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.

Aug 24, 2011

Love F Minus Style

Several weeks ago I got an email from a guy named Kevin:

"Hello Tony,

The Butter Up:
Everyday my girlfriend, Cierra, and I read aloud the comics in the Sacramento Bee. We've progressed to the point where each character has a specific voice. Specific enough that we know which strip the other is reading without being told. And loud enough that our neighbors probably hate us. Each day she says to me, "F Minus is my favorite one!" She loves your humor and she loves how short each strip is. She might even stop reading the paper if they nixed your strip. (Unconfirmed. Study pending)

The Point:
I'm going to ask her to marry me. I was wondering if it would be possible to have one strip in one days paper be the proposal. Something simple like your strips already are and something funny. Before you ask, no, I don't have any idea what I want. This is really just me wondering if it's possible. If you decide to respond to this email then all I'm really asking is this: Would you be willing? And what would be the price?

The End:
Thank you very much for the daily entertainment. It's always a pleasure heading down the line of comics and seeing F Minus lined up for the next reading.

Sincerely, Kevin"

So I wrote back:

"OK Kevin, I'm in. But if we're going to do this, we're going to do it my way.

I have always wanted to say that.
First we need to have a serious talk before I can give my blessing. Marriage is a big step. I need to know you two are the real deal before I put the F Minus stamp of approval on the marriage certificate. (Yes, I had a stamp made at Staples) Are you going to stick it out in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for Baby Blues or For Better or For Worse? I'm going to need a synopsis of your relationship. Keep it succinct, I don't have all day.

By the way, are you sure she'll say yes? If not, that could be embarrassing. For both of us. The comic proposal is not entirely unlike the Jumbo-tron proposal at a sporting event, most of which start with a "yes" in front of the crowd, but end with a "No, how could you do this to me?" eight minutes later out by the Dippin' Dots stand. I just want to be sure she's going to dig this plan.
Let's assume you two are good for each other and you're at least 70% sure of a "yes" answer. I have only two more stipulations. The comic has to be funny (or at least make sense) to anyone uninvolved in the proposal. That means only you, me, Cierra, and possibly your paperboy should realize something is up. I don't want to knowingly publish a comic that will confuse my readers, even though I unintentionally confuse most of them every day. I didn't even use the comic to propose to my girlfriend. But that was because I wasn't sure if she read F Minus anymore.
Besides, I don't like it when comics break character to deliver a message, even if it's a good one. That's why when you see other comic strips making a coordinated effort to get you to care about the environment or something, F Minus never participates. It's not that I don't care about the environment, Kevin. No one cares about the environment more than me. No one.

Anyhoo, stipulation two (or four, or whatever) is that after all is said and done, you allow me to publish your story and our correspondence on the F Minus blog. Up until now I have used my blog mainly to share the hate mail I receive, and I think my readers have earned a positive story for once, don't you?
If this seems acceptable to you, then we can start brainstorming some ideas. Right now I have to go to bed because my wife is trying to sleep and I can tell my typing is annoying her. (sigh) Wives! Am I right?

Tony Carrillo"

Kevin wrote back and filled me in on their relationship:

"We met two weeks ago on World of Warcraft. We haven't officially met, but I know she's the one! OK, that was a lie, I'm sorry. Let me start with saying this: I love her. I have never loved anyone more. I have stopped watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Firefly for her. That's hard to do. Anyway, we've known each other for about five years. We met at work. I was into her, she...was not. We reconnected after a 3 year hiatus about a year ago and have been dating ever since. She's 23 and I'm 26. We aren't religious but we are waiting to get married before living together. Statistics and all that. We did the long-ish distance (3 hours away) relationship for 5 months and came out unbruised. We've never had a fight (yet), her family loves me and mine her, and she stuck around after seeing a three foot long Lego Star Destroyer reverently placed on my dresser.
That is also why I know she's in this for the long haul. If that doesn't send a girl running then nothing will. She is cheesy, tacky, intelligent and beautiful. And now, thanks to a little help from me, a raging nerd. She will say yes, of that I am 100% certain. Otherwise, all the engagement ring link's she's been sending me are very, very cruel.
I am completely on board with making the strip funny and not in the least bit confusing for those not in the loop. We can discuss how to make it obvious to her while leaving the unaware reader, well, unaware.
As for putting our story in your blog, I would be offended if you didn't! Well, not offended. Perhaps mildly put out for an hour or so. But yes, of course you may."

