Monthly Archives: July 2008

Broken deadline or broken back? You be the judge!

I like to imagine that the end of Wanda’s sentence which starts with “Where –“:

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would be “– is the rest of my torso, as it’s anatomically impossible for it to fit behind your back? And as long as we’re at it, why are my legs broken at the knee?”

Of course she’s missing a couple of arms too, so maybe broken legs and a grotesquely distorted torso are the least of her troubles. Plus her haircut’s ugly and her glasses look stolen from Elton John’s private stash.

All in all, I’d say Wanda’s having a very bad day, but it’s probably just a case of the fill-in artist being rushed for time, leaving out key bits of anatomy here and there to make deadline. Either way, it’s a good thing She-Hulk’s actually an attorney, because I’d bet my last dollar someone‘s getting sued because of all this.

(Image from “She-Hulk”, Vol. 2, No. 21, ©1990, Marvel Entertainment Group.)

Random Panel: That's not how you play "Feel the Force", Jarvis!

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FaceMaker update now with Previews!

I’ve uploaded the latest beta version of the FaceMaker applet to http://www.heromachine.com/ugo/facemaker5.htm if you want to give it a whirl. It now includes thumbnail previews of each item to make it clearer what your choices are. If you get the chance, let me know what you think, positive or negative. This is pretty much done in terms of functionality, once it gets a facelift from the UGO design team it’ll be good to go, so get your feedback in now if there’s anything in particular you’re looking for that it doesn’t offer.

Fiasco, thy name is "Spider-Mobile"

I usually try to keep my “Bad Super Costume” posts about actual humanoids, but when something is so awesomely bad that even the guy who owns it calls it a fiasco, I cannot resist. Ladies and gentlemen, I present … the Spider-Mobile!

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Besides looking silly, which, let’s be honest, isn’t saying much considering it’s going to be driven by a guy dressed up like a blue and red spider, let’s run down the many ways this idea sucks:

  1. It’s a dune-buggy. In Manhattan. Last time I checked, all the dunes there were paved over in, like, 1634.
  2. It’s a dune-buggy. In Manhattan. Last time I checked, all the roads there are already clogged with vehicles, making a car the last thing someone would use to get someplace in a hurry. Spider-Taxi, now, that has promise …
  3. It was built by Johnny Storm who, frankly, is number four on the list of Fantastic Four members you’d trust with a wrench.
  4. One of Spidey’s nicknames is “The Wallcrawler”. You can’t climb walls while you’re riding in a car, and “Driver of Car That Climbs Walls” isn’t nearly as punchy.

Seriously, I get that Marvel wanted to move some product in the toy stores, and they were insanely jealous of the Batmobile. But come on. Putting Spidey in a vehicle robs him of everything that makes him cool. He can’t climb walls or spin webs or dodge and weave or in any other way act like a spider. Yes, the vehicle can do some of those things, but the vehicle isn’t Spider-Man. Technology and doo-dads are part of Batman’s persona, but not Spider-Man. Giving him a car is almost as bad an idea as taking away Superman’s powers and making him lightning-based instead, although no one would be stupid enough to do something so obviously foolish! Oh, wait …

To their credit, the writers at the time understood, I think, how silly the whole idea was. A company sponsored the build and wanted to pay Spider-Man to drive it, which he reluctantly agreed to eventually out of desperation and a desire to, you know, be able to afford pizza. It turned out poorly and he eventually dumped it in the river. Where a villain recovered it and reprogrammed it for evil.

Which couldn’t have been that hard because, come on, the Spider-Mobile was pretty evil by the mere fact of its existence in the first place.

Random Panel: Let's keep it clean there, Barbie

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Caption Contest 22: It's Manga time!

Our celebrity judge and co-host for this week’s Caption Contest is none other than Johanna Draper Carlson, of “Comics Worth Reading” fame! Many thanks to Johanna for coming up with the panel for our contest this time around; since she’s been instrumental in opening my eyes to what manga (Japanese comics, basically) has to offer, I asked her to pick a good panel from that world, and boy did she deliver:

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Johanna will also help judge the winner after all the entries are in, so don’t be afraid to go over to her blog and leave some nice sucking-up style comments! Flattery might not work, but then again, it might.

