It seems to me that I use Truman so little that when I do end up having a spot for him in the comic, it becomes an instant favorite of mine. I think it has something to do with illustrating a character who communicates non-verbally. I like the challenge - because it's kind of hard to establish the silent *beat* of a joke or a sideways glance in four panels.

That aside, when isn't a dog fart funny?

Underdog comes out today and I don't really understand why. Kurtz did a comic about the trailer a while back basically tearing a new one into self-appointed critics who claim that Hollywood dragging these old shows out of the basement and giving them the big screen treatment besmirches them in some way. I align myself with that philosophy mostly because it reflects the lack of original thinking in Hollywood and not so much because I have some great affinity for Underdog or his universe.

That's my problem with a live-action Underdog. Who's sitting around asking themselves "Hey, how come there hasn't been an Underdog movie?" The original cartoon hasn't been on telelvision since the 1960's. Even in reruns, anyone who would have watched it as a kid is probably in their mid-30's by now. In what way is Underdog relevant to today's youth?

I suppose one could argue that since kids today have never seen Underdog, they can appreciate it with new eyes. I mean, a talking dog with superpowers? If I was a kid, I could get behind that. Yeah, let's see that movie! But why call it "Underdog?" The name holds no significance to anyone under 10. They could have just as easily written their own movie with their own characters and a similar premise. It wouldn't be plagiarism because the ordinary-person-gets-powers scenario has been done to death across ALL species.

No. The Underdog moniker is to rope in the adults that remember the show and the use of it's characters is an easy way for a screenwriter to turn a quick buck without having to invest anything creatively.

If the movie is for the kids, why aren't writers going to the extra effort to invent something original - something JUST FOR THEM and not their parents leftovers. It just seems so sad to me. It's dissrespectful to young minds. Even if they don't know any better, the producers that rehash these old characters are basically saying to today's youth "You aren't important enought to invest any thoughtful consideration in. What's been done before is good enough for you."

Where's this generation's Underdog? A character they can admire and enjoy of its own merit?

It's the end of the week and Cami and I are going on a date tonight since I'll be out of town next weekend exhibiting at Wizard World Chicago. We're FINALLY seeing Once, which I've been dying to see for what seems like months now. I thought it had left our local indie theater, but I found out Wednesday that it's still hanging on. Since there's nothing new this weekend worth seeing, I made it our goal to see this movie.

People have been telling me to see this movie for a while now and part of the reason I didn't was because I couldn't. No theaters here in Central Iowa were showing it. I kind of gave up on the idea of ever seeing it in the theater and just having to wait for it on DVD. To ease the pain, I ended up buying the soundtrack and loving it. Seriously - almost every song of this album I enjoy. It hasn't left my CD player for weeks. It makes me want to go back and buy all of the albums by The Frames - which is the group that the man in the movie, Glen Hansard belongs to.

Cami hasn't listened to the soundtrack yet. I've been withholding it from her, which is killing me because I think she would really get a kick out of it. But I want her to come into the music through the movie because I think it will have more impact.

We actually hit another bump in the road last night when we had some friends over and they asked us what we were doing this weekend. We told them we were seeing Once and one of our friends said he saw the movie and hated it. We were both really surprised - largely because it has been getting such great reviews. But he felt like it was an hour and a half of listening to the same song over and over again. Having listened to the soundtrack, I can understand that complaint. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. Music is such a subjective thing. And besides, he's a bit of a snob about music anyway. ;-)

Maybe this will work to our favor since it casts a little doubt over the movie. If we walk in with our expectations lowered a little bit, we'll probably end up enjoying it more. But based on all the emphatically positive recommendations from friends, I don't see how that will be possible.

So as I mentioned earlier, I'll be at Wizard World Chicago next weekend exhibiting Theater Hopper on Artist's Alley. If you want to come visit, I'm at table 3704 B. You can't miss me. I'll be hanging out with Zach Miller from Joe and Monkey, Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies and the rest of the Digital Pimp crew and our good friend Taki Soma.

I always have a blast when I go to Wizard World Chicago. I look forward to it every year. I'm a little bummed that our good friend Mitch Clem won't be able to make it, but I'm sure we'll drunk dial him at an ungodly hour and have a little fun at his expense. Sadly, Gordon McAlpin from Multiplex isn't exhibiting like he did last year, but he lives in the Chicago area and said he would come down to the convention center after hours and hang out with us. So it will be good to see him again.

As some of you know, Joe Dunn, Gordon and myself broadcast as The Triple Feature every Monday at 9:00 PM CST over at TalkShoe. We might try to record a show from Wizard World Chicago and then post it to TalkShoe on August 13, but we haven't formalized any plans. It would be pretty sweet if we could pull that off, though. So keep your eyes peeled!

Even though I'm excited for the convention this year, I'm also nervous. You'd think after having exhibited the last three years in a row, this would be old hat to me. But I always feel like I'm under pressure to be on my game at Chicago and I'm petrified that I'm going to go to all this effort and then end up forgetting to bring something like my shirts or books.

I guess I'm a little more skittish than usual after my car got broken into a bunch of merchandise was stolen when we went to Arlington, Texas for Wizard World Texas. I've always had good luck in Chicago, but who knows if it'll suddenly run out.

I still have a lot to do. I have to fold up a bunch of shirts. I have to hand-assemble a few more buttons. I haven't laid out the sampler booklet yet and that needs to go to the printer tomorrow. Cami is going to hem some fabric that I'm going to drape over the table for ambiance. I have to design and laminate my merchandise price sheets and pull together all the snacks and water I need to have with me on the convention floor to keep me from eating terrible brine-soaked hot dogs from the concession stands.

This year I'm selling both of my books and four of my t-shirts. I also have free 1" buttons that I'm giving away to lure people to my table and then I'm going to hit them with a 12 page sampler featuring the comics YOU guys voted on here on the site from the Top 50 page. As an added promotion, I'm giving away DVDs to people who spend $50 or more at my table. What I'm hoping to do is move a bunch of copies of my books. Not only because I'm running out of storage space in my house, but because Cami has laid down the law that I can't produce Theater Hopper: Year Three until I've sold off more of my inventory of Year One and Year Two.

I did pretty well last year moving copies of Year One. I actually surprised myself a little by whipping out some sales tactics and upselling people who were buying Spoiler I (always a big seller) buy giving them a discount on a book/t-shirt combo. So I'll be doing that again this year.

Incidentally, Sunday is Theater Hopper's 5th anniversary. To help celebrate, I'll be running a big week-long promotion on the books. So if you have your radar up and you want to buy a copy, be sure to check out the site on Monday for details on how you can take advantage of a special discount. I'll be hitting all the web comic promotional rounds talking it up. If you already bought a book and can help me spread the word, I would appreciate it.

More details there soon.

Anyway, I guess I've been chatty enough for one day. Better wrap up and get cracking on that sampler booklet!

Have a great weekend!