Friday, November 29, 2013

Touching Base #15

Another round of Touching Base, and it's been a while, to which I apologize, but I was in Texas for a lot longer than I intended.

Guess I'll start with the "bad" news.  I say bad because it's not really, no comics died since August, but Shi Long Pang and Zebra Girl did go on an announced hiatus after completing their most recent chapters.  Shi Long Pang's artist is cleaning his pallet with a side project (that's not being put online from what I can tell) while he writes out the story for the final volume of Shi Long Pang.  Zebra Girl, meanwhile, is mostly doing site updates (supposedly, heard that story before) and plans to be back up next year.  WHEN next year is a question.

Makeshift Miracle is updating again, but I'm having issues getting back into it.  Not sure what the problem is, maybe the long delay between chapters or something.  Anyway, it's still in the Monthly file because I'm kind of lazy about it.

I'm not lazy, however, when it comes to Alex Ze Pirate who made a promise to get back to T-Th and I moved it in my bookmarks over to said directory.  And it hasn't updated since September now.  Yeah.  So I'm too lazy to change it's position in the list here, but it's getting damn close to being shifted off to Hiatus.

Speaking of Hiatus, looks like Edible Dirt will probably be reassigned to Dead next month.  It'll be over a year since it last updated mid December, and I won't be waiting for it any more after that.  Sad to see it go, but again, it hasn't updated in a year, so no big loss at this point.

Of course, The Meek is also at it's year marker, but he at least told us why it's not updating, so it gets to stay in Hiatus.

Meanwhile, Twilight Lady's alternate comic, Vine, um, pretty much hasn't done anything after the first few posts.  Oh, it's got a full edition, which you can purchase, but no more updates online, I guess.  Doesn't matter, but it does seem to connect to Twilight Lady somehow, though I am unclear on that.

Sinfest has been having some odd uptime issues of late.  I don't know if it's server issues or what, no news on that front, but I have my suspicions.  Suspicions that someone has been DDoSing the site or something otherwise underhanded.  Lots of negative reaction to Sinfest as of late, and it seems anything written about the comic gets attention.  In fact, my brief article on Sinfest I did a bit ago has gotten more individual hits than any other article on the blog.  I think that's due to the fact that the Bad Webcomic Wiki linked to it.  Hi to those from there, BTW.

Last bit of negative news is the continued truncated schedule for Sluggy Freelance due to injury to Abram's hand.  Hope he gets better soon, but I'm surprised he can keep the comic looking as good as it does despite the injury.  I do wonder if he'll scale back permanently, but no way to know for now.

Okay, enough downer to bad news.  Elsie Hooper announced a new format:  Full pages once a week.  Which is better than the 2 or 3 panels whenever he feels like it.  I joke, but the schedule and format were kind of haphazard before so declaring a more regular design is a good step towards finally ending this comic which has been near the end of it's run for, um, a while now.

Does Not Play Well With Others has started a Patreon campaign.  What is it?  Well, you sign up, offering to pay so much for each page he draws.  If he doesn't draw a comic, he doesn't get paid, if he does, he gets paid.  Simple as that.  It's actually an interesting idea and a way to get him motivated to draw it in between reworking Errant Story for publication.  Speaking of which, apparently they've been struggling with cleaning up some of the flash back pages for Errant Story and are possibly looking for help in doing it for future pages, so contact them if you're interested.

Derelict has finished up it's first book.  Yes, it remains one of my favorite comics, and I am thinking about pitching in to it's kickstarter despite not having money.  Second book is set to start with the new year.

I skipped it because I was in Texas, but back in October was Sandra and Woo's 5th anniversary.  Not many comics continue a steady production like that so I do want to congratulate everyone involved, even if it is a bit late.

Speaking of Sandra and Woo, it and Gunnerkrig Court share something in common:  budding sexuality.  Both of their recent storylines have focused on the sexuality of a couple of their characters, and it's been very tasteful and well done.  And likely won't get either comic any flack for it.  I've talked about sexuality, particularly homosexuality (which is what this related to kids) before, and I may revisit the topic again but less about what comics are doing it, and more about WHY they're doing it, but that's an article for another day.

Which brings me to my last topic, that of Dead Winter's artist, who announced her dealing with trans/gender dysphoria for what sounds like the bulk of her life.  I know little about the subject (outside of Material Girl, which isn't much to be honest), but I do give her my full support and hope that things go well for her in the near future.  And it's not just because she draws a comic I throughly enjoy (that's part of it, of course) but because it's the decent and right thing to do.

Next week, assuming I can power through them in time, I might actually have a batch of reviews, if not, I'll say something.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dreams of Stars Part 5

            L’lorne stuck her head into the hut and glanced around the half lighted darkness.  No one.  With a nod of approval she slipped in and headed right for the basket that contained her few possessions.  Of prime concern was the large animal hide bag that sat on top, the one she was about to fill.

            In went the necklace her father had given her, made of sparkling stones and shells from some land where the river met an even greater body of water she had only ever heard stories of.  Next came the blanket she and her mother had constructed together, a great piece of fabric decorated with vibrant symbols of protection and luck.  An extra pair of sandals, her secret stash of sweet rock that she smuggled from the last harvest festival, a small doll made of wood and fabric that she had since she was a kid, all went into the bag.

            "Not even going to say good bye?"  Her mother's voice surprised her, and the bag fell in a lump to the floor.  L’lorne turned to face her, and exposed the pendant she had won, the twisted T.  "You're going with him, aren't you?"  L’lorne couldn't even nod.  Shame suddenly fell on her, trying to force her eyes down to the ground.

            "He said he would teach me," she finally choked out.

            "About what?  What could he teach you that you cannot learn here?"

            "The stars," L’lorne said hesitantly.  "He promised to teach me about the stars."

            Her mother stepped toward her and L’lorne winced in expectance of a slap.  Instead, she was embraced in a hug.  "You're too much like I was at your age."  Her voice softened to almost a whisper.  "I would have gone too, if I had been given a chance.  I always loved to bathe in the light of the stars."


            "There is still so much you have to learn from me.  Things that at your age I didn't even realize I had to learn, things you haven't even thought of yet."  She moved her daughter to look her right in the face.  "How to be a wife, how to be a mother, dozens of others, and I want to teach them to you so bad so you can know all the feelings I am feeling now."

            "If I don't go," L’lorne finally gathered the courage to say.  "Then that's all I'll ever learn.  I'll never know any more."

            "Is that so bad?"  L’lorne couldn't answer, she couldn't be angry either, and fell onto her mother's chest.  "If you go, you'll learn those lessons alone, I won't be there to help you."

