Never fear, dear readers, we aren’t jumping the shark and adding an adorable little animal to our cast of characters any time soon. We considered it for a couple of minutes, but then we were reminded of some fundamental truths of the universe and nipped the idea in the bud as fast as we possibly could.
We had some people join our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter during the last week, which pleases me greatly. For those of you that have reservations, fear not! We may create a weekly comic endorsing madness, but we’re actually very mild-mannered and will probably not stalk you. In exchange for joining, we promise to not flood your newsfeed with boring, egotistical posts about our every musing and bowel movement; you will, however, get exclusive preview images of the upcoming comic in progress. What’s that? More of Marc Matters’ artwork? Yes, please!
I’ll save you the time: did we just do a comic making fun of charity? The answer is yes. Oh, don’t give me that hurt look. What website did you think you were visiting right now?
There has been some surprising feedback regarding the punchline of last week’s comic. To be more specific, the surprising feedback is that an alarming number of people mistakenly believed our final panel to be a depiction of nonconsensual sexual intercourse between Kevin and Emrys. This is known as an artistic malfunction, and anyone who draws regularly is all too familiar with such a predicament.
When I was studying graphic design in college, I had to design a t-shirt for the July 4th fireworks. I designed an image with fiery rockets flying up into the night sky. I felt my final product was strong, and took it into my class for critique and hung it up on the wall. The professor walked into the classroom, took one look at my illustration, and remarked, “This is kind of phallic.”
In that moment, I looked at my work, the illustration I had stared at for hours while creating, but only then did I truly see what my hands had wrought. What I had submitted for my project was a sexually charged image complete with a massive, red, erect penis and a condom of purple flames surrounding it. All things considered, I guess it’s good that my subconscious practices safe sex.
The point is, this was completely unintentional, unless you found it to be particularly funny, in which case,we totally did this on purpose and you are a terrible person. In all seriousness though, we don’t find rape especially humorous, unless it’s the Handbanana episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. It’s unlikely we’ll do a comic involving it.
Special thanks to our friends Magravan and Skrael over at The Other Grey Meat for putting Sunday Smash up on their link page. You should check their comic out. I’ve been reading it since almost the very beginning. It’s a very unique zombie apocalypse story and it never disappoints.
I guess it’s our tradition to do comics about employment for the first strip of the new year? This was unintentional, but it seems it worked out that way. We had a guest writer this week: my good friend, Emrys Smith. Normally his name would contain a link to a website where you could check out a different project of his and lob your digital underwear upon his stage as you would a rock star, but that scalawag has nothing to link to.
At any rate, Happy New Year. I decided to get the year started off right with massive sleep deprivation at the annual New Years Eve LAN party I attend. I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep, the epic amount of caffeinated beverages I consumed, or just the fact that it was the end of the year, but in between games, I spent some time reflecting on the past year. Of course, I was playing games nearly the entire time, so my pondering of 2010 was constantly interrupted and never shifted from my favorite entertainment, but who comes to Sunday Smash to read inspirational messages?
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: I feel bad for everyone involved with this movie, because this is one example of where a film deserved so much more than it got. It barely spent any time in theaters and most people didn’t bother to see it, but it was easily the most fun I had watching a movie this year.
The Walking Dead: I only read this series in the hardcover collections that come out, so I am never current with it, but the sixth hardcover is another great addition to my book shelf. The TV series had an incredibly promising start, but the momentum steadily tapered off as the season continued. It’s still worth watching, even if it’s nowhere close to as good as Robert Kirkman’s comic series.
The Amazing Spider-Man: The Brand New Day direction continued to be impressive, especially considering that a new issue came out three times a month. When my DCBSshipment arrives monthly, the hardcover collections are what I anticipate reading the most.
The more I play League of Legends and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the more I think 2011 may be the year where I switch back to single player/offline games exclusively. I enjoy playing LoL with my friends, but I weary of randomly assigned teammates not playing their roles appropriately and then behaving as though it’s a travesty when we lose. It’s an excellent game, but its hostile community brings me ever closer toward playing only once a week on our LoL team night.
