Today’s strip features the introduction of a new character. Everyone, say hello to Nick! Now play nice.
Let’s not confuse Nick with our other theater employee Jimmy. Nick happens to be based on a real person. He’s a college buddy of mine – one of my best friends. So don’t start lumping him in with the fictitious characters because he wears a bow tie and vest.
Besides, I plan on featuring Nick in strips outside of a theater setting.
Nick lives in Minneapolis just like some people I know and he actually works in a theater. He’s a projectionist at the movie theater at the Mall of America. I draw Nick with a bored expression because he’s about 20 times too smart for this job. He’s a recent college grad just getting his start, so if anyone has use for an awesome writer in the Minneapolis area, let me know and I’ll pass along the message to him.
The more astute readers out there might have picked up on the hint of Comic Book Guy I injected into the character in panel three. This is wholely intention as I feared I hadn’t made a Simpsons reference on the site in a while. Plus, it seemed to make narrative sense.
I was going to make mention of the season premier of the Las Vegas Real World that debuted last night, but it’s a waste of effort and I’d rather leave room for Jared’s blog.
In the meantime, everyone should be listening to Tomahawk if they aren’t already. Mike Patton is illest!
I don’t know if the theaters in your hometown do this, but at every theater I got to, I am bombarded by STUPID, LOCAL ADVERTISEMENTS! This annoys me to no end because I like to get to the theater early so as not to miss any previews. If you get there too early, being subjected to these ads is the equivalent to Chinese water torture.
In the theater, these ads are placed into a slide projector that automatically forwards. There is usually a mix between local ads and those for Coca-Cola (who has obviously sunk a lot of cash into sponsoring this subtle invasion of privacy). I don’t know whose ads offend me more – the shoddily designed local spots that aggravate my keen sense of composition and information hierarchy. Or the Coca-Cola ads – who’s lame trivia and “fun” games insult my intelligence.
Of course, to top it all off, they’ve got “Movie Tunes” blaring over the PA system before the start of the show. Movie Tunes masquerades itself as a radio station with one of the world’s largest listener-ship. Yeah, you’d have a pretty large listener-ship too if the audience was held captive. That’s like saying Saddam Hussien is the world’s most convincing public speaker.
Does anyone remember a time when you could go into a theater before a movie started and have a nice conversation? To hell with that!
A few things I’ll mention:
I want to give a shout out to Ctrl+Alt+Del. This strip has been getting a lot of attention lately and it’s well deserved. The drawing of this toon is excellent. It’s shaded and colored and looks like an animated short, or something. And the writing is top shelf to boot.
I also got an e-mail from my friend Nick who sent me a really funny short essay about working as a movie-theater projectionist which I will be posting to the site sometime later today. Nick and I are college buddies and he’s been in a couple of strips on the site. Nick graduated an English major, so soon you will be treated to the wonders of correct grammar, spelling and punctuation!
Sometimes I think I spoil you.
Once again I’m taking pot shots at my local theater, the ever-so charming Wynnsong 16.
This situation has happened to me personally more times than I care to recall. It’s also the first example I cite when theater managers get pissed at how customers bring in their own food and beverages.
I realize that managing a theater can’t be easy. But in situations where the work force is so clearly imbalanced, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that poor resource management is afoot.
I would seriously hate to consider that the ones selling tickets are being instructed not to slip behind the concessions during peek business because of a lack of training. No one gave me any pointers on how to fill a bucket of popcorn when *I* worked at a movie theater.
Whenever I run into stupid crap like this, I always say a tiny prayer to myself asking God to flatten these cursed buildings and replace them with smaller, more intimately run family theaters. I doesn’t have to be anything fancy like a tornado. Just a loose i-beam in the ceiling structure. Of course, it would have to be just after the last movie gets out, so the only one who is crushed… is the manager.
Not much movie stuff going on. I mentioned Cradle 2 the Grave in Wednesday’s post. Yawn.
