Monday, March 28, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 020

"QUITTING TIME"



This strip was originally published on March 28, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Will we ever see Harold again?

Might he return when he is needed most?

Will he strike out on his own and start his own comic that will be dark, grim, gritty, and full of the sorts of things that makes the anti-hero so popular in today's modern comics?

Only time will tell.

By the way, don't you just love that last panel?

That was all Harold.

All I wrote for the last panel was the Harold character telling the Steeven character that he quit, but then Harold (the real Harold, not the one in the comic - this is all too confusing) came up with the idea of creating an homage to the great John Romita Spider-Man page from The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (April 11, 1967) where Peter Parker quits being Spider-Man.


Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #2



The following comes from Then A Penguin Walked In and Other Tall Tales, currently on sale digitally and in paperback.

CHAPTER TWO: THE LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT

WHEN DOMINICK WAS A kid, there wasn’t much to do.

His parents had never participated much in the way of social activity, and therefore had spent most of their free time avoiding others. Probably still do, for that matter. Dominick could recall the many occasions in which his family had never gone to any of the neighborhood barbecues, had never had anyone over for any reason, and had never attended any sort of public function. This extreme avoidance meant that Dominick and his parents were known throughout town as ‘that weird family’.

If they were bothered by the moniker, his parents had never shown it, but for Dominick it meant that he’d never really had any friends growing up in small town America. This reason alone was the primary cause behind Dominick having little to do as mentioned above.

Dominick had taken to wandering around his home town of Eudora, Kansas whenever he’d been shunted outside by his parents because they’d grown tired of watching him sit in front of the television all day. Dominick had come to realize later in life that his parents had never truly worried about the potential mental problems that prolonged exposure to the television might have on his developing brain, but instead sent him out of the house so that they might finally get a chance to spend some quality time with the boob tube.

When Dominick was nine, he’d discovered the town landfill while out on one of his daily sojourns. He’d been positively entranced as he’d picked through the mountain of trash. That day alone he’d found a lamp, a bowling ball, and a box full of action figures. Soon the landfill had become a daily trek for him, and often he would return home with small treasures. But none had been so monumental as the one he’d found two summers later.

It had been a beat up old go-cart. It didn’t run, which probably had something to do with the missing engine, and it looked like it hadn’t seen a coat of paint since folks thought the bow tie was the height of fashion.

But, all the same, Dominick pushed the heap the five miles home.

He’d known that his parents were not going to approve of his latest acquisition. They’d call it a waste of time. Sure, if it had had a working engine that would be one thing. But without it, the go-cart would just take up space.

In anticipation of this parental wall, Dominick had hidden the go-cart in the garage.

His parents had never used the garage for anything other than storage. Beyond chucking the occasional box into the garage now and again, his mom and dad had rarely laid eyes inside.

So, Dominick had figured, as long as he kept the big door closed—he’d actually never known it to be open—he could keep the go-cart back in a corner, throw some boxes over the top of it, and tinker on it while his parents were at work with no risk of discovery.

And so that is what he had done.

The following week had gone swimmingly. He’d pounded out all of the dents as best he could with his dad’s hammer. Then he’d sanded off what paint had managed to still be clinging to the metal shell. There had been a hole or two here and there due to rust, but all in all he felt it had turned out okay. He’d just needed to paint it.

That next week Dominick had taken his savings downtown to Pop’s Hardware and bought three cans of spray paint: Two red and one black. Then he’d gone home to paint his go-cart red, with a pair of black racing stripes.

He’d been on his second can of red when everything around him had gone a bit wobbly. He’d been about to go back inside to let the paint dry when his hamster, Reggie, had squeezed into the garage from under the big door. Dominick had found that a bit odd.

First, Reggie had been wearing a sombrero, something he’d never recalled Reggie ever doing before.

Second, Reggie had been carrying a small bag full of colorful socks that the hamster had then tried to sell to Dominick. But oddest of all, Reggie had died the previous year.

After that everything had grown hazy and had then gone black.

He’d come to later in a hospital bed, confused and more than a little terrified.

He’d come to realize, of course, that Reggie, his sombrero, and his bag of socks had never actually been there. It had all been a hallucination brought about by huffing paint fumes in a confined space.

Dominick thought back on all of that now as he hung helpless and slack-jawed in the arms of a sword-wielding lizard man, watching in justified disbelief as a penguin waddled into the basement of the Happy Hamburger. While the incident with Reggie had seemed real enough at the time, it didn’t hold a candle to the strangeness he had suddenly found himself in today.

