Saturday, July 30

Just wanted to share

My best friend sent me this e-mail. Hope he can forgive me for sharing it.

Now I realized he's kinda biased in his opinion, knowing me as well as he does. But of every living, breathing, human being on the face of the earth, I value his opinion the most. Jeff is the closest thing I have to a brother, in many ways he's probibly would be more a brother to me then if I HAD a brother.

So when I got this e-mail, I got a little misty eyed, and just sat in a warm glow.

I started reading ABH in the days after you told me about it. Not long thereafter it had become part of my daily creeping (maybe slithering) back into conscience routine when just arriving at the office. In the weeks that passed, I’d chuckle while wondering why more people didn’t vote for Mac as a favorite character. Slowly, I found myself craving to know how a strip’s plotline might resolve at the end of the week. Next, I’d have some anxiety that I might have to wait an entire 24 hours to have that resolution another week. Cut to Wednesday and me sputtering incendiary fits of rage at keenspace for not being up and letting me know how Chris is going to come to terms with her past, and I realized that I’m starting to really care about these characters.

When I think about how I personally tend to define Art in my life it has always been this:

Created material that provokes an emotional resonance within the observer.

When I read the feedback on your forum, see the page views climbing, cheer you on with the reviews, and realize my own fondness for the strip, it becomes apparent to me that what you have created resonates with a great many people.

Bravo, old friend.


p.s. Not long ago, up north in Duluth, near the lighthouse, on the end of the pier about 200 yards into Lake Superior, Angie said “yes”.

You hear that?

My friend's getting married.


Bravo my good man, Bravo! Just let me know when it is so I can plan accordingly. We can go look at towel sets sometime. I think you'll want the egyptian cotton ones, preferably in a royal or prussian blue, but your tastes may have changed a bit since the last time we did such.

Another Day, Another Conquest.


And the critics have spoken....

Yeah, I liked how "Guardian Devil" turned out too...

Friday, July 29

And so we come to the end...

Of the "Last Temptation of Chris" arc. I had never intended for Mongo to be Christina's guardian angel, it just...kinda...made sense.

Likewise I never realized that Chris' dad was dead till this Tuesday. Yeah, I said "realized," I swear to God Chris exists in some alternate dimension, fully fleshed out, and I just find these cool bits and pieces of who she is and let you guys discover them in the strip.

That's what I love about doing this strip. Yes, I know how it all ends, but there are still surprises for me to find, things I never realized about this story, these characters, that once comes to light, really makes it interesting for me to put it all down on paper, all the more exciting for me to get to the next part and find out what REALLY happens.

I mean, we all know that the hobbits win out against Sauron, the real fun is seeing just how they do it.

Tuesday, July 26

The Last Temptation of Chris

This week, Chris is going to be growing an aweful lot. Chris is...

I remember reading about the great sculptors, and how great sculpture isn't created, it just emerges from the marble chip by chip while you whittle everything away that ISN'T the sculpture.

Chris is much like that. She was always intended to be in the strip, I still know what role she'll play in the story, but she is amazing. The more I write her, the more she winds up revealing to me.

I've also determined that YES, this will be the start of year three of the strip (odd isn't it...seems like it's only been, what, seven months?) This is really Chris' year, and Chris' year is year three.

So ABH will conclude (checks callander) around December of 2007.

Enjoy the ride while you can.



Thursday, July 21

Anakin You're Breaking My Heart...

So, I'm wrapping up the strips for next week, and I come to Tuesday's strip, and I discover that it's breaking my heart. turned out that well.

I don't want to say anything more then that, but Tuesdays strip really hit me hard. When I got done with one pannel, I started tearing up.

Damn you Chris, damn you for being such an interesting character to write.

Hope ya'll will like it.

Monday, July 18

Seeing the World for Fun and Profit...

I needed a weekend out, I needed to get away from everything for little bit. So last week I requested for two days off, and made plans to catch a few drum corps a round the Minneapolis area. Saturday got away from me so I decided to head down Sunday morning.

I awoke at six in the morning. I was on the road by eight. My soundtrack for the trip was the third desk from the cowboy a bebop series, “Blue”. The city itself is An amazing mix of jazz, contemporary, classical, and just weird shit. For this trip it was just perfect. There's a strange synchronicity between music and what happens to me when I listen to music. Especially when I’m driving. Maybe it’s just that the music itself is made a soundtrack that makes it easier to pick out things are happening around me, or maybe it's simply the tumbers of the universe coming together once in a millineum to radiate with a single clarity. Regardless of weither it's a grand design or simply the grasping of straws this trip was endlessly...remarkable.