Lately I’ve been keeping close tabs on some of the other sites in the community and all the celebrating that’s been going on. It makes me jealous as all get-out because I want to start doing something special with Theater Hopper. The problem is, I don’t know what.
I’ve thought about doing another crossover, maybe putting together some stickers or t-shirts, but all of it takes more planning than I have time to commit to.
Don’t read me wrong. I’m not whining about how busy I am or how little sleep I get. I sleep fine, thank you. I just haven’t come up with a promotional concept that doesn’t seem contrived in some way.
I suppose the best way to go about things is just to plug along as usual. People will find me in due time. It seems to have worked so far. Traffic for the month of February has sky-rocketed to almost 1,100,000 hits – due in no small part to the link I received from News Askew as well as the generous mentions I’ve been getting on the front pages of some big name web comics.
I get e-mail every now and again telling me I’m doing good work and I appreciate it, but I just want more. Not e-mails (although that would be nice) but more for the site. More for the fans. I wish I just had more to give you. All in due time, I suppose.
I guess I’m concerned because February has been such a windfall in terms of new readership, I don’t want to squander this opportunity.
To that end, I’m making it known right now that I will be out of town the week of March 10 and there will be no new strips between March 10 and March 16.
I’m giving everyone a head’s up now before the weekend, but I plan on letting everyone know more about it next week when there is more to tell.
I can tell you that I will be going to New York and it is a vacation. I don’t want anyone thinking things are serious. But there was an opportunity to go that came up suddenly, and we’ve decided to take it.
That means there won’t be any strips done in advance. I simply don’t have enough prep time.
HOWEVER, if there are any of you comic creators out there interested in sending me guest strips to cover for me while I’m away, I would be more than interested. There’s no reason I couldn’t have Jared upload those for me while I’m away. E-mail me if you’re looking for a little extra exposure.
I hope everyone has a great weekend. I plan on doing diddly-squat with mine. I just got Xenosaga in the mail and I’ll probably be spending Saturday and Sunday wading through all the cut-scenes before the actual game play really takes off. Wish me luck!
I might be stepping outside of regular continuity a little bit with today’s strip. In fact, I could very well be brushing up against the 4th wall – which I usually try to avoid for fear of structural damage.
But this time out, I decided to do something different. I was little tired of the same mechanics of telling a joke and wanted to go in a different direction. Is it a little gimmicky? Sure. But you can’t fault me for trying new things. Actually, I’m kind of proud of the way it turned out!
For anyone who is sensitive to these kinds of things, I’m not making fun of Kabuki or of Japanese culture. In fact, like most people, I’m facinated by everything about the country. I even took a course on Japan in college. This is just a little homage – my way of tipping the hat without mentioning anime.
The overly-dramatic events of today’s strip aren’t too far from truth. At least the genesis of the conflict.
Cami and I have a system where we abuse each other with our movies choices. It’s actually working quite well for us. I drag her to something like The Hulk where she rolls her eyes for two hours. Then a day or two later, she shuffles me out the door to watch some clap-trap like Alex & Emma.
You all know my feeling about The Hulk, but I haven’t talked about Alex & Emma.
We should have picked up a clue when we read the film came in 7th on its opening weekend. We should have thought twice when we could only find the movie playing in ONE theater that wasn’t 50 miles away. This, in a town of a dozen multiplexes.
But no. The system is there for a reason. If the movie looked good once, by God, we’re going.
So we went.
And the movie was HORRIBLE!
The first hour and a half is basically watching Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson (two actors completely without chemistry) write a book. If you thought READING books was fun, then certainly watching a movie about people WRITING a book is going to be right up there with chocolate-flavored heroin.
The movie kept flipping between the dingy, busted down reality the authors live in, and the glossy, white, Gatsby-esque, flapper reality of the book. At what point the two real-life characters fall in love is kind of a mystery. It seems like they never have the time.
I could go on about it, but I’m really even too tired to recall it and it’s not worht the effort.
Just know that it’s terrible, director Rob Reiner is screwing up his career and that I expected as much from Luke Wilson, but Kate Hudson deserves better.
