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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

- Douglas Adams

Ego Comics Presents LAST CALL -Volume 1

Issue 4

Spring 2005-

Ta bl e Of C on t e n t s Front Cover By brandon Dodds (colors by Ben Girven) Table of contents.................................................................................. 1 Klyde by Andrew Elbendari........................................................................ 2 Ego of the Ubermensch by Brian A. Dixon..........................8 The Standard of Living by neil harmeyer, brandon dodds, and ben girven. .................. 14 The Artifact by matt Putnam-pouliot.........................................20 untitled by j.m. hunter..........................................................................26 Doom incarnated by yann beelen, neil harmeyer, and ben girven...........................31 It came from planet kungar pinup by Chris Woerner. .........................................................................37 Real monsters by ed quinby............................................................ 38 horror pinup by christopher rice..................................................... 41 roger and max in “bombs away!!” by frankie carrera and frank carrera. ........................................42 Last Call pinup by frank carrera. .................................................... 45 Fantasy pinup by christopher rice.................................................... 46 once upon by liz miller......................................................................47 soldier by max allende...........................................................................50 intoxication by jon johnson.......................................................55 glite-brite by christopher woerner...............................................61 contributors...........................................................................................67 the “egos” behind ego comics..........................................70 Back Cover by Christopher Rice “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

- Winston Churchill Ego Comics Presents: Last Call Vol.1 No. 4 Spring 2005 Published by EGO COMICS INFOTAINMENT GROUP. Ego Comics is: Neil Harmeyer & Ben Girven. Published quarterly. The Ego Comics logo, and “Ego Comics Presents” are all ©2005 Ego Comics Infotainment Group, Inc. All rights reserved. All stories, sequential art, and silliness ©2005 their respective artists and authors. Any similarity between any of the names, characters, persons, and/or institutions in this periodical with those of any living or dead persons or institution is probably intended in the name of parody and not entirely coincidental. Ego Comics will not be held responsible for your fears, trepidations, shortcomings, or misunderstandings that may arise before, during, or after the enjoyment of this publication. PLEASE DIRECT COMPLAINTS, CONCERNS, AND QUESTIONS TO: sancholo@egocomics.com. Printed by CafePress.com. Store in a cool, dry place.

“Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

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“Ego of the Ubermensch” by Brian A. Dixon

The first time I met Gamma Man, in the flesh, he was escorted to my office by the Fort Worth Police Department. It was an almost ridiculous sight, to see a costumed member of the Olympians flanked by two uniformed cops who, even with their hats on, were barely shoulderhigh to the hero. Their presence by his side only helped to reinforce the outright majesty of his appearance. People say the capes are larger than life. You don’t realize how true that old cliché is until you’ve seen one in action or stood with one of them face-to-face. No doubt you’ve been following the trial. It would be hard to avoid. This is, after all, perhaps the first time that so highly regarded a cape’s been charged with any crime or misdemeanor. What happens in the courtroom here in Fort Worth will make history, set legal precedent, will change the way we feel about these heroes and their place in our society forever. My own particular role in the trial will keep this commentary — this confessional — private until the verdict is revealed. That’s not going to keep me from writing, however. What you’ve been hearing about this trial, the details being reported in the press, isn’t what needs to be told. There’s more to this super-powered man in the defense chair than most folks know and I’m writing to tell you, whatever verdict may be handed down, he deserves better than this. I am the court-appointed psychologist, you see. While the specialized degrees exist, I have no formal training in the psychology of metahumans. I do know what drives men, however, and what I now know of this hero who is on trial in Fort Worth for trying to save six men and women with his extraordinary abilities needs to be told. The tabloids love the capes, and why shouldn’t they? The capes bring action, they bring glitz, they bring spectacle; they offer hope at the same time that they deliver necessary violence. If you’re learning about them through gossip, however, if you’re getting all your facts about this landmark trial from a supermarket rag, you’re doing yourself and these heroes a great disservice. These men and women, we say they fight for justice and for truth. At the very least, the truth must be told of them. They deserve nothing less. It was before the start of the second phase of the trial that I found Gamma Man, larger than life as he was, in my office. Although he fit comfortably into the armchair that all my patients take, it seemed to me as if the office itself — a three hundred square-foot office, mind you, with a full view of downtown Fort Worth — was cramped, stifling, too small to comfortably contain the man’s tall frame and broad shoulders. These men don’t simply act big, they have the stature and presence to match.

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Gamma Man was angry, certainly. He had every right to be and, though his very image is built on disguise, he made no attempt to hide the emotion. He watched me with a sort of silent fury and unblinking eyes as I took the chair opposite him and prepared to start the interview. Everything you’ve heard about his unique gaze is true, too. It suddenly seems as if you are utterly incapable of lying when those bright, glowing red pupils are upon you, staring you down. When he looks at you, suddenly you’re under the hot lamp of a very private interrogation room. I can see why suspects, more often than not, simply break down before him, confessing to their crimes without a fight. When I asked him his name, for the record, his reply was quick. “Gamma Man.” I shouldn’t have expected anything lesser. If the man has what they call a secret identity, discussing it was out of the question. “We take these names for a reason,” he commented, “and we don’t choose them ourselves. You choose them, and we’re happy to take them as our own. It’s for the best. We have to protect those who share our private lives, our family and friends, certainly, but it’s more than that. When you’re making decisions that could affect the men, women, and children of an entire nation — of an entire world — it helps not to think of yourself as the man. Honestly, you have to think of yourself as Gamma Man.” That’s the name I scrawled in my report. I didn’t even argue the point with him. Once you’re past the eyes — eyes that glow red with an unflickering, unfading, unnatural inner light — it’s the costume that hits you. For the longest time I wasn’t able to tear my eyes from that radiation logo emblazoned across his chest. Those of you who’ve never seen a cape up close, who’ve only watched them perform their feats on the nightly news or seen their masked faces on the front pages of newspapers, might consider the mental image of that scene within my office laughable. I was dressed in my uniform, so to speak — my favorite gray suit, my blue button-down, the tie my wife gave me for Christmas the year that we were married — and he was dressed in his: crimson cape, cowl, boots and all. When you see the way the man fills out that costume of his you can see there’s nothing to laugh about. It’s impressive, that uniform and the underlying physique, unnaturally so. I now know why the organization to which he’s pledged his allegiance has dubbed itself the Olympians; I felt as if I were in the presence of a towering, brilliant, scarlet god. We spoke of many things during the first half hour, once I was able to overcome the nervous novelty of interviewing one of the nation’s foremost metahumans and to focus on procedure. I selected from the usual range of questions and, before long, the façade of the hero cracked and I came to accept that I was speaking to a man, first and foremost. He told me of his experiences in the skies above Texas, of his lengthy career fighting crime in the city’s streets and on a larger, global scale. We discussed his teammates from the Olympians: Nimbus, Acid Lass, the Cyclone, Johnny Apocalypse. He even provided me with a vague recounting

