Ok, the site isn’t 40 years old, but I sure am. Please join me in (belatedly) celebrating my birthday with my greatest, no, THE greatest comic adventure of all time!
THE SECRET ORIGIN OF JG
My birthday was actually a couple of months ago, but I thought it was only fitting for me to share another comic in honor of my 40th birthday. Many of you wondered how I became the paragon of humanity that I am. Actually, no one ever asked me that but I’m certain that in your own private moments your thoughts naturally drift to the topic of, well…me.
Anyway, I decided to put this into comic form to answer all of your (unspoken) questions. Besides, I figured it’s time the world knew about me.
So things are gonna go a bit different this time. Be prepared to scroll cuz this is a long one. There’s three ways to view this thing, via Slideshare, Scribd, or the plain old long image that I usually do:
You should read it with Slideshare if you like to read things panel by panel, you can read it fullscreen if you like, just be ready to click and click and click because this is a long one!
So this is still a long one, but you’ll be able to move from page to page, plus you can pop it up fullscreen just like slideshare.
(IE users, I read there can be problems displaying these embedded Scribd docs. It looked good to me but if you have problems let me know.)
REGULAR LONG-OL’ IMAGE
Those of you who have been around for awhile are familiar with this way. Here’s the whole comic below, and it’s extremely long so I’ll just put the header here. Click on the image to pop up the whole long jpeg into a new window (very large 6.6mb jpeg).
…AND WE’RE BACK!
Dag-blasted Phantom Zone! I’m actually still in here, so I hope I’m able to update my WordPress. I’m using the WordPress app for iOS, and I think I read in the app notes somewhere that they updated it to be able to work from the Phantom Zone. If this doesn’t work I’m going back to the App Store and giving it a low rating.
STUPID, STUPID CLOWNS
For those of you who don’t know what those clowns are about, they’re from an ebook I came out with last year called How to Deal with Stupid Clowns who don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about! In true comic book fashion, this origin conflicts entirely with my previous secret origin found in that ebook:
Which one is true? I’m not telling…
Back back on track, I’m going to do something with this post that I rarely do, which is get personal. Normally I wouldn’t do this because that’s not really what this blog is about, and secondly I don’t think many people would care too much about my personal life.
That said, it’s my blog and I can pretty much write what I want so here goes..!
THIS COMIC LIFE
I credit (and blame) comics for making me into the person that I am.
I became obsessed with comics early on in life, probably around second grade or so. I was able to read most of them, even though I couldn’t understand many of the words. That’s why it was great that you didn’t need a lot of the words to understand someone being punched through a wall or a bunch of stuff blowing up.
My mom bought me these five comics from a garage sale she stopped by on a whim while we were living in Madison, WI. She had no idea what she started. Not only did I start drawing on every piece of paper that found its way into the house, but I was constantly bombarding my parents with questions because I didn’t know what a lot of the words meant.
In the case of Avengers 181 it dealt with the government forcing The Falcon onto the Avengers roster because he was Black. Imagine my mom’s surprise when I started asking about Affirmative Action and things like that. She was like “what the hell are you reading!?! What’s in these things??”
In other news, that issue of Fantastic Four was pretty awesome, not only did they fight a space giant but I was introduced to one of my favorite heroes…Nova!
It’s strange because I would never read Fantastic Four now, I think that team is WHACK. I also have nothing to do with Spider-Woman, mostly because she’s in the Avengers now…a team I avoid, if possible. It’s difficult though, because they’re EVERYWHERE!
When I say this I’m talking about the comic book Avengers. The movie was awesome, but the characters are based more on Marvel’s Ultimates than the mainstream Avengers.
READNG ISF UNDAMTLE
Comics taught me a lot about pretty much every aspect of life. Since my parents couldn’t answer many of the questions, they would always direct me to the dictionary or to the encyclopedia to try to find what I was looking for. I think at some point I read every page of that World Book of Knowledge.
At some point I would ask:
- “Dad, what’s momentum?“
- “What’s Centrifugal Force?“
- “What are molecules?“
I was by no means the smartest kid on the block (still had trouble with math!), but I learned so much from comics that it helped me in school. I had no problem with reading, writing history and lit classes. Science was not as easy but at least it was interesting to me. Except geology, I was horribly bored by that.
You have the San Diego Comic-Con, a major mainstream media event where even Hollywood is trying to get in on the act.
(None of this does a damn thing for the comics themselves but that’s another post).
