Understudy 24

October 18th, 2013, 3:26 am

Average Rating: 5.00

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Who's my fuzzy little freeloader?

Author's Comments:

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 18th, 2013, 5:39 am

This is one of my pet peeves that I've pretty much gotten used to Paige doing. It's weird, when she's talking to the cats and refers to me as 'Daddy' it doesn't bother me at all. From a pet's perspective I can see how that's my role. I don't think of Aleister as my son though, so it vexes me a little when Paige refers to him as such. It's pretty indisputable that I love the little guy, I just don't think of him as progeny.

Oddly enough, Ollie seldom gets called anybody's daughter.

Today, Cosmo the Quote Bunny is quoting Whoopi Goldberg

And for those of you looking for the Quote Bunny archive: Here.

On an entirely unrelated note: Guess who launched their second published novel yesterday?

That's right! My friend Paul.

It's the second book in a trilogy with the final part out next year. The first book, Locked Within came out last year and introduced us to the world of Nathan Shepherd. It's an 'urban fantasy' setting, meaning vampires and beasties roam the streets of an unsuspecting modern-day New York city. There's magic and monsters, but also cars, guns, and cellphones.

Nathan is a 'Reborn', a reincarnated human who has started remembering things from his past lives. As the series starts, he's just started recalling these memories and doesn't know what they mean. It builds from there.

The first book was all about introducing the hero and his world, setting up an ideological conflict between the Reborn, who live according to the cycle of death and reincarnation, and the Council of Chains, which is all vampires and ghouls and whatnot - things that were (for the most part) formerly human before seeking immortality through one means or another.

It's a rich world. The 'past lives' hook allows for centuries-old enmities and flashbacks to former selves. We get these flashbacks at the same time as Nathan himself, and the memories are often incomplete the first time we encounter them, so we get these parallel narratives that unfold alongside the main narrative and impact on it in interesting ways. There's a strong sense of trying to prevent history from repeating itself.

It's a world of rules, though. Nathan learns these rules, and the consequences of breaking them, just slowly enough that everything he learns he learns hard.

Silent Oath picks up several months after Locked Within. Nathan is coming to identify more with the 'hero' role. His actions in the first book earned him some leeway with the Council of Chains, but that won't last forever.

As Nathan regains more of his past-life memories and builds a reputation for himself in the supernatural world, old bargains and even older grudges come back to haunt him. The mythology is expanded from vampires and pop-culture monsters to include stranger more folkloric creatures, who have their own interest in humanity beyond the life-and-undeath concerns of the Reborn and the Council.

It's a good sequel - the themes of the first book are expanded upon, the world is expanded coherently, and the complications of relationships across multiple lifetimes of being different people are pushed more into the foreground. Nathan's previous incarnation, Virgil (late 19th/early 20th century), made a lot of decisions that reverberate a lifetime later.

Also, years of GM-ing tabletop RPGs have given Paul a real flair for describing combat and settings. There are some really well-written action set-pieces.

Both Locked Within and Silent Oath are available in paperback or on Kindle. If you're a fan of contemporary fantasy they're well worth a read. I got the first book because I know Paul from college. I got the second book because I liked the first one.

Reply Advertisement, August 20th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Reply NtKPaige, October 20th, 2013, 4:08 am

Daughter is kinda awkward to say. In fairness, Ollie does get called, among other things, "Princess, Cookie, Ollie-boo, Ollie-bollie, Sweet Pea, Pooh, Little One, my baby girl, sweetling and Kittybaby", whereas Aleister, when he's not "son", is "Dammit Aleister, Stop It Aleister, Leave her alone dammit, Asshole and Don't hit the bunny!". I think overall, it's clear how I feel about my little Over-Familiar.

I don't think of the cats as progeny either. Perhaps its the secret bit of me that even I deny that actually kinda wants to be a MOM, but as much as the nature of the relationship is a kind of "Mom and Dad" relationship, I see it as a "children" kind of relationship. We have adopted these animals and are responsible for their care, upbringing and happiness. We aren't investing in them as a way of ensuring the future but we are stepping up to the responsibilities we assumed when adopting them. We love and care for dependent creatures, whether or not they are human, in my mind that makes us guardians at the very least. I think the love and affection we invest and receive make us parents.