If he had to be honest with himself, and at a time like this he didn’t have a lot of choice, Dominick wasn’t all that surprised to see the penguin. After all, he’d been seeing penguins all week. Just yesterday he was leaving the comic book store and for a moment spied a penguin looking at him from behind a lamppost across the street. But, just as Dominick had realized what it was he was seeing, a car passed between them and the penguin was gone. Nearly the same thing had happened at the grocery store three days ago, and the DMV the day before that. So while the lizard man was enough to make Dominick question his sanity, the penguin was almost comfortable.

The arctic bird was about two feet tall. Beyond that Dominick didn’t know enough about penguins to identify its species. It paused just inside the door, looking from Dominick to the lizard man. If he didn’t know any better, Dominick would swear the bird was studying the situation, assessing, working things out in its head.

“You!” The lizard man said. It dropped Dominick unceremoniously onto the floor and pulled its sword.

Dominick scrambled out from between the two animals.

Then, without even the tiniest bit of fanfare, a sword appeared in the penguin’s hand—well, flipper—and it leaped into the air, brandishing the tiny blade. It was a blur of movement as it attacked the lizard man, jumping this way and that, flipping about like a gymnast in a tuxedo. Dominick found it hard to follow the penguin but had no trouble spotting the blood that dripped from numerous cuts all over the lizard man’s body.

The lizard man, try as it might, couldn’t defend itself against such a small, flying, ball of fury and steel. It swung its massive sword here and there, never connecting with the penguin.

Then the lizard man was on its knees, its head bowed. The sword fell from its hands and crashed to the concrete floor.

The penguin stood before it. It raised its sword once more, this time as some sort of salute, then finished the lizard man with one, quick jab to the heart. The penguin stepped back as the lizard man collapsed in death.

The room was quiet. The only thing Dominick could hear was the sound of his own breathing. He kept his eyes glued to the penguin. The bird’s tiny sword disappeared as it turned to him. Dominick backed away a step, halted only by the wall behind him.

The penguin did not advance. It merely made a motion with its flipper. A motion meant to convey its desire for Dominick to follow. Then it turned and waddled its way out of the basement, where it vanished from view.

Dominick remained on the floor, petrified. What should he do? He’d grown up being told never to go anywhere with a stranger. But no one had ever mentioned penguins. Besides, it had saved his life.

His mind made up, Dominick stood and followed the penguin from the room.

He found the penguin outside. It hadn’t gone far. It leaned against the back wall of The Happy Hamburger, flippers crossed in front of its chest.

“Thank Bose that I have found you at last,” the penguin said.

“You can talk?” Dominick said.

“Of course I can talk.” Its voice reminded Dominick of one of those animated chipmunks.

“But, you’re a penguin.”

“Actually, I’m a pixie.”

“A pixie?”

“That is correct. One of the faerie folk. I am called Vivian.” The penguin held out its flipper, offering to shake.

“Vivian?”

“Yes.”

“Vivian the pixie?”

“Yes. I am a pixie. I am called Vivian.” If a penguin could be said to smile, Vivian was doing just that.

“But you look like a penguin.”

“Yes, yes I do. Well spotted. I chose a form that would allow me to blend in with your world. I didn’t want to cause any undo excitement or mental trauma to your people.”

“So you chose the form of a penguin?”

“You like to repeat things, don’t you? Is that a typical human trait in your world, or are you having some sort of mental imbalance?”

“Well, it’s just that we don’t have any penguins in Kansas outside of a zoo.”

“The penguin is not native to your land?” Vivian said, looking a bit concerned.

“No, not at all,” Dominick said.

It had suddenly occurred to Dominick that he was handling this current situation with the utmost of aplomb. Anyone else would be freaking out under such circumstances, but not Dominick. It made him feel more than a bit proud of himself, which was, he had to admit, an odd feeling.

That was when the other penguin appeared.

“Vivian, what is going on?” the second penguin said. “Is it him? Is he the One? Have you given him the sword already?”

“Yes he is, Harold,” said Vivian. “And no, I’ve not given him the sword. There appears to be some confusion in the matter of our disguises that I am trying at the moment to work out.”

“What’s wrong with our disguises?”

Dominick seemed to have been forgotten for the moment. This was a shame as he found himself practically itching to ask about this sword he was supposed to be given.

“It appears,” Vivian said. “That the penguin is not indigenous to this particular region.”

“But Rick said–”

“Rick was wrong then, wasn’t he?” Vivian interrupted.

“Look,” Vivian turned to Dominick. “Would you mind just waiting here for a moment while we get this all sorted out?”

“Um, no… Er, did you say something about a sword?”

But he received no response as Vivian, and the penguin she had called Harold, waddled away.

Dominick tried to follow. The two had moved off the lot and into the dumpster pen behind the Happy Hamburger.

