Interviews

Smkinoshita interviews Skoolmunkee!
smkinoshita at 11:00AM, June 15, 2008
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posts: 240
joined: 8-20-2007
Profile
Username: skoolmunkee
Comics/Projects: I Drew 150 Pok�©mon, The Repository of Dangerous Things, Answers, Life in 5 Pages, and 4 Top-Secret, Super-Mysterious comics that are older than she is.
Age: 30
In what part of the world do you live: England
Are you single/boyfriend/girlfriend/married: Single and happy :)
Day job: Instructional designer at a university (booooring)

PART ONE: VERY SERIOUS QUESTIONS
Skoolmunkee:
1. Is it hard to type with boxing gloves on your hands?
Skoolmunkee: I don't know why everyone assumes I type on a keyboard. It's much more efficient to psychic-type.

2. Why aren't you a monkey or in school? Why must you deceive us and crush our hopes and dreams of an educated monkey being one of the admins of Drunk Duck? It can't be any worse than inebriated waterfowl!
Skoolmunkee: There now *pat pat* Can I offer you a cup of tea or something? You seem upset.
STOP AVOIDING THE QUESTION! One sugar, and milk, please.

3. If you aren't a monkey or at school, do you look or act like one enough that OzoneOcean had to sign a declaration stating that you weren't?
Skoolmunkee: Well, Ozone was sort of doing those ‘truth cards’ for people, and I strongly felt the need to be validated by him. So I begged him to make one for me, and he did! Mmmm validation. I can do a pretty good whooping-monkey-at-the-zoo impression though. You could hear them all over the zoo I went to when I was a kid. The monkey house smelled though.
Conclusion: Skoolmunkee is actually an escaped whooping-monkey, who broke out of the monkey house because of her roommates poor personal hygiene.

4. Was it hard to forge his signature?
Skoolmunkee: I would never forge his signature (it would immediately decrease the value of whatever it was put upon).
Conclusion: Yes.

5. Ever thrown poo?
Skoolmunkee: Only in words.
Conclusoin: Yes.

6. If you had to eat one of the pok�©mon you drew, which one would you eat and how would you prepare it?
Skoolmunkee: I'm tempted to make a Wailord-hunting joke here but Greenpeace would get mad at me. Although I know nothing about Pokemon, it's interesting to learn about them as I draw them. I realize it's just a game but I can't help feeling like a lot more could be done, you know? First you have the idea that there are animals (potentially very meaty animals) who can be kept indefinitely in little balls- who needs fields? All they need to mature is to fight each other or have magic rocks waved at them, or like, eat jellybeans. That sounds like a much more humane and environmentally friendly way to ranch meat than corporate pig farms. Also there are sentient plants- that sort of blurs the line for vegetarians don't you think? Someone once told me that all Pokemon are just variations of the same alien genetic code. They'd be great to use for laboratory experiments. Imagine what you could come up with. Instead they're just kept as pets. You can do so much more with animals than love them.

I really like mushrooms so unless there is a pasta-pokemon I'd have to go with one of them. I'd broil it or something so it would be all juicy. Maybe the one that's a mushroom with crab claws- there's one like that, right? Because then I'd get mushrooms AND seafood.
Conclusion: Skoolmunkee should be elected to design the next Pok�©mon game.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
smkinoshita at 11:23AM, June 15, 2008
(online)
posts: 240
joined: 8-20-2007
PART TWO: VERY SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS

1. What brought you to Drunk Duck?

Skoolmunkee: Ronson did, way back in the day. When DD first started the original members (Volte and Ronson really) went around asking people they knew to join. I was all, “That's nice Ronson but I like my own webpage!” I didn't want to join until you could at least customize the comic page a little bit (DD's original default page was really dire) so as soon as Volte coded in some ways to change the colors, I was there. So I wasn't in on DD 1.0… more like 1.2. And I'm still here! Despite all its troubles, DD is still way better than any other comic host.

So, this is all Ronson's fault.


