Hey bros:

Welcome to a new segment here at the Super Frat blog called “Behind the Scenes”.  This was a feature I used to do back in the day on my site with The Travelers.  Pete over at Sluggy Freelance inspired me to try it again.  Pete has a regular feature on his site where he talks about who inspired his stories and characters, so here goes.

The storyline that begins with the strip called November 5th, 2008 was something that I wanted to do for awhile.  Even before we did the strip, Good Luck, O and even before the strip Once You Go Black!  Some strips, you may have noticed, are part of a longer story arc while others are dropped in as stand alones.  I’ll let you in on a little secret you probably already know, on an average week we do one strip of new art and one strip of re-used are with new word balloons.  Sometimes its obvious and sometimes it’s not.

Anyway, getting back to this Obama storyline: People seem to think that politics are important to me.  They’re not really.  I mean, if we all lived in Iceland (no offense Icelanders) our biggest problems with the government would be, do the trains run on time and what are we going to do about zoning for glaciers?  When you live in America, you can’t help but feel responsible for screwing with most of the planet.  (We do things big.  USA!  USA!)  It’s not so much that I’m into who won what election, it’s more about what’s going on with the wars.  The wars impact everything and you’d think we’d learn to avoid them now.

When I was a freshman in college, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. came to speak on campus.  He is probably my favorite author, so you could imagine my excitement.  I sat in the crowded audience with my copy of Breakfast of Champions for him to sign like some errant fanboy.  Then, an amazing thing happened, Kurt, who had probably been paid thousands by our alumni and student organizations, spent about 30 minutes lecturing us all about how apathetic and lazy we all were!

Now this is 1985 (yeah, I’m old.  Shut up.)  so he’s like, “On other campuses, they are protesting South African Apartheid and the Regan Administration.  I didn’t see one sign on this campus!”  What brass balls!  It was awesome.  (Since I was a freshman and had just got there, I didn’t really think he was leveling that criticism at me.  Dude, I’ve only been in school like a month!)   The next day, the same students that had preened and posed and bragged about Vonnegut’s impending arrival made an anemic attempt at a South African Apartheid protest.

And that was the last time I ever saw anyone protest on my campus.

Embarrassing.  And no, I will not be typing my college’s name.  Fuck those guys.  They made me pay a parking ticket on graduation day.  They can get free ad space on my site when they can pry it from my cold dead fingers.

But to the point, Kurt had inspired me.  Now, over the years, I’ve gone to a few protests.  Quite frankly, I’ve never seen the appeal or what they get done.  It’s really a numbers game, so people need to be pissed and dying like they were in Vietnam.  That was not going to happen with Apartheid and its sure as shit not happening with Iraq and Afghanistan.  But the point is, you have to do something.  That was Kurt’s point.  Even more to the point, college students should definitely be involved.

College is the time to try new things, but also to get involved.  People are open minded (or at least they’re supposed to be) and they should be questioning the world around them.  Obama’s election was the most important in terms of race (and thus, MPH’s heavy involvement in this story), but its more about the policy of the wars (which the story will eventually lead and thus Ira is a crucial character too).

Besides the real students they are based after at Ryesmore, MPH is kind of my inner black man.  Because who doesn’t want to be a cool black guy?  He has a strong, confident identity.  Plus being a black guy on campus makes him fairly unique.  My campus had, maybe, two percent black students out of like 5500 people.

Ira is more about my political side.  He’s a guy that’s going to take his political beliefs all the way.  No half measures.  No compromises.  It’s a great fantasy to be able to do that, at least in a comic strip.

The storyline itself, which I wrote a few months ago, deals with the impending doom I felt at the inevitable let down of the Obama Administration.  For me, this happened during the election.  Obama had a chance to vote against the FISA amendment, which helped close the door on lawsuits against telecom companies.  This was a huge deal because it meant that if the bill didn’t pass, we could finally begin to undo the government’s wireless wiretapping program.  But Obama didn’t lead the charge to stop it.  Instead he hedged his bet saying, “He review the matter once he got into office”.  In other words, “Just give me the power and I’ll let you know if I need it.”

That made it painfully clear to me that Obama wasn’t going to be much better than Bush.  So, like Ira, I voted for Nader.  (Go, Ralph!)  Mistah Shit, Rubber and Dick represent the mainstream views of Nader and the election.  People complain, but they don’t vote or they’re just too ignorant to care or understand.  An underlying sadness to the comedy, I suppose, if you look at it that way.  Perhaps you can look at it like the late great Mr. Mike O’Donoghue, “It’s very easy to make people laugh.  That’s not the point. It’s very difficult to make people think. Art is the cake. Comedy is the frosting. The trick is to get them to eat the cake.”