I’m beginning to have the same feelings about Cataclysm. I am sick of higher level Horde players attacking me while I’m trying to turn in quests. Seriously, Blizzard, World of Warcraft has been out for six years now and you care so little for your story that you do nothing to protect players who are trying to enjoy it? There needs to be some kind of penalty for attacking players at quest turn in points. Either the quest giving NPCs need to deal instant death to the attacker, or a massive debuff needs to be applied to the offending player; I’m thinking something to the effect of a 20% stat decrease that lasts for a period of 24 hours. The debuff is probably the best idea, because it would hit them where it hurts, preventing them from raiding or being effective in battlegrounds. I’ve just about had it with having to examine item stats while keeping an eye out for 14 year-old morons who think it’s hilarious to kill people trying to play the actual game.
Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day. Since you, our readers, have given so much to us this last year, we asked ourselves what we could do to give back. We wanted to offer you a practical gift, something no one else could offer, so we immediately eschewed scented candles from consideration. We sat down and pondered what it is that Sunday Smash has that no one else can claim, when we realized we have a fully sentient gorilla. After deciding against gorilla scented candles, it suddenly struck us that a gorilla’s perspective on life might allow for nuggets of life-improving wisdom human beings never considered. Thus, the advice column, Ask Marc was born.
We started a thread on the Comicfury forum under webcomic discussion called “Need Advice?”, offering help to whomever may desire it. Comicfurian Biophysicist fired off his Bat Signal, and today we gladly offer advice for his hopeless romantic ways. We hope that your life is enriched. Best of luck there, guy.
Anyway, we’d be willing to make this a regular feature. Leave comments letting us know if this is something you enjoy. Ask Marc also will not continue without real problems for us to address. Message us with any advice for problems weighing heavily upon your mind.
We don’t’ mention it often, but we have a Facebook page and a Twitter. If you would like to see more Ask Marc in the future, like us on Facebook and put your requests for advice there, or PM us on Comicfury. Unfortunately, neither of us checks the forums very often. In a perfect world, we would, but in a perfect world I wouldn’t have a full time job, a World of Warcraft addiction, and a desire to drink expensive beer all contending for pieces of my day.
The release of the X-Men arcade game for X-Box Live Arcade and PS3 this week gave us the perfect excuse to do a comic featuring some of my favorite comic book characters of all time. In 1992, the X-Men arcade game devoured a good deal of my money at the local arcade. At the time, it was revolutionary; certain models of the cabinet (the one my arcade had) featured two screens side by side and the potential for six players to fight Magneto cooperatively.
By today’s standards, X-Men is a very simple beat’em up side scrolling game, but it’s the best of that genre. The game features the all-gravy classic Chris Claremont/John Byrne team: Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Storm. Oh, and Dazzler’s in there for some reason, too. Everything about the game is set in what is, in my mind, the best era of the X-Men. Sadly, my continuous run of Uncanny X-Men is from issues 297-343, long after that point in time, but I caught up on many of the classic stories through reprints and trade paperbacks.
The X-Men franchise seems to polarize comic fans unlike any other series. People either love them or hate them, and one of the reasons cited is the long, convoluted history and continuity heavy stories riddled with retcons like swiss cheese has holes. Also, from time to time, truly abominable creators have taken the reins; I’m sure that doesn’t help anything. Even Claremont, the legend, wasn’t perfect. For anyone who has never read an X-Men comic before and would like to give the comics a shot, these are some of the storylines that will do you no wrong. Most of these are pretty easy to find collections of.
The Dark Phoenix Saga (Uncanny X-Men #129-138): Skip X-Men: The Last Stand and pick up a copy of the trade paperback the movie was based on. This is a cliche story to have on a list of X-Men classics, but that’s because it’s so good.
Days of Future Past (Uncanny X-Men #141, 142): Before dystopian futures were available at Sam’s Club, Claremont and Byrne created a future of the human race enslaved by the robot Sentinels with only a few X-Men remaining alive to fight back. The story of their final adventure is still great decades later.
God Loves, Man Kills (Marvel Graphic Novel #5): This story is one of the greatest ones to use mutants as a metaphor for racial relations and bigotry. Instead of a powerful super villain, the X-Men and Magneto team up to stop Reverend Stryker from killing all mutants in the name of misguided religion.
E Is For Extinction (New X-Men #114-116): In 2001, Grant Morrison completely revamped the X-Men. The story focused on a much smaller cast of characters, and was more accessible to people who hadn’t read X-Men at all in their 40 years of existence.
Riot At Xavier’s (New X-Men #135-138): Another excellent Grant Morrison X-Men story, possibly his best. One of the students at the Xavier Institute rejects the X-Men’s goal of peaceful human and mutant coexistence and goes on a rampage attempting to kill human guests visiting the Institute. Not everything Morrison did was good, but E Is For Extinction and Riot At Xavier’s are both great X-Men stories.
