The Optimist: A Brief Look Back At 2011

A lot of webcomic people write little meta comments to go along with each comic they post. I don’t really like doing (or reading) that, because I find it to be distracting. I like the strips to stand on their own—without backstory, explanation, or commentary—at least at the time of publication. But now there’s this blog post, so I dunno. Here are some corrections and comments and whatevers for the last year’s worth of The Optimist comic strips (excluding typos, which are thankfully caught by the intrepid editors at The Valley Advocate before the strips hit the presses). SEE YOU IN HELL, 2011.


Silly Story Time With Dad! – I did an inordinate amount of research for this comic, basically just to write one sentence fragment. I wanted it to be correct. It was somewhat difficult finding a topic that I found to be truly repulsive and horrific, and then putting it into a comedic setting.

The Best Screen Name – You might not be aware of this phenomenon, but there are people online who will take your carefully paced dialogue and fuck with it. They’ll do a weird sloppy Photoshop edit to your comic and post it on like, reddit and make a dipshit comment like “FIXED.” I find people like this to be rather cuntish and useless.

Drum solo! – Every year I like to make at least one terrible pun or portmanteau aimed at a very narrow audience, thus ensuring that that week’s comic will be very very unpopular with the general public (here’s 2010′s).

The Perfect Day – Most everyone I talked to did not understand this comic, including the Valley Advocate, which opted to run a different strip instead. There is no joke. It’s just cruelty and meanness.

FREE MICKEY – Last I checked, this was the most-read Optimist strip. I’d like to think this is due to my amazing writing skills, but it’s probably just because the post has a good Google result for “Disney” or something. I was somewhat nervous about drawing any Mickey Mouse-ish character, as parody, satire, commentary, or otherwise (somewhat ironic since the post itself was about copyright). It’s the only post I’ve ever made that included a footnote that is wordier than the post itself (and again involved way more sloppy research than it deserved). There are some good comments from some dummies on that post, if you care.

Pets That Can Talk?!? – One person on the newspaper staff suggested changing the word “testicles” to “balls,” which I opted not to do, yet I think it’s wonderful that someone would offer this sort of creative input.

Obama! Muslim! Kenya! – Maybe my favorite strip this year. It captures early 2011 for me quite well. It will forever stand as an historical snapshot of an era. Scholars shall study it.

Night School For Superheroes – A rehash of an old comic originally published in a zine in the late nineties. I spent so much time reformatting the mediocre art for the Optimist panel layout, I probably should’ve just redrawn it, but I didn’t. Weird! Anyway, I have always been pleased with the tempo of this comic (there’s a lot of dumb puns and little jokes in the first three panels, and no big punchline in panel four) and wanted to put it in front of a larger audience.

Sports Round-Up – Many internet commenters theorized that I was angry or jealous because I was expressing my hatred for sports. Some sort of nerd/jock grudge carried over from middle school or something. It’s not really about hatred, though. Just perspective. Sports are really really unimportant. I don’t actually mind sports in any way—I dislike sports culture and its place in the entertainment industry. ::shrugs::

The Blind Date – I spell-checked monchhichi about one hundred and thirty times. Loosely based on an actual conversation.

Spaghetti Night! – A TRUE STORY

Big Secret – I made this fake ad and sat on it for months, tweaking the language every now and then. And then one night on SNL I saw The Lean Years skit with Amy Poehler, which starts amazingly/depressingly close to my joke setup. But I decided to publish it anyway, because that’s how I do. Also: I paid money for stock photos!

Genius – I wasted way too much time internally debating the difference between a light year as a measurement of time (the popular interpretation of the word by the general public) and as a measurement of distance (which is actually correct). This is another joke that apparently didn’t translate well to a lot of people. The humor (to me) was that such a pointless bit of gibberish would travel across the cosmos, and/or travel for a thousand human lifetimes. But I guess it was just an excuse to say “poop.”

The Litterbug – I used the newspaper-headline-as-punchline schtick three times this year (this one, Spaghetti Night, and All They Want Is Your Muffin). Now that I realize that, I feel slightly disappointed with myself. It’s a good go-to humor device, but I guess I went-to too many times in 2011.

TRICK OR TREAT! – I have trouble explaining why I like this comic, or exactly what it means. Something about the non-branded child being appreciative of a non-branded snack food. I guess?

Super-Rush – If I was capable of drawing sexy, Krisfalusi-like women, this joke would probably have been funnier. Ditto with this comic, which is likely the worst-drawn strip of the year for me.

NON-OPTIMIST COMIC COMMENT: Cartooning Vs. Technology – I just wanted to say for the official record that Scott Kurtz and a vocal minority of his fans seem to be a bit dim. That turned out to be a really weird week.

Meanwhile, At The Museum – TRUE STORY. Mass MOCA, 2011, uncomfortable.

Internet & Tech – I spent too much time on the TITLE and ALT jokes.

Legend Of The Ancient Magician – This is sort of badly drawn, but in my defense, I was trying to channel and parody an art style I do not like. I was expecting some form of backlash on this one. Received none.

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