Well, here we are. The New Year and the launch pad for the new direction I’m taking Theater Hopper as outlined in last Friday’s blog. Kind of kicking things off with a mystery here. Are you intrigued? Are you hooked yet? Are you? ARE YOU?!
Can you smell the desperation rolling from your computer monitor? Can you? CAN YOU?!
For those of you that want to take a closer look at Charlie, I’ve posted my original rough outline of her as the buzzComix incentive sketch. You can see a tiny sliver of it in that handy graphic in the upper-right hand corner of the blog. Click on it to see the whole thing.
Part of Theater Hopper’s new direction is presenting it to a wider audience. So if you could take the two seconds to click on that little graphic, I would appreciate it.
So, who is Charlie? Where does she come from and how does Cami know her? The answers may surprise you. Be sure to check back Wednesday as we chip away at this ICEBERG OF MYSTERYTM!
In movie-related tidbits, I went to see The Aviator yesterday with Cami and my sister-in-law. What can I say? It’s a long one?
I thought the movie was pretty good, but wasn’t left with the best impression. Leonard DiCaprio’s obsessive, repetitive muttering sometimes gets the better of the story. After a while, you start feeling nervous and a little obsessive compulsive yourself!
I suppose that’s the sign of talent – when you feel what the character is feeling. But sometimes I don’t want to feel half-crazy.
Of course I have to tip my hand to Martin Scorsese. His flair for visuals is as strong as ever. He even dips into the well of computer generated effects for some amazing shots he wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. What I love about Scorsese is that he has a firm grip on how much of that stuff to use. There are some really impressive visuals that don’t look like a Macintosh barfed on the screen. In other words, they don’t really get in the way.
If anything, watching The Aviator certainly piqued my interest in seeing Hell’s Angels. The $4 million dollar war epic Howard Hughes filmed once and refilmed again for sound during the 1920’s. Looks like a real barn-burner.
Beyond that, I’m still processing things. The film spends a lot of time on Hughes early days in Hollywood. Which makes sense for such an avid film historian as Scorsese. Hughes really went a long way toward presenting film as a more realistic art form including graphic sex and violence, so it’s interesting to see where some of the conflicts between artists and censors first took root.
However, there’s very little attention paid to the loony, tissue boxes on the feet, piss in milk jars Hughes that I think many people recognize Hughes for. His eccentricities. His illness. The film is called The Aviator for a reason. Scorsese wants us to remember him not only as a filmmaker, but as a man who set distance, speed and time records in aircraft – developing some of the fastest machines to ever travel the planet. Never mind what he did with commercial aviation when he bought TWA. All in all, pretty interesting stuff.
I don’t think The Aviator will clean up with any awards, which is kind of a shame considering how long Scorsese has been overlooked. But it is an ambitious picture and if you’re at all a fan of Scorsese, you should see it. All of his films are required viewing in my book.
That should cover it for now. See you on Wednesday!
So Cami and Charlie were once rivals in high school, eh? Now that Charlie has moved in across the street, will they rekindle their competition? What does Charlie think about this strange turn of events? Check back Friday to find out!
Before posting today’s comic, I showed Cami a rough draft. She was very concerned about being portrayed as “another jealous female”, so once again I need to make the distinction to the audience that the “REAL” Cami is nothing like what you see in the comic.
This little public relations campaign is a two-pronged assault. While on the one hand, I’m being asked by my wife to educate my audience about her true nature, I am also trying to convince my wife that this is non-fiction. An entertaining story that requires a set-up, conflict and resolution. All-in-all however, she’s being a very good sport as her character takes the Theater Hopper spotlight for the time being.
Feedback to Charlie’s introduction and the new direction in the writing has been kind of wait-and-see, but I think I’ll win over the doubters yet. If you liked some of the more emotional aspects of the story arc where Jimmy lost his job, then I have a couple of doozies on deck. We just need to get past this obligatory exposition first.
I want to point out a new advertiser – one that’s been with us for a while. O’Deer Comics. A very funny black and white comic about Santa’s reindeer and what they do when they’re not working. Seeing it’s the post-holiday season, it might be time to check up on them!
If you’re thinking about advertising with Theater Hopper, there are still spots available. Now would be a good time to do it. Since being linked from PvP earlier in the weeks, our traffic is seeing record highs. Check out the advertising page for all the information you’ll need, pricing, as well as an ad calendar that lets you know what spots are available and when.
