gabby's playhouse

a gabby schulz & ken dahl internet repository

gabby's playhouse

look for the hidden pattern

(click it bigger)

Upon a recent evening we accompanied a homeowning neighbor down to Ye Olde Local Bureaucracy, to (non-)participate in some Democracy (and skew a vote on Section-8 housing) (which never happened). It was about what you’d expect — a nice reminder of why we no longer dungeon-crawl the supercilious kabuki farce of municipal politics. Or go outside at all, really.

By the way, those are all actual quotes from an actual meeting, spoken by “actual” people. The original watercolor is available in the store..

the very quotidian meridian

Here’s more watercolor diary comics about our exciting life. If you can keep your fingers from spasmodically quivering from the adrenaline, you can click over to the store to buy the original (which, as usual, looks better than this scanned pixel-town crap). (We also put another comic up there too.)

the status

Click on it to make it bigger. The original is available over in the store.

We don’t know if it’s SADs or what — maybe so, if that stands for Sucking At Drawing — or maybe D.R.E.A.M. (Depression Rules Everything Around Me). But it’s been a pretty grim couple of weeks over at the Playhouse. Cloudflare, which is some kind of caching cloud magic foo-foo internet shit we were pretty much commanded to use by our webhost, just told us we’ve exceeded our limit & took our site down, so, in order to keep from spending more money, we had to stop hosting our “Sick” strip. It was just too popular to live. At least on our budget. You folks will just have to stare off into the horizon & dream of better days, when this half-assed little webcomic will magically transform into a real paper Graphic Novel sometime next year. If the asteroid can wait, that is.

This week we’ve also resolved to take a break from both the internet and alcohol, the two things that mean most to us in life. Well maybe drawing would be up there, but we’ve been taking a break from that too lately, as we’re starting to feel our body shut down with all this inactivity. We started swimming at the public pool, and have taken to strolling about town with our face set in a grim, painfully sober frown. Columbus is a great place sometimes, but we’ve also recently been suffering a profound crisis of faith in ourselves & our decisions in life, & in that light, every decision in every city looks like a bad one. In about a month we turn 40, which feels for all the world like a day of reckoning. Here we are, our potential & youth finally sapped, with nothing but the compromise-slicked gutter-slide of middle age paving our “future.” Time to ask the cosmos: Have we led a life worth living? Have we earned our privileges & our failures? Does a heroin OD even count as “burning out” now that so much of us has already faded away? Will we ever have health insurance? The cosmos can only stare back with its impenetrable deadpan, in silence.

And so, as the bombs rain down on children in Palestine & the black mold slowly creeps across a decimated, black & freezing New York, we can offer little more than silence ourselves. We have less idea of the way forward, for us or for the world, than ever before. And if, as they say about life, it’s not the destination but the journey, we damn sure ain’t doing it right. But we suppose that’s pretty much par for the course these days, & we’re in good company (ourselves) all the way down. Here’s hoping you’re all emotionally stable enough for the coming holidays. And thanks for reading.

One reader’s thoughts

This in our inbox yesterday, from reader “Saga Silkesmo” ([email protected]):

You know, if that “privilege” is such a horrible, oppressive thing to live with, I’d be more than happy to beat the living daylights out of you if it makes you feel better. I’d be more than happy to make fun of you, to stare at you, to shun and despise you. I’d be more than happy to stalk you so you’ll constantly fear a knife in the back if you so much as dare to venture outside. I would gladly ruin your life in a thousand petty, sadistic ways, if that is what you want.

Don’t talk about privilege as if it is some kind of fucking burden. If you knew how fucking lucky you are, you wouldn’t be so disgustingly whiny. You make me want to vomit, you ungrateful piece of shit.

And our (slightly edited) response:

Relax, we know exactly how lucky we are. And we think we made that clear in the comic. The point of “Sick” isn’t to whine about how privilege is a “burden”; it’s to point out that privilege is a violent & oppressive force, & that privileged people should be responsible for that. That’s so self-evident in the word “privilege” that it feels redundant to even have to point it out, here or in my comics.

We are all locked into a system that turns some of us into agents of evil in other people’s lives just by the fact of our indulgence in privilege. So how do we address that? Maybe could have just drawn a comic that went on about how lucky & grateful we privileged people feel to have white skin or a dick or education; but that would make for one shitty, useless comic. Yeah, privilege is great. We get it: having nice things is nice. Not living in fear is wonderful. Being born on the winning side of 800 years of genocide & slavery is spectacularly fortunate. No one’s arguing that.