Driving down to Minneapolis I’ve done thousands of times. The trip to the cities is very normal. It’s a three hour drive from Fargo to Minneapolis much of it is across hills and trees and lakes. ND itself is flat mostly unremarkable, and pretty barren. Minnesota itself is covered in trees and lakes with hills that quickly rise and fall. It’s a beautiful land, but it's a familiar land.

And yet, something happened to me this trip, something different.

St Peter lies about 60 miles to the south of Minneapolis. I know the highway have taken it p dozens of times but for some reason the entire way down to saint Peter was... well different. I couldn’t recognize anything on my from Minneapolis to Saint Pete. It was strangely... unfamiliar. I actually stopped halfway to saint Peter’s to make certain that I was on the right road.

And that’s never happened to me before, not Minnesota at least. Minnesota’s my playground, it’s a land that no matter where I’m at I always feel like I know were I’ve been. This time was completely different, this time I felt like I had not been there before. And then strangely excited me, it gave me the sense of an adventure.

And I was really in need of a good adventure.

I reached St. Peter at 12:30. It was a longer drive then I expected. I stayed for a few hours, took in a drum corps show, chatted with some friends, and got my first sunburn of the year. Perhaps my first sunburn for much longer then that.

I realize that I need to get out of the house far more often.

I left St Peter Minnesota and about 6:00 in the evening, after visiting a friend and hanging out at one of my favorite bars in the world.

Patricks on Third is a drum corps sports bar. There are bugles on the walls, the bar is littered with pictures from drum corps throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. I can not step foot in southern Minnesota without least having a beer and Patrick’s. Patrick’s is a Mecca for me It’s just a place to come home to. I stayed there for were about three hours. Saw some people that haven’t seen years, in reality enjoyed myself.

I had two choices one was to go north the same way I had come or The head east into South Dakota. I had done to the bad but on its last fall it’s always a healthy place for me to be. There is something about the South Dakota badlands, the black hills, that puts me at ease. So I decided to head the east.

And I’m very glad I did.

It took me two hours to reach Luverne Minnesota in the the south eastern tip of state. I realize that a trip to the badlands would probably not work into my schedule, so I decide to head north on Minnesota State Highway 75, and follow that up to Moorhead Minnesota. Heading north out of Luverne I discover a hole where the road should be. I don’t mean a pot hole, or a bit of road construction, I mean quite literally there is a HOLE about 10 feet deep and mile long where the road SHOULD be. No markers, no real notification that there IS road construction. Just a sign saying “road out”. I wander around the town for a few minutes trying to find a detour around this…gaping lack of highway, and come upon a family going for a walk. Politely I ask directions, and like a true Minnesotan, they offer them up with a warm smile.

My detour takes me a half mile east, and directly to the foot of the Blue Mound State Park.

The blue mound is one of those natural wonders that people just don’t tell you about. It’s not a huge forest, or massive rock formation, it’s a cliff half exposed through quarrying.

But it’s magnificent.

Approaching it from the south, it’s a 100 foot cliff, with specks of rose and lavender protruding forth from a prairie of green. There’s a road that snakes to the top of the cliff, which showcases these, beautifull, quarry faces. The bedrock that makes this natural structure is Sioux Rose Quartzite. A pinkish stone that, in it’s raw form, sparkles like multifaceted gems in the sunlight. There’s a large open quarry of it visable from the road, and easily accessed by foot. Walking amongst it makes you feel like you’ve visited another planet. This strange new red landscape, full of jagged rocks.

I turned around and the view was spectacular. Standing from the top of a 100 foot cliff you can see this little Norman Rockwellesque town, nestled in the midst of a sleepy valley.

It’s one of the few times that I’ve been taken aback by a scene, and felt the world was strangely….perfect.

I take out my map of Minnesota and scan it hungerly. I notice two more state parks that I’ve never been to, and I make it my mission to see them before sunset. Ave Maria hops up on my playlist just as the sunset lights up the summer sky.