It’s kind of funny how the system failed us this time around. We both picked movies we were sure at least one of us would love. As it turned out, both of us hated both movies. I guess you win some, you lose some.
This weekend looks like Charlie’s Angels is on the docket. I think I’ve got a rant simmering somewhere, so I’ll save it for Friday.
In the meantime, the new Mars Volta CD is kicking my ass and I have a ticket to see Deftones next Wednesday. Yes – I rock.
If any of you are interested in reading more about the Florida couple who was maced by an off-duty police office as mentioned in Wednesday’s comic, The Smoking Gun has a nice little expose that includes their mug shot photos and a copy of the police report.
I read this article about French movie theaters and concert halls jamming cell phone signals and I simply had to respond. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. These venues have done everything short of taking cell phones away from the more obnoxious among us and giving them a time out. Using technology to keep people from interrupting movies or performances forces a doctrine of public civility without the potential of having an usher punched in the face by a perturbed Chatty Cathy.
In case you weren’t aware, today is the last day you can place your order for one of our new “Spoiler” t-shirts. Since I don’t want to take the gamble you’re not reading this blog, I decided to go for the more direct approach with my message.
That got your attention, right?
Once the clock strikes midnight tonight, I’m going to close off this first round of pre-orders, get everything together and send off the information to the printer. If you aren’t able to make the deadline, don’t worry. I still plan on continuing to sell the shirt. Another pre-order period will take place over the span of another two weeks. This time, the next cut-off will be October 29. So if you miss the boat this time, set aside a little dough next time you get paid and we’ll hook you up.
Incidentally, once I have the “Spoiler” order information sent off, I plan on adding another design to the store.
Yes, it’s the image of Truman stuffed into a purse. Demand was high for this piece, so I decided to cave into peer pressure. This shirt will go on sale Monday and you can expect another announcement about it then.
Incidentally, both of these t-shirts would make GREAT holiday gifts, so if you’re thinking about purchasing a shirt for someone else, it’s always a good idea to pre-order early. The closer it gets to the end of the year, the busier our printer will be. So shirt orders could potentially take longer to fill. Just putting a bug in your ear about it.
That schilling out of the way, I wanted to make a short announcement.
You might have noticed that I didn’t link to buzzComix at the top of the blog. Well, that’s because today I’m doing something a little different.
Usually I provide a reward sketch that branches off from the theme or subject matter of that day’s comic. Instead, I decided to switch things up a little and share a sketch of two new characters I’ve been developing. Their names are Boulder and Mouse. If you want to see an early rendering of the pair, just vote for Theater Hopper at buzzComix by clicking this link.
I was kind of doodling, thinking about the recent story arc with Jimmy and my thoughts started to drift toward the idea that I would like to expand the Theater Hopper universe and give the main characters a larger supporting cast to play off of. Then these two spilled out of my pen.
Looking at them, their personalities and background stories immediately crystallized in my head. I’m not going to share too much right now, because I haven’t settled on exactly when I’m going to introduce them into the comic. But once they arrive, you’ll get the whole back-story. TRUST ME!
I was just really excited by what I ended up creating and I wanted to share it with you. If you’d like to discuss the ever-growing Theater Hopper family, I’ll be starting a thread about it in the THorum soon. You can toss in your two cents there. And don’t forget about our fun community building weekly event The Friday Five going on EVERY FRIDAY in the THorum. We ask you 5 questions about yourself and you answer them! Couldn’t be more simple!
Anyway, that about covers it for me. Cami and I are going to see Team America: World Police tonight at the Century (or as Cami likes to call it, “The America Movie”). It should be a good time.
Don’t forget to order your shirt and my thanks go out to those that already have! You guys rock!
Have a great weekend!
Everybody kind of gripes and grouses about the stress of the holidays. But for some reason, once Christmas rolls around, we think it supposed to end there, don’t we?
But it doesn’t.
Traffic still sucks, lines are still long, everyone and their brother is trying to shoehorn themselves into a movie theater and God help you if you need to return an item without a gift receipt.
