fan jihad, art, lore ] [ reviews ] [ spare parts ] [ links ] [ the toon-o-matic software ] [ forum here, are you blind?!? ]


(Margust 23, 2003) (the toon)
I've been really depressed lately. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone outside the United States of America for the unbelievable turn of events of late. I voted in the majority back in 2000, as you all surely know by now, but obviously that wasn't enough. The juggernaut is out of control at this point, and hopefully not too many people will die before America decides to go back to being what it's supposed to be.

Anyway, my news addiction has been really out of control for the past.. well, frankly, since 2001. I used to figure that if anything important happened, I'd hear about it. Now I think I don't want to hear about it anyway. I'm done. No more news for me ever.

(Janune 5, 2003) (the toon)
OK, maybe not every day. I wouldn't want you all to get too spoiled.

(Janunary 1, 2003) (the toon)
Pfft, *pfff* -- Is this thing on? Hey! It still works!

So -- I'm back. Didja miss me? I spent some time in political blog land and did a kind of Rip-van-Winkle elfland thing. Suddenly, two months had passed! Anyway, the archives are kinda sorta working (although the XML source is being mangled, long story but I can fix it! Really!) Publishing of a toon isn't as easy as it was with the old code -- yet. Soon it'll be easier. And after that I'm going to make the Toon-o-Matic open to the public at last. 'Bout durned time I put my money where my mouth is.

(November 27, 2002) (no toon still)
Not Dead Yet. Really. It's been a year now that Toonbots has been nearly moribund, especially over the last couple of months. Soon, my children, things will change.

(October 6, 2002) (no toon)
Wow. Y'know, even at the prospect of imminent senseless and illegal war on Iraq, I'm still finding life worth living, for several reasons: my son doesn't have an ear infection this week, the weather is absolutely stunning, there is apparently the beginnings of an Anti-DMCA legislative proposal before Congress, and today I read an article which has managed to explain to me what the heck the Republicans think they're doing, making my life as a liberal in rural Indiana start to make sense. (I mean, yeah, they're wrong, but they're no longer fully inexplicable to me, and that makes me feel so much more stable in life.)

Also, I've discovered the music of the A-Teens. OK, I admit it -- I always liked ABBA. Now I have ABBA to a techno beat, except that their original tracks are far superior to their ABBA covers. I've currently got "Halfway Around the World" on loop. At least it's a nice break from Falco (my other Gnutella fixation this week.) The A-Teens also had a track (an Elvis cover, natch) on the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack.

So -- beautiful weather -- good music -- healthy kids -- possible legislation against rapacious corporate piracy -- less philosophical opacity -- yeah, life is good. Oh, and we found a Hungarian-speaking babysitter in town today. Life is good. Maybe my wife and I will be able to see a movie together for the first time this year soon. Wow.

(October 4, 2002) (the toon)
Yo! I'm sort of back. This is definitely an episode, but of course I make no promises as to continued presence or consistency. I do like my blurb today.

(September 11, 2002)
I'd like to dedicate today to the memory of the more than 4000 innocent lives lost in Afghanistan as a result of my government's acts of revenge and hatred. This crime cannot be justified by the innocent lives lost in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania a year ago today; even if the Afghan state, such as it was, had perpetrated those crimes, killing more women and children in revenge is wrong. Add to that the fact that this path of evil has been spectacularly unsuccessful, with Osama bin Laden still at large, with most of the Taliban still at large, with most of Al-Qa'ida still at large, and that it has cost our already staggering nation untold billions of conveniently unaccounted dollars -- and you have the desperate posings of a man trying to feel Presidential and popular.

(September 8, 2002) (the toon)
It appears that in fixing the message board archiving system that I broke the cartoon episode archiving system. I was afraid that might happen. In the next day or two I'll restore the episode archive. Sorry about that. Unfortunately, it means that if you're coming in fresh, there's no possible chance you'll have any clue what any of this is about.

(August 24, 2002) (the toon)
I'm losing it. It took me nearly half a minute to work out the correct spelling of excersize exersise excersise practice.

(August 21, 2002) (the toon)
Did I mention I'm terribly busy? Classic Chris, always Cool Enough, has submitted a fan XML episode. It's on the queue, Chris. Right after Tirdun's, now 8 months old and aging rather gracefully. Here at Toonbots, we post no episode before its time. We're very conservative in that respect.