User's Comments:

Reply Agen (Guest), October 18th, 2013, 6:31 am

Hey Paige, keep up the vexing as Gar calls it :)

Don't fuss Gar. I refer to my two cats as kids also!

Reply Atomic dragon, October 18th, 2013, 9:08 am

I love the last page. That is classic. Aleister doesn't want to do anything.

Reply VictorB, October 18th, 2013, 9:19 am

I call Kyra girl.. not as in "Why hello there my daughter." or, heaven forbid, "Shawty why don't you show me some love?" (ok give me a moment to dry heave... ok done) but I do refer to her as the fact that she is a girl... as in "Who's a good girl?" or "I heard there's a girl who waaant food. Do you want food?" (she loves when I ask...)

I don't mind, on the other hand, when people call me her "Daddy"... but I notice that I don't refer myself as "Daddy"... How about you Gar? if I could call you that, oh Benevolent Ruler of All Things Keno. I know that Aleister is a cat, but do you find yourself saying "Come to daddy" or, since it's more relatable to me as I have a dog, "Daddy loves you"?

Also how is your finger healing?

Reply GabrielsThoughts, October 18th, 2013, 10:31 am

I've read articles and books related to the works of cthulhu. One of them argues that the mystery and mythos of the vampire has died in the hands of amateurs. While I may or may not agree with this argument, there is something to be said about the lack of interest I have in reading the book of Paul. I'm an avid reader, and speculative fiction is one of my favorite genre's after fan-fiction. So, I'm going to be completely honest with you when I say your review has really turned me off. I realize my reviews are not as cleverly put together as some writers. However, I've read articles that made zombie apocalypse stores and alien centric thrift shops sound like convention centers.

If you really want to sell your friend's novel, telling me about some guy who's awoken his repressed memories immediately reminds me of Total Recall without the action. The setting, rather than being reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic, post-scarcity, or present-discontinuity, appears to be dull normal, rather than extraordinary. You also implied that I have to learn the history of the world if I am to appreciate the "special" genius of his work.

Remember, the written word is quick, sharp, and cuts both ways. Your current review reflects poorly on you. Especially, if it was written for a friend. One would think you did it out of obligation without dedication, resolve, or genuine interest.

I don't care how coherent the book is, nor do I care to know if it's any good. You write "good" like it's "okay" and that really doesn't inspire confidence. Based on your review I'm expecting a lone star experience and I wouldn't be surprised if it was two stars.

Again, this is just an opinion, and you already know I don't like your writing because it disgusts me...in the way that pornography only can. But, still, That shouldn't have any bearing on a review of someone else's work. I find myself really disinterested in even the overall concept of the story from beginning to end. And, that's really hard [for me to fathom*] because I usually like taking risks when it comes to reading fantasy.


Reply TheCatMolloy, October 18th, 2013, 10:49 am

[Edit: Argh! Sniped by GT!]

@VictorB: I call Aleister several variations of 'little fella', and Ollie gets called 'baby girl' not infrequently. I don't think I've ever referred to myself as 'Daddy' when talking to the cats though.

Finger is almost completely healed, thanks for asking!

As I said before though, I'm going to be staying away from Neko and the gang for a while because I'm a bit burned out and disillusioned on the whole thing.

Also, NtK's tied up with whole bunch of emotional fallout from my former co-writer effectively declaring himself dead to me and cutting all contact a couple of weeks after my grandmother died of cancer in 2011. Not a word breathed between us in two years now, which is a shame because 'callous hateful bastard' isn't a phrase I would previously have used to describe the man, and I hate believing it of him.

Keeping Neko going for as long as I did after that friend-breakup was like picking at an open wound. He was my best friend. He was supposed to be my best man. THAT's the wound that still has to heal. The finger's basically fine.

