In my 10 years of producing this comic, I have been very fortunate to have friends like David Buist.
David, in addition to producing his excellent comic Taking the Bypass, was INSTRUMENTAL in creating content management features for Theater Hopper that carried it through some of its most prosperous years.
So imagine my extreme pleasure to receive this guest strip from David in my inbox. I was really touched. And he did an EXCELLENT job of capturing the spirit of the “real life Tom” punchlines I’ve done from time to time.
David produced a guest strip for me once before in 2007. But if you want to get a sense of what his work is REALLY like, then I strongly encourage you to visit Taking the Bypass, going back to the very first comic and reading everything he has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.
David’s a great friend and I really appreciate his contribution.
Cardboard Thor! I bet you didn’t see THAT ONE coming, didja?
Well, maybe you did. You guys are a pretty perceptive lot.
Although I’m sure some of you are wondering why Jared didn’t got with Tom and Cami to see The Avengers at the same time. I actually thought up a reason for that. I was going to make a comic about it, but then I realized it wasn’t funny.
Basically, it involved confusion about what time they were supposed to me. Tom said 7:15 and Jared thought it was 8:15. Y’see? Not really funny? Besides, I got the whole “casual conversation inside a burning building joke” done with this comic. No need to drag it out.
I have to apologize for there not being a new comic from me last week. It’s inexcusable, but allow me to explain.
Cami and I went on a little vacation the week before last to Chicago. We got back last Tuesday. Then last Wednesday was July 4. Then I pretty much spent the rest of last week getting caught up on work and life. So, no comic.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m self-sabotaging a little bit. I’ve been producing Theater Hopper almost 10 years and for 98% of that time, I never missed deadlines. If I did, I always made it up with an extra comic or at least a better explanation than “We went on vacation! Hurrr!”
Now that the comic is supposed to be ending in a month, I’m blowing deadlines left and right. It’s not acceptable and it’s not the way I want to go out.
I’ve been trying to hit a Monday deadline each week and that hasn’t been working out so great. The comic ends in a month and I think I have WAY more than 4 comics left in me in order to bring this last story across the finish line.
So here’s the thing: I’m throwing the Monday “deadline” out the window and I’m going to try and update as often as I can leading up to August 6. If I make it to August 6 with the story completely told, that’s great. All’s well that ends well. But if I go a little long… well, there are worse things that can happen, right?
The point is, from today forward, be sure to check the site frequently. With any luck, updates are going to be coming a lot faster. And don’t forget the guest strips I’ll be tossing in from time to time!
By the way, if you still want to get in on that action, I’m still accepting guest strips. Feel free to e-mail me what you’ve got to email@example.com and help me send Theater Hopper out in style!
In the meantime, make sure you don’t miss an update by following me on Twitter or Facebook. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive since I’m ending the comic soon, but I intend to keep updating those accounts.
The Twitter account is my “main” Twitter account anyway and I’m pretty likely to continue sharing movie news, thoughts and reactions on the Facebook page.
That’s it for now. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoyed the comic!
Remember last week when I was all, “I’m gonna turn up the heat on producin’ these them thar comics and it’s gonna be awesome!”
Then remember when I didn’t do it?
Thank goodness for Neil Bryer’s excellent guest strip. I think he really hit it out of the park with this one. Not only did he throw in a great callback to the dream sequence punchlines I use from time to time, but he made it as sweet and heartfelt as all get out.
I think what I love most about the comic is that Truman makes an appearance in the fourth panel. Good to know he’ll still be with us in the future…
I’ve had the good fortune to meet Neil a couple of times while attending conventions in Chicago. He’s always very cool and polite. We talk shop for a little while and then he always let’s me get back to selling. Never intrusive. Always plays it just right.
Neil has a comic of his own called Wombat Comic that I encourage all of you to check out. It’s obvious to me that Neil put a lot of thought into his guest strip and I think you guys should reward him for that with a few clicks, don’t you?
Need proof that Neil put a lot of thought into his comic, check out his commentary, which he included with the image file he sent to me!
I’ve known Tom and “Theater Hopper for a few years now. I was late to the show, sure, but I quickly became a fan and jumped on each new strip as they were posted. So when Tom announced a few months ago that he was ending the strip, it of course made me sad. I mean…it’s one less webcomic for me to compete with, so sure, I wasn’t too sad…but still. You know? Anyway, when Tom said he was accepting submissions for guest strips, I knew I had to jump on this. It took me a while to come up with a concept that fit both the current storyline and stayed true to the tone of the strip overall, but hopefully I’ve managed to do just that. So without further ado, I present “The Dream”.
Panel 1: Why does Jared have a beard?…and a wife?…AND KIDS? Oh, it must be some time in the future. That would also explain why Tom has a receding hair line, a bit of a gut, and looks just generally worn out. I imagine this is taking place about 10 years out from where we are right now.
