Tag Archives: time travel

Dr. Morimoto Has to Try

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I’m just going to leave this prophylactic inside the screen door in case you decide to do the right thing for humanity.

I try not to get too political only because I’m non-confrontational, and when you publish anything vaguely political in a public forum, people see that as an invitation to publicly attack you. But when a comic comes to me, I draw it. For later in the week I have some really great stuff about puberty and also one about popcorn, but today it’s the Republican nominee.

Let me say that I don’t believe he is the antichrist or the next Hitler. I do believe he is a racist rabble rouser who couldn’t define the word diplomacy if his life depended on it and who certainly cannot be trusted with the military capabilities of the United States, and that it would be better for political discourse and the fate of mankind if he had never been born.

Originally, I envisioned Fred as more receptive to Dr. Morimoto’s message, but I do research this stuff (note my sketchy interpretation of a Tudor revival home) and I guess the Donald learned hatred at home. Fred Trump was sued for refusing to rent his low-income housing to black people, a policy that continued years after the courts ordered him to cut that out. According to the Justice Department, “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”

In this comic, Fred uses the phrase “colored folks,” which was a polite term at the time, but I’m guessing in reality he would have used the word that I only say out loud if I’m discussing Huck Finn and hip hop lyrics, or possibly the German equivalent (his parents were German immigrants), which I’m guessing is quite similar to the Yiddish one my grandmother used.

Speaking of immigrants, Fred’s wife, Mary Anne, was one of those destitute human beings who came to America to escape poverty and take crappy jobs that natural-born Americans don’t want. She was Scottish, which I tried to impart via dialog. The line “What’s for ye’ll not go by ye,” is a Scottish saying that means, “If it’s meant to happen, it will.” But who knows. Maybe Donald thought his mom was a parasite, too.

It also occurred to me, while writing, that in 1945, a Japanese woman shouting on someone’s lawn would be subject to racist interpretation. Japanese American internment camps weren’t closed until 1946, although the majority of mainland Japanese Americans lived on the west coast in the ’40s. When I first created this character, I just wanted to pick a name that was fun to say and sounded like it could belong to a postmodern superhero/scientists. I didn’t even think about the fact that, traveling through time, she might lose credibility with some targets due to her ethnicity.

Another fun fact I learned in the course of writing this comic: Fred Trump died of Alzheimer’s. So it’s entirely possible that all this unfiltered hatred coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth is early stage senile dementia, in which case, his nomination makes perfect sense, because the Republicans have been looking for the next Ronald Reagan for a long time.

Dr. Morimoto Has Priorities

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Snapple? Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke? How about one of those ectoplasm flavored Ghostbusters themed Kool-Aid juice boxes? Did you know you could still buy a Jolt Cola?

History has its own legitimate reasons for committing mistakes. In hindsight, they probably seem like bad reasons, but history isn’t made by the people with the most information so much as it is by those with the most decision-making power. This story about the engineers who tried their best to scuttle the Challenger launch has been circulating since the 30th anniversary, and we’ve all read reports that the CIA was warning the White House about Bin Laden’s intention to use commercial planes to attack American soil months before 9/11. The data was there, but it was lost in a sea of other considerations.

Warnings are probably a double-edge sword, à la Macbeth. You get warned in one direction and make a mistake in another.

My stepson brought up Crystal Pepsi, the other day, which I thought was strange, as he is 13 and can’t possibly be nostalgic for it. But then I learned that there is a (growing?) Internet campaign to bring it back. The very concept seemed funny to me. I liked this quote from David C. Novak, the guy whose idea it originally was:

It was a tremendous learning experience. I still think it’s the best idea I ever had, and the worst executed. A lot of times as a leader you think, “They don’t get it; they don’t see my vision.” People were saying we should stop and address some issues along the way, and they were right. It would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good.

History has its own legitimate reasons for committing mistakes.

Dr. Morimoto, for the Future of Mankind

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You can ride a quantum sledge through space-time because space time is low friction. 

Even from a bipartisan standpoint, I think most people would agree that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was nothing but an embarrassment for America, a colossal waste of money, and wholly counterproductive to the effort of running the country. Yeah, he shouldn’t have cheated on his wife with an intern, but the fact that he did so actually had zero bearing on his ability to do the job for which he was elected. Personally, I feel more comfortable knowing the commander-in-chief has adequate release. Uptight, unsatisfied men tend to make angry decisions.

More importantly, I think the ripples from the impeachment and the Starr report were far-reaching. Would Al Gore have won the election if Clinton hadn’t lost so much face? Would Gore have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Would Trump be running for election in 2016? It really seems to me that a lot of world issues were negatively affected by Monica Lewinsky’s decision to confide in Linda Tripp.

