First foray into new territory in a while. I see lots of mistakes already. What do you think?
First foray into new territory in a while. I see lots of mistakes already. What do you think?
Welcome to the world’s best kept secret, and my childhood playground. My favourite place in the world.
A year ago today I was hungover. I’d spent the previous day meeting fans at an impromptu gathering and the evening drinking heavily with my YouTube chums. I woke up to a phone call…
Not many people can say they’ve had a “sobering experience” quite like me.
My close friend, business partner and - if I’m being honest - muse Edd Gould was dead. Cancer had made its final move on him the night before. While I partied, he fought for his life… and lost.
I didn’t get time to grieve. I didn’t give myself the time. After the phone slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor I let out a lone agonised scream and swallowed hard. I rose to my feet, dressed myself and got to work.
Two emails. One to our landlord and one to the company Edd had recklessly signed his YouTube channel away to. I wanted to leave that apartment and I wanted him to finally be free of that contract. With the business done I woke Paul and Sabrina, two of Edd’s friends who’d moved to England to be closer to him; filling his room until he was healthy enough to move in. I broke the news with a single stare.
Before long the apartment was brimming with life. Broken souls pressed together to keep each other from falling apart. Matt, Edd’s best friend, came seeking emotional refuge and found himself in ‘too-soon central’, a hub of comedians in a desperate rush to break the most inappropriate jokes we could muster. He fit right in.
When a celebrity dies, word travels fast. We needed time to give everyone Edd knew and cared about the right to hear the news first hand. Matt was tasked with contacting as many real-world friends as possible before we went public. I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been for him to check-off a list of people whose hearts needed breaking. I was responsible for the Internet. First, Edd’s online friends… Then his fans. All 400,000 of them. But for now they would have to wait.
As darkness came, the four of us boarded a train from Wimbledon to Warren Street. It was time to start saying goodbye. As the hospital drew closer, the jokes drew further apart. In near silence, we made our way to the morgue. Then Rory happened.
Rory was a nurse. He was a moron. The process of arranging the body viewing had not been easy to begin with. The phone call to the hospital earlier that day had taken its tole.
- Me: Hello I’d like to arrange a body viewing.
- Hospital: A what?
- Me: A body viewing.. of one of your deceased patients.
- Hospital: You want to visit a patient?
- Me: Yes.. A deceased one.
- Hospital: A what?
- Me: … A dead one.
- Hospital: Okay, what is the patients name?
- Me: Edward Gould.
- Hospital: What ward is he in?
- Me: Um.. The morgue?
- Hospital: What?
- Me: My friend has died and I want to see his body. I want to visit my deceased friend.
- Hospital: Hold please.
- Hospital: Hello, how can I help you?
- Me: … I’m trying to arrange a body viewing.
- Hospital: A what?
When we finally arrived at the hospital we were met by Rory. He was tasked with taking us to the basement to view the body of our friend who had passed away just hours ago. He said all the wrong things.
- “I saw Edd come in. He looked very ill and scared.”
- “Do you remember the last thing you said to him?”
- “I guess you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”
Outside the viewing room, where comedy was no more, we sat and waited for Edd. When the time came to go in, we froze. I took the flip of a £2 coin to stop us from just turning back and going home. Rory, tactful as ever, encouraged us with “What would Edd have wanted? I think we would want you to go in.”
We slowly and softly dragged ourselves into the cold, sterile viewing room. Rounding the doorframe I first laid eyes on my worst nightmare. I focussed my energy on keeping my composure. For some reason I felt it would help everyone else for me to remain calm; as if emotional strength was a coat and I was holding on to theirs so they could begin to process the grief. I felt like I’d failed my friend by letting him die but maybe if I did everything in my power to help them it’d be okay.
Rory broke the silence and barged passed us, saddling up to Edd and violating not only our grief but also our friend. He began to stroke what little hair Edd had then leant in and whispered into his ear “I’ve brought your friends to see you, Edd.”
I snapped. “Get out.”, I rasped. “Get out now.” Another nurse from outside the door dashed in and finally removed Rory from our lives. He was not missed.
