Written by Josh Breidbart

Lord, Have Mercy on Their Souls

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/08/09/08092016-the-illusion-of-control/

For a game in which I originally claimed to have only a passing interest, the prestige star I finally earned in Overwatch says anything but. Having cracked level 100 and clocking in at 75 hours of gameplay (which, side bar, holy shit), it’s safe to say I am firmly within the game’s gloriously addictive grasp. And, much to the dismay of my wife, I don’t see myself putting it down any time soon (then again, No Man’s Sky is out now, so…).

Overwatch’s greatness as a game is most often revealed in the unique moments and stories each match presents. Teams coming together or falling apart at the seams. That one well timed play that makes all the difference, or the one misplaced emote that destroys the entire match. It’s endlessly and imaginatively intense because I can really feel myself there, experiencing it side-by-side with my friends. It’s an endless TV series we can gab about, but more gratifying, because we’re also the stars.

But for all those perfect moments, there is something else I have experienced over and over again, which never fails to break my heart. It’s a moment that will probably be familiar to anyone who plays a support class, but this is specifically about my time playing as Mercy.

Mercy is a healer in Overwatch. She acts (and appears) as a guardian angel, flying across the battlefield to boost health and heal damage. Playing as Mercy, you work behind the scenes, above the fray. A well placed Mercy can make a team nigh unbeatable, and a good half of my hours in Overwatch have been playing as this character.

Personally, I always like Mercy because it makes me feel like a more important part of the party. When I’ve played similar games in the past, I’ve always ended up soaking up more damage than I could dish out, making learning and participating all the more frustrating. But when I’m Mercy, it all just clicks (almost literally, since there’s an auto aim feature). I am actively healing and boosting the potential of my team, and when I do, I feel a sense of pride. I feel like I’m helping someone who’s down and needs a hand. I feel like I can save them. Like I can save anyone, even from death itself.

But with a bad team, no one is there to save you. Mercy is only as good as the people you play with, and if no one is around to back you up, or if you zip too far into the battle for a mistimed heal, the effect is your lifeless body being flung across the field, followed by an angry wait to respawn. And when you finally do, so begins the aforementioned harrowing experience.

The run.

That slow as hell run back to the battlefield, never fast enough, as you watch every single person on your team die.

You can see the health of your teammates through the walls, specifically turning from green to red as they receive damage, until their death marks your screen with a skull. Running agonizingly slowly, never fast enough, failing to uphold the duty you took when you first picked support, you watch as their silhouettes dance, struggling to survive, as their colors fade and blink away. One dies, then another, and then another, dying out before you’re in range to revive even one of them. You reach the battlefield too late, and your tardiness is punished by the opposing team. They kill you, you respawn, only to find that the team has already bounded on ahead. The cycle continues.

Sometimes I get there in time. Sometimes I revive them and save the day. But when you are out of sync with your team, when you’re just chasing people rushing into death, what can you do to save them? Can you do anything to save them? Or are they simply doomed?

I suppose I could wait by the spawn point for the eventuality of my team’s demise, but… I guess I want to have more faith in them than that. I need to trust them and do my best to run in and save them, as futile as it sometimes feels. Because I can’t stand back and do nothing. I need to try.

Because if I don’t, who will?

Addendum to this: After writing this post, I played a quick game and had this exact same scenario, except when I got there, the Mei on my team put up a wall, keeping her and the team protected while I was left to die. I think I’ll be sticking with D. Va from here on out…

Simply Gorges

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/08/04/08042016-sketch-day-2016/

Like Zack is doing now, the other week, I took a mini-vacation. For me, it was back to my alma mater, Ithaca College, with my best friend from those days, Spunky. It had been over 4 years since I had seen her at my wedding, and since then we’ve been busy with our own lives and adventures, far from the constant company we once kept.

Spunky and I met through the Anime Society of Ithaca College (ASIC for short). I made a lot of my college friends at college through that group, many of whom I’m still in contact with today. What admittedly started as a crush became something more, a tight bond and friendship that lasted through adventures like that time I was the president of a fraternity (a blog for another time), or the incident that ended with me on crutches (again, for another blog), or after college, when I celebrated learning I did not have cancer (another blog) by visiting her in Japan for 10 days (Jesus, how many blogs am I going to allude to here?). That last one was an experience unlike any other, but it was also right before the start of me and Jena becoming a serious couple, so it feels like a literal lifetime ago.