But that people could be content with the fruits of this privilege without ever examining its source, or its effects on others — that’s what makes us want to vomit. With that comic we’re trying to lead the reader past the obvious to examine how privileged people create & maintain injustice, ignorance & evil. Maybe it fails at that, who knows — but to call it “ungrateful” is to suggest that privilege is just, and that the evil it causes is out of our control.

What we’re saying is: it’s pretty dim to accept privilege at face value. That’s a very basic, non-controversial thing to say. Acceptance of privilege is what allows it to keep inequality in place. And feeling content — much less “grateful” — about that would be fucking ghoulish.

Thanks for the input. And the death threats!
-Gabby’s Playhouse

And with this, we now instate an indefinite moratorium on the word “privilege” on the Playhouse blog.

In related news: we’re presently on a carpal-crushing photoshop marathon in the hopes of meeting our Halloween deadline for turning in the book version of “Sick” (working title) to our publisher. It’s a finished, polished, and much-honed improvement on the web version (which we won’t be linking here to save bandwidth), sure to utterly destroy any chances of us having a “career in art,” much less a social life. Who knows, it could even get us a “knife in the back” someday! Check back here for developments as they happen.


(click bigger)

The original version of this thing’s up for sale at the store. Actually this picture you see is a little unfinished — we’ve added a bit more color to it since we scanned it (10 minutes ago). So, it’ll be even nicer than this at no additional cost.

Also, as implied in the comic, we have a new address now! We’re still deciding whether we’re too infamous to use our street address as our mailing address — but the issue should be resolved within a week.

dead, the cat ate us

First off we’d like to announce that the amazing Nate Beaty did some magic on our website & fixed the trouble we’ve been having with our shopping cart! Feel free to give it a spin, & also to thank Nate the next time you’re buying one of his comics. Also we’re still out of Weather, but have a few Monsters & plenty of Dahl House to spare, so feel free if you’re in the mood.

And now the apologies: Sorry everyone — every time we promise to update our blog more frequently, the exact opposite seems to happen. We’ve been obsessed with the black magic of shoehorning our “endless canvas” webcomic “Sick” into the Gitmo-like confines of Mere Paper’s finite pages. This format-fuckery has been so mystical & byzantine it has started to resemble actual quantum physics (whatever that is). Over the past few weeks we have taught ourselves the hard yet fascinating lesson that, submerged in any long comic, there exists a vast, intricate webwork of interdependent visual & narrative relationships — & that they are utterly disrupted by even slight changes in pacing, tone & aesthetics. So really, if you’re turning one long toilet-paper-like scroll of panels into a 6-panel, 3-tiered grid on paper pages, you might as well be drawing a whole new comic. And that’s about what we’ve been up to these days — hacking up the body of our comic & re-assembling it all in a format that Gutenberg can understand. Kind of like a reverse human centipede. Unfortunately, all this has happened at the expense of our book’s original publication date, which has just been pushed back to November.

SPX was a fun time with old friends; we met a few new ones on the ride back to Ohio. As the leaves turn yellow & litter the wet Ohio streets this October, it looks like we here at the Playhouse offices will be upgrading our neighborhood from “Utter Nadir of Drug-And-Violence-Saturated Economic Despair Literally Not Technically Part of The First World” to “Gore-Spattered Front-Line Trenches of Urban Gentrification” — for just $70 more in rent! The house is the perfect Artist’s Hovel, and its damp & decrepit halls are sure to fortify us with the inspirational miasma of Squalor necessary for any Real Artist to maintain their Realness. Even better, all our roommates are sweethearts, our neighbors are freegan, & we’ll be closer than ever to the cheap beer, cheap food, art supplies, parks & laundromats we intolerable Art Types seem to consider so damn important to our bullshit little “creative process.” And, most importantly: an actual mailing address at least 35% less likely to be burgled.

So hopefully all that’ll mean more comics — especially considering that with increased rent comes an increased need to clutch in all directions at any wad of US currency within reach. Our crop of watercolors and commissions has laid fallow lately, but check this patch of garden soon for new sprouts of digestibles from your favorite cage-fed cartoonist.

In fact, as a little sample, we’ve included one that’s been stuck in the silo for a while.

postscript to the LSD (& a picture)

Regular readers might remember our recent Laughing Squid Debacle, in which we were presented with a $308 bill from our webhosts after hotlinking of our “Sick” comic blew up our bandwidth past all sanity. Well, our readers came to our rescue with extreme prejudice, erasing the entire sum of our debt in just one day!

And then, the next day, we get another email from Laughing Squid — it turns out that the Earnest Plea we’d written them, begging not to charge us (& offering, we thought, a couple trenchant reasons for it too), did not fall on deaf ears. Against our wildest, most jaundiced expectations, they did in fact decide to waive our entire overcharge bill (and rewrite a section of their terms of service to address the flaw i brought to their attention).

