Here are some notes pertaining to the strips featured on this site.
1. This is the first Anna strip -- and it shows. The art was quite rougher, and Anna was depicted as a slightly-obese person. I also used an extra-fine point Sharpie marker to draw the first two strips.
2. Anna's last name, "Myrkowski", is pronounced "Murr-cow-ski". Based on my own last name, "Mindykowski", in which a lot of people mispronounce.
3. Panel 3: I tend to get upset too when bad news happens.
4. Panel 4: "Urusei Yatsura" was the first manga / anime series created by Rumiko Takahashi in the early-1980s, in which an unlucky man anmed Ataru won an interplanetary game of "tag" against a lovely alien named Lum. Unfortunately, Ataru's slip of the tongue was misinterpreted by Lum as a marriage proposal.
"Azumanga Daioh" is a manga / anime series created by Kiyohiko Azuma, featuring the daily routines of a group of high school girls.
Both these series are my favorites.
5. Panel 5: Anna the hermaphrodite -- when I originally created this strip, I created Anna as one of those "chicks with dicks". But, after further reasearch, hermaphrodites are often misunderstood, as there are various types. As of now, I still haven't decided on how to treat this.
#2: "Mad Anna Spills Some More Beans"
1. Panel 3: I had braces too when I was a teenager -- only because my teeth was merely crooked, not as a result of an accident. And I had them for only a couple of years.
2. Panel 5: Music list taken directly from my personal MP3 collection.
3. Panel 6: I am also a frequent visitor of Canada, with Montreal one of my most favorite cities.
As for Anna, note that she is quite obese and roughly-drawn (especially the last panel). This will change with the next strip.
#3: "Freedom From Religion"
1. This is Anna drawn in her present form -- as a thin person. Starting with this strip, I switched to a ball-point gel pen.
#4: "An Insult To Her In-Telly-Gence"
1. Anna was born in 1982; I was born in the 1970s.
2. Panel 4: Merv Griffin was a host of a daily variety / talk show that ran from the 1960s through the mid-1980s; he is more notable as creator of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy". Mike Douglas was a similar talk show host. Joe Pyne was a controversial talk show host of the 1960s, who insults guests that he didn't like. Lou Gordon's Detroit-based show, which ran until his death in 1977, deals mainly with imporant issues, and is produced entirely without a script or cue cards; his show used the jazzy portion of Richard Harris' "MacArthur's Park" as its theme song. Except for Pyne (which was before my time), I watched all these shows when I was the kid, and had fond memories of them all.
3. Panel 5: Not an actual schedule, but a representation of what TV Guide's listings looked like those years.
4. Panel 8: Newton Minow: FCC chairman in the 1960s who challenged programming directors to watch their stations all day as an average viewer, in which they would find a "vast wasteland".
#5: "Here's The Breast Part"
(Nothing of note, other than it's the first strip that deals with women's issues.)
#6: "On Her Feet"
1. The part where Anna had a needle stuck in her foot happened to me in the late-1980s, only I was wearing socks. By the way -- my footwear of choice is tennis shoes, with socks.
2. I also depected the younger Anna as a student at some sort of private school; hence, the uniform.
#7: "The Spam Plague"
Until I changed e-mails recently, I've been getting about 30 to 50 spam every day.
#8: "Diaper Rash"
1. True story.
2. Panels 4 & 5: "Detective Conan" (known in the US as "Case Closed", due to licensing issues) is about a high school student named Jimmy Kudo who's an expert at solving crimes. Then one day, a couple of spies gave him a drug that was meant to kill him, but instead, turned him into a little kid -- who's an expert at solving crimes.
By the way -- that's not what Conan exactly looks like in my strip, but you get the idea.