Since our last big adventure together, I have gotten married, lived in LA, moved back to NY, and had a bevy of experience in between, not least of which has been Unlife. When I finally saw Spunky again last weekend, she too had lived her own lifetime since. A new love, a new profession, a new dog, a new art career, a new home, a new town, hell, a new hairstyle. A blink, and then a life lived without each other, though still as comfortably close as years past.

And the same can be said of Ithaca College. Visiting, we saw familiar buildings and walked the paths we had before, but the college itself had changed too. New buildings, new programs, new professors, overlaid with that memory of what it once was to both of us. Even venturing into the Commons and College Town contained a similar experience of ghostly familiarity, and for the first time, I felt I was the presence that didn’t belong anymore. In a sense, I was the memory. And the whole experience was bitter sweet, because it was still the same college, and yet, no longer my college.

And in a way, the same goes for my old friendship. We’re still close friends, and I love her to death. But that time we had together, all those great memories, are part of a life already lived. I hope we have at least one or eighteen million more adventures in us before the end. But they’ll be different. We aren’t the kids we were anymore.

I could say it’s bittersweet. But that would be selling the sweetness short. You may have noticed that I sometimes can only focus on the bad and negative stuff (Nooooooooooo! Whaaaaaaaaaa – ? Get out! Really?), but I can’t tell you how freeing and relieving it is to have a memory to dwell on that’s not just good, but great. It’s been a lifetime, and when I got to soak in being with Spunky and walking through our old life, I got to reminisce about something that wasn’t just good, but one of the highlights of my life. It may have changed, but I’ll always carry it with me. And I’m happy I had that and got to relive it, even for just another fleeting second.

Just because something is gone doesn’t mean it doesn’t stay with you forever.

PS: While in Ithaca, I also revisited one other place. Buttermilk Falls. Ithaca’s famous gorges. Or, as Unlife readers may know it, the scene of the crime.

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But that too is a blog post for another time, I think.

Like if You Agree, Share if you Agree, Submit to the Hive Mind if You Agree

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/08/02/08022016-i-have-to-return-to-my-home-planet/

It’s hard to even begin to tell you how much I am just done with Facebook.

Lately, it feels like being in an abusive relationship, the one abused being my brain. Like anyone, I started a relationship with Facebook because it was fun, free, and let me stay in better contact with friends. But as time progressed, the conveniences were outweighed by the issues it caused. Not being able to post everything, since employers can see; being inundated by clickbait that does nothing but eat up all my time; and the general responsibilities of maintaining an online persona. Even worse, if I do decide to break up with Facebook, I will most likely lose contact with a lot of faraway friends who have accounts. Also, I won’t know when anyone’s birthday is.

This isn’t a real issue, really. It has nothing on the presidential race, #BlackLivesMatter, gun control, and whatever else the current hot button flavor of the week is – because all these are real issues, but the way we jump from one to another puts even my ADD to shame. But the problem isn’t Facebook. That’s just the convenient face the internet is wearing in this analogy. The problem is that the internet is a never ending rabbit hole I can’t help but race down without any attempt to stop. It’s junk food, and though I don’t necessarily think I’d be slim and fit without it, I can’t help but hate myself for the degree to which I’ve allowed myself to binge on empty calories.

For every train time I look up, there are five actors I look up on IMDB. For every video of a relative I watch, there are ten of a pug doing something cute in a pool. For each single convenience this relationship offers me, there are a hundred reasons why it’s not worth it. I have been in real romantic relationships with this caveat before and, spoiler alert, they were all really toxic relationships. And as far as I see, I can do the following:

Quit and just deal with the fact that I will need to make an effort to keep friendships another way (the most efficient solution).
Suck it up (the easy option I will probably take).
Are those my only two options? Either do some hard work, or shut down like Jenners, taking the way out that’s easier in the moment even though it’s destructive in the long term? To be lost in the vaccuum of my own opinions or sorrows? Or do I chance going out there, sifting through the garbage for something worth not throwing out? Something worth keeping and holding onto?

