Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Meek" is Beautiful -- Even Without its Naked Heroine

Preeeeeeeeeeeetty colors.

I've been hosting houseguests for the past month, and I've fallen ridiculously behind on my reading. But now that I've reclaimed my living room, I'm back to binging on webcomics.

The problem is, I've somehow managed to acquire a healthy queue of comics without remembering how any of the comics got into my queue. Consequently, I wasn't sure what to expect when I clicked on The Meek.

I didn't expect boobies.

Let's get this out of the way: there's a lot of non-sexual nudity running through The Meek. And when I say running, I mean we open on a naked teenage girl dashing across the screen, her less PG-bits sometimes (barely) concealed by her outstretched limbs. It's not something you should be reading in your cubicle, but it's nowhere near pornographic.

To be honest, the art is so darn pretty that I hardly noticed the teen booty. Artist Der-shing Helmer says that it takes eight to ten hours to complete each page of The Meek, and I believe it. Each page is incredibly polished, with rich colors that create a real sense of light, darkness, and depth. Helmer's style isn't particularly innovative -- that melding of classic Disney style and anime sensibilities that has become so popular of late -- but he she has the skill to keep it interesting. His character design is solid, and his knack for expressions and movement let you almost forget that this is a webcomic and not a feature film.

I could recommend The Meek on art alone, but it manages to be more than just a pretty face. It isn't a Mensa member either, but not every comic has to be. I bitch and moan about high fantasy comics, but that's because too many writers enshrine their own ideas at the expense of storytelling and characterization. Helmer keeps his worldbuilding in the background, preferring to first flesh out his characters and their interactions.

The aforementioned naked girl is Angora, a green-haired teenager raised in the jungle. She is on a familiar hero's quest, charged by a mystical being (in this case a kaiju-sized salamander) to enter the civilized world. She must meet her giant salamander -- called only "Grandfather" -- so she can help him prevent some sort of demonic apocalypse. But first she must recruit an alcoholic explorer and evade the woman-hungry laborers shocked and pleased to find a naked girl in their midst.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, we peer on the emperor and lady of a war-ravaged country. The emperor is in negotiations with ambassadors from the enemy nation, but peace is far from assured. The emperor's rage at decades of horrors is tempered by his fiery wife, but a human and demonic desire for vengeance lurks just barely beneath the surface.

Sure, it's nothing we haven't seen before. But Helmer executes it all with such competence that it's a purely enjoyable read. The pacing, the dialogue, the teasing of clues -- it's all carefully executed while maintaining a happy balance of darkness and fun. It's a comic that understands what it's promising and seems -- thus far -- to deliver.

The Meek isn't a must-read, but if you're looking for something pretty to look at, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

[The Meek]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What I've Learned from Reading Print Comics

A few months ago, I started doing something I had never tried before: buying monthly comics from a real-life bricks-and-mortar comic book store. I've spent years reading webcomics, and I've ducked into comic book stores for the occasional trade, but I've never known the kid-on-Christmas joys of running down to the shop on Wednesdays for the latest issue of The Uncanny X-Men.

I admit, I didn't really expect the experience to be particularly revelatory. I figured I'd learn a thing or two about superhero books, and maybe gain a little insight into all those comic news sites I'm subscribed to. And I wanted to see how big corporations handle a medium I associate with individuals. It hasn't made me a superhero convert, I'm still a bit mystified at the Marvel/DC fan divide, but I am taking home a few significant lessons about reading and buying comics.

Reading comics should be a social activity. I don't know why this surprised me, but it did; buying comics is a social activity. You head down to the shop on Wednesday afternoon -- roughly the same time each Wednesday -- and buy your books. You shoot the shit with other folks who buy their comics at the same time you do. You talk about the books you're buying, this week's True Blood, the weather, whatever. You see roughly the same people each week and, over time, you get to know their opinions on this artist or that character. I'm a pretty hermetic person, but even I think it's kind of nice.

I've never found anything that's quite analogous for webcomics. I have some friends IRL who read webcomics, but we don't really critique webcomics in the same way print comics readers do. We don't discuss Hazel's role in Girls with Slingshots or how Randy Milholland handles other creators' characters or whether Fans! makes any damn sense half the time. We don't talk about the direction we'd like to see Questionable Content take or whether the titular character in Bruno is a Mary Sue and whether it matters.

