Friday, February 28, 2014

Lost Comics

During the fall of last year I went through and updated my list of comics to be more friendly and such.  In the process I discovered quite a few of the comics, basically 1 in 10, are gone.  Comics like Firstborn and Underpower vanished from the internet and likely will never return.

Which doesn't mean I can't still look for them.  Lizzy, for example, is gone in it's natural, flash format, but there's still a deviantart page that houses most of the plain image strips.  It really loses something, but it's still at least readable.  But a lot of comics are gone, probably for good.  Firstborn is a great example as it was already really, REALLY hard to get to (buried behind a number of half broken links), and even now, I doubt I'll find it again.

Doesn't mean I can't look.  The real issue is most of these comics were already on shaky ground with updates.  Resident Dysentery updated rather sporadicly when it was updating, and the artist did at least try to keep some of the strips up on deviantart, so there's that.

Actually, that's one of the nice things about many of these artists, they were smart enough to keep a mirror up somewhere.  Too Late to Run is still readable because they had a Keenspace (now Comic Genesis) mirror site.  Otherwise it would be lost forever.  Between Comic Genesis and deviantart, at least some hint of these comics can still exist.  Not that it always works.  Flatwood has a Comic Genesis mirror, but if you to the main Comic Genesis page, it redirects you to a domain for sale sign.

Google, thankfully, can help, as can the old Wayback Machine.  But it doesn't always work.  I'm just as likely to find broken or references to things that don't exist.  Hunting for some comics often found me cycling back to the old link that was broken in the first place.

Then there's Ordinary Day.  Sometime ago, Geocities, one of the original free webhosting sites, was shut down, and guess where Ordinary Day was?  I made an active effort to recover the entire comic, ever page, every image I could.  I can still READ the comic, but you, my fellow readers, cannot.  Not missing all that much, BTW, but I felt I should do it.

So how many comics are missing?  25 right now.  Probably more if I actually flip through the list again (maybe this fall, it's depressing enough to do).  As of now, these comics are lost, at least for now.  I don't include links because, well, that would be kind of useless wouldn't it?  In any case, here's to hoping they can be found at some point in the future.

Ordinary Day
Under Power
9th Elsewhere
I Am a Rocket Builder
This is Gravity
The Pretentious History of Everything
Gin and the Devil
One Liners
Zombie Commandos from Hell
This Comic Sucks
Edge the Devilhunter
The World Explodes
A Divine Dramedy
Hockey Zombie
Truck Bearing Kibble
The Best Band in the Universe
Back on Earth
Marsh Rocket
Anhedonia Blue

Side note:  Some of these comics, like Marsh Rocket, Roza and Jeremy are gone from the interent, but are still available in at least print form.  I miss them anyway.

Until next time kiddies.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dreams of Stars 17

Quick apology:  I have two "versions" of the story, one slightly edited, the other not so much.  I've been kind of bouncing between them because I keep forgetting which is which.  I'll stick with the current edit as much as I can.

            “This isn’t so bad,” Deborah said as the door finally gave way and let them inside.  There was still some furniture, most of it rotted away, and the carpet was equally bad, but to Deborah this was practically a palace compared to what she had been sleeping in before she had met L’lorne.  The roof looked solid, there wasn’t any serious water damage, no spent syringes or pipes laying about, and no other bums to be seen anywhere.  L’lorne scanned through the rooms slowly as they checked the floorboards and began picking an area to spend the night.

            “This reminds me of this place on 12th street,” Deborah said as they settled down into a relatively clean area near the kitchen doorway.  “About a dozen of us took over the place for about a week, though I think many of them had been there longer.  Eventually, some cops showed up and chased us off, but it was nice while it lasted.”  She chuckled, more to herself than anything else.  “Some people claimed it was haunted, so when the cops burst in, they freaked completely, thinking the ghosts were going to get them.  It was pretty funny.”

            “You didn’t believe it was haunted?”

            “Pfft, believing in ghosts is baby stuff.  They don’t exist.”

            L’lorne smiled.  “I bet he disagrees with you.”

            Deborah turned around and gave a slight shriek as a figure appeared in the kitchen nearby.  The sudden reaction caused the sunglasses she was still wearing to instantly go black and Deborah cried out again as she was blinded.

            “It’s alright,” L’lorne told her, holding her slightly.  “He won’t hurt you, trust me.  He probably doesn’t even know we’re here.”

            The glasses finally relaxed as Deborah relaxed and she could see the ghost again.  The man looked to be in his 40’s or 50’s, hair would have been white except for the light, otherworldly green that seemed to cause him to glow.  He was wearing, of all things, pajamas, and slowly eating a bowl of what looked like cereal, with a bottle of milk sitting next to him.  The table was real, but the things on it and the ghost didn’t seem all that real.  She pulled off the sunglasses, and the figure was gone.

            “I didn’t mean to scare you,” L’lorne said.  “I wouldn’t have even mentioned it if you hadn’t brought up the ghost thing.  Let’s go over and take a closer look, okay?”

            The kitchen was bare, cabinets opened and stripped of contents long ago.  The capped end of a gas line sat where a stove once was and a large empty space marked the former location of a refrigerator.  The ghost was still eating his cereal as L’lorne and Deborah gathered on the opposite side of the table.

            “He’s eating.”

            “Was eating,” L’lorne corrected.  Suddenly, the ghost lurched slightly, then he fell, face first, into his bowl, splashing ghostly milk onto the table.  “Hmm, must have been the last thing he did.”

            “Poor guy,” Deborah managed to say as she watched the ghost slowly fade away.  Across the room, she suddenly heard a loud yawn and turned in time to see the ghost enter the kitchen and begin his morning ritual.  “He’s going to do it again?”

            “He’s caught in a loop.  The last few moments of his life recreated again and again.”  The ghost opened a ghostly refrigerator door and removed a bottle of milk.

            “Forever?”  The cabinet held a box of cereal that only appeared when the ghost touched it and he placed the bottle and the box on the table while he went back for a bowl and spoon.

            L’lorne smiled that knowing smile that annoyed Deborah so much.  “Forever is a long time.  No, probably only until this house is knocked down, then he’ll move on.”

