EDITOR’S CORNER: There’ve been some complaints about the apparently-slapdash postings of our regular “Deadbeats Online” series, and we freely acknowledge that those who ask “Where the #@!! is the next installment?” or “Why has the posting been stalled at Episode #750 for weeks?” have legitimate gripes. All we can assert is that we’ve each–Ricardo, Thom, and me–been trying our best to play catch-up after a particularly disastrous 2011 (don’t ask). Thom’s just recently back from being on the road–you may have heard of this little gathering called ComicCon–so I didn’t expect that he could post anything new until he got back to his office, or access to some higher-level computer, but once the way became clear, we were poised to take action.
Well, it took a while, but here’s the official announcement that the logjam on posting new episodes of “Deadbeats Online” has been broken. Thom’s back from his travels (temporarily) and in full command of working the site. I asked him not to jam-post the next twenty or so episodes all at the same time (I’ve heard that it interferes with the process of alerting updates for those using the likes of Google Reader), so for the immediate future, there should be a new slice of that gourmet treat Fear City Tartare served up cold and bloody every day. This is not to state absolutely that we might not miss one every now and then, but we’ll try to stick as close to the one-a-day vitamin model as we can manage, so take heart! There are another many, many episodes that have been pencilled, inked, scripted, lettered, proofread, and approved for posting, which should happen soon. Ricardo’s inks are complete and back from Argentina up through #792 and he’s got the follow-up job, which takes the story up to #814. I’m finishing up the next batch this week, #815-824. Thom’s working hard on making sure that we don’t miss any further postings. I’m confident that we’ll get back on schedule and stay there. Thanks to everyone out there for your continued interest and patience. I hope that everyone has been enjoying what’s been presented so far.
As far as the future holds: There are plenty of surprises in store. Our new arc–”Unlikely Heroes” –which was mentioned in a previous “Editor’s Corner” (June 19th), is just about to kick into gear in the posted continuity, and the principals, Southie and Brittany (back in full-bodied force…Yay!), make surprisingly convincing–affecting, even–crusaders for the righteous. However, since their middle names are “Damaged” and “Wayward,” respectively, let’s just state that the course of eliminating the evil from Mystic Grove never did run smooth. There’s also a bizarre town meeting, at which the mayor makes an attempt to ramrod a stronger initiative against the offending bloodsuckers (which results in a wild–one–vampire attack against one of his favorite staffers), an amusing sidelight on the use of religious paraphernalia to ward off the evil undead, and a new slant on realtor Rhonda Shue’s “slaughtered family specials.” Also, there’s a short shift in the spotlight, aiming towards a crucial moment for the Peters vampire mob, and a to-the-point primer on why it doesn’t pay enough to deliver pizzas in Mystic Grove. In other words, lots more energy, lots more chills, lots more big words (yes, Drs. Ralston and Powell will be along for the ride), and lots and lots of commitment to each and every episode.
Oddly enough, a huge amount of scripting and pencilling has been generated during what seems like one of the worsts heat waves in memory here in the Tri-State area (that’s NY, NJ, and CT, of course). Mostly I’ve reverted to my (suitably enough) vampire schedule, which entails my working through the marginally-cooler nights, then turning in to sleep once the temperature gets unbearable again. It works out well enough. I’d use the air conditioner more, but it scares the cats, and three of them (Sam and the little girls)
react by fleeing–as if they were wearing flee collars–to the upstairs, where it’s stultifyingly hot. I don’t want the little brainless wonders to die of heat stroke, so I do whatever I can to keep them on the first floor, and keep the air circulating via the ceiling fan in the kitchen.
Entertainment? Sure, there’s plenty going on around here. Now that I’ve once again (temporarily) resolved my computer/television/DVD issues, I’ve returned to scripting a full page (two episodes) every morning while watching something, both on the iMac DVD Player. Within the past month, I’ve managed to catch the third and fourth season of TRUE BLOOD (not an influence on DEADBEATS–especially in terms of dialogue style–but pretty nifty in its own right), the second Downey Jr. SHERLOCK HOLMES movie (always nice to see Stephen Fry, a perfect choice as Mycroft), DESPICABLE ME (which was better than I expected; I’m always leery of movies that were recommended to me by friends who watched them with their pre-school-age children), and the most recent THE MUPPETS. After that, I have BABY MAMA checked out already (the Leonia Library is offering free DVD rentals through August 31), and then, who knows? I can always return to meandering my way through ANGEL, Season Five. (I recently watched the episode in which Cordelia returns to wrap up her storyline, and after that is “Smile Time,” which–I expect–will be a touch too distracting to which to script. Also, I’m not looking forward to the advent of Illyria.)
