A Hickey on the Neck of Life

Hello, everyone.  Ryan here.  I wanted to take a little time out from our usual tomfoolery to honor the life and work of Robin Williams.

There are millions of funny people in the world.  Not one of them was ever or will ever be anything like Robin.  He was a million miles above the pack – somewhere out in space – at a level of style and versatility that I doubt we’ll ever see again.  Everything he did was original.  Everything he did was him.  

I remember my first time hearing A Night at the Met.  Simply put, I was blown away.  I had never heard anything so funny.  Here was a guy taking these huge, fearless swings at everything and knocking the hide off the ball every time.  I couldn’t believe it.  I wanted to be funny like that, but I knew I couldn’t be.  I grew up reading The Far Side, Bloom County, and Calvin and Hobbes and listening to Bill Cosby on tape.  These shaped my humor because they were what I aspired to.  They seemed attainable.  I thought, “I can pull that off.  I can be as funny as that.”  But I knew there was no aspiring to Robin Williams.  He was so bravely himself and his energy was so unique that I knew trying to live up to it would only leave me feeling bad about myself.  There’s just no way to be that funny or that interesting unless you were Robin Williams.

I don’t know what happened.  He must have been in terrible pain.  His loss is a tremendous shame, and so is the fact that he struggled the way he must have.  He deserved every last bit of admiration he got – from fans who loved his work to co-stars who loved working with him – and that’s why we’re going to remember him so fondly.  It’s why we’ll miss him so much.

As Mork, Robin Williams said he wanted to be “a hickey on the neck of life.”  This has incredible power for me.  He didn’t want to be a black eye or a cigarette burn.  He didn’t want to be a scar.  He wanted to be a suck mark left in the throes of passion.  He wanted to be a mark of love so livid and telling that we’d be embarrassed by it – as embarrassed as we were excited to receive it.  In this, he undoubtedly succeeded.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for your love, your zeal, and your little spark of madness.  You have made our lives that much more extraordinary.

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The Lover Speaks About the Monsters

Hello, everyone!  Ryan, here.  I just wanted to thank you all for making TTB‘s debut special.  Now that I’m a huge success, I have precious little time to kill between hosting drag shows while BASE jumping and shooting Lebanese commercials for gray wood.  Despite this, I thought I’d descend from my leisure to grace you with some advice about how to become a quadrillionaire.

First, stop buying things.  This is a serious drain on your money.  There are plenty of useful items to be found lying around in other peoples’ houses.  If someone takes issue with your appropriation of his or her toothbrush, shoehorn, automobile, or DNA, remember that you cannot steal your own property.  Once you take something from someone, it becomes yours, and they are the thieves for trying to get it back.

Second, dress for the job you want.  If you want to be the Minister of Science, start dressing like an orangutan.  It’s amazing how many doors will open for you if people think you have access to secret scrolls.  In fact, you should probably carry a pocketful around with you in case you need to warn anyone about the Forbidden Zone.  Sometimes, you have to change it up: start walking around on stilts everywhere you go.  People will ask you what you’re supposed to be.  This question is essentially a check for “filthy lucre” made out to you.

Lastly, always be ready to fight. Fights happen all the time.  Everybody on the street is crazy into kung fu and will put you down with a pinwheel kick to your cervical spine if you look even the least bit squirrelly.  Stop the blow before it comes.  Hold back for a regular block; back + down to block low; and press down, down-forward, forward + punch for a hadouken.

Thanks again, friends.  Remember to write me from the top of your money pile when it’s high enough to see from space.  (I live in orbit.)

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Episode 9: A New Plastic Foot

Hello, everyone.  I’m Ryan, and I want to welcome you to The Talking Boxes.

If I remember correctly – and I may not, because it’s been a long time – this comic strip was born in 1995 on the sidelines of the NAHS football team’s practice field.  That must have been in July or August, as, according to Google, the first game of that year was played on August 22 (we lost to Evansville-Reitz, 6-28).   At the time, I was drawing comic strips with stick men in them.  The art was bad, but the strips were funny.  Reading some of those strips one day, Michael made the offhand remark that I was a good enough writer that bad art didn’t matter.  “You could probably draw a strip that was just talking boxes, and it would be funny,” he said.  It wasn’t a serious suggestion, but I took it as one because I thought that would be hilariously ironic.

Now, here we are in 2014 andThe Talking Boxes is the only strip I’ve ever devised that I’ve been able to keep in the air.  I’ve tried a bunch of other ideas, and none of them ever worked because I am not a very good artist.  With TTB, I don’t have to worry about that too much.  The crude art is just a framing device for funny words.  It’s an elemental idea – the kind that always perseveres.  Like bows and arrows or Spider-Man.

I am excited about this strip.  I know you’re going to love it, because I’ve loved it for almost 20 years.  We are striding boldly out of the starting gate, nose low and eyes locked on the rabbit.  The difference is, The Talking Boxes is a lot more interesting than which dog runs fastest for no reason.


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