Happy meteorology irrelevancy day, everybody!
It took me nearly five years, but I finally worked a Ned Ryerson reference into the comic! Although the comic has landed on February 2 the last two years, so I don’t know why I didn’t come up with this idea sooner.
Hopefully everyone is catching the reference in today’s comic. For me, it was a real joy to draw. Incidentally, Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring!
I have some big news, so listen up. I need to clue you in to some production changes on the site for the month of February.
Our due date for Baby B is coming up on February 15. Our doctors have told us that Cami could deliver him anywhere between two weeks before and one week after the due date. As such, I have decided to scale back my commitment to Theater Hopper for the month of February.
What does that mean? Good question. Basically it means that I will be updating once a week instead of three times a week.
When can you expect updates? I’ll be posting a new comic every Friday. However, I haven’t completely abandoned new content on Mondays and Wednesdays. I’ve managed to recruit some of my good friends in the community to help me out and I have SEVERAL guest strips lined up for the days I will not be producing a comic.
So that means every Monday and Wednesday there will be a guest strip and every Friday a new comic from me. Each comic will include a blog from me, as well.
So, really, it’s not that bad. I’ll still be around, talking to you every day. I’ll even be keeping up with The Triple Feature talkcasts every Monday at 9:00 pm CST for as long as I can. I just can’t commit the time behind-the-scenes to producing new comics while we’re waiting for Cami to deliver. Also, I’m pretty sure there is going to be a period of adjustment after Baby B is born where I’m going to want to focus completely on my family and I won’t have 3 or 4 hours every other night to draw, ink, color, shade and letter comics. It takes a lot of time.
I wasn’t really looking forward to breaking this news to you because there’s no easy way to say it. But obviously having a baby is a big deal and that’s where my focus needs to be. I know you guys understand. The amazing, supportive e-mails I’ve been getting since we annouced our pregnancy have been proof of that.
So things will be a little different around here for a while. But I hope you continue to make Theater Hopper a part of your week just as you have before. Making comics is something I love doing and the fact that you guys have been there to support it means the world to me.
Today’s guest comic comes to us from none other than Michael Lalonde of Ornerboy. It’s an alternate ending to the most recent Pimp Tom strip and I laughed out loud after reading it! Michael was a worried it was a little too dark. I thought it was the perfect way to get your attention on a Monday morning! It’s also the perfect blend of bright colors and macabre humor that is Ornerboy’s trademark. If you aren’t reading Michael’s excellent comic, check it out now!
As I mentioned in Friday’s blog, I will be running guest strips on Monday’s and Wednesday through the month of February as Cami and I prepare for the birth of Baby B. He’s due on the 15th, so I’m trying to free up my schedule as much as possible in case Cami goes early. Plus, maintaining this schedule through February will give me time to be with my son after the fact.
You can expect new comics from me every Friday as well as blogs throughout the week.
Posting today’s guest strip and recognizing what it means for the future of the site leaves me feeling a little untethered. I have no idea how this baby is going to impact the site. Obviously, my family is my priority so my attention will go to them first. The question is how much free time will be left over to work on the site. I can’t say for certain if I’ll still be able to keep up with three full-color comics a week or if I’ll have to cut back.
I find myself flip-flopping on the issue a lot. Sometimes I think I can draw the comic at work over my lunch break and take in my laptop to color it. That way, I’m not taking any time away from Cami and the baby at home. Other times I think I shouldn’t take on more than I can handle and maybe I should just do one full color comic a week. Other times still I think I should hang up Theater Hopper completely and do a black and white journal comic. Who knows? Maybe it’s time to go in another direction?
I don’t think the last option is all that likely. The thing I think about most is maintaining the momentum I’ve managed to build up over the last year. I would hate to lose what I’ve worked so hard at. So, I have to cross my fingers and hope you guys stick around during this transitional phase.
Oh! I wanted to tell you guys something that I’m super excited about! I did some work on the store this weekend and I am proud to announce MERCHANDISE BUNDLES!
The concept is very simple: The more you buy, the more you save. I am currently offering six different combination of shirts and books. I really want to start selling off some of this inventory – especially the books, which are taking up A TON of room in the house – so that I can introduce some new and different items. So take advantage of these deals! I introduced bundling at some of the conventions I went to last year and it was a hit. I’m hoping it’ll translate here.