Like a bodyguard, I stood pensively at the back of the room until the gang had all said their goodbyes. It was only then that I mustered up the courage to make my way forward. Knowing I might break down if I attempted to speak a full sentence I kept my words to a minimum. “I’ll take good care of her.”, I said, and made my way to the door. Our show was my responsibility now. I couldn’t save him, but maybe I could save her.
As I sit here in bed, hungover from a night of drinking with my YouTube friends following a day spent meeting fans, I can safely say that it wasn’t just my friend who died that day. This marks the one year anniversary of a crippling writers block I’m yet to defeat and a sense of failure from which I don’t believe I’ll ever recover. A partnership like mine and Edd’s was designed to last a lifetime, for ten years we grew side by side into the men we were; defined by each other and dependent on each other. He was my friend, my partner and my muse.
I miss him so fucking much.
My next comic. Looking forward to some angry e-mails…
Rob, my co-worker, published this piece earlier tonight on his Facebook fan page regarding the recent airing of an episode of Glee, in which one of the songs featured was a blatant rip of an original song posted online by musician Jonathan Coulton. This is a copy/paste of his post;
I usually post dumb jokes here, but tonight I want to talk seriously about “Glee” (the show on Fox) and how much of a horrid pile of shit it is. I’m not a fan of the show. Maybe some people are. Whatever, that’s fine. Whether you like Glee or not, you should be aware of this.
Tonight an episode of Glee aired in which the writers shamelessly copied, note for note, Jonathan Coulton’s fantastic acoustic guitar cover of ‘Baby Got Back’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCWaN_Tc5wo ). They didn’t ask him or credit him. Fox, one of the biggest TV networks, found this cool thing on the Internet and just went “Yeah, let’s use that!”
Here’s an article: http://www.buddytv.com/articles/glee/glee-roundup-baby-got-back-sca-48991.aspx
This doesn’t just annoy me as a Jonathan Coulton fan. It pisses me off to my core because, like Mr. Coulton, I am an independent Internet creator type, and this kind of blatant theft happens pretty frequently. And, more often than not, there’s nothing the creator can do about it. Big studios have big legal teams.
I’m mostly just venting here, but hopefully reading this will leave some kind of impact on you folks, as consumers of both independent and big studio content. As viewers, please don’t let this kind of thing slide. If you already hated Glee, now you can hate it for more reasons and spread the word. If you love Glee, now you’re aware that it’s run by spineless thieves.
That is all. Your daily butt jokes will resume tomorrow. Also, check out Jonathan Coulton’s music. It’s good stuff.
True words. TV networks seem to think they can get away with this practice of plucking ideas from the internet and passing it off as their own, simply treating the internet as some sort of ‘second class’ entertainment medium because it is not an established one. Internet entertainment IS a fledgling industry, after all, and one that most old farts in TV land are having trouble wrapping their heads around. Therefore, they seem fit to treat it - and every creative on it - like a child who should feel honored to be ripped off by the ‘big TV boys.’
From acts like this, it seems clear that folk in TV land feel like they can rip off original online content without giving any credit whatsoever (whether creative or monetary) to the original creator, and cheaply pass it all off as ‘parody’ without having to give anyone a dime. There is a hideous, old-fashioned sense of arrogance at play here, combined with a deep sense of insecurity. This is something that is worth addressing and pointing out in itself.
Don’t take this lazy, shady, shoddy practice from TV networks anymore. Times are changing, TV is slowly dying. They know it too, and that’s why we now have real-life scenarios like this. Mark these words my friends, times are indeed changing.
The comic due for the 2nd of January, 2013. Don’t tell anyone, k?
The Explosm HQ in Dallas. A work in progress (still decorating), but we’re getting there. Featuring a cameo from our multi-talented merchandise fella, Andy!
Very encouraged to eventually put this up as an actual Cyanide & Happiness comic… (click it if you can’t read it).
A modest self-portrait for our new book, which’ll be finished very soon!
Tonight, I couldn’t decide which version of this comic I wanted to go with, so I made all of them available via our Facebook page. The ‘cats only’ version is the one people seemed to prefer the most though, so I went with that one for the main site.
