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mygif

Also good to have in the skillset: Having A Rich Patron.

I made a film on the weekend! But none of that arty stuff, keep the camera on the action, I says. Crap, I just stole Jason Lee’s bit.

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mygif

Being critical isn’t a matter of manners, anyway, in my opinion. I get way too ticked off at rude people, but I don’t think that has anything to do with popping the bubble of some sucktastic creator that thinks they can make my eyes bleed (or brain hurt) because they’re posting on the internet. I try to temper criticism with a bit of praise, if they’re doing SOMETHING right, but someone who’s never had a bit of criticism may not be doing ANYTHING right.

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mygif

I agree… mostly.
A lot of people, myself included, use the internet as that early editor. Put the shit out there and see what people think of it. My old band put a lot of bad MP3s of four-track demos out, and they were terrible, and some people told us that and some didn’t. My new band, as a result, are (I think) as good as any band out there. Similarly, I’ve been very sporadically doing a webcomic (at one point it went a *year* between updates, just because it takes me something like 70 hours to do a page in the style I do it in, and I simply didn’t have the time). It’s not very good, but the comments people have made about it are instructive, and when I’ve finished this one, the next one will be better.
Letting people see your bad art is not a bad thing, but being unable to take criticism is – I can’t tell at points here which of these things you’re talking about…

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mygif

Andrew: there’s nothing technically wrong at all with using the Internet as your early editor per se, but systematically this is a method that ends up flawed because constructive criticism is hard to come by.

If I throw Piece of Shit A up on my website, the signal-to-noise ratio of the comments visa-vis constructive criticism will be very low, right? Because it’s mostly going to be “THIS RULES” or “THIS SUCKS,” and what’s more all of those pejorative or sycophantic opinions will make it harder to glean the actual useful criticism you receive. And, as a general rule, because people really aren’t typically bothered to say things about or continue reading/perusing they don’t think aren’t that good, your court of commentary will usually, over time, be weighted disproportionately to “THIS RULES.” And then we get to the state of webcomics today, where any negative opinion at all is treated as personal attack.

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CandidGamera said on September 17th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

The guy on the webcomic criticism site is an arrogant ass. I say this, having read his site for about ten minutes.

“I don’t find X funny, so X is empirically, incontrovertably not funny!” – People who assert their opinions as facts piss me off.

I don’t find his rants particularly entertaining. Or funny. But I’m not an arrogant ass, so I can agree to disagree with people who think differently.

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BitterCupOJoe said on September 17th, 2007 at 12:50 pm

A couple of things: His writing itself is not lazy. There’s some good, funny stuff in there. However, his choice of targets is exceedingly lazy. Webcomics? Seriously? Why doesn’t he just go to someone’s house and start sniping at their kids refridgerator art?

Yes, a lot of webcomcis are shit and/or have shit periods. Yes, a certain level of criticism can be useful in helping those pople improve, even *gasp* mean-sounding criticism. But he says himself: most of those creators could not give a shit about what he’s saying, and most of the rest don’t have it in them to improve past the point they’re at. And, frankly, that’s not a horrible thing. Yes, some of them are, theoretically, “professional.” But just like Kinkade or Spears, people like them for a reason. The reason may be that they’re mouth breathing morons, or it may simply be that, for this one comic, the person doesn’t mind shutting off their brain and enjoying it for its mediocre charms.

Beyond that, a lot of these guys aren’t professional. Buckley’s CAD I think is a fair target, both because it’s mediocre or worse most of the time and because it’s formulaic, but more importantly, because Buckley aspires towards professionalism. He’s even got some of the trappings of it: he pretty much never misses a comic, he lives off of merchandise and ads, I believe, etc. But he doesn’t really seem to care about any kind of craft. So, yeah, totally fair target. Same thing for Sluggy Freelance, User Friendly, PvP, etc. I don’t agree with all of his criticisms on all of the comics, but I can at least understand them.

But picking on shit like Shortpacked, and let’s get this out of the way, I don’t particularly care for Shortpacked, that just seems kinda mean and pointless. Particularly since his complaint appears to be, “I don’t like drama in my humor comics, please stop it, kthxdie.” It’s not any kind of webcomics juggernaut, it’s just this kinda dumb comic that some folks like. I guess what I’m saying is, there’s places where his bile is appropriate, and places where it’s just him being an asshole.

When I look at the pointless, stupid sniping in art, I don’t see, “Oh, but look at the beautiful art that those artists produced, and think of how horrible it would have been if they had let amateurs in that couldn’t play the political game.” I see an amateur artist that had a good bit of native talent but no thick skin, and therefore became an accountant or a waitress. I see assholes hiding behind their talent for politics and backbiting and using it as a way to prevent criticism of their own shitty art. I’m not saying we need to treat everyone with kid gloves and tell them they’re precious little snowflakes, but at the same time, if someone’s only mode is gogogohatehatehate, then fuck them. They’re not worth listening to.