The events in today’s comic essentially befell me on Sunday when Cami and I went to see The Life Aquatic Steve Zissou. Normally my baser instincts would have screamed “STAY AWAY! STAY AWAY!” at the prospect of fighting the crowds over a holiday weekend, but the lure of a new Wes Anderson movie was too strong to resist! Pray to the altar of Bill Murray!
What was annoying about the whole thing were the lines. First you’re funneled into this massive line, roped off with those little nylon straps. Of course there are only two people working the register. After about 20 minutes, you get your tickets.
Then, deciding it might be nice to have popcorn, you go to the concession stand and wait in line another 20 minutes. “Oh, wait! We have to pop another batch. Oh, wait! We’re out of ice for the drinks.”
And, of course, without fail… the five people in front of you are buying enough food for a family of eight, but they’re the only one carrying it and they’re about 4 hands too short to maneuver the line without any complications.
And all of this was at a matinee.
Next time, I should just listen to my instincts and wait until the Tuesday 10:00 PM showing…
As far as the movie was concerned, I thought it was great but Cami felt like she had wasted two hours. She thought they advertised it differently than what it turned out to be. I suggested that it’s pretty hard to advertise “quirky”. She also felt like it was too long.
It was a disappointment for her because she’s actually a Wes Anderson fan. She really loved Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
I don’t know why it went over for me and not for her. Maybe my geeky fan boy love obscured my vision from the duller aspects. Maybe I just fell in love with its vision so thoroughly I was able to ignore its problems with plot and characterization.
I’ll admit the film can be a little herky-jerky at times and maybe a little too cute for its own good. It plays very inside and the characters seem to mostly be speaking at each other and not really conversing. Probably the most glaring issue for me was Owen Wilson’s Kentucky accent, which dropped in and out of his dialogue to the point of distraction.
Part of me wants to be elitist about the whole affair and say “Oh, you just don’t get it.” But I think that whitewashes the issue. Certainly I think there’s a wavelength to Anderson’s films that you’re either predisposed to or not. But there’s something about The Life Aquatic that is more off-kilter than usual. It’s the largest budget Anderson’s ever been given ($50 million) yet the film feels more internalized than anything he’s done before. As if the narrative thread had been pulled out from under all these little vignettes and the audience is left to piece them together themselves.
Certainly the fact that I’m still thinking about it the next day is a good sign. I really wouldn’t mind seeing it again, actually.
Anyone who is interested in buying a t-shirt, baby doll or a hoodie has until January 7th to do it. That’s when the next pre-order period comes to a close. I anticipate those shirts to be delivered before the end of the month, in case you were looking for an estimate.
No real news besides that. I hope everyone had a happy holiday!
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.
He’s dodged meat cleavers, exploding popcorn kernels and strangulation by 35mm film. Let’s face it – The Movie Gods want Tom to live! Either that, or Cami’s ESP needs a tune-up.
I know some people get confused about where the line blurs between real-life Tom and comic Tom. So that I don’t have to field a bunch of questions about it later, my real-life Dad is very much alive and well and was not strangled by any film that crashed through the projection booth window. That probably sounds silly to most of you, but you’d be amazed at how literal some people can be. Yup, today’s punchline was a tip of the hat to The Naked Gun. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t have much more to say about this weekend’s movie offerings, but I am curious if anyone saw Andy Barker P.I. on NBC last night? Tony Hale from Arrested Development is a video store clerk in the strip mall where Andy Richter’s character works. He shows him a Sandra Bullock doll from Miss Congeniality he made himself to make fun of the movie. "Oh, Sandra. Why do you make such confusing movie choices? he asked.
Anyway, I have some site news to share and I’m also looking for a little bit of help.
I’m finally starting to get around to adding back some of the links that have been missing since the redesign. It’s been almost three months and it really should have happened sooner, but the advertising page and the press page are now in production. If you’re interested in advertising in either one of the huge ad bars on the site, the advertising place is where you can get set up. Incidentally, my friends from Alma Mater stumbled onto the page on the server, even though there was no direct link to it and made a purchase. So you should check out their comic and reward their ingenuity.