            “To where?”  The ghost had paused before filling his bowl and hefted a bag up from the floor and began looking for something inside.

            L’lorne nearly replied when she noticed the ghost rolling something out on the table.  Blueprints for a very familiar building.  “Wait a second,” she said, examining the plans in more detail.  “Well, that’s a coincidence.”

            “What?”  Deborah leaned over and looked at the plans, but couldn’t make heads or tails of them.  “I don’t see.”

            “Excuse me!”  L’lorne shouted so loud that Deborah instinctively backed away, but in a moment she realized that L’lorne wasn’t talking to her.

            “Ah!”  The ghost said.  “How did you get into my house?” the ghost suddenly demanded, a very irate look on his face.

            “Sorry, your front door was open.  I’m from the government,” L’lorne held up, very briefly, the ID she had used at the CDPC.  “I came to ask you some questions about the Asylum.”

            “Couldn’t you have waited until I go to the office?  I’m still in my pajamas here,” the ghost didn’t seem to realize that he was a ghost anymore, or that he should be repeating his death again, but talking right at L’lorne just as he probably had in life.

            “I am sorry, but I was asked to get an immediate reply and you know how they are about these things.”

            “Don’t I?” the ghost groaned.  “They’re constantly on me despite how perfect my design is.  They’re always looking for ways to improve it, even though that is nearly impossible without compromising everything.  In fact, if you’re here to suggest another design improvement, you can’t just see yourself right back out, because it needs no improvement.”

            Deborah leaned forward again to look at a name that sat on the plans.  ‘David Engera’ it read, under the name for the Asylum.  “No no,” L’lorne said.  “Nothing like that.  What I wanted to ask was where you would suggest placing a high security vault within the Asylum?”

            “High security vault?  Why would you want one of those in an asylum for the criminally insane?”

            “Where better to hide something you don’t want the public to see than in a place no one with any sense would ever want to go?”

            David Engera considered this for a moment and nodded.  “That’s actually not a bad idea.  The design is meant to keep people in, of course, but it is just as good at keeping people out.  You’d be amazed how many people become obsessed with crazed killers and the like.  However, I think what you’re really looking for is keeping people from getting whatever they’re trying to steal out, and this certainly would fit the bill.  It’s much like the Great Wall in that way.  The Wall wasn’t built to necessarily keep the barbarians from getting in, but to keep them from getting out with their ill gotten goods, you know?”

            “I imagine it was very effective.”

            “Impressively, as long as they kept it manned, of course.  My asylum is much smaller, and easier to keep an eye on of course.”  He grabbed the half rolled plans and began searching through them.  “You wouldn’t, by any chance, be willing to tell me what kinds of things you wish to keep in this vault?”

            “Sorry, I can only say that they want the place well ventilated as there’s bound to be several people using the room at any given time, and it must be very secure.”

            The ghost looked at L’lorne for a moment.  “You’re not planning on putting people in this vault, are you?”

            “Not to my knowledge, but I’m sure that’s what they’re probably thinking.”

            The ghost grunting with disapproval.  “Damn government.  They think they can do anything they want, make anyone they want disappear.  I bet that snake Donalds is responsible for this investigation of yours.  He’s going to be the death of this nation, just you wait.”  The ghost calmed down after a moment of fuming and pointed to a location.  “Here you go, the most secure place in the asylum.  It’s got everything they could want.  But you listen to me young lady, if they use it for political prisoners, we’ll all regret it.  Me, you, even Donalds.  Make sure they know that.”

            “I will.  Thank you.  Again, sorry for disturbing your breakfast.” 

Engera had already begun pouring milk and cereal into his bowl.  “It’s alright, just next time wait for office hours, okay?”  He scooped up a clump of milk and cereal and began eating.  Moments later, he fell over dead, again.

“Well, that explains a bit,” L’lorne said as Engera’s ghost began his loop over again.

“Uh,” is all Deborah can manage.

“The milk was poisoned,” L’lorne said.  “They knew about his opposition to their plans.  He was killed, probably at the order of this guy Donalds.”

            “Yeah,” Deborah said, as she watched the ghost slowly fill his bowl with milk and cereal, ready to repeat his own murder again.  She took off the glasses, not willing to watch it again.  “How did you, uh, speak to him and have him speak back?”

            “You just have to want to communicate with them,” L’lorne said.  “In your case, the glasses would handle the rest.”  She walked back to the sleeping area, Deborah quickly following.  “Thanks to him. . .” L’lorne started.

“Engera.  David Engera,” Deborah said, informing L’lorne of what she had learned.

“Right, thanks to Mr. Engera, we now know where your mother is.  Tomorrow,” L’lorne said as she sat down on the floor, stretching her legs out in a way to indicate she was ready for rest.  “Tomorrow we go get her.”

Deborah smiled as she laid down.  “Yeah.”  And she fell asleep.



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. Does it feel out of place that suddenly there's a ghost in this story?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Touching Base #16

Yeah, I know.  After a week of nothing a touching base instead of something serious?  Well, my life schedule has been in disarray for the last few weeks because my work schedule is stupid weird (and early) so we'll go with this.  And hey, things have happened, so that's important.

Not a lot of bad news, actually.  So I'll skip it aside from being too lazy to move Edible Dirt to dead where it belongs.  Instead, I'll focus on just general news and storyline updates.

Heart Shaped Skull, aka Serenity Rose ran into a snag with it's Kickstarter publication project.  Mostly the publication part.  Seems a misunderstanding of the publication terms resulted in the book not being out until at least May.  That sounds reasonable, until he made clear he was hoping it would be out in January.  Considering this is Feburary, you can tell how well that went.

Dr. McNinja started its new storyline, which does NOT involve King Radical for a change.  I suspect many are glad to be rid of him for a bit.  In the meantime, vampire gorillas, and it's a flashback episode, probably resulting in the origins of Judy, McNinja's gorilla assistant.  I love this comic sometimes.

Sandra and Woo have been on a rather long tangent story about a raccoon that isn't Woo and, honestly, I really don't care.  Sometimes a story line just doesn't grab me and this is one of them.  Just have to wait it out I guess.