Anyway, I'm working on other projects. I've mentioned my nieces and nephew on here a couple of times, so I've been trying my hand at writing for children. Some of the NtK poetry has been compared to Dr. Seuss, and I've had blog posts praised for presenting complicated ideas simply, so there's an area of ability there I want to explore. Got a couple of story and character ideas going at various stages of progress, and I'll keep you posted when there's more to talk about :)

In the meantime, Understudy's going to keep going for the foreseeable future. It's fun to write and doesn't have nearly as much baggage attached to it as NtK. Also it scratches my itch to write for a more adult audience, doesn't take upwards of six hours to draw, and is in many ways a return to the old 'philosophical cat' formula of the classic Neko the Kitty comics before Things Got Weird.

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 18th, 2013, 11:21 am

@GabrielsThoughts: 15 troll points - for the first time in a long time you've actually pissed me off. When I say 'good' I mean 'good'. You want a star rating? Four. That's out of five.

The setting is vivid, the characters a fine mix of likeable and hateable, the prose is fluent, and the morality a pleasing spectrum of greys. It's set in a world of magic and danger hidden behind the shadows and around the corners of the world as we know it, and there's boatloads of action.

Also, I never said it was "special genius". It's a well-written well-constructed fantasy novel with some really interesting ideas, followed by a second well-written well-constructed fantasy novel with some really interesting ideas. I'm expecting much the same from the third book when it comes out next year.

Reply Agen (Guest), October 18th, 2013, 11:23 am

Tried to share the latest page on FB!

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 18th, 2013, 1:50 pm

@Agen: Thanks! :)

It takes a little while for the Facebook 'share' button to catch up to the current strip once an update goes through. Not entirely sure why.

Reply Agen (Guest), October 18th, 2013, 2:24 pm

Do any of you other readers of the comic try to post on FB on occasion about the comic?

Wonders what pages could be done using un-photogenic Ollie could be done :)

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 18th, 2013, 3:12 pm

Sometimes. I certainly WANT people to share on social media, but whether or not that actually happens isn't up to me.

Ollie's not un-photogenic, she's a very sweet, very cute little kitty. It's just hard to tell her apart from Aleister when they're not together (for size comparison). Getting ONE cat to sit (relatively) still for however many photos it takes to put a comic together is hard enough. Getting them both in-frame for more than one or two photos is nigh-on impossible.

Reply Agen (Guest), October 18th, 2013, 3:41 pm

Posting these in order of Gar's comments.

About Ollie/Aleister being black, Soulds <-sounds familiar back when I had two orange tabbies

Getting one cat to sit (relatively) still <-heh I know I've tried.

Getting them both in-frame for more than one or two photos is nigh-on impossible. <-I had only got lucky ONCE, but was the best photo I had ever taken of them which is up in my FB gallery: https://www.facebook.com/jack.lafreniere.7/photos_all

The photos on the bottom right of the gallery

Reply Eli (Guest), October 19th, 2013, 8:59 am

Hey just letting you know that your description of your friend's book really interested me! I'm a big fan of fantasy and the like so I think I'll have to add his books to my ever-growing list of "to-read". :)

Reply GabrielsThoughts, October 19th, 2013, 11:27 am

Thank you! Your kind thoughts have been received. I just cracked open an egg with two yolks this morning and this is the third time within the last five years. I might even go out and buy me a lottery ticket. Bless your hearts.

Reply VictorB, October 20th, 2013, 1:05 am

Before I begin, I cannot link, so I will try to reference the comics then post the appropriate links at the bottom.

@TheCatMolloy: I am sorry this is both late in it's sending and late in the day... I just got off a set of night shifts, took my dog out for a walk and ended up going to bed at noon... 20 hours of wakey wakey...

Anyways I wanted to share both my joy in hearing that your finger is healing well and my sorrow about the comic.

First: I am glad to hear that your finger is healing well. I hope it's healing whole and not permanently deformed like some people's fingers. But no matter how it heals, I know that Paige won't mind the abnormality (that was supposed to be a joke) By Biblical reference, you'll probably go to heaven to find a box that has, within it, your finger part... as they say what you lost on earth you gain in heaven...