Individual comics have comment sections or bulletin boards, and some of them are a lot of fun. I've probably spent more time reading Penny and Aggie's board than reading the comic itself. But the reading community hasn't developed a central place where it can discuss the wider ecosystem of webcomics. We have websites and blogs, but we're not polishing ourselves against one another. With a few glancing exceptions, we're not forming relationships with one another over our bickering and our shared admiration. We're not elevating the discourse about webcomics. We're not creating a central place for criticisms and small experiments and parodies. We're not providing a social resource for newbies to the webcomics scene. We're not even providing a scene outside the creative community.

I'm not saying that every act of webcomic reading should be a social one. We'll always have our late-night catharsis, our secret gems, our guilty pleasures. But this is one place where I think webcomic readers could stand to take a cue from our superhero-loving brethren.

Diversity is webcomics' greatest strength -- but also a profound weakness. Can we discuss how awesome King City is? If there's one book that made this whole "reading comics on paper" experiment worth it, it's King City. Every time a new issue comes out, I can look forward to thirty minutes spent in a surreal landscape filled with mutant gangsters and shameless puns.

But here's the thing. King City isn't a superhero comic. It's not put out by the Big Two (granted, it is put out by Image, which pulls some heavy hitters). Most of the comics I've found myself reaching for are from Vertigo, DC's more topically-diverse imprint -- books like iZombie, Sweet Tooth, Demo, and Daytripper. Most of the comics staring down at me from the new issues rack still star men and incredibly busty women in spandex -- and on top of that, they're now plastered with banners reading either "Brightest Day" or "The Heroic Age." It's absurd.

I often tell people that webcomics are awesome because for every "two dudes playing video games on a couch" comic, there is a comic about post-Reformation theologians or karmically-challenged Brooklynites or a grumpy wombat on a mystical quest or the zombie post-apocalypse or an alternate-history Arizona or female professional wrestlers. There are artists who put out clean and polished lines, others who prefer to leave theirs sketchy, and still others who rely primarily on clip art. While traditional print comics wring their hands over girl power and attracting younger readers, webcomickers offer plenty of honest-to-God feminism and teen drama. Webcomics have something for everyone, assuming you know where to look.

But this also means that webcomickers have to identify their target audience, grab 'em by the ears, and pitch and market their little hearts out. DC and Marvel can lure us in with new stories about familiar characters, even if we didn't grow up with superhero comics. You can bet I'll pick up Batman Beyond #1 this week, if only because I loved watching the show so much in high school. Webcomickers have to say a lot more than "Hey, remember how awesome Terry McGinnis was?"

The archive binge is optional. I was always reluctant to delve into superhero books because I figured I'd never get caught up. With all those decades of backstory, I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'm used to the webcomic archive binge, with years of comics at my fingertips.

Everyone assured me that you just dive right in. So I did.

And you know what? It's not so bad. Sure, the experience of reading Birds of Prey is richer if you've been reading Gotham City comics for years, but it's easy enough to get caught up in the story and get to know the characters without reading everything that came before. You can always go back and read it later.

I've been thinking about this a lot in light of Goats. Perhaps we as readers would discover more interesting comics if we weren't so obsessed with starting at the beginning. These days, I'm more willing to hit the "subscribe" button on a new comic and ride with it for a few weeks before diving back into the archives.

Paying for books isn't (that) painful. I'm a notorious cheapskate. My nice shoes come from Payless. I'm waiting for Groupon to offer a salon deal so I can get my hair cut. I live next to two grocery stores, but still walk a mile to the produce mart that sells three avocados for a dollar.

But making comics part of my entertainment outlay wasn't a big deal. It was at first, but then I started to think of it more like getting a couple of beers. Comics are just a different brand of social lubricant. I'm not spending eighty, a hundred bucks a week like some guys -- just a few books a week and a couple of things in trades (mostly Fables and The Walking Dead).