I was sold.

"Kevin, if there's one thing I support, it's nerd love. I'm in a nerdy relationship myself. Let's make this happen."

Kevin and I wrote back and forth a few times, hammering out the details. I sent him the comic ahead of time for approval:

He gave it the thumbs up, so I sent it in. When the big day came I waited to hear how it went. That night he contacted me:
"She said yes, of course! She also loved the comic, laughed out loud and everything!"


Congratulations to the happy couple! I wish them a long and happy life together, built on a solid foundation of offbeat single-panel cartoons. Check out the story about them today in the Sacramento Bee.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Jun 10, 2011

Hate Mail! Art Attack

"Tony Currillo, I have long thought that “F Minus” was too high a grade to assign to your one-panel comic drawings. But it occurred to me just today that the ideas may be great (e.g. husband wants erotica-themed funeral) but the impact is greatly diminished by the almost juvenile art work. Alas, there’s probably nothing you can do about that now – but it’s a shame to have those good concepts go to waste."

Dear Jack,
How's this for juvenile art?Sincerely, -Tony Carrillo

I might be overusing this image, but it's useful in so many situations.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Jun 1, 2011

F Minus on GoComics.com

Be sure to check out the new home of daily F Minus comics at GoComics.com. If you have the old Comics.com site bookmarked, it will redirect to the new page, saving you valuable seconds. Enjoy!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

May 11, 2011

Mell's Piano

I recently got to visit the home of legendary cartoonist Mell Lazarus (Momma, Miss Peach) who basically invented cartooning, I think. I'm not sure because I kept getting distracted from his stories by this piano covered in cartoons!

It has doodles and signatures from hundreds of cartoonists, including Charles Schultz and Garry Trudeau. When Mell wasn't looking I grabbed a pen.

He caught me.

I drew a small self portrait between Dave Berg (Mad magazine) and Tom Gammill (The Doozies). Tom did a
video about the piano you really should see.

Mell let me finish, then explained that this was why he only keeps dry-erase markers in this room.

Thank you to Mell and Sally for a great night.

(These last photos are from Tom Richmond's Blog)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Apr 8, 2011

Bed Bunnies

Today's comic was inspired by a real-live event. I was staying in the second-worst hotel I've ever seen (the first being a hotel in Mexico where I stayed as an international hostage in a commercial fishing dispute; true story) and I was laying in the bed, which I noticed was kind of lumpy. I got up to investigate, and between the mattress and the box-spring I found this: A few scenarios ran through my mind as to how a plastic, light-up bunny ornament got under my mattress. None of them made me feel any better about the thoroughness of the hotel maids.
I've always wondered, how do bed bugs know to set up shop in a bed? I think an insect that can differentiate beds from other types of furniture deserves more research.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Mar 26, 2011

Everybody likes dune buggies!

I got my caricature done today by the great Tom Richmond!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Mar 17, 2011

Stench Blossoms: Naming My Comic

Earlier this week I posted a link to my Frequently Asked Questions on the F Minus Facebook page, and asked if anyone had questions to add. There were several good ones, but one question inspired this post. Casey asked: "Did you have any other ideas for names of your comic besides F-?"
I hadn't thought about it in years, but I distinctly remembered sitting down and brainstorming names for my comic when I decided to apply to my college newspaper. I went to my closet and started going through the stacks of old sketchbooks. Sure enough, I found it:
I know it's hard to read. It was done with a light pencil and has faded over the years.

Naming your random panel comic requires a lot of consideration. There are no main characters to name it after, so it has to somehow convey the attitude of the comic. Three of the ideas are nods to some of my comedy heroes.

New Phonebooks- From a great scene in one of my favorite movies of all time, The Jerk.

Hello Tetanus!- Funny line from a Seinfeld episode.

Tremendous Sex Appeal- Somewhat obscure line from a Woody Allen movie.