By the way, don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list. Because the next feature I introduce in the store will be coupon discounts and the ONLY way you’re going to get the code is if you’re signed up on the mailing list. One e-mail a week to tell you what’s going on with the site. That’s all you have to put up with in return.
Last bit of site news – Don’t forget to check out tonight’s Triple Feature talkcast featuring myself, Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies and Gordon McAlpin from Multiplex. Since there really aren’t any good movies to talk about lately, I think we’re going to be discussing movies that changed our lives. So there will probably be a good opportunity to get on the line and talk to us while we’re broadcasting live. Remember – that’s TONIGHT at 9:00 pm CST. Join us!
By the way, I started a thread in the THorum about the future of Theater Hopper. If you guys are interested, you can leave your two cents there or here in the comments section of the blog. I appreciate your feedback!
Talk to you soon!
Do you guys remember when I went to Wizard World Texas last year and they broke into my car? Yeah, well… they stole all of the 1" buttons I had made up as a giveaway at the convention. It was a way to attract people to the booth and it worked pretty well.
Anyway, even though I’m taking a hiatus of sorts, my mind is still in "creative" mode and I was thinking now might be an opportunity to work on some new button designs. I thought I would solicit you guys for a little brainstorming!
The old buttons basically had a movie reel and the site URL laid over it in red and black. Nothing fancy. This time I was thinking of doing some sloganizing. Fun little saying that people who like movies could wear on their jacket, or what have you.
So far I’ve come up with the following:
- No, I don’t want to upsize my combo.
- Please take your feet off the back of my seat!
As you can see, neither of these slogans is probably going to set the world on fire.
Do you guys have any thoughts about ways I could twist these slogans into something funnier or maybe a little punchier?
Incidentally, I wouldn’t mind taking this opportunity to brainstorm a few t-shirt ideas as well. I posted a couple of designs in the THorum last year that seemed to get a favorable response. I’m thinking now is the time to put my nose to the grindstone and produce a couple of them.
Are there other designs you would like to see? Maybe we could adapt some of the button slogans for the t-shirts?
Today’s guest comic comes from Wes Molebash from You’ll Have That. I love this comic for so many reasons.
First of all, I appreciate that Wes made the subject matter timely by involving the baby. As you guys know, I made a decision not to introduce our baby into the comic continuity, but it’s nice to kind of give him a shout-out, as it were.
I love that Wes experimented a little and put Cami and Tom in different outfits. You never really think about how something small like that would affect the look and feel of things, but it’s like the characters become more "real" when you actually give them a wardrobe! My problem? I have no fashion sense. I would have no idea what to dress Cami and Tom in three times a week.
Lastly, I appreciate Wes’s confident style. He tells a joke without forcing it. He draws the characters as though he’s been drawing them for years.
Folks – that’s exactly what his comic You’ll Have That is like. Why it isn’t in newspapers across the country befuddles me. But I don’t think I’ll be in that state for long. Wes is going places. Mark my words. He’s going to leave the rest of us in the dust.
Don’t forget that Friday there will be a new comic from yours truly. I hope everyone checks in to read it!
A quick tease for next week’s guest comics. Well, not so much a comic, but a guest essay. I won’t come right out and say it, because that’ll kill the fun. But a week from now, be sure to check back on the site to read an essay written by someone with the last name of Brahe. That’s your official heads-up.
Be sure to check out the store. We’re now offering discounted merchandise bundles. When you buy more, you’ll save more. In most cases, up to FIVE DOLLARS OFF! It’s a deal that can’t be beat!
On a similar note, I got a lot of great feedback from a few people when I solicited some brainstorming for some new t-shirt or button slogans. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to add them to the comments section from this blog!
Gordon, Joe and I had a great time recording The Triple Feature on Monday night. We had a little less structure this time around, but the conversation was much more organic. The topic was "The movies that changed your life" and we talked about some of the first movies we remember seeing or films that shaped our tastes today. It’s a fun little listen and only an hour long. Download it from iTunes and enjoy!
I wanted to let everyone know that I’m starting to kind of emerge from my little crisis about the direction of the comic – whether or not I would switch to black and white or if I would end up doing one larger comic once a week. Ultimately, I think the only decision is to move forward. I’ve invested too much in Theater Hopper to let it languish. So I’m pressing on and I’ll do my darnedest to keep up with three full color comics a week. This is what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else! Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement.
