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<   No. 858   2005-06-02   >

Comic #858

1 {scene: the picket line of Deaths}
1 Head Death: {walking along the line, stopping at Fireballs} My my... Quite the little show of support you have going on here, Fate Worse Than Death...
2 Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs: That's right. Until our demands are met, nobody's souls are getting collected!
3 Head Death: That's what you think! I'm hiring a bunch of guys to do the reaping while you're all here standing around!
4 Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs: You... you're hiring scabs?!
4 Head Death: Lesions, actually. The Plagues haven't had much to do in the past century or so.

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Finally, here is the result of the caption contest announced back at #849. This winning entry was submitted by Bobcat. Congratulations!

[Edit: It seems this one is a bit tricky for non-native English speakers to get - sorry about that. The common definition of a scab is the crust over a wound. Colloquially, though, a scab is a strike-breaker - someone who defies a picket line and goes to work for the employer.]

There were entries from 74 people, some of whom submitted a few different scripts, so I had over 80 to choose from. In the end it was quite difficult and I really dithered between this one and the following entry from Lee Butler:

Head Death: You don't really think this is going to work do you? There aren't enough of you to make a difference.
Fate Worse Than Death: You'd be surprised, there are hundreds and thousands of our comrades joining us.
Head Death: A single Death is a tragedy; a million Deaths is a statistic.
Fate Worse Than Death: I thought you'd come to sort this out, but you're obviously just stallin'.
For this impeccably presented Joseph Stalin pun, Lee wins the runner-up prize. (Which is nothing, just like the first prize!) Both these entries could easily have been the winner on sheer funniness, but I chose Bobcat's script over this because it led more naturally into the direction I plan to take this story arc.

And rounding out my top ten picks (yes, you get ten gags today!), in no particular order:

Steven Mock:
Head Death: You've really gone and done it this time.
Fate Worse Than Death: I don't think you can push us around any more.
Head Death: That's the problem, you didn't think about what happens when I have to pay you bone heads!
Fate Worse Than Death: Ooooh... Noooo, not that!
Head Death: Yes, Fate Worse Than Death, you're going to have to pay Taxes!

Michael Peterman:
Head Death: Enough of this, Fate Worse than Death. Get back to work!
Fate Worse Than Death: We're not backing down! It's going to come down to whoever blinks first.
[Silent panel]
[Slient panel. Zoom in tighter on the faces]
Head Death: This could take a while, you know.
Fate Worse Than Death: Especially since we don't have eyelids.

Juha Pitkänen:
Head Death: So you're on strike?
Fate Worse Than Death: Yes. Until our demands are met.
Head Death: That will never happen! Now get back to work, all of you! Or else...
Fate Worse Than Death: Or else what? We're already dead.
Head Death: There are fates worse than death!
Fate Worse Than Death: Are you forgetting my current assignment?

Darkman:
Head Death: You do realise you're violating your existential contract?
Fate Worse Than Death: What contract?
Head Death: [words in teeny-tiny "small print" font] "Upon reception of aforementioned requested compensation the undersigned (heretoafter referred to as "the cursed") shall be issued: uniform, imortality, and bleach. At such time the cursed shall for eternity provide "reaping services" at the sole discretion of the supervisory council."
Fate Worse Than Death: I don't remember signing that. Why would I do something so moronic?
Head Death: Two words: Banana Split.
Fate Worse Than Death: Oh...
Head Death: It could be worse. Choking On A Giant Frog over there settled for a scoop of vanilla.

Chris Cunningham:
Head Death: Well, Fate Worse Than Death, I have decided to give everyone a salary and to compromise on your job request.
Fate Worse Than Death: What are your conditions?
Head Death: All the Deaths only get paid when you properly complete an assignment.
Fate Worse Than Death: That doesn't seem so bad. And my job?
Head Death: I have decided to give you a promotion!
Fate Worse Than Death: Great! I accept!
Head Death: Good! You are now Death By An Insanely Overpowered Fireball While Being Sat On By A 900 Year Old Giant Frog That Died Of Natural Causes.
Fate Worse Than Death: Wait... Noooooo!!!
Head Death: It seems your impatience has undone you again, Fireballs.

Adrian:
Head Death: What do you hope to achieve here?
Fate Worse Than Death: We hope to get wages, of course, and we refuse to work if we don't.
Head Death: And what would you spend these wages on, exactly?
Fate Worse Than Death: Well, we've been thinking of having a kind of stall, where we all sell different things, maybe have some rides.
Head Death: Bah! At best you'd be selling old bones. And dead souls don't want rides. It'd be terrible.
Fate Worse Than Death: Hmm, now that you mention it, it would be pretty bad...
Fate Worse Than Death: Yes... I think it would be a Fete Worse Than Death.

Jericho Brown:
Head Death: The souls in need of reaping are piling up! This strike is causing chaos, it must end!
Fate Worse Than Death: We refuse.
Head Death: This strike will end now!
Fate Worse Than Death: Not until our demands are met!
Head Death: Why are you doing this?
Fate Worse Than Death: It's my job.
Head Death: What?!
Fate Worse Than Death: Eternal labour negotiations is a Fate Worse Than Death!

John Kelly:
Head Death: Fate Worse Than Death, what is it you're trying to accomplish here?
Fate Worse Than Death: We only want what's due to us! Fair wages for our labours!
Head Death: Fair wages? You're an incarnation of a metaphysical concept! What do you need money for?
Fate Worse Than Death: Well, we spent about fifty bucks on these signs...

Thanks to everyone who entered! There were also a few good individual lines and ideas that I've tucked away for possible use later on.
2014-07-26 Rerun commentary: Ah, the caption contest! It's a good way to come up with a wide variety of interesting gags that one never would have thought of by oneself.

The tricky bit is reading and then picking the best entry out of dozens or hundreds of submissions. So in the end it can end up being more work than if you'd just written a gag yourself.

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