Whether it’s clickbait or the real events that affect our world at large (and hell, even clickbait can be in that category sometimes), it’s hard to argue that the world sometimes sucks. Okay, a lot of the time. It sucks, and you can’t agree with it or abide by it. It’s so tempting to close yourself off from it, but at what cost? Leaving the world behind would be so lonely. So, maybe there is some shitty stuff out there. But you can’t get to the good without wading through the bad. And if there’s one thing Facebook does do right, it’s acknowledging that you can’t do it alone.

… But part of me still hopes I can break up with it soon.

Bojack Horseman Season 3 Review – The Ballad of Jerj Clooners

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/28/07282016-a-couple-of-spies/

The following is a review of Bojack Horseman season 3. No Spoilers

I remember my mom comforting me while trying not to laugh when I was about 9, crying like only a 9-year-old can. I don’t blame her, though. It’s not often you have to comfort a kid about the Penguin’s death scene in Batman Returns. Watching Danny DeVito’s razor-toothed mouth ooze with black goo before being ushered to a watery grave by his fellow penguins wasn’t exactly a comical scene (though it was one following Christopher Walken being electrocuted by a kiss, so, you know, comic book movies), but it wasn’t “I’ll never let go, Jack”, either. Still, something about the Penguin, who just wanted to have a family and be loved, who was poisoned by his need, who couldn’t see that his true family of penguins already loved him, was heartbreaking to me, even as a kid. Even now. Weirdly dark, moving and beautiful, in a way I don’t often recognize from Tim Burton anymore. It’s a twisted tale wrapped in the perfect delivery system for a child my age: a Batman movie.

Now that I’m 30, that delivery system is a cartoon.

When Bojack Horseman Season 3 came to a close, I relieved that Penguin moment for the first time. Once again, I was a bawling puddle for about 30 minutes. The only difference: no mother to comfort me this time (though, to her credit, she probably would have if I asked, probably once more holding back her laughter with mixed results).

Bojack Horseman is an adult flavored cartoon series on Netflix about an anthropomorphic horse who, back in the 90’s, was on a very famous TV show. Now a washed up celebrity, he struggles to find meaning and importance through destructive decisions and the pursuit of the selfish and vain desire to be loved once more by the Hollywood system. If they love him, maybe then he can love himself. Along for the ride are his agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), his roommate/couch crasher, Todd (Aaron Paul), his television rival, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), and his writer/friend/it’s complicated, Diane (Alison Brie).

As I pointed out Tuesday, I hate writing blanket praise. It’s much harder than constructive criticism (and even harder when you don’t want to spoil the material for others hoping to watch), but there is something to be said of a show that can pull on your heart strings and make you care this much about talking animals in Hollywoo. For a show in two dimensions, it’s got more depth than most live action series on TV. Its themes, its characters, its ability to juggle animal puns and goofy slapstick humor with soul wrenching drama that all feels true to the tone; it’s just great. When you first become invested in these characters, you feel safely removed; after all, they’re cartoon animals. But before you know it, you’re absorbed in their struggles because they betray a depth of heart unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Well, since I was 9, I guess. But I’m not even sure if that’s what Mr. Burton was going for.

Entertainment has a way of getting my guard down, so its emotional moments become all the more resonant for me. And I love that it was a cartoon that could do this, showing how much animation has to give to the entertainment world. But really, I find that shows like Bojack go beyond being entertainment. I honestly think it’s an important show, for me at least. It’s the one I relate to in the here and now. Back in the day, that honor belonged to Danny Devito in a plastic duck. A kid that just wanted love, that started lashing out because he didn’t understand how to get it or even earn it. Maybe that kid never grew up or learned how. Something like that unearths a truth that left my pillow still wet when Jena got home.

Or maybe I’m just a softie for cartoons. The other day I showed Jena Revolutionary Girl Utena, a very important anime for me that she never watched, and it got me teary.

Whatever, don’t judge me. To quote this guy:

It’s still real to me, dammit.

Positivity Unlimited

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/26/07262016-typad-enslave-different/

I just started using Marvel Unlimited, the comic publisher’s streaming comic database where you have a bananas selection of stories to read, and it’s really good.

And that’s it. What else do you want from me? A TV spot?

I mean… let me see…

I really liked G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s run on Ms. Marvel.