The dumpster pen was a magical place where one could find the trash dumpster, that is if one were the sort of person who spent their idle time going out and looking for trash dumpsters. The pen itself was a tall privacy fence made up of vertical wooden planks. It surrounded an area about the size of two small busses parked side by side, but was open at the front for easy access to the dumpster by the city trash collectors. The Happy Hamburger’s dumpster, like most, was rusted with flaking green paint. Sitting next to the dumpster was a green and rusted grease trap where Dominick often visited to dispose of the used oil from the fryers each day. There’s never been a joy known in life like the glee one is able to experience when visiting a fast food grease trap. The smell alone was enough to cause the contents of one’s stomach to curdle and churn like a stormy sea of spoiled milk.

Dominick watched as the two penguins waddled between the dumpster and the grease trap, disappearing into the dark confines beyond. He decided to go in after them, despite the smell of rancid beef that was all part of the Happy Hamburger dumpster pen experience. Yet, as he rounded the corner behind the dumpster, the penguins were gone.

Dominick scratched at his head, pondering for a moment if today was truly happening. A lizard man? Penguins? Pixies? Maybe he’d finally inhaled too much of the fumes from the cleaner fluid he employed each day to remove the caked-on grease from the front of the fryers. Possibly this was all a dream and he would wake up at any moment in the comfort of his bed. Then he looked at his arm where the lizard man had taken hold of him earlier. He could see the bruises forming there. He certainly wasn’t imagining those.

But still, Vivian and Harold seemed to have disappeared. He realized how long he’d been gone now on this quest of his to find more medium boxes and figured it would be best to get back to work. Otherwise, Mr. Finkleton was going to come looking for him. One thing you never wanted to do at the Happy Hamburger was make Mr. Finkleton do anything outside of his daily work activities. Never make a cop run, never invite a sales person into your home, and never make Mr. Finkleton come look for you. If you did any of the three, you could look forward to a level of comfort usually set aside for, well, the type of person who would make a cop run.

Dominick left the dumpster pen and made his way across the lot. After just a few steps he learned that despite the worry of incurring the wrath of Mr. Finkleton, Dominick wasn’t in any real hurry to return to work. He’d been privy to a much larger world in as little as ten minutes today, and that’s likely to shake most people. And as Dominick is most people, he felt more than a little shaky.

As he crossed the lot and reached the back door, Dominick sighed the kind of sigh that poets can only dream of sighing themselves as they wallow in a state of creative melancholy and gaze forlornly at the muse they will never attain. Then, as he was about to take the handle in hand and yank open the door, he heard a tiny voice from behind.

“Dominick Hanrahan,” the voice said. “Where are you going?”

Dominick turned to find a pair of, well… he wasn’t quite sure what he was looking at. They were about a foot long and looked a bit like elongated rats.

“Vivian?” Dominick said. “Harold?”

“Yes, Dominick Hanrahan,” said Harold, the one on the right. “It is us.”

“What are you supposed to be now?” Dominick asked.

The two odd looking creatures looked at each other for a moment before turning back.

“Why, we have each taken the form of the long nosed bandicoot,” Vivian said.

“The bandicoot?” Dominick almost laughed. “We don’t have bandicoots in Kansas either.” At least Dominick didn’t think so. In truth, Dominick wasn’t sure just what a bandicoot was beyond being the star of a video game from the late 90’s.

“Look,” Harold said. “It doesn’t matter.”

Then Harold rose up onto his hind legs and Dominick suddenly knew what it was like to see a rodent look regal.

“You must come with us, Dominick Hanrahan,” Harold said. “Gund is nearing its most desperate hour and you are sorely needed.”

“Me? Gund? What the heck is a Gund?”

“Gund is our home,” said Vivian. “And you must go there with us now.”

“What?” Dominick took a step back. “Why?

“The fate of our people depends on you,” said Vivian.

“Now? I can’t go anywhere now; I’m supposed to be working. Mr. Finkleton is going to kill me when he finds out that I’ve left my post.”

“Worry not, young Hanrahan. Your Mr. Finkleton does not know that you are gone,” Harold said.

“Yes, our companion, Raymond, has taken your form and is posing as you as we speak,” Vivian said.

“Okay, you’re going to have to explain that,” Dominick said.

“There is no time for long-winded explanations,” Harold said. “You must come with us now.”

“Yeah, that’s what needs explaining. I’m not in the habit of going off with people I’ve just met, much less shape-shifting leprechauns.”

“We are pixies, young man,” Vivian said, crossing her furry arms across her furry chest. “Pixies.”

Dominick had no clue what an angry bandicoot looked like, but he figured he was looking at one right now.

“Pixies, leprechauns, penguins, what does it matter?” Dominick said. “What matters is that two minutes ago I was secure in the knowledge that I would live till the end of my days having never had a conversation with a rat, and now this!” He gestured to the two of them.