But back then when I was coming up comics were not something for you to be proud of. They were something to hide because they were considered to be juvenile and pretty much a black mark on your character.
Grade school was fine, but I learned during middle school and high school to just keep it to myself. Although everyone knew I was the kid who drew comic characters (I couldn’t stop myself from drawing all over my notebooks and assignments) you wouldn’t ever see me with one. That would be an invitation to the wrong kind of attention, trust me.
Not to mention that being known as the “comics kid” was like sending up a signal to all the girls in the high school that said “THIS GUY IS NOT A VIABLE SEXUAL PARTNER. DISREGARD. REPEAT: DISREGARD!!!“ and it would keep going on repeat.
COLLEGE ART ACTION
I ended up going to Lawrence University here in Wisconsin.
They had a great art program, but not really what I wanted to do. It was tough for me to try to apply what I was learning there to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I would let my professors know what I was into, and they would say “That’s great! Now paint this apple, kid.”
To be fair the school certainly didn’t advertise itself as having anything to do with comics. But abstract art history courses and printmaking techniques weren’t really anything I could use.
Even worse, when I went there, the whole graphic design “desktop publishing” revolution hadn’t really happened yet, so I was learning completely useless paint program techniques on non-standard equipment (Commodore Amiga). When I got out of college, companies were looking for people who had experience with QuarkXpress, Pagemaker and Illustrator. I didn’t even know what that stuff was. Damn damn damn.
So to this day, I tend to regard my four years at the college as a waste of time which still has me saddled with a $10,000 student loan. I know that’s pretty low compared to what some people with Masters and Doctorate degrees have, but it’s still an annoying payment to make.
Still, I met some of my best friends in life at that school, so that’s the only reason I’m glad I went there. I wouldn’t trade that, but now when I run into someone who’s thinking about college, I don’t automatically say that you should go.
That might have been the path to security and locking in your chosen career back in the day, but it doesn’t mean the same thing it used to. Yeah if you’re going to be a doctor, or go into research or education. But if you’re an artist and you want to make your living that way? I’d say think real hard about that one.
Of all the things I do to make money these days (web development/graphic design/prepress, illustration) none of them were taught to me at college. So I literally could have skipped it and turned out the same way. Frankly, if not for a friend I made working a totally unrelated job I would never have found my way into graphic design and such. It really was a twist of fate.
I’d say if you can afford it, meaning you’re not going to be saddled with student loan debt for the rest of your life, then go ahead and have the four year college experience. If not, then just get busy yourself. With the kind of access to knowledge we have now it’s pretty easy to set yourself on the right path.
JG THE LONE WOLF
Actually to consider myself a wolf is just me having delusions of grandeur.
Hey, what kind of animal wears glasses and draws comics? That’s not a riddle, I’m really asking. Oh, well…think on it.
So I’m not a wolf but I’m definitely a loner. I’m usually by myself and I’m rarely out on the town or anything.
That’s not how I wanted things to turn out. In fact it’s the exact opposite, but that’s the way it is, and I don’t think I could change it now. I’m kind of set in my ways.
If you look on any tv show you’ll see that there’s this group of friends and they all have their established hangout and they have all these adventures and blah blah blah. Hell if you look on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you’ll see real people constantly posting the evidence of their awesome social lives.
If I posted a photo-journal of my life it would just be me sitting around here drawing pictures, working on websites and working on 3D art. Not very exciting.
Yes, I do have friends but not the type who just walk into my apartment whenever or meet me at 6pm every night for a beer at our spot. Most of my good friends have left the Wisconsin area and are spread out all over the country, so it takes a major event to get us all back together.
Although I am interested in a lot of things, I just never seem to meet people who share similar interests locally. And again, I don’t really go out much so it’s not likely that I will, so I just use my free time to try to create artwork and accomplish some of the projects I’ve set for myself.
I wish I could make a cool Instagram picture of that but I don’t think it’s possible.
WOMEN, MARRIAGE, & THE TROUBLE WITH JG
I debated with myself on whether I would write this or not, but I figured I’ll just go for it in this one post. You don’t turn 40 every year, and this is kind of a one-off post.
As you can probably guess, I am single. I’ve been single for most of my life, and I never had a relationship last even a whole year.
Unlike a lot of the relationship blogs I read, I’m not going to blame the other sex, I put the blame squarely where it belongs -on me.
Every time I’ve had an “official” girlfriend, I screwed it up. And by “screwed it up” I mean I sabotaged it myself so I could get out of it.