I’m really loving Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye, and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl is hilarious and…

And here’s the thing: I am just no good with praise. Like, I’m garbage at it. I hate that I’m so much better at complaining than I am at praising. I can’t even praise myself for being good at complaining. All I can do is complain more.

I mean, look, I am ABLE to praise, but I’m not nearly as colorful or as fun as when I am ripping into something, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Like savages looking for bloodsport, there’s nothing that gets the internet more riled up than an epic “takedown” or a thorough shredding of someone or something. And though I mean well, I’m not awesome at actually being nice, or even showing it. I am very good at expressing unpopular opinion, and elaborating on why I feel a certain way. I am especially good at it with things that are fictional, that follow a foundation I understand because there’s an order in how it was made. Life rarely offers the same level of structure.

Tearing into something establishes some sort of control of the situation. But when something is good, especially for me, it defies some of that explanation because it just seems like magic. That magic that we all feel for our favorite shows and mediums, that thing that defies explanation that just gets you. And in those cases, I could theorize why it makes me feel this way, but I’d rather not, because it’s better as magic.

But when it’s bad, I really want to express WHY it’s bad. And that’s a bit dickish of me, I admit.

I wish I could say some nasty, entertaining things about Marvel’s service or the books I’ve read, but really, they’ve all been stellar. Marvel has published some damn good books and stretched itself beyond the traditional “super heroes save the world” format (as have other labels, but since this is just Marvel books here, let’s stay focused on that). Ms. Marvel filled me with the childlike glee I once felt reading Ultimate Spider-Man for the first time. That feeling of hope in a new superhero, exploring their powers, finding their place in the grand scheme, and fighting a cockatiel trying to take over the world (yes). Squirrel Girl is a legitimate laugh riot, each page prompting some form of a grin, because it’s so full of heart. And Hawkeye, my God, is just an excellent series. And where the hell has Kate Bishop been all my life?!

See! I can be positive, but that’s really it. If I like something, I’d rather share it with you than analyze the joy attached to it. I’d rather promise that it’s worth your while than explain why. The books I mentioned above are great books, and I’m hoping to read many other great books with this service. If you want comics on the go, I can’t think of a better one. But when it comes to praise, maybe it’s down to mood, or maybe it’s an x factor related to the writing process. I really only have the nicest things to say here, and yet, I still don’t want to say anything at all.

Please read all those books.

They are super good.

I liked the art and the writing.

I’m still reading them.

They are comics.

I feel like Ron Swanson.

Thank YOU 2: Electric Boogaloo

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/21/07-20-2016-weird-science/

Though Unlife has a pretty clear path to its eventual end, I’ve left many parts of the journey intentionally blank spots. This allows Zack and me to adjust on the fly, creating new arcs, characters, and locations that fit the tone of the world James lives in, and the one we do.

While finishing up chapter 2, Zack and I discussed where James would be going, but the term “prison” was the only thing we decided on. We were still fine-tuning our metaphors at the time, so where we ended up may seem obvious now, but at the time, we weren’t sure. “Zombie internment camp” worked in theory, but in practice, it was missing something. So were the other options we came up with at the time: a hospital, a school, an actual prison. None of them clicked. The metaphor of living life after death was lost.

So, setting aside the location, I came up with with the three antagonists who would animate the place: Geoffrey, Lichtman, and Valerie King. All were reflections of things James wanted or was fighting for or against. They were the distorted mirrors in the funhouse James would find himself in, though the house itself was still under construction. With the villains in place, I put the chapter down and waited for inspiration to strike.

Not that I had a choice. I was temping at that point, and a 9-to-5 in the glamorous world of data entry consumed my days. I spent 45 hours every week in a small office with no friends, staring at Excel spreadsheets to be re-compiled and re-filled with no end in sight. It was tiring, soul draining, and beyond lonely. I didn’t feel alive. I felt like a cog in a machine. The worst part was the tie. Fuck wearing a tie, really. I can’t fucking stand them (unless it’s in a cool hipster way, in which case, shut up). By the end of every day, I didn’t want to write or create. I just wanted to take off my tie. I was burnt out, a husk, the energy sucked from every pore. My life was being sucked away by a job that meant nothing to me.

And just like that, TY materialized, almost too clear.