It’s 8:30 by the time I leave Luverne Minnesota. Heading North on Highway 75, the land becomes…

The land is something that I’ve seen only in dreams. The hills around northern Minnesota are steep, like ocean waves during a hurricane. Driving them feels like a roller coaster ride, constantly ascending and descending these dare devil grades. The land in southeastern Minnesota belongs to the western. In a fit of blessed synchronicity the Bebop soundtrack rolls up something that belongs to a spaghetti western. Whistling cowboys and a jew harp twangs away to a lone gun slinging guitar. Here the land curves towards you gently, half circles slowly arc from the horizon. Cattle graze in fields overlooking gentle valleys.

It’s all too…perfect.

Never before have I seen a place on earth like this. Even in pictures. The gentle sloping land curves like a woman. The land looks to be mostly cattle, the grass, is golden in the late evening sun.

The sky itself is growing orange from the sunset. Clouds are suddenly alight with the color of ripe mangos. Vibrant pinks and reds dance across the sky, and I realize I’m fighting for sunlight as I’m speeding towards Pipestone Minnesota and Split Rock Creek State Park. I detour five miles off of Highway 75, and come to an oasis of trees and water on this sea of rolling prairie. I enter the park gates just as the sun touches the horzon, and realize that if I want to make my last destination, I’ll have to cut my trip at little more then seeing the enterance to eden.

Haistly I turn around, noting the yellow coneflowers blissfully painting the land surrounding the gates to the park. “Next time”, I tell myself, “next time I’ll venture further into this wilderness.” The light is waning, Silos stand like black sentries against a vivid orange sky. Monoliths on the prairie watching over the green cornfields and amber wheat and barley fields that patchwork the land.

On my radio I hear a small jazz trio playing an upbeat tune. The bass hops playfully as I speed 10 miles up the road to Pipestone.

My car throws long shadows onto the walls of corn that blanket the land. The entire land slowly changes, the sky is changing from orange and golden yellows, to dark royal purple. The land changes from golden yellow, to blue green. Bales of hay stand like pillows on a grassland.

I find pipestone just as the sun leaves the horizon. I’ll have at best 20 minutes of twilight before the land becomes a dark backdrop of midnight blue. I miss the entrance to the park, and find myself on a gravel back road. Night is decending on me quickly, but as I turn a corner, I find myself looking at one of the most amazing sights.

Pipestone is nestled amongst a river that runs through those gradual curves. The park appears to be a historical sight…the last true “fort” before entering the prairie. And looking over this land, in the glow of the twilight, I can see a history that spans 200 years.

Settlers looking westernly over what would appear to be a sea of grass. Trees barely speckling what lays ahead of them. Nothing ahead at all really, except never ending prairie. On the side of a gentle sloping hill, the town of Pipestone is the last essence of civilization. Everything to the west is new, and unfamiliar, and untamed.

Darkness settles quickly. I head west determined to make my way to South Dakota and Interstate 29. Minnesota after dark takes a more sinister feel. The clouds obscure the moonlight, making driving on anything that’s not a major road treacherous if one is not familiar with the path. The paved roads themselves can be little more then reflective lights on a dark night.

Somehow I find the South Dakota border, and the familiar ribbon of Interstate that I’ve driven dozens of times. I make my way into Brookings South Dakota for fuel. It’s 11:00, two hours to Fargo, and I’m debating just sleeping at a truck stop.

A song that sounds an awful lot like something that Sting would perform comes on the radio,

“We couldn’t save them
so now we just pray them
words that we couldn’t say

Funny, aint it
Games people play
Scratch it, paint it, one and the same.

We couldn’t find them
So we try to hide them
Words that we couldn’t say.”

I think of someone and smile.

I’ll head home tonight.

I’m 100 miles from Fargo when the moon finaly appears through the clouds. Up till now I’ve simply been staying within the glowing lines of the road markers. Now, the landscape of South Dakota comes out to play in the night. Rugged, rustic, familiar. I’m home. I cross the North Dakota border at midnight. The Shooting Star Casino welcomes me with a neon glow and the promise of nickel slots. Slowly the familiar towns come and go. Hankenson, Wapeton, Kindred…

The glow of the city of Fargo can be seen 10 minutes before you can even hit the city borders. It’s dead orange hue hanges close to the horizon. It’s an oasis of light on a landscape of black nothingness.