1. Originally, I planned for Anna to be the only character in this strip. But, I've decided to give Anna a little comic relief -- Rafaela Torres, a 21-year old lesbian who has a crush on Anna, such a thing that Anna doesn't welcome. I have based Rafaela on two different lesbian characters -- "Toni", a Puerto Rican lesbian in Alison Bechdel's "Dykes To Watch Out For"; and "Kaorin", a high school girl with a terminal crush on Sakaki, in Kiyohiko Azuma's "Azumanga Daioh". (Speaking of which, the pigtails in the 4th panel are similar to Chiyo-chan's.) I have also added Rafaela, so she can easily field issues on gays and lesbians, plus counterculture (note the tie-dye shirt) and some sex issues.
2. This is also the last strip under the "Mad Anna" title -- the next strip will become "The Mundane Circus".
#10: "She Loves You (No! No! No!)"
First strip under "The Mundane Circus" name.
#11: "Acid Can Burn Your Eyes"
1. First strip in color. Rafi's shirt and hair, and the psychedelic background are colored with coloring pencils, with the rest computer-colored.
2. Changed Rafi's look slightly -- see the sketchbook for more details.
1. That other person is me -- I went on vacation in Quebec in mid-February 2005, and decided to use the trip as material for the strip. And no, I will not be appearing in the strip.
2. There was a song from the 1960s called "V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N" (don't know artist, unfortunately), which was where the title came from. Also, a different song with the same name was recorded recently by Jpop group-turned-American toon stars Puffy AmiYumi.
#13: "It's A Long Way From Here To There"
1. Panels 3 and 5 -- The airline I flew on, Northwest, insisted that Americans flying to Canada have either a passport, birth certificate, or "Green Card". All I had for proof of citizenship was a voter's ID card, which got me back and forth across the Canadian border without question, when I driven across many times before. This was my first plane trip directly into Canada. The clerks eventually gave me the OK, saying it was "out of their hands". I later found out that all this hassle was for nought -- the officer Canada Customs was concerned, as I had no birth certificate, but let me in anyway. As for US Customs, a driver's license and voter's ID was good enough for them, whether you're driving or flying between Canada and the US.
2. In Panels 2 & 3, I originally colored Rafi's hair using a permanent marker, but switched back to pencil, as her hair looked ugly with a marker. Anna's hair, however, looks nicer with a permanent marker.
3. Panel 4: Ten years ago, passengers flying for generally two hours or more got a meal with their plane ticket. Today, you only get a tiny bag of tiny pretzels and a can of soda (though some airlines only give you half a can). And longer flights does not necessarily mean you'll get a meal -- while waiting for my flight home at the Detroit airport, I learned that passengers flying on a flight fron Detroit to Las Vegas would be getting no meal on that flight. Sound advice for the hungry -- carry your own snacks on the plane. Either that, or fly a discounter airline like Southwest, where they at least give you an option of a meal for a price.
4. Panel 6 -- Quebec's a great place to visit, but a bad place to drive. Quebec's roads, especially in Montreal and Quebec City, are often riddled with potholes and are poorly-marked -- apparently, Quebec doesn't believe in RPMs (Reflective Pavement Markers). Rush hour in Montreal is also rather bad -- just as bad as, say, Los Angeles. It took me about two hours from Dorval on Route 40 just to leave Montreal Island, the eastern end being about 31 km (19 miles) from Dorval Airport. (And yes, I realise it's now P.E. Trudeau Airport, but all the road signs still say "Dorval".) And another thing about Quebec's expressways -- stay the hell out of the left lane. Shortly after leaving Montreal's hellish traffic behind me, there was a service oasis coming up on 40, which included a restaurant. It was in a median, so I got into the left lane. Then, shortly before the oasis exit, some jerk in a pickup came from nowhere and tailgated me, flashing his lights like a loon, for about a half mile until I exited. When I did, he honked his horn loud and long. To be honest, I could do an entire strip or two about Quebec's roads' horror stories such as these.
5. Panel 8 -- That was based on a similar quote from Russ Meyer's legendary film, "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". Never saw the film -- just got the quote from the book "Bad TV".
#14: "Resting Comfortably"
1. Panel 2 -- The motel I stayed in while in Trois-Rivieres, a Days Inn off Routes 40 & 55, was rather nice, though it had no elevator, and had to use the pay phone for my calls home, as my room phone didn't work properly. Otherwise, it was rather comfortable.
