In The Beginning

Set the Wayback Machine for 1998. I was at Kinko’s, in the middle of the night, running off copies of Mike The Pod Comix #4 (the blue one).

Those aren’t fonts. I didn’t have a computer. They’re typefaces copied from a book of antique alphabets, then literally cut and pasted. The rest is my own lettering.

The fourth issue was a transitional one. Drop Dead, my “90’s comic book“, concluded in its pages, in lieu of a seventh issue. I reprinted the Liquid Paper Pirates and Squeeky Wheel Gets The Grease strips from FINK, as well as For Whom The Beef Jerks. 

Oh, and for the first time ever, I did full frontal, stark raving nudity. (NSFW!!!)

This two-page feature made #4 sell very, very well.

Nudity is not something I do very often because:

  1. I’m classically trained in the rendering of nudes, like, I’ve done the whole naked person/easel thing more times than I can count
  2. It’s “easy money”, in that people buy it because of the nudity first and the cartoon second, which can leave you feeling hollow if you let it
  3. Some readers are instantly spooked by naked tits and cocks on a printed page, regardless of context or intent

Also, I love drawing boobs, but I was kicked out of class for doing it in sixth grade. So that sense of shame runs deep.

I shamelessly re-ran old MTPC material like No More Sips!, Resisting The Urge, and Sordid Hollow. Listen, if you weren’t one of the (maybe) hundred people who bought copies of the first three issues circa 1991, it was all new to you. There’s practically a treasure trove of crap you’ve never seen. It some cases, that’s for the best.

The final Liquid Paper Pirates page, 1998.

All of this was a test, to see what would “stick”, and carry the animus to the next level. I hedged my bets a little with another loose anthology strip, called Blank Planet. Its first arc was “The Tiniest Restaurant In The World”, which I would later adapt as an animated series in 2003, despite its near-total lack of popularity.

I still think it’s funny.

Blank Planet never bore fruit beyond the tiny restaurant saga, which ended on a cliffhanger. Thus far, it has never been resolved. Even the animated web series is open-ended. Look folks, the restaurant is five centimeters tall. As ideas go, it’s not the deepest well I’ve dug.

All of this would be eclipsed, however. On page 21 was “the one that stuck”.

The first five Bands I Useta Like strips were The B-52’s, Bad Religion, Cannibal Corpse, Oingo Boingo, and Ween. I used a different lettering style than I typically did, to set it apart. The years that follow the name of the band are those in which I “useta” like them. Until a few years ago, I notated how many of the band’s albums I owned. Eventually formats became more or less irrelevant.

Here’s how it first bowed, in 1998.

1998 was the 10th anniversary of Mike The Pod, which was first published in my high school newspaper in 1988. For the 20th, I released a movie, in 2008. That was more accidental than anything (I was shooting for 2006), but what the hell, I’m claiming it. So yeah, this is the 30th anniversary of Mike the Pod’s first appearance in print.

I forgot about that until I pulled out MTPC #4. It’s weird enough having done this one strip for twenty years. Really, what were you doing in 1998? Were you even the same person you are right now? That was pre-9/11, dude! What the fuck was I even angry about?! I don’t know!!!

Thank god I wrote about it, huh? Otherwise I’d be really screwed.

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