Then I started to feel guilty. I'll throw a few bucks to DC or Marvel or Wildstorm, but what about T Campbell, whose comics I've been reading since college? What about Randy Milholland whose warped optimism has been a perverse guiding light? What about all the creators whose comics kept me warm during the most awful year of my life? Getting myself in the habit of paying for comic content -- even a few dollars at a time -- has put me in a better frame of mind. Why not buy the occasional t-shirt or trade paperback, especially when it's a a comic I really dig? (Plea to T Campbell: Put out a Fans! treasury. Please.)

Sharing books beats sharing links. An interesting thing happened to me recently. My mom was visiting for a few days this month, and I showed her my copy of The Fart Party. She sat down, read most of the book, then left it on a chair in my living room. Fast forward a few days, and my law school roommate, a corporate litigator who has never expressed any particular interest in comics, is staying with me. I'm trying to get some work done when I suddenly look up and she's sitting there reading the book she's found on the chair.

"This is really funny," she tells me. "Why have I never heard of her before?"

I am speechless.

This is more or less why I bought the Octopus Pie treasury. I've been trying to convince my comic and non-comic-reading friends alike of Meredith Gran's brilliance, but when I send people the link, they assure me that they'll "get around to it eventually." As a person who has a lot of comics I plan to "get around to eventually," I know exactly what that means. I got my copy of There Are No Stars in Brooklyn just two days ago, and I've already loaned it out. Giving someone a physical book to read adds a little weight to your recommendation (about two pounds -- har, har), and gives your bailee a ticking clock. They have to read your book so they can return it to you. Just make sure you can trust the person you're loaning it to -- those things aren't cheap.

Comics advertising sucks in any medium. I recently started reading a new monthly comic called iZombie. Vertigo put a preview for iZombie in the back of its other monthly books, and by the time issue one finally came out, I was itching to get my hands on it. Good advertising? Only if I was already reading a Vertigo title. I like offbeat zombie books. I like snarky urban fantasy. I appreciate people who can reference Scooby Doo and be bittersweet all in the same 22 pages. But I wouldn't have known about iZombie if my local comic shop proprietor hadn't handed me a copy of Sweet Tooth on Day One.

There's a lot of great advertising that goes on within the webcomics network. Creators are great about throwing links to their favorite new comics. Project Wonderful is a neat "I'll scratch your back and you'll scratch mine" advertising network. And sites like ArtPatient and The Webcomic Overlook (not to mention this one) try to turn people on to new and interesting stuff. But as a marketing system, we're incomplete.

A lot of people think they don't like comics until they see Fun Home or Asterios Polyp reviewed in the New York Times. Too many people probably associate webcomics with xkcd or Cyanide and Happiness to the exclusion of everything else. When I think of webcomics, I think of a rich and varied landscape -- and there be literature in them there hills. The challenge is connecting the right comics with the right audience. For some webcomics, the right audience isn't people who are already reading webcomics; it's historical fiction buffs or Twilight fans or people who grew up watching Nickelodeon in the 90s. If webcomic creators want to grow their audience, they shouldn't make the mistake print companies do and keep drawing from the same well. They need to find the readers who will really fall for their particular comic -- even if those readers aren't already reading webcomics.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Goats Man Goes Gag-a-Day

Several weeks ago, Jonathan Rosenberg revealed that he was having a problem with Goats. The precise problem is that Goats, a webcomic epic that launched in 1997 and whose plot will climax in 2012, hasn't maintained sufficient reader levels to pay the bills. Consequently, Rosenberg has put Goats on hiatus to concentrate on potentially more lucrative comic projects.

One of the problems with Goats seems to be that long-form epics don't suit an Internet audience hungry for the bite-sized gags from Dinosaur Comics or Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal or Subnormality. Goats isn't Diggable. You can't tweet character development or complex plot arcs. It's better suited to fans of the archive binge than the humor hit-and-run, for people who prefer TV Tropes to reddit's comics page.

With that in mind, Rosenberg has launched a new gag-a-day comic, albeit one with a theme. Scenes From a Multiverse is aimed squarely at the xkcd set, with jokes about Scientology, physics, and data presentation, all told by the colorful (and sometimes tentacled) denizens of the multiverse. Scenes From a Multiverse has gotten a nice initial burst of traffic already thanks to a plug on Questionable Content (it's now cooled down to readable levels), but only time will tell whether Rosenberg finds more monetary success with this new format than he did with Goats.