Panel 2: Henry and Pearl are the names of Tom’s real life children. I figured since the characters in the strip are based on Tom and his wife, then his kids should also be based on reality. I asked Tom if it was cool to include their names and he said it was alright.
Panel 3: In 2016, right on the heels of the highly successful “Jones 5: The Adventures of Mutt”, Shia was tapped to play Atticus Finch in a remake of the classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird”. To the surprise of everyone, this instantly became Jared’s favorite movie. Also, in the future, movies are shown on little metal cubes (Actually, the cube is just the player. The files are stored on tiny crystals, but they’re so small that they often get lost when you try to transport them, so most people just bring the whole player along with them when they go anywhere).
Panel 4: Why the heck did I put so many characters in this story?! By the time I was done drawing in the kids, my hand was ready to fall off.
Panel 5: The reveal, it was all just a dream. I guess Tom is more ready to start a family than even he realized. And, of course, who hasn’t had the Scarlett Johansson “initiation” dream?
Panel 6: Cami has good reason for the look of concern on her face…I mean, better than the Scarlett Johansson dream? Her mind reels with the possibilities.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this flight of fancy of mine. It was fun to play in someone else’s sandbox for a bit, but I should get back to work on my own comic (http://www.wombatcomic.com (shameless self promotion)). Pleasant dreams!
Thanks, Neil. I loved this comic!
Incidentally, I think I figured out a simple solution to the content problem I’ve been experiencing lately.
Certainly there’s a bit of foot-dragging going on at a subconscious level. I don’t want the comic to end! But, also, I’m making the production of the comic MUCH harder than I need to.
I have it in my head that if I’m going out, I want to go out with a bang. So I’m trying to make each comic as good as possible before I post it – and it’s causing delays.
Then I remember something one of my art teachers told me: “Stop fussing with it.” Sometimes, you just gotta let these things go, you know?
The thought occurred to me when I was putting together this week’s comic. In an effort to give you “more,” I was setting myself up for an 8 panel comic. Then I realized, “This could easily be split into two comics.” Problem solved! I work faster, suffer less burn out and you get two comics this week instead of one.
So that’s the goal. Be on the lookout for two comics this week starting tomorrow. Thanks again for your patience as I cross the finish line with the comic.
See you soon!
Thor has a big hammer, right? Breaking a giant pane of glass shouldn’t be a problem for the God of Thunder.
I don’t know why, but I’m still amused by people in cardboard costumes having a casual conversation while a roaring blaze nearly engulfs them. It’s basically the height of hubris. The “we’ve got this” attitude Tom is wearing right now… I dunno. I’m just really enjoying it.
I’m going to try and get another comic done this week, but I’ve been lousy about holding up my promises so far. So let’s just say if I get it done, everyone will be pleasantly surprised.
SIDEBAR: I received an e-mail from Amazon last week notifying me that they were closing my vendor account due to “inactivity.”
In their e-mail, they said I could either request to have my books sent back to me (at my expense) or they would destroy them. They were really black and white about it and it kind of bummed me out.
I was flirting with the idea of having them be destroyed. Mostly because I’m cheap and I didn’t want to pay the shipping. But also because it kind of felt like a failure to send your books to Amazon and for them to say “Yeah, we don’t want these anymore.”
Of course, in the end, I opted to have my books sent back to me. I don’t know what the cost will be yet, but it’s the right thing to do. I’m not big on destroying books – especially books I put my heart and soul into.
Selling my books on Amazon was never really a moneymaker for me, anyway. It was more a point of pride – a way for me to look at the accomplishment of self-publishing and saying “See?! SEE?! It’s in a store.”
Okay, yeah. An online store. But still a store.
It doesn’t matter. I always sold more books through my store and at conventions anyway.
Anyway, long story short… we all know the comic is ending soon and I’m still sitting on, like… A LOT of inventory.
I don’t have inventory numbers right now on the books. I’m hoping to count them out sometime this weekend. I can say that of the three books, I probably have less than 100 of Theater Hopper: Year One. Maybe less than 75. If you want one, now’s the time to get it.
Don’t forget that I’m offering a BUY TWO, GET ONE FREE promotion. That applies to books, shirts and books and shirts together. Buy a Spoiler shirt, Theater Hopper: Year One and get a third item of your choice absolutely free!
Get your holiday shopping done early this year. You’ll be helping out a struggling artist and you’ll look very sharp and ahead of the game at the same time.
I’ll leave it at that for now. Just wanted to remind you guys that this merch was out there.
Again, thanks for your support and I’ll follow up with you soon!
You know when you say a word over and over again and it starts to lose meaning? I think Jackson Ferrell from Sketch Comedy managed to do that with this guest comic.
There’s actually a subtle brilliance Jackson was able to communicate with this strip. I’m a big fans of comics that can deliver a joke using tone. Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot more difficult that writing a fart joke. But Jackson managed to do it with facial expressions and a few expertly placed pieces of punctuation.