(July 26, 2002) (the toon)
We went to the Monroe County Fair yesterday. Ate hot dogs and giant tenderloins and funnel cakes and felt a little sick afterwards, slid down the giant slide and went on the Ferris wheel, and speculated on the SEE HEADLESS WOMAN STILL ALIVE, inspected the chickens and the bunnies and the cows and the hogs, tried to understand what the auctioneer was saying, watched the four-wheeler racing, got lots of balloons and a fresh supply of notepads from the local politicians, listened to some pretty good live country and gospel music by local musicians (Bloomington has a *lot* of extremely good local musicians), paid too much for some silly pick-up-the-boat-and-win-a-prize thing, the prizes consisting of two plastic ninja swords and a really big inflatable hammer, and just generally had a really fun time.

Now that's the real America. And you know what? Terrorism can't touch it.

I find it somewhat flabbergasting to realize that it had been a month since I last posted an episode. Time flies when you're buried under a workload which would crush two or three demigods. At least most of the workload at the moment will actually be paid, though. That's kind of a nice switch after the last few months.

(June 23, 2002) (the toon)
Ha! When you least expect it -- expect it! I do wish I knew what this blurb meant, though.

(June 19, 2002) (the toon)
I've been saving this joke up for a while now, chuckling about it every now and then. Hee, hee. I crack myself up.

(June 16, 2002) (the toon)
Now that's a blurb.

(June 14, 2002) (the toon)
In case you're wondering, the Bot is usually channelling my WinAmp playlist.

(June 12, 2002) (the toon)
Yeah, so I've been BUSY, you know? So sue me.

(May 22, 2002) (the toon)
One of Lord Emsworth's two hiatal submissions today. His blurb was particularly hilarious, I think.

(Aprober 21, 2002) (the toon)
Dang, I love this song. It just says so much that you can really only understand starting in your thirties, when you've got a couple of decades of media exposure under your belt. And it does make a nice exercise in retrospective, with those tight rhymes and rhythm patterns. In reading back through my archive, which I hadn't done in a while -- I realize I really do like Toonbots. Dare I say it -- it's my kind of humor! Which is a relief, given that I write it.

Anyway, three episodes in a week means I'm back to normal, I guess. I still have Emsworth's and Tirdun's hiatus submissions.

(Aprober 16, 2002) (the toon)
No comment.

(Aprober 14, 2002) (the toon)
I been busy. And then I was sick. I really want to get back into the content generation groove, though.


(Margust 17, Saint Patrick's Day, 2002) (the toon)
Well, that's two episodes in one month, so things are getting back to normal! In case you're wondering about what the blurb is talking about, it's the cloning ban that the House has already passed with very little public fanfare. Among other things, this ban will prohibit the import of anything made using cloning, meaning that if you take your child to Europe for a diabetes cure based on therapeutic (i.e. non-reproductive) cloning, it will be illegal to bring the child back into the United States. Healthy, but exiled. Smart money is on the idea that Congress doesn't know what the hell it's talking about; I'm not sure exactly who would benefit from a cloning ban in the first place, but anybody with more than two neurons to rub together should agree that an absolute ban is ... stupid.

I'm pretty sure America is a lost cause at this point. Russia is now the leading capitalist nation in spaceflight (they'll be starting space tourism in a couple of years, if all goes well, while NASA gets cuts but simultaneously hinders what passes for American capitalism in its quest to commercialize space.) Europe has realized it's stupid to criminalize drug abuse, electing instead to treat it. Nobody else in the world thinks that cloning for medical purposes is a bad idea, and fifty years ago neither would we.

By 2020 it's all going to be over -- America will be the Empire, ruled by a small oligarchy of CEOs and trade organizations, backing up its interests with open military power, nuclear where necessary. Decent medicine will be available only to the rich, as they smuggle their families to Europe for treatment and bribe their way past Customs to return. There will be an American Space Force, but aside from expensive commercial flights run by Boeing and MacDonnell-Douglas as showcases to prove that we haven't lost our edge, all commercial space flight will be Russian and Chinese. The only places to go will be European, Russian, Chinese and Japanese anyway, so that won't matter much.

Dystopic science fiction is fun, but let's face it -- in reality, it sucks. Don't any of these people ever read cautionary tales? I guess not. America, we'll miss you.

(Margust 7, 2002) (the toon)
Boy, did I need a hiatus! We'll see if it's over or not in another couple of days, I suppose. Februember was a horrible month all around, as the server developed some irritating (and for my largest client, show-stopping) quirks. I'm pretty sure, in the final analysis, that it was the fact that our ISP changed name servers. Yeah, sounds pretty lame, but that's system administration for ya.

At any rate, things are feeling a little more like even-keeled now, and maybe it's time for me to start hacking out Toonbots again. I have multiple-episode submissions from Emsworth and Tirdun, and so those will be coming up Real Soon Now. I've got some ideas (but not time, yet) for some Toon-o-Matic extensions that might not be terribly difficult to implement.