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CandidGamera said on September 17th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Re: BitterCupOJoe

THANK you. Well put.

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mygif

(applause)

YWIBAYSFB is actually *kind* compared to some professional critiquers in various fields. And it’s a refreshing change from the typical, incestuous webcomic reviews out there that are all flowers and rainbows. If the medium is going to get any better, it needs some hard critique that isn’t afraid to admit that shit smells. I’m glad the site exists.

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mygif

“Andrew: there’s nothing technically wrong at all with using the Internet as your early editor per se, but systematically this is a method that ends up flawed because constructive criticism is hard to come by.”

Makes sense. I suppose since I only actively promote my crappy work (as opposed to the stuff I consider professional-quality) to fairly small, targeted groups of people I can get better feedback than if I tried to get a huge audience for it… I don’t think I’d have discovered (say) my utter inability to draw an attractive woman’s body, or my over-reliance on the Ddim7 chord, without that kind of thing.

But something like Shortpacked or PVP is implicitly trying to compete with ‘real’ comics, and deserves exactly the same critical response as the same comic would on paper. And critics should be harsh when dealing with bad work, yes…

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mygif

“I don’t find X funny, so X is empirically, incontrovertably not funny!” – People who assert their opinions as facts piss me off.

He never simply says that and it’s unfair to suggest otherwise. He says “X is misogynistic shit” or “X is unoriginal, spouting cliche and tired memes in place of actual creative punchlines.” These are entirely valid criticisms. Critiquing humour doesn’t begin and end with “does somebody find it funny,” because if it did, the best Monty Python bits would be on par with, say, making fart noises with your mouth.

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CandidGamera said on September 17th, 2007 at 1:54 pm

“He never simply says that and it’s unfair to suggest otherwise.”

Well, you’re right that he never simply says that. Seems to enjoy the sound of his own keyboard too much to say things simply. :)

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Milkman Dan said on September 17th, 2007 at 2:36 pm

As much as I appreciate the concept of that blog, I found that I couldn’t read much of it. I was initially struck with the perverse impulse to look through the archive and see if there were any webcomics I knew about and I that I was currently reading.

Then I realized he’s pretty much criticizing webcomics that either I don’t read, or that I’ve never even HEARD of. The vast majority being in the latter group.

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mygif

I read the site early on, and thought that it was a hoax by a webcartoonist who was either bitter about his/her competition or playing a prank on friends in the industry. I had no idea it was still going until you linked to it. (For the record, I doubt it’s a hoax now. Nobody spends that much time bad-mouthing their competitors. Well, OK, almost nobody.)

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mygif

A couple of things: His writing itself is not lazy. There’s some good, funny stuff in there. However, his choice of targets is exceedingly lazy. Webcomics? Seriously? Why doesn’t he just go to someone’s house and start sniping at their kids refridgerator art?

Maybe because if you look around for people and places that give criticism for webcomics without being either a simpering sycophant eager to get linked back by the object of his admiration so he can pretend to be a big wheel in the “webcomics community” without possessing even a modicum of talent, or someone who desperately avoids any kind of harsh words on any subject so he can avoid being “mean” to people, then guess who you’ll end up with? Probably, and I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but probably just me and the other contributors to my blog. Oh, and how we are reviled for it.

We already have critics for every medium under the sun. Being just another one of them isn’t what I wanted to do. You see, a lot of webcomics seem to think that because they’ve escaped the editorial process in getting into the public eye, they can just do without all the rest of it. The very concept of an unfavourable review for anything they do seems alien to some of these people, not to mention their fans. A movie review blog wouldn’t end up getting comments like “Where’s your Hollywood blockbuster?” and “Gigli’s just too DEEP for you.” I do. Doesn’t that strike you as a little weird?

Up until my redesign I had a quote from Samuel Johnson in the header. I think I should put it back, because it sums it up nicely. “He that writes may be considered as a kind of general challenger, whom every one has a right to attack; since he quits the common rank of life, steps forward beyond the lists, and offers his merit to the public judgement. To commence author is to claim praise, and no man can justly aspire to honour, but at the hazard of disgrace.”