            "I know."

            "Your father won't be happy.  Your brothers won't be happy either."

            "I want to learn about the stars."

            Lcorn Denofors lightly pushed her daughter back and smiled into her eyes.  "You can only go if you promise to come back and see me and tell me all you learned."

            L’lorne smiled.  "I promise, I promise."


            Deborah had very little with her, at least as far as L’lorne had seen so far.  There was a photograph of her and her mother, kept in the inside chest pocket, right next to the girl's heart.  In one of the covered pockets was a clutch of credit chips, maybe 30 worth, and a lighter, which seemed a touch out of place.  A half eaten bag of potato chips and a candy bar was in the other pocket, and one glove sat in each of the hand pockets of the coat.

            How much had she left behind?  She had said she had gathered quite a few things before leaving the only home she really ever knew, but she didn't insist on returning for them as L’lorne had expected she would.  Now, as the sun set along the quiet stretch of road some 28 miles away from where they had started, going back for them would be quite impossible.  Well, as far as Deborah was concerned anyway.

            A sign they passed was worn, but read that they had finally entered a new county, and according to the map, there was a town only a couple miles more away.  It would take maybe a half hour of walking at most, just enough time to check into a local motel for the night.

            L’lorne looked back at the girl, and decided that it was impossible.  Deborah was mentally exhausted, but not from the walk, just everything leading up to it was enough to wear out even the most active soul.  She wouldn't admit it, though, that wasn't the kind of person she was, and if it were left to simply that, she would insist that they continue.

            But she didn't know how tired she really was, how much her body had worn out in the last seven hours.  The girl was reasonably fit, for her age and economic bracket, as well as her lifestyle, yet there was no way she could make such a trip on her own, she'd never survive it.  L’lorne had to massage the leg muscles to keep them going, adjust the amount of oxygen flowing through her blood, and her heart rate, so that she could simply keep up.  Lactic acid had to be drawn out carefully, so just enough burn could still be felt, but wouldn't overwhelm and exhaust Deborah, while the rest of the body had to be told not to over react to, well, everything that was happening.  Doing all this while making it almost invisible to Deborah's ever watchful eyes had been difficult, and spoiling it now with a sharp boost to her system just to get her an extra couple of miles wasn't worth the effort.

            "We should stop," L’lorne said aloud.

            Deborah glanced around at fields and road and grunted.  "Yeah, where?"

            "Over there."  A large tree, unremarkable by all accounts, and a cluster of three, car sized rocks stood only a couple of hundred meters away, plenty close enough to make it.

            "Hope you brought blankets, it gets pretty cold at night."  L’lorne only smiled.  They'd be plenty warm enough.  A warm front had, spontaneously, as far as meteorologists were concerned, settled of the entire region.  To help it out, a thick stream of clouds, far too weak to carry any serious rain, but thick enough to trap heat at the surface had come in along with the front.

            Deborah settled down against one of the rocks with a huff.  L’lorne spent a few moments gathering dried sticks and piling them nearby.  As she worked, she watched Deborah rub her tired limbs and desperately try to keep from actually falling asleep.  "You know," L’lorne dropped another pile of sticks and began to organize them into a proper pile for burning.  "You can just go to sleep, I won't hold it against you."

            "I'm fine," Deborah lied, a yawn punctuating her fib.

            L’lorne said nothing.  She grabbed one of the larger, flatter sticks, almost a limb in size, and placed a longer one at a right angle on it and began to drill the longer one into it with her bare hand, while the other hand gathered dried leaves and grass around it.

            "What are you doing?"

            "Starting a fire."  The smoke began to rise up from the pile, and suddenly a sharp light sprung up.  With a push, the now burning leaves slipped under the pile of sticks and began to generate a nice, warming fire.

            "Never seen anyone do that before."

            L’lorne smiled.  "I always used to start fires like this.  Only way I could when I was a kid."

            "I use a lighter."  Deborah dug into her pocket and tossed it to L’lorne who caught it with ease.  She turned the silver, refillable lighter in her hand, feeling the long, narrow groves that had been carved into it long after it had been originally manufactured.

            "Nice.  Your mothers?"

            "Sort of."  Deborah placed one hand out and tested the heat of the fire before bringing the other in to join it.  "She always left it in her coat, using only when she wore it.  I think," she paused, looking to check her own thoughts, then letting them out anyway.  "I think it belonged to my father."

            "Really?"  L’lorne scanned the metal casing looking for a few cells that might have survived the years.  It was habit anymore.

            "Once, when she was using it, I asked her about dad, and she got this real sad look in her eyes and just stared at it, like she was remembering something.  Then she changed the subject."  Her hand flipped over and requested the lighter's return.  L’lorne obliged.  There was no leftover genetic material that couldn't be traced to Deborah or her mother.  It wouldn't take much to find the girl's father, but to what end?  Best case, he would be in the same boat as the mother, worse case. . .

            No, Ritch 'arrd wouldn't have.  Some random woman, relatively uneducated, powerless?  Not his type.  He certainly wouldn't have sent people to grab her off the street if he had, he could have just asked.  In any case, Deborah would have been far more interesting than her mother.

            "Something wrong?"

            "Oh, no, I was just remembering someone I loved once.  You just reminded me of him."

            Another yawn.  "Really?  He leave you too?"

            "Sort of.  Actually, I'm out looking for him.  He's around somewhere, and I'd like to see him again."  L’lorne considered continuing, but the girl had already fallen asleep.  Good, no sense going into too many details, especially since L’lorne herself was a bit short of them as well.  Besides, if she knew Deborah as well as she thought she did, there would be more questions tomorrow.



1.  What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
2.  What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
3.  Does the setting seem fitting?  Would you like to know more?
4.  I didn't write this story with chapters in mind.  If I did, does this seem a good place to begin a chapter?

Dreams of Stars Part 4

             The plate was full of food, a large hamburger, and fries, and Deborah dug into it with a passion reserved for the starving.  The blond waitress, her hair tied up into a tight bun, eyes blue and deep, laid a plate in front of Llorne, a small sandwich, and wished them a good meal.

            "Mama works for Danny," Deborah choked out over her eating.  "Well, she actually works for herself, but if she wants to live in Danny's building and work his streets, she has to pay him a percentage of whatever she earns.  She never makes all that much, but we always had enough to eat."  A large man in a suit and a hat settled down in the booth behind Llorne, and for a moment caught Deborah's eye, mostly because he was very, very large.