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of his secret origins. “The night I gained my powers? It was the single moment that changed my life forever,” he said, “changed who I was forever. I’ve told myself, though, that it wasn’t simply the radiation that did it. We all have those moments, don’t we? They’re the moments that decide all that’ll follow. The powers are thrust upon you, sure, but that’s not the deciding factor. There’s a choice to be made. You understand. There’s always a choice to be made.” All of this may make for an entertaining profile some day but, more importantly, it revealed the very core being this trial and these prosecutors hope to expose. Here was a cape sitting before me, larger than life in all respects. But underneath the brightly colored uniform and behind those powerful, glowing eyes was a man no less fragile and no less complex than any other man that has shared that armchair of mine. I had to force myself to bring up the subject that brought us together, to even mention the five-alarm fire that tore through midtown and killed a half-dozen people. It was difficult for me to speak of it, but what’s more, it was difficult for him to hear of it. I could see it in his face, in the way he held his head and the way his laser-like eyes suddenly faltered and uncharacteristically blinked. The pain was clear, unmistakable, as blatant as the bold logo emblazoned on his chest. His words from then on were not conveyed in the strong, stern voice of a man who is proud of his accomplishments and proud of his place in the world. He spoke with pain, with disappointment, with the heartbreak and heartache of a man who has tried his best and failed all those who loved him and depended on him. You’ve never seen this face, not on the nightly news. He hides it well, masked man that he is. Now that the judge has ruled that the cameras will indeed be banned from the courtroom, I fear you will never see that face and I now realize that it’s important to me that you do. “There’s an image to be upheld,” he confided when I confronted him with it, and for the first time he seemed to be avoiding my gaze. “The Game Face, Nimbus calls it, and he might be the best at it. You’ve seen photos of him?” I told him I had. It is, of course, the superhero visage that has graced the cover of Time magazine on more than one occasion, and countless cartoon caricatures in the newspapers as well. That face is famous. “Nimbus, he clenches his teeth, sets his jaw, and knits up that brow of his before letting loose with any of his powers. He knows that’s what people need to see. That’s not him, though, not really. I know the man; I’ve spent time with him. That scowl, that chiseled expression? The Game Face, that’s all it is. He’s got to wear it, though. You can’t let that down, because our enemies are watching as well as all the good men and women of the world. “I told you it helps not to think of yourself as the man, that you have to think of yourself as the hero. The same goes for the public, you understand. They need to think it. They need that face. When they’re being threatened, when they’re in danger, they need to see that face

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when Nimbus arrives on the scene.” When I asked him if he’d worn the Game Face to the five-alarm Fort Worth fire when he’d arrived on the scene to assist the rescue crews I saw him tense and his fingers gripped the arms of his chair so tightly I was genuinely afraid that he might, quite accidentally, tear deep holes in the upholstery. “That night? Everything that happened that night was about judging a man by appearances alone,” he said after a moment. “The charge is negligence. A lot of people think I was showboating that night, trying to impress the crowd as I whipped around the building and tried to steal the air away from that blaze. They think I was trying to put on a show while those people were burning alive inside. I don’t need to impress anyone. They don’t know what it was like; they didn’t have to listen to the screams of those men and women behind the roaring of the flames. No, Doctor. If you want to know, I wasn’t concentrating on my Game Face that night. I was concentrating on the people inside that fire!” I tried not to take it personally, to distance myself from the questions that I had to ask, but it was hard. Everything these capes do is on an exaggerated scale, even the rare emotional outburst. Gamma Man’s passion was in his glowing eyes and there was pain in his booming voice. “I tried to help the people trapped in that fire,” he told me. “I did everything I could, everything that I could think of to get them out alive. The buildings had structural damage, they were just waiting to collapse. I could see that!” Staring at me, he tapped the side of his cowl with a pair of gloved fingers. “No one else could see that. If I’d stormed in, if I’d torn through a wall or removed one of the roofs, they’d all be dead, along with a couple of good firefighters, too. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, Doctor. It’s easy for the press and the public to look back on the fires, three months on, and tell me what I should have done. They wanted a show of brute force, you see. They tell me that I made a mistake by trying to find some more elaborate means of extinguishing the blaze, that I should have torn down the walls and yanked the victims free. Even if I had used force to try and solve the problem, they’d still be dead. Those buildings would have collapses immediately. I had to be cautious. I did what I thought best.” He shook his head then and, for a moment, he almost smiled. Although I had plenty of questions to ask I deliberately put my pen down. I could see that he had more to say. They hide so much behind those masks, they keep so much inside. Here was a man charged with emotion, perhaps ready to release. “How long have I been here, an hour?” he asked, growing impatient, and I thought he might leap from the chair with lightning speed in frustration. “I’m here, talking with you, explaining what it’s like to live the life of a superhero because the court demands it, and in many ways you’re one of my only hopes. Do you think that if I wasn’t willing to allow myself to be dissected by you, if I was anything less than what this costume demands of me, I would have let myself be

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escorted in here by a pair of cops?” It was true. I’d thought that very thing. He turned his head and looked out of the window at the expanse of the bright, blue sky before him as he said it and the fire in his eyes seemed to soften with sadness as he stared out at the drifting clouds. “Powers far beyond all mortal men, as they say. I could be hiding out on the dark side of the moon right now, you know that? I’m not. I could tear through that courtroom���s walls at any given moment and there’s not a bailiff in the world that could stop me, but I won’t. When I first put this mask on I promised the people I was seeking justice, and I’ll bow to the justice system at every step of the way. I’ll sit through this interview and any other interrogation, tell my story as many times as it has to be told, not simply to defend my honor but because, if for nothing else, I live for those ideals. And if that doesn’t prove to you what kind of a man I am I don’t know what will.” It’s what he explained to me then, however, with his remarkable eyes trained on the city and his extraordinary ears listening to the world beyond my office walls, which convinced me. “Do you know what pains me the most, Doctor?” he asked quietly, sorrowfully, watching the window with a constant gaze. “Do you know what saddens me more than anything else about this whole silly trial?” I just shook my head silently and listened. His eyes still locked on the sparkling Fort Worth cityscape outside of the office windows, Gamma Man leaned forward such that the gap that stood between us could be narrowed even a bit more. Without lessening any of its power, he lowered his booming voice to something just above a gravelly whisper. Then he told me. “I can see a man breaking into a car down midtown, on the corner of Rogers and Rosedale. In another thirty seconds he’ll be gone. I can hear a little girl screaming in Dallas, I don’t know why, but she’s screaming with all the reckless abandon of a child that’s terrified beyond reason. She needs someone’s help. I can see a jetliner on approach at Dallas-Fort Worth International, and it seems to me that they’re having trouble with one of their engines. Whatever’s going to happen to that airplane is going to happen in the next two minutes. I know all of these things, Doctor, I’m monitoring them from this office as we speak. They’re happening now. Where am I? I’m here, in this chair, in this office, talking to you about why I wear a cape.” For a moment I couldn’t bring myself to look at him and so I turned my head and followed his gaze out, to the city, and wondered what other dark happenings might be out there at that very moment in the daylight of what seemed to be a perfectly beautiful summer afternoon. “That, Doctor,” he continued, “is what pains me more than anything, to know that my strengths and my talents are being wasted as a nation banters about whether or not they’d like me to help them anymore.” He closed his eyes when he was finished talking and then, for the first time, the office was utterly free of the brilliant glow of his pupils.

