As I was riding back, the two people in the front seats discussed marriage and how they aren't super into it. I was shocked. Of course, I noticed long ago that most of the Mormons at church don't seem to be nearly as obsessed with marriage as Mormons are stereotypically supposed to be. Watching "The Singles Ward" didn't make me think "Wow, this is so relatable!", it made me think "Wow, Provo Mormons are freaks." (No offense, Provo Mormons.) But I thought I was the only one who didn't have any particular desire for it. Let me be clear. Sometimes I find a really incredible woman whose company I prefer to being alone and I think that sure, I'd like to marry her. But the concept of marriage per se, with no particular candidate in mind, holds very little appeal for me. I'm certainly not motivated to spend one iota of effort looking for such a candidate. I would want to get married because of a woman, not vice-versa. And I guess I'm not as unusual in that as I thought. But I'm not "anti-marriage" as someone once insinuated. Marriage is anti-me.
I didn't participate much in their conversation because I have difficulty inserting my comments in conversations with more than one other person. People don't usually pause at all between remarks, so I can't say anything without cutting someone off, and I'd feel guilty about that. So I mostly just listened. It was good stuff. "Most guys," the girl said to the guy, "I'm not saying you, but most guys only care about three things in a girl. Do I want to have sex with her, is she fairly righteous - she says she wants a temple marriage, and does she agree with and validate everything I say?" I only care about one of those things. I must be really exceptional. She also expressed her appreciation that she doesn't have to pretend to be stupid around her current boyfriend. She said lots of guys are intimidated by intelligence. That's understandable, but the alternative is worse. Talking to stupid people saps my will to live. But other guys are into that? Whatever.
She noticed that I was typing on my laptop and said, "I assume you're doing homework." And I had to admit that I was actually writing comics.
Alvin and the Cracrofts
There have been a few other changes. It's become more "cartoony" overall as its world now canonically includes not just aliens and cloned dinosaurs but also ghosts and Santa Claus. This is largely because at the end of every year (the comic takes place in real time from 2004 to 2024) I wanted to have a different Christmas parody/homage - I posted the first one, "The Gift of the Magi", last year - and these more often than not have fantasy elements. With her having encountered all these things, Tyler's atheism became less plausible and she's been downgraded to an agnostic. One line I will never cross is having characters break the fourth wall, but they come dangerously close by recognizing the tropes at play around them.
But tropes are our friend. I changed the backstory so that Rachel acquired her pet Komodo dragon, Steve, at age five instead of twenty-four. I thought it made a much better story for her to grow up with him and form a lifelong bond and face the world together. But then I realized that made him too old and he would have to die during the comic's timeframe, because Komodo dragons only live up to thirty years in captivity. I tried to think of a way around this - perhaps yet another fantasy element like the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth. But in the end I decided, instead of resolving it, to just "hang a lampshade on it". This is the trope whereby writers draw attention to the implausibility of something without actually explaining it, to make the audience okay with it. This usually works because implausible things do happen in real life, but not without drawing attention. So I just have characters occasionally remark on Steve's incredible longevity a few times over the years. This had the unfortunate side effect of creating one of the least cynical moments I've ever written.
Alvin: Speaking of longevity... Steve's been around forty years, which is ten years longer than most Komodo dragons in captivity. That's just as amazing.
Rachel: Well, most Komodo dragons in captivity have never received as much love as ours.
(They silently watch Tyler playing with Steve)
To compensate for that emotion, here's a more autobiographical one. The name of the company involved has NOT been changed.
Alvin: #@$%! CenturyLink should be embarrassed to charge money for this #@$% wi-fi service.
Alvin: It should not take me eight #@$% minutes to load a five second long gif. There's no excuse for this #@$%. Screw this abomination of a company.
Alvin: Sorry about that, Rachel. I'm just stressed.
Rachel: And you're trying to relax by staring at a blank white webpage?
I don't think I shared this one yet. If I did, it's worth sharing again. If I had to pick only one strip to get drawn, this would probably be it. My sister thought it was gross, but what does she know?
Alvin: Playing with your dolls, sweetie?
Tyler: No duh.
Alvin: What's Barbie doing today?
Tyler: Removing Ken's head with a meat cleaver.
Alvin: That's... not very nice.
Tyler: If she's told him once to get his dirty underwear off the floor, she's told him a thousand times.
This is another one that I'm very pleased with and don't think I've shared. Mary is a college student interning with a high school biology teacher, and Tyler and David are her helpers.
Tyler: Hello, Mary. Up to any fun projects lately?
Mary: I've been testing a new perfume that simulates pheromones more thoroughly than anything before. It should be super effective.
Tyler: Oh, are you testing it on yourself?
Mary: Ha! Not yet. It's not in the stage where it can be used on humans.
Mary: That's a side project, though. We've got some real work to do today.
Tyler: Right. David?
David (off-screen): Just a minute. Have you ever noticed how cute these lab mice are?
I finally put one of my favorite ideas ever into writing. It was a stand-alone idea featuring Katy Perry herself, but I figured it still works without her so I added it to this franchise:
Alvin: Why so happy, Rachel?
Rachel: I almost ran over a bushy-tailed rodent. I swerved just in time, and I was so relieved that I got a feeling of intense euphoria.
Alvin: So what you're saying is –
Rachel: Right. I missed a squirrel and I liked it.
One of my very first ideas when I decided I wanted to write comics is never going to be used because it doesn't fit how the characters ended up. So this will probably be the only place you'll ever see it. Feel privileged!
(A bunch of people are being held hostage in a bank)
Criminal: All right, everybody stay down and be quiet!
Alvin: Please, sir... I have a wife and seven kids at home.
Criminal: Are you asking me to let you go?
Alvin: I'm asking you to shoot me.
Aaand a sneak peek at a new character! I figured Tyler needs authority figures to drive crazy at school as well as home. But don't worry, the new character will dish it out as well as she takes it.
Bill: Tyler, Al tells me you talk to your principal a lot. She's quite a looker. Do you know if she's single?
Tyler: Yeah, I think so.
Tyler: With all due respect, Uncle Bill, Principal Donaldson is a fine, classy lady. She deserves better than your nonsense.
Tyler: But since I hate her guts, I'd be happy to arrange it.
^ Inspired by Erica, a really classy and attractive barber I went to as a kid. More than once I heard my dad say that it blew his mind that she was still single, and that he wanted to set her up with one of his friends but none of them were worthy of her.
Fun at Work
Her: Do you have a marker?