I'm glad I didn't go with any of these. They had the right feel, but I think going with something original was the right idea. Plus, no nervous newspaper editor would buy Tremendous Sex Appeal. But remember, there are no bad ideas when brainstorming.

Slightly Imperfect- This was the front-runner for a while. It's from a sticker on a discount T-shirt I bought. My girlfriend made fun of me for it, so I had the sticker made into a button I would wear occasionally. Even though it had a good story behind it, I had some problems with it. My main issue was that it sounded a little TOO "offbeat screwball comic", if that makes any sense. I wanted something a little more distinctive and memorable, and even I had trouble remembering Slightly Imperfect without the button.

F Minus- F Minus won because I felt it best conveyed the attitude of the comic. Kind of pessimistic with a sarcastic edge, and silly at the same time. I thought the concept of somehow doing worse than failing was funny. Plus, it was succinct and memorable. I got a big red pen and wrote it on a piece of paper and scanned it. I've been using that as a logo ever since. It's right there at the top of this blog.

Incidentally, I later found out about a Southern California punk band called F-Minus, but they broke up in 2005. The way to tell us apart is the band uses a hyphen and I don't. Also, they have a female vocalist and I don't. One of their albums is called Wake Up Screaming, which I think would also make a good name for a comic.

In an episode of The Simpsons, Principal Skinner exclaims, "What the F Minus?" I doubt he was referring to my comic or the band, but it's still cool.

Speaking of The Simpsons:
Lisa: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
Bart: "Not if you call them Stench Blossoms."

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Feb 28, 2011


I make a special cameo appearance in F Minus once in a while, usually as a criminal of some kind.
I do the same thing for the local news.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Feb 15, 2011

My Disappointing Ellen Evening

Since I was a kid, I had an innate ability to spot the difference between authority and fake authority. When a police officer tells me I need to stand behind the yellow line, I stand behind the yellow line. When a guy wearing a yellow polo shirt and an I.D. card on a lanyard says stand behind the yellow line, the trouble begins. The following is an example of how this tendency plays out in my life, and why I get on TV so much.

Today I was on Twitter, thinking about how annoying Twitter is, when someone retweeted a tweet (ugh) from the Ellen TV show. Apparently representatives from her show were going to be at ASU giving away HUGE prizes.
I needed something that started with an A, S, and U. I grabbed an Afro, stuck it on my Skeleton, opened an Umbrella, and dashed out the door. One of the perks of working at home is the freedom to drop everything at a moment's notice and rush off to try to win some fabulous prizes. I'll have to stay up late to finish, but it's still nice to have the option.
When I got there, I saw a giant truck loaded with new cars, with Ellen's face plastered on the side. My '98 Corolla has served me well, and refuses to break down, but it would be fun to put the F Minus license plate on a new car. Unfortunately, a huge crowd had already gathered, including several people with umbrellas. I felt a little disappointed, until I noticed a news crew setting up to interview a guy in a shark suit. I decided that if I was going to win a car, I needed to get interviewed and get some attention.

This is where ignoring fake authority comes in handy. I strolled over to where the news crew was setting up. A security guy (this one was in a purple polo) said, "Hey, you need to stand over there behind the rope."

"I'm going to be interviewed." I said confidently. He scratched his head, looked around, and waved me on.

Confidence will get you everywhere kids. If you act like you know what you're doing, most people will think you do. That's how I managed to sneak into the VIP section at a celebrity football game without a pass, and sit in a section with a bunch of Playboy Bunnies and Wee-Man.

So I stood next to the guy in the shark costume. When the anchor turned around, I was standing there smiling. Within minutes I was on live TV. I don't remember what I said.

After the interview, the security guard tried to usher me away. I acted confused and shuffled around the staging area. This works because technically, no one has the specific job of making sure Tony Carrillo isn't in the staging area.

I ended up in the front row using the "confused dork" method. Things were looking up. The Ellen show was going to be recording live, and some of her minions were choosing who was going to be featured on the show.

As the title of this blog suggests, I wasn't picked. They chose the nearly naked college students over me and my skeleton. I know. Shocking. But as it turns out, the prize was only $5000. Sure, that's still a great prize, but after they paraded those new cars in front of us, it was kind of a let-down. No one got a car. What's the deal, Ellen? I spent the rest of the night irritating the security guards by not standing on the curb when they asked me to stand on the curb.