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We sat there for a moment in silence. I could only hear the hum of the air conditioner but, somehow, I knew that Gamma Man, with his head down and cocked slightly to one side, was still trying to hear the voice of that little girl that had been crying thirty miles away in Dallas. I ended the interview. The armed police escorts, like little toy soldiers, came and took Gamma Man away. He left as quietly as he came. An outraged city wants to blame him, claiming the man in the crimson costume cared more about the cut of his cape and the look of his profile in the light of the fires than the lives of those six dead in Fort Worth. Those who would lash out with some sort of twisted spite at our super-powered protectors would have us indict him for negligence, for not taking the right action in a crisis. They’ve come to think that supermen live with superior egos. What would I have them do? I’d have the cameras, so eager to catch any high-paying shot of a cape in action, brought into that courtroom. I’d have the public hear the pain in Gamma Man’s voice, see the tension in his frame as he strains to be patient with a slow-moving justice system while children are in danger. Then they’d see. Egos? These men don’t have egos.

The Unstoppable Force - Neil Harmeyer.

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Suddenly a voice speaks to MM “Do you wish ultimate power, frail man?” “Huh? what ... i want to be only a superhero” “Yess but you can become much more... listen to the words of D.O.O.M. and you will come a man without Limitations” “I can’t...” “Then i must take over by force” The entity D.O.O.M. fights his mind. To the military Powerlord is just been out of control. “Say to him to stand down” “we can’t. He must do it on his own” a shockwave emits from our “hero” and smacks everyone down. The voice of our hero is no longer human anymore and says “I am free; I am D.O.O.M. Incarnated” In the damaged Room the powersuit is now inhabited by the D.O.O.M entity. MM is still fighting it inside. We go take a look at him: we see him fighting old nightmares like school, no job, been hated for his length. The nightmares are putting him in a sort cage. “No.. leave me alone... what have i done to deserve this ?” “Nothing... i need just a body” a ghouly voice sounds. “ I am D.O.O.M” “Never heard of “ “I am from the Doom universe. Soon your universe is ours” Meanwhile ... outside the havocked building, soldiers are surrounding the place. Heavy gear is arriving: tanks, artillary, helicopters, fightersupport, ... Just a mission to kill one man or ... D.O.O.M. cosmic awarness founds the ennemies outside the building. From the glowing eyes hidden behind the helmets visor red tentacles emerge. Soldiers KO’ed on the floor by the shockwave are used as subjects. They “rise” and their eyes start to glow. While our fiend is following the ongoing movements outside, Prof. Zeiburg wakes up. He looks around for a means of escape.He picks up some stones and reveals a enterance to the sewersystem. Soon as he enters the system,some mind-controlled soldiers follow him. “Kill him” the entity shouts. The professor finds a small storage room while bullets are flying around. he looks at his hand. He has a small module in his hand wherein is put that the beam was tempered with. The professor can come out at the other side and walks to the commander of the base. The general of the base (GB) is an eldere man looking at his pension but still wants a superweapon PZ”That man is under control by something we can’t stop”. GB”Is it a man ? or a machine ?” PZ “A man who becomes a machine.The only way is to create another raygun”. GB”Bring the professor to his lab” GB:”What happened to the men inside of the other lab ?” PZ:”They are controlled too. I saw the powersuit manifest strange eyes and tentacles” GB:”Was that implanted in the system ?” PZ: “I don’t know. I guess it wasn’t” The possessed soldiers also shoot at their old colleges. the General of the base let move in containers of Knockout gas. Helicopters swoop in and drop them on the building but no avail (it fails) The soldiers still keep shooting

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We follow the Professor to the lab. He researches the data on the module with a mastercomputer. We go back to the building. With his hivemindpowers (he controls more people at once .red) D.O.O.M. demands older soldiers to rebuild the ray. They stumble upon a missing part: the module that has the translocator data in it. Data that is used to transfer data from object to subject. From damaged computers parts are scavenged to create a new module. The ray is now been reworked a sort of shielding device. “I can’t live forever in this soul. I need another one. Who has more power over this world, who has much influence”. He thinks then he sees that TV is a huge influence on the world. He sees that soldiers who are not on guard watch that little black box. “Intriging black box” he says... He asks how people get those “waves”.The soldiers explain him how signals are send by radiotransmitter and sattelites across the world. “So TV is a world power” he says “Not really just a tool to get to people”. “I need something to transfer myself over sattelites to all TV’s in the world” he thinks He looks at his raygun and that is it: if remoduled it could be use to transfer images to TV tru satelites Professor Zeiburg is also trying to reach our friend MM in the confindings of the Powersuit. He is reaching him with messages in his nightmare that those nightmares are just that and not true... “Can’t be... i relive my school..” “It is not true” “I can’t “... (*) DOOM is to busy with his modifictations for his transfer machine to rule the world. Zeiburg is getting to MM “You must help me defeat him. Make him manifest himself. I know a way how you can defeat him. This is what you must do...” Zeiburg believes that if he can create a “anti-omegara” device then that device can switch of the Powersuit but only when one of two wants to release it. that is why it is essential that MM must make DOOM believe to let the suit loose so MM could take control of it.. But now the building with DOOM/MM inside is surrounded by a massive forcefield. Bullets bounce off, nothing works. In a world without superheroes the only thing that could save the world only MM could save the world because he was created for that purpose..and not that DOOM entity as supervillan. GB:” I thought you would create a new machine to create a new hero” PZ:”I am not making my same mistakes but you will have your hero at the end of the day” GB:”Is MM still alive ?” PZ “Barely but he is alive. Disconnect the powerlines to the building.” Soldiers disconnect the power to the building but the forcefield still is on PZ: “Send a man to the building to find out what those energy is” The soldier comes back “here is it” PZ”Astonishing. It is the same energy” GB “then it might work?” PZ”Positive” The professor rebuilds the machine while DOOM is doing the same. MM makes Doom believe that is better to let go the suit and to manifest itself. DM “Why should i do this ? “ MM “You can’t hold that power forever. I might help you to protect you” DM”Why do you then oppose me so strong?” MM “I have learned from it. I will show you what i have learned”