Secondly: I do remember you talking about your friend(1) however I also remember you talking to Neko in these comics(2+3) talking about how it's your world created by you. Again, you did acknowledge your friend in the comic, however in the same comic you acknowledged your friend, you also called Paige your co-author.

You told us about you and Paige getting engaged, (4) Given her Whitespace powers and then taken them away when she exposed all that she likes about you... You've kept her on as your co-author/ whitespace companion ever since you got engaged. And I know that no matter what decision you make, She will support you.

But given how much you invested yourself and have brought Paige into this comic, don't you think that it's more you than a project you did with an ex-friend?

I guess the reason I have been stalling on my comic is that I realize that a comic isn't just GearĂ²id Molloy's comic, or Stan Lee's comic or even my comic... it belongs to everyone who reads it. All the fans. It's really their comic and us, as artists, only expand that comic. It's a big scary job for me, but I am willing to do it. That's why people do these kinda things (5) just cause they love and support it.

I guess what the second part of this message is failing to say is that I hope you find inspiration to look beyond the hurt and keep up Neko and Keno's advencha.... although selfishly said on my part.

Lastly, I was searching through your comics for the references and found a couple gems I wanted to reminisce about. 1. Your Testify (6) comic.. is that really true?

2. Canada Juice (7)... Coming from Canada Eh? I found that a little offensive at first. Yes we do love maple syrup but we'd all be obese if we drank it as juice... then I thought about how much we use the stuff... we even make candy out of it.... So I laughed and was proud that you called it Canada Juice.... Just wanted to share.

(1) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/1519266/994-knowing-is-half-the-battle/
(2) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/942217/081109/
(3) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/942218/081112/
(4) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/1317835/itll-be-up-tomorrow/
(5) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/1139270/look-where-keno-is/
(6) http://www.nekothekitty.net/comics/940972/599-etymology-is-fun/
(7) http://tinyurl.com/Canada-Juice (the original link had 118 characters and cut off during the linking)

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 20th, 2013, 9:51 am

@VictorB: Thanks for taking the time to write even though you were tired :)

I did NtK for several years before Keith joined as co-writer, and for almost two years after he quit. It was always more my work than his.

Still, I met him early on in the first NtK run (the character of Jeff was originally loosely based on him), so there's more entwined history there than the time we spent actually writing the comic together.

Nonetheless, time heals all wounds, and this isn't the first time I've needed to take a break from Neko the Kitty. The Whitespace story you linked to marked the beginning of five years' consistent updates following a furlough of over six months. Neko and the gang have gone away and come back before.

Forcing it doesn't really work, though. The 2007 hospital storyline was forced. I came back before I was ready and the result was a crazy erratic update schedule.

Understudy doesn't feel forced to me though, the childrens' books I've been writing don't feel forced, but each NtK strip was taking waaay too long to complete and finishing a strip stopped giving me the same sense of satisfaction it used to.

The support of the readers means a lot to me, and Paige remains the caring wonderful woman who gave me the happiest moment of my life when she proposed. Still, complicated emotions are complicated and I have very little control over them. Neko's bound up with a lot of good memories, but also major betrayal and heartbreak which I need to distance myself from.

Anyway, don't let my need to do something else take away from your own desire to make a comic. It's a wonderful versatile medium and one that's easy to fall in love with.

Reply Dag (Guest), October 20th, 2013, 5:42 pm

Why people call pets kids. Though it annoys me too when people refer to pets as 'my children', I just watched a documentary on Youtube called "The Secret Life Of Dogs" that could explain why people do that. In the documentary it says that when you pet a dog, I imagine it's the same for cats, it releases this chemical in both human and animal. They said this chemical is also released when a mother breast feeds her baby. So essentially there is a chemical in the body that could be responsible for people associating their pets as well...children.

Me personally I just see them as my roomates and best buds :P

Reply VictorB, October 21st, 2013, 1:27 am

@TheCatMolloy: I didn't mean it as I was using your comic to stop me. In fact I am facing the wall (duel meaning... you will hopefully see tomorrow) right now to complete the first page (rough for the second page was already done before the first) What I was trying to do is to show relatability between my situation and a successful comic like Neko The Kitty.

