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Latest Chris & Trilby comic: #86: And So They Set Off

11/7/05: Raising Bran

Okay, let me first say that I had Notepad open and was just about to start writing another update about superheroes when I remembered what my last five thousand updates were about, so now I'm going to attempt a bit of a gear change and get us moving on another track.

Okay, ready now.

I really enjoy historical documentaries. Feudal Japan, court of King Henry, ill-fated voyage of Captain Scott, you name it, I'll watch it. I have to say, though, that no-one does historical doccos quite like the BBC. How can anyone compete with a bunch of actors in period garb wandering around gardens, stroking their beards and staring off into the middle distance while the narrator rambles on?

I especially love those documentaries hosted by that one guy. You know who I mean, the really serious-looking guy with one hand perpetually pocketed who looks like he went out of his way to dress like a grammar school history teacher. The one who glares at the camera like the operator just called him a wanker and he's determined not to rise to him, and who talks like any minute now he's going to shout "Stibbons! Are you CHEWING?!"

I was watching one of those programmes the other day, about one of those standard medieval periods in English history, and I found myself wondering about some of the phrasing the extremely serious history teacher used.

"And so, Richard of Something escaped from prison, raised an army, and prepared to march on Bumfuckshire. Meanwhile, Sir Daniel Makepeace, loyal to the King, also raised an army and went to meet Richard's forces -"

What I'm getting at here is the casual nature in which 'raising an army' is referred to. I don't know, it seems like 'raising an army' would be kind of complicated, but the way these documentaries refer to it, people almost do it as an afterthought, like it's the last thing on the things-to-do list after taking out ye olde cat and buying ye olde milk. As far as I'm aware, employing a formidable group of fighting men is something that spawns five hundred simultaneous headaches. First there's the interview process -

"So, why do you want to join Sir Daniel's army?"
"I'm really interested in brushing up on my key maiming skills."

Then there's tailoring a nice suit of armour and forging a nice sword. And then there's feeding the little tykes:

"Ten thousand ye olde extra value meals, please."
"What, feeding an army, or something?"
"He knows too much! Ye olde stab!"

And you want your army to be any sort of use at all, you've got to do all this for something like ten thousand individuals. I'm sorry, I just don't see how this is as easy as it's made out to be, unless every noble in ye olde England has an army kicking around his basement next to the toasted sandwich maker he bought years ago and only used once. Or maybe he just rides around his constituency and gathers up all the reasonably beefy farmers, but even that would be difficult. I'm not aware of a single incident wherein a lord meets another lord on the plains of battle and one of them says "Sorry, can we leave it for another time? I'm not quite finished raising an army yet." It seems to be relying just a bit too heavily on the British reputation for politeness.

The only explanation I can come up with for the ease with which ancient British people raised armies is that the British Isles are the source of arcane magicks taught to each generation by the descendants of Merlin. Whenever a British lord required an army to defend her shores, all he had to do was sacrifice a black she-lamb to an altar of Belenos and scatter a thousand acorns onto salted ground. After the incantation, every single one would grow into a fighting man. See, literally raising an army. Then, when christianity started spreading, Britain rolled their eyes and pretended to go along with it so they could secretly use their pagan magick to kick arse in war for all time.

See, the world has been allowed to form this complacent view of Britain, considering them little more than posh yobbos who eat bland food and watch too much football, when in fact this is all an extremely well-maintained facade. In reality, the British people were appointed by the Ancients as Sacred Defenders of the Timeline, and when a British citizen comes of age they get issued a Tardis to help fight the constant attempts of the evil void monsters from dimension zero to break into the human realm OH SHIT I'VE SAID TOO MUCH

- Yahtzee

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2/7/05: The Spider-Jerk Refuses To Leave

I know that my last update was about Spider-man, but I feel there is still material on the subject. Spider-man 2 is one of those games that I seem to notice something new about every time I play it, and one thing that I recently stumbled upon was the frankly absurdly detailed 'statistics' page. It records everything from how far you've travelled to how far you've fallen without hitting the ground with a wet thud.

One of the stats that caught me eye was the 'gallons of web fluid used' stat. With this information, I thought, I could do some speculative mathematics on ol' Spidey and finally find a use for that maths GCSE.

To put some sort of focus on proceedings, I am going to attempt to answer the following question: How many quarter pounder cheeseburgers would Spider-man have to eat per day?

