Ţ̴̙͔̈̋̂̂͟ḣ̩̜̖̤̍́ḛ̥̯̮ͣͣ̏ͩ̎̂ͧŗ̶͕͇͎͆ͭ̆͆͜é̟͚̆̃ͭ̔ͦ̔͆͠ ̻̺͉̆̇̔͠ĭ̝͙ͦ̅ͥͬͤ͜͝ͅs̹̬͂̉ͯ͗̌ͨ͞ ̙̭͖̱̊͌n̶̮͇̪̞̣͐̃͡o̯͉͓͕̍̍́ͨ̅̃̑ͭ̀̕t̛̹̠ͥ͋̐ḩ̥̲̣͕͙̥̓̄̏͋̔͛́͡ị̻̣̲̤̈̐̿̔̍ͫ̊ņ̸̺̼͉̲̯ͯ̑̿ͭ̾̾͑ͬͯ͘g͉̱͇̱̺̰̖̓ͭ̐͐͒͊̓̃̏ ̢̪̳͉̚͡ͅa̴̟̟̬̳̣͍͇͔̓ͯ̎̒̓ͩ̕n͓̲̰͂͐̑̄͟d̞̘̭̤̖̬̺̓̈́̋̆͢ͅ ͂̇͒͛̒͋͏̞̳̖̯̕͝ͅý͎̠̫̃̆̾̌o̶̒̾͐͌҉͓̻̞̜u̶̼̘̩̮͉͋ͦͦ̓̉̈͗͋ ̯̬̞͍̖̺̺̠̒̓ͨ̑̿a̞̣̺ͤͧ̉r̶̰̜̰̲͙̬̻̅͞ȅ͙̌ͭ̈̎͟ ͎̂ͣ͠ͅn̴̖͚̺̲̠̈́ͬ͑ͧ̓ͫͨ̑̉̕oͮͬ̒̃̓͏̱͔̀t̸̩̯͇̲̅̄̌h̹͇̜̺̱͌̆̅ͨ̀͒ỉ̡̲̝͕̭̖̏̀̓̋͒̈̉ṋ̜͎͇̹̮̭̝̊̊̀̕g̗͈ͧ̌ͮͮ̈̾ͯ͌ͅ.̵̗̩͙̞̃̃̈͛̎ ̠̯͕̦̗̋͐̑̐ͣ̎L̪̖̬̪̘̞̮͐̒Ȏ̤̮̝̟͈̾̊̋̊ͮ͢͠ͅO̴̬̫̪̙̬͙̦̐ͧ̏͐̽ͬͯK̢̘͚͖ͧ̋͒͐̒ͨ̐ ̠͓̱̠͎̌́͠B̞̠͙̙͉͔͖͈̑̈́̈̈͗̂ͫ̽E̓̔̎͞͏̙̦Ỵ̳̤̭̮͕͚̼̆ͮͩͣͅO͈̫̼͙͉̟͇͉̊̆̐̔ͮͬͯN̏̆͐̈҉͓̥͚̦̜̩͎͈͇͡D̯̮̩̣̘̙̝̝̮̃̇̕͡ ̖̦͓ͤͦͧ̐̋ͧ͞Ṯ̴̻̹͚͓̣ͫH̙̩̤̹̠͕̰̠̽ͪ͡ͅẸ̢̺͍̜̒͠ ̃̌̾ͧ͢͠҉͎̫V̟͙͎̈̃ͮ̈́̒̌Ę̩͕̣̯̤̓̑̽̆͋̀͟I̸̴͕͔͎̗̜̭̽̉̊̔̐̚Lͣ̈͆̎ͫ͏̴҉̱̻̝̹̹͓ ̽̓ͫͭͯ͋̑̕҉̦̠̦͕͘Ä̧̛̠̯̝̙̦̟͔́͛̈́ͅTͣ̂́̔͑ͩ҉̡̰̠̘͍̘̣̜̟̯̕ ͉͎̥̹̺̬͂̊̓̋̉̕͞Y̤̭͎̪͉̓ͭ̒͌ͤ͑̾̑O̷͖̳͎͖̜͚͕ͯ͊̓̂͊͗ͭ́U̧̖̱͎͎̱͈ͧ̽́ͭͦͮͨ̈́̚R̯̮̗̟͇̙̔̿̎͆̓ͤ͢ ̙̫͈͐͟͡O͍̣͓͉̮̜̞̣ͫ̌̾͗ͅW̶̯̞̻̤̜̩̗͎ͦͥ͠Ṅ̻̻̫̲̭̙̅ͬ̎́ ̓́̽͋ͥͥ͂̎̚͠҉͕̯̩̟̳̥̣͖̕ͅP̣̺̖͖̦͉͋͘Ê̫͎͆̉ͨ͋͌̈̓͢R̴̗̓̈̏̑͌̌͑͗Į̩͎̞̤̠͖͎̬ͦ̄ͨ͊̾̉̆͢͝L̲̮̼̻̙̯̻̟̋̚.̭̱͕̹̰͔̱̞͇̂̇͌ͫ͘͞ ̛͕̪̭̙̬͙̜ͯ̂̽̏̋͑̚͢͜T̶̠͔͇͇̠̺̯͔̀ͭ͗̂ͦͨ̓͜ͅų͈̻͍͍͔̊̎ͤͤ̎̑ͮ̆r̴̼͇͒ͣ͌̈͒͟ͅn͙̹̝͙ͮ͗̈̄ ̨̟͍͇̝͑ͯ̍̊̔a̠̖ͬ͢w̴̝̯̭̞̞̿ͣ͞a͛ͤ҉͚̠̺͙͖̖̲͡ͅy̵̖͎͔͓̫̬̺̤̋ͮ̂̋͜ ̝͓̃̏̓ͤ̆͟n̻̻͍̳̼̆͋͜͡ŏ̃ͪ̌͆̊̈́҉̫̬̘w̰͍ͮ̑̚͘.̝͙͈̖͋̂ ̶̧̟̭̤͙̭̤͈ͤ͒ͮͫ̐̊̒̐D̴̨̢̰̺̳̹̤̠̘͎̠͒ͫ̿͒͗̚o̵̙͚͍̗̙̰͂̅͂ͨ̂̿̓ͅ ̨͇̬͙̤̅͐͐̈̀n̴͓̬̲̺̔̈́̔͛̑͊͒ó̧͍̭t̹̘̒͗̎ͣ͠ ̼̹̭̙̉̉͗͆̉̎̇͐͘͞q̨̞͍̰̝͚̖̥̦̐ͧ͋͛̚͡ͅu̡̦͖͎͔͋̽͢͝ḙ̭̫̬̗̏̏s̴̫̯̠͕͚̄̌̎͐̆͢t̷̤͎̉̐͘ͅḯ̭̘̟̭ͧo͔͓̻ͭ̊̓̄́͞ͅn̶̢͇̺̙͔̥̞̺̲̩͒̈͜.͚͚͚̪̜̇̂ͤ͆ ̶͓̳͖̮̱̙̥͛͌ͮ̀͗ͪ̀̐O͎̳̫͎̮̯̗̫͕ͫ̓ͦͥ̀͠ñ̛̖̯̗͔͗l̰̮̺̯͒͛ͪ̌͝ý̧̠ͥ ̩̹ͩ̑͜e̬͉̙̺̝ͦͫ̌̀m͈͆̉̓ͫ̌͌̽̍ͅb͖̩̳̩̟̲̮ͪ̅ͯ̈̾͛̚r͊͞҉͍̳̣á̡̳̘̗̒ͮ̾͌ͦ̓̄͜cͪ͐ͨͪ͏̶͇͇e̠̺͔͉͙̿͊̆̑͐.̪̜̭͇̲̩̥́̀