Skullkickers has been doing a neat thing with the dwarf (whose name I STILL don't think has been mentioned).  He's dead.  And at the bottom of every page of this current chapter you see him, floating, dead, in the water.  It amuses me in a strange way.  That said, I'm sure he'll be back, just the nature of the beast that is Skullkickers.

David Willis, author of Dumbing of Age, Shortpacked and 30 some other comics has added a porn comic to his list of credits.  It's over on Slipshine (which I won't link because it IS porn) if you want to pay to see Walky have sex.  Um, I don't, thanks.

Remember how Errant Story seemed to be having re-editing issues?  Yeah, it's a bit bigger than of an issue than we first thought.  Editing Errant Story was only part of the problem, the other included house renovations and reworking Exploitation Now!  That one threw me, so I'm not sure what to make of it.  From the looks, it's either a new version of the old comic or an outright sequel.  Wow, no wonder they're having issues keeping up, that's a lot on their plate.  For the time being, the re-publishing of Errant Story is on hold while they refocus efforts on the now slowly updating Does Not Play Well With Others, so that will be moving to the Weekly folder at some point I imagine.

Elsie Hooper's promised weekly update schedule is not so far.  It's moving faster than Alex Ze Pirate, there are actual comic pages for Elsie, but weekly?  Not so much.  Still, better than nothing.

Sunstone (NSFW) has it's future well planned.  22 chapters, planned to be printed in a series of books.  And when the whole thing is done, it will be released, FOR FREE, in pdf format for all to have.  Go ahead and read the journal entry.  Still sketchy on how long it'll actually last, but damn is kind of nice gesture on his part.  Still wish he'd get an actual website instead of relying on deviantart, but we can't have it all, I guess.

Zebra Girl has restarted with a flourish and I'm damn impressed so far.  The comic was always one of my favorites and it seems to have gained a new thirst for life recently.  I'm glad it's kicked into high gear again.

Earlier this week, Schlock Mercenary achieved a great milestone:  5000 comic updates, without missing a single one.  It's a hell of an achievement and one of the major reasons I still view it as the best overall comic on the internet today.

Wapsi Square's artist had to stall updating this past week due to his son going into surgery.  Sounds good so far, and I wish them both the best.

Speaking of Wapsi Square, it, On the Edge and Book of Biff have joined Does Not Play Well With Others in starting Patreon campaigns.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing though as Biff has slowed from a daily to a weekly (though he does run a couple other comics too apparently) and Wapsi has been just as sporadic (and remains as confusing as ever).  Still, it's an option for them to grow.

Kawaii Not has had it's website completely revamped.  It looks, um, modern I guess.  It's not bad, not sure what to think of it though.

The only other major story thing is Sluggy Freelance which continues to keep me reading, digging up more past references, tying up loose ends and generally being quite awesome for a comic that at one point was dead in the water.  I'm so glad it found a new breath of life, it reminds me why I read all these comics.

Well, that's enough for now.  Next week, um, something.  Might actually talk about my story, or a brainstorming or something.  We'll see, depends on how overworked I get.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 16

A little short, but I'm tired this week.

            The Tameran Asylum stood before them like a fortress, which was fitting as it was designed to look and act just like a fortress, only its purpose was to keep people in, not out, though it did an excellent job of that too.  The wall was stone, hard, grey stone that one might mistake for natural rock, but was really a fancy concrete pattern dug into the outside of the building to make it look more presentable to the outside world.  This was important as the massive towers, the giant, slowly opening gates and the guards with heavy weapons did not make the place very inviting looking.

            L’lorne stood next to it, looking up from the sidewalk at the edifice of fake stone and security, but she wasn’t really looking at it.  Instead, she was trying to find information, and having such poor luck that she could only curse quietly in a language long dead.

            Blocks.  Lots of them.  Officially, they were called “Delphi Data Access Restriction Requested By Anonymous,” and that’s what came up with every attempt to learn something about the Asylum.  No building schematics, no history, not even access to satellite photography of the site.  She knew who was to blame for this, because he was the only one who had a reason to restrict it, and that fact seemed to feed on her already ever present anger she had for her former lover and teacher.

            Deborah giggled, drawing L’lorne away from the building for a moment.  The girl was staring at newspaper box, grinning in such a way that anyone else might think there was something wrong with her.  The sunglasses, however, were transmitting the entirety of the paper’s comic page before her and she was enjoying it quite a bit.

            More frustration filled L’lorne as she attempted to access the local data web, only to find nearly the same amount of information on the Asylum as Delphi was currently offering.  The government had taken quite a few steps to more or less erase the building from existence, restricting and classifying nearly everything.  Perhaps she should have accessed the data stream at the CDPC instead of letting Deborah do it.  In moments, she could have had everything she needed.

            No, Deborah had to do it.  The importance of her being able to come to grips with her own gifts was far too great to have done it for her, at least in the long term.  The lack of information on the Asylum was merely a minor inconvenience, really, and it could easily remedied without Delphi or the government’s help.

            “That guy is sure odd looking,” Deborah said as she stood up, a smile still on her face from the funny pages.  L’lorne muttered a questioning hum, but didn’t really take much interest, and Deborah did little but half point to the front page before turning her glace up the granite side of the Asylum.  “So, figure a way in yet?”

            “No, not yet.”  It felt weird to say that, so L’lorne said nothing else for a moment as she continued to try various methods to find the data she wanted.  It was slowly looking like she would have to build her own separate database on the place if she wanted anything new, which meant doing a sonar sounding, some radar mapping, thermal imagining, etcetera, etcetera.  Nothing she couldn’t do, but it still wouldn’t give her that final crucial bit of information she needed:  Where was Patricia Ignigus?  In the end, she would simply have to go in and look.  “I think we’ll need to wait until tomorrow, it’s getting late right now.”

            “The sun just set,” Deborah protested.  “We’ve got plenty of time and. . .” she interrupted herself with a yawn, triggered by a well placed push of that mental button.

            “We’re exhausted,” L’lorne said.  “We should get some rest tonight, then come back tomorrow.”

            “Alright,” Deborah said.  The girl slumped a little.  She was tired, they had been moving at a breakneck pace nearly all day, but she wanted to get this over with.  To be within a few feet of her final destination, and have to stop and wait weighed heavily on her, that was obvious.  L’lorne felt it too, though she was a touch farther away than Deborah was.