According to the game, then, Spider-man produces exactly 0.005 gallons of web fluid for each thread he spunks out for swinging on a building. Bear in mind that, in the game, like in the film on which it is based, Spidey generates web fluid organically inside his own body. I hate working with heathen imperial measurements so let's translate that to something a little bit more metric. I'll colour my calculations pink to add an air of gaiety to proceedings.

0.005 US liquid gallons = 18.927059 cubic cm

Now, let's assume that the average distance between Spider-man and a tall building when he's sailing happily through the air is 25 feet. So let's stretch those 19 cubic centimetres into a cuboid 25 feet long. First we convert 25 feet into centimetres.

25 feet = 762 cm

So now we divide the volume by the known length. Before I do that, though, I'd like to thank Windows calculator for their contribution to this project.

19 cubic cm / 762cm = 0.0249343832020997375328083989501312cm

We'll call that an even 0.025cm. This figure is the area in centimetres squared of a web-line's cross-section. That's roughly one quarter of a square millimetre. Since the square root of 25 is 5, then (if I'm doing this right) then the width of an average thread of web line is 0.05 millimetres. Go take a look at the nearest convenient ruler - a millimetre is really titchy, isn't it? Now divide that titchy space by 100 and multiply the result by 5. That's too titchy to think about. If Spider-man really does only use 19ml of web fluid in one line, the line would be so thin it could be used by amoebae as a gallows rope.

Now let's consider that this line has to support a full-grown human, which opens up a whole new can of worms. According to wikipedia, the average weight of a US teenager is 99 to 141 pounds. Spider-Man is fucking built, o'course, so we'll say he leans towards the latter value and give him 140lbs. Once again I find myself swimming in the treacherous Imperial Sea, so let's get that converted into God's own metric.

140lbs = 63.502932kg

We'll call that 63 and one half. Now to calculate the pressure being applied to the webline in kg/square cm:

63.5 / 0.005 = 12700

And with one last bit of mathematical magic, we'll convert that into Pascals, the preferred unit of pressure:

12700 kg/square cm = 1245444550 pascals

So that means that Spider-Man's web fluid needs a tensile strength (as in, how much it can support without breaking) of AT LEAST 1245.44 megapascals (MPa). According to Wikipedia, spider silk has a tensile strength of 1150 MPa. But then, this isn't strictly speaking spider silk, this is spider silk scaled up to the kind of gooey spunk a human/spider hybrid would produce. So it wouldn't be completely out of the question for it to have a higher tensile strength than standard spider silk. Damn those smartarses in the Spider-man 2 research department.

None of this, of course, answers the question of how many quarter pounders Spidey would need to eat every day. Since we have no idea of the exact nature of web fluid we can't really work out its density, so let's pluck a completely arbitrary number out of the air and say that the density is 1.5g/cubic centimetre. So 19 cubic centimetres (the average volume of a webline, remember) weighs 28.5g. Didn't I say this would be fun?

Now we have to figure out how much of the wretched stuff Spider-Man uses while out on the town. He maintains a double life, so we'll say he divides 12 waking hours exactly between his two personas and that he spends 6 hours of the day on patrol. Now for some completely made up figures for what he does during one hour of crimefighting:

Weblines used for transport - 50
Number of weblines needed to web up a thug - 20
Number of thugs webbed up - 15
Total number of weblines used in combat - 300
Total number of weblines used per hour - 350

Patrol = 6 hours, so number of weblines used per patrol: 2100

And the total mass of all those weblines? 2100 x 28.5 = 59850g, or 60kg, very nearly Spider-Man's entire body weight. And you can't just generate spunk fluid out of nothing, dear reader - all of that has to be produced from the nutrients in Spider-Man's sexy, sexy bod. So, how many quarter pounder cheeseburgers would Spider-Man need to eat before his patrol in order to prevent himself from becoming a poorly-dressed emaciated husk in ten seconds flat? Let's convert back to the hated imperial system to find out.

60kg = 132.277357lbs
132.277357 x 4 = 529.109428

A grand total of 529 complete quarter pounder cheeseburgers and maybe a bite or two of another. So, if a skinny youth ever pulls up to the drive-thru and orders five hundred cholesterol combos, take a moment to shake him by the hand and thank him for his service to justice. Or assume the London Philharmonic sent him out to pick up lunch, or something.

FUN FACT: In the comics, Peter Parker's webshooters were technological. Sam Raimi opted to have organic webshooters in the Spider-man films because he felt that an organism capable of generating seemingly limitless amounts of miracle adhesive from bodily nutrients and shooting it at high speed from glands in his wrists would be 'more realistic'.

ANOTHER FUN FACT: Sam Raimi went to university.

