I feel like I owe you an apology…

I got up this morning and read today’s Schlock Mercenary, and my first thought was “where’d the punchline go?”

Honestly, at some point SOMEWHERE I swear I thought today’s strip was going to be funny, or at least amusing, but for the first time I can remember, the gag fell COMPLETELY flat for me.

So… if it fell flat for you too, I’m sorry.

If it WORKED for you, and you actually found it amusing, or (and I’d find this hard to believe) you actually laughed out loud, please let me know. I’d certainly feel better, as it would mean that all I need to do is recalibrate my humor receptors, rather than fall on my sword.


43 thoughts on “I feel like I owe you an apology…”

  1. I didn’t laugh out loud, but I snickered audibly. What was funny to me was the strong implication that the mark potential employer was, shall we say, less than honest, and being caught on it with his pants down. Naive and trying to pull a fast one, as it were.

  2. So he’s about to have an assassination team bust in the door in a few minutes, and he’s telling the one guy who can save his life “um, don’t got the money, sorry”? That got an evil grin from me.

  3. I found it mildly funny. But really, you’re trying to tell a story in four panels a day; not every part will even *have* a “punchline”, per se.

    I read your stuff for the storyline, not necessarily because you throw me into uncontrollable belly-laughs every time I look at it. You’re a really good storyteller, and not a half-bad writer of science fiction.

    And a lot more entertaining than (for example) Orson Scott Card, who I understaind hails from down your way as well.

    1. Yeah, OSC is a … pardon me … *clears throat* card … carrying Mormon.


      But I found it amusing, Howard. Not one of your best jokes, and kind of gallows humor, but this is a bit of a military story, not so?

    2. Well, really, with Mr. Tayler, every comic does have a punchline.

      All of them.

      Some of them are funnier than others (I thought the 5/13 one worked fine) and some of them are pretty bad (my least favorite are the fourth-wall breaking ones) but I’m pretty sure that there’s always a punchline. It’s one of the things that impresses me so much about Schlock Mercenary: it does tell a story, and have a punchline, and fit into four panels (or four rows on Sundays) every single day.

      Which is quite a feat.

      1. Oddly enough, I always liked the fourth wall-breaking ones…. partly because I generally don’t expect them. I think Tayler pulls them off much better than most cartoonists.

    1. I got a chuckle–largely from the situation, if not the particular words, laughing at the audacity/naivete of Tem, and just the fun art of negotiation, as it were.

  4. I can’t explain why it worked, but it was amusing. I think partly
    its the way the expressions are drawn and the way I imagined the voices
    that went with it… And like other posters said, you’re trying to tell
    a story, there’s going to always be trade-offs between four-and-a-laugh
    and a story arc. Just take it wherever your muse tells you too, man,
    you haven’t erred yet (IMHO) and I’ve read every strip you’ve published. 🙂

  5. The combination of “This is what Tagon got killed over?” combined with the chutzpa of saying “no, you get a flat fee for taking our cash rich governments treasury” made it amusing to me.

    In short, the punch line for me was panel 3.

  6. The second-to-last panel was the one that didn’t work for me — the ol’, say-what-you’re-lying-about-outright gag. But the final frame was giggly to me. Just a funny situation. Made me think of how, in a hopefully now-negated future timeline, he got blinded by Tagon’s attempt to de-brain him. And I thought “This guy deserves what he’s going to get– oh wait.”

  7. It wasn’t your best of punch lines, but I too enjoyed seeing Tem Phica trying to bullshit Pranger.

    I expect a high body count on Sunday.

    You’re also a horrible tease. I can’t wait to see what happens on sunday. I’m on the edge of my seat reading these comics to get to the resolution of this bit.

      1. Monday? Gasp! You’re doing it again! Tease! Tease!

        Oh man, now I’m gonna be bouncy all weekend just to see this…

      2. Lut’s reaction was “the ending on Sunday was bad, but Monday’s strip was unforgivable”.

        I wouldn’t go that far (I suppose I’ll manage to forgive you evnetually) but Monday’s was pretty extreme.

  8. No Laugh

    Sorry but this strip didn’t get a laugh, snicker or even a smile out of me. However, I don’t consider that a bad thing. Like Duane kc, I read your strip for the story as it is the exact type of Sci/Fi that I enjoy the most. If I find something funny (and I have many times) I consider that a pleasant bonus to an already great story.