            “You know, we should stay close, just in case.”  L’lorne turned around looking carefully up and down the street.  There were plenty of motels in town, but none were near the Asylum.  There was one place, however, that looked promising.  “How about we stay there for the night?”

            The house L’lorne pointed at was most certainly abandoned, with nearly all the windows and even the front door covered in rotting boards.  No power flowed through the wires, and the pipes were all dry and partially filled with dust and calcites.  Yet, despite this, it had once been a beautiful house.  A tower like room sat above the entryway which opened to a great wraparound porch.  The colors would have been bright in their time, but now were browned and chipped, with only a few hints of its former glory.  All this just across the street from the great, terrible Asylum and both shared one very important fact that intrigued L’lorne:

            Delphi Data Access Restriction Requested By Anonymous.



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?

Friday, February 14, 2014

No time this week

Very little time in fact.  I'm exhausted.  Hopefully a nice long rest on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 15

            The twentieth fall had arrived, and the leaves on the trees of the forest were just taking on their new colors for the season.  L’lorne was once fascinated by it, but now took it to be yet another minor element in what was the whole of the universe, one barely worth noting.  To her, the world was explainable, from the greatest of mountains, to the smallest of insects.  One thing, however, had eluded her in these last twenty years; knowledge of herself.

            Instead of watching the leaves turn red, gold and brown, and predicting which tree would go first and when, she sat in her small study room and looked at her hand.  The small table she sat at was completely surrounded by a sea of books, with only the smallest of possible paths clear from the doorway to her seat at the table.  The window that she once looked out of to see the geysers and the trees stayed open, letting in the slowly cooling breeze, but she faced away from it, concentrating on her hand like it was the only thing in the world.

            With her free hand, she adjusted the glasses he had given her now so long ago.  Through it she could zoom in and out, change light wavelengths and even peel back the layers of anything, including her hand, and she was busy with this task now.  Notes flew up into a secondary screen behind the lenses without a word from her, her mind working faster than any verbal command could, and she found the entire task fascinating.

            He hadn't taught her anatomy, for reasons she did not yet understand, but she knew enough about biology and chemistry to be able to figure out the details for herself.  The glasses helped highlight anything she wanted to see.  A quick zoom and she could study the surface of her fingers, the ridges of her fingerprint and how they twisted and looped back on each other.  At this magnification they looked like the ridges of an alien landscape, and the look fascinated her..  Another zoom and she could see the hairs and pits where glands emptied their product onto the back of her hand.  Even closer, she could watch as helpful bacteria ate away at dirt and dead cells, one piece at a time.

            Underneath the skin, she watched as the muscles contracted and relaxed as her hand opened and closed.  The ligaments and tendons moved as well, creating the complex dance that allowed her to move each finger and thumb with accuracy and precision.  The bones, they lay beneath the muscles, scared her in a way that was deeply instinctive, ancient and hard to resist.  Still she stared at them watched as the cartilage between the finger bones compressed as she moved and the tendons pull against the bones at the direction of the muscles.

            Everything returned, then fell away again leaving only the nerves and blood vessels in their place.  The effect was strange, causing her to wonder if this thing, this bundle of hoses and chains were actually part of her body and not someone else's, or something else's.  A zoom to the nerves showed them releasing chemical batches to transmit their signals, traversing down the line to the tips of her fingers and back.  The blood in her veins slowly made its way back down her arm and into her chest, while the arteries carried blood flush with oxygen up to her hand.

            Cells of all sizes and shapes traveled through the blood, and dancing amongst the chemical fluid that formed the bulk of her blood.  Small red donuts of cells move the oxygen, while larger white cells spent their time cleaning up germs and dead cells  Closer she dove, and until she could see the individual molecules, their chains long, impossibly long, and dense moving slowly in a matrix of other molecules which she peeled away to see the others better.  Oxygen began to move, detaching from the iron atom in the hemoglobin and pass out of the blood cells and into the proper cells of her body, passing through molecule sized holes, far too small for anything else to traverse the distance.

            Inside the cell, she could, even with the scene set as a mass of molecules, watch as oxygen and sugars combining through a string of chemical reactions and released energy and carbon dioxide in the mitochondria..  She followed the passing chain of chemicals back to the nucleus of her cells that defined her as a living being.  She studied it, reading the four chemical alphabet as easily as any of the books scattered about her study room.  She found the section that gave her the long black hair she so carefully cared for, another for her dark brown eyes and yet another for her dark skin, all connected, intertwined and as descriptive as any picture.

            She stopped on one section though and gasped at what it said.  A reference call and she confirmed it, and gasped again, almost despite herself.  Calculations now began to run, the chemistry of life dissected and interpreted in detail.  Congenital disposition, lifestyle choices, known diet, weather conditions, each crack revealed a potential for failure, and the odds grew worse with each additional variable.  Her dark skin grew white with the answer, and she tossed her glasses aside and leapt over the table and into the room where he was sitting.

            "We have to go," she said quickly.  He blinked at her, but she responded before he could ask for a clarification.  "My mother is dying."

            He nodded.  "Yes, let's get going."


            Sunset was about an hour away.  Since this trip started, Deborah could easily make it to that important part of the day, and often then some.  This time, however, she groaned as the time came up on the sunglasses.  Her legs were sore, her body weak, and her stomach made a nasty gurgle sound.  All she could think of was sleep and breakfast.  Specifically missing breakfast.

            She and L’lorne had every intention of joining the farmer and his wife for an early morning breakfast.  Eggs were assured, probably toast, ham and bacon, fresh milk, all were going to be made available, or so L’lorne had said.  Unfortunately, as they got to the barn entrance, another military truck showed up, carrying even more soldiers than the first and asking much the same questions.

            Deborah suggested they fight it out, or at least scare these guys off as L’lorne had done the night before, but the dark haired woman decided against it.  "Odds are good they're going to search this whole place, probably bring in bigger weapons and maybe even hurt the Fiestiens."  With that they left, moving faster than any other day, using back roads instead of the main ones they had been walking along before, all to avoid detection and get to their destination that much sooner.

            The map came up and Deborah studied it for a moment with weak eyes.  Too far, much too far.  Not really, truly too far, maybe another couple of hours, but too far for right now.  With that, the girl simply stopped and stood quite still.