Even though I didn't win, it was still a fun evening. You might see me in the background of Ellen tomorrow, or being interviewed on Channel 12 news tonight at ten if you're in AZ. Remember kids, don't respect the polo.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Feb 7, 2011

Hate Mail! A History of Nonsense

On Super Bowl Sunday, while everyone else was enjoying the company of friends, family, and barbecue, someone was crafting an email.

But before I get to that, I have to take you back four years. In January of 2007, I received an email from a gentleman (we'll call him Norman) pointing out a discrepancy in this comic:
Norman said:
"If the guy has 75 cents and only three coins, the only possible combination would be three quarters. Therefore, all three coins in his hand should have at least to be the same size..."

I replied:

"Are you making the assumption that this is American currency they are dealing with?"

Norman- "Are you telling me that it's not?"

Tony- "Anything's possible! Plus there could be some smaller coins hidden beneath those larger visible coins in his hand. Or they could be small stones made of some valuable mineral, with a black market value totaling
75 cents. The sad thing is that we may never know the truth...
Thanks for reading F Minus!"

Norman- "If your editor made the same observation, would you give him the same line of B.S.?"

Tony- "I dunno, they don't usually make pointless observations... but yes, I guess I would!"

Norman- "I guess a "pointless" observation is only fitting, given the equally pointless
nature of your strip."

At this point, the conversation ended. I can't remember why I didn't reply again, or why I neglected to post this exchange for you to read.

It doesn't really matter, because I got a reminder on Super Bowl Sunday, 2011. This email refers to this comic from a few days earlier: "I've let a lot of your strips pass by without comment since pointing out how the coins in a character's hand, based upon relative sizes, did not conform to the aggregate amount that was supposed to be represented thereby. (Your response to this was pretty dismissive, so I'm not expecting much more in ths case.) However, Your panel of January 31st, while very funny on its face, contains yet another jarring inconguity that detracted from the intended humorous effect.
The panel plays off the fact that the word "dolly" has multiple definitions, one of which is a girl's plaything and another is a piece of hardware most typically employed by movers. The problem is that the hardware pictured in the panel isn't a "dolly," but a "hand truck."
But I don't blame you exclusively (now or previously), because I know that cartoonists also work with editors, who, in my opinion, bear the greater responsibility for ensuring some measure of accuracy or verisimiltude (where appropriate). So feel free to forward this to him or her."

I set down my potato salad and registered my reply:
"Good to hear from you again, Norman. First of all, please do not hesitate to point out any incongruity you come across in my comic. I value your input. As to the matter at hand, it's true, the hardware pictured is most commonly known as a hand truck. However, it is known by several other terms, including dolly, two wheeler, stack truck, trolley, trolley truck, sack barrow, sack truck, tea-bagger, bag barrow, dung porter, goat roller, and a "poopsie". These terms vary based on region and time period. For instance, "poopsie" is a seventeenth century term.
Clearly the character in this comic is from a region and era in which referring to this tool as a dolly is common. It is likely the daughter learned this from her father. I'm not sure where the father learned it. To be honest, I haven't developed the character enough to be certain, but I'm thinking he may have got it from his uncle.
Incidentally, I did forward your email to my editors, per your instructions, and they asked that I let you know that you misspelled "incongruity", "verisimilitude", and "this". Don't feel bad, this is what they do.
Stay vigilant,
-Tony Carrillo"

This morning he wrote back:
"Clearly, you have WAY too much free time!"

No arguments there, Norman.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Jan 14, 2011

F-ART: The Art of F Minus

Sometimes when people hear I'm a cartoonist I get the question, "Do you also do any real art?" I used to do a lot of "real art" in college, but after I graduated I focused on doing the comic and learning the harmonica.

Turns out the harmonica is really hard, so I gave it up and got back on the art train. Showing now at Gold Bar Espresso is my first art show in years. I call it F-ART: The Art of F Minus. F Minus comics re-imagined in a "real art" style.

There are four pieces showing for the next few weeks. I've been told they have already made one baby cry.

Stumble Upon Toolbar