Lastly, we’re 8 days from the due date and both Cami and I are getting extremely excited! It won’t be long now! Cami is a little uncomfortable, but otherwise in good health. We had a doctor’s appointment last week and the baby is doing fine. At the time, they were guessing he was already 8 pounds! Big boy!
By this time next month, I will have been a Dad for a few weeks. It’s wild when you think about it in a future context. Truthfully, it’s been one day at a time around the Brazelton household. Anything more than that and we just get too excited!
I hope everyone has a great Wednesday! The week is almost over!
Hang in there. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thanks again, Wes!
When I look at the IMDB page for the week’s new releases, I cry a little bit because it all seems so hopeless. I don’t know anyone who is excited about seeing Norbit or Hannibal Rising. The fact that The Messengers was number one at the box office last week speaks directly to the lack of activity in theaters. The only thing I can attribute it to is sloth. Hey, I’m guilty of it, too! Before posting this blog, I ate 6 mini-enchiladas. Or, as Cami likes to call them "cholesterol bags." Frankly, it’s a miracle I’m still alive to type this up!
It typically takes a big holiday to wake Hollywood from it’s winter slumber. By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around next week, we should see something more interesting. Both Cami and I have our radar up for Music and Lyrics next week. It looks like a fun romantic comedy and frankly, I’m surprised how much I’ve come to enjoy seeing Hugh Grant as the over-the-hill, self-centered leading man with a heart of gold.. And say what you will about Ghost RIder, but I don’t think ANYONE is reacting to it with indifference. Even the comic book faithful like yours truly are pretty much counting on it to be an abysmal failure, but I almost kind of want to watch it go down in flames (pun intended).
Speaking of which, Norbit looks to be a COLOSSAL misfire and I’m seriously wondering if it’s hampering Eddie Murphy’s odds of walking away with the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Oscars in a few weeks. I think if Norbit had come out AFTER the Oscars, people might not have thought twice. After all, the list of actors who have made huge flops post-Oscar (Halle Berry in Catwoman, anyone?) is as long as my arm. But for ANOTHER movie where Murphy plays 16 different characters, each slathered in prosthetics to come out BEFORE the ceremony? It makes it look like Murphy doesn’t care what Academy voters think of him – and not in a daring, artistic way. More like a "I-have-more-money-than-God-and-don’t-need-accolades" kind of way. It’s a disgusting level of hubris I personally hope the Academy punishes him for.
Don’t get me wrong. If Murphy were the least bit progressive with his work, it would be moot point. But we’ve seen this bag of tricks before. Clearly the positive response he received from his performance in Dreamgirls should tell him THIS is the kind of work his audience would love to see more of. Something different. Something that shows us a little more of Eddie Murphy than a funny voice.
It’s hard to be overtly critical. I think Murphy is insanely talented and what he has done with the majority of his comedic work has been as impressive from a creative as well as technical perspective. But I get the sense that I don’t really "know" Murphy that well any more. The guy who played Axel Foley is a million miles away from the guy who starred in Daddy Day Care. Too many safe, predictable, kid-friendly choices and not enough variety have soured my perception of Murphy’s talents.
Okay, so if not Murphy, who wins Best Supporting. Probably not Alan Arkin for his role in Little Miss Sunshine – but he should. I’m almost wondering if Mark Wahlberg doesn’t walk away with it for his role in The Departed. The fact that he has confirmed reports that he has been approached to star in the sequel (with the option for a prequel that brings back the entire cast based on it’s success) shows great confidence for the guy that made me hate Tim Burton for making Planet of the Apes.
Am I alone in this? Is anyone else considering the Oscars at this level of detail? What do you guys think about Murphy and Norbit? What about this weekend’s new releases? Is anyone going to bite the bullet and see Hannibal Rising? Leave your comments below!
Remember that there will be a new strip from yours truly every Friday through the month of February while I free up my schedule to prepare for the birth of our baby boy in a week or so.
Next week we’ll have a guest strip on Monday from a good friend and – something unique for this site – a guest essay from someone that goes by the name of “Tycho” posted on Wednesday. You’ll want to be around for that!
In the meantime, check out the store because I’ve recently started to offer merchandise bundles that have proven very popular! For example, if you haven’t gotten your hands on either of the two books, now you can buy them together and get $5 off! Not a bad deal!