2. So, can you tell us anything about those four super-secret comics with no pages that are older than you are?

Skoolmunkee: The True Adventures of Adventure Sister is a comic I decided to draw for my sister's birthday. I wrote the script (about 20 pages) in December. Her birthday was in May. I just drew the second page earlier this week. So with about 10x more effort from me it will be her birthday present next year? My math might be off.

A Life in Boxes is a comic idea I've had for a few years now, and have written up some things for. It's meant to be a long-running thing with chapters to follow the life of a person as she goes through some changes and stuff. However I decided I just wasn't skilled enough or comfortable yet with the idea of doing such a long-form semi-dramatic comic so it's back on the shelf until I'm ready for it. Also I can't decide what breed her dog should be.

Union Comix is going to be a collection of little comics about my dog, because dogs are funny. I've been doodling some of them but I want to polish them up before I post them. However I never get around to polishing them up. Also, I worry that I'd be giving myself an image of ‘crazy dog lady.’ Actually I'm considering calling my little comics collection “Union Comix” because it has a nice ring to it. I wouldn't be surprised if it's taken already though. I'm too lazy to check. Nobody take it because I said I wanted it, or I'll beat you up.

Made-Up Stories is the one that's closest to being posted. This will be a series of chapters, each chapter will be a different story. Most of them will be based in mythology somehow, others just things I've made up. The stories won't be related, so it is easier for me to write- each one is self contained. I have about 8 really good ideas and 4 others that would need to be worked up a lot more… and about 50 trashed ideas. The first chapter (“Violet” – they will all be named after their main character) is written, halfway drawn, but not inked or colored yet. I don't want to post anything online until I have a good enough buffer. However I can't manage even 1 page a week yet (my own laziness really) so I need to be a bit more dedicated about that. The last couple months I haven't done any work on it…

So basically all four are comics I haven't done much on yet because I'm lazy.

A funny thing with me is that I'm at my most productive when I have LOTS of things going on in my life. For the past few years there hasn't been so much, so I don't end up doing much. I think it takes my being really busy to realize the value of my free time. I'm hoping to start on a doctoral program soon so let's hope that gets me making comics faster. Rather than say, killing me from stress.


3. I noticed you enjoy a variety of media for your work. What's your particular favourite?

Skoolmunkee: Hm. That's a tough question. I love inking with my brush pen, I can't imagine inking with anything else. Most of my media-fiddling has been when it comes to colors. I've come to realize that I just don't like coloring much. Digital is easiest and fastest, but I hate being at the computer that long so all my digital coloring ends up really lazy. I've tried to convince myself that a Cintiq would make coloring a joy, but the price tag brings me back to reality. I love how tactile markers and crayons are, but coloring with markers takes freakin' forever. Plus, you make a mistake and that's it. And they're expensive. I might use them in the future but only on a project where I could use them casually – I'm using them to color the next 100 Pokemon currently. Crayons are just plain fun to color with but they're not good for anything very serious. I've used them to add a certain tone to the piece though. WILT wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't done with crayons. I keep thinking I'd like to pick up watercolors again and do a comic with those, but art supplies are so dang expensive… note to self, win lottery.

Mmmmm…. crayons!


4. Did you get so bombarded with questions from Drunk Duckers that you decided to make the comic “Answers”? (Which almost threatens to make this interview redundant) If not, is it really all just out of boredom like your first pages says?

Skoolmunkee: It really was just because I was bored and needed some ideas for things to draw. I've got more Pokemon to do now though so I've let Answers go. (There weren't any more questions coming in anyway.) The questions I get most from DDers is help stuff, that would be boring to make a comic about. Then again, if I made comics answering frequently asked help questions… then we might have some kind of help system. Huh…

… nah, then it would be too much like work.


5. What are your biggest artistic and writing influences?

Skoolmunkee: That's a hard question. (I cackle evilly) I don't usually make a conscious effort to absorb things or emulate styles. I'll just try to pick up something I like, like the way someone does noses or something. I'm really lazy about improving my art. I can tell you the things I really admire though, which probably have an unconscious effect on what I do.