Gifted (Astonishing X-Men #1-6): Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wrote his first X-Men story. I quit reading comics after the mid 90′s Onslaught storyline, and this is the story that brought me back.
Torn (Astonishing X-Men #13-18): Another great Whedon story focusing on Cyclops and Emma Frost. Before this, it was rare to see Cyclops as an interesting, well developed character. This is a story that makes the first X-Man likable.
Before signing off, I should probably mention that I think today’s comic is some of Marc’s finest art on Smash to date. Excelsior!
Not to trivialize the word of God, but Proverbs 26:11 comes to mind in regard to my recent life decisions. As a dog returns to its vomit, so again I take up World of Warcraft.
I was truly enjoying the WoW free lifestyle as Wrath of the Lich King content steadily grew less and less appealing. I dusted off my Wii, finished several DS games, watched two seasons of Dr. Who, and read a lot of Batman and Spider-Man comics. Then Cataclysm’s launch day arrived and I felt a deep emptiness coupled with unbearable pain inside of me. Heroin addicts probably understand what I’m talking about. One quick trip to Best Buy later and now Blizzard has more of my money.
As the installation completed, I logged in to see Shutendownen, my level 80 draenei shaman, waiting for me. I half expected to log in, finish a couple of quests, discover it was merely more of the same, and quit. If only that were the case. The fundamental mechanics are more or less unchanged. Quests revolve around killing a certain number of specific enemies (aka genocide), fetch quests, etc. The changes to the game, however, make it feel like I am playing something fresh.
Unfortunately, I work 40 hours a week and have other things I have to do in my free time, so I haven’t gotten incredibly far in Cataclysm. The old world of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms have been destroyed and I have barely experienced any of the broken world as of yet. I accepted a quest in Stormwind to go to a new island the shattering pushed up from the sea. As I boarded the boat to go to the island, I prepared myself for yet another quest of slaying Orcs to secure resources for the Alliance, when suddenly a kraken burst forth and destroyed my ship while I was dragged away by naga. Long story short, this leads to a series of quests in the underwater zone Vashj’ir, which feels incredibly fresh, despite its saltwater content.
Cataclysm is more story driven than any WoW expansion before it. By this I mean that it has any story whatsoever, but I’m actually interested in what’s going on and I take the time to actually read everything that pops up in game now. Despite WoW’s increasingly dated graphics, Vashj’ir is beautiful and a lot of fun to explore, especially since with swimming, it seems like I can actually go anywhere. Of course, since I’m playing right after launch, I’m in zones filled with other players, which makes completing quest objectives difficult sometimes due to limited numbers of mobs and quest items. I also have to deal with annoying Horde players who decide it would be fun to gank me while I’m turning in quests, but I haven’t’ had a whole lot of problems with it yet. More people seem interested in questing and experiencing the new areas than being in being obnoxious and starting blood feuds.
Despite this, I was managing the balance of my personal life and WoW just fine, until last night when I rolled worgen. That’s when everything kind of fell apart.
The opening chain of quests for worgen emphasizes Blizzard’s desire to add engrossing storytelling to WoW, complete with cutscenes. I began as a human warrior defending the city of Gilneas from a worgen attack. Early on in the quest, I was attacked and bitten; eventually I transformed into what is essentially a werewolf. And so, Wolvie the worgen was born!
Now I am back to my old ways. My eyes are red and dry, I have a dull headache, at some point last night I realized it was 4am, and I’m once again procrastinating on things like peeing. Congratulations, Blizzard on ruining another life. Again.
If the saying “truth is funnier than fiction” is accurate, then today’s comic is hi-friggen-larious. Some liberties were taken of course. My mutant power does not apply to all dogs, merely lap dogs, which are (in my mind) the last dogs I want to assert this influence over. It is an inexplicable phenomenon. Many of the dogs I affect do not have this problem with any other person, and are in fact housebroken. Yet, somehow, I appear as an enormous fire hydrant to them, inspiring the only form of materialism their kind knows: marking territory. Let it be known: canine ownership over me is fiercely contested and the war continues daily. Even now, the soldiers prepare their biological weapons to declare supremacy over all dog kind.
It never used to make sense to me that characters in the X-Men universe could despise their mutant powers. Rogue always made such a huge deal out of not being able to touch people without draining their energy and injuring them, but that doesn’t sound so bad. I value my personal space, but am rarely afforded it; frequently acquaintances and total strangers feel the only space suitable to them is what I consider “way too darn close.” There’s nothing able to enforce it like a death touch for those who don’t give me a wide berth. I might actually go out on Black Friday once and see what it’s all about, maybe get me some deals.
