Monthly Archives: October 2008

Caption Contest 33: That's one magical weenie

I happily present to you your challenge for this week's Caption Contest. Come up with the best or funniest replacement dialog for this comic book panel and you'll win your very own custom black and white illustration of whatever you like (within reason):


The rules as always are simple: Keep it relatively clean (i.e. fit for braodcast television); no more than three entries per person; and all entries must go in the comments to this post.

Good luck everyone!

Caption Contest 32 Winner

For the first time in the history of the Caption Contest, we have a back-to-back winner, as Caption Contest 32 goes once again to Whit!


I still haven't gotten him his first prize illustration, so I guess I might as well be in to him for two of them! Congratulations to Whit and everyone else who entered. The honorable mentions were:

  • Yusuf Mumtaz: Long story short, this is what happens when you mix booze and super glue…
  • Fishpants: Let’s see ya track me on radar this year, NORAD!
  • Will: Well, I know a couple of drinking buddies who are going straight to the naughty list!

Keep an eye out for Caption Contest 33 and your chance to win your very own custom black and white illustration of whatever you like, every Tuesday at!

Random Panel: A review of Madonna's career


Mini headgear preview

Today I finished putting all of the hand-held items in (23 if you're keeping track at home), along with a couple of new hands (a front view of a clenched fist for holding staffs and such and one other one I can't recall). Once that was done I moved on to Headgear. I'm doing these by drawing them all in one big file before converting them into program items, which makes it easier to produce previews of the items. Like this:


Let me know what you like, what you don't, and what's missing. One thing I'm looking forward to doing is combining these, so you could have the SWAT type mask with an army helmet on top, and cool sunglasses to finish it off. Should be fun.

Retroview: Great C-C-C-Caesar's S-S-Stutter!

There were three "Silver Age Classics" in last week's Random Comic Stack, and reading back through the old issues was a real treat. Besides all the stuff I already knew, I was surprised to discover that everyone in the Fifties and Sixties stuttered. Everyone. It was always from an excess of emotion, and not even Superman was immune to it. Frankly, I blame Watergate, "Three's Company", and hippies (in that order) for desensitizing us to the point that no one gets stuttering-inducing fits of emotion in comics any more, which is a real shame when you get right down to it. You have to go to soap operas nowadays to get that level of real feeling, but I have high hopes that Frank Miller will soon have the Caped Crusader go all retro and say "I'm the G-G-Goddam B-B-Batman!"

Anyway, to prove the point, here are a few of the panels from just one of the super stuttering stories in the "Action Comics 252" reprint. This all takes place in the span of a mere eleven pages, people, and I am not even including all of the examples -- there's more. LOTS more. Know f-f-fear.


(The actual onomontoPOWia is supposed to just be RR, but of course the avalanche stutters.)


I think that last one is my favorite. Either Clark's an idiot and thinks the natural assumption when someone resists your grip is "That guy must be Superman!", or Metallo is literally crushing everyone's hand to pulp.

Besides the overwrought emotions, what really jumps out at me upon reading this issue is what a douche Superman is. Really. He flies in to find Metallo dead because he used fake Kryptonite -- conveniently provided by Clark himself -- to power his metal heart. And Superman's only thought is "He brought it on himself" before proceeding to make two tasteless puns about the deceased. This sort of thing has been well documented elsewhere, so I won't go on, but really, the Golden Age Superman was kind of a jerk.

The other main feature of these early books is just how implausible and slipshod the plotting is. Nothing really makes much sense if you think about it for more than two seconds, and there's always some weird coincidence that diverts Superman just in time for the criminal to escape. I also love the cavalier way everyone treats uranium, the other power source for Metallo. It sits around in cans on shelves, the Professor who builds the artificial body just happens to have some laying around the lab, etc. etc. I am surprised no one glows in Metropolis.

Make that "I-I'm s-surprised that n-no one g-g-glows in Metroplis." I wouldn't want to not fit in, after all.

Random Panel: Daddy's grinding


(Hat tip to Josh over at the Comics Curmudgeon, which you really ought to read all the time, it's awesome.)

Poll Position: I think I see you think

This week's Poll Position puts asks:


Discussion of the choices after the jump.