I read and re-read my Castle Waiting book (by Linda Medley). I adore her drawing style, everything is so precise without being overworked. I'm especially impressed at the way she draws faces- she doesn't really exaggerate facial anatomy but they always have tons of expression. She doesn't skimp on backgrounds either. That's the kind of art I'd like to build up to, let alone the storytelling. It's hard to describe why I like her writing so much, it's just a perfect balance of everything I like. All her characters are immensely likable, realistic, and really distinct from one another. She's probably my second-favourite comic creator (after Mike Mignola). I can't wait until her next collected book comes out this year.

I love the way Tim Burton tells a story. My favourite movies of his are the ones like Edward Scissorhands or Big Fish, where there are semi-fantastic stories set in a real world and the line between the two is blurred. Guillermo Del Toro is really good at this too, especially with Pan's Labyrinth. Neil Gaiman does this really well too. At the end of the movie (or book, in Gaiman's case) you feel like you've just been a part of something kind of magical and you're not quite sure how much you should believe. There are other authors and filmmakers that do that kind of thing too, but I feel like those three do it best. When I finish watching something from one of them (except some of the questionable Burtons, sometimes he's kinda crap) I go “I wish that was MINE! Why can't that be mine?”

I also have to say This American Life (the radio show on NPR by Ira Glass) is something I hugely enjoy and respect. I know it's thematically aimed at middle-class white folks, but I am a middle-class white folk and there have been some really amazing things I've heard on that show. For those who don't know, every week has a theme, and the show consists of fiction and non-fiction stories, reports, essays, etc centered around that theme. Sometimes they're funny and other times they're informative or insightful, and sometimes there is a story that makes me cry. I'm not sure what it is about the show that influences me so much, I guess it makes me think a little differently and helps me be able to find stories where I wouldn't have expected otherwise. Also, I can't always tell which stories are fiction and which aren't.


6. Are ever going back to the “Repository of Dangerous Things”, or “What I Learned Today”? And what are the chances of that 5th page ever being finished for “Life in 5 Pages”?

Skoolmunkee: I bet Brad (the writer) put you up to that ‘Life’ question didn't he? (No, I just did some research beforehand so I could be a pain in the arse :)) OK, I will make a special effort to finish it this week! It'd be ‘bout damn time…

I will probably never come back to RDT or WILT. At the time those were the right comics to do, but not any more. I have other stuff to work on. About a year or so ago I agreed to involve RDT a bit with a big webcomics crossover project, and had to draw a few new things for RDT- it felt like a big chore. I just wasn’t in the RDT mental zone any more.


7. Do you have any favourite characters from any of your comics, and why?

Skoolmunkee: They're all my favourites, for different reasons. However I think the one I like best is Golem. He wasn't very original but there's just something very appealing about a character who can't speak. I think the reason I like him so much is because I know so much more about him than any readers of the comic ever knew. I tried to reveal more about Golem sometimes, but I think having him be too obvious would have ruined him.

I never really ‘loved’ any of my characters- I used them for different things and gave them personalities, but I was indiscriminately mean to all of them (in the interest of humor) except Golem. I felt like I could do anything with any of them except Golem. That probably means all the other characters weren't very good. I didn't have as strong an attachment about who they were or what was ‘acceptable’ for them as I did for Golem.

One of my friends made me some felt dollies of Davis and Golem, so they keep me company in my office at home. Whenever I get sick of sitting at the computer working, Golem reminds me that I should suck it up because it could be worse, I could be incapable of speech and have a crush on a man-hating immortal she-devil woman and have to deal with life threatening dangers every day.



8. If you were a dangerous thing, what would you be and why would you be dangerous?


Skoolmunkee: If?

OK, hm… well, I'm the kind of person that is slow to anger and easily forgives, but once I'm mad I can get pretty angry and it's not unheard of for me to hold a grudge. So I suppose I'd be some kind of land-mine disguised as a teapot. I'd be leftover from the American Revolution- I'd have been planted in England-sympathizing houses so when they heated the water to make their treacherous American-hating tea, BOOM, teapot shrapnel (and boiling water) everywhere!