Rob and I are currently talking about Visa stuff. In July 2013, I’m to have my Visa renewed to allow me to stay in the United States. That got me thinking about all the amazing times, new friends and wonderful, one-in-a-lifetime experiences I’ve had whilst I’ve been here. Honestly, none of these pictures would have been taken if it wasn’t for you, the Cyanide & Happiness fan, helping me achieve the Visa via our petition.
Above: Chicago, April 2012. Being able to visit cities like this is amazing.
New York City, 2010. Absolutely adore this city.
Speaking at a large panel during C2E2 2012, Chicago’s largest comic convention. I was always very reluctant to speak in public before, as I had huge anxiety from having a stutter from when I was back in school. You guys however, gave me the confidence to do this. Thank you for helping me rebuild myself.
Playing onstage as retarded but fun band Hey Banana Na during our second annual Dallas Banana Bar crawl. Being able to jam music in front of you guys was so much fun. Again, I couldn’t have done this without you guys and your help.
Meeting HUGELY-famous UK celebrity Jonathan Ross in 2010, His family are fans of our stuff. He was so excited to meet us, and us him. Being able to have a conversation with him about the time he met Freddie Mercury ( presenting Queen with a life achievement award on Live TV in 1989) was an absolutely wonderful experience. He’s a great guy. I got his phone number, but then went swimming one day after and had my phone in my pocket. D’oh.
Hanging with my great friend Shawn Coss, who’s also an incredible talent. I’ve made so many new friends over here, they’re like family.
Got to be a zombie for a day in the Dallas Zombie Walk! Think I make a good zombie…
San Diego Comic Con 2012. Wouldn’t have got to hang out with the webcomics family if you guys hadn’t signed my petition. Made some wonderful friends here too.
The Cyanide & Happiness family minus Rob. From left, Matt Melvin, Jennie Mae, Me, Stephanie Coss, Kris Wilson, Austin Kingsbury and Shawn Coss. Some of my best buds, and definitely family to me. San Diego 2012.
Every major comic convention we exhibit at , we offer a ‘C&H combo doodle’ where, if you buy two items of merch or more, two of us will sit down and draw you a C&H ‘combo doodle.’ We just go crazy on the page for about 5 minutes, with both our work interloping and stuff. It’s fun, it’s a unique way to perform in front of fans and the result is a totally unique piece of ‘art’. Here’s a couple of combo doodles we did from San Diego Comic Con, 2012. More to come soon;
More due to come.
Someone on Reddit drew this picture of me. How adorable is that? All you guys are pretty awesome.
Here’s a copy/paste of a post I made on Reddit- the original thread asking “What was the longest you’ve waited for karma to kick in?” I hope it helps someone out there who could use it.
"True story. I got bullied for roughly seven years straight daily when I was in secondary school (second level education in the UK/Ireland, taken from the ages 11-18). I had kids tell me I should die, I had my ass beat and I was emotionally destroyed by everyone who treated me like the most useless, void piece of crap. I didn’t feel like I should exist. I sat at home contemplating just ending it a lot.
I always loved art, drawing and writing. During my adolescence I retreated to the internet. I didn’t want to go to clubs where those people were, yet could still talk to people. I started posting animated Flash cartoons and comics to other people who were like me for critique. Due to the bullying directed at me, I developed a rather sad sensibility towards life and an ability to quickly come back verbally at anyone who wanted to give me abuse. It was a defense mechanism for sure, but the tone shown through in the animations and comics that I drew. Through all that, I met friends and eventual co-workers.
I now draw a cartoon called Cyanide & Happiness.
The local papers write about me. That school held an assembly in my honor once recently (I was told this by a friend who now works there). I live overseas and Jonathan Ross comes to hang out with me at Comic-Con every year, where again pictures of us appear in the local paper. My former bullies know all about this. They either avoid me in bars now or try to be my best mate (I ignore them), and I walk around my home town beaming.