I pull into town at 12:30, starving. I realize that I haven’t eaten anything more then a hamburger and a bowl of clam chowder. I stop at a Perkins restaurant, and order a glass of orange juice and their “double bacon eggs benedict”. I realize that whomever created hollandaise sauce deserves a Nobel Prize. The smokey, salty taste of the ham and bacon fights against the thick egg yokes and hollandaise sauce. I haven’t felt this pleased over a meal in a very long time.

I devour my food hungry, listening to a foursome of college girls gossiping aimlessly about their lives. I smile for no apparent reason. Across the restaurant is a couple on the last leg of a first date. She’s laughing at all his jokes, he keeps flirting across pancakes.

My meal is gone before I even realize it. I tip the waitress a fiver.

Ten minutes and I’m home.

One day, eighteen hours, and I feel like I’m a king of the world.

Every man needs an adventure. Every man needs a chance to find himself amongst the wonders of the world, uncertain of the path that he should take. Every man should discover that the only way to get anywhere is to simply chose his direction and go. Far too often have I found myself in familiar surroundings, in comfortable landscapes. Far to often have I felt trapped by those familiar surroundings and comfortable landscapes. For me, I can only feel free when I do not know what it is that I shall find around the next bend.

Make your path, and move. Some times where you end up isn’t where you intend, but the reward can be just as great. Find the unknown, and discover the peace that lays in the uncertainty of life.

Friday, July 15

Reading Comics for Fun and Profit!

I don't link other strips on the front of my site...I'm still not quite sure why, but I dont. However there are some strips that deserve your attention, strips that have really pulled my interest, and I figure it's about time I share:

Where Drunk Meets Genius-Simple sickening fun
Ugly Girl-One of the most brilliant character concepts in history.
Girl Genius-Pur Genkius.
Sinfest-Pimping has never looked so good.
Alien Loves Predator-Pure good old fashioned ludacrist humor.
Scarecrow-Love this "strip". I hope to god Corgan finishes it.
C'est la Vie-Jen Babcock is a hottie, and the strip is good too...but daaaaamn if Jen Babcock is NOT one very fine hottie.
Perry Bible Fellowship-The most sick and twisted ideas ever to be shat upon the earth. I laugh so hard I piss myself.

There are MANY more strips that I read off and on from time to time, but these strips I come back to time and time again. But there's one strip that I would be very depressed to see go away.

Count Your Sheep-I'm going to go off on Count Your Sheep. It is, by far, the number one strip that I HAVE to read. There is something so complex about the humor that it's simple. So innocent that it's perfect. CYS is THE strip for me. I adore it. In a world where everyone is trying to "outedgy" the other guy CYS just nails the perfect "childhood" comic strip. If you're not reading it, you should be reading it. Please read it, it makes the world a better place.

Thursday, July 14

Voting Incentives for Fun and Profit

I've been in a bit of a moral quandry concerning the issue of "voting incentives". For those of you who do not know WHAT a voting incentive is, let me explain.

There are webcomic voting lists. Those lists are an easy way to promote your comic...PROVIDED people can find it on the list. For instance, if you make it into the top ten of a list you're going to be garnering a fairly decent exposure for your comic. You've just opened up your market considerably to people who actually LIKE to read comics.

Now the trick is getting enough hits to rocket your strip up to the list so people can find it.

Voting incentives are little pieces of artwork that you can toss on those sites that people can ONLY see if they push the "VOTE YOU BASTARDS! VOTE!" button.

I HATE pimping my comic. I really do. It feels dirty. I would much rather have it be something that people find and go "damn, I like this comic, I need to check in to see what happens. I need a little pick me up."

And a good number of people HAVE. It's a beautifull thing when I get e-mails or personal messages from people who read the strip DAILY before they go to work. People have actually said that their day doesn't feel complete unless they get to read my strip.

Do you know how good that feels to me. "DUDE, it's like reading a strip in a newspaper, Anywhere But Here has become part of my daily routine." This is why I get figetiy when keenspace crashes. I hate dissapointing people.

Sorry, I have to remember that masturbating the ego results in hairy frontal lobes.

Back to voting incentives and pimping....

I HATE PIMPING. I want the work to speak for itself. I am NOT a salesman. I am not a promoter. I'm a workhorse. I DO shit. I don't like TALKING about doing shit, I'ld much rather DO shit.

Pimping my comic is akin to talking about doing shit, it's not DOING shit. And I feel bad doing that. I like to think of myself as a modest fella, and I'ld much rather NOT say anything about my strip then be out there pimping and prodding my strip to the masses.

