Category Archives: Appearances

SD Comicon 2016: Terror in the Wastelands

Dramatic re-enactment of an actual photograph

Dramatic re-enactment of an actual photograph

The time is 1:18 in the morning. Entered car and successfully penetrated the dirty membrane containing me within Los Angeles around 9 P.M earlier this night and found myself in San Diego something like two hours later.

The drive was already tainted with the knowledge that the passenger seats SHOULD have had the butts of several traveling companions firmly planted upon them, but said companions had, one by one, been diminished by unknown forces. I was doing this Comicon SOLO, and everyone knows that’s how people die. It’s how you fucking DIE. Anyone ever tells you they’re going to Comicon alone, you know they’ve given up, you know they see no future for themselves in a world they clearly feel has already abandoned them. Nobody goes alone unless they have no plans to ever come back.

I was a dead man the moment my foot hit the gas pedal.

Musta been around 11, 11:15 that I found myself approaching the Gaslamp District, bro-haunted host to my many previous stays in San Diego for this annual gathering of masochists, and I wondered “Have I stayed at this Sheraton I’ve been put up at this time around?” The view out my driver’s side window a parallax scrolling of convention halls and the old familiar hotels full of the orgiastic writhing of fans and creators. Is that the Sheraton? Nope. That one? Nope.

A creeping dread starts to set in as I leave that scene behind and continue winding up along the coast. Where the hell am I going? Where is this hotel?

FIfteen minutes later, I pull up to the hotel, and I think there must be some mistake. There’s nothing here but a hotel in the middle of cracked, parched earth, the only landmarks the occasional bleached bones from convention goers foolish enough to attempt the walk this far out. I swear, before going in, I swear the moon laughed at me.

“Can I help you?” asks the valet, a skeleton in rags, all teeth and empty eyesockets. “I’m not sure…” I reply, “I’m not sure I’m in the right place.” He laughs, the sound of dried leaves and sand grinding in fleshless hinges.

“You’re in the right place” he says, and though he has no lips, I know he’s saying it with a smile.

The people that put me up, they brought in other guests, and I somehow, despite the haze of confusion and growing sadness, think to ask if those guests are also in this same place. One by one he tells me no, that person isn’t here, that person isn’t here, nope not that one either.

It’s just you.

I check in, a growing gloom taking me over. I get into my room and the smell of death is in here as well, masked, sure, fresh sheets, sure, but it’s there, just underneath, and the gloom sits heavier on me like a depressed elephants ballsack dropped onto my chest.

I frantically connect my Playstation to the TV. I’ll play games with friends online. I’ll forget where I am, forget that I’m the only one out here breathing the dead up into my nostrils, and I’ll just play. No signal gets through. The hotel blocks the hdmi and now the despair seeps into the last part of me that had been fighting it off for this long. I crawl into the bathtub and weep, curled up in my Playstation’s cables, cradling the console itself to my chest like those sexy nerd people who think that shit is sexy, only it’s even LESS sexy as I do it. Why can’t I be sexy? Why is this hotel so far from everything? I pop another cashew from the forty dollar tin I got from the “refreshment center” and my tears only make it saltier.

Surely day TWO will be better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s my complete list of San Diego Comicon 2016 activities!

PANELS:

• Happy Happy! Joy Joy!: 25 Years of Nickelodeon Original Animation (Thursday, July 21, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; room 6A)
For 25 years Nickelodeon has produced some of the most innovative and memorable animation in the history of television. Nick Animation Podcast host Hector Navarro finds out how and why four of the network’s most influential creators did what they did: Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim), Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom) and Arlene Klasky, who along with Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain, created Rugrats. Don’t miss the chance to see production art from the upcoming TV movie Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie; animation from Hartman’s new Bunsen is a Beast!; and the world premiere of Don vs Raph, a TMNT animated short written and produced by Jhonen Vasquez.

• Invader ZIM Conquers San Diego Comic-Con, Saturday, 7/23/16, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Room 29AB
It’s been one year since the premiere of the Invader ZIM comic books, based on the popular Nickelodeon series, so join us for a retrospective of the series so far as well as hints for what’s to come! Featuring Jhonen Vasquez (series creator, control brain), Aaron Alexovich (character designer, artist), Dave Crosland (comic artist), and Megan Lawton (inker) all telling horrible, horrible secrets about the comic book series.