Ask Diesel Sweeties Anything -- and Get an 8-Bit Answer

What does a webcomicker do when he, she, or it is swamped with appearances? R Stevens of Diesel Sweeties is heading out on tour with Meredith Gran (her Octopus Pie treasury is reportedly "in the mail" -- w00t!), and he needs some quick and dirty filler comics. So he's opening the floor to us, the readers.

Stevens is asking readers to send in their questions -- what are we dying to ask Stevens (Honestly, dude, how much money do you make?) or his characters: OtaKate (Where can you find the most realistic tentacle sex toys?), Clango (Is it ever okay to erase your partner's memory?), Indie Rock Pete (How's that bacon tree coming?), or Freya (Where can I find a homicidal robotic love slave of my very own?).

Randy Milholland does reader questions at Something Positive from time to time, and the results can be terrifying. I can only hope the Diesel Sweeties Q&A offers half the absurd insight into Stevens' webcomic world.

Reader Question Comics Week! [Joe Biden Fan Club]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Web Comics App is Coming Back

As many of you know, several weeks ago, an application developer named Dale Zak invoked the wrath of many webcomic creators with his Web Comics iPhone app. Although there were cries of content theft from many creators (and their fans), my own analysis suggested that the Web Comics app was a legal (if exceedingly clunky) RSS reader.

Now Zak plans to release a new version of the app, and it sounds like he's made some of the changes creators and readers have suggested. I believe that all his promo shots include only comics whose creators specifically asked to be included in the application, and the new version lets you add additional comic RSS feeds. It also sounds like links to new comic feeds will appear based on the feeds app users tend to add. In other words, the new version of the app is a bit closer to a traditional RSS reader, and it makes Zak look a bit less like a publisher -- and, he hopes, smell a bit less fishy. We'll have to see if webcomic creators turn up their noses this time.

Zak says that he has already submitted the new Web Comics app to the iTunes store and is waiting on approval. He doesn't say whether the app will be free.

Will I be downloading the new Web Comics app? Sure, to play around with it and see how it works. If he releases an Android version, I might even try to use it on a daily basis. But I'm pretty content reading most of my comics through NetNewsWire and I'm not in the market for a mobile webcomics solution. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are.

Web Comics Republished [Dale Zak]

Webcomics for Gulf Cleanup

Via Fleen. Carly Monardo, sometimes Dr. McNinja colorist and cover artist and Venture Bros. illustrator, was inspired by the Venture Bros. art auction to contribute something to the Gulf Coast cleanup. So she's setting up an auction of webcomic art, with proceeds going to the Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund. Webcomickers great and small are contributing their artwork to the auction, and if you're a creator with a non-"adult" comic, you too can submit your artwork for auction. For those of us looking to buy, the auction will launch in early July.

[Web-Comics Auction for the Gulf Coast]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Minis: A Year in the Life of a Punk

So folks don't like punk rock. The songs are simple and stripped-down, focused around three key chords. Often, the musicians aren't terribly skilled. The lyrics lack irony or any deep hidden meanings.

Of course, where some people see sloppiness, others see unpolished gems. There's a lot to be said for the upfront, what-you-see-is-what-you-get quality of punk, its lack of pretension, its accessibility.

Snakepit is a punk rock diary comic, which is appropriate since creator Ben Snakepit is a punk. Granted, he's a 35-year-old punk with a steady job. Snakepit has been keeping a diary comic for 10 years now, recording each day in three black-and-white panels. Birdcage Bottom Books recently sent me the most recent (and apparently final) installment, Snakepit 2009, which is my first encounter with this skull-wearing Austinist.

Perhaps in its younger days, Snakepit was filled with rollicking adventures, but the 2009 installment illustrates a comfortable domesticity, albeit one filled with rock shows and heaps of marijuana. Ben goes to work, hangs out with his girlfriend, worries about money, practices with his band, has dinner with friends, gets tattoos, watches movies, and smokes his fair share of weed. But there's something appealing about watching the mundaneness of someone else's life. It's like peering in your neighbors' windows -- you know you're not going to see anything exciting, but you're curious about those little details that make their lives different from yours.

