Read comics by Winston Rowntree

I am bored. I must have been bored before, because I remember either putting an ad in the paper or responding to one looking for a collaborator in making comics—to help alleviate the boredom, see? I had just moved to Amsterdam, and was still living in my brother’s way-too-expensive (for my means) apartment—this is somewhere in the year 2000. This guy wanted to meet me at a bar called De Balie on the Leydse Square, which we did. And he wanted to draw in the style of Dave McKean. I think it was Dave McKean—when I looked it up it was all gloomy. Later I remembered Dave Gibson, who can also draw gloomy but not that… Sorry, boring you now? :-)

Anyway. I went home and racked my brain a lot, and came up with a bunch of scripts which in hind-sight are best described as Rhaa Lovely style. Dark, over the top absurdist, comic. Then I forgot about the whole thing. Then I stumbled upon the guy’s phone number and remembered, but could not find the scripts. Then I found the scripts but lost the phone number. And now I’ve lost both.

From what I remember: one strip had a man taking his dog out for a walk out every day, but since the man had lost the use of his legs, his butler had to wheel him around. Turns out, the man had been dead for a while. Why is he still carted around the park every day? I doesn’t say. The strip ends with the dog performing an elaborate ballet.

Another one: two teenage lovers sitting atop a hill, holding hands, enjoying each other’s company. But the hill is slippery, and one of them starts to slide downwards. The other tries to stop him/her, but instead gets caught in the increasingly steeper slide. Turns out, they were sitting atop the arcs of a giant M, and are now gliding towards the middle. Where a meat-grinding device waits for them to turn them into hamburgers. I forgot how this one ended.

What I just wanted to say: when I ran into Winston Rowntree’s excellent (excellent!) comics, they reminded me of something. And after thinking about it a little they reminded me of comics I once wanted to write, except his are in colour. Sometimes he is a bit wordy for my taste; a joke in a comic should not rely too much on words, unless your name is Greg and you’re working on Achille Talon. But I digress—what are you still doing here? Go read! And while you’re at it, read his other stuff too. I especially liked Captian Estar Goes to Heaven.

Snowy Easter 2008

I was on my way for a walk to the Amsterdamse Bos, when I thought “curses”, and turned around. The dreariness had gotten to me. Still got some photos though.

The bicycle tunnel at the court house:


Melting water brought out the colour on one side of this plane:


A dying daffodil in the snow. (Not shown here: the snow.) Same patch as last year.



A hard sci-fi writer who puts an above-average amount of sci in his fi—I guess that’s what hard sci-fi means—asks his readers to help him explore the world of Multiple Personality Disorder by suggesting hard sci for him to read. One of them points him towards … Batman (“Boff!”, “Crunch!”). How about a mind, a consciousness, a personality that’s geared differently to every different situation? Would such a person be insane, or supersane? The Joker’s shrink thinks she may have stumbled upon the answer:

Well, you’ll pardon me for saying so, but your techniques don’t seem to have had much effect on the Joker.

Dr. Adams (Joker’s therapist):
The Joker’s a special case. Some of us feel he may be beyond treatment. In fact, we’re not even sure if he can be properly defined as insane. His latest claim is that he’s possessed by Baron Ghede, the Voodoo loa. We’re beginning to think it may be a neurological disorder, similar to Tourette’s syndrome. It’s quite possible we may actually be looking at some kind of super-sanity here. A brilliant new modification of human perception. More suited to urban life at the end of the twentieth century.

Tell that to his victims.

Dr. Adams:
Unlike you and I, the Joker seems to have no control over the sensory information he’s receiving from the outside world. He can only cope with the chaotic barrage of input by going with the flow. That’s why some days he’s a mischievous clown, others a psychopathic killer. He has no real personality. He creates himself each day. He sees himself as the Lord of Misrule, and the world as a theatre of the absurd.

Here’s what Grant Morrison [the author of this dialogue; bc] said about it:
“The idea of Joker’s “super-sanity” haunted me for years and eventually developed into my theories of multiple personality complexes as the next stage in human consciousness development.”

(John Henning quoting at Peter Watt’s blog.)

My first plagiarism

I’ve been plagiarized! Yes, I know. What happened is that Expactica, a website for expats…

Wait, I first have to explain to you what expats are, in case you need to have this explained to you. Expats are people that move to another country. But they are not emigrants. As the name implies, they frame their new position in terms of the original country; the name they give themselves is openly hostile to the new culture. Why would the Dutch put up with such people? Well, I don’t know. “Emigrants” are from all walks of life, and continuously get heaps of shit poured down their collars for not “integrating” fast enough. “Expats” on the other hand are actually hostile to the Netherlands, get nothing but praise, and are usually white Anglo-Saxon butt-corkers.

Oops! I almost suggested that racism comes into play here, though of course as everybody knows there is no racism in the Netherlands. Look at Geert Wilders — not directly, you’ll go blind. As once Andrew Rilstone so eloquently put in between his regular bouts of nut-job Christianism, where I can no longer find it, condemning religions is just a way of being a racist without going to jail for it. Muslims are brown people. You want to slag off brown people? Slag off Islam. But racism is a form of extremism, and if you claim that Dutch politician Wilders, the most vocal critic of Islam in the Netherlands, is an extremist, you go to jail. Ipso facto, there is no racism in the Netherlands.

So where were we? Ah yes, plagiarism. I co-blog at 24 Oranges, a site that provides news about the Netherlands in English. So does the excellent, and so does A moderator at the Expatica forums copied one of my articles wholesale (link to original, link to copy). That’s copyright infringement, that is. But I don’t care so much about that. Obviously the person who copied it liked my article enough to copy it, and to copy it verbatim at that. And it’s only free publicity for me, right? Wrong.

For some reason, my name did not appear in the copy. If you look closely though, you’ll see what appears to be an honest mistake. There is a source statement, but it accidentally links to a third party that has nothing to do with publishing the story. The Expatica moderator obviously wasn’t trying to get credit for something she had not written. She merely misattributed the story.

A friend said about plagiarism: “Why worry about this instance? You could be plagiarized a thousand times without ever finding out about it.” But I did find out about it, and this is my worry: that people who discover both stories (which is not hard, as accidentally Googling for a phrase unique to my story will show you both) may think that I am the plagiarist. It’s not so much that I must be known as the original author, but rather that I could do without a bad reputation. People don’t look further than the web; what evidence can I present that I am the original author? What happens if further websites plagiarize me: would that be only further evidence that I am a plagiarist? (“Look, he stole from more than one website.”)

So I wrote to Expactica, and asked them to put things right. Guys, I sort of wrote, please correct the source statement. And now we’re more than a week further, and no response. Not even a nyeh nyeh, we’re not going to do it. I know they got my message, because I used their online form (the only way to get into contact with them).

The next step would be to take legal action. First, an official DMCA like complaint, either to Expatica themselves or to their upstream host. Then, a lawsuit. And you know what? That’s just too much work, and a little bit in just too expensive. The courts in this country will only give you real damages, and not even that. So, a couple of hundreds euros and lots of lost time in, and all I would have gotten was lousy justice. So I won’t take further action, and just hope my reputation will remain unscathed. (I rather guess it will.)

What have we learned here:

  • may not be the most reliable of parties. Don’t buy their stuff! Boo! Hiss!
  • I can easily go off the main track for rants that have little to do with the matter at hand.
  • I have too much time on my hands.
  • Any or none of the above.

Donna Wentworth had an interesting opinion about plagiarism that may be more robust in these networked times than just “it’s bad.”