I almost went on a twitter bender tonight, but thought better of it. As much as I think the story below is hilarious, I don’t want to scare anyone off with a series of 4 dozen tweets about my daughter’s friend’s betta fish.
Before I get to that, though, some Kechal Comics News.
UnderWars #1 – All New, Somewhat Different is almost lettered.
The history of UnderWars is almost as weird as the story of UnderWars. I was actually working on that before I started on Tart. My buddy Chris was painting monkeys in Underwear and I just thought the look of it was so universal (like I’d never seen it before, but it felt like I “should have” seen it before) that I really pestered him to do something more with it. We talked a bit and a story was born. Enough of one, by the way, that when I was introduced over the internet to Ludovic, that I first didn’t think I’d have any time to work with him. Three days of Ludo’s art in my head cured me of that idiocy.
Chris doesn’t just draw UnderWars he co-writes it with me. Chris also has a small habit of getting lost battling windmills. See http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/Fort-Lauderdale-Man-Claims-He-Was-Fired-For-Trying-to-Protect-Rare-Tree-198132921.html or http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/chris-brennan-candidate-for-fort-lauderdale-mayor-is-basing-campaign-on-hunter-s-thompsons-6449348 if you’d like to understand what I mean.
Long story short, while UnderWars was started before Tart, Tart had three issues published before UnderWars 1 was even close to completed. Some of this was definitely my fault though as our first idea of the story was to start four years in the future and fill those four years of backstory in as we went; even though neither of us had a clue what we were doing (The fact we still don’t should be ignored here for my pride). With a Tart tpb in existence (with my former publisher), I secured two tables at the first ever Geekfest held at FAU and nowhere near enough stuff to fill those tables.
I got on Chris. We worked our butts off (him more than me as is always the case in comics when a writer and artist say they worked their butts off )to complete Issue 1 in time. We did. With only 13 pages of story. I really couldn’t tell you how that happened. It just did, ok! With the theory that a 13 page book was better than no book, we printed off 500 issues and have had a jolly good time selling or giving them away (UnderWars #1 was a stretch goal for the first Kechal Comics printing of the Tart Vol 1 TPB, which took care of about a quarter of our books). Just running out of our printing at Magic City Comic Con this past February.
Knowing we needed a new printing, and never being comfy with a 13 page book, Chris and I looked carefully at the story and added five pages to the issue that we feel really helps build the narrative a bit. It also adds some swear words and naughty situations, since we no longer worry about young kids reading it.
So what’s the point of this, you ask? The point is, our letterer David C. Hopkins just sent us a proof of the new relettered issue 1 and we’ll be working to have it printed up before PalmCon and NYCC this fall.
Right now everything Tart related is about getting our ducks in a row to ship off the Kickstarter rewards for issue 5. Books are at customs. Shirts are ready to be picked up tomorrow. Ludo is shipping the original art to me this week. First day prints are ordered. Thank you notes are 1/3rd done. Basically I’m a surfer looking at a tsunami wave coming my way. I just hope I’ve the skill by now not to drown.
The Poodles of Potter’s Point
I’ve got one more comic project being worked on that I can talk about right now. It’s a one shot comic for the youngest readers (or preferably listeners) out there. It’s a super silly, loads of fun, story meant to be given and read to children as their first ever comic book.
The artist is a woman I met over twitter named Jessi Sheron. Her art has impressed me from the first time I saw it and I’m so excited to work with her. Her art is exceedingly cute and whimsical (when she wants it to be) and PERFECTLY suited to the story. More about it when we’re closer, but things are afoot!
PS – Check out her tumblr to see some of her work: http://lilylilymine.tumblr.com/
AND NOW, THE SAGA OF SNOWFLAKE.
Two weeks back we had a houseguest. Or a Fish guest. Or a House Fish. His name is Snowflake. He’s a betta fish and he belongs to one of my daughter’s best friends. Snowflake’s family was going out of town and we agreed to Fish Sit him.
For one week we fed him. Talked to him. Or completely ignored him. We were able to hand him over alive and I was proud of that.
Snowflakes family are frequent travelers, however. They leave for a two week trip tomorrow morning and, since we’d done such a stupendous job of “not killing” him the last time, Snowflake was scheduled to arrive for another two week stay at Camp Joseph.
I left for work with Snowflake on route to our home. Five minutes into my drive my phone buzzed. “Snowflake’s dead!” my wife screamed after I said hello.
“No, no no. He isn’t here. He’s dead. Tracy (our friend with the fish, though I’m changing all names besides mine and my wife’s to protect the guilty) just called. He died on the way over.”