- Yahtzee

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25/6/05: Here Comes The Spider-Jerk

Yeah, sorry about that last update, it was probably a mistake to write with an uncapped Pritt Stick on the desk in front of me. Hopefully I can make up for it today.

Lately I've been playing a lot of Spider-man 2 on the Gamecube. While I of course loathe the capitalist tie-in culture for which it stands and hope everyone involved dies of facial lacerations, there's something primally enjoyable about dressing up like a packet of Wonka Nerds and swinging around the city fighting crime. And of course, Bruce Campbell's narration makes it all the more scrumptious.

My city is an unforgiving city that gets less detailed from a distance for some reason. There is one thing I take issue with, however, and that's an incident towards the beginning when the narrator is talking up the open-ended nature of gameplay, then suffixes it with the phrase "But remember, you can only be a hero". Well, I said, what if I don't want to be a hero? I know Spider-man has the usual superhero death-of-parental-figure backstory, but gosh darn it I don't have the same sort of motivation. My gran died a few years back, so at most I might feel motivated to wage a one-man war against old people, but most of the time I'd rather just use my powers to be a jerk.

Fortunately, the nature of Spider-man 2's gameplay leaves a lot of leeway for jerk behaviour, and so, for the benefit of everyone who's has bored as I am, I present:


1. Bash up people who drive too fast

There are times when you don't even have to try to be a jerk when the game expects you to be one anyway. One of the 'petty crimes' that occasionally take place which you can choose to interrupt is 'road rage', wherein an otherwise blameless citizen starts yelling out of his car window and driving above the 10mph speed limit. I don't know if Spider-Man is taking kickbacks from Mothers Against Drunk Driving or if the programmers all lost family members to angry motorists, but Spider-Man's method of solving this problem is to leap onto the roof of the car and smash it with his fists until the driver stops. Smashing the fuck out of things is some kind of universal cure-all in Manhattan, not unlike sex in most Hentai games.

2. Upset small children

Another of the 'petty crimes' you can solve is when a child's balloon criminally attempts to escape into the wild. While there are certainly more important things you could be doing in the game's rendition of New York (a city with an estimated pursesnatcher density of 0.6 per square yard), superheroing is 50% public relations, and stopping for a second to bring laughter to a preschool ingrate can only do good. Of course, it should be noted that attempting to bring the balloon down to earth with a strand of webbing causes it to burst, which in turn causes the former owner to do a little bursting themselves (INTO TEARS!!!). A nuisance to the hero, but comedy gold to the jerk.

3. Be a dreadful ambulance

There are missions where you have to deliver pizza, and if you do too many rolly-stunts then the pizza gets destroyed. That's good. The game understands that there are consequences for going flip-ti-psycho while carrying extremely fragile items. Why, then, is there not a similar system for the missions in which you ferry injured pedestrians to hospital? I wouldn't think that sailing through the air would do extremely unwell people much good, let alone smacking into buildings and doing forward-rolls at high speed along solid concrete. Pretty much the only jerky thing you can do is drop them in the ocean, which I find disappointing. I'd have really liked to turn up at the hospital and apologetically present a pile of misshapen flesh and teeth.

4. Mistreat criminals

It's a very black-and-white world Spider-Man lives in. Fifty percent of the city's population is infected with the 'evil gene', which comes free with a Glock and a pipe wrench, and everyone else minds their own business, except when dobbing in members of the former. Spidey has no time to consider individual motivation or the justification of theft in extenuating circumstances - nope, it's just good solid haymakers for all and sundry. Of course, the game makes a big thing out of the fact that Spidey pulls his punches to not smash the thugs into red paste with one blow. Luckily, I don't have any similar qualms with murder, so I found a way to find lethal uses for Spidey's moves. Hands off! Get your own fire!

- Web up an enemy and slam them against a wall at full speed. Then do it again. You can do this as many times as you like, even after they're unconscious. How did you pull those punches, Spidey? Hm? Can your superpowers somehow reduce a person's momentum before their spines snap in two like graham crackers against a brick wall? Can they? Hm?

- Grab them, web up to the highest point in the city, then kick them off. Keep an eye on your radar as your enemy's icon makes a beeline for Mother Earth. Did you ensure they survived the fall, Spidey? Hm? Did you arrange a pile of nice mattresses beforehand, did you? Can you telepathically make the ground less solid just prior to their bones powderising on impact? Of course you didn't, you fucking hypocrite. See also: webbing them up to the highest point in the city, then piledriving them fifty storeys into the ground. Be warned, though, 'cos they sometimes survive this. Presumably they make bandanas out of adamantium in the Marvel universe.