What’s more, is that he pretty much encapsulated the 10-year narrative arc of Theater Hopper in just one comic. No mean feat.
If nothing else, I just love Tom and Jared in the background of panel three yelling “MOVIESMOVIESMOVIESMOVIESMOVIES.” It rips me up.
Be sure to check out Jackson’s comic Sketch Comedy as a reward for his hard work. I think you guys will like what you find there.
Thanks again, Jackson! Loved the comic!
Yeah, so it looks like Jared’s Mjölnir wasn’t forged from Uru metal after all.
Pity about that.
I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that Theater Hopper can’t end on August 6 like I originally anticipated. That’s okay. You’re probably okay with it, too. At least, I assume you’re okay with it?
Maybe I shouldn’t assume…
The point being that I have a handful of comics I need to produce to get Tom, Cami and Jared out of the theater before I do the final coda and there’s no way I can get there before August 6.
Incidentally, WHY HASN’T TOM AND JARED’S COSTUMES CAUGHT ON FIRE YET?
Movie magic, folks!
Switching gears, I (like many of you) saw The Dark Knight Rises over the weekend. Actually, I took Friday afternoon off from work so I could avoid the crowds and catch it in IMAX – something I rarely ever do.
I was talking to someone about the urgency I felt to see The Dark Knight Rises. For example, it didn’t bother me that I saw The Amazing Spider-Man a week after it came out. But I was gonna be damned if anyone was going to spoil The Dark Knight Rises for me!
Of course it’s nearly impossible to talk about The Dark Knight Rises at this point without mentioning the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Pundits have been crawling all over the aftermath of the senseless violence committed by James Holmes.
What upsets me most about it is that – to me – a movie theater is a sacred place. Quite honestly, it’s as close as I get to religion. It’s a safe place. An ensconce from the horrors of the real world. Like a lot of people, I go to the movies to get out of my head for a few hours, to put the rest of the world behind me. The victims of Aurora were punished for this. For watching a movie. It’s senseless and cruel under any circumstance. But it hits especially close to home for me.
I had a few people express concern about me going to see the movie in light of the tragedy. They feared copycat crimes. It’s a reasonable concern, I suppose. But I also felt determined not to let one lunatic with a gun dictate the terms of my life. So I went.
I’m glad I did. The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic movie, richly layered, dense and rewarding. It doesn’t feel as long as its 165 minute run time would lead you to believe. It moves along at a solid clip.
At times I almost felt like the movie could have been split into two chapters to help flesh out some of the plot contrivances. Without getting into spoilers, characters show up at the most serendipitous times for the most implausible reasons. I can suspend disbelief, but leaning too heavily on “Because he’s Batman!” doesn’t always ring true – especially within the down-to-Earth environment Christopher Nolan has established in his films.
In the aggregate, however, I think Nolan’s three films work beautifully together. There are callbacks to the previous two films inside The Dark Knight Rises that reward those who have paid attention without winking or clubbing the audience over the head with “Hey, remember this? You liked this in the last movie, didn’t you?”
Long story short – if you’ve invested any time or thought in the previous two Batman films, you owe it to yourself to check out The Dark Knight Rises. Ultimately I think it’s one of the great movie trilogies. These films, their independent themes and the overarching themes are going to be discussed and dissected for years to come.
The Dark Knight Rises is a movie that sticks with you. I’m still thinking about it five days later – the hallmark of any good film. Having seen it in IMAX, I’m eager to see it again on a regular movie screen. As impressive as the movie was in that format, I think seeing it a second time will give me an opportunity to pick up on more of the nuances. And – call me optimistic – but I think it’ll play better the second time around, too.
That’s all I have for now. Stay tuned as the next few comics detail the final escape from the burning theater!
See you soon!
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of eager to get Tom, Jared and Cami out of that burning theater. Not just because they’re my characters, or whatever. But because I’m sick to death of fire, smoke and lighting effects! I takes a fortnight to put these comics together!
I’m not kidding, people. I’ve been working on this comic in fits and starts since Thursday. I hope it shows, but I honestly can’t tell anymore.
I’ve had a few people ask me if we’d get another chance to see Truman again before the comic ended. This comic is my response to that.
Is it unreasonable to assume that a dog can dress himself in a Hawkeye costume, learn archery and saves three people? No less unreasonable than a dog who can fly a bi-plane.
That Truman. He’s full of secret talents.
After today, things will start winding down for the comic in earnest. I’ve got the last few strips plotted out. Maybe 5 or 6 left. Depends how desperately I cling to them. Next week was SUPPOSED to be the last comic. That’s not happening because I didn’t plan things out right. But that’s okay. Consider it bonus material.
I just thoroughly bummed myself out. I think I’m going to leave it there.
But, hey! Dog in a Hawkeye costume! Nothing more adorable than that!
See you in a week or so!