July 25 -- Back From San Diego
Man, what a trip! I've got more to say, but let's get this week's cartoon out of the way first. 

Also, I'd like to apologize to See Magazine and Terminal City readers for being so dumb I forgot to send my editors the strip for this week, so Bob didn't run. Though of course, had either of those editors e-mailed me on Monday to remind me, I could have gotten the strip in by Tuesday morning. But I'm still responsible.

San Diego
Well, where do I start? It just keeps getting bigger, the ol' Comic-Con, eating up every new square foot of space they keep adding to the San Diego Convention Centre. It's tough not to get swamped, just completely overwhelmed, by all the stuff there is to see and look at. Costumes this year were dominated by Jedi and Neos, with a fair number of Storm and Clone Troopers thrown in for sauce, along with some Fetts and a Fat Lando. I saw a fair number of X-Men, with three different incarnations of Wolverine (comic, movie, animated series), and there was a troupe of Ghostbusters keeping the peace in there as well. Oddly, I didn't see a single Klingon this year... is Star Trek finally dead?

On the BtAF side, I did awesome. Contrary to my complaint in the previous pre-diego update, I ended up with a super-great table placement rather than the buried spot I thought I was getting, so instead of facing away from everything over by the wall, I was right on the edge facing down the aisle! I couldn't believe it! And the space worked for me, and once again I was sold out by the end of Friday. 130 books, plus a mess of posters! Woo-hoo!. If anything, it just shows how stupid I am, since this happened last year and I resolved to send more books, then didn't. I coulda sold another two boxes of books, easy! I'm such a moron!

As always, it was good to wear the hat and meet the fans, draw in their sketchbooks and sign their stuff. It comes and goes in spurts, where you'll spend 45 minutes trying to catch people's eyes and hand out flyers, and then suddenly a little crowd of fans appear and start buying.

Unfortunately, I was at my table most of the time, so I don't have a hell of a lot of cool I-met-or-saw-such-and-such-a-person stories. The coolest thing I did was manage to get a copy of Everybody vs. BtAF to David X. Cohen, co-creator of Futurama, which is pretty cool in my eyes but I can see how it's not much of a story. Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson games showed up at my table at 4 o'clock on Sunday wanting an apostrophe poster when I was long, long out of everything, and I had to sadly turn him away posterless. I saw the Penny Arcade guys, doing crazy good as the webcomic titans they are. They mentioned seeing me on their site last week, and yes, they know my name is Stephen Notley and not Robert Flowers. It's some kind of joke that has something to do with a webcomic I don't read, Wigu, I think. I don't get that one, but all the rest of their stuff is great video-game swearing goodness! Check it out!

I also went around to various comic retailers to try to interest them in ordering the UBOPE when it comes out, with mixed results, though I want to put a call-out to Lee at Lee's Comics in San Mateo, who's already carrying my stuff! Woo! Go Lee! Any of you folks in San Mateo, get books at Lee's!

Links and stuff
While we're at it, let's run a pile of links in here. I got Several Comic Strips from a guy named David Bort who said he'd talked to me last year and I'd advised him to just get drawing if he wanted to do comics. Well, he did, and some of them are pretty funny. And then, man, my Inbox is just bursting with link suggestions! Lesse, if anybody likes pictures of dogs, they can check out Books-of-Dog.com. Sure. Why not? Then a friend of mine pointed me to a rather slick bit of Japanese stage-magic Matrix Ping-pong that's entirely worth checking out. An occult writer named Sean Alonzo wanted me to plug his site, where he's plugging some book called CryptoGrammaton, which purports to tell the story of a mysterious book of life hidden in great literature or something. Then another reader pointed me at a story about some Democrats taking on Cheney just like I was screamed they ought to only last week. Good stuff. And then another online flower place wanted a link, Flora2000.com, so I figure, what the hell.

Some Minor ramblings
Well, the White House Gang must be pretty happy that they killed Saddam's two sons (plus a grandson), but I don't think this will have the effect they're looking for. That is, the story doesn't have "legs"; there's not much to it besides the fact that they're dead (though it is interesting that all their talk about putting out the photos to prove it shows that on some level they realize they have no credibility). Iraqis are still shooting Americans, and all the giant lies Bush told to get America into the war haven't suddenly become true in the wake of these two deaths. I don't think it's a big enough carpet to sweep all their errors under.