My wife then said, “Shit, I’ve got to go. That’s Tracy calling again.”
I continued my drive to work with one thought repeating in my mind, “WTF just happened?”
About an hour later, I saw I had a missed call from my wife, so you better believe I listened to that one immediately.
“So you’re never gonna believe this,” my wife sounding incredibly upbeat for the tragedy that had unfolded for the poor fish that morning, “Snowflake isn’t dead. Call me back when you get this.”
I almost ran over four people getting to a place where I could call her back.
“Snowflake is a miracle fish. When I hung up with you it was Tracy asking if she could come over. She said they hit a bump and Snowflake flew out of the bowl and landed on the floor and died. She wanted me to pick up Snowflake cuz she couldn’t touch him.”
“I don’t know! But her kid’s fish just died so I told her yes.”
“Ok. Go on.”
“I put on rubber gloves cuz I didn’t want to touch the fish and I waited outside.”
I pictured my wife waiting outside our home for her devastated, frazzled friend and a dead fish like a trauma nurse waiting for crash victims outside of an ER.
“When she got here, Tracy was like, ‘oh my god Janet. I killed Alice’s fish. I killed him. I hit a bump and he flew out and Alice started screaming SNOWFLAKE! and I couldn’t see him. And then Amy (some other kid who was going to camp with Alice today and bumming a ride with them) looks down and goes, He doesn’t look good.
“And I said, you’re not helping. And she said, yeah but he’s dead. And I said, YOU ARE NOT HELPING! And Alice was just bawling and I didn’t know what to do so I took them into camp…”
At this point I interrupted my wife retelling Tracy’s story and asked, “She took Alice into camp like that?”
Janet answered, “Yeah. Apparently it was quite a scene. So then she just left Alice and Amy at camp and called me to grab Snowflake for her. So anyway, I’m standing there with my gloves on and I go in the back of her van to get this dead fish. I grab him and he moves. I screamed and jumped out of the van. Tracy screams. I scream again, ‘HE’S ALIVE!!!”
I interrupt again “How the fuck is he still alive?”
“I have no idea Kevin, but he’s alive.”
“Oh my god, how funny would it have been if you had instinctively slapped him when he moved?”
“Not funny at all. I went full Flight over Fight, man. I ran into the house and grabbed a bottle of water. Ran out to the truck, poured the water in and threw Snowflake in the water.
“We brought him inside and he started to like gasp for water in the tank.”
Interrupting once again, “It’s like a miracle. He’s like like Fish Jesus.”
“Yeah, or like a zombie fish,” Janet answered.
“Do you think he’s… brain dead.”
“I don’t know, I’m just staring at him right now. He seems fine.”
“How can he be fine?”
“I DON’T KNOW. Kevin, he was out of water for like a half hour.”
“Do fish store water in their gills?”
“Maybe? I don’t know anything about fish.”
“Neither do I… except they die when they’re out of water.”
“Not this one!”
“I’ve got to go, but this is like the craziest thing I’ve heard in forever.”
“It’s ridiculous. I’ve never been so scared as when a dead fish flopped in my hands.”
We hung up and I went out to work. I knew I’d get a text on break the Snowflake had died. There’s no way he live through that amount of stress, much less the oxygen deprivation, right?
I lucked out and got out of work early and headed home. Snowflake was there. In his bowl. Swimming around like nothing happened.
Tracy and Alice came over to see him in the afternoon. Alice described the situation that morning as “Snowflake’s T E R R I F Y I N G fall.” She and my daughter went off to play.
We went through the entire story once again, now from Tracy’s viewpoint (I won’t lie the story above is a mish-mashing of Janet and Tracy’s telling of the ordeal). Tracy confirmed that the fish was out of the water from 10 am sharp to 10:24. Twenty-four solid minutes without water to breathe.
“Why didn’t you just put him back in the bowl?” I HAD to ask.
“I’m not good with death. I’m just… not … good with death.”
“How did he survive?” Janet asked.
Tracy answered, “I don’t know. When I called my husband to tell him what happened he reminded me betta fish don’t need as much oxygen as other fish because they’re from the rice paddies in Thailand. Maybe that’s how?”
I got out the phone and started googling. It turns out betta fish have gills, but they actually get most of their oxygen by swimming to the top of their bowl and swallowing air. They have something called a Labrynth Organ which functions like a lung.
There you have it. The answer to how a specific fish (in this case Snowflake) can live out of water for a half hour and show zero signs of harm tonight.
I hope I did this story justice. Every word of it except the people’s names is 100 percent true.