2. Panel 4 -- The local Cogeco cable system serving T-R (which I saw at my motel) only offered a handful of English channels in a sea of French channels. Like most cable systems in Quebec, this one offers US nets from the Burlington / Plattsburgh market, though the picture quality was overdigitised, and most US shows were replaced with the same show on at the same time on the Montreal channels (called "Simsubbing", which is the law, though, for reasons I won't mention here, systems outside of the Montreal area aren't supposed to do that). The most unusual, channel on Cogeco's system -- one that I call "The Oscilloscope Channel", which is a live picture of an oscilloscope with a classical music background.
3. Panel 4: "La Fureur" -- long-running weekly Radio-Canada TV program that was on the air since 1998 (at the latest), and often simulcasted on a network of commercial Franco-pop stations in Quebec. In a combination of "Battle Of The Sexes" and "Name That Tune", two gender-segregated groups of four Quebecois celebrities play a series of music-identification games. Following each answer, the house band plays part of that song, and the home audience can join in on the fun by singing along to the lyrics that flash on the screen. There are also musical guests singing their latest hits, also complete with on-screen lyrics. And to add to this spontaniety, the show is telecasted live (Ontario and eastward only; tape-delayed from Manitoba westward). Too bad an American channel never picked up this show (especially Univision, where a hispanic "La Fureur" would be a perfect fit).
4. Panel 5 -- It's true; other than CBC Radio One, English-language radio outside of Montreal and the Ottawa Valley is very scarce. For instance, in Quebec City, the only English radio (in your car) is CBC Radio One at 104.7 FM, plus staticky signals of Montreal's CINW (940 AM; all-news) and CKGM (990 AM; all-sports; used to be a good oldies station). Practically, the only English you'll hear are in the songs the French stations play, between the French-language hits.
5. Panels 4 & 5: "Un Nouvelle Jour Va Se Lever" -- 1960s Franco-pop hit for Jacques Michel; remade in 2004 as the hit theme for "Star Academie", an "American Idol"-style TV show seen on the commercial TVA network.
6. Panel 8 -- I'm a bad boy, am I?
#15: "I Love A Pérade"
1. First of all, I apologise in advance for the quality of Rafi -- this is the first time I have placed my characters onto a photograph. Due to the given dimensions, the drawings alre a little more sloppier than normal.
2. I have visited the village on a day trip on 2/12/2005, while staying in T-R. I find it kind of neat that you can actually walk, drive and run a business on the ice, especially since the ice is thick enough to support several cars at once. And almost anytime during the winter season, the Ste.-Anne River is also a haven for snowmobilers -- it's one of many designated snowmobile trails in Quebec.
The reason why I wanted to visit this town is that I read in a Reader's Digest book on Canada that it was the ice fishing capitol of Canada, and that a whole "village" of shacks springs up on the river during tommycod season.
Also, when I decided to make Rafi part-Quebecois, Pérade was the first thing on my mind when I gave Rafi's mom a birthplace. (Never mind that it has no hospitals (I think).)
#16: "Vacation Over!"
1. I've decided to cut the Quebec vacation short, even though I've barely got started. While it was the middle of winter when I went, it is now spring (as I write this) -- making it a little funny to feature a sequence including snow, when most of it is now disappearing. As I result, I've decided to scotch the rest of the sequence and proceed with Rafi's life story -- "A Gouine's Story".
2. Panel 5: Rafi said in French: "Sorry, little sis."
3. Panel 8: Since I cancelled the trip, I've let the women get mad at me (especially Rafi). Serves me right. By the way, Rafi said in French, "That's why all men are pigs! Fuck!"
4. Also panel 8: "Daa... I herd that!": Uttered frequently by Barth, owner of the "Barth Burgers" restaurant, on the 1980s sketch comedy program "You Can't Do That On Television".
"A Gouine's Story" (strips 17-39)
The series in general:
1. "Gouine": French for "lesbian", which Rafi is. Rafi also refer to her lesbian mothers, Nathalie and Hélène, as "gouines".