The biggest thing about the Uday/Qusay slam is that it popped the crappy 9-11 report out of the lead headline spot, though the grumblings on that one have only just started. It's a pretty slick whitewash, smearing blame so broadly over the security apparatus that nobody can pin anything on anybody. But I ask again: Where were the fighters? WHERE WERE THE FIGHTERS? I haven't heard shit about that in this 9-11 report, and that's one of the central questions Americans need answered. We're already in JFK-land here, in that it will become increasingly impossible to ever work out something like the truth --and get it known-- in the wake of all the sneaky evasions and unanswered questions surrounding 9-11. Instead, we're building a myth, or a set of mutually contradictory myths, that people will gravitate to more because of their already-existing prejudices than because we really know what actually happened. Bleah.

July 16 -- Wednesday update madness!
As promised last week, the update to the site comes on a sunny Wednesday this time around on account of how I'll be all in San Diego this Friday. So let's get cracking. First, the cartoon, the beating heart of the page, the reason you people show up. It's a goofy one this week, and I've called it:

San Diego Comic-Con July 16 - 20
Ah, the big show... the biggest, really, miles of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and video games and Magic the Gathering cards and even some comics, and tucked way in the back, far from sight, there will be me. Where will I be? Let's consult some images. First, take a viddy at the Comic-Con floor plan:

Astute lookers and noticers will have twigged to the little circled area on the upper left side of the floor plan. Let's zoom in a little closer and throw another graphical image up on the computer screen:

My table listing is "V8", which faces away from everything and is really making me start to wonder why I spent $300 on a small press table when I could have gotten an Artist's Alley space for free.

Regardless, I'm all packed and ready to go, and I've got tons of goodies and surprises for enterprising fans and unsuspecting Comic-con goers alike. I'm particularlly pumped to start giving people sneak peeks at the LoveBot Conquers All stuff; I think yer gonna like it.

Buy Stuff!
C'mon, kids, just cuz I'm in San Diego this week doesn't mean you can't order sweet apostrophe posters or books! It doesn't mean that at all! Buy buy buy! Help me out, here!

Links and such...
No movie review this week, on account of how I couldn't work one in at See with the Comic-Con and everything. What about the links dump? I got a few entries. There's a cartoon about how DNS works. There's an online version of 20 questions. There's a Flash game where you slap a monkey by whipping your mouse around really fast. Then, on a different topic, I was sent a link to VotetoImpeach.org that I here pass on to you. In the same e-mail I received a link to the Green Party platform, so let's toss that one up there as well. And in the same e-mail again there was a link to something called Tolkientown.com, but when I went to check it out it went to some referral site that barfed up an endless stream of self-perpetuating popup windows, so I'm gonna not put a link up to that one.

Glorying in another's misfortune
Gotta say, it's been warming my heart watching the White House machine actually taking some heat over blatantly lying to everybody about everything. Watching their twisted justifications over the Niger uranium lie -- it wasn't a lie, we only quoted the British, we didn't know it was a lie, it's the CIA's fault, it's no big deal, the case is closed -- brings to mind all the twisted language Clinton used to defend himself in the Lewinsky affair, except that Clinton eventually had the balls to get up and admit the truth (about a private transgression, no less) whereas there's no sign that lifelong responsibility-avoider George W. Bush will do the same. It's too early to rejoice yet, but it's possible we've passed a tipping point; once people start tugging on those dangling threads, the tapestry could unravel pretty fast. If people can get angry about Bush lying about the Niger connection, why can't they get angry about the Saddam-9-11 bullshit linkage, or the preposterous Iraqi unmanned chemical-weapons-bearing drones claim, or on a larger scale, the whole "Iraq is such an imminent threat that we have to ditch international law and invade them" line of horseshit? And that's not even getting into all the lies and "massaged truths" at the heart of Bush's domestic policy. Hell, there's nothing but dangling threads; this isn't a tapestry, it's just a crappy pile of yarn --everybody grab a string and start yanking!

Hey! Democrats! Go after CHENEY! He's the guy! He sent former ambassador Wilson to Niger to check the uranium claim, and his office had to receive the report that it was bogus. There's just no friggin' way he can claim he didn't know; in fact, since he's the one who most pushed the Iraq nuclear line, it's obvious this lie has been his baby from the start. Don't let him hide in his bunker; drag the mutha out from under his rock and start grilling him! He won't confess, but if you can get him up on TV a few times with his angry red liar's face, it'll start to make an impression. People will hesitate to criticize the President directly, but the Vice President? He's a boil waiting to be lanced. Get on it!

America, this is your country. It's not just your leaders; you are also responsible. If you're okay with your leaders lying their lying faces off to you in order to go to war, you will reap the whirlwind. And frankly, I can't let that happen; I need America to stay alive so I can sell books to it. So get angry, for cryin' out loud! Get political! It's time! 

