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Ţ̴̙͔̈̋̂̂͟ḣ̩̜̖̤̍́ḛ̥̯̮ͣͣ̏ͩ̎̂ͧŗ̶͕͇͎͆ͭ̆͆͜é̟͚̆̃ͭ̔ͦ̔͆͠ ̻̺͉̆̇̔͠ĭ̝͙ͦ̅ͥͬͤ͜͝ͅs̹̬͂̉ͯ͗̌ͨ͞ ̙̭͖̱̊͌n̶̮͇̪̞̣͐̃͡o̯͉͓͕̍̍́ͨ̅̃̑ͭ̀̕t̛̹̠ͥ͋̐ḩ̥̲̣͕͙̥̓̄̏͋̔͛́͡ị̻̣̲̤̈̐̿̔̍ͫ̊ņ̸̺̼͉̲̯ͯ̑̿ͭ̾̾͑ͬͯ͘g͉̱͇̱̺̰̖̓ͭ̐͐͒͊̓̃̏ ̢̪̳͉̚͡ͅa̴̟̟̬̳̣͍͇͔̓ͯ̎̒̓ͩ̕n͓̲̰͂͐̑̄͟d̞̘̭̤̖̬̺̓̈́̋̆͢ͅ ͂̇͒͛̒͋͏̞̳̖̯̕͝ͅý͎̠̫̃̆̾̌o̶̒̾͐͌҉͓̻̞̜u̶̼̘̩̮͉͋ͦͦ̓̉̈͗͋ ̯̬̞͍̖̺̺̠̒̓ͨ̑̿a̞̣̺ͤͧ̉r̶̰̜̰̲͙̬̻̅͞ȅ͙̌ͭ̈̎͟ ͎̂ͣ͠ͅn̴̖͚̺̲̠̈́ͬ͑ͧ̓ͫͨ̑̉̕oͮͬ̒̃̓͏̱͔̀t̸̩̯͇̲̅̄̌h̹͇̜̺̱͌̆̅ͨ̀͒ỉ̡̲̝͕̭̖̏̀̓̋͒̈̉ṋ̜͎͇̹̮̭̝̊̊̀̕g̗͈ͧ̌ͮͮ̈̾ͯ͌ͅ.̵̗̩͙̞̃̃̈͛̎ ̠̯͕̦̗̋͐̑̐ͣ̎L̪̖̬̪̘̞̮͐̒Ȏ̤̮̝̟͈̾̊̋̊ͮ͢͠ͅO̴̬̫̪̙̬͙̦̐ͧ̏͐̽ͬͯK̢̘͚͖ͧ̋͒͐̒ͨ̐ ̠͓̱̠͎̌́͠B̞̠͙̙͉͔͖͈̑̈́̈̈͗̂ͫ̽E̓̔̎͞͏̙̦Ỵ̳̤̭̮͕͚̼̆ͮͩͣͅO͈̫̼͙͉̟͇͉̊̆̐̔ͮͬͯN̏̆͐̈҉͓̥͚̦̜̩͎͈͇͡D̯̮̩̣̘̙̝̝̮̃̇̕͡ ̖̦͓ͤͦͧ̐̋ͧ͞Ṯ̴̻̹͚͓̣ͫH̙̩̤̹̠͕̰̠̽ͪ͡ͅẸ̢̺͍̜̒͠ ̃̌̾ͧ͢͠҉͎̫V̟͙͎̈̃ͮ̈́̒̌Ę̩͕̣̯̤̓̑̽̆͋̀͟I̸̴͕͔͎̗̜̭̽̉̊̔̐̚Lͣ̈͆̎ͫ͏̴҉̱̻̝̹̹͓ ̽̓ͫͭͯ͋̑̕҉̦̠̦͕͘Ä̧̛̠̯̝̙̦̟͔́͛̈́ͅTͣ̂́̔͑ͩ҉̡̰̠̘͍̘̣̜̟̯̕ ͉͎̥̹̺̬͂̊̓̋̉̕͞Y̤̭͎̪͉̓ͭ̒͌ͤ͑̾̑O̷͖̳͎͖̜͚͕ͯ͊̓̂͊͗ͭ́U̧̖̱͎͎̱͈ͧ̽́ͭͦͮͨ̈́̚R̯̮̗̟͇̙̔̿̎͆̓ͤ͢ ̙̫͈͐͟͡O͍̣͓͉̮̜̞̣ͫ̌̾͗ͅW̶̯̞̻̤̜̩̗͎ͦͥ͠Ṅ̻̻̫̲̭̙̅ͬ̎́ ̓́̽͋ͥͥ͂̎̚͠҉͕̯̩̟̳̥̣͖̕ͅP̣̺̖͖̦͉͋͘Ê̫͎͆̉ͨ͋͌̈̓͢R̴̗̓̈̏̑͌̌͑͗Į̩͎̞̤̠͖͎̬ͦ̄ͨ͊̾̉̆͢͝L̲̮̼̻̙̯̻̟̋̚.̭̱͕̹̰͔̱̞͇̂̇͌ͫ͘͞ ̛͕̪̭̙̬͙̜ͯ̂̽̏̋͑̚͢͜T̶̠͔͇͇̠̺̯͔̀ͭ͗̂ͦͨ̓͜ͅų͈̻͍͍͔̊̎ͤͤ̎̑ͮ̆r̴̼͇͒ͣ͌̈͒͟ͅn͙̹̝͙ͮ͗̈̄ ̨̟͍͇̝͑ͯ̍̊̔a̠̖ͬ͢w̴̝̯̭̞̞̿ͣ͞a͛ͤ҉͚̠̺͙͖̖̲͡ͅy̵̖͎͔͓̫̬̺̤̋ͮ̂̋͜ ̝͓̃̏̓ͤ̆͟n̻̻͍̳̼̆͋͜͡ŏ̃ͪ̌͆̊̈́҉̫̬̘w̰͍ͮ̑̚͘.̝͙͈̖͋̂ ̶̧̟̭̤͙̭̤͈ͤ͒ͮͫ̐̊̒̐D̴̨̢̰̺̳̹̤̠̘͎̠͒ͫ̿͒͗̚o̵̙͚͍̗̙̰͂̅͂ͨ̂̿̓ͅ ̨͇̬͙̤̅͐͐̈̀n̴͓̬̲̺̔̈́̔͛̑͊͒ó̧͍̭t̹̘̒͗̎ͣ͠ ̼̹̭̙̉̉͗͆̉̎̇͐͘͞q̨̞͍̰̝͚̖̥̦̐ͧ͋͛̚͡ͅu̡̦͖͎͔͋̽͢͝ḙ̭̫̬̗̏̏s̴̫̯̠͕͚̄̌̎͐̆͢t̷̤͎̉̐͘ͅḯ̭̘̟̭ͧo͔͓̻ͭ̊̓̄́͞ͅn̶̢͇̺̙͔̥̞̺̲̩͒̈͜.͚͚͚̪̜̇̂ͤ͆ ̶͓̳͖̮̱̙̥͛͌ͮ̀͗ͪ̀̐O͎̳̫͎̮̯̗̫͕ͫ̓ͦͥ̀͠ñ̛̖̯̗͔͗l̰̮̺̯͒͛ͪ̌͝ý̧̠ͥ ̩̹ͩ̑͜e̬͉̙̺̝ͦͫ̌̀m͈͆̉̓ͫ̌͌̽̍ͅb͖̩̳̩̟̲̮ͪ̅ͯ̈̾͛̚r͊͞҉͍̳̣á̡̳̘̗̒ͮ̾͌ͦ̓̄͜cͪ͐ͨͪ͏̶͇͇e̠̺͔͉͙̿͊̆̑͐.̪̜̭͇̲̩̥́̀