We started reconfiguring the amorphous prison to become an office, carved up into brown cubicles to forward the idea of being six feet under. The work ultimately busy work, like the acres of meaningless spreadsheets I’d come to loathe. It seemed too perfect for words. The name was partly inspired by that damn noose around my neck, but also by something Zack and I had begun to say to each other. Thank You. Or rather, Thank YOU! It was a joke, but there was something in being appreciated for a job well done, something sorely missed as an unappreciated office drone.

It was, ultimately, a perfect storm of ideas. What started as a blank space with a filler name became much more meaningful in James’ world. A prison painted as an office. A thankless job painted as a gesture of appreciation. A dead end painted as a solution. That’s what TY meant. That’s where TY comes from. That’s what TY was.

And then Lichtman was put in charge.

This is TY 2.0.

Have fun.

Werk, Werk, Werk, Werk, Werk

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/19/07192016-simply-devastated/

Because I can’t cope unless I work ahead, I just completed the first draft of what will eventually be Unlife Chapter 8. I’ve been writing this thing in earnest for the last two months or so with mixed success, though each misstep has brought me closer to what I envision as the comic’s future. I’ve known the events that needed to happen for a while, but committing them to the page and finding the pacing and story that exists beyond my imagination has so far thwarted me… for the time being. I normally don’t stop a draft until it’s written to completion. This time, I had to. It just wasn’t ready yet.

Just because you work in advance, doesn’t mean the project is ready. Unlife’s chapters usually have a year of gestation between completion and being turned into comic form. The current chapter was written last year, and we’re hardly 1/3rd of the way through it yet. But this time, I rushed the time table, wanting to have a clear path to not just chapter 8, but the chapters proceeding from it as well. I did a lot of good work on it. And yet…

The short explanation is that it’s still missing a layer. Think of script writing as building a house. Sure, you can make blueprints upon blueprints, trying to plan for every contingency, but you’ll never be able to account for all the x factors that inevitably arise. The plans exist. The house exists. But there will always be that separation between plans and reality.

When the house is a script, it’s the transition from text to subtext that’s woefully absent in the best laid plans. There’s the text of what’s happening (zombies, evil corporations, etc), and then there’s the subtext (feeling lost in life, dead-end job, etc). It would be far simpler if Jenners just said, “I am confused and sad because I wanted to be the main character and now that things are happening I feel blah,” it doesn’t really ring true or make for a well told story.

And without that missing layer, the foundation crumbles. The chapter, as it stands, would shatter. Which is fine, because I still have till 2017 to finish it (yeah, there’s that much of Chapter 7 left). In truth, I was merely taking advantage of the time I had, rushing to finish the house because…

Because sometimes I’m tired of building the house and want to be able to enjoy living in it when it’s complete. To savor it, as opposed to building it and then immediately moving on to build the next two houses across the street. It’s exhausting, and leaves me little ability to appreciate what Unlife is, instead focused on what it could and should be. And that’s hard. But if it’s not ready to be built, then what can I do?

Unlife is a journey about growing up, depression, addiction, and looking for life when you feel like it left you behind. That moment that begins a few years after college when you are submerged in a world you feel unready for. And you try to make sense of it, in safety but on someone else’s terms, or on your own with no guarantees. And then you realize that everyone is also on that path, no matter what they chose or how far along they are. You cling to what brings you joy, scrambling for more as the mind and the heart wage war upon each other. And though it would be nice to skip to the end of that journey, to cut to the chase and just be done, content, and ready to move on…

James isn’t there yet. And so, neither am I. Or vice versa. I don’t know. It’s super confusing.

Maybe the dust will clear now and I can see the house for what it is instead of what it should be. Instead of thinking about the future of Unlife, or being stuck in its past, I can just live in the now and let it… live, I guess. And when Chapter 8 is ready, it will show itself. The house will be built. Because it wants to be built. It needs to be built. So I’ll take my time. I can wait.

Or it’ll be a month before the new chapter and nothing will be written, and I’ll end up writing it with a horrible deadline. That works too, I guess.

My Old Naïveté

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/14/07142016-teenagers-amiright/

I grew up wanting to be a creator. I wasn’t as interested in why or how, as long as I could be the godly master of a world of my own design. One equipped with rules and metaphors that made sense to me, that clearly presented those ideals and interests I held so dearly. For a while, I thought that role would belong to me as an illustrator, coming from that background, but in the end, writing became my art. I took up the writer’s mantle as the clearest path to making my intentions and desires reality, having creative control on the most primal level.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, growing up and day dreaming about the potential life ahead of me, I never thought I would end up here. And by here, I mean entering year five of working on Unlife, a coming of age drama about zombies.