#17: "Julie's Premonition #1"
1. First strip featuring Julie, who will introduce and sum up some key scenes in a shamanic manner.
1. First strip featuring Laurie, a blind woman who would eventually play a pivotal role in Rafi's future.
1. Panel 6: While measles is an easily-curable disease, especially if you're immunised for it, it may have some life-changing, even life-ending, complications, as it affects the brain. Blindness is one of them.
1. Kind of unorthodox for a blind person to give a stranger a thorough pat-down. But, this is Laurie we're talking about, and it sets the stage for what will happen next.
#21: "Love Is Blind"
1. Panel 6: "Quelle dingue!" -- What a nut case!
#22: "Life on Display"
1. "Sharon Mindykowski"? Who's she?
Since this strip, featuring a lesbian as the lead, is written and drawn by a straight man, I thought it would be a good idea to create a "sister" who would "co-author" my strip. Shortly after I uploaded this strip, I though this wasn't a good idea, so now I'm doing this strip "solo" again.
2. Panel 5: "Konichiwa" -- Japanese for "good afternoon".
#23: "Journey To The Center Of My Mind"
1. Title based on "Journey To The Center Of The Mind", a song about an acid trip, and the only hit for The Amboy Dukes (featuring Ted Nugent) in 1968.
2. Panel 2: "Je m'appelle Rafi Torres. Et je suis une gouine." French for, "My name is Rafi Torres. And I am a lesbian."
3. Panels 5 & 6: Rafi's self-portrait is the exact same one found in "Rafi's Gallery".
#24: "Julie's Premonition #2"
1. "Haven't we seen this strip before?" This was the same artwork used for strip #17, but with different writing. Instead of drawing practically the same strip with Julie over and over again for her "premonitions", I'll be using the same artwork, but using a whole new script.
#25: "It All Started At A Bar"
1. First strip featuring Rafi's mother, Nathalie Fusey.
Her first name, "Nathalie", was named after a BD series of by Sergio Salma, about the titled little girl, Nathalie, who constantly dreams of being a world traveller.
Her last name, "Fusey", is named after a major street (left) in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, across the St.-Maurice River from Trois-Rivières (now part of T-R itself).
2. Panel 5: "Voilà, monsieur" -- "Here you go, sir."
3. Panel 6: Laval University -- One of Quebec's major universities, located on Quebec City's west side, near Sainte-Foy. Home of one of Canada's championship college football teams.
#26: "A Gringo in Quebec"
1. First strip featuring Rafi's father, Hector.
2. Panel 4: "Sortie" -- "exit".
3. Panel 6:
Hector: "Un Harvey Wallbanger, s'il vous plaît." -- "Harvey Wallbanger, please."
Nathalie: "Oui, monsieur." -- "Yes, sir."
#27: "Le Premier Contact"
1. "Le Premier Contact" -- "First Contact".
1. "Mais..." -- "But..."
2. Panel 3: "Triangle" -- this is in reference to homosexuality's symbol: an upside down, pink equilateral triangle.
#29: "La Fiertè de Nouvelle-Orleans Survit"
1. "La Fiertè de Nouvelle-Orleans Survit" -- "The Pride of New Orleans Lives".
2. This strip was drawn days after New Orleans, and much of the north central Gulf Coast, was badly damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on 8/29/2005. For more details, click here.
3. Panels 5 and 6: The terrible events that unfolded in New Orleans in the days following Katrina was what motivated me to do this particular strip. The events are so appalling, almost everyone has been touched, including Rafi, who breaks up in tears.
4. Panel 8: "Have faith, stand tall": this saying was based on a title of an episode of anime series "Risky Safety": "Have Faith and Stand Tall".
5. Panel 8: "Vous ne prenez pas la merde de quelqu'un!" -- "Don't take shit from anybody!"
6. This strip interrupts "A Gouine's Story", which will resume with strip #30.
#30: "Fille Aime Fille"
1. "Fille Aime Fille" -- "Girl loves girl".