Dominick Hanrahan’s freak out was well and truly in full swing.

“You can’t just show up and expect me to go off to someplace I’ve never heard of with two—what do I call you people?” Dominick’s voice rose to an octave normally reserved for fronting an 80’s hair metal band.

“You can call us pixies,” Harold said.

“It doesn’t matter!” Dominick let it rip. “The fact that you thought you could just show up out of the blue and expect me to leave with you is simply ridiculous, and frankly, more than a little offensive!”

“I saved your life,” Vivian said. “Does that not account for a little trust?”

“Besides,” Harold said, looking up at him with eyes like sad blue marbles. “Our people are dying.”

Dominick found that more than a little unfair. And yet, it had the desired effect all the same. He sighed once, took a single deep breath, closed his eyes, and made himself relax. It wasn’t all that hard. Dominick had never been much of an angry person. He’d been known to dabble in quick bursts of harmless rage now and again, but in the end he’d always maintained a fairly calm demeanor.

“Look, I’m sorry I snapped at you, and I feel for whatever it is that’s happening to your people, but I don’t understand what you think I can do about it.”

“You are the One,” Vivian said.

“The One,” Harold echoed.

“The One?” Dominick said. “Like capital O one?” If Dominick could arch an eyebrow, he would be doing so now.

“You are destined to protect the lands of Gund,” Vivian said. “The veil is weakening; the darkness will soon be on us.”

“Yes,” Harold said. “The darkness rises. Already Lord Hob has grown in power.”

“Hob?”

“Scourge of the West,” said Vivian

“Defiler of the East,” said Harold.

“Plague of the North,” said Vivian.

“Overlord of the South,” said Harold.

“King of the Nighttime World,” said Vivian.

“Lord Hob and his army are set to invade Haven,” said Harold.

“You must stop him,” said Vivian.

“How?” Dominick said. “How am I to do that? I work the fryers at a fast food place and you’re talking to me about defeating an army. This is insane.”

“You need not worry about Hob’s forces,” Vivian said. “The grand army of Haven will take care of them. It’s Hob himself. He is beyond our power.”

“Okay, so yeah. That’s the part I’m having a problem with. This guy can’t be beaten by an army, but you expect me to do it? What do you want me to do, stick his head in a fryer?”

“You are the One,” said Harold as if no other explanation was warranted.

“Only you can wield Arakis, the Black Sword of Power,” Vivian said, sensing that Dominick needed a little bit more.

Before Dominick could reply, a car roared around the back of the store. Luckily the driver was too busy texting to notice Dominick and the bandicoots, but just the same…

The problem with talking openly to a pair of bandicoots, apart from the obvious of course… No, not apart from the obvious, the obvious is the only problem, which is this: If said conversation is observed by anyone with even a moderate degree of sanity, your own mental state of mind will be immediately put into question. Your ability for rational thinking will be scrutinized and judgment will befall upon you in such magnitude that in comparison the Great Chicago Fire will forever in your mind be looked upon unfairly as nothing more than a cozy night curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book and an even better bottle of wine.

Sensing on an instinctual level—the passing car hadn’t hurt—that this was the case, Dominick took steps.

“Look, can you two take human form or something? Someone’s gonna call the Police if they see me out here talking with two big rats.

“Yes, of course,” Harold said.

Light surrounded the two bandicoots and they began to grow. The light shone with such intensity that Dominick had to shield his eyes. When he could see again he found himself facing Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be any better.”

To be continued...

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Saturday, March 26, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 019

"THE VIKING SKETCH: PART TWO"



This strip was originally published on March 26, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Harold totally wrote this strip.

That's just one of the many things that was great about our creative relationship. We each inspired each other. I wrote the The Viking Sketch Part One, sent it to him, and it inspired him to write The Viking Sketch Part Two.

There are a great big bunch of these strips that were inspired by something Harold has said. He'll email me and say something like: "We should do a strip about how much I hate yogurt," and one week later I've written 5 strips on the subject . . . but you'll have to wait a month or so for those.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

Monday, March 21, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 018

"THE VIKING SKETCH: PART ONE"

PREVIOUS | NEXT | FIRST



This strip was originally published on March 21, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



I want to give you an idea of how long Harold and I had been working on this comic by the time this strip had gone up on March 21, 2013.

This strip, The Viking Sketch Part One, was written on June 7th, 2012.

I remember, after writing the script, I was really looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I only had to wait nine months.

And now here we are, nine years later, and I get to share it again.