            L’lorne stopped a short distance later, once she realized that her companion was no longer with her.  "You okay?"

            "I can't make it any more," Deborah wobbled where she stood, afraid to sit down as she wasn't so sure she could get up, and equally afraid to try to step forward and end up face down in the gravel of the street.  "I'm too hungry, too tired."

            "I see."  L’lorne turned and looked to the horizon ahead of them for a brief moment.  "I think there's a place we can eat just up the road here.  Think you could make it?"

            "How far?"

            "Five minutes or so."

            Deborah removed her glasses and thrust them into her pocket so she could think.  They seemed almost out of control sometimes, and when she asked how far, they began flashing up distances, times and descriptions, none of which she wanted to take in at the moment.  Her eyes closed, she took a deep breath, and started to move again.  Less than five minutes of moderate agony later, they slipped through the doors of a diner that had appeared from behind a clutch of trees.

            The booth seat, some cheap vinyl knockoff, felt wonderful as she only partially sunk into the stiff foam.  Most of that wonderful feeling centered on her legs as they panted from exhaustion.  The waiter, an old man who looked like he had worked the booths and the counter of the diner since time began, greeted them and laid out a pair of menus for them to look over.  He then hurried off to get a soda and an ice tea for the both of them.

            Deborah flipped open the menu and studied it for a bit.  This was probably the first time since they left home that she looked at anything to eat aside from the breakfast menu.  It was also the first time she was hungry enough to actually eat the menu.  Her whole body felt hungry, not just normal, tired hungry, but angry hungry, so angry that it actually was on the verge of making her scream out her order at the old man.  She managed to hold it back long enough, though, and he called out the order to the blond that was working in the back, a hair net tied tightly around her head.

            With a shaking hand, she pulled her soda close and took a deep swig.  L’lorne poured a pack of sugar into her tea and began stirring it slowly with a spoon.  "Didn't you want to eat anything?"

            "I'll eat enough," L’lorne said, still stirring.

            "Yeah, well maybe you should tell the waiter."  Deborah paused for another sip.  "You know, I don't think I've seen you eat anything yet."

            "Want to know a secret?  I've been sneaking bits of your food while you were busy eating."  Deborah looked at her, trying to remember it happening, but couldn't come up with an image.  "You don't think you really ate all that on your own, did you?"

            "Well I. . ."

            "Here's the first plate," the old man said, setting down a burger and fries.  "I'll be back with more in a bit."

            Deborah didn't wait and dove into the hamburger.  In moments it was gone, and the fries were following at an alarming rate.  With the plate cleared another, a steak of some kind with a baked potato, arrived and the eating began again, only slower this time, more deliberate.  The angry hunger was gone, replaced with normal hunger, though her body was still a bit in pain.

            Still, it was enough and she could finally look about the diner while she ate.  L’lorne continued to stir her tea, and looked up at her with a smile.  Beyond her, the door had opened and a rather large man and an elderly woman with a walker came entered.  It didn't take long for the woman to be revealed as the man's mother, and they slowly made their way to a booth on the far side of the diner.  At the counter, a young brunette was chatting up a young man who was probably about the same age while drinking a small soda and picking at a plate of fries.

            All of this was quite normal, and Deborah turned back to her food without really thinking about it again.  It was then that she thought about it, despite her own desire not to, and shot up to examine the scene again.  The fat man sat across from his mother while the waiter folded up the walker and put it aside.  The brunette seemed to lose interest in the guy and turned back to her plate to finish her fries while he called for a check.  The blond in the back yelled out another order for the waiter to pick up then turned back to her grill.

            Deborah swallowed a bit of steak and then let her mouth open a bit.  This couldn't be real, could it?  No, it was a mistake, some kind of mistake, some weird, otherworldly kind of mistake.  If she was right, but how could she be right?  It wasn't right, it couldn't be right, it wasn't right, wasn't it?  L’lorne smiled again.  "Something wrong?"

            "They're the same," the words sort of just fell from her mouth.  "They're all the same."

            "Ah, yes."

            Deborah's astonishing announcement had suddenly been cut short, and she blinked in a new form of astonishment.  "'Ah, yes.'  Is that all you can say is 'ah, yes?'"

            "What else would you like me to say?"

            "I don't know, tell me I'm crazy might be nice."

            "I would," L’lorne said.  "But that's not true."

            Deborah could say nothing, her breath had been forcibly removed from her lungs, and her fork, still with a bit of steak on it, fell with a clink to the plate below.  "You mean, they are the same?"

            "More or less, yes."

            "More or less?"  Deborah nearly yelled it out, startling the brunette and the guy at the counter.  They turned back to Deborah and L’lorne's booth and stared for a bit, almost forcing Deborah back down under the table with their stare.

            When they turned back, L’lorne finally answered in a calm, even voice.  "Well, their personalities are a little different each time, and the positions are switched up to keep things interesting, but they're basically the same every time."

            Deborah sat up and carefully picked up the fork, staring at the walls of the diner, the booths and the tables.  "And the diner is repeated too, isn't it?  Same look, different colors?"

            "Pretty much."


            L’lorne chuckled that absolutely annoying chuckle of hers.  "Well, I can show you a little, but it all depends on whether you're done eating or not."

            The thought of dropping the fork and going for it crossed Deborah's mind, but her stomach protested, as did the rest of her, and soon she was eating again.  The meal was gone quickly and they left, L’lorne leaving a healthy sum of cred chips on the table.

            They stood outside, just a bit away from the front of the old diner which looked like some sort of old bus or something.  Streamlined and silver, Deborah could watch as the people moved about inside its structure, carrying about their day.  "So, what are you going to show me exactly?"

            "What I do with it after we leave," L’lorne bent her knees into a crouch at about eye level with Deborah.  "Well, basically at least."  She held her hand up, fingers and thumb forming a sideways U, which she hooked around the end of the diner.  With Deborah looking straight at the diner, L’lorne picked it up off the ground.

            Deborah fell back a bit as L’lorne began turning the uprooted diner in her hand like it was a toy.  A toy, that's exactly what it looked and felt like now.  She placed it into her palm, letting it lie there for a moment.  A single pass of her hand and the diner's size dropped by half, another dropped it again until it was the size of a small toy car which she held out to Deborah innocently.  "Here, it won't break."

