Hello Chums!

This week, we're going to do a kind of Writer's Workshop thing for no particular reason other than it gives me a tenuous excuse to show another picture of a girl with rather large breasts. Readers of our previous "Dragon*Con" Flogging are no doubt furiously scanning down to check this out for themselves.

Go ahead. I'll wait. Pretty cool, huh?

Writers are a notoriously lazy bunch - comic book writers doubly so. Our idea of "research" involves reading a few issues of Spider-Man and playing a wartime video game under the guise of studying military history. From this, I have learned the Allied invasion of Omaha led to Adolf Hitler's death at Castle Wolfenstein, which, ironically, occurred right at the very end of World War Two.

While other writers use such faux-scientific methods as the Internet or - God forbid - a library, I prefer a more organic approach: I like to "live" my research because (a) it lets me really immerse myself in the concepts I am trying to understand and (b) it allows me to do stupid shit and deduct it from my taxes.

I am pretty sure my most recent foray into the world of Stupid Shit might have been one of my most productive learning experiences ever. I have been working on a screenplay about a group of drunken guys making drunken mistakes. You can see where this is leading.

So without further ado, allow me to present a little tax-deductible number I like to call...


One of my favorite people in the world is Sergeant Bryan, whom some of you may remember as the subject of a recent issue of "Captain America: Theater of War." While serving in Iraq, Bryan somehow managed to lose both legs and one arm to a roadside bomb that some Insurgents had painted to look like a piece of the curb. Frankly, I think losing three limbs is overkill. I have often told Bryan I would have been just as impressed if he'd lost, say, one or two. It also occurs to me that if these Insurgent dudes had just decided to be house painters or special effects artists, the world would be a better place and my mate would not be driving around in a wheelchair. Even though it is a very cool and high-speed wheelchair with Go-Fast stripes.

Bryan is a totally awesome dude with a wicked sense of humor. When Fernando Blanco - the "Theater of War" artist - offered to send him a page of the issue, Bryan naturally chose the page where his Humvee is blown into a million under-armored pieces. Nowadays, Bryan works in the medical industry as a spokesman for a wheelchair company, and when this recently brought him to a medical trade show in Atlanta (curiously named "Medtrade") I decided this would be a great opportunity for the lads to get drunk and cause trouble.

Boy, did we ever.

To get the week's festivities off to a rollicking start I decided to show up sober on the first day of Medtrade, along with my sober wife and quite-possibly sober Little Dude (perhaps he was drunk on the effects of Red Dye #40, we are never sure). Little Dude loves Mister Bryan not for his service to his country but for the insane speeds the Go-Fast wheelchair can reach on, say, the CNN Center floor.

The security guards glared and glowered. They wanted to yell, but they knew that arguing with a disabled veteran in Georgia is pretty much the same as asking to get yer ass whupped by ten good ol' boys from Doraville. There are some things you just don't do. Being unpatriotic is one of them. Eventually, one mall security guard told Bryan to "slow down." He told the guard to "fuck off." Ten more points to us!

After Nigh Perfect took Little Dude home, Bryan and I drank a couple of beers. I then spent a little time at Medtrade wandering the floor and pretending to be in the wheelchair business. It is a poorly kept secret amongst my pals that I have always wanted to work retail. I wondered what harm it could do to work the punters a little? Much harm, as it turned out:

Medtrade is the Mega Fun Palace of all medical conventions. There were people selling experimental "realistic victim" mannequins and cost-saving multiple enema machines... even a washing machine for an entire wheelchair (not for use with electric wheelchairs, obviously, dumbass). For some reason, half of the people working the show were already as drunk as we intended to be. If you don't believe me, try explaining this:

As you can see, the lads were already ever so slightly inebriated. We decided now would be a good time to push the boundaries, as it were. And what better way to push boundaries than with a visit to Hooters?

Now at this point I should mention that our local Hooters is a fine establishment populated by many ambitious young women eager to advance in business, as long as by "ambitious" you mean, "gullible" and by "business" you mean, "exotic dancing." We tooled up the hill from the convention center, with me hanging on for dear life to the back of the Go-Fast chair while Bryan spun out a lot on the rain-slicked pavement. People looked at us as if we were drunk, which was quite perceptive of them, we thought. One of the CNN Center security guards scowled through the glass door, willing us to crash. We duly obliged.