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DM “Do you no longer wish to oppose me ?” MM:”Let my nightmares go and i will show you” DM “OK if i am engaging the power then i will no longer be need of your husk”

Professor Zeiburg brings his machine online just before D.O.O.M. engages his TV transfer device The machine shoots the ray at the building. Soldiers are disconnected from the hive mind and fall on the floor. D.O.O.M starts to manifest itself without the suit. On the floor lies now also MM. “Not that close to my victory...NOOOO”. MM says “That is my cue.. He crawls away at the TV transfer device and pulls the plug. “As simple as saying you are Doomed, D.O.O.M.” he says “You can’t do that”. “Watch me..shady guy watch me. It is your doomsday today” Somehow DOOM still stands there. “HAHA see you didn’t do squat”. “I have learned something from you DOOM” “What...? “ “Remember this ? “... a flash of light. MM has the suit now. He is not longer possessed. “How is that possible?” “By leaving the powersuit with me you give me back my powers” “Can’t accept this” “Accept your defeat then ... look” A beam comes from the hands of MM and hits the transfermachine. “What are you doing ?” “Sending you back , Demon, sending you back” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooo” A flash of light...MM drops on the floor, DOOM has left the building... “I will come back” a echo sounds “So son how do you feel as hero ?” “Shocking” END!

It Came From Planet Kungar - Chris W.

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“Once Upon” By Liz Miller

His carriage was as fine as any other carriage in the kingdom, the Baron was confident of that, but this did not mean the ride was smooth He’d spent his life in carriages like these, though -- he barely even heard the jangling of the horses’ gear, the crack of the whip, the cries of the coachman spurring the snow white mares onward. The Baron, instead, listened to his wife, who said nothing. In the end, he spoke just to make sure he could still be heard. “The ball was quite lovely, was it not?” She kept looking out the window, slowly removing one of her white gloves, finger by finger, and he was almost surprised when she spoke. “It was,” she murmured. Silence, save for a crack of the whip. He tried again. “A shame it turned out like that. With the shoe and all.” “Slipper,” she corrected, looking down at her own shoes, which were thick and a bit boxy. The spread of age. “A glass slipper.” “A bit impractical, don’t you think?” he said, relieved at the beginnings of conversation. “She was young,” she said, sliding the glove off, the slight rasp of fine fabric against skin barely audible above the jangling of the carriage wheels. “Young people often wear impractical things.” He guffawed. “Nonsense. I didn’t. You certainly didn’t.” “No,” she said, softer than a whisper, her ungloved hand brushing over the gloved one. “You saw to that.” Twenty years ago, he might have slapped her for such a remark - but twenty years ago, she was young, a slip of a girl, and angry. Today, she was his beloved Baroness, and when she said it, quiet as a mouse, he felt... He wasn’t sure what he felt, but he looked at his wife, her gaze still rolling along the countryside. His beautiful, poised, obedient wife, mother of his seven sons. He looked at her, and wondered. “Did you want to wear strange things like glass slippers?” he asked, feeling a bit foolish for it. “When you were that age?” She turned, looked at him, and for a moment he felt much younger than his age, felt like he had done something wrong, was being reprimanded for it. Ridiculous. “Perhaps,” she said. “I never had the chance, like you say. I find that we often would like to try things, simply because we have never done them.” “You are wise, my dear wife,” he nodded, trying to rid himself of the disquiet, the anger. But for just a moment, she smiled, as if inside herself, she was

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laughing at some great joke that he would not understand. His fingers clenched. He had not felt this way in some time. And she saw his fists, saw the look on his face, and the smile vanished without a trace, her eyes lowered to her hands. “If I am wise, dear husband, it is only thanks to you,” she said at last. With her words, his anger faded, and he relaxed against his seat. “I wonder if His Highness will find the girl,” he said. “His Highness is a great hunter,” she replied. “It should be little trouble.” “You are quite right, Baroness,” he said. They hit a bump in the road, and for a moment, the Baroness felt weightless, free of her useless body, free of the physical burdens of childbearing and age. But the moment passed, the carriage continued on its way, and she was returned to herself just as quickly as she was freed. She found herself lost in memory again, and did not resist. Usually, she tried to avoid these reveries -- alone in her chambers (where she was often to be found, her sons preferring the outdoors and her daughters hiding in their own rooms), she often found the sensation of wandering the past too intense, too immediate. There were few distractions there, little way of reminding herself where here and now truly lay. But in the carriage, she could hear the cries of the coachman and the neighs of the horses and the rattle of the wheels. She could hear everything, and she could remember without feeling completely lost. For she knew that she was not really in her mother’s garden, hunting with her sisters for faeries among the roses, young enough to still believe that magic happened. She was not really moments away from being summoned to her father, told that a contract had been signed and that she would be married within the month. She was not really lying in her wedding bed, trembling silently with the pain. She was not really running through the dark woods, branches and rocks cutting into her tender feet as she looked straight ahead, knowing he was right behind her. She was not really tied down, her arm grasped firmly and the skin of her hand already screaming in pain as her husband, eyes burning hot as the red end of the poker, reminded his child bride that she belonged to him, always and forever... The moon broke through the clouds just then, and the Baroness looked away from her hands, and out the window. Up the road, she could see the wreckage of something, and movement. She squinted, trying to see something more, and the carriage approached faster, accommodating her. Soon, the remains of a large, shattered pumpkin, already a meal for a few hungry mice, were visible. And she could also see a young girl in rags, curled into a ball, sobbing into her hands. A servant, carrying home the master’s pumpkin, who dropped it and

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fears the consequences, the Baroness thought as the moonlight glinted against something on one of the girl’s bare feet... No. Not bare, the Baroness realized. Not bare at all. The shock of the sight set her free again, and all she wanted was to spring out of the carriage, run to the girl, call to her. “I saw you trust him, I saw you go outside with him - I heard your screams and cries for help, and I wanted to help you,” she yearned to say. “I would have, but I could not run in these shoes of mine, and my stays are laced so tight as to make walking difficult, and I was too far from the door, and my husband... I would have helped you, my dear, when the clock told midnight, and I will help you now. Run!” For a second, the Baroness thought about it - thought about pushing open the carriage door, jumping out before the Baron had a chance to react. Running to the girl, taking her hand, disappearing into the great wide fields of the countryside. But the horses did not ease from their gallop, and a second was all they needed to leave the girl far behind, lost in a cloud of dust. “I find it reassuring,” her husband said, and she turned away from the window. “What is it that reassures you, husband?” “What you said of the prince and his hunting skills,” he said. “The girl seemed very happy when His Highness escorted her outside. It is nice to know that their story will have a happy ending.” She thought of the girl, dressed in finery so beautiful that it could only have come from faeryland, her eyes wide and wondering. The eyes of a girl at her very first ball, the eyes of a girl who still dreams. You are wrong, husband, she thought. This is a very old story. And it never ends.