There was one kid in particular who would stand behind me in assembly every morning (each year — grade to Americans — was arranged into a line in the main hall) and headbutt me in the back of the head for a laugh with the others around me. The back of my head was severely bruised for months at a time, and early on it’d leave me in tears with the physical pain and lack of respect for me. I’d dread every morning. I’d hear them behind me snickering and discussing whether he should do it or not. I couldn’t turn around to stop them, because then I’d get yelled at by teachers for not paying attention to the front. I’d have my hand at the back of my head to protect myself. I’d hear him say “c’mon Dave, put your hand down. You’re safe.” I’d eventually relent and he’d do it anyway. They’d laugh. I’d turn around and ask him to please not do that, because my head was in so much pain from the trauma he’d dealt it before. He said okay, whilst smirking. I’d turn around, I’d hear them snickering and he’d do it. Again. This went on for around two years. That kid is now a hardcore drug addict, and doing very poorly in life.
Feels good man. Thank you, internet.
Sidenote (sorry I keep editing this, but more and more is coming back to me as I read your comments): I developed a huge stutter 2-3 years in to the bullying because I was so nervous at presenting myself to these people in front of class. They eventually noticed and made fun of that, and it became a recurring loop. I’d dread every class that would potentially make me ‘read out aloud’ for fear of the humiliation. English lit was the worst, followed by French and Religious Education. The teacher in English lit would go around each person row by row in the room, making us read out large portions of whatever we were studying. As it neared me I would nearly faint with fear. I’d be sweating. I’d lose lots of sleep over this over the years. The worst feeling in the world was to be made to stand up and be made an example of in front of people that actively hate you under what felt like the guise of ‘education.’ It felt like a punishment ritual. I’d tell the headmaster, but he’d tell me I had to do it to ‘promote character-building skills.’ It took me years to get over this.
Only over the past two years have I been able to speak in front of groups of people again- thanks ONLY to the generosity of our fans, and how warmly they treat us both online and IRL. All I can say is, fucking thank you. This year I sat in front of a crowd of people and spoke at Chicago Comic Con (C2E2). There’s a youtube video of it all floating around somewhere. I think I did pretty good. Thanks for helping me rebuild myself, internet.
Epilogue: A few years ago, after C&H started taking off and I was starting to earn a living from it, one of the former school bullies came up to me in a bar and said mockingly “still drawing stick figures?” I (dunno why, just felt like it) retorted with “I could buy you.” He walked away in silence. I realize this sounds very obnoxious, and I WAS exaggerating (naturally), but since we were both 20 years old and I was doing pretty damn well for our age (better than he), I felt pretty justified. That one proper, direct moment of “in your fucking face, shithead” was worth it.
Edit: Feels cathartic putting this here, actually. Never really talked about it to anyone. Thanks guys. I’d also like to note I got laughed at a lot for using the internet a lot. It was the late 90s and these people would see it as nerdish and for ‘losers’, or whatever. Look where it got me. God bless the internet.
TLDR: Bullied at school, wanted to kill myself, somehow used how it shaped me for good and now draw a hugely popular online comic for a living, thanks to kind people like you. Basically, fuck bullies.”
Sometimes, I make follow-up comics to Cyanide & Happiness comics that never make it onto the main strip, usually due to the rather arbitrary format the strip is in. Not a bad thing at all, since when I do make a follow up, I tend to post these as bonus comics on my Twitter/Facebook. Here’s a comic I posted back in July 2010 along with it’s follow-up, which never made it to the site.
Big fans of Cyanide & Happiness may recognize the first strip as the very first ‘father and son’ comic in the series. I’d never intended for this to be a continuing ‘series’ of comics at first (perhaps evident in the fact that the son kills himself in the follow-up), but then, it somehow grew into one over the years. I had originally kept the follow-up comic from the main strip because, by the time it was written, a month or so had passed from the first and it seemed too late to create a follow-up with any sort of cohesion.
Ironically, as the ‘father and son’ collection of comics slowly evolved, I ended up caring less and less about any sense of continuity, whatsoever. I mean- to date, the poor kid’s father has killed himself twice for fun, eaten his son, turned gay and somehow even cloned himself- you name it. Meanwhile the circumstance surrounding the kid’s mother has been constantly changed, including his dad even suggesting that he killed her. Poor little guy’s going to grow up a very fucked up person!