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1990S - Everybody Hates Kevin by jbwarner86 1990S - Everybody Hates Kevin by jbwarner86
1990somethingcomic.com/

This arc is almost over. The grand conclusion will take up pretty much all of April. Of course, then I'll have to focus on the arc I'm doing with Aaron and his dad.

I'll be honest, writing Nineteen-Ninety-Something isn't as much fun as it used to be. Crafting the conclusion of this Kevin vs. Lindsay arc has left me an emotionally drained wreck. And considering this is not a paying job and just something I do for fun, when it stops being fun, I kinda have to step back and consider what I'm doing wrong. Blowing up my antagonists from sulky jerks to emotionless murderous monsters might've had something to do with it. I'm not sure how I went from nostalgic '90s jokes to that.
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:iconkinggigasmon:
Kinggigasmon Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Like how you've handled Lindsay's redemption arc.
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:iconjoeywaggoner:
JoeyWaggoner Featured By Owner Edited Mar 14, 2018  Student Artist
Honestly I think it's for the best that you take a long break from doing this strip. Especially if you yourself are unhappy doing it. I've said my opinions on how the series turned out multiple times in the past so I'll try not to repeat myself, but this ultimately went way too dark way too fast. Even with comedic dramas start off a bit more light hearted and gradually get more dramatic over time, with 1990 Something things got really dark and depressing almost immediately. I understand you wanted to give these characters more depth and there's nothing wrong with that, but at the same time a lot of memorable characters are the ones who are simple.

I also understand that you wanted to illustrate your frustrations with current events, there's nothing wrong with that either. We all need to vent out occasionally, and doing that through artwork can be good, but there's also a danger of overdoing it as well which can become very unpleasant.

An issue might also be the format it was presented. A reply comment you posted earlier mentioned the issues of doing this type of story in a comic strip due to small fragments of the story being released day by day, but for me the big issue was the fact that you kept putting a joke at the end of nearly every strip. This wouldn't be an issue if this was a more comedic strip, but when most of the stories are extremely dark centering around racists, rapists, sexist, and insane murderers, having those small jokes in each final panel just gives off a huge case of mood whiplash (like someone telling a joke after hearing that a family member just died).

Still I hope you don't feel too bad that this didn't turn out as you hoped. Remember what Meet the Robinsons taught us "From Failure you learn, from success not so much." So think of this as a learning experience, you tried something experimental and risky and it didn't turn out well, but you've come out of this wiser. So take some time to yourself to relax and reflect and then go on to your next project (maybe something on a smaller scale).
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:iconkingofswing617:
kingofswing617 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2018
In just a couple more hours we go back to dealing with this prick's bullshit for what is thankfully the final time. This is  gonna be an...interesting couple of weeks 
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:icondoodley:
Doodley Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2018
Why don't you start a Patreon or put ads on your website? I mean, you might not make a lot, but you can make a little bit of pocket change.

I also think once you handle two of the biggest pricks in the comic, you can return to a more calmer 90's nostalgia comic, murderer free!
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:iconkingofswing617:
kingofswing617 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2018
Tbh now that Tina's been redeemed I kinda wanna see her go mama bear on Kevin or Patrica
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2018
I just drew a strip today for the final Kevin story in April that might scratch that itch of yours :)
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:iconzim999:
Zim999 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2018  Professional Writer
What you are saying reminds me of an episode of "Jim Henson's Dog City", the episode was called "Meat The Butcher", in the episode Eliot Shag the creator had to use a creation his boss made who was crazy and he was hard to control, Meat would even try to hit Ace with a truck, hit him with a wrecking ball and blow him off the drawing board with a bazooka.
In the end the only way to stop Meat was to trick him into jumping into a canning machine.
Do you feel the same way with those psychopaths?
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:iconrbl-m1a2tanker:
RBL-M1A2Tanker Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Sometimes a character just evolves in that manner, and this one has always been portrayed as being an amazingly self-absorbed, entitled narcissistic ass.  Draining, to be sure, to write, but that's unfortunately the character.  He doesn't come across as redeemable.  He's very easy to dislike, because we've seen so many just like him.  And they usually don't change.  It's hard to make jokes about that. 
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:iconohnopeople:
Ohnopeople Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2018
Huh, hard to believe Julia was right all along...
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:iconkingofswing617:
kingofswing617 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Please just don't let him get away with violating Michelle.