So, sure, I could review the paintings of children. I’d probably be encouraging rather than dismissive, but that’s because they’re children. The people responsible for the webcomics I look at are in their twenties, if not thirties. Yet they’ve spent years churning out the same poor grade of writing, of art, for years. Never once do they think “Maybe I should learn what women’s breasts actually look like.” Unlike the children, these people need a severe wakeup call to what they’re doing wrong. They shouldn’t be angry that they’re getting one, just angry they didn’t get one five years ago when they really needed it.

Thank you for your article, Mr. Bird. It’s refreshing to see someone talking common sense about this kind of stuff.

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mygif

Bittercupojoe, the reason we attack webcomics is because no one else is, and there’s this culture and mentality in the webcomic community (and I’m said to say that it truly is a community) where being online doesn’t count as real work. Yes, as you pointed out, only some of our targets are professionals, but what you need to understand is that almost all of them THINK they’re professionals, or at least professional level. And when you set yourself up to that standard, and no one takes you to task for it, that’s not helping you or anyone else.

Shortpacked was chosen because John actually enjoys it, and (you don’t seem to really be grasping this) we sincerely want the comics we’re criticizing to improve, or in some cases cease existing if they’re unwilling to do so. We’re not just picking on them to entertain ourselves. The drama in Shortpacked is about as appropriate and welcome as any “very special episode” of children’s cartoons from the 80s. It simply doesn’t have its place. You can’t say “here are my clowns, laugh at them as they injure themselves and make themselves look generally silly” then turn around and say “Oh no my clowns are sad feel sorry for them”. Yes, it is possible to have both humor and serious issues and feelings in a story, but you can’t start out lighthearted and abruptly shift gears into WB-level overwrought drama and expect it to feel consistent at all.

Anyway I don’t really expect to convince you with this, I just wanted you to see it from our point of view, since unlike most people who disagree with some of what we do, you didn’t feel the need to insult us and dismiss our work out of hand.

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mygif

Damn it, that’ll teach me to not refresh a page before commenting on it. And now you see why John is the head writer.

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Savage! Delicious! I will steal ideas from this shamelessly.

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madhouse_city said on September 18th, 2007 at 7:08 am

The only discernable problem* with Your Webcomic is Bad is the majority of webcomics reviewed there are not worth reading. Some readers, then, may consider reading about those webcomics to also be unworthy of their time.
Shredded Moose, for example, is not even worthy of spending Brainless Internet Surfing Time on it. After reading the selected examples of Moose presented in Your Webcomic is Bad, I cleared my browser history and deleted the blog from my bookmarks. This was at the behest of my imagined inner authoritarian voice, which was yelling at me that I had wasted time I would never ever get back reading Shredded Moose. I was severely disappointed with myself.
I have come back to reading Your Webcomic is Bad, for they are talented writers engaged in what a comics junkie like myself can recognize as a noble activity. But I avoid reading every link they offer up.

*I did have beef with the fact that Your Webcomic is Bad criticized the use of two creators working on a comic (a la Cartridge Comics, for instance). Having more than one creator may allow for some editorializing to go on as ideas are bounced off of one another. You can hear this happening in the Penny Arcade podcasts, read the praises of such an activity in mike_smith’s post about webcomics, and see this in action with Lucid TV (three! creators) or Basis Instructions (where the creator did some work in response to Scott Adams’ advice). But then I realized that the bad webcomics use two creators because everyone else and Penny Arcade is doing so, and that two people still produce crap.

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mygif

The very fact that they are not worth reading is one of the reasons why they are reviewed. The blog’s purpose is not only to inform you, the reader, that the webcomic is bad, but also to tell the creator that it is bad and they should (to continue the phrase) feel bad. I apologise that we look at webcomics as repulsive as Shredded Moose, but it must be done.

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mygif

I haven’t read the site, but I’ve read some of his reviews on the Something Awful forums, and frankly, while I appreciate the idea of objective webcomic criticism, they aren’t just not polite; they revel in finding any flaw, pulling it out, and stamping up and down and up and down and up and down in the most obscene, derogatory, you-suck manner possible.

There’s not just “theety-wheety impossible politeness” and “cleanse them THROUGH FIRE” as the only critical options available, guys.

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mygif

Also, in my opinion, an *excellent* site for webcomic criticism already exists: http://www.websnark.com/

I may not agree with him, but I respect what he has to say.

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J. Bryan Shoup said on September 20th, 2007 at 11:50 am

At the beginning of this month I wrote on this topic (criticism of webcomics) in my b log (but not about that particular journal) and I termed the editorial process as “shit prevention,” which seems to line up with your take on it. I completely agree with you, as a published but still amateur short story author (a couple of professional sales do not a professional make – did Stephen King define a professional as someone who can pay each electric bill with their story sales?).