Did you miss me?

(Janune 18, 2002) (the toon)
Where the heck did this come from? Sometimes I can't even tell the voices in my head apart.

I'm pretty sure it's Toonbots, though. At least, it leaves me just as confused as most of them do.

(Janune 7, 2002) (the toon)
Yes, the hiatus is working out, as mouse has herewith supplied me not with one, not with two, but with three excellent Toonbotty episodes, just plain dripping with that uniquely Toonbots flavor of humor. Now I realize that maybe if I weren't already doing Toonbots, I would be reading Toonbots. Thanks, mouse!

(Deciduous 29, 2001) (the toon)
Whelp, it's difficult to tell it, since I just posted an episode, but I've been on hiatus for a whole day now. Yep. And cold turkey on all Web toons, as a matter of fact (except for Sluggy Freelance because it was the middle of the Christmas story arc and this is the third year I've been a Sluggite, and Christmas without a good showdown between Bun-Bun and the Claus family just wouldn't be Christmas. It'd be like forgetting the eggnog.)

Anyhoo, frankly, I'm feeling much less stressed now that I'm toonfree. I'm toying with some fun programming, and getting some work done at long last, and all in all, it's a Good Thing. Which, given the vast, indeed the cosmically vast amounts of time I spent on Toonbots, is ... indicative of some seriously disturbed psychology, methinks.

As posted on the forum, the way is now open for you, Gentle Reader, to be metacartoonist for a day, or a week, or heck, just fifteen minutes if that's all you want to spare. Give me episodes and see your name in lights. Or at least in the blurb. But they've gotta be in XML. It's not like you don't have more than a hundred examples!

(Deciduous 17, 2001)
After last week's six-day binge, I find myself intimidated. So instead of doing an episode, I read Zebra Girl's entire archive. I recommend you do the same. It's that good. *snif* I wish I could draw.

(Deciduous 12, 2001) (the toon)
What? Three days in a row again? And I have good ideas for another two. Looks like a full week of daily output here. How 'bout them apples?

Amazingly, my workflow project made actual press -- the Dec. 5 issue of Intelligent Enterprise lists the wftk as an open-source XML-based task and workflow manager. Cool beans!

(Deciduous 10, 2001) (the toon)
Just when I think I'll never again have time or energy to deal with Toonbottery, an episode bursts forth and I can't help but write it down.

(Novuary 29, 2001) (the toon)
Buried! Inundated! Awash with work! It never stops.

(Novuary 23, 2001) (the toon)
This episode cracks me up. I feel good about Toonbots and life today. Today (well, yesterday, but I haven't been to bed yet) we cooked a regular feast: turkey, sweet potatoes (butter, fresh-squeezed orange juice, some soy sauce, a dash of cinnamon, and all the marshmallows in the house), corn on the cob, green bean casserole (cream of mushroom soup, milk, and lots of French-fried onions), stuffing (fried chicken liver, kolbasz, sour cream, butter, and Pepperidge Farms cornbread stuffing mix), oh, and turkey soup (the wings of the turkey, parsnips, potatoes, kohlrabi, and the turkey's giblets). Just for the four of us. We had the same for supper, except that my wife took some of the potatoes and the leftover fat and chicken livers and fried them together. Aaaah. Nothing like Hungarian cuisine.

But what really has my mood up is seeing Dan Goldin on PBS yesterday (well, day before yesterday, but you know what I mean) -- if you don't know, he's leaving NASA. And he sure is pumped about technology issues over the next ten years. And says within twenty we'll have a manned (personned?) Mars mission.

So I'm happy.

(Novuary 15, 2001) (the toon)
I can see a whole week of cheap shots like this one -- it keeps me quasi-daily and still leaves me time to work! Oh, sure, you hate me for it now -- but this will read really well in the archives and you know it.

(Novuary 13, 2001) (the toon)
Now, I like this episode. This is Toonbots.

By the way, Meaghan Quinn is Cool Enough, because she linked to Toonbots from her newsbox. This proceeded roughly to triple my traffic. Sigh. Anyway, go read Eat The Roses, assuming you're one of the vanishingly small percentage of people who didn't link here from there anyway, because the art is lovely and the story is good, too. And there's some fourth-wall humor in there, too. Good stuff. Thanks, Meaghan!

(Novuary 12, 2001) (the toon)
OK, I'm feeling more confident this week. Yeah. I think maybe I'm past this little productivity slowdown we've been suffering through. Work is ... still in stacks higher than my head, but they're not as far above my head now.