END

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“Intoxication”

Stories and Such from a Drinking Life by Jon Johnson My life has been influenced by beer and drinking in many ways. As I sit here writing this out, thinking of the humorous, destructive, fanciful and downright illegal things that I’ve been party to from the first days I realized what beer was, I become somewhat wistful. My family all drinks, with a few exceptions. Some have quit, some never started. Some drink too much, some probably too little, but who am I to judge. I fall in the middle there, sometimes too much, sometimes never at all. I have beer or beer facsimile keepsakes all about me. There is an empty bottle of Golden Minds Ale, signed by Dave Sim and Gerhard on the window sill. This was a drink created and bottled specifically for the now defunct Words and Pictures Museum for the Golden Minds tour Sim did back around 1997 or so. It was a good drink, too. I have a fake can of Duff Beer, with cards inside, a license of the Simpsons, obviously. Coasters of both the Simpsons and Futurama (Old Fortran Malt Liquor -- Goes Down Smooth!) are scattered about the house. T-shirts of Magic Hat, Captain Morgan and Jagermeister, all received at pubs, are part of my regular wear. Some call me a drinker, some a drunk, some call me beer snob. Maybe they’re all correct. Maybe I’ll see them all buried before me. Time will tell. * * * Walking into a pub, bar, club or taphouse for the first time can be a bit daunting, particularly for those coming in alone. Plenty of these places are aware of this, so they place familiar scenes, pictures, posters and plaques on their walls to amuse the newcomer, making them feel at ease and welcome. How many places have you been to that have a shot of your favorite actor, sports hero or amusing anecdote hanging above the bar? I’ve seen “Beer -- Getting ugly people laid since 1500” or variations of the sort in almost every bar I’ve ever tipped a glass in. Of course, we all know beer and other alcoholic concoctions have been getting people, ugly and otherwise, to have sex for more than 5 centuries, but it’s a good joke. Simpsons signs have been a relatively recent replacement for old jokes like that, or even for the usual Irish toast. A light up “Beer is the Answer” sign with Moe or Homer on it is something I haven’t seen many of, but they’re coming. My favorite of late is the now famous quote that is played as a sound bite on many rock radio stations. “Beer: the cause of, and solution to, most of life’s problems.” I guess this on the wall is better than a picture of Joe Theismann breaking his leg. * * *

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I discovered Bass Ale early on in my drinking, er, career. I recall the first time I had it, at a small, odd little pub in Hartford that still exists, with a bunch of guys I worked with at the time. We were meeting there to see a Hartford Whalers game, versus the New York Rangers. Yes, the Hartford Whalers. Hockey. It seems like such a long time ago that Connecticut had an NHL team, or even that the NHL had a season, doesn’t it? Now, admittedly, Bass Ale is not everyone’s mug of beer. At that point I had been only drinking domestic, with the occasional break into the then-burgeoning “micro-brew” beers. Now, I had grown up with all the men in my family having one particular brand or another that they preferred. My father was a Pabst drinker. My older brother, Michelob, mostly. Uncles ranged from Heineken to Miller to Schaefer. Some drank beer that doesn’t even exist anymore, like Falstaff or Knickerbocker or Narragansett. None drank the dark stuff, so I was a rookie to it all. After getting my mitts around a pitcher of Bass, I never looked back. Bass has this flavor all it’s own. A bitter aftertaste that many don’t care for, but with a fine, thoroughly rich texture that hasn’t been copied yet. I do agree that there are many better beers, ales, or even lagers. Still, Bass retains a certain loyalty that I can’t compromise. As such, I’ve been labeled a BEER SNOB by a few of my friends, as I’d prefer a dark beer to a Budweiser or Coors. I don’t complain that much about it. How can I? Everyone has their own preference, whether or not it’d be a decent drink, such as Guinness, or a bad one, like Natural Light. Of course, that first night with Bass had it’s moments. We watched this hideous game of the Whalers and the Rangers, of which there were more Rangers fans than those of the Whale, sipping out of a hidden flask with some whiskey in it. After a time, I was dared to throw a giant paper airplane made of a giveaway poster, onto the ice. That, of course, is a no-no. So, I did it. And we got caught. Somehow, the guard picked out my co-worker that dared me to do the deed and attempted to toss him from the stadium. We, being good friends and co-workers as we were, just laughed and let him twist in the wind! The most amusing thing was his defense. “I’m a good American sir. I would never do such a thing!” O gods, we were in stitches listening to the bull coming from him. Particularly since he got away with it! The score of the game? A 2-2 tie. No wonder the Whalers left Hartford. * * * Growing up in the seventies, in retrospect, is considerably embarrassing. The clothes, the hair, the jive talk, DISCO. Really, who would want to remember it? Fortunately for me, I was too young to participate in the truly ugly things happening in that decade. I spent most of my time watching television shows like the Superfriends, Wheelie and the Chopper