            "Anyway," she continued, downing a bit of soda to help wash down the beef, bread, lettuce and onions go down, the tomatoes sat unwanted on the edge of the plate.  "So mama worked the streets before I was even born, then she got pregnant and things changed.  Don't know what she was like before, but the way the other girls talk about those days, she was different."

            "Did you ever know your father?"  Llorne's food remained untouched, and would remain that way.  The skinny woman sitting across from the booth dropped a fork on the floor and bent over to recover it, her long brown hair dusting the floor.

            A handful of fries disappeared into Deborah's mouth.  "No," she said through the chewing, pausing long enough to finish and swallow.  "Never knew him, mama never talked about him either.  I know Danny wasn't happy about it, but the other girls helped mama out until I was born and she could earn a 'proper living' as he called it, again."

            "Order up!"  The cook, a skinny kid with short black hair cried out for the waitress in a high pitched but still quite male voice.

            "When I turned 10, I guess Danny was tired of me living in the place because he said I had to start earning a 'proper living.'  Mama was ticked, refused to let me, not that I wanted to you know?  The other girls gave Danny a hard time about it too, enough that he decided that I could slide on it, for a while.  Still, I had to do something or Danny would throw me and mama out of his apartment complex we lived in, so I had to go on cop watch."

            An old man, grey but still reasonably fit called out to the waitress for the check.  His wife, looking much older than her husband, muttered something about poor service.

            "Cop watch?"

            "Oh sure," Deborah had finished the hamburger, and was now busy covering her fries in lines of ketchup.  "See, the cops get upset when the girls do their thing along certain streets, the ones they seem to do best on, incidentally.  So my job, along with some other kids Danny would hire, would stand watch at the corners looking for them to come by, and when they did, we'd cry out and the girls would pull away from the curb and look like they were just passing through instead of working the street.

            "I was pretty good at it too.  Danny even said so, as when I worked a corner, no cop ever got by.  Not even when they were on the other side.  He said it was like I could almost smell them.  So that's what I was doing that night."  She paused and looked towards Llorne's untouched sandwich.  "Are you going to eat that?"

            Llorne smiled and pushed it forward to her.  The girl grabbed at the sandwich and began chewing, the half eaten plate of fries forgotten in favor of a short ruben.  "You were working a corner the night your mother disappeared."

            Deborah swallowed and her eyes grew angry.  "Disappeared nothing, she was kidnapped, not block away from where I was."  The anger evaporated to sadness.  "I couldn't get to her in time."

            A hand reached out and grasped hers.  "It's not your fault," Llorne said.  "Now, what happened?"

            The sandwich, only a handful of bites taken out of it, settled onto the plate, the burning hunger that had brought it to this side of the table at least temporarily gone.  "I was working the corner for mama, Mary and Louise about three weeks ago.  They were walking along 5th, between Hyde and Sullivan, it’s a very prime spot.  I was at Hyde about a block away from where mama was when this limo pulls around the corner.  I didn't think nothing of it because a limo means money and on 5th, that means money looking for a girl for the night.

            "Now I don't watch mama or the limo because I'm looking for the cops.  Don't want to mess up a prime deal because some patrol car decides to go down the road.  I look over after a bit and mama's talking to the limo passenger.  I guess she didn't like what he had to say, because she pulls away from the limo, pretty angry from what I could see.  That's when the rear doors of the limo, on both sides, open up and three big, scary guys in white suits climb out.

            "They grab mama and she screams something, I don't hear it because I'm screaming too.  Mary and Louise come running, but one of the big guys pulls a gun.  I start running to help mama, trying to get close, but there are suddenly crowds of people in my way, refusing to move to let me through.  Maybe they saw the gun, I don't know, but I tried to force my way through.  I can hear mama yelling, I think she was trying to tell me to run away, but I'm not really listening, I'm too busy.  Suddenly, Mary's arm reaches out of nowhere and grabs me and begins dragging me deeper into the crowds.

            "They shoved her into the limo, she's screaming the whole way, but I don't know what she's screaming because I’m screaming just the same.  The limo then takes off, but I'm being pulled faster by Mary and Louise who has joined in holding me back.  I don't know how I remembered, but I got the license plate number even as I'm screaming and thrashing.  I wanted to go to the cops after the limo was long gone, but Mary insisted that Danny could handle this and we were on our way back to the apartments."

            "What was the license number?"

            "Oh, uh, GV 8830, local plates."

            "So what did Danny do?"

            The sandwich returned to Deborah's hand and she began nibbling on it once again.  "He was mad, didn't like one of his girls taken against their will.  ‘No way, no how’ he said.  I guess he found how who owned the limo, some guy named Sirkowski, and went to go see him."

            "Marcus J. Sirkowski," Llorn read slowly.

            "Yeah, him.  You know him?"

            "No, but I've heard of him.  Pretty rich guy, rich enough not to need a streetwalker of any kind.  Especially an unwilling one."

            "Yeah, that's what Danny said."  The girl took a large bite from the sandwich and chewed for a moment.  A middle aged red haired woman rose up from the other side of the diner and left quickly, as if she were in a great hurry for some reason.  No one seemed to notice or care.  "Anyway," Deborah started again, her mouth only partially full of food now.  "Danny goes out to see him, and boy was he angry.  I wanted to go, but Danny says no and orders the other girls to make sure I don't leave.  I guess he was trying to protect me or something, I don't know.  Now he's gone for like two or three hours, but when he gets back, he isn't angry anymore."  The sandwich returns to the plate again.  "He was scared.

            "I mean white as a sheet scared, and he was shaking too.  I don't know what that Sirkowski guy told him, but whatever it was, Terrible Danny was a shivering wreck.  He tells me that mama wasn't coming back, and then he runs off to his room to shake it off, I guess.  I blew up, you know?  Screaming and yelling so much it took five or six of the girls to hold me back and down until I calmed down, which I really never did.  I think I cried myself to sleep eventually, but I don't remember much from after that."

            "Would you guys like some desert?" the waitress interrupted.  Deborah looked to Llorne for a moment, and after a nod of confirmation ordered a slice of chocolate cake and ice cream.

            "Uh, sorry," Deborah said afterwards.  "I hope you've got enough money."

            "Don't worry about it.  I'll just make more as I need it."

            The girl blinked, shook it off, and finished off the sandwich.  "The next day, Danny comes to see me.  He's not so scared anymore, but he says that since my mama wasn't coming back, I'd have to earn a proper living like the rest of the girls.  I didn't want to, and the other girls didn't want me to either, so I gathered up a few things, like this coat," she lifted part of the long light brown coat she had been wearing since Llorne had first found her.  "It was mama's favorite, didn't want her to lose it to Danny's fire sale or anything.  There was a quick pool for cash, and I left with a bag of stuff on my back.  Been living on the streets ever since."