SIGNINGS:

Oni Press Booth #1833

Thursday, 7/21 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez and Megan Lawton, 6–7 PM

Friday, 7/22 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez, 6–7 PM

Saturday, 7/23 • Invader ZIM signing with Jhonen Vasquez, Aaron Alexovich, Dave Crosland, and Megan Lawton, 3:30–4:30 PM

DEATHS:

Sunday, 7/23 • I expire from exhaustion and germs.

SD COMICON 2014: THE POSTENING

comicon2014Hello again, and welcome to this year’s edition of me talking about going to the San Diego Comicon again until I die!

I’ll make this a short one, so pay attention, yeah? Here’s the pertinent info for you.

WHERE:

The SLG Comics booth (#1815) at the San Diego Comicon in the giant disease dome the CDC built for their annual experiment in crippling contagion!

WHEN:

July 25-27. My signing times are generally 1-2:30PM and then again from 5:30-7:00PM for each day except Sunday where the second signing of that day starts at 4:00 and goes tip 5PM. Thursday is up in the air but if that changes I’ll let you know.

WHAT:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 3.06.43 PM

I’m signing copies of the new Fillerbunny trade paperback full of all sorts of new crap including a whole new issue of Fillerbunny! Fillerbunny 4 comes out in a collection before it even exists as an individual issue! Crazy, I know.

I’ll also have a bunch of prints for signing so that I can occasionally afford to escape and gnaw on a sandwich in an alley somewhere like Gollum only with sandwiches.

WHY:

I don’t know. Oh my god I don’t know. I’m going solo to this one because all my other friends are smart enough to avoid con now and oh god…oh my god…

WOO! SEE YOU THERE!

 

 

 

 

I need questions to answer for a panel. SEND THEM!

QA

So I’m doing a panel for an upcoming convention (Stan Lee’s Comikaze) in a couple of days. Yeah, maybe you’ve seen me do panels before, in person or watched a shaky video of one on Youtube, so you know how it’ll probably go down. I usually just get up there and rant about video games or movies or something and people leave disgruntled and wondering why they didn’t go listen to something about Ninja Turtles. There’s always a point where fans line up to ask questions and…well, that’s where you come in.

This time around I’d like to give the people at the panel a break, you know, let them sit out the question part by answering questions supplied by you fine folks from the futuristic internet realm. No, no. it’s not to avoid the horror that is almost guaranteed to be the result of letting people think up questions there on the spot. Come on, I can’t believe you’d even think that! No, it’s just to be nice and spare the good people in the crowd the potential ankle trauma standing up or walking up to a microphone could invite. One time, a girl, perfectly lovely seeming little thing, walked up,  excitedly grabbed the microphone to bring it closer to her face, and with the sound of a shotgun going off in the room, her kneecaps fired away from her legs, leaving her screaming right into the mic only without metal music accompaniment so it wasn’t badass at all. You don’t know what kind of terrible shit’s gonna happen when you open the room up to questions, so I’d rather just avoid it and here’s how you can help:

The hope is that there’ll be enough people with some decent, fairly thought out questions about my “work” that it will fill up at least 30 seconds of panel. Hell, I’ll even hazard being more positive and say maybe we’ll be able to fill 40 seconds with actual quality interaction! Yeah!!

So hit that link up there, think of what you wanna ask me, then feel terrible about what you wanted to ask me and then write down your actual question that isn’t your initial question. I know, I know, the impulse is to be as fucked up as you can possibly be, but believe me when I say that the most mind-blowing thing I can imagine happening anymore is people actually just making sense. I genuinely enjoy talking my work, whether someone likes it or even hates it, so long as there’s actual thought behind why someone would like or hate it.

EDIT: Thanks, everyone that sent stuff in. The panel went quite nicely and everyone was happy except for the people who hated it.