July 11 -- Man, how did I end up here?
Oh, right... I went off to see Pirates of the Carribean in order to review it, and I didn't get back until 1:30 in the morning, and I had to write the review, and then I spent all that time fiddling around with the earlier update listing at the bottom of the page, and that's why it's 3:21 am. All makes perfect sense, really.

Okay, the cartoon is this:

Movie reviews
Well, whaddaya know? I've got a review of Pirates of the Carribean up in the review section. Crazy!

Buy Stuff Now
I'm happy to see the orders for the apostrophe posters flowing in at a nice clip. Keep it up! Buy multiple posters -- hell, you're already spending the money and entering your credit card info, you might as well toss in another five bucks and get a second poster, right? Right? Am I right? Can I hear a hallelujah? And keep ordering them books, gotta move 'em, still have big pile of books to get rid of...

Off to San Diego next week!
That means next week's update is Wednesday, kids -- don't forget! San Diego should be a blast, he hopefully projected. We'll see what kind of bite this crappy US economy will take out of comic sales, but I have high faith in nerds' need to spend money on crap -- crap like my books! I'll also be bringing along posters, stickers, I'll be doing sketches, and I'll bring copies of whatever LoveBot pages I've completed (11 so far) so folks can get a sneak preview of all that crikey goodness.

Not so much links dump this week as just a couple of regular links. Longtime reader Giles Peacock has a site, Ruffest.org, and he put up a nice review of BtAF, so I'm linkin' that.

But my big recommend this week is Channel101.com, a kind of jack-off Internet version of a TV station. Yeah, we've seen such like before, but the difference is that this one is powered by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, whose long-ago authoring of Scud the Disposable Assassin still resonates with likers of cool stuff around this Earth. They went to Hollywood, wrote a lot, got paid some, and now they're making little mini-movies and putting them up on the web. The idea is, they do wee 5-minute films and throw them up as pilots, viewers vote with their downloads, and then the best ones go to "production". Not everything up there is gold, and this stuff plays to a certain taste, but people should probably take a look at the most recent offering in the Prime Time section, Computerman, starring Jack Black, and I'd also recommend Dan Harmon's Batman in the Archives. But there's lots in there, and hell, they accept submissions, so if you've got a digicam and figure you can smartass with the big boys, go for it.

July 4 -- Happy America Day!
To all my American readers, I wish you good health and pleasure on this, the day you celebrate the shrugging off of imperial shackles with the courage to forge your own destiny. Now if we can just get that going again here in 2003, we'd be rockin'...

Okay, first, the cartoon:

It's kinda weird to sit down and actuallly attend to something like a 9-to-5 comics drawing schedule, but if I want to get this book done, I must. I've been slaving like a hounddog on the extra stuff for the UBOPE, the centrepiece of which is the 24-page story the title of which I tease you with below:

I've got 5 pages done already, in four days of working. Should be a good story, I hope, vaguely pornographic, with little real human understanding or insight. We'll see how it goes. 

Movie Reviews
Now that I've been back for a week, I've had the chance to see some flicks, and write a review of one of them: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Now there's a movie with a real title! And I haven't written a review of 28 Days Later, but I heartily recommend it; it's the best movie out there right now. Zombie action, human interaction, stylish hi-def video filming... it's the first movie I've seen this year that deserves a Best Picture nomination.

Buy Apostrophe Posters!
I'm gratified that so many of you ordered, and continue to order, my fine new product, the full-color Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots poster. Keep it up, cats! Spread that funky Punctuation-correctin' word!

Buy Bob Books!
While we're at it, let's throw in a harangue intended to nudge gentle readers into buying my books, already. Sheesh! Just to remind people, I'm signing these babies, and I'm throwing in stickers. It's so crazy, I've lost my sense of morality!

Links dumping?
Well, now, let's see. I've been such a lazy loser, I haven't done anything for months on the T-shirt front, but I got a submission today; check out cafepress.com/misc_btaf for a couple of T-shirts and caps and the like. And my Inbox has bloated so much through neglect that I find I'm missing people's submissions, if they even arrive. Let's take a quick butcher's, here.... Well, I've been informed that if I'd "like to hear a handsome country song about trucking and gender identity that also has gunshot soundeffects and whinneying, [I] should go here:", and then there's a web address, something like http://members.shaw.ca/SciFiOrifice. And then apparently there's some oblique reference or homage to Bob in an issue of ShclockMercenary.com, you could check that out. As well, I got sent a link to some Sushi Racing, though I wasn't very good at it when I tried my feeble hand.