            The waitress returned, removed the two plates and replaced them with the desert and the check.  Deborah silently offered a fork to Llorne, who passed, and dug right in.  "I tried to see that Sirkowski guy, but they wouldn't even let me in the door.  Then I went to the cops, and this cop named, uh, Brown I think, he listened to my whole story and told me to come back after a couple of days and he'd have something.  Came back later, and I was told that he'd been transferred, and another cop, a real jerk, took up my 'case' and told me that mama was dead and that I should go to an orphanage or something.  I split quick after that.  Then I found you."

            Desert was finished, the check paid and the two sat at in the red plastic booth for a long moment in silence.  "Sounds," Llorne finally said.  "Like someone doesn't want anyone even looking for your mother, let alone finding her."

            "Yeah, I go that impression."

            Llorne stretched her arms, flinging her long black hair up as she did.  "Well, I guess we better get going then."  Deborah chased after Llorne as she left, a final good bye from the waitress was only half heard.

            "So we're going to see Sirkowski?"

            "Nope, he doesn't know where she is."

            Deborah fell into step next to Llorne, cocking her head up to look at her.  "How do you figure that?"

            "He's rich, sure, but he doesn't have the clout to get a seasoned detective transferred simply for looking into a case about a missing prostitute."  Llorne turned a corner, forcing Deborah to break into a short run to catch up.  "At best, he could get him pulled from the case.  No, this goes much higher than Sirkowski.  Hell, I'd say he's just as scared as Danny."

            "What could scare Sirkowski, especially if he's so rich?"  A cluster of people stood at a corner, waiting for the light to go green, and the pack slowed Deborah's walk, but not Llorne's, she kept moving forward, right into the crowd, and as her foot touched the street, the light changed.  Another sprint and Deborah was caught up.

            "Easy," Llorne said after Deborah was next to her again.  "The government.  High level government, possibly even some unheard of agency that has connections and power that make the government proper look like a pauper.  We need to go see them about finding your mother."

            "Oh."  Deborah stayed next to Llorne, but still had to play catch up at the next intersection where again Llorne blew through the crosswalk at a long steady rate, ignoring the very real possibility of some fool driver not stopping at the light.  "So where are we going?"

            "The capitol, that's where the government is."

            "Right, of course."  Several minutes went by as they walked a bit further down the road.  "Um, you know your motel is the other way, right?"

            "Checked out this morning, no need to go back."

            "Oh, okay."  Deborah followed, with hesitation, as they crossed another street just as the light turned and the cars began to stop.  "So where did you park your car?"

            "I don't have a car."

            "Well, then the airport is a bit outside of town, we can ride the train," she indicated the subway tunnel entrance but Llorne just kept on walking past it.  Deborah stopped there.  "Wait!"

            Llorne stopped and turned back.  "Yes?"

            "What are you doing?"


            Deborah blinked.  "Walking?  The whole way?"

            "Sure, why not?"

            "Do you know how far away it is?"

            "135 miles, give or take a few thousand feet."

            "And you want to walk the whole way?"  Llorne smiled, turned back to her path and began walking again.  Deborah stood for a few minutes running the thought through her head.  Finally she gave up thinking about it and broke into a run.  "Hey, wait up!"



1.  What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
2.  What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
3.  Does the setting seem fitting?  Would you like to know more?
4.  Any suggestions for a nickname for Danny?  He's a pimp, technically, but I'm tapped on that.
5.  I mention, but do not name, the capitol of this country, does it matter at this point?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Retrospective: Exploitation Now!

Hey look, something about a comic, a dead one, but a comic nonetheless.  In fact, this is the first of these Retrospectives I've done about a long deceased comic, all the rest died or completed shortly before I wrote theirs.  It won't be the last.

It's also one of those comics I've been meaning to reread for a while, and it's short, so that helps.  Exploitation Now! is one of the earliest strips I read, and is also amongst the first of them to end, which makes it a fine starting point for this leg of the series.  It's also Michael Poe's first foray into comics, immediately followed by Errant Story.  Yeah, it's kind of damn important.

The first thing I noticed was how quickly the art of EN! began to feel like Poe's art style.  He does have a distinct style which combines a bit of the anime/manga look with very heavy lines and distinctive shapes for the head and bodies of his characters, and they start really coming together before even the halfway point of EN!'s life span.  That said, at one point I wasn't sure if the art was as I remember it.  During a certain flash back sequence, the art switched to a dreamy, grey scale shaded nature, which is pretty common, but a specific panel didn't reflect my memory.  Of course, that was back in 2002/2003, so a decade of time might have effected it.  Still, I got a feeling that the art had been redone at some point.  Possible as he has been working on reworking Errant Story for publication, so EN! may have already undergone the same treatment.

What really makes up EN! though is the way it's structured, which is, to say the least, odd.  Do keep in mind that EN! lasted a whole 2 years, and that was it.  Even in the last few months of the year, I'm sure Poe was more focused on Errant Story (it started in November of 2002, EN! ended in September).  It started as a "gag-a-day" strip, featuring a kind of humor I think I'll call "Shock-Snark" and may write a longer article about in the future.  There are a lot of comics that this back in the day, and a lot that TRY to do it now, and fail miserably because it's not so shocking any more (early internet was weird kiddies).  As the comic went on, it shifted to a much more dramatic style.

I've talked about Cerebus Syndrome before (usually with regard to Sluggy Freelance), but in a LOT of ways, EN! is a much better example.  The idea of drama eating a humor comic is blatant and obvious here.  The point when it becomes clear the comic has taken an odd turn is when one character narrates her backstory, in the middle of a fire fight with the police.  That's the joke of course, but the backstory isn't funny at all.  It's not BAD, mind you, but compared to the string of jokes based on sex, drugs and toilet humor that came before it stands out.

The real reason it stands out though is that the two main joke characters were separated from the drama characters at about this point, and never met again.  This allowed the dramatic story to dominate, especially in the last act where there were very few jokes at all.  The thing is, the last act of EN! feels very much like the entire RUN of Errant Story, though it lacks a lot of the real depth Errant Story would have by the time it reached it's climax.  Of course, that's 2 years versus 10+ so that's to be expected.