The press page pretty much speaks for itself. It has links to all the interviews I’ve done along with all the profiles, site and book reviews related to Theater Hopper. I like to consider it my little digital Fortress of Solitude where I keep all my trophies. I thought you guys would get a kick out of reading some of that stuff if you missed it the first time around. It’s also a way to say thanks to the publications that actually gave me the time of day.
The tour page has been in production a while and is also fairly self-explanatory. I’m just reminding you of it because it’s been floating out there by itself for a while and you might not have checked into it. I had to drop Kansas City’s Planet Comicon. No one else I knew was going to be there and that’s too long to be away from Cami and Henry. So, your best bet this year is going to be seeing me at Wizard World Chicago. I wish I could go to some of the bigger shows like the San Diego Comicon or whatever. But I just don’t have the money to fly anywhere. Oh, well.
Anyway – the part I need your help with!…
I’m working on the FAQ page and I’m curious what you guys want to know about me or about the site? I don’t want to slap a bunch of fake “questions” onto the page and answer them in some kind of removed, third person fashion. I’d really like to include you guys in the process. So, if there’s something you want to know about Theater Hopper – how long it takes me to make a comic, what materials I use – or anything about me, like how long I’ve been cartooning, what my favorite movie is or how do I come up with strip ideas – leave them in the comments section of this blog. I’ll take the best questions any build the page out. Hopefully in the next couple of days, you’ll see your question answered and will have provided a great service to the other readers!
So, fire away and have a great weekend!
Hey, everyone. Hope you had a great holiday weekend. If you’re outside America, I hope you had a great regular weekend!
Before we get started with the blog, I just wanted to post an update about the Kickstarter fund raising campaign for Theater Hopper: Year Three. There are 31 days left to go in the campaign and we are 38% funded. I am starting to feel the pinch. I had hoped we’d be at least 50% funded by now, but I realize that the Thanksgiving holiday probably served as a distraction for some of you.
Quick question: How many of you fought the crowds on Black Friday? It sucked, didn’t it. Doesn’t it kind of make you wonder why you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to score a deal on a cheap… whatever to give someone for the holidays?
If you’ve ever found yourself in an existential funk during the holidays, stick it to commercialism and stick it to “The Man” by pledging your support to an independent artist. Even if it’s only a dollar. It’s good karma.
In the meantime, if you don’t have a dollar to spare but maybe own a copy of Theater Hopper: Year One or Theater Hopper: Year Two, please leave your comments and insights on the Kickstarter campaign comments page. A few of you have done this already and I thank you for that.
It is my feeling that if we can get a few more people talking about the existing books, it might convince the people who are on the fence to help support the next one. So get in there and leave a few comments!
Tonight I hope to finally getting around to drawing the Monsters, Inc. original giveaway artwork that I talked about back on November 13. I think I figured out how I’m going to draw it and also how I’m going to stage a fun little video update showing you how the artwork was put together.
Thanks and now onto the blog!
Today’s comic is based on something that happened to me when I went to see Ninja Assassin on Saturday night. I went to the late showing, which is typical for me when it’s a movie Cami has no interest in seeing. I check out the movie, she goes to bed. It’s a win-win.
Anyway, I went into a mostly empty theater about 10 minutes before the movie started, found a seat in the middle of the auditorium in the middle row (where I always sit) and was feeling very pleased with myself since it didn’t look like I would have to suffer any buffoonish behavior from the people sitting around me.
No sooner had I settled in, than two teenagers plopped down behind me. One of them put their feet up on the chair next to me. For the entire movie, I’m looking at his shoes out of the corner of my eye.
Certainly people are free to sit where ever they want. But at the time, I found it odd. A nearly empty theater and you sit directly behind someone? It defies logic to me. I mean, I know stadium seating kind of eliminates the back of someone’s head behind a viewing obstruction, but still. I mean… it’s kind of like a bathroom full of empty urinals and some stranger occupying the urinal directly next to you.
