Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Page 142

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Look, maybe I didn't think this through . . .

In the previous post I offered a free drawing and future acknowledgement to anyone who could help me name the big, small, and just-right books at the bottom of the page. And it seriously did not occur to me that maybe three different people would each come up with one title I liked. I don't know why but it didn't. STILL, I'm a man of my word and will be very happy to send an original drawing of Sparky and the Robot to the following commenters:

-- Jsutliff was the first to suggest Crime and Punishment for the big book.

-- Mike was the first to come up with I, Robot for the small book.

-- And I'm the Momma, That's Why! gave me Fahrenheit 451 for the just-right book.

Look for those titles to magically appear on the three book covers on Page 141 as soon as I get a few minutes to add them.

Mike, I know your postal address. Joe Sutliff, I don't think I have yours. And Momma, I have no idea who you are. E-mail me your addresses at brianfies@gmail.com and I'll get a drawing in the mail as soon as I can, with my thanks.

My selections may seem a bit obvious or "on the nose" but I think that's partly why they're funny. The books are like fools quipping to the audience about the action on stage. I thought some of the other suggestions were terrific--RUR, Farewell to the Master, Magic School Bus, Theory of Everything, Centennial, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, etc.--but sometimes too obscure or even too thoughtful. In this case I don't want a reader to have to figure out a puzzle--just get it fast and move on. (At other times, I DO try to create a little puzzle and give the reader the satisfaction of figuring it out; just not here, because I don't want to slow down the "bang-bang-bang" pace of those three panels.)

Which I guess offers some insight into how I think about timing and so on as I build a story. Not my intent but there it is.

I'm also cheating a little, since (I learned by looking it up just now) I, Robot and Fahrenheit 451 are almost exactly the same length. We're going to assume our Fahrenheit 451 is the special big-print annotated director's cut edition.

I had fun with this; hope you did too and that there are no hard feelings. By the way, my wife Karen thought my choices were boring. But then, she wanted to title the heavy book Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (18th edition), which would've been funny to exactly two people (us) and an impenetrable mystery to anybody else. So her judgment is suspect.

Thanks for playing and thanks for reading my story!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Page 141

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Use the links above to navigate, OR click on each page to advance to the next.

At the risk of spoiling the joke, "Klaatu barada nikto" was a password that deactivated the world-destroying robot Gort in the classic science-fiction movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951).

Behind the Curtain: I wanted to go for a gag here with the three books, but couldn't quite figure out how to pull it off. The joke would've been that the first book is some turgid "heavy" tome that most people are reluctant to read--something like War and Peace or Joyce's Ulysses. The second book is a piece of "light" reading--maybe a children's book. The third "just right" book I couldn't come up with anything I liked. To work as a tight gag, the three books would ideally be thematically related, and even better would reflect something about the story or characters--for example, something to do with robots, science or superheroes. So:

CONTEST TIME! In this post's Comments, suggest titles for the three books. They should be actual books that people know, not funny names you make up. I'm the judge and jury, and I'm not obliged to declare a winner. But if anyone comes up with three book titles I like enough to use, I'll send them an original drawing of the Robot and Inventor Sparky, and remember to mention them in the acknowledgements of any future print or e-book incarnations (if any) of "The Last Mechanical Monster."

I'll be interested to see how this goes (or doesn't)!

UPDATE: The contest is over and I think went pretty well! See Page 142 for details, and thanks again.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Page 139

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Sparky's new casual wear is dark blue, with red and yellow stripes across his chest. Make of that what you will . . .