Other than the last two panels on the previous strip, this would be the first time you see Harold and I in costume portraying other characters. Which I just absolutely love.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

THE A PENGUIN WALKED IN #1



The following comes from Then A Penguin Walked In and Other Tall Tales, currently on sale digitally and in paperback.

CHAPTER ONE: THE PENGUIN

THE SMELL OF COOKING grease hung thick in the air the way a blue whale might. The sponge-like cloud formed itself around Dominick Hanrahan like a malodorous cocoon, blocking out everything but the heat that wafted up off of the deep-fat fryers. He stared blankly into the four steaming vats of oil and tried to think back to happier times—to better days—but the stench of superheated vegetable oil made it more than a little difficult.

Dominick was idle and bored, as was wont to happen at this time in the morning at the Happy Hamburger Drive-In Restaurant. Between the breakfast and lunch rush there wasn’t much to do, other than clean, and that was a thought he found no pleasure in.

Instead, he clutched at a plastic salt shaker and wondered what might happen were he to plunge it into one of the fryers. He figured the plastic would melt, but what would happen to the salt within? He looked around the narrow cook aisle as he mulled the decision over in his mind.

On one side of the aisle sat a large grill with bun prep station and condiment bar. On the opposite side—Dominick’s domain—lurked the four fryers with a french-fry scoop station located to the left, and an industrial freezer to the right. Everything had been done up in gleaming stainless steel because it was easier to clean.

The boss, Mr. Finkleton, was in the back taking his pre-lunch constitutional. He’d taken a book with him into the employee restroom, which meant he’d be a while. Melissa, the lady who manned (womaned?) the grill behind him, wouldn’t care if Dominick fried the salt shaker. If anything, Mel might egg him on.

In the end, he decided not to do it. While he was positive that Mel could get away with such shenanigans, Dominick knew for certain that he himself would be caught. He’d always had a knack of not getting away with things.

For a moment his eye caught the mark on the palm of his right hand. It had been there for as long as he could remember; a curious paleness that he’d always thought looked like a hammer right in the center of his palm. He’d asked his parents about it many times, but they’d never had an answer. A birthmark, nothing more.

Suddenly, cutting through Dominick’s musings, a shrill beeping sounded from the computer up front, its insistent cries begging–nay, demanding–to be attended to. He panicked and shoved the salt shaker in his pants pocket.

Following the beeping come a loud clatter from the back of the store. More specifically, the clattering and banging sounded from behind the closed doors of the employee restrooms.

“I’ll get it!” Mr. Finkleton called, bursting from the men’s room and buckling his belt as he hurtled up the cook aisle.

Dominick braced himself as the boss hurried past for fear of being pushed into one of the fryers. The narrow cook aisle inside the Happy Hamburger left little room for two average-sized human beings to stand back to back and Mr. Finkleton was larger than most string quartets.

Sweating, Mr. Finkleton arrived at the computer, pulled on a headset microphone, and pushed a large red button on the computer’s right side.

“Happy Hamburger, how may I help you?”

The computer was an overlarge piece of machinery that was made up of a monitor and keypad. The keypad wasn’t like the keyboard on your typical home computer. Each key on this pad had a picture of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or other product offering at the Happy Hamburger. Mr. Finkleton was punching keys furiously as the customer ordered from out in their car.

“Hanrahan!” Mr. Finkleton yelled, despite the fact that Dominick stood within slapping distance. “Tots! We need more tater tots!”

“Yes, Mr. Finkleton,” he mumbled in reply.

Dominick opened the freezer door to the right of the fryers, a sigh escaping his lips of its own volition, yearning to be free. He moved in the methodical, unhurried way of someone who was clearly just going through the motions.

Dominick placed a few handfuls of frozen, barrel-shaped tater tots into a small, rectangular, steel mesh basket, and plunged the basket into the boiling vegetable oil. He stood, motionless, stoic, statuesque, gazing with feigned interest at the fries as they bubbled, popped, and hissed in the liquid fat.

He could sense the frenzied activity going on behind him as Mel created hamburgers at supersonic speed. Dominick just stood and waited on the fries. Wishing, no praying, that there was more to life than the Happy Hamburger.

“How long on those fries?” Mr. Finkleton cried as he wrapped burgers in grease proof paper and thrust them into a bag.

“Thirty seconds,” Dominick said, watching the timer on the front side of the fryer.

Tater tots took two minutes to cook, the same with fries. Onion rings took three; chicken patties took four and a half. Dominick knew all the times by heart. It was something he’d been proud of once, back when he was still a kid and this was just an after school job he’d taken to earn enough to keep gas in his car.

That was six years ago. He’d graduated high school with little thought for his future other than freeing himself from the prison he’d once called home.