- And then of course you can punch them into the sea. Being fit young adults they can probably swim, but I choose to believe they can't. I choose to believe that the water level is steadily rising from the growing layer of Crips I am creating on the riverbed.

It's the mark of a good game if the physics permit you to be a huge jerk. I may even devote future articles to other games and creative ways you can blow off steam in them. Until then, keep swinging, stay calm while driving, and don't come pursesnatching in MY town if you don't want your skull reduced to the exact size and shape of the pizza I delivered this morning.

- Yahtzee

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23/6/05: The Evil That Simon Does

[DIGRESSION #1 - I added Chris Livingston's delightful new comic Concerned to my list of greatest webcomics because it is good.]

[DIGRESSION #2 - You'll notice that I changed the photo of me on the About page, because it was badly out of date. The new one was taken today and showcases my lovely beard.]

Ask someone who the most evil man who has ever lived is and you'll get a lot of largely predictable answers. Adolf Hitler will come up frequently, as will Judas Iscariot, and some people with ill-informed political leanings might give the names of current world leaders, but only I know for absolute certain the identity of the most evil man who has ever lived.

His name is Simon Ducard.

Simon Ducard is so unrelentingly, irredeemably evil, that he can make babies shriek and dogs howl just by sitting quietly in an adjacent room. He has so few morals that they go into negative figures, a phenomenon only hypothesized by scientists, creating a literal moral vacuum that triples the crime rate in every block of flats he has ever occupied. Simon Ducard has used up so much bad karma in this lifetime that he will die 1.24 seconds after his birth for his next two hundred incarnations.

Simon Ducard is so committed to evil that he doesn't even try to take over the world, as most evil people do. Simon knows that the purest evil is mindless and destructive, and he suspects he wouldn't be able to really enjoy his evil if he knew he was actually achieving something with it. Simon Ducard works as a white slaver for a living, kidnapping the children of privileged caucasian families and working them to death in back-breaking labour that doesn't actually need to be done. Just the other day Ducard had them peeling potatoes for sixteen hours when he had no intention of eating them. Instead he covered them in fuel and immolated them before the eyes of his famished servants.

Everything Simon Ducard does is calculated to spite another human being. He knows that only small fry blackguards murder other people, as that would give them a blissful release from this veil of tears, so Simon engineers it so that his elderly parents are kept alive in a state of physical and mental anguish equivalent to a Danteesque vision of the Stygian pits.

Simon likes to ensure his continued dominance of evil by putting aside a little time in each day for all seven deadly sins.

- Simon wakes up bright and early at 6am, but since he reserves Sloth for the morning, he doesn't actually get up until 11. He fills the intervening time by shouting blasphemies while furiously masturbating.

- After getting up and washing his hands, it's time for Greed, so he runs off to do his morning paper round even though he doesn't really need the money. It goes without saying that he ensures that every single one of his customers is dissatisfied by his performance, because the papers arrive very late in the day and often smeared with cat food.

- Lunchtime is the period Simon reserves for Pride. He prepares himself some Angel Delight and relishes every spoonful, ruminating loudly on how well it came out.

- It's after lunch, and what better time for Gluttony? Although full, Simon buys a hot dog from a street vendor and gobbles it down in one go. When pressed for payment, he kicks the vendor in the face and dances away.

- Not long afterwards it's time for Envy. Today, Simon has chosen to envy the beautiful home of his friend and work rival, Jeremy Von Kroy. He stands outside for several hours shaking his fists and stamping his feet in generic rage.

- Wrath, of course, goes hand in hand with Envy, and Simon pays a quick visit to the petrol station next to Jeremy's house. The police later have to identify Jeremy from dental records.

- The last deadly sin is Lust, which is of course best committed during the hours of darkness. At night, Simon stands outside shops in red light districts and fiddles with himself through a crafty hole in his pocket. Note that Simon does not actually go inside, or solicit the wares of the whorish denizens, because he cannot live with himself if he at any point contributes to the livelihood of another human being.

So the next time someone tries to make out that Adolf Hitler deserves the title of the most evil man in history, just scoff obnoxiously and tell them of Simon Ducard. He lives in a cottage inside my brain and he is currently trying to make me go out onto the lawn and bring something large and blunt down upon the skulls of the screaming children who keep trying to peek through my window.

Excuse me, I'll be back in a minute.