SD Comicon ’13 Report #7: THE END

pooch

Sunday was the last day of the Comicon, and so, though I was beyond wrecked by that point, there was a pervading sense of the things coming to a merciful end. None of my physicality or verbal expressiveness reflected this sense of hope and relief in me, but it was in there, burning with a feverish life, like a man digging his way up after being buried in an avalanche of yellow snow.

My cyclopic view of the SLG booth at the start of a signing.

My cyclopic view of the SLG booth at the start of a signing.

There was a thing I noticed this con, a thing that’s been a theme for every con I’ve attended (except any convention I’ve done in Seattle for some reason), and I’m not sure if it was more prevalent this time around or if I was just more attuned to its presence, but it was a thing that popped up seemingly more than usual this time around: PEOPLE TELLING ME ABOUT ME.

The first time it happened was fairly early from the start of the whole convention, maybe on Thursday, and I was hanging over at the TopatoCo booth talking to Tyson Hesse and Sam Logan about manly things like we do. A girl, not sure who she was, either a friend, fan or both of Tyson’s, who was just leaving as I arrived when Tyson called her back and and introduced her to me. She in turn called her friend over, a friend who was a big fan of mine, and introduced her to me. They both seemed super nice, and happy to meet me, and the second girl began by saying “I know you hate your fans, but-”.

I’m sure whatever she was going to say after that was gonna be very nice, very flattering about a my work and such, but I stopped her immediately and asked “Whoa, whoa, whoa…Wait, why are you telling me I hate my fans?” Everyone around sorta laughed, Tyson and Sam because they know I get this kind of thing a lot, and the girls maybe because I was just being silly, putting on a show. “No, seriously, while I have you here, I genuinely want to know why you think I would hate my fans? Why would I hate people just for liking my stuff?”  More laughter and then actual tears from the girl. Like, not crying from sadness, but maybe crying because I had just stopped her and pointed out that maybe she had allowed her brain to become demented by reading too many internet posts from angry haters of mine or people who think they’re defending some false beliefs they think I hold because of something they also heard on the internet. She was short circuiting.

I explained that it’d be idiotic and cruel to hate people for being fans of something I do, I think it’s great that people would like stuff! I don’t hate fans, I hate assholes, and what confuses certain people is that some of my fans also happen to just be total assholes, people who were raised by internet wolves and have no concept of how to actually be polite to people in real life, and no I’m not talking about this girl I was talking to because she was just misinformed but otherwise pretty nice to me.

I was just having fun with her, but also genuinely attempting to stop ONE more person from telling me, matter of factly, what I am like when I’m standing right there thinking “what is this person talking about??” I put my hand on the girl’s shoulder to comfort her, told her it was all good, everything’s cool, and I’m just playing, but also YOU’RE FUCKING WRONG AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

Silence. Everyone was stunned. When I get angry, I wet myself, and so there I stood, my face a tight mask of disdain, eyes burning into her still watering eyes, and a dark spot growing on my slacks. I still think it makes me look like a fucking badass when that happens, so I walked away and didn’t even look back at when the girl exploded.

photo 2

My friends, Donnie and Tara had a baby. That thing is screwed.

Gotta admit, that time I do feel a little guilt about because the girl, parroting bad information aside, seemed super nice and pretty level-headed, not scary obsessive type at all, and I can think of a more deserving people to put on the spot like that. This other guy, though…

It was on a different day, not sure which, but a guy came up, an older fellow, maybe in his late 40′s, kind of grizzled, probably an old school punk rocker from way back in the day, and he started out pretty alright. While I was signing something, he started talking about how much I hated INVADER ZIM. I get the feeling people do it thinking they’re agreeing with me in some way, backing some decision of mine to denounce the show or I dunno what, but every time I hear it I have to ask myself “Should I correct this person? Will it even affect anything? It’s just a thing people think regardless of what I tell them?” In this case I did tell the guy, just like with the girl before him, that his information was about as off as it could get and that I was in fact very proud of the show and that it would be terrible to hate something I created as much as a lot of people tell me I do.

What made this guy different, however, was that he STOOD HIS GROUND. I was suddenly in an actual semi-argument where a person was repeatedly telling me I was wrong and that I did, in fact, hate the show and said I hated the show. I explained that, maybe what he was recalling was me, in interviews or muttering in my sleep, saying things along the lines of how much of a nightmare and grotesque mockery of life making the show could be at times, but that it was also something I put up with because I couldn’t help it, because it was MY SHOW and I loved seeing my stuff come to life.