            It was so small, so detailed, and Deborah took her time examining it, staring into the windows that were now cold and empty.  She looked back to the lot where it had once sat and saw nothing but grass and trash.  "That's incredible."

            "Not really," L’lorne corrected.  "But it is handy.  Fits nicely in my pocket that way."

            "What about the people?"

            "They get stored separately.  No reason to leave them in the diner after all."

            Deborah turned from her studies and looked right at L’lorne as the woman stood straight up.  "Why?"

            "They're only active when we're inside as it is.  Not real enough to bother letting them settle into a permanent home or anything."

            "Not real enough?"

            L’lorne smiled.  "They're just puppets, fake people.  No substance to them or anything."

            Deborah's mind could only recall the fat man escorting the old lady to the table, staying close to her, encouraging her to keep moving, helping her like mother and son.  "But what about their lives, their memories?  Aren't they real?"

            "Nope, not at all.  Just old ghosts from a time long, long ago when I originally created them.  They're not any more real than a stuffed animal."

            Chills, for some reason, rippled up Deborah's back, forcing her to hand the diner to L’lorne.  "You mean they were real once?"

            "No, they're just based on real people.  The real ones have been dead for so long history doesn't even record their passing."  That sent another chill, a colder chill, through Deborah as a certain tone, heretofore unheard seemed to come from L’lorne.  So indescribable was it that Deborah tried to write it off, but could not.  "Anyway, when we get close to where we can stop," she fitted the diner against her thumb and over the top of her finger.  "I send it ahead."  With a flick, the diner suddenly flashed back into existence in the lot.

            "And that's it?"  L’lorne nodded.  "Don't people notice?"

            "They can't see it.  I mask it just like I hid the fact that you're just a kid.  All very simple."

            "Doesn't sound like it."

            "It is.  Now, let's get going, the Asylum is only a couple hours away."

            Deborah nodded and as they marched away, she looked back to see the diner disappear once again, but she couldn't follow any path or anything, it was just gone, probably into L’lorne's pocket.



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. Did you notice everything I built up for the diner before it got to this point?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Death of the Creator

A couple weeks ago, Justin Carmical, aka "Jewwario" died.  He committed suicide, something that came as a rather large shock to his colleagues and fans.  It also has very little to do with webcomics as he focused on videos and videogames.

I say that because I can't recall a single webcomic artist who has died.  It is going to happen though, sooner rather than later would be my guess.  The second wave of comics, where Sluggy Freelance and Penny Arcade sit, are nearly 2 decades old at this point, meaning their artists are nearing their 40s.  Some artists are older than that, even if their comics are younger.

And comic artists have issues.  Lots of issues.  Physical, typically in the writing hand, have happened quite often I've noticed.  Then there's the string of mental issues that plague even the best artists.  Accidents, poor health, and just plain bad luck mean eventually one of the comics I read will lose it's creator.

There have been a few close calls.  The artists of Sea of Insanity was hit by a car (while in his house!) and that waylaid him for over  year.  Micheal Poe nearly lost his wife, then had his own health issues, and his dad died.  Commander Kitty's artist suffered from a depression that stalled the comic almost completely out.  And those are just the ones I can immediately recall.

So what are we, as readers and fans, to do when such a thing happens?

First of all, as much as it might pain you when your favorite artist dies, remember the real pain is for the families and close friends.  They actually KNEW the person, talked to them regularly, and will feel their lack of presence most acutely.  For us, it'll be more like an extended hiatus.  Whatever tributes that are made, make sure to acknowledge this fact.

Donations should be made toward whatever the family decides.  In Jewwario's case, all the funds being collected are strictly for the funeral, nothing else at this point (suicides are usually not covered by insurance, so yeah).  The rest of the time, it'll usually end up going to a charity or something.  Do NOT just give to random people, make sure it's as official as possible.  Assuming you can give at all of course.

The big issue for us readers is the fact that, for all practical purposes, the comic is over.  Most artists don't have an extensive buffer, and those who do rarely have a buffer big enough to cover the END of the comic.  Some comics don't really have an end as it is.  If we're lucky, there may be notes, or an extended summary of what was meant to happen as the comic continued.

Someone might offer to finish the comic at some point, it's bound to happen, but odds of it actually happening are rather low.  Unless the artist's family is actively sponsoring the project, it'll likely just die out and never be finished.  Don't count on it, is what I'm saying.  And if it does happen, likely someone will complain about it, and thus the whole thing will be for naught.

Finally, and this is for the creators, make sure you have a clear line of communication.  Jewwario's death was revealed on a Facebook post, which is fine, unless you're like me and don't have a Facebook account (because evil).  His website and twitter had NOTHING regarding the death, and guess where most people went to look for confirmation?  The site crashed the night of the reveal.  In fact, it took most of the night for people to finally come to terms with the fact that it was real at all.  So please creators, writers and artists, have someone you can trust (this is important) be able to relate what happened via your main site or whatever.  Clear communication can ease confusion and make the entire ordeal just that much less trying.

Of course, I don't have anything like that because why follow my own advice?  Well, actually I will, mostly because I should follow my own advice once in a great while.

Anyway, eventually this will happen to a major comic, probably in the next five years or so, and we'll see how it goes when it happens.  Let's hope I'm wrong.  Until next time kiddies, and good bye Jewwario.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 14

Long section coming up.  Hope it makes up for last week.

            The farm yard was littered with trees which helped cover L’lorne in her approach to the farm house.  Closing in, the roar of the truck's engine continued echo throughout the farm yard, yet it hardly disturbed the owners who were just now settled into a long and what they had hoped would be an uneventful night.  No such luck.

            She stopped behind a small cart that had been left in the yard and hid there as the truck pulled up in front of the house.  L’lorne looked back towards the barn and Deborah therein and gave her a little wave.  The girl responded, likely having found how to get the zoom feature to work some time ago.  She learns very quickly, hopefully not too quickly.  That thought only nagged on L’lorne's mind for a moment as she returned to the task at hand when the troops climbed out of the truck.