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Bunch and Lucan, the Wolf Boy. And before you laugh, o viewers and fans of “Knowing is Half the Battle” and “Thundercats... HO!” having an older sister that served a goodly portion of her life in the seventies proved to be a factor of much amusement during some of my party nights. One night, I was out at one of my favorite haunts all by my lonesome. The place in question was hosting an annual customer appreciation/Xmas party and I wasn’t one to miss a bash like that, especially when there were women involved. I know I was well into my cups at the time a drinking buddy of mine popped in and shared a few glasses with me. The disc jockey, spinning top hits and requests, had started to move into a retroseventies hour, much to my chagrin. Really, I had hoped to never hear “Car Wash” again, much less when I wanted to party! My drinking buddy, let’s call him “Bob,” started to get into the music. I was amused by it, he had a beer gut and shuffled like the groundhog at the end of the movie Caddyshack. Now, Bob was considerably older than me. He might have been around 38, I might have been 23. He knew the moves, he grew up with them. Me? I had an older sister who taught me. I surprised Bob when I stood up next to him as he moved from his own disco inferno to a Xanadu, with me following suit. Yes, I showed many an onlooker that even someone as young as myself could have a little Saturday Night Fever. Of course, if you asked me now, I’d never recall the steps. Not without a six pack of John Courage Lager and a shot of Rumpleminz. * * * As with all things drinking, it’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, fun and danger. And most admittedly, stupidity. Waking the following morning after a binge night, hard partying or even a night you just overdid it, you may or may not recall the stupid things you’ve done. I’ve received calls the next day of “what were you thinking?” and “remember when you...” Sometimes I’d be embarrassed. Mostly I’d just shrug and go on with my life. I know people have expected me to be the life of the party from time to time, or even expected it. Or, at the very least, expected me to do something so foolish that it’d be remembered until I was dead. There are people that I’ve drank with that can tell stories about me even I cannot, as I don’t have the memory of them or can’t embellish them with their point of view. Sometimes they’re pretty damned funny, other times they’re embarrassing to the point of ignobility. Two years ago, I spent fourteen hours, approximately, at a pub in Hartford for Saint Patrick’s Day and I left relatively sober, happy and with two phone numbers in my pocket. And a free Gold Club card to a nudie bar. Last year I got it in my head that I’d beat that record of time spent. I did, by at least an hour, possibly more. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay relatively sober and was shut off by midnight. I was a wreck before 5! Although I’ll be returning to the same place this year for my

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St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I can’t take the day off and won’t be even attempting to break any records. Not that I’d want to, that was a onetime thing. My friends and I can joke to each other about our personalities and foibles without issue of ego or anger. Many jokes land on me and my drinking ways, even if some of my friends drink harder and longer than I do. Probably because I have no issue with my drinking, even with all of the dumb things I’ve done. One of my friends, Doug, made me laugh hard and long by saying this once: “I’d never want your liver.” It was in the context of a discussion that I’ve long forgotten, but the punchline remained with me. It still makes me laugh, and I don’t know why! * * * I’ve caused some strife with my drinking. Not just for myself, but for others. I’ve been arrested twice for Driving Under Intoxication and convicted once. It’s caused problems with finding a job, getting insurance and keeping a liscence. It’s caused others to pre-judge me, which is fine. I’ve had to deal with it and find ways around it. I will say this about the DUI laws in the state of Connecticut. They are flawed in myriad ways and should be thinned out to a more realistic operation. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. This state just wants the money from fines, which is the typical way of a flawed operation. I’ve dated women that have either blamed me for allowing drink to come between us or for driving them to drink. At any point I might agree with them, at others to mightily disagree. My admiration for a good, dark ale isn’t the cause of any of my difficulties in any of my past relationships, it’s the outcome of having a few too many. In some cases, relationships, bad or otherwise, have come from drinking. As with all things, these are to be expected as well. I’ve physically damaged myself from time to time. Broken toes from kicking things during arguments, bruises that last far beyond a week, cuts from falling on ice and the like. I have a knot on my left knee that I got sometime last year after falling very hard on a sidewalk outside of a pub. It’s shrunken to a small size, but it’s still there. I walked with a limp for two weeks and up until a month ago I couldn’t sit very long without it stiffening up on me. I have a small scar on my forehead that I received on my birthday about ten years ago from hitting it on a table and bleeding out. Alcohol thins the blood and it won’t clot quickly. It’s the first thing you forget when you cut yourself when drinking. That and the fact that you don’t feel pain as you would if you weren’t inebriated. Strife doesn’t always follow me as I drink, but I’ve occasionally caused it intentionally. Most of the time at a pub where people are annoying me or somesuch. I’ve instigated fights between other people and watched with glee as they were hauled out of the pub. I’ve stood up for myself when bothered by others that would think I’m one to back out of a fight

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as I’m not built like a Schwarzenegger. In all my time drinking, I’ve been in relatively few physical disagreements. I’ve never backed down from any, but I have said no to a few that took a dislike to me and wanted to “meet me outside.” That’s always a good laugh, watching the reaction when you say no. Then again, it instigates as much as saying “no” itself. A friend of mine, Vinny, calls these instigations “lobbing the grenade.” Doing this sort of thing, if you like laughs of strife and chaos, are even fun when sober. Try it sometime. * * * Not everything I’ve done while partying is dark, sinister and damaging to the soul. I’ve had some incredible amounts of fun, like any good person with a beer in one hand and half a thought in the other. The times of silly fun, singing karaoke with others in the voice of Watto, that lame character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, doing my impersonation of Bill Murray in Caddyshack to win stupid prizes, talking to other, more drunk people and changing my name constantly, meeting girls and pretending to be something I’m not, like a Scottish immigrant. I’ve thrown Festivus parties, Memorial Day bashes that last until all hours, burn parties where we roast up anything that will turn to ash and the now-infamous Chaos Liberation Party that I’ve never been able to replicate. At various comic book gatherings and conventions, I’ve had drinks and talks with some amazing people and talent. Mention RuneCon to a select group of creators and watch the reactions. Then listen to the stories. During some of my pub forays I’ve met some incredibly interesting people. I’ve watched as some of these people married off, rose to heights of great personal success or a staid modicum of stability. I’ve seen others fall hard to the bottom of detrium and debt and some climb from that hole. Others I’ve seen wallow in misery and continued decay. I always retain my friendliness with these folk, even if some of them fall to the point of needing real help. Unfortunately for some, you just can’t help them and they fall further. It’s a sad fact, but when you know as many people as I do, it’s the law of averages. Or even Murphy’s Law. If you don’t believe in either, you could just call it the walk of life and accept what occurs around you. Billy Joel, a songwriter I don’t really care all that much for, has a ballad called “The Piano Man” that all but encompasses my life and those around me. I think it could be said for anyone that frequents drinking establishments. Superimpose names of people you know into the song and you have your own life, or a fragment of it. I know cops, waiters, waitresses, singers, musicians, bookeepers, state workers, insurance salespeople. All jobs, all walks, all bar buddies. How many can I call actual friends? Some. Being friendly with them is enough to bring out the best, even with a few drinks in you. * * *