Haha, WHOOPS. Well: 1. Yay; but also 2. We sure as hell weren’t expecting that! And so 3. It appears we have had a (successful) fundraiser for nothing.

After a couple days of cursing/celebrating our ability to present email arguments so salient/pit-enducing that they can alter the very flow of capital, we were forced to address the obvious question: What do we do with all this money? You beautiful people just gave us no small amount of your earnings for a reason, and now suddenly, the Invisible Hand of the internet market has wisked that reason away ex post facto. Clearly, this is an ethical quandary of a caliber unlike any the Playhouse has yet faced, and might even lend truth to Adam Smith’s dictum, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

The good news is, figuring out what to do with extra cash is about the best problem we here at the GP could dream up. Our first impulse, of course, is to just give it all back. However, like any usurer worth their cloak of baby skin, paypal tacks fees onto every transaction, so returning your $12 digital donation would basically amount to you giving free money to a corporation — which strikes us as a bit tragic, considering this wasn’t either of our intentions — however, if you donated money and would like it returned, we’re more than happy to oblige.

There are other options as well: such as parlaying your donation toward another noble cause relevant to keeping Gabby’s Playhouse’s comics up & running. For example, our ride to&from the Small Press Expo might have just unexpectedly fallen through, and since this comics event is only a couple weeks away, we’re looking at a choice between a full-retail Dirty Dog ticket, and Just Staying In Ohio. Choosing Option 1 could alone quite easily dispatch with over half of our donation-box!

For the other half, we had all sorts of ideas — art supplies, a backup external drive, printing t-shirts, making some sort of puppet show, paying our federal income taxes. We even thought about buying a bus ticket to some terrifying out-of-the-way place, renting a room for a couple days & drawing a comic about the (probably painfully boring) results.

Or, we could just stow it in a special jar for the next time this website has a financial crisis.

What we’d like to make clear is that, since Laughing Squid doesn’t want their pound of e-flesh after all (and props to them for that), we still consider this bailout fund your money, in a way. If you have any bright ideas for how we should earmark these assets, please let us know in the comments!

But first, here’s a Picture (for sale in the Store):

OH! And we promised we’d put “Sick” up on the Playhouse if it was still standing after last week, and have been working hard to do so — but it turns out this thing is so huge that it requires some special attention just so it doesn’t tank our site again. We even tried making a tumblr for it, but the max image size was way too small. If anyone has any suggestions about how one might go about putting a comic that huge up on the website without Chaos ensuing, we’d love to hear about it.

The internet taketh, The internet giveth

GOOD NEWS!!!!! As of this posting, thanks to the kind, super-rad, completely selfless & genuinely magnanimous donations of you or people like you, we’ve recouped almost our entire losses from the Laughing Squid Debacle [LSD]!!!! We pledge our souls to the following adorable individuals:

Dragon Messmer
Alex Nall
Claire Burville
Nicholas Underwood
Elisabeth Loge
Ian Gabriel
Matthew Cowley
Zachary Allen
Tiago AKL Prado
Kyle Holtan
John Retallick
Thomas Ragon
Leigh Walton
Damien Jay
Andrew Brown
Dan Farrow
Cody Gieselman
Shannon Smith


Alec Longstreth
David King
Karen Torres
Laila Emir
Candace Carpenter

Thanks to your cumulative efforts, Gabby’s Playhouse lives to futz another day! For another whole month, in fact. We know (all too well) how much effort it takes to release the grip on our own hard-earned portion of pelf, and honestly, we’re pretty impressed with your initiative. Ayn Rand would definitely not approve — but we sure do, and she was on welfare anyway. Thanks also to the kind concerned folks who forwarded or retweeted our distress call.

We’ll take down the donate buttons on the previous post & pick up the last $1.16 in Laughing Squid fees ourselves, to avoid the possibility of actually profiting off of your pity! And, of course, we’ll let you know when the “Sick” comic is up on the site proper, clothed in this new anti-hotlinking wordpress plugin we got.

(PS sorry there’s no images here we wanted to post this as soon as possible so we could take the donate buttons down)

Today’s RDA of irony (and an SOS)

Hello everyone. We here at the Playhouse must indulge in a rare episode of Complete And Desperate Earnestness.

So there’s this webcomic we’ve been drawing over the past year — some of you might know it as “Sick.” For a while we were posting it in episodes on this website. That is, until we realized that the traffic to our site was high enough to draw down bills of up to $200 a month from our pay-per-byte webhost,

So we switched to Laughing Squid, a host which came well-recommended, & offered a nice cheap plan with a decent ceiling — 25 gigs of bandwidth a month for just $8. In the switch, due to our incompetence, we lost our old database, which contained every line of text and every pixel of art from every Playhouse post ever made. Oh well, at least we were saving money now. Playhouse 2.0 rose from the wreckage. We’ve done alright for ourselves, selling the odd watercolor and book. A month later, everything seemed to be coasting along pretty smoothly.