Continue reading

Mini screen grab

I took a moment during the coding and drawing and football watching (and fantasy losing) today to take a screen shot of the new HM Warrior Mini:

In the character design area, you can see one of the new sets of hands. I've also relayered the pants so they cover the boot tops, as someone pointed out in comments that the last version of this didn't look right. I've added a new feature, launched with the little pencil icon at the bottom right corner of the character window, that outlines the figure and all the items in the image with black. I think it helps the illustration look more cohesive and really "pops".

The control buttons in order are:

  1. Dupe: By default this is turned off, and the program works just like HM2.x -- click on a "RightHand" item, for instance, and the old one gets removed, replaced with the new. Check the box instead and you can add as many of each sort of item as you like. So in the example, the previous hand remains and is joined by a second, third, fourth, etc.
  2. Mirror: Flips the current item left-to-right and right-to-left, like you were looking at it in a mirror.
  3. Mask: Clicking this button changes the cursor into a domino mask (get it?!). Clicking on any item in the character build window will set it as the current item's mask. So for instance, if you have the LeftItem "Colt 45" set as active, click the Mask button, and then click on the LeftHand, the hand will mask out the handle of the gun where the fingers overlap. This will also let you do things like mask out the insignia with the body, so only the part of an extra-large insignia that coincides with the figure will show, like the lightning bolts in a previous post.
  4. Layer Up: Pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Layer Down: Ditto.
  6. Paint: Click this button and the cursor changes into a paintbrush. Click on any item in the character design window to apply the color selections of the current item. So let's say you paint the chest piece darker and lighter blue, as I did in the sample. I liked it and wanted to carry that color scheme to the other clothing elements, so I clicked Paint, then clicked on each glove, each boot, and the shoulder pads to quickly make them all match.
  7. Color All Hair: Applies the current item's color scheme to all Hair and FacialHair items at once.
  8. Color All Skin: Applies the current item's color scheme to all Head, Body, RightHand, and LeftHand items at once.
  9. Clear: The cursor turns into an "x" and clicking on any item in the character design window will remove it from the figure.
  10. Clear All: Removes all items and colors from the design window.

Lots of items and a few new features yet to come, but this is the progress to date.

The joys of bugs

I've been going crazy all morning, trying to figure out why two of the hands I drew don't properly mask out the items you put in them. Basically what masking means is, I can define an area in one item (the hands) that blocks out part of another item (like guns), so it looks like the hand is actually gripping the gun instead of just being layered on top of it.

That's a bit confusing, so I'll show you what I mean. Here are the two items unmasked:


And here they are masked:


You can see the difference -- in the second one, even though the gun is the same illustration as the gun in the first one, the handle gets blocked out by the fingers curling around. This is great because it lets me draw the entire hand-held item (i.e. the gun grip) and still use it in any kind of hand.

But this morning there were two hands that just refused to mask properly. No matter what I did, the proper parts of the gun type items didn't get blocked, and I couldn't figure out why. I tried recreating the mask object, I tried redrawing it, I tried renaming things, I tried deleting and starting over, I tried comparing the non-working ones to the working ones, and nothing made any damn sense at all.

I assume I am not the only programming type person to run into roadblocks like this, where nothing works and you don't know why. I am probably more prone to it than most because I am, frankly, a hack when it comes to Flash (meaning I didn't go through any formal training, I'm entirely self-taught). I keep running into holes in my education, and I never know if it's something wrong with me or the program, or both.

This time, it turned out to be the program, and in an incredibly stupid and irritating way.

It turns out when you're making a mask in Flash, which way you draw the lines matters. If you draw the mask shape clockwise, it all works fine. If you draw it counter-clockwise, though, it won't work.

How freaking jacked-up is that?! I can't imagine the Pope telling Michaelangelo "I like the parts of the Sistene Chapel ceiling you did with the brush strokes going left, but not the strokes going right. Change them all to match."

I mean, I know in Physics there are left-handed and right-handed particles, but this is nuts.

Luckily a Google search turned up a page that held the solution in the comments, for which I am profoundly thankful. This ruined my whole morning and part of last night; it's a really stupid bug, and I hate it, but at least now I know how to work around it. I never would've guessed the solution in a million years, though -- thank goodness for Google!

Random Panel: Comics were WAY ahead of Hollywood on the gay cowboy front