Aside from that, I do feel that Nineteen Ninety Something's biggest weakpoint is the villains. There's nothing about them to enjoy. Even the most loathsome of bad guys should have something about them that we can like. Look at the Joker, he's a total monster, but a beloved villain, because as horrifying as he is, he is also genuinely funny. The NNS antagonists don't have anything like that, they are just incredibly awful and at times unnerving people who just make every strip they appear in incredibly unpleasent.

The other issue is that sometimes you make more horrible then they really need to be. Like Rick is a macho boorish prick, but does he need to be a attempted murderer as well? Same goes for Kevin and a lot of the shit he's pulled. And Lindsay back when she was a bad guy. The only bad guy was never turned into I flat out monster is Tina, her behavior while unbearable, never goes past uptight moral guardian, and now she's been redeemed.
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:iconcrackedrenamon:
crackedrenamon Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Not to be mean, but you know Kevin will, get away with it and only get a slap on the wrist.
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:iconodiegarfield:
odiegarfield Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
See, it's interesting, because I love what you did with Tina's arc, as she came out of the experience more level-headed and and well-rounded, and also more lovable. So that's my big thing, personally. As long as the characters grow and change for the better as a result of their arcs, I still think this can be a good story. Like Lindsay and Brad in this storyline, as well as Aaron and his mom in the Rick storyline.
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:icontheyakkoman:
theyakkoman Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
JB... don't know if you recall, but I made a comment with some constructive criticism on your OTDE strip waaay back in 2014.  (This strip: OTDE - Maturity ) You appreciated it back then, so I hope I may be of some help now again.

You've already identified the problem yourself: The antagonists are way to unsympathetic and downright nasty, not fun to write and not fun to read, and the protagonist feels constantly over-run and beaten down by them. 

So what's the solution?
 First of all, I want you to remember one thing; You went in this direction with the best of intentions. You wanted to explore your characters deeper, making them more "real" (Hell, I'd even argue it actually worked with Aaron), but in doing so you fell into the classic trap of confusing "real" with "dark". 
You're not the first to make this mistake. Hell, professional writers, producers and directors have made it. So don't feel bad about it, okay? You did it because you care about your characters. Because you care about your craft. So don't get beat down because you've made a mistake. Learn from it, grow stronger, move on. 

Now, what I think NNS is missing is, put simply, a sense of silliness that, for all it's flaws, the F16 incarnation had.
(What I mean by Silly is based on an old comic commandment: "Serious + Silly = Funny. Silly + Silly = Stupid", ergo a bit of silliness is needed for humour to work). 
Like George Carlin said: "Every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion."
That's were the silly comes in. It's the exaggeration. 
The problem with antagonists like Kevin and Rick is that they're already very extreme, so to exaggerate them is hard to do. Because just exaggerating is not enough, it's how you exaggerate. 
 Often you've gone in the nasty direction, missing the silly that if not likeable, at least makes the characters entertaining. 
Take a character like Tucker, for example. A teacher who doesn't get modern technology yet is forced to teach it, doesn't like kids and counts down the days to his retirement. Now, on paper, that can be quite funny. If Tucker did a half-assed job because he couldn't be bothered to care even though students like Michelle have a passion for the subject, spits cynical but fun comments and sometimes completely misses the jokes when the kids make fun of him, that could be entertaining. Instead he's a volcano, always erupting and not in a funny way either like Captain Haddock or Uncle Phil, but in a genuinely threatening way. His rants are not creative, just swearword-filled beatdowns, and that is just disheartening to read, especially if the protagonists can't hit back with a witty response.

Another thing that's been a problem: The fact that the antagonists keeps getting away with stuff. 
The reason to make a character nasty or annoying is so we can enjoy their comeuppance. 
It is fun to see the stuffed shirts get unstuffed, and puffed-up egos deflate, but if that doesn't happen, it's just painful.
We want to see these people fall off their high-horses and on their faces, but if the pratfall doesn't fit the crime, so to speak, the audience is left feeling dissatisfied or, at worst, annoyed. 

