on the couch watching late-night TV. And there was a lot of sleeping on it, wonderful sleep. Sometimes I even dedicated hours and hours of thought to this problem while scouring the Internet for news on the latest Doctor Who episodes. Well, I did manage to intermittently dawdle with some fictional prose exploits of the comic’s characters (again), focus a bit more on work especially after getting a raise, start kicking myself into exercising a bit more, go on some groovy vacations and spend more quality time with my cat. But I can’t honestly say I made major, sweeping life changes that I’m happy with. It’s been more a gradual, G-R-A-D-U-A-L incline that I’m continuing to mountaineer. That’s why I wish I could say, “BOOM! I’m sorry for vanishing again; comic’s back!” It’s more like, “I’m going to strive to trickle out a few more comics than I have been, but there will still likely be various gaps of time between updates.” It’s frustrating, because I still love telling this story and there’s a lot more to tell. It’s just so damned time-consuming. So, how have you all been?
This is the comic that I previewed in outline format when I was interviewed awhile back on Brick Comic Network.
The miniature model of the Stardefender 2000 that I’m using for distance shots was designed by Legostein, who has mastered building LEGO ships in the miniature scale. He has graciously given me his blessing to use his designs in the comic, and you can see a gallery of his Classic LEGO Space models at this link. Legostein has a unique building style that manages to capture the essence of the original ships with a handful of parts, and I believe the use of his designs will help me in creating an illusion of depth in my photos. Although his Classic Space ships aren’t up there yet, the “Mini Ships” button link at left has more of his designs from other properties like Star Trek, Star Wars and Stargate.
I’ve been on my usual slight summer hiatus, obviously, partially due to being busy and partially due to the complexity of planning and shooting the space scenes in this part of the story. (I’m enjoying the way they’ve come out so far…) Summer is so fleeting, especially when you’re seemingly the lone guy in the region that loves extreme heat and humidity. I’ve been making an effort to walk outside and go swimming as much as possible. I become miserable when the long, long months of cold weather begin, but at least they afford me more time to do comics.
This story has been brewing all the way back to the third comic I did.
Been awhile since I’ve written for Topless Robot, but my latest article focuses on the most ponderous action figures ever made by the Mego Corporation, like Disco Mugato and the grandmother from The Waltons!