Still, the guy refused to believe that I didn’t hate the show, and, at most, conceded that maybe what I tell people has changed. I asked him what was wrong with him, why was he telling me what I thought. People at the booth were laughing at how absurd the dude was being, but he just could NOT be turned away from what he just believed to be true about the person right there in front of him telling them what they ACTUALLY felt. “You sound like an insane 14 year old girl writing angry delusional posts on her Livejournal.” I told the dude. It never even got past that point, he just got a book signed, wandered off, probably saying things like “That Jhonen, you could just see how much he hates ZIM in the green cloud of wailing devil faces I constantly see swarming around him. You see them, right?” Again, this guy seemed like he was alright, didn’t come up with any malice or dark agenda, but he just had this piece of him that was already set in stone about me, and he had to flash it at me like a badge the way a lot of these people do, something to say “I’m on your team, man.”, to which I respond “What?”

There were other variations on this encounter this time around, but the last one I’ll detail was towards the very end of the convention, when people were already filing out once the con had officially been announced OVER. I was sitting at the booth still, done with my signing and just hanging with Dan Vado, master of SLG Publishing. This girl, looked like maybe mid 20′s, possibly later, walked up and asked if I would sign something. By that point I was pretty much a zombie, so the machinery in me that allows me to simulate a human being in those times took a few seconds to power up, but I eventually figured out what was happening and said yes, I would sign her stuff.

As I’m signing, she, like people do at these things, asks “Do you remember me?”, a question I’m usually pretty honest about answering. I told her no, I didn’t remember her and sorry but I tend to see a lot of people at these things. I figure that should be enough, and that most people would already assume that anyhow, and really, you only have to take one look at me at these things to see that I’m practically in another dimension from exhaustion. She then says “I met you here last year, and you were very mean to me.”

I look over at Dan and he’s giving me that face anyone from SLG gives me when they hear someone saying things like that, it’s a face that says “Oh, here we go.” I shrug, look back to the girl and ask her why I was mean to her, laughing a bit, waiting for the joke, but her face, that face of hers, it was like an alien was wearing a mechanized human face that was only set to a limited range of emotions and laughing wasn’t one of them. “You don’t remember? I cam up to you and gave you some candy and you said it was terrible.”

Again, I laughed and told her that that doesn’t sound like me, that I don’t know why I’d actually be mean to her for giving me candy, but no, that doesn’t end it and she goes on about how I told her I ate it and that it made me sick. Like, did this encounter in her memory go on for so long that not only did I have time to be given candy, but I also ate it in front of her and had time to be sickened by it? I told her it sounded to me like I was kidding with her back then, that I maybe made some joke about how terrible it was in some way, but her face… it registered no ability to understand how that could be a joke in any way. She just insisted I was mean to her and that was that.

She was one of those people that never smiles, not entirely anyhow, as if some defective self diagnostics program was making it impossible for her to fully convey a definite emotional response in any one direction. The face she wore was neither friendly nor hostile but a hybrid of the two, like the muscles were playing a game of Tony Hawk’s Pro skater and were focused solely on pulling off an eternal rail grind, the thumbsticks of her mind constantly making adjustments to keep the balance right there in middle. Here, lemme show you what her face was doing:

grindfaceThat. That’s what her face was doing. The whole time.

At that point I just wanted her gone so I could finish talking to Dan who watched this whole thing with a sense of unease, that usual unease everyone at the booth gets, that the less bizarre people in line get when they see these moments unfolding. I finished up signing stuff for her, and off she went.

Dan and I immediately talk about what the hell her intent was, why would she come up and get stuff signed while also being unpleasant like that, more rhetorically than in any real sense of confusion because these scenes have played out for years, but then she came back! She came back to have a t-shirt signed, still with her strange, scrambled emotions face.

Again, Dan and I start talking about how strange it is that people who don’t seem to actually enjoy or even understand sarcastic, absurd things, seem to be fans of my work. She was getting Johhny stuff signed…JOHNNY STUFF. No sooner than we resumed our talking did she come back a third time, this time for a photo with me. That was the last encounter, but one that stood out more than others because it made me think I should really use that fun little animation app on my iPad.