I guess my point is while Exploitation Now! isn't a great comic, it is good and educational, especially if you've read Errant Story (and if you haven't, shame on you).  It's the foundation on which a greater piece was created, and thus from a historical perspective, it's invaluable.  Of course it ends with a tease for a sequel, but I doubt we'll see it.  Not that it can't be done, I can think of more than a few ways (the first being to actually get Bimbo and Ralph involved), but I think at this point Poe has grown past it.  Does Not Play Well With Others could be considered a quasi sequel (one of EN!'s characters plays a relatively major role there), but it's not a direct sequel, and I think it would be a disservice to both comics to try to turn it into one.  Maybe one day we'll see EN! return, but I doubt it, at least for now.

Well, that's enough for today.  I'll see what I can get together for next week, until then kiddies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dreams of Stars Part 3

"A game?"

"Yes," he said as he laid out a finely carved wooden board. It was covered in black and white squares, painted in bold, outstanding colors, and the whole thing shined like nothing Llorne had ever seen before. "It is a game from a world away. One of chiefs and paupers, scientists and priests, and a game you will learn to play."

"Okay," she replied as he placed each piece on the board in their proper place. "But why?"

"There are many things I know, and much of it is difficult to understand, let alone learn." He places his hand alongside the board, palm down, then pulls back, revealing a T shaped piece of twisted metal with a long chain trailing out behind it. Its darkened steel seemed to sparkle with a light with no true source. "If you can learn to play this game, and beat me in a match, this will be yours, along with all I can teach."

"But how can I beat you?" Llorne protested. "If you know so much, perhaps you know how to beat me every time."

"This is true, but I promise you that I will play at a level that is comparable to your abilities. The game will be fair." She didn't look very reassured. "There is a rule amongst my kind that we must follow when we are first taught. The rule simply says 'trust me.' If you can find it in yourself to follow that first rule, then you're already halfway to earning that amulet."

Llorne locked herself in deep thought for a moment, then smiled and reached out to pick up one of the pieces. "What is this piece? It looks like a dog, but not."


The girl had long ago regained her breath and seemed to dedicate herself to the task of beating Llorne. Each move was powerful and well thought out, a balance rarely seen outside of clubs and groups. "You're very good."

"You think so?" the girl moved her knight.

"Oh yes." Llorne took a pawn. "Where did you learn, if I may ask?"

"One of my mama's regulars taught me." Bishop across the board. "I think he had a thing for little girls."

"Oh really?" Her king was moved. "I assume that you didn't. . ."

"No no no. Mama would have killed him." Rook two spaces forward. "I guess since he couldn't get his jollies with me, he settled for this."

Rook was countered by an angry pawn. "Well he taught you quite well."

"Yeah, I guess." Rook bulldozes the pawn out of its way. "We almost never finished a game; his time usually ran out before we could. I won a few times when we did though." She wrinkled her nose in thought. "I bet he let me win."

"I doubt that. In fact, I'm sure you earned every victory." Llorne grabbed at the amulet hanging from her neck and caressed it between her fingers as if in thought. She stared at the board for a time, never saying a word.

"You gonna move?"

"I'm thinking."

The girl sighed a kind of reply and scratched her forehead. She turned slightly to watch the rest of the park. The trees barely moved in the still air of mid-spring, with nary a cloud in the sky to indicate any potential danger of rain. Children ran through the grasses followed by parents who walked arm in arm. A woman, not much older than her mother, ran amongst a small crowd of children, most likely not her own, chasing them like a monster of some kind. A more bitter sigh came from her lips as she turned back to Llorne, who still had yet to move. "You know what move you're going to make, so just do it already."

"Oh really? And what might that be?"

The girl rolled her eyes and reached over the board and grabbed Llorne's lone bishop. "Like this." She moved the piece and then grabbed one of her own. "Then I move like this, then you do this, and this. . ." She trailed off as her hands continued to move each piece, playing out a game that should take hours in mere minutes. She piled the pieces on each side until only a few were left. With a final flick, she knocked over her own king. "And that's how you would win." She sat back up with a rather smug smile, then a brief moment of shock at her own actions followed by a more sheepish look. "Sorry, I got a bit carried away."

"That's alright. I've actually been expecting that."


"Yeah. Now it's my turn." Llorne leaned forward, folding her arms underneath her chest. "You're here to ask me to help you find your mother."

The girl backed away in total shock. "Wha. . . how. . . huh?"

"Well, it wasn't too hard. Lots of little things said that was the general idea of what was going on."

"But if you knew, why the chess game? Why didn't you look for me?"

"I wanted to know how much you wanted me to help. That and I haven't played chess with anyone in a while." She chuckled and leaned back again. "And that was a pretty good game, even when you finished it for us."

"Oh." What else could the girl say?

"So, go ahead."


"Ask me. I'm certainly not going to help you unless you ask me."

"Oh, yeah. Okay, um, could you help me find my mother?"

"Sure thing." Llorne stood up and took a deep breath. "I bet you're hungry, want to get some lunch?"

"Yeah!" The girl nearly jumped up, then pulled herself back under control. "Yes, I would like to have some lunch." She corrected. Llorne started walking, leading them both out of the park. "Um," the girl said. "Thank you, um, what's your name anyway?"

"Lcorn Llorne."

"Lcorn is a funny name."

"Where I come from, it would be considered my last name. You can call me Llorne."

"Llorne is a funny name too."

"Is that so? Then what's your name?"

"Deborah. Deborah Ignigus."

"Ignigus is a really funny name."



1.  What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
2.  What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
3.  Does the setting seem fitting?  Would you like to know more?
4.  How do you pronounce Ignigus?  Get as close as you can.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The X-Files Problem

Yes, I'm actually talking about comics today.  By referring to a TV show.  But first, let's talk about some movies.

Star Wars specifically.  It's likely you've heard that Lucas at one point claimed he had planned both before and after the original trilogy of films.  This is obvious bullshit.  First, naming the first Star Wars "Episode 4" was a homage to old film serials, the same roots that Indiana Jones came from.  Second, have you watched the prequels?  They are actually built on a first drafts of scripts, not things planned years, if not decades, in advance.

Why do I mention this?  Star Wars is an example of putting a grand, overall plan on top of an existing work, and fucking it up, but that's neither here nor there.  A good comic example of this is the comic I've written so damn much about at this point, Sluggy Freelance.  I only mention this to separate this from the topic I am going to talk about, which is when there is an over arching plot, and when it goes wrong.

This is the X-Files Problem.  The X-Files, for those of you who are too young or lived with your head firmly up a rock's asshole, was a 90's TV show that featured a pair of FBI agents investigating weird things, but mostly aliens.  Insert your own meme picture of a guy with big hair saying aliens.  The X-Files had two kinds of episodes.  One was the episodic "monster of the week" episodes, which were fun.  Then there were the myth arc episodes.