College had never really been an option for Dominick Hanrahan. He’d never had the drive to keep his grades up beyond just squeaking through at a solid D average, he’d avoided all manner of sports like a zombie apocalypse, and he’d never been able to spell extracurricular activity, much less know what one was, so a scholarship was out of the question. Growing up, his parents had always seemed to be between jobs, a situation which made a college fund something akin to Bigfoot, so paying his way had never been an option.

He’d been told by his high school counselor, on more than one occasion, about the various Federal Aid programs that might help pay for his post-secondary education, but in the end, Dominick just wasn’t interested in more school. He’d never had the kind of fond memories of his days at Eudora High that hearkened back to the fabled ‘Glory Days’. He’d always just been one those walking-the-halls teenagers who had generally tried to avoid getting beat up, a task he’d often found unsuccessful.

At twenty-two, he still felt like the same guy. But instead of classrooms, classmates, and lockers; he had walk-in freezers, coworkers, and fryers. He couldn’t imagine a life that would ever be much different.

The fryer beeped at him. The tots were done. He turned off the alarm, pulled the basket from the oil, shook the excess oil from the tots, and dumped them into the scoop station where he used the specialized scoop to fill a medium sized colorful box with the crispy tots. It was, in fact, his last medium box.

“I need tot boxes,” Dominick announced. He shuffled out of the cook aisle before Mr. Finkleton could respond and made his way into the back room where they kept all of the supplies.

A minute later he found small boxes, large boxes, even super extra-large boxes, but no mediums.

He stuck his head around the corner to look up the cook aisle.

“I don’t see any,” he called out.

“Try the basement,” Mr. Finkleton shouted back. “We got them on the truck two days ago.”

The basement. A cold lump of ice formed in his stomach.

Dominick hated the basement.

There were spiders in the basement.

He caught Mel’s eye as she threw him a look of mock terror from underneath her Happy Hamburger hat. He only scowled in return.

The Happy Hamburger had been built so that you weren’t able to get to the basement from within the building. Meaning that Dominick had to leave through the back door and take the steps to the right that led down underneath the pavement. He stood at the landing and gazed into the dankness that was the bottom of the concrete steps. Nothing moved, but he knew the spiders were there.

The last time he’d been in the basement he’d seen a lizard. Mel hadn’t believed him, but he’d seen it all the same. It had been a tiny little thing, but it had been clinging to one of the concrete walls. All Dominick could think of from that point on while he’d looked for a box of cups was the horror of lizards and spiders dropping down on top of him from the ceiling. He could feel them crawling beneath his shirt even now as he stood looking down the stairs.

He didn’t have to go down there. He could quit. Just walk away. There had to be better places in this city to work. Jobs that didn’t require you to brave falling spiders and lizards.

Two thoughts changed his mind and got his feet moving down the steps.

The first was his fifty dollar-a-month comic book habit. If he walked away now, he wasn’t guaranteed to find a new place of employment right away. It may be weeks before he would be hired on someplace else, and he couldn’t miss picking up any of his issues.

The second was the thought of starting somewhere new. Being around people he didn’t know then put into a situation where he would be forced to get to know them. It all sounded like a lot of work. Plus, he’d have to learn how to do this new job. It would be like starting all over, which, in fact, was exactly what it would be.

So he made his way down the stairs, pausing on the final step to give his surroundings the sort of visual inspection that would cause even Sherlock Holmes to comment on the high degree of obsessive behavior. Satisfied that there were no spiders or lizards about, Dominick stepped off the last step, opened the door to the basement, leaned in just far enough to flick on the lights, and then shuffled inside.

The door swung automatically shut behind him with a thunk and a click, the two sounds having a sense of finality about them. He pushed aside his fear and moved to the boxes just inside the door with the speed of a striking cobra.

Originally, the basement had been meant to be used as a tornado shelter. It was as wide and long as the building above. It had been made to house the employees, and a full lot of customers, were a twister to strike during work hours. In the thirty-nine years that the Happy Hamburger has stood, not once has there been even the worry of a tornado. So Mr. Finkleton had been using it to store that which wouldn’t fit upstairs.

Dominick couldn’t find what he was looking for in any of the boxes near the door, so he moved further into the room, throwing startled glances at the ceiling above him as he went. It wasn’t until he reached the supporting column midway into the room that he found the medium boxes.

He sighed and tore into the cartoon. There was no sense of delicacy about the operation. He could have used a box cutter to slice open the packing tape that held the flaps at the top of the box together. There would be a box cutter down here somewhere. It would only be the polite thing to do. That way, once he’d grabbed up what he needed, he could just close the flaps back up. After all, it made stacking and storing much safer.

But Dominick wasn’t interested in anything but getting through this as quickly as possible. So, by the time he was able to starting pulling boxes from the carton, the entire top third of it had been removed and what remained was a jagged mess.