Other news!
I've received my table placement at San Diego Comic-Con, and as I feared, I pay the price for my awesome placement at the Alternative Press Expo this year. That is to say, my San Diego placement seems to be tucked up just about as far away from the main floor and general visibility as could be arranged. That means you folks will have to be extra vigilant if you want to score hot Bob the Angry Flower deals and Steve Notley meetings!

A Lame New York story
So it was Thursday evening in sweaty New York City, and I and my host Pete Pachal were looking for something to do. A glance through the Time Out magazine revealed that there was a forum on "The Future of the Democratic Party" downtown  featuring remarks by Josh Hartnett and Janeane Garafalo. The talk started at 8; it was already 8:15. Nonetheless, we humped our way to the subway and then over to the venue, there to find we were too late and the box office had closed.

Pretty weak story, really --"How I failed to see Janeane Garafalo in New York." But I'm gonna use this weak story as the jumping-off point for some brief comments along the lines of what I probably would have shouted out during the Q&A period, had I actually made it to the event.

What the Democrats need right now are some serious "talking points"; that is, those little nuggets of ideology that the Republicans deploy to such good effect, where all Repubs get on board for a week and spin one thing, whether it's "The dividend tax is immoral double taxation" or "Saddam must be disarmed." Talking points are the way to ride the media wave, and the Democrats have been stunningly slow on picking up on how to use them; ie. pick something and then talk about nothing else for a week or two.

Here's my suggestion for a sweet talking point: "Where the hell is our 9-11 investigation?" How is it possible that two years later we still don't know what went wrong that day? How is it that we still don't have answers to basic questions like "Where were the fighters?" America is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a brand new Homeland Security department, and we don't even know how the already existing security departments fucked up. This is madness!

The trick to using your talking points effectively is to not buckle the moment somebody calls you on it, something the Democrats have been a little weak on lately. So here's how to do it. The Democrats pick a week, and then all the candidates go on message and ask the same questions over and over again: "Where is our 9-11 investigation? Where were the fighters?" Then it enters the spin realm: conservative commentators bluster that this is a partisan attack, that it's being used for political advantage. Then Democrats just say: "Of course it's political. This is politics. I'm a politician, and so is George W. Bush." And then you turn it around: "Let me ask you a question: do you think it's not important that we find out what went wrong that day? That it's not important to the families of those who died? Do you honestly think America can go into the next election without answers to these basic questions?"

Democrats seem terrified of Bush's insanely high approval ratings. Well, no shit they're high; nobody's consistently, repatedely making the opposing case. Considering how super bad this presidency is, Democrats currently seem intent of carving a spot in history as "most ineffectual opposition ever" in how feebly they're opposing this unbeliveable bullshit. America is on the line here, folks, the America some of your forefathers fought to create. History has given us the Democratic Party as the lone political tool to derail the death train, and if they can't do it, it's gonna be waaaaaay harder to stop this thing further down the track. So let's get on it, folks!

June 27 -- I got a bit drunk last night so that's why this update is so late
Well, it's nice to know my fans are prompt enough that I start getting e-mails by 9 in the morning wondering where the new strip is. It's here:

More New York stuff
Not that there's much else to say, after the June 25 update. I said I'd talk about the hostel, and odd it was. I'm used to hostels where they have a number of bunk beds in a common room, but this one, the White House Hotel in New York, has a bunch of very tiny individual rooms, each one maybe slightly larger than the floor space of the typical bathtub. It was a bit alarming at first, but it's actually cool to have your own room at a hostel-type setup, even if it's basically one step up from one of those Japanese coffin-style hotel rooms.

Other stuff...
If you didn't notice the June 25 update, there's a reviewof Hulk up now. And let's take a gander through the ol' inbox, check for link dump submissions... Ah yes, here's Dad's Joke, a humor web site of some kind which seems to be a joke clearing house. Apparently you can submit your own jokes as well. Never having been much of a joke man myself, preferring simply to improvise humorous remarks rather than sitting down and telling or repeating a specific joke, it's not entirely my bag, but check it out if you will. Some dude sent in his site, Ripdash Designs, so you folks could take a glance at that if you cared to as well. Annnd, then there's a link to a cartoon thge cartoonist of which dropped by my table at MoCCA, Xoverboard.com, which has a pretty lively weblog (blog? Is that what the kids are calling them these days?). And then there's a link to an evil story a friend of mine sent me, NGOs in the US Firing Line, in which we learn that US Neo-cons have targeted organizations that promote an internationalist approach as quasi-traitorous. Bleah.

