Archive for December, 2010

Dictctor desk

Typng withh nose

No fingrs or tongue rght now

Green neeedle regrwng them but short posst for tody

Hurt savng fusion manns liife

Then he savd mine

He sayss merry xmass

Mor laate


The gonna killl aliens man

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

As some of you may have already noticed, I’m not in my office today. This is not because I took an unscheduled vacation or a sick day. No, it’s because I was kidnapped by aliens. Oh sure, it happens to all of us. White light, strapped down, probe up the butt, but usually you wake up in your own bed in the morning.

Hang on one moment.

Green Needle tells me that doesn’t happen all that much, although she says she’s willing to help with my butt probe on this trip. I told her we would discuss that later, after we’ve settled the immediate issues at hand.

For example, as the leader of Technefarious, I’m going to order that our department heads assign some resources to find out where the heck I am. While Green Needle arranged to have me kidnapped with all with all my equipment, I don’t actually carry anything that lets me know where I am when I’m not on Earth. The split-photon signal we use in communicators is generally not blockable by technology means, so I’m reasonably confident this memo is going to be posted. I’m also told split-photons are not traceable, which means the science department won’t be able to just track my signal. I’m not sure we’re still in Earth orbit, so the occult department may have a tough time reaching me too. Get to work, people.

Hang on one moment.

Green Needle says I should have said, “where the hell I am” in the last paragraph, because I’m a supervillain. She also says my communicator looks suspiciously like a cell phone. I’m going to ignore her now.

I’m putting Frigid in charge while I’m gone. If you don’t like it, take it up with the Elite Triad. Remember everyone, if I don’t agree with any coups you carry out against my appointed replacement while I’m gone, I’ll kill you.

Sounds like the aliens are coming back now, so I’m going to hit post.

Have a good week everyone. And remember, the world is already ours – well, just yours right now, I guess. Keep it safe for me.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway  

The Killing Man

From the Desk of the Dictator: 

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

Well, that was plan 1,782 for world domination into the recycling bin. Most of them never make it out of the planning stages, but this one actually looked like it might succeed for a few days.

Our initial plan (with the full title of PROJECT JELLY DOUGHNUT: GIANT EARTHQUAKES FROM SATTELITE BASED EARTHQUAKE MACHINES) worked well. All the resources were assembled with minimum losses on our part. The equipment built worked within expectations. Things did not fall apart until the implementation of the last part of the project, Operation Flat Pancake. The initial developments went well: the world knew we were demanding their capitulation, the earthquake machines worked well, and the Establishment was off balance. Delivering our message to the entire world at once undermined the public’s confidence in their governments, making the world’s nations more susceptible to our threats. The earthquake machines could focus sharply enough to target conventional military equipment. We proved that by picking off of several fighter jets in mid-flight while we were roughing up the armed forces of the more belligerent nations. Which just left the various unconventional forces of the Earth.

Considering how many millions of superpowered people we have on our planet, it’s surprising how few offensive superpowered units are part of any of the world’s standing armies. I suppose that’s partially influenced by superhero traditions that sprang up over the course of the last century, then reinforced by treaties worked out by the victors of World War II to set limits on the escalation of warfare fueled by superpowers. I know the Iron 56 incident in Germany near the end of the war scared both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. pretty badly. Even now, Earth acts as the home to at least fifteen beings that could destroy galaxies or entire universes. The idea of setting their patriotic planet killers against each other gave the world leaders pause, and the resulting treaties are thought to have prepped the ground for later treaties about nuclear weapons and other WMD’s. 

The Establishment, of course, doesn’t belong to any nation. Its Board of Directors is drawn from the global superhero population, theoretically making in neutral in international politics. This gives it the strength to coordinate the superpowered population for the Earth’s regular repulsion of extra-dimensional and extra-terrestrial attacks. By the same token, the Establishment rarely interferes with anyone’s domestic or international politics. So if we can ever convince the nations of the world to surrender, the Establishment is less likely to continue the fight. At the very least, it would shrink the pool of resources its leadership can draw from.

Of course, first you have to convince the nations of the world that the Establishment can’t come to their rescue. So they found our satellites pretty early in the first day but had trouble doing anything about them. Technefarious has decades of data about superpowers from which we developed defenses for the satellites to hold off the Establishment. According to our models, each could stand up to ten thousand years of attack. We actually hoped they would stand up to an average of about eight hours of abuse, because ours is a weird world, and there’s always some new power source popping up. Of course, we had three warehouses full of replacement satellites that we could teleport into orbit whenever one got destroyed. They kept the Establishment busy. So busy that it really unnerved the national governments that the Establishment could not just stop the earthquakes. Unfortunately, the Establishment could have kept popping our earthquake machines pretty much indefinitely, and their own bases are turned out to be mostly immune to the satellites. Our intelligence department chalks that up to all the oddball powers the Establishment has access to, so we had to take to fight directly to their leadership.