After my own latent mutant powers finally manifested themselves though, it’s a different story. It’s quite the burden, seeing an adorable little puppy, wanting to pick it up, and having to wait while it jumps up on my leg eagerly until it finally relieves itself on the floor as my powers kick in. I kneel down and pat them gently on the head and ask, “Are you done now Captain Puddles?” Then and only then am I free to pick up the puppy. Even as I pet it behind the ears and it happily licks my face, I am left wondering how long until I feel the all-too-familiar warm wet feeling move slowly down my arms and into my shirt? This power is my gift and curse. I struggle to learn to control it before the yellow tides blanket the Earth and humanity with it in a malodorous wave.
I’m aware that it may be incredibly hip to despise Walmart, but today I will join ranks with the hipsters to decry the villainy of the evil empire and expose their sins. And these sins are numerous, vast, even legion.
Don’t misunderstand me. I have no interest in exposing sweat shop scandals, employee mistreatment, or other ways Walmart uses questionable ethics to cut corners in an effort to deliver unto us the lowest price. These are concerns that are better expressed by others, and I’ll leave that up to them. What I am going to bring up today is that I am incapable of recalling ever having a positive Walmart shopping experience, and most of this is due to the staff. While normally I would refuse to ever return to an establishment that treats me how Walmart inevitably does every single time, the unfortunate truth is that there really isn’t much in the way of competition in the area in which I live. I jump at the opportunity to patronize locally owned businesses for whatever I can; there just aren’t very many of them anymore.
Let’s start with the beginning, shall we?
The first thing that I notice every time I enter my local Walmart is the greeter. I smile and say hello, but to hear them tell it, this might be the worst job in the world. To get them to even look at me, I have to dance around them while they turn about every which way to avoid eye contact. I’m not sure why this is difficult. I would say I’m a solid 7 to an 8 out of 10, so it’s not like my visage is unappealing to the eyes. And heaven forbid they manage to grunt a hello. I really need to find a way to get in on this sweet gig. I cannot think of a job outside of Walmart where an employee is permitted to show such apathy in regards to their job and still retain it.
So I did manage to get the greeter to acknowledge me, even if it took me tackling them and pinning them to the floor while they screamed that I was sexually assaulting them. More like assaulting them with friendliness while I gently nuzzled their gender inappropriate whiskers. After security hauled me off of them and threw me out, I returned with a fake mustache to attempt re-entry. Success! Now to find the items which required I come to this armpit of a store.
This would probably be a lot easier if the store shelves weren’t rearranged on a biweekly basis. Every time I walk into Walmart, I resign myself to a minimum 20 minutes of aimless wandering looking for what I want. I’m not one of those proud men who refuses to ask for directions when he needs help either. I used to stop and knock on the doors of strangers’ houses so frequently as a teen that my parents finally bought a cell phone for the car so that if I lost my way I could call and get directions from someone they knew would not drag me into their house and keep me like a pet in a cage located in a dark unfinished basement filled with the bones of previous “pets” the owners had forgotten and neglected.
The reason for all the aimless wandering is that the staff are either completely clueless or just have no interest in helping anyone. When asked where something is, they’ll vaguely direct me by waving their hand about, as though pointing and identifying an exact direction with a single stationary finger in a pattern that narrows it down from three-quarters of the store would cause a magical shark to leap out and bite off their index finger. No, it’s cool. I can find this on my own.
Assuming I even found what I came for, the two front attack at the checkout from employees and my fellow customers is an all out assault on my sanity. There are never enough lanes open, and somehow I’m always behind that guy who doesn’t know how to use a credit card. The clerk can’t be bothered to just swipe the card for them, either. No, this is tutorial time, never mind the increasingly long line building up behind them. Couple this with the fact that I am nearly always on my lunch break, and my impatience mounts. A low growl builds in my throat as my eyes widen with fury. By the time I finally make it to the checkout and the clerk apologizes for the wait, it’s all I can do to croak an “It’s alright.”
I understand that Walmart’s treatment of its employees isn’t exactly stellar and that they are underpaid and not given much recognition, appreciation, or incentive to perform, but isn’t that how most jobs are? The rest of us are still required to do our jobs, no matter how unsavory. It only seems fair that they do the same.