Well, after that the convention people released the Comicon raptors they use to clear out the stragglers in the hall.

End of Con.

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SD Comicon ’13 Report #7

da-horruh

the void…the ….I…buh….

Now that I’ve been home from Comicon for a few hours, and have rested a bit after days of shouting at the top of my lungs for several days and sobbing deliriously in traffic for a seeming eternity, I realize I’ve lost a few days of updates to a bit of convention dementia.

It’s not that I wasn’t actually doing the work and documenting the standout moments from Saturday and then Sunday, but in the stupor resulting from the previous days’ accumulation of SD Comicon madness I had, in fact, been attempting to update this journal via an Atari Lynx. Don’t ask why I even brought the thing, just know that I’m pretty goddamned amazing because, and I don’t even know HOW I did it, but I managed to actually post both updates to a copy of Warbirds that has been in the Lynx since 1992. Still, I can’t pass that copy around to everyone to read so I’ll try to re-create the updates on this “internet”, with this one centered on Saturday.

Alright, most of what I remember about Saturday took place while on breaks from signings, and a good deal of that having taken place out on the convention center mezzanine. After finishing my first signing, I didn’t  have the nerve to head back to my hotel across the street to sit in dead silence like I like doing after these things. Normally it’d be no big deal, but such a feat at the SD Comicon means shuffling or standing at a dead stop for what feels like a hundred lifetimes when it should only be a 8-10 minute walk if not for the thousands of people all join in one direction or the other. So yeah, wasn’t in the mood to do it one way, sit for a bit, then go right back into the throng to get back to the convention hall. I was also out of the KY Jelly I like to carry tubs of to grease  myself up with for when I do attempt those escapes. It makes squishing through the tightly packed bodies a whole lot easier, and  if you get the right kind it kills a lot of what rubs off on you from those disgusting bastards.

And so, the mezzanine. I was up there, hangin’ with a friend, sitting and grunting every now and then, when I saw THIS GLORIOUS SIGHT:

IMG_3593A KLINGON DAINTILY EATING A FRUIT CUP!! Holy shit that cheered me up right quick because Klingon eating fruit cup pretty much. In Klingon culture, there isn’t one single sight as intimidating as this brazen display of a true warrior’s mettle. See, only a a true Klingon badass would feel secure enough in their deadly abilities as to daintily eat a tiny fruit cup like that.

qapla!!

So I’m just admiring the raw power of that, just nodding and feeling thankful that, despite the hassle and bother of a con this size, I was lucky enough to be there to see something so moving as this when…a guy walks up with a chubby french bulldog, the happiest, most idiotic looking thing I’ve seen since a Klingon ate fruit, and my heart just soared. I instantly jumped up and snapped a pic of the goofy wonder. That dog was just soaking in the love everyone around him was throwing his way. I pet him and my hand sunk a full foot into his mush.

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MOTHER OF GOD I NEED ONE OF THESE.

I asked the dog’s owner if I could have the dog or maybe even pay him for it, but the guy just laughed good-naturedly, and said he gets offers like that all the time. I laughed and said I was late for a signing and that I should get going. As I said this, I shook a cup I was holding, a cup that had recently been full of Pepsi but was now just full of the remaining ice, and it gave me an idea. I gave the dog a pat and headed off back towards the hall, walking a good 30 or so feet to the door. I then spun around as stealthily as I could, ran all the way back to where the man stood with his dog surrounded by all the adoring dog lovers and yanked the dog’s rear right leg off its body, dropping it in the cup of ice then ran back into the hall. The ice melted a bit in the following days in my hotel room that had no fridge, but I popped the cup in the freezer once I got back home and it’s probably okay now until I can find someone to clone the dog from the decently intact cells in the leg. I love dogs.