 I think what you need to meditate on is not only "what makes these characters tick?" but also "what makes them funny?".
Also, maybe find a way to make some, like Tucker and Tina, a bit more sympathetic and let them "pet the dog" on occasion (Tina has done it, and is way more sympathetic now). Because if you care about the characters you will have more fun writing them. Afterall, you're their creator. You're the one who has to spend a lot of time with them. And if you don't, well, it won't be easy for you to write and it won't be easy for us to read. 
(Not saying everyone has to be sympathetic, you can still make some of them assholes, but at least try to mix it up, and let the assholes at least be entertaining assholes).
 
Hope I didn't sound to hard on you.
Like I said back then, I do think you're a great artist and I want to see you become even better. 
If you want to discuss more, send me a note. I'd love to help if I can. 
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:icontwogadia:
Twogadia Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
It’s your decision whether you want to keep going with the comic or not, but whichever it is, we’ll support you.

but if you DO decide to end the comic soon, I hope it can end on a good note. A conclusion arc of some sort, maybe. But again, it’s your choice, and we’ll support you regardless.
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:iconuserguy:
Userguy Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Like pretty much everyone, I'll be happy when this Kevin stuff is behind you. I'm looking forward to him suffering his long overdue, much deserved karmic fate and then never having to see or hear from him ever again. He's definitely not a compelling, "love to hate" villain. I just plain fucking hate him and every second this sickening character is "onscreen" in the strip is unpleasant and unbearable for me.

It's definitely surreal to read that goofy storyline you wrote about Kevin being a rapper wannabe from a few years ago back before you started doing daily strips. How he went from obnoxious but harmless douche to soulless, psychotic rapist and murderer I'll never know.

 
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:icontorquesmacky:
torquesmacky Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Wow, the comic got so dark that even YOU have a problem with it.

I would try to point out early on how unpleasant the strip was, and your response would be to just blow me off Kevin-style and continue down that path. So to keep you as a friend I had to stop mentioning it and watch you spend years of effort on something I knew you'd never be able to sell. It was tough.
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Edited Mar 11, 2018
Sorry. I really thought I could make it work. Now I'm just bummed because this thing I loved turned into this bloated unpleasant mess that I can't even stand to read, let alone write, and I have no one to blame but myself.

Honestly, I think it's time to pack up and move on. Focus on something happier, like Off the Deep End, and make a conscious effort not to let my most bitter and frustrated feelings take over my writing. Maybe I can come back to Nineteen-Ninety-Something in a couple of years and try again, but in its current incarnation, I think I've dug far too deep a hole to ever get myself back out of.
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:iconblackferret66:
Blackferret66 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
I'm sorry that it hasn't turned out the way you intended and kind of got away from you. I think it's still possible to rein it in. These are characters you created, after all. Sometimes, they seem to take on a life of their own, but they are still your creations. Even if there are changes made that you want to do to correct some things, any jarring effect they can have insofar as changes of tone or character can be better received than you think, if your heart is in the right place and the changes are things that the readers support.

That being said, taking a break can be a good thing, too. I would not turn my nose up to more OTDE for one second. I love the family, especially Spencer. You don't see a lot of engaging younger brother characters lately, for some reason. And maybe getting back to that more happy, bubblier (yes, that was a pun for both the mood and the hydrophilia) strip can help you get back into the mood where you originally wanted to be with NNS. Especially if you are finding it hard to move out of the funk you find yourself trapped in now.

I know it's probably frustrating to hear all the criticism, but it's because the readers, myself included, have allowed ourselves to become immersed in the characters, and are concerned about the direction things have gone lately. As they say, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. The fact that so many are taking the time to voice themselves on the strip just means that they have become engrossed in your work enough to take the time to voice themselves. Otherwise, they would just remove the bookmark and never come back. That's a tribute to your ability as a writer and artist, even if it means there are occasional conflicts between you and your fanbase.
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:icontorquesmacky:
torquesmacky Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
There's something that happens to all writers (I call it "Honeymoon Syndrome") where, when they've first written something, they're so overjoyed by it that they can't see any of the flaws in it. Months or years later, they look at what they wrote and all those flaws leap out and bruise the ego. This is why a lot of creatives hate their older work.