Like any good soap devotee, I’ve been religiously watching all of the remaining daytime offerings (except DAYS, more intermittently), and am thrilled that TNT’s DALLAS is a) so good, and b) is doing so well. The season-ending cliffhanger was very much in DALLAS’ “leave ‘em hanging all Summer” tradition. Network TV is sort of a wasteland during the warmer months, so I’m especially grateful to have the likes of THE CLOSER, ROYAL PAINS, WHITE COLLAR, BURN NOTICE, and (especially) SUITS to keep me out of the proverbial pool halls. (I’m a real washout at playing proverbial pool, anyway.)
Also, it’s always nice to know that someone’s reading these updates (as well as the DEADBEATS ONLINE strip itself, of course), and we just received our first letter of comment since we discontinued our message board. Remember, all opinions and observations can be sent to me here, directly, at RHOWELL@nj.rr.com, and I’ll be able to answer or respond from that point on. (Correspondents should also be very clear if they would rather that their comments not be posted here.) Thanks. So here’s the E-mail we found in our inbox, fittingly enough, from one of the most consistent commentors on our series back in the dear (literally) old days of paper printing:
I’ve been reading your online strip since the Big Shift of 2007, and now that my life’s settled back down, I’m taking the plunge into LoC-dom once again. Basically, it took me a while to get used to the rhythms of the new format. I suspect that the same is true for you, too. Now, though, it seems that you’ve got into a good groove. The “Firelight” storyline, with Senator Cain’s movie-star parents, Scylladyne Oscar, and the hugely-welcome return of Dracula to Fear City has been highly entertaining. I especially enjoyed the party sequence, with various Mystic Grovers singing Karaoke. Dr. Ralston and Dr. Powell singing the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood hit “Jackson”? Hilarious.
It always surprises me the new wrinkles that you can find in these very, very *very* well-established characters, without invalidating what’s come before. I didn’t recognize the song that Kirby and Manny performed, though, so I may have missed a joke there. The “Count Nogard” reference would have sailed right by me.
Who knew that The VanSloans had enough contacts to entice Harry, Hermoine, and Ron to attend? I suspect that writer/penciller Howell is behind the appearance of the Scarlet Witch and Portia Prinz. Scylladyne’s journey from fang-fan to Queen of the Undead was well-paced and believably motivated. I’m a little sorry that she’s fully gone now. I should also mention that Jackie Sude’s capturing and victimizing Jo was just…twisted. (A dog collar? Really?) I felt Kirby’s pain, too. Somehow, DEADBEATS ONLINE, like DEADBEATS before it, communicates real emotions beneath all the horror, the character eccentricities, the new-word-of-the-day showoffiness, and the genre tropes.
In short, I’m liking it. I never stopped, but I stopped writing. I hope to become a regular commentor again. I think that I can state without reservation that DEADBEATS is definitely worth my time.
Thanks, as always, Roger, for your commentary. Since you stopped writing to us when our paper-printed comic ceased publication, we’d wondered what happened to you–lost interest? No Internet access? It’s good to hear from you again.
Honestly, it surprised us, too, that Drs. Powell and Ralston would get up and belt one out at Karaoke night in Fear City. Who knows? Maybe they’re tired of all the predation and terror and are thinking of moving–and if so, why not “Movin’ with Nancy”? Kirby’s trio sang “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano” which was featured in the movie THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, performed by Jude Law, Matt Damon, and Fiorello, in similarly sweaty style.
The dog collar routine was a salute to Mike Sekowsky’s WONDER WOMAN #185, featuring the premier (and quite possibly only) malicious Lesbian/S&M/B&D triumvirate of kidnappers, tramps, and thieves “THEM!” I can’t tell you how many assignments from which I’ve been booted (not a Nancy Sinatra reference) for wanting to bring THEM! back.
Oh, and Jackie Sude’s name was a similar tip-o’-the-cowl to the TERRY villainess Sanjak, who disguised herself at one point as a hoteliere named Madame Sud. Aren’t you glad that you didn’t ask?
Also, the Dragon Lady appeared, somewhat ingocnito as MISS NOGARD in 1939.
Along those lines: You are hereby encouraged to obtain and read the entire Milton Caniff run of TERRY AND THE PIRATES. No kidding.
Don’t let it interfere with your leaning towards being a regular DEADBEATS dissector again, though. Our inbox is always open. As mentioned earlier, RHOWELL@nj.rr.com is now the place to send questions, comments, or observations. If you’ve got any of those, we’d like to read them, answer them, and maybe post them.