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Not long ago I came across a book listed in the Previews catalogue that I had to have, no matter what. It was listed as The Big Book O Beer by Duane Swierczynski. Big? Beer? Book? Hell, what drinking man wouldn’t want something like that? When it arrived it quickly became one of my favorite purchases of the year. Covering everything from brewing history to the great breweries of the world, to locations of some of the greatest drinking spots on the globe, it entertains immeasurably. It’s witty in it’s reminiscient tone, interesting in the international focus and has surprises that make me chuckle even now. The fact you can read up on the writer’s favorite beers, the basic company history of breweries like Miller and then get the plans on making a beer can airplane just makes me giddy. I highly recommend finding a copy of the book, either at a good store or through Amazon.com, where I have posted a brief, postitive comment. Then email Duane and tell him I told you to read the book. He might even offer to buy you a beer. * * * Work was a bitch and you had the desire to suck down a few brews at your favorite gin joint. The week wasn’t quite finished yet, but who the hell cared, your job sucks and you need a drink to ease off the frustration. You passed through the door, waving glibly at a few of your fellow bar buddies and ordered a tall cool one from the new, hot bartender you are sure you’ll hit on by the end of the night. Downing a few of the “Happy Hour Specials” gives you a buzz you’re likely to surpass in a few hours, but you feel better, even if a band is setting up early and you’d rather just watch a rerun on ESPN Classic. A few girls from some local ad agency stop in and all of the men in the place stare uncomfortably into their drinks and shoot occasional peeks at them, admiring from their stools. This amuses you and you order another drink, pleased you aren’t them. The band starts to play some sappy, crappy fusion jazz you can’t stand, but howl for more anyway. You’re drinking to get drunk and you know you’ll probably call out of work the next day, but hey. It’s your life and you’re feeling fine now. Beer. A drink of choice.

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Neil Harmeyer is looking forward to taking some time off, enjoying the summer months, going camping with the Neb, spending time with his beautiful wife, Megan. Things have never been so good.

C. Benjamin “Neb” Girven was last seen chasing after his (now crawling) son. If you happen to see him, do not approach or make any sudden movements, as he is considered tired and short-tempered. Contact local authorities, (and/or his wife). For your safety, and the safety of others, just run away!!! Born in Vilvorde (Belgium) in 1968, Yann Beelen was dignosed with Marfan Syndrom at the age of 12, and autism was detected in 1996. He started to learn informatics in a local highschool in Brussels but changed to nightschool, learned ABC computer, professional psychology, english, and french. He worked with a russian firm, Nival, on the game Etherlords (Yann is know as Drdoom on the local forum), and also did beta-testing for the online mode of Etherlords II, Yann is currently unemployed, living at home, and is a huge comics fanatic (enjoying titles such as Fantastic Four and the Avengers), likes dragons, and is a fan of history. Ed Quinby is a shaggy fun lover, always ready for a romp and play with companions, or just sleep the day away. Sure he has a drooling problem and his hygiene is perhaps suspect (he’d drink from the toilet if you’d let him), but warmth fairly radiates from him and, boy, does he love the bitches! No, wait--that’s Ed’s dog. The talentless hack Jon Johnson, known to many as “Sir Jon” is nothing more than a drinking, writing, chaotic anomoly. He lives in Connecticut with one cat and watches over his only son, Mason. He’s also looking for a job.

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A man of too many talents and too little time, Andrew Elbendari is a free lance comic artist who is always learning and always willing to take on any art related task. To find out more check out: GOTTADRAW.COM

Brandon Ford Dodds works in live television productions running video cameras as well as engineering. He loves drawing cartoons and studied Studio Art at Kent State University. Brandon plays drums and has produced cover artwork for various bands and is currently working on his own creator owned comic. Brian A. Dixon is a writer and educator teaching literature at the University of Rhode Island. His short fiction has most recently appeared in the pages of Dead Letters magazine. He is also the editor of Revelation, the magazine of apocalyptic art and literature. Matt Putnam-Pouliot is a cartoonist and admirer of anything with six legs and mandibles. He currently lives in Albany, NY with his wife Chris and two cats. He’d like to thank Neil and Ben for all the work they’ve put into ECP and for giving all us contributors a chance to show our stuff. Christopher Rice is grateful to Neil Harmeyer and Ben Girven, without whose vision this dream would not have come true. He also loves bananas and is a proud member of Boredom Studios.

J.M. “The Beast” Hunter, creator of the upcoming Note 2 Self comic now resides within Carlsbad, Southern California. He promises to rid the world of all sheep and make one nice warm blanket of non-comformity for future generations. So that they can cuddle under. (It’s no wonder he’s still single.)

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Frankie Carrera IV is your average 9 year old boy with the uncanny ability to master any video game within 24 hours. (Yet he can’t remember his times tables to save his life...) He loves the Houston Texans, Madden 2005, WWE Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He also has a Black Belt in the martial arts of TaeKwonDo. Frank Carrera III is your average 30 year old man with the uncanny ability to just never grow up. (And also can’t remember his times tables to save his life...) He loves the Houston Texans, Madden 2005, WWE Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He also has a Black Belt that his wife bought for him at JC Penny’s. Liz Miller lives, writes, and works in Los Angeles, California. A recent graduate of the USC School of Cinema-Television’s Filmic Writing program, she has spent the past two years reading way too many comic books and working in the exciting worlds of graphic design, screenplay reading, and phone answering. A regular contributer to the webzines Bookslut and Ostrich Ink, she is currently working on her sixth screenplay, a collection of short stories, and an original comic. She does not get a lot of sleep. Christopher Woerner is a writer/artist/ musician from Nebraska. Treat him nicely. Or else. Max Allende’s history has been a pretty scattered mess that dropped him into the wonderful city of Albuquerque. He was in the military for a short time; trained in San Antonio, and Biloxi MI. After training he was dropped off here at the Air Force Research Laboratory and worked as a network technician. In that time he was married (or “marred,” depending on how you look at it.) But like all marriages to military personnel, they never last. He now works for GE Capital, and is working more on his art.

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The

“Egos”

Behind

Ego Comics

A brief interview with neil & Neb about their experiences working on ECP

Gentlemen, what would you each say you’ve taken away from this experience? What lessons have you learned during the course of this project?

Neil: Well, as cliche as it sounds, the old adage ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ comes to mind. We both knew going into this thing last year, when we were first talking about it, committed to it, and presented it, that this was going to be a HUGE year in regards to many different aspects of our personal lives, and I know, even though we had budgeted for certain things for the year, we could not foresee all the eventualities that sprang upon us. It was probably our best year ever, but also one of the busiest and most stressful. I guess one lesson I would take is not to overcommit myself... but at the same time, sometimes, that’s how great things are done, by pushing yourself and smacking that wall with your head a couple times. Hm... maybe I haven’t learned a damn thing by this after all. Neb: Haha, yeah... going in, I think we thought this would be a helluva lot easier than it ended up being. I think we were a little naive about what kind of time we were gonna need to put these books together. But in some respects too, it WAS easier, and I think a big portion of that has to do with the contributors. For the most part, they made this whole project pretty smooth. I mean, sure, we had a hiccup or two, here and there, but not nearly as bad I as I was expecting... and overall I think everyone did a tremendous job of sticking to guidelines, and making our jobs easier. I do agree though, this last year has been FULL of surprises and big events in both our lives, and in some respects, I’m glad that we had an opportunity to share them with all the people who were kind enough to join in our little adventure. What do you feel were the strengths of this anthology series? Weaknesses?

