Why is this online comic presented in black and white? To save on printing costs, duh.
Charles Smith has a goatee because I can’t draw chins. Sherman has green hair because it was the only way I could make her hair match her outfit. This impeccable sense of coordination is why my wardrobe consists entirely of black t-shirts and jeans; I don’t have the time or the ability or the energy to attempt an outfit more complex.
As the title implies, this whole first portion of the comic gives us much of what we need to know and to appreciate our main character, Charles. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.
I was hoping, through the subtle subtext lurking just below the surface in this illustration, that the reader may infer the nature of the relationship between Charles Smith (presented in black and white with an indifferent expression) and Sherman (presented in living color, gracing him with a glance of adoration). Do you have a black eye from being clubbed in the face with it yet?
This is the cover for the comic that will live at this domain. Any resemblance between myself and the main character is entirely deliberate. Sherman is patterned after my third grade social studies teacher. Everything I just said is bullshit. Except for this being the cover, that part’s true.
I hope that you enjoy this light comical romp through the lives of the worst man in the observable universe and his feckless factotum. If you do, spread it around. I like to draw for people.
The site is pretty hacked together at the moment, as it’s merely wordpress with comicpress and easel with minimal customization, but I wanted to get this up before I decided my time would be better spent finishing lunch. Maybe one day I’ll invent my own framework and recover some of my sullied geek cred, but I probably won’t also. In any event, thanks for stopping by.
As I was putting this site together IKEA style, it occurred to me that it’s been ten years since I took the time to put original creative content online in this form. Essentially, this is me:
Which led to the following mental exercise: If I were to actually pull a Steve Rogers and drop my ten-year-younger self into today’s online environment, what observations would he make?
“It’s the same,” he’d say after a moment’s contemplation, “just bigger and GUIer. Very little has changed apart from increased bandwidth; where before we had people barking at each other via message boards, we now have people filming themselves barking at each other via YouTube. Anonymity for the average user has been largely replaced with personal branding, with social media becoming the new show business. Millions of people all struggle continuously for relevance, beg for attention, and are lost in a sea of white noise. We have people with 2,500 friends complaining of loneliness, voluntarily disclosing intimate personal details of their lives for the sake of one single acknowledgement before they scroll by in the blur of endlessly generated woe.”
“Wow,” I’d say, “You really are a walled up, cynical asshole.”
“You’re the one putting these thoughts into my head, dipshit,” he’d retort.
“Fair point,” I’d concede. “What is your summation?”
“In summation,” he’d say, “I think that a tiny house off grid is looking mighty fine right now.”
I would nod my head in an attempt to look wise and agree, since his summation would probably be right.
But then my ten year younger self is nothing if not adaptable, so he’d stay in the present day and do all the work for this comic while I spend quality time with my steam library. Sucker.
So please bear with me as I shake out the cobwebs and get the gears oiled up. Once I get up to speed I have a whole stable full of stuff I think I’d like to share. Civil Servant Smith, in my view, was the quickest and easiest to start with. So delve in and have a look. I’ll be here.
Since this comic isn’t really a set up/punch line affair, but somewhat more narrative (such as it is) driven, I’ll be putting up the pages in bulk fairly regularly; the game plan is perhaps three pages or so (or as close as I can manage it) once a week. Follow me on the twitter and stuff and I’ll make sure you know when to check things out.
In the meantime, enjoy the small things, and don’t write junk.
Wait, before I leave for the day, let me explain what that means.
While I was typing all this out, a phrase I hadn’t thought of in over a decade surfaced as though it had always been there in some abstract form or other. It was something I said exactly once, but the thought has been lingering on in some indirect form ever since.
I don’t write junk.
The one and only time I remember actually speaking that phrase out loud was over ten years ago, at my first professional coding gig. The less said about said gig, the better.
Shortly after being brought on, some stored procedures in my gloriously clunky ASP.net 1.1 web form application were failing, and one of my direct reports (the lesser one) told me to fix my code. I told him that it had to be a permissions issue for my application’s user, which was the responsibility of a DBA in another building. As it turned out, I was right, and said direct report apologized. I jokingly said:
“Look man, I don’t write junk.”
I may have come off cocky (Let’s be honest, I definitely came off cocky), but that wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t implying that I thought I was infallible, only that I wouldn’t put my name to something without being certain I’ve given it the full, greatest effort I was capable of. Yes, I was green. Yes, the things I didn’t know about my profession at the time could fill almost the whole capacity of the internet in those days. But I don’t do things half assed when my name’s on it. If I care about it, which I did, it gets everything I have, however much or little that ends up being. I’ll work until I’m smashed against a brick wall, because—
I don’t write junk.
It may sound like a somewhat brash or overconfident assertion, but that’s the thing that it’s furthest from. If anything, the phrase describes a state of mind that governs my every motivation, from the smallest and least important to the most consequential long-term life decisions.
It’s simple; whether I’m putting together a lego toy with my daughter, showing my stepson how to wire up a circuit, architecting software, composing a tune, doodling a silly character, writing a novel, or building a pointless yet fun do-it-yourself device with a micro controller, it makes little difference. If I’m to put my name on something, or set out to accomplish a task, I either do it to the best of my mind’s capacity, or I push on until I do. Does this mean I invariably succeed at what I set out to do, or that I believe my every endeavor is of major import or genius? No and no, respectively. I of course like everyone else have my own aptitudes, proclivities, predilections, potentials, faults, and shortcomings, and at the end of the day I will fail and fail spectacularly more often then not. I’ve had to learn by doing most of my life, with all of the lumps that come with it; that goes for all aspects of my life, personal and professional. Simply because I try my hardest is no indicator that my hardest is hard enough. Many times it isn’t. But regardless—
I don’t write junk.
I force myself to take the time to immerse myself in the basics, fundamentals and foundations (also known as the boring stuff that you itch to just blow past to get to the cool stuff). I do this because I’m not into one off solutions; When I go to learn a skill, I want that skill to allow me to lead into one hundred other skills. If I have to do a thing without understanding the skills that lead to the subsequent skills in the hierarchy, I won’t move on until I do.
I spent two weeks of nonstop practice getting comfortable with most basic strumming pattern on the five string banjo before I even attempted to play a three chord folk song. It was dull, but the rhythmic concepts I internalized allowed me to jump to the ukulele, the mandolin, the guitar, and the bass and play the same rhythms. When I later went to learn melody, I drilled the chromatic scale and basic major and minor patterns that would let me learn any song on any fretted instrument, rather than spending hours learning one single song from rote by tab. As a result, I can work almost entirely by ear. Not because I have any innate talent (believe me, I absolutely don’t), but because—
I don’t write junk.
If there’s one thing that I hope to accomplish before I’m dirt, it’s that my daughter and stepson will refuse to write junk as well, whatever that ends up meaning throughout the course of their lives. If my daughter wants to be a busker or a mechanic or a scientist, I want her to be the best damn busker, mechanic or scientist she can be. If my stepson decides he wants to be an engineer, a painter, or a writer, I want the same for him.
I don’t write junk. And neither should anybody else.