From Tame to Revolting, New Comic DebutsBy Stacey E. Blau and Saul Blumenthal
Back on Oct. 11 of last year, we lamented the loss of our good old friend Jim, of "Jim's Journal" fame. Now, just over three months later, we hope the void left by Jim in The Tech has been filled. Turn to page 12 of today's issue. There you will find "Red Meat" by Max Cannon, the first of what we hope to be several new filler comics that will appear on the pages of this paper.
"Red Meat" was previously distributed by the same people who brought us Jim, Onion Syndicates, but the similarities between the two comics end about there. Where "Jim" aims to be quotidian, "Red Meat" aims to be at least slightly shocking and sometimes revolting. Today's strip is pretty tame as far as they go; some earlier strips make mention of things ranging from pet mutilation to defecating on a neighbor's lawn and feature characters that include a violent postman and a pervert extortionist milkman.
"Jim's Journal" chronicled the routine lives of a small group of characters, centered around Jim; dialogue was simple, and Jim somehow managed to project unordinary daily events in an entirely new light.
"Red Meat" does not take such an approach. Its characters are certainly more verbose, and each strip presents a unique punchline. This is not something that we can say about "Jim," especially after having run it for more than five years.
Something else should be noted about "Red Meat." Take a look at the first frame of the strip. Then look at the second, and then look at the third. Disregard the dialogue for a moment. What do you see? Three almost identical copies of the exact same drawing!
Now look a bit more carefully. The only things that change from frame to frame are the facial expressions on the characters. While this tactic obviously makes the strips easier to draw, it highlights the wide range of emotions and feelings expressible by such incredibly small changes. It is indeed a clever trick.
The strip may prove to be a little less flexible than "Jim." "Red Meat" does have a number of threads that could constitute a plot. The distributors sent us copies of the comics that actually say which dates we should run them on. And unlike most "Jim"s, the dialogue in "Red Meat" makes it so that the frames within each strip are probably not interchangeable.
Unlike "Jim," "Red Meat" does not seem a likely candidate to capture the campus mood. Yet, with time, we think our readers will look forward to the Max Cannon's witticisms just as they looked forward to the musings of Jim and his pals.
And should you feel the need to get more meat beyond The Tech's offerings, you'll be happy to know that "Red Meat" has generated a sizable following worldwide. In fact, some strips have been translated into Czech. Just take a look at http://www.mamedia.anet.cz-/fun.net/redmeat/index.html. And then there's the official "Red Meat" Web site at http://redmeat.com/redmeat, where you can access an archive of old strips as well as several other "Meat" resources.
Give the new comic a chance. Its arrival has been three months in the making.
Stacey E. Blau and Saul Blumenthal are currently finishing their stints as editor in chief and managing editor of The Tech, respectively. Their transcripts are eternally grateful.