Spread The F Word

F Minus is the daily comic strip by Tony Carrillo
Visit www.FMIN.us for more information.
www.GoComics.com for today's comic.

Apr 17, 2016

10 Things You Probably Already Know About F Minus

F Minus has now been appearing in newspapers daily for 10 years! I thought it would be appropriate to present a 10-point listicle of facts that you, the die-hard F Minus fans, are no doubt already well aware of, but will probably scroll through anyway just to make sure.

1. F Minus #1: Business Raccoon

Ten years ago, the top song was Bad Day by Daniel Powter. The Academy Award for Best Picture went to Crash. Iran announced it had enriched uranium. It was a big year for negativity. But despite the name F Minus, I like to think my comic reflects an overall positive outlook on life. The comic above was the first F Minus published in syndication way back on April 17, 2006. It shows a young raccoon, ill-prepared for life in the wild by some well-meaning animal lovers. Nevertheless, he's got a cup of joe and a spring in his step, and I'll bet he did all right for himself. 

2. F Minus Has Hidden Art History References

Once in a while, I will incorporate a subtle salute to my favorite artists in F Minus, just to amuse myself and see if anyone will notice. A sharp-eyed reader observed that the little girl eating a pizza man in the comic above bears a striking resemblance to Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya. Maybe I'll start giving out prizes to readers who spot a reference. Not that anything I could give out could be better than the self-satisfaction you'll feel by being right. 

3. F Minus Enshrined In Tattoo Form

Beloved F Minus character Tea-Time Clown has been permanently stabbed into the flesh of at least two sensible fans. There are rumors of two other F Minus based "tats" (as they would prefer you not call them) but I'm still waiting on photo verification. Please contact me if you'd like some reference art for your F Minus tattoo. (Tattoo above by Cohen Floch.)

4. F Minus Locations Are Real Places

Most of F Minus seems to be based in my hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Nello's Pizza, Arizona State University, Fiesta Mall, and Ted's Hot Dogs have all made appearances. Most F Minus comics were created at Gold Bar Espresso, which became my office away from home. A few years ago I moved to California, and while there are now more beach comics than before, in my mind, Arizona is still the center of the F Minus universe. 

5. F Minus Is All Digital

For years now, F Minus has been 100 percent digitally produced, with the help of a Wacom tablet. The first few years of F Minus were pen and paper, which I would then scan and edit with Photoshop. Eventually I felt comfortable enough using the tablet to make the switch. When I'm asked if I regret not having original drawings on paper anymore, I respond with an exaggerated shrug. Try it sometime! I find it's a great way to end a conversation you're not enjoying. 

6. St. Louis Feud 

I once drew a comic that featured a "Visit St. Louis" mug. A resident of St. Louis felt I was making fun of his great city, and wrote me a long email explaining how wrong I was. Naturally, any time I need a city to make fun of, I now choose St. Louis. I've never been there, and I'm sure it's a great place. Please don't take it personally, St. Louisans. This is really just about that one guy. You probably know who he is. 

7. Veejay For A Day

When F Minus won the mtvU Strips contest over a decade ago, I was invited to MTV's college network studios to be interviewed on air and and to introduce a new Gorillaz music video. They gave me a VHS copy (Google it, kids) of my performance which is now buried somewhere in my storage. I no longer own a VCR, but no one needs to see that tape anyway. Let's just say, I'm no Pauly Shore. 

8. F Minus Was Hacked!

Earlier this year, the F Minus website was hacked and redirected to a pornographic website. In a way, I'm flattered they thought this would increase their traffic enough to be worth the effort. I'm using it as a reason to give the site a much needed update. In the meantime, fmin.us will now take you to the F Minus Facebook fan page. Like it or lump it. 

9. An End to Hate

Longtime fans may recall I used to publish hate mail I received along with my responses. It was all in good fun, but eventually, antagonizing random unpleasant people on the internet started to wear on me. I decided to quit, for my own well-being. Not that I don't still get jerky emails now and then, but now I ignore them or just send my trusty auto-reply, seen above.  

10. F Minus Surpasses Seinfeld

Hitting the 10-year mark, F Minus has now been published a full year longer than the run of the hit TV series Seinfeld, which capped out at nine seasons. Even more impressive, F Minus achieved this with only a tiny fraction of the popularity and notoriety of the celebrated show. Look out, Two and a Half Men, we're coming for you next!

And that makes 10 things. Whew! Writing lists is hard. Glad I don't have to do that again for 10 more years. I probably should have made that tenth item a link to the F Minus Instagram account at fminuscomics or the F Minus twitter page @fminus. *shrug

Most of all, I want to thank all you amazing people for reading F Minus all these years and for putting your favorites on the refrigerator or your Facebook wall. I hope you continue to enjoy F Minus and use it as a compatibility test with new potential friends. 

Ten more years! Ten more years! Or maybe less! We'll just see! 

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Apr 23, 2013

We did it! Sort of!

ASU is now asking students and alumni to vote on four slightly different versions of the new Sparky mascot now through May 5th. Based on the comments I'm seeing online, this is the version getting the most votes: 

Look familiar? 

It may never be official, but I heard through some contacts on the inside that my Sparky may have had some influence on the results. Either way, I'll be calling him "My Sparky" from now on. 