The door opened behind him and Dominick sighed once again. It would be just like Mr. Finkleton to check on him. Not out of worry for Dominick’s well-being, but because he would assume that Dominick was down here loafing.

“I found them,” Dominick said. He moved to ensure that he was directly between the carton of boxes and the door. It wouldn’t do for Mr. Finkleton to see the state in which he’d left it.

But there was no reply. No biting comment about Dominick taking his sweet time. No scathing remark in which Dominick’s dedication would be called into question.

Nothing but the steady sound of ragged breathing.

Dominick turned.

“I’ve got them right here, Mr. Finkle—” but he couldn’t finish.

What he suddenly faced standing in the doorway before him took the words from him, stole them right from out of his body like a mugger in a dark alley.

Dominick blinked.

He shook his head. Then he blinked again.

He couldn’t quite make his brain process what his eyes were telling it.

It wasn’t Mr. Finkleton.

It wasn’t even human.

It was a lizard.

A big lizard.

A lizard that stood on two legs and held a sword.

A part lizard, part man creature like in that game Dominick used to play in Junior High with the dragons and the dungeons and such. In other words, a genuine Lizard Man straight from the books.

It stepped into the room. It had been stooping to get under the doorway and now stood at full height. It was at least two heads taller than Dominick. It wore some kind of leather armor with circular steel plates sewn into the chest. Its sword was curved and broad and looked big enough to split Dominick down the middle without much effort.

Dominick rubbed his eyes violently with both fists. His eyes cleared and the thing was still standing there gripping its sword.

“Are you him?” the creature said. Its voice conjured images of gravel rolling around in a plastic barrel.

“Uh,” was about all that Dominick could make himself say.

The walking horror crossed the room in four strides and before Dominick could so much as squeak in terror, the thing was standing over him.

“Let me see your hand,” it said.

“Um,” Dominick said. “Um...”

“Your hand, human dog! Show it to me or I will take it off at the wrist!” The creature brandished its curved sword.

Dominick held up his left hand as he fought against the tears that were forming at the corners of his eyes.

“Your right hand!” The thing barked. “Show it to me!”

Dominick held up a shaking right hand and the lizard man took it in his own. Its tough skin was dry and rough like sandpaper. It gazed at the birthmark on his palm.

“Yes,” it hissed. “The mark. You will be coming with me.” The lizard man tightened its grip on Dominick’s hand and pulled him away from the wall.

There comes a point in every person’s life, when faced with danger, that they are forced to make a choice. Fight or flight. For some, the choice is made for them. For example, Dominick wanted to choose flight, but the creature held him fast. He could only fight if he wanted to survive, and survival was very high on his list of priorities for the moment.

So, screwing up his courage, Dominick made a fist and punched the monstrosity square on the tip of its broad snout.

The creature hissed in pain and let go of Dominick’s arm.

Dominick ran for the door. He’d only made it a few steps before something hard struck him across the backs of his legs. He dropped to the concrete floor like a bag of hammers and slid into a stack of boxes. They fell atop him like an avalanche of cardboard. Dominick cried out in pain. Though the boxes, filled as they were with paper products, weren’t really all that heavy, the corners stabbed into him with no consideration to his all-so-tender skin. Skin which had been known to bruise from nothing more than a well-aimed stern look.

“There’s no point in running from me, ape,” the creature said. “I’ve spent far too long looking for you. A week in your world is like months in mine.”

That made about as much sense as a walking, talking lizard, so Dominick chose to ignore the thing’s statement as he dug himself out from under the mountain of boxes. Again, he didn’t make it far. The creature took hold of an ankle and pulled him free.

“Give over, ape. I’m not letting you go,” the thing said, looking down at Dominick and he lay sprawled on the floor.

“Why?’ Dominick said. “What did I do?”

The lizard man didn’t answer. Instead, moving faster than Dominick was prepared to deal with, it had him wrapped up in arms that felt like steel. It squeezed. Tighter and tighter.

Dominick couldn’t breathe. He kicked and struggled in the thing’s grasp, but the more he fought, the tighter he was held.

“Fighting is useless,” it said. “Soon you will be unconscious and then I will present you to my Lord. I may even put a bow on you.”

Dominick could do nothing but look over the thing’s shoulder at the doorway to the outside world. It was just a dozen steps away. Freedom, so close. He began to lose focus. Everything but the far rectangle of light grew hazy and dark. He watched enough television to know that his brain was being deprived of oxygen and that soon it would all be over.

But he didn’t want things to end. Not here. Not like this. Sure, his life wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but he did feel rather attached to it. He tried to imagine everything he’d yet to do. Like see the Grand Canyon, learn to play the piano, or find himself in a lifelong, committed relationship that was all about love and mutual respect.