Other than that, nothing much else of note happened. The signing went alright, and I drew some more things people didn’t ask for. I seem to have drawn a lot of hot dogs and wieners for people, including thsi rocket propelled one:

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Often people will ask how much I charge for a sketch and I tell them I never charge for sketches, but that the sketches I will do will be quick and terrible. It’s a decent enough compromise, I think especially considering no compromise even needs to be made. I can say “I’M NOT YOU’RE GODDAMNED DANCING MONKEY, YOU DEMANDING GOBLIN!” but instead I find a way to make it interesting for mostly me. This one woman said okay to my proposition, and even added her own wrinkle, asking if I could do something in 30 seconds. I failed, and went over by a few, but I was pretty happy with the results.

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Well, that was Saturday, and I hope you learned a little, laughed a little, and littled a little.

SD Comicon ’13 Report #6

Untitled-1I get progressively less and less sleep at conventions that go on for several days, or in the case of the San Diego Comicon several months. It’s how I imagine cartoon blood cells must feel in between sessions of racing around at a breakneck pace through crowded arteries full of noise and terror and farts. I just lay there with all the noise and faces of the previous day floating around in my head and on top of all the thoughts of the day to come and it makes for some serious tossing and turning and doing parkour in the room to try to relax.

I once parkoured on a seriously sad orangutan at the L.A. zoo.

My convention sleeping, or lack thereof, just means that the best time to actually meet me at a convention is a week before the convention happens and I’m just out going for a walk feeling actually pretty good about things and completely forgetting that, in a week I’ll be going to a convention where I can’t even do a wall walk without slamming into a shitty coffee maker because I don’t actually know parkour.

It’s not all bad, however, these things. I do get to see friends that, because of our schedules back home, I don’t often get to see in more casual settings. Ran into Bryan Konietzko at a party last night. I don’t often do the comicon parties because I don’t trust myself around napkins, but it was one or those rare occasions I felt like standing around in way-too-loud music so you have to shriek every single word at someone wincing at your lips penetrating their ear canal like a hummingbird jamming its beak into a flower in search of honey or pudding or…whatever nature is selling.

So Bryan, as many of you know, is the co-creator of Avatar and the Legend of Korra, and he was also a board artist and art director on INVADER ZIM. He’s pretty much one of my favorite people I met through my show bidness dealings. While we were sitting around, talking about how cool we both are, a fan of his came up and immediately lost her cool in that genuinely adorable, awkward way some people have of doing around people whose work they like a lot but can’t quite express efficiently. It was loud so I couldn’t really pick up all of it, but the gist of this girl’s somewhat rambling praise was that Bryan’s show had changed her life and gotten her through some rough patches and maybe something about parents getting divorced and a sibling who also loved the show passing away and all sorts of stuff like that.

Throughout all this, Bryan’s nodding and smiling in a way I find way more convincing than anything I ever pull of when I can’t quite hear people. I usually nod a bit, yeah, but then, once I realize I’ve totally lost track of what’s being said, if I have a glass of anything in my hand, I throw it hard against the wall behind the person speaking to me and run off as they’re turned around to look at what I’ve done. Bryan, however, really looks engaged in this person’s story and I was a bit jealous that he could exude such a personable demeanor at the point where I’d be hiding behind a plant or something, crying and picking out pieces of glass from the blowback.

So the person’s story comes to a clumsy end, and they’re smiling and apologizing for going on and on and Bryan just stands up, says don’t worry about it and how flattering it was to hear all that and then bids everyone good night and starts walking away. The girl sorta just stood there, not sure of what to do, an awkward, nervous smile on her face, but also the sense that something was missing.

Bryan stops, about three feet away, his back to us but his head angled so as to suggest he’s sensing us behind him, and he says  ”Oh, one more thing.” loudly enough to cut through ‘You Can’t Touch This’ blaring all around us.

Bryan spins around, his foot swinging high and up, and he spin kicks this girl into a giant flat screen tv silently playing The Dark Knight Returns. After a wave of paralyzing horror, I realize just what’s gone down and I look up at Bryan, and jump on him to restrain him. he doesn’t resist, just gives me this look of “it’s cool” and nods over to where the girl is slowly rising, covered in glass bits.

She’s beaming, like freakishly happy, happier than at any time since she first walked up.

It’s just a thing Bryan does, I guess.

Anyhow, time to get ready. Wish me luck, maaans.