My brother (who writes for Stylus) put it this way about music: “There’s too many people making music.” It’s not that he doesn’t value freedom of expression, but people don’t realize that just because the Internet allows you to put your art up for easy access, doesn’t mean that folks won’t ultimately gravitate toward editorial or journalistic channels to see if it’s any good.

Art is expression of values, and the moment you express values you are enabling others to debate the merits of those values. The Internet is hurting discourse because some people feel obligated to act like assholes, but for many others, the Internet is what they use to attempt to avoid criticism. It’s going to come sooner or later!

The only out I can get webcomic creators is that they are offering their material for free. I feel a greater right to crack wise or grouse about work for which I exchanged my hard-earned dollar (after first voting with my dollar – hence why I am buying less and less DC and hardly any Marvel). Still, anyone has a right to express an opinion.

Do you have a list of your published stories/works? I’d be curious to track some down.

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Eric S. Smith said on September 22nd, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Just before fans of the site cement their rationalizations, they might want to make sure that they don’t think this is brilliant for the wrong reason:

http://webcomicssobad.blogspot.com/

Because it’d suck if you all thought you were upholding excellence in art when you were really just enjoying gratuitous abuse.

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mygif

Well, Eric, it looks like someone trying to jump on the newly created “criticize webcomics” bandwagon with a site dedicated to really shitty jokes about webcomics.

(And honestly, dissing Penny Arcade? Come on now. Penny Arcade is practically the definition of “good, professional webcomic.” Going after it is cheap sensationalism, trying to generate hits.)

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Doug McKeown said on October 1st, 2007 at 2:14 am

I’m eight days late. Hell with it. I must be out of my damn mind.

Somebody posted “I guess the old equation is true: Internet + jackass = popular blog” as a response to one of John Solomon’s articles, bollocks if I remember which one. I think it’s right. This must be what I look like when I throw tact to the wind and insult Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne in front of the friends of mine who actually like them. This is almost an entirely new sensation for me. I’ve taken flak for, say, liking Chuck Palahniuk’s books or Kiyohiko Azuma’s toons, and this isn’t the first time I’ve felt the sting of impersonal, generalized snobbery aimed towards a particular fanbase I happened to be a part of, but this is second time where my immediate gut reaction is to will the critic into my presence and frantically beat him into a very dead state with a length of sturdy plumbing. I’m not panicking because I’m making a ruckus and because rupturing that many blood-filled organs will make clean-up that much more difficult, but because I’m taking too goddamn long to shut him up. I say “second” because the first time I remember feeling that way was when I realized how many laws of physics Ann Coulter had to violate – physically, emotionally, sexually, and otherwise – so she could fit the sheer tonnage of crap inside the 75-or-so-cubic-inches that one of her hardcovers occupies. I had hopes that George Carlin would act as my avatar that night long ago and tear out her throat with his teeth, but I went to bed disappointed and yearning for the blood of right-wing pundits.

This is just as remarkable though, considering how I couldn’t even laugh at the rants targeted at comics I despise. Imagine that. I’m reading articles about something the author and I share a mutual dislike for and I still am filled with the Cro-magnon/Internet male desire to track his footprints through the dust, club in hand, and “smash brain thing with heavy thing”. SP! and VG Cats amuse me so I predictably didn’t enjoy those (I stand by my opinion that the drama of SP! is there because Dave Willis enjoys screwing with a certain subset of his fans while cackling evilly, face half-shrouded in shadows, and if he is I’m honestly laughing right along with him), but I know those were bad articles to begin reading YWiB with so I tried laughing at the EGS one, but dammit I couldn’t. I read ones on comics that I haven’t even heard of, MS and PDH and SAF, ones with summaries that made me cringe so, and I still didn’t get it. I had to force myself to read more articles just to make sure it was a pattern. That pattern was, regrettably, there. The article where he implored people to stop linking to him irritated me because he said he started YWiB to “entertain people”. The manifesto irritated me because he called out people who were being whiny assholes without mentioning the irony. The Dominic Deegan article irritated me because, even if I haven’t read DD, he actually brought up some very good points about the flat and derivative art style, the horrors of self-insertion, the trivialization and justification of raping a seven-year-oh shut the hell up already.

I am not a masochist. I do not ironically give two, even three shits whether or not he swears excessively. I don’t care if the lack of editorial presence on the Internet has summoned him from the depths of stygian cyberspace like some bastard cross between Cthulhu and Lisa Lampanelli minus the rampant cracks about his own promiscuity. There is a switch in my mind with two settings; one is “funny”, the second is “not funny”. This pinhead’s taken a Sharpie, written “KilL iT nOw” (including mismatched caps, in the best of obnoxious Internet tradition) where there isn’t a damn setting, and tried his hardest to flip the switch there. I know not everyone can be Mike Nelson or Joel Hodgson, but there’s got to be some kinds of fines that we can impose.