I always had that “grass is greener” syndrome, or just wanting what you can’t have. Then when you get it, you’re like “wait, maybe I didn’t actually want this!”
THAT TYPE OF GUY
I don’t like to acknowledge this, but in my twenties, and (shamefully) my early thirties, I was the type of guy who would just say (almost) whatever was necessary to get what I wanted. I would never say the “L” word, so at least I can hold onto that, but it would get pretty damn close sometimes. Whew!
Man, I wish I could remember what got to me, but I started to realize that I couldn’t keep doing this shit. It really started getting to me, and I had to recognize that I just didn’t want that kind of traditional girlfriend/boyfriend relationship, since every time I had one all I wanted was to get out. I decided that from then on I was going to have to be straight up about what a woman could expect from me.
So let me tell you something, I hear all the time from women wanting to know why guys have to lie and blah blah blah. We already know the answer, it’s if they tell the truth they will not be getting any action.
To me, I always felt that if the situation warranted, I should let a woman know I’m not looking to be the boyfriend. I’m not saying that if I just meet a woman and she says “Hello” and then I yell out “I’M NOT LOOKING FOR A GIRLFRIEND!!!!” But if it seems like something might be progressing I feel I should find out what they’re looking for or at least let them know where I’m coming from.
It doesn’t go over well. Admittedly, how are they supposed to take it? It’s like “hey I just want to screw around but I don’t want to deal with any of the boyfriend shit. So are you in, or what??“
I can’t blame ’em, but some of my friends think this is ridiculous:
FRIEND: You don’t have to tell them everything right away.
ME: Oh, you mean lie?
FRIEND: You don’t have to tell them in such a matter of fact way. Sugar coat it a bit.
ME: Oh, you mean lie?
FRIEND: Just don’t bring it up at all. That way you never said anything she can hold you to.
ME: Oh, you mean lie?
Hey, I’m not an angel of truth, but doing all that lying stresses me out, and that’s not how I intend to live my life. That said, I know men and women who can juggle two or three partners, drop one and pick up the next and they don’t care who gets hurt as long as they get what they want. Sometimes I wish I could have that mindset. Life would be a lot easier, I think.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
I know some of you out there are thinking he needs some kind of “friends with benefits” situation. Those of you who don’t know what this is, first of all, I envy you, and to get to the point, it’s a situation where two people just agree to have sex without actually being beholden to the other person for any of the relationship stuff.
Sounds great, except it doesn’t actually work.
And I know there are those of you who may have done it or are doing it right now and say it does work. Well, if I were you that would be great, but it sure as hell doesn’t work for me. I’ll tell you why: sooner or later, someone catches feelings.
What I mean by that is eventually one of us feels like they can expect more of the other person than is really true. Most of the time it’s the woman, but it’s been me one time, and I didn’t like it at all.
It might go like this, we get together time and again, and then I might get a call:
HER: Hey, I have tickets to [uninteresting local event] on Saturday!
ME: Oh, that’s cool but I’m not interested. You have a good time.
HER: You don’t want to go?
ME: Nah, I’m staying in this weekend. Let me know how it was.
HER: [stony silence]
ME: Hello? (Damn iPhone keeps dropping calls!)
HER: Fine. Bye.
It’s inevitable, at least for me. From here it will escalate until I just have to sever the whole damn relationship. and like I said, I’m not immune. It was me on the other end of that phone one time, and it’s not fun so I don’t even try that shit anymore.
NEVER BEEN IN LOVE (I DON”T THINK…)
This will seem sad to many of you who have found that love of your life and are living out your dreams of wedded bliss, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never been in love.
Whenever I’ve liked a girl, and it didn’t work out, I would be extremely upset…for a little while. After that I’d be fine. It might take me a couple of weeks to bounce back from feeling sorry for myself, but it always happens. There will come that day that I don’t spare a second thought to LaQuita, Lakeisha, Taneisha, Rhonda OR Michelle, and someone will have to remind me.
That happened to me quite a few times unfortunately, but I was forced to consider at one point that I had never really been in love. How could it have been love if I was just fine a few weeks later? Wouldn’t it take me years to recover if she was “the one” and I missed out? Love is pretty unquantifiable, so it’s hard to say. I also don’t believe that each person has that one true love out there. There’s probably many people that you could fall in love with if you had the opportunity to meet.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “‘Tis better to have loved and lost. Than never to have loved at all.” But I really don’t know about that. Somehow I think I’ll be just fine, but who knows?