I’ll be honest: not a single one of those things interested me growing up. I loved He-Man and Ninja Turtles. Cartoons and video games. As a budding writer, the shows that influenced me the most were the extreme action of Dragonball Z and the insane comedy of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And though the pacing of DBZ has made its way into Unlife, the rest of the comic has little to nothing in common with those original desires and dreams I once held dear.

Not that Unlife isn’t dear to me. It’s just so different from what I imagined my focus would be. Back then, if I’d had to guess what kind of series would be the first I wrote to completion, a concept like Unlife would never even enter into my mind. I guess part of the shift is that I don’t really watch shows like that anymore, instead opting for Louie and Bojack Horseman, which… seems about right with the tone I hit now.

Should I be trying to get back in touch with those original flights of fancy? The things that originally inspired me are now suspiciously absent from my writing. I wish I could say I didn’t know why, but I can’t feign such ignorance. It’s because I grew up and my tastes have changed. I have changed. And the world around me has changed with it. And that’s okay…

… but I would be remiss if I didn’t say I missed it. Fenix Gear was originally a send up of those two shows, DBZ, and ATHF. And yet, as I wrote, the story evolved a tone not dissimilar to Unlife’s (if somewhat wackier). It used to be humor front and center, but it became an ever unfolding drama.

The thing is, when you’re an artist, there’s a certain sacrifice of control. A good tale requires planning, structure, a good support network, and patience. But so many things lie out of your control, defying even the most anal retentive planning. The audience, the reimagining of ideas, the fact that these fully formed characters don’t give a shit about the carefully outlined plot and are just going to be themselves, with me at their mercy.

But this is what I wanted, right? I wanted to grow up and have my own artistic adventures. I was so full of hope about how great it would be, and yet…

Why do I miss my old naïveté?

What do you think, Jenners?

Horace and Pete Review

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/12/07122016-undress-to-impress/

I recently had the good fortune to watch Horace and Pete, Louis CK’s new online-only series (which you can buy here: https://louisck.net/show/horace-and-pete). It’s amazing: a layered, well-written and -acted series about a bar in Brooklyn, going strong as a family business for 100 years, where…

Nah. I’d rather not say anymore.

I know I’m asking for a huge leap of faith here. The synopsis of the show and vague compliments don’t paint much of a picture of what to expect from the series. And I get that. It is a series unlike any other I’ve seen. It’s a sobering drama that is better described as episodic theater than a TV series, hardly leaving 2 locations, following a handful of characters and the issues that stem from…

See, this is hard. Because part of why this series works is that mystery. The slowly unraveling drama reveals more and more shades of these characters and their problems and where they’re going (if anywhere). And I really, really, really want to write a review that perfectly encapsulates what made this series really click for me, but a lot of it lies in the nuances of these people’s lives playing out before you, expectations unaltered, and experiencing these things in the moment with the characters as they live them. Especially considering that Horace and Pete is a story about the problems of growing older and grappling with the uncertainty of how to live life, I can’t think of a series that more captures the tone Unlife often strives for.

I’ve always been a fan of Louis CK. My first spec script in LA (for the uninitiated, a spec is basically fan fiction that you write as a resume sample) was a Louie spec, something I will probably re-appropriate someday for another project. I’ve always respected the humor interwoven into with drama that Louis CK seems to perfectly hit every time he’s put in the driver’s seat. He speaks to me as an artist, really, and his work, especially its tone, has had a huge effect on my writing.

So, I’m gonna close this out, not with last thoughts on Horace and Pete, but instead on an episode of Louis CK’s earlier and better known FX show, Louie. Let me set the scene: it was 2012. I’d just finished my second New York Comic Con experience, selling Fenix Gear and promoting Unlife, then a year old. It was challenging and mentally exhausting, and with my marriage in the immediate background and my unfolding entertainment career in the very near future, I needed a mental recovery day. Emotionally, I wasn’t in the best spot, and I thought some comedy was what I need. I was lying in bed watching part 3 of Louie’s attempt to land David Letterman’s Late Night gig, when this scene with his trainer (played by David Lynch) came on…

Even now, this scene captures everything I was feeling. All that pressure and sadness and desire welling up inside me and that desire to prove myself. It prompted more tears and sadness than I could ever describe at that moment, and yet it was also one of the greatest belly laughs I’ve ever had. A scene like this gets at my soul. The material transcends the format.