Talk to you soon!
For those of you who are regular readers to the site, the name David Buist should be a familiar one to you. In addition to writing and drawing the excellent web comic Taking the Bi-Pass, David is also the author of several of the ultra-cool applications running on this very site. The Top 50 list, the blog comments and the movie review database (currently being refurbished to fit the new design scheme). David has a generous spirit beyond compare and I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s given to Theater Hopper. Help me return the favor to David by bookmarking Taking the Bi-Pass and checking his site every day. It’s worth it. Trust me.
Incidentally, David will be a parent as well in a few months. So, in addition to returning the favor on the guest comic rounds, we’ll probably be up IM’ing each other late at night trading child-rearing tips and figuring out how we can get our respective tots off to sleep. Congrats, David!
In addition to David’s strip today, you guys will want to take a break from your Valentine’s Day activities on Wednesday to check the site for a guest essay written by none other than Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade.
I’ve been teasing Jerry’s contribution for about a week now, but it’s time to come clean. I don’t want to lay all the cards out on the table just yet. I need something to talk about on Wednesday! But I think you’ll all get a real kick out of Jerry’s work. It speaks directly toward the themes of fatherhood, responsibility and – yes – even movies. And isn’t that what this whole month has been about?
Of course, on Friday, there will be another original strip from me (about Ghost Rider, natch) but I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty hard act to follow.
What’s up in movie land? Well, Eddie Murphy’s Norbit was number one at the box office this weekend blowing away it’s nearest competition Hannibal Rising by more than double it’s take. $33 million in three days? Seriously – what’s wrong with America?
All I can say is that I hope the payday was worth it for Murphy. Despite Roger Ebert’s endorsement for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, there is palpable public sentiment that he doesn’t deserve it (NSFW!). Couple this with the projects he’s lining up post-Norbit (like a FOURTH Beverly Hills Cop) and you can pretty much categorize Murphy as artistically bankrupt.
In other more… depressing news?… Cami and I watched Half Nelson last night. I was able to get my hands on a screener copy before it comes out on DVD Tuesday. We were both curious to see it because it was a blip on our radar when it was in theaters last year and because Ryan Gosling is the dark horse contender in the Best Actor race this year. It was well worth the viewing, I must share. The subject matter appears to be both rote and bleak when read from the page. It’s the story of a inner-city history teacher (Gosling) who through his own unique perspective gets his students to think for themselves. This sounds like territory previously mined from Dangerous Minds or more recently Freedom Writers. But there’s a twist. Gosling has a dingy apartment and a nasty drug habit and one of his students finds out.
Everything that happens from there completely deviates from every other inner city education movie cliche you can imagine and it’s very interesting to watch it unfold. Without giving too much away, there is a reason Gosling was nominated in a performance that hardly anyone saw. For those that have witnessed it, his performance is very nuanced and empathetic. Well worth the rent when it comes out on Tuesday. Check it out.
Incidentally, we’ll be talking about Half Nelson along with The Bicycle Thief in the first half hour of The Triple Feature talkcast tonight at 9:00 pm CST. If that sounds too cerebral for your tastes, we’ll be talking about romantic comedies in the second half hour in honor of Valentine’s Day this week. Join us tonight at 9:00 pm CST when Gordon, Joe and myself talk about all the sappiest, gooiest movies ever to ham-handedly yank a heartstrings. It should be a lot of fun.
That’s all for now. See you guys here on Wednesday!
Since Dave was good enough to introduce the fancy blog commenting system, I thought I would take this opportunity to utlize it for a little feedback.
You guys might remember a while back when I was trying to develop some new shirt designs for the store. As per usual, the design phase takes me for friggin’ ever because I’ll design, redesign, doubt myself and then hang it up. The reason for this is because you kind of have to have momentum in order to produce these things and it’s a bit of a tightrope walk to keep the right amount of inventory in stock. I feel like I kind of have a good thing going on with the handful of designs I’m currently offering. But at the same time, I’m kind of bored with it and it’s time to branch out.
This time I think I’ve got something on my hands. Something that you will like. It’s a refinement of the "Opening Weekend Junkie" concept I was floating around before. I have a few variations I would like you to inspect and, when you’re finished, leave your thoughts on the comments page! Easy!