The whole point of the series was this myth arc, about an alien conspiracy that dominated the government and all that jazz.  It was a great idea and powered the series for years.  Only one small problem with it:  the writers had no idea WHAT the conspiracy was, where it was going, or why.  This wasn't apparent at first, but as the series went on it became apparent that they were just throwing things at the wall.  They kept adding layers of mystery, new questions, new clues and while I'm sure some where meant to be red herrings, soon they began to confuse themselves.  By the end, it was such a mess, I just stopped watching.  I'm sure someone out there has sorted it all out, it's the internet and there are geeks everywhere, but just watching the show wouldn't allow for the mysteries to unwind themselves naturally.

Now I get what they were doing, they left it open so they could adjust the conspiracy plan as the series went along.  And the series lasted a LONG time.  And as the initial plots were wrapped up, new ones needed to be created, and those conflicted with the previous ones and things just got confusing after a while.  Another show that had similar problems was Battlestar Galactica, where every episode started with "they have a plan" and it became apparent that they did NOT have a plan.  When they eventually tried to fit one on, it had to be done after the fact and I don't think it fit very well (nor did I really watch it).

I can't think of many comics that have suffered from the X-Files problem out right, few comics last long enough for it to effect them, and those that have it can be argued if the artist does or does not have a plan.  That said, there is one comic that I can think of that is in danger of suffering the X-Files Problem:  Gunnerkrigg Court.

In my view, Gunnerkrigg is one of the best comics on the web today, and it does have an initial mystery:  Annie's father.  It's only been touched on a few times now, but with all the other stories and mysteries, it kind of gets lost, just another one of many.  Getting lost and buried, especially as the comic goes on longer and longer, creates an opportunity for things to go off the rails.  Has it?  Well I don't know yet, and the comic is good enough to support itself despite this possibility of failure.  It could also be that there is a plan, one that we, the readers, aren't completely privy to.

It also helps that Gunnerkrigg has another leg to stand on, that of a coming of age story.  The X-Files didn't have much of a story outside of the conspiracy, so when that went nuts, the series started falling apart.  Having something beyond that initial plan is what can keep the X-Files Problem from being, well, a problem, and I suspect Gunnerkrigg will do alright, for now.

That's not to say that having an initial plan, theme or mystery is a bad thing, by far it is not, the issue is how the plan is used and how it develops.  Reading through the commentary of Errant Story, for example, highlights how while there was an initial plan and route for the story to take, there was enough flexibility for Poe to take it to new areas, explore new ideas along the way.  Under planning would have forced these ideas to the forefront.  Over planning, of course, would have been even worse.

A rough outline is never a bad thing.  Being prepared to scrap that outline should also be considered.  Planning every step of the way could restrict how the piece actually develops.  As a piece goes on longer and longer, eventually favorite characters and stories (for the author!) can develop and the desire to put more emphasis on them will occur, throwing the plan into chaos.  Yet, if there is a mystery that is the core of the story, not knowing how the mystery is meant to develop could cause more issues as the story goes along.

Don't be afraid to plan, and don't be afraid not to plan.  Flexibility is necessary, but make it within the confines of the overall story that's planned.  Which is hard to do, of course.  If it wasn't, the X-Files Problem wouldn't exist in the first place.

Not sure what I'll have next time.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dreams of Stars Part 2

This was the fifth time in as many days that Llorne walked this street. He had been here, once, but there was nothing to say where he went now. She had scanned it in every way she knew and more, but there wasn't a single clue. It was a half hope, at best, that her quick trip to the bar earlier in the night would have produced anything, but it appeared that it was time to start from scratch. That decision could wait until tomorrow. For now, she would get some sleep, perhaps something would come to her in the morning, and if not. . .


Llorne barely registered the scream, but she still checked it out, albeit passively. It was coming from nearby, moving rapidly down the road. Llorn caught a glimpse of the girl ducking down an alley, with a man close behind. “Damnit bitch, think you’re going to pick my pocket will ya.” It was the drunk from earlier in the evening; the one Llorne had frozen in place. Odd how their paths had crossed again, she added it to her comments on the bar theory article, and casually followed both of them down an alley.

It was clear on arrival that the girl had fallen into the trash. She screamed out again for help and began kicking at his reaching hands. A street rat from the looks of it, probably trying to get by on what little she could get her hands on, but this time she messed up and the drunk, already upset over the event at the bar, had decided this was the best time to prove his manhood, by beating up on a little girl.

"Help me!" the girl screamed again. Her feet were kicking out, trying to knock the drunk out of the way. Every snap seemed to impact the man, but none hurt him, his drunken state making him nearly immune to much of the pain. He reached out with an angry hand and tried to grab her arm to hold her down, only to have the hand knocked away with another kick. He reached again, and another kick. Five times he reached for her and each time her foot connected with him. She probably would have continued this if he hadn't decided to just jump on top of her, pinning her to the ground with his massive weight.

"Quit your strugglin' you little bitch." He raised up, lifting his fist high into the air, preparing to issue forth the first of many blows on the thief who so recently wronged him. A familiar chill ran through his body as Llorne's hand touched his shoulder. Fear was the last thing that ran through his mind and she pulled back on his shoulder and threw him down the alley and into the wall across the street.

The girl was just as scared, or at least shocked, by the sudden turn events, and lay on a pile of garbage trying to figure out exactly what happened. "You can get up, he won't be moving anytime soon."

"Uh, um," the girl stood up and brushed some excess grime from her coat. She glanced over towards the rather large dent in the far wall where her would-be-rapist had hit. "Is he dead?"

Llorne checked, reading the life energies emanating from the body, or the lack there of. "Well. . ." A thought occurred to her and she ran a quick scan of the girl. No sign of Ritch 'arrd, yet her instincts told her he would have been interested in her. "Does it matter?"

"Yeah," she said. "I mean, it would be wrong to kill him." Without another word she headed out of the alley and across the street, apparently to check the body herself.

Llorne sighed. It wasn't much, a possibility at least, and even if it didn't pan out, what did it matter? Of course, best to get in on her good side a little early if she could. A slight bump should do.

The man's body heaved up with a breath. The girl backed away in fear for a moment, then reached down again. "He's still alive!"

"Fancy that." The girl reached for his pocket, her instinct to grab what she could still quite evident. "Don't bother. He spent all his money at the bar. The wallet is empty." Llorne was now standing above them. The girl seemed disappointed, so Llorne kicked the man's shoe lightly. "But I think he might have hidden a 50 cred chip in his boot. Probably forgot about it in his drunken state."

