Tales of Adequacy No. 800.

This was a huge hassle and effort. It was well worth it.

This was a huge hassle and effort. It was well worth it.

By the time I was done with the above image, I couldn’t even really see what I thought it looked like anymore. I had looked at it for too long, broken it too much into components that needed to be penciled, inked, colored. I wanted something that spoke to achievement, that spoke to the milestone, that spoke to the comics that I’ve always loved. Few comics, or blogs for that matter, even make it to issue No. 800, so I wanted something that made it a “big deal.”

The look and feel of late 70’s and early 80’s Marvel comics seemed like the way to go. I certainly needed to have Horsey…the last time a milestone hit (No. 400), and Horsey wasn’t in it, there was a real outcry from you, the Gentle Readers. Clearly, there needed to be Horsey. It also needed to evoke a feeling of happiness, of freedom from stress and worry, of hope that has come about from summer vacation, and not being anywhere near the train wreck that the Darths and Pledge LA have made of the school we worked so hard on.

I hated coloring it, incidentally, despite the awesome result.

The art unencumbered by logos and text.

The art unencumbered by logos and text.

For the time that i worked on Issue No. 800, I got the feeling of what it might be like to be a real comic book artist. I had to come up with the vision, pencil it, and then ink it. then color it. The process, with real background and detail, is incredibly long. It generated new respect in me for the process that real creators go through. All the time, you hear fans in comic shops demand better quality art, or criticize creators for quality. Almost none of those people have tried walking any distance in those shoes, and it is demanding. Quite simply, if it were not summer vacation, I couldn’t have done this quality for one page, forget the three pages I drew for it.

This is still just the first page.  I just thought the inks looked good, and wanted to share.

This is still just the first page. I just thought the inks looked good, and wanted to share.

Still…even with such a celebratory page, I felt like there needed to be more for such a huge issue number. I was exhausted from drawing this, and went, last Wednesday, to the comic shop to get my books for the week. In that environment, I just had a revelation and sat down and drew our second feature.

For literally years I have proposed a book that would be entitled the “Challengers of the #$%&ing Impossible.” It has a lot in common with Jack kirby’s “Challengers of the Unknown,” or “Fantastic Four.” The idea is simple. When given a mission, the Challengers of the @#$&ing Impossible deliberately handicap themselves, to make the problem even more daunting, and increase the bragging rights for success.

Example…there are hostages in the Baxter Building, and the best Negotiator on Earth has had a major heart attack. He needs a triple bypass immediately, so he can be on his feet in the 24 hours the crooks have given, so that he can negotiate the safe release of the hostages. Good hook, right?

Good hook for a regular story. Challengers of the #$%&ing impossible asks for more hazard. The Challengers would determine who is LEAST qualified for the surgery…and they would do it. After drinking a quart of tequila and putting on oven mitts, to be advised only in Mandarin. Now that…that’s a challenge.

That’s the concept. I think DC really missed out with New 52 on that, especially when they flew a really lame Challengers of the Unknown in DC Comics Presents.

Davy Jones, Giant Squid.

Davy Jones, Giant Squid.

See…ordinary people would get calamari and dry it out, to make squid jerky. Even people on extreme shows like X-Factor, fine…dry out squid, eat it because it seems gross. Check, we’ve got it.

The Challengers of the #$%&ing Impossible? You take a speedboat to Davy Jones’ last known location, summon the Kraken, and give it 132 year old synthetic tequila. Then you start the jerky process. Now we are talking ADVENTURE.

Again...I liked the inks, so we have them here.

Again…I liked the inks, so we have them here.

It still seemed like not enough of an event. Soon afterwards though, I had an inevitable conversation about Disney and Marvel. Always, people are afraid of Disney “screwing up” Marvel product, and this conversation was about the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m fascinated that anyone is concerned about “screwing up” Guardians…since the only reason the book became acclaimed is that Marvel itself didn’t really care what happened to ANY of the characters.