            Ten of them, heavily armed, lead by a man who while not a grizzled old veteran, wasn't some wet behind the ears kid either.  In an almost polite manner, he stepped calmly up to the door and knock, while his men surrounded the entrance, their weapons aimed right for the door knob.

            No response.  L’lorne looked up through the upper floor window, and past the curtains to find both farmer and wife soundly sleeping.  Their bodies moving with the steady beat of age, their minds simply not responding to the outside stimulus.  Even the dog that slept at the end of the bed seemed undisturbed.

            The squad leader, however, was most disturbed, and ordered the men to break down the door.  There was enthusiasm as they leapt to this act of destruction and power, knocking the door down with one fresh kick to the door.  They filed in, guns moving along each wall, studying it for threats while the squad leader settled down on the porch swing in the front and put on a calm, but ready face and manner.  It would be a shame to kill him.

            Killing them all was necessary, L’lorne had concluded.  She looked back to the barn and sighed.  Deborah would be a problem.  Simply killing them for no apparent reason would ruin the relationship that had so far been built.  There would come a time to tear down the wall, but this incident, right now, wasn't that time.  If she could present them as a direct threat to her, maybe she could justify it.

            Of course, she would have to assume Deborah had figured out how hear what was being said.  Delphi had long ago set up blocks to prevent L’lorne from tracking the glasses and what Deborah had learned about them, part of their agreement over the girl’s place in L’lorne’s plan.  At this point, they were too far along to alter that plan greatly, not that any of it would come to fruition until they found Ritch ‘arrd.

            She couldn’t simply goad them into attacking her; it would put too much work at risk.  L’lorne thought only for a moment, then came up with the best solution, one that would not only endear her more to Deborah, but would also remove the threat.  Plus, it would be fun.

            The soldiers came back out, dragging the old farmer and his wife, still dressed in their night clothes, out the front door, the dog following, barking all the way.  "What the hell is all this?"  The farmer was livid, and glared at the squad leader as they moved out on to the porch, lit only by the truck's headlamps.

            "Terribly sorry sir," the squad leader replied calmly.  "I was afraid that something might have happened to you when you didn't respond to my knocking."  He stood up and stuck out his hand.  "I am Captain Mervin George.  I'm hoping you can help us out."

            "Damn fool thin' to be dragin' a man n' his wife out in the middle o the night.  Better be a damn good reason or I'll stick my foot so far up your ass. . ."

            Captain George pulled his hand back, partially because the farmer obviously wasn't going to return the gesture, but mostly because he was afraid he'd never get it back if he did.  "As I said, I am sorry.  A pair of fugitives escaped from the capital last night, and we're attempting to track them down."

            "So what?"

            The Captain frowned in disgust, and lied.  "They've committed some serious crimes, and are considered very, very dangerous.  I need only know if you've seen them."

            "I ain't seen nothin.'"

            "Please sir," Captain George reached into his pocket to pull a couple of cards out.  "If you take a moment to listen to their description, perhaps you did see them, but didn't know."

            "I tell you. . ."

            "Steven, just listen to the man already," the farmer's wife said, a fine tone of fear in her voice.  He glared at her and nodded finally, in an irritated way.

            "Thank you ma'am.  We're looking for two women. . ."

            "You mean one," L’lorne stood up from behind the cart, her hands slightly raised.  The guns spun around and leveled right at her, but L’lorne ignored them and kept walking, slowly, confidently.  She really didn't have a thing to fear.  "You see, the other one was busy while the terrible crime was being committed.  I did that, all by my lonesome."

            "Stay right there!" one of the soldiers yelled, his gun safety already off.  Anxious, fearful, L’lorne could only figure they had been fully briefed.  Good move, better to know all what the enemy was actually capable of then be in the dark.  Almost something he would order done.

            "No problem," she said.  "Now stop pestering those people and let them get some sleep."

            Mervin George stepped off the porch, his eyes scanning the black haired woman up and down, studying her carefully.  When he was within arm's reach, a very dangerous position but he seemed not to care about that, he finally spoke.  "You don't look like much."  He paused and took a step back.  "But then, they say never judge a book by the cover.  I take it you'll be coming along quietly?"


            "Good.  After what you did, watching my boys dump a few hundred rounds into your pretty little body will be most satisfying."

            L’lorne did her confidence chuckle, which was so close to a simple hum that it might actually be mistaken for one.  "You didn't let me finish.  No, I won't go quietly, not yet anyway."  She looked over at the soldiers that had taken up a kind of reverse semicircle around her, ready to turn and gun her down whichever way she ran, even right at them.  "You seem to have a lot of confidence in your men, so perhaps we can make a deal."

            "I don't make deals," he said flatly and turned away from her, retreating behind the line of fire.

            "A challenge then.  If you win, I go quietly, I'll even tell you where your other 'fugitive' is, lead you right to her.  If I win, you leave and pretend that you never saw me."

            The Captain was behind his line now and gave his own version of the confidence chuckle.  "And what kind of challenge would that be?"

            L’lorne pointed down to the pouch on her hip.  "I'm going to remove something from my belt.  It is a weapon, but it is strictly for this challenge."  As she finished, she slowly reached down and undid the little metal button that held the pouch closed.  The guns moved up slightly as the soldiers got a better grip for whatever was to happen, but only watched as a black axe head fell into her hand.

            She held it up for them to see, her palm placed between the lip of the blade and a short stub of a handle that lay on the one side.  Even then, it didn't seem more than twice the size of her hand, such a small object that some of the men relaxed, while the Captain reached down to his own weapon and readied to raise it up.  Her wrist moved slightly, like she was squeezing the metal, and a second blade swung out from inside the first, locking neatly into place, forming the head of a double bitted axe.  Another twitch of the wrist, and the stub seemed to grow, shooting out from its barely six inch proto self to a full four feet, all of it as black as the head of the axe.

            "Relax," L’lorne grabbed the handle with her free hand and swung the head down towards the ground.  "It's only dangerous if provoked."  The tip of one of the bits locked into the dirt, slowly carving out a long, flat line, some six feet in length in front of her.  "The challenge," L’lorne said as she finished the line.  "Is for me to stop every bullet you fire at me before it crosses this line."

            Captain George merely raised an eyebrow, almost amused at the action.  "You realize, if you fail, you'll be dead."