I am glad that you haven't fully given it up though. Call it abandonment issues, control issues or the need to finish... but how you stopped it will never sit right for me... it's not the end of a saga or anything.

Anyways, it just came to my attention that we keep talking about the negative aspect of the comic in your personal relationship to it.... So I want to ask... What are your favorite moments? What kept it alive for so long? How do guest comics work? Is Gar (comic Gar) still involved with Sally? Will Alice ever see his junk outside of that future Alice's camera? ... or was it that impressive (He asks knowing you and comic Gar are different)? If you could add an element to NtK, what would it be?

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 21st, 2013, 3:04 am

@VictorB: Roundabout encouragement, I don't want my wall to reinforce yours. I really appreciate your attempts to give me a boost over it, but need to catch my breath and back up a bit so I can take a running start at it when I'm ready again.

Favourite moments? There are a lot of little ones - drawing a character and going 'that's a good Alice' or whoever is always good. Within the comic there's a lot I'm proud of: The 'La Petite Mort' story came out really well, I like it when Neko gives fatherly advice and his unique blend of 'wise' and 'horrible' shines through. Jesus and Thor turning up in the Labyrinth of Death and revealing that they've got a whole bunch of the sort of weapons given to the children in Chronicles of Narnia (and the 'Certain Death/Ambiguous Death' sign in that same story). Neko jumping on the crumbling remains of Future-Alice in 'Ten Years Gone' and continuing to call her 'Future Alice' even when she's nothing but a heap of dust, the limerick battle between Neko and Keno as to whether imagination or reality is 'better'.

As the characters and world got more defined and distinctive they became more fun to write and draw. What kept the strip alive so long was that everyone came to have their own perspective and way of dealing with things (Neko and Keno's yin/yang colouring became less coincidental as time wore on). It was a lot of fun putting a cat perspective on human problems.

Guest comics work by accumulating enough goodwill with other artists that they're willing to put in some work to help you out when you need it.

Canonically, Gar and Sally are still together even though Sally's based on an ex. The human storyline got pushed into the background after 'Things Get Weird', but part of it was towards their eventual breakup.

NtK has plenty of elements to play with and I don't think it needs anything added. Between Neko's imagination, Keno's sense of advencha, and the weird world of magic and soap opera bullshit they inhabit there's a whole lot to play with. The main change I want to make whenever I get back to it is simplifying the artwork so it's less exhausting and time-consuming to get a strip out. One of my style experiments in the old comics was black-and-white with spot colouring, and that's something I want to get back to. First I want to do some stories with less cynical characters and more straightforward narratives though.

Reply VictorB, October 21st, 2013, 9:23 pm

@TheCatMolloy: Sounds like you got your gameplan set out... Can't wait until the gun goes off!

btw, ToT has been posted tonight(didn't know how else to tell you)

Sorry for so many edits, but I forgot to ask... how does a web comic artist go about gaining good will with other artists? How does one artist get known? (I realize that I am only starting step 1, witch is to actually make a web comic)

Reply TheCatMolloy, October 22nd, 2013, 4:15 am

@VictorB: How does anyone go about gaining good will from anyone? Talk to other cartoonists online or in your area, make friends. There's a pretty active forum right here on SmackJeeves, The Webcomic List has one too http://tinyurl.com/mqr6y3f

You come across as a nice guy online, and in my experience cartoonists are a pretty welcoming bunch. Ask for advice, be enthusiastic, help others out where you can. If you like a comic, post some comments. Do fan art if there's a fan art gallery. Submit guest comics if there's a call for guest comics - don't get offended if your submission doesn't get posted, but don't hold off on submitting for fear it won't get posted.

Don't get pushy asking for links - nobody wants to be seen as simply a resource. If you ask for criticism don't get offended or discouraged if the critics say mostly negative things, that is exactly what you've asked them to do. Most of the mistakes you make can be ironed out with practise and guidance.

Basically get involved with other cartoonists like yourself and don't be a dick :)

Reply VictorB, October 22nd, 2013, 10:01 am

@TheCatMolloy: I didn't know webcomics were so big already... That's a lot of information to work with too! Thanks!

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