Various Centers of Attention

Various Centers of Attention published on 4 Comments on Various Centers of Attention

All right, so I’ve given this a monumental amount of thought, and I’ve decided to change the font I use for the comic.

I almost switched over a while ago, because I was reading blogs by professional comic letterers, and chatting with them as time allowed, and reading guides and tutorials on the topic, and learned that I’d been doing a piss-poor job of making the reading of our comic easy and fun. I think the archive shows a really strong tend toward improvement as time goes on, too.

I love the Chinacat font, and the owner was kind enough to let me use it for free. It had the aesthetic I wanted, and I still really like the way it looks. But it wasn’t designed with comic strips in mind, and ultimately, I just can’t use a lower-case font anymore now that I know what leading is and now that I know a little bit about the rules for making a speech balloon. So I’m switching over the one of Blambot’s wonderful fonts (Unmasked) and will be using that indefinitely. It’s an attractive all-caps font that will allow me to better control the shape of my dialogue balloons, and my hope is that the change won’t be so jarring as to make people look at this comic and the comics to come and go, “Gosh, something’s off here…”

This will be especially strange for the Spanish Translation, because I basically use that to practice my lettering (Hey, Max, we miss you buddy!) and they’ll start looking really, really different in terms of lettering as they start to catch up with the English strip. Again, though, my hope is that this will be an improvement.

Hi Res version on Patreon! (free!)

