I almost forgot to introduce that new feature I mentioned. It’s nothing exciting or groundbreaking—just a bit of nostalgic indulgement.
Back in high school, there was a period where I fancied myself a bit of an artist. The culmination of my artistic ambition was a Ren & Stimpy comic I made, but that’s beside the point. Late in my high school career, after I’d already given up the idea of being a comic artist, I put what little talent I had cultivated into a strip featuring a character who was essentially a salt shaker with arms. He was called Roundhead, and it was good.
If I recall correctly—and it’s very possible I don’t—Roundhead may even have had a short-lived run in my school newspaper. In any event, he was put aside until I got to college. In my freshman year, I discovered the joys of creating a website with no more than Microsoft Notepad (which I more or less still do to this day). I was still drawing Roundhead and decided to start scanning them and throwing them up on my website.
Over the years, Roundhead became a kind of mascot for me, and something of a cast of characters grew around him: his triggerhappy twin brother, Bob; the Mob he often preached to; Dark Blockhead, his original arch-nemesis; and Negativo, his…um…later arch-nemesis. For the record, “Mr. Zem,” a Nazi-esque villain, was created by my friend Jim Holzman, and there was a time he requested I not use the character, at which point I renamed him “Mr. Z” and then wrote him out of the story. But his name is still in the first couple strips, which I’m going to put up for now. Jim, if you’re out there and you’re still bugged by this, let me know and I’ll take the strips that mention Mr. Zem’s name down.
I often drew these comics while working at the circulation desk of my college library (it was a low-key job) and would stamp them with the library’s date stamps. Initially, the gag with Roundhead was always the same: he’d try to inspire the Mob to do some noble thing, then end up saying, “Let’s go shoot something!” Ha ha, I guess(?) But over the course of the twenty or so strips, you can see me get a bit more ambitious, both in storytelling and in my art (okay, not much in the art, but at least some cross-hatching shows up).
In 1998, when I was still fascinated by what could be done with a computer, I recorded a few (entirely instrumental) songs I’d written for my guitar onto my computer, then burned them onto a CD. I called the CD Songs in the Key of Roundhead (I’m pretty sure I ripped that off The Simpsons).
A few years ago I came across Jhonen Vazquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and I was amused to see how his improving art style and tendency toward philosophical meditations somewhat mirrored the development of my doodles. He even had a Roundhead-like character named Happy Noodle Boy who, oddly enough, also stood in front of mobs and shouted things at them. I swear to you I never read JTHM until years after I drew the final Roundhead strip; I guess antisocial stick figures have a place in our collective unconscious.
Anyway, I’ve decided that once a week for the next few months, I will be posting an old Roundhead strip…unless people hate them and start complaining, in which case I’ll stop.
So, without further ado, here’s the first—okay wait, a little more ado. This strip was actually drawn in MSPaint, which I can’t apologize for enough. A few of the strips were done in Paint, but most are drawn. But this strip does give you a basic introduction to the world of Roundhead.
Many, that’s a ton of ado for something so arguably lame. Anyway, here you go: Roundhead 1