Hey, all you necrofowliacs! Welcome to the next installment of this "Dead Duck" episode, "A MINION OF DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY"! Here's your trivia fix:

  • Individually, I love a lot of panels in this story. But as a whole, I really love this entire page. The layout, the character designs, and the individual "business" of each character feels like a real accomplishment for me. As for the "business", that's an acting term I picked up in college. It's what a character does on stage, either while speaking, reacting to what someone else is saying, or just being a part of the background. You don't want to detract from the focus of the scene, but you always want to be engaged in the scene, to be a part of it. I believe it's important to be a good actor, and have the characters you draw be good actors, if you want to be a good cartoonist. I feel that I am, and I credit the training I got in college and in community theater with giving me those skills.
  • "Sweet angel of mercy" was a term that I concocted back in 2002 for my second homemade horror film, "Son of Scurvy" (sequel to "Scurvy"), written and directed by me and spoken by my actor and best pal, Pat Dooley.
  • The character in panel two who questions Chum is my friend Chad Porter. Chad hails from my favorite city of Toronto, so it felt very appropriate to slip him in as a cameo in this Canadian-set story.
  • I promised you back on page eight of this story that I'd explain more about my mysterious head-sniffing character. Allow me to introduce you to Aggie Onionskin, one of my most favorite one-off characters that I ever created (one-off meaning a character I only intended to use once). I wanted to create a doomsday character, similar to those you've seen in classic horror films like "Friday the 13th" (You're doomed! You're all doomed!!"), but I also wanted that character to be a see'er. Giving her the "second smell" seemed like an unexpected twist and good gag, and certainly a fun visual, seeing her sniffing heads and predicting weird futures for those being sniffed. I knew I wanted a short, dumpy little Gypsy-type character, and my initial inspiration was Mad Madame Mim from the 1963 Disney cartoon, "The Sword in the Stone". Mim is probably my favorite cartoon witch ever, and a wonderful character. I allowed my inspiration to drift into the realm of Jim Henson, and drew similar reference from the character Aughra from his film "The Dark Crystal" (1982), and from the The Junk Lady from Jim's film "Labyrinth" (1986). My final design was inspired by those references in spirit, but ultimately came from my own imagination. Aggie Onionskin's name came from the names of two types of marbles, Aggie and Onionskin. I'm not sure what made me go to marbles for the character's name. I already knew of "aggies" from my childhood, and probably thought it'd make a good first name. I believe that prompted me to look up other marble names, and from that, I slapped together a fun moniker.
  • The redhead getting sniffed by Aggie in the last three panels was modeled after my friend and former co-worker from days as a parks and rec employee, Erin Reardon.
  • While I wanted Aggie to foresee the future, I didn't want to lose the humor of the character, so I punctuated all her predictions with a ridiculous prophecy. "Your goldfish has decided to vote Republican" was comedy gold to me when I wrote it, and it still cracks me up today.
  • I loved the design of Aggie so much that I recently reappropriated it for my new comic, "Bodie Troll", which is published by Red 5 Comics and will be released this March. Aggie makes a cameo in issue #1 as a chimney sweep.

See you on the next page!

--Jay