Closet Secrets.

Closet Schlock.jpg

My son found them in my closet, stashed  behind my least favorite dress shirts.

I knew, because I caught him trying to sneak them out.

“Those are mine,” I said.
“I just want to read them.”
“I know. That’s why I hid them in my closet.”

This is the kid who—as a six-year-old—singlehandedly  loved my entire Calvin and Hobbes collection into oblivion. There’s a reason six-year-olds aren’t supposed to be good readers.  The parts of the books that  eventually made it back to the bookshelf were only spared the rubbish pile because I couldn’t afford to replace them, and because a house without a Calvin and Hobbes book (or scrap pile, as case may be) is a house not worth living in.

So it was normal for me to hide my newly-purchased Schlock Mercenary books in the master closet. A guy should be able to read a book at least once before the cover falls off. And my plan would have worked if the meddling kid hadn’t noticed the mailer-receipt I’d carelessly abandoned on the kitchen counter. After the hunt began,  no room was sacred.

I’m not a big connoisseur of comics, but this one has stuck with me.  I’ve followed the online iteration for several years now. Schlock Mercenary delivers a sci-fi punch line in every strip, and it’s written and drawn by one of the smartest people I know.  And I work at NASA.

Incidentally, I got to sit with Howard Tayler  and his chief of staff Sandra for an hour at LTUE in February and plug them about the do’s and don’ts of quitting your day job. They gave me some good advice, signed the previously-mentioned closet copies, and told me random stories about bog butter and what it takes to maintain the creative genius under duress.

Interviewing Howard and Sandra Tayler was definitely in my top three for the LTUE conference. (Getting there  in a Dodge Mkmsdmmhgmmhmr  ranks fourth.)

So there’s the setup.  I have a box of funny books in my closet from a funny cartoonist. I also now have a funny thirteen-year-old in my closet reading through the 700+ page collection because I told him the books don’t leave my closet until I’ve read them all. And while I still have a full-time job, he only leaves the closet to forage for Cheez-Its.

If you like medium-hard  (yes, I made that up) science fiction / space opera humor, check out Schlock Mercenary. The early cartoon drawings are “rudimentary,” Howard insists, but that makes them even funnier in my opinion, because I’m super mature.

I’m also super glad Howard quit his day job.


Howard and Sandra Tayler1


And the Quote Contest Winner is . . .

Nate Ricks! 

“I swear, Dmitri, if you leave your spare dentures in the staff bathroom one more time, so help me, I WILL put a stake in your scrawny chest!”

I love the pairing you’ve made between the staple remover and dentures, the irritating behavior of co-workers that we can all identify with, and the genre-appropriate threat of a “stake through the heart.”

Send me your address via facebook messaging and I’ll mail you your very own print version!

Honorable Mention

Cami: The only caption that made me laugh out loud. I don’t know why. Probably because I expected more sophistication from such worldly vampires.

Ed: Best suggestion for use of genre-appropriate visual media. Also liked the addition of another character. Also plays on the bullying/predatory nature of the Vlad. It was such a fun concept I asked Marta to do a mock-up of a very worried Frank.


Caroline: Hitting closest to the original intention of the cartoon.  I also liked the realization  you shared that Dimitri’s behavior could eventually have a detrimental impact on his health. What a brave co-worker to take a stand for his friend.

Jaime: Conversion of cartoon to a murder mystery. Completely appropriate, and funny. Doubly funny as it reminds me of stuff I probably shouldn’t talk about in an open forum.(Did you know I used to work for the CFO at NASA?) Also liked the addition of a third character, the broadening of this universe.

Holly:  Sensitivity to alternative (and problematic) diets. One of my former co-workers was borderline allergic to onions. Anyone with who brought a philly-cheese steak into the cube farm really got the evil eye.

Andrea: Postmodernism award for use of “intertextuality.”

Jared: Deadpan delivery. Just like old times.

Original Caption

“For crying out loud, Vlad! It’s the 21st century!”

It was actually more fun to see your brands of humor in each interpretation. Thanks for sharing your creativity with me.

Quick Link to Caption Contest: Corporate Vampires

Quick Link to New York Pitch Conference Post

Contest: What is Vlad saying to Dimitri?

I sketched the attached comic several years ago, but saved it until I found a cartoonist. (For a laugh, ask me for the original. In celebration of my previous vampire-riddled post, help me come up with a caption for the following cartoon:


I have a caption in mind for it, but maybe yours is better? Submit yours in the reply section by next Wednesday, April 1st (not a joke) for a chance to win a paperback copy of DARTS. And Subscribe. It’s fun!