Saturday, September 6, 2008
What you see here can summarily be described as a guilt trip comic. After last weeks existentialist one I felt kinda bad for deviating so abruptly from the program so I made this one. It's one of the very last attempts I were to make at keeping it proper and probably for the better for the well was running well dry.
Not to say that I hate this, I think it's a pretty good comic and it touches on things that most introvert internet denizens can empathize with. I wouldn't exactly call it a comic based on personal experience (though I do love rice pudding, especially with cinnamon on top, so very, very much) but there's been so much of that theme around me it's hard to not feel as if I've not lived it anyway. For the record I've had two relationships that started out on the internet thus far, one was completely disastrous (though illuminating in various ways) and the other the most significant relationship I've had yet, so I can't preach either condemnation or support of internet dating. It seems to me the odds are pretty much the same as in real life for it to work out well. It's also I guess interesting to note that when this comic was made more than two years ago, I was in the middle of the first internet relationship (which were to go south really, really fast, if it hadn't already, can't readily remember) and now that I write this I am well in the second relationship that is going wonderfully. Spirals of progress towards a predetermined direction!
Speaking of rice pudding, you must understand it has a hilarious name in Greek. 'Ρυζόγαλο'. It's really not the type of word you'd want to say when trying to hit on somebody but the actual line "hey baby, what do you say I buy you some rice pudding?" is one from real life, uttered in all seriousness by some... rural Don Juan.It's been an inside joke ever since a girl friend told us how it happened to her so that's where half of this comic comes from.
The other half is Sarantis Vahaviolos. All Greek names probably sound the same to you savage foreigners but this is again a hilarious name, phonetically. Let me make up a reasonable similar one in English to get the effect... hmm... "Eugene Bottum", perhaps. Something like that. The first name is something that makes you think of some really old man and the second suggests a layabout, a sluggard, a waste of time of a man. There's a story behind this name: A close friend of mine used to go on-line in a time far more virgin to internet trolling (that is, about 12 years ago?) and frequent romantic interest chat-rooms. He would pretend to be Sarantis Vahaviolos (for extra hilarity) of the proud lineage of the Barnetts (highly respected British family, supposedly) who would completely earnestly search for true romance on the cold, harsh internets. A lot of hilarious chat logs came out of that and the name-persona was liberally adopted by our circle of internet friends whenever we wanted to describe someone who would do anything to get a woman to love him.
Little did we know that apparently Sarantis Vahaviolos (or to be precise, someone with a similar name) was a real person that met an interesting end. One day my father came to me with a press clipping that has since then adorned my bedroom wall. It's in Greek so trust me if I don't take it down and scan it, it's real. It reads:
"Greek-American soldier lost his life in Iraq. 21 year-old Steve Vahaviolos from New York. The soldier was stationed in Iraq six weeks ago and killed along with three officers when the tank in which they were in fell off a canal in the area of Al Abar."
So uh, I guess, that's the true end of Sarantis, or Steve, whichever you prefer.
On the implementation level this comic is somewhat of a mess mainly due to how I could not then -and I still cannot with great confidence- draw women. I tend to default to the same model when I do it just because I find it difficult to get them down (I find a solid strike to the back of the neck helps). Besides that it works pretty well I feel, some pretty 'true' panels (like the girl in bathroom one. I love drawing bathrooms!). That one is a bit of commentary to teenage boy mentality where women are these pretty magical butterfly fairies that never fart or swear or do anything bad which I've always found funny and touching.
The comic is littered with 'cool guys' being 'cool', and I am pretty sure you can sense the disdain on the ink. I have an almost pathologic disgust for the 'stud uniform' and what annoys me even further is how effective it is.
The panel where he meets Maria for the first time is easy on the shading. Take that as emotional elation. I still like that panel, probably the best on this page. As far as the ending goes, I can only say: bad random. Well okay, if pressed I can make the case of how this whole 'American dream' twist towards the end desperately needed an absurdist upset because it's sickening but that would be after-the-fact rationalizing, really. I just found it funny! Rice pudding! The most benign thing in the world! The panel where he takes out the dark-haired woman annoys me to look at, mainly because she's is modeled after an actual person I was once acquainted with. Also this is the panel where I first started to regret giving my characters 'cartoon four fingers' because that pointing hand looks really grotesque! By this time I've also mostly regretted how I had decided to stylize ears too at the beginning, but oh well!
If you haven't, you should really give rice pudding a try. It's wonderful. And completely safe.