I should probably mention that I plan on capitalizing on the recent PvP exposure and I will be extending pre-sales on all apparel past Friday, January 7 out another week to Friday, January 14.
I mention this partially for those who have already pre-ordered shirts. You will be getting an e-mail from me with details. But I mention it also because after the 14th, I plan to pull the shirts, baby-dolls and hoodies off the site for a while to give me some time to recoup. So this may be your last chance to get a Spoiler hoodie in the next few months. I’m also planning on offering some new merchandise soon and want to get that off the ground.
I recently purchased a 1″ button maker and will be producing buttons for the site. Basically, all the main characters will get a button treatment as well as some of the fan-favorite secondary characters as well. I anticipate adding new buttons all the time, so odds are your favorite Theater Hopper character, scenario or catchphrase will get the button treatment at some point.
I don’t know about you, but I really like 1″ buttons. They’re inexpensive to buy and they’re fun to collect. There’s no reason you couldn’t buy more than one and just switch them out from time to time. I actually plan on selling some of the buttons in sets of 5 at a reduced cost. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for that!
That’s all for now. See you Friday!
I was kind of worried that Cami and Charlie’s friendly nicknames for each other might betray the expectations that had been built up in the storyline so far. So if the title of today’s comic doesn’t give it away, the buzzComix incentive sketch should remove all doubt.
Make no mistake, lads and lassies. These two don’t like each other. Not one bit. See what happens on Wednesday when these two are face-to-face!
Thought it was worth it to mention that pre-sales on t-shirts,
That’s all for the time being. I still have more I want to talk about. Cami, my sister-in-law Tara and I saw Kinsey this weekend and I had some thoughts on that. So check in later.
Did Cami strike a nerve with Charlie or perhaps Charlie isn’t letting herself get too close to anyone to protect her secret? Maybe Cami should have given her more time to settle in. She did just move in, after all. Or maybe it’s a combination of any of these explanations.
In any case, Charlie wants Cami out of her life, as so plainly illustrated by today’s buzzComix incentive sketch.
I want to remind everyone that THIS FRIDAY is the last day that you can pre-order t-shirts, baby dolls and hoodies for quite a while. I probably won’t be offering these designs again until maybe March. I’m just spitballing here. I don’t really know. All I know is that I want to take some time off from selling clothing and concentrate on other things.
Like buttons for example! They’re up for sale and selling like the proverbial hotcakes!
I know there hasn’t been a lot of movie-talk around these parts since I introduced Charlie last week. But hopefully you’re enjoying the arc so far. I really haven’t received a lot of feedback on the character. A few stray theories here and there as to what her background is and what secret she’s hiding, but I’m not really getting a sense of if you guys like the direction things are going.
If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
I received some good news today. Something I wasn’t quite expecting. Sideways will be back in local theaters in the Des Moines area. We had it for a little while before the end of the year, and then it disappeared – strangely enough, just after it had received all those critics’ awards and my awareness of the film was cresting.
Well, now it’s back and I fully plan to take advantage of its return to my local art house. I feel like I’m sacrificing a lot of my movie street cred by admitting that I missed it the first time around, but I don’t care. I’m just so gosh darn happy!
That’s all for right now. Swing by the THorum if you’re able!
Sometimes Tom has trouble gauging the passage of time. Sometimes I wonder if “real life” Tom doesn’t suffer the same affliction. Have we been talking about Charlie for two weeks?
However, in order to do that, I need to make her prominent. While readers have become familiar with Tom, Cami and Jared over the last 2 and half years, I have to establish A LOT of exposition in a short amount of time if I’m going to make Charlie their contemporary. In other words, so that the audience will recognize that the words coming out of her mouth are coming from an honest place in terms of characterization. That there is motive. That there is a background story which is the prism through which she interprets her situation.
This sounds heady, I know. But I’ve put a lot of thought into. Maybe too much thought. Maybe what’s important is that people come to the site to be ENTERTAINED and they don’t need to be bogged down by the drama of FICTIONAL characters.
Whatever the situation, one thing has become clear. While undertaking what I want to achieve with the comic and the characters in 2005, there’s no reason it can’t be funny. This weekend I am going to reassert my focus and strive toward that.
Goodness, that was quite the little manifesto, wasn’t it? If you have any response to what I’m putting out there, I am always available.
