Issue 3 of Falling Rock National Park is finished! Here is the finished cover: Subscribers will be getting their copies as soon as they get back from the printer.
If you don’t subscribe, why not start now? Reading more comics is a great New Year’s resolution.
Hello friends, and welcome to the final weekly-Friday installment of Friday Robots. It’s been a great trip, with so many species discovered along the way. While this may be the end of the weekly run, it doesn’t mean that Friday Robots will never be seen again. Oh no. I will continue to bring robots to you as often as I discover them.
In the meantime, have a very happy new year!
The final robot, in both black and white and color:
Stumptown Comics Fest was the first comic convention I ever attended, way back in 2009. One year later, it was the first comic convention I tabled at. Located that year in the Lloyd Center Doubletree ballroom (really one floor of a parking garage with carpet installed), Stumptown set the tone for me for how comic conventions should be. It was packed with interesting people, some of whom I now proudly call my friends. It taught me about trading the comic I made for another comic somebody else made. I met famous cartoonists, who mingled with us self-published nobodies and didn’t even complain about our smell.Was Stumptown perfect? Heck no! Cartoonists love to complain as much (if not more) as other people. But I’ve come to realize that the “faults” of a show can also give it character. Make it special, even. MoCCA is held in a century-old armory that is stuffy in even the best weather conditions. Emerald City promoted Patrick Stewart every day for nearly a year but failed to mention all the cool kids in Artist Alley. SPX’s website crashed the second it was open to the public. In the end, these bumps bring us together, or at least give us fodder for in-convention sketches to pass around.
The last few years it was pretty clear that the directors of Stumptown had lost interest in the show. I can’t blame them for wanting to move on. Organizing a comic convention every year can be sweaty thankless work. If you’re not 100% into it, you shouldn’t force yourself. Having the mantle of Stumptown hanging over your head, while dreading the angry tweets from indie cartoonists if it doesn’t go well, is no way to live your life. Better no Stumptown than a Stumptown everybody hates.
I’m sorry to see Stumptown go, but am forever grateful for the world it opened to me. My path in comics would be quite different had Stumptown not existed. To use a handy metaphor, Stumptown is my George Bailey.
For a long time, I believed King’s own adaptation of The Shining, a rambling, cheesy TV movie starring that guy from Wings and Rebecca De Mornay, was the bottom of the King barrel. After discovering the three-hour TV movie The Langoliers was on streaming, however, I found out firsthand what a truly terrible King adaptation looked like.
Briefly, The Langoliers is about an airplane that gets sucked back in time and the unfortunate few passengers who fall back in time along with it. Instead of being able to watch the Gettysburg Address firsthand or ask Moses out for a beer, the past is a barren place quickly dissolving. When the passengers land the plane in the Bangor, Maine airport, they figure all this out through deduction and a blind girl who has some pale comparison of the shining. One of the passengers (Balki from Perfect Strangers, in the movie) goes crazy and kills the blind girl and the black guy before the Langoliers get him. What are the Langoliers?
Evil Pac-Men who devour the world as it slips into the past. The Langoliers are the plot device that get the passengers back on the plane. The Langoliers are the stupid story Balki’s dad told him when he was a kid and being bad. “The Langoliers will get you,” Balki’s dad told him when Balki wasn’t good enough at school or whatever. “Watch out for the Langoliers.” Then Balki grew up to be a corrupt businessman and then the plane he was on fell back in time and he gets eaten by the Langoliers. Are you terrified yet? Or confused? It doesn’t really matter. The whole story is dumb.
Written during King’s famed “verbal diarrhea” period from the mid-80’s to the early 00’s, The Langoliers must have been an exercise in patience for any King fan when it was released in 1990. Due to overwhelming demand (?), it was made into a TV movie in 1995. I cannot imagine sitting through this with ads. It must’ve been 5 or 6 hours. Long pointless scenes of people looking out the plane window, arguing with each other about what might be happening, looking distraught, punctuated by ads for trucks and sofas and fax machines. Now that I type that out, I realize The Langoliers must have been trying to make the viewer acutely aware of precious time slipping away. It was about time, but it was also made to kill time. How very meta.
You can’t blame the makers of The Langoliers for the awful special effects. It was clearly a low-budget affair. What you can blame them for is the creatively bankrupt cinematography and direction. When 95% of your movie is close-ups and the rest is an empty plane and airport, you’ve made some poor artistic choices. I’m sure Terrence Malick could have done something interesting with this script, but even an unseasoned director should have attempted more than what I saw, if only to relieve the tedium.
I do not believe The Shining is the worst King adaptation. It is not even second- or third-worst. The Langoliers, on the other hand, is so unbelievably bad I wonder if Stephen King blocked it from his memory so that he can continue writing without crippling self-doubt. If anything, it is proof that successful writers need editors just as much, if not more, than unknown or new writers. Sitting in silence for three hours would have been more rewarding than watching this existentially blank movie.
For over six years I have been posting robots here every Friday. Friday Robots have become, if not the bread and butter, then certainly the oil and gears of the blog. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a bit hemmed in my my self-imposed deadline. Starting January 1st, Friday Robots will no longer be appearing weekly. Instead I’ll make them more of a spur of the moment thing. Whenever I’m feeling inspired to draw a robot, I’ll share it with you. Who knows? This could mean you’ll see even more robots than ever. And, when I’m in the midst of working on an issue of Falling Rock, like I am now, I won’t feel stressed about having to take time away from to draw a mediocre robot. It’s a win-win.
Have a great December and may all the robots you meet be benevolent.