Ironically I am in actuality an American living in England and don't want to leave anytime soon- they have a much better handle on things like, say, public transport, health care, workers' rights, and Indian food.

So, Skoolmunkee is actually a teapot landmine. That plays with dolllies. Which is all Ronson's fault.


9. What are the traits that you find really admirable in a comic, and how successful do you feel your own comics are in achieving these traits? Are there any comics in particular you could list as being examples of having these traits?

Skoolmunkee: Well, just to make a point about this- there are a lot of elements to making a comic, and I think that most things that a person admires can be put into a comic somehow. The way a filmmaker tells a story isn't exclusive to film, etc. So I've sort of answered this already with your earlier question!

I like a comic that has a clear story to tell and is a bit fast paced. I get bored with a comic when it seems like it's losing its focus. I stopped reading the otherwise-great Powers for that reason. Pacing on the whole is really important to making a successful comic, *especially* with webcomics. When you only update one or two pages a week, you have to keep things moving along and each page needs to be important on its own. So the people who realize that each page is premium real estate have my respect. I didn't do that so much with RDT, but sometimes I could do it. WILT I was much better about that- I had one panel and one caption line, so whatever I put there required some thought. Let's see, a good example would be Gunnerkrigg Court- each page is something interesting on its own, moves the story along, and leaves readers in anticipation somehow of the next page.

I like comics that are realistic, have some element of the fantastic, are funny in their ways, and most especially show some type of creativity, personality, etc… I think that as a creative endeavour, comics should reflect a person's creativity. That sounds obvious but it isn't. There are piles and piles of uncreative comics out there that haven't distinguished themselves in any way. So comics that come along that are truly unique or ‘stamped’ by the author in some way, I pay attention to those. You can check my profile page's recommended comics for some examples of that, and most of the featured comics too.

I also have a lot of comic-makers I get through my LiveJournal's friends page… my two favourites are nedroid (who makes Reginald and Beartato comics) and Kate Beaton (who does comics about Canada and historical stuff). Oh, and Elio, who has an incredibly amazing wonderful retro style that fills me with poisonous envy.


10. What are the traits you find least desirable in a comic?

Skoolmunkee: I don't really like comics that drag out. There's a point where decompression just gets boring. Most of the time it's just the writer not having tight enough writing, with a lot of space they've filled up only loosely. I think all comics do this sometimes. Even my favourite comics have some off-chapters and that's ok. But when the whole comic is structured around this ‘vaguely filled space’ thing, I dunno. I just don't like it. Blade of the Immortal is the worst offender- it's a good comic but everything takes forever. I can only read it in big batches otherwise I forget who people are and what's supposed to be going on. A lot of manga seems this way to me, actually. Except Yotsubato! which is perfect.

I also think less of comics that have a lot of in-jokes, deliberate nods, guest cast members, etc. I did that kind of thing with RDT and WILT, and I thought it was fun at the time, but I can see how that it really hurt the quality of the comic. I even put contest winners in the comic as a character- they may not have been obvious to the readers, but they were obvious to me. The comic can stop being a story at some point and becomes a collection of things you've got some compulsion to include. I just find it really irritating when I'm reading a comic and am really involved in its world, when all of a sudden some character that doesn't fit comes in, or a pop culture joke, etc. I suppose that sort of thing can be included intelligently, but most of the time I find it really distracting. Boxes in the background with ‘MGS’ written on it, that kind of thing. Surely there was a better way to put in a Metal Gear Solid joke, if you wanted to include it that badly.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
smkinoshita at 11:29AM, June 15, 2008
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joined: 8-20-2007
PART THREE: EXTREMELY EXCITING QUESTIONS

1. So, how did you become an administrator?

Skoolmunkee: Sort of by accident, I think. DD had a really terrible crash a few-three years ago where everything, even the backups, were lost. Volte had to re-code everything from scratch. One day when I checked the site to see if it was up and running yet, I saw I had access to the admin forum which I'd never had before. I was wondering if that was a mistake and if everyone had access at that point, but when I read a post in there along the lines of “OK, we now have a hidden admin forum, and I think I've added everyone- Black Kitty, Ronson, Spang, and Skoolmunkee” I realized they thought I was already an admin. Hahaha!