(October 31, 2001) (the toon)
Or not.

(October 25, 2001) (the toon)
OK. Two days in a row. Maybe things might get back to abnormal.

(October 24, 2001) (the toon)
The problem with curmudgeonry is that it tends to induce a negative worldview. So today I decided that's stupid. Now I'm just going to be a happy-go-lucky entertainer, that's me. Yep. I always liked Arlo Guthrie's _Alice's Restaurant Massacree_, and if you don't know it, you're missing out on a lot. I may or may not turn it into a whole storyline -- you know my track record there -- but I think this one little episode isn't too shabby.

(October 19, 2001) (the toon)
I'm sick of seeing GOD BLESS AMERICA on every plastic-letter sign in the entire country. The surfeit of flags -- and the stupid, God-awful, tasteless commercials hawking everything from easy-to-install window flags to painted New York quarters -- this is all making me more irritated with my fellow human beings than normal. Curmudgeonry has always come easy to me, and now that it's further out of fashion than usual, I find it impossible to resist. Yah, rah, go go go, America has lots to show! A-M-E-R-I-C-A, what's that spell? Shal-low, shal-low, YEAH!

OK, I admit it, I feel better now. Now stop bothering me, I have work to get done.

(October 17, 2001) (the toon)
My to-do list is actually getting shorter! I'm (marginally) ahead of the game! So I'll try to return to a quasi-daily schedule. We'll see how successful I am.

Oh, and I'd like to note that Damonk has Toonbots at #7 on his top-ten list for September/October... That's higher than Chopping Block, thus confirming my prior belief that Frank has at least one screw missing in that Acadian head of his. But it is nice of him. Gawrsh.

(October 9, 2001) (the toon)
Doesn't look good for my vaunted dailiness. I'm buried. Swamped. Overwhelmed. Busy.

(October 4, 2001) (the toon)
I've done a hundred of these things. Unbelievable. The first one really was just a joke. Then I started taking it seriously...

(October 1, 2001) (the toon)
Wow. It's October already.

Not much of a blurb today, sorry. Sometimes it just doesn't click.

(September 30, 2001) (the toon)
You know, once you break a constraint, it's hard to get the worms back into the can -- my original rule was never to modify the floating heads by hand, except to clean them up from whatever clipart source I found them in. But I made Osama's eyes all hyp-mo-tized like that, and now I'm stuck. Three aspects to Osama so far, and they're storyline-dependent. I told myself I'd never do that. Dang.

But it's just so funny!

What I need to do, in order to preserve my artistic integrity, is to make things like "hypno eyes" an aspect by themselves -- but for that to work, the character definitions for clip-art characters like Mao and Lenin would have to encode points which would be used by such a macro, and possibly other metrics as well. So, for instance, a "dark glasses" aspect would have to have information about the location of the eyes, but also about the approximate width and orientation of the face (or whatever is passing for a face).

This is something I'd planned right from the get-go with aspects, but it'll take a boatload of work to do. And I just don't have time. But when I do get time -- and I will eventually -- stand back! The Toon-o-Matic will start to be worthy of the name! Because then I'll be able to encode an entire face in terms of aspects on a blank oval. And that's pretty darned cool.

(September 28, 2001) (the toon)
Oh, that wacky Osama bin Laden. His beard will never be the same again. I never knew Lenin could be so ... focussed.

(September 27, 2001) (the toon)
Whew! I'm glad it's safe to joke about this mess now! (The Onion's entire weekly issue devoted to the aftermath of "the events" allowed me to heave a great sigh of relief, as I realized the public is starting to get ready to laugh. America is still normal!)

Anyway, I've spent entirely too much time over the last two weeks with empassioned pleas to preserve basic American liberties and avoid wasting money on a stupid war. So far, we haven't done the latter, so things are halfway, and it also appears that Herr Obergruppenführer Ashcroft hasn't yet managed to fool Congress into forgetting the Constitution, either -- so maybe there's hope for the nation yet.

(September 25, 2001) (the toon)
The tricky part about terrorist attacks is how to do relevant humor without really ticking people off...

(September 24, 2001) (the toon)
It occurred to me that Damonk thoughtlessly left this portal lying around the Toon-o-Matic operation center... Who am I to deny the Toonbots cast of characters their inalienable right to run rampage through Webtoondom?

(September 22, 2001) (the toon)
My goodness, thank God that's over. Yes, nearly two months and more than 80 cartoonists' worth of the Great Framed!!! Escape are now behind us, and the climactic contribution of the Toon-o-Matic is now finished. Wasn't it cool? I did a lot of thinking about how deeply non-normal Toonbots really is, and realized as well that the iconic nature of the regular Toonbots run is due in large part to the relative rigidity of the capabilities of the Toon-o-Matic. When Damonk posed perfectly normal scripting requirements, I found it was really, really difficult to do something approximating them.