For Monica personally, it would have been better to stay silent as well. Some people accuse her of wanting the attention, but based on the course of her life and things she’s said recently, I bet she wishes she hadn’t said anything either. She could barely leave her house for a decade, and she was still the butt of 1000 jokes even after it all blew over. In 1999, I visited Jordan by walking across the border from Israel, and while waiting for border control to deal with my visa while simultaneously being subject to the type of low-level sexual assault that large-breasted young women experience frequently when certain dudes figure they can get away with it, I also failed to enjoy a tiresome litany of broken English jokes about the woman who shares my first name. Border guards half a world away were making jokes about her a year after the impeachment trial. That kind of infamy doesn’t lend itself to a successful adulthood.

It’s especially sad, because even though she made a string of bad decisions, she really liked the guy. I can’t fault her. The universe knows I made some terrible choices about men. I’m just lucky mine weren’t so high profile.

So, after my last Dr. Morimoto comic I worked out that there are rules to her time traveling. She can only stay for the space of 4 panels, and she can only visit the person for whom her message is intended, and maybe she can only travel within the span of her lifetime, say, 41 years. So, if I could only tell 1 person 1 thing in the past, for the sake of making the world a better place, I think this would be a good one.

My Hero

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If you’re wondering why past Mallory has curly hair and future Mallory’s hair is straight, that’s because it’s 1989, so past Mallory is sporting a bad perm.

Just some standard silliness. If I could travel back in time and give 3rd grade me some advice, I’m not sure what I’d say. It’s tempting to joke about stock tips and the outcomes of sporting events, but in fact I don’t really have a great sense of what that would be, and 8-year-old me probably wouldn’t have cared anyway.

If picking a past me to meet and offer advice, I’d probably pick 7th grade me, because she could really use some assurance that she’d show them, she’d show them all. And it would have been nice if future me had clued hormonal adolescent me in about pointless relationships and the fact that I wasn’t actually going to get married until I was 38.

I learned my times table eventually. But, like, not until high school. It wasn’t a huge priority. I was never going to become a physicist. Unlike Mallory Morimoto, who, most likely has further heroic time traveling adventures to pursue. There are wrongs to be put right.

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Don't think about it too hard. Time travel is still completely nonsensical.

Don’t think about it too hard. Time travel is still completely nonsensical. In some reality, the cats are just passing the earring back and forth between panel 2 and panel 3 for all eternity, like a moebius loop. 

You know how it is when someone really wants your help, but you’re so sure that the thing they’re asking couldn’t possibly be helpful to them. You want to be a good friend. You want to comply with their request. At the same time, you know that it’s a waste of time, yours and theirs.

Maybe trying is better than doing nothing.

Time travel remains nonsensical.





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If we’re using the Andy Kaufman metric, this comic is a complete success because it amuses me.

The danger of time travel is not that you might become your own grandpa. It's that you might have to clean up your own mess.

The danger of time travel is not that you might become your own grandpa. It’s that you might have to clean up your own mess.

We’re just taking our meta experiment as far as it can go. The 4-panel layout has some particular limitations in terms of what you can do horizontally and vertically, but it also allows for this perfect setup mocking the passage of time.

Personally, I find time travel to be primarily comedic. I’ve never seen a time travel story that actually made sense, and while I was a big fan of Quantum Leap in its time, a lot of what was going on there was more fantasy than science fiction. There’s an X-Files episode that covers time travel as well, but the storyline has a guy from the future returning to the past to kill the people responsible for discovering time travel, because the knowledge of how to conquer time has made the world a horrible place. Generally speaking, though, time travel stories are ridiculous. Looper, for instance. If you can send people back in time, wouldn’t it made more sense to just send them farther back? Instead of sending back assassins and paying them in precious metal and then forcing them to assassinate themselves and run the risk of them balking at that task, why not just send your targets directly to the Jurassic era and let them be eaten by dinosaurs for free? I know people loved that movie, but I found it completely nonsensical. If I were a criminal and going to break the time travel law anyway, I can think of a million better things to do in the past than kill people.

As for the comic, originally the gag was just going to be that Dragon goes to all this trouble to see the future, only to learn that the future holds no surprises: Dragon will be drawing. But I think having the kids in there adds another dimension: Dragon realizes that jumping ahead to the future means that certain things have been left undone in the interim, and then we get a final zinger when the girl references traveling back in time.

I also like some of the poses I’ve gotten the different characters into. In reality, The Man cannot kneel like that, on account of a sudden and unplanned high-velocity meeting of his knee with a guardrail, which resulted in the metal volume of his patella being somewhat higher than that of a normal human. The rabbit really would wrap her ears around her eyes, if she could, to unsee anxiety producing activity. In panel 2, I guess the fox is jumping off the otter’s back to whack the remains of the shattered 4th wall with the broom. That is what is happening. And I also like the way the otter’s tail wraps around the panel frame for balance. And I’m glad the animals in panel 3 have taken it upon themselves to clean up the mess, so that panel 4 Dragon can draw in a clean environment.

That’s the shocking revelation of adulthood. Whatever it is that you do, you will most likely keep doing it.