This is where things fell apart. Dealing with the Suit and his elite Executives is never easy, but it had to be done. While our assault teams conducted distraction attacks against the Establishment’s regular forces, I lead a direct assault against the Executives. I can’t give you a firsthand account of most of the fight. I targeted Suit himself, naturally enough. On paper, the man should only be a second tier hero, but his decades of experience leading the Establishment make him too dangerous to leave breathing. He used those decades of experience to take me off the board. I spend most of the battle trapped in a “dead room,” where Technefarious’s remote equipment could not reach me. I could have gotten out of that easily enough, but the Suit had dug up a guy called Grimmed.

I can kill anything. It’s my most notable superpower. What I can’t guarantee is that my victim will stay dead. Grimmed died a lot over the next few hours but was back and intact with seconds. When I tried to leave him just maimed, the little bastard killed himself. If Bleach had not eventually convinced Green Needle to have the Chlorophyll Cabal join our assault, I’m not entirely sure when I would have gotten out of there. Green Needle eventually tracked me down, and she solved my problem by hitting Grimmed with a paralyzing need, followed up with another shot that put him to sleep.

Despite my personal problems, we actually made a good accounting of ourselves. Technefarious left three Executives dead (although I’m sure they’ll be back among the living soon) and completely trashed their base. Unfortunately, by then it was a moot point.

The Executive Gearhead had managed to break away early in the fight to continue his research on the beams our satellites were emitting. While the Establishment’s base collapsed around him, he managed to develop a counter-field and deploy it. Within seconds of turning it on, our satellites became useless. The Establishment still hasn’t found everything we put in orbit, but with the heroes’ new ability to stop our earthquake machines with a flick of a switch, we’re going to have to file Project Jelly Doughnut in the failed plot drawer. 

Oddly enough, we suffered no deaths this week. Our base was never compromised, so the soul catchers and cloning equipment never went offline. I think this is the first time we’ve ever run the final operation of a project and none of our people died. It feels strange.

In any event, this memo is running long, so check the bulletin boards for this week’s events.

Have a good week everyone. And remember, the world is already ours – it just outfought us this time.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway

The Killing Man

The boys at Webcomics Weekly, a podcast for webcomic professionals, talked about digital downloads for comics this week. They had to cut their show short this week and asked for input from the audience. It’s a subject I’ve given quite of bit of thought to, so what follows it what I wrote to them.

Dear Dave, Brad, Scott, and Kris,

You guys asked for thoughts about digital downloads, so I’m writing you. I’ll put the most important part first: your readers have no guarantee that your web offerings will be available tomorrow. You could go broke tomorrow or you could get run over by a beer truck without leaving any heirs. Soon enough your work disappears from the web, except for what remains in various archives which are harder to find and ultimately suffer from the same weakness. I know I archived my defunct webcomic Phantast Staffing Services at my personal website, but if you linked to back in 2005, that site it gone. I’m part of the audience that rereads things I like. Let me buy a digital download so I can have a copy in case you disappear. Or just one I can reread offline when I’m in an area where internet coverage sucks.

But I can already do that with your books, right? Right! To drag Kirkman into discussion, I can read his works as floppies, as trades, as Ultimate hardcovers, as Complete Library hardcovers, as an iPhone app, and as a comiXology download. Yes, there are overlaps in terms of audience, but the existence of one format does not mean another cannot be profitable. That, or Kirkman and his artists are losing a LOT of money.

The question is what digital downloads can offer that the other format don’t. Let’s start with webcomics: no ads, quicker rate of page turning in areas where the internet isn’t amazing, no bandwidth usage, no internet failures to worry about. Depending on the habits of the reader, there is another: the assumption that the download will be the only thing you are doing for a while, just like using your tablet for playing a video game or reading a book. If you’re reading webcomics, the odds are pretty good that you’ve got another tab open or you’re going to follow an interesting looking link in the notes to something else on the internet. That’s not a huge problem for daily comedy strips like yours, but what about the drama webcomics? Remember, different formats have different (if overlapping) audiences. Drama reads a heck of lot better in large chunks, which is why comedy dominated newspapers and drama dominated comic books. Dylan Meconis should probably have a download for Family Man and Bite Me! Jonathan Rosenberg should definitely have some for Goats, since the material already exists and he couldn’t make it profitable with just the web and books.

So the drama comics should absolutely do digital downloads, even if they’re like comiXology’s currently neutered style of downloads. The comedy strips like yours should consider if the time spent repackaging will pay off in enough additional revenue for the content. That’s especially important if you’ll just end up doing it again in ten years after the digital download market settles on a non-DRM standard like the music industry did, and you have to replace the clunky DRM versions with something more consumer friendly. Still, to get into a marketplace of digital download readers who only partially overlap with webcomic readers, it might be worth it. Sure, the middlemen take a piece of the action, but they also collect a lot of money-spending consumers in one space – sort of like the people who run comic conventions. You pay for your table, but you also gain access to a slightly different audience than just what your website brings to you.

