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August 25, 2005

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David and Dale will be at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland on September 23 and 24! Meet them and pick up a signed poster!

Some new portraits have been added to the Patrons Gallery. Thanks to the magnanimous souls who contributed!

David collaborated with Ryan North on a whispered apology.


The 2005 WebCartoonist Choice Awards selected us for Best Layout.

David and Dale were at the 2005 Mocca Art Festival in NYC June 10 and 11th.

Dale has written a review for Mcsweeney’s in their Reviews of New Food section.

Interviewed by Xenex.org, David and Dale reveal their true ugly natures.

Dale has contributed to Ryan North's collaborative web comic project, Whispered Apologies.


Christopher B. Dino has kindly reviewed our comic in his blog, Totally Jawesome.

Here A Lesson Is Learned is discussed in a lively debate over conceptual webcomics.

There is a review of A Lesson Is Learned in The Webcomics Examiner.



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Archaic creature climbs out of primordial ooze. Dreams of new life for disgusting ooze covered family.

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Dale, who writes the comics.

The revitalized life of the midnight collective

Part two:

The receipt of bills paid

The midnight collective had infiltrated the organization of people who always wear masks and identify themselves by number. They had slain number 7. And instead of promoting 8 and everybody moving up one notch, the organization replaced 7 with 10,340, a young man just out of college, used to keggers, and maybe when it was the end of the night and everybody was shitfaced, a little action. Now he sat behind a high pile of paperwork, orders, troop movement, contract negotiations, unsure where to start. His secretary, 492, had left for the weekend. Thankfully, he could not know if she was resentful of his slow initiation into the duties of the post, since their identities and even their faces were permanently concealed. But still, he could come to no understanding of what he was doing. He had intended to go into carpentry, to lay drywall like his father, or maybe do electrical work, even though he had a degree in sociology. But the notice on Craigslist, "$20/hour, secret society, weapons training, no exp. needed", had seemed like just the opportunity to wrench him from the recent depression that overtook him as he looked towards his bleak prospects.

He flipped on the small television embedded in his desk and hoped the base received cable. But it was a closed circuit and only displayed empty corridors, unhelpfully labeled names like, "RA-6B". He rubbed his hairy belly, a little larger since he had quit rugby, and was about to lock the door to start masturbating when, Mystereotrix, the midnight collective's Amazonian super-scientist, cart-wheeled in, her legs spinning like a Ferris wheel.

When a blue skinned, slightly luminescent, supermodel type, cart-wheeled in his door, bare-legged, but hugged by some sort of sophisticated suit, new number 7 did what any man would do. He smiled, and said, “hey”, hoping that this would be the opening of negotiations which would stretch for years, and somewhere along the way, with luck, exhausted from their relationship, they would have to tumble into bed together.

But this is not what happened. Mystereotrix blew a dart from a straw stuck between her buck teeth that struck 7 in the neck, below his mask, which hung not unlike a veil, and displayed, naturally, the number 7 where one’s face ought to be. This froze his body like he had plunged into an icy lake.

Mystereotrix dashed the papers on his desk until they scattered in a violent flurry. She climbed overtop of him, sitting in his lap. Unfortunately, he could not feel the soft cushion of her ass, toned from years of gymnastic endeavors but still coveting a few indestructible fat cells that rounded the thing into the shape of a ripe plum.

This was because he was paralyzed from the neck down, perhaps forever. He did, however, feel the brush of his tormentor's soft hair against his nose. And he could smell her shampoo, some sort of strawberry-apricot concoction.

She apparently discovered what she was looking for, because she leapt over the desk and cart-wheeled out as she had entered, quite silently.

Seven, now growing increasingly uncomfortable, began to panic. He waved his head back and forth, desperately trying to move.

It was only then he discovered he had the power of speech.

“Help!” he screamed. “Help!” over and over again. It was not until half an hour later that his calls were answered.

It appeared that fellow organization member 39 entered the room, and took 7 over his shoulder, which was an incredible feat, considering 7’s impressive size and bulk. I say 'appeared' because it was not, in fact, 39. The real 39 had been slain hours earlier by a gash to the neck from Mr. Reciprocity, leader of the midnight collective, and the one responsible for their recent revitalization.

It was the very same Mr. Reciprocity who was hiding behind the mask labeled 39, and whose extraordinary strength was capable of lifting number 7 onto his shoulder.

He carried 7, who must have at sometime fainted through a journey of backwards moving hallways, empty and demolished hangers, and finally an open desert sky lit with crossing laser beams, all the way out to their craft, eerily hovering, concealed behind uneven desert brush. As the craft lifted off into the sky, its hull pregnant with enemy secrets, it dropped a bevy of explosives to conceal its shape to the grid of deadly neon lasers, and the angry numbered men, running like ants, who had fired the powerful beams.

It was then that 7 was treated with the antidote, a mixture which would make him forget his identity and leave only a ghost of his personality to be refit, at some later convenient time, into the workings of organization of people who always wear masks and identify themselves by number. In the last moments of his experience in which he was himself, he was dreaming of cartoon unicorns, nudging his face, urging him to understand the secret they knew, as if, choking in the mixture of their hot breath, he could come to understand it through their snorts.

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David, who draws the comics.

Surprisingly, yes!

This one took some time, but the wait has been justified by a comic brimming with rococo extravagance. Take a magnifying lens – you can see the devil's greedy face reflecting in the saliva film on my front teeth.

My favorite comics are those with which we break recklessly from our well-trod turf. The only comparable visual departure was with episode 10, NOW WE ARE POOR AGAIN. So I'm pleased with how off-the-wall this one is (please don't tell me it's staid, or I'll feel square).

The lack of panel boundaries was a little troublesome; I wondered if I was sacrificing all narrative clarity for my rolling spectacle. In the story, time is tumbling crazily, dragging everyone along like tin cans bouncing behind a sedan with "just married" in the window (a marriage that will end in destruction, however). To convey that, I let each moment merge into the next. In the first row, multiple instances of Dale and David appear side-by-side. They are not paired up, each couple existing in a discrete moment; instead, they're engaged in some kind of alternating temporal tag-team game of hot potato.

In Dale's script, the line about the ceiling getting lower translated rather literally into a layout of shortening rows. Hopefully, readers will feel trapped in these closing spaces, swept along towards the universe's final, uncomfortable moment.

Please let me know if this experiment worked for you.

By the way, for one month we're offering a poster of this episode at a bargain price, along with a very useful Activity Booklet featuring our famous personages and predicaments! It's sure to become a collectors item down the road. Just think of the conversation you'll have with your mom some years from now, after a hasty bout of spring cleaning. Anyway, head over to the Shop and check it out.

- David

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(c) David Hellman and Dale Beran 2005