    1. Re: No Laugh

      Okay, so I’m NOT crazy.

      Sorry about the no-funny. I really do try to make ’em funny every day, so that the daily payoff is more than just the inching forward of the story.


      1. Re: No Laugh

        Well, moving the story along is still worth it. It was more of a “I can’t believe he is THAT dumb” type of funny which you end up with in most sitcoms. You’ve just spoiled us by not employing that sort of LCD TV humor that frequently. 🙂

        1. Re: No Laugh

          LCD, eh? My television uses the more conventional cathode ray tube, but I guess if you’ve got active matrix TFT LCD TV, you’re pretty spoiled indeed.

          1. Re: No Laugh

            Actually, I do. It’s called a 19 inch LCD computer monitor attached to a computer with a TV card. 🙂

            Oddly enough, I only use it for games, and not for watching TV.

            * tries to look for the Lowest Common Denominator in the audience… Lets shoot for video games! 🙂 *

        2. Re: No Laugh

          Right, just put some canned laughter at the end of panel four, and then your average TV sitcom audience knows where the joke is!

          (This is of course because your average sitcom audience likely doesn’t have the attention span to connect the dots between “raiding the treasury”, “50% up front”, and “strapped for cash”. Schlockers generally do, I suspect.)

  9. I chuckled. And did again when I went to see what it was so I could comment. So it also seems to be reliably amusing.

  10. I smiled at it…watching Phica squirm a little as he tried to dance around not having the money he really needs was amusing.

  11. It amused me, mainly because of knowing what’s (possibly) about to happen to Tem Phica.

    I also read Schlock for the story, which consistently keeps me guessing and laughing and has never yet let me down. Every day’s strip isn’t hysterically funny; it doesn’t have to be. The story is the payoff, and it’s always good.

  12. “Sorry about the no-funny. I really do try to make ’em funny every day, so that the daily payoff is more than just the inching forward of the story.”

    Good in theory, but don’t stretch if it’s really tough to make it funny; the more contrived it is the weirder it’ll feel. I LOVE your storytelling, and looking at the rest of the replies, so does everyone else. The humour is like a delicious condiment that’s good on almost everything.

    That said, I had to re-read the strip to get my bearings, but panel three was pretty damn funny when I knew what he meant.

  13. It wasn’t a laugh-out-loud-funny strip like some many most of yours are, but I was amused. There’s a nice conflict between what Phica says in the third panel and what he admits in the fourth, and that juxtaposition is humorous. As another commenter said, it’s the “getting caught with his pants down” thing.

  14. No larf from me

    But then, reading Megatokyo a few years ago built up my tolerance for “not every update contains teh funnay”. Mind you, MT’s tendency to go for weeks without a good laugh is why I stopped reading it in the first place. (I preferred Rodney’s writing)

  15. For what it’s worth, I found it pretty amusing in the same way that this classic punchline from Monty Python is funny:

    Gent: “Are you insinuating something?”
    Wag: “No, no, no, no, no, no, yes.”

  16. I thought it was funny in a dry humor way, and I liked it. But then, I worked as a consultant myself for many years…

    (This is Joe from the pirate party at Penguicon, btw)

  17. The comment about not standing in front of the door did get a smile out of me.

    I almost never laugh out loud at a comic, so actually getting a smile is a pretty good accomplishment.


  18. Not a gut-buster but certainly entertaining.

    Seems to be the running theme… don’t fret over it. It’s certainly not apology worthy. : ]

  19. I actually read this first, remembered that I somehow got a few days behind on the comic (being away from the house, plus a computer crash, can do that), and then went and read it.

    Yeah, ok, so it wasn’t especially funny as a standalone, but it carried its weight in plot. And it was entertaining wondering whether the negotiation had gotten to that point in the previous round or not.

    Meanwhile, sir, I must say that if it was deficient, the artwork in Sunday’s strip certainly makes up for it. It was well worth whatever stretching of your talents it took to have it come out that way, and I’ll also say that I don’t see any evidence as to which panels you had difficulty with. Nice work!

  20. Friday 13th Strip

    Er…what are you smoking, Howard? This is a perfectly fine bit of comedy. 🙂 I enjoyed it immensely. Not all humor is ROTFL – this was a rich moment of irony…just the kind of comic i appreciate on a friday. 🙂


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