Okay, back to downloads versus other formats. Let’s lump all the magazine and book types together. Magazines and books offer better resolution in a less eyestraining format, flexibility in size without a fixed screen size to fit into, don’t require access to electricity to read, and never suffer crashes. However, they take up shelf space, bend, rip, get moldy, and burn well. Phone downloads have a really small screen size that often require reworking the material to make it readable, sometimes in ways that really change how the material flows for a reader. Direct brain projection offers the crispest visual experience, but they still haven’t figured out to consistently prevent “traumatic afterimage episodes,” which are widely blamed for the increase in automobile accidents among projection users. And, of course, cave drawings are really hard for the consumer to carry around.

So, what should downloads feature? Ideally, no DRM. Ownership is a big selling point over just reading it on the web. By the same logic, the image quality should be high enough that a professional quality printout should be possible from the file, again for the creator-suddenly-drops-dead scenario. Yes, there are some new piracy risks that someone might make unlicensed hardcopies – for something the audience can read free on the web and probably buy cheaper in hardcopy directly from the creator. After that, a creator might want additional content for digital downloads of the sort that usually gets added to hard copies: behind-the-scenes-making-of material, original content, and/or commentary. A phone formatted version bundled with the regular version would also be a good idea. Video games, wallpapers, or other original electronic files should probably not be part of the download to help the market develop a standard format for digital downloads. However, bundling a unique code like the video game market currently does allowing access to such things might be workable, assuming the creator is willing to go through that much work. Heck, Sam Logan of Sam & Fuzzy did something like that so his book-buyers could download wallpapers, and he can’t even set up a RSS feed for his comic. It’s called Comicpress, Sam! Get with the times! I’ll click through to the main page as long as the feed reminds me that there’s something to look at, dammit, just don’t make me rely on this crappy memory of mine!

What was I talking about? Downloads, right. Okay, reading back through, it looks like I covered everything I can think of for the moment. Well, shameless plug here at the bottom then: if you know any artists looking for a writer, send them in my direction. I’m actively looking to produce things in public again, and I folded up Phantast because I draw slowly and poorly, not because I was having issues with the writing.

Keep up all your good work, gentlemen.

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

The final stage of Project Jelly Doughnut, Operation Flat Pancake, is underway and going well so far! We started our morning by broadcasting our demand for the world governments to surrender their authority to us. Congratulations to our I.T. department for breaking into most major broadcast signals, cable networks, and web pages across the world. Only five percent of villain ultimatums get out to the public anymore. Most don’t make it past the communications infrastructure built up by the superhero community over the decades, ending up in the broadcast equivalent of a spam catcher. It gets watched. It’s just that only the superheroes, governments, and media see it live. Creating an impression upon the larger population is also one of the aims of these broadcasts, so getting through to the entire world is worthy of praise – and cash money. Expect bonuses in your next paycheck I.T. department.

Having delivered our terms (Dictatorship of the world for me, executive branch fiefdoms and money for interested Technefarious staff, parliamentary style world government to do the day to day governing because I plan to be a lazy but arbitrary dictator), we began with a show of force. Japan and western American have that nice earthquake resistant infrastructure, so we spend an hour testing our earthquake satellites by shaking them up, moving the center of the quake around and making them run far too long to prove that they had to be something other than natural. We followed up with targeted strikes on various military bases, giving them enough time to do some evacuating but cranking up the intensity before they had a chance to remove too much equipment from the sites. Enemy casualties have been light so far, but we are still trying to threaten them into submission rather than brutalizing them into it.

Unfortunately, we suffered our first casualty a little while ago. Henchman 43Q-F7 (Richard) died while fixing a broken fuse on one of our satellites. Our teleportation technology is discreet but not as undetectable as the cloaks we put on our satellites. Teleporting a small, space-suited person is harder to trace than a big clunky satellite, so we sent him out when it started having problems. Unfortunately, down on Earth, other events interfered with his repair. Gold Bug was taking advantage of the mess we are making to do some easy bank robbing. However, he ran into the Poker Hand while he was out. Due to an improbable series of events involving a hot dog cart, seven cheerleaders, and Gold Bugs oil expulsion spit attack, Wild Card slammed into Royal Flush while she was aiming an energy blast at the bank robber.  The unexpected impact caused Royal Flush to boost the energy level of her discharge and altered the angle so it shot up into the sky, hitting our satellite. For those unfamiliar with the Poker Hand, Wild Card’s power is unconscious probability manipulation, better known as luck: random, good for her, and bad for her enemies. In and of itself, the explosion would have just killed Henchman 43Q-F7. However, the satellite’s weird combination of magic and tech disrupted his connection to the soul catchers, so they were unable to gather him in as his soul left his body. The satellites have cloaks, but their explosions don’t, so now the Establishment knows where to look for our Earthquake machines. So Gold bug goes to jail, the Establishment has a lucky break, and poor Henchman 43Q-F7 is dead. There’s no justice in the world – which we already knew, or someone would have figured out how to kill me by now.

Next up, we’ll give the Establishment a chance to gather more data on our machines by targeting their facilities for a good shaking down. The next few hours should be interesting.

Have a good week everyone. And remember, the world is already ours – it just does not realize it yet.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway

The Killing Man