The rules are the same as always:

  1. Keep it clean, appropriate for a broadcast television prime-time show;
  2. Make your entry in the comments to this post;
  3. No more than three entries per person.

The funniest entry (as judged by Johanna and me) will win a free black and white custom illustration of whatever they like (within reason) by professional illustrator Jeff Hebert (that’s me!). So put on that funny cap and get to work! The contest ends next Monday night / Tuesday morning.

(Note: The contest is now closed and Johanna is deciding on the winner. Check back later today for the announcement!)

Caption Contest 21 Winner!

The winner of Caption Contest 21 is … Socrates! Not the dead philosopher guy (I assume), but rather the blog poster who goes by the same name. Although it’d be kind of cool if, in keeping with the resurrected Jimi Hendrix from the Mashup this week, the wise old Greek came back just for this. I bet he’d have me draw someone strangling Plato.

But I digress! Socrates has won a custom black and white illustration of whatever he or she likes, which I’ll post once it’s done for all to see. So keep it clean there, Socrates. Here’s that entry done up all pretty-like:

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The Honorable Mentions for this week were:

HalLoweEn JacK: I am woman! Hear me ‘SMECK’!
Syzyx: Hung jury? No, I prefer mine battered.
Runt82: Guys, unless your last name is Kirk and you fly in a spaceship, STOP trying to seduce me.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and better luck with the next contest!

As an aside., how would you all feel about opening these contests to a vote, instead of just having me pick the winner? It would take a week longer to find out, but it would be more democratic. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but figured I’d throw it out there and see what you think. I’d probably do something like pick the top five or ten entries, and put them into a poll.

Random Panel: Did she say "Candy Strippers"?

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Another Facemaker update

I’ve updated the FaceMaker applet with the following changes:

  1. Added hover text-tips for the buttons to show what they do.
  2. Added a “color hair” button that does the same thing for hair, mustache, and beard as the “color skin” button.
  3. Changed the color of the item slot boxes to match the other buttons’ color schemes.

The last two big things to do are to a) add the preview boxes over on the right (bleh) and b) get the final “skin” designed and implemented. Should be relatively soon!

Getting it backwards

Sometimes you spend an inordinate amount of time on a project, and in the course of it come across a problem you just can’t solve. You struggle and struggle with it, and ultimately — after lots of fruitless effort — end up going with some half-assed workaround that’s incredibly inelegant and stupid, but which gets the job done. You hate doing it, but you just can’t figure out any other way, and there’s a deadline so you just say “To hell with it” and move on.

And then in a blinding flash of light some time later, the right solution comes to you and you realize you were going about the entire thing exactly backwards.

Naturally the insight comes much too late to do you any actual good, thus making you feel twice the fool for not having thought of it before.

This is the situation I am in currently with the whole “FaceMaker/HeroMachine 3″ preview items. In HeroMachine 2.x, keeping the preview items updated was a big pain. I had to manually cut and paste the lineart in to the preview boxes, and manually rename the button to match the item. If I misspelled anything, it wouldn’t work. If I later wanted to change a name, I had to manually retype it in, again avoiding any silly mistakes. Adding new items was a pain.

So when I started working on this new code base upon which first the “HeroMachine Mini” apps would be built, and hopefully later HeroMachine 3, I wanted to figure out a way to have the preview items auto-populate. Only I couldn’t figure out how. I really didn’t want to go back to manually adding them all, but I couldn’t see any other way around it.

Until today, just now, when I finally finished adding all the art and all the programming and it’s too late to go back and change it all. So I’m going to have to manually add all the preview items in FaceMaker, knowing now that had I had this insight at the beginning instead of the end, I could have easily made it all work.

Very frustrating, even though at least now I see a way forward for the next version.

Of course I’m basically going to have to rewrite the program from scratch to make it all happen in the next version, which is also not appealing.

Feh. Sometimes a good insight too late is worse than never having had it at all.