But none of that was ever going to happen. Not anymore. His life was going to end here in this spider-infested basement. The thought, probably the last thought he would ever have, made him angry.

The anger sparked something deep within him and suddenly the fog lifted and everything became clear and vibrant like a rich man’s television. He’d always hoped to own a television like that one day, but the creature who held him wanted to put an end to all that.

So he reached deep within himself. Grasping in the dark for something, any spark left within him that would help him fight back. He dug deep. Deeper than he’d ever been. And there, hiding somewhere behind his liver, he found a light, something to grab onto. He took hold of it and shouted:

“NO!”

But that was it.

Nothing happened.

He’d had his moment and he’d done nothing more than scream out a monosyllabic cry of defiance which did no good whatsoever.

The lizard man did not let go. Instead, the creature laughed at Dominick’s pathetic attempt at resistance.

“You have spirit, ape,” it said. “Little good it will do you.”

The thing tightened its grip

Dominick’s vision blurred as he looked at the open door. He tried to focus on the sunshine. He yearned to be out there in the open. But he’d never see the sky again. The realization of that fact settled around him like an old comfortable blanket and Dominick gave in to it.

Then a penguin walked in.

To be continued...

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Saturday, March 19, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 017

"GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS"

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This strip was originally published on March 19, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Look, Ma! I'm a Viking!

Buckle your seat belts, dear readers, for today begins a story line that will change everything, everywhere, for all of eternity!

That's right folks, after this story-line ends, nothing will ever be the same again, for anything, at every point in time, and throughout every possible reality!

I want to say more, but I'm afraid that there just isn't enough hyperbole available in the universe to really do this thing justice!

So be prepared to hang on for dear life, ladies and gentlemen, as we continue next time with part one of: THE VIKING SKETCH!

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 016

"HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY"

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This strip was originally published on March 14, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Looks like Warren is up to his tricks again.

This is one of my favorite strips.

The script basically said that Saint Patrick is fighting cyborg snakes. The only direction I supplied regarding the look of Saint Patrick was that I thought it would be funny if he was wearing a costume that looked just like the Punisher, but green and white instead of black and white.

When I got the line art to flat, I was blown away ... mainly because of the shamrock/skull on his chest. That's all Harold and I love it.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 015

"FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN"

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This strip was originally published on March 12, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Meet Reg and Stan.

We obviously haven't gone into any back story with these guys yet, but I like to think that Reg, the guy with the mustache, won the lottery and used his earnings to open up a comic book store.

But here's the thing, Reg didn't really want to run a comic book store, he just wanted his own place to hang out and read comics. So, he hired his buddy, Stan, to run the place.

As far as how these two fellas look, and the design that went into them, Harold rocked it as usual. He asked me how I pictured these guys, and I simply told Harold that I pictured Reg and Stan to be the anti-Harold and and the anti-Steeven. Harold came back with the very designs you see in the strip now.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

Monday, March 7, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 014

"JUSTIFICATION"

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This strip was originally published on March 7, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



You may recognize this strip, and that's because it was originally part of Variety Smack.

But here's the thing, Harold actually redrew it for Our Adventure Continues. 

You can see the original HERE. It's kind of interesting to look at the original and then look at this one because you can see how Harold's art has evolved.

As far as the story behind the strip, well, here's the thing, just because someone is a writer, that doesn't necessarily mean that they know how to spell every single word in the English language without looking it up.

So, yes. I didn't know how to spell wildebeest. I'll admit it. I made a mistake.

Frankly, I'm not sure why Harold keeps me around.

But you know what? My mistake allowed us to do this here funny strip about how I didn't really make a mistake (even though I did). Plus, I love that panel where Harold and I bump fists. I swear that Harold can see inside my brain because that is exactly how I saw it all in my head.

I want to point out the Captain Might t-shirt that Harold is wearing in the strip. Captain Might comes from a short comic story Harold and I did which you can read HERE.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!

Saturday, March 5, 2022

OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES 013

"A VARIETY OF DRUGS?"

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This strip was originally published on March 5, 2013 over at www.ouradventurecontinues.com



Harold and I had almost this exact conversation in the real world back then.

Well, except I never expressed my desire to ride a squirrel. At least not out loud.

We actually went round and round and round and round about the name. We came up with an entire list that sadly, I can no longer find, but in the end we decided to use Variety Smack for both our first venture into world of web comics, and for the fictional comic our characters are working on in this, the current comic.

I know, I'm even confusing myself. It's best not to think on it too much.

Remember, if you want Harold and I to get the band back together and create more comic strip fun, please say so by leaving a comment below.

Thank you, there is more to come!