Friday, January 27, 2012

In Reality, I'm a Bitter Partisan Hack.

I don't arrive at my hackiness too easily. I take the time to study an issue from several angles to come to my own opinion. However, I am not so embittered that I can't change my mind. If new facts, or old facts surface, life experiences, or maybe I just made a mistake to begin with can make me reevaluate my opinion.

One of the things I had to change was tone of the partisanship in the comic. In 2004 I made the decision to go from making comics for just me to publicly displaying them. I had to decide on whether to continue doing current event politically themed stuff like I had been doing back in the 90's, or to try and to get as wide a spectrum of audience as possible.

I made the decision to keep political leanings to myself.  No shouting about how I'm a conservative Republican because that would drive away all the liberal in the audience. No shouting that I'm a progressive Democrat because that would drive away all the...the... hmmm. Okay, seriously doubt there's a whole lot of Republicans reading a comic strip about a guy trying to hook his wife up with another woman. (There's several names I could drop as a joke, but hey, by the time this is posted, who will remember?)

Several things made up my mind to be non-partisan and to avoid commentary on current events with the comic. If you look back through the blog there is a lengthy article about how politically themed comics quickly become irrelevant. People come and go so quick that everybody tends to forget about them. I don't want people reading though the archive to have to click on Google to find out what it is I am talking about. (I do realize that in the Army Comics I used a lot of jargon, and I'm thinking of adding a quick reference dictionary to some pages so people will know the difference between a M9, M16, and a M916. (I also realize that in most cases Google can't even help figure out what it is I'm saying.))

There are two comic strips I occasionally read: Doonesbury and Mallard Fillmore. Both of these are fine comics, though I do like Doonesbury better. Both of these comics are published in the Op/Ed section of my local paper. That right there tells me everything I need to know about them. (Take a wild guess as to which side of the page each is printed on.) There is more you need to know. While both come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, they share several faults.

The first most obvious fault: the almost relying on current events for story fodder. While poignant at the exact moment in time, it can really bite you in the ass in short order. That happened to Doonesbury a couple of years ago. A series of comics were published about how a soldier was chaptered out of the Army for being gay. A short while later Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed. Nice timing.

This next one is mostly Doonesbury and not Mallard, and only because Mallard has one main character. Most, if not all, of the permanent characters tend to share the same opinions as the cartoonist. While Doonesbury has very well thought out and developed characters; and massively well scripted story lines; I just find it odd that soldiers in Iraq watching a Don Rumsfeld press conference are reacting to it the same way Michael Doonesbury would.

My memory is of only one soldier I knew running on and on about Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.The rest of us were rolling our eyes and thinking: "Quit your bitching. It's a 130 degrees, we're in full battle rattle, and the incoming mortar alarm has just gone off. You're not doing anything to help the situation. How about complaining about those two trailers out there? You know, the one that has a couple of flat tires and the other has blown hub seal and no flat tire?"

This one fault is shared by both in boatloads: characters that have a point of view that disagrees with the cartoonist are stereotypical caricatures of the real people and their opinions. It's like, “Instead of going and getting the information from the person first hand, let's just copy/paste what other people say about them.”

I look at this and try and to figure out how to avoid it. Do I succeed? Once in awhile. I try to interweave my personal opinions into my characters without it seeming like I'm making a blatant political statement. I try to instil some complexity by adding some opinions that I may disagree with, but not be stereotypical about it.

An example of this will be coming up in a another month or so. A character of mine will be saying some things that are rather not good about anime. While writing it out I thought about conversations I've with people who didn't like anime. Why didn't they like anime? What was it that turned them off. What was the stuff that I saw that I didn't like? I tried to mix it all into to a character that had only seen an episode or two. (Those episodes had to be Dragon Ball.)

I try my best, I admit that I often don't succeed. I have a lot going on inside my head that I never get a chance to fully explore in the comic. Often as I'm pasting together a comic I'll have a dozen other ideas and I have to decide which ones are worth doing. I often choose the wrong ones. If I don't write it down I'll forget. (I have a voice recorder that I use for my ideas. I can now remember all the good ones, I also now remember all the bad ones.) This will lead to many inconsistencies bordering on in coherent. But hey, life is inconsistent and incoherent.

I have to admit that I desperately need to write up a character bible. I can't rely on what's inside my head. That would solve about 99% of all my problems. I know I really, really need to get to the point much sooner than I do. Jeeze, the time frame of the comic is still the week before the 2009 Daytona 500; and I need to get to the big reveal of the rather odd marriage arrangement between the staunch Irish Catholic David Bell and the rock-ribbed Southern Baptist Penny Bell.

Is it me or did the temperature just go up a degree or twelve?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zook the Hero Z.