Todd’s Stunt Double Goes to Meetings and We Can’t Show His Face

Todd’s Stunt Double Goes to Meetings and We Can’t Show His Face published on 2 Comments on Todd’s Stunt Double Goes to Meetings and We Can’t Show His Face

So, for reasons I’ve never been fully clear on, the Chinese insist on taking (wildly inappropriate) English names when they come stateside, a problem that Mei Li and Ping are avoiding because someone–presumably Sera or Dr. Wolf–convinced them that May Lee and Ping are perfectly functional American names that don’t make either of them stand out strangely. That said, I’ve known girls named Mei Li in real, actual life who used American names like “Coco Butter” and “Agnes.” The former is a stripper pseudonym and the latter is a Grandma name, and neither really fit the bearers of the name well.

So, while I’m not completely clear on why this happens, I do have a fun theory.

I’ve had a lot of different names given to me by my Chinese friends from year to year–from Fat Ox (which didn’t translate offensively in Chinese but sounds awful in English) to, and I’m being dead serious here, “God’s Weapon-Gift” (武天赐). Names in Chinese have meaning, and people often have more than one name that people actually, for serious use. Not just truncations, like Jo from Jody, but full-on names that describe your character. The aforementioned Coco-Butter had a nickname that translated out into “Five Mouths,” for instance. (I absolutely do not have time to explain why I got the exceptionally regal nickname I listed above.) I suspect that this custom makes the choosing of an English name much less of a serious affair for a visiting Chinese student than it would be to me if I had to choose my own Chinese name–especially since there’s apparently a custom of your friends giving you different names.

With this in mind, however, yes, Cid’s Chinese name is Fat Beard.

Look on my Asians, ye Mighty, and Despair

Look on my Asians, ye Mighty, and Despair published on 4 Comments on Look on my Asians, ye Mighty, and Despair

We’re almost to the end of the first major story arc! =)

Sky is probably in the bathroom cooling off from her fight. *nod*

Boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away. published on 2 Comments on Boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

I really like that goddamn poem.

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I had an argument a year or so back with one of PSU English faculty that the poem would have been better all around if everything after the word remains had been omitted. There’s nothing there, after all, so why does the poem keep going? And her rebuttal was that the form and meter of the poem required those extra few lines. I still maintain that they’re redundant lines, but apparently, there’s not much call for editors to fix classic poems. This is probably a sign that society is fundamentally broken and on the verge of utter collapse.

The Ozymandias of this comic hasn’t built his statue yet, though, so stay tuned.

Pot calling the porcelain racist

Pot calling the porcelain racist published on 1 Comment on Pot calling the porcelain racist

There are only so many things a white guy can write about racism, and most of them are assurances to other white people that, yes, it exists.

But fighting any kind of real problem causes change, and change is painful and personal. Acknowledging systemic racism is the first step to giving up its benefits. Giving up its benefits means approaching something like actual equality. Most people, I think, make racist decisions and judgements every day, and often without realizing it. In media, pay attention for whom the word thug is used. On college campuses and in the public sector, pay attention to how much more difficult bureaucratic tasks are made for non-whites. It will start as a cynical task — no one I know would do this! — and will become equally cynical when you’re finished for the opposite reason.

I think we’re going to go back to being light-hearted for a few comics. These are hard to write, and it’s difficult to think about one of your characters and say, “well, she’s probably racist — at least a little.” These characters come from me, and there’s only so much inner-delving I’m going to do for strangers on the internet. =) (For what it’s worth, I think I spent more time on this comic than Zach did, for once.)

I had to physically stop myself from making one of the other characters explain a political worldview to Sera. There are very few places one can go where the general denizen is savvy and diplomatic enough to solve the sort of problem I’m writing about. Intersectional dialogue is goddamn hard. Different cultures have different assumptions about the world, and use words in vastly different connotative ways. For example, when whites say “racism,” they tend to think about the KKK and other overtly racist groups. They tend to think of terrorist actions–lynchings, death threats, assassinations, and all the other goodness on those lines that peppers U.S. history. Blacks (I generalize reluctantly) tend to mean systemic racism that branches out of basic assumptions–difficulty finding work, difficulty fitting into a university, being stereotyped (for example, being seen instantly as a criminal by law enforcement) — in addition to the full form of the thing. And it’s increasingly becoming taboo to even talk about these things in mixed company.

I have to give a shout out to my old job, though. If any institution on earth could solve a problem like the ones my characters are having, it’s the PSU Writing Center. That may sound odd, but the place really is a haven within a haven.

I’m throwing a shout-out to our Patreon page. We make this comic for free and the advertisements don’t turn any sort of profit, so if you like what we make, please consider a voluntary subscription. Our Patrons get access to the sketches, short stories, splash art, and other stuff we make, and we even produce custom content just for them.

Also, thank you all for putting up with a sketch as an update for a day and a half. =)re_144working copy

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