Neb: I think some of the greatest strengths came from the group of guys and gals that jumped on board this project. The quality of contributions we got were far exceeding our expectations, and everyone who contributed, both seasoned and novice artists/writers alike, brought a level of professionalism to this that I don’t think we were expecting. And our greatest weakness overall, has definitely been our schedules, and not meeting the last two deadlines that we were shooting for.

Neil: I would agree with that, totally. We were very fortunate to have attracted a pretty diversified group of people that really stepped up, and, in most cases, really knocked it out of the park. Plus, I was really impressed that so many people stuck with the goal, and actually contributed to all 4 anthologies! Big props to Frank (Carrera), (JM) Hunter, Breeze (Brandon Dodds), and Brian (A. Dixon) for taking the time to humor our little themed exercises and play in our sandbox this past year. We really could not have done it without these guys. But everyone who submitted something, really inspired the hell out of me. And, in all honesty, their efforts really drove this book, even when the interest on our ends may have been lagging. One of the things I was frustrated with, was feeling that I wasn’t able to concentrate on this project as much as I would have liked. Or get out there and “sell” it, to drive the circulation up. That’s something I hope to rectify once ECP4’s on sale. I spent so much time recruiting talent, talking it up, trying to generate interest and working on my own submissions, or creative input, that there was no time left for hitting the street with it. Neb: Yeah, and that’s something I really hope to rectify as well, by dedicating a chunk of egocomics.com specifically for ECP, as well as really promoting it through our website, and giving it a lot more visibility Neil: I think that’ll look great! Plus, all the contributors will be able to link to it, too, to help get their own names out there. Describe your thoughts, after opening the package for the first issue, and ‘finally’ holding Ego Comics Presents in your hand. Was it different for the 2nd issue, or the 3rd?

Neil: Gosh. I hate to say it, but it actually felt anticlimactic! I don’t know what I was hoping to feel, but I think that part of it was since the Neb and I were SO involved in putting it together it was like we’d already been there and done that! Seriously, I was more interested in seeing all the other contributors reactions to it, and reacting to each others’ subs. I will admit, though, I was very impressed with the quality that Cafe Press printed these books at. When I first got “SciFi for the Mind’s Eye” (the first square-bound cover), I was blown away by how cool it looked. (Granted, part of that may have just been me reacting to the Neb’s kick ass cover!)

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Neb: Yeah... there was definitely a sense that we’d already seen all this stuff... I guess that’s one of the problems with the ‘production’ side of this. I does kinda take a little bit of the ‘magic’ out of it. But, I was definitely impressed with the printing. I didn’t know quite what to expect, and I must admit, that my expectations weren’t very high... chalk it up to working in a print shop, and seeing ‘crap’ get passed off as ‘quality work’. But I was definitely impressed with the final product. The first couple “thumb-thru’s”, for me, were more checking for errors. Trying to find mistakes that I may have made in the process. And, with the exception of a misspelled name on the 3rd issue, I think we did pretty darn good! There were a couple minor tweaks here and there that we caught, but for the most part it wasn’t stuff that anyone else would probably pick up on. The second issue was pretty cool. The square binding was a treat... and turned out better than expected... and I was glad that the cover turned out well. The third one, I gotta say, I was just happy it was done! Neil: Word. And I wouldn’t have suggested CafePress had I not been exposed to Brian’s Revelation ‘zine. How would you say the overall response has been to this series? (Meaning, family, friends, other creators, etc.)

Neb: Well, with these books, unfortunately, as with the couple of other books we’ve done, the family (for the most part) hasn’t really seemed to ‘get’ it. It’s a problem of medium, I suppose... either you ‘get’ comics, or you don’t... and while they usually appreciate that we did ‘something’ I think it’s kind of a shame that they usually don’t understand it. Friends however, have overall been very impressed with this series. And that’s really reassuring. And the feedback from the other creators is what keeps us going!!! This is a book, by the fans, for the fans!!! Neil: I hear ya, though. I have never had any family specifically respond to any short story I have written. I don’t know that they’ve even read any of the “Revef Nibac” pieces! It is frustrating for me because it exposes another part of who I am... a part of me that these people do not know. And I would be interested in their thoughts and questions. I have found that the contributors have been the greatest source of critique and interest. We all speak the same language. At the end of the day, that’s what we did this for, us.

Neil: I feel like we scratched an itch. I think it was a great way to cap off this phase of our journey. We weren’t in a place where we could step up and tell the story we’ve been meaning to tell all these years, but we were able to PROVE it to ourselves that we CAN do this, we CAN put these books together. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished with this. I’m proud to have secured some excellent friendships and met some awesome artists because of this series. We reached out and touched some people, and since these will be available in perpetuity (or until we burn the internet down) we promise to touch even more people as time goes on. Having said that, though, I’m also happy it’s coming to a close. We’ve put some things on hold, and it’ll be nice to get back to those priorities. And I’m sure our wives will agree! Neb: True ‘dat! I agree completely. This has been a great experience, not only because of the books themselves, but because of the people that we’ve met along the way. I’ve been really excited to both give creators an opportunity to get their stuff published (which if you haven’t ever done it before can be a big scary mess), and to have collaborated with some really great people... who have both inspired me, and motivated me to get myself going. Alternately, this whole thing was originally conceived as a sort of ‘side-project’ for us, giving us a bit of a break from our own property, and letting us get in some really good (much needed) practice... and I think it has done an excellent job of that... but as Neil said, we’re both excited to be moving back to our own story, and concentrating on getting that told. Neil: Having said all that, this has been a wondrous experience, and I’d be lying if I said that the Neb and I were completely against ever producing more of these books. We set our 4 issue, “quarterly” goal with this series, and accomplished it, and the experience was simply too awesome to say “never again!” We’ll see what the future yields. Thanks again to everyone who helped make these issues a success. We COULD have done it with out you... but what would have been the fun in that!?

What are your thoughts now, as you’re wrapping up the 4th issue?

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-Neil & Neb!


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Ego Comics Presents - Last Call