Anyway, Mao and Lenin and Shakespeare are still at large. They'll show up sooner or later. And the wolverines are still wreaking havoc at Keen (Gav's been up late, he said so.) So the whole thing hasn't played out entirely, but at least I can spend a little less time on each episode for a while. Whew.

(September 19, 2001) (the toon)
I like the way this one turned out. Finally the whole panel layout machinery managed to support something integral to something approaching a storyline. The work wasn't wasted.

(September 18, 2001) (the toon)
I thought it would be easier if someone else were telling me a basic storyline. Instead, this is more like work or something. I had no idea how much of Toonbots was driven by the peculiar constraints the Toon-o-Matic places on its form....

(September 17, 2001) (the toon)
I'm tired.

(September 16, 2001) (the toon)
Whee! This is my first crossover ever and I'm having fun! Just wait until tomorrow! It's going to get hard to draw. Well, the drawing, as always, will be easy. It'll be hard to design.

(September 15, 2001) (the toon)
Oh, so you do read this blog! Well, congratulations, for that you get a cookie and a hint. This is fun.

(September 14, 2001) (the toon)
Ugh. Two missing days again -- but my translation job is done! Yay! Now I can start on this new workflow job I just got! Yay!

So I've been thinking, as have we all, and really, while I obviously don't condone blowing up the WTC, I'm not anything like as shocked as I see people being all around me. You'd think America hadn't ever killed civilians. You'd think America had never attacked anyone with no warning (Sudan, anyone?) A lot of the world lives like this all the time, except worse, because they have no hope of recovery, and had no beautiful skyscrapers to begin with. To cry about it being us -- that's damned hypocritical. Why is it worse that it's New York innocents instead of Bosnian, Israeli, Afghan, Iraqi, Chechen, Mexican, Vietnamese, Cambodian, East Timorese, Latin American? The answer, if anything makes *any* sense, is: there can be no difference. If the least of us is in pain, we all suffer, and America has now been reminded of that. I have been reminded of that. My God, I used to take part in anti-nuke demonstrations in Germany, and now, what? Once every year or two I write my Senator about the DMCA or something? That's lame.

And imagine -- this damage just wasn't that bad. What if it had been a suitcase nuke? Instead of Manhattan being closed south of 14th street until Monday, it could have been closed for the next 25,000 years halflife. With a death toll of millions instead of thousands. What if it had been a biological agent? Everybody in the hemisphere could be missing family members right now. What if it had been -- gasp -- an EMP, and we wouldn't have computers anymore? (I would at this point be swimming to Afghanistan to throttle bin Laden myself in that case. Nothing better to do. And there is, after all, $5,000,000 on his head courtesy of the FBI... Hmm.... (My wife has already suggested that we do that. Sigh. An incurable romantic, that woman.))

We will survive this -- and maybe, just maybe, the result will be not only this outpouring of love and support across America, but a net increase in justice throughout the world. Maybe America won't react to this by getting ever closer to a fascist central government for fear of terrorism (clear win for terrorism) but will instead decide that it Has To Stop Here, and actually become that beacon of freedom and opportunity to which our *ahem* President alluded Tuesday night.

Hey. It could happen. We used to be all that. If we're serious about being Americans, we can do it again.

In the meantime, donate money to the Red Cross for the relief effort, and in two weeks, assuming you haven't given blood, go in and donate for the thousands of people across America who need heart surgery even when a lot of people need the blood first.

(September 11, 2001) (the toon)
Some Webtoonists thought that posting today might be in poor taste, but I think it's important that life go on. It will anyway, after all. And giving those morons the posthumous benefit of making my day contain less humor -- well, forget about it. I'm finding what enjoyment I can (after all, even if people died, you have to admit it was damned impressive to see the World Trade Center fall down). Tomorrow I'm giving blood, and I will continue to do so as often as possible, because it's time to get off my derriere and make sure that other people's lives can go on, too.

(September 10, 2001) (the toon)
Shyeeah, like this joke hasn't been used by a hundred cartoonists already. Oh well, funny once, funny thrice, that's what my grandfather used to say.