By the way ASU, if I receive an anonymous package containing a Sparky mug, T-shirt, and maybe one of those foam fingers, we'll call it even. 

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Mar 26, 2013

F Minus Nominated for NCS Award

F Minus has been nominated for a National Cartoonist Society Award in the Newspaper Panel category! This is for comics published during 2012. The winners will be announced Saturday May 25th at the Reuben Awards dinner. 

Take a trip down Memory Boulevard with this sample of F Minus comics from 2012: (There's a major pileup on Memory Lane, gonna take hours to clear, use Memory Frontage Road if necessary)

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Mar 22, 2013

New Sparky Update

I have received a nice response to my new Sparky design, but decided to give you a cape-free version, since a few vocal commenters (who may not have read the entire post) are violently against the cape. The cape was always intended to be formal wear option, so I don't mind showing you Sparky's everyday active-wear look. I might also design a business casual Sparky, or even a beach-time fun Sparky.

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Mar 20, 2013

Michael Keaton Sparky

There's a major controversy boiling over at my alma mater, Arizona State University. A contemporary redesign by Disney of our beloved mascot Sparky has received outrage from students and alumni alike, prompting a re-redesign.

 From left to right: Disgruntled old Sparky, cocky new Sparky

Since the university is now asking for input from the public, I felt obligated to offer a design concept. And since I got my Fine Arts degree from ASU, if they don't like it, they have no one to blame but themselves.

First of all, I don't totally hate the new Sparky the way most people seem to. Yes, he looks like something you might pull out of the claw game at a bowling alley. Yes, he looks like he just got back from the optometrist for an eye dilation. But some aspects of the new design are pretty cool.

We may not be ready for this futuristic Sparky, but let's not forget to turn a critical eye to the old Sparky. We can all agree that Christian Bale's Batman is miles ahead of Adam West, but we still needed Michael Keaton to get us there. (This will not be my last Batman reference) So what I did is take a little bit of old Sparky, mixed in some new Sparky, and set it at a low broil for about eight hours.

I present to you, Michael Keaton Sparky:
Let me take you through this.

Something Old: I think everyone likes Sparky's face. He's a devil, and he's up to some mischief, but he's got a twinkle in his eye that says stabbing you was all in good fun. However, the old face does have some weird elements.
The leeches on my face are medicinal.

Those maroon slugs are meant to represent eyebrows, mustache, dimples, and whatever is going on with his chin. It creeps me out. The eyebrows and mustache are important to his character, but I think we can play down the dimples a little, and let the chin beard just add a subtle point to his heart-shaped face. Also, coloring the facial hair maroon suggests his horns are just a wolverine-style hairdo. Let's go with black.
Come on! Let's get nuts!

Old Sparky's teeth look like they are about to slide open horizontally like Star Trek doors. With one line I suggest the hint of a second row, giving Sparky a gnashing grin.

Something New: I think new Sparky's costume is pretty cool. For too long he's been trotting around in those warm-up sweats. Now it looks like he's in the game. From a practical standpoint, those shoulder pads are important. If Wilbur the Wildcat comes sneaking around our water coolers, Sparky just might have to take him out. The last thing we need is for Sparky to struggle through dozens of push-ups with a dislocated shoulder.

Also, I like the gauntlets. Batman has gauntlets. Besides, at some point he's going to need to throw them down. Yes, there is a chance they might take out a cheerleader's eye, but that's the risk you take when you dance with the devil.

There was some talk of a tail. Now listen, I spent some time as a costumed character in my college days, and tails are non-stop trouble. The tail is out. Let's just say he tucks it down a pant leg.

Something Borrowed: Bear with me on this. Several years ago I got to see James Brown perform live. At some point during the concert he looked like he just couldn't go on, and his MC draped a cape over his shoulders and led him away. Suddenly, he turned and threw the cape away and BAM! Sex machine. The crowd went wild. I think Sparky should employ this at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Keep in mind, he would not wear the cape most of the time. He needs freedom to move. But he could enter the stadium wearing it like Rocky Balboa. The outside of the cape should be golden like the nuclear fires of the sun from which Sparky was born.

Batman wears a cape. 


Nothing Blue: Because that wouldn't make sense.
So there you have it. My contribution to the Arizona State legacy. Since F Minus got its start there, and is still published in the student newspaper, The State Press, I'm hoping it will get some consideration. And because of our history, if they want to use it, I will only charge half of whatever they paid Disney.

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Jan 9, 2013

F Minus: The First Ten Years

 A decade-old F Minus

This month marks the ten year anniversary of the very first appearance of F Minus in The State Press, the student newspaper at Arizona State University. Ten!

It was a very different world back in 2003. We didn't have the fancy iPhones or Facebook you kids enjoy today. We had Myspace. And our cell phones had real buttons! It was miserable.

But there were some bright points. Eminem taught us to lose ourselves in the music. Jennifer Aniston took home a hard-earned Golden Globe for her work in the hit TV series Friends. I started wearing aviator sunglasses like my hero Jack Bauer. North Korea formally withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. (They were jerks anyway.)

 Pictured above: Aviators

Thanks to all the F Minus fans who have been around since the very beginning. Some of you may still have your F Minus Fan Club laminated ID cards, or a copy of my self-published comic book. Someday those things are going to be real collector's items. I know, I say that every decade.

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