The best way to avoid Honeymoon Syndrome is to set something aside after you've written it, and come back once your focus is on something else. Due to deadlines and other things this isn't always possible. But it can help you identify the mistakes you're making and become a better writer overall.
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:iconcorvax13:
Corvax13 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
JB, Grimdark happens. The important thing is that you realize you went too far in making your villains despicable. Again, it happens. And I personally preferred it when Kevin was just a stock, every school's got one jerkass/bully. But in your defense, every time one of these 'OMG what pit of Hell did HE crawl out of?' creeps murders everyone in a McDonalds, the general response from those who knew them was, 'we knew he was weird, but we didn't think he was EVIL!' Just keep going, learn from it, step back, try to remember what you were going for when you started out. If anything, the climax of the Kevin/Joel thing can be a watershed point for Joel and the Gang, a point where they say 'we are NOT victims, we are NOT at the mercy of forces beyond our control'.

As a pointer from another amateur writer, keep in mind that an antagonist can have mitigating traits, even redeeming virtues, without being, well, redeemed. This isn't My Little Pony here. You did a good job with Tina, having her realize what her blinkered outlook was doing to those around her. She's a better character. Still a tad clueless, and she still can have her points of disagreement. Though being humiliated on national TV will keep her from being too arrogant.

And you might want to cut Aaron's dad, Rick a break. Yes, he's a hardnosed macho jerk. So what? I know a lot of hardnosed macho jerks who are reasonable guys, given half a chance. As for his attitude, well, he keeps harping on about being in Vietnam: maybe he's carrying around a lot of guilt? Maybe Rick holds himself responsible for the death of an Army buddy, because he wasn't 'Man Enough' to save him. Him airing that might make him more sympathetic, and give him a little closure, putting his relationship with his son into better context for him.

I know that it's from before your time, but check out the old sitcom 'All in the Family'. Archie Bunker is a classic flawed protagonist: rigid, dismissive, reactionary and confrontational. And yet for that, there's an element of lovability to the man: he's hard-working, honest, and he genuinely cares about his family, even as they confuse the hell out of him. Indeed, much of his anger stemmed from his confusion about the changes that he saw happening in his country, and the shift in his position in society. His very vocal opinions were grounded in the viewpoints of the Depression and WWII; indeed, he voiced the opinions of many people at that time.

Finally JB, let me say this: your real problem in writing is the 'Straw Dog' flaw. Your antagonists are really just something there to give your protagonists something to fight against, not people with their own viewpoints, concerns. You're starting to see this. This isn't a bad thing. It just means that you're moving beyond Straw Dogs. And that's a GOOD thing! 
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:iconpsychodemonfox:
PsychoDemonFox Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Welp, this isn’t gonna end well for anyone...

And yeah, the character drama is kinda overwhelming the fun 90s humor. Maybe you wanna dial it back a bit...?
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:iconjimenopolix:
JIMENOPOLIX Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
If he does run her over, then he'll be on the news for life...!
--
Also, Joel lives near this guy?

He might as well have some camcorder prepared or placed somewhere for evidence if something goes ugly.
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
It's the bitter price you have to pay when you decide to focus on character growth and interaction over gags, I guess.
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Perhaps disregard this, I didn't see your response before I wrote this.
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:iconzerozero204:
Zerozero204 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
"I will rev my engine at you!"
"I will yell louder!"