But, to some extent I DO have to pimp my comic. If I don't it doesn't get read. Voting incentives encourage you to press that magic little button, which in turn makes it easier for other people to find the strip.

So I'm doing voting incentives. Once a week. A new one to encourage people to help me promote the strip. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a shower. I feel a little dirty turning you guys out like this.

Friday, July 1

Seeing Systems for Fun and Profit...

Very few of you who read the comic probily know me personally. I am rather sure of this because my readership is quickly approaching the 250 daily reader mark (actually it's surpassed it, but my return reader base floats between 220-230 on any given day with spikes depending on just how much buzz a strip gets). Given that I think I only know about a dozen people PERSONALLY, that is to say, know what they most likely had for breakfast on any given day, there is a certain amount of inpersonality towards my readership and myself.

This, I feel is a good thing. My strip is a story. It's not a daily rant, it's not a personal opinion (although my personal opinions are reflected within the strip). It's a story. One that I want to tell.

Now then, what does any of this have to do with this post beyond mindless rambeling.


If you know me personally you'll know I have this fascination with patterns and systems. Namely, systems PREDICT and EXPLAIN patterns.

And I love systems, traffic flow systems, water systems, philosophical systems, mathematical systems. Systems WORK at explaining the laws of the universe.

I've recently started reading essays from the Ayn Rand institute, and I must say, I rather kick myself for not reading them earlier because they begin to explain the systems in which my government, and in fact all forms of government, operate.

Now what I personally believe in is CHOICE. We all have the ability to chose our actions, for good or for ill we ALL have the ability to chose our paths in life.

Recently there have been actions in government that greatly disturb me. The most disturbing one is the decision by the Supreme Court which effectivly establishes that ALL private property belongs to the government, and that government, if it so choses, can claim private property to use as it sees fit.

This effectivly means that the government owns all private property, it is simply a matter of the Governments benovelance that enables the individual to use it. If the Government deems that there can be a better use for the property, it may be confescated.

Why does this concern me so? I mean I'm certain that the people of the communitys that tear down old buildings to make way for newer, more lucrative commercial developments, must recive a great benifit from these efforts.

Why this bothers me, is that we have turned from a PRIVATELY based country. A country where the INDIVIDUAL was his own, personal king, and become a MONARCHY where the STATE hold Kinghood. To some, they may see no problem with it. Where as a true monarchy establishes their ruler through lineage, we are given the ability to chose our rulers. If our rulers offend us, we can remove them through a simple vote.

But it's a FLASE security. To misquote Thomas Jefferson, "Tyranny is when an individual lives in fear of it's government, Liberty is when a government lives in fear of it's people."

Liberty is an AMAZINGLY frightening thing. It is freedom absolute. Not anarchaic freedom, a complete lawlessness which any many is unrestraind to follow whatever his base desire whisper to him. Rather it is the understanding that you are FREE to do whatever it is that you desire, that doesn't affect another man to do what he so desires. Liberty means that you CAN fail...but you can also SUCEED beyond your wildest dreams. Nothing in life comes without a price. And the price for being truely free, truely able to do what you desire to do with your life, means that you run the risk of being completly ruined.

Those who chose security over liberty deserve neither liberty or security.

We, as human beings, must come to the realization that life is a gamble. That there IS no gurantee for sucess. We must recognize that our price for sucess is the inherent risk of failure. If we are to sacrifice that risk of failure, we will NEVER acheive sucess. For it is only when mankind realizes that he has no CHOICE but to suceed, will he be motivated to suceed. Failure is a system upon itself. It teachesw us what works and what doesn't. The smart individual understands that each failure is a lesson. That every failure is a path to sucess by ELIMINATING the path that does not work. The fool sees failure as an ultimate, the final path.

We must begin to chose liberty. We MUST begin to accept that our choices cary with them the weight of failure. We must realize that in order to be free we will never be secure, in ANY form of the word. We must understand that the best system is not one of mob rule, but of enabling the INDIVIDUAL to make the best decisions for themselves, and a system that enables the poliecing of those individuals who would take the ability to chose from the individual.

Begin to see the systems, and you'll understand how they're suppost to work. You'll see how they've been worked in and around to pervert their original intent, and you'll begin to see why it's so important for them to be in place, and why we should ALWAYS fight to keep them in place.

Read Ayn Rand. Read Thomas Jefferson. Begin to understand the system that is America, and then fight for her.