(September 7, 2001) (the toon)
So at 3 AM this morning, after adding a bunch of big, boring flowcharts to my translation job, I did a little channel surfing, which in our house is really, really quick, because we only get one channel: PBS. This saves us all a lot of time. Anyway, on PBS was a little concert given at the White House by the Marine Corps band, OK? And it was insipid -- oh, it was executed with great technical precision and beauty, yes. But the selection was insipid, and my wife and I (yeah, she's often awake in the middle of the night) figured that what happens is that the President's advisors kind of, well, advise everybody to make sure that such things aren't too challenging or anything. The overall impression is that they're trying to convince Georgie that he's really President, and that being President of America is a really cool thing. But if you look at his face, you just see him kind of thinking, "Gotta not screw this up." And his wife! She's sitting there with this look on her face, like, "God, George, you haven't screwed up yet!"

I've written Perl scripts that would make better Presidents. I weep for this nation and I weep for the historical path that has brought us to the point where rich people can steal the Presidency and not get caught. It's all plausibly deniable, and so we go about our lives and hope it won't get worse. I'm pretty sure it will. The "America" meme -- the original one, the one the founding fathers built with care and supported with things like public libraries and an educational system that ensured that every citizen could function as a citizen -- that meme is dead. Long dead. In its place is the "Corporate America" meme -- the one that talks about the American Dream as if it were just broadband access and HDTV, and not the ability of any American to forge his or her own way in the world without being disturbed by busybodies and barons. Corporate America is a religion, a religion of power and wealth that is a much more effective opiate for the masses than Catholicism ever had any hope of being. Corporate America is busy conquering the world, making sure that the poor stay poor and the rich get Ferraris and cell phones, and it's doing its best to make the America I grew up loving stay as dead as possible.

In my personal life, I try to keep America alive. I own my own business. I home school my kids (so they actually learn something). I promote open-source software so that you can run your (small) business without Microsoft 0wn1ng j00. I even chip into the Web comic scene, right? But it's all pissing in the wind, because America is dead already; there are just a few burning embers here and there in the ashes. If we had some dry sticks we could bring it all back to life and roast some marshmallows, but the brush pile is empty, people. And it rained last night.

I think my rhetoric is getting away from me again, but I'm not in a happy mood today. They're ruining things and I can't stop them.

(September 4, 2001) (the toon)
Hmm. Today's was provoked by a comment over at -- but I can't find the comment; Brother Emsworth dredged it out of Google's cache, so I'm not going to link to it here. The comment was this (and it's not on the page any more, I just checked):

Hard on the eyes, lame, but a hilarious concept to the geeks among us. The comic is not written, it is defined using XML, a universal data definition language, and then generated using the Toon-o-Matic program. He gives the source code for each comic! Haw (snort!). The author writes: To me, the Toon-o-Matic itself is the work of art. The strip is a by-product. Like hot dogs.
Now, I think this is a pretty favorable reviewlet, but Lenin, as we know, is a pretty sensitive guy... Anyway, that's the background.

(cue Bill Nye voice) And Now .. You Know! (cut).

(September 1, 2001) (the toon)
Well. Not quite entirely fully daily last week. I'd say I'd make it up to you, but you already know I'd be lying through my teeth. I'm not going to let it get me down, though; I'm going to keep plugging. After all, you've got an episode today and it was even a holiday. So count yerself lucky, kid.

We'll see about tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm taking the kids to the Zoo. The neat thing about home schooling is you can have a field trip whenever you darned well feel like it! W00t!

(August 30, 2001) (the toon)
Famed metacartoonst suffers breakdown. Film at 11.

Sometimes this strip makes me wonder about my own sanity. Where does this stuff come from? I have no idea.

(August 29, 2001) (the toon)
If you aren't reading Checkerboard Nightmare, well, don't blame me if you feel like you're missing out, 'cause you are. I'm finding Chex's incredible talent for self-aggrandizement to be a tremendous inspiration while writing my blurbs. And besides, the strip is funny! And yez knows I like that clean gamer-toon drawing style.

(August 28, 2001) (the toon)
Storyline anxiety. Also, did I mention that we're home schooling our daughter? And that my wife is all-but-dissertation and has demanded at least two full days on campus per week? And that I accepted a 48,000 word translation project, two more technical articles, a new open-source tool which will be used at, a bid for part of a wxPython project involving a really groovy database of all the German union contracts by local area, my regular sysadmin tasks for several clients, cognitive science research with CRCC, and we're launching a new nationwide dialup service with automatic spam filtration? And you people want daily comics? HA! Well, they aren't going to make any sense, then! I'm sick of this storyline stuff! They're going to be completely off the wall again! HAHAHAHAHAHHA!

*coff* I feel much better now, thank you.