And it’s that kind of thing that Horace and Pete does for 7 straight hours.

Please give it your time.

Come on, Democrats. For real?!

Originally posted at http://unlifecomic.com/2016/07/07/07072016-the-doctor-would-be-proud/

Really, truly, last week was the last political post I planned to do for a bit. I wanted to think of more pleasant things (because this is the kind of comic where only happy things happen). Then the Democratic party sent me a 2016 election survey in the mail.

I didn’t think a single piece of paper that wasn’t a bill could get me this mad.

Look, guys, I know we’re all scared about Donald Trump having a magic button that shoots out nukes, but this is not the way to respond. Because the “survey” wasn’t a survey. It had nothing to do with what might get me more engaged in liberal politics, or what I wanted to see from the Democrats. It was a treasure map to turn my fear into anger.

I can understand the impulse to rally together when we’re frightened and want unification in both a belief and a political party, but I cannot think of a single thing that loses more sight of what liberalism and democracy are supposed to be about – and that’s what the Democratic party sent me. When the section header read “The Republican Threat”, I knew I was in for a treat. This is the very first question on the survey:

“Which elements of the radical Republican agenda are most dangerous to America’s future?”

Options include the obvious who’s who of “dismantling the affordable care act”, “reversing LGBT marriage status” “denying climate change” and “opposing minimum wage increase”. Now, there are liberals reading this stuff, already readying their “But it’s true” responses. But look at how the question is framed. It’s not “Which causes are most important to you” or “What do you most want us to keep working on”. What kind of dialog can be founded if right out the gate, you ask which vague threat gets your piss boiling the most?

Following that are questions like:

“Which aspect of Donald Trump’s candidacy do you find most disturbing?”

“Which of the following election outcomes would be the most catastrophic to our nation?”

“Which group of GOP backers do you think will have the highest impact on the 2016 election?”

“How do you view the Republican refusal to even consider confirming Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court?”

You also will not be surprised to find out that not a single option allows Republicans to be anything but demons; instead, it presents different shades to color the bad guys in.

Eventually, they do get to the Democratic Election priorities. When? Page 2. That’s right, page 1 of the Democratic survey is about the evil Republicans. The actual beliefs and goals of the Democratic party are an afterthought. The most obvious omission is that there is literally NO mention of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. I mean, if you wanted to take the temperature of the party, why not ask what about each of their campaigns you respond to most or want to see focused on more. But fuck that; Donald Trump is mentioned more in a Democratic survey than the Democratic candidates up against him.

So just remember the slogan of the Democratic party this election: “TRUMP SUCKS btw Hillary”.

I know that the point of this survey was to get me mad. But here’s the thing – I’m not mad at the Republican party anymore.

I’m mad at the Democrats.

Here’s my point: this is not in defense of the “poor misunderstood Republican party”. This has nothing to do with them. I am talking to the Democrats. The way this survey and Democrats in general portray and treat the other side is not only appalling, but belittles the message of equality its greatest champions have rallied behind. Realize that the sinister mustache we’ve painted on Republicans looks a lot like the one Mr. Trump has painted on (certain) foreigners; parading them as this radical end-all-be-all reason why America isn’t as great as it could be. And I’m not saying that to be racist or to be mean to Republicans is exactly the same thing – I’m saying that stereotyping your foes as cartoon characters is WRONG.

Democrats – you need to be better people. Because shit like this, riling people up, stoking their anger, is the same garbage that got us into this mess to begin with. People feeling disenfranchised by empty promises, that the government and country they supported does not have their back. The term “United States” is feeling more and more like a joke, considering how fucking divided we have been lately. Stop scapegoating. Stick to your beliefs and fight like hell for them, but don’t take us to hell in the process. And stop making that gap between us wider and wider. It’s not helping. It seriously is not helping at all. I don’t know how much clearer I can be about this.

Just stop it. You can be better.