Some of the diary comics I read regularly, such as Ellerbisms and Today Nothing Happened, have a faint narrative thread running through them. Snakepit is stylistically closer to James Kochalka's American Elf, capturing the ordinary rhythms of daily life. I had an odd moment reading through Snakepit where I was reminded of reading those big collections of Garfield comics. There are symbols and places that repeat throughout the year. A wall of videos behind Ben means he's at work. When he plays video games, he usually renders himself as a smelly turd in front of a laptop. When he eats a meal with Karen, we see little hearts everywhere. It's a style you have to either accept or reject, but if you let yourself get caught up in its rhythm, Snakepit will quickly carry you through the entire year of strips, and you'll get some good chuckles when Ben throws a few deliberately discordant notes in with his usual refrains. Let's just say I was caught off-guard by an errant penis.

Reading Snakepit 2009 does give you the sense that you've sort of, kind of witnessed a year in the life of another human being. But I'm looking forward to the eventual Snakepit treasury collection, which will collect all 10 years of Snakepit strips, and let us really see how Ben Snakepit, cartoonist, punk rocker, and video clerk extraordinaire, has changed over the years.

Snakepit 2009 [Birdcage Bottom Books]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Box Brown is Totally Jealous of Kate Beaton's Success

So Kate Beaton had a comic in last week's New Yorker. If, like me, you're a shut-in who doesn't get the New Yorker, you can view it in the Cartoon Bank.

Box Brown (who, incidentally, wouldn't be a half-bad match for the New Yorker himself) is kind of jealous. Who am I kidding? Her success is eating away at his very soul. At least he's man enough to own up to it.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guests With Slingshots

Heroes Con left Danielle Corsetto feeling a tad overworked (as, I'm sure, did the other projects she's currently working on), so she sent out a webcomics SOS for guest strips. Many submitted their best takes on Girls With Slingshots, but only one prevailed: a testicle-happy comic from Bill Ellis (whose comic All New Issues Corsetto has been furiously pimping).

Happily, she's posted all of the submissions to her Flickr account, and there's plenty of funny that didn't make the cut. Allan Turner of Miller & Mullet submitted the comic that best matches Corsetto's own style (seen at the top of this post), but hands down, the most hysterical guest strip comes courtesy of K. Skipper of Pink Parts (NSFW, as the title suggests).

For non-GWS readers: the girl in the pink is Melody -- who happens to be deaf -- and the girl in red is her sister Maureen. The unfortunate lad is Chris the Pirate, Melody's would-be suitor.

GWS Guest Strips [Flickr]

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Ultimate Webcomic Artist: Shaky Baby Deer

Spike seriously cracks me up. Could the adventures of Shaky Baby Deer please be a recurring feature?

See Shaky Baby Deer cower at the presence of adoring fans. See him will himself to disappear on a panel.

Go "DAWWW!" as he flees the convention in adorable terror.

Shaky Baby Deer [Templar, Arizona]

Your Second Chance to Read Eleven Years of Bruno

Reading Christopher Baldwin's opus Bruno is an ambitious undertaking. From 1996-2007, Baldwin posted six strips a week detailing the life of his freespirited -- but often depressed -- young heroine. You can try to binge on eleven years of archives (believe me, I've tried), or you can enjoy it at the much more manageable rate of one strip per day. Baldwin has decided to rerun Bruno starting this week. Add it to your daily webcomic clicks or your RSS reader today.

Although I've never read Bruno in it's entirety (I think I'm missing a couple of years somewhere in the middle of its run), I've always found it compelling. The titular nomad can be a frustrating character; she's dour and cynical and often behaves as if she alone holds the answers to all of life's questions. And she never seems quite as charming as the strip's other characters suggest she is. Still, she feels real enough that watching her feels almost voyeuristic, and she encounters some pretty interesting personages in her travels.

Also rerunning is Baldwin's Little Dee, his much-acclaimed comic about a non-verbal child reared by talking animals. Another one for the bookmarks.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Perry Bible Fellowship. For Reals.

And lo! On the twenty-fourth month, The Perry Bible Fellowship was resurrected and rejoined its followers to spread the good news.