2. First strip featuring Rafi's future godmother, Hélène.
2. Panel 7: "Polyamory" -- a sort of "group marriage", it's a family with more than two spouses living together.
#31: "Pas Encore!"
1. "Pas Encore!" -- "Not Again!"
2. This strip was drawn on 9/21 and 9/22/2005, during the time when the upper Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, including Galveston and Houston, was preparing for Hurricane Rita, which came roughly a month after Katrina. Like Katrina, Rita was a Category-5 storm with winds of 175 mph at one point, though it's expected to make landfall somewhere in the affected area as a low-end Category-4 storm. And as you already know, this meant unneeded added misery for evacuated New Orleanders, who evacuated their city and surrounding area when Katrina struck, heading to Houston (and the Astrodome) for refuge.
Update: Rita landlalled around 3AM ET around Port Arthur TX, about 80 miles east of Houston -- it landfalled as a weaker Category-3 storm with winds of 120 mph, sparing the Houston-Galveston area, though those in the Sabine Valley area of Texas and Louisiana aren't so lucky (though the damage wasn't as catastrophic as Katrina). However, Rita would go on to become a major flooding event in Tennessee, as the storm stalls over that state.
Update Again: ...or so they thought -- Rita ended up riding along a cold front, racing towards New England and Quebec, sparing the south from any major flooding. Such are the vagarities of tropical systems.
3. Panel 8: "Les couilles" -- "testicles", or, "the balls".
4. Panel 8: "Christian" zealots -- following Katrina, there were many diatribes from "Christian" leaders (including those representing the American Family Association), saying that gays and abortionists helped contribute to Katrina ruining New Orleans. Especially unflattering is a statement from the "Westboro Baptist Church", a cult that hates gays with a passion -- I don't have their statement handy right now, but they used rather-unsavory, un-Christian language in their post-Katrina speech, even going so far as referring gays as "fags" -- a demeaning, offensive epithet for "gays". And the beauty part of it all is that they're not doing a thing to help the victims of Katrina. On that note, I expect them repeating the same messages and treatment following Rita.
Update: I knew it -- they did post a diatribe praising Rita for wrecking part of America.
5. I originally planned on releasing the strip on 9/22, but utility troubles (long story) kept me from uploading until 9/23, when the storm was altready poised for landfall and everyone that was supposed to get out should've already done so.
6. This strip interrupts "A Gouine's Story" (again), which will resume with strip #32. Unlike strip #29, I actually incorporated the interruption into the strip. Where "gouine" is concerned, I was almost finished pencilling #32 (which was to have been #31) and written the script for #33 (originally #32), when I got word on how strong Rita was and where it's forecasted to go. And when it didn't look pretty, I decided to create another special strip, putting "Gouine" on hold -- again.
7. "What happened to the fonts?" -- Originally I used "Letter-O-Matic" to letter this comic, but I have since switched to "Kronika". The reason being is that in August, my hard-drive crashed. While I had backups for my fonts, it wasn't so for LOM. I tried downloading another copy, but found out that international characters (necessary for this strip, as Rafi speaks French) weren't included in the copy that I downloaded. As a result, i switched to an equally-pleasing font called "Kronika", which had international fonts.
#32: "Trouvant une solution pour une problème"
1. "Trouvant une solution pour une problème" -- "Finding a solutuion to a problem".
#33: "Le Polyamour"
1. "Le Polyamour" -- The Polyamory (see strip #30). The Polyamory Society has more information on this type of multi-spousal marriage.
2. Panel 6: "Handfasting" -- a pagan wedding ritual, in which those being married have their hands tied together as part of their ceremony. This is where the phrase "tying the knot" comes from. (And no -- neither I nor anyone in this strip are pagans -- I just thought the marriage ritual is interesting.) This site has more information on handfasting.
#34: "Something They Believe In"
1. First strip featuring Mini-Rafi, Rafi's pint-sized angelic twin -- with a serious difference. I was to have introduced her later in "A Gouine's Story", but, since 11/20 was the "Transgendered Day of Rememberance", this is a good time to introduce her into a strip, with a serious message. And with many other strips providing tributes, I thought it was a good idea to chime in with a message of my own.