            "That's possible.  Not a problem for you, is it?"

            "Sir," one of the soldiers spoke up.  "We can't really shoot her, can we?"  He looked from officer to L’lorne and back again.  Something about the confident look on both of their faces confused the young man, and he desperately needed clarification.

            "Well," Mervin kept his eyes glued to L’lorne.  "She is quite dangerous, is now armed and has made it clear that she will not come quietly."  A smile riddled its way onto his face.  "I feel we have no choice.  Take aim!"

            The young soldier's gun snapped up into an even stronger firing position.  The line flattened out and aimed quite clearly at the woman before them, weapons up and ready, safeties off, fire controls shifted to full automatic.  There would be no escape.  L’lorne took on a relaxed look, positioning the axe in front of her in readiness.  The challenge was set, shame the soldiers never had a chance.


            The guns fired off, roaring in rapid succession.  Most of the rifles fired in short bursts, the result of constant training, while the two larger guns fired almost continuously, all aimed at one target.

            She had already decided not to rush this, no real reason after all.  There was plenty of time between each shot to prepare for the next one.  The worst part was waiting for the first few shots as they traveled the short distance between the porch and the cart where L’lorne stood.  The bursting fire, three shots in rapid succession, meant that there would often be a long break between busy movements of the axe.  At least the two heavy weapons would provide a more or less constant diversion.

            She struck the first bullet with the flat of the axe head, about right in the middle of one of the bits.  The force of the bullet should have knocked the axe clear out of the way, but all the kinetic energy was absorbed like water to a sponge, rippling from the head, down the handle and finally into L’lorne's arm, where it was put into something useful, namely the next movement of the axe.  As the bullet fell straight down as if its will to move forward had been completely removed, the axe moved ever so slightly to catch the next bullet to execute that poor piece of lead's will in a similar fashion.

            The act would be repeated again and again, each bullet losing its will to move forward as soon as it came in contact with the axe.  Sometimes it would come with the strike at the head, or the handle, even the very edge of the blade.  The bullet would then fall straight down, the force of gravity doing its part even if the bullet refused.  Each fell with a slight thud, forming a little crater of dust, right in front of the line L’lorne had drawn.

            All this passed in a blink of an eye for everyone who was not L’lorne.  While she contemplated various ideas and their possible results, they saw only a blur as the axe flashed back and forth in a whirling motion only ever matched by electric fans and spinning propellers.  Eventually, even with the large clips and gung ho attitude, the guns fell silent as they ran out of ammunition, even the mighty heavy machine guns died for lack of that precious lead.  As the final shots sound, the movement of the axe slows, moving slow enough that the blur is now gone, but the speed is still prevalent.  Then there are no more shots, and an eerie calm settles for a moment.

            One final shot rings out.  The soldiers are stunned by the sound and would have turned around to see their captain, his side arm drawn and held steady, aiming at the woman that still stood before him, they would have turned if they hadn't seen the axe shoot up and stop the bullet dead center.  The piece of lead held itself in the air for a moment, the tip pressed only slightly against the axe itself, and then it fell with a slight poof onto the ground below.

            "Well then," L’lorne said as she shifted the axe out of her way.  "I guess that means I win."

            Captain George lowered his weapon, staring down at it as he did.  It had failed him, and he considered his options, finally electing to holster it once more.  "I guess you did."  He stood tall and looked right at L’lorne, glared at her eyes, and took a deep breath.  "Everyone into the truck."

            "But sir."

            He didn't even change the direction of his glare, only that of his voice.  "I said in the truck, NOW!"  His men complied and piled back into the truck while he stood and continued to stare at L’lorne.  They both knew there was no way he wasn't going to report this, he had to, it was his job.  Did he know he still had to die?  It was hard to say, but perhaps he did.  Without answering the question in any real way, he turned around, boarded the truck, and ordered the driver to return them to base.

            The farmer was excited, his wife amazed, and they said so, repeatedly, congratulating her on something that was so small it was really barely worth mentioning.  Still, she accepted their accolades, and finally broke away from them after promising to come in for breakfast as it was far too late for dinner.  The axe returned to its pouch, folding up much as it had before, and she returned to the barn and met Deborah who sat on her bed of hey and blanket.

            "You stopped every one?"

            "Are you surprised?"

            Deborah shook her head.  "No, but that was still pretty neat.  Where'd you learn to do that?"

            An explanation of that nature would take a long time, and L’lorne wasn't in the mood to go into many details.  "A good friend of mine, actually.  He's helped me out a lot recently."  The count was almost finished.  Only a handful of seconds remained.  The truck was out of sight now and far enough away that the sound wouldn't be heard for what it really was.  L’lorne decided to drag out the conversation a bit; a few details wouldn't be that bad after all.  "He's actually much better with the axe than I am.  Truthfully, he invented the entirety of its use, though he didn't create it."  Times up, wait for it.

            "Really?  What's his name?"  Before L’lorne could reply, a loud bang rattled off from the distance.  "What was that?"

            "Hmm?"  L’lorne looked out the loft door, a look of confusion covering her knowledge of the source.  "I didn't hear anything."

            "I could have sworn," Deborah paused her thought, and then decided to discontinue it.  "It was probably nothing."

            "Probably."  It was something alright, an explosion of decent sized proportions.  At its center sat the truck and its ten passengers.  Most were killed outright when the gas tank mysteriously exploded, but those in the cab lingered for a bit, their bodies impaled by flying debris, their heads slammed into the windshield, steering wheel and dash board.  Amongst them is Captain Mervin George, a man whose last thoughts, as he lies bleeding to death on the verge of unconsciousness and death is how in the hell that woman managed to plant a bomb on the truck.  L’lorne only smiled.  "We should get some sleep, we've been asked over for breakfast, and I know they'll want to have it early."

            "Sounds good."  Deborah wrapped herself in the blanket and closed her eyes briefly.  "Oh wait," she sat up.  "What's his name?"

            "Who?"  Beat.  "Oh, him, his name is Quinn.  Maybe you'll meet him some day."

            Deborah yawned a half hearted agreement and bid L’lorne good night.



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. Does the entire sequence with the axe make sense?  Was it as nifty as I think it is?