Folks, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but-
In case you haven’t been steeped in Internet culture for most of your life, let me explain. Cast your mind back to the year 2004 B.F. (Before Facebook). A leap year.
A man with the same name as his father, known today as a war criminal, was soon to be re-elected President of the United States. Ronald Reagan, Marlon Brando and Rick James had passed on. “Social media” and “podcasting” were freshly-coined terms, as was “waterboarding”. I had just been turned down by Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, which I did my best to take in stride, and not be too much of a dick about.
You see, in 2004, if you had a website, and you were funny enough, it didn’t matter if you had a TV show, or a best-selling book. People would find you. They would tell their friends about you. Before you knew it, you were adding bandwidth to handle the attention. You’d gone “viral”, on sites like “Fark”. Your efforts would be validated, and then some.
You could be mentioned in the same breath as South Park, or The Daily Show. You could move up in the world. All from something you created on your home computer, in your free time. If that isn’t the “ultimate goal”, I don’t know what is. I myself have been at it since 1999.
There used to be this site called “The Best Page In The Universe”, created by a guy who called himself “Maddox”, for whatever reason. The site was so funny, you forgave Maddox things like portraying himself as a combination of Che Guevara and a pirate, or talking about the size of his balls. He was a world-class hater, spewing bile and venom about annoying cultural trends, better than just about anyone else. As Internet shit-talkers go, he was the one to beat.
Maddox ridiculed “Crocs” on his site in 2007, and Croc stock dropped 36%. Remember “Orbitz”? Not the drink with the colored balls floating in it, the travel booking company, with the horrific “Don’t Think Twice” ads. Orbitz sold Maddox an impossible itinerary, and his online wrath was so brutal, Orbitz had to address him by name in a form letter to their customers. Such was the power of Maddox the underdog.
Those of us who admired Maddox expected bigger and better things of him. It seemed inevitable that this Ute geek would continue to best and surpass himself. He was leagues smarter than his would-be rivals, like “Lowtax”, creator of the perpetual disappointment “Something Awful” and its broken forum teeming with catladies and pedophiles. Maddox posted a photo of himself in Thailand with a pair of ladyboys, practically daring you to try and bust on him. He made public appearances in a crown and royal cape.
For a good while, it kinda worked. So what happened?
Welp, in a way, success happened, and success can be a double-edged sword. Wait- don’t swords have edges on both sides anyway? Allow me to use another metaphor.
A broken clock is right twice a day. Unless it’s digital. Then it’s just broken.
Maddox had an update on his site, which I can no longer find, where he boasted about meeting with an executive from “Spike TV” regarding a prospective show. He boasted of going to a bar and ordering an “old fashioned”, as they discussed producing what would be the manliest show ever.
That’s what folks in the biz refer to as “trying too hard”. Wow, you went to a bar and ordered a drink! You’re a big boy, aren’t ya?
On many occasions over the past four years, I’ve worked the back door at a bar on Moreland Avenue here in Atlanta, checking IDs. In 2010, after the worst breakup of my life, I drank four rum & cokes a night over several months, figuring I’d either toughen up or die. Obviously I didn’t die, but I learned that the best rum available is Mount Gay Eclipse. It’s so good you don’t care that “gay” is in the name. Is that manly enough?
In 2006, Maddox published The Alphabet of Manliness. It reached #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List, which would be impressive if anyone could disclose exactly what constitutes inclusion on that list. Regardless, this was the exalted Maddox’s first foray into the world of print: 200+ pages of rewritten Chuck Norris jokes. That’s not cutting-edge social commentary. That’s a waste of dead trees.
In 2006 I was building a recording studio in my girlfriend’s loft. I used it to produce a two-hour movie which I scripted and animated myself. In 2008 it won Best Animated Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, and in 2009 it screened at the Plaza Theater on Ponce De Leon. It made more than Slumdog Millionaire did that night.
In 2011 Maddox published his second opus, I Am Better Than Your Kids. It’s an extension of a gag from his site, where he would critique children’s expectedly shitty crayon-scribbles. For over 300 pages, because, why not? How hard can it be to stretch that joke out wafer-thin? And hey, if you’re a fan of Maddox’s excellent old rants, what could be better than a thick tome of cheap shots hurled at little kids’ drawings?
In 2011 I was busily compiling the first volume of my full-color weekly fantasy strip, Ceaseless Fables of Beyonding. The saga concluded in 2017, with 360 pages completed. My intention was to rejuvenate the dying art of fantasy comics, while honing my skills to a sharp edge, and satisfying readers who might only know me by my more acerbic efforts. I strive to give readers the most bang for their buck as is possible.
In 2017 Maddox released his third book, F*ck Whales: Also Families, Poetry, Folksy Wisdom And You which is ZOMG SO EDGY.
In 2017 I produced the covers and illustrations for six Select Your Destiny novels, and published the 4th issue of Bands I Useta Like magazine.
Apparently Maddox’s success brought him a podcast, which has undergone several permutations because his partner Dick Masterson turned out to be far more talented and interesting. Dick literally cuckolded Maddox, who in turn sued Dick for $20m and lost. Last I heard, Maddox became an “SJW” and another boring L.A. douche. The Dick Show interviewed Sam Hyde from Million Dollar Extreme. Maddox is a joke.
ADDENDUM: Maddox is more of a joke than I even imagined. And now that it’s 2021, the less said about “Dick Masterson”, the better. I’m trying to be sensitive here about a topic that I consider to be plutonium. Dear residents of the city of Los Angeles, California: kindly presume that the rest of us weren’t molested as children, and govern yourselves accordingly. The slightest implication that we endured the same childhood that you did is the very definition of alienating. The evidence is overwhelming that you are deliberately destroying the family unit to better accommodate your own perversions, and normalize pederasty. You won’t come out and admit it, because you know you’ll be crucified, so we have to play this dumb little game of yours. Then there’s the legion of folks who have been molested as kids, and don’t morph into perverts who campaign for lowering the age of consent. All of this is the last thing I want to talk or write about, so “thanks again” Netflix, for kicking over this particularly disgusting rock.
My newest book, Suicide Street, features 120 Bands I Useta Like strips, spanning the past twenty years. Over twenty years, I have remained consistent. I haven’t faltered, softened, apologized, or quit. That’s why it doesn’t matter that I’ve never made a million dollars, or a spot on a vaunted bestseller list. I put what money I have where my mouth is.
I am better than Maddox.
ADDENDUM 2021: (tee hee, sounds like something else) Bands I Useta Like has ended publication, at 139 strips and 19 years. So what I said in that penultimate paragraph isn’t quite correct (although the lifespan of the strip was actually 23 years), but I still didn’t falter, soften, apologize, or quit. And I’m still better than Maddox.