Plus…what’s Disney’s track record for “screwing up”? Brave? Frozen? These films were massive hits, especially Frozen. Disney hasn’t shown any trouble keeping princesses and mice out of say Agents of SHIELD or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so I was a bit puzzled by the assertion. I basically made that argument, and the argument is solid on its face.

Still…it got me thinking…

Damn straight there's no more tequila in the kingdom.

Damn straight there’s no more tequila in the kingdom.

Disney, in fact, owns the Incredibles, one of the finest superhero genre films ever made. They owned it before they owned Marvel. The current Disney machine knows how to move product to specific markets, and to merchandise the @#$% out of those intellectual properties. They also know that there are distinct crossover lines that are fine, and those that aren’t. The kind of thing that prevents the mashup above, as funny as it may be to render.

However…a Disney reference seemed very appropriate, given their massive influence over comics and pop culture. I don’t know what the Fairy Godmother was going to bring to the table, but that Prince looks to squeamish and pretty for dragon fighting. I’m not sure that he would be able to keep up with our hero on a binge…the kind that makes you wonder where you dropped the keys to the Fortress of Togetherness.

It seems fitting that issue No. 800 is all about the comics industry, in some way, because the top ten posts since issue No. 700 have been all about the comics industry. In a month, the site is going to shift focus again, since I’ll be going back to some sort of teaching position, for a while at least. I don’t know if it is disheartening to me that a niche hobby gets more hits than say, teaching or nation’s children how to read, or the behind the scenes of making that goal happen. Right now, I’m happy to have some distance from it.

In researching blog failure rate in general, I found this quote: “..many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?”

Why do they? To be honest, posting daily content is HARD. It isn’t all going to be genius, in fact, some of it is going to be kind of not that great. “A little time and inspiration” can be hard to come by. I know that I have to actively carve out time every day to make Adequacy happen.

According to a survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

When I started Adequacy, it was my next project. I didn’t have a project, and I could kind of draw. I thought I’d share my art, such as it was and is, with the internet, and maybe some observations about things that people don’t get to observe themselves. The world is populated by experts in Education, who know startlingly little about the day to day operation of it. It seemed like showing the man behind the curtain could do some good.

Some days get big hits, some don’t. It’s impossible to predict. I think bloggers are discouraged by their hit numbers, they think that people will just flock to them, and comment. Over time, and I say this to everyone who asks, I have learned that it is about consistency of content. Of putting up material, regularly…of working at your interest, for it’s own sake and not the hit count.

Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but “it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.” He added, “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”

Well…we have a bigger audience than one, thank you Mr. Jalichandra. That’s kind of where I’m going with this end piece. Tales of Adequacy is transactional, much like my classroom is. I have a base of readers, and things that they find interesting. They tend to overlap pretty well with content that I post about…but if I stop posting, you stop coming, True Believers. I get that. On some level, it is the interest in the content that makes me continue, that keeps the site from being one more “orphaned blog on the internet” and keeps my motivation high.

Still, Gentle Reader…I am selfish. I look at the early posts, and I love them. I do. However, my very drawing process has changed so much over the now three and a half years this project has been going on, and my “craft” as it were, improved so much…I have to say that yes, a fair amount of the endeavor has been for me, and only me. I’m actually glad about that.

Unlike articles I’ve read about sites like this, I’m not interested in “monetizing” Adequacy, or parlaying it into a day job with Marvel. I don’t see this a a means of financial independence (seriously, a lot of bloggers do), or a real platform for political activism (there’s a lot of that).

It has been, and will continue to be for a while more at least, a worthwhile hobby, project, pursuit. You the readers, are a part of that, and for you, I thank you.

I’m also really, REALLY glad that No. 900 is a hundred posts away.

Since this is a blog, and you waded through all of that text, I’m going to end with another Online Glitter Variant. The Glitter doesn’t actually sparkle in prints, people…this is exclusive to the format!

Oooh!  Glitter Variant!

Oooh! Glitter Variant!

As my hero Stan Lee would say…Excelsior!

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