Hi guys It's too late to un-admin me now!

You're supposed to cackle maniacally when you say something like that.


2. What is your scariest but publishable admin story?

Skoolmunkee: Most of our stories are really boring. None of them have been scary. Being an admin is pretty boring most of the time. The most exciting thing I do is feature comics and even that feels like work sometimes.

3. Has anyone ever attempted to bribe you to get their comic features in the News? If so, what was the bribe?

Skoolmunkee: I don't think I've been bribed (Pity), but I have been begged, whined at, and threatened. It's actually pretty difficult for me to check out all the comics I mean to, I make a real effort to dig through the site and find things. Then they all go on a ‘shortlist’ which is actually about 100 comics long most of the time… but by the time I get around to reading some of them closely, they've stopped updating or something. It's pretty rare when I hear about or see a comic and go ‘I must feature it immediately!’ I try to keep a variety too, so sometimes it's about being the right comic at the right time. Most people are patient though.

Being threatened was the most fun. I'm not sure what they thought they were going to do as retaliation if I wasn't going to feature them- apparently nothing, because I didn't feature them and nothing happened. There have been 2 or 3 people who got really arrogant about how wonderful their comic was and how they had X amount of readers and why weren't they featured yet and their comic is just as good as Y comic which was featured months ago and they think they deserve it. They usually have to end up waiting even longer to be featured because I don't like people being butts.

The vast, vast, vast majority of people don't bug us about features though. I think most people consider it a nice surprise if it does happen and don't bother lobbying us to get it featured. I get a lot more people telling me to feature someone else's comic than their own.


4. One day after opening a bottle of Aspirin, a genie pops out and gives you one Drunk Duck-related wish. What is your wish?

Skoolmunkee: My own code slave who will fix all the bugs and program improvements. He has to be a slave because I can't afford to pay him. Or her.


5. Do you ever feel like your job is more babysitter than administrator?

Skoolmunkee: Nah, not really. DD is pretty good. It's an easy place to admin. Usually there's no one going around being a jerk or intentionally stupid, and if we have to ask someone to do something like make their sig image smaller or to leave someone alone, they do.


6. Do you have a “Feel-Good” administrator story?

Skoolmunkee: Not offhand but occasionally someone will say thanks for putting up their newspost, and every now and then someone who's just been featured will send the admins a collective thank-you note. We try not to draw too much attention to ourselves and just be normal users as much as possible. When Black Kitty's mom died there were a ton of people leaving her messages and PQs, which was really great.


7. If someone wanted to be an administrator, how many hours should they be prepared to pour into the position?

Skoolmunkee: Well, someone will have to be on the site for a long time and really have been a good and well-liked community member before they could be an admin. It's a bit more flexible with mods, but an admin has got access to private user information and can affect users and some things on the site so we'd have to know that we could totally trust them to work in DD's best interests. Ozoneocean is the newest admin and he'd been on the site for something like 4 years, being a hugely active member, before we upped him to admin. So the initial time investment is probably a few thousand hours.

Once you're an admin you don't have to spend too long on the management stuff. We don't need to manage the users really- so admin tasks come down to things like deleting reported comments, answering posts in the help forum, asking people to make their sig images smaller, etc. Each admin kind of has their own thing they do. I gravitate more toward the newsposts and featuring so I think technically I spend more time ‘adminning’ than the others but that's because I'm sitting there reading comics I'm thinking about featuring. So it's hardly a chore. If you subtract the time reading maybe-featured comics, I don't think I spend more than say, 5 hours a week doing admin stuff, if that.