Then last week, we get an email. It is from the nice people at Laughing Squid, and they seem very interested in talking with us. It seems that, in the single month since we’d started using their hosting service, our website had gone a tiiiiiiiny bit over their usage limit — about, oh, 1600% over. It turned out that, this whole time we thought we were running a modest little vanity website, we were actually the kingpins of a vast entertainment empire, doling out 1,727 GB worth of bandwidth to viewers all over the internet — just a scant 1,702 GB over Laughing Squid’s allotted 25.


We couldn’t figure out how this could be so, as, according to our “Google Analytics,” we were only attracting a humble trickle of eyeballs to our website. The culprit, as the web-savvier among you have already guessed, is the dread Hotlink. It turns out that people were reposting the Living Hell out of “Sick,” and using our server space to do it.

Now, considering that “Sick” isn’t even posted on our website, & you could only read it if you knew its secret, special url, this was incredibly flattering. The problem is, we thought we were just giving it away for free. The reality is more like: we were bankrupting ourselves right off the internet just to show people some comics.

While we may know a thing or two about art, it turns out that we here at Gabby’s Playhouse don’t know a single solitary speck of a thing about business — or websites, for that matter. We got the bill from Laughing Squid today:

$308.16. For one month of webhosting.

Now, we’re not sure how big this figure looks to you — but to jobless, broke, artist-cliché us, it’s what we might call Pretty Effing Big.

If we had scuttled ourselves across these rocks of financial ruin through sheer idiocy or sloth, we would just keep it to ourselves & suck it up. But in this case, we thought we’d try a fascinating economics experiment!

Oh denizens of the Internet: we all know that “information wants to be free.” But whom would it rather be free for? Us — or You?

Perhaps as a way of proving our title as Worst Businesspeople Of All Time, we will now evoke the honor of an anonymous public as a means of acquiring financial gain! IF YOU, dear reader — or anyone you might know — especially the millionaires — have enjoyed, at any time, been affected or entertained by the consumption of “Sick” or any other of our comics — if they have moved you to tears, to laughter, to rage, to a quiet contemplation of the fragile complexity of this weird-ass Universe — if you have felt at all enriched, or altered, or pleasantly disturbed — if you think they’re at all worth it — would you consider donating a bit of stupid, useless cash our way? The amount, from $0.00 to the entire GDP of California — is entirely up to you. Literally, and honestly, ANY amount would be revered & considered sacred. No matter how little you toss in our hat, we’re guaranteed to still feel unworthy. We hate to beg, and we know how it is these days for all y’all out there in this New (non-)Economy. But we just couldn’t resist asking, because the idea of this website going bankrupt & disappearing due to the comics we put up on it being too popular is just be too painfully, hilariously, stupidly ironic to bear.


As a reward for all of you, if this website makes it through it’s latest financial Waterloo, we will put up
all available episodes of “Sick” in our “webcomics” section, so you not longer have to go sneaking around the black market to get your fix. (A finished version of it all will also be published by Secret Arces early next year!) We are also completely enthusiastic about sending free copies of our books to donors who throw down considerably weighty amounts.


And remember: money is the root of all evil — the sooner you get it off your hands, the better!


Seriously though, thanks for anything. We promise one day we’ll figure out a way to keep out of the gutter with our comics.

PPS: Laughing Squid has actually been extremely helpful in getting us immune to hotlinking, & streamlining our stupid clunky site in general. We even got to interact with Actual Real Humans during this meltdown. So they are clearly not Evil.

UPDATE, 8/24: We took down the paypal buttons because you people are so beautiful you pooled together enough $$ to pay our huge Laughing Squid bill in just one day! Thank you extremely much. See here for more info on what wonderful people you are.

the latest ooze

There’s a couple more watercolors up for sale at the store. Hmm. We’ve been having trouble classifying these comic-like watercolor objets d’cartoon — are they comics-blog updates? Should they be showcased as Readable Content, or Materializations of Commerce? Is there a way to treat them as both? Art’s fuckin’ crazy, isn’t it. Oh well — it all turns into tumblr in the end!

Which reminds me, maybe we should get a tumblr….

PS We really, really enjoyed painting the lush sunset in that Findley piece. Too bad sunsets are so nice & aren’t all about the Deep Ennui we feel as Tortured Artists, which limits our sunset-painting quota to 1 every 500 days — or two if there’s a dead body in the shot (hence).