Okay, onto the designs.
1. The first design is pretty literal. Not too far from the first few drafts with the exception of a TORN ticket instead of a ticket coming out of a dispenser;
2. For the second draft, I thought to myself, "If I were really a junkie, my fonts wouldn’t be so need and orderly." So I tried making things a little more askew;
3. Pushing the askew concept a little more. Throwing the fonts around at different sizes and angles;
4. At this point I started to really appreciate the simplicity of the torn ticket and thought about paring back the message a little bit. Showing a torn ticket and simply stating "junkie." pretty much gets across the same idea without throwing in the "Opening Weekend" prefix. Also, what if you’re schedule is too busy to afford you the luxury of seeing movies on their opening weekend? At least this way, you can say you’re a movie junkie in the general sense.
5. Simpifying further, I thought to myself "Maybe it doesn’t need any text at all! Yes… the design is THAT strong." Ah, hubris.
Those are pretty much the designs to choose from. For those of you who want to see the ticket stub in more detail, you can click here.
So, what do you think. Which of these designs would you wear if any?
Be gentle. Remember what I told you about the second-guessing?
I’ll make this brief because I know you’re not here to read my ramblings. But I wanted to thank Jerry for his time and generosity for writing his guest essay. When I put the wheels in motion for my partial hiatus – my paternity leave, if you will – I took a long shot and asked the guys over at Penny Arcade if they would be interested in participating. I wasn’t expecting anything, but I figured “The worst they could say was ‘no’.” Imagine my surprise when Jerry responded and he offered me this essay.
To be acknowledged (for lack of a better word) by someone who inspires you creatively is an incredible gift. That Jerry went beyond the pale and made his words personal means that much more. What Jerry has shared speaks directly to me. He offers sound advice about fatherhood in a language I understand – movies. Naturally, it’s hilarious to boot.
If you’re new to the site, I encourage you to stick around and thumb through the archives. Chances are if you type a movie title in the search field, I’ve made fun of it. If you’d like a quick sample of my best work, be sure to check out the Top 50 comics as voted on by my readers. They know what’s good better than I do. If you like what you see, I update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday just like Penny Arcade. So add us to your bookmarks and check back every now and again.
Tomorrow is our due date. No baby yet and no plans to induce, but the time is growing close. As you can imagine, we’re really excited. What can I say? It’s been a pretty good week!
Thanks again to Jerry. I hope you enjoy his essay as much as I do.
I understand that you’ve got a baby en route. The expected response to this revelation is usually “leaping joy,” but I’m already a father, and I’m exhausted. So if I just move my fingers around a little here on the keyboard, I hope that will suffice.
I have a story that will help introduce some of the powerful new concepts you’re about to be submerged in. I guess that technically makes this a parable, but anyway: I was taking the escalator down to the parcade at the Mall.
On the escalator opposite me, going up, an impatient father was tromping up the device and chastising his young son for being slow. He was not actually watching the son, so that when he exited the top of the moving staircase and his boy began to scream, he was not initially sure why. I was actually paralyzed by it: his son had tripped trying to catch up to his dad, but since he was on the escalator he couldn’t just fall down and pick himself up. He was being rolled by the mechanism, falling forever.
The first thing we can derive from this powerful scene is that you need to, you know, actually watch your kid. The challenge you will face later will be to watch them closely while still letting them experience the world. I have a feeling this is going to be my life’s greatest challenge.
But also: Falling in place. That is how I would describe the process you are about to undertake. For the first few months, anyway. It’s worse than you know. There are almost no handholds of any kind, and worse yet, everybody thinks they have the answer. They don’t. Most of this can’t be taught. I’m not trying to freak you out, but there it is.
You must invent a new Tom Brazelton, let us call him Dad, and do so under the most strenuous conditions. You need to become a man worthy of emulation. You will need to do this while someone is actively peeing on you. I used to regard human waste as something to be avoided; these days, it’s practically a condiment.
This is a situation where your precious movies won’t save you, although I guess there are a few valid Escalator Warnings in Mallrats. There is only one film with advice of any enduring worth on the subject of parenting, and the lessons it provides are mercifully clear: the movie is Aliens. If your child is being pursued by a Hive Queen, man, seriously – you need to blow that thing out the Goddamn airlock.
Welcome to the club.