That said, I want to remind everyone that TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO PRE-ORDER A T-SHIRT, BABY DOLL TEE OR HOODIE! After today, I’m going to shut down that portion of the store probably for the next few months. So if you were thinking about getting a Spoiler t-shirt any time soon, now’s the time to do it.
Actually, if you were thinking about getting a “Professional Movie Goer” shirt, now would be THE BEST time to do it. The design hasn’t been a strong seller, so I’ll probably discontinue it after today.
I have some other site-related thoughts bouncing around in my head. I might come back and share them later if I have time.
Honestly, are there any other web comics out there that pull the curtain back as far as I do in regards to process? I mean, it’s not like I’m showing you the penciled artwork before I ink and color it, or anything. I’m affording you frigging real estate IN MY BRAIN. You totally get a glimpse of all my little hang-ups bringing this thing to you 3 times a week, don’t you?
Ho, boy. Life in the Digital Age…
I know today’s comic seems like a partial retread of Friday’s comic, and I apologize for that. But it’s important to show that Charlie feels guilty for what she’s done. Charlie’s guilt over her actions is a necessary character moment in this story arc. One that will have important significance later on.
The implications of what’s being shown to you here should affect how everything else unfolds. Consider it the turning point in the storyline. Introductions are complete. Now it’s time to answer the questions. Why is Charlie being so defensive? What is her reason for coming back home? All of this will be revealed in time immediately following this comic.
An interesting thing happened last week. On Wednesday I asked for feedback because it seemed the readership was being usually mum on the subject of Charlie’s introduction. It turns out they were just being polite. After soliciting everyone, I received some positive feedback, but stronger negative notices. The pacing was too slow and unfunny, they said. It left me with serious doubts as to how I would progress the story.
On the one hand, I wanted to tell the story I wanted to tell and was fairly adamant about telling it in the time span I wanted to tell it.
On the other hand, I felt I was alienating readers who couldn’t see the bigger picture. That once told, Charlie’s full integration into the comic would provide new avenues for commentary when I returned to topic humor.
Sharing this on Friday resulted in a swell of positive feedback. “Don’t listen to them,” they said. “We’re interested in seeing where this goes. Stick with it!”
And so here we are…
I had given thought to suspend the two week story I had been building to return to topical humor for a week, and then pick up where I left off later. I felt it would have been a strong compromise between those looking for easy laughs and digestible humor.
And while I understand the need for that, I feel a stronger need to do what I need to do. So Charlie’s story will continue.
I know that will alienate some of you. All I can say is that I’m sorry. I hope you come back to us at a future date. In all honesty, I’m still trying to figure out how to make this work. Where to sacrifice characterization for laughs while still trying to establish that WITHOUT characterization – without the background knowledge of a character’s motivation and past experiences – those laughs will ring hollow. People won’t know where they’re coming from.
My thought is that the only way to resolve it is to plow through the exposition that gets us from Point A to Point B. Starting this week, you can expect a full week of comics. So come back tomorrow for an accelerated understanding of the Who, What, When, Why and How.
I don’t mean to assign more importance to what I do than it’s worth. But I made an effort to listen to You and now I need to listen to myself. My philosophy is that if I had to choose between being entertaining or lacking integrity as an artist capable of making his own decisions, I would choose the former and not the latter.
Those of you finding it difficult to cultivate your patience, I implore you to stick with it and trust that in the end, it will all be worth it.
Because it will be.
Even if this story line doesn’t cut it for you, allowing me to stretch out creatively in this way keeps me happy. And keeping my happy keeps me motivated. And keeping me motivated brings you one step closer to seeing the kind of comics we laid the foundation of Theater Hopper with. Except better, more involved and richer.
To those who support Theater Hopper unconditionally, your support will always be appreciated with sincerity. Thank you.
As promised, another comic. Part of the 5 day plan to help advance the little storyline we’ve got going here and burn through a little excess exposition. Is anyone else glad that we’re moving the action out of suburbia and into the theater? I know I am!
As time progresses, I am getting more and more positive feedback from readers who are starting to enjoy Charlie’s story arc. While I have had an opportunity to return everyone’s messages, I want to thank those of you who have written in to show your support. I appreciate it. I see now that going ahead with the story was the right decision to make.
Things may have been slow-going at first and maybe even a little painful. But that’s evolution in a nutshell. A little temporary pain and the result is something stronger and more beautiful. I’m now convinced that once this telling is complete, there will be a richer experience at the end of it for all of us.
