Slouch to Bethlehem - part 8
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woohooligan May 27, 2017
woohooligan NEW! Check out our best laughs from 2016!
Have you ever had this experience? A friend gets themselves in trouble and they insist that you have to fix it or at least make them feel better and even though you know it was self-inflicted, you still feel like crap. I know it doesn't happen every time. Sometimes it's easy enough to let someone know they just blew their own foot off and that the 911 call is really their responsibility... Hey, I'm busy getting all the blood off my rug, man... it really tied the room together... Rick! But sometimes when it's a friend, it's easier said than done to refuse that responsibility, even when you know you don't deserve it. And I don't blame you. I don't think that feeling bad in this situation is a failing, in fact, I think it's a sign of one of the best things that makes us human; we care. That may mean that from time to time we feel like crap for our inability to resolve someone else's drama, but I think that's a fair price for good friends. It's also that part of us that makes us go out of our way to help perfect strangers when they're in distress. It's that part of you that jumps into the water to help someone who can't swim. It's that part of you that risks injury to push someone else out of the way of an out-of-control busload of nuns.

In the past year, since I started writing this Hellbent story, I keep hearing pop songs with religious lyrics that I never noticed before: the end of the innocence (beating plowshares into swords), one of these nights (daughter of the devil / angel in white), etc... The other day I was coming out of a gas station where I'd heard another one and I was thinking about that getting into the car when I heard the local NPR affiliate's commercial for the TED Radio Hour. The commercial was an episode about the Seven Deadly Sins. Obviously, given that I'm writing a story featuring princes of hell that embody those sins, I wanted to hear that episode, see if it gave me any ideas. A day or two later I remembered that I'd meant to go find that episode, so I subscribed to the TED podcast on iTunes (which I've never really used until recently now that there are a bunch of podcasts I want to hear). I listened to the episode while I drew this page and on the whole it was a really good episode. I was so involved in the illustration however that I scarcely noticed that iTunes had silently continued on to the next episode of TED without so much as a pause in the audio. The next episode was titled Wired For Altruism and coincidentally, that's much of what this page is about. Also, I recommend giving it a listen. :D

There's an episode of Star Trek Voyager I saw again recently called Darkling. The holographic doctor decides to tweak himself (no, not like that), by incorporating admirable aspects of various historical figures like Ghandi and Lord Byron. Unfortunately the interconnected nature of the subroutines he absorbs means that along with Lord Byron's admirable passion and aspiration he also gets the emotional instability. All the darker elements of the various characters coallesce and turn him into a psychopath. At the end of the episode there's a great bit of dialogue between Kess and the doctor. The doctor claims that darkness and cruelty are more fundamental, more basic than light and compassion. Kess points out that he's obviously wrong -- without the kindness and compassion inherent in us, we simply wouldn't have family and friends, or even societies per se, we would fall apart at the most basic level. I couldn't find a clip of the scene, but here's a video from another YouTuber (Lorerunner), who dissects the episode and talks at the end about this wonderful bit of dialogue. It also speaks to one of my personal favorite Woohooligan pages I made about human nature a couple years ago.

I do believe that we are wired to be altruistic, to help each other. Most of us. I think we're all on a scale in that regard, but I think most of us would like to make the world a better place or at least to make it better around us, for our family, friends and the people in our communities. I certainly aspire to make the world a better place. I picked up some bread at the pharmacy yesterday and I gave a couple dollar donation to Red Nose Day to help end chlidhood poverty, and I picked up a couple of their rubber bracelets. I also aspire to make the world a better place with Woohooligan and I think that's absolutely a reasonable goal. Even if I don't currently have the clout to run a giant fundraiser like Red Nose Day, I can still help by bringing attention to important issues. Off the top of my head, I can think of three specific times I did this in the past two years.

In September 2015, I published a couple of Hellbent pages that included Ayn Rand as a part of the still ongoing plot arc. When I did that, I also wrote an essay about why Ayn Rand is still so relevant to modern life in the US. I feel like that's particularly poignant with all the problems we have lately, specifically issues of income inequality, that are coming to a head with Trump and the AHCA bill that wants to kick 23mil people off of their insurance, ironically (but not surprisingly) largely Trump supporters.

Then in February last year I published a comic about Black History Month that became one of my most popular pieces in 2016. I wanted to talk about race relations in the US and specifically to mention a variety of things I feel like I should have learned in high-school, over twenty years ago, but unfortunately only learned very recently. Better late than never! And thank god for the internet! :D

Finally in September I published several pages of Hellbent that featured Trayvon Martin... I really worried about doing that, but in the long run, I felt that he had something important to contribute to the story about Amity and that at the same time I could contribute something valuable to the discussion about his life and what it means. Thankfully, despite all my horrible anxiety about it, those pages also turned out to be some of my most popular works in 2016, so I'm grateful that so many people found value in my comic or my essay or both. :D

Oh, and much more recently, inspired by my own challenges, I've started offering reviews for other webcomics on my Tumblr, because I want to help other comic creators as well.

There are a lot of things I could do with Woohooligan. If I just wanted to make money, I wouldn't have done this... I already gave up billing $80 an hour as a software engineer to do this. I could have easily turned Woohooligan into a parade of boobs, and probably had loads of cash. If I'd done that, I certainly wouldn't have been chewing my fingers off with the stress of writing about racism! ;P I decided instead to make useful, meaningful art that will help the people around me. Ultimately I see Woohooligan as a whole as a message of hope. Amity is in hell, how much worse can it get? But however bleak a situation might seem, there's always an opportunity to make it better. So when I created my Patreon page, I labelled it "Sam is creating Laughter for a Better World." Do you think I made the right choice? Are you the sort of person who would donate to Red Nose Day to help end child poverty, like I did? Would you like to see me create more of these essays and comics? It only takes a dollar! And thank you so much! :D

Stay awesome, Hooligans!

Sam



Did you enjoy this? Want more? All of the bonus panels and alternate endings are now available on the official Woohooligan Patreon page!

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Guest May 31, 2017
What's that cat feed on again?
woohooligan May 31, 2017
woohooligan Human misery. ;)
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