The girl pulled the boot of, keeping a close eye on the man's odd hollow breathing. She tipped it up and shook, dumping the chip out onto the concrete. "How'd you know?"

"Heard him mention it in the bar earlier. Like I said, he probably forgot it."

The girl stared back up at her for a moment, pocketed the chip and stood up. "Well, uh, thanks." She then ran off, disappearing into the night.

Llorne looked down at the breathing corpse. "Well, that's enough of that." The body stopped moving. She looked up to where the girl had gone, but there was no sign of her. Didn't matter, Llorne already had a read on her. She'd be back, eventually.


Four days had passed. Llorne spent most of those four days simply wandering around the city. All the way around the city. She made it look as if she intended to walk down every street in town, down every back alley, visit every restaurant, hotel, shop and whatnot. There was no apparent rhyme or reason to her routes, no particular direction she took or goal she set for herself, aside from the eventual grand tour. She got up each morning, walked around until well after sunset, then returned to the relatively dingy motel where she had been staying since she arrived.

There was a purpose though, and that purpose had been following her for the last three days. Llorne hadn't seen hide nor hair of the girl that entire first day, but she eventually appeared, lurking in the shadows and alleys and crowds, always just a half a block behind. Llorne never acknowledged her, never even made it look like she recognized her at all. And still the girl followed her, that short cut blond top weaving in and out between people and cars, and occasionally simply walking a short distance behind.

Just after noon on the fourth day, Llorne decided enough time had passed. She walked until the girl was simply walking, not lurking, behind her along a long stretch of buildings. Llorne then turned a corner, and the girl followed, only to find that Llorne had given her the slip. She looked up and down the street, across the way, even up, but no sign of the black haired woman.

The girl simply walked on, following the last path and thinking. She tried to figure out where, exactly the woman had gone, and how. The thought came slowly, and grew ever larger, pushing her into a run. How long would she be there? No way to know, but the girl had to get there quickly. Her run erupted into a mad dash, around trashcans and people, hopping over the occasional lump of trash or begger, dodging around cars and bicycles, all for one destination, the one place the woman could have gone.

The park.

Along one end of the park, amongst the trees and benches, lay a long line of tables and small seats, two to a table. People of many ages and walks of life gathered here on occasion, but today it was near empty, save for Lcorn Llorne, who sat at one of them, a collection of small figures arrayed before her on the checkerboard that had been carefully marked off on the table.

The girl spotted her almost as soon as she hit the table area, and simply stopped, leaning against a tree, in total exhaustion. Llorne finally looked right at her, and motioned her over to the table and the seat across from her. The girl was too tired to refuse, and stumbled over to slouch on the seat.

"You didn't have to run, I wasn't going anywhere." The girl gasped back at her, but didn't really say anything. Llorne smiled. "I knew you'd find me, in fact I planned on it."

"What?" the girl said between breaths.

"Doesn't matter now," Llorne brushed away the question. "Know how to play?"

The girl looked down at the game board laid out before her. "Chess?"


"Yeah, but why. . ."

Llorne reached over and moved a pawn forward as the girl spoke. "Your move."


Questions You don't have to answer ALL The questions, or every time for the repeated ones, just the ones you feel relevant.

1.  What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
2.  What kind of person is the little girl?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
3.  Does the setting seem fitting?  Would you like to know more?
4.  In the middle of the second part the perspective changes from Llorne to the girl, does this feel too sudden?  Should there be a break or something more obvious to highlight the transition?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Not Comic Review: Consider Phlebas

You know, for a webcomic review site, I should review webcomics once in a while. In the meantime, let's talk about a book.

Not Comic Review:  Consider Phlebas By Iain M. Banks

I'm a fan of the Culture series of books by Iain Banks, who passed away this past year. I own all of them now, and I went back and reread a few of them. Use of Weapons, Look to Windward, and today's topic,
Consider Phlebas. What is the Culture? Well it's a sci-fi series, but honestly, the best way to understand the Culture is to go read Look to Windward, it's not the best book and story, but you'll learn more about the nature of the Culture than anything else. Beyond that, it's just a big, very advanced, civilization in the galaxy.

I could review any of the books, especially Use of Weapons which is one of my favorite books period, but Consider Phlebas stands out because, well, it's not very good. Or at the very least I don't like it very much. For a fan of the author and universe, this is hard to really critique, and even harder to describe why. But after doing a big long series of articles about how I'm a critic, I guess I should dive in.

It's certainly the weakest of the series. The reasons are many, but there is one key one I'll get to later, but first, what it does right is something the rest of the series isn't quite known for: action. Oh there are some great action scenes in this, gripping ones that get your heart pumping, especially a great chase through a space port. I believe Banks once said this book would make the best movie, and I think it's because of these action scenes.

Which is odd because, well, I couldn't remember any of it. I had read the book before, not the first book of the series I read, but an early one, and the only thing I could recall, roughly, was the part of the framing device. As I read it, I recalled more, but I can easily recall many of the major plot points of the rest of the books in the series, but not this one. It's got a lot of great ideas, from an elaborate underground nuclear rail bunker, to a city sized ocean ship and more. Yet, it's completely forgettable.

Part of the reason is that the main character Horza could be anyone. Oh, he has specific character traits, but no arc. There's no growth, development, or self discovery. He's just there to do all the wild action sequences, act as the counterpoint to the Culture (there's a war, he's on the other side), and that's about it. In fact, none of the characters are really interesting. Which is fine since nearly all of them end up dead. They're all cannon fodder, even the one character who actually gets a touch more than no development. I liked her, of course she dies. Everyone dies. It's a rather dark book in that sense.

I suspect that was kind of the point. The pointlessness of the deaths were meant to reflect the pointlessness of war. That bunker rail thing I mentioned earlier was designed to protect military leaders from a nuclear attack. In the end, the entire population of the population died anyway, of a biological weapon. The theme is well established, and it works, but that's all there is, and there isn't much that the characters do to help it along.

It's also a weird mix of events. They string together well, but they do feel random. First a raid on a temple, then an escape from a city sized ship crashing into an iceberg, an island of weird cultists, a game where lives are bet as much as money, then a mad dash through a shipyard, then they finally get to the final destination, which is random movement through that rail bunker.

The writing is good, the descriptions of the events and locations are pretty clear, and rather awe inspiring. The action, as I said, is quite clear and is rather smoothly done, it's not jarring is what I mean. The individual events are actually quite interesting and fun. Any one of them could be an entire book on their own if he had wanted. They flow together, as I said, but they are so different from each other, they don't feel like they really belong together.