Oh, and hey, I haven't read the new Harry Potter yet. Is it any good, anyone?

Apostrophe posters
Y'know, I was gonna be a big wimp and say I hadn't gotten around to setting up the CCNow stuff to put these things up for sale, and then I decided to get around to it. Here is the Apostrophe Poster Order page, and now that I realize I don't have a "store" button on my fancy little click-bar up there at the top of the page, I'm gonna hafta figure out some other way to keep that link fresh and tasty. 

And while you're at it, you could buy some books! Yeah! That sounds awesome!

June 25 - Whew. New York.
I return to you a somewhat battered cartoonist. Not physically --indeed, I felt not even a single ping of violent feeling or intent in that big scary city-- but my ego has taken something of a kicking. There's something about New York that can take the piss out of an artist, or indeed, a thing-doer of any type, where you find out just how much bigger and better and more things are when you hit the big leagues.

I'm making this sound a hell of a lot whinier and sucky that it really was. In truth, it was a good time; it's just that the things I had the most fun doing weren't what I thought they'd be. I didn't think, for example, that one of my best memories would be sitting in my fantastically gracious host Pete Pachal's place (formerly of the U of A Gateway, now of Sound and Vision) reading comics. I was stunned at how much I liked J. Michael Straczinski's Spider-Man stuff, particularly after having decided a few years ago that even though I'd been a giant Babylon 5 fan for a while, I'd seen the measure of Straczinski's skill and found it wanting. But then I got all into Peter Parker's I-miss-Mary-Jane thing, and before I knew it I'd read 'em all. Fuckin' Straczinski, forcing me to alter my altered opinions! And then I read a big swack of Grant Morrison's JLA, and durned if I didn't get into those crazy ol' characters again, too. So that was fun.

And, of course, the food. I knew I wouldn't eat anything bad in NY, and I was right. Ah, the pizza. So good. Why the hell can't anybody in Edmonton make a half-decent slice of New York pizza? Thin crust, oily, so yummy, so satisfying, so cheap. And then there was the chinese food shared on Monday by me, Pete, the inestimable Keith Knight and Keith's lovely wife Kersten (I hope I'm spelling that right). Sesame chicken, house fried rice, okay, sure, but then we had the lobster, curry lobster, so flavorful. Top that with a Krispy Kreme donut, 12 oz. of milk, and a creme brule at some dessert place, and my guts were roiling in happy confusion.

But as I say, there were some disappointments. First was Hulk, which didn't thrill me half as much as I'd hoped. And while we're on the topic, what's with these "that's really the title" titles for Marvel movies these days? First there was "X2", which apparently had something to do with the X-Men, and then there's Hulk -- not "The Hulk", just "Hulk". Remember, everyone; the movie's just called "Hulk".

What was I talking about? Oh, right, disappointments. Well, there was the MoCCA show. First off, it was a great show, bopping, filled with attendees, tons of super cool cartoonists and comic people there. It was a ball, as always, to get the chance to meet some fans and sign the books of the folks who did come by, but my wicked greedy heart needed about three times as many of you guys to show than did. It's just that, when there's a show where people are making out like bandits, I'm used to being one of the ones making out like a bandit. Instead, this show for me (and Keith felt a bit of it too) was what we in the biz call "slow". That is, after a few hours I saw how limited the dent I'd put in my two boxes of books was, and had to start agressively price-slashing to get rid of them. I managed to move most of them, thanks to a gratifying sale to the Million Year Picnic comic store in Cambrdige, Mass., but I made about half the money I hoped I would. Sure, I've got lots of excuses -- I don't have much presence on the East Coast, I hadn't ever done this show before, New Yorkers are less inclined to be startled or intrigued by a guy wearing a flower on his head -- but still, it was something of a bummer, and set off a chain of ego-stripping thoughts on the subway ride to the post-MoCCA party. Thankfully, the party tourned out pretty well after some Budweisers; I got to rail about Hong Kong movies to Michael Kupperman of Snake N' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret (he even let me bum smokes off him after I ran out of beadies!), and talked with Craig Thompson, whose new 600-page Blankets was the monster hit of MoCCA. I'm a third through it now, and if any of you kids read Thompson's earlier Goodbye, Chunky Rice and got all weepy, then break out the wallet and the four-ply hankies.

And that's all I got to say, since it's coming up on 4 o'clock in the morning here as I write this. I'll probably have a few more things to add on the Friday update, stuff about weird hostels and cute girls. Go forward, fearless readers!