THAT TYPE OF GIRL
So what kind of woman does JG like? A friend of mine was getting tired of me just “lazing around doing nothing” and not dating, and she was offering me her advice, which I kept shooting down. So in exasperation she asked “well what do you want??”
It boils down to this:
- gotta be ambitious – she has to be about something
- gotta be intelligent – BOTH of us can’t be dumb
- gotta be cool – not too cool where she’s freezing me out, but you know what I mean
- and it should go without saying that i want her to be good looking and sexy –HOWEVER: the first 3 items will make a huge impact on how I see her.
I mean, I don’t want some chick looking like a hideous diseased boogawoof or something, but if she’s a normal looking girl, that will be upgraded in my eyes if she’s rocking the first three points.
So what this means is that I really tend to go for those boss chicks who are handling their business.
I don’t want some shrinking violet who’s always asking me what to do and where to go. I don’t have time to be coordinating your life, I’m already messing up at doing mine right!
I’ve had girlfriends who had no hobbies at all. How can you have no hobbies?? All they wanted was to get through the work week so they could hang out at the bar on the weekends. So they wouldn’t really understand when I want to spend my time drawing something or reading or trying to learn something that might help me later on.
Not that every girl has to be a kick-ass entrepreneur, either, because I’m not, but I like it when you’re working towards something. You gotta bring something to the table. I’ll bring a stack of comics and you bring your shit.
Now with all this said, I’ll let you know, the type of girl I like is the type of girl I just could never get. I think it had something to do with the intelligence part. They’re too damned smart to get involved with someone like me.
When I meet these kinds of girls and I try to make something happen, it never works out. The truly shameful thing is I was never really able to make that move and then gracefully retreat back into friendship. It was always a crash and burn and then my stupid ego would kick in and I’d have to do a scorched earth and sever all ties. Again, it’s a shame because I’ve lost track of quite a few cool women who I really wished I could have remained friends with.
But the way I saw it at the time was like “If I don’t get everything then I don’t want anything. You want to offer me friendship?? Screw your friendship!”
When really the friendship was the part that was worth most of all, but I was too stupid to see it. Oh well, all I can do now is move forward and not let that happen again.
Still, when I look back I have to look at my track record. What if I had convinced these women to give me a shot? Likely, I would have wanted out anyway. Maybe they could see that? The bottom line is, to every girl who ever rejected me: you did the right thing.
I would much rather just chill instead of leaving a string of angry women behind me…again.
NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT MARRIAGE MINDED
This may be a surprise at this point, but I ain’t ever getting married.
I don’t know how you married folk do it. I really don’t. Like I said earlier, I never meant to become the loner I am, but now that I am, I couldn’t come home and have someone there all the time. I’d go nuts.
That, and I’ve seen too many people lose themselves in these marriages. I have friends who aren’t even allowed to talk to me except for when they’re driving somewhere.
ME: Uh, hello?? Who is this!? How’d you get this number?!
HIM: JGIT’SMEJUSTCALLEDTOSEEWHAT’SUPICAN’TTALKLONG IPICKEDUPMILKFORTHECHILDREN
ME: Oh, uhh, I guess things are…
HIM: OH,SHITIJUSTPULLEDUPINTHEDRIVEWAYMYWIFE’SINTHEDRIVEWAY SHE’SLOOKINGATMESHE’SLOOKINGATMEIGOTTAGOOOO!!!!!
ME: Hello? Hello?! I’ll call 911!!
Then there’s the ones who told me “my wife says we could hang out if you had a girlfriend.” Hey don’t do me any favors, if you need everything to be a couples activity, then I understand. Better them than me.
Still, life would be easier if I were married. That’s what society expects, and when you don’t do what society expects then you need to be prepared for the consequences of that. It’s certainly not what I want, but if I did want it, I’m not sure I could do it.
Convince a chick to throw in her lot with me and spend the rest of her life with me?? Sheesh, I can’t even get people to respond to me on Facebook, so I don’t think I could pull it off. I’m certainly not gonna do it by being me, that’s for sure.
I was talking to one of my in-real-life female friends about this and unbeknownst to me, she decided to take a look at my site/FB page/Twitter.
She then declared that I don’t portray myself very well in my online persona, and that was the reason I was by myself.
To disprove her, I’m going to show you guys a montage of my greatest appearances:
Oh, crap. That wasn’t very good. I can’t do anything right. Aw aw aw aw awwwwwww shucks.