Mike Saul said: “Shortpacked was chosen because John actually enjoys it, and (you don’t seem to really be grasping this) we sincerely want the comics we’re criticizing to improve, or in some cases cease existing if they’re unwilling to do so.”

…to which I respond, with italicized and emboldened text, what?! I can believe that second one with the ease of butter melting on bread fresh from a toaster, but the first one is so far out of this kitchenette to be inconceivable. I’ll admit I haven’t read every single article, so that intent may be distilled in there somewhere, but, well… you people are such bastards. Dare I say even humorless bastards, not in your consumption of humor, but in your own output. The writer of this blog says there’s some good stuff in YWiB, and some of the people criticizing YWiB say there’s good stuff, but I’m not seeing it, as least not often enough to say the blog amuses me.

Solomon keeps bringing up that people compare him to Maddox, as if the opinion is wrong because of the people who express it. I think it’s an accurate comparison. There is a lack of wit, yet a lot of time spent petulantly raging on and on. There is a lack of verbal curbstomping (that is if one identifies curbstomping as an elaborate, purposeful act that results in a mortal and disfiguring physical blow), but an excess of verbal clubbing, akin to one kicking a home appliance in the hopes that it’ll start working again, even if it never worked in the first place. There’s the occasional eruption of the word “faggot”, and the accompanying mental image of a single eye twitching and floating in a direction the other eye isn’t looking at. There’s the posturing, in his case the admission that constructive criticism does nothing for the dregs of online webcomicry, and then the nerve to think he can do it better. He is Maddox. He is Frank Miller without the freaky luck, the movie deals, and the free hand shoved down his pants. He is Carlos Mencia, elevating the status of his own opinions to gospel, spending half his time on-air whinging about the people who give him shit about how awesome he claims to be, trying to be funny about it, failing, and fucking up other people’s jokes in the process.

I’m feeling conflicted about this, as I’m not even defending anything. I think the greater amount of comics reviewed on YWiB are shit. Now that I’ve read some of DD, I’m find myself remembering how many people I know that have it openly bookmarked and wondering why. The Wotch has me mentally pinching the bridge of my nose and sighing in disbelief. Shredded Moose is so intentionally wrong-headed it’s scary. So why the hell does this righteous pillar, staunching the sucking chest wound that is crappy webcomics with only his ever-vigilant anger, offend me like he does? Maybe I don’t like the idea that he’s affected me enough to make me monkey what he’s been doing for months, despite how little I’ve enjoyed any of his articles. Could be that I’m projecting my distaste for the comics they review on the reviewers. Maybe I’m seething at how I’m just another whiny asshole. Or the part where I feel like the odd man out amidst a gaggle of people who have FutureSex/LoveSounds on the same iPod as Green Day’s Nimrod and Marcy Playground’s… Marcy Playground, or think Things I’ll Never Say is, omigod, so clever and inventive with its implied innuendos that magically transform! into meaningful relationship talk. I’d like to say it’s that the gits at YWiB somehow make me feel bad to even occasionally be a snob who tries to make people laugh with his snobby snobbing snobbiness. Except for Ted. I actually think he’s good and should write more. Solomon can go to wherever Blogging Hell is, though.

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soylent robot said on February 17th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

i’ll admit i have a crappy, spare time webcomic. ive not updated it for a few months because of university, which is much more important. the comic was just for shits n giggles, n all i wanted to do was tell a story. if somebody out there enjoyed it, well, they enjoyed it. that doesnt make me a writer. maybe ill make it into something, maybe i wont.
i think webcomics and the internet in general are outlets for people who would otherwise never ever ever get their stuff in the public eye, and i dont see how thats a bad thing

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mygif

Soylent Robot, it’s a bad thing because there is a reason why these folks would never ever get their stuff in the public eye. Namely, they most likely really suck. And they shouldn’t have the right to say “I’m a comic book artist” because that groups them with the people who actually know what they’re doing and studied enough to be able to draw the human figure without broken bones and made-up muscles.

I could really do with a “fuck this shit” button on my browser. You know, one I could click every time I come across something so mediocre that I never, ever want to see anything that is even associated with it ever again. Like, I would press the button on Megatokyo.com and then everything that Fred has ever scribbled or written will be magically blocked and I can just pretend that this abomination of a comic never happened.

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mygif

[…] to see recent comments to much older posts for obvious reasons, but I thought this, from Nina, on this post, was […]

mygif

“Fuck this shit” – I’d like one for S Kurtz, please …..

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