(August 27, 2001) (the toon)
I'm tired. I'm only 2700 words into my 48,000 word document and my head is full of optical fiber. Anyway, given that I don't really have any better ideas, I figured I'd read the Three Musketeers and from there, well, the current storyline just kind of became obvious, didn't it? The only thing is, I don't know who Mao is yet, because I've only read chapter one. So things might get a little ... confused. But if they didn't, it wouldn't be Toonbots!

I'm thinking the Toonbot would make a pretty interesting Cardinal Richelieu...

Interestingly, the hit counter tipped up over 50 today to the home page. (Well, if there had been a hit counter per se, it would have tipped up over 50.) Of course, 10% of that was Eric Schissel. Thanks, Eric. And thanks to the rest of you as well. If only I were selling banner space here...

(August 24, 2001) (the toon)
Remember how it makes me bubbly when I get paid, and being bubbly makes me want to write cartoons? Well, expect some bubbly! I just won a 48,000-word German->English translation contract! W00t! Money is a good thing!

So this concludes the second consecutive week of daily Bots. (Except for weekends, but if I hear any complaints about that it's the wolverines for you, followed by a visit from the kindly High Chancellor of Defenestration.) I'm going to try for another week, but as you know, there are no promises around here, because the paying customers come first. But it's looking good, because I've got the episode-writing game down to a fine art; I can knock one out in about half an hour. I'm working on ways to cut that time down. And yes, I know I keep promising public access to the Toon-o-Matic. I haven't forgotten it. Eventually it will happen.

(August 21, 2001) (the toon)
Now I'm officially scared. If my code were set up to handle it, I'd now have a buffer of at least a day. This just ain't natural. By the way, the hit page is officially back up over 40 per day to the home page. Through extensive experimentation, I've ascertained that around 30 people, machines, and other entities will hit the page even if I post only once in 16 days, and that increasing the frequency of posting appears to increase the amount of traffic to the site....

It was all just in the interests of science, people. I really didn't enjoy making Napoleon cry.

(August 20, 2001) (the toon)
OK, this is starting to scare me. The wolverines are eating my brain! The wolverines, I tell you! Trout! (And besides: HOORAY!!!)

(August 17, 2001) (the toon)
Only twice in Toonbots history has an episode been posted on every weekday of a single week (well, now three times.) And I can keep this up all night, folks. I'm not proud. Or tired, so just wait for the four chords to come around, and sing along, like this: "You can get anything you want / At Alice's Restaurant."

I think I need some sleep. Before I do a really long music video episode... Hmm.... The twenty-four eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows on'em explaining what each one was to be used in court against us....

(August 16, 2001) (the toon)
Pfft. Next thing you know I'll have a buffer or something and this'll be just another boring daily. Unbelievable, folks. Unbelievable.

(August 15, 2001) (the toon)
Knock on wood and cross your fingers, I think I'm on a roll here. Three days in a row!

(August 14, 2001) (the toon)
That wacky Toonbot!

(August 13, 2001) (the toon)
Ahem, ahem. I think maybe I'll just go onto a regular 16-day update schedule. Yeah! Anyway, it was coincidence. Jetlag coming back from Europe, and then hanging in limbo waiting for a seriously large, seriously late payment from my biggest customer and wondering how I'd pay the mortgage this month, and the health insurance, and little things like that.

So I said, "oh hell with it," saw Scott Kurtz's Attack on the Attack of the Clones, and it gave me a stupid idea, and I'd gotten four panels in, when FedEx knocked on the door with a really big check. Go figure.

Life is strange.

(July 27, 2001) (the toon)
Ahem. 16 days isn't my worst performance. I've been busy, busy, busy. I wish I were less busy, but then I'd just find more work. In non-Toonbots news, I've decided not to get a doctorate after all, just do the research instead. When you have a business and kids and everything, something has to give. I'm hoping this isn't the wrong decision to make, but ultimately it's the same decision I made in 1996, and I wasn't wrong. And I will continue to be associated with CRCC and Douglas Hofstadter, and that was what I really wanted all along.


But then in Toonbots-related news, I just now saw from my logs that I have a completely gratuitous and unsolicited link from the Polymer City Chronicle, a strip I've long admired (well, since I discovered it in June, anyway) for its simply wonderful plot and wonderfully simple art style. And just like that, he seems to have discovered me at the same time! (And along with strips like BoxJam's Doodle and Jackie's Fridge, too -- heady company indeed!)

So I've got my ego boost for the day (which I needed after the doctoral decision) and you have a new episode and everbody's happy!

(July 11, 2001) (the toon)
Woo-hoo! I think I like fifth-wall humor!

(July 9, 2001) (the toon)
Fifth-wall humor. I kill me.