It's not fun to write? It's not fun to read. It's not making a point. It's not a story that needs to be told, or told like that, or told in a few-punchline way, or told with no resolution. Granted, some of the 90s wasn't very good, but where's the transition from the hope of the 80s to the hopelessness of the 90s or an exploration of the reasons for it? This is just dirtbags being dirtbags.
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:iconthejayster49:
TheJayster49 Featured By Owner Edited Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Y'know, at this point, the comic kinda stopped being about the 90s and more about the mental health of its incredibly dysfunctional cast.
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
I noticed that too. I wanted to flesh out my characters, obviously, but I think I really overcooked the drama in their lives. It kinda got to the point where none of my characters ever seem to be happy.
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:iconthejayster49:
TheJayster49 Featured By Owner Edited Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, they were never really happy to begin with. They started perking up a bit during mid-way through the 1992 strips but obviously, that didn't last very long.

Personally, I kinda like that you aren't focusing as much on 90s nostalgia as much since I felt like it dominated the comic far too much (to the point where it seemed like the characters were just walking references). However, I also believe that character development and overall study shouldn't have to involve just about every horrible person in the comic's existence to appear in every strip just to do horrible things and never receive (satisfying) punishment for it. If anything, you focus more on them than you do on the nicer characters.

The problem with that lies in that you never actually develop their characters. They just remain horrible people. Sure, Lindsay and Tina got to redeem their selves but that's about it (not to mention Lindsay is a walking train wreck at this point).
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Well, the idea was to do longer arcs that culminate in one downtrodden character finally rising up and striking back against the antagonist, knocking them down from their perch and overcoming them. But looking at it now, I think a daily comic strip is too slow of a medium to do stuff like that. It works better in a book or a movie that you can experience in one sitting, rather than bite-sized installments doled out once a day for a year or more.
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:iconexxord:
ExxorD Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018   Writer
I honestly do not think that Joel will ever have the strength or nerve to bring Kevin down. I know I'm gonna get a hell of a lot of flak for what I'm going to say next, but Kevin is a damned Marty Stu. One of the deranged and psychotic types. He raped and murdered a girl from the last school he was at, and gets away with it. What happened to the shrink? Did she survive her head being busted open? Or did he kill her too? Who's to say that he'll kill the cast, rape the women of the cast, and get away with that too? He is by far the most dangerous character you've ever come up with. And for the mood set for the comic, from my perception, is comedy-drama. Kevin destroys all of the comedic value, and lowers it to horror. He causes the comic to suffer from Cerebus syndrome every time he shows up. He ruined my expectations of this strip being a decent mix of comedy and drama. Joel and Michelle are in the most danger than anyone in the main cast, I think. And Joel the main character of this whole strip, with Michelle being second. Kevin needs to vanish by any means necessary soon, or else I fear that they're actually going to die by his hand.

TL;DR Kevin is psychotic, dangerous, and ruins the integrity of the strip.
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Yeah, that's what I realized as I was drawing the strips for this arc's conclusion, that I let this story drift way way off course from the tone I wanted to keep for this series. In other words, I went grimdark, after I vowed I never would.

And I have other upcoming arcs outlined that go the same way. But I really don't want to write or draw them anymore.
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I wish I had better advice for that than something like "Try not to promise something in regards to tone if you don't know exactly how some arc is going to go."
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
I'm not even sure how it spun this far out of control. Partly a need to vent my frustrations with real-world current events, I guess, mixed with looking at what's successful in serialized television and going "Well, I guess people like dark stories, maybe I should give it a try." And I ended up writing all these bitter hateful little stories about awful people who don't love each other. The goal in creating Nineteen-Ninety-Something was to make the kind of comic strip I would want to read, but goddamn, I don't want to read some of the shit I've written over the last three years.
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(5 Replies)
:iconthejayster49:
TheJayster49 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That could probably work if you did the arcs in the Sunday comic format since those are bigger and longer.
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:iconedd-madd:
Edd-Madd Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Or maybe in graphic novel form.
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:iconthejayster49:
TheJayster49 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's what I was thinking of but I couldn't think of the word(s).
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:iconedd-madd:
Edd-Madd Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Glad I could help.
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(1 Reply)
:iconhewytoonmore:
HewyToonmore Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018
Oh Jesus...
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:iconsharper-the-writer:
Sharper-The-Writer Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Yes......this can help me greatly....
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:icona-fox-of-fiction:
A-Fox-Of-Fiction Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Huh, Lindsay having limits...did not see that coming at all.
Also, do you have a Patreon?
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