Seriously, after nearly two years of not posting, Nicholas Gurewitch has updated PBF with a new comic. Check it out. [via reddit]

Friday, June 4, 2010

Finding (and Losing) the Girl of Your Dreams

YU+ME: dream is one of those webcomics that's been popular for sometime that I have -- for no particular reason -- never quite gotten around to. Now that the comic is approaching its final chapter, I figure it's about time I sat down and read it.

Megan Rose Gedris is probably best known for her other popular webcomic, I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!!, a goofy send up of sexploitation and pulp scifi (with lesbians, naturally). At the start, YU+ME looks like a particularly melodramatic romance manga (with lesbians). Fiona is a fairly typical (though especially naive) high school student sitting at the lowest rung of the social ladder. She is constantly bullied by her peers (especially by the vicious Sarah, who was once her best friend), unfairly punished by her teacher Sister Mary, and treated as subhuman by her stepmother. But her life abruptly changes when two friends enter her world: Jake, a constantly-picked on gay boy, and Lia, a girl who moves in next door. Lia opens up a whole new world to Fiona, a world of sleepovers and shared secrets, but Fiona soon realizes that her feelings for Lia are more than friendly. At the same time, a mysterious person keeps calling Fiona's house, someone her father and stepmother don't want her knowing about.

From there, the comic unfolds much the way you would expect: there are secrets and shocking discoveries, blackmail, confessed feelings, adolescent scheming, and, of course, romance. It's highly readable, though nothing to write home about. The story gets increasingly absurd (without spoiling too much, at one point, everyone in the story seems to be secretly gay and there's an almost literal fairy godmother moment), and there are weird cameos by Fiona's conscience, who speaks like a bad black stereotype.

But when the story builds to its climax, Gedris whips out the rug.

Suddenly, everything we know about Fiona and her life has changed. The art style changes. Hell, even the genre changes (we move from high school romance to epic adventure before we have time to catch our breath).

YU+ME is best enjoyed as an experiment, both in terms of its storytelling and its artistic style. Gedris plays with different media for different parts of her story, including photo, paper cutouts, sculpture, and watercolor. And she traces back through her original story to explain all of the absurdities and apparent inconsistencies we witnessed in those first few chapters. It's not perfect; there are some clunky moments, the pacing is off, and some characters who could have served the later story who disappear a tad too early. But Gedris has structured her story in a truly unusual way, and it's great fun to watch all of its puzzle pieces fall into place.

[YU+ME: dream]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cartoon Guide to LARPing

Okay, I've officially got a thing for instructional comics. It doesn't really matter what the subject is, a good cartoonist can make just about anything interesting. If there were more cartoon textbooks, I might have spent less time hating law school and actually learned some law.

Team Dynamite Lazer Beam (Nick Edwards) could have a future in cartoon textbooks. Even if you aren't into LARPing (live action role-playing), it's worthwhile to read his delightful gaming guide. It made me want to grab a foam sword and run out into the woods.

Incidentally, Edwards is also the creator of Phantom Sword, one of the few high fantasy Zuda entries to win me over.

LARP: What Is It? [Team Dynamite Lazer Beam via Drawn!]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Want: Pixel Skull Shot Glasses, Saints of Sex Toys, and Mecha Kitties

With the acquisition of my amazing Octopus Pie punchy shot glasses, I have officially filled my quota for webcomic-themed glassware. Still, I can think of a lot of folks who would love the new Diesel Sweeties pixel skull shot glasses. Get them before Scott Pilgrim vs. The World comes out and everyone is clamoring for that pixel skull swag.

Also, a Diesel Sweeties shirt I can't help but love: I'm Not Unemployed, I'm NSFW. Yeah, take that, gainful employment.
A while back, Erika Moen and Dylan Meconis had a sexy-fun art show titled "Lady Parts." Dylan sold her "Lady Parts" watercolors shortly after the show, but Erika just put hers up for sale (tastefully NSFW). Now you can own her Venus with Tentacles, her Saints of Sex Toys, and her stimulating dioramas (such as this...cute little bunny).

These aren't actually for sale yet, but Shazzbaa Bennett just teased these posters, which she printed to coincide with the Today Nothing Happened book release. Curse you, Shazzbaa, I don't even particularly like cats, and I'm already imagining how one of these would look hanging above my computer. Any chance you could make a mecha puppy?