(July Fourth, 2001) (the toon)
Ah, Budapest. I love it here. And this year, getting here was half the fun, and a tip of my hat to Cunard and the wonderful Queen Elizabeth II, including the wait staff of the Mauretania Restaurant (by which you can see that we had just about the cheapest accomodations possible) (but they were still luxurious). The only real problem with Budapest, of course, is that they don't explode things on the Fourth of July. Just on August 20 and New Year's, neither of which is today. Poor benighted folk.

So anyway, my vacation was excellent, I really am feeling rejuvenated, some of it is liable to slop over into new and strange Toonbots episodes. Thanks for sticking with me in the meantime, and of course, a huge thanks to Tirdun and the Communist Saga, all 20 episodes.

Y'know, I think that makes Tirdun Cool Enough, don't you?

(June 19, 2001) (the toon)
Mwuhahahaha! I like those wolverines. They're funny. Not very visible, maybe, but man, they are funny.

(June 7, 2001) (the toon)
Groan. I'm trying to make time to extend the Toon-o-Matic, but ... ah, fugeddit. You know the routine. So we get another episode of tripe instead of wolverines! At least Tim Bram rocks with his VRML meta-fan art.

So this is the 61st episode of Toonbots, and I've been at it 259 days now. That's just over 4.2 days per episode, so I'm doing better than weekly, on average. That's a comfort. Incidentally, the Toonbots home page is just around 50 page views daily. I don't know who all you people are, but you probably should look into competent group therapy or something; may I recommend the Toonbots forum? They're wacky, our Jihad.

(June 1, 2001)
Better late than never, is what I always say (because I'm always late.)

More of the same from April/May 2001.
More of the same from March 2001.
More of the same from February 2001.
More of the same from January 2001.
More of the same from December 2000.
More of the same from November 2000.
More of the same from Octember 2000.
" While the reaction in the third panel was a bit too high a horizontal to vertical ratio for my taste, the fourth panel, which had Classical Greek proportions and just the right amount of pregnant pause, more than made up for it. The final panel worked wonderfully, but again, only because panel 4 set up the payoff so tantalizingly.

Excellent first effort."

-- Boxjam

" The Toon-o-Matic receives the gopher approval. "
-- gopher

" I appreciate more than you can possibly understand the lengths that you've gone to for this toon. I laughed out loud. At every panel. "
-- nd

" Toonbots. What more can I say? I heard the title and the fact that it's a no art comic and I said, "Who the f*** does this guy think he is?" Then I read it. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were very real. The plot was a lighthearted romp into the realm of personal expansion. The layout, while crude, was absolutely beautiful. It sucked me in from the first moment. Keep up the good work, Michael, and we'll all be out of work."
-- Pyromancy

" ... it is destined for success. Toonbots is Minimalist Humor at its sublime best. "
-- Lee Herold

" Toonbots is raw, unadulterated genius. "
-- damonk13

" dot bot dot bot dot dot WOW!!! "
-- Paul Roustan

" Dear, sweet, holy mother of all that is good and sacred. I have seen the light of a brighter future, and it is the Toon-o-Matic. "
-- Chalain

" ... I applaud your totally original approach. It's like Feng Shui as applied to Humor or something. "
-- KareNin

" You're the Orange Guy. "
-- BoxJam

The calls and letters just keep pouring in. You're wonderful people, all of you.

  • Reviews of various Webtoons
    I love the Webtoon phenomenon. We're literally in a Golden Age of cartooning, right this very moment. So, because I love hearing myself talk, I've scribbled down some musings on a few of my favorites. I'm resisting the urge to write about the ones everybody already knows (like Sluggy Freelance and CRFH!!!) and instead I'm writing on the ones maybe you haven't heard about. With any luck, there will be more than just seven eventually.
  • The Toon-o-Matic
    If Lee Herold can draw with an Exacto knife and a sponge, I figure I can draw with Perl. Right? Right.
  • Link to who?
    What's that? I could have sworn you said you wanted to link to Toonbots. You did? Wow. People can be strange. Well, if you're serious, you can use this graphic:

    The XML is simple:
    <cartoon gradient="slategray2-slateblue" height="75" width="200" rowformat="1">
      <character name="toonbot" rel-h="40" rel-w="100"/>
      <character name="dot" rel-h="1" rel-w="100"/>
      <character name="al" rel-w="60"/>
      <character name="dubya" rel-w="40"/>
      <character name="toonbot" action="leaves"/>
      <character name="dot" action="leaves"/>
      <character name="dubya" action="leaves"/>
      <character name="al" action="leaves"/>
      <caption fgcolor="blue" size="20" location="middle">Toonbots.  Are you cool enough?</caption>

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.