Guys, you know what I’m talking about!
No sooner had I begun to bristle at the proximity of this duo and their footwear, then another couple of guys appeared and took the seats directly in front of me!
Again, a nearly empty theater. Your pick of the litter and you plop down directly in front of me? Maybe my “bubble” of personal space extends a few feet farther than the average person, but it just felt weird. Like I was being surrounded, or something.
Ultimately, no one ended up taking the seats on either side of me. But I think I’ve been spoiled by my nocturnal and solitary movie-watching habits. I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie that was so packed, I was asked to move down the aisle or cozy up next to someone else. Despite wanting the “community” experience of watching a movie in a large theater with several people, I’m really not very interested in engaging with them on any level. I will take off my coat and put it in the empty seat next to me. I would prefer to have the row to myself. I am a terrible, terrible person.
As for the movie itself, I liked Ninja Assassin a lot. It was pretty much everything I expected it to be – everything I hoped it would be.
The movie is first-rate cheese. Threadbare plot and hardly any dialogue. Korean pop sensation Rain does a great job in the lead role of Raizo. Looking at him perform amazing feats of athletic prowess, it never occurred to me that this guy is the Asian equivalent of Justin Timberlake.
Imagine instead of hosting Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake starred in an action movie where he slaughtered hundreds of people. Actually, now that I think about it, I’d kind of like to see that movie!
Most of my complaints with Ninja Assassin are stylistic ones. I’m willing to forgive the clunky dialogue and complete lack of chemistry between… well, ANYONE in the movie. But the way the movie depicts ninja’s as wall-crawling blurs that silently float into open windows is laughably stupid.
Director James McTeigue made a few smart choices regarding the interplay between light and shadows and how ninjas use the darkness to their advantage. But then he pushes things too far by making the ninjas almost supernatural in their ability to move quickly and manifest directly behind their opponents. A ninja should be unpredictable and and dangerous, but not become a ghoul or a vampire.
Actually, there’s a scene where a SWAT team enters a warehouse and McTeigue pulls the camera up above their head to reveal a swarm of ninjas slithering about the rafters. It reminded me more of one of the Alien movies where the horrible creatures were about to get the drop on the unsuspecting Colonial Marines
In some scenes, Ninja Assassin plays almost like a horror movie and an effective one at that. Because you really have no idea where the attack is going to come from. But when it happens, it will be brutal and it will be bloody. McTeigue does a good job of ratcheting up the fear and tension in these scenes.
But let’s talk about the blood for a second. Because there’s a lot of it and this movie and it’s WAY over the top. It’s not the gore that bothered me. It was the authenticity of it.
For whatever reason, McTeigue uses a lot of CGI blood in this movie and it looks ridiculous. I realize that maybe he was aiming for some kind of cartoonish ultra-violence like Sin City or Kill Bill, but it comes off looking like amateur hour. Maybe he was trying to make the red more visible in what is otherwise a very darkly lit film. But again, it just looks wrong.
You can’t tell me that CGI blood looks better or costs less than some expertly placed squibs and a couple gallons of red dye and Kayo syrup.
But again, these are complaints against stylistic choices and are really only a minor distraction from the main event. The film is fast-paced and breath-taking. You pretty much get to see ninjas do everything you want to see them do in a movie and the film is very satisfying, visceral entertainment because of it. A great “switch your brain off” flick to combat holiday stress. If you’re looking to have a little fun, I highly recommend it.
I was going to talk a little bit about the other movie I saw this weekend – The Fantastic Mr. Fox – but I went on a little too long with my review of Ninja Assassin. I’m sure I’ll get to it later this week, but if you want a preview of what I’ll be talking about, be sure to tune in to The Triple Feature tonight at 9:00 PM at TalkShoe.com where I’m sure we’ll be talking about The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin and more!
If you saw either of these two films this weekend, I’d love to hear what you thought about them! So leave your comments below. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you soon.
Have a great day!