2. Also just as important -- neither Rafi nor I are transgendered. We just have wide-open minds.
3. This was also the first strip to be completely inked and colored digitally -- in November 2005, I acquired Paint Shop Pro and a pen tablet, which would enable me to make slicker strips and pictures. I'll still need to pencil by hand, though I won't need to erase regularly anymore -- meaning no wrinkles, no risk of tear, no sore arms, and of course, the pencils are preserved.
#35: "Un Homme et une Femme.. et une Femme"
1. "Un Homme et une Femme.. et une Femme" -- "A Man and a Woman... and a Woman".
2. Panel 8: "...ma belle Nathalie" -- "...my beautiful Nathalie".
3. Panel 8: "Ouais! Je suis si jolie! Je suis si jolie! Merci beaucoup, Hector!" -- "Yay! I'm so happy! I'm so happy! Thank you very much, Hector!"
4. This is the first regular strip to be completely digital, save for the pencils. In addition to inking, I can also employ backgrounds for the panels, instead of ordinary white space. Though as you can see, there are still some kinks to be ironed out, such as lettering (which needs to be placed after shrinkage) and hatching (which, if used improperly, may have a completely different effect when shrunk down.
#36: "Notre Premier Noël"
1. "Notre Premier Noël" -- "Our First Christmas".
2. Panel 4: "Et il-y-a explosé." -- "And it exploded."
3. Panel 8: "Joyeux Noël et une Bonne Année de The Mundane Circus!" -- "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from The Mundane Circus!"
#37: "Quel J'ai Reçu Pour Le Noël"
1. "Quel J'ai Reçu Pour Le Noël" -- "What I Got for Christmas".
2. Panel 3 -- For reasons that may or may not be obvious, I didn't get quite specific in explaining what this "gadget" could be. Of course, if you know how to read between the lines, you might have it figured out by now.
3. Panel 4 -- "Soeur Adèle est très angélique... et très jolie. Merci, ma soeur!" -- "Sister Adèle is very angelic... and very lovely. Thanks, sister!"
4. "Howl's Moving Castle" -- The lastest film masterpiece by director Hayao Miyazaki, it's about an old woman who lives in a castle that walks. As of March 2006, it's been released on DVD in the US. It's another must-see film from the Studio Ghibli studios. And Rafi is right -- Miyazaki is a God.
|5. Panel 6 -- "Freedom Rings" -- six rings in the colors of the rainbow, excluding indigo (I goofed -- I have seven rings, including indigo), these are one of the symbols that express gay and lesbian pride.|
6. Panel 8 -- The Greek sandals that Rafi is wearing is based on an illustration found on this page at Perth, Australia's Curtin University of Technology.
#38: "Le Mariage"
1. "Le Mariage" -- "The Marriage".
2. This time around, I've decided to include the English translations in the strips themselves, since there's so much French spoken at length at the ceremony.
3. The vows and ceremonial messages used in this strip courtesy of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa.
#39: "Julie's Premonition #3"
Old strip with new writing (see strips 17 and 24).
After almost eight months of no new strips, I have decided to end the sequence, mainly due to a related novel that I'm working on. The strip's self-explanitory.
#41: "My Little Pédé"
1. First strip featuring Stu Mitchell, a transgendered person who would rather be his female alter ego, Sue Mitchell. Rafi loves him because of his female mentality. And before any of you get any ideas, I am NOT transgendered.
2. Pédé -- French for "faggot", which, of course, is an offensive epithet for homosexuals, or anyone considered to be "immorally different", such as the transgendered.
3. This strip also introduces "Suzie the Lezzie" -- this is the comic strip character that was "created" by Stu. Suzie was based sort-of on my "own" character, Rafi, as well as the "big-nose" style of a popular French BD artist, Florence Cestac. To be honest, rendering Suzie and my own characters in the big-nose style was kind of fun. Though it's best to limit the large schnozzes to Suzie's own universe -- as well as my own special projects.
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