Compared to the other books, it isn't really that different in that regard. Use of Weapons bounces between locations as well, but it also moves through time, both forward and backward. It has an interesting structure is what I'm saying. Look to Windward also moves between a few locations, but because both books have a point to unite together, the characters. You WANT them to live, you want them to succeed. I never get that in Consider Phlebas, and that is the biggest failure of the book.

But I know why. It was the first book of the series. Banks has written many books before it, but only a few. It was the first dipping into what proved to be a massive, wonderful universe, but one that needed refinement before it could really get going. Once he locked down the scale (the second book, Player of Games managed this) and changing perspectives a bit (most of the books are NOT from the Culture's perspective, or anyone that could be considered a peer) the series got more settled. For the first book, the rough edges are understandable. I still don't think it's very good.

If you want to see what this series is about, again I recommend Look to Windward to start. It manages to really define the Culture as an entity, followed probably by Use of Weapons or Player of Games to see how it relates to the rest of it's universe. After that, the books can be read in any order (I haven't gotten to Hydrogen Sonata, the last book, yet, so no opinions on that) but Excession should be saved for last, I think it fits well there. Consider Phlebas, while the weakest of the series, shouldn't be read until the middle of the pack, no reason to spoil the series with a weak edition.

Next time, I will hopefully have something to do with comics. We'll see, until next time kiddies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dreams of Stars Part 1

So the story begins.  Questions will be at the end.  Be honest, say why and enjoy.

Dreams of Stars

There is an old theory that says all great adventures begin in a bar of some sort, not that she believed in that old theory. In fact, Quinn himself, despite being the originator of the theory, openly denied it every time it was mentioned. "It was just a damn joke," he would say. Still, there were those that found an inordinate number of quests, adventures and journeys all seemed to start, or nearly start, in a tavern or bar or some place or another where alcohol was served.

Lcorn Llorne didn't believe in the theory, regardless of the evidence brought up to support it, and would have much rather not come into this place and swirled an awful brew of chemicals in her mouth and down her gullet just to 'fit in,' but the fact was she was out of options. Her last lead had dried up in this poor city on an under populated rock on the outer edge of the galaxy and she was left with nowhere else to go. So she decided to play the odds.

Nothing good had come up so far, especially not the alcohol the bartender insisted on feeding to her. It honestly tasted as if he had brewed the bulk of it in the basement, through an old pair of underwear and socks. He hadn't, a quick glance revealed that there was no basement, but he was certainly watering the stuff down with something that only vaguely resembled water. She took another sip and shivered at the taste. "An authentic experience is required," the article that suggested the bar theory had said, but Llorne was thinking that perhaps she could at least tweak the taste of the drinks to make them a bit more palatable.

"Hey sweetheart, you looking for a good time?" The drunk's breath hurt her nose and eyes, but she didn't let it show much. He was certainly in bad shape, probably had spent the better part of the day in this place trying to drown whatever it was that had driven him to drink. It was obvious that he hadn't bathed in sometime, his greasy, messy hair sat more like a piece of road kill on his head than actual hair and his clothes were tattered, worn and dirty. Llorne had no desire whatsoever to speak to him at the moment and figured that if perhaps she ignored him, he would go away. It would certainly keep with the ‘authentic experience’ that was for damn sure. "Damn it woman, when I talk, you're gonna listen!" He reached up to grab her shoulder and suddenly found he couldn't move. Every muscle locked at the same time, only the delicate ones of the eyes and the diaphragm seemed to be able to continue their natural movement cycle. There was a groan as he tried to move his hand at first closer to her, then simply at all.

"Why don't you head on home?" Llorne said quietly. "I'm sure you'll feel more rested in the morning, don't you?" As she finished, she turned to the almost frozen man and gave him a sly smile, confirming the fear that had started to grow within him that she had, somehow, caused his current predicament. With a gasp, he regained control of his body and muscles and moved once more. He grabbed at his wrist, looked at her with drunken fear, then blundered his way out of the bar, smacking several of the other patrons as he left.

"What's with him?" The bartender picked up the empty glass the drunk had left on top of the bar.

"No idea," Llorne replied. A couple of credit chips landed with a clack in front of her. "Thanks for the drinks," and she left, the bar theory being a complete flop. Flop or not, though, it was time to move on. He had to be somewhere on this planet, or nearby, everything said he was here, even briefly and he would most certainly left some sign of his passing. He always did. She stopped in front of the bar and looked up into the cool night sky. "Where are you Ritch 'arrd?"


Every star hung in the sky like a bright speck, highlighted by the smoke like trail that made its way across the sky. She lay on the grass staring up at the trail, wondering not just what it was, but where it was going. And what of the stars, what purpose did they serve? A rustle pulled her eyes away and she looked up to see him standing there, staring up into the sky as well.

"They are quite pretty, aren't they?" he said.

She sat up on her elbows and glared at him. "What do you want?"

He turned towards her, a smile spreading across his lips. "Why don't you like me? The others all do."

"There's something wrong with you. You're not normal." She dropped back down to the ground and returned her gaze to the sky.

"Well then, I guess you're more perceptive than the others," he spoke with a grunt as he sat down next to her. "Of course, some people just don't want to see the truth, no matter how obvious it is to them."

"Go away."

"Now, now, I just got here. Besides, I can't tell you about the stars if we don't talk a bit."

She had to look at him, half with curiosity, the rest animosity. "You don't know anything about them."

"I know what they mean to you," he said. "After all, they wouldn't call you Lcron Llorne if they didn't mean anything to you." She snorted a reply and turned back to the stars. "But I do know everything about the stars. I could tell you about them, if you want."

"I can't trust anything you tell me."

"Well, I'll just have to change your mind about that." He waved his hand up into the air. The stars, at once frozen to the sky, began to move. The swirled around his hand and as he pulled away, they continued to move, dipping and dancing around one another. Llorne seemed frozen to the ground, her eyes locked on the moving dots of light high in the sky. They slowed, finally, and carefully returned to their own positions as if they had never moved at all.

"How did you do that?"

"The real question is how would you like to be able to do that?"

"You can teach me?"

"Of course," he said. "I wouldn't have suggested it if I couldn't."

She looked at him, tracing his figure with her eyes. "Will you?"

"Yes, I will."



1.  What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne?  What does she look like (in your mind)?
2.  Does the setting seem fitting?  Would you like to know more?
3.  How did you pronounce Lcorn Llorne's name?  Just get as close as you can.
4.  What do you think of Bar Theory?
5.  Who do you think the man in the second part is?