- Yahtzee

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18/6/05: Batman Begorrah

With the recent release of Batman Begins (short review: dead good) there's no doubt going to be a huge surge of Batman interest for a while, and hopefully I will be able to draw search engine johnnies to this site like lambs to the curry shop if I write an update about it. So, in celebration of someone making a Batman film that doesn't suck so hard that every lollipop in a ten mile radius disappears down its throat, I've decided to share ten amazing and true and amazing Batman Bat-Facts! You can almost feel the angst radiating off him.

1. Batman, invented by famous-for-bugger-all-else comic book writer Bob Kane, is of course well known as a wealthy playboy who wears a batsuit and fights crime from a cave. The character was based on Ian Batman, a man Kane was acquainted with, although he wasn't a wealthy playboy. And instead of a batsuit he wore an old coat that smelled of piss. And instead of living in a cave he lived under a roof awning. And instead of fighting crime he fought cyclists, some of whom may have been criminals.

2. Robin the Boy Wonder was introduced while Bob Kane was making plans to retire Batman as a crime fighter. Believing that the superhero fad would soon die, Kane had decided to spend the rest of the comic series focussing on the adventures of Bruce Wayne after he takes over as manager of a small patisserie in Toulouse, with Robin intended to be his apprentice pastry chef. Fortunately the publishers of DC comics dissuaded Kane from this idea by smacking him around the face with a rolled-up newspaper.

3. The campy 60's series of Batman starring Adam West was originally filmed as an extremely dark and disturbing gothic series full of violence and rude words. The colourful, more child-friendly version that came to our screens was the result of creative editing on the part of one the show's directors, a young George Lucas.

4. The decision to make a film out of Batman in the 1980's was met with extreme reluctance by Hollywood movie executives after the recent bombing of superhero film 'Jimmy Molten Lava Trousers'. Tim Burton managed to talk producers into it by holding them hostage with a gun for a period of eight days. Police finally took down the famous director with tranquilliser darts, but by then a contract had been signed and the wheels were in motion.

5. Many fans criticised the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman on the grounds of him being too short. In actuality, Keaton is six foot five, and camera trickery was used to make him appear smaller in line with Burton's retarded 'vision' of the Dark Knight. It has been a running joke in Hollywood ever since to use special effects to portray extremely tall actors as extremely small ones. Warwick Davis is six foot eight, and the bloke who played 'Mini-Me' in the Austin Powers films is an eight foot barrel-chested stallion of a man.

6. As a joke, wily funnyman Billy Dee Williams poured a box full of starch into the washing machine while Batman's cowl was being laundered. As a result the mask became too stiff to move in, and Michael Keaton was unable to rotate his neck at all while in costume. Williams was not in the least apologetic for ruining the only costume, and spent much of his time on set playing pranks on Keaton, such as making an obscene gesture directly above his head where he couldn't see it.

7. Crispin Glover was originally intended to play the Joker. Jack Nicholson got the role by turning up on set in full make-up and refusing to leave. Tim Burton opted to drop Glover, because it was that or fall victim to Nicholson's team of attack dogs.

8. Keaton's problems with the batsuit only became worse in Batman Returns. Whenever he got too close to Michelle Pfeiffer in her skin-tight Catwoman outfit he would immediately get a colossal and powerful erection, which the armoured batsuit codpiece could not accommodate. After the third incident in which production was halted for life-saving crotch surgery, it was decided from then on to only shoot the Batman-Catwoman scenes above the waist, so that Keaton could be free to remove his troublesome pants.

9. Joel Schumacher is credited with ruining the Batman franchise with his two films, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. As a small child, Schumacher accidentally set fire to a gypsy pram, and the gypsies cursed him so that he could never make a good film as long as he lived. Slightly baffled by this extremely specific curse, Schumacher decided to drop his plans to take up dentistry and became a film director purely out of spite for the gypsies and their supposed magic. He has gone on record admitting that this was probably poor judgement on his part.

10. The worst thing about the Burton-Schumacher Batman films was that the iconic villains were always killed off in the end, leaving Batman Begins with only lesser figures such as Scarecrow and Ra's Al-Ghul. For his next Batman film, Christopher Nolan will have to use two even less well known villains - Jam Jeffrey, a lunatic who commits jam-related crimes, and The Box Ottoman.

- Yahtzee

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14/6/05: Spinal Fantasy

For want of an update, here're a bunch of images I made for a photoshop thread on the Something Awful forums. The theme was 'take cheesy fantasy novel cover art and add your own titles'. I came up with four:

1 - 2 - 3

And finally:

That's it.

- Yahtzee

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All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
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