Up! (The mind in paradise, the body still on earth)

Up!I have watched Up! in the cinema today (it has just started in Germany) and it has instantly become my most favorite movie, surpassing The Matrix and Over the Hedge. I have never seen a movie that moved me that much while still being full of funny scenes and dramatic action. Of course, the young kids in the theatre were amused by the slapstick scenes with the giant bird Kevin and the dog Dug. But they lacked the life experience to see the beauty in the heartrending scenes with Carl and his former wife Ellie and were rather confused by them instead. Nevertheless it was interesting to experience their carefree laughter at the next funny scene while still having a tear in the eye after the slideshow of Carl and Ellie’s life.

If you think about it, the movie does not offer a happy ending in the strict meaning of the word. You can regret many things in life, but you only have so much power over all the things that happen in your life and so you might never get the chance to achieve the goal you desire the most. Carl only achieved the main goal of his (and Ellie’s) life after the death of his beloved wife. And when he finally did he had to find out that it was, after all, a goal whose achievement bore no meaning in itself. The moment of his biggest triumph was also the moment of one of his biggest letdowns. “The journey (of life) is the reward.” Is that the main statement of the movie? I don’t really know. I just know that in moments like these life seems quite cruel as physical reality can supposably never satisfy the demands of the mind. I seriously wonder if man has gotten too intelligent too fast; the mind in paradise, the body still on earth.

What bothers me the most is how recklessly people are throwing away love. I don’t necessarily mean the love between lovers, but also the love towards your children or the love between best friends. The father of Russel who didn’t show up during the Wilderness Explorer award show at the end of the movie is a good example for this. Being successful at work can certainly be a rewarding experience, but no soul has yet experienced salvation because some arrows are pointing upwards. It’s usually not needed to turn everything upside down to make the world a slightly better place. For example by helping your clumsy sister when she messed up something again instead of making fun of her.

I dunno, just some random thoughts of a troubled mind.

I think I have now drawn enough strips for the time being to make my points about certain political topics (except one that will be published on Halloween). So in the following months you can expect to see more comics dealing with the inner life of my characters. The current story arc is an example for this.

Quick RSS survey

I thought it would be welcome if the updates delivered by RSS would have the same dimension as the strips on the website (980 pixel) instead of just 380 pixel. However, the “reach” of the last two strips put online dropped by other a third.

So I’d like to ask you what resolution I should use in the future. I must confess that I do not have a deeper understanding of RSS.

Update: I want to add that it was technically not possible to deliver 980 pixel wide comics in the RSS feed before the last website update.

Update #2: Okay, I’ll leave it at 980 pixel which seems to be favored by most. No need for further comments at this point.

Comment rating and improved RSS feed

Visitors can now rate the comments of other readers. At the moment, comments with 3 or more down votes are hidden by default (unless they have at least 5 up votes), and comments with 4 or more up votes are highlighted. I might change those numbers in the future, just as well as the general behavior of the comic rating plugin might change since it’s still in an early stage of its development cycle. I’m confident that dumb comments will get voted down rather quickly so that they will get less attention.

The RSS feed should now deliver new comics in full size (980 pixel) to subscribers. I had to manually alter the PHP code of the ComicPress Manager plugin since it didn’t generate the RSS comic files (and those seen in the search results) at all after the last update *sigh*.

Guest strips for Sandra and Woo (1st week of October)

Sandra and Woo is looking for guest strips which shall be put on our website one week before the publication of the 100th Sandra and Woo strip in the first week of October.

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Removal of comment sections

No, I have not yet removed the comment sections beneath the strips, but I am thinking about it. Tony Piro, the creator of the webcomic Calamities of Nature, has currently removed them giving the following reasons. And I’m feeling exactly the same way:

Removal of Comic Commenting

This was a hard decision for me, but I’ve decided to remove commenting from the comics. As more and more people visit this site, I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned about what I should do about comments. The original intent was to allow followup debate or feedback about the latest updates. And for the most part, this was being accomplished. But either because of the provocative topics I sometimes write about, or my own mismanagement of the comments, I was finding the discussions to be less and less constructive. If someone posts a dumb comment, what should I do? Delete it? I don’t want to appear as if I’m quashing debate or censoring certain opinions. Not to mention, there’s only so much time in a day, and I don’t want to waste it pulling my hair out, anguishing over which comments to delete. But if I don’t deal with it, it invites even more less-than-constructive counter comments. This was especially getting bad for some of the older comics in the archive, where many had built up long comment threads. I know most people are smart enough to separate the comments from my artistic expression, but at the same time, I still think it was reflecting poorly on my comic. For these reasons, I’ve removed the comments, at least for a time. In a couple of weeks, I’ll probably reassess the situation and decide whether to keep this change.

I still think that a comment section is a great way to get some feedback and to communicate with readers who want to ask a quick question. But just like Tony, I was (and still am) seriously annoyed by some of the comments the last strips with a political or ecological message have gotten.

Update: Apparently I’m not the only one who doesn’t like those comments. I guess my resentments against them can’t be totally wrong when random readers call them “absolutely ridiculous” and “badly written” on another website.