But anyway, what I had to explain to her was that I don’t really intend my blog, Twitter or Facebook to be a dating profile to attract women. If that were true I’d actually write about something interesting or at least stop tweeting out pictures of the furry bologna and cheese sandwiches I eat for dinner. It’s why I don’t really discuss these things on here, because I don’t think it’s something anyone wants to read about, and also because I don’t like the whole online dating thing.
I tried it before and for a guy, it’s a LOT of work. Women can just post up a few good pics and the guys will start circling and they’ll have to sift through 100,000 messages at a time. For a guy you have to try to be witty, intelligent, cool, then post up action pics and send out all kinds of messages and feelers and make sure to craft them in a certain way…
…sorry, WAY too much work. I’d rather just introduce myself to someone and say “Hi, I’m John.”
That is, if I went out…
BEHIND THE SCENES
Whoa, we finally got past all my complaining. Yeah!
Wait, no we didn’t. To hell with my personal life let’s talk (complain) about this comic.
This is the looooongest comic I ever did for this site. It took me about a month to do it, and I kept stopping because I thought it was too stupid to post, then I’d say to myself “nonsense! this comic isn’t stupid, I’ve posted way stupider than this!” So the show went on.
I searched for a lot of reference images to try to match that silver age of comics feel from the first part of the comic:
The only problem is once I start looking for comics on the web it turns into a 4-hour surf fest and I lose track of what I’m supposed to be doing. So add a few more days to the tally for that.
Here’s a look at some of the pencil work on this one:
Working on this comic I realized that my scanner is starting to go on me. When I scan the ink work the lines get a lot thicker, so what you see on the screen doesn’t really look like what I drew. I found it to be quite annoying, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. This is the best tabloid scanner I can afford right now, and I wouldn’t pay $1,000 for a better one unless I was actually making money doing these comics.
Anyway check out the inked version of these panels here:
For the color work on the first part of the comic, I tried to simulate the faded color aspect of those old comics by laying a halftone dot pattern over the art to make it look like those old four color printed where the different plates might not line up exactly and you’d see some magenta or cyan dots out in the white space. To add to this, I looked up some old newsprint textures and threw that in there as well, to make it look kind of vintage.
PUSHING THE LIMITS
I really hit the edge making this one. I colored it panel by panel in Photoshop, but in Illustrator I hit the wall. I would normally make one long document, but it will only make a document that is 16383px tall. The final comic is actually 21600px tall!! Holy crap. So I had to break it up into 6 pages using Illustrator’s “Multiple Artboards” feature. Normally I avoided this feature like the plague, but I have to admit it really helped me out this time. I can see why people like it.
It really worked out well for making the comics ready for Scribd and Slideshare, too, so I’m glad I did it a different way.
SCRIBD, SLIDESHARE, AND YOU
So as you can see, I did something different this time by supplying a couple of different ways to read this. I did it for these reasons.
1. I wanted people to have a choice in how to read this absurdly long comic
2. I wanted to make it easier for people to share it
Normally, I don’t get much traction out of my comics. The most logical explanation is that people just aren’t moved to share them, but at the same time I didn’t exactly make it easy, either. So to correct that, I put them up on Scribd and Slideshare. What I’m hoping is that if you liked it, it might be easier for you to share with your friends or add it to your own site if you can just click the embed code and be on your way.
I noticed the slideshare embeds really good on your Facebook profile but NOT on your fan page. On your profile, the whole thing embeds right in there, but on your page it comes in just as a pretty unattractive garden-variety link. I emailed Slideshare about it and they told me they were re-working their Facebook app so that it worked consistently. Hopefully that is done soon because I would love to share my comics on my Facebook page that way.
If you preferred one way over the other please let me know which way and why in the comments. I’m very interested in your opinions on this.
THE WRAP UP
Well, I’m 40 years old. Now what?
More like, so what? I’m just gonna keep doing the things I do. I’m trying to up my game and create some really kick ass artwork, which will hopefully help me realize some projects I’ve had kicking around for a very long time.
I plan to start back up with my youtube videos as well. I haven’t made one for a very long time and yet people are still subscribing. I feel pretty bad so I need to rectify that.
For those of you who made it all the way down here despite my complaining, thanks a lot. I don’t think I’ll get that personal on the site again, so it should be safe from now on. If you found this comic and post worthy of sharing, I’d like to ask you guys to please do so, I would definitely appreciate it.
So until next time, onward and upward!