Onto movies… I didn’t see Elektra this weekend and if the box office has anything to say about it, neither did many of you. Even though I was one of the few who honestly enjoyed its predecessor Daredevil (Ben Affleck be damned!), I felt no urge to see Jennifer Garner take the lead in the follow-up.
I mean, if you break it down to brass tacks, it’s pretty much a movie starring Garner running around in sexy outfits and kicking ass. Guess what? I can see that every week for free on a little show called Alias. I imagine Elektra is only going to draw the fan boy faithful.
By the way, if you want to see an image that will test the limits of said faithful, then vote for Theater Hopper at buzzComix to check out today’s incentive sketch.
One movie that I did see this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed was In Good Company. I don’t know what it is about Topher Grace I find so appealing, but all that talk about this being his breakout performance is right on the money. Grace is quick-witted and alert throughout his performance. He’s just a lot of fun to watch.
Dennis Quaid earns points as well going with a performance that was very confident and laid back without being lazy or above-it-all.
I didn’t used to like Quaid. I used to think he was kind of a jock and didn’t look smart enough to be an actor. All cock-sure strut, no substance. But as he’s aged, he’s become maybe one of a handful of leading men over 50 that’s I’ve enjoyed watching. You could lump Pierce Brosnan into this category as well.
I think what really struck home for me with In Good Company was that there aren’t really that many films aimed at men on an emotion level.
For example, women have all kind of movies that deal with their emotions, relationships and fears. Bridget Jones’s Diary, just to pull a name out of the hat, tackles everything from the fear of being single in your 30’s, being overweight and having trouble finding a good job. These are all emotional issues.
Movies for men only seem to focus on bigger explosions, more garish CGI candy, and occasionally naked breasts if the studio can get around a PG-13 rating.
But In Good Company is different. It’s about being in your 20’s and not knowing what you want to do with your life. It’s about being in your 50’s and being rendered ineffectual by the generation stepping in to replace you. It caught me off guard. You simply don’t see a lot of movies about men whose power is being leeched from them in this way. I found it a rewarding experience. You should go see it.
In case you missed it, there was an extra comic yesterday. Expect another one tomorrow.
Today’s comic is something real-life Cami probably wouldn’t be very happy with. She doesn’t tend to appreciate the strips where I depict her as physically abusive. But it’s a light slap, honest! I just thought it seemed like one of those opportunities where the husband does something well-meaning and the wife flips it around on them like in some kind of family-friendly sitcom. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Everybody Loves Raymond.
In any case, you should really check out the buzzComix incentive sketch I put together. I think it really compliments today’s comic well. I’m really happy with it.
Not much to report at the moment. Oh, hey. The Fantastic Four trailer is online. You should check it out. It’s better than I thought it would be, but I’m still firmly planted in the “wait and see” camp. The Thing still doesn’t look quite right to me. They’re going to have to do something really impressive to wash off the stink of that direct-to-video Roger Corman version from 1994.
Did you notice that I have a few ad spots available? Don’t you think now would be a good time to fill them? I do. Check the advertisements page for all the info you’ll need to place a banner on the site. Pricing, availability, the works.
By the way, you should think about buying some buttons. They’re a lot of fun and I’m getting kind of antsy looking for an excuse to make some more!
I don’t know if I have a lot to say about today’s comic, so if you want to vote for Theater Hopper at buzzComix while you’re waiting for me to conjure up some text, it would be much appreciated. We’re pretty much within striking distance of the number two spot. It would be pretty keen if we could snag it. Like yesterday’s incentive sketch, I’m really proud of today’s offering. I could easily see this design on a t-shirt, I’m that proud of it.
So what about today’s, extra-special Thursday comic? It would seem things are starting to come to a head, eh? Charlie seems to be everywhere Cami doesn’t want her to be. And is it possible she overheard her outburst in Wednesday’s comic? Seems like something is going to break pretty soon. You’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what!
I’m starting to have a lot of fun with the storyline now. Although at this point I kind of feel like I’ve been rushing them around like pawns on a chess table. It’s all been an exercise in moving the action into different locations before setting the stage for a big showdown. But first someone needs to say this so someone else can say this and everyone winds up here. Get the gist?
Really at a loss for words beyond that. It’s kind of late and I’m kind of feeling burned out right now. Think I’ll hit the hay.