Korea has been in the news a lot lately. With the death of Kim Mentally-Il to the rise in power of Kim Jong-Unstable. I think about the friends I knew over there: Lee, Lee, Lee, Kim, Lee, Lee, Kim, Lee, Oh, No, and Ju (This poor guy got that “Achoo” line from Robin Hood: Men in Tights said to him all day long. I loaned him my tape so he would know what was going on.)

I'm not too worried for them. I worked along side many a KATUSA they do get very good training. I have also been privileged to witness the regular morning PT session with the ROK Army. I'm glad I'm on they're side. I have confidence that when push comes to shove, Korea can handle its own.

Let's slide away from that political stuff there.

I learned many a lesson while on my Korean vacations: One, keep a hand on your drink at all times. A drinky girl will come by and gulp it down causing you to have to buy another one. Never buy a drinky girl a drink unless she is on your lap. They will gulp down their glass of fruit juice real fast and demand another $5 or $10 drink. (I'm so far removed I don't remember how much they were.)

Always, always, test drive that video game before you buy it.

Lot's of games to be had, but did they actually work? I did buy a few PSX coasters. Those 100 in 1 carts? Mostly Bomberman, Mappyland, Pacman, Popeye, Tetris, Dr. Mario, Yoshi's Cookie, etc. That would be the first twenty five games with English titles. The next set of 25 would be the same games with Japanese titles. Then 51-75 would be in Korean and 76-100 was in Chinese. Same boring games. “No Repeats!” As the box would say.

Most stores would let you test drive the games. If they didn't, I would just hand it back. I made sure that bootlegged copy of Rockman Complete Works 4 was good. (By the way, that is the only one in the set I have been unable to buy a legit copy of. Actually, I think I do have it on Gamecube or X-Box. The PSX version is better though.) Wow, that really is Mario in Tiny Toons Adventures; and in Sonic the Hedgehog. I bought that one.

This was a real treat:

Then one day I found this:

“Oh, so they think they can trick us with a badly edited label of Rockman 4 pasted over Rockman World 4?” Not so. I opened the box and was surprised to see an instruction book. I flipped through it and was very shocked to see it was in English. For an English instruction book, it was very detailed and in color to boot! I wasn't going to be fooled. I stuck the cart in my Gameboy that I always carried with me on these trips downrange. I was very, very shocked to see Zook the Hero Z boot up. It had a long drown out prologue, and rather outstanding graphics for a homebrew bootlegged gameboy game.

At this point I would like to give a full on review of the game, but I can't. I have been unable to locate the game in storage. I haven't had any luck locating a rom image on the net. All I have are my memories of this thing from a long time ago. I do recall never completing it because halfway through the six maverick stages you have to fight through a sub fortress. Two thing would always happen: there's a long section with few badguys to kill for power refills, and lots of electric beams that will hit you no matter what. So you run out of life and die. Or. There's spike pit you have to air dash over and grab the ladder. I missed the ladder most of the time. When you die in this stage, you went back to the beginning. I always died about three or four minutes in. Pretty frustrating to have to replay all that again and again and again. I usually had something better to do.

I do remember being pissed at Capcom over Megaman Xtreme. This professional company that has millions in backing made a game crappier than some homebrew bootlegged gameboy game? The only thing that MM Xtreme had on Zook Z is that I was able to complete it. Hell, Zook's sprite set was better than X's.

I can't find the cart, but, I have had the instruction book staring me in the face all this time. I have been meaning to talk about on the Capcom forums for ages, then all the big Megaman sites, and even mine since I first started it back in 2004. However this place called “outside” beckons. Filled with a substance called “fresh air.” Everything is brightly lit by this thing called “The Sun.” What's that over there. Is that a woman?

I gets distracted really easy.

Any-hoo, here's some scans of the instruction book. My little contribution to what little conversation can be found.

 Wake up you misbegotten metal miscreant. Mr. Mean is making mayhem!

 From what I've read elsewhere, the Chinese characters for "Zook" can be translated as "Luke." I've noted how some places will call this Luke the Hero 2. As in the number two. I don't have the foggiest where anybody gets the number two from the letter Z. It is clearly shows up as "Z." 

If this is Luke 2, what about Luke the Hero 1? Is it like Leonard Part 6? Is the first game such a national treasure that it has to be kept a secret?

We've all seen this before. In about every damn game.

 Wait, what's that? Can we get a closer look?

 The Only Mega Man X game I've played since 7 is the PSP version. Can anybody tell me if X has ever been given this ability?

I gots nothing to say about this.

The programmers kinda gave up at this point and spliced in whatever they could find.

What do you do when Golem gets wrinkly?

 What is it with Asians and putting buckets on the heads of snowmen?