8. What is the #1 way for people to put themselves into the sites of your freeze-ray?

Skoolmunkee: Basically by making an idiot of themselves on the site. Spamming comic comments, being a stupid on the forums, etc. What people post on the site is essentially the record of their involvement on the site- so people leaving truly idiotic comments, spamming, or trolling means that I don't want them in the community. If that person stops being dumb then I'm happy to let them be.

Thanks for your time, Skoolmunkee! I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I have, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it.
Fin.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
skoolmunkee at 1:50PM, June 15, 2008
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I have to say you saved the whole thing with your snarky comments, they make that boring 3-page thing worth reading :)
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
lba at 5:44PM, June 15, 2008
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I'm going to go with hilarious on both accounts. And I'm quite glad I'm a coffee drinker now.

Too bad I think I'm the only one who pokes their head into the interview forum any more.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
ozoneocean at 4:16AM, June 16, 2008
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I'm sticking to tea bags :(
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
smkinoshita at 6:35AM, June 16, 2008
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I'm surprised nobody picked up on the fact that she's a teapot landmine but she actually offered me tea. Which means she's either offering me her liquids or it was an attempt to kill me at the start of the interview. (Take your pick).

I think you're a bit too hard on yerself, Skoolmunkee. You did have some key points about a good comics and I really do think you should write the next Pokémon game. It could be called “Practical Pokémon”. Not only do you catch them all, but then you farm them for meat. And if you wanted to get really twisted, you use some of your pokémon to do the slaughtering for you… (evil smile)

“SOYLENT GREEN IS POKéMON!!”
“So?”
“I'm just sayin',”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
amanda at 7:48AM, June 16, 2008
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This was a really fun read (yes, ALL of it) - I like knowing people's stories, and it's pretty cool that the usual interviewer got interviewed. *high five to Smkinoshita* Love the commentary, too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:51AM
skoolmunkee at 12:28PM, June 16, 2008
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smkinoshita
you should write the next Pokémon game. It could be called “Practical Pokémon”. Not only do you catch them all, but then you farm them for meat. And if you wanted to get really twisted, you use some of your pokémon to do the slaughtering for you… (evil smile)

Harvest Moon: Pokemon!

Fields of exeggutors (their eyes make great straw holes) and a converted barn-warehouse full of wailords in pokeballs!

You could bribe the little colored elves to do the slaughtering too, just like the normal farm work.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
smkinoshita at 3:50PM, June 16, 2008
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Harvest Moon Pokémon? Oh my God, you've invented the ULTIMATE GAME with just THREE WORDS. I have never had the desire to purchase a game system for just one game… until… NOW. And yet the game only exists in my fevered imagination.

It's getting rave, fevered, imaginary reviews! Wooooo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
ozoneocean at 9:51PM, June 16, 2008
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I think I remember Skool saying that Bulbusaur would be the tastiest Pokemon because he's got his own garlic pod on his back. Yummy!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
lba at 7:57AM, June 17, 2008
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skoolmunkee
Harvest Moon: Pokemon!

Fields of exeggutors (their eyes make great straw holes) and a converted barn-warehouse full of wailords in pokeballs!

You could bribe the little colored elves to do the slaughtering too, just like the normal farm work.

That's what I was thinking of.

You could have Miltanks for milking and keep a pen full of Doduos to harvest for feathers and meat. Maybe chop down a few Sudowoodos to build more property.

It think it's time to write Nintendo about doing a crossover series. I'd dig out my old game systems to play it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
ozoneocean at 8:13AM, June 17, 2008
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I see a sequel to Animal Farm, with Mewtwo in charge…
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
smkinoshita at 6:46AM, June 23, 2008
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I see MewTwo in a nice red wine sauce, with garlic, parsley, and rosemary.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:49PM
Bocaj at 8:02PM, June 24, 2008
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Great interview! (On both parts!)
Very funny and interesting.

I guess I'd eat Oddish :/

Also, skool, will you change my diaper and feature my comic? Please???

Don't read Rape.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:31AM
skoolmunkee at 6:08AM, June 25, 2008
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NEVERRRRRRRR
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM

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