This comic is dedicated to our friend, Todd, who is awesome whenever an opportunity presents itself–or doesn’t–and who is also fairly open about being asexual. Ramen Empire has never been great at separating real people from the characters that parody them, and in that sense, it’s a journal comic. But Todd the friend is also Todd the character in a way that is much more direct than any of the other parallels that my friends will see in the strips. The running joke in our little circle is that Todd is some sort of evil spirit who can shadow-step great distances, see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake–yeah, he’s basically terrifying Santa, with better hair. He gets a kick out of those jokes, so I want comic-Todd to be an embodiment of those creepy horror elements that he seems to embrace.
In celebration of such an amiable friend, I want a big theme of one of Afterglow’s arcs to be asexual awareness, and Todd (the character) is our foil for that. That’s… probably not going to be obvious for a while, but Twilight as subject material for parody, though dated, was a very deliberate choice. There are a lot of really cool, asexual figures in literature that aren’t thought of as such, and I think at least some people are so bent out of shape by stories like Twilight because of the overly sexual appropriation of those figures. If you’re sick of vampires, no worries. That’s not what Todd is. He might not be anything more than a special effects expert. After all, those could have been rubber bats, LED lights, and a vivid, deliberately triggered hallucination. Other explanations for what was witnessed above are outlandish.
Panel Four is our love letter to Redminus’s Nyan Caxx video. I apologize for nothing, except, perhaps, making a special Photoshop brush shaped like a Vlad-the-Impaler victim.