Knowing Bryan has quite the eye for the ladies, I had come up with another of my wizard japes: I was going to be a wingman to his Walter Mitty, I was going to bring the fillies to his hotel room door, I was going to set him up with every girl in the place. Bryan was not so sure.

"I'm not so sure," he said.

"C'mon, Dude, it's the perfect crime. What could possibly go wrong?"

"Well, for one thing I have a girlfriend. Besides, I don't need your help. I'm a good-looking guy and I can talk to girls by myself."

"No you can't. You need me. It's research."

"Look, I already lost a coupla legs and that makes me very emotionally attached to my testicles. I'm really not sure-"

"Nonsense. Let's do this thing. Lee-roy Jennnkinnns!"

And with my trusty battle cry ringing in the ears of nearby pedestrians, we ventured forth into Hooters. My nefarious plan involved playing up the "wounded war veteran" angle to the hilt. Supplementing this, we were going to persuade the girls that Bryan's girlfriend had broken up with him the previous day. She hadn't... but that was not the point. The point was that I needed my pal to play along in the name of research. He grudgingly promised to feign lovers' angst and sigh every so often.

As you can see, this plan worked a lot better in the execution stage than in the planning stage:

The girls fawned all over poor Bryan, and cursed the very thought of the evil bitch who could have dared to break up with such a sweet, handsome and vulnerable war hero. Bryan sighed heavily as one-by-one the Hooters girls came over to heave their ample bosoms in the direction of his vulnerability. We chuckled like naughty schoolboys: wizard jape mission success!

The research portion of my week was now almost complete. Having successfully ingratiated ourselves to all of the lovely ladies of Hooters, we decided to head back to the hotel, where Bryan's Company would be having their annual cocktail party, and where I felt I could once again try my hand at pretending to work in the medical industry. I resolved to force a conversation with someone in the field of multiple enemas.

One thing that had not occurred to me was Bryan's unfortunate lack of tolerance for alcohol. When you think about it, it makes sense: having lost a good portion of his body weight to a piece of exploding curb, he now weighs only about ninety pounds. The vast amounts of booze we had consumed were beginning to take their toll. As I clung onto the back of the Go-Fast, he would stop every block or so and vomit over the side of the wheelchair. Being the loyal pal I am, I struggled to contain the mirth, imagining the local cops trying to decide whether or not they should run us in for being drunk while in charge of a motorized vehicle.

We made it safely back to the cocktail party, whereupon Lt. Frank and I spent a couple of hours trying to persuade people we were doctors. I ask you, chums, does this look like a doctor to you?

Yet strangely, I had some success with Frank's unique approach. In my guise as Professor Otto von Calculus (of "Sidekick" fame), I managed to persuade two doctors from Argentina that I was working on a cure for Kryptonite Intolerance. I also learned that just about everyone at the cocktail party had slept with just about everybody else. The medical industry is like a soap opera. But I guess you knew that from "Grey's Anatomy."

I finished my night of "research" in the company of a gang of crazy German people who were on their way to Vegas. I am not sure how to fit this into my upcoming screenplay, but I have learned that nothing is funnier than a man from Köln trying to do a Texas accent. It is fair to say that there is such a thing as too much research, since I had forgotten most of the things I had learned by early the next morning.

But not to worry. This stuff writes itself.

This month's moment of Torak Zen

While working one recent evening I was alarmed to receive an email from Amazon.com, alerting me to the fact that they were about to ship a large and very expensive toy to my house. Thinking Nigh Perfect had been on a spending spree for our nephews, I called up the stairs to inquire. Much to my concern, she claimed no knowledge of any purchase at Amazon. Even more worrying, we soon discovered that roughly $500 worth of toys had been ordered on our account. Since we have been victims of computer fraud on no less than three occasions, I decided to call the bank. But before I could dial, the lights went off in Nigh Perfect's head: as it turned out, she had left our three year-old son on the computer that afternoon, happily moving the cursor across the screen and clicking whenever it changed shape. This way, Little Dude had learned the joys of Amazon.com's "One-Click" ordering process.